Genetics And Experience

Genetics and experience

Human beings can seem tremendously complicated when it comes to our emotional world.

More or less frequently We go through a wide variety of states that range from the most overwhelming anxiety to the deepest sadness

However, if we look at ourselves with a broad and transversal vision we can say that we are fundamentally two things: genetics and experience.

The influence of genes and learning

We come into this world with a genetic load that we did not choose and that accompanies us throughout our journey This inherited temperament defines the intensity with which we react to different experiences during life.

There are people who carry with them a nervous system that resembles a German highway on which there is no speed limit and on which you can drive at 200 km per hour, and people with a nervous system that reacts like a car on a highway. regional road on which, except on a long straight line, you will not travel at more than 80 km per hour.

The same objective experience, therefore, can be lived with a very different emotional reactivity depending on the genetics carried by each individual.

On the other hand we have the experiential part. Beyond genetics, our identity, our self, will be configured throughout our entire life, adding experiences that will interact with that inherited temperament The experiences we live may also be of two types: Emotionally regulatory or deregulatory.

Of special relevance will be the relationship experiences lived in the first years of life and especially those that have to do with the interaction with attachment figures (father, mother or main caregiver).

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These first experiences will place our emotional system at a base activation level from which we will begin to experience the environment.

If the environment is experienced from a regulated level of physiological-emotional activation, the world will be a place safe enough to be explored. On the contrary, if from our earliest childhood, a level of alert is installed in us, the world will be a threatening environment in which we will have to protect ourselves so as not to suffer. This management of suffering is shown as a maxim in our emotional survival

Distress

Distress reduction strategies

Human brains are programmed to reduce anxiety and seek well-being, in such a way that if throughout our history we were unlucky enough to live some “bad experiences” or many of them, almost certainly, our mind developed one. or several defense mechanisms to find the regulation that the environment did not allow us to achieve

To deal with suffering, there are brains that develop avoidance defenses and their alertness seeks at all times not to contact what distresses them, others that develop control defenses and dream of dominating and planning the entire environment, becoming frustrated at every moment with the harsh reality in which almost nothing is controllable. Other brains use drugs to find regulation and some brains even develop a tool called dissociation with which they leave out of the life experience one or several memories or even entire parts of one’s identity.

Many professionals who address the emotional worlds of their patients in their consultations think that the essence of suffering and therefore the achievement of well-being lies in the specific experiences that these people lived in the past and their echo or resonance in their present moment. .

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I would contribute here a change of perspective that I think may make sense with what was stated in the previous lines: We should not give excessive importance to what was specifically experienced but rather to those mechanisms that were created to manage the pain and that they were the only ones that each of us could find to emotionally survive our own story.

It is these tools that we continue to use today and it is with them that our emotional mind deceives itself into believing that we are the person we were when the distress-generating events occurred, and canceling other types of regulatory tools that we can put at our disposal. disposition in our current moment.

In order to have all our regulatory potential, clinical experience tells us that It is important, among others, to develop the ability to be aware of ourselves of our history and our resources, in addition to looking at ourselves with the acceptance and compassion of someone who knows that they are the child of their history and that they did not have the opportunity to choose much of it, that this same history is in constant interaction with their temperament has bequeathed its strengths and weaknesses, all of them human, enriching and worth living.

Author: Arturo Lecumberri Martínez, General Health Psychologist and member of Vitaliza.