On Saturday afternoon I sat down to watch the North Melbourne versus Brisbane Lions AFL game. As I like to do I wanted to follow SuperCoach* scores on a particular website.
SuperCoach* is a competition where you are given $10,000,000 at the start of the AFL season and choose a team of players who you think are going to play well. Each player is allocated a price, so picking your team is about choosing a balance of great players, good players and the unknown. You are allocated into a league where you compete against others on a head to head basis to win (based on how well your players score). I like playing it during the season, riding the ups and downs and generally berating myself for making poor choices. It’s a constant exercise in frustration tolerance and self-forgiveness.
Back to Saturday afternoon. Whilst the game was on I was keeping an eye on how my SuperCoach team was going. The website I was following was being very glitchy, and I was becoming quite frustrated as the scores on the website for the players were not matching. I also could see that some of the players in the team were not showing up on the website, despite numerous attempts at reloading the website.
Despite this it was a great game.
Toward the end of the game (about two hours later) my son came in from his man cave. He sat down, looked at the game, looked at me and said Mum, you realise this game is a replay. He then pointed out how some of the players were now playing for other teams, one was suspended and not playing in the real life game that I was actually not watching.
The penny dropped.
It wasn’t the website that was wrong.
It was all me.
I had been lulled into the fact that it should have been a live game, because the replay had the live label up in the corner. They were the right teams playing, it’s just the game was about three years old.
I was not mindfully watching. I was watching for interest in the game, but they are not teams I usually follow. Now admittedly I was also reading and doing a couple of other things at the same time as watching the football, but how did I get it so wrong?
I saw what I thought I was seeing.
I looked at the live label, looked at the teams that were playing and thought I ‘should’ be watching the game. I am currently watching games on the Kayo App which for various reasons I found sometimes difficult to navigate, and thought I had pressed on the button for the current game.
So, in my mind I was watching the right game, and everything else went through that lens.
The fact that the website figures didn’t match the game, the fact that the website didn’t have all my players on it (because they weren’t actually playing!). This evidence was dismissed because it didn’t match my currently held belief – that I was watching a live game.
If I had tuned my attention fully I would have realised what was going on.
If I had actually tuned into my common sense I would have realised what was going on.
If my mind had been clearer and not full of everything else I was thinking of. Because I rarely sit for two hours and watch a game of football – it is interspersed with other tasks.
When it was pointed out to me, it was so obvious.
Isn’t this the way with so much.
You see what you expect to see, what you want to see and dismiss evidence to the contrary. In fact you gather evidence (consciously and subconsciously) to support your own belief. This is also known as confirmation bias. In my case, it was that the website had been glitchy and couldn’t be trusted.
The power of the mind to convince us of things that just aren’t true!
Ok, don’t leave me hanging here.
I know I’m not the only one that does things like this. We all do it. When was the last time you fiercely gathered evidence to prove you were right, when you were actually wrong?
What to do about it?
Situations like this are a great reminder of the importance of living mindfully. To be aware of incongruences and to take the time to explore. They are also a reminder that perhaps it’s time to focus cognitive self-care and nourish your brain.
Slowing down a little, taking the time to actively look for a different perspective, realising when your brain is stuck, allowing that other possibilities exist, are all important for your brain health. (If I'd taken the time to go through some basic problem solving steps, I’m sure the brainstorming part would have thrown up the option that I was watching the wrong game.)
As is realising your humanity and be able to laugh at the silly things you do from time to time. I had a great laugh at my own expense as I realised what I had done, rather than add to any stress by beating myself up for being so stupid.
Ways to Love your Mind
You can tune in this week to the Creating Connection podcast where I will be talking about Loving your Mind, and in particular problem solving. But in the meantime you can catch up with my most popular episode this year – 9 keys to successful habit creation.
Until next time, take care of yourself.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.