Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Tony Overbay, LMFT, welcomes Nate Christensen, APCC, back to the Virtual Couch for his 6th appearance. Tony and Nate discuss David Robson’s book “The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your Word,” https://amzn.to/3vbtTCl
Robson calls our brains “prediction machines” and says, “It turns out our brains constantly anticipate what will happen next, and this script is incredibly powerful. This does not mean, as some self-help exponents suggest, anything bad is the fault of the individual or that we can just ask the universe for whatever outcome we want; however, there appears to be some benefit in reframing experiences when our beliefs may not be helping us.” Tony and Nate give several examples from the book on the power of mindset, both positive and negative, and then give some tips on how to set yourself up best to take advantage of the power of the brain.
Nate Christensen hosts a podcast called “Working Change” along with his wife Marla, and you can contact Nate through Tony’s website using the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com
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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ
Expectation Effect with Nate- Transcript
Tony: Nate Christensen. Welcome to the Virtual Couch. And what is now an unprecedented sixth, or seventh time, I believe. And the fans go crazy when they see that Nate's on the podcast because we're going to talk about smart things and I'm going to step back and I'm going to let you do a lot of the driving. So I'm excited about that too. But to begin with, have you ever thought you knew a quote so well, and then it turns out it isn't from who you said it was?
Nate: Probably not. And the reason,
Tony: I love it. Right. Stepping into your healthy ego. Here we go. Yeah.
Nate: Well, so I love quotes and some things just really stick, but I never remember who says them.
Tony: Oh, okay. So it's, but you don't necessarily misattribute them.
Nate: I'm sure that I have done that. Yeah, because, and I think sometimes I actually attribute them to myself.
Tony: That's even better. Yeah. Yeah. There's one that I don't, we have so much to get to today. One of my best examples of this, I used to say the “seek first to understand before being understood” quote and I assumed it was from the Bible and then I confabulated my memory so many times that I was assuming, well, if it's the Bible it's got to be the New Testament. If it's the New Testament, it's probably Paul. And at one point I even remember saying to a couple, well, as Paul said, and I'm probably assuming to the Corinthians, seek first to understand before being understood, only to find a quick Google search that it was Steven Covey.
So today we're gonna talk about a quote that I have, I could not remember, and I want to attribute it to yoda. And it turns out that it is actually Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.”
Nate: Love that quote. Okay. I mean, it’s a little cliche, right? Because maybe there are certain things that we can't accomplish. But there's probably plenty of things we could, but if we just don't believe we can, we don't do it.
Tony: So, that is a segue to today. So today we are talking about a book called The Expectation Effect by David Robson. So do you want to do a little introduction on where and, and I do, I want you to go wherever you want to go. You drive. I've got some notes prepared as well. I listened to the book on audiobook, and it's been in my head ever since. So, but I would love to hear, where are we going today, Nate?
Nate: Well, I think we'll just kind of meander along. I think we both have our notes and an outline, and we'll see where it goes. It's like two dudes with ADHD and a book.
Tony: Need you more? And as I literally went for my squishy brain to squeeze and I dropped it behind my desk. So I feel like now I'm distracted, but it's okay. I'm going to leave it there. I'm going to be very mindful.
Nate: Okay, I like it. So the expectation effect, actually, the author never explicitly defines. So I was looking last night all over the place and I was like, where's the definition? And doesn't actually totally define it. He uses some studies to kind of define it early in the book. And there was one study that I thought was interesting, that we could kind of throw out there from the beginning. It was from Crum and Langer in 2007 and they approached seven hotels and they basically had 88 employees in housekeeping. And they cleaned something in the neighborhood of like 15 rooms a day. And then they divided them up and then they asked each group, how much do you exercise? And they got everybody's answers. And then they said, don't do anything different over the next four weeks we're going to come back and talk to you, and I guess another important piece to this is, they measured everybody's height and weight and BMI and all that stuff. So then they took this one group though and they primed them. And that's a word we'll use a couple times. So priming is the process of giving information that would kind of get the brain to think a particular way. And what they did with this group is they talked to them about how research indicates that certain tasks like vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom actually increases heart rate and is akin to exercise, like taking a walk or something like that and that was all they did. So then they come back in four weeks and they ask them again, how much they exercise and they found the group that they primed reported a higher level of exercise and they didn't do anything different but they were viewing their work as exercise where they hadn't before. And, they started poking and prodding the participants and discovered those that came to believe through the priming that their work was exercise, actually lost weight and lost BMI and said they generally felt healthier. No explanation. They checked with the managers, hey, are these people working overtime? Is anything unusual? Has anything changed? No change. It's just, their mind started to believe that they were healthier and exercised and whatever set of cascading decisions that followed caused them to lose weight and feel better.
Tony: And I love what you talk about there, the cascading, whatever happened next. Because what I appreciated is, he makes a really big point that this is, and I love what he says. The author himself tells you many times that you need to be careful how you read the book and that it is absolutely not some version of The Secret, which was a book I remember early in my therapy career that came out, and he even said it sold 35 or 40 million copies. And, it was this, it was like the law of attraction or if you think it, it will become, and I had people that would literally tell me, and they were, they were people I'd been working with for a while that said, and it was this time of year holidays, one person said, I went to the mall and I determined I would get a front row parking spot. And he put that out to the universe, and it happened. And so I wanted to say, okay, that one, how about a little bit of chance, a little bit of luck, and he said, no, it's because I put it out there. And so I love the fact that, David Robinson says, that every single one of these examples we give, and there's some pretty crazy ones, that he can find the data to back it up. Whether it is, then that expectation leads to this effect and this effect, and this effect, but that power of the mind is pretty impressive.
Nate: It is, it's really impressive. And, my own experience having been diagnosed in my early twenties with depression and anxiety and struggling with that, and then my own expectations about what I could do and what I couldn't do, and being told by medical doctors that I just had a chemical imbalance, and there really wasn't probably much I could do, just take these pills, which was, I mean, I know that that was where science was at that moment. But was probably the worst thing for me because I had no incentive to try to do things differently, make lifestyle changes, which I have since done. And I, after 20 years of medication, no longer need it because, well maybe life implodes on me and I might find myself in a difficult situation and go back to the doctor and I need some.
Tony: Hey, so I'll mark the time at this one. This is at the whatever minute mark. Right?
Nate: No, no. I think that's an important thing to recognize that I still have my limitations and I still do have my mental propensities but when I'm living life in a way that's known to be healthy, I feel better. And I don't feel that I need those other things.
Tony: And then it has that, like you said earlier, that cascading effect which I feel like is such a good principle. Do we start going down some of the studies or do you have some other things to kind of set the table?
Nate: Yeah. So I think maybe the best thing to set the table would be understanding what is the basis. Like, so what, what is this expectation effect built on, why does this exist? And the author talks early on about an idea concept called “the prediction machine”.
Tony: This is one of those where I feel like if you hear this in listening, right now, just starting to be aware that this is what the brain is starts to make sense.
Nate: Yeah, yeah, and so the prediction machine or the brain, and as you talk about our brain is a don't get killed device. And the way that it does that is by creating stories. And the stories that it creates are around the ideas of what the world is like, who we are in the world, who the people are around us, and what matters and what doesn't matter, it's why you can at least, you know, here in the US you know, you have people, with political belief systems that are polar opposites that they feel like both feel equally strongly about, it's just the way that we view the world and ultimately, these belief systems can ultimately determine what we believe is possible. And so that's where the expectation effect essentially comes from. Our brain's desire to make sense of everything and then to build on that because that will tell us what we're capable of, what other people are capable of and, you know, hence our expectations.
