How The Hanlon’s Razor Principle Helps Relieve Anxiety & Disappointment

I never heard of The Hanlon‘s Razor principle until my husband texted me, “Look up Hanlon’s Razor” after I had been venting to him. So I did. This is what I found…


“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect... Hanlon’s Razor teaches us not to assume the worst intention in the actions of others. Understanding Hanlon’s Razor helps us see the world in a more positive light, stop negative assumptions, and improve relationships.”


For example, if you text a friend and they haven’t responded to you in a few days, your first thought could be “They’re mad at me or they’re ignoring me on purpose.” Using Hanlon’s Principle, you can tell yourself “Maybe they’ve been very busy the past couple days. Maybe they lost their phone or don’t have phone service.”

For me, I had been venting to my husband about how frustrated and disappointed I was with someone. Usually, I’m the type of person who is looking for comfort when I vent, but somehow he knew I needed a solution which is why his response was "Look up Hanlon's Razor". This was the perfect solution in that moment. As I was reading about the Hanlon’s Principle, I felt a sense of relief. The only reasoning I had for the other person in my situation was of malice. I didn’t realize how much I was bottling up those feelings and assumptions.

In this situation, I decided to follow this principle more for myself than for the other person. I’ve learned that closure and healing is more of an inside job. As much as I wanted to call the other person out for disappointing me, I didn’t see that solving anything. Just making more problems. Especially if their reasoning was more so about neglect than malice.

However, this doesn’t mean that this principle applies to every situation. Sometimes, people are malicious. It’s important to balance this principle into your life when you see fit. I can’t control other people’s actions or their intentions, but I can control mine. In my situation, I decided to not assume the worst case scenario. Not sure if it was luck or not, but it ended up being that their intentions were in fact not malicious. They had been sick and struggling.

Often times, I find myself assuming someone is doing something to hurt me. That's mostly my anxiety talking. I need to remember that there’s multiple sides to every story. Sometimes, the other side could be struggling themselves which has led them to neglect some aspects of their lives. We are all guilty of that. I have found this principle to help balance out my anxious, "assume the worst", thoughts. It has provided me with peace that I didn't know I could achieve in these types of situations.


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Just a reminder, I'm not a medical professional! Not a therapist or doctor. My advice is based off of my own experiences being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. A lot of the tips I share are things I've learned from my therapist! 

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