Self-Honesty Changes Everything

In a world caught between human folly and Godly wonders therein lies the world of self-justifying excuses. By Madeline Johnson

In a world caught between human folly and Godly wonders therein lies the world of self-justifying excuses.

Yes we want to be our best, yes, we want to surrender to the Glory that is ours but are we willing to double down? Are we willing to do the things we must do to become the person we want to be?

Change don’t come easy. Do more truth.

Life is by its nature a transformative journey which unfolds in unforeseeable ways.

So why, when we want to change in a certain way, do we seek to defend poor choices and justify ridiculous ideas fueled by self-will and egocentric thinking?

One more glass of wine won’t bust my diet, I’m so stressed, I need something to calm me down.

He doesn’t need to know I spent that much, besides, I never treat myself.

She won’t remember I didn’t clean up that mess, besides, I work so hard all day.

This is the last purchase I’ll make this month, besides, I deserve it.

Selfjustification describes how, when we encounter a moment of cognitive dissonance (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change), or a situation in which we behave inconsistently with our beliefs, that we tend to justify our behavior and deny any negative feedback associated with the consequences.

We stop lying to ourselves and get out of our own way when we start making change easier.

If you don’t want to cheat on your diet, and you are eating because you are stressed, meditate instead of medicate with food.

If you want to save money, but keep buying yet another small treat for yourself, then cut up the cards and hold a handful of cash for yourself to spend each week.

If you are too tired to clean up your mess, then don’t make such big ones. Use less and clean as you go.

Read here for 10 Smart Ways to Stop Lying to Yourself

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Marcos Guinoza

Under the Gun Thinking

If you’re in a hurry, you’re also more likely to fall prey to other biases.  Avoid the rush to solve bias by slowing down decisions whenever possible. By Madeline Johnson

The player who is “under the gun” in poker is at at a disadvantage due to their position. The under the gun player is the first to act in the first round of betting, which means that every single one of the other players at the table will act after them. To be under the gun is to be under pressure. Too often we over estimate the sense of urgency – the pressure involved to make decisions in our lives. So often we put ourselves under the gun when we don’t need to do so.

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Sometimes we make decisions because we just don’t want to deal with the problem any longer.  So we make sloppy decisions.

Don’t apply unnecessary pressure. Fortunately, we have the time to think things through. Most decisions don’t need to be decided right now.  Remove the pressure.

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If we desire to make better decisions we must ward off the rush to solve bias.

If you’re in a hurry, you’re also more likely to fall prey to other biases.  Avoid the rush to solve bias by slowing down decisions whenever possible. Awareness is the first step to improving quality of judgment.

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It’s difficult to make smart, creative decisions when we are under the gun, when we apply unnecessary pressure. Most of the decisions we make are controlled by our mental shortcuts known as cognitive biases.  A brain under real pressure needs cognitive biases to help drum up a good idea as quickly as it can.  These biases are built into our brains to protect us from failure yet unfortunately they also hold us back from thinking of new and better ways of our solving problems. They block us from seeing solutions creatively.

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Our minds are so tricky. Our brains wired to scan for potential threats. Sometimes, even when we aren’t under pressure we spend time worrying about what might happen in the future. When we contemplate about what might happen to us, when we spend time in our own minds, guessing about what might occur, we tend to bring along unrealistic thinking and perhaps even fear to help protect us.

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Trying What is New and Unknown

Our ambiguity bias keeps us from embracing change in our lives because we fear unknown outcomes and we tend to favor that which we already know. We mistakenly choose to think about the tried and tested instead of the new and novel. This leads to doing the same things over and over, expecting different results.

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What You Want vs. What You Worry About

As you take action and make decisions today, try to overcome your biases and tie your “to do’s” to what you desire for tomorrow. For everything you do today will have an impact on the rewards you reap in the future.  Apply just a little more thought and intention, a little more time and a little less pressure to thinking about what you want to happen instead of what you worry might happen.

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Read  Mini Habits

A printable version of the Cognitive Bias Codex here.

Featured Artwork

The award-winning Illustrator and Art Director, Mario Sánchez Nevado, runs the Madrid-based studio Aégis Illustration, creating artwork and designs for bands and publishing houses all over the world.Part magical storyteller, and part sobering messenger of society’s ills, Mario’s work compels a deeper consideration of the world around us.

Altering Your Attitude of Mind

Very often human beings are  living on autopilot,

reacting automatically to what happens. 

– Betrand Piccard,

Our thoughts are constantly helping us to interpret the world around us, describing what is happening, and trying to make sense of it by helping us interpret events, sights, sounds, smells, feelings.

