Overcome Senescent Ideas to Think Creatively

March 25, 2021
5 min read
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Overcoming Senescent Ideas: Unleashing Creativity and Breaking Free from Stagnant Thought Patterns

Over the years, I met many creative people obsessed with particular ideas. It is common to get seduced by a way of thinking, a method, or a style, where any input or challenge draws similar or repetitive conclusions.

There are many reasons we pursue ideas that may end up being not that unique or original, but over time, our creative minds end up occupied by senescent ideas.

The principle of senescent ideas comes from biology. In biology, senescent cells stop multiplying but don't die off when they should, entering a "zombie" state. In this "zombie" state, they continue to release chemicals that can trigger inflammation. That's why senescent cells are also called "zombie" cells.

All living organisms depend on, interact with, and affect the settings in which they live and other organisms that live there. Ideas, like cells and living organisms, are no different.

Ideas provide structure for action, take in nutrients from thoughts, convert those thoughts into energy, and carry out specialized roles. Ideas also contain the thoughts' genetic fabric and can make copies of themselves to duplicate (or replicate). By genetic fabric, I refer to the basis of information that an idea can carry.

The parallel of ideas as organisms is nothing new. The notion of memetics is more popular than ever, and we can see that in action in front of our eyes on our little screens every minute. A quick dopamine hit may feed and reinforce those ideas and perceptions.

The more we are bombarded with the same ideas and obsess with them, the more complicated it becomes to innovate. Similarly, a creative mind can get hooked on ideas that, over time, become senescent. Senescent ideas are persistent, ageing and not evolving, which may eventually damage other ideas or even impair our ability to generate new ideas.

There are many reasons why we might become attached to senescent ideas. We might be comfortable with them because they are familiar. We might believe that they are the only way to do things. Or, we might be afraid of change.

Understand the dangers of senescent ideas is essential for the creative mind. They can prevent us from thinking creatively and innovating, leading to creative stagnation and decline.

Let's discuss the concept of senescent ideas and the dangers of these ideas, and how we can overcome them. We will also offer some tips for fostering creativity and innovation.

There are so many reasons why ideas become stuck in repetitive patterns. Some of these reasons include:

  • Familiarity: We are often comfortable with ideas that we are familiar with. These ideas may feel safe and secure, even if they are not the best. 
  • Fear of change: Change can be scary. We may be afraid of being wrong, or we may be fearful of failure. This fear can prevent us from exploring new ideas.
  • Confirmation bias: It is the inclination to seek information confirming our beliefs. This bias can lead us to ignore information that contradicts our beliefs, even if that information is accurate.
  • Groupthink: It is a phenomenon that occurs when a group makes decisions based on a shared desire to avoid conflict, which can lead to the group making decisions outside the group's best interests.

How senescent ideas can interfere with our ability to think creatively and innovate

Senescent ideas can interfere with our ability to think creatively and innovate in several ways. First, they can prevent us from seeing new possibilities. When we are stuck in repetitive patterns, we are more likely to interpret the world in a limited way. We may need help seeing new opportunities or ways of doing things. 

Second, senescent ideas can make us resistant to change. We may be reluctant or lazy to try new ideas when attached to old ideas. We may fear failing or be comfortable (lazy) with how things are.

Third, senescent ideas can stifle our creativity. When we are bombarded with the same senile pictures constantly, it can be challenging to develop new ones. We may have heard it all before and need more motivation to try something new.

Tips for overcoming the challenges of senescent ideas

We can do several things to overpower the challenges of senescent ideas. Some of these tips include:

Expose yourself to new ideas, especially those you hate: One of the best ways to overcome senescent ideas is to expose yourself to new ideas. If possible, replace your thoughts. That's easier said than done: reading books, watching documentaries, or talking to people with different perspectives are a few things. More importantly, expose yourself to opposing ideas by extracting yourself from the context.

Challenge your assumptions: Another way to overcome senescent ideas is to challenge your assumptions. When you come across a statement that you disagree with, take some time to think about why you disagree. Are there any assumptions that you are making that are not necessarily true?

Be open to new possibilities: Finally, it is essential to be open to new opportunities: willing to try new things and break established patterns. When you are in a creative mindset where you know less, you are in a better place to develop new ideas and innovate.

Things are usually a lot deeper and more ingrained than one can imagine, and although these can be a good start, the reality is that it is unrealistic that one will dive into a pool of contrarian views just for the sake of it. The truth is that despite the reasons, our brains get stuck in an inflexible state because of neuroplasticity. So it is tough to overcome the senescence state.


Senescent ideas can be a significant obstacle to creativity and innovation. Although following the tips above may help, overcoming these challenges and opening ourselves up to new possibilities is a constantly necessary effort. The senolytic effect of combating zombie ideas is a continuous search for originality.

© Raul Arantes 2023
Creative Director