DAY 11: Thoughts are not Facts

I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened
— Mark Twain

Day 11 Self Reflection:

On Day 11 of your workbook, have fun filling in the blanks to find out more about how your brain works and what you can do to balance it out.


Day 11 Micro-Science: Self Verification Theory

We all see the world through our own filters, based on previous experiences, which creates a distorted leans through which we see ourselves. The brain loves consistency and once you have developed a certain way of seeing yourself, your brain gets pretty pissed if you allow information in that contradicts that previously held belief. For instance, if some one was told as a child that they are “bad student” and that personality characteristic was reinforced by their parents, coaches, or teaches. Then suddenly in the 8th grade the kid gets an “A” in Science class, the child will automatically feel uncomfortable as it doesn’t fit nicely into their current concept of themselves. In this way, many people become imprisioned in a cell of others expectations, which they then self-police in their own lives causing a downward or upward spiral that dictates their future.

  • FACT: Married woman who have a self reported negative view of themselves will stay in their relationships longer if their partner also have a negative view of them compared to if their partner views them positively

  • TAKEAWAY: People innately want to confirm their already held beliefs about themselves. This makes their brains do less work, so people will continue to look for “consistent” information about themselves, even if that information is negative.

Day 11 Meditation: Negativity Bias

Sometimes it might feel like your brain doesn’t like you, but in reality its just trying to protect you. Your mind may fill up daily with negative thoughts are reasons why you won’t succeed and then expects you to thank you for its great advice. Don’t blame your brain, however, that’s just evolution playing “debbie downer” with your life. Turns out everyone’s brain is programmed to look on the dark side and we have to teach it to see the silver lining.

  • FACT: Two thirds of the neurons in your amygdala (where all information passes through before going to your thinking brain) are primed to see negative stimuli.

  • TAKEAWAY: Evolution has dictated that if a tiger and a berry bush are both in front of you, its more advantageous to your survival to see the tiger first. Therefore, because our brains still run off the paradigm that its “better safe than sorry,” we will always see the problems and potential threats before we see the opportunities.

Day 11 Meditation: Today’s meditation is to write down five “negative” experiences you have had in your life. Then set a timer for five minutes and think about each one of those experiences and what you have learned from going through them. Taking about a minute for each experience.

Just like your body if you give you mind an impossible task it will break.
— anonymous

Day 11 Movement Task: Realistic Expectations

Often times our goals and not lined up very well with reality. We compare ours lives to the people we see in the movies of the “airbrushed” lives on Instagram. Because that information is so accessible to us we accept it as fact and try to align our lives with what we think is “normal.” This causes our brain tremendous anxiety as we “rank” ourselves with the “hierarchy” around us and find ourselves falling short. Therefore, to counteract this tendency its important to set our sights on achievable goals not the ones society or media tell us to.

  • FACT: Married couples that have the lowest (read more realistic) expectations of their partners stayed married the longest

  • TAKEAWAY: Disney movies have really screwed up our expectations and those misguided messages have effected our quality of life. Relationships (and life) are messy and if one goes in with that expectation. Life and you get along much better.

Day 11 Movement Task: Today’s assignment is pretty simple, just set these three realistic goals for your day.

1) Get through it alive (as this wasn’t so easy for our ancestors)

2) Be ok today, not “happy”

3) Expect problems to arise (don’t hope for the absence of problems), because they will come

Day 11 Bonus Material:

#1) Alan Watts: Addicted to thoughts

This short video with a narrative by Alan Watts will give you some insight into how we become obsessed with our own thoughts. Showing how that obsession leads to more worrying and eventually anxiety, clearly highlighting how easy it is to get addicted to thought.

#2) Ted Talk: Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and how to get unstuck)

Check out this Ted Talk by social psychologist Allison Ledgerwood about the brains engrained propensity to go to the worse case scenario and how that effects our daily lives.