Tony: So then I know he talks about, and I'm looking at our notes here too, well, I love, first let me just hit the, when the brain tries to make sense of the world, create stories and belief systems, Michael Twohig that was on a few weeks ago, talked about that concept of where we make stories and then we just believe that's the way the world works. And then if we aren't actively trying to look outside of ourselves or do our own work, then we just over 20, 30 years, well, that's just the way it works. And so then if anybody even tries to question, well, why do we do things? Or, why don't you do something different? Then it seems like we get offended because, well, because this is what I do. This is the way it works.
Nate: Right, and you have the idea of cognitive dissonance. So yeah, so cognitive dissonance is when someone, when you have a belief system and someone gives you information that actually challenges that belief system, it can really be shaky for people. Now this goes back to a book that I love that I mentioned a lot, which is Buddha's Brain. Which one of the things I took from it is to stop trying to make sense of everything. Just let things be and I love it.
Tony: Which sounds so counterintuitive. And it's funny, that's where I was going too. The Buddha’s Brain talks about that, the book On Being Certain in essence says, well, I think I've created that, how adorable part. But just, we spend so much time and I feel like wasting emotional calories and energy, trying to make sense of things that happened. And then it's almost as if we're seeking this, well, if I can make sense of it, then what? Then I will be better. Then I can move on from it. But then we actually get caught up in trying to make sense of things. Which is so mind blowing. I did an episode a couple weeks ago on limiting beliefs. And I thought that was a really interesting concept because I haven't really explored what that is for quite a while. But just really quick, I love that this one article I found said that these, underlying, or these self-limiting beliefs are particularly vulnerable because they're shaped during our early development from the messages that we receive from our parents and caregivers about our self-worth, the potential, the deservingness of unconditional love. And because these self-limiting beliefs are kind of there before we even knew that we were choosing, or thinking or that then they tend to constitute these global judgements about who we are and what we're capable of achieving, and then they trickle down into all these different aspects of our life.
So I feel like even right now, if somebody finds themselves saying, well, yeah, but, I mean, really challenge the yeah, buts, because those yeah buts come from the programming that we got in our childhood.
Nate: And that dovetails really nicely. I'm going to jump ahead a little bit based on where I had this in our outline, but I think it really ties in nicely with a study in the chapter called “Untapped Genius” where Robson starts off talking about a study in San Francisco in 19, I think it was 1964, and the researchers identified a bunch of children that were ready to bloom elementary, I think they were all elementary school kids. And then, they identified these children to the teachers and told the teachers, these kids are ready to explode academically and take a big step intellectually. And so the teachers were primed to expect these students to do well. And at the end of the year, they went through and got a bunch of IQ scores and found that these students had done about double, like twice as well as their peers. The non-identified students, I guess the students that were not ready to bloom and of course, as you can imagine, because researchers like to pull their little pranks, the students that were identified as ready to bloom were all random.
Tony: Oh, okay. I did not see that coming.
Nate: That's funny, and the interesting thing was when they talked to the teachers, the teacher said, the teacher's own belief system was, they didn't work more with these kids.
Tony: I remember when you were talking about this, and that was what I was blown away by. Because even if you look at that, it's almost like the teacher said, well, they're good. They're ready to bloom.
Nate: I mean, imagine if there's a student that comes to you and your belief system is, they're ready, they're ready for this, and they're like, I don't understand this, how much time are you going to spend with them? Are you going to say, you know what, you're smart. I know you can figure this out. You'll figure it out. And then they just do that.
Tony: It almost shows you when you have those students that supposedly are, they're bored because they are so smart. I mean, I wonder if that would make some sense. Here I am trying to make sense of who knows, but, where if that person isn't challenged, and maybe one of the reasons they're not challenged is because the teacher does know they're smart, and so says, well, you just sit back. I'm trying to teach these other kids because you should get it.
Nate: Yeah. There's other studies in that particular chapter where research indicates that teachers are inherent for whatever reason, again, based on our belief systems because we're trying to make sense of the world. You know, teachers that are aware that certain students are poor are more likely to view those students as not good students that they'll struggle, and the author brings up the possibility that maybe these people are just meeting the expectations of those around them. Again, going back to what you said about what we experienced in childhood.
Tony: Right. And it's funny, I was in the airport yesterday and just walking around and you do, you just make these inherent observations and judgements that just go hand in hand. And somebody just because maybe of the way they look or present or it's the brain just continually making predictions. If this person's safe, this person's not. I could probably have a conversation with this person, maybe this person I couldn't. And I feel like we don't even recognize that we're doing that constantly.
Nate: Yeah. There's evidence that this is going outside of the book. There's evidence that a lot of these things are just inherently built into us. There was a study that I was, I was listening to a presentation and the, the presenter was talking about this study that they were showing a bunch of pictures and then looking at what was going on in the brain, and what they found is me as a white man, if you show me a picture of someone non-white, my amygdala , just lights up a little bit. So I immediately feel a little bit weird. It's possibly the in-group, out-group bias. But, but, there's, I have no control over that. Right. It just happens, which is fascinating in and of itself. Like why would the brain associate that with potential danger? I don’t know.
Tony: Well, and then, and then what I like about that example is then the book On Being Certain in essence says at that moment not to try to make sense of, but then say, oh, I'm noticing that and now is when you can take action on something of, okay, now I can address this bias, or that sort of thing. But I feel like so much of our experience in life but this is how I feel so I need to then, I need to figure it out and then I'm not doing the work and I don't want to be uncomfortable because if I have to then self confront, then that might be uncomfortable. And I might realize that I might not have a very open mind about a situation and that's the part that I don't know if you, and as a therapist, that's the part that I don't want to say is frustrating, but boy, sometimes I just want people to be able to fast track their way to accountability and then this self confrontation and know that it's okay. It's actually, we all need to recognize the areas where we don't, we didn't know what we didn't know.
Nate: Yeah, and that certainly is a challenge in therapy, and I think that it might go back at least partially to how entrenched are people in their belief systems. Like my experience, I don't know if you, if you see this, when people come in and they have a certain amount of openness to not only what I'm saying, but to the possibility that maybe there's things that they don't understand, or whatever, I feel like those clients tend to do better. What do you think?
Tony: Oh, yeah, I'll sometimes jokingly say that if somebody comes in and they're willing to be pretty open or take ownership of their behavior or they even recognize that, okay, I obviously don't know what I don't know, or I continue to repeat the same pattern over and over again, that then I love to make the joke of, okay, you just saved yourself four to six sessions of therapy, so that's a money saver which is a good thing. Should we talk about some more of the, I think this had so many good examples that I think are pretty mind blowing. Okay there's, and I think everybody's heard about the placebo effect. I want to also talk about the nocebo effect because that was fascinating. Do you want to talk about that?
Nate: Okay. Well, do you want me to talk about placebo or nocebo?. Yeah. Give both. Okay. Okay. So the placebo effect is the belief that something positive will happen because you do this thing and the example that they brought up, which I thought was just incredible in the book was an experiment where, again, you know, as you can imagine, experimenters are playing their little tricks and trying to see what happens, they gave a bunch of quote unquote painkillers to people to kind of see what happens. And of course, half the people actually took painkillers and half the people took sugar pills. And what they discovered was the people that took sugar pills that believed they were taking painkillers, their bodies actually released endorphins, which is insane. I don't even know, I don't even know how, so for anybody that's not sure what an endorphin is, that's the body's natural painkillers. So it's endogenous morphine essentially. I mean, your body released painkillers, like the body's natural painkillers when you popped what you thought as a Tylenol or an ibuprofen or something. That is amazing.
