Why Do We Assume the Worst?

 

Yesterday, I was in a state of high anxiety as I worried about the outcomes of the election. Fortunately, I was commenting on a post and expressed my concern, and the suggestions, comfort, and humor that were shared were such a great relief for me and for others. We laughed and made fun of each other in the most caring way.

Today, the darkness has descended. There have been all kinds of evidence cited that demonstrate that the Democrats are cheating. Doom and gloom engulf our environments and psyches. I’m not here to criticize these attitudes, but they motivate me to ask a question:

Why do we assume the worst?

Now I know you’ll want to tell me about all the things that already point to mismanagement and cheating: anecdotes of foul play, delays of all kinds, sudden increases in votes for Joe Biden—the list goes on. But what is really driving all this discussion is the mind-chaos that emerges out of one thing: “not knowing.”

“Not knowing” refers to our looking at the near or distant future and realizing that we can try to predict outcomes, but we really don’t know with any kind of certainty what they will be.

And it drives us crazy.

It reminds us that we cannot control the future. It mocks us when we think can somehow predict what will happen. The insecurity and anxiety that comes from Not Knowing, if we remained in that state, could drive us mad. Or at least it feels like it could.

The problem with thinking that we know is that we don’t. We realize that the state of the country, maybe the world, depends on the outcomes of this election. We realize that the Democrats have a history of cheating, and they likely are cheating, but we don’t know where or to what degree they are cheating. We just want to have a fair outcome. Is that asking too much?

Yes, it is.

So, we have a few choices when Not Knowing is playing games with our minds. We can deny its presence and make believe we know the future, and we can prognosticate all the terrible, potential outcomes. Or we can, as my husband says to me, “Suck it up, buttercup!” We can acknowledge our uncertainty and discomfort. And watch events unfold. We have that choice.

I’m choosing to acknowledge, for now, how I hate Not Knowing, and will pick up my knitting, practice my Hebrew, write to a friend.

But I will understand why you may choose to predict the worst.

Just know that you have a choice.

Published in Elections
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  1. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    You’re no fun.

    • #1
  2. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I’m not here to criticize these attitudes

    It seems like you are. The idea that the Democrats might be committing voter fraud is hardly far- fetched. It’s what they do. Do you think they’d suddenly have stopped counting ballots if Trump hadn’t been winning? I’m from Chicago, and I can guarantee you that they wouldn’t have. They’d have gone without sleep for a week to show Biden as the winner. Saying that out loud doesn’t make me a person who “assumes the worst.” It makes me a person who knows the Democrats from lifelong experience.

    -edit typo-

    • #2
  3. 666 Inactive
    666
    @Pseudodionysius

    Elections in a Banana Republic – which is what the United States is now – are all about smash mouth and fighting back. Its the difference between Ice Capades and Slapshot.

    This ain’t bean bag.

    • #3
  4. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    A pessimist’s surprises are always happy ones.

    That being said, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over yet. Yes, we have a tough fight against the fraud going on in Wisconsin and Michigan right now, but we also have a tough fighter who thinks the damage caused by illegitimate votes is a greater danger to the Republic than the damage caused by not conceding like a good little boy.

    Worry, sure, but despair is a sucker’s game.

    • #4
  5. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge
    DonG (skeptic)
    @DonG

    The slowest votes to count come from heavily Democratic areas.  Those place do not invest in having abundant modern fast voting systems.   Later votes also come from mail in and those are generally Democratic.   I feel comfortable assuming an 85/15 split.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m not here to criticize these attitudes

    It seems like you are. The idea that the Democrats might be committing voter fraud is hardly far- fetched. It’s what they do. Do you think they’d suddenly have stopped counting ballots if Trump hadn’t been winning? I’m from Chicago, and I can guarantee you that they wouldn’t have. They’d have gone without sleep for a week to show Biden as the winner. Saying that out loud doesn’t make me a person who “assumes the worst.” It makes me a person who knows the Democrats from lifelong experience.

    -edit typo-

    What you’re saying is only marginally related to what I’m writing about. If I wasn’t clear, I think people are predicting that Trump is about to lose and there are a multitude of reasons why that will happen. The fact is, no one knows yet how this will turn out and the reasons it will turn out that way. Your making “guarantees” doesn’t make my argument any less true. How do you benefit from assuming the worst, RA? 

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    A pessimist’s surprises are always happy ones.

    That being said, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over yet. Yes, we have a tough fight against the fraud going on in Wisconsin and Michigan right now, but we also have a tough fighter who thinks the damage caused by illegitimate votes is a greater danger to the Republic than the damage caused by not conceding like a good little boy.

    Worry, sure, but despair is a sucker’s game.

    We are in complete agreement, @amyschley. In my mind, worry is a far cry from despair. Thanks for weighing in.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    You’re no fun.

