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The Epistemic Debt Snowball
You may have heard of Financial Peace University — they’ve helped thousands of people get out of debt and plan their financial lives, and my wife and I learned a lot from them early in our marriage.
They teach something called the Debt Snowball. It works like this:
When you have lots of sources of debt, pay off the smallest ones first, and then use the extra money to pay off the next-smallest, and so on, paying off each debt in the order of smallest —> largest.
It seems logical that we could use our psychological resources the same way:
If epistemic debt is the amount of pain I must endure to become able to acknowledge a truth, then there must be an ideal order to endure it in.
For example, pay off some small denials first, and with the free energy no longer occupied by hiding the truth from ourselves, move onto larger ones.
Once you have chipped away at a few denials, overcoming subsequent ones become easier.
Epistemic Debt Snowballing is the art of chipping away at your denial — i.e., suffering — about the right topics, in the right order, so that the gains make the most important subsequent denials that much easier to let go of.
The subject matter involved will be different for each person, as each of us have a unique architecture of emotional wounds and ulterior motives to overcome.
I suppose the main point is this:
Overcoming denial about ANYTHING, will help you overcome denial about EVERYTHING.
(Here’s one way to practice overcoming denial.)