Tony: Can I tell you, a client of mine actually sent me a funny video. There's a comedian, I think his name's Pete Holmes and my client was saying that I always talk about, oh, the brain bless its heart. It means, well. And this comedian said the brain's kind of a jerk because it has access to all those chemicals. But it's saying, no. Do you know what you need to do to use them? Go run. So, but when, and it could literally conjure that up. And I remember in my psycho-pharmacology class in grad school that the instructor did an amazing job of just describing an orange. To the point where it made us pretty much all salivate. And then he was just saying, power the brain. Yeah. It's amazing. It is. So that placebo, and I remember there's a book called You Are The Placebo. And this is where I, boy, now that I understand the way our memory works, that it probably wasn't even in that book. It was probably just in some random article that I googled at the time when I did a podcast about it. But, there was even some stuff, and I don't think they could get away with this today, but it was where half the people were given ACL surgeries and then another half were put under, and then they created the scars and the knee and then they followed up. And the people that didn't get the surgery but were told they did, and that they came through it well, showed stability in their ACL. Like, that is crazy. It is, yeah, it is. That is really fascinating. So what's nocebo then?
Nate: So the nocebo effect is essentially where the patient or client or whomever has a negative belief system built around whatever is going to happen. And they had a really just, again, fascinating studies and stories in this book.
Tony: This one's almost scary now that I remember what this one was. I can literally remember where I was running at the time and I was thinking about, oh my gosh. It made me immediately think of how many things do I worry about? Because what can happen, Nate? What's the story?
Nate: Yeah. Okay, in the 1970s was a man in Tennessee that was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I don't know my cancers very well, so I don't know if it's really serious or relatively minor. So they operated and the surgery was successful. However, further scans showed that the cancer had spread to his liver, and the doctors told him that he was going to be lucky to make it to Christmas that year, and he actually beat the odds. He survived until January. So during the autopsy they took a look at his liver. Turns out, the cancer or the tumor is not only small, but operable. And could not have killed him, they have no idea how he died, and so basically the assumption kind of became, he just believed that he was going to die and died.
Tony: You know, the reason I remember this one so well is it kind of freaked me out a little bit. And I went on a deep dive on Google and I don't even know how many websites I clicked links to, but I found some, somebody that even hypothesized that the, some chemical that the body excretes at very low levels is non-toxic and it helps clear the bloodstream of blood clots. And I mean, but then again, I don't even think this is a real thing. But this was somebody trying to make sense of it. And then they were saying, so this guy then must have just activated this part of his brain that just dumped this toxic chemical into his bloodstream. Which I mean, but then I even realized, oh, that was somebody trying to make sense of this, because it's mind blowing. I think that you could just think your way through to this point where now you know, thank goodness he made it till what, January, but instead of Christmas. So he beat the odds. But he didn't really need to die at all.
Nate: No. Yeah. It's fascinating. I have a non-human example. My stepson was watching my brother's house and they have a bunch of animals and a couple of hunting dogs. And these dogs are, they're not aggressive to people, but they're like chasing animals all over the place. So my brother and his family got a couple of sheep, like rams, and they're really wild and they took off and they didn't mean for that to happen, but they just left. So anyway, my stepson calls me and he's like, I don't know what's going on. The dogs are attacking an animal and he's freaking out and then they stop and the animal's dead. And so my wife and I run over to figure it out, and I call my brother and I send him a picture and he is like, oh, that's one of the sheep that we had actually bought. And I guess it came back, but the dogs were out and they attacked it. So we're looking at the sheep, and it does have injuries, but there's no obvious like, it's not its throat like it didn't get it, didn't look like the dogs had gotten it anywhere in a place that would've killed it. And so I just was like, this thing was just so terrified. I asked my brother about that and he was kind of thinking the same thing, like it just scared it to death to the point that it died.
Tony: Wow. Yeah, it's really interesting. Honestly, I was waiting for you to say, and then it looked around, no dogs around, and it popped up and ran away. I was ready for a happy version.
Nate: It was a sad ending. Sad for the ram.
Tony: Okay I want to make sure, because I know we're going to run out of time because this is very, very easy to talk about. But let's talk about how I can live forever, because that's my hope. So the things around aging, I think there's some stuff around aging.
Nate: Yeah so the last chapter is about aging and it's really interesting, so researchers basically got a bunch of retirees, and I think they were early retirees, so maybe in their sixties, and they went through and I don't remember if they gave them a bunch of words or they asked them to describe what getting older is like, and, and then they divided them based on their responses. So you had some people that saw getting older as painful, right. As difficult, things like that. You had other people that saw it as, you know, they associate it with wisdom, freedom, and opportunities to do new things. So they divided these people and what they found is, the people that had a positive view of getting older lived on average, seven and a half years long.
Tony: That is a long time. That was exciting to me.
Nate: You’re like, I’m going to live until 90 now.
Tony: Or 110.
Nate: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don't know if I want to live that long, which I don’t know what that means.
Tony: There’s so much fun stuff to do though, Nate, right? Okay. Go lay on the couch right now and tell me more about that. I was in Salt Lake over the weekend. I flew back there to help my daughter get a car, and our salesperson was Fred, he was amazing. He was 81 and I immediately exclaimed when he told me this. Fred, you look amazing. I want to be you when I'm 81. And he already had a career retired, was bored and was just doing this kind of as a hobby, but then just sharp as a tack. And we talked about all kinds of things, not just car things, but life things. And I just, I was thinking about our interview, I was thinking about this book and I was just thinking about the fact that, you know, his implicit memory or what it feels like to be Fred is just somebody that is constantly moving, challenging, thinking, doing, learning. And so he looked the part and then also was incredibly just. And then I know that I want to be that 80 year old that's still, I don't know, running races or that sort of thing. But then I think it's funny because I also look at, though, I'm also afraid of things like Alzheimer's or that sort of thing. So then this book caused me such cognitive dissonance because in one sense I think, okay, I am convinced I'm going to live forever and be able to exercise as long as I don't go crazy. And so which one's going to win? I need you to tell me, Nate.
Nate: Your expectations are going to win.
Tony: But I expect them both.
Nate: If you go back to Buddha's brain. The negative is like Velcro.
Tony: Yep. And the positive like Teflon. And, I am turning my, I'm putting a bunch of sock fuzz in the Velcro of my negativity and therefore the negative things are starting to slide right past. So were there other examples of things that you thought were pretty interesting?
Nate: Yeah you know, I think for me the one that, I mean, it hit me like quite, quite heavily was around stress and anxiety.
Tony: Talk about this. So, did it just say, knock it off?
Nate: It was really fascinating. So they looked at some kind of societal changes that started happening around the early 1900s and maybe it was late 1800s. And so there was kind of this social movement to de-stress your life. And it was like people could do these things to kind of live a stress-free life. And there seemed to be this shift in society where it started to view stress and anxiety from more of a negative perspective. And the reason why that's interesting is because, again, going back to the science of what they found, what happens when you stop looking at stress and anxiety as a negative, in this particular instance, what the researchers found is they got a bunch of students together taking the GRE. So you take the GRE to get into graduate school. And then they primed half of them going back to that priming word. So they gave them a blurb previous to taking this exam and then the other half, they just had them take the exam. So listen to this blurb that they gave to people. I wrote it down exactly because I wanted to do it. Hopefully it'll pick me up because my head is turned a little bit.
