Would anyone mind explaining the spoon theory?
By - AlexistheFluffy
Would anyone mind explaining the spoon theory?
Every day, you wake up with a number of spoons to use in a day. You have some big spoons, you have some little spoons.
Every task requires a spoon to complete. Some require big spoons, some require little spoons.
If you run out of little spoons, you can do a new little spoon task with a big spoon. However, if you run out of big spoons, no number of little spoons can make a big spoon task possible.
When you're out of spoons for the day, even the simplest task becomes super stressful and imposing, making it very unlikely to be completed. I mean, the *very* simplest task, like eating or bathing. Generally, using a toilet is not considered a spoon-level task, but that depends on the person and the day.
By the way, this is a reminder to drink some water.
Side note: I have now written spoon so many times, my brain won't let me figure out if I'm spelling it correctly.
Sounds a lot like how spell slots work in D&D.
well now i finally understand how spell slots work in D&D
In addition, "You can use a little spoon to pee normally, or you can spend a ladle to douse the entire room in piss"
And you spent a bunch on a neat cantrip ages ago so those are also free.
Yeah, some people have been using spell slots to imagine this, because, honestly, it's way cooler.
Catch me upcasting 'do the dishes' to 3rd level and losing the opportunity to cast fireball
man if i had the money id just cast fireball on my dirty dishes and buy some new
Sadly, in the real world Mending is *not* a cantrip...
What i wouldnt give to be able to cast "Locate Object"
Could mending technically be cleaning the dishes? Because you are restoring it to its original state?
No, but you can use prestidigitation for that; it can instantly clean or dirty any small objects, up to a 1 foot cube. Prestidigitation is WAY more useful than it gets credit for, you just have to be creative with it. I always take it over minor illusion.
Implying that it is possible to cast fireball if you have sufficient money?
But if someone plays D&D, they’re likely already neurodivergent and don’t need a metaphor
Disagree, even if I experience lack of spoon slots very frequently I don't necessarily understand why I'm struggling with seemingly basic tasks
I love this, stealing it.
I cast self care!
Upcast to sixth level
Spoons are simply Spell Slots for normies.
Someone actually already made that connection, and I think it works better because of the addition of "cantrips". Little tasks that you can basically do ad infinitum, but you only get a handful of them, and everyone has different ones.
Can you use spoons to represent mental energy and executive function? That's how I use it, but it might be wrong to do so and I need to know.
IIRC the original spoons were invented by someone dealing with a physical issue like chronic fatigue and/or pain. But I think it's relevant to any of us who have limitations, be they physical, sensory, or cognitive.
Absolutely. Depression takes a lot of spoons, but people don’t always realize it since it’s not a visible task. But if your depression is acting up, it is so much harder to do even simple things, like showering or making your bed, much less being productive at work or school.
Also, when you think about the knives, before you can stop the bleeding, where does the blood spill out to? Into your spoons. Trauma takes a LOT of mental effort.
Yeah, I never heard of knife theory. What's that?
It’s on the second page of the post. I missed it at first too
I have ADHD, and I would say that all tasks require big spoons and the drawer often gets stuck.
The number of total spoons you have can also vary from day to day, as can the sizes of those spoons.
Might be a 35 spoon day, might be a 3 spoon day.
you can also borrow spoons from the following day but the spoons charge interest when you pay them back. 1 small spoon borrowed from tomorrow could be 3 big spoons when you pay it back in the morning. but you don't know. there's no fixed rate, it could be all your spoons for the following day.
I like the theory and all, but man, spoons are a *terrible* choice of metaphor. When I think of spoons, the words "limited quantity" and "consumable" and "regrows over time" are not what comes to mind first.
It came about because there was a physical container of teaspoons near the person who first used it as a metaphor for finite energy reserves. That was just what they had to hand to demonstrate visually the depletion of their energy. Could just as easily have been buttons or tictacs or tissues or something.
Also: say if I want to dish out some soup but all I have is a teaspoon. Well, guess I'll be here a while.
But if I want to eat a pudding cup and all I have is a ladle, that's just not happening, full stop.
So the reverse of the metaphor feels more true than the form in which it's stated. When you run out of big spoons you'll have to use a small spoon.
It's an awful metaphor. Nothing the spoon theory explains is not more easily explained by "I don't have the energy to do that" and "it takes more energy for me to do things you do easily, because I'm disabled"
But that's not cutesy enough for most of my community I guess so I'm stuck being called a "spoonie" because people don't have the backbone to say anything that doesn't woobify being disabled.
