“Confirmation bias is the tendency to listen more often to information that confirms our existing beliefs. Through this bias, people tend to favor information that reinforces the things they already think or believe” (https://www.verywellmind.com/cognitive-biases-distort-thinking-2794763).
Many times confirmation bias is considered a negative thing. We can see that so much in our world. When we have a certain firmly held belief, we will seek out stories, articles, and news that support our deeply held beliefs. At times we may be completely off the mark, but we will still look for (and find) evidence to support our ideas. With the advent of social media, this is even more prevalent. Our news feeds track what we look at and even what we say and then promote precisely what we are already interested in to our accounts. We get fed more of what we already believe rather than being exposed to multiple ideas and perspectives of an issue or topic. There is definitely a downside to confirmation bias.
However, this year, let’s make confirmation bias work for YOU. In What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, Shad Helmstetter compares our thoughts to a mental filing cabinet. He states, “The more files we have in our mental filing cabinets that tell us something about ourselves, the more we will attract and accept other thoughts and ideas that support and prove what was already stored in our files. The more you think about yourself in a certain way, the more you will think about yourself in that same certain way (p. 32).
So we’ve just got to get ourselves started thinking about ourselves and our goals in the way we WANT. Then our subconscious, with the help of its built-in confirmation bias, will start gathering more and more information to “prove” that the way we are thinking about ourselves and our goals is accurate.
By default, we say too many things that we don’t want to be true. It’s not that we’re trying to create that reality, just that we aren’t aware of the words we’re saying and the powerful potential they have. For example, have you ever said or heard anyone say:
Our family just catches the flu every January
I’m so bad at remembering names
I’m just not creative
I’m no good at math
My house is always a mess
And so on.
I don’t think we want those to be true. We’re not thinking of these sentences as affirmations or mantras for our lives, but they are powerful statements all the same.
Imagine the power if you started to tell yourself what you WANT to be true.
I’m super healthy
I’m great at following through with my goals
I enjoy healthy food and how it makes me feel
I have a good memory. I easily remember anything important to me.
I am relaxed
My mind and my environment are orderly and well organized
With the help of some starter thoughts and the natural tendency towards confirmation bias, you can get your brain looking for all sorts of proof that you are what you think you are.
The more “proof” you have, the easier to believe. On and on it goes in a virtuous cycle. All you have to do is provide that starter thought. You’ll probably have to offer it repeatedly because right now, your brain has a cognitive bias towards something else that you believe, but you can change that with your conscious new thought that you think over and over again.
What starter thought do you want your brain to start being biased towards this year?