The Brain is to Blame Why We Don’t Learn from our Mistakes
Do you keep on making the same mistakes over and over? We can’t blame you as your body, specifically the brain, is hardwired to fight us from learning and do better next time around.
How does the mind behave when making mistakes? The brain starts to rationalize. The moment a person makes a mistake, the brain will concoct all sorts of reasons just to justify that it didn’t make a mistake and even give positive attributes to the wrong decision. This is known as the choice-supportive bias tendency of the brain.
While this sounds tragic, there is no need to worry as there are strategies that a person can master to reverse this behavior. How?
It’s not easy to own up to your actions, especially when they make you look foolish to others, but you can’t learn until you do. Adjust your definition of failure and remind yourself that you’re not the only person in the world that makes mistakes. Everybody does, a lot. The thought of never being able to learn from mistakes should be much scarier than the thought of admitting them to yourself.
We Assume the Outcome Will Magically Be Different Next Time
They say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s like a math equation where you are the variable. If you don’t change what you’re doing, you’ll always get the same answer.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that certain outcomes are just the product of outside factors. We start to believe that there are other variables in the equation that we don’t have control of, and one of these days that variable will be just right. As long as we keep plugging away with same old routine, the stars will align and we’ll hit the jackpot. This is similar to another cognitive bias known as the gambler’s fallacy. If you flip a coin and get tails 50 times in a row, you’re bound to get heads the 51st time, right? Of course not, because the odds are the same every time and it’s completely random. You could flip the coin infinitely and never get heads once.
This type of thinking occurs all the time. Say you had an assignment at work that you turned in late. You get chewed out for it, but you chalk it up to an abnormally busy week. The next week it happens again, but you tell yourself that you’ve got a lot going on at home. Is it the same as gambling? No, but it’s the same concept. You’re assuming that it will be different next time just because. You think to yourself:
“I don’t need to do anything differently because it’s all this other stuff that’s making this happen.”
“Next week, things will be better. Next week, that coin will finally land on heads.”
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