Why “Like-minded” People are Killing Your Growth

I tend to like people who agree with me. They are make me feel heard and often validate my self-perception. When I surround myself with “like minded” people my world feels safe, predictable and under control. However, if I never hear an idea or opinion that differs from mine, how will I deepen my thinking or broaden my worldview?

Scientists call this tendency to surround ourselves with people who agree with us Confirmation Bias and our brains are hard-wired for it. It is part of what makes us social beings and has helped us survive as a species for millennia. It also means that we often ignore or are unconsciously threatened by things that contradict our world view (Knoblauch-Westerwick and Meng, 2009). Confirmation bias accounts for our tendency to make choices based on information that supports our biases and assumptive worldview. Information from things like religion, political affiliations, and social groups. Not only do we make choices to belong to groups comprised of individuals who confirm our views, we are also influenced by individuals who belong to those same groups, institutions, affiliations.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has found that our decisions are strongly influenced by our environment in what he calls the everybody else is doing it effect (Ariely, 2014). He found, through his studies on lying and unethical behavior, that when individuals identified a person as part of their social group (read: “like minded”) they were more likely to adopt the other person’s behavior. In Ariely’s research, students who saw a participant who was a fellow student (in this case Princeton) cheat and get by with it, they were more likely to cheat as well.

If we tend to surround ourselves with people who confirm our worldview and if we are influenced by those same individuals, how much more powerful are these influences with the addition of social media?

Social Media

Social media is defined as social communities that use forms of electronic communication for users to share information, photos, videos, personal messages and other online content (Merriam Webster, 2016).

Social media has also taken the “everybody else is doing it” effect to a whole new level. Given that it has only been around since 2009, and only increasing, the true effects of social media are yet to be determined. What we do know is that social media transmits messages rapidly and exponentially, and is a natural conduit for, and likely amplifies confirmation bias. In addition, most social media is, at best, a disconnected (non-face to face) form of communication and, at worst, completely anonymous.

How our Communication has Changed Since the Birth of our Nation

Unlike the myriad options to communicate and form social groups today, in the early part of our nation’s development, there were only a few; and they were, by today’s standards, grindingly slow. One could speak to others face to face, read a newspaper or other written publication, disseminate flyers or other written material or communicate through public debate, forum or other physical gathering. Through these types of communication, one was often face to face with the person or persons with whom they were communicating, which would provide a natural and very human way to debate and discuss ideas, morals, values and opinions.

Another natural important difference between communication during the early years of our nation and communication today is time. Precisely because written transmissions of communication were so slow, they allowed time for people not only to talk face to face and to absorb and process their own thoughts and feelings, but time to reflect upon the ideas of those around them. Thus, the process of confirming one’s world view was a slow, deep, ongoing and bounded. There were only a limited number of individuals within one’s social circle because there was limited access to those outside one’s physical proximity. This bounded social grouping was important. If one disagreed with another, there was a certain amount of interaction that one was forced to have with that person-like it or not. Today, one has access, through the internet, to anyone else who has a computer in the entire world. And through social media, one can select those who confirm their world view with the click of a mouse or a quick change of settings, thus, narrowing and refining one’s world view and confirming one’s biases.

So the next time someone disagrees with you, take the time to consider their opinion, and perhaps respond with a thoughtful question. If you change your “settings” instead of the settings on your computer, you might be surprised at how much you can grow.

The New Nightcap

Ahh, the nightcap. Seems to help you relax and fall asleep but research shows that alcohol actually disrupts sleep. A new review of 27 studies shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. I addition, “We don’t just need sleep, we need high quality sleep” says Lorie Hood who is a human performance researcher. “REM sleep is more mentally restorative and is crucial not only to performance but to basic health, states Hood.


Alcohol tricks people into thinking they are getting better sleep, says Scott Krakower, DO who is an addiction specialist. “People who drink alcohol often think their sleep is improved, but it is not.”

So, what’s a sleep starved gal or guy to do?

Try this blended chamomile latte for a nightcap that actually works.

It packs several ingredients that help promote a good night’s sleep. Chamomile tea is an evidence-based remedy for insomnia. Cherries provide melatonin, the hormone that helps us feel sleepy. And coconut oil and almond butter give us stable blood sugar overnight while almond butter has the added benefit of magnesium and tryptophan to promote sleepiness. Collagen and raw honey can also help us sleep through the night.



  • Freshly brewed chamomile tea
  • Optional: add cinnamon, cloves, and star anise to the tea
  • ¼ cup frozen organic cherries
  • 1 tablespoon sprouted almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon collagen
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon raw honey

Step 1: Brew your chamomile tea. Add cinnamon, clove, and star anise to the tea mixture.

Step 2: While your tea is brewing, add the cherries. You can also buy cherry juice concentrate. Hood recommends Montmorency cherries for their higher concentrations of melatonin and what studies suggest are anti-cancer properties. Add almond butter, coconut oil and collagen to the blender.

Step 3: Once your tea has steeped for a few minutes, add it to the blender and blend.

Optional Step 4: Sprinkle your finished latte with cinnamon powder.





Stop Choking in High-Stakes Situations


Why do otherwise high performers underperform when the stakes are raised?

  1. Because you take conscious control which undermines your practice.

The reason practice leads to competency is because it outsources skills from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind so you can perform those skills automatically.

We take for granted many of the skills controlled by our subconscious. Think of something you’re good at and break it down to the individual skills involved. For example, driving, which is automatic for most people, requires many skills. You need mechanical coordination to work the pedals and steering wheel, visual perception to stay in the lane and avoid accidents, and symbol recognition to read road signs and the various gauges on your dashboard. Let’s not forget the processing power to make quick decisions based on all of that information.

