I think that everyone has the Life-Goal of not making mistakes. If they don't they should! We know that the fewer mistakes we make the less trouble we will have, and the smoother and more successful will be our life.
Really high quality people endeavor (try hard) to make as few mistakes as possible.
There are several kinds of mistakes. One kind is simply an accident. A completely unexpected event occurs. Another is caused by not having all the correct information necessary to prevent the mistake.
This essay is about mistakes of Errors in Thinking. These are mistakes that take place inside your own brain. They are not caused by accidents or incorrect or insufficient information, but by errors in the "programs" we run in our own mind! They are caused by bugs in our own software, that is, in the way we think! Another way to say this is we have learned some poor thinking habits.
Everyone makes errors in thinking from time to time. Our Life-Goal should be to make as few errors as possible.
Somebody Has to be Blamed
The foundation for this error is, "All negative events are caused by somebody."
This perspective is false.
Life-Rule: "Sometimes bad stuff just happens and there is Nobody at fault!"
Rationalization is when you make up a reason which seems to you to excuse an action you have taken, justify an action you want to take, or to deflect personal responsibility away from yourself. It is a form of lying. It may sound good to you, but is very often seen by others for what it really is - a smoke screen for hiding the truth from yourself! Then when you, fully believing your own lie, state it to others you are in effect lying to them! And they usually know it!
If people see you doing this, they will loose respect for you! They will look at your future "reasoning" with greater suspicion! They will have recognized you are not a person of very high quality! OUCH!
I am Never at Blame
We all recognize this as a defensive tactic. We feel uncomfortable when we know we have messed up. We want to avoid that feeling. So we rationalize that we are not the cause. The easiest way is to find someone else or something else to blame.
When we do this, it may momentarily keep us from feeling bad about ourselves, but it also acts to damage the respect others may have for us! Because others are not going to buy the lie (unless they are "kissing up" to us)! Deep inside recognize we know we messed up and that bad feeling is still present.
Sometimes we try to deflect blame when we ARE at fault. This prevents us from taking whatever steps may be needed to fix ourselves so that we won't make that same mistake again. When we refuse to accept responsibility, it is impossible for us to improve. Think about it!
Egocentric thinking ("What I Think is the Absolute Truth")
There are several papers on this web site which discuss and deal with this thinking error. Refer to them for further reading. See Thinking Essays about Egocentricity (& Lesson Plans)
Correlated Events are Taken as Cause and Effect
Correlated means where two things are related somehow to each other. Typically it means they must have occurred in the same period of time.
The error made, often by people who are highly educated, is to assume that one of the things caused the other thing. This writer has seen countless examples of reports that try to say that one thing caused the other, when there is absolutely no justification for that thinking. The easiest way to see this is to ask, "Could both of these things have been caused by some third thing?"
In this writer's judgment, this error is extremely common.
I have actually heard this example. It is outrageous, but illustrates this and other errors quite well.
Fact 1 A gentleman was hospitalized.
Fact 2 While there, he died.
His wife said, "My husband was killed by the doctors at the hospital. If he hadn't been there he would still be alive."
Fact 3 The gentleman actually died of a massive untreatable brain cancer. She was told this diagnosis, but refused to change her opinion. The third factor, the cancer, had caused him to be hospitalized, AND it had caused his death.
There are three thinking errors involved here.
I Have to be Perfect & Everything I do Has to be Perfect
This sounds so good, but is very bad. Read the essay on this site titled "I Nevar Make Mistaks," the section subtitled, "Example: The Perfectionist". This is a true story. Read to the end of the essay.
Here are a few simple steps anyone can use to "debug" their own thinking habits. (They ARE habits!)
Life-Rule: "I will use my own recognition of my own thinking errors as an opportunity to improve myself."
Life-Rule: "When I eliminate a thinking error I will earn the respect of other people."
Life-Rule: "When I eliminate a thinking error I will earn my own self respect."