Your choices and emotions shape your experiences. Your identity makes your choices and has your reactions. Your memories, experiences, and associations shape the neural patterns in your brain that correlate with your cognitive associations. Over time we each develop a neural network, an overall pattern of connections and associations that form between neurons in the brain. So our choices and experiences shape our physical neural map, and our neural map shapes future choices. Our psychological sense of self and identity forms out of these patterns, both physically and psychologically speaking. Does that mean we are doomed to continue and reinforce the same patterns and make the same mistakes repeatedly? No. If you step out of your routines and bad habits, and repeatedly make the conscious effort to change your patterns of behavior, you can actually alter your neural network, and therefore alter your associations and reactions in the future.[i] In time, the new pattern is reinforced. So you can decide to change who you are on a neurological level.

“Who is in the driver’s seat when we control our emotions or when we respond to our emotions? We know physiologically that nerve cells that fire together wire together, if you practice something over and over again, those nerve cells have a long-term relationship. If you get angry on a daily basis, if you get frustrated on a daily basis, … you’re rewiring and reintegrating that neural net on a daily basis. And that neural net now has a long-term relationship with all the other nerve cells called an identity.”


“We also know that nerve cells that don’t fire together no longer wire together. They lose their long-term relationship because every time we interrupt the thought process that produces a chemical response in the body, … then we are no longer the body-mind conscious emotional person that’s responding to its environment as if it is automatic.”


“We disappear. I don’t mean that we physically disappear. What I mean is that we move out of the area of the brain that has to do with our personality, that has to do with our associating to people or associating to places, or associating to things and times and events. We don’t exist in the associative centers in our brain that reaffirms our identity, reaffirms our personality.”


“We are in completely new territory in our brain. And because we are in completely new territory, we are viewing the brain literally reconnecting to a new concept. Then, ultimately, it changes us from the inside out. If I change my mind, will I change my choices? If I change my choices, will my life change? Why can’t I change what I am addicted to? What will I lose that I am chemically attracted to? And what person, place, thing, time or event that I’m chemically attracted to, that I don’t want to lose because I might experience the chemical withdrawal from that. Hence, the human drama.”

– Dr. Joseph Dispenza, D.C.  [ii]



The last excerpt suggests that we are “addicted” to certain situations and emotions. That is part of why they keep repeating. Chemically, hormones and neurotransmitters are drugs. In fact, many man-made drugs are designed to mimic those chemicals.[iii] So it is not implausible to imagine that a person could develop an addiction to a situation that is associated with a given neurotransmitter, and therefore suffering withdrawal with trying to avoid that situation. However, like any addiction, if you repeatedly resist the urge, over time it weakens as the connection is rewired. The overall message is that there are physiological reasons why old habits are hard to break, but these are not permanent. If you repeatedly replace an old pattern with a new one the biology will eventually follow.


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“There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” – The Buddha


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[i] Begley, Sharon. (2007, July 2-9). When does your brain stop making new neurons? Newsweek. 62-65.


[ii] Quoted from the movie What the Bleep do we know?! (2004), a movie concerning quantum physics and the line between perception and reality. All of the quoted material is by Dr. Joseph Dispenza, D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractics), who has studied biochemistry, neurology, neurophysiology, and brain function.



[iii] Sejnowski, Terrence (n.d.) How do we predict the future: Brains, rewards and addiction, Study Guide. Retrieved August 2, 2007, from Regents of the University of California, Grey Matters: From molecules to mind Web Site:


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