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Characteristics of Extraordinary People

Mandy Kloppers Updated: Jan 29th 2014

Really extraordinary people often use cognitive distortions to help them in their quest to achieve excellence. Generally, cognitive distortions are seen as a negative thing. They distort reality and can lead us to psychological harm. Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. They can however be used in a positive way and below are examples of this:

happy woman1) Self Belief

People who achieve extraordinary things really believe in themselves. They have an unwavering self belief even in the face of criticism and pessimism from those around them. Self belief is closely linked to "personal exceptionalism", the definition of which is:

"A macro sense that you are in the top of your cohort, your work is snowflake special, or that you are destined to have experiences well outside the bounds of 'normal'; not to be confused with arrogance or high self esteem."

2) Black and White Thinking

Those that achieve extraordinary things tend to engage in "black and white thinking", also known as dichotomous thinking. There is very little 'grey' in their worlds and this helps them to make quick decisions. They can be exceptionally judgemental of others though. If this cognitive distortion is well managed, a person can achieve great things. If badly managed, perfectionism can emerge which can create more stress and unnecessary rigid rules that end up counteracting any positive effects.

3) Overgeneralization

This cognitive distortion involves making wide reaching judgements on little evidence. This can save time but the downside may be over reliance on instincts and dismissal of facts.

4) Outside-The-Box Thinking

Thinking outside the box frees up creativity and allows effective brainstorming to take place. Extraordinary people often see the world differently and practise the 'art' of critical thinking. They are more likely to listen to their own opinion than follow the general opinion of others. This can lead to amazing ideas and being at the forefront of invention.

5) Personalisation

All the success that extraordinary people have in life is attributed to themselves. Extraordinary people believe that they are masters of their own destinies and give themselves credit for a job well done. Depressed types tend to attribute success to luck and failure to themselves. Successful people use personalisation to their advantage.

6) Filtering

Extraordinary use this cognitive to their advantage as well. Instead of filtering out the positive and only looking at the negatives of a situation, extraordinary people tend to filter out the negatives and maintain an optimistic attitude, even when the situation isn't positive. They are always looking for positives.

Using your thoughts to improve your view of the world is a very clever psychological trick. Your perception of the outside world is what counts, NOT what is actually going on in the outside ways. It therefore pays to develop psychological buffers to lessen the impact of the outside world. We can all 'fool' ourselves to a certain extent and my motto is: Do what works!




Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist living in the United Kingdom. She runs a private practice (see for details) and offers regular advice and tips in her blog Thoughts on Life and Love. She specializes in working with step-families and relationships (especially relationships involving mental and emotional abuse) through online skype therapy sessions.

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