Learning by Association – Good or Bad?

Travelling on my boat has been quite a learning curve. Steering a widebeam narrow boat past other boats and pulling 23 tons of steel into the bank to moor up, by ropes, being the biggest.

When boaters travel without a permanent mooring, we have to move our craft every 2 weeks (or less). This is to allow spaces for others and generally create movement for all of us along the waterways.

When I have moved the boat to a new mooring, I often find myself on an errand, cycling back along a stretch of canal that was previously my home for 2 weeks.

I have noticed when approaching the familiarity of an old mooring, how I expect to see my boat and the boat/s that has been moored next to me, the person and their dog for example, but of course they are no longer there – they moved on as I did. Yet the impression of how it was before is so strong in my mind, I believe it to still be there! I'm ready for it! The image of how it was in the past is so strong in my minds eye.

I have recognised from this just how much we learn by association and how we must be holding onto realities that no longer exist!

This is partly why it is hard to consciously break old habits, old beliefs.

Yet life moves on. All is in constant change and we would do well to keep up, not holding fast to worn out, irrelevant ideas. To be able to refresh the mind and see clearly the truth that is in front of us today. Or even just to know that all is changing and will change, would be helpful.

Maybe this is more prevalent with me because I am very visual in mind and memory. I never forget a face or a place. But what has stuck me is the belief that things are the same, like they are set in stone. This is helpful for some things but not if you are living in a changing environment. The learning was helpful when I needed to find my way back to the boat last week but not now the boat's in a different place!

Could this learning have helped me to have form wrong impressions in my mind about other things, in relationships, perhaps? First impressions count. I can believe it.

We make our mind up in an instant and take the learning from it. But that person we judged might have been having an off day or we assumed wrongly what was actually going on. Now we have marked them as difficult going forward, they don’t stand a chance of being viewed in a better light!

I looked up the definition for ‘Learning by Association’, in psychology and found this:

‘In the early part of the 20th century, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) was studying the digestive system of dogs when he noticed an interesting behavioural phenomenon: The dogs began to salivate when the lab technicians who normally fed them entered the room, even though the dogs had not yet received any food. Pavlov realized that the dogs were salivating because they knew that they were about to be fed; the dogs had begun to associate the arrival of the technicians with the food that soon followed their appearance in the room.’

I believe there is far more than this to it. The world we create in our minds is based on experiences and so much of this is out dated. Before we have had actual experiences ourselves, we are learning from parents / those around us about their experiences, which aren’t even ours. Some useful, some not!

This back log of a stored learning causes us to be stuck in our thinking, holding onto limiting beliefs, not able to see what is possible ahead. If we have struggled in one area of our lives, we will have learned what is not possible. We may have accepted this as truth. So even if we want to change something with all our heart and endeavour to do so, there will be all these negative associations, made up of past experiences from which we formed limiting beliefs.

I believe it can help us to see outside the box of beliefs we have created, through the view of another person (it certainly has helped me having sessions with a colleague to get clearer on my own blocks to change). Or from trying again and finding the experience is different this time. Sometimes we find ourselves too stuck to try. If this is the case, we can use the power of our minds to imagine how things could be different, to allow ourselves a wider view of the possibilities available to us and ahead of us in time.

This is why I love ‘ visualising the goal’  we are aiming for in Integrated healing consultations (imagining isn't always visual - don't worry if you are not). This allows us to play with new ideas, to experience, using our imagination, what it might be like if it were actually possible; the new career, the relationship, the calm assertive way of being. By seeing, hearing, feeling into it.

It is helpful to supported by someone who can see the possibilities for you, who is not blind sighted by your negative beliefs. Who can lead you out of the dark.

There are many techniques I can share with you to help you through limited thinking and energetic blocks. If you are interested in us working together, do contact me for an initial chat, without obligation.

Tabitha x

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