Hello, my knitting friends! We’re just over halfway through October’s series, and I have something important to tell you. It’s maybe one of the most important knitting tips I can ever share, and it needs to be said.
It will definitely improve your knitting because it will give you the confidence to seek out new skills, to try new things, to achieve more than you dreamed possible. It has worked for me, and it will work for you.
I’ve spent time with lots of knitters and, well, lots of people. And you know what we all do to ourselves that makes everything so much more difficult? Myself included?
We tell ourselves it’s too hard. We’re not very good. We need our hands held. We’re not as fast as so-and-so. We’ll never be that proficient.
What the heck are we doing to ourselves? We’d never put our friends down like that. We tell them nice things, and we encourage them. (I hope.)
So, today’s tip is this: be kind to yourself.
I love reading books about neuroscience and how our brains work. I have depression, and I’ve been on a constant hunt for the last 14 years for any and all information on how my brain works and how I can fix it. And you know what? I’ve found LOTS of good stuff. So many small things that have added up to me living a practically-normal, depression-free life. The most I get now is the winter blahs, and that’s because I keep forgetting to take my vitamin D.
One of the main, most helpful things I’ve learned applies to every area of life, whether it’s depression or knitting. It’s the neuroscientific (is that a word?) principle of “use it or lose it.” Did you know that our brains are constantly restructuring themselves? It’s called neuroplasticity. The more we think something, the more the neurons in that thought pathway light up, and a stronger, faster connection is formed. If impulses and chemicals keep going down that pathway, it becomes a superhighway in your brain. It becomes the default setting, if you will.
If your default setting is negativity, then your thoughts will more quickly go down that path without your even thinking about it. And, of course, our actions and outcomes follow directly behind our thoughts. And our emotions trail behind.
Are you feeling discouraged? What are you thinking about? I bet it’s pretty gloomy.
When I started examining my thoughts, I realized, My goodness! No wonder I feel so terrible!
The good news is that we can retrain our brains. We can decide to stop using those negative superhighways, and eventually, because of the use-it-or-lose-it principle, they’ll fade away. Isn’t that amazingly good news?
Next time you’re feeling discouraged about your knitting, stop and notice your thoughts. Would you say those things to your best friend? Your child? Your mate? Your boss? Then why are you saying them to yourself?
Now that you’ve noticed your thoughts, consciously replace them with something positive.
You can do this.
You can knit anything.
This mistake isn’t such a big deal. If it’s not on fire, it’s fixable.
Every time your thoughts start going down that spiral, notice them. Stop them. Change them. After a while, with some practice, you’ll build new pathways in your brain. Your superhighways will be made by you, as a conscious decision, and they will be beautiful.
It will take time and practice, so the first rule of reprogramming your brain is to give yourself grace. What’s grace? It’s unmerited favor. It’s unlimited chances without recriminations. It’s allowing yourself to start over right that minute, without bringing the baggage of past mistakes forward.
One sweater disaster does not equal a failure at future sweaters. It means one sweater’s worth of yarn that you can make into something beautiful.
Go make something beautiful today. You’re worth it.
p.s. Neuroplasticity and visualization can also help you knit faster. Cool, right?
This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.