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Losing the plot



There is the narrative that we tell ourselves about what's happening around us, to us. This is the story we would tell if we had to tell someone completely new to our life as to what has been happening. This is our perspective. And then there is the truth. This is the way things really are, from a neutral perspective.

Our narrative and the truth very rarely overlap with each other. But when our narrative has little overlap with the truth, we are said to have 'lost the plot'. Even when one hasn't completely lost the plot, the higher the deviation of the narrative from the truth, the higher the pain they go through as a result.

I have lost the plot on several occasions. My most spectacular loss of plot was summed up well in a letter I wrote someone explaining how I lived in my head more than I lived outside, so much so that I had lost track of what had been happening outside altogether. When that happens, the return to reality when it happens is harsh and takes a toll on the one being wheeled back closer to the truth.

We all veer away from the truth every now and then. It could be a CEO believing that his idea will change the world, even though the market has clearly rejected it. It could be a product manager building features that she is sure will solve the customer's problems but just can't understand why it isn't getting traction. It could be a husband believing that everything is fine in his relationship when his wife is out filing for divorce. It could be a teenager who is certain that everybody hates her and are conspiring against her. It could be a poker player who keeps raising the stakes, certain that his ace pair will win the hand, while there is a clear straight possible. It could also be less drastic cases. But it happens (and happens often) nonetheless.

In many of these cases, the reason we fail to acknowledge the truth and continue to stick to our narratives is because it is painful to face the truth. It is easier to live in our bubble and to explain away everything that happens in a way that fits with our narrative, than it is to change our narrative.

Until it gets way out of hand to keep the charade going. Until the bubble bursts. And we come crashing back down.

It is certainly painful to course correct and to align our narrative with the objective truth. But it is exponentially more painful as the distance from the truth increases.

We can swing between 'acknowledging the truth' and 'losing the plot'. The closer we are to acknowledging the truth, the better.

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