Whenever we live an emotional experience or an important event occurs in our lives, our brain is in charge of analyzing it to draw conclusions about “how the world works”.
These conclusions become part of our model of reality, which is what determines our behavior.
For example, a few years ago in Salvador de Bahía (Brazil) a backpack was stolen from me with my glasses, my prescription sunglasses and a camera with hundreds of photos that I had not yet saved on my computer.
At that time I was in the middle of a trip to South America, and the truth is that I got really pissed off, it was a very emotional experience for me.
So my brain made the following reflection:
- Experience: I have been robbed in Salvador de Bahia
- Conclusion: there are certain areas of Salvador de Bahía that are dangerous and in which you have to be careful
- Effect on my behavior: avoid entering the “less good” areas of cities with a lot of money or valuable belongings, and in case of going with a backpack, never leave it unattended
Personally, I think I learned the right lesson based on what happened to me (in fact, I was never robbed from then on).
However, there are times when we don’t make a good analysis of the situation and we learn the wrong lesson, and that leads us to make bad decisions or limit our options for the rest of our lives.
For example, imagine that when I was robbed in Salvador I would have interpreted the situation as follows:
- Experience: I have been robbed in Salvador de Bahia
- Conclusion: Brazil is a horrible and extremely dangerous country
- Effect on my behavior: never go to brazil again
If I had come to that conclusion, I would have missed wonderful places that I have known later when I returned to the country, such as Florianópolis, Jericoacoará, or Minas Gerais.
And maybe in the future I would have even ended up depriving my children of knowing a city as incredible as Rio de Janeiro, by transmitting to them the idea that “Brazil is a very dangerous country that you should never go to”.
Unfortunately, this is what happens on many occasions.
That we learn the wrong lessons and end up creating an incorrect model of reality in our heads that causes us to behave in a way that harms us.
The question is: how can we prevent this from happening to us?
Well, as far as I know, there is no infallible method to extract the correct lessons…
But I can share with you the 3 big mistakes that I have made and that I also see other people make so that you do not fall for them.
They are the following:
Mistake 1: Establishing the wrong cause-effect relationships
In any event or experience there are different variables that could have influenced the result, and it is usually not easy to determine the real impact that each of them has had.
For this reason, it is not necessary to rush when establishing cause-effect relationships, and in general it is necessary to avoid reaching simplistic conclusions that assign all the responsibility for an effect to a single cause, since they are usually wrong.
For example, imagine that you decide to start a business and, as things go wrong, you come to the following conclusion: “I’m not good for business.”
In this case, it is very likely that you are learning the wrong lesson.
Because yes, it is true that you have set up the business, but the abilities of the person who starts a business is not the only factor that determines whether or not it is successful.
There are many other variables to take into account: the business model, the economic situation, the execution…
So before concluding that “you are not good for business”, you should carefully analyze the role that other factors have played.
And you should also ask yourself if you were really born without the necessary skills to create any type of business (unlikely), or if you simply had bad luck or made mistakes due to lack of experience.
Mistake 2: Drawing absolute conclusions from concrete experience
We live in an extremely complex and nuanced world, where things are rarely black or white.
For this reason, it is necessary to avoid drawing conclusions that include absolute terms such as “all”, “none”, “always” or “never”, because they are surely false.
For example, imagine that you sign up for an online course and that you are totally disappointed.
Faced with this situation, many people make the mistake of concluding that “ALL online courses are of poor quality”, and they never sign up for Internet training again.
Or even worse: they come to the conclusion that “ALL online course creators are scammers”, and end up spending precious hours of their lives writing insult-filled comments every time they see their website. feed from Instagram to someone promoting their training.
When in reality, the lesson they should have learned is: “there are SOME poor quality online courses out there, so before I sign up for a course I should do some research on it and its author to make sure what I’m buying is good”.
Mistake 3: Ignoring your share of responsibility for the things that happen to you
If something goes wrong for you once, it may be due to external factors or you may just have been unlucky.
But if the same thing happens to you 10 times, it most likely has something to do with the only variable that all those experiences have in common: you.
For example, I remember a friend who was unable to have a lasting relationship.
It was always the same story: he started dating a girl, he was super excited… but after a few weeks he left him claiming that the girl in question was crazy.
The conclusion my friend had reached was that “I have very bad luck, all the girlfriends I get are crazy.”
However, the lesson I should have learned is: “it seems that there is something about me that makes me attract a profile of girls that doesn’t suit me or that causes all the girls I date to end up behaving in a way that I don’t like. It seems irrational to me.”
That lesson would have led him to discover the mistakes he was making and that were preventing him from having a lasting relationship, which is the first step to being able to correct them.
As you can see, extracting the correct lessons from the experiences we live is not easy, since there are many details to take into account and many traps into which we can fall.
Therefore, I believe that we must be very careful with this process of analysis and learning.
But above all, I believe that we must be humble and always ready to unlearn the lessons of the past.
Because it is usually those lessons that we learned years ago, when we were children or when we had less experience, that block us, limit us and prevent us from creating a life that suits us.
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