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Enough with the Negative Self-Talk

We are more likely to believe something we’ve heard before. It’s a cognitive bias — our brains do a lot of pattern-matching, trying to save us time so we can get around in the world efficiently, and they give priority to things that have been repeated, more readily believing or even liking familiar things and people. It isn’t a terrible way to go about things, but advertisers and political hacks sure take advantage of it!

You can, too. One way you can take advantage of familiarity effects is studying. Sometimes we feel like bad learners when we read something once and then don’t remember it well, but that’s normal — rereading, going over study notes, looking up related information, these are all ways we can trigger our brain to pay more attention to something, and hang onto it.

So take some care with what you show your brain over and over again. Your hopes and aspirations and resolutions need a strong foundation of belief that you can take action, that it’s worthwhile — even if it takes longer than expected and leads you in a slightly different direction.

You can learn more about how our brains organize our thoughts and responses from Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow.

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