Conversations with Brain Weasels

If you haven’t come across Brain Weasels, they’re from this post by Jim Hines.  Basically, it’s those little anxiety whirls and conversations that remind you that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO GO WRONG and YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT and OH GOD SERIOUSLY?!

I’ve been having quite a few of those in the last few weeks.


“You messed up the thing.”

“Yeah. I did, and it sucks, but I fixed it.”

“You shouldn’t have made the mistake.”

“People mess up. It happens.”

“You realise this means YOU’RE A COMPLETE FAILURE.”

“I messed up one thing.”

“A really simple, small thing, that you should have remembered.”

“It’s not that bad. I fixed it and everyone’s cool about it.”

“You messed up something so simple – why should we be trusting you with big stuff if you can’t even remember a small thing?”

“Mistakes are how I learn.”

“You should have learned that bit already!”

“I forgot it one time!”

“Which makes you a complete and utter failure.”


Weasels. Bloody, annoying weasels.

The thing is, the weasels are still me. They’re just different interpretations of events, and it does make them harder to fight. I struggle a lot to tell what’s the right course of action sometimes; if I screw something up, then I rightfully should feel bad! That means I’m learning, and I won’t mess it up the next time  – but it doesn’t need to come with a side order of COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE…

It makes it hard sometimes to figure out what the right course of action is, or the right response;  it’s particularly fun* when it comes to dealing with other people, and – as I’m meeting lots of new people, and adapting to their communication styles and personalities – how to interact. This has not been particularly fun for my love life, frankly, because if you add anxiety to any usual communication and then put a dose of squee on top of it… I seriously hate brain weasels.

*not fun.

“He’s not replying to text messages very fast.”

“You’re being really annoying and texting too much, and he doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“Or he’s busy doing other stuff?”

“He hates you.”

“….or he’s asleep.”

“He hates you.”

“One evening to the next morning is not exactly a long time to wait for a reply.”

“Replying after one hour is reasonable. Overnight is not!”

“One hour is stupidly short when people are actually doing stuff. As most people do with their lives.”

“It’s entirely reasonable! He should have replied already!”

“He’s asleep. Like, you know, people without brain weasels in their head would be at 11pm.”

“He hates you.”

“He doesn’t hate me. If he hated me, he wouldn’t be talking to me at all.”

“Well, why else would he not be replying immediately?”

“Because of all the sensible reasons I just outlined?!”

“He hates you.”


Thanks, brain.

And don’t even get me started on my professional life… arrogant, pompous, self-centered, self-important and imposter are all words that figure with annoying regularity, and even though I continually fight them, it’s such a new area of my life that I’m struggling to see where the balance is. I’m getting there, and I at least have the reassurance that everyone around me is being wonderful at giving me level and perspective! If I ever do get too big for my boots, I know there are wonderful people who will happily smack me down – and that’s a real thing, not some weasel in my ear. Until one of my friends pokes me, I’m probably good; and that’s something I can fight the weasels with.

So…yeah. It’s an interesting learning curve – as soon as I think I’m used to one weasel and have hammered it (or at least got my arguments down), another one pops up! The fun of living with mild anxiety, I suppose. There’s always a new situation, and always a new weasel to happily weasel away in my ear…

Maybe I should teach the cats to chase them!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.