Mental Distortion

“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” Irving Berlin

The Misinformation Effect, Social Contagions, While Dealing with the Slipperiness of Perceptions

We act on “what” we perceive to be true while the facts are overwhelming that perception is not always reality. Perceptions are the glasses through which we view others, the world, and ourselves. Every person’s frame of reference has a hidden underlying set of beliefs, behaviors and assumptions that influence whether the glass is half empty or half full. The unconscious entrenched perceptions are the result of the brain registering ongoing superimposed mapping of all our experiences within our neuropathways. When it comes to interpreting experiences, human beings are prone to swaying the truth toward what he or she believes to be true or what they want it to be. We are usually our own worst enemy, because we tend to allow these limited incomplete thoughts to have power over our choices. No doubt we all have carried dozens of beliefs since childhood, which prevent us from getting where we want to go in life. It is not easy to change ones beliefs and implant a more empowering one. Yet it can absolute be done. The key is motivation. Motivation can be crafted only if you have a compelling vision of what you want. In other words you need to be emotionally invested to the point that if you keep operating within your old limited belief system you would be in more pain than if you changed your thinking and tried something new. Our species tends to assign meaning based on how we interpret any encounter, situation or event. Things are only good or bad because of the way we decide to look at them.

Your Eye Sees Only What Your Mind Is Prepared to Comprehend

People can become so wedded to their particular view of how things should work that they ignore all evidence that suggests that a change in thinking is necessary. For example, why do so many of us fail to do what we are supposed to be doing regarding diet and exercise. We say we know what to do, yet most of the time we are out of control as seen in the global epidemics of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Is it our biological makeup that inclines us to consume what we should follow, or is it our frame of reference and cultural traditions that need reshaping?  I hope we can agree that change is the essence of life and the future. Complaining about how one feels about repetitive behaviors that produce familiar ineffective outcome is just the beginning of the change process. In order for a change in thinking to take root, you must be willing to reassess your beliefs, behaviors and assumptions, which effect your perceptions of reality. An error in perception can have you focusing on the wrong thing, which can definitely screw up your choices about how best to live your life. The probability of positive change will continually

be sabotage due to these non-verifiable beliefs you have been holding onto. What this means is the non-conscious mind must be trained by a more conscious mind to deliver an emotional kick to start the change process. The good news, however, is that a person’s ability to authentically change their belief system in order to transform present and future experiences isn’t limited to childhood but prevails throughout life.



The first step to promote motivation is a compelling vision of your desired outcome.  A compelling vision gives one a blueprint to work from. A well thought through vision is the foundation for preparing and planning any effective change strategy (personal or professional). A compelling vision of the future provides one with the energy and inspiration to move forward in the developmental stages of the change process.


Determining whether you’re ready or not to take on a change is a precondition to initiating a change. Change is a process and like any other process requires some research and thought. When we contemplate adopting a change we should ask ourselves some mind provoking questions that allow us to initiate an internal discussion surrounding factors such as: benefits, opportunities, obstacles, ability or skillset to achieve the desired outcome, and the willingness and commitment to stay to the plan regardless of our feelings of uncertainty.

To drive down the road of uncertainty, we need to believe in our ability to change and we need to have a detailed plan of action and a back-up (the “what-if” scenario) plan.

Factoid: The outcome of the what-if scenario analysis is used to determine the feasibility of the unexpected and adverse situations.

Behavioral scientists have determined five stages of change readiness in order for substantive change to take root:

. Precontemplation (You’ve been kind of thinking about it in the back of your mind)

. Contemplation (You start to think more actively about doing it)

. Preparation (If you’re going to do that you need to have a plan and strategy in place)

. Action (Now the action(s) are front and center of your mind. You can now start to initiate the plan)

. Maintenance (You followed your strategy and have been relatively successful)

Be aware the world wide web, YouTube, magazine, and Amazon are riddled with techniques, inspirational ideas, articles, and book after book on how to move from not thinking about change to thinking about change onto planning for change, and staying motivated to change. Every celebrity, organizational guru, authority figure, your friends, peers and let’s not forget your mother all have their own thoughts about how “you” could change. After all is read, said, and listened to the bottom line is you know what to change and simple need implement the right strategies.


