Hey guys and gals, some very exciting things are coming soon in the world of 2HelpfulGuys. We will be relaunching our YouTube, putting out new books, starting a newsletter and redesigning our website.
When we redesign our website we may not appear in your WordPress reader any longer so if you would like to continue to be updated on all of the new exciting things we will be doing (and get some exclusive content) please join our newsletter.
To join our newsletter Click Here and enter your e-mail. To thank you for joining us you will get a FREE digital copy of our new book ‘Not so F.A.Q.: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked’
We are honored to have over 9,000 readers and hope that you continue to enjoy the content we provide.
As always, you can like us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to us on YouTube to see our relaunch videos the moment they come out.
We look forward to continuing to grow together with you.
For most of human history we were hunter gatherers surviving in tribes. We didn’t have the stimulation of technology, the safety net of modern medicine or the vastly interconnected social system that we have now.
Because of this fact, our brains and bodies have some left over mechanisms and responses that aren’t exactly suited for our time. Today we are going to be talking about one of the mechanisms and responses that we have left over from a distant past: cognitive biases.
Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment.
Specifically we’ll explore how these cognitive biases can help cause one of the most rampant mental well-being problems that we all have in common, a low self-esteem.
While you think every decision and thought you hold is completely voluntary, I’m here to show you that the shortcuts your brain takes deeply impact how you view yourself and the world around you. Once we are aware of the tricks our brain can play on us, we can control them a little more.
Negative Bias refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things.
In other words, something we consider very positive could have less of an affect on our mental state and behaviour than something we find to be less intensely negative. It could take 5 positive experiences to outweigh one negative.
If you go outside and five people compliment you, but one person insults you, the insult might affect you more than all of the compliments combined. With this in mind it’s easy to see how our self esteem can be skewed from what it could be if we weighed the positive and negative equally.
Attentional Bias is the tendency of our perception to be affected by our recurring thoughts. For example, people who frequently think about the clothes they wear pay more attention to the clothes of others.
Put in the context of self esteem it is easy to see how this could become a problem. If we already think negative thoughts about ourselves often, this bias will send us into a spiral. We will believe that other people are thinking negative things about us and it will become a point of focus for us.
This bias will affect our behaviours and mood based on reoccurring thoughts. If those thoughts are negative (which the negative bias can cause) then we are fighting an uphill battle.
The Spotlight Effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are noticed more than they really are. Being that one is constantly in the center of one’s own world, an accurate evaluation of how much one is noticed by others has shown to be uncommon.
This can easily damage an already bruised self esteem in that we may believe that everyone around us notices all of the flaws that we see in ourselves. We believe that everyone sees our pimples, or our nervousness in conversations, or our clothes, or height, or whatever else already makes us feel self conscious.
These biases in combination can be detrimental to our mental well-being if we are not aware of them. It’s hard to fight against millions of years of evolution and a brain that we don’t have complete control over. But we have to try to be aware so that the next time some bad happens, we can try to truthfully balance it against the good. Or that we can catch ourselves the next time we are in a spiral of negative thoughts. Or that we can realize that the people around us don’t actually pay as much attention to our flaws as we believe.
If we can keep these biases in mind and try to mitigate their affects whenever possible, we can help lessen the damage they have on our self esteem and live a better quality, happier life.
On frequent occasions throughout the day, we encounter situations that make us frustrated, angry and resentful.
During these times, we blame the other individuals or external forces. We feel they are the source of our ill feelings. They made us feel this way.
We often think, without these people in our lives, we’d be better off.
When you squeeze an orange, naturally orange juice comes out. Why does it come out? Because that is exactly what is housed inside that delicious rind.
Let us think of our bodies as individual little oranges.
When people take jabs at us, poke us and make us feel frustrated, resentful or angry, it isn’t them that make us feel those feelings.
Like the orange, we already hold those feelings inside ourselves. The jabs from the world accentuate the feelings we inherently possess.
We allow feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment to live deep within us and lay dormant until the world is able to poke it out of us.
So then, how do we remedy our internal feelings? How do we take charge of our thoughts, feelings and actions and explode with happiness rather than anger?
We’ve come up with a few techniques to train our body and mind, shedding away any ill feelings that lay dormant.
A) Cancel Rule
In our many life experiences, we have encountered many jabs and pokes. In most cases, these scenarios are largely unavoidable. Sometimes, the people we spend the most time with are the worst for us.
