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Motivate Yourself 114: Lies And Confabulation

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I Am A Liar!

It’s true!
I lie to myself all the time, and guess what?
You are a liar too!!
It’s true. In fact you lie so much, that you believe your own lies. You even have constant hallucinations that create a whole new reality around you.

A version of your own personal world that is different to the reality that anyone else may experience.
But here’s the good news. These lies that we all tell ourselves often make our lives much easier and are a actually completely normal cognitive processes.
They might sometimes get in the way but one in particular is very useful indeed and prevents a great big black hole from appearing in your vision.

Take a look at the image below.
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Now, close you’re right eye and look at the cross. Depending on your screen size and how far away you are from it you will find that as you move closer to the image, the circle will disappear completely from your sight.
Click the image to enlarge if you have a particularly large screen.

If you’ve not seen this trick before i’ll explain it to you. it’s simply called the blind spot illusion. In each eye we have an optic nerve that transmits information to the brain, this nerve doesn’t have any photoreceptor cells to detect light and so each eye has a small hole that literally cannot see anything. yet if you haven’t already figured out we don’t walk around with 2 black dots in front of us everywhere we go. Instead our brain hallucinates and fills in the black hole with something more appropriate. In this case the background of the page, it’s a trick of the mind that makes life a bit easier for us and we’re full of them.

But the biggest tricks that our mind plays on us is deeper inside than this.
In order to keep ourselves sane we make ourselves believe that our decisions are our through conscious choice. That our reasons for buying something or acting in a particular way are because we deliberated on our options, weighed up the alternatives and acted accordingly, but it’s simply not true.
Research has shown that our sub conscious mind has already made the decision for us and our conscious mind simply rationalises why we did what we did or said what we said after the event. We confabulate.

Experiments show that if you spend a short time in the presence of images that relate to business, paper clips, currency denominations. briefcases, that sort of thing and then take part in a game where you have to share your winnings you will share far less than if you had been exposed to neutral images.
Yet when the researchers ask the participants afterwards why they made the decision to split it that way they confabulate.
They lie to themselves. they don’t actually know why they behaved the way did and so they have to make up a reason.
We don’t like not knowing why we do what we do.

In the western world we read from left to right and seem to have this odd grading system that does the same.
Put 5 things in front of you and our brain will put a higher value to the thing on the right, it’s just something that we do. But if you have to come up with logical reasons as to why you prefer the thing on the right then you make up a story.
5 glasses of wine or 5 socks could all be the same as each of the other 4. But people will more often than not say they prefer the one on the far right and then go into great detail about the flavour of the wine or the texture of the sock, not once will someone say “I prefer it because its the one on the right”.
It makes no rational sense to say it even though its the truth, and so we tell ourselves a lie.

Show someone 2 thumbnail images of 2 different people and ask them to choose the one they think is the most attractive and then give them an enlarged version of it and ask them to go into some detail as to why this one is more attractive and they will. Even if the enlarged image is of someone else entirely. We make up reasons to explain why we chose it even though we didn’t.

So that is how the brain works. We do things without knowing why we do them and then make up a load of stuff to explain our behaviour.
It’s hard to step back and rationalise this but sometimes we have to. Otherwise we end up having arguments that we don’t need to have, we buy upgraded phones that we didn’t even want and keep watching TV shows that are awful.
We fall into the trap of The Sunk Cost Fallacy!

In economics, a sunk cost is any past cost that has already been paid and cannot be recovered. But when the process enters into our personal life we end up eating food when we aren’t hungry because its already paid for. We watch the second half of the dreadful film at the cinema because we’ve already paid for the ticket.
We say to ourselves “I might as well continue in this relationship even though they’re bad for me because I’ve already invested so much in them”.

We look at the cost in the past even if all we’ve paid for is time and carry on going with it so as not to admit the time was wasted. Even if we know its a mistake to carry on.

We fall victim to it because we have emotionally invested ourselves in something. Whether with our money, our time, or any other resource we have committed ourselves to in the past. We need to recognise that we do this.
Just being aware that you lie to yourself so much will help you tremendously in making more rational decisions in the future.

Watch this video that explains all about the peculiarities of splitting the brain in half.
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