20 years ago it was a rare occurrence to know anyone with digestive issues other than the distress brought on by occasional over-eating or ingesting a bad shellfish. Now, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is so common that we can just say “IBS” and everyone knows what you are referring to. Colitis, Crohns’ disease, acid reflux, bloating, food intolerances, chronic constipation; these are all occurring in ever-increasing numbers, and the medical world has little to offer besides symptom-controlling medication.
For better or for worse, we are indeed creatures of habit. Our psyches like habitual behaviors because they require a lot less of our resources. There’s no need for the conscious brain to reprocess the same experiences over and over again and tell us how to handle them. Imagine if you had to learn the gear shift of a car every time you drove? Instead, the repeated activity starts to become more of a visceral reaction rather than a response that is chosen. When the habits are things like keeping your hands out of fire and brushing your teeth everyday, this mechanism is awesome! Unfortunately, it’s way less handy when we have learned distorted or defensive behaviors from experiences that were not so pleasant.