So, the blurb reads, “People think that feeling anxious while taking a standardized test will make them do poorly on the test. However, recent research suggests that arousal doesn't hurt performance on these tests and can even help performance. People who feel anxious during a test might actually do better. This means that you shouldn't feel concerned, if you do feel anxious while taking today's GRE test. If you find yourself feeling anxious, simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.”
So, that's the only difference between these two groups. The group that got that did 10% better. Like, put yourself back in school and every time you take a test, for 15 seconds or whatever it was, you read that and every test you do 10% better.
Tony: Well, because, I mean boy, you're getting ready for the big licensing exams and those sorts of things. And I can't even tell you that stress and people would continually, I mean, if you fail it, you think, what if I was one or two off? I mean, so in that scenario, boy, 10% out of a four hour test of 200 questions, that's a lot of questions you could get, right. That's 20 questions. 20 questions from what you just read. And what is that saying though? That 's saying, oh, it's normal and I'm okay. Right. Yeah. Which I love because in the world of ACT, which, you know, I go on and on about is this acceptance that of course I feel this way. I'm a human being. That's part of the human experience. So, now what? Now I will bring it along with me while I do things of value.
Nate: Yeah. And I love that approach because for me, the reason my anxiety was so bad, or at least again, the story that I'm creating. The reason my anxiety was so bad is because I was trying to run from it. Every time I felt elevated, I just saw like there was a problem. And I'm like, oh, there's a problem. I need to find the problem. So I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, which essentially, the emotion comes, going back to Buddha's Brain, right? The emotion hits first, then it's the brain's decision. What am I going to do with this? My brain decided I needed to make sense of it, which again, is why I love Buddha's Brain. It was like, that was where you went wrong. And guess what? In life, you will always be able to find problems. Always. If you are looking for problems, you're going to find them. Absolutely. And the way to handle that is like, everything is fine. It's okay. It's not a problem. It's like that blurb they gave. This might help you.
Tony: That's a nice reframing too. Another one of the things that Mike Twohig talked about is he said, one of the lines I say is, “I think healthy, happy people are probably spending 80% of their day doing things that are important.” He said, “I didn't say fun, but I said important. And then people who are maybe less healthy are probably spending 80% of their day working hard to feel good.” And I think we could add in there and avoid discomfort and move away from anxiety, and beat themselves up about what's wrong with me because I feel depressed and then people feel like but I need to figure it out. And so then that's what they've been trying to do for 20 or 30 years. And then that's what it feels like to be them and then that's the stuff that breaks my heart is then somebody can even hear what we're talking about now and their brain's going to just slap them up and down with the “yeah, butts”. Well yeah, but you don't understand my situation and we don't, so tell me more. And now let's normalize, and then now bring that along with you while you do things of value.
Nate: Right, and this is a long process by the way.
Tony: I don’t know if we've talked about this yet. I've been saying this on podcasts, the Buddha Brain, there's a couple other things that I've read that have really led me to believe that that implicit memory or the gradual shift of your inner landscape is, you know, and he says it's based off of the residue of your life experiences. All of that is a, it's a long process and, but long processes don't sell books, and they don't sell courses and programs. So we're conditioned to try to tell people that, no you can do this. You can turn things around right away. And I almost feel like that's doing a disservice because then people feel like, oh, what's wrong with me if I haven't changed in 21 days or six months, or that sort of thing. And people will say, well, how long is it going to take? And I feel so dismissive of saying, well, as long as it takes. But that doesn't sound very hopeful.
Nate: No, it doesn't. And it's interesting you brought that up when I was 35. I will be 45 next year. When I was 35, for New Years, there was some chaos going on in my life and I was like, I've gotta do some things differently. So for my New Year's resolution, I was like, I'm going to think more positively and I'm not going to change this resolution until I get it. Okay. I feel like I'm just starting to get it. It's taken me almost 10 years. Now, I'm not saying that that's normal for everybody, right? But that's what it was for me.
Tony: But I think that's a pretty normal process, although that might make people not very excited to hear this. When I was working with a guy that does a lot of work with, a lot of research around pornography recovery and not turning to pornography as an unhealthy coping mechanism, he used to say that you can kind of count on a three to five year process. And we've talked about this, I've been pretty intentional about not necessarily laying that out there at the beginning cause I think people feel like then that sounds overwhelming. But then the reality is within the first year, there is so much of just trying to make sense of things. And then it's almost like this comes with a little existential crisis of, oh man, what if nothing really does make sense or I can't make sense of things, or things aren't the way that I thought they would be or were, and then once you get through that though, now I feel like there's this world of just acceptance and now start to just do and be. And, but then you've got the whole need for validation. And that's another podcast. Willpower, talk about that because I feel like this is, not that I'm trying to debunk positive psychology but I feel like what I love about ACT or this expectation effect is so much of just, it isn't that you aren't to think positive. I feel like having the right positive messages are really helpful. Not the ones of, you know, I'm a handsome man that everybody finds attractive. I'm sorry, that's not been the case for me. So that's gonna be something my brain will say. Really? You're buying that? But I can make changes. I am capable, I am lovable. Those sort of things. But talk about willpower.
Nate: This is a really interesting one. So willpower in the way that it's specifically looked at in the book, has probably more to do with what we might associate with focus. Which, you know, you and I, we have our own expectations.
Tony: I’ve heard of this focus. Sounds cute
Nate: Yeah. We have our own expectations around focus because of ADHD or how it manifests for people. So when I was reading this, I was like, oh, that's very interesting. And I was having my own kind of ego defenses coming up because, well see and one of the things about this book that I think I should probably caution people if they really like some of this stuff and then go get it. I think you have, the best way to commit this is open to the fact that we might be kind of hosing ourselves. It's kind of some victim blaming here.
Tony: Well that's funny and you're speaking this much better than I am because that's where I'm trying to say, oh, how about a little existential crisis that comes when we start to realize. I think at some point people feel like, whoa, I could have done this different a long time ago. And that's where just prepare for some radical acceptance. We didn't know what we didn't know. Now we know it. So that's cool.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. So the willpower is again, a really interesting concept. So what do they do for this? They get a bunch of people, as they always do. They divide them up in two groups, and then they kind of see the differences. And so the way that they divided these groups were based on tests that they gave them and it was like, how do you feel about accomplishing things? So one group feels, you know, I think most people feel good about accomplishing things, but again, turning to focus. One group, when they felt like they accomplished something, they felt like they exerted a lot of energy and felt kind of drained. The other group said that they felt energized. So then after they divided everybody, they then gave everyone a pretest. It's meant to kind of drain some focus. And then they gave them an actual task that could be scored. It was something that had to do with colors and letters. And then the test was, scored and as you can probably imagine, those that believed that completing tasks depleted energy and focus scored much worse than those that believed completing tasks energized them.
Tony: That's so funny because sometimes I mean, I have people that say by the end of the day, I'm shot, and then the next person can walk in and right behind him and say, and you know, by the end of the day, I'm really getting rolling.
Nate: Yeah and I've kind of wondered a little bit, I'm more introverted, so I've been like can introverts and extroversion have something to do with that? Because there you know, again, is this my brain being like, oh, I don't know if I want to, am I setting myself up for having to make the decision? Well, I guess you're just gonna have to work harder because you have more time.
