A quote from “The Big Short,” a book by Michael Lewis, and made into a 2015 movie, sparked my attention: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
In my mental health counseling, if someone used the words all, none, always, never, everyone, and nobody, it activated my internal red flag. It was a clue to address the lack of flexibility and objectivity. For example, “I never speed.” or “I always tell the truth.” They come to me with the hope of a professional proving they are correct, and everyone else is wrong. I might say, “Never?” “Always?” “Really?” I challenge their extreme thinking. Their words reveal unrealistic beliefs or expectations. Examples of inaccurate absolutes are, “I deserve all the credit.” “I never sleep.” “Everybody loves me.” “Nobody cares.”
Unfortunately, people can believe those who are overconfident and who verbalize their superiority. In reality, the self-loved could be covering a severe disorder or low esteem. Too often, we believe them and consequently hire, marry, support, or invest with them. People who brag, embellish, or lie to gain your support, eventually lose credibility. But, much loss and pain can occur before the lightbulb illuminates.
Most of us have been sure of something only to be proven wrong. We concede, agree, apologize, or admit defeat. It is healthy to admit we don’t know something; we are human. Saying, “I’m not sure,” is appropriate and advisable, and doesn’t get us into trouble. In the short-term, it is authentic, and in the long-run, it fosters respect.
We have no control over what someone else does, but if we pay attention, we can spot inflexible words in ourselves and others. With awareness, we can challenge and improve. If we do not want to be a person who hangs our hat on unrealistic, inflated esteem, we need to become aware of our words. If we don’t want not to fall for the inflated ego of others, we need to listen to their language.
Another quote I try to remember is by Dr. Maya Angelou, who said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Absolute speech provides clue words that expose superior and extreme attitudes. Perfect isn’t possible, and that applies to you, me, he, she, and them. If someone tells you or demonstrates they think they are smarter, luckier, most talented, etc., activate your red flag and think, “It just ain’t so.”
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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