I’ve had a brief conversation with an old friend; someone I haven’t talked to in years. It was all fun and laughs until they made a self-deprecating joke about “us.” I immediately pushed back and said do not include me in this crowd, but I tried to soften the blow later by saying something like don’t try to be this frank.
But, as we ended the conversation it never left my mind how my friend is in effect cursing themselves and subconsciously setting themselves up for massive failures down the road.
It was also a great moment for me because I patted myself on the back for swiftly picking up on the detrimental effects of negative thoughts masquerading as humor.
We’ve made plans to meet and talk, my friend and I, and I mean to point out that huge mistake.
Our human mind is setup in a peculiar way so that we are both the protagonist and the observer of the thoughts, and actions of our own making. It’s how you can talk to yourself inside your head, how you can narrate certain events in your memory, or anticipate and project certain assumptions in your imagination.
Self-improvement literature will often explain to you the massive power behind building the habits of affirmations and visualization of goals. You can read Scott Adams’ “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” as one of the best and clearest explanations of how this works.
The short version is that when you focus on a certain thought like the acquisition of a certain skill, or the achievement of a specific goal, and you maintain the daily discipline of writing daily affirmations 10-15 times on paper, or simply repeating them in your head, while visualizing the end results you wish to attain as vividly as possible, you simply reprogram your mental filters and fix your focus towards making them real.
Some call it the law of attraction, some people will try to go scientific on you and tell you about the Reticular Activation System, some people will say it’s the Honda Civic effect, or another application of the recency (or availability) bias. To be honest, it was personally difficult for me to understand the mechanics of how this thing works, but… it does work. I actually had to go through all the ways people tried to explain it until it finally started to make sense to me.
Our human brains are pattern recognition machines. We are habit forming creatures who can recognize and program our own habits.
Our consciousness is working with extremely limited processing power, or you can call it our creative problem solving power, and once it solves a problem it saves the program as a habit that is automatically used when the same conditions are met.
You need to walk? BAM! Walk program engaged. You want to talk? Affirmative, Language Processing Center Activated. You want to make an Omelette? Voila, Mom’s recipe recalled, the patterns saved up from making a bzillion pans of Omelettes are loaded, and the Cooking Autopilot Subroutine is now Running.
We learn stuff, automate it, and save it as patterns in our mental archives until we need them, then it’s as simple as hitting the play button on your iPhone to listen to your favorite track.
Same pattern recognition is employed in the filters through which we perceive the world. At any time there is an unfathomable and unlimited array of inputs that we are subjected to on a daily basis. It’s out of necessity that we only work with an extremely limited set of sensors. We can touch, see, hear, taste, and we can smell.
You know of course that other creatures on planet Earth have other senses that we do not have, like echolocation for Whales and Dolphins for instance.
But even within these five basic senses we are also restricted because we cannot see all light wavelengths, we cannot see in the dark like nocturnal creatures, we cannot hear subsonic sounds like dogs can, and we definitely can’t smell as good as our dearest happy family pet.
Same restrictions are applied to our consciousness because we cannot process all the noise of the world all the time. Our minds set up a prioritization hierarchy that blanks out anything that is irrelevant to an array of preset keywords in our mental Google Search Filter.
You can be in a crowded noisy room and suddenly hear your name very clearly being called out because it’s very high there on your mental reality filtration system.
The same goes for emotional responses. You actually set up your own emotional triggers and apply automatically programmed responses to them as they come along.
The problem with this system is that it comes preinstalled with default responses that are designed to keep you alive. It’s your default settings that activate your fight or flight responses when there’s mortal danger, for example.
Some of us never even try to change and update our default settings. And some of us unwittingly just program the worst possible default settings.
So, what happens when the voice in your head keeps telling you that you’re a loser who can never get anything done right? Well, your mind listens to these instructions, saves them up for a pattern to apply when there are any challenges that require your creativity, time, effort, agency, and free will, then it runs the “You’re a Big Loser” soundtrack in your head and it basically stops you cold according to the programming. It’s the annoying roommate you have in your head that is programming your “limiting self-beliefs.”
Alas, It doesn’t even have to be self programmed, it could be the cruel remarks of a parent, friends, or an authority figure that you took to heart and adopted as your own.
Remember, that how the world chooses to define as your reality and your truth requires your own approval and acceptance as the essential component. Only you have access to the programming filters of reality in your own mind. If someone tricks you to tune it to the UR-FUCKD Radio Station, you still have the power to change the station.
It’s worth knowing that with this understanding, and adopting the proper attitude towards life, you can always make changes to the programme running in your own head and update your own software interactively as necessary.
You really should listen to the audiobook narration of the amazing book “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” by Kamal Ravikant. It is a magnificent step by step explanation of the power of positive self-talk and love affirmations that have the power to turn a person’s life around.
Mantras, positive self-talk, and affirmations, written or spoken, work because they employ repetition, which turns it into learned habits and reality filters that allow only the things that you want in your mind. If you program self-empowerment narrative for your own life, if you insist on seeing opportunities, possibilities, fortune, and creativity, you will find them everywhere.
Note the child whose mom asks them to go bring the salt shaker from the kitchen and they don’t immediately see it and call out to their mom: “I CAN’T FIND IT!” What they don’t know is that they’re actively blinding themselves because their brain just blanks out the salt shaker as it sets them to “invisible noise” or “background” instead of bringing them forward to your mind’s focus lens.
This is exactly why Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
I love the term Loserthink coined by the Cartoonist Scott Adams, because it denotes any thought that will lead its originator to loser behavior.
So, let’s me make it very clear right here and now. Constantly making fun of your own self in the company of friends or family is loser behavior and it programs you for the expectation of failure and misfortune. That’s the kind of behavior that not only convinces everyone to constantly think less of you, but it convinces you never even to try.
It’s the sort of behavior you should never condone in yourself or in others.
If you are that person in your group of friends, stop right now, because you have successfully convinced everyone that you’re a loser and a failure and that they should never expect anything from you… ever. If you’ve any doubt, please reconsider. People will only treat you the way you train them to treat you.
If you have one friend in your circles that is that person, try to gently explain to them the errors of their ways. If they don’t take the hint, cut them loose.
If you’re involved in a group of people who are ALL extremely proficient at hilarious self-deprecating humor, RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE. Cut ties and burn bridges immediately.
There’s a clear difference between applying self-deprecating humor strategically and lightly as a way to disarm other people’s egos all while running the “I Kick Ass For Breakfast” soundtrack in your head, and someone who has made themselves the butt of every possible joke all the fucking time.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to take yourself too seriously and walk around with a stick up your butt, like an anal-retentive zomibie devoid of all capacity for humility and good humor. All I’m saying is that you don’t have to wrap a 20 ton ship anchor of Loserthink around your feet and drop it overboard every time we talk to you.
You can do better, if you choose to.
Please do better, because we want you to contribute your full potential. Your withdrawal from being a functioning active and valuable part of human society makes us all better, adds to our collective power, and allows us all to rise as one.
I know what I’m going to say next week: Love yourself my friend and know that things can change for the better.
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