Tony: I was gonna say, is this a self confrontation moment? Right? Although, I will tell you one of the podcasts I did on, are you a morning lark or a night owl? There was a database of chess people where they get all that data from. Do you know of this? It was so fascinating. So in essence, and I don't know chess well enough to know that apparently there are just some moves that you make every time when you see a certain setup. And so then you could time how quickly people made these moves, and it's all part of some international chess database that tracks all of this data. So then researchers go mine that data often. And one of them was saying, okay, this move is the move that is made. So if you look at the people that are in theory, what champion level chess players, they make it much quicker in the morning than they do in the late afternoon. Or they make it much quicker in the evening. And so there was literally this data that showed you're either this morning lark or this night owl, but not in between. And so then I thought, okay, where does the expectation effect come into play there? Because, and it probably does because by that time, I know I'm a morning person, and so I have told myself that by the nighttime I'm pretty shut down. But then I've got clients that come in often and say, if I could just wake up at one o'clock every afternoon, I'm rolling by midnight. and I think yeah, but you could be more efficient if you were doing it at a different time, says me because I wanna make sure that my way is the right way. Did we leave any of these out? I know there was some stuff around food that I thought was interesting that I also wanted to ignore. Because apparently I don't need to impulsively eat yummy, tasty food all the time.
Nate: Yeah. So this, this one was fascinating also. I mean, they're all just so interesting. So researchers, they got some people together and they were looking at how the brain breaks down belief systems regarding food, and so they had participants again broken up into two groups, your control in your experimental group. And they are each given these shakes. And so one shake was labeled “decadence you deserve”. And then there was a little bit more of a blurb. It was like, you know, whole milk, like rich, rich and creamy, all the buzzwords that go with that. And then one was called a shake for guilt-free satisfaction. No added sugar and this and that.
Tony: Boring, right?
Nate: Right, right, right. So anyway, these people drink these shakes and then they do some blood work and they get in there and they're looking at ghrelin. So I don't know a lot about this hormone, this supplies a little bit less to therapy, so I'm more familiar with dopamine. But ghrelin apparently is a hormone that the body uses to encourage eating. So as ghrelin goes up, your body starts to fill the need to eat. Ghrelin goes down, you're satiated. Okay. So as you would expect, the people that drank the indulgent shake, their ghrelin levels were low. Or lower than the people that had the guilt-free satisfaction healthy shake.
Tony: So the guilt-free satisfaction, the ghrelin levels were higher? So then that meant that they were hungry sooner. Even though, surprise, shakes were the same.
Nate: Exactly. So the same amount of calories. I mean, there was nothing different in the shakes.
Tony: So people listening, every shake that you drink from this day forward is very satisfying. Absolutely. And, it is very indulgent. And because you deserve it. Because you're a very good person and you feel very full.
Nate: Yeah. Do you, I don't know if you, it's so interesting. Did you catch the story about the man that had the damaged hippocampus? I mean, what in the world?
Tony: Yeah. It's funny, I just said that and then I immediately thought, I don't remember the exact story. Confabulation, sorry. So I'm like, I do, but tell it to me and then I'll tell you what I made up around it.
Nate: So in this story, this guy, they had to do some kind of brain surgery and damaged his hippocampus, which is really around memory formation. And so, he could never remember the last time he ate. Do you remember this now? And so experiments around this guy were really interesting. So they'd sit him down at a table and then they'd give him a bunch of food and he'd eat it, and then they'd take it away. And he has no idea that he just ate. So they'd bring him another meal and he'd eat it and then they'd take it away and, but they kept asking him if he was hungry or not on like a scale of zero to a hundred, zero being not hungry at all. A hundred being starving. And he always answered 50. He didn't know if he was hungry or not hungry.
Tony: So he was playing it safe. I mean really. Right? Because he didn't, I mean I even thought about, I do remember that one cause I thought about even around the world of validation and he wants to just play it safe, like nah. Yeah I could eat but I'm pretty full. Almost like playing because that's probably, I don't want people to tell me I’m crazy or something's wrong with me.
Nate: Yeah. So his memory around when he ate last and apparently even based on the shake thing, what you eat last totally can influence when you feel like you need to eat again. For a lot of people they feel like that's really biological and apparently studies are indicating that that's partly mental.
Tony: It’s funny and I love that we just had that exchange because I did, I confabulated the story and then I was thinking, I don't remember it completely. And then I remember the validation piece and I made so many jokes in my brain about what you could do with that guy, you know, when they're, you're bringing, no, you ate this already or you like this and you're giving him something he hates, or something like that. So, and that's, and that's even. Boy, talk about we're all having our own experiences and then even have to get to the fact where you can have expectations and are they positive, are they negative? And then it's based on what your cognitive bias is and what are the stories that you grew up with? And now as I'm saying it, it sounds like it's so overwhelming, but I'm saying, isn't that awesome Nate?
Nate: It's awesome. It’s awesome that you can change that.
Tony: Yeah, exactly. Well, and that's on the self-limiting beliefs, I pulled up some stuff out of the ADHD 2.0 book again, and talked about the authors talking about the neuroplasticity of the brain, like drop. It's formed at 3 5, 12 25. Any. It's not. It's just, I think that part where we have to, we get so deeply dug into the things that we think are the way that things work. So you have to self confront and challenge yourself, but then we absolutely can make change, it just takes a little while. And it's even better when you're doing things that matter to you. So says acceptance and commitment therapy. Nate, what a blast. This is fun. We're still the world's worst salespeople, go listen to Nate on his podcast Working Change. I probably should have said that up front. Where else can people find you?
Nate: I don't have a website. I do have an email, if people want to reach out to me, Nate Christensen counseling and that's a mouthful. And if it's not, if it's not getting to me, email Tony and he can connect you to me.
Tony: Yeah, exactly. Go through my website, or firstname.lastname@example.org and I know at times, yeah, we all will have an opening or two in our schedule and sometimes I think people will assume that they could never get into somebody. But, I don't know. I think a lot of people resonate with the way that you communicate and yeah, Nate does a nice job working with clients as well. So if this is your approach, if you like the brain stuff, yeah maybe reach out to Nate, go check out his podcast. And there's a lot of good stuff over there too. So, Nate Christensen, till we have you on again. We'll see you next time on the Virtual Couch.
Years ago a fascinating study was conducted where two groups of people were randomly assigned some rats. One group was told that their rats were “Maze-bright,” meaning that their rats had been bread to figure out how to get through mazes fast! The other group was told that their rats were “Maze-dull” and that they had just your standard, run-of-the-mill rats. Both groups of people were given 5 days to train their rats to get through a complicated maze. When the two groups of rats were then put to the test, the rats that were deemed “Maze-bright” made it through twice as fast as the “Maze-dull,” rats...despite the fact that there truly wasn’t such a thing as a maze-bright or maze-dull rat! Did the rats “fake it until they made it” or were they privy to what psychologists call the “expectancy effect?”
Tony takes a look at the article The Expectancy Effect: Improve Performance With This Human Behavior Quirk by Vanessa Van Edwards, national best-selling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People and a founder of the popular website Science of People. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/expectancy-effect/
Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
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EP 225 Fake it til you make it-2020-09-29
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, I'm going to talk about whether or not you can, in fact, fake it until you make it. And more specifically, what effect does an expectation have on results? Should fake it until you make it be viewed more as believe it, until you become it. And what role do you, as a parent, coach, teacher or leader, have in projecting healthy expectations on people? You might have influence over that. And plenty more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.
