We often need to plan for a future in which our state of mind will differ drastically from its current state. I’ve noticed about myself - and I believe about others as well - that our brains seem to insert our current state of mind into their models of our future selves, even when we are fully and consciously aware that our current mental state doesn’t belong in that model.

This is kind of abstract so I’ll try to give a couple examples.

One of the ways of coping with challenges is to try to learn to live with them. The serenity prayer asks for “ the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Acceptance and Commitment Therapy tries to teach people to live genuinely good lives with their emotional difficulties. I’ve noticed that the prospect of being serene and accepting of my problems seems pretty unappealing. This is weird because, if I truly learn to accept something, then what’s the big deal? - in that future I’d be fine with it . I think my brain is sneaking my current attitude into its model of that future thereby causing it to seem unappealing.

I’ve also realized that when I’m tired I reject plans to do things that I wouldn’t want to do while tired days in advance. I do this even when I have no reason to think I’d be tired then as well. Again, I think my brain is sneaking my current tiredness into its model of me doing that activity.

It’s possible that in both of these cases I’m mistaking pessimism for state projection. I might not believe I can really achieve acceptance, or that I won’t still be tired. Perhaps the unappealing feel is due to a pessimistic judgement about how those situations will turn out, and not state protection. I think my introspection is accurate but I concede I might be wrong about this.

I’m wondering what other people think.

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