Our automatic brain attempts to keep us safe like an overprotective parent. Scientists have proven that our brains react more strongly to bad events than good.   There is a greater surge in electrical activity. Thus, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by disaster and doom than good news.

The Purpose of Our Negativity Bias

Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily most likely evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm’s way. From the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it. Read the full article on Psychology Today.

The automatic brain responds only to danger, threat or vulnerability, but these thoughts are also great teachers. When we question them, we can become more intelligent about why we do the things we do.

Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to your success.  

Charles F. Glassman, author of Brain Drain

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Questioning Our Automatic Negative Thoughts

Recognize when you are confusing thoughts with fact.  For example, I woke up this morning and I looked at my schedule and thought, I will never finish everything I have to do today. Oh the dreadful feeling of defeat before dawn. This is not something new for me. This fear-based thought always makes me feel frustrated, unsettled and unsuccessful before I even began the day. It overwhelms me, but is it true?

Now, I have no evidence that I won’t have a productive day. This is not a fact.  The challenge for me is to ask myself why I think I won’t finish everything I have to do today.

Perhaps it is because I have over scheduled myself. If I look at this fearful thought as a tool to help me, I realize I have the opportunity to prioritize my list and set up myself up for success by removing unnecessary tasks until tomorrow, or the next day.

I can also ask that negative thought if I have the right tools to have a productive day.  I can question the fear of not having a productive day, with “What will it take me to have a productive one?”

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Questioning our automatic thoughts can free us from fear and help us alter our attitudes for more positive outcomes in our lives.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

– Viktor Frankl

Read Man’s Search for Meaning

Featured Artist

Leonora Carrington Her approach is deemed visionary and strongly personal, while her symbolism is considered entirely new and authentic. The relationship between Carrington’s writing and her paintings is another topic that has been popular among many art critics and scholars. The same goes for an important role in feminism in the new analysis of Carrington’s art. The scholars claim that Carrington’s highly personal visual expression which combines folklore and magic led the way aspiring female artists who wanted to explore new ways of addressing and portraying female identity.

The Messy Process of Loving Yourself

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. By Madeline Johnson

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. Self-acceptance requires patience and practice and maybe even managing those great expectations you have for yourself while holding onto your standards.

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Expectations can sometimes get in the way of lessons and joy found in unexpected experiences.

-George Leonard, Poet/Philosopher and the granddaddy of the consciousness movement.

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To be unaware of our irrationality and

derangement of our own thoughts

is what keeps us stuck.

Read More: The Three Levels of Self-Awareness by Mark Manson

An argument for loving and accepting yourself . . .

When we refuse to accept ourselves as we are, then we return to the constant need for numbing and distraction. And we will similarly be unable to accept others the way they are, so we will look for ways to manipulate them, change them, or convince them to be a person they are not. Our relationships will become transactional, conditional, and ultimately toxic and fail.

Go deeper into learning about how to better handle adversity in your life. Read his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

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Featured Art

Leif is an artist and Creative Director. His work explores themes of connectedness, the relevance of nature and the psychedelic experience. By utilizing these subjects he attempts to inspire the viewer into a realignment with themselves and their surroundings.

Our Greatest Weapon Against Self-Doubt

How to challenge our negative self talk and align our desires with our subconscious beliefs.
by Madeline Johnson

Whether you succeed or not begins with what you believe to be true and sometimes what we believe to be true about ourselves just isn’t so.

You can look at it this way.  Whatever you hold in your mind (whatever you think about constantly) will tend to happen in your life.

If you continue to believe and act as you always have, you will get precisely what you’ve always gotten.

If you don’t like where you are at in life, then it’s time for a change in your thinking.

It’s simple and it can be easy, if you believe you can do it. You can change your thinking for better results in your life.

Our thinking leads to our behavior and there are ways we can behave to make situations worse and there our ways we can behave to make things better. 

Accurate & Actionable Thinking

All action starts with a thought and when your thoughts are a mixed bag of desire and fear you will create mediocre results at best. You will start that project but quit. You will start to lose a bit of weight and then binge. You won’t succeed at the new goal you have started.

It’s not like you aren’t trying, so it’s finally time to get to the root cause of your lack of progress. It starts with establishing what you know and what you don’t know about yourself. Discovering what is true about you.

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It’s finally time to remove your self-doubt, those limiting beliefs about yourself that are ingrained in your subconscious. I am talking about unpacking the stale and old beliefs that are stored in your subconscious mind. These deep-rooted beliefs are what really drive us to behave the way we behave and are the beliefs that get in the way of our success.

97% of our thoughts are unconscious and autonomic – similar to how our heart beats and our eyes blink. Read more about shifting paradigms *changing your beliefs by Dr. Catherine Collautt

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You simply can’t hold a positive intention in your head and mix it with self-doubt or fear.