[00:00:37] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 225 in the virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is struggling to put pornography behind them once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way, then please head over to path back recovery dotcom. And there you will find a short e-book that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's pathbackrecovery.com and I love getting your questions. I love getting comments. I love getting feedback. And you can send any of that to contact at Tony Overbay Dotcom or have you stopped by my website? Tony Overbay.com. There's a contact form. So fill that out and you can send me questions, comments if you would like to be a guest on the virtual couch, if you would like for me to be a guest on your podcast or come speak to your group or training or that sort of thing, please reach out again. Contact Tony Overbay Dotcom and please stop by Tony Overbay.com.
[00:01:49] Sign up to find out more about all kinds of fun, exciting things that are coming up. And because, drumroll, please, my friend Preston Buckmeier and I have completed the filming of our magnetic marriage course and you will be hearing about it soon, a lot more about it, because to say that I am excited about it would be an understatement. So please just go to Tony read. I sign up to find out more about all of the upcoming things because the warning this is a game changer. I know it is truly something I have worked so hard on to help people communicate more effectively with their spouses. So get ready and you can find me on Instagram, a virtual couch and on Facebook at Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. And speaking of virtual couch, if you have not been there, my Instagram account, a virtual couch. I have some amazing people now working behind the scenes. I'm so grateful for that. And so we are taking quotes from episodes and posting those more on that virtual couch Instagram page. So please follow that account if you are so inclined. All right. Let's get to the topic today. Let me start out with the story. Quick story. In high school, I grew up in Sandy, Utah. I went to Alta High School and I was an athlete and I loved humor. I don't know if I would go as far as to say I tried to be a class clown, but I definitely loved to have fun in school.
[00:03:05] And I loved sports and I did my best at school. I had no idea what effect my dad was playing on my learning at that time, but I was a generally happy person. But I truly had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be when I grew up. And I also sought attention. I now know I wanted people to like me. I still want people to like me. And that led me to running for class office. I ran for and won. And this is so funny now to go back and think I'm not 100 percent sure what I want and what I lost. I believe I was my eighth grade class president. And then I moved up the high school. I think I was in ninth grade class president. I might have lost eighth grade and one ninth grade and thinking I had things figured out at that point, I believe I ran for 10th grade class president. I got greedy and I lost that one. And I remember being truly devastated, though, whenever I did lose. And again, maybe won eighth grade lost ninth. It's funny to think I can't quite remember that, but I do remember that I won student body class secretary my senior year and several of my friends, one student body office positions, and we had an amazing time. But I digress.
[00:04:10] One of the duties. So I believe I'm fairly confident now that it was ninth grade class president because I was in a student government class and one of the duties of the class officers was to do the morning announcements. And again, I went to a very large high school. I believe that it had around 3500 students, maybe more at the time, and the older class officers did the announcements. But one time I had to do a freshman specific announcement. So I went to the area in the library, did the announcement, and I was immediately given warm praise and holy cow, I was off for the next four years. I wanted to do the announcements every chance that I could, and I teamed up with a couple of my friends and we would do funny announcements. And even when I wasn't in student government, I believe I was a teacher's aide during the period where student government class was held. And there were plenty of times that I made my way over to the library when the announcements were happening so that I could be a part of the announcements because I really enjoyed the announcements. And part of why I enjoyed them so much is because I was told you're really good at doing the announcements. And then if we fast forward, I go to college. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to study and I chose mass communication and I advanced far in a speech competition.
[00:05:27] And these are all, again, because I was given this positive expectation that I was very good at giving announcements are very good at using my voice or saying things off the cuff and all of these things that I would hear and I really just embraced it, so it really was one of those I didn't know that I was so much faking it until I made it. Or was I believing it until I became it, it being a more comfortable public speaker and actually a true story in college. And this was a long time ago. So I initially went to school, tried to play some baseball out at Kansas State University. And while there I took a speech class. And this again, this was the late 80s, probably I think it was 1989. And the the class, the public speech class, we were just told to give a speech about something that we were passionate about and I did not prepare again. Thank you, ADD. In the last minute, I decided I would do something. I was passionate about eating breakfast. And so I did a presentation. I did a speech on the importance of eating breakfast. Now, the problem was there was no computer, there were computers. There wasn't I think the Internet was around because I remember when I transferred a year or two later to the University of Utah, that was the place where I first was given, I think, an email address.
[00:06:50] And I still had no idea what that would be helpful for. But at Kansas State University, I did not know how to research. And so research not necessarily being as easy to follow up on. I made up all of my data. I believe I made up or I might have heard that there was some Kellogg's Breakfast Institute. And so I made up all of my facts. I remember I had them on three by five cards and I did it just so that I would get a good grade in the class. But apparently this love of public speaking mixed with these amazing facts about the importance of eating breakfast that I had made up, allowed me to advance quite far in this speech competition at Kansas State University, even to the point where I worried that I would win the speech competition, because then you would travel on to some regional speech event. And at that point, I really did worry about this made up research getting the best of me. So thankfully, I didn't win the whole thing, but I placed very high. And to this day, it is still very important kids to eat breakfast to have a very successful day. But this belief that I could be a good public speaker did lead me to majoring, as I said, in mass communications, which eventually led me to taking a job in the computer industry where for a decade I literally spoke at trade shows all over the world.
[00:08:07] Literally, I presented in Russia and China, all over Europe, Japan many times and everywhere in the U.S. many times over. So I often do think that two things were at play. One, the positive expectation of others specifically and initially my student government adviser, Mr. Don Ward, a shout out to Mr. Ward led me to some positive experiences kind of in my psyche, and two then that led me to believe that I was a good public speaker. So I eventually became one. It was that believe until you become. So let's dive in. First, I want to talk about what Mr. Ward did for me along the lines of what many researchers call expectancy effects and to discuss and expectancy effect: I did a little bit of searching and I found a really cool article on a website that is I really enjoy as well. It's called The ScienceofPeople.com and I will have links to this in the show notes. But the article is called Expectancy Effect Improved Performance with this Human Behavior Quirk. And this is written by Vanessa Van Edwards, who is a national best selling author. And she's one of the founders at the website Science of People. And she wrote a book called Captivate the Science of Succeeding with People. So she says, I've asked, have you ever heard of the expectancy effect? She says, once upon a time, a pair of adventurous researchers had participants undergo a very unique experiment.
[00:09:26] They were told that they had to train rats to quickly make it through a maze. And here's the fun part. Half of the participants were told that they had these, quote, maze bright rats that carefully were bred to be highly adept at completing mazes. Imagine these rats there was in their DNA. They'd been the researcher or the participants have been told that they were good at completing mazes. So your job half of the participants were to take these maze bright rats and train them to get through this maze quickly. The other half were told that they had maze dull rats that had absolutely no training in completing mazes. These rats, for the most part, to sit around and watch TV and and read magazines. And so you were to take these rats, these Maze dull rats, and you were trying your best to see if you could motivate these dull rats to make it through this maze. So, again, half the group had these, in a completely fabricated "maze bright rats", and the other half had these "Maze dull rats". So the participants had five days to train the rats to complete the maze. And here's where my mind just goes crazy. Can you imagine having five days to train these Maze Brite or Maze dull rats? And you are not. A rat trainer by trade, I can't even imagine what I would do to train these rats, but I guess that's beside the point.
