This is the 4th book that I bought recently and finished reading. Find it easy to read and quite useful because it highlighted some of the dumbest mistake that I made in life too.
Because thinking and emotion affects our actions, thinking the wrong way may lead to undesired action and making blunders. Everyone has a stress threshold where we operate quite well when it is below that threshold. Once above the stress threshold, we will lost control and the ability to think properly. There are certain vulnerability factors that will lower our stress threshold and easily trigger us into misfire. Examples are like hunger, anger, substance abuse, loneliness, fatigue, pain, illness, job loss, love loss, lack of sleep and other major life changes.
The Ten Dumbest mistakes are major mistakes that many people made and are fundamental mistake because it leads to more complicated mistakes and problems if allowed. After recognizing the mistakes, we need have to use cognitive thinking and change the habitual thinking or belief system that have been with us into new thinking.
The 10 mistakes are:1. Chicken Little Syndrome
- Chicken little thinks that the sky is falling down when his head is hit by nuts falling from the tree. People jump to all sorts of catastrophic conclusions without evidence and investigations and it can be paralyzing. Sometimes people think of a chain events when event A happen, it leads to event B and then to event C and then to the worst situation event D. For example: I miss the train -> I miss the meeting -> I cannot meet the customer -> Boss will kill me and fire me. Realistic thinker will not assume the worst situation (firing) but find middle ground. Perhaps the missed meeting could be rearranged by a phone call and then the worst situation (firing) will not happen. One has to challenge the thought, de-catastrophize the situation and question the evidence. Don't magnify, assume, generalize and jump into conclusions. Sometimes it can be self-fulfilling prophecy.2. Mind Reading
- The biggest mistake is that we assume that know what others are thinking, or others should know what we are thinking because of very close relationship/buddy. "She should be able to understand me/tell since she knows me for a long time". This kind of mistake only leads to misunderstanding and disappointment. Accurate mind reading is impossible. Even reading body language could be wrong at times. Do not assume. Assume is "making an ASS out of U and ME". Making assumptions is a form of mental shorthand, no need further asking or communication or investigation. Looks and cues could be misleading. Drawing conclusion from past experience may also be a mistake. Jumping into conclusion by seeing only part of the picture is not seeing the big picture. The opposite of what you assume might be true also, so there is 50/50 chances of right/wrong. Do not draw conclusion about what people think base on what you think or write the end of the story as negative without even trying. Learn to question your assumptions, ask, take action to test water and communicate clearly without hidden/coded message.3. Personalizing
- Some people take the blame of a bad situation as if the blame is purposely and directly arrowed at him by other people. Do not interpret comments, questions, behaviors of others as a personal attack/insult to your self-worth of self-esteem. Situation may not seems to be like what you have thought. For example, if a teacher told the class that they are not doing well in their exams, you may think that the teacher is talking about you when you personalize it. "Shit, she is talking about me. She meant me." Personalize leads to misunderstanding, unnecessary hurts, anger, waste of energy, oversee/miss opportunities because of self-limiting, negative self-blaming thoughts. Learn to question and analyze your personalizing. "Is he picking on me, or could there be other possible explanation?". Pick your response carefully according to situation and avoid picking up a fight/argument.4. Believing your press agent
- It involves believing that success in one area translate into success in another area without a need to put in effort. When moving to a new environment or area, one needs to prove himself again. Overdose of positive thinking or confidence can produce negative results. Too much positive thinking may lead you to think that you owe no one explanation for your action, or you can blame others because of own superiority or is the lure of resting on your laurels or locked into strategy that no longer works. There are other press agent that give you false confidence such as your mother, your good friends, colleagues, salesman who flatter and religion teaching. Your mother says you are wonderful doesn't mean you are great in other areas or in other's eye. Don't let positive thinking go amok, do a reality check.5. Believing (or Inventing) Your Critics
- It's direct opposite of believing your press agent. One accept without debating anyone who criticizes you without bothering to determine how qualified those critics are or whether those critics even exist (you self invent youself). A successful person may doubt it's own success and undermine it. One can get into trouble if believing negative everywhere. Everyone is like a tuning fork which has a natural frequency. Some people are particular sensitive or insecure to certain area of crtics. A right word or look will act like a vibrating fork, making the listener's fork vibrate too. Critics have to be questioned, filtered and graded. Questions like "Who says?" "How many says so?". For example, you assumed "sneezing" is a shameful act in the class claimed by everybody or everyone thinks I am a fool if I fail the test, you may start to question yourself "who is the exactly everybody am I referring to? How true is that? How expert are they?". When you go to a singles bar and people are not looking at you, you may invent and criticize yourself "No one is interested in me" "I am ugly". It's a mistake to make such understatement where other people may be shy to look at you. When people praise that you have drawn a nice horse leg, you may internally assume that people are criticizing your drawing of other horse body parts sucks. It's foolish to self-invent this kind of critics. Some critics may be helpful in personal development. When dealing with tough critics that lead to no solution, one may delay the response or ignore the critics altogether. 6. Perfectionism
