We think in language. The quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.
George Carlin

If you have read other I Grow Younger posts before, you have noticed we differ from other self-help content. Less storytelling, more ideas and concepts. But also the way we present. There is something different in our language. And it’s on purpose.

People are different but live by the same principles. Here we focus on what unites their experience. The building blocks of life. And one of them is that we all use language.

I Grow Younger is built on the science that the way we think, read and write (including about self-help) is both driven and limited by the language we use. Every concept must have word(s) for it or it doesn’t really exist. But there is more.

The big problem we identified is that some words gradually started to represent more than a word is biologically capable of representing.

Yes, the object of a word must have a biological representation in the brain – some structure or neurons and connections. We don’t really understand the brain that well but we can all agree that words don’t just come from nothing.

The brain is an association machine but associations have to be created in a smart way. Having an object with very few association links would not give a deep understanding of it. But even worse would be to have an object associated with everything. This would not only make those millions of associations pointless but it would totally overload the overconnected object.

When many concepts are jumbled into the same word, they make it useless since it doesn’t bring clarification and understanding.

I have always been striving for objectivity and clarity in The Game of Life.

I have often asked people questions like “You work in the ministry of education, but I have no idea what you really do. What do you do all day?” Every time this happened, I realized how overloaded the word “work” actually is. It can mean millions of different things. But I had one final dot to connect.

One day I just realized the brain probably doesn’t know how to deal properly with useless overloaded objects in… itself. Let’s try to put ourselves in our brain’s shoes.

The brain is this ever-improving, constantly firing mesh of neurons, that has the purpose of delivering the most useful output while not experiencing major failure as a system. Every brain structure (including the ones representing words) is connected to other structures in connections driven by association. But what happens when the local center of “work” needs to light up? The “existential risk prevention” system of the brain does not allow it because it would trigger so many connections to be lighted simultaneously that we risk a system overload.

So our theory is that the brain artificially suppresses activity in these word-centers. This is why we call them “trap words“. Every time you say, hear, read or write this word… it’s a trap!

Your thought process dies and is restarted (in totally not accurate computer terms). When restarted, you get the brain autopilot finishing the thought with whatever shallow content it can. 

But it would be very demotivating and confusing to feel how this self-preservation mechanism kicks in so the brain hides what is actually happening from you.

It turns out these generic words are not just useless like we all feel they are on some level. They are harmful to our thought process in an invisible way. They disrupt it, leaving behind no evidence of their failure.

How did this stupid situation come to be?

When humans first evolved language, the world was a very different place. Life was simpler. So language (specifically the brain center responsible for language) evolved the simple structure needed for then and there. Mostly one concept = one word. And this structure worked wonders. For a while.

Eventually we got concepts that didn’t fit into one word. Or even a sentence. Stuff that needed a paragraph to explain and would just confuse you if you didn’t understand other concepts. And then life got more complex, dynamic and interconnected and those complicated concepts got more and more interrelated.

What did we do with those? Maybe we evolved a different language structure to accommodate them? Of course not. We slapped a single word to all of those and called it a day. Due to their importance they slowly became cornerstone words in our language, categories of their own. Education. Work. Career. Business. Money. Relationship. Religion.

But a cornerstone can only be one if it brings clarity and simplicity. If it is understood at a level deep enough so that all the references to it from related nodes return a definition simple enough that it clarifies the connections, not buries them in one big confused mess.

You know what your brain hates the most? Being confused. So when your thoughts touch these “centers of confusion” the brain just silently… blocks to protect itself. Leading to rich nuanced responses from our autopilot like:

John: How is work?
Kate: Fine.

The brain is a structure you need long term and it has the main goal of protecting itself from confusion so you don’t go crazy. It doesn’t want to go through the risk of analyzing overcomplicated concepts in depth or heaven forbid – their development in time.

And since this mental block happens every time we encounter the “trap word“, we cannot develop an intuition about it. The overloaded concept just turns into a mental black hole, sucking any related productive thoughts out of you. It becomes a hidden obstacle on your path to clarity and understanding reality. And trying and failing to understand and navigate these cornerstone topics without a clear reason may cause anxiety and inadequacy feelings… for something that is not your fault in the slightest.

