Try to remember when you were first learning to do arithmetic back in elementary school. Even simple problems of addition like 2+2=? would confound you. Many children when confronted with this arithmetic problem would look at the equation and conclude that if you put 2 together with another 2 then the answer would be 22. It looks as though that is the correct answer, but it isn't. This type of mistake is called a cognitive error--a problem with the way the child thinks. In time the child will learn to reason more clearly and will soon learn that the correct answer is 4 and not 22.
However, if the child doesn't learn, he will continue to think that 2+2=22. Not only will his math in school be wrong, but also, his checkbook will never balance as an adult. His simple cognitive error will yield numerous other mistakes and consequences.
By the time a child masters his incorrect math lesson, he starts to make other cognitive errors. These aren't in math but errors about himself. For example, a child brought up in an abusive family will have a distorted picture of himself. After making erroneous conclusions about himself, he will compound the problem further by applying the mistakes to all parts of his life. If the child believes the negative comments that he hears about himself, he will interact with all others with the negative image of himself. He will view his error about himself as correct even though it isn't. False reasoning will then contaminate all future decisions, relationships, and exchanges that he has in life.
Even if a child grows up in a normal family, he will make cognitive errors when he tries to learn how to walk and talk. The child will compare himself to his parents and conclude incorrectly that he is uncoordinated or dumb. It is obvious that he can't walk and talk as well as his parents. Therefore, he is inferior to them--a cognitive error. With his faulty reasoning, the child doesn't realize that his parents haven't always been this mobile or verbal. His parents experienced the same problems learning to walk and talk as he is having and did so at approximately the same time as he.
This child's situation worsens when the child discovers that he is going to have a little brother or sister enter his family. When the child processes this news, he erroneously concludes that he is being replaced because he can't walk or talk as well as his parents. From the child's perspective-2+2=22. This is not only the genesis of sibling rivalry; it is also the codifying of negative thoughts about himself and the foundation for further cognitive errors.
If these cognitive errors go unchecked, he will continue to make these thinking mistakes for the rest of his life. In addition there is also a cumulative effect to this process; errors compound themselves like interest on a mortgage. It isn't long before his emotional checking account is totally messed up.
What is the solution to cognitive errors and how can one change one's thinking process? Here is a four-step approach to get your emotional life to add-up correctly.
Once you complete these four suggestions, you will be able to help others get the correct answer to 2+2=?
This article first appeared in the Dixon Telegraph.