Repetition is in our nature. Every single learning, whether positive or negative, is the result of repetitions. But as we have learned to implement some behaviors, you can learn new ones so you will not be always committed to the same mistakes.
More or less, each of us tends to repeat the same mistakes. Whether it is the choice of a partner or the way to intervene during a discussion, in our daily life we can observe a certain tendency to repeat some behaviors. Almost it was a script already written, where it does not seem to be possible to get out of the role that we have been assigned to, whether unwilling or unworthy.
But why do we continue to repeat the same behaviors? It seems to be stronger than us: when we are in some situations it is as if we are going to automatically revive them as we did in the past. As a result, the same sequences are always staged with the inevitable reproach of our inner director.
Yeah, because not only do we tend to make the same mistakes whenever we can, in addition, when we notice it, we complete the sequence with a good deal of auto improve. They often have even worse effects than just repeating error.
Why are we subjected to these painful repetitions? What prevents us from breaking the spell?
Whether we like it or not, human being is a highly repetitive being. Simply, we work this way. As much as we like to consider ourselves as “no patterns” and never trivial, repetition is still part of us.
We also think of the small routines that each of us has in our daily lives. For example, each of us (including myself) can easily identify the succession of different behaviors that are triggered by awakening. Coffee, breakfast, bathroom, shower, etc.: each one’s combination, but the constant is that we put this routine systematically every morning (maybe for some, with the exception of the weekend!).
Clearly, there are those who are more attached to these small or big rituals and who it is to a lesser degree, but in essence, we are all automatically brought to repeat some gestures. To put it all, rather than “attachment” to these repetitions, it would actually be the case to talk about “rigidity”. As we will see, in fact, often the problem is not in the routines, but in our difficulty in doing so.
The morning routine may sound trivial and not significant, but it is still a small clue as to how our brain really works.
Different brain circuits, or neuron networks (the cells of our brain), for example, develop for repetition. When a certain combination of cells activates several times, the circuit strengthens and stabilizes; On the contrary, if there is no constant activation, this structure will slowly lose strength until it extinguishes.
In a nutshell, when we repeat a behavior, the brain structures dedicated to that function will become more solid and will be activated more easily. Conversely, if we are no longer doing some action, so no longer soliciting that particular circuit, over time this will weaken and disappear from the “map” of our brain.
An analogy I really like is with older vinyl records. Repeat an action is like digging a hole in the disk. If the turntable’s pin goes to that hole, that will be the music that will be played. The furthest the furrow, the more difficult it is to get out.
Repetition = Learning
That said may seem like a bad thing, but it is actually thanks to these mechanisms of repetition that we learn to do what we know to do. Think, for example, of the boring piano exercises in which we always repeat the same musical scale. What if we apply them every day, consistently, to these exercises?
The day will come when the brain circuits linked to hand movement, the anticipation of the next note and many more, will be developed and reinforced, and we will perform that same scale with great security and precision, without even concentrating on the movements to be made or on the keys to play.
So, repeating is useful to learn something until the brain is able to do it automatically … that is, without thinking about it.
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