Negative Feedback Loops


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“I used to be totally open and free pre-COVID. In the past few years, I’ve become progressively closed, reserved, and locked down. I don’t like it. My partner doesn’t like it and yet I seem to be unable to change it. What’s a girl to do?”

Well, first of all, you’ve got to surrender this belief that you can’t change it. Of course, you can change it. What’s happening though is you’re locked in what’s called a negative feedback loop. A negative feedback loop is I have negative thoughts, those negative thoughts are then reinforced by things I look at in the environment that I’m in. Those things then replicate themselves in my thoughts, which cause me to behave in ways that replicate and reinforce my thoughts.

So the way you break a negative feedback loop is one of two ways, you can act your way out of it. In other words, you can interrupt the negative feedback loop. It’s what we call a negative feedback loop pattern, where you go out and do something physically different. You say, “I used to be totally open and free. In the past two years, I’ve become progressively closed, reserved, and locked down.”

Let’s talk about locked down, no pun intended. What did you do pre-COVID that was evidence of the fact that you were free? Did you go dancing? Did you go work out more? Did you hang out with your friends more? What were the things that you did pre-COVID that were evidence of the fact that you were not locked down and do those things regardless of how you feel? If you used to go to happy hour with a girlfriend or a guy friend, then call them and go to happy hour, even if you don’t feel like it.

Here’s why. The brain will follow behavior. You can act your way, you can perform your way, you can behave your way out of that circumstance. Do the things that you used to do, and it will trigger a pattern interrupt of the negative feedback loop, which will get you on track. I don’t want you to think about going back to the way you were pre-COVID because most of us won’t. But I do think there’s a path forward that’s going to be helpful and useful for you. Pattern interrupts by behaving in ways that will interrupt that negative feedback loop.

Hope that’s helpful.

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