Your desires and your belief must be the same.

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Our thoughts and subconscious beliefs must be on the same page or we will self-sabotage our success.

I truly believe you can have anything you want in life,

when you give up the belief that you can’t have it.

Note: There is a difference between believing you can have something and thinking you deserve it.  The key to success is starting with the belief and then working really, really hard at achieving what you want. It has nothing to do with thinking you deserve something.

The Way You Think When You Support Your Limiting Beliefs

When we are thinking from emotion (not a good idea), we must become aware of our cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. Here is a description of 15 of the most popular ways in which we use them to reinforce negative thinking or emotions.

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The greatest weapon against self-doubt and fear is our ability to choose one thought over another.

 

Featured Artwork

Rob Shields

 

You Are Built for More

This post is about becoming a stronger version of who you are, so you are better equipped to take life full on, because despite the fact that life can be tragic and tainted by malevolence, your human spirit thrives under these conditions. You were built for maximal load.   Eyes open, wit sharp and your words at the ready. (words inspired by Jordan B. Peterson.)

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Read: Twelve Rules for Life: An Anecdote for Chaos

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The first rule in Peterson’s book is to stand tall. Yes, improve your posture.

So, with your shoulders back, head up and back strong, you stand tall.  Focusing on standing up straight may actually increase testosterone and decrease cortisol levels in your body while helping you to feel more empowered and confident.  Read more here 11 Surprising Ways to Get Your Brain to Release Serotonin and Other Happiness Chemicals. Read more about the high T and low C effects of standing tall here.

Learn more about the science and renewed interest in the systemic role of testosterone in pain, well-being, and cardiovascular function in women and men alike.  Testosterone’s benefits include increasing your competitive spirit and possibly your confidence.

A note about cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. It’s important for helping your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release in response to many different kinds of stress. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels, increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Studies have show that high-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers (slouchers and slumpers) exhibited the opposite pattern. Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance

Can’t remember to correct your posture throughout the day. There is new wearable tech to help you stop slumping. 

Wareable is a website that reviews and rates numerous technology breakthroughs to stand taller, from pulsating yoga pants to chairs with sensors

Upright Pose is a posture corrector and trainer that you place on your upper back. It reminds you to sit or stand up straight with a real-time gentle vibration reminder. 8 out of 10 Upright users report a posture improvement of 92% in less than 2 weeks. Available here on Amazon.

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Why you are standing up tall, the second way to improve your mental strength is to reevaluate the way you assess your own competence. Why? Because we tend to believe we are smarter than we really are.

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– A quote from Stephen Hawking

Never Overestimate Your Knowledge

In order to preserve our sense of self-value there is the possibility we are wired to assume we are better than others, when we might be of only the same or worse standard.  It has also been suggested that the worse we are at something, the more likely we are to overestimate our performance at it.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.

While almost everyone holds favorable views of their abilities in various social and intellectual domains, some people mistakenly assess their abilities as being much higher than they actually are. This ‘illusion of confidence’ is now called the ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’, and describes the cognitive bias to inflate self-assessment.

Most people are genuinely unaware of how much they have been misled by their illusory superiority.

Illusory superiority is a condition of cognitive bias wherein a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, in relation to the same qualities and abilities of other persons. Illusory superiority is one of many positive illusions, relating to the self, that are evident in the study of intelligence, the effective performance of tasks and tests, and the possession of desirable personal characteristics and personality traits.

The problem is that when people are incompetent, not only do they reach wrong conclusions and make unfortunate choices but, also, they are robbed of the ability to realize their mistakes.

The trick is to not be fooled by illusions of superiority and to learn to accurately reevaluate our competence. After all, as Confucius reportedly said,

Real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance.

Read the full article Studies find high achievers underestimate their talents

Read: Twelve Rules for Life: An Anecdote for Chaos

Jordan B. Peterson

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, #1 for nonfiction in 2018  in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil and Norway, and now slated for translation into 45 languages.

Featured Art

Lisa Ericson

Portland, Oregon-based artist Lisa Ericson blends her hyperreallist painting style with a vivid imagination, resulting in fantastical combinations of plants and animals. Ericson tends to focus on one specific flora/fauna combination at a time, like hybrid mouserflies or coral fish. Her most recent series, Mobile Habitats, highlights turtles that support small ecosystems on their shells. From mossy knolls surrounded by fireflies to gnarled trees leafed with monarchs, each turtle-world evokes a specific time and place.

Ericson chronicles her work on Instagram, where she shares, “these pieces are all about turtles and what they can carry on those amazing half-a-globe shells, and about things that need saving.”

