Changing habits, beliefs and conditioning
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Habits, beliefs and conditioning
Habits form when repetitive actions become reflexive responses. Donald Hebb, the father of neuropsychology, coined the phrase,
neurons that fire together wire together. This is the foundation of all learning. At the outset we were incompetent, dangerous drivers but, through repetitive practice, we learned to become competent and safe on the road. We create shortcuts and rehearse patterns for many of our daily activities like auto-recalling the most important mobile numbers, learning to type using all of our fingers and learning the multiplication tables through repetition. By creating shortcuts, our brains become efficient.
Beliefs are part of our subconscious thinking and are extremely powerful. Epigenetics is a study of how the environment changes cells' gene expression, showing how one's beliefs switch genes on and off, resulting in changes to one's health, both for the good and bad. A repetitive statement like, 'You can't get better without seeing a doctor,' may give rise to a disempowering belief like, 'The doctor holds the power over my health and I play no role in my own wellbeing.' xxxx say something more xxxxxx
What is conditioning?
Conditioning is a simple form of learning involving the formation, strengthening or weakening of an association between a stimulus and a response. By way of example, most people know about Pavlov's experiment when feeding his dogs. He always rang a bell prior to feeding them and after a while, he noticed that his dogs salivated (the response) at hearing the sound of the bell (the stimulus). Operant conditioning is a particular type of conditioning. For example, a child is promised a treat (operant, the object linked to conditioning) if he or she finishes all their homework. Another example is a dog who receives a biscuit (operant) when it obeys an order to sit. These treats are the operants and the good behaviour is the conditioned response.
Positive conditioning is any learning that involves strengthening of a stimulus to obtain a positive response like the promised reward resulting in more engagement, leading to a positive outcome.
Some conditioning is negative. A fair portion of our socialisation is based on negativity and so, it is not surprising that this may have a deleterious effect on us in later life. Hearing the same message repeated again and again like, 'You are stupid!' or 'You can do better than that,' may lead to feelings of inadequacy. This can result in destructive self-belief and anxiety at many levels such as study and exam phobias, work performance issues and sexual inadequacies.
Negative conditioning is resolved using regression therapy where one finds the cause and origin of where these beliefs were created and where they took root in one's subconscious thinking. Extinction learning is the undoing of the conditioning through therapy and reprogramming of the mind using hypnosis, NLP and coaching. By viewing the situation in a different light, drawing insights from it and then replacing negativity with healthier beliefs, one achieves a new zest for life.