If the last few years have left you conceding defeat to the universe, you’re not alone. With so much going on in the wider world while we’re still juggling the little deadlines, eating ‘right’, and just trying to keep a single plant alive, it’s no wonder we’re reporting unprecedented levels of stress. Throw in the glamorous vacations and blissed-up moments we’re force-fed on social media, and it’s easy to lose sight of gratitude.
The thing with this stress, though, is that it often leads to a lot of self-blame, where the setbacks that are out of our control still feel like our fault. It might just be one thing, a hair out of place that delays your commute or spontaneous tech problems that sabotage a job interview, and we’re kicking ourselves mercilessly about the messes we find ourselves in.
But unlike some of the other more precarious trends that come from the app’s convoluted algorithm, TikTok’s latest mental health hack is all about embracing where that mess gets us. Introducing the ‘Burnt Toast Theory’, a state of mind to channel when you’re struggling to look on the bright side.
What is the ‘Burnt Toast Theory’?
Picture this: you’re rushing to get to work after one too many alarm snoozes, and you go and lose track of time when toasting some bread. It’s burnt, so you have to start again, setting you back another couple of minutes on your journey. While this would usually prompt an extended meltdown that sets an anxious tone to your entire day, the Burnt Toast Theory can actually do wonders to curb your anxiety.
Proliferated by TikToker Ingrid (@offthe__grid), it basically encourages us to consider the reasons bad things happen. In a viral video, she explains how the outlook has helped her accept things she can’t control. “Burnt toast theory is the idea that if you burn your toast before work and it adds five to 10 minutes to your trip, it’s actually saving you from something catastrophic,” she says. “Maybe saving you from a car accident. Maybe saving me from someone who you don’t want to run into. But this is the idea that inconveniences in our lives, or when something releases us in the universe, it’s either saving us from something more detrimental, or pushing us in the direction that we need to go in.”
“Adopting this and really thinking about it when I might be upset about something that is out of my control has really grounded me and allowed me to just have a little bit more peace in my life,” she shared with her followers.
Though you might have a lot of questions, Ingrid assures that it’s not about having the answers. “You won’t know exactly what the burnt toast has saved you from, but that’s not the point,” she says. “The point is to allow you to accept things in life that are completely out of your control. Give you more peace and ground you.”
Of course, it’s not a fix-all to life’s great injustices—big or small—but the idea that the chips will fall where they may has long been a way to stay sane while navigating it all. Ultimately, the Burnt Toast Theory is really about zooming out, and knowing that in the grand scheme of things, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.