While we advocate ways to change our circumstances, there are alternate methods without drastically cutting people out of our lives.
In our next dicey encounter, let us remember the Cancel Rule. When someone takes a jab we must rapidly and repeatedly yell ‘cancel’ inside our heads.
We cannot let their words penetrate our fleshy rind.
We must train our brain to cancel out their negative thoughts. We must never internalize them or let them sit inside our bodies.
Allowing such a scenario only adds to our pot of ill feelings. Use the Cancel Rule as a method to avoid internalization.
B) Deep Breathing
Our brains chase the easiest method to any scenario. When we encounter a less-than-stellar situation, we often get flustered and our breathing gets shallow.
Shallow breathing is a reaction when we’re angry or frustrated. The primary muscles, which facilitate breathing—diaphragm, abdomen, chest, and neck—are tense which limits free-flowing unconscious breathing.
As our negative thoughts continue to circle around our heads, our breathing inadvertently becomes shorter and quicker, only increasing the ill feelings.
When the world pokes at us, let us stop and think of our breathing. Let us fill our bellies up fully and slowly till our angry orange juice subsides.
Live long enough, and we’ll encounter our share of tough times. That’s okay. We all experience this from time-to-time. Ill feelings are relatively natural within us.
But imagine if we could control our thoughts, feelings and actions? Imagine if we could truly harness our ability to choose happiness over anger.
Well, we can. We believe this goal is relatively simple to achieve.
Through some diligent actions and positive thoughts, we are able change our internal orange juice.
It is to the point and we love it. One of the lines is a classic.
“If you are tired of starting over, stop giving up.”
So, we’re here to explore all the reasons that we might give up, and stop it from happening.
We Expect Results Too Fast
When we first start on a new venture we want everything to work out perfectly. In our mind’s eye we see the stars aligning and all of our dreams coming true overnight, but it never works that way.
The thing is, anything that comes fast, will go just as quickly. Even then, it isn’t what we are getting that is important, it is who we are becoming. And becoming something takes time.
If you aren’t where you want to be yet, it’s because you don’t deserve to be there yet. You haven’t put in the time, the effort, the persistence, or the blood, sweat and tears required. When you deserve the thing you are after, you’ll get it.
So don’t give up.
We Fear The Future
We are terrible predictors of the future.
Think of all the doomsday scenarios that have played out in your head throughout the past. How many of them ended in your life being ruined forever? Probably a lot of them. But right now look around, has your life actually been ruined forever, even once? Probably not.
If you are reading this right now that means that you have internet and probably food and shelter, so it’s safe to say that your doomsday scenarios never came true.
We Dwell On Mistakes
A mistake won’t become a regret unless we fail to learn from it.
That is what mistakes are for. We need to make mistakes so that we can learn and become better. Another word for a collection of mistakes is experience.
We Overwork Ourselves
The religion of hustle and bustle tells us that we have to work 24/7/365 if we want anything in life, but if we don’t have balance we will eventually give up.
Always remember that there is no finish line. If we want to get in shape and we do all these crazy diets—never eating anything we enjoy and put ourselves through hell—what will happen once we reach our goal?
We will go off the crazy diets, lose all our progress and start again. There is no finish line, once we reach a goal it isn’t “happy ever after,” we have to maintain it. If we reach our goals through means that are not sustainable then we won’t be able to keep what we get.
We Fear Change
If I told you that in fifteen years, you, and your life, would be exactly the same as it is right now how would you feel? Probably pretty crappy. That sounds a little like a nightmare right?
So if that is the case then why are we so afraid of change!?
The fear of change is an immediate fear that we have to confront to conquer, but the fear of staying the same is gradual. The only difference is, when we realize that we are afraid of changing, we can do something about it. But by the time we realize that we’ve stayed the same, we can’t go back.
We Never Visualize What Is Possible
We don’t believe in ourselves, and the reason we don’t believe in ourselves is that we never visualize ourselves conquering our goals.
People say daydreaming is useless but all of the world’s greatest people daydreamed about greatness before they ever made it there. They imagined exactly how it would feel. They saw themselves accomplishing great feats and changing the world.
If we never visualize and put ourselves in that category, that caliber, then we will never believe in ourselves enough to make it. We will doubt ourselves and eventually give up.
Visualize yourself in your greatest state. Visualize the possibilities and don’t worry about the process. Most of the time you figure out the process as you go, but you have to believe that you can reach your goals if you are ever going to start.
