In Food, Philosophy, Science, Words

Bowl of mushroom soup

I want you to begin the next five minutes by saying to yourself, “I am a loyal and enthusiastic follower of Word of the Week and I will read this article with great interest and delight.” See if it works.

Of the many disappointing things about the human brain, the biggest has to be its capacity to be duped into believing things that you tell it. You’d think it would be cleverer than that, wouldn’t you? Neuroplasticity is a word you don’t come across every day in the soup aisle at Sainsburys but it’s a word that the sellers of said soup hold in high regard, because it stands for their second favourite thing (after soup): the ability to ‘rewire’ the human brain through the power of suggestion and repetition.

Say something often enough and the brain takes it to be true. Yep, it really is that stupid. The thought pathways that once gave you clear instructions to buy Sainsburys own brand Cream of Mushroom Soup can be diverted and relaid, simply through the repeated affirmation that Crosse and Blackwell Cream of Mushroom soup is the choice of champions.

Thus we are brainwashed like helpless laboratory animals into consuming stuff we don’t need at prices we can’t afford and pursuing lifestyle choices that make us sad and ill and drive us into addiction, so we’re guaranteed to stay on the treadmill for life.

Funny how negative affirmations are so much easier to take on board, isn’t it?

The good news is that you can redirect those mental pathways by applying a few simple affirmations of your own. Here’s a typical example from the late motivational author Louise Hay: “I am in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.” Thanks to Louise, millions of people were able to convince themselves that they were in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing when, in fact, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing, like the rest of us.

The question is, does it matter what you’re doing, when and where if you’re convinced it’s right? The answer is, yes, of course it does.

This week, my favourite online yoga instructor Kassandra has been giving me affirmations to brighten up my day. The trouble is, they don’t seem to be working. Day One: “I am calm and centred”. I kept wondering what ‘centred’ actually means, and focusing on the word ‘calm’ made me aware of a level of agitation I didn’t even know I had. Day Two: “I am in love with life.” What, in this weather?! Day Three: “I easily handle whatever comes my way.” The boiler broke down and I’m not a Corgi registered gas fitter, so…

Today’s affirmation is: “I have all the answers within me.” I scored 12 in both rounds of Ten to the Top on Radio 2 with Oooh Gary Davies. It doesn’t matter how many times I repeat the affirmation, when it comes to Eurovision I honestly don’t have the answers within me.

So I’m thinking that this affirmation thing needs to be a bit more fact-based than just saying things to yourself that you’d like to be true. Because one of the best things about the human brain is that little voice that says, “Yeah? Who are you kidding?” It keeps your feet on the ground.

There, enjoy that? I knew you wouldn’t.

Recent Posts

We're not around right now but send us a quick email and we'll get back you ASAP...