Premonition before big move?
July 31, 2006 6:40 PM   Subscribe

How much stock should one put in a scary premonition?

The lil' family and I have a huge move tomorrow and I woke up the other day with a mild premonition that something bad would happen. I'd rather not even mention the specifics.

Is this nerves? Mind playing tricks on me? I can't say that I've ever had one before, or that this one was especially compelling. How can I get confidence that this _won't_ happen?
posted by toastchee to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is the bad thing linked to the move itself? or to moving tomorrow? If the latter, just postpone a day.
posted by Crotalus at 6:42 PM on July 31, 2006

"How can I get confidence that this _won't_ happen?"

Well, consider you have about the same odds of having a premonition of the winning lottery ticket numbers. Don't worry. Moving sucks in general and something bad usually happens anyway. It's just jitters.
posted by j.p. Hung at 6:48 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's nerves, and it's your mind playing tricks on you. Recognize that there are no such things as premonitions and that you don't have the power to tell the future in your dreams -- and you'll feel better, I promise.

It's nothing.
posted by BackwardsCity at 6:49 PM on July 31, 2006

Hi toastchee. This is basic human nature and the condition is commonly known as "Fletcheritis," after Colin Fletcher, author of "The Complete Walker." The good news, as most sufferers have by now discovered, is that there is a sure-fire cure for these pre-travel afflictions that doesn't require a call to your HMO: actually going on the trip.

Just do it; you'll be fine.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:49 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

Be sure not to forget this premonition afterwards (when nothing happens). It'll make a good story if a friend or family member has a premonition of their own.
posted by Humanzee at 6:52 PM on July 31, 2006

I think you should consider that maybe your subconscious is trying to tell you something...although maybe not the exact horrific things that you imagine. Pretend that instead of a premonition, it was a dream, or just a metaphor. What might you be more realistically afraid of, that this premonition might be indirectly indicating?

Also, it's possible that you've been given a warning directly from a benevolent god. Nobody knows anything.
posted by bingo at 7:00 PM on July 31, 2006

If you expect something bad to happen, it'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Best thing to do is try and forget about it temporarily -- usually, at the end of the day, you'll remember it and realizes your fears were unwarranted.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:01 PM on July 31, 2006

Ignore it! Premonitions happen ALL the time -- one of the most common/obvious is "knowing" that the plane that you are about to fly on will most certainly crash. Of course, 99% (+/-) of all planes land safely -- and people promptly forget about the "premonition." But that one-in-a-million plane that DOES crash -- well, the person who missed the plane (or got stuck in traffic, whatever) will surely be heard telling other people that s/he had a "feeling" that the plane would crash, and knew that s/he was better off not making the flight.

In your case: if nothing happens (which is almost certain), then you'll barely remember the premonition -- except that you've posted it here at AxMe, and you'll feel a silly blush when thinking about it.

Go - relax - enjoy!
posted by davidmsc at 7:04 PM on July 31, 2006

Take it as an advisory. If it was a premonition of you falling off the roof, try not to go up there, or be very very careful if you must.

It's a possible future, which is by no means the only one there is. Appreciate the warning and go on with your life.
posted by bink at 7:20 PM on July 31, 2006

Moving sucks. If you can have a big move coming up without getting premonitions you have led a blessed life.
posted by mendel at 7:38 PM on July 31, 2006

Do not put any faith in it at all. And that's what we're talking about... faith.

Moving is one of the top stressors (death, public speaking, moving, marriage, divorce). Seriously.

Worse yet, if something 'bad' happens (like a flat tire), you'll 'buy' that your premintions are true.

It's just that little voice of doubt in your head. Laugh at the little f**ker and let it go.
posted by filmgeek at 7:46 PM on July 31, 2006

A bad premonition isn't anything psychic, it's just your brain subconsciously running through potential future events based on your own knowledge of the possibilities. It means absolutely nothing other than that you are worried about something.
posted by empath at 8:28 PM on July 31, 2006

I once had a very vivid dream that my sister had died (I woke up in tears). I called home first thing in the morning and my mother said my sister was on an overnight field trip with her class, but that Mom had had an awful dream about it the night before she left and had asked her not to go. My sister went anyway. Nothing happened. She is fine.

