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thinking about the statement that all maladaptive coping mechanisms were helpful and, well, adaptive, at some point, and that they become maladaptive when the circumstance changes or when their detriments outweigh their benefits, and how the framework of “this is no longer helpful to you” is probably better than “this is a bad habit/this is bad for you.” How much better “you don’t have to live like that anymore” feels than “that’s a bad habit you picked up when you were in a bad place.” “It’s ok, you can look now,” vs “you’ve been tainted/infected/sullied by a previous bad circumstance.”

Thought about this today while reading about hermit crabs. 

Hermit crabs start out their lives tiny and defenceless, and they choose a small shell to protect them. When they grow too big for the shell, big enough that it stops them from growing more, they abandon it and move on to a shell better for them at that size.

Does that mean the old shell was a terrible mistake? No, because it protected them back when they were smaller and more defenceless! But now it’s limiting their growth, and it’s time for them to find a better shell.

Humans, like hermit crabs, pick up shells when we need protection. Sometimes, we need to ditch those shells to keep growing! If we look at them as shells instead of Irredeemable Moral Failures, it’s a hell of a lot easier to let them go.

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