Biases and self-sabotage
written by Philip Stefanov | JUNE 29, 2021
Our way of thinking and seeing the world can significantly impact our efforts and results. Believing the wrong information can cripple or lead us down the wrong road. In some cases, holding onto false beliefs can stop us from doing anything.
For example, if you believe you can’t lose weight, why even try, right?
A common mistake we all make is to seek out information that confirms what we already believe to be true. For instance, if you believe that ketogenic dieting is the best way to eat for optimal weight loss and good health, you would be more likely to seek information that confirms this belief. Similarly, you would be less likely to consume information that challenges the notion.
This common mental error is called confirmation bias and its presence is strong in our everyday lives.
John believes that the ketogenic diet is the best thing on the planet and consumes information related to keto’s superiority for fat loss, why ketones are a better energy source, and how eliminating carbs from his diet improves his health. Thus, John hammers in his beliefs even further.
In contrast, Michael believes that keto is terrible and instead looks at studies that show the ketogenic diet not delivering benefits. He also looks up information on why ketones are not a good source of energy, and how the keto flu is the worst thing a human being can experience. Thus, Michael solidifies his beliefs about the ketogenic diet.
Meanwhile, the truth could be somewhere in the middle. But these two individuals don’t care about that. They want information that confirms their current beliefs.
“I have a slow metabolism!” - a person who consistently looks up information on hormonal imbalances and illnesses while completely disregarding information on exercise and eating healthy.
If you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that the confirmation bias extends far beyond fitness. Sports fans argue for hours on how their team is the best and read articles and news only if they confirm their beliefs. Car guys swear by one brand and claim it’s the best out there. Nutrition fanatics swear by the benefits of eating a particular food and avoid studies and experts who suggest otherwise.
It’s human nature, I think. We tend to form certain beliefs on different topics and only seek out information that confirms that. In other words, we don’t want new information; we want to validate what we currently believe.
But real growth comes from understanding that we can’t know it all. More importantly, we might think we know something, but we should be open to the idea that it could be wrong. When presented with new facts, we should examine them and consider accepting them if they make sense.
Thank you for reading. Until next week,
P.S. Way back in the day, I used to confirm my misguided belief that intermittent fasting was the best and only way to eat for optimal health and fat loss.
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