Beyond Confirmation Bias
by Christian McNeill
Confirmation Bias – A tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms preconceptions, leading to errors.
The 3 Principles approach is radically different from other ways of looking at the human condition and human problems or solutions. This is not hyperbole or artistic licence. It points to a different source of a person’s feelings or personal experience than has been generally understood.
The current orthodoxy is that our circumstances dictate our feelings, our moods and our day-to-day experience of life. As one participant at a recent seminar put it, ‘My life has been spoiled by others. I am a victim. We’re all victims.’ He was undoubtedly sincere and thoughtful, yet it was not the truth. Many people in the room did not perceive themselves as victims or feel that their lives had been ‘spoiled’ in any way. Of course they had all had all kinds of life experiences. And those with an understanding of the principles were aware of a fact which helped them: Thought is an essential ingredient in all experiences and all feelings about any circumstance. Unless someone has some thought about a situation they will have no experience of it. And the nature of their experience directly reflects the nature of their thinking. It does not and cannot directly reflect the situation.
Thought is more than the internal dialogue. Much of it is invisible. It includes subconscious thoughts and beliefs, cultural norms and values and fleeting or invisible thoughts and prejudices. It covers all of the processing that goes on in our heads. And for that reason it is always completely different from person to person. We all have separate realities because each of us can only experience our own Thinking. Because it is the nature of thought to change constantly [unless we really fix on a particular area] as people see that there experience must change constantly too, this often provides a sense of relief. People no longer need to change the world or their past, in order to feel peace. The feelings factory is within them. And fresh thought is always being served up if we notice it.
However if someone is very firmly attached to the belief that circumstances cause feelings, it can be difficult to even see evidence which questions that. In a presentation with colleague, Janet Lindsay we showed a youTube video of Rebecca, one of Janet’s clients. [The video can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRMJoWOzvbE] Rebecca had a shocking history of abduction and abuse as a young child, which was followed by decades of quite extreme behaviour on her part. In a group setting she had encountered the 3 Principles which resonated deeply with her. In only 7 weeks of 3hrs per week she experienced a massive change which set her free from her past pain and her own behaviour. It is obvious viewing Rebecca today that she is not ‘broken’ or victimised. However this very powerful film did little to change the opinion of one delegate who was firm in the view that childhood abuse permanently damaged people. When I asked him if he thought Rebecca seemed ‘damaged’ he immediately responded that his clients were really, severely abused.
Rather than acknowledging that she had changed radically, he distinguished his clients from Rebecca’s previous experience. Innocently and automatically his confirmation bias had prevented him from absorbing something new. Something that might help those very clients move beyond that ‘damaged’ label. He remained doubtful that people can and do change.
Ironically this bias is itself an example of the invisible Thought that is operating inside someone to create his experience from the inside out.
Please do get in touch if you would like to hear more about a radically different approach to swiftly release problems that are burdening you.
ps. The photo is of killer whales