Activating Your Mind And Thinking Critically

Critical thinking is one of those very important skills.  If you are not doing it at times, that is no good, because your mind is not being activated to a high enough level to tire it out a bit.  It’s like not working out a muscle in a long time, as it will start to be weak for regular activities.  Activating your mind at times will keep you “in the game” so to speak if you aren’t already.

Do You Push Yourself Mentally?

This type of effort-based thinking requires much more energy than simply responding to an issue or problem with quick words.  It is “level-2” thinking, so to speak.  I would start with some examples here, but my message is more about doing critical thinking every day or two if you are not already doing so.  How can you assess if you already are doing this?  Do you actually get mentally tired trying to figure out the ramifications of a deal, or the reasons behind both sides of a policy, or so on?  Do you do a little research on the side to find out information related to something, or just take words given to you as the main source?

Use Societal Or Personal Issues To Do This

My mind keeps wanting to stray off the main topic here, but what I want to convey is that doing heavy thinking is good for you at times.  You see an issue like a political one, and you can look at the “two sides” that are provided to you on each side of the political debate, or you can spend a bit longer to see whether those are really the only two options, or if you have any new ideas related to the concept, as well as if you can see the reason behind the whole conflict, and items of this nature.

Switch To Your Hard Mode Sometimes

It is like you are playing a chess game and analyzing other possible moves, and other ways you could have played the game before the point you are at.  When you set a computer to Easy level in chess, it does “simple thinking”, in comparison to us, as it only looks at the closest moves and the simplest attacks.  When you set the computer to Hard mode, it suddenly is analyzing multiple moves ahead, different variations of attacks, how to take a position, or so on.  The Hard setting certainly uses up more CPU clock cycles, but it gains a huge advantage by doing so.  We are different from computers in that if we don’t use Hard mode sometimes, our brain gets comfortable sticking to Easy mode, and then the Hard mode is a more difficult option later on.  You have to keep your Hard mode running smoothly.  It is like changing the oil in your car to keep it able to accelerate and switch gears smoothly.

Activating Your Brain Requires Conquering Friction Each Time

One item to add here is that doing critical thinking does not come naturally.  It takes effort every time.  It might get easier over time, but for the most part, it requires your diligence each time you make use of it.  It is like going to fourth gear in a car, which requires having been at first, and then switching to second, third, and then fourth.  This takes much more work than staying in first gear(from the transmission’s perspective).

There Are Many Items To Use For Critical Thinking

How can you work on this critical thinking if you are not doing it regularly?  There are multiple paths you can take.  You can take a political policy apart and analyze all the sides of the issue, and maybe come up with your own sides, or you can take a problem in your own life and create a whole page about reasons for why it occurred, different paths that could have been taken, different ways out of the issue, reasons for why you are or are not taking one path or another, and material of this type.  Another way is to do some type of logic puzzle that will get your brain working on possibilities and options, crossing out those that don’t work.  By searching, I just found a cool site that generates logic puzzles as you get there, so go here if you want to do one: Logic Puzzles

You Want To Feel Some Difficulty

I was going to include a sample logic puzzle at the end of this article, but after finding that site, there is no need for that.  I changed the title of this piece a couple of times, but it is mainly about activating your mind at times if you are not already doing so.  Some of you will think to yourself that you push your mind to the limit at times to solve issues, and some of you will be thinking that you barely use the high-level thinking that your mind can do.  I know I can tell when I have used my mind to high capacity because I can only do it for so long before it gets tough to continue.  This is one sign that you are doing it correctly.  I don’t know if I would recommend continuing at that point, but that is up to you.

Mind As A Muscle

Since the brain is like a muscle in how it builds neural connections, and in how connections are only made strong depending on how often they are used, this high-level thinking should be done regularly, somewhat like as if you were working out your abs.  “While the underlying mechanisms are different, neuroplasticity research suggests that challenging learning experiences can lead to the development of brain tissue analogous to the way physical exercise can lead to the development of muscle tissue.” (Research paper on neuroplasticity)

A Completed Logic Puzzle

I went ahead and did one of those logic puzzles so that I’m not just saying, but am doing/showing.  Solving one provides a good feeling.  Here is my solution grid for this randomly provided puzzle(I didn’t include the clues or description):

To those who decide to do a logic puzzle, feel free to report back on how you did.

Accept Communications Directed Toward You

During the course of your day, you may be communicated to by numerous individuals.  Your value increases as you deal with each communication as it happens.  A key part of this is to accept and show acceptance of what others are saying.  It is quite easy, at least in the short-term, to disregard statements made toward you that don’t fit into your category of “information worth processing”.  However, you can obtain more guidance from others by analyzing and adjusting your acceptance mechanisms.

