I was in a session with my therapist and was telling him about how my car broke down this past weekend. Funnily enough, when I was walking out to go start it I had the thought - “man that would suck if it didn’t start right now!”.
I have this thought about the car not starting or leaving me stranded whenever I’m going to do something I’m really excited about. In this case it was playing tennis with a friend. Guess what? Fuckin’ thing didn’t start!
Our conversation evolved into discussing my anxiety about life things and more generally just saying over and over in my head - “what’s the worst that could happen”. Not saying that verbatim obviously, and not in the sarcastic way either. I say it in a way that constantly makes me think about things that could go wrong and trying to account for them.
Why do I do this? I don’t recall always thinking like this, but maybe I did? I don’t think I’ll ever know. Coincidentally my work as a software developer requires me to constantly be asking this so I can account for edge cases and make sure the “impossible” doesn’t happen.
This thought process makes me pretty damn good at my job and shipping code that’s relatively bug free, but it’s bled into my every day life and I don’t really know how to stop it.
My girlfriend rarely thinks about edge cases and generally just dives right in to something she’s unfamiliar with. Most of the time it works, but sometimes it doesn’t and it blows up in a way I would have predicted and accounted for.
I’m not sure which way of thinking is better. I can tell you that constantly thinking about edge cases and considering the worst that can happen leads to some unnecessary anxiety. On the other hand it can save your ass when the impossible happens.
The other problem is it’s hard to truly be an optimistic thinker when thinking this way. Mainly because you’re constantly thinking about stuff going wrong, and trying to account for that instead of moving forward with something, hitting roadblocks, solving them, and continue moving forward. There’s a saying that goes something like “Pessimists are usually right, but optimists are usually successful”. Is it true? Idk but it sounds cool.
I wonder if this way of thinking outside of work is common among software engineers and other fields that account for very deep decision trees. I wouldn’t be surprised.
This is also definitely a cause of my inability to do stuff that is new and hard. I plan, plan, plan, find some reason that it’s not going to work, and then don’t ever do it. I do think I’m getting better at it though. For examplt I got high the other weekend, came home, said “FUCK IT” and submitted the album to streaming services I’ve been trying to release for over a year. I was so hung up on the mix downs. I just couldn’t ever get them perfect.
Instead of actually thinking “what’s the worst that could happen”, I need to start thinking “what’s the worst that could happen”. Just do stuff and solve problems as they come.