December 2, 2021 - Learned vs Unlearned

Everything we do in life is rather habitual to one degree or another. A chemical in our brains gets released and our brains remember where we were and when it was released. So, next time when we are in that same place and in that same time, our brains go ahead and release that chemical again. Usually, that chemical is Dopamine. This is very interesting to me.

So, let's say you get hungry. Well how exactly does your body know? Because your brain releases Dopamine telling you to fill your stomach with nutrients. Then when we fill our stomachs with extra stuff we don't need, like sugar, then the brain remembers that. So next time when we're hungry, the brain releases an extra amount of Dopamine for that additional sugary goodness that it received before. Then, next time, it releases even more Dopamine, and so on. That's how an addiction to sugar starts....because our brain releases extra Dopamine signaling to our bodies to give it sugar. Ever heard of a midnight snack? The brain remembers. The release of Dopamine is so strong, our bodies think it must be important, right?

Dopamine is considered the pleasure chemical. Pleasure in the sense that we have a need and Dopamine signals our body to fill that need. When we're cold, Dopamine tells the body to cover up and get warm. Granted, this chemical release is minimal in this case but you can see how this can get out of hand when we need to fill some need.

Like Pavlov's dogs, who associated eating a treat with the sound of a bell, these conditions are learned. Do this enough times and the body starts to react or anticipate that "treat" when a bell sounds. So, the dogs started salivating when a bell sounded. Not so well known is how Pavlov reversed this with his dogs....he unconditioned them to expect a treat when a bell sounded. I'm sure those dogs were a bit angry at first but the point is every learned condition can be unlearned.

This mortal life is full of learned conditions that we wade though. The trick is to be self-aware enough to recognize that learned condition. Some learned conditions are harmless in terms of spiritual death but we are still subject to body over spirit. Some learned conditions can destroy lives here in mortality and spiritual lives after this life. So some are obviously more important than others but, again, every learned condition can be unlearned.

When we begin to understand there is a physiological response behind our habits, not just Satan and his minions trying to throw us off, we become better aware at what's going on and it becomes easier as we unlearn that behavior. It isn't easy but it gets easier as we condition ourselves to acknowledge the treat but do not indulge in it each time we hear a bell sound.

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