- The desire to be perfect, setting high standards could be dumb if the standards are too high to be met or leads to zero accomplishment. Nobody is perfect in this world. Perfection is simple a matter of opinion or timing (what's perfect fit in the past may not be perfect fit now). Too much perfect could be a bad thing. Some people may think that they cannot do something perfectly, they may give up trying at all. If you set your standard too high, you may not be able to find a love/life partner or miss out growing opportunity with people who are less perfect. Some projects need to be completed before the deadline and one has to compromise between meeting the deadline and doing a perfect report. By the time one has produced a perfect product, it may already well pass or miss out the market opportunity. One many be wasting too much time on small details to achieve perfection and miss out the big picture of the issue. Perfectionism manifest itself as a desire to avoid embarrassment, hence comprimising imperfection might be difficult. One need to judge if desire for perfectionism is helping or hurting them. Compromising perfection does not mean low standards. When you are asking people for perfection, are you yourself perfect at the first place? Perfectionist tend to see the glass as half empty, rather than half full. Don't be too hard to yourself, take risk, sacrifice some perfection if it's needed, be flexible and adapt to changes. Take small steps, do small things imperfectly and you are likely to achieve what you want.7. Comparisonitis
- Comparing may be good, but people often get into trouble by focusing only on negative comparisons of themselves to others. It's discouraging, cause unhappiness, misery and usually inaccurate. There is always a point of reference when we make comparison. Comparing help use make choices, solve problem and motivate improvement. People may find you arrogant if you flaunt positive comparison like "I am smarter". People tend to compare to those who have more than those who has less. One might also compare themselves today to the past or to the dream they desired but not achieved. Other people may also compare you with other people. The issue is whether you internalize their comparison and make it your own. For example, your mother may say "Look at your neighbour. He scores 100". Comparison should be taken as a motivator. Negative comparison can lead people to feel inadequate, insecure or hopeless. Keeping up with Joneses may get you into trouble, if you spend more than you earn. Learn to question how accurate is the comparison, what are you comparing, have you left out the positive on your side when comparing, how does other people be better affects you in anyway, so what if other people are better, how much sacrifice to achieve that status and etc. Take small steps to achieve what you desire. Don't compare in two ways, compare in four ways. List out advantage and disadvantage of alternative A. Do for alternative B as well. Life may be more comfortable when you compare less.8. What if thinking
- Creating what-if scenario, worrying about things that don't exist or highly improbable. Worries diminish power to to deal with issues. "What if he reject me?" "What if the planes explode?" "What if the medical result is positive?" It's paralyzing. People tend to pay more attention to that one chance that things will go wrong than to the 999,9999 chances that things will go right. What-if thinking springs from flawed premise, something unlikely, focus on negative rather than positive. Conjure positive what if could be better. For example, "What if I bump into the man/women of my dream today?". Learn to question what-if by asking questions like "How can you be sure?" "How likely is this?". Try to gain more evidence. One can also schedule a time specifically for worrying and postponing the worry. Try to relax and worry less.9. Imperative should
- "Should" users build prison cells for themselves. They are so focus on what they should do or should not do (present or in the past) that they cannot figure what they can do to solve their problem. Parents and education has work hard to convey what we should or should not do. Everyone doesn't have a same list of "shoulds". "Shoulds" differ by culture too and changes with time too (Girls shouldn't wear sexy in the past may change in the present). People seldom question the "shoulds" in society as they find comfort and stability of the virtues. The rigid "should" should be reviewed when you fail to do something because of it, regret over things you should have done in the past, when others have failed to do shoulds that hurts you, when deep down you feel you didn't have to comply, or you intend to do something you shouldn't (feel guilty) and what you believes conflict with what other believes. Your list of "shoulds" may make life harder for you. It's like a bridge. If the rigid shoulds make bridge so narrow, it's difficult to crossover. Loosen up the list of shoulds, to widen the bridge and make the crossover easier and using less effort. Should only offers two choice "should" or "should not". It would be better to use phrase like "It would be better if ..." than "should". Analyze the consequences/advantage/disadvantage of maintaining the "shoulds" as oppose to "giving up/modifying them". Ruminating what you should have done in the past is useless. The past couldn't be changed. Even if you have taken alternative action in the past, it may not lead you to a better outcome now. It could lead you to a even worse situation. Learn from the past, push the past to the back of your mind, make amends/make up for past mistake, focus on what you can do presently. It might be difficult to accept "shoulds" of the others if they collide with your "should". Find middleground or reject it.10. Yes-Butism
- The "but..." portion kills off the positive comment mentioned in front. Use "Yes... and" instead. "Yes, it looks good, but ..." sounds negative. Yes-but is dogged determination to find negative somewhere, somehow,or someway to minimize or cancel out whatever positive exist. Yes-but is also used when you cannot say "no" directly to avoid direct confrontation. When you say yes-but to yourself, you are denying/rejecting your ownself before others has the chance to reject you. For example "I would like to go out with her, but she probably has a boyfriend." It can also be a procrastinating excuses, for eg. "Yes, I know it's important, but I don't have time now". One has to monitor themselves how often they use Yes-but and change the habits/vocabulary. Changing Yes-but to Yes-And. For example, "Yes, I would like to do it, but here is why I cannot" to "Yes, I would like to do it and here are the challenges I must overcome first". Stop finding excuse to delay an action, a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step. One can also do role-play, by pretending the role that one can do it instead of rebutting. One can also reverse the Yes-But sentence by bringing negative to the front. For example "She is ugly but she has a kind heart". When dealing with people who like to Yes-but you, you can question their statement and say this to yourself "Yes, that's what she says, but I know better".
To correct the mistakes, use the IDEA approach.
dentify the thinking mistakes you are making
efine the mistake, what evidence it exist, how it affects you.
valuate course of action, think of alternatives, consider advantage/disadvantage
ct, take action. Identifying mistake is useless if you don't take action to correct it.