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My Disappointment Defence Mechanism


One of the facets of my character that drives my girlfriend mad is how I deal with something normal people (like her) would get excited about. Let’s take an example. A couple of years ago my brother, my good lady and I decided to go on holiday to Las Vegas. My girlfriend works for a travel company and so managed to get us a deal so cheap that it felt as though they were paying us to go. Anyway, rather than talk to me about the holiday in the weeks prior to our flights, she rang my brother and enthused with him. No, it’s not because she was having an affair with him behind my back, it’s because he gets excited about things and so does she. But I don’t.

I didn’t really notice this habit until it was pointed out to me but it seems perfectly rational to me (as most character flaws are to the people who harbour them). Put simply, I never try to tempt fate. To avoid feeling let down when plans fall apart, I work on the assumption that something won’t happen, until it actually does. So if I’ve got a kick-ass holiday coming up I work on the assumption that it’ll happen, but prepare myself for the eventuality that it won’t. I feel that if I start to look forward to it then the evil fate monster will decide to snatch it away from me just to piss me off. I guess you could call me a pessimist – but I’m not. I just don’t like surprises.

When I was preparing to buy my fancy BMW (which I’ve already managed to put a dent in by opening another car door onto my own – there’s karma for you) I would run through in my mind everything that could go wrong so it wouldn’t take me by surprise when anything went wrong. The finance deal could fall through, I could crash my previous car therefore losing it’s trade-in value, I could be made redundant and not be able to afford it any more, and so on. I like to call it “scenario visualisation” and I’m told it’s a predominantly male characteristic.

I suppose I must have learned this defence mechanism at some point in my past and it’s no doubt as a result of some bitter experience I’ve had and felt let down by. Perhaps I was so gutted that I’ve blocked it out of my memory (which is why I can’t pinpoint it just now). Or perhaps it’s the result of many incidents that have snowballed over the years. Whatever the cause, I’m making a concerted effort to stop thinking in this negative, defensive way, because it sucks all the fun out of everything, and it drives the people around me crazy.

But it does explain one other part of my personality. My impulsiveness. I can walk into a bike shop with the intention of buying a pair of gloves and come out with a new bike. One of my tenets is that if I have a “do I or don’t I?” question in my mind, I always do it (in the long term it always works out to be the right choice). I like to live in the moment rather than waiting for things to happen. I’m a control freak. Simple as that. Anyway, you must excuse me, I’m off to think up the worst-case scenario for my drive home from work.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

9 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I used to worry that my high-flying career would end up with my working for a tin-pot American company with no training, no responsibility, no pay rises, in short no prospects other than imminent redundancy. Nowadays, I just love going to work so that I can read John’s Adventures on the internet.


  2. I guess your defense mechanism was perfect armour for the constant pummelling you got at the pool table.

    I bet this trait of yours has some bearing on your choice of fave Radiohead tune too.

    Fancy and ale on Friday?


  3. Crikey….

    Well we’ll be in North Bar at 3:30 (flext time 🙂 ) Lots of german beers later we’ll meet up with Bottle and maybe Nige and drink more. then more.

    Then we’ll probably go to Space later on and go mad….

    For a change.

    Leave your car at home and get some “Aventius” drunk – you’ll love it


  4. The worst-case scenario for your drive home would be your fancy BMW getting blasted off the road by a kia pride, but I guess you are used to that happening.


  5. It will all end in death and misery anyway. There’s your worst case scenario.


  6. Actually, my worst case scenario is discovering that I’m immortal. Or that I was doomed to spend the rest of eternity trying to read Don Quixote.


  7. So I am not the only one. I did a subject at Uni with a guy who was overly optimistic. He was always on a high… until things went wrong, then he would crash. I always assume the worst, and am pleased when it rarely occurs. When it did happen it wasn’t such a shock, and I had already throught of a number of ways to respond. All hail level headed pessimism.


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