Thursday, April 06, 2017

The predicament of thinking perfect too late

The easiest thing to do is to prosecute ourselves for crimes past. To feel regretful for not taking a stand when we were young. 

When the reality is, we were so innocent and naïve and trusting back then. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t have words and names for our feelings at that age. Our language was far too small and unsophisticated to contain those experiences. 

And so, as adults, we have to resist the urge to look back in anger and hold our childhood selves up to our current adult standard, wondering, what would a grown up with detective abilities, good morals, a sense of judgment and healthy boundaries have done in that situation? 

That’s not fair. It’s a false equivalency. It’s an inability to make peace with our past. 

Constanza was the worst when it came to this. When a coworker insults his greedy eating habits, he’s caught off guard with nothing to say. But several hours after the meeting has ended, he becomes obsessed with recreating the moment so he can respond with a clever comeback. 

But it never works out the way he hopes. Because the moment has passed, and the response has lost context and relevance. 

French psychologists call this frustrating moment l’esprit de l’escalier, which means the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late. 

And whether we’re pressing the rewind button on something stupid we said at work twenty minutes ago, or something embarrassing that happened in middle school twenty years ago, it’s never worth the stress. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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