Imagine waking up every morning bitter and emotionally stunted.
If I added in the scene of you waking up to the same cold February morning, in the same small Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, hearing the same Sonny & Cher song, you would be playing Bill Murray’s part in the movie “Groundhog’s Day”.
Does the idea of being stuck in a real life “Groundhog Day” scare the bejesus out of you?
Let me ask you this, do you have feelings or emotions that you are holding on to as a result of a past experience in your life?
Have you lived through something traumatic?
Has someone broken your heart in the past and you are now overly afraid to open up in current relationships out of fear?
Were one of your parents emotionally of physically unavailable, or even abusive, and it is now the major contributor to why you “are the way you are”?
Were you bullied in school and now take on the mentality that NO ONE will walk all over you again?
While you can’t go back in time and compete with Bill Murray for the opportunity to star in this role, you should know that you are in fact living your own Groundhog Day without even knowing it.
For you to understand how this can be a true statement, let’s discuss how a past event is keeping you stuck in your past to re-live that exact experience over and over again.
Defining Your Mind & Your Body
(99.999999999%). Your body is energy too.
To discuss the mind can be entering confusing territory. For the purpose of this article, I want you to think of your mind as consciousness. Consciousness can be defined as anything that you are aware of and/or present to.
If your mind, not to be confused with your brain, is consciousness, then your whole body is your subconscious. Think of your subconscious as your autopilot system. It works without you thinking, and is always running in the background.
According to the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a group of researchers led by associate professor of psychology Ezequiel Morsella of San Francisco State University published a new study proving that only 5% of your thoughts and actions are taken out of consciousness, and 95% are from your subconscious and/or unconscious mind. Essentially 95% of who you are, and what you do, say, and think are coming from your autopilot system. Wow!
You conscious mind is what is responsible for designing a life you desire, and creating your dreams. So your conscious mind, ideally, helps you design your computer program, and your subconscious is responsible for carrying out the program that you install.
Conscious mind is the master, and the subconscious mind is the servant.
Emotions Create & Define Your Subconscious
Now that we know that your mind is pure consciousness and your body is your subconscious, it is important for you to understand how experiences that occur in your life train your autopilot system to repeat the emotions tied to the experience every single day.
Imagine you go through something hurtful in your life. Let’s say someone you are in a relationship with and truly love breaks your heart.
When that event occurs, you have a thought or an array of thoughts. Maybe the thoughts are “why am I not good enough? What did I do wrong? This hurts! I hate this.”
These thoughts register in your frontal cortex, the control panel of the brain. Your frontal cortex is the part of your brain that is in charge of important cognitive skills in humans such as emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behaviors.
Your frontal cortex, through electrical impulses, sends a signal to your neocortex, a part of your limbic system. Your Neocortex is involved in higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and in humans, language.
Under this stressful condition, next your amygdala activates stress pathways in the hypothalamus and brainstem, which evokes high levels of noradrenaline and dopamine to be released into the bloodstream. These hormones travel through the bloodstream and work their way to your adrenal glands where cortisol is released in response to this new “threat”.
Your body has now entered fight or flight. Your pupils dilate, your heart races, your body increases blood flow to your muscles and lungs, you breathe faster, and your blood pressure increases. You are in full-on survival mode.
Emotionally, you “feel” anxious. Your brain communicates with your body recognizing this feeling and you then “think” wow, I’m anxious.
Okay so what is happening in lamen terms? You have thoughts in response to the situation that is occurring, your heart is broken. Those thoughts cause a physical response in your body which leads to an emotion or a feeling.
When this cycle of thought—>physical response—-> emotion occurs over the course of a few days that is called a mood.
A friend: Why are you upset?
You: “I’m hurt because my boyfriend just broke up with me.” You’re in a mood.
If this cycle repeats for months it is labeled a temperament. And, if this cycle repeats for years it is now a personality trait.
A new boyfriend: “Why are you so afraid to open up? You seem bitter and closed off.”
You: “I am the way I am because a guy I dated 5 years ago broke my heart and I trusted him.”
When neurons in your brain fire together repeatedly they start to form a pathway of connections (synaptic connections). You may have heard the saying that neurons that fire together, wire together.
Now your body gets fed the same cocktail of neuro-chemicals and hormones every day, it becomes addicted to that feeling and it becomes a subconscious habit. That emotion becomes part of your auto-pilot system. You are no longer aware that your body is reliving this event every single day. You just know that you are frequently angry, bitter, and anxious.
Essentially, your subconscious has now become the master, and your conscious mind has become the servant.
Habits Represent Past Events
We now understand that your body’s physiological response is what causes you to “feel” a certain way, and that feeling registers as an emotion.
Stick with me here. I think we can agree that in order for you to feel a certain way, or have an emotion, it is in direct response to a thought that is created in response to an experience.
So the experience has to have already occurred! The experience is in the past.
Now when your subconscious releases the same hormonal cocktail everyday that it is now addicted to, and you feel the same way today, as you have every day for the last few months or years, you are living your life out of habit.
So we can say that everything that makes us up; the “you” and the “me”- our thoughts, our dreams, our memories, our hopes, our secret fantasies, our fears, our skills, our habits, our pains and our joys – is etched in the living lattice work of 100 billion brain cells.