Nervous System Pattern: The Biology, Physiology, Psychology and Origin of Neural Loops


Hey it’s Elisha, and welcome back to another conversation about something I call nervous system patterns. 

Today we’re doing a REWIND and going back to basics, because I want to make sure you understand exactly WHAT a nervous system pattern is and how they originate, because when you understand these two things…you can begin to identify and interrupt ANY pattern in your life that isn’t serving you even if it’s one I haven’t featured in this series.

First of all – the words NERVOUS SYSTEM PATTERN – that is my terminology, and to my knowledge no one else is using these words to describe what are often referred to as neural loops or more generally our “subconscious programming.”

The reason I believe “nervous system pattern” is the best thing to call these automated behaviors, is because they are learned by our bodies, by our physiological interpretation of certain events in childhood that led to the memorization of certain behaviors of thinking, feeling and action…

Nervous system patterns aren’t BAD. We all have nervous system patterns that allow us to walk, talk, get dressed, cook breakfast and drive to work everyday without having to really think about any of those things. Our biology memorized those actions for us, to free us up to put our attention on other things and save energy.

Learning uses a lot of energy, and if we had to re-learn how to stand up, walk or get dressed every day…we’d never leave the house.

The human nervous system is AMAZING this way.

Our bodies, via various neurological functions, are able to sense in great nuance every experience we have starting from day 1, interpreting and ascribing meaning to those experiences in order to make sense of ourselves, the people around us, our environment and our place in the world.

We learn social behaviors subconsciously at the nervous system level. We learn practical skills like talking and riding a bike, again – at the nervous system level. Then, we memorize useful patterns that help us move through life while expending as little energy as possible…so we can keep learning, growing and experiencing more.

Yet, most of us learn ways of being and behaving that were useful in childhood, but become obstacles to the life we’re trying to design for ourselves in adulthood. 

I have something really important to mention in today’s video that I haven’t addressed yet, that involves the saying Nature abhors a vacuum. We’re discovering that even vacuums and black holes are far from empty, but the point is – if we want to delete something from our physiology or subconscious psychology, we probably need to replace it with SOMETHING…otherwise, what takes its place?

In my own life and those of my clients and students, I’ve not seen anyone change a pattern that they simply do not want anymore.

We have to REPLACE the patterns we don’t find useful with one of our choosing or chances are we’ll keep repeating the ones we want gone. What we resist persists, but what we CHOOSE to focus on – expands.

And this speaks to something I’ve shared in another video recently – we are far more powerful when we pursue the freedom TO, rather than freedom FROM. 

If you want freedom FROM certain nervous system patterns and you seek only to erase them…you’re like a dog chasing its tail and you’re likely to get stuck in a rut of repeating patterns on loops while hating that you do this. 

Instead, think about pursuing the freedom TO…the freedom to run again, hike, have great relationships, know what your purpose is, trust people…etc.

And there is one MASTER PATTERN that I have adopted, which I will invite you to consider adopting at the end of this video. Rather than trying to replace all of my different patterns with different replacements, I’ve chosen to prioritize one master key to the kind of life I want…and so far it’s working out really well. I’ll share this at the end.

So what exactly IS a nervous system pattern?

Here’s what I believe:

When we encounter a specific trigger – like the contagious power of groupthink, or the choice between self-betrayal or speaking up and risking judgment or banishment from the tribe – it is our BODY that recognizes the trigger first, and the body is the first to respond at the sensory level. This is why it usually happens below the level of our awareness and we just ACT OUT the behaviors we’ve adopted that go along with the pattern. 

That’s how smart our bodies are. We SENSE something, that sensory perception is sent to the brain as a message, and the brain creates commands based on databases of previous life experiences, and this leads to our automated behaviors.

Remember me talking about the nervous system pattern of fear of rejection? You might be out and about and barely have time to register consciously that you find someone attractive, because your body has ALREADY figured out that you might be tempted to commit suicide by rejection.

For people who have this pattern, I would be willing to bet that you’ve been totally unaware of the number of times you’ve encountered attractive people – maybe you’ve even convinced yourself there AREN’T very many attractive people! – because your body has done such a good job of keeping you safe from rejection.

Our ability to SENSE other people and the world we live in is mind boggling.

Unfortunately, most people only sense the world unconsciously, and are thus driven by those subconscious drivers that always prioritize safety and survival over risk taking and thriving in life.

Your mission, should you wish to live fully awake, is to consciously engage with those very same senses…and you will be amazed how much there is to “know” about your own body, your psyche, other people – including their body and their psyche – and your world.

You can sense toxicity in your own lymph. You can sense when someone is trustworthy or not. You can sense anatomical variances that might make you prone to injury, and correct them before injury ever happens. You can sense whether the food you’re about to put in your mouth is contaminated with bacteria that might make you sick. 

You can SENSE a bear in the woods behind you…but, if you’re anything like me, you might LACK the sense in that nanosecond of decision making NOT to step onto a slippery rock, fall and twist your knee really badly. We win some, we lose some.

You can sense the difference between ACTUAL danger, and your own nervous system punking you into thinking you’re in danger…when you really aren’t, your nervous system has just been triggered by one of those childhood experiences of not feeling safe – physically, emotionally or socially.

When our bodies detect a familiar trigger, a physiological response is deployed as chemical messengers are sent to the brain that then cues us to behave in very specific and patterned ways.

Maybe we behave by getting defensive in a hard conversation with a loved one. Maybe we silence ourselves and dissociate. Maybe we go into fight mode, because that’s better than being a victim. Maybe we conform instead of standing out. Maybe we expect to feel hip pain, because that’s what we memorized at age 19 and continued to experience for 17 years after.

