As we grow older, our new year resolutions are getting more realistic and shorter.
Over the last 10 years, I have noticed in myself and my friends a transition from vague goals-based resolutions, to SMART goals-based resolutions to habit-based resolutions to character traits and emotions-based resolutions.
With all the craziness happening in the last 2 years, pandemic, attention economy, mental health crisis, web 3 it’s quite a challenge to stay sane, chill and grounded.
In 2021, in my attempts to stay sane, I decided to do a 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course. That’s a meditation practice where for 10 days you meditate 8 hours a day - with no talking, no reading, no listening or watching anything. Just you and the voice in your head.
This experience made me realise that my anxiety is self-inflicted. The voice in my head is an expert in dramatising, over generalisation, minimisation, etc. and most of the time is the main source of anxiety and stress.
I came back home with a deep curiosity about the science behind self-talk, and I went to google scholar to understand why we have such a negative inner voice.
After about 30 research papers, here is what I have discovered.
1. Changing the way we talk to ourselves starts with the awareness that the voice in our head is not us - it's just our mind wanting to keep us alive.
2. We inherited this voice from our parents or main caregivers we had in childhood. And they inherited it from their parents so we naturally have a negative or safety-oriented internal voice because this is what kept our ancestors alive.
3. Also, the thoughts, emotions and experiences we have in childhood shape the actual structure of our brainbecause the built material (myelin) of the connections between neurons called neural pathways (similar to roads) is most abundant before age of 8 and during puberty. And, because our brain is all about optimisation, the pathways (roads) that are used more often become highways - and this is why some thoughts feel so natural to us and they come with no effort.
4. So changing the way we think or the way we talk to ourselves or our habits is linked with creating new neural pathways in our brain but after the age of 25 the building material mentioned above - myelin is less and less available, so this is why it’s hard to adopt a new way of talking to ourselves or new habits as we get older.
5. But, it’s definitely possible because our brains have neuroplasticity - the ability to change themselves. It just takes more conscious effort as we get older and it all starts with our thoughts - or to be more exact with positive self-talk.
This is why, the main habit of this year is a self-talk upgrade - with more self-compassion, self-acceptance, mindfulness and self-care.
After all this research, my friend Vio and I came up with a startup idea that we are validating at the moment - to get your own audio please fill out the form here.