The Doom Pyramid

There’s a lot going at the minute. Both in general and personally.

I’ve been trying to think through the way I feel about it all. To reflect on what helps me deal with the anxiety of These Times. As well as what doesn’t.

Today it clicked and I tweeted it. This is post just expands on that a little.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes an ordering of human needs, some of which are more fundamental than others. But all of them (or at least as many of them as possible) need to be met for us to feel good. There are plenty of critiques, but it’s a handy reference point.

I feel like at the moment I’m wrestling with the equivalent of that pyramid of needs. But each layer is instead a different source of anxiety.

The bottom layers are the broad existential angst of the climate crisis and the pandemic. And all these nazis there are these days. It’s a good solid base.

The top of the pyramid is a bit more pointed. A bit more personal. It’s those layers of anxieties that are (or at least we feel are) unique to ourselves. Am I good at my job? Am I being a good parent? AITA?

I’m calling it the Doom Pyramid.

Trying to deal with the whole pyramid at once is too much. Social media keeps feeding us new reasons to be concerned, as well as ever increasing ways to be anxious about ourselves.

Douglas Adams introduced the idea of the “Someone Else’s Problem Field“. A kind of cloaking device to hide things from our brains because we think that it’s somebody else’s problem.

I’m finding that dealing with all of the anxieties that the Doom Pyramid represents requires me to strategically deploy a SEP field. To try and drown out all the things that I have no control over. Or which I cannot deal with today. Sometimes though the SEP field breaks down and all of the reality rushes in.

Is that healthy? I don’t know. But that’s how I’m trying to handle things at the moment.

Unfortunately it comes with its own guilt.

Am I part of those broader problems, if I’m not actively trying to tackle them? Probably.

At least some, maybe all, of those broader problems are caused by denial or a general lack of awareness. Which might be attributable to education, experience or just overwhelming privilege.

But I have only so much time and energy in each day. I need to focusing on fighting the smaller, more personal demons at the top of the pyramid. The rest are problems for another (election) day.