When preparing to rethink a long-held belief, your brain must face must suspend old thinking to emotionally connect with new thinking. Next on the check list of changes is to demystify, identify and explore the challenges associated with making the shift in thinking. For instance, the barriers or obstacles that could surface, competing priorities, lack of time, degree of readiness, ability-willingness (skillset and commitment), and confidence to move forward all must be assessed. The plan and its details are a critical step towards acquiring the desired outcome or goal. Take the time to develop your implementation plan for the “new you.” Think through things like potential scheduling issues, necessary preparation, how you plan to track your performance, obstacles, relapses (“what-if”) and backup plans. Clearly define the required behavioral goals associated with each action and the new narrative that needs to be put in place using SMART goals.

One of the most efficient ways to become goal sensitive, efficient and consistent is to use SMART goals. Whether in business or your personal life, having agoal gives you something to work towards. The acronym (SMART goals) encourages us to make goal specific, measurable, agreed-upon (some people use achievable or attainable), realistic and time-bound.


The first-known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. The principal advantage of SMART objectives is that they are easier to understand and to know when they have been done. SMART criteria are commonly associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objective concept.

Many people spend their lives drifting from one needed change to another – or rushing around trying to get more done while actually accomplishing very little. Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life.

Pick one goal that you really want to achieve. Now figure out what it would take to achieve that goal. Effective goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Time-lined (SMART GOALS). SMART goals raise your awareness of how this change in perception challenges your thoughts and emotions. This thinking/feeling work will help you in the development of a realistic first step in moving forward.


This is the time for ritualized skill building. Action is all about the “doing” part of the change strategy. Remind yourself that this is a commitment to the mastery of a new behavior. To reinforce your motivation and confidence, it is important to experience manageable successes that lead to extrinsic rewards and an intrinsic value for the new behavioral shift. One way to transpose the hurdles of new behaviors would be the intense conscious rehearsal of the process and actions you want to see, a strategy of repeated practice, patience and time that results in mastering a performance skill. Yet remember, all this mastery is about practice, practice, practice, sometimes falling down, finding an unforeseen glitch and learning. Mastery is a process.

Ask yourself “do I possess the readiness, ability, and willingness to achieve this goal”. If you’re not ready, ask yourself what it would take to get ready. If you feel you lack ability, then search out training and if it is a willingness issue take a look at your frame of reference, negative thought patterns and perceptions that perpetuated these barriers to thinking through the change. Analyze your positive and negative thoughts taking notice of problem areas in your current perceptions of reality.

Factoid: Perception is a single unified awareness derived from your sensory processes while a stimulus is present. Reality is the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be. In other words, perception defines what we want to see and reality defines what is actually happening.


The successful adaptation of a new habit and the absolute confidence that it can be sustained is an amazing feeling. The required commitment, patience, allotted time and diligent effort building up to this behavioral shift in perception gives your mind and body a huge payoff. Take the time to reflect on those successes and give yourself a pat on the back. I have found it takes approximately 1 year to 18 months to internalize most major changes.


Lasting change expands our sense of self, which allows us to get closer to becoming our best self. With any future change remember your new self is buried under your old belief system based on long standing mental patterns of thinking along with emotional baggage. Newness is the doorway to opportunity and the development of best practices.

For more information contact Wellcoach Michaelene Conner, author of Amazon best seller Good Brain, Bad Brain, Your Brain, Techno Stress, 2012 AMERICAN FITNESS MAGAZINE, Hunger Brain Part 1 and Hunger Brain Part 2, 2013 with AMERICAN FITNESS MAGAZINE. and be sure to visit


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