Cognitive Distortions – Part 6
Don’t blow things up out of proportion or minimize them.
When you fail, don’t exaggerate your errors and imperfections. Don’t blow them up way out of proportion because doing so will cause you unnecessary grief. Everyone make mistakes. Failure plays a huge role in your learning process; however, you may fear it as you get older. Constantly remind yourself that failure is part of your growth. If you fall down, you can get back up again stronger by learning from your mistakes. When you tried to walk as baby, you would fall down often, sometimes getting injured; yet, you kept getting up and trying again until walking became second nature.
Products, services, and philosophical and scientific theories are proven through trial and error. Thomas Edison went through thousands of prototypes before he was able to successfully create the light bulb. Henry Ford became financially broke 5 times and was advised to stay away from the automobile industry. He persisted until he successfully developed automobiles for the commercial market.
Even Albert Einstein struggled. As a student, he performed so poorly that he nearly decided to drop out and sell life insurance. After graduating from the Swiss Polytechnic Institute at 21 years old, Einstein had to work many odd jobs to sustain himself. His father died believing he was a failure. Einstein was emotionally crushed. Eventually, he became employed as a patent clerk. He would review patents and analyze mathematical equations daily, and he loved it. Einstein’s passion for math led him down the path to becoming one of the greatest scientists in world history. This example shows how failure can lead you to your passions.
Some failures are out of your control such as a car exploding and crashing into your vehicle, causing you to miss an important meeting that that ended badly with the investor leaving. Or, like our current situation with the Coronavirus, a pandemic spreads, causing the economy to shut down, which leads to you losing money. In these situations that are out of your control, don’t exaggerate the errors and imperfections. Instead, always have gratitude for the positive – you are still alive.
Neither should you exaggerate the errors and imperfections of others. By doing so, you will lash out undue judgment. This is where having empathy for others can tame your distorted view on the failure of others. Remind yourself that you could fail just as bad or worse. If you place hell on others, be ready to receive the same wrath from people when you fail at the same thing.
When I was a litigation attorney, I was once stuck in traffic for almost 2 hours on the freeway, on my way to Honolulu District Court from West Oahu because of an accident ahead of me. I arrived at the courtroom with 5 minutes before it was to start; but the judge was already sitting in her chair gaveling the start of the hearing. She berated me without giving me a chance to apologize. A year later, that same judge was almost a half an hour late to another court hearing. She sat down and oversaw the hearing like nothing happened. She didn’t even apologize to any of us. In this real life example, the judge blew things way out of proportion for me even though I had 5 minutes more before the court was to begin; whereas, she treated her tardiness like it never happened. Moral of the story, don’t blow things out of proportion for the errors of others either. You will cause unnecessary stress on your target and others around you. When you make the same mistake, shit will start flying back at you, whether it is uncomfortable stares or more. People like that also seem to have less friends because they hold high standards on others that doesn’t apply to themselves.
Lastly, when it comes to your strengths, don’t minimize them. For instance, when you achieve a nice score on your test, don’t minimize your success by telling yourself that you were just lucky when you studied your butt off. When your third attempt at a start-up company finally succeeds, don’t pass it off as simply being lucky. No, you worked darn hard for many years to get where you are. You sacrificed by living with little money to build your business. Embrace your success. Don’t shrink them. Nor should you minimize the success of others. They also sacrificed a lot to achieve them. Be happy for them. If you’re minimizing yourself now, let me say this, “You’re great, and you deserve those wins! Keep crushing it!”
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