How to Clobber Negative Thinking with Neuroplasticity
Smash those useless ‘I can’t…’ thoughts right out of the park.
One of the most common and debilitating negative thoughts is this: I can’t. When our Horrible Inner Critic is constantly feeding this paralysing message, it can feel like an absolute truth. And as you think about all the opportunities, all the career and social paths that other people can and do follow, they can all feel closed to you. Because you can’t.
I’ve said in previous posts, that our Horrible Inner Critic does not believe in us, or in our abilities. ‘I can’t’ thinking is a perfect example of this: I can’t learn, can’t improve, can’t change my nature, can’t get better, can’t get that job – can’t even benefit from the stuff in this blog! Others can but, according to your HIC, you are the exception. Others can and do – you can’t, so don’t try.
In fact, this is at the base of our Inner Critic’s self-defence – the way it persuades you not to try changing your mindset to something more positive – suggesting instead that you learn to live with your negative-self and it’s negative thinking. So, as well as feeding you the thoughts that others can but I can’t, it also applies it to any potential actions that may weaken its own hold over your thinking:
- This positivity technique may work on others, but it won’t work on me
- This anti-negativity tool may help others, but it I’m not that lucky
- You might be able to change, but my natural negativity will always be on top
Special – But Not in a Good Way
In essence, what your Horrible Inner Critic is telling you is that you are special, but negatively special – that you are somehow specially resistant to any and all positive interventions.
Well, the recent discoveries about our brain’s neuroplasticity simply blows all that right out of the water.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of neuroplasticity, it is the now scientifically established process whereby our brains rewire themselves in response to new situations, new thoughts and new actions. It does this so that we can learn more and do things better.
There’s no way out of this argument for your Horrible Inner Critic because it really is this simple: if you work at something, your brain adapts to enable you to get better at it. If you continue to work at it, your brain will continue to adapt to get even better.
Neuroplasticity is not conjecture, guesswork or wishful thinking. It’s not woo-woo new-age magic. It just is. It’s fact.
This explains how the most skilled in any field can appear almost superhumanly gifted – how a seasoned pro-musician can remember and play hundreds of songs – how an Olympic skier can hurtle down a mountain at almost 100 miles per hour on two polished planks of wood (yeah ok – skis) and get to the bottom smiling – and how my wife Lynda (a champion knitter if I’ve ever seen one) can knit a cardigan with a freeform design, no pattern and up to a mind-boggling 20 different wools. All these examples can seem impossible to achieve when we’re just starting out. Yet Everyone had to start in the same place – the beginning.
Neuroplasticity responds to practise by building brain networks to enable improvement – and as in the examples above, it pretty much only stops when you do.
When it comes to fighting the ‘I can’t’ negative thinking of our Horrible Inner Critic, including the insidious idea that all this positivity stuff might work for others but it won’t work for us – because we were born negative – because we were hardwired that way… well, we can see that it’s just plain wrong. It’s garbage thinking. It’s classic, shitty, HIC thinking that has no basis in reality – unless we choose to continue listening to it and believing it – in which case we rarely give ourselves chance to prove it wrong.
Research has shown that neuroplasticity is a working process of every healthy brain – even including the very elderly (so yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks). And research has also shown that any ‘hardwired’ negative thinking traits in our brain can, with consistent and thoughtful practice, be rewired.
Seven Things Neuroplasticity means you CAN do
- Learn positivity and happiness skills
- Become better at things you currently don’t believe you’re any good at
- Learn new skills and improve old ones
- Build new, productive habits
- Learn to socialise
- Become better at almost anything you choose
- With time and application, become a master of almost anything you choose
Okay, so with a bit of luck, just knowing about neuroplasticity can deal a serious blow to ‘I can’t’ negative thoughts.
The Neuroplasticity Whacking Tool
But this website isn’t called Laugh Away Your Inner Critic for nothing. So, let me introduce a light-hearted, yet very effective weapon to our anti-HIC armoury. When your Horrible Inner Critic is constantly trying to persuade you that you can’t, try giving it a good comic bashing with our patented Neuroplasticity Whacking Tool. Honestly, I think this tool is a genuine gift to humanity.
How to Use the Neuroplasticity Whacking Tool
When our HIC wants us to believe we can’t, imagine a big, cartoon-like club. Have fun imagining it. Make it as colourful as you like. Make it as soft and squidgy as you like. Now imagine this club has words on it. On one side it has NEUROPLASTICITY, and on the other OH YES I CAN.
That way, when your Horrible Inner Critic gets clobbered it definitely will know what’s hit it!
Now don’t just read about the Neuroplasticity Whacking tool – use it! Because the more you visualize bashing your ‘I can’t’ thoughts and whacking your Horrible Inner Critic – the better you (and your constantly improving brain) will get at it.
- I can’t thinking is one of the most common and debilitating types of negative thought
- Neuroplasticity is a part of every healthy brain’s function.
- The Neuroplasticity process means that with thoughtful practice we can learn and improve at anything we choose.
- The Neuroplasticity Whacking Tool is a simple and fun way of using a visualisation against your unhelpful I can’t thoughts
As always, I’d love to hear your comments.