Patterns of Recognition:
Our brain builds patterns as we learn and our brain looks for patterns in order to learn. Some of our learning is known as conditioning. Conditioning we receive from a range of sociological, environmental and familial influences. Some of our learning is more primal; we learn quickly to locate the source of fulfillment of basic needs such as shelter, food and warmth. Other sources of learning are self-directed; we identify the gaps between the ideal and the actual self (Goleman, Boyatzis) and take steps to follow our interests and passions and pursue knowledge in order to gain understanding and expertise.
As an event, situation or symbol of communication is repeated or re-occurs, neural networks fire and pathways connect. Over time some become indelible and stay close to the surface while others recede into lower levels of our awareness. These levels are referred to, as levels of consciousness or levels of awareness. Patterns that form over time that have moved down or situated themselves in lower levels of consciousness inform what we call habits. As humans we develop habitual thinking and habitual behaviour. One central reason this occurs is that habits tend to create familiarity, familiarity tends to create security and security tends to create comfort.
The upside of habits is that they create predictability; we can be reasonably sure that things will go as planned. The motor skills for driving a car for example (pun intended), are habitual and reliable; we’re assured of our ability to repeat these motor skills and this offers us re-assurance and a sense of confidence. The downside of these habits is that they can cause us to exclude input that might be beneficial to us. Beneficial from an evolutionary perspective and from the perspective of our wellbeing.