    I’m such a drag, aren’t I, @kentforrester?  ;-)  But it is a fascinating tendency to look at.  And I do realize that venting to a degree is what we all are doing, too, but getting too caught up in the angst is debilitating. Just sayin’. . . .

    • #8
  9. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Once I get through initial disappointments I usually end up just enjoying the ride.  Family flaw, I supposed, after all my mother was singing “Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead!” in the limo on the way to her mother’s grave, after the funeral.  I mean, we’re all on our way to that same place eventually, might as well enjoy the ride and make use of the time, and in my case it usually involves a fair amount of black humor.

    Besides, I’ve got a job with projects stacked up (they won’t make themselves go away, sadly), my wife and kids await me at home, and frankly I’m more immediately dreading what is looking like a very full and busy weekend ahead.  Life goes on, and I cannot do much about the national situation (and must therefore trust that others, who can do much, are doing much), but I can do much with what is right in front of me.

    Enjoy the ride.

     

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Avenger Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Avenger
    @BryanGStephens

    Hope is a suckers game

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    And again:

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    — Matthew 6:34

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Hope is a suckers game

    Who said anything about hope?

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    And again:

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    — Matthew 6:34

    @percival, what does the bolded sentence mean? The first one is perfect.

    • #13
  14. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    And again:

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    — Matthew 6:34

    @percival, what does the bolded sentence mean? The first one is perfect.

    “You have enough problems to worry about today you don’t need to worry about more.”

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    And again:

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    — Matthew 6:34

    @percival, what does the bolded sentence mean? The first one is perfect.

    “You have enough problems to worry about today you don’t need to worry about more.”

    What Amy said. Listen to her. She’s smart.

    • #15
  16. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Hope is a suckers game

    I take pills to shut up that voice in my head. I highly recommend it.

    • #16
  17. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Avenger Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Avenger
    @BryanGStephens

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Hope is a suckers game

    I take pills to shut up that voice in my head. I highly recommend it.

    I am so sorry to complain at all about life. 

    I’ll just get busy looking for the next job for the third time in three years.

     

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Hope is a suckers game

    I take pills to shut up that voice in my head. I highly recommend it.

    I am so sorry to complain at all about life.

    I’ll just get busy looking for the next job for the third time in three years.

     

    Bryan, I’m so sorry!! And this is a place you can vent. 

    • #18
  19. Kelly B Member
    Kelly B
    @KellyB

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m not here to criticize these attitudes

    It seems like you are. The idea that the Democrats might be committing voter fraud is hardly far- fetched. It’s what they do. Do you think they’d suddenly have stopped counting ballots if Trump hadn’t been winning? I’m from Chicago, and I can guarantee you that they wouldn’t have. They’d have gone without sleep for a week to show Biden as the winner. Saying that out loud doesn’t make me a person who “assumes the worst.” It makes me a person who knows the Democrats from lifelong experience.

    -edit typo-

    What you’re saying is only marginally related to what I’m writing about. If I wasn’t clear, I think people are predicting that Trump is about to lose and there are a multitude of reasons why that will happen. The fact is, no one knows yet how this will turn out and the reasons it will turn out that way. Your making “guarantees” doesn’t make my argument any less true. How do you benefit from assuming the worst, RA?

    Here’s my take on it – if I assume the worst, I can control my response to it between now and when “it” (whatever it might be) actually happens – spread it out a bit. And if things turn out as I assume they will, well, I’ve been dealing with it for a while and am used to it. If they turn out better, that’s fantastic.

    • #19
  20. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Avenger Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Avenger
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Hope is a suckers game

    I take pills to shut up that voice in my head. I highly recommend it.

    I am so sorry to complain at all about life.

    I’ll just get busy looking for the next job for the third time in three years.

    Bryan, I’m so sorry!! And this is a place you can vent.

    Thanks

    • #20
  21. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think the worst has already happened: it was not a resounding decisive victory for President Trump. 

    A lot of this vote has to do with the virus. There are two schools of thought about where we are in dealing with it, and obviously, given the near 50-50 split, half of the population accepts the “dark winter,” no treatments or vaccines in sight, version of the likely near future. 

    Will DeSantis’s gamble pay off this winter? I am rooting for him, and I think it will. So does President Trump. 

    Thank goodness the Florida results with their approach to dealing with the virus cannot be suppressed completely by the Democrats. 

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Thank goodness the Florida results with their approach to dealing with the virus cannot be suppressed completely by the Democrats. 

    I’m glad too, @marcin! I think DeSantis has done a great job, and he was getting hit from everyone. But he stuck with his plan and I think it will pay off.

    • #22
  23. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Susan Quinn: Why do we assume the worst?

    We assume the worst because we lived through eight years of Obama and four years of Trump and we know what the Democrats are capable of.

