Thus within this all I am seeing there is still quite a process to be walked in order to really extinguish this behavior I’ve reinforced within and throughout my life, which has also been reinforced by my environment as the primary and actual beginning of my entire learning process within my formative years especially – this behavior of shaping myself into a limited form of myself most specifically when I am at the precipice of change, when a stimulus is introduced into my environment representing an opportunity to expand myself and take on more responsibility, I will instead of in one moment of breath moving myself within the opportunity/responsibility – hesitate – and oftentimes, due to this single moment of hesitation, I will accumulate many more moments of hesitation as accepting limitation and deliberately building up the eventual compounding point of giving up in reinforcing that ingrained belief that: ‘I can’t do it!”
Oftentimes we are reinforced by those in our environment – especially in our formative years – for merely trying, and so trying gets reinforced instead of doing. So then, within and throughout our life, we’ll be looking for that same/similar reinforcer before the task is complete, when we haven’t yet completed the task successfully - and if we don’t get some sort of reinforcement along the way which we’ve come to expect due to this reinforcement being delivered in the past, we tend to give up and state: ‘I can’t do it!’ – and this statement of ‘I can’t do it!’ in the past was perhaps reinforced as well by those in our environment. Perhaps ‘I can’t do it!’ was reinforced with attention, and that attention can either be positive or negative, but nonetheless – it’s attention, it’s adding a stimulus to the environment – and thus it reinforces whatever behavior we are participating in in that moment as it creates a pairing/relationship with the stimulus to our behavior.
Reinforcers are simply responses from the environment that increase the probability of a particular behavior being repeated. It could have been words of encouragement, or being scolded, or being coddled, or being given a treat to make us ‘feel better’ – either way, this behavior that is being emitted by for instance a parent is reinforcing the behavior or ‘trying’ in the child and so eventually the behavior of ‘I can’t do it!’ then becomes ingrained, making it predictable to occur in the future whenever a similar situation arises which requires the act of DOING, which can eventually accumulate to a point of ‘I can’t do it!’ before the task has even started, as in what I am referring to in terms of that moment of hesitation before the task has even been walked at all. Obviously if, from the very beginning, the reinforcement was withheld until the task was completed successfully, it would reinforce a different set of behaviors.
To be able to work with these such behaviors though, what we have to come to terms with first and foremost is the fact of our programming because here some may say: well, I don’t need reinforcement, I can do things all on my own without the need of any reinforcement. What is being missed here, though, is the fact that we are constantly and continuously being reinforced and controlled by our environment, both our internal environment as our biology and our external environment as our interaction and participation with the ‘outside world’ which is at all times giving us ‘cues’ on how to act, how to move, what to do, what not to do – and it ALL comes through conditioning, ever single last bit of it can be scientifically investigated and studied to trace back and extract the specific moments where conditioning occurred - and conditioning doesn’t even necessarily require to be reinforced, like I was mentioning in my previous post in relation to shaping. Particular behaviors may not be reinforced, or may stop being reinforced and thus will go through a process of extinction – yet that is still conditioning!
We really must lay to rest this tired argument of free will if we are ever going to move beyond our perceived self-importance to instead work together to change ourselves into ONE single organism that moves within and as the best interest of ALL. We already are one single organism, actually, yet we are in denial of this which has manifested massive separation and atrocity. Yet, it doesn’t so much matter that we are in denial, because if we deny the facts for long enough, soon enough the facts will deny us, and then we’re simply goners. So, it is through coming to terms with these facts that we’ll be able to take this programming and conditioning, really get to understand the mechanics of it, as ourselves, and so change the starting point as for eons of time this programming and conditioning has been used to the benefit of a few for malicious reasons based on power, control and domination at the expense of all life.
We have been reinforcing the behavior of those who we have allowed to ‘run this world’ by/through continuing to participate in this system which is obviously why it’s not stopping – we haven’t stopped. We haven’t walked the process of extinction through stopping the reinforcement of this behavior. We haven’t changed our behavior and our environment is a clear indication of this. Again, it’s predictable: reinforcers are responses from the environment that increase the probability of a particular behavior being repeated. We are responding to our environment through the continuation of participating in a system based on inequality and abuse and so we are predictably ensuring the probability of this particular behavior being repeated. It’s really simple mathematical common sense when it gets broken down and moreover when we let go of our self-interest and our idea of who we are and what this world is, so that we can get to really see things as they are.
Clearly if we don’t do this, if we don’t stop reinforcing behaviors both within ourselves and within this world that are not to the benefit of all, we’re not going to last much longer – more simple mathematics. And so, even within this point of reinforcements being withheld until the task is completed, that still is merely reinforcing a behavior yet not bringing a sense of ‘awareness’ so to speak to the behavior that is being reinforced in terms of ensuring that the individual that is being reinforced understands that the task in which they have completed is in alignment to what is best for ALL and not just being reinforced as a point of increasing the chances of survival and gaining power and recognition in this cut-throat competitive world we’ve created.
"Every new source from which man has increased his power on the earth has been used to diminish the prospects of his successors. All his progress has been made at the expense of damage to his environment which he cannot repair and could not foresee." ~ CD Darlington
"Whether or not he could have foreseen the damage, man must repair it or all is lost. And he can do it if he will recognize the nature of the difficulty...in short we need to make vast changes in human behavior, and we cannot make them with the help of nothing more that physics or biology, no matter how hard we try...it is not enough to 'use technology with a deeper understanding of human issues' or to 'dedicate technology to man's spiritual needs,' or to 'encourage technologists to look at human problems'...what we need is a technology of behavior...but a behavioral technology comparable in power and precision to physical and biological technology is lacking, and those who do not find the very possibility ridiculous are more likely to be frightened by it than reassured. That is how far we are from 'understanding human issues' in the sense in which physics and biology understand their fields, and how far we are from preventing the catastrophe towards which the world seems to be inexorably moving." ~ BF Skinner