Turning away communications coming from certain individuals during the day is a way to miss out on possibly vital information that would have been free, except for the energy used to accept it.  When a person is telling you something that you are not interested in hearing at first listen, there are two things that are good to do at that instant:

1. Respond back to the person with no hesitation, and clear out any signs of disinterest in the material their message pertains to.  There is no benefit in responding to the person in a way that informs them that their message is worthless.

2. Think about why your mind tries to resist absorbing the message that the person is sending your way.  It could be that they are bringing up a topic that you have been avoiding, and this could be a topic that you should deal with sooner than later.  It could also be the case that you have a negative attitude at the time of communication, and this should be tossed away quickly before the opportunity to merge thoughts with the other person is lost.

People are trying to send a message to you through the modes with which they are able to, and although some messages sent to you may seem to have no value, I would say that searching for value in the ones that seem to have none is the way to go.

A Lesson Discussed Regarding Self-Doubt

As my entry to the Life Lessons Series created by Abubakar Jamil, I want to discuss the concept of self-doubt, and how I can relay the lesson to you that self-doubt needs to be cleared from your thoughts.  In one video I have watched of Puff Daddy’s words of wisdom, he mentions in part of it that he never doubted himself.  We must take this to heart as well.

Why Is Self-doubt So Damaging?

This one is an easy question to answer.  People won’t believe in you more than you believe in yourself.  If you believe in yourself some arbitrary amount like 50(just a random number), no one will believe in you more than 50.  They might believe in you 20 or 10 or 5.  I didn’t put any units there, but hopefully, I was able to transmit that message.  Your belief in yourself is the maximum amount that others will believe in you.  People are quite skeptical of others, so they are very unlikely to put more belief in you than they see you putting on yourself, for fear of being cheated or manipulated.

Now, taking this into consideration, your self-doubt only lowers this maximum value.  If Rachael Ray or Isaac Mizrahi aren’t speaking confidently about products they created that they are selling on Q V C shopping channel, viewers are far less likely to put any faith in purchasing their merchandise.  Buyers think to themselves: “If the creator isn’t going to fully stand behind their work, there must be something wrong with it that they aren’t mentioning.”

Keep Clear On Where Doubt Can Be

Self-doubt is not helpful at all, but doubt in some facts or procedures is okay.  The distinction to make is that you don’t doubt your own abilities, but you can doubt whether a certain path or effort will work out.  Doubting whether pushing against a wall will ever make you profits is certainly reasonable, but doubting the idea that you could sell a product or produce a new solution to a problem is not.

Also, as somewhat of a link to this, I have seen messages on the internet putting down personal development sites for “selling hope” in the same way that they describe Oprah as being the biggest manufacturer of false hope.  Not that I am defending Oprah here, or even referring to my writings as personal development writings, but I want to mention that this self-doubt concept isn’t saying to be hopeful for no reason.  It is just to prevent you from stopping early in your tracks because you see someone else winning, and then thinking that you don’t have what it takes.  Who is to say you don’t have what it takes(unless you are not looking to put in much effort)?  Doubt and hope are somewhat connected so I wanted to bring that up.

Now, since this was to be a post about past mistakes causing learned lessons, I should be bringing up some past mistakes of mine so that it fits the description, but I am not one to bring up items from the past like they were wrong or errors of any sort.  The only mistake I can possibly make is to not move forward.  Also, if you are always looking 5 seconds ahead, there is no such thing as a mistake, as it can’t have possibly been made 5 seconds into the future from now.  What I will say is that it is clear to me that self-doubt is detrimental to any plans you have.  This seems obvious, but next time you are doubting yourself, it will have relevance for you.

You might be thinking to yourself: “This is quite generic.  Obviously, I shouldn’t doubt myself.”  This certainly is generic, but that is because you are reading this article right now as you think about it.  You have to save this material for when you are working on something important to you, and you get stuck due to that self-doubt.  If you let it kill your momentum, it is game over.  Your production needs to be fluid and continuous to prosper.

A Discussion About Reverse Psychology

This is a concept I have seen used a few times lately, and so those examples called me to action to write this article. Reverse psychology is one of the strongest ways to get someone to do something, if they are a competitive person because it makes use of an indirect challenge. Here I discuss reverse psychology and what I make of it.

Some Examples

  • “I bet you can’t finish that book”
  • “Don’t read this book.”
  • “You might be better suited for an easier project.”

