Thursday, April 5, 2012

Action 283 - Don’t Overlearn The Lesson.

Each and every day, I am presented with the opportunity to learn. Sometimes it’s a small thing, like learning shortcuts on Excel or finding a new food I enjoy. Other times, it’s more significant, like learning that a family member is struggling or finding out that someone else has been less than a friend to me behind my back. In each of these experiences, there is a lesson to be learned. But there is another bit of wisdom that should also apply.

Action 238 – Don’t Overlearn The Lesson. Take from it only what is relevant and applicable. That’s easy to understand when talking about a shortcut on Excel. I wouldn’t assume that inserting a column in a spreadsheet would help me with Photoshop. And it’s easy to understand when talking about a new food. Learning that I like broccoli doesn’t mean I would start eating cauliflower.

So why do I struggle so much with overlearning the lesson when it comes to things that are so much more important and meaningful? Why do I take more from a situation than I should? For example, let’s say that I host a party and a friend RSVP’s yes but is a no-show on the day of the event. Overlearning the lesson would find me deciding to never host another party again, because “friends always let me down.” But that wasn’t the lesson at all. At worst, the lesson is to stop inviting the one person who blew the event off.

And what about something even more significant? What if I find out that someone I thought was a friend has actually been talking trash about me to everyone? The lesson, of course, is that this person obviously isn’t a very good friend. But that’s it. I don’t need to act like every single one of my friends is out to get me. I don’t need to start treating all of them like crap just because one person is an ass.

It’s easy to overlearn the lesson. The paranoid in me wants to believe that the one person I caught is just one of many people out to get me. The paranoid in me says, “oh, yes, everyone hates me and they are all talking bad about me.”

It’s rubbish. One person is a jerk, but that doesn’t mean that the one person represents any others. As I told another friend earlier today, “a person can influence how I feel about them, but they don’t have the power to influence how I feel about everyone else.”

Take from a lesson what is worth learning. The rest? Forget it. It means nothing.