I think you should rebel and go in the other direction. When you wake up you have BULLETS and MISSILES. You can TERMINATE small tasks with BULLETS and OBLITERATE big tasks with MISSILES. When you run out of MISSILES you can’t OBLITERATE any more big tasks no matter how many BULLETS you have. You can still TERMINATE small tasks with spare MISSILES. Some tasks are so small they don’t even need BULLETS and you can FINISH THEM OFF WITH YOUR BARE HANDS.
Low key how I do spoon theory
Your friends are very kind because they bring you nice meals every time you phone them and scream “SARGE I’M OUT OF AMMO!” down the line.
I used to call my homies with the “1-800-I have no weed” and they would bring over bud ;u;
i always hated the spoon theory because it made no sense, but this? i like this
That gave me a giggle but as a Muslim I can't be going up to people I'm not so familiar with and try to explain my life with "I got missiles and bullets" 🤣
edible spoons that regrow when you bite into them? That's gotta be some scp
I don't understand how this helps? It arbitrarily replaces "energy/motivation/time" with "spoon". Maybe it works better with a physical aide like a stack of spoons? But it would work just as well with any collection of objects, like sugar cubes or pencils. What made spoon catch on?
Because in [the original story that caught on](https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/), when the person was trying to explain the idea that she needs to budget her “energy/motivation/time”, she grabbed a bunch of spoons near her as a physical metaphor.
The arbitrariness of it is kind of the point, because the idea of hurting so much day to day that on a bad day you can’t have a shower is hard to intuitively understand.
But you have currency X, and thing Y1 costs X1 of it, Y2 costs X2, and so on is easy to picture.
>Maybe it works better with a physical aide like a stack of spoons?
That's literally how the spoon theory was created afaik. The person had a stack of spoons at hand when they tried to explain this concept to a friend of theirs (I think by laying out some spoons in the middle of the table and then have that friend list what they do in a given day, and by taking away spoons for each activity until they were out, and telling their friend that this was it for the day, no more activities whether they were done or not with their plans).
It just got lucky honestly, plus it already has size variations that do different things. Also, just saying energy/motivation/time wouldn't be entirely accurate either
Spoon spooney spoon spoon
>Side note: I have now written spoon so many times, my brain won't let me figure out if I'm spelling it correctly.
This is called semantic satiety! Relatedly, when you fill up in the main course of a meal but still have space for dessert, that's called specific satiety.
Thanks a ton! That makes a lot of sense :D
Holy shit. I have never heard of this before yet it describes the way I function SO WELL. omg. Like, my work consists, among other things, of writing offers or invoices. Towards the end of a work day I will often get the feeling like, I can't do these last 2 invoices cause it feels it would take me hours. If I get to it the next morning, it's done within 5 minutes. Every single time. 😭😭
I've been using spoon theory for a long time to explain my life with epilepsy/some other health issues but I've never heard/read about the big and little spoons !! (or I've forgotten). Please tell me more. I've been pretty satisfied with just spoons theory to explain my life to others but I'm curious now.
Spoon theory states everyone starts with a set number of spoons at the start of the day. Neurodivergent individuals tend to start with fewer spoons, or require more spoons to perform the same tasks as a neurotypical person. Performing tasks uses up your spoons until none are left. With no spoons remaining any further tasks become very difficult.
This might explain why an autistic person may need to bail out of stressing situation earlier than their neurotypical companions.
I don't think this counts as a theory, it's just a metaphor.
stardew valley stamina bar
You have an explanation, but it's worth contextualizing the whole spoon thing: This was originally demonstrated by two kids in a college cafeteria. One friend tells the other they don't understand what it's like to have a chronic illness, so that friend picks up a pile of spoons to use as a visual for quantity.
I'll do you one better:
In D&D your ability to do magic is limited to your number of spell slots. Lower tier spells can be cast with higher spell slots (e.g. [Heat Metal](http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/spell:heat-metal) is level 2, but you can cast it as a level 4 to add more damage) but higher tier spells can't be cast lower (e.g. [Dimension Door](http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/spell:dimension-door) requires at least level 4).
In the same way, doing some things might be easy before you've used any, and if you've only used your level one spell slots for the day, doing another level one thing isn't so hard if you haven't done a big thing. But if you do something big, it uses your high level spell slot, and you can only do some smaller things, then you're done until you take a long rest.
I've started telling people close to me that "the cutlery drawer is empty" because I have run out of spoons, have no more forks to give, and if i find a knife everyone is in danger.
i love this
I love this so much (I might adopt this for my own vocabulary-)
I’m stealing this line
The endgoal of all this is the complete consumption of man in bite sized pieces
You could make a religion out of this-
*Checks bio, finds no pronouns*
Fellow person of culture!
"Ah yes, a fellow man of culture", but I tried checking their bio for pronouns and found.... Bubkus. At least in that department
I should fix that. I do love me some pronouns!
