Savvy Therapy

The Ecology of Habit Formation

Over the past eight sessions we have reviewed the biopsychosocial model of dealing with any habit in a holistic way.   This is a review of the psychoeducation stage of the habit change process.  You may think that this bit is the boring bit but once you understand how you are constructed as an individual your can start to pinpoint where you need to make your efforts to change the habit you want to change.

The biology is the first element of the biopscyhosocial model where we discussed the prehistoric brain that we are born with.  This part of the mind contains the one emotion that we are born with which is fear.   It delivers huge amounts of hormones into the body when we feel fear to enable us to fight, flight, freeze, or fawn in response this is the physical stress.

We talked about the the social part of the biopsychosocial model which is your environmental learning system.  You learn from the adults around you when you are under the age of 7 years; and, in addition to adults, from the age of 7 years onwards you learn from peers and friends. You  also learn from one-off traumatic events that cause huge stress responses.   

The last but by far the biggest area is your psychology what goes on in your mind.  Most people think this is about just thoughts and emotions which lead to your action and behaviour: but there is more.   But underneath the thoughts and the emotions are your core:  this is  made up of your values, beliefs and your rules.   These all form what’s going on in your mind which leads to your actions and behaviours.

Finally, we also learnt about how the Habit system is built by repeatedly responding to an external cue; which leads to an internal urge; which prompts a physical response; which leads to a sense of satisfaction or pleasure – a reward.  This is the Habit formation system.

When you are thinking about your relationship with food it is not just the actions you need to change – eating different food or exercising more.  To achieve habit change that sticks you need to work on your core psychology of values, beliefs and rules.

Best wishes

Sheila Leahy

Snap up Success with Savvy Therapy