Conditioned Response, Habits, & Phobias | How to Change Them

Habits and phobias are formed through a conditioned response, which is a response that occurs automatically (subconsciously) after repeated pairing with an action. The response can be triggered by performing the action. There are many ways to break a habit and get rid of a phobia. While it may be difficult, it is possible if you are determined.

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2:30 – Breaking Habits & Eliminating Phobias

Table of Contents

    Introduction

    Hi everyone! This video is going to be about the conditioned response, habits, and phobias and how you can change and break them. Just what is a conditioned response, well essentially it is when we do things repeatedly, or something happens to us repeatedly, and it becomes part of us and how we think or act on a subconscious level. An association is formed. This is how our brains function.

    As a basic example, let’s say every time you went to a friend’s house, they would startle you when you would go around a corner. In response, you got scared, startled, and perhaps would jump back and your heart rate would increase. After repeated times of your friend scaring you around the corner, your reaction of becoming scared and jumping back with a faster heart rate becomes conditioned.

    So, every time you go around a corner, even when your friend is not around, even when you’re in your own house, you approach with caution, your heart rate starts to increase and you become scared. This is because your mind has formed a connection between going around corners and you being startled and scared. If it were to continue to get worse, it could develop into a phobia where you would be terrified to even go around any corner out of fear.

    This can work for both positive and negative feelings and memories. Such as people who have witnessed or experienced trauma, their mind forms an association between events that happened to them in the past, and how things are and will be in the present and future. That’s just how our brains function and work. It can work to your favor or against you.

    Habits also form from this as well since, let’s say for example you are a smoker. You started smoking because of the relief it provided from stress. After some time, this becomes conditioned in your mind. Your mind says, “I need to relieve stress. It’s time to smoke.” It’s used as a method to relieve stress. But, let’s say you want to quit. Well, you’ll going to find that it’s not so easy. This is because of how your mind is now programmed. It is a bad habit that needs to be broken. But, it will take some time to do so.


    Breaking Habits & Eliminating Phobias

    In order for you to effectively change a conditioned trait or habit, including phobias, you need to work from the source. You need to be consciously aware as to why you are doing this, what is causing this behavior, perhaps what you are getting out of it, and why you want to change it. As well as wanting to change it and believing you can change it. You cannot change something about yourself if you refuse to acknowledge it. Nor can you change it if you are not willing to. So, that is the first step, acknowledge and accept the problem, understand how it originated, and want to change it while believing in yourself.

    You may become aware a habit is forming before it fully becomes conditioned. If you do recognize this, you will need to stop it as soon as possible before the association forms. Early on, before it becomes a habit, it will be much easier to change. So see this as a positive sign. Regardless, here are some ways I have found that can help break and change a habit or phobia, no matter how long it has been with you.

    One way is the replace the habit with something positive. As with the example of being addicted to smoking, a good method of breaking it would be to find an alternative method to relieve the stress that is causing you to smoke. And over some time, your desire to smoke will lesson.

    You can’t necessarily get rid of it, but you can replace it. So, instead of doing something negative and bad for your health, you can channel that into something positive to give the same result. Your brain will not know the difference whatever method you take. Only you, consciously, will know the difference. It will offer the same end result for your brain. It may not be as enjoyable to you, consciously, but as I said, your brain will not know the difference. And, after some time the new trait becomes conditioned.

    Another method many people try that fail at is to keep trying over and over again. As with the example of smoking, this would mean all of a sudden stopping and resisting the urge to smoke. For a long time smoker, this just isn’t going to work. For the few people who are able to be determined enough and push through, and never cave in, yes this will work. It is an appropriate method. But, it’s really not worth all the effort since there are much easier solutions.

    Likewise, a similar example with a phobia would be a fear of dogs. Let’s say the person in question had a traumatic experience in the past with a dog and it scared them into developing this phobia. That is the basis for this fear and the first thing the person needs to do is realize that this is why they are afraid of dogs.

    For someone to get over this, they could be daring enough to just be around a dog while trying to remain as calm as possible. After they see nothing bad happened, the phobia would not simply just vanish. In order for the brain to realize dogs are no longer a threat, it would need to be repeated a set number of times. After several successful repeated attempts with the dog being around the individual with the phobia, and nothing bad happening, the person with the phobia will no longer have the fear of dogs.

    But, this rash method is not going to appeal to everyone since it is the most difficult. Instead, a better method would be to take it slowly, one step at a time. If this is more comfortable for you, then it will be more appealing. Start small and then gradually increase as you see fit. You have to be strict with yourself. Perhaps make a checklist of how you want to progress.

    With the example of the fear of dogs, if it is an intense fear, the first step could be for the individual to view images of dogs on the computer. Seeing the dogs could be triggering to them and bring back the negative emotions and memories. But, this is what we want here since it’s those negative emotions that need to be worked on and ironed out. When they are viewing the images they may see a vicious dog, even if no one else can see it. But, if they continue with this and see that the dogs cannot hurt them, that they are not dangerous after all, then things will slowly being to be set into motion.

    The next step would be to be in a room with a dog that is perhaps in a cage. There is no way the dog could get out. The person will slowly being to get over the phobia. Perhaps they could even pet the dog through the cage and realize that they dog is of no threat. And, the last step would be to let the dog out. Again, all these steps would be taken slowly at the pace of the individual with the phobia since rushing into matters may be counterproductive. But, you still have to be strict with yourself.

    However, there is a way that will greatly aid in your fight to break a habit and eliminating a phobia. This is hypnosis. I find hypnosis to be highly effective and has helped me overcome a lot. The best way of putting how effective it can be is that, when you want to change something about yourself, many people have a hard time being determined and patient. Your subconscious is where all the habits and traits reside and in order for you to change them, you need to change your subconscious. This is why things take some time to become conditioned. Because your conscious thoughts and actions need to soak through to your subconscious to properly change it.

    Think of it as a brick wall separating your conscious mind and you subconscious mind. When we try to change something, it’s like taking a hammer to this brick wall. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to gain access to the subconscious. But eventually, we can prevail if we are persistent enough, but the effort to get there is not even worth it if you learn how hypnosis works.

    Hypnosis is simply put as bypassing this wall entirely. You can go straight into your subconscious and change things about yourself, including habits and phobias. The amount of time and effort this will take is minuscule compared to if we tried to break down this brick wall with repeated attempts.

    How hypnosis would work then, when you are in a hypnotic state, and you are highly suggestible, you would use this to your advantage to impart positive affirmations and suggestions to your subconscious and it accepts them as true. So, if you want to stop smoking, you would use things like, “I enjoying being a non-smoker. I feel healthier when free of smoking.” Things like that. You don’t want to use any negative terms like, “I do not like smoking.” It should be positive and focused on your goals. Then, your subconscious mind will accept them as true and you would no longer be a smoker.

    All of these methods work for habits and phobias, even traumatic events that you want to be able to get over. These methods I find to be highly helpful and beneficial. The main principle to remember is that it takes time. Determination and patience is crucial. But, it is possible if you believe in yourself and keep at it. I hope this video was helpful and informative. Thanks for watching!

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    Notes

    I consider the conditioned response to be one of the core principals of psychology. It’s what makes us who we are. We were conditioned a certain way growing up and retain those ways of thinking as we age. However, not all the traits that we have conditioned are positive. Many times this leads to various bad habits and phobias that cause an individual a lot of anxiety.