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The Crime Your Brain Commits Against You (And What to Do About It)

The Crime Your Brain Commits Against You (And What to Do About It)

In 1932, Frederic Bartlett was working at Cambridge University when he conducted one of the most famous cognitive psychology experiments of all time.

For this research study, Bartlett recited a Native American folk tale called The War of the Ghosts to each participant. Then, Bartlett followed up with each person several times over the following year and asked them to tell the story back to him.

As you might expect, the story shortened over time as participants forgot certain details.

What wasn’t expected, however, was that each person adapted the story to fit their expectations of a “normal” world. You see, each participant was British, and this Native American story had a few cultural details that would have seemed out of place in British society.

Each subject adjusted the story so that it would make more sense in the British view of the world. Confusing details were slowly altered each time the story was retold. Participants began to emphasize the more rational parts of the folk tale. The order of events were shifted around to make more sense.

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Bartlett’s research was the first major study that proved how our beliefs about the world can actively change the way we remember and interpret information.

But, why did the subjects change the story? And how can this help you master your mental habits and achieve your goals?

Here’s the deal…

The Power of Schemas

In psychology terms, Bartlett’s subjects were displaying what is known as a “schema.” A schema is a set of preconceived ideas that your brain uses to perceive and interpret new information.

We form schemas based on our experiences in life. Once they are formed, however, schemas have a tendency to remain unchanged — even in the face of contradictory information.

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In other words, your brain creates an “auto-pilot” version of how it thinks the world should work, and sometimes you keep using it even when it’s no longer true or helpful. This is why Bartlett’s subjects changed the details of the story. The original version didn’t fit the way they thought the world should work, so they adjusted it until it seemed more reasonable.

This is important because schemas not only impact the memories you have about the outside world, but also the things you believe about yourself.

For example:

If a mother tells her daughter she looks like a tom boy, her daughter may react by choosing activities that she imagines a tom boy would do. Conversely, if the mother tells her she looks like a princess, her daughter might choose activities thought to be more feminine… the individual chooses activities based on expectations instead of desires. (Source)

Imagine that little girl after she has grown up. It’s easy to see how the schemas and beliefs that were formed early on could continue to impact her actions years later.

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Unlearn What You Believe to be True

The idea to write this article was sparked by a reader named Kim who emailed me and said, “Sometimes we carry old beliefs around, unknowingly, that don’t serve us anymore.”

Schemas can be like this sometimes. You have old beliefs and experiences that tend to push you in a certain direction or color your thoughts in a certain way, but they aren’t necessarily serving you anymore.

It’s good to take a step back and think about your beliefs about life. Ask yourself, “Is this true? Or am I just limiting myself with these beliefs?”

For example:

  • Getting healthy — is eating junk food really a way to “treat yourself” and “enjoy the good stuff in life,” or are you telling yourself a story that isn’t really true?
  • Building a business — do you really need to wait until X happens before you start that side business or startup? Or are you just telling yourself a story that allows you to maintain what you’re currently doing instead of chasing what you’re capable of doing?
  • Traveling the world — is it true that “only single people without kids” can travel far and wide? Or is that just an expectation left over from what you have typically seen?

What old beliefs are you still carrying that aren’t serving you anymore?

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Sometimes, you have to unlearn the things that you believe to be true. You don’t have to see the world the same way you’ve always seen it. Just because it was true in the past, doesn’t mean it’s true today. And just because you learned something one way, doesn’t mean you learned it the best way.

Don’t let yesterday’s beliefs dictate the story that you live out today.

Featured photo credit: Grand Canyon National Park via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

5 Powerful Ways for Building Fulfilling Relationships

5 Powerful Ways for Building Fulfilling Relationships

We all have relationships. We have acquaintances, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and friends. However, for a large percentage of us, many of these relationships are not fulfilling.