[00:10:43] So after those five days, the maze bright rats were able to complete their task twice as fast as Maseda rats let that sink in again. Maze Bright and Maze Dull Rats was completely fabricated. It was just what the people were told that were, quote, training the Maze Brite or Maze dull rats. So the maze bright rats were able to complete their task twice as fast as Maze dull rats. But of course there was a catch. There was absolutely no difference between the two groups of rats. Both sets of participants got randomly selected rats with absolutely no maze experience at all. You heard that right. The rats were exactly the same, but the participants who were told they had faster rats somehow helped the rats actually perform better. And this study has been repeated over and over again, and it is called the expectancy effect. So I wonder where your mind is going right now. Imagine if you, as a parent, if you have this expectancy effect in a positive way toward your kids or if you exhibit an expectancy effect in a more negative way. Are you looking at the glass as half full or is the glass half empty? And I know a lot of this and this is never meant to throw guilt or shame your way, but just to bring some nice awareness. So the expectancy effect is when someone expects a given result, that expectation unconsciously affects the outcome or report of the expected result.
[00:12:08] So I go back to this expectancy effect. And when it was when I was told that there was this expectation that I was that I would be this amazing public speaker, that I was a good public speaker again. Thank you, Mr. Ward. Thank you for some random seniors. I remember at the time that said, hey, Tony, you're pretty good at these announcements that led me to then, in effect, to train my Maze dull or Maise bright rat of a brain to get through that maze twice as fast, if you follow me. So when a participant expects to have a certain kind of outcome, they will, without realizing it, change their actions and behaviors to actually get this exact outcome. So as as the the author and I feel bad, I don't know the authors when I refer to them, but I'd love to call her Vanessa, as Vanessa says, that this concept gives us so much power because again, when participants were told they had made bright rats, they unconsciously change their training, they change their expectations, and they made the rats perform better. When participants were told they had made the rats, they unconsciously became worse teachers and didn't train the rats as well. And and she said dozens of studies have proven the expectancy effect outside of the lab with rats, dogs and humans alike. Now, Vanessa does a lot of training for businesses.
[00:13:23] So in the article she goes into how to use the expectancy effect in teams. But I have to tell you, and maybe this is a Freudian, but when I first looked at the header subject header and this next section of the article I saw, it is how to use this expectancy effect in teens. And so I think there's a lot of similarities. She says that you can improve or damage the performance of our teams, employees, colleagues, simply with the power of our own beliefs. So I believe this is one of those times where you need to check yourself. So she says if you believe someone will perform poorly, you make it almost impossible for them to to exceed your expectation. If you believe someone will perform well, then you set them up for success and make it easier for them to exceed your expectations. And this is one of the reasons why. Shameless plug. But it's for my free parenting course, parenting positively and even the not so positive of times, which you can get right on my home page at TonyOverbay.com. Why I love the nurtured heart approach because the nurture heart approach is absolutely not giving any charge to negative behavior and it is building inner wealth. It is not just saying good job, champ, but it's hey, I love the way that you I love the way that you help your siblings, because that shows me that you are a truly kind, compassionate person.
[00:14:39] So that is putting this expectancy effect in action. So if your teenager constantly hears I can't believe you did that or why did you do that? Or here's a life lesson that you need to know and they don't get to hear positive feedback or not just your teenager, your spouse, people that you work with, people that you interact with. If they are hearing these, I love the way you did that, because that shows me that you are a kind, caring person. Guess what's happening in the wiring of that brain. They're hearing you and there's some expectancy there. I am a kind person and that is what I love about the nurture heart approach. So she says Vanessa goes on to say, The single biggest mistake that leaders make is to assume the worst. And I understand that depending on one's private experiences, as they say, and acceptance and commitment therapy, depending on your own makeup, your own nature, nurture, birth, order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, all of those amazing things, that you will have a predisposition to be a bit more positive or a bit more negative. So I understand. That is this natural way that we respond, your primary emotion might be fear about things, and so I think it's just important to take a pause and recognize are you constantly projecting this message or sending this expectation that life is a very scary place and you better watch your back.
[00:15:54] I can think often of people that have been in my office, and one that comes to mind is someone that when they move to a new neighborhood, which was a I knew of the neighborhood, is a pretty safe neighborhood. They found themselves almost paralyzed, just going to walk around the neighborhood because they had grown up with this expectation, this projected expectation that life was scary and they needed to be very careful and instead of be careful. But life is an adventure and there's so much out there to be seen. So she said that the problem is that leaders and I think you could interject parents here as well. But she said the problem is that leaders often are brought in to fix problems. And I think that parents often look at everything as a life lesson that they must teach and fix in a sense. And so she said that that leaders are asked to lead, "low performing teams" at times or they're asked to train a group of inexperienced newbies or they're asked to fix a, "problem area of a business". And she said, if you want to be a truly incredible leader and again, I feel like you can put truly incredible spouse or truly incredible parent here or truly incredible coach or any of these things, you can't just think about solutions or ideas. You have to address your own expectations. So she says, how do you do that? What are your expectations? We're often not even aware of our own expectations.
[00:17:14] She goes on to go back to and the rat experiment participants were told explicitly that they had either Maze Brite or Maze dull rats. Do you view your kids as Maze Bright or Maze dull kids, or do you view the people that you are working with as maze Bright or maze dull employees or Maze, right. Or Maze dull people that you are coaching? She said this was an explicit expectation, but. But we have both explicit and implicit expectations driving us an explicit expectation is when something is directly stated and leaves no room for uncertainty. And an implicit expectation is when something is implied but not directly stated. So Vanessa goes on to say an example. She said, I have an explicit expectation that ice cream is tasty, but not very healthy, because I've been told this by both advertisers, the tasty part and my mom, the unhealthy part, she said. I also have an implicit expectation that ice cream sometimes can make her tummy hurt and that she may be lactose intolerant, she said. It's a silly example, but it gives you an idea of how we have expectations that are forced upon us and ones that we come up with ourselves. So here's what I love about taking an article like this that was put forth in hoping to train employees and let's work some family dynamics in here. So she said, I want you to identify both your implicit and explicit expectations and the important areas of your life.
[00:18:37] She said, for example, if you are on a work team. So right now I want you to even picture or think about your family or being a parent. What were you told about that? She says the team in the beginning. So for the sake of the exercise, I'm suggesting, what were you told about parenting in the beginning? So were you told it's going to be hard? It's going to be difficult. There's going to be many ups and downs, all of those things, which could very well be true. But what were you told about parenting in the beginning? And then what do people say about parenting? And how is your how do you hear parenting described by others, by your parents, by those around you? She said these are your explicit expectations. And she suggested you take a sheet of paper and write down everything that you can think of. And she said that if you're on a creative team, you might have bullets such as this, I was told is in bold. So I was told, let's say that parenting would be difficult. I heard that parenting can be one of the most difficult things of the hardest things in your life. Or do you ever hear people say parenting will be one of the most rewarding things that you will take on in your life? Or you could put the same thing around marriage? Marriage is, but here are your explicit expectations.