    Eyes open.

    I still hold a glimmer of hope — not that Biden will lose, I think they’ll manage to steal this election from the President — but for the future. For some reason, no matter how dismal everything looks, I always find this sputtering, flickering flame of hope deep inside.

     

    • #23
  24. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Kelly B (View Comment):
    Here’s my take on it – if I assume the worst, I can control my response to it between now and when “it” (whatever it might be) actually happens – spread it out a bit. And if things turn out as I assume they will, well, I’ve been dealing with it for a while and am used to it. If they turn out better, that’s fantastic.

    Yep. This is how I live. Expect the worst, and you get to be pleasantly surprised if/when it doesn’t happen. But if you expect the best, you will always be disappointed.

    • #24
  25. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):
    That being said, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over yet. Yes, we have a tough fight against the fraud going on in Wisconsin and Michigan right now, but we also have a tough fighter who thinks the damage caused by illegitimate votes is a greater danger to the Republic than the damage caused by not conceding like a good little boy.

    Thankfully, Trump in 2020 is not Nixon in 1960.

    • #25
  26. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):
    That being said, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over yet. Yes, we have a tough fight against the fraud going on in Wisconsin and Michigan right now, but we also have a tough fighter who thinks the damage caused by illegitimate votes is a greater danger to the Republic than the damage caused by not conceding like a good little boy.

    Thankfully, Trump in 2020 is not Nixon in 1960.

    Exactly. Trump may yet lose, but it’ll be a siege of Masada, not a blitzkrieg into France.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    Kelly B (View Comment):
    Here’s my take on it – if I assume the worst, I can control my response to it between now and when “it” (whatever it might be) actually happens – spread it out a bit. And if things turn out as I assume they will, well, I’ve been dealing with it for a while and am used to it. If they turn out better, that’s fantastic.

    Yep. This is how I live. Expect the worst, and you get to be pleasantly surprised if/when it doesn’t happen. But if you expect the best, you will always be disappointed.

    Actually, @drewinwisconsin and @kellyb, I’m almost the opposite of both of you. I try not to dwell on best or worst. I think about  possible good outcomes and possible bad outcomes. Going beyond good and bad creates a lot of angst for me and can be exhausting. This way, too, I often get a very good outcome, and if the bad happens, it’s usually not as bad as it could have been. In other words, I try to be somewhat realistic once I get past the initial shock event.

    • #27
  28. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    Kelly B (View Comment):
    Here’s my take on it – if I assume the worst, I can control my response to it between now and when “it” (whatever it might be) actually happens – spread it out a bit. And if things turn out as I assume they will, well, I’ve been dealing with it for a while and am used to it. If they turn out better, that’s fantastic.

    Yep. This is how I live. Expect the worst, and you get to be pleasantly surprised if/when it doesn’t happen. But if you expect the best, you will always be disappointed.

    Actually, @drewinwisconsin and @kellyb, I’m almost the opposite of both of you. I try not to dwell on best or worst. I think about possible good outcomes and possible bad outcomes. Going beyond good and bad creates a lot of angst for me and can be exhausting. This way, too, I often get a very good outcome, and if the bad happens, it’s usually not as bad as it could have been. In other words, I try to be somewhat realistic once I get past the initial shock event.

    Actually, what always helps me is finding someone who is even more despondent than I am, and then in the process of helping that person find some hope, I end up giving some to myself as well.

    Which was this morning with my very despondent wife.

    I guess I lied. I don’t always expect the worst to happen. But I always factor it in as a possibility.

    • #28
  29. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    Hope is a suckers game

    I take pills to shut up that voice in my head. I highly recommend it.

    I am so sorry to complain at all about life.

    I’ll just get busy looking for the next job for the third time in three years.

    Bryan, I wasn’t saying you shouldn’t complain. Life really sucks sometimes and it seems that everything is against you. You think I didn’t feel that when my car was repossessed and my house foreclosed on and neither my husband nor I could get full time jobs while we owed hundreds of thousands of dollars of non-dischargeable debt?

    But as someone who’s worked in the mental health field, you should be as aware as I am that feeling that life is hopeless is not healthy. Anyone who feels that way should figure out ways to either self-treat or get help. And I can speak from experience that once you stop feeling like life is hopeless and will never get better, you find the strength to make it better where you can and work around the problems outside your control.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    Actually, what always helps me is finding someone who is even more despondent than I am, and then in the process of helping that person find some hope, I end up giving some to myself as well.

    Which was this morning with my very despondent wife.

    I guess I lied. I don’t always expect the worst to happen. But I always factor it in as a possibility.

    Right. These sound just like you: feeling better after comforting your wife, and factoring in what might be the worst. Remember, it could be even worse than you imagine!  ;-)

    • #30