Confirmation bias

Uncategorized Nov 06, 2017

We are human beings. Which means, we want to be right about stuff. All the time. I’m right, you are wrong, the end. And we have a little voice, that makes something, or someone, wrong, all the time. That’s right, everyone’s got that voice.

If you are going ‘what voice is she talking about’? Yeah, that voice, the one that just said that. Think of that voice as a little trol that has something to say about you, or other people.

I had that troll sitting on my shoulder for a very long time talking to me about my mom. I found out about it through the Hoffman Process and it got really loud and clear for me when I started taking personal growth courses at Landmark.

For a very long time, my mom could not say or do anything right. She’s just the wrong mother. Me and my mom didn’t talk for a very long time.

How it lived in my head was that:

  • she doesn’t care about me

  • she’s selfish

  • and she wants people’s money.

I made that up when I was 13 in a fight with her, and refused to give it up for 17 years.

Enter the confirmation bias.

Once we decide something about someone, we must be right about it. And we do it by collecting, finding, and even creating evidence.

For 17 years, all I did was collect evidence that my mom was unloving, selfish and only cared about money.

She’d call me and say ‘I’m moving’. That’s all she said.

And I would think: ‘why is she moving? Does she not have the money to pay mortgage? Is she asking for help without asking?’ and so on… until I found EVIDENCE. All she cares about is money. She doesn’t really care about me, it’s just the money.  

If she didn’t share with me about her life - it’s because she didn’t care about me.

If she tried to share about her life (not that I was listening anyway) - she isn’t asking questions about me - and it’s because she doesn’t care about me.

Evidence is easy to find. Look at politics! And no, I’m not gonna go there. It’s pure insanity. Everyone’s right and everyone else is wrong. It’s entertaining, and sad at the same time, to watch.

Back to my mom. My mom was very wrong. Wrong mother. There was pretty much nothing that she could do right, according to my measures.

I thought I was protecting myself from the selfish money hungry monster that my mom was.

Fast forward to now. It’s so easy for me to see how much unreality I was living in, but not that long ago, I would tell you that my mom is insane and it’s best to stay away. 

Today we had another one of our amazing conversations on the phone. It was so easy.  I shared with her about the person I asked out on a date last week, the books I am reading, we were comparing notes - two personal growth junkies,  she asked me to buckle down and meditate this afternoon to relieve some stress and I did (what? I did what my mother told me to). Her, and my dad (although they still don’t talk, 23 years since divorce), and the rest of my amazing family, are my favorite people on this planet.

My mom is awesome, and I love her. I love her. I love her. Like, I’m tearing up writing this because I really, really, love her. I love my mom. There’s nothing between us. Not that long ago, everyone in my life hated her. My close friends, even my husband.

(And, they hadn’t even met her.)

Now you get the idea on how the confirmation bias works. You decide something, and then you collect evidence for it being true.

Now here comes the trouble. We want to be right about EVERYTHING.  I want to be right about not just about the view of my mom, but especially, about my view of myself.

I’m this way and not that way. I’m introverted. I’m shy. I’m not great with people. I’m not entrepreneurial enough. I am too lazy to start a business. I don’t follow through. I don’t succeed at anything.  And I have a lifetime of evidence as a proof.

Those things tend to feel even more real than the beliefs we have about the mom, and wayyyy harder to question.

Something happened to you in your past, you made it mean something about you, and never dropped it. In the Hoffman Process, I discovered I had a life long guilt about being selfish. Something to do with being accused of wanting all the attention when my brother was born. I ended up with a bunch of self hate, because of that belief I’m selfish. That belief drove me near suicidal in my late twenties.

Then doing the Landmark Forum, I saw what happened when I got picked last on a team as a 9 year old. Standing there - last to be picked and not wanted, a belief was born. I’m a bother, and I’m not wanted around.

Having left those ideas unquestioned for 25 years after, whenever I would make a phone call, I would apologize for bothering the person on the other line (and not just as a polite way of speaking, I actually hate interrupting people’s time).

When I learned all this, I thought - ok; so I’m spending my entire life proving that I’m a selfish bother, and I spend my life looking for supporting evidence (or creating some and pushing people who love me away in pretty nasty ways).  Can’t i just make up something else and then trick my brain into trying to prove it?

The answer is…you guessed it.  A BIG F**G YES.

That’s where I love to bring in a bit of neuroplasticity. Your brain does not know the difference between reality and what’s imagined, when it comes to learning.

You can transform your subconscious beliefs. You tell yourself enough times that you are an effing badass,  and visualize the situations of the awesome you handling all kinds of situations in a badassey way, eventually your brain will believe it.

Joe Dispenza talks at length about the power of mental rehearsal. In the Hoffman Process, we did two full days of guided meditations designed to have us take on new beliefs, behaviors and genuine ways to react to situations. It worked.

Here’s the board in my bedroom. Super cheesy, I know.



Try it out. Every morning, visualize the person you want to be, and rehearse situations in which you would be that person. For example, if you are out to transform education in america, and who you need to be to achieve this is a bold inspiring leader, imagine yourself giving powerful talks and being 100% free, powerful, and connected to your audience, inspiring them to take action.


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