They are unfulfilling because they lack real strength; and they lack real strength because they lack real depth.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, we tend to have shallow, superficial relationships with others, and it’s extremely hard for this kind of relationships to provide anything more than faint satisfaction.

I’d like to show you, based on my experience as a communication and confidence coach, how you can add a significant amount of depth, and thus strength, to your relationships and make your social life a whole lot more meaningful.

Here’re 5 simple yet powerful ways for meaningful relationships building:

1. Meet More People

This is an apparent paradox, but the quality of the people you meet has considerably to do with the quantity of people you meet.

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If you don’t know a lot of people and you barely meet one or two new people every season of the year, considering the variety of individuals out there, you won’t meet very often people who are a good match with you in terms of personality, interests and values.

And since this natural match plays a huge part in building strong relationships, you’ll just as seldom have the opportunity to develop strong relationships.

Conversely, if you go out a lot, you meet a lot of new people and you constantly expand your social circle, you’re much more likely to meet people you match up well with, and these people have a tremendous potential to become good friends, reliable partners, etc.

This is why it’s important to meet more people.

2. Talk about the Things That Matter To You

A relationship becomes the strongest when two people discover they believe in the same things and have similar interests. It’s these commonalities regarding values and interests that create the strongest emotional connection.

I’ve noticed that many people keep conversations shallow. They talk about trivial stuff such as the weather, what’s on TV, the lives of various movie stars, but they rarely talk about what really matters to them in life. This is a mistake from my perspective, because it’s the perfect method for a relationship to not develop.

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Talk about the things that truly matter to you and give others a chance to know what you care about and what you believe in. If they believe in the same things and they care about the same things, they’ll eagerly let you know. Thus you’ll find meaningful common ground and you’ll feel more connected.

3. Express Vulnerability

Many people try to come off as perfect. They don’t talk about their failures, they hide their shortcomings and they never say anything that could embarrass them.

This is all just a facade though. You may appear perfect to some, but you know you’re not perfect and they know that too. You’re only human and humans have flaws.

However, by hiding your flaws, what you do succeed in is appearing cold and impersonal. You seem like a marble statue rather than a real person. And this makes it very hard for anyone to connect with you emotionally.

Humans connect with other humans, not with ideals. Keep this in mind and don’t be afraid to let your vulnerability and your humanity show. This is what takes a relationship to the next level.

Take a look at this article and find out Why Showing Vulnerability Actually Proves Your Strength.

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4. Have Integrity

Integrity, as I see it, is the alignment between your thoughts, your words and your actions. When you say what you think and you do what you said you’ll do, you have integrity.

This is a crucial trait because if you have integrity, people can trust you. They can trust you to give them an honest feedback, even when it’s hard to shallow, and they can trust you to keep your promises.

This trust is one of the central pillars of a strong relationship, both in your personal and your professional life. So, as challenging as it can be sometimes, always try to have integrity.

Be honest with the people around you, even when this will initially hurt them. It’s more important for them to trust you than to not feel hurt. And always do what you promised. Even better, think twice before you promise anything, and only promise what you really can and you are willing to do.

5. Be There for Others

Another central pillar of strong relationships is support. Connections between people grow sturdy if they can rely on each other for support when it’s needed, whether that support means a few kind words or several massive actions.

Of course, you can’t be there for everybody, all the time. Your time, energy and other resources are limited. But what you can do is identify the genuinely important people in your life and then seek to be there as much as possible, at least for them.

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Your support will help them practically, and it will comfort them emotionally; which makes one hell of a difference in a relationship.

The Bottom Line

With the right mindset and the right behavior, you can strengthen a wide range of relationships in your life and advance them as far as they can be advanced.

And with strong relationships, not only that you feel more fulfilled, but you feel more connected to the entire world. You feel that your life has real value, you have more fun and you live in the moment. An entire world of opportunities opens up in front of you.

Then your task is to simply walk through the open doors.

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Featured photo credit: Proxyclick Visitor Management System via unsplash.com

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