Neuro-associations determine everything we do. I mentioned that the motivation behind doing anything as the brain programs itself is to
- Maximize on pleasure
- The fear of avoiding pain.
I gave life examples from my personal life about how this could work and I would love to hear about your experiences as well. Remember though that this is one way to do it. It is not the only way but it is one way to do it.
- Realize that the reason why you do NOT do certain things is that you associate them with more pain than you do pleasure.
- The reason why you do certain things is that you even when you recognize how they are affecting you, in the end, is simply because you associate more pleasure with doing them rather than pain, or at least your brain does.
In this article, we explore how our mind links certain things to either pain or pleasure and how that ends up affecting our behavior because it gets programmed into our subconscious.
My first experience with alcohol (Neuro-Associations)
Okay, let us get real here. I told you my story yesterday about how I got drunk for the first time. I mentioned how the first few times I tasted alcohol I hated the taste and I would even ask myself why people took this stuff. Some took 10 bottles or so and still kept at it! I wondered why.
With Mr. X I did not want to seem as if I was being a pussy and uncool and downright boring because you do know that I liked him right? So I allowed myself to get swayed, for his sake. Why? So that he would at least like me. I found out the wine wasn’t that bad even though it went against my principles.
Taking the wine in that moment meant I was cool, I was modern, independent, fun, wild, and that I could even be normal because it is so normal for people my age to party and drink.
I associated the alcohol with pleasurable feelings and the reason I remember quite so clearly is that my emotions were also over the top, and something called anchoring happened.
Now every time I see that particular wine, I associate it with that moment. A neuro-association had occurred in that moment and now I see wine as something that I relate to pleasurable feelings.
Why studying was so hard (Neuro-Associations)
Another example is studying. Well at the moment I study almost every day because I almost always have a book in hand or on my phone but in high school, I would start developing headaches sometimes when I took out my math book or something.
Reading a novel was a heaven moment. Studying chemistry or Math or Physics was a pain in my beautiful behind!
I actually wished school was just about reading novels and watching movies or designing stuff because those are the things that mostly occupied my time. In a way, it is mostly what I do now.
I associated studying with pain which is why I never did much of it, so my grades dwindled.
Funny thing is that in Primary, I excelled and I loved the pain of studying, was even passionate about it because it meant a boost in my self-esteem since I was the second best in class always.
It meant being loved by the teachers, being sought when it came to academic competitions and I just loved the respect I got for being one of the smartest in school.
High school was different. I had changed and I guess apart from my parents, no one gave me that attention anymore. Even though I craved that respect once again, I couldn’t just see it working so the pain was not worth it.
At one time, I even stopped doing assignments and the punishment was horrific! In this case, another neuro-association was created and studies became something
I did not like even though I loved good grades so I did less and less of it then binge studied at exam time and forgot all about it after.
The anchor was the books each time I saw them I saw books, I remembered pain and shame. I tried to study and fell flat on my ass and so I did not find it rewarding anymore.
What of relationships? (Neuro-Associations)
Same to relationships. I have had my fair share of pain in that sector, and lots of pleasurable moments too but the pain has been immense.
So do I think of throwing myself back in the game again? I am fearful of the hurt and even though I long for that soul connection that is all amazing and gut-deep joyous, the pain I have had to go through when getting over significant others has been immense.
So there again. There is more pain than pleasure associated with it and that is why I have stayed single for so long ladies and gentlemen! A neuro-Association was created and now I view relationships as painful because of my past experience.
To be fair though, I chose the pain. We do choose pain most of the time by attaching disempowering meanings to it.
Every experience links to Neuro-Association
What about giving, love, wealth, health, money, and power? Which neuro-associations do we have when it comes to these things? That determines to a very large capacity what actions we take.
For example how come we still smoke, knowing it is bad for our health? How come we become drunk and drive knowing how dangerous that is? How come we take Cocaine or even weed?
It is simply because we have formed a neuro-association and we equate these things to pleasure.
How do we change Neuro-Associations, and thus behavior?
So what then? Our brains really are controlled to a very large extent by the meanings we give to the actions we take as either pleasurable or painful. How then do we change them when we want different results? We do that by giving those moments different meanings!
See neuro-association is mostly created when we are highly emotional or when we feel emotions strongly. At that moment, we anchor whatever was happening at the time to the emotion which then creates the neuro-association.
Each time we encounter something close to that experience, it sparks something inside us that is either pleasurable or painful depending on what that first experience was.
Our brains are a network of associations and neuro-associations normally have no basis in reality because they just match a present moment with a past experience so now we start seeing the present moment through the lens of what happened in the past.
So now what do we do? One is to recognize it. Notice the emotions that come to play whenever something happens and realize that we are reacting.
This is what advertisers do all the time. They condition their market to associate pleasurable feelings with what they are selling. It is why they will associate cigarettes, with being cool, badass, sexy, independent, and desirable even when cigarettes have got nothing to do with that.
We can change our neuro-associations but to do that, we first need to ask ourselves what we want and decide that that is what we want. To change it, we usually have to have reached a point where we are fed up with what is and enough is enough. From then on, inner work can begin.
With it comes fear but we can deal with it. We then need to become persistent and stay consistent until we achieve our goal. When doing this, we may need to tweak and try this and that before finding what works for us