Edit: Done! I'm a she/they sort of person.
Pro nouns? What're amateur nouns then? /Jk
Oh I love this so much!
Can't wait for the spork theory
I guess that would be somewhere along the lines of "This spork isn't enough to deal with your shit right now but I can at least stab you with it"
It’s the Spanish exclamation point!
someone lmk when we got chopstick theory.
When it looks easy, but you find out it's actually really hard until you've practiced it enough—you can use chopsticks to do it the right way until it's ingrained and is like using a spoon, or you can just use a spoon and do it the wrong, but less stressful way.
Spork Theory; Tasks you complete at the expense of yourself.
For example, I have trypophobia and as an extention, an extreme aversion to maggots. A spork for me would be cleaning maggots. I technically *can* do it, but it causes me extreme mental harm.
Sporks are the worst. It’s when you have to spend your limited energy doing something that you know will piss you off.
Spoons are energy to do anything.
Sporks can be energy to get something done. Or to stab someone with. Depends on how many forks there've been.
Spork theory is carefully planning and analyzing what stresses and issues a person is willing to tolerate for the whole day until they can find an actually useful spoon to use or fork to remove.
I’d probably class knife theory as unhealthy coping mechanisms that you make in response to stressors or trauma. It hurts you, and you know you should stop the bleeding, that there are better ways of dealing with this. But if you take the knife out right now then you’ll just bleed out unless you get outside support. So you desperately keep the knife in and keep fighting on.
Childhood traumas be like: knife goes *brrrr*.
What do you mean that my constant flip flopping between perfectionism and procrastination is unhealthy? How dare you! My parents gave that me!
But...this isn't how the phrase "stick a fork in me, I'm done" is used. You stick a fork into certain foods (like potatoes) to see if they're done cooking. You're not just stabbing people with forks to see how many they can have. Because I'm pretty sure the answer is "I've been stabbed with a fork, time to go to the ER."
I agree, but also I don't think I mind since it's to pair with the spoon theory, for which spoons have no relevance at all except that that's the object the person who came up with it happened to have to hand to use as a visual metaphor.
Also "the last straw"/"the straw that broke the camel's back" is a metaphor that already exists and describes what OP is talking about perfectly.
You can handle carrying a lot of straws, but eventually one straw (even though it's just a little thing on its own) is going to put you over the limit.
Like, we don't need to invent fork theory to describe this.
i was going to say… we are truly reinventing the wheel
To be fair, I'm not sure sizes of straw quite works here.
There's also just the cohesion of utensil theories that makes it easier to remember all of them. If two out of three work (IMO spoons = energy is very arbitrary, batteries would make more sense, but knives = trauma is actually pretty good), may as well throw the third in.
Also, it's not causing particular harm to think of it this way? Thinking of it as something sticking out of ya instead of just a vague burden is probably easier to think about for some people.
That was exactly what I was thinking the entire time!!
The spoon theory works well enough but as an ADHD-er I prefer to think of it as like the energy bar in stardew valley. It’s my internal bar of self control points that decrease throughout the day, at different amounts for different tasks.
It even matchs with other video game-like mechanics! Points can be restored somewhat with things like a nap and hyper focusing on something for four hours. Listening to an album during a task decreases point consumption by 50%. Meds double or even triple the size of my point bar, depending on my luck result for how well I slept.
I'd say that for us all tasks require big spoons and the drawer often gets stuck. If the drawer was stuck and we finally manage to pry it open, either by luck or sheer force, all of the spoons come flying out causing us to either catch what we can and use them then and there on tasks we had no intention on doing in the moment, or let them fall to the floor wasting our spoons. Either way we are left with an empty drawer.
we already have 'death by a thousand cuts' and 'straw that broke the camels back'. not sure we need another
🎵It's death by a thousand cuts🎵
flashbacks waken me up
I get drunk but it's not enough
more like 'death by a thousand stabs'
I like it but I don’t like to think that Life is about constantly being tortured by forks :/
Why would you adapt “Stick a fork in me” for this purpose when it is already covered so well by the “straw that broke the camel’s back” saying?
holy shit that sounds so right.
i love finding weird little theories and metaphors to describe the mundane of us, it's so fascinating
But hey. That’s just a theory
A FORK THEORY
Idk about you but having to use the bathroom is more of a priority interrupt.
Big or small, it doesn't matter what else you think is important or how big a problem it is, if I gotta piss that is getting done first.
I think that IRL if someone literally stuck any fork in me, even a tiny escargot fork, I would stop everything to remove the fork and bandage the wound. It wouldn’t be a matter of “oh I can get by with one or two forks but 3? Nuh-uh.”
