Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
How to Lose Your Mind and Create A New One
Overcoming Your Body
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself – Overcoming Your Body – You do not think in a vacuum. Every time you have a thought, there is a biochemical reaction in the brain—you make a chemical.
And as you’ll learn, the brain then releases specific chemical signals to the body, where they act as messengers of thought.
When the body gets these chemical messages from the brain, it complies instantly by initiating a matching set of reactions directly in alignment with what the brain is thinking.
Then the body immediately sends a confirming message back up to the brain that it’s now feeling exactly the way the brain is thinking.
To understand this process—how you typically think equal to your body, and how to form a new mind—you first need to appreciate the role that your brain and its chemistry plays in your life.
In the last few decades, we’ve discovered that the brain and the rest of the body interact via powerful electrochemical signals. There is an extensive chemical factory between our ears that orchestrates a myriad of bodily functions.
But relax, this is going to be “Brain Chemistry 101,” and a few terms are all that you need to know.
All cells have receptor sites on their exterior surface that receive information from outside their boundaries. When there is a match in chemistry, frequency, and electrical charge between a receptor site and an incoming signal from the outside, the cell gets “turned on” to perform certain tasks.
Neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and hormones are the cause-and-effect chemicals for brain activity and bodily functioning. These three different types of chemicals, called ligands (the word ligare means “to bind” in Latin), connect to, interact with, or influence the cell in a matter of milliseconds.
— Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that primarily send signals between nerve cells, allowing the brain and nervous system to communicate. There are different types of neurotransmitters, and each is responsible for a particular activity.
Some excite the brain, others slow it down, while still others make us sleepy or awake. They can tell a neuron to unhook from its current connection or make it stick better to its present connection. They can even change the message as it is being sent to a neuron, rewriting it so that a different message is delivered to all the connected nerve cells.
— Neuropeptides, the second type of ligand, make up the majority of these messengers. Most are manufactured in a structure of the brain called the hypothalamus (recent studies show that our immune system also makes them). These chemicals are passed through the pituitary gland, which then releases a chemical message to the body with specific instructions.
— As neuropeptides make their way through the bloodstream, they attach to the cells of various tissues (primarily glands) and then turn on the third type of ligand, hormones, which further influence us to feel certain ways. Neuropeptides and hormones are the chemicals responsible for our feelings.
For our purposes, think of neurotransmitters as chemical messengers primarily from the brain and mind, neuropeptides as chemical signalers that serve as a bridge between the brain and the body to make us feel the way we think, and hormones as the chemicals related to feelings primarily in the body.
Figure 3B. Neurotransmitters are diverse chemical messenger’s between neurons. Neuropeptides are chemical couriers that signal different glands of the body to make hormones.
For example, when you have a sexual fantasy, all three of these factors are called to action. First, as you start to think a few thoughts, your brain whips up some neurotransmitters that turn on a network of neurons, which creates pictures in your mind. These chemicals then stimulate the release of specific neuropeptides into your bloodstream.
Once they reach your sexual glands, those peptides bind to the cells of those tissues; they turn on your hormonal system, and— presto—things start happening. You’ve made your fantasy thoughts so real in your mind that your body starts to get prepared for an actual sexual experience (ahead of the event). That’s how powerfully mind, and body are related.
By the same means, if you start to think about confronting your teenager over the new dent in the car, your neurotransmitters would start the thought process in your brain to produce a specific level of mind, your neuropeptides will chemically signal your body in a specific way, and you would begin to feel a bit riled up.
As the peptides find their way to your adrenal glands, they would then be prompted to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol—and now you are definitely feeling fired up. Chemically, your body is ready for battle.
The Thinking and Feeling Loop
As you think different thoughts, your brain circuits fire in corresponding sequences, patterns, and combinations, which then produce levels of mind equal to those thoughts. Once these specific networks of neurons are activated, the brain produces specific chemicals with the exact signature to match those thoughts so that you can feel the way you were just thinking.
Therefore, when you have great thoughts or loving thoughts or joyous thoughts, you produce chemicals that make you feel great or loving or joyful. The same holds true if you have negative, fearful, or impatient thoughts. In a matter of seconds, you begin to feel negative or anxious or impatient.
There’s a certain synchronicity that takes place moment by moment between the brain and the body. In fact, as we begin to feel the way we are thinking—because the brain is in constant communication with the body—we begin to think the way we are feeling. The brain constantly monitors the way the body is feeling.
Based on the chemical feedback it receives, it will generate more thoughts that produce chemicals corresponding to the way the body is feeling, so that we first begin to feel the way we think and then to think the way we feel.
Figure 3C. The neurochemical relationship between the brain and the body. As you think certain thoughts, the brain produces chemicals that cause you to feel exactly the way you were thinking.
Once you feel the way you think, you begin to think the way you feel. This continuous cycle creates a feedback loop called a “state of being”
We will delve deeper into this idea throughout the book but consider that thoughts are primarily related to the mind (and the brain), and feelings are connected to the body. Therefore, as the feelings of the body align to thoughts from a particular state of mind, mind and body are now working together as one.
And as you’ll recall, when the mind and body are in unison, the end product is called a “state of being.” We could also say that the process of continuously thinking and feeling and feeling and thinking creates a state of being, which produces effects on our reality.
A state of being means we have become familiar with a mental-emotional state, a way of thinking and a way of feeling, which has become an integral part of our self-identity. And so, we describe who we are by how we are thinking (and thus feeling) or being in the present moment. I am angry; I am suffering; I am inspired; I am insecure; I am negative….
But years of thinking certain thoughts, and then feeling the same way, and then thinking equal to those feelings (the hamster in the wheel) creates a memorized state of being in which we can emphatically declare our I am statement as an absolute. That means we’re now at the point when we define ourselves as this state of being. Our thoughts and feelings have merged.
For example, we say: I have always been lazy; I am an anxious person; I am typically uncertain of myself; I have worthiness issues; I am short-tempered and impatient; I am really not that smart; and so on. And those particular memorized feelings contribute to all our personality traits.
Warning: when feelings become the means of thinking, or if we cannot think greater than how we feel, we can never change. To change is to think greater than how we feel . To change is to act greater than the familiar feelings of the memorized self.
Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist & Addiction Counselor