Inverse Wisdom

Thanks, Paradoxically, to Mom

David Krueger MD

I came home from college after my freshman year and announced to my Mom that I’d decided to major in psychology. We talked; she was excited for me. Then she mentioned that she made an A in her college psychology course.

I said, “You must have really enjoyed it and studied a lot.” Her reply was, “No, I just answered everything on the tests the opposite of what I thought was right.”

So, in honor of my Mom, who thought it was all opposite anyway, here’s a list of nine inversions of conventional wisdom in writing a new life or money story.

1. Burn your bridges.
Make it impossible to go back to an old habit or way of being. If you decide to quit smoking, make it impossible in some way to restart. Create an uncomfortable scenario if you do start again. Focus on the present without the bad habit. Reward yourself for not going back.

2. Do the opposite of what you’d normally do when you are afraid, worried, anxious, or uncomfortable.
If you’re uncomfortable with public speaking, avoidance will increase the fear, so do more of it. Jump in the water; you can’t learn to swim on paper.
Prediction and expectation based on the past create repetition, but based on the present and future create possibilities.

3. Obstacles reveal desires.
Show me an obstacle, and I’ll show you a desire. An obstacle conceals but simultaneously reveals the underlying desire. When you’re ready to recognize that you create the obstacle, you’re ready to consider the possibility of not creating it.

4. Discomfort can be a sign of progress.
Neuronal pathways and neural networks, the highways and villages in our brain, have become etched by repeated habits to create efficient operation make routine behaviors easy. When these habits are confronted and have to change, the midbrain’s automatic pilot gets disrupted. We feel discomfort. The promise of change is to develop a new, better default mode—the brain just doesn’t know that yet, so our minds have to lead the way with a plan.

5. Lean into the unknown.
People fail to change because they don’t feel safe changing—changing means leaving their home base of reality—the internal map that is synonymous with identity. A new story generates uncertainty, trepidation. The easiest and fastest way to end this discomfort is to go back to the familiar: the old story. You can tiptoe through life very carefully and arrive safely at death.

6. You do not attract what you want; you create what you focus on.
When you focus on what you want, what you don’t want falls away—like your lap when you get up to walk.

7. You only see what you believe.
Our beliefs are the software that writes our behavior. Our experiences are always consistent with our assumptions. And we’re always right—because we write the story.

8. Believe in someone and then he or she will show you why you do.
Neuroscience has demonstrated that authentic belief in someone activates his or her brain to create a state of mind that transcends usual thinking and performance.

9. Don’t believe every thought you have.
Thoughts lie a lot. They’re like my Uncle Ted (rest his soul or I’d have to use a
different example). You don’t have to believe every thought that crosses your
mind. You’re not even stuck with the brain you have—you can make it better.

How Neuroscience and Quantum Physics Can Help You Change Your Life
By David Krueger MD