Our ability to repeat actions, thoughts and behaviours is at the foundation of our capacity to learn.
It is through repition that we learnt to walk, talk, read, ride a bike etc.
What is perhaps less obvious, is that repitition is often behind some of our negative abilities, such as acute anxiety, chemical addictions, depression etc.
The biological mechanism of how this works is controlled by our internal chemistry.
We have a marvellous internal balancing process which regularly tests our blood to see if our normal chemical balance is being maintained.
Unfortunately, this automatic internal checking cannot evaluate is whether this normal balance is healthy or not. And when this normal balance is disturbed, the body releases chemicals which motivate us to get what is needed to correct the imbalance.
With negative addictive behaviour patterns a false ‘normal’ has been established.
For example, if someone consciously worries and worries and worries, then a series of neural networks in our brain, with their corresponding chemical peptide patterns are developed. This reptitive process literally programs our physiology into a worrying state as a false normal condition.
So over time, our chemical balance is set to ‘worry’. So if we stop worrying, this creates a chemical imbalance which our body reacts to. And through that reaction it motivates us through chemical releases to start worrying again. And what we have is a self-perpetuating negative condition. A similar problem exists with alcohol, crack, gambling etc.
This is why addicts to negative thoughts and behaviour find it hard to break their addiction. They often need an external stimuli or support to break this pattern and to establish a new one. This may come from a combination of changed life circumstances, counselling and maybe medication.
This shows how our mind and behaviour affect our body, and how our body then influences our mind and behaviours.
The same process operates with positive thoughts and behaviours, such as smiling a lot, regular exercise, feeling confident etc.
So it seems there is a biological foundation for the adage: We first form habits, then habits form us.
An excellent book on our mind and body relationships is:
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© David R. Durham