Reverse psychology hits us at the child in us. When you tell a young person not to do something, you might notice that part of them now really wants to try out what you said to not try out. There is that desire to show you that you were wrong in thinking the person could not handle the task.

This Is Counter-Intuitive

One thing to remember about reverse psychology is that it is counter-intuitive. Most of the great strategies like it are counter-intuitive, partly by definition, because if they were intuitive, more people would already be using them. It takes some extra thought to implement reverse psychology in your communications or dealings with others.

Things tend to work backward. When you don’t show that you like someone, they like you more. When you show that you like them, they don’t show that they like you as much. When you have less, you tend to want to show off more. When you have more, you tend to want to not show off what you have as much.

Reverse Psychology Makes For Great Calls To Action

In the same way, reverse psychology works better than telling someone to directly do something. People always think we have some plan behind what we do, which is almost always true, so they are not so likely to listen to direct calls to action as strongly as indirect ones. We are more receptive to what we feel is the right thing to do, based on trends and subtle recommendations, than in-your-face rhetoric.

Think About What Has Worked On You

Next time you really want someone to do something, think through the process you have in mind to get them to do it. Would you be convinced by your direct efforts, or would you more likely accept an indirect message? If I tell you to read “Pride And Prejudice” because it is good for you, will that have as much of an impact as telling you to not read it because it will change the way you think? My examples are mostly book-related for some reason, but this would work in any example.

Exclusion Is Persuasive

One key reason reverse psychology works are that it excludes instead of includes. What I mean by this is that it tells the person that they are outside the box and probably can’t handle getting into the box, while regular direct calls to action present themselves as though the person can easily do whatever it is that needs to be done and that they just needed a reminder. The exclusion makes others feel like they will “miss the boat”, so to speak, if they don’t take part in whatever it is that you are presenting.

Telling Someone The Obvious Opposite Challenges Them

Reverse psychology also includes a bit of challenge. When you use it, it is like you are telling someone that they aren’t up to par in some respect, and so any person with some semblance of competitiveness will look to prove you wrong. It is like telling a 3rd grader “you can’t make that shot” in basketball, or telling a student “you don’t have what it takes to be an engineer”.

Only Use This With Stronger Folks

This suggests that reverse psychology is mostly relevant to use with people that have somewhat of a strong foundation so that it doesn’t cause them to curl up into a ball. It is not to say that these individuals can’t be helped in a similar way, but reverse psychology might be a bit much for them to handle. It would be akin to challenging a person who recently broke their arm to an arm-wrestling match.

On the other hand, this is a positive about reverse psychology, because it can be used as a filter to see who is strong and who gets defensive or quiet. If you have found that you deal best with strong people, you probably already use some sort of filter to keep your relations with those similar to your type. This is just another strategy along that path.

Use Of Reverse Psychology Shows Your Conquer Of Fear

As far as what you get out of it, you not only get feedback, but you also show strength. Only individuals who are ready for some backlash or unanticipated responses will try out reverse psychology methods. It takes a bold person to not be afraid that some people won’t “get it”, and will respond in a harsh fashion. Sacrifices like having to deal with harsh responses are what it takes to stay on the fast track. The same people who are not worried about social repercussions are the same ones who fly ahead of the rest of the population in their endeavors. This is not to say to do something dangerous or obviously foolish, but to challenge others a bit. When you challenge others in some way, they will likely be perturbed or annoyed at first, but they will later be glad that someone cared enough to activate them, get them thinking, or wake them up in general.

This Method Is Used All Around Us

I have a lot to say about this topic because I usually keep quiet when I see certain methods used until I eventually have a desire to discuss them in full. Reverse psychology is obviously a more advanced technique than making a regular argument with supporting evidence, but it used by people in every field. Lawyers certainly use it to plant ideas in the minds of jurors, without having to utter a word of the ideas out loud. Some savvy teachers use reverse psychology to get their brightest students to take on creative projects.

On that note, I am not describing the use of reverse psychology as having a positive or negative connotation, but pointing out that it is a valuable tool. If a river is flowing southward at some certain speed, it is not bad or good, and the people crossing it just have to adapt if they want to cross it. This is the same way.

Give it a try next time. If you are trying to convince someone to do something, and have tried similarly without success in the past, try doing so in a new way this time, by communicating to them some form of the opposite of what you are looking for them to do. If this method works, then your goal came out as desired, and if it doesn’t work, you’ll know that they’d not be likely to do or try what you were hoping for.