Stop Fighting Windmills: How to Talk Some Sense Into Our Inner Don Quixote

The windmills that Don Quixote attacked were not the giants he thought: they were windmills, plain and simple.

The man was clearly deluded, but no amount of reasoning could convince him of his error.

The only thing that he was actually fighting, was an invention of his own mind. A notion, a misconception.

It’s easy to think that we’re different, but in reality, we’re pretty much the same.

When you argue with someone else, you’re not fighting that person – you’re fighting against the way you perceive what that person does or says. It’s your perception, and that’s always an interpretation.

You might think that you’re an impartial observer, but that’s simply impossible. You always filter the world through you-coloured glasses.

A person or a planet or a house exists outside of you – it doesn’t fit inside your head. Only your thoughts exist there.

So whatever person or situation or problem you’re confronted with, remember Don Quixote.

Be aware that what you think of it is your own construction, and not the thing itself.

Why does this matter?

After all, that problem or person is there, regardless of how you see it.

It matters because when you take ownership of *how* you perceive, you get to change how you perceive.

You get to choose what ‘objectively real thing X’ represents in your mind, and if you do that you can apply different methods, tactics, or strategies, in how to deal with that thing.

If you turn ‘that jerk on the subway’ into ‘someone who might possibly be suffering or struggling’, you get to leverage compassion.

If ‘my failing business venture’ becomes ‘a severely challenging problem I just might be able to solve’, you call on your resourcefulness and grit, and indeed, you just might make it.

If you turn ‘my naysaying spouse’ into ‘my spouse with whom I’ll no longer have specific kinds of conversations’ you’ll remove a negative and hindering influence from your life (and you’ll very likely improve your relationship while you’re at it).

You make your perception, every moment of the day.

Own it, and you get to choose the best kinds of windmills to fight.



Also published on Medium.

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