Dissolving The Anxiety & Stress Pattern-Matching Process

This short extract explains perfectly how the brain, mind, nervous system and subsequent emoitons can create a loop, often an unconcious one which can keep us reacting to external events, situations and people in negative familiar and predictable ways.


The below excerpt is from “Transforming Anxiety. The HearthMath Solution For Overcoming Fear and Worry and Creating Serenity” Doc Childre & Deborah Rozman. Ph.D.


“Emotional sensations and experience result from the ongoing interaction between your heart, brain, nervous and hormonal systems (McCraty 2003). The brain develops familiar patterns of emotional experience and looks for similarities, differences, and relationships between patterns. Dr Karl Pribram, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry and head of the Neuropsychological laboratory at Stanford University, was the first to propose that the brain functions as a complex pattern-identification and matching system (Pribram and Melges 1969). In his model of emotions, past experience builds a set of familiar patterns, which become imprinted in your neural architecture.

Patterns of rhythmic activity within the body also provide input to the brain. This input forms the backdrop of emotional experience. These patterns include the heart’s rhythmic beating pattern; respiratory, digestive, and hormonal rhythms; and patterns of muscular tension, particularly facial expressions. The brain continuously monitors these inputs in order to help organise perception, cognition, feeling, and behaviour. Recurring patterns form a reference pattern against which input patterns are compared.

When the brain finds a pattern that matches the reference pattern, it processes the experience as familiar, and it then triggers thoughts, feelings, and physical responses to reinforce the familiar – even if the pattern is dysfunctional. This is called maladapted pattern. For example, if you worry a lot, then worrying can become so familiar to your body that when you’re not worrying or anxious you feel uncomfortable. Once worry or anxiety becomes the familiar reference pattern, the brain keeps defaulting to anxious feelings and thoughts as the path of least resistance. This is how habits are formed. The brain considers the familiar to be more comfortable, no matter how irrational it may be. The brain automatically strives to maintain a match with mental, emotional, and physical anxiety responses and habits, despite their detrimental impact on health, well-being, or behaviour. Without effective intervention, anxiety can become self perpetuating and self reinforcing.

Establishing New Patterns.

The way to interrupted this cycle is to introduce dynamic new patterns and to reinforce them until they become familiar, thus establishing a new reference pattern. Once a new reference pattern becomes stabilised, your system will strive to maintain a match with this new baseline (McCraty 2006). This is the goal of most therapies, and this is the goal of HeartMath techniques as well, although the HeartMath model involves a system often overlooked by others; the heart.”


If you would like to learn the HeartMath Model containing techniques for quick and easy emotional self-regulation that can dissolve your stress, fear, worry and anxiety pattern-matching system, contact Nick HERE. Individual and small group programs available.