Understanding the Tricks Our Mind Plays on Us

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” – John Milton

One of our most vital and powerful organs – the brain – influences our decisions, beliefs, and actions. A sound mind helps us stay rational and understanding; however, there are also times when the mind can play tricks on us.

We found several articles that explore the different ways we perceive things – sometimes incorrectly. Bustle magazine found that the brain often distorts facts about people we dislike. “We tend to ignore [their] good traits and facts,” the magazine said. “While the person you dislike may actually have some redeeming qualities, your brain zooms in [and focuses] only on what bothers you.”

This can cause potential issues – especially in the workplace. For example, if you’ve had a conflict with someone in the past, you may be predisposed to disagree with them in the future. It’s important to recognize that our mind can falsely influence our perception of someone and we must strive to overcome this negative view.

The Sun explored 24 mind tricks that negatively affect the way we see the world around us. From anchoring – how our first impression of something contributes to how we feel about it thereafter – to the backfire effect – sticking to our beliefs stubbornly especially when we are challenged – our brains can prohibit us from keeping an open mind and seeing situations clearly.

The curse of knowledge is another trick The Sun explores and suggests that “once you understand something you presume it is obvious to everybody… We easily forget the path we took to building our complex understanding of things.” This also often comes up in business. Leaders may assume that employees know what’s considered ‘common knowledge’ or ‘common sense’ and may overlook the value in discussion to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s always good to summarize, check-in and follow-up with employees to ensure they understand what’s expected of them.

This video also includes some interesting facts about the way our brain can trick us such as falsely recalling past memories; filling in sensory information and copying what others do.

In these challenging times of isolation, we need to be even more aware of the tricks our mind is playing on us.  Are we really evaluating our peers and team members in an unbiased way? Or have we predetermined that we are the only ones doing all the work? This is confirmation bias, which causes us to justify our own beliefs by looking only at information that backs up what we believe to be true.  This can create a world of misunderstanding and missed communication opportunities, as we stand firm in our bias.

Pause, take the time to consider your view from all perspectives. Being aware of our brain’s power – negative and positive – can help us better navigate the world around us, our experiences, and be open to other viewpoints.