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Temporal Consistency

September 28, 2018

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

Do you expect me to the be same the person now as I was one year ago? How about 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 1 month ago?

Even if you expressed hesitation, your answer to all of the above questions was likely a no. This is because we likely all agree that people change over time. So why is it that people sometimes demand temporal consistency? Why do some people seem to never let go of something that happened 10 years ago? Why are you still embarrassed by who you where as a child, even though you are no longer that child? (This may trigger some of you to go down a rabbit hole about philosophical views on identity. That is not the focus of this post, so please refrain from trying to say something clever about that.) I think this has to do with the idea of closure and relates to my previous posts on repetition.

Closure, I think, is best understood as some satisfying feeling of finality. When you have signed on all the dotted lines for the loan for your house, you probably feel some sense of closure in knowing that you are financially secured to own some property. You likely feel closure at the end of a good movie or end of a good sports competition. This sense of finality allows you to move on with your life and refocus on the next steps for moving forward with your priorities. What happens when you don’t get closure is that whatever needs to be closed will keep fighting for your mental resources. What you must do is resolve the ambiguity underlying the ask for closure.

Ambiguity is caused by a lack of sufficient information, so it seems the best way to resolve closure is through more communication. But don’t forget that information overload is useless if the information is not effectively incorporated into the brain. To close the loop, communicate, process, and repeat. That, I believe, is an effective way to resolve many interpersonal issues, not just ones that manifest as issues of temporal consistency or closure.