by Diane Brandon

Page 2 of 6

             Why is it even important to know this?  Because, if we want to be the best we can be and live the most fulfilling life possible, it’s necessary to explore and know all parts of ourselves.  And, furthermore, there are both great riches and potential pitfalls within us, lying outside our normal view, and we can be driven by unconscious motivators or miss out on potential treasures.  If we truly want to be in the driver’s seat of our lives, then acquainting ourselves with these negative motivators and removing their “sting” and potency is de rigueur.  And, certainly, using potential bounty within us only adds to our ability to do and accomplish, as well as to feel fulfilled.

             What’s the mechanism behind these less-than-positive motivators – our “stuff,” as we commonly refer to it?  Think of them as our fears, prejudices, and dislikes.  They’re formed by negative experiences that we’ve had over the years.  The way our brain works is by association.  To put it another way, our brain is associative.  Any experience we have is composed of a myriad of stimuli – what we see, hear, smell, feel, the ambient temperature, what and who else are present during the experience, etc.  Let’s say we’ve had a very negative or painful experience and at the peak of that trauma a cat screeched.  Because our brain is associative, all the stimuli of that experience are laid down together and interconnected.  As a result, over the subsequent years every time we hear a cat screech or even meow, we may freeze, panic, feel instantly fearful, or be enraged.  I’m using a negative experience as an example, but the same is true of positive experiences, such as the one Marcel Proust wrote about in A La Recherche du temps perdu when the smell and taste of a madeleine cookie immersed in tea elicited feelings of love.

             It’s obvious from this mechanism that our behavior can be shaped in a negative fashion by what we experienced in the past and patterns that formed and are still viable within us.



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