A Leopard Can Change Its Spots

Science has come so far in recent times, and advancements seem to be accelerating with regard to genetics and in the area of interest to me, cognitive and neuroscience.

From adversity comes learning. Emergency surgery made huge leaps in the 1st and 2nd World Wars, a lot was learned about knee surgery during the civil unrest in Northern Ireland, and studies of head injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents before crash helmets became compulsory all added to these advancements.

Now we are learning more without the need for adverse situations. Technology now enables science to do things it was never previously thought possible.

My particular interest is in suicide, not a macabre interest, it's about how to prevent the emotional response that some of us suffer(ed). As a consequence of my research, I was interested to learn that we are not as bound by genetics as we once thought we might have been.

Some of it has to do with habits, worry is an example. We know that worry is partially hereditary (genetic), some of it is learned behaviour from our prominent caregiver in our formative years, and the remainder is from habit.

None of us can change the first influencer, (yet) psychology can help with understanding and changing our formative structural influencer, but all of us can change a habit. And a lot of worry is often a habit we have got into. 

Because our brain is wired negatively (a generalisation but one that seems appropriate here) we often think negatively about a situation and begin to worry about it. There are a few tricks that might help you if you are prone to worry.

The first is a bit painful. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and when you catch yourself having a negative thought flick the rubber band on the inside of your wrist which will cause a sharp pain to go to your brain. This soon stops most bad habits.

Another thing that you can do is to write out the issue that you are worried about. When we write something down we tend to disengage the emotional brain and engage the logic brain. We should never write down an emotion unless it is a positive one as writing something down can lodge it into your subconscious.

It takes 60 to 80 days to change a habit so persevere with your new habit. You will notice a change within 21 days. You cannot change a habit in such a short period as this but a difference will be apparent.

Other ways to stop worrying include;

·        Talk about your problem with someone

·        Do things that make you uncomfortable so that you get used to knew things

·        Sit and think about what it is about the issue that you are worried about

·        Remember that 90 % of what we worry about never eventuates

·        Take it to the extreme - what is the very worst that can happen

A leopard can change its spots, it just depends on the way it does so.