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10 Subconscious Biases That Make You Think You’re Doing Worse Than You Actually Are

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“The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence, but of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct.” – Daniel Kahneman

Pink baseball cap with 'feelings' on the front, flowers in background, emoBrandon Stanciell

1. Your upper limit.

When you experience a certain proportion of happiness and pain in your life, you become accustomed to it over time. When that ratio begins to tip, you start self-sabotaging because you’re reaching what Gay Hendricks calls your “upper limit.” When happiness feels foreign, it’s uncomfortable – that’s why some people start unconsciously creating problems in their lives, or feeling unwarranted anxiety despite everything being perfectly fine. It is all ultimately to fulfill a need for familiarity.

2. Your destination addiction.

One of the most fundamental aspects of human nature is our inherent desire to survive and evolve. This is what’s at play when we are constantly thinking about what’s to come – the “next big thing.” Destination addiction is what happens when you put more energy into falling in love with the future than you do creating a desirable present. If we’re not careful, it can lead us to spend our entire lives chasing something, and never enjoying anything.

3. Your negativity bias.

Surely you’ve noticed that if 10 people give you a compliment, but one gives you an insult, it’s the latter that you’ll focus on until it all but drives you mad. This doesn’t mean you’re a “negative person,” it’s a function of your physiology. Human beings are designed to identify problems as a survival mechanism. What’s happening is your carnal impulse is being applied to something that doesn’t actually threaten you or your safety – it just feels like it does.

4. Your love map.

Some people argue that “love at first sight” (or really, love at all) is just what happens when we meet someone who meets the requirements of our unconscious “love maps,” or the things we believe we require in a partner that will help us maximize pleasure and avoid pain. What we don’t realize is that the “map” can also include negative things that we associate with love, like abuse or addiction, because that is primarily what we came to know it as in our earliest relationships.

5. Your spotlight complex.

Most people spend their days primarily thinking about themselves – and what other people perceive of them. What most fail to realize is that everyone is doing this. It’s easy, especially in the digital age, to start to believe that you’re occupying other people’s attention far more than you actually are. This false sense of being in the spotlight is what creates tons of unnecessary stress and self-criticism.

6. Your anchors.

Anchoring is a psychological phenomena in which people develop their sense of possibility based on what they were exposed to first. Basically, people tend to think whatever they thought or experienced first was more true, even if evidence says it’s not. Your anchors are perceptions that ground you in reality, but sometimes, they make you believe that all you can be or accomplish is what you’ve had in the past.

7. Your clustering illusion.

Clustering illusion is what happens when the brain subconsciously seeks out information to affirm itself. (It’s kind of like confirmation bias.) You’ve probably experienced it in simple ways, like if you really wanted a new type of car, or thought a certain set of numbers were lucky, and then suddenly started seeing those things everywhere. What was really happening was that your brain stopped filtering out this peripheral information and started bringing it to your conscious attention. This backfires when your fear is inadequacy or anxiety, and your brain goes out of your way to unintentionally sabotage you by making you think those things are more real than they are.

8. Your halos and horns.

A halo complex is what happens when you start dismissing people’s bad traits and emphasizing their good ones just because you love them, or for some reason need to see them as benevolent. A horns complex, as you can imagine, is the opposite. Sometimes you skew your idea of someone to align with how you need to see them for them to fulfill some role in your life. You probably experience this when you look back on some people you’ve dated.

9. Your extrapolation.

When we extrapolate, we essentially take a snapshot of a present moment and then imagine that it will be an ongoing reality, though of course that is impossible. Extrapolation is at the root of most anxiety and pain, because it is the false idea that uncomfortable feelings will never go away.

10. Your projection.

As they say: the world is not as it is, it is as we are. Projection is perhaps the most powerful bias of all, because it shapes almost every part of our lives. What we think about the world says more about who we are than it does about what it is, and unless we are careful, we can manipulate our ideas about whether or not we live in a malevolent place, and when that is compiled with all the other coexisting biases already in your brain, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. TC mark

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