Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Repetition. Learning. Conditioning.
Simple fact: The more you repeat something, the more automatic it becomes, whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of it or not. This applies to almost everything in life. Whether its on a small or large scale, it all comes down to the same thing simply because this is the way we are wired. The human body learns through repetition and this is a type of conditioning.
Repeat bicep curls on a daily basis, you will get better and more efficient at this movement. Soon you will be able to lift heavier weights. Stimulating and activating these muscle fibers on a regular basis, creates growth that you can actually see with your own eyes. Repeat going to bed and waking up at the same time, you will get better and more efficient at sleeping. Soon you will be able to have deeper sleeps. Training your body for regular sleep times, allows your body to get better at sleeping. It essentially learns sleep. Repeat anger every time you are in traffic, you will get better at being angry when your car is stopped behind another. Repeat having chips every time you come home from work, you get better at craving chips every time you walk in the door. And so on and so on....
Professional athletes train for hours on end. They are not only training their muscles and cardiovascular system, they are also training their central and peripheral nervous systems. Think about it... the tennis player swings the racket 23403298409 times, the trail runner trips on various tree roots and rocks almost every outing, the goalie blocks and misses thousands of pucks. The more we repeat, the more we define and fine tune our patterns and the more efficient we become. I've mentioned this in a previous post, but I would like to reiterate that the beginning is always the most challenging part (something I learned from "Atomic Habits") simply because there is no pattern recognition at the start which takes more energy to create.
If you are someone who has never really jogged before, going from 0 km to 5 km, is a lot more challenging that someone who runs all the time and goes from 10 km to 15 km, but they too, had to start from 0km at one point.
When an elderly falls and fractures a hip, this can be the start of a downward cycle. Not only does the bed rest cause muscle atrophy, but even the vestibular (aka our balance system) can deteriorate. It is not uncommon for someone recovering from injury to lose their sense of where they are in space. What's interesting to note in this example, is that during our day to day walking around, we are constantly training our vestibular system, something we may not realize we are doing until you see someone that has been in bed for several days or weeks. This is an example of unlearning. After injury, we must challenge and retrain balance using repetition in order for the nervous system to get back on track. If you are young and in shape, this will come easier. If you are older and less mobile, this will take longer simply because there is less of a foundation to start with.
People living in pain beyond tissue healing is another example of learning through repetition. The more often the nervous system perceives danger, the stronger and more efficient the pain system becomes. With time and repeated thoughts and behaviors, the body learns and gets really good at producing pain, just like the tennis player becomes really good at hitting that ball.
If want to do something new, if you want to think a different way, if you want to improve or change in any area of your life, this is always and totally 100% possible.
You know what they say... practice makes permanent. Except I would like to say, semi-permanent because our central nervous system is plastic and can change depending on its inputs. We can learn and unlearn whatever we would like because the human body is an AMAZING gift.
First, be aware.
Second, feed with repetitions or if you would like to unlearn, replace old with new repetition. Third be patient with yourself because you deserve it.