7 Subconscious Mistakes Your Brain Makes Every Day

7 Subconscious Mistakes Your Brain Makes Every Day - Your brain constantly makes mistakes. This is because your subconscious is a storehouse of experiences. It tries to make sense of them in its own way by organizing and drawing conclusions from them. We refer to these conclusions as prejudices - or beliefs.

Everyone’s brain does this. Prejudices and beliefs can be useful, but they can also limit you and fool you. You may think that your decisions are consciously rational ones, but your subconscious is working behind your back - without your conscious knowledge. You can, however, find out what is going on before it is too late! Here are 7 mistakes your brain makes every day… and you how can prevent them.

7 Subconscious Mistakes Your Brain Makes Every Day

1. Past Losses Occupy Your Present Thoughts
We all tend to regret mistakes, especially when they lead to some kind of loss. We constantly grumble about things we shouldn’t have done; about time or money we have wasted. This type of thinking is called a “sunk-cost fallacy”. For example, you buy a sandwich at some snack stand. The sandwich isn’t really that good.

You could, of course, throw the sandwich away and get something else, but you think: “I paid for it, so I’m going to get my money’s worth!” You eat it. We all have an initial instinct for “playing it safe” instead of  “getting the most” out of a situation. Blame evolution for this! Our ancestors, when faced with a threat – such as a dangerous animal – tended to flee such threats or avoid them altogether. We still tend towards this strategy today - it is part of our brain wiring.

Faced with the choice of “playing it safe” or “going for it,” we will usually prefer the former. This was usually the best strategy back in our ancestors’ day, but it can often be counterproductive today. Whenever you find yourself faced with such situations, think: “What do I really want?”

With this in mind, you will become aware of the things that really matter to you and be more willing to take at least some risk or incur more cost in order to get what you really want. Spend a little extra money on a sandwich you will actually enjoy!

2. Bad Betting Strategies
We all bet on the odds of some outcome; but we tend to be pretty bad at it…Take a roulette wheel. It has an equal number of red and black pockets  . Let’s assume the ball has landed on black five times in a row. Well, you probably think, red is due! So, you bet on red. Smart? Not really. You see, each spin of the wheel is a completely separate occurrence.

The chances of the ball landing on red are just as good as landing on black. Yet, somehow, your instinct leads you to predict red. This fallacy is why casinos make so much money. So, the next time you are faced with this kind of situation, take a deep breath. This will force you to pause, which will give you time to think things through. In other words, it will give you a chance to separate your conscious mind from your subconscious instincts.

3. Rationalizing Bad Decisions
Who likes to be wrong? Anyone? Of course not! That’s why you will tend to think that the sandwich you bought is really not so bad afterall! You will rationalize the decision, like: “Well, the sandwich isn’t so bad, especially considering how inexpensive it is. Not a bad buy, really…”This type of rationalization is due to something called cognitive dissonance.

This occurs when two conflicting ideas collide in your brain. One of them has to go. So, let’s say you think that you are pretty darned good at making decisions. Then you make a bad decision. Now you have a choice: Either you are not always so good at making decisions or the “bad” decision wasn’t so bad after all…If you are like most people, you will choose the more flattering option.

You can only overcome cognitive dissonance by being aware of it. After all, the less-flattering interpretation has occurred to you for a reason. Consciously think about it and be willing to admit the truth of the less flattering judgement. People make bad decisions, including you. That is perfectly OK, as long as you learn from it. Learning from mistakes is important. It helps us avoid mistakes in the future. If you rationalize your mistakes, however, you deprive yourself of a valuable experience.

4. You Favor Information That Matches Your Beliefs
When we do something ourselves, we tend to notice others who have done the same thing. Did you decide to wear sneakers today? You will probably notice others who made the same choice. Did you buy the latest iPhone? Then you suddenly become aware of people who have one. Who we are, what we do and think, is part of our reality.

We feel comfort when we notice that others are similar to us. This is especially true of our beliefs, because they define us. That is why you tend to prefer associating with people who think as you do. It makes you feel good; it confirms your beliefs. This phenomenon is called confirmation bias.

We want to think that our beliefs are correct – after all, who wants to believe that they are wrong? This does, unfortunately, cause us to reject ideas that conflict with our beliefs. Instead of reconsidering our beliefs, we become close-minded. This imposes limits on our thinking and on our creativity. You can, however, only really learn and grow if you are willing to consider that other beliefs may be equally valid as your own.

This is difficult for many people. In fact, it is pretty rare for someone to change a fundamental belief, even on the face of overwhelming evidence that this belief might be incorrect. Yet the ability to reevaluate beliefs is a very valuable one. It can enable you to look at things in a completely new way. After all, there must be some reasons why other people think differently!

5. You Confuse Results With Selection Criteria
When asked about the secret of their success, many athletes will stress how hard they work and train, and how dedicated they are to success. So, a young athlete may think, “If I train just as hard and I’m just as dedicated, I can achieve the same level of success!” Maybe…You could say that the right training and dedication are necessary for athletic success; but are these factors sufficient?

