Winding Down September

People seem to be vaguely happy that September 2020 is coming to a conclusion. I honestly feel like we might be in the eye of the hurricane right now and much worse shit is about to come down on us, making us wish we could return to the relatively happy days of this past month. Prove me wrong, October, prove me wrong.

CNN reported today that 21 states saw spikes of new COVID-19 cases in the past week and the CDC fully expects us to be in a new deadly phase — perhaps the worst one we’ve seen yet — in November and December. Cheery! So good that we learned so many valuable lessons from that first wave and that people are so accepting of simple things like wearing masks or letting employees work from home. Ahem.

On the political front, I received a notice that I should get my ballot in the mail today. This is excellent news, because I plan to fill it out tonight and drop it off at an early voting drop box tomorrow — all in a race to formally vote before those quadrennial monstrosities known as Presidential “debates” begin. Like all other high school and college debate geeks, I despise what passes for debates in our elections — tepid joint news conferences filled with idiotic pre-packaged one liners, spin rooms, and an insane amount of post-game analysis.

Speaking of information we don’t need to decide our voting choice, Trump’s taxes leaked yesterday in the New York Times. Nothing in the story surprises me. I knew he was a fraud and a cheat already and I fully expect everyone who makes excuses for Trump behavior to keep doing so. What the story actually touched off for me was memories of my own stepfather’s massive tax evasion schemes he ran in the 70s and 80s when he owned illegal casinos that operated out of his truck stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Oh, such fun memories to recall.

While on the subject of old trauma, I put up a post Saturday night about assuming nobody likes me, and that probably deserves some elaboration. I’ve been trying to steer clear of personal stuff on my blog of late and maybe toying with ways to sneak it in under a larger political or philosophical framework. Even so, that post probably looked out of the blue. What it comes down to is rather simple — I’ve taken a series of pretty strong psychological hits this year and the cumulative impact of them has made me distrust my intuition, especially as it revolves around people.

The basic problem is this — I had a strong intuition about what was happening in an interpersonal relationship. That intuition could have been right or wrong, I’ll never know the answer and I’m generally ok with that. My intuition doesn’t always have to be right for me to continue to listen to it. What has unsettled me is the suggestion in a couple places that there was something “delusional” about what I intuited. This bothers me quite a bit because I am not prone to delusional thinking.

The suggestion of this has made me deeply distrustful of my intuition and I simply don’t know how to handle this. Being able to read people is something that I don’t just consider an interpersonal skill, it’s part of my professional skill set. It’s part of my job to be able to get to people’s core values and motives and to be able to inhabit their voices. It’s also my job to be able to read an audience and tell without data how they are reacting to a performance.

Now, I could just ignore these voices suggesting some kind of delusion and work through the personal motives they have for making me want to doubt myself. The problem is that intuition is a very difficult thing to defend logically. Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow” is an excellent guide to how our intuition can fail us. This led me to a CBT approach to examining interpersonal relationships and, logically, that led me to an “assume no one likes you” end point.

So I guess that’s where I am. You’re free to prove me wrong, if you’re so inclined.

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