So here’s a bold statement from me – I believe we’re evolving BEYOND the nervous system.

I think humanity will eventually evolve to consciously create our physical experiences through “I” consciousness and how it can control our water, blood, muscles, heart, lymph, fascia etc., in addition to our thoughts, feelings, and our behaviors. 

More and more we are using our consciousness to direct our lives, and our bodies, in exceptional – even “miraculous” ways.

And this brings us to the MASTER nervous system pattern I mentioned earlier, and that is:

I believe we have available to us the ability to live in a near-constant or constant neuroplastic state. Like we did as children, except fully awake and conscious now as adults. 

This is the master pattern I’m adopting, to replace all of my old nervous system patterns. 

I’ve invited myself to live in acceptance of uncertainty at all times; in newness and novelty; in learning, curiosity, play, reverence and revelry.

And I’ve begun to believe that this is possible for myself this lifetime – to live as an adult with the neuroplasticity of a child. To retain what I’ve learned without allowing certainty to calcify my consciousness or my body.

Revelry seems like the best word to describe this pattern: I revel in every sensation, even what most people would call pain. I revel in every emotion. I revel in hearing birdsong every day, as if hearing for the first time.

I revel in the food I eat, as if I’m tasting food for the first time. In this state of wonderment about the mystery of life, I am open to every possibility – which means I’m CLOSED to nothing, which means I no longer need a single nervous system pattern to protect me from possible danger…except maybe, a bear. Although I’d be willing to bet I wouldn’t have taken that step into the river or twisted my knee, if I’d simply REVELED in making brief eye contact with the bear and then adjusted my nervous system to reverence and awe, instead of fear and fight or flight in my case.

Safety isn’t part of my vocabulary anymore, unless I’m teaching about it. I don’t think seeking safety leads to thriving, for any of us. No matter how traumatized we are at the nervous system level. 

Safety is for people who want to survive life. And I want to LIVE as fully and as freely as I can. Instead of seeking safety, I seek solitude, presence, quiet, attunement, moments of peace, awe, stillness…safety, for me anyway, has no place in those experiences.

Please don’t mistake this to mean I’ve embraced stupidity or intend to jump off a cliff just to see how flying feels. That’s not the kind of freedom I’m referring to.

I mean the freedom to consciously direct our bodies and our lives…and through what I sense is possible for me this lifetime, I do believe humanity as a whole will eventually evolve BEYOND the nervous system altogether.

When we no longer operate our bodies and lives subconsciously, but instead do so fully conscious – the nervous system will die.

And this brings us to my final thoughts as we close out this series:

I hope, throughout this series, that you’ve realized just how powerful our BODIES are when it comes to dictating how we think, feel and will. 

Personally, I believe it’s FAR FASTER to interrupt these patterns and create new ones by going through the body…rather than the mind. 

Even though we’re talking so much about subconscious PSYCHOLOGY, the fact is…these patterns were created mostly by our BODIES when we were too young to think consciously, like we can as adults. 

So let me be clear: there are LOT of people out there right now teaching you to mind over matter your body, to focus on using your MIND to create a body and life you love, and some of these well intentioned people are suggesting that your body is LYING TO YOU by giving you anxiety, or the negative thought spirals or the chronic physical pain causing you intold suffering. 

People have compared me to some of these other people, and this always baffles and horrifies me…causing me to pause and consider how I’m delivering this message. 

Because what I’m ACTUALLY suggesting through all of this is that we HONOR what our bodies are telling us; that we HONOR what our BRILLIANT incredibly intelligent bodies have done to help us survive childhoods that were either less than ideal or perhaps totally abusive and traumatizing; I’m suggesting that WE get out of the way, that WE stop trying to think our way out of feelings and behaviors that were created honorably, intelligently, by a part of us that is wiser than our egoic monkey minds will ever be. 

When you honor your body for all the ways it helped you survive, and you offer gratitude to your body and then choose to consciously create a new future together…you and your body will go into that future fully awake, SENSES lit up and turned on, able to know and understand so much more than anyone trying to use their minds to dominate their bodies. 

So in case this hasn’t been clear:

I believe that trying to change our nervous system patterns primarily through affirmations, positive thinking, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, decision making etc…it’s really an uphill battle because physiology still rules us from a survival standpoint. Not until we reject the idea of survival and consciously choose to live in the present moment at all times – NO MATTER HOW UNCOMFORTABLE OR PAINFUL THE JOURNEY – will we move beyond nervous system patterns. 

Only when we EMBRACE pain as an important messenger and honor it as such…will we interrupt those nervous system patterns.

So for now, this is how to think about changing your own nervous system patterns – when you change these physical neural pathways at the physical neural pathway level – you create change FAST.

This is because you’re going FROM the body, which is the way we SENSE ourselves, our bodies and the world, you’re going FROM the body BACK TO the brain, which is how a nervous system pattern happens in the first place. My personal philosophy on the human brain is that it’s a really magnificent processing center, but it’s NOT the driver – we are. Our consciousness is. Which no one has ever proven actually LIVES in the brain. The brain is part of the body, and the body houses the entirety of the brain’s sensory gathering apparatus – the central and peripheral nervous systems, enteric nervous system, immune system etc.

So you can use movement, breathwork, cold or hot immersion, anything physical is more efficient than trying to use your mind.

But in my experience, there’s nothing more potent than fascia release. Especially Kinetix. I developed Kinetix into a method that intentionally triggers nervous system patterns in order to rewire our bodies physiologically, and sometimes very rapidly.

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