So those are the most common reasons why people quit, and why we should never listen to them. Don’t let these fears and anxieties take over your life. If you quit before giving it your best shot, you’ll always regret it.
When we were children, time didn’t occur to us. All our activities fit perfectly into the day. Unless the sun was going to bed, our time seemed endless, wistfully passing by.
Our parents dealt with our schedules, moving and shifting around hockey practices with dentist appointments. Our lives were handled in their responsible care and we were blissful.
Soon after, we matured into self-sustaining adults with our own work schedules and responsibilities. We began to focus on time; trying to fit all the minutiae tightly in.
Then, we became obsessed with time. We became obsessed with balance. It seems that most of us endlessly sought a balanced life.
However, the ‘balanced life’ does not exist.
One of life’s biggest lies is the notion of a balanced life. Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing.
Between professional and personal life, striving for that perfect balance is most peoples’ mislead goal that they find attainable without ever stopping to truly consider it.
This is tough to believe mainly because one of the most frequent mantras for what is missing in most lives is, ‘I need more balance.’ We hear about balance so much that we automatically assume it’s exactly what we should seek.
We should be seeking purpose, significance, and happiness, the qualities that persist in a successful life.
Seek those important qualities and you will more than likely live a life out of balance, crisscrossing an invisible middle line as you pursue those qualities.
Think of balance as the middle line, and out of balance when we’re away from it. Get too far and we’re now living in the extremes.
The persistent problem with the middle is that it prevents us from making extraordinary time commitments to anything. Stay here too long and our lives will grow stale and ordinary.
Stray away from the middle and we could get reckless, marginally living a terribly hard life, devoid of relationships, fond memories and love.
Knowing when to pursue the middle and the extremes is true knowledge. Results are achieved with perfect negotiation with your time.
The reason we should never pursue absolute balance is because the magic never happens in the middle.
Magic happens at the extremes.
The extremes are where we are truly tested in will and guts. Our strengths are galvanized towards a lifelong dream. We naturally understand that success lies at the outer edges, but we don’t know how to manage our lives when we’re out venturing.
When we work too long, our personal life suffers. We unfairly blame work when we say, ‘I have no life.’ Even when work doesn’t pose a threat, our personal lives can be filled with endless ‘have-tos’ that we, once again, reach the same conclusion, ‘I have no life.’
When we get bombarded by both sides – professional and personal – we face an imminent breakdown and once again proclaim, ‘I have no life.’
Time waits for no one.
If we stray too far to the extremes, chasing our professional lives, we forget to cherish the middle, the simple.
Sometimes our work schedules become overwhelming, but our belief is that if we work hard now, we can enjoy the fruits of labor later.
Push something to an extreme and postponement can become permanent.
We seem to believe that we can make up for lost time.
But do we really think that we can get back a child’s birthday or bedtime story? Is a party for a five-year old with imaginary friends the same as a dinner with a teenager with high-school friends?
In Click, Adam Sandler has an epiphany before death where he says, ‘family first.’ Realizing all the time he spent at work instead of with his family, gave him his biggest regret.
He couldn’t make up for lost time. He couldn’t find balance.
Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.
Finding the right amount is essential to our personal and professional lives. Through careful deliberation of our activities, we can slowly understand where our time is best spent.
We have to spend our time on what matters most to us, instead of scrambling with minutiae. We have to accept the fact that not everything can get done in our days, weeks, months, years, and lives.
We need to realize where our true passions and priorities lie in life. We need to separate all the important activities from the things we think are important.
Professional and personal success are measured equally. If we do not treat bodies with respect, our families and friends with respect, we suffer immeasurable in the latter.
If we do not achieve professional success, we feel defeated and depressed, bringing those feelings into our personal lives.
We must crisscross the invisible line, while simultaneously chasing purpose, significance, and happiness.
We must spend a little extra time sharing memories with our families and friends and being mindful of ourselves – our bodies and minds.
We must also focus on our professional goals by working our hardest – but not longest – and giving our entire being in that singular moment.
Balance cannot be achieved.
The art of counter-balancing is a more realistic goal. With everything that we do in our professional life, equal time must be spent in our personal lives, and vice versa.
When I die, I want to have the shortest list of regrets possible. With that in mind, making sure to be mindful of my body, treasuring my relationships and chasing professional success are goals, which are strived for equally.