Excerpt from Session #1
After watching the Motivating Mindsets video for the first time, we watched part 2:05 - 3:42, again. Then we had the following discussion.
Me: This, over 18 years of teaching, is the most important thing I ever taught my students. Because if you think about it, you can get really good at something, but you can also get really good at something you don’t want to get good at. You can get really good at being depressed, at being unhappy. Simply because we hardwire our brains; we keep thinking, I’m so dumb. Or, Everyone thinks I’m fat. Or, Everyone hates me...
I know we all have seen friends who go thru similar thoughts. We even have had them ourselves, right? Maybe not those exact thoughts, but similar negative ones. I don't know about you, but my heart goes out when I see kids that are bullied, or afraid they're going to get called on because they don't want to look dumb in front of the class. THIS - the neurons and the myelin coating of negative thoughts - has happened to them. They don't know it, and they actually believe that they ARE dumb. They believe that they are whatever got wired inside their heads, right? This is called hardwiring because it’s actually like connecting a real wire.
Because kids don't know how their brains work, that they feel the way they do because of how they think, they suffer. Of course, if they don't know that’s how it all works, then they certainly won't know what to do about it, right? They certainly don't know how to stop it, or reverse it.
That's what you're going to learn in this class. And what I hope you'll use it for is to make your life the happiest. So that when people see you they think, "Wow! She looks so happy!” Or, "I LOVE being out with Sharon. I LOVE being around Alejandro! He's so positive about everything.” But that takes training. It doesn't just happen.
I know that we sometimes think, “Oh, I’m just born the way I am, and I can't change,” but when we get to the next session in the workshop where we learn about Growth and Fixed Mindset, we'll see that the latest science is teaching us that this is NOT true.
But until we're taught that, we don't know how to use it. It's almost as if I said, "Alejandro, you're going to play a new sport today that you've never played before.” Are you going to be any good at it?
Alejandro: "Not yet."
Me: Not YET; Exactly! Because you have to do what?
Me: Yes! I'm going to give you this information of how your brain works. I'm also going to give you tools to be able to practice thinking what you choose, and how, when you have a thought you don't want, to keep it from doing THAT - the hardwiring that comes from our neurons and myelin coating.
So your first tool is "delete." Let's look at my phone’s voicemail. Say I don't want to keep this call and the words that make those negative connections. So ... I delete them.
And that’s the first tool. Whenever you have a thought throughout the day that you don't want, just say "delete." You don’t have to say it out loud; you can just say it in your head. And what that does is it sends a message to the neurons that you don’t want to keep that thought. And so, literally, the connection doesn’t get wired. It gets stopped. By doing this, you are teaching your brain what you want.
I want you to think of your brain as a garden. You know how gardens get flowers and sometimes there’s weeds, right? Think of the flowers as the thoughts and feelings that you want to keep: happiness, joy, love of life, how fun it is to be alive. And think of the weeds as those negative thoughts: I’m depressed. I hate school. I’m dumb. I’m going to fail this test. I failed that test, and I’m going to fail the next one, too. Think of those as the weeds. If they were in your garden, what would you do with them?
All 4 - 6th graders together: “Pull them out!”
Me: In a later workshop session, we’ll go outside and do this. But for now let me ask, if you pull out the weed, does it die?
Me: What do you have to do to make it die?
All: "Get the roots.”
Me: Yes. You have to go down deep enough to pull out the whole root. One of the things you’ll be learning is how to pull out the roots of the thoughts you don’t want. So that when you remove the thoughts you don’t want, you have a beautiful garden. You’re happy when you’re in that garden. In the same way, I want to teach you how you can live from that place in your mind where it just feels great to be there.
And this is your first tool. When you have a thought that you don’t want, say in your head or out loud, “Delete.” And if it comes back again, and it often does, right? Just say “delete” again.
If I have a persistent thought, do you know what I do? After I’ve said “delete,” I say, “Trash.” If I trash all of the messages on my phone that are deleted, they’re gone. They are literally not in the hard drive. So, if I have a persistent thought that even after saying “delete” a couple of times, 5 minutes or 5 seconds later, keeps showing up, I say, “Delete. Trash.”
We are literally retraining our brain; teaching it, training it. You want it to be a clean and happy garden where you love to be. So, this is your first tool. And it’s your homework until we meet again next week; practice using “delete.” Then when you come back, share at least one instance when you did that.