Monday, February 25, 2013

Removing Subtractive Reasoning from your Life

One of the major obstacles preventing you from becoming the best person you can be is your own mental blockade.  A great example of this is whenever you fail at something; do you think “I should have done it this way”?  This type of thinking is called subtractive reasoning, and really doesn’t serve much of a purpose for your own self-improvement.
It’s understandable why we think that way.  Imagine if you were the start basketball player in high school.  On the day of the big game, it all comes down to you making one final shot.  You aim at the basket, shoot the ball, and miss by a few fractions of an inch.  This type of loss will no doubt be played over and over again in your brain.  It is inevitable to start thinking about what you did “wrong”. 
Subtractive reasoning isn’t very helpful.  Think about it, did analyzing where you went “wrong” and mentally punishing yourself for such a failure ever make you feel better or perform better in the long run.  It essentially amounts to a life of personal negative feedback.  Why become your harshest critic? 
There is an alternative way of thinking.  Instead of focusing on how you failed, instead think of the experience as a learning opportunity and say “that way didn’t work, so I’ll try another”.  This type of reasoning is not intuitive.  Our society constantly reinforces failure as not acceptable.  In reality, we all fail at some point in our lives, and so failure should just be a natural part of the learning process.  “I couldn’t accomplish my goal using this method, so I know that method doesn’t work, and I will try a new method.” 
Life and experience do not always come as big epiphanies.  Instead, think of learning as a series of little “Ah-Ha’s!” that build into an overall lesson.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Understand how you could have improved the situation, learn from your failure, and move on.  This is how all humans learn.
Wonderful Moment of the Day: Watching an 18 year old kid try to get the phone number of a 28 year old woman on the subway…really cute and funny.  When asked for her number, the woman replied with “How old are you”?  I gave the kid credit for trying.

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