[00:19:48] And do you have negative explicit expectations or do you have positive explicit expectations? And so now we're starting to get into that realm of fake it until you make it or believe it until you become it. So so take a quick look at what are your explicit expectations around parenting, around marriage, around hard work, around intimacy, around communication. And do we often focus just on those negative, explicit expectations, even if at times we're also told or hear of the positive, explicit expectations? So she's OK, she said it's now let's identify your implicit expectations and beliefs and these are harder to identify. So you really do have to dig deep. What expectations do you have? She and again, in the business realm, she said, what ideas have you formed while working? With your team or what have you learned or what assumptions do you have? And so you said you might if you look at this creative team again, you might notice that you expect greatness from the team, but you notice hurt feelings when things need to get done quickly or you've learned to hoard your ideas lest they be stolen, or you make this assumption that people will do great work, but you might not always get the credit. So you can, again, have these you can have these explicit expectations about parenting, marriage, communication, that it can be hard work.
[00:21:07] But what about the times where you hear that it can be rewarding and then you might have these implicit expectations that you can't share your most intimate ideas because they might not be treated kindly or you might have an implicit belief that you can't be vulnerable or that you have an implicit belief that if you are just being positive, that your child will never take accountability for anything. And so she talks about how important implicit beliefs are incredibly important because they start to dictate your future. So you may have had a bad experience that caused you to form an expectation. And so what often can happen is that means that one bad experience actually is setting a precedent instead of staying is more of a stand alone incident. And again, this could be good or it can be bad if you expect she goes back to the business world. If you expect the team to be cutthroat, then you will be looking for that behavior and even maybe unintentionally driving it. But if you think that your team is great, then they are more likely to be great. What are your explicit ideas around parenting or marriage and what are your implicit beliefs or ideas about parenting or marriage? And which ones are you following? Are you now then taking those one off experiences or even some bad experiences that you've had growing up? And are you making those into an expectation or are you just being aware of those, noting those, setting those over to the side and then trying to find those implicit beliefs that you can be an incredible parent or that parenting can be this rewarding thing or that vulnerability can be a wonderful idea to put forth to your family.
[00:22:47] So positive. And that leads to positive or negative expectations, he said. Now it's time to identify which of your expectations serve you, which ones damage you. So go through that list again of explicit and implicit beliefs and circle the positive ones and underline the negative ones and try to build on that positive list as much as possible. So I hope you get the vibe. If you listen to some of my previous podcasts where I talk about I understand that it is not as easy as just removing this negative belief and placing a positive belief in its place, because if you don't believe the positive belief, then you're actually going to feel a little bit worse because you can't quite keep up this. I know I'm just supposed to be positive. I know I'm just supposed to think of this differently. So what I love about this implicit or explicit exercise is that you're identifying that we all have several implicit ideas or implicit directives, and we also have several or we have these implicit expectations.
[00:23:38] We all have a variety of implicit expectations, but we also have a lot of these explicit expectations and they can be both for negative and positive. So I want you to identify negative and positive traits of these beliefs or these ideas and then circle the ones that that really do you well and circle the ones that serve you and and not the ones that damage you. Let's dig a little deeper. So as you build upon that positive list, can you add more detail, more examples, more stories? And Vanessa goes on to say, you want to leverage the positive expectations because these will turn into even more positive outcomes. But I love the concept of leveraging positive expectations, not saying that you are a bad person. If you have some if you if these negative expectations keep coming to mind, we recognize them. We note them, then we can even invite those negative expectations to come along for the ride. But we want to leverage those positive expectations because those in turn will lead to more positive outcomes than negative ones. They need a different process. So she encourages you to pull out the negative expectations, put them on a new piece of paper, one by one. And she talked about an example in this creative world where there might be feelings getting hurt when things need to get done quickly or that ideas can be stolen or I have to fight to get the credit I deserve.
[00:24:54] So we're acknowledging those, but put them over on another piece of paper or note them and invite them to come along for the ride. And so I believe that this is one of those concepts that can really help frame this, fake it until you make it or believe it until you become it. I highly recommend that you follow the link in the show notes to this article on expectancy effects, because it really does go even deeper in ways to put this into practice. And again, she does it more in a sales team or a collaborative environment. But I believe the same expectations or concepts happen in life. And so I want to just address that very quickly and then I'll wrap things up. But the fake it until you make it, if you google "believe it till you become it", or can you really fake it till you make it or you're going to find a lot of things in psychotherapy, a lot of articles that talk about that, we often feel less than when we do try to fake it until you make it. And I believe this goes so in line with acceptance and commitment therapy, primarily that concept of a socially compliant goal. So if we are trying to fake it until we make something that we don't really feel aligns with our values, then our motivation becomes weak and ineffective because it goes against our sense of who we really are or things that we want to do.
[00:26:14] My wife and I were on a walk this weekend. I think this is a good example of this. And she's in a position. I guess we're both in this position where we have an opportunity to connect with other people for a church assignment. And maybe, let's say that someone in a position of authority over us says, hey, in order to get the word out about some particular event that's coming up, you just need to get on the phone and just hammer away, call these people every day and get this message across. And how does that feel? If you're hearing this right now, if it feels like I don't want to do that, then that goes against some core value or sense of self. Now, for someone else, they may love that. They may love getting on the phone and and calling people daily is a reminder or really trying to motivate people with this. I'm going to I'm going to keep calling them until they really understand why I'm so passionate about something. But if you are not someone that is in your core values or core beliefs system stuff to continually call someone if you are coming from this place of their adults, if I let them know about something, I know that if someone was calling me on a daily basis, it probably wouldn't motivate me.
[00:27:18] Then telling you that you need to do that is not going to be something that is in line with your core value. You will not be able to fake that until you make that. So I think that's a really key concept, is that it still needs to be something that is in line with one of your core values or beliefs. Yes, there's a point where people would can benefit by being pushed a little bit or maybe a little bit of a little bit of traction on the road, a little bit of ground under your bike tires, so to speak. But that still has to be something that you are that is in line with something that you want to accomplish or something that you believe. And because if not, that's when we start to feel like what's wrong with me? What's wrong with me, that I don't want to get on the phone and call someone every day. Nothing's wrong with you. That's kind of part of your internal belief system, because, again, in the world of socially compliant goals, if you are trying to do something that does not go, it doesn't line up to one of your values or one of something that's very you're very passionate about, then you tend to find other things to do instead.
[00:28:19] That is this world that's called experiential avoidance. That's where I don't really want to do it, because it's it's uncomfortable for me and not just uncomfortable because I don't want to do it, but I'm comfortable because I don't believe that is the way that I am motivated or the way that I can motivate others. So I'll do it tomorrow. Right now, I will watch another Netflix series. I'll play more video games. And welcome to the world of experiential avoidance. So when we can do something that is more in line with our values, our goals, and it does not become a socially complacent goal, then we are more motivated to act. We feel better about ourselves and we're able to tackle so much more in our day because that desire for experiential avoidance can be eliminated. But yet, I digress. That is a topic for another day. I've done previous episodes on that as well. Just go on my website and look for anything that has acceptance and commitment therapy as one of the tag, the keywords. So there you go. Can you fake it until you make it or do you believe it? Until you become it? You can, but it needs to be in line with one of your values or a value based goal.
[00:29:15] And more importantly, is taking a look at that expectancy effect. What are the expectations that we put on other people and what are the expectations that we feel but the expectations that we project on to other people? Are we looking at our the our families? Are we looking at our kids or are we looking at our spouses? Maze dull or these maze savvy, these maze smart, these Maze bright rats that we now can do our best to train to get through that maze twice as fast as if we viewed them as Maze dull rats. I don't think I've ever summed up a podcast by saying, Do you think your kids are smart? Rats are not so smart rats. Let's go with the smart rats.
[00:29:53] All right. Have an amazing week. And I look forward to talking to you next time on the virtual couch.