 

 

 

How Good Can it Get?

Because I am more prone to incessant worry about future events than I am to anticipating good outcomes, or pleasant surprises, I continue to struggle with my pessimism bias. That is I tend to exaggerate the likelihood that negative things will happen in the future.

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This morning, walking back from the gym, I had a thought drop in from the sky. A simple little question just popped into my head.  The question I pondered. . .

I wonder, how good can it get?

or better said by Alan Cohen . . .

 

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Here, a cheat sheet to the many cognitive biases that keep us stuck.

Featured image “Open mind” ceramic series by Johnson Tsang

The Case for Being Cautiously Optimistic

Being cautiously optimistic keeps me informed and realistic while remaining hopeful about the outcomes I wish to manifest.

Being too realistic can dry up my soul, but being too optimistic can make me extremely delusional.

If I see only the worst, it destroys my capacity to do something and if I only see the best, I may become blindsided by the bullshit I’m telling myself as things go horribly wrong.

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A case for remaining causiously optimistic throughout the day.

1. I remain clear and focused

The optimism bias (also known as unrealistic or comparative optimism) is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

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Four factors exist that cause a person to be optimistically biased: their desired end state, their cognitive mechanisms, the information they have about themselves versus others, and overall mood.[1]

The optimistic bias is seen in a number of situations. For example: people believing that they are less at risk of being a crime victim,[2] smokers believing that they are less likely to contract lung cancer or disease than other smokers, first-time bungee jumpers believing that they are less at risk of an injury than other jumpers,[3] or traders who think they are less exposed to losses in the markets.[4]

2.  My decisions are realistic.

The are based in reality, not in some daydream of how I want reality to be but more focused on how I am designing and producing the outcomes.

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3. I carefully weigh the pros and cons

I weigh the pros and cons and stay focused on the results I want – knowing I can achieve them, because I am optimistic that I will get results.

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4. Turning worry into work

Cautious optimism has me turn my worry into work while remaining positive about the outcome because I do a combination of what is tried and true while experimenting with fresh new solutions.

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5.  Impulsive vs Intentional

I am less prone to make impusive and spontaneous decisions – I am more strategic when I am cautiously optimistic.

6. Time is on My Side

I don’t waste or maybe I should say, I  waste less  time. Grounded and focused in reality and humble and hopeful for the future, I am purposeful. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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7. Open to Opportunity & Outcomes

I move forward and do what needs to be done, but I am not holding onto a set outcome – I am open to different visions and versions of what winning looks like for me.

8. Celebrate the Moments

My careful optimism has me recognize the small wins throughout the day. Celebrating the bits of wins throughout the day – acknowledging my small moments and accomplishments.

9. A Reminder to Be Here Now

Caution + optimism has me locked in to being present to what needs to be done now for the future.

10. Correct and Certain

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When I am cautious, I correct my mistakes. Having a sense of certainty and understanding and knowing what needs to be corrected in order to continue to make certain that I achieve everything I want to achieve.

11. Awake & Aware

I  remain on the look out for problems and I dare to make them opportunities. I ask myself, what’s great about this problem? Does it propose an opportunity to make something better?

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12. Hacking Away without Skipping the Essential

I recognize that there are no real short cuts – just smart strategies and in turn I am less delusional while focused on great outcomes.

No skimping – no scamming – just making sure I take each step carefully while remaining hopeful while proceeding with intelligence and faith.

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Having faith in the outcome while I am willing to learn, grow and make corrections.

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As We Are, So It Is

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Our perception builds and constructs our reality; which in turn becomes our life. With the help of our good, bad and indifferent judgements, our choice of language, our cognitive biases, past experiences and memories, we  assemble how we choose to see the world. All of these inferences paint the way we experience our lives and effect the lives of those closest to us.

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What we see is one thing, what we perceive is a completely different matter. Our reality is a co-production. Everything is a projection of what we hold inside our mind. So, I wonder, what if everything we see is really our very own optical illusion?  Everything in a way, our own private hell hall of hallucinations.

Like this beautiful parrot. . .

 

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That’s really a woman painted to look like a parrot.

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What if we could change the way we see everything, to see more clearly, to expand our mind and in turn our world?   What can we bring to this next moment, day, week, year so that we may live a life filled with more purpose and meaning?

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Instead of allowing our brains to create a haphazard existence based on our misconceptions and judgements. . .

What if we played a more active role in the process of creating our lives?

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Perhaps we begin with examining some of our cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that affects the decisions and judgments that people make.

Cognitive Biases can screw up our thinking and decision making.

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I am curious, which cognitive biases do you relate to?

 

Side note: a fascinating look at some of the most impressive optical illusions.

Featured photography by Laura Williams