Articles · · 2 min read

Change your inner narrative with neuroscience and post-its

Use neuroscience (and post-its) to hack your brain from negative thought loops

A guest post from Sally Rumsey, Licensed Professional Counselor.

One of the themes that keeps appearing in my sessions with private clients is negative thoughts. It is so common to get stuck in negative loops in our private and professional lives. I wanted to share a quick trick I use to hack your brain.

The neuroscience you need to know before we implement our trick is this: our brains love to gather evidence. Did you see a news alert this morning that there could be bad weather in the forecast? Your brain is going to automatically gather evidence to support that prediction, simply because you saw the news alert. By the afternoon your brain could have dozens of facts from the day to support the hypothesis that bad weather is coming, even if the forecast has changed.

This happens internally as well. Do you have an inner voice telling you, “you can’t handle this?” Your brain is going to collect evidence all day that long that YOU CANNOT HANDLE THIS. By the end of the day, you have a full dissertation of why and how you absolutely cannot handle this.

However, if upon noticing the inner voice, you proactively change the thesis statement, suddenly you go from gathering evidence that you can’t do something to gathering evidence that you CAN.

Use post-its to hack your brain (because you already use them to do everything else)

Don't wait! Do this now:

  1. Comb through your thoughts and notice one negative thought you have that is weighing you down
  2. Write it down on a post-it note
  3. Now, change the negative statement into a positive one (simple language is best; see below for examples)
  4. Throw away the negative note
  5. Make several copies of the positive note onto new post-its
  6. Place those post-its around your workspace

Ideally you can see the message in at least three different spots from where you are sitting.

Here are some examples of changing the negative statements into positive ones:

Every time your gaze lands on the positive note, your brain will latch onto that thesis statement and go into evidence-gathering mode that you can, you are doing the work, and that you have been all along.

In the end, your brain is going to be gathering evidence whether you intervene or not. So it’s up to you what you want to prove!

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