Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

How to Lose Your Mind and Create A New One

Overcoming Time

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself – Overcoming TimeSo much has been written about the importance of staying present. I could cite statistics on everything from distracted driving to divorce to support the notion that people have a really hard time staying in the present moment. 

Let me add to that body of knowledge by expressing this concept in quantum terms. In the present, all potentials exist simultaneously in the field. When we stay present, when we are “in the moment,” we can move beyond space and time, and we can make any one of those potentials a reality. When we are mired in the past, however, none of those new potentials exist.

You’ve learned that when human beings try to change, we react much like addicts, because we become addicted to our familiar chemical states of being. You know that when you have an addiction, it is almost as if your body has a mind of its own.

As past events trigger the same chemical response as the original incident, your body thinks it is reexperiencing the same event. Once conditioned to be the subconscious mind through this process, the body has taken over for the mind—it has become the mind and therefore can, in a sense, think.

I just touched upon how the body becomes the mind by the cycle of thinking and feeling, feeling and thinking. But there is another way in which this occurs, based on past memories.

Here is how it works: You have an experience, which has an emotional charge. Then you have a thought about that particular past event. The thought becomes a memory, which then reflexively reproduces the emotion of the experience.

If you keep thinking about that memory repeatedly, the thought, the memory, and the emotion merge as one, and you “memorize” the emotion. Now living in the past becomes less of a conscious process and more of a subconscious one.

Figure 4A. The thought produces a, memory, which creates an emotion. In time, the thought becomes the memory, and an emotion follows. If this process is repeated enough time, the thought is the memory, which is the emotion. We memorize the emotion.

The subconscious comprises most physical and mental processes that take place below our conscious awareness. Much of its activity is involved in keeping the body functioning. Scientists refer to this regulatory system as the autonomic nervous system.

We don’t have to consciously think about breathing, keeping our hearts beating, raising and lowering our body temperature, or any of the other millions of processes that help the body maintain order and heal itself.

I think that you can see how potentially dangerous it is for us to cede control over our daily emotional responses to our memories and environment—to this automatic system.

This subconscious set of routine responses has been variously compared to an autopilot system and to programs running in the background of a computer.

What those analogies are trying to convey is the sense that there is something below the surface of our awareness that is in control of how we behave.

Here’s an example to reinforce these points. Imagine that in your youth, you came home one day and discovered your favorite pet lying dead on the floor. Every sensory impression of that experience would be, as the expression goes, burned into your brain. That experience would scar you.

With traumatic experiences like that, it’s easy to understand  how those emotions can become unconscious, memorized responses to reminders from your environment that you lost a loved one. You know by now that when you think about that experience, you create the same emotions in your brain and body as if the event was occurring all over again.

All it takes is one stray thought, or one reaction to some event in the external world, to activate that program—and you start feeling the emotion of your past grief. The trigger could be seeing a dog that looks like yours, or visiting a place you once took him as a puppy.

Regardless of the sensory input, it activates an emotion. Those emotional triggers can be obvious or subtle, but they all affect you at a subconscious level, and before you can process what has happened, you’re back in that emotional/chemical state of grief, anger, and sadness.

Once that happens, the body runs the mind. You can use your conscious mind to try to get out of that emotional state, but invariably you feel like you’re out of control.

Think of Pavlov and his dogs. In the 1890s, the young Russian scientist strapped a few dogs to a table, rang a bell, and then fed the canines a hearty meal. Over time, after repeatedly exposing the dogs to the same stimulus, he simply rang the bell, and the dogs automatically salivated in anticipation.

This is called a conditioned response, and the process occurs automatically. Why? Because the body begins to respond autonomically (think of our autonomic nervous system). The cascade of chemical reactions that is triggered within moments changes the body physiologically, and it happens quite subconsciously—with little or no conscious effort.

This is one of the reasons why it is so hard to change. The conscious mind may be in the present, but the subconscious body-mind is living in the past. If we begin to expect a predictable future event to occur in reference to a memory of the past, we are just like those canines.

One experience of a particular person or thing at a specific time and place from the past automatically (or autonomically) causes us to respond physiologically.

Once we break the emotional addictions rooted in our past,  there will no longer be any pull to cause us to return to the same automatic programs of the old self.

It begins to make sense that although we “think” or “believe” we are living in the present, there is a good possibility that our bodies are in the past.


Regards, Coyalita

Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist & Addiction Counselor

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