What happens then? We copy the understanding of these all important concepts from people around us (and popular culture) with the hope that they know better. Let’s just copy from one another, what can go wrong?

But other people have the exact same problem. They are just as confused and the same words make them block too. We can call this overlaying confusion about many cornerstone topics “The fog“. The problem is The fog is invisible to those it in. How can we suppose everyone is wrong? Spoiler alert, almost everyone is wrong about almost everything. And popular culture is wrong too because we create it and we’re wrong.

Where does this leave us? There are four types of influence that either make The fog denser (-) or help you see through (+)

  1.  + Mostly good people who somehow see via The fog and want to clarify and explain. All good mentors belong here. Unfortunately a small minority. The i.gy founders would like to belong here too.
  2.   Mostly evil people who somehow see via The fog and would want to take advantage of your delusions. All populist politicians belong here. Luckily also a small minority but as they are often in a position of power, they cause great harm.
  3.   Systems that emerged to take advantage of The fog. For example many universities should not exist in their current form and the only reason they do is because the students don’t understand the concepts of Education and Career well. There is no intuition. They just don’t “feel” them. And capitalism is always there to take their money.
  4.  + Chance makes sure to expose you to these “eureka” moments that suddenly bring clarity.

You will eventually see (or have already seen) through The fog for some “trap words” even if only by chance.

Maybe you realized after your last breakup a “Relationship” doesn’t exist. There are only the people in it and their thoughts, feelings and actions. And their responsibilities to each other but also to themselves and others with their relevant priorities. There is no “Relationship” object in reality and no responsibility to such an object. We invent it and attribute properties to it in order to dodge some of our other responsibilities. And our language conveniently offers a trap word for it.

But with the next one it’s not always easier. You may see though the fog of the “Relationship” trap now, but does this help you handle Money or Work? The black hole of every trap word has its separate strong resistance. A lot of brain rewiring is needed. But once you’re there there is no going back. The truth cannot be unseen.

Here are the golden questions:

  • How do we turn this realization about language and current flawed models into a self-help system that everyone can use for their own growth?
  • Even if there is bad influence like people around who don’t even realize The fog is there? Or downright evil manipulation?
  • How do we create a helpful structure that includes the most important concepts and doesn’t have any cornerstones that are “trap words”?
  • And how do we include into this structure the objectivity and science of life and the subjectivity of our internal world at the same time?

There is only one fundamental way forward. Love language or hate it for the “trap words” fuckup, it’s the only one we got. So we just need much better cornerstone words. Then we’ll be able to deconstruct all “trap words” using our new fundamental structure and actually understand the concepts behind them. Wrong and confusing relations will vanish and new ones will be born. Ones we can intuitively feel!

This is what defines I Grow Younger. We use a combination of psychology, evolutionary biology, philosophy and the vast personal experience of our founders to reframe parts of language itself. And we don’t invent mumbo-jumbo terminology to seem like experts. We use the same words like you – chaos, structure, hunter, sheep, inertia – you all know intuitively what those mean. And they have just one clear meaning. But we don’t use trap words if we can avoid them. Because they have already done to you enough harm. When having to talk about a trap word like money, we have an entire article deconstructing the mess.

We construct and deconstruct until we finally, finally have a working model of the mess that is the world. One that our ancient intuition can handle, unlike the current one, broken by the trap words.

And then we use this model to reframe everything from Love to Money to Smartphones and hopefully make you immune to The fog.

We use basic concepts like Structure, Space, Time, Love, Fear, Truth and Freedom. They are our building blocks. They should hopefully mean the same to almost all people but we do some defining, just in case.

And then we construct. We invite you to be a part of this special journey. It will take you some time to master the building blocks and the relations. But then an amazing moment will eventually come when you have deep, intuitive, “gut feeling” understanding of the world. One that has no trap word centers of confusion for your brain. The black holes will be gone, never to return. You will finally be able to fully harness your intuition in any situation.

This alone does not guarantee happiness. But it’s the best tool we can give you to help yourself. From then on your future will be largely in your hands.

And you’ll have the power and responsibility to help others navigate the same foggy world you were once a part of.

Isn’t that a future worth fighting for?

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