Everything will likely be OK. Do not fret.
posted by librarina at 8:28 PM on July 31, 2006 [12 favorites]

Wear seatbelts and don't drop the kids on their heads.
posted by theora55 at 8:49 PM on July 31, 2006

No such things as premonitions of impending doom. It's just nerves. Don't worry about it.
posted by Justinian at 9:22 PM on July 31, 2006

I generally follow logic, but I'll defer to a gut feeling if pronounced enough. The hard part is really looking at your feeling and deciding whether it's a normal response to the commonly accepted suckiness of moving house, or something more definite and specific.

Experience tells me you can't get more confidence that nothing bad will happen. If you go through with it anyway, just be careful and if a feeling of dread presents itself, just let the feeling happen and don't try to deny it. Fighting it prolongs it and is more distracting than just feeling like crap.
posted by evil holiday magic at 9:27 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

How much stock should one put in a scary premonition?

Absolutely none.

Now, if you had some rational thing to worry about, do so, and try and fix any potential problems. Otherwise, ignore this. Premonitions don't mean squat.
posted by teece at 9:29 PM on July 31, 2006

None. Moving is stressful enough without having the pressure of your psychic abilities weighing you down.

Hell, I'd be surprised if nothing bad did happen, considering how many things can go wrong in your typical residential move.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:04 PM on July 31, 2006

I once had a very vivid dream that my sister had died (I woke up in tears). I called home first thing in the morning and my mother said my sister was on an overnight field trip with her class, but that Mom had had an awful dream about it the night before she left and had asked her not to go. My sister went anyway. Nothing happened. She is fine.

I'd just like to thank Librarina for a spiffy counter to all those stories that start the same way and end with Incontrovertible Proof Of Supernatural Forces.

For what it's worth, I've had those "oh my gosh, I think I should get off this plane right now" feelings but I'm still here. You always feel sort of dopey afterwards, if you even remember it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:49 AM on August 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

How much stock should one put in a scary premonition? Absolutely none.

"The inner voice is generally regarded as nonsense or as the voice of God." -Jung

Minds are funny things. They give us quite a bit of excellent information about the world around us and the world going on inside of us. They also make mistakes and occasionally feed us total crap. The trick is that you have to learn to use the same instrument to evaluate the quality and meaning of your own perceptions, and I don't think the key to this is to just ignore stuff.

Take the "ZOMG THIS PLANE WILL CRASH!" feeling. Yeah, I've had it too, and it's obviously been wrong every time. What I've come to believe is that my fears regarding the safety of the travel are related to either other pressures of the journey or my own level of preparedness/unpreparedness to face death. This bears out with a review of experience: one of the roughest flights I've ever been on followed a really great day of hiking, and I was probably more serene than on some rather placid flights, in large part because I was thinking I'd been pretty darn good at seizing that particular day and in general feeling better about life.

Is this absolutely a true interpretation of my fears? Maybe not. But it seems useful. I know that if I want to get comfortable and enjoy the flight, I need to try to be as prepared to leave the night before as possible and try to leave space in my travel plans for things to go wrong, and if possible, be living my life in a manner that I find satisfying (a good course of action in any case). Am I always able to do this? No. Is this line of thought still more useful to me than just ignoring my fears and white-knuckling it while clutching a rosary of airline safety statistics? Yes.

Note that I'm doing something here other than choosing what I'm going to do (though I'm doing that too): to some extent, I'm managing my own experience. We do this all the time. That headache you've got? It might be a brain tumor that's going to kill you... but probably not. That doesn't mean that you can't take steps to relieve the pain, if for no other reason than it changes the quality of your experience.

