If you’ve worked with sound systems, or you’ve been to a rock concert, then you’ve experienced positive feedback loops. Positive feedback loops occur when a frequency that is in the sound system gets amplified and is picked up by a microphone a second time, re-amplified, and projected back out by the speakers. This situation results in a continual cycle, often leading to an exponential growth of sound, resulting in the system screaming.
We ended last week’s blog by promising to delve into how our community–who we participate in activities with–affect our wellness. We said that different groups will either maximize our strengths and limit our vices, or vice versa. In this regard, community can be like a feedback loop, where our strengths or weaknesses are the things that exponentially spike, rather than an audio frequency.
Consider how community affects your resting, eating, exercising, and relationship with mood altering substances. As things stand, you, all alone, have an array of strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you find it easy to motivate yourself to exercise, but you struggle to exercise control with food or drink. These strengths and weaknesses are amplified in certain groups.
Those struggling with drug addiction often find that they have to change their friends. Too often, a person works to get clean only to relapse when he falls back in with a certain group of friends. In more mundane cases, do you find it difficult to eat healthy and exercise when you are around certain family and friends? Maybe they just don’t exercise restraint when it comes to holiday desserts, or maybe their schedules don’t encourage proper exercise and rest. These groups are unhealthy feedback loops.
We aren’t saying to completely abandon certain groups (though in extreme cases, that might be what you need to do!); rather, we want to encourage you to look for groups that will create a healthy feedback loop with you. Maybe you have a health goal and you are willing to work for it, but by yourself, you are tempted to give up or not push through the hard days.This is why it often helps to find a good workout partner or group; it’s also effective to make dietary changes with someone instead of alone. If you want to stop snacking between meals but everyone else is snacking between meals in front of you, even someone with a will of steel will struggle in that scenario.
There is also the issue of what to do with a group that you cannot change and which makes healthy decisions harder for you. If you are in such a group, don’t give in to the easy temptation that you are a product of your environment and you cannot make a change because of your group. You do not have to let your circumstances dictate your wellness decisions. Commit this week to having a stronger will in some small way; walk past the candy jar once and don’t touch it. Remember, Rome didn’t fall in a day!