Hundreds of sprinters invested just as much of themselves in becoming a success as Usain Bolt! In the same vein, plenty of people study, learn and invest a lot of time into becoming a millionaire. How many make it? Yet many of them will buy books written by Warren Buffet or Richard Branson, for example,that promise to reveal the secrets to their success.

But are these “secrets” enough to guarantee success? No. Usain Bolt, as well as training hard and with dedication, also had physical attributes most sprinters just could not match. He also was able to attract the right people to work with him at the right stages in his career. Richard Branson, in addition to his creativity and determination, also made some pretty astute decisions and profited from industry trends.

He also surrounded himself with the right people to assist and advise him. Consider a famous Hollywood actor advertising a cologne. In the ad or TV commercial, he is surrounded by elegant women who are obviously strongly attracted to him. Do you really believe that the cologne he is wearing is the reason why women find him so irresistible?

Of course, you don’t… but how many men will be tempted to buy some of that cologne anyway? Why is this important for you to realize all of this? Because you may identify wrong or insufficient criteria as factors for success – and end up investing a lot of time and money into a career or business that you might not be suited for. So, what should you do about this?

Once again, take a moment and give your conscious, rational brain a chance to consider the matter soberly. You want to be a world class sprinter?Go ahead and try, if you are ready to make the sacrifice; but be mindful that training and dedication aren’t enough. Think about what you really want to do and be. You are subjected to misleading messages all the time. Be aware of how they are affecting you.

6. Being Willingly Manipulated
Have you ever encountered an ad for some weight loss program or “success secrets” training on the Internet? At some point, the advertiser will say something like: “This program is easily worth 2,000 dollars! But today we are offering it a special rate. You can buy the whole program… not for 1,000 dollars… not for 500 dollars… no, not even for 200 dollars! Today you can get it all for just 99.95!”

Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, don’t you think that, if advertisers could convince enough people to spend 2,000 dollars for the program, they would ask for it? So why does this type of advertising work so well? It’s because of the anchoring effect. The “anchor” refers to the initial information you get about something. In the example I just mentioned, it’s the “2,000-dollar value”.

This is the same effect that stores use for clearance sales. Let’s say you walk by a home electronics store every day. You’ve been in the store a few times, so you know what items are available. So you usually walk by the store without stopping. Then one day, you see a big sign in the store window: “Everything must go!50% off all inventory! Sale ends tomorrow!” It’s quite likely that you may just decide to go into the store and see if there is a good deal.

OK, you really don’t need a new television, but that big screen, high-definition model really looks good. The full price is 998 dollars, but now you can have it for “just” 499 dollars. What a steal!Is the television really worth 499 dollars? Well, if that had been the “regular” price, you wouldn’t have given it much thought.

What really caught your attention is the original 998-dollar sale tag. Our subconscious mind constantly makes comparisons: “That is good, is the second one better?” We tend make such comparisons based on the first value we perceive. That first value is the anchor. How can you counter this instinct? Be conscious of two things: the first information you receive and where that information is coming from.

Be aware that you are being subjected to a temporary impulse. Take a moment to resist the impulse and consciously reconsider your options. Do you really need that television? Really? What will you think about that purchase a few weeks from now? Being able to resist impulses is an important factor in making good decisions.

7. You Become Indecisive In The Face Of Choice 
Choice is great, you might think. I mean, if you are in restaurant, for example, you would like to have some choice. Yet, have you ever been overwhelmed by a dinner menu? There are so many great dishes! If I choose, the steak… could that be a mistake? Maybe that chicken pasta dish would be better…This type of situation is called the paradox of choice.

Too many choices, too many options. Which is the best? How can we decide? We might make the “wrong” decision! INFORMATION OVERLOAD. So, it is easier to make no decision at all. We either walk away; or, as in the restaurant example, we will ask the waiter for a recommendation or decide to have whatever someone else is having.

Just as long as we no longer have to choose! Information overload is an increasing problem in the face of all the choices available to consumers today. The solution should actually be easy. Reduce your options. Even if you have to do this somewhat arbitrarily, eliminate choices. For example, if you find a restaurant menu overwhelming, you can simply decide not to have anything with pork or fish in it.

For more substantial decisions, decide what is important to you, set clear criteria and exclude options that do not fulfill them. You will immediately feel more empowered and in control of your decisions. Being clear on what is important to you, will help immensely. Remember what your goals and objectives are.

Take time every day to list those decisions or actions that will help you to achieve them. When you do this, you will come to see just how many “options” are completely irrelevant and don’t matter. You will be able to concentrate on those things that are really meaningful. You should realize by now that the key to preventing your brain from making mistakes is conscious thinking.

Do not react or give into impulse. Taking a deep breath will provide you with a valuable moment that will enable you to gain some distance from your impulses. You can then observe what is going on in your mind at that moment and realize how you maybe being steered toward a bad decision. When you aware of what is going on in your head, you will be able to get control over your brain - and make good decisions!

So, what do you think? Share your thoughts and comments below.