I'll also say this, though: I've had experiences with a variety of soft subconscious conclusions -- premonitions, impressions, promptings, dreams -- that have had real relevance and even occasionally uncanny accuracy. I've had times when I've just gone stupid when trying to walk down a path I later realized was unproductive. Chalk it up to coincidence, providence, divine intervention, or a funny confluence in my neurons... there are times when you get flashes of insight or feelings that ought to be heeded. How do you learn to recognize these from random panic attacks, euphoric ideas, and other nonsense? I think you just have to pay attention and get experience. Which means, again, I think the advice to pay no attention to inner voice is probably counterproductive.

More Jung:
"One should listen to the inner voice attentively, intelligently and critically, (Probate spiritus!) [test the spirits], because the voice one hears is the influxus divinus consisting, as the Acts of John aptly state, of "right" and "left" streams, i.e., of opposites. They have to be clearly separated so that their positive and negative aspects become visible." John 4:1 says, "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God." Just because one hears an inner voice doesn't necessarily mean it is the voice of God. Listened to uncritically, we could just as easily be seduced by the Devil."
Of course, if you just want to know what you should do with the move tomorrow... I probably can't tell you. But the most sensible thing to do is probably to go ahead, as others have mentioned, but take precautions regarding whatever's troubling you if for no other reason than to ease your own mind.
posted by weston at 12:38 PM on August 1, 2006 [3 favorites]

I'll also say this, though: I've had experiences with a variety of soft subconscious conclusions -- premonitions, impressions, promptings, dreams -- that have had real relevance and even occasionally uncanny accuracy.

Sure. If the "premonition" is correct, there is a rational reason for it (aside from just dumb luck). Think hard to find that rational reason. If you can, great, now you don't need the premonition. If you can't find anything rational to do, fuck the premonition.

The day you start letting vague, wishy-washy feelings change major decisions in your life is the day you give up on a well-examined life. Think about why you feel the way you feel, and use the higher intellect that your brain has evolved over millions of years. Your feelings are great, and serve an invaluable purpose, and you can certainly "know" something without understanding why (intuition or gut is what this is often called). You're always going to be better off if you can get the knowledge up into your conscious brain. You're playing a very dangerous game if you let unspecific feelings control your life, without understanding why. Very often, your gut feelings are not knowledge so much as they are a game of probability, too, and human feelings are complete shit at dealing with probabilities, which is why it's so important to get things up into your conscious brain and examine them.

There is no chance some psychic or mystic force is predicting the future for you when you get a premonition. Neither you nor anyone else can predict the future in that way*.

So you're back to seeing if there is anything rational to your feeling. Sometimes there will be: many times there won't be. But the feeling itself ain't all that useful or informative.

(And the "Oh my God I'm going to die!" type of feelings relating to major life events like moving or flying are almost always wrong. You generally are not going to be able to predict the kind of things that would kill/hurt you in those situations. It's going to be better to ignore such feelings, and learn to deal with them, in the long run, rather than just giving into them. For a premonition to be correct, it's going to have to be about something you can control: when they involve something like this, it's incredibly unlikely that that is the case).

* If you believe deeply that God or some mystic or higher force is speaking to you in such situations, I can't argue with you. Knock yourself out. But it's a certainty that if you examined such things objectively you'd find that God, or whomever, sure as hell was completely wrong an awful lot of the time.
posted by teece at 2:50 PM on August 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

As soon as I hit post, I knew I should have emphasized this:

For a premonition to be useful, it's going to have to be about something you can control.

If you are afraid the plane is going to crash, or you're going to die on the move, or you're going to get raped in the new house, etc., in a case that your premonition is anything like that, about something over which you have absolutely no control, then you are 100% guaranteed that the premonition is worthless.
posted by teece at 2:55 PM on August 1, 2006

So toastchee, how did it go?
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:02 AM on August 2, 2006

Yeah, I want to know how it went too.
posted by agregoli at 10:17 AM on August 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Uh oh. I have a bad feeling about this.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:54 PM on August 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Everything was and is fine. It was just nerves. I am enjoying my new locale very much. What a supportive Meta-community! Sorry for forgetting to follow up!
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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