The Ziegarnick effect

things I noticed

I noticed myself revisiting arguments with exes, and making new ones up. Why? What door am I closing? Am I turning off a burner, or switching it on?

There’s an effect named for Zeigarnick, which describes our craving for closure. Whatever is left open must be closed, what’s unfinished must be finished, what’s unsaid, said. Years later I’m saying, and since the ex is nowhere here to hear I’ll keep saying, saying, saying.

What if I spoke for a different ear? The sky is blue, the birds are busy, and I am here.

I cannot win that argument. It’s unfinished, and it’s over. But I can tell myself what I wish I had done, and what I would like to do next time. Remember that I am here, now, not there, then. How often I speak to people who aren’t there – my ex, my mother, my friend. Fighting, describing, showing off. All my thoughts are carried on trains bound for one witness or another. Then thought rolls in the context of that relationship, and is coloured by it.

How difficult it is to think to myself, even for a moment.

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