Despite having to use these skills simultaneously while driving, we no longer need to pay conscious attention to them. This extra brain power frees us to listen to audiobooks, carry a conversation, and even eat and drink while still smoothly driving to our destination.

For any skill, the more your subconscious takes over, the better you’ll be (granted you practice the skill properly).

All top performers outsource many of their skills to their subconscious. That’s why it looks effortless, because it is.

So what does this have to do with underperformance?

You underperform when you take conscious control of skills that have already been outsourced to the subconscious.

What you can do differently: Trust yourself and the time you’ve put in to practice. For situations where you’re executing a rehearsed skill, you are better off letting your subconscious stay in control. Of course, if you’ve been practicing bad habits, you will automatically perform in a less optimal way whether or not you consciously take control. To practice properly, get strong coaches that will give you specific feedback during your practice sessions.

2. Because you leave the present moment.

Think back to your best performances. What was going through your mind? You probably can’t remember thinking about anything. You were just in the moment — doing, not thinking.

Throughout our lives, we collect experiences and file them away for future use. Before high-stakes situations, our brain searches for and reviews similar experiences. It then projects the outcomes of those past experiences as the outcome for our upcoming situation. So if we’ve underperformed before when the stakes were high, we’re more likely to underperform again.

In addition to our own experiences, seeing others perform poorly can influence us as well. If your mind is filled with examples of people being nervous and freezing up during a speech, what do you think will happen right before your turn to speak?

When you flashback to the past to predict your future, you usually don’t take into account all of the training and practice that has occurred since that experience. A key idea to keep in mind is that your past experience is obsolete.

What you can do differently: Mentally rehearse successful outcomes. All memories are reconstructions, and your brain cannot tell which memories really happened and which ones were made up. Collect positive experiences to create a positive future. This will bring confidence as opposed to anxiety and self-doubt.

To focus on the now, pay attention to the input from your five senses. If you’re in a meeting, notice your breathing, the sounds in the room and the faces of your teammates. When your mind is occupied with the now, it won’t slip into the past or the future.

3. You phrase your thoughts in the negative.

The most common phrase people tell themselves when they have to perform in a high stakes situation is:

Don’t mess up.

Whether they’re thinking this or saying it out loud, it usually leads to one result:

Messing up.

When you tell yourself not to do something, you cannot help but to imagine doing it. Some people take it one step further and start “catastrophizing.” They imagine how performing poorly in this one presentation will destroy their careers. When your entire career is in jeopardy, it’s hard to stay relaxed and perform at your best.

What you can do differently: Focus on what you want to happen. If you are giving a big talk, tell yourself to “be engaging” as opposed to “don’t be boring.”

Deep down, we all want to do well. That is natural and normal. That is also why we put in the long hours. When the stakes are high, don’t try to rise to the occasion. Do what you’ve practiced to do and let it happen. If you’ve trained hard enough, you’ll do well. If you don’t get the results you want, train harder next time. Results are in the past and cannot be changed in the present.

Learn and move on.

To perform well in any situation:

  • Trust your skills and all of the time you spent practicing.
  • Visualize vividly the result you want before your performance.
  • Focus on your five senses to stay in the present in the moment.
  • Let go of the results and just do.




Source: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/top-3-reasons-why-you-choke-under-pressure.html

(Adapted from original article – Three Reasons Why You Choke Under Pressure)



Basic Science (emphasis on basic) behind Trauma Informed Work


Western science generally separates the human mind into two broad categories; the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is responsible for things like short-term memory, logical and analytical thinking, and decision making (as in thinking on one’s feet); it is the part of our mind of which we are aware. The subconscious mind holds long-term memory, belief systems, associations, perceptions (and a whole lot more) and is the part of our mind that is, well, not so accessible. The conscious mind is able to process about 40 bits of information per second while the subconscious mind is believed to process upwards of 40 million bits per second. The take away here is not how many “bits” of information an average conscious or subconscious mind can process per second (after all, what constitutes a “bit” of information  depends on an operational definition). The take away is the phrase “a whole lot.” The unconscious mind processes information a whole lot faster than the conscious mind (see “emphasis on basic” in above title).

“Why should I care about my subconscious mind and what does it have to do with trauma?”

Our conscious and subconscious minds process information very differently and without training, do not communicate with one another effectively. When we are stressed, our subconscious minds take over and we lose partial (or complete) access to our more conscious processes. This is how our subconscious mind doing its job.

Our subconscious mind has evolved to keep us safe. When we feel unsafe (and it is largely our unconscious mind that makes this determination) we transition into a more defensive state of consciousness that can feel like wariness on one end of a spectrum to a state of complete overwhelm known as fight or flight, on the other. The degree to which we our subconscious mind takes over and we move to the fight/flight end of the continuum is commensurate with access to our conscious mind – the more we transition into fight/flight, the less access we have to our conscious processes.




Size of Brain Region May Impact How Well Exposure Therapy Works for PTSD | 

New research suggests that PTSD patients with a larger region of the brain that helps distinguish between safety and threat are more likely to respond to exposure-based therapy. The study expands upon prior research that discovered having a smaller hippocampus is associated with increased risk of PTSD. In the current study, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), examined the relationship between hippocampus volume, and response to treatment in 50 participants with PTSD and 36 trauma-exposed healthy controls. The volume or size of the hippocampus was measured with magnetic resonance imaging. The participants were evaluated at baseline and after 10 weeks, during which time the PTSD group had prolonged exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been shown to help patients with PTSD discriminate between real and imagined trauma. The study, published online in Psychiatry Research:

Source: Size of Brain Region May Impact How Well Exposure Therapy Works for PTSD | Psych Central News