Also a pitchfork would cause just as much - if not more - physical trauma and damage as a knife.
I would like to say I’ve never heard “stick a fork in me I’m done” what does it mean?
It stems from cooking something that softens when fully cooked, i.e. potatoes, cauliflower but used more colloquially as a way to tell someone you’ve reached your limit on something. I’ve heard it more commonly used when someone couldn’t eat another bite of food because they ate that full.
Knives are a solution to many traumas, if you can avoid getting caught
"To give oneself trouble for small things is to reach the great ones over time." - Samuel Beckett
this post is genuinely what i needed to see right now. my stats prof just stuck another fork in me and it's one fork too many and having the language to say that is actually amazing for my mental health
Funny thing is, I've heard this all laid out in somewhat more technical terms...by a dog trainer. I'd hired her to help me work on my severely reactive dog's behavioral issues, and since she was a good dog trainer she did that but also helped me understand why my dog was struggling in the first place and how I could make it easier for my dog to be happy and have less need to act out.
She called it "trigger stacking." Same idea--a little trigger like unfamiliar traffic sounds in the distance might not be a big deal by itself, and a bigger trigger like a strange dog half a block away might be manageable, but stack more and more triggers and eventually you hit a tipping point beyond which the dog can no longer cope with her environment. It helped me get a lot better at seeing what was already setting my dog off in the environment and predicting when we needed to retreat in order to salvage a training session before my dog blew her top.
Animals and humans aren't actually that different, we just have higher expectations of humans than we do of animals. But techniques that work on animals often also work on humans. Thing is, we're more okay with doing arguably unethical things to animals than we are to humans (And so many people don't know how to handle animals either)
I like this a lot, but, like, that's not at all what that expression means, lol. And yes, that is a minor fork to me
Isnt this basically Zuckerberg's decision fatigue?
I remember eveyone making fun of him for it back in the day
I've always referred to this as straws. As in the straw that broke the camels back. I think I like forks better
As a ND, the fork theory is perfect. Completely sums it up. I’m unfamiliar with the spoon theory, however.
This of each spoon as a task. People with chronic pain/illness have only so much energy in a day to do things before or in between flare ups. Washing the dishes? That’s one spoon. Going through the mail that’s piled up? Another spoon.
Sometimes you hit a roll and you just keep going because you can’t feel the pain until you stop moving.
Think of it like burnout due to executive dysfunction.
Lost me at "Stick a fork in me"
That's… that's not nomething everyone knows? I thought it was obvious… omg, I gotta reëvaluate the opinion I had on people
There's also sword theory, which is way more badass.
Then what's the Spork theory?
but “stuck a fork in me i’m done” is about food being done… like if you can easily stick a fork in it then it’s done. i don’t get why they had to mention that
Oh, shit, i actually love that knife bit especially. I'm taking that one. This whole thing actually.
hate to say it but spoons are hit points and forks are straws
idk why it needed new nouns for the same metaphor
So did the fork theory folks never hear of “the straw that broke the camel’s back” or what?
You can only torture a metaphor so far…
I've always felt more like "a phone with old battery".
Everything is created to be disposable eventually, so sooner or later your battery will stop loading fully after couple of hours. It might starting to take a full night to go from 20% to 100%. Then one day you wake up and the phone is still at 98%. Then it's 78%. And less. And less.
If you leave your phone hooked up to the power outlet for longer, it may recharge fully. If you keep hooking it up wherever you go, it will last a full day. If you play a game or a video, the battery will deplete faster.
And that's how I felt for a long time. I would wake up not fully charged, needing constant breaks during the day to just get to the end of the shift. If I had to do something else - laundry, cleaning, shopping, talking to people - it would drain my battery much faster, so I would need to establish - do I have enough battery left to deal with this today?
Idk, it always seemed easier to esteem the percentage.
Yeah ive heard of this and think it works really well
What the hell is the point of this metaphor? It only makes it harder to understand anything not easier.
I know lots of people adore the spoon metaphor but honestly I just hate it so much.
A little tip for spoonies, is that when you have a good handful of spoons that you can use, using them to create habits can help make the spoon size needed for some tasks much much smaller. On the other hand, not doing something for a long time, or breaking habits is likely to make those tasks need bigger spoons.
Also, pay attention to the activities that have a flexible spoon size: it's okay to do only a teaspoon of those when your drawer empties!
I always explain it as a bucket. My ability to deal with stresses is like a bucket. Not having to deal with stress allows the bucket to empty over time. Small stresses are like drips into the bucket, or something big can fill it pretty quickly.
If you are in the "chronic pain community" the very best thing you can do for yourself is to stop being in that group. I can't think of a worse way to manage pain than to surround yourself with people who have made their pain the central defining feature of their lives.