You might be stuck in your progress toward success because of an idea from evolutionary psychology called Hyperactive Agent Detection.
In an earlier post, we discussed the Smoke Detector Principle. It essentially says that humans are negatively biased. In the past, ignoring threats was expensive. Ignoring could lead to being eaten by a predator. But ignoring opportunities was cheap, because it usually didn’t involve avoiding death. So avoiding risk was smart. Finding a new source of berries is not as important as not being eaten by a bear. This Smoke Detector Error is a source of anxiety for many people. Because for some reason, our brains trick us: we think that public speaking or talking to cops is the same thing as being attacked by a bear.
A similar problem is called the Hyperactive Agent Detection Device. Ancient humans needed to assign causes to events. If you can’t find your stone hammer, you must quickly learn why. So you look for signs and develop a theory. “Did an enemy take it? Or did a lion eat it?” Knowing if an an enemy or a lion is nearby could save your life. The theory alerts you to danger. Better to quickly decide who is the culprit.
Mistaking the source of the event could be fatal. So, our ancestors thought, assuming the event was caused by someone was the safe thought pattern. Sometimes hammers are simply lost, but why take a chance? So we assume someone has caused the event.
If misfortune occurs, “it must be God.” Maybe it was. But would God—or the universe, or fate—spend his whole day doing nothing but pick on you? That thinking really is a form of narcissism. You’re not that important.
Sometimes YOU make a mistake. Sometimes another person makes a mistake without evil intentions. Sometimes bad luck happens.
So just roll with it. Breathe deeply, and relax your Agent Detection Device.
::: Be fierce. Be kind. Be knowledge-hungry. :::