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Motivate Yourself 114: Lies And Confabulation


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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Episode List

Episode 138: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Episode 137: The Likeable You
Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser
Episode 135: The Psychology Of Extremism
Episode 134: Are You A Lobster?
Episode 133: Critical Thinking
Episode 132: There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad
Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination
Episode 130: Loneliness & Social Networks
Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past
Episode 128: What Is Love?
Episode 127: Procrastination
Ep. 126: Who Were You Before The World Changed You?
Episode 125: Stop Saying "Sorry"
Episode 124: Emotional Contagion
Episode 123: Patience
Episode 122: Building On Your Foundations
Episode 121: Dealing With The Critics
Episode 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!
Episode 119: Inactivity
Episode 118: Social Functioning & Evolution
Episode 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero
Episode 116: Goals, Values and Priorities
Episode 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life
Episode 114: Lies And Confabulation
Episode 113: Confirmation Bias
Episode 112: Are You An Imposter?
Episode 111: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Episode 110: Are New Years Resolutions a good idea?
Episode 109: The African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee
Episode 108: Reframing
Episode 107: Spiders And Behaviourism
Episode 106: Practise Makes Perfect
Episode 105: Fear Of Flying
Episode 100 - 104: Happiness
Episode 99: Body Image And The Media
Episode 98: Evolution and Adaptation
Episode 97: Reflections And Regrets.
Episode 96: Dealing With Fear
Episode 95: Confidence
Episode 94: Enthusiasm
Episode 93: Tips To Relieve Christmas Stress
Episode 92: Dealing With Change
Episode 87 - 91: Self Esteem
Episode 86: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
Episode 85: The Importance Of Being Lazy
Episode 84: Elephant Chains
Episode 83: Eating Bananas And Setting Goals
Episode 82: Ignoring The Media And Listening To Music
Episode 81: Awakening The Instincts
Episode 80: The Fine Line Between Love And Hate
Episode 79: The Best Medicine
Episode 78: A New Start
Episode 77: Time Distortion
Episode 76: Making Decisions
Episode 75: What's In A Name?
Episode 74: Pushing Ourselves Further
Episode 73: Conformity
Episode 72: Purpose
Episode 71: Perspective
Episode 70: Expectation
Episode 69: The Mind / Body Link
Episode 68: Overcoming Shyness
Episode 67: Mood Boosting
Episode 66: Sabotaging your goals
Episode 65: Self Talk
Episode 64: Money Makes The World Go Round
Episode 63: First Impressions Count
Episode 62: False Belief
Episode 61: Absolutes
Episode 60: The Psychology of feeling calm
Episode 59: Belief
Episode 58: Anchoring Emotions
Episode 57: Negativity and Perspective
Episode 56: Health And Happiness
Episode 55: Imagination vs Reality
Episode 54: Change