It’s interesting to see
How delusional we can be
When the “facts” we stand behind
Are all created in our mind.
“The fact of the matter is my neighbor uses the table saw in his garage at 7 AM on Sunday mornings just to tick me off,” she explained to my friend Michelle who was trying to help her solve a noisy conflict with her next-door neighbor.
She had explained to Michelle that despite several “polite” attempts at asking her neighbor not to fire up his equipment before 8 AM, he was continuing to do so.
His explanation that Sunday is a normal workday for him and that he needed to work on his project before leaving for his job was nothing more than “a pitiful excuse for waking up everyone in the neighborhood.”
Michelle deals with this perverse logic every day and has often shared with me how it never ceases to amaze her that people so readily combine irrefutable, indisputable facts – it is Sunday, it is 7 AM, her neighbor is using his table saw in his garage – with a reason of their choosing – a “because” – and then conclude that the reason is a part of the facts.
Michelle can rattle off hundreds of examples:
– The father who told her his ex-wife is always late in bringing the kids over to his house and does this just to “get back at him.”
– The inconsiderate man who allows his dog to bark only because it irritates his neighbor.
– The landlord who increased the rent just to “squeeze more money out of us.”
– The cop who wrote a ticket “just because he did not like the way I talked to him.”
– The neighbor who didn’t shovel his sidewalk because he doesn’t care if people fall and hurt themselves.
– The neighbor’s kid who deliberately revs his motorcycle because we have asked him not to.
– The co-worker who altered a number in a document just to make me look bad.
In my tenure as a member of a condominium board I have talked with folks whose neighbors “deliberately” parked their vehicles in the wrong assigned parking stalls. Others have complained of neighbors who play loud music “all night just to keep us awake,” and “don’t put the weights back in the proper place in our gym because they “just don’t care about anyone but themselves.”
Like Michelle, I too am fascinated by these Conspiracy Theorists who “know for a fact” why others do what they do.
I marvel at their remarkable skill. It is truly a gift to be able to read the minds of others with such unerring accuracy.
The challenge for Michelle in attempting to help people who have such well-developed psychic capabilities, resolve the conflicts is that they tend to focus on the motive behind the behavior rather than just addressing the behavior itself.
And often, she tells me, their need to be right – to prove the motive behind the behavior – makes it even more difficult to reach resolution because they view themselves as having been victimized by this behavior and therefore demand some form of punishment be meted out to the guilty party.
There is a name for this gift of being able to read the minds of others. It is called the Fundamental Attribution Error and it is a common, and usually highly ineffective, way of explaining the social behavior of others by attributing an explanation for their behavior. The evidence used to support this assumption is usually nothing more than an opinion.
And as we have frequently discussed in these pages, we tend to delude ourselves into thinking that our opinions and beliefs actually represent fact.
A belief or opinion is nothing more than what we believe to be true. A fact is something irrefutable and indisputable.
Our lives are made so much easier when we deal only with the facts and send our opinions away on vacation.
On the downside, not attributing motives to the behavior of others and not blaming them does take all the fun out of it, doesn’t it?
Till we read again.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure
– I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.
– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.