Inverse Paranoia — How it Works

Paranoia is having an excessive anxiety or fear. Someone who is paranoid feels that life and people are conspiring against them.

I can’t remember what book I was listening to (I’m an audiobook addict) that used the term ‘inverse paranoia’ to recommend that you assume when things happened, whether by luck or intentionally that it will work in your favor. I had just heard this idea one morning when I was late to work and things weren’t going well. It was shaping up to be one of those days. When I spilled something on my pants, I thought of the recommendation of assuming everything was going to work in your favor.

Despite the work I had to do and my late start, I really felt I had no choice but to run to a nearby store. I drove to the closest shopping center and saw they had a Marshall’s. I remember thinking it had been years since I shopped at Marshall’s. I went into the store and quickly found replacement pants for a bargain $12. Hmm…. so, I’ve been needing additional pants and here luck had brought me to a store that had something which fit for a song. And, I thought, really latching on to this inverse paranoia concept, now I’ll remember Marshall’s is here and shop there again.

Sure enough, about two weeks later, my son called. He was unhappy because the leather jacket he had planned to wear for his Indiana Jones Halloween costume wasn’t going to work and this was one day before Halloween and he knew we couldn’t order anything and get it shipped in time and he didn’t really want us to spend a lot of money anyway. But he had planned on doing a dual costume (He was Indiana Jones and his friend had made a costume to look like the ball that chases Indiana in the opening scene of the first movie) for a very long time. And WHAT is Indiana Jones, if not a guy with a dark brown leather jacket and a hat to match?

I did a quick search for ‘Indiana Jones costumes’ on the internet and had a look at what they thought an Indiana Jones jacket looked like. And I headed out to….

You guessed, it Marshall’s. I thought of Marshall’s BECAUSE the accidental spill had just taken me there. And…. there it was… $30, an imitation leather that was good enough that my son said he wouldn’t mind wearing it as a regular jacket, exactly the right shade for Indiana-impersonators AND… in my son’s size. Bingo. Inverse Paranoia. It really works.

This morning I used it again. My husband and son had driven off to a Boy Scout event, only to discover a needed item had been left behind. My husband called, “I hate to ask you, but….” One grumpy voice in my head immediately observed that this would blow more than an hour.

Assume it’s going to work in your favor, the inverse paranoia thinker countered.

You don’t even have anything to listen to… the grump continued.

It was true. I had finished the audiobook I’d been listening to, but in desperation to have something to listen to, I grabbed the unabridged version of the Last Lecture on CD. And boy was I glad I did. I had not planned on listening to this, since I had seen the video of the Last Lecture and figured how much more could I learn from the book. I only grabbed it out of desparation and…. well this definitely worked in my favor. But I’m going to save the details for another day.

So give it a try, assume that everyone is conspiring together — your friends, family, luck… to make your life turn out great, even though it might not appear that way on the surface.

And let me know how it works out…. except that I already know. I’m confident you’ll discover that things really DO work out in your favor.

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