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How Events Trigger Emotion and Set off the Behavior Cycle to Connect the Body and Mind to Break it

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How events trigger emotion and set off the behavior cycle to connect the body and mind to break it


The behavioral cycle is the reason why we think, feel, and behave the way we do on a daily basis. A new or unexpected event has the power to trigger emotion, and whether that is positive or negative, it will influence our view of ourselves, our lives, and the world.

But how can an event trigger an emotion that leads to depression? And how do we avoid or break that cycle? This article will tell you everything you need to know.

1 - What is a Behavioral Cycle?

Every person's behavior is influenced by both their thoughts and beliefs as well as their emotions and feelings. We always have a motive for what we do; things don't just happen for no apparent reason.

Events or circumstances trigger emotion, a cumulation of feelings and a train of thoughts—which causes a person to react in a specific way. That behavior drives an outcome, which will create a new circumstance.

The new event produces additional thoughts and feelings, leading to yet another behavior, and so on and so forth. This is what we call the behavioral cycle, a series of six elements that follow each other up in a continuous loop .

a) The six elements of the behavioral cycle are:

Event: An occasion or circumstance sets off the behavioral cycle. An unfortunate phone call, or running into someone who makes unpleasant memories come to mind are all examples of events that can trigger emotion and set off a certain behavioral cycle.

Trigger: This event initiates or starts a series of incidents. This could be a mixture of emotions such as rage, irritation, grief, rejection, or fear.

Feeling/ Emotional Response: The event has managed to trigger emotion and will lead us to feel a specific way (anger, fear, hurt, etc.). However, our thoughts and beliefs have an underlying cause as well; they emerge from our past experiences.

During our lives, we encounter a multitude of events, and as a result, we form beliefs and feelings about the world and ourselves.

Cognitive Response: The emotional response generates ideas and thoughts about what occurred and how it made us feel.

Behavior: These notions result in some sort of behavior or action. Our actions are what we do in an effort to either discard the emotion or thought or make it come true.

Outcome: All behavior has consequences and will contribute to some form of result. Similar to actions, some outcomes are favorable while others are not.

New event: The outcome will create a new event or circumstance that, in turn, will trigger emotion, restarting the cycle once again.

b) The cycle of depression

When we're depressed or feel anxious, we have a propensity to automatically think negatively about ourselves, the environment, the future, and other people. These thoughts will generate or enforce negative feelings such as helplessness, anxiety, and sadness.

We tend to sink more into depression as a result of this negativity. In addition, depression will drain our motivation and energy, making us isolate ourselves from the people we love and the things we used to enjoy.

This behavior of isolating will negatively trigger emotion; we will feel alone and neglected, which will generate additional negative feelings.

To trigger emotion is to activate our nervous system. Emotions connect body and mind, and thus, so will depression. The fact is that when suffering from depression, our bodies will feel physical discomfort as well.

Body aches and pains, exhaustion, and tension are the most common physical symptoms. Ultimately, this results in more negative thoughts about ourselves, which make us feel even more unhappy, dragging us deeper into this vicious behavioral cycle.

The ability to recognize when these cycles are occurring and actively take action to slow them down and eventually stop them is one of the keys to beating depression.

The ability to decrease physical pain has been proven to be effective as well.

By doing so, we can change them from negative behavioral cycles that drag us further into sadness to productive cycles that help us get better.

2 - Connect body and mind through movement

As said before; to trigger emotion is to activate the nervous system. The majority of these bodily reactions are under the direction of the nervous system, which also plays a critical role in controlling our emotions and actions and modifying them in response to external stimulation.

In other words, our nervous system can connect body and mind. With exercises, meditation, and breathing techniques, we can aid our nervous system's regulation and mental health maintenance.

This way, we can positively change our cognitive response to the events that trigger emotion and transform a vicious cycle into a productive behavioral cycle.

Moreover, our bodies have the power to store emotions. Our organs, tissues, skin, and muscles all have "packages" that can collect and store emotional information.

The emotional information can remain in our body parts thanks to these "packages" until we are ready to "release" it. Particularly negative emotions, caused by depression or anxiety, have a lasting impact on the body.

Movement is an efficient way to release the buildup of emotions in your body and to connect physically, mentally, and emotionally to your internal environment.


Understanding and being aware of how we feel, think, and react through a behavioral cycle is a key aspect of connecting body and mind. It will not only help us get a better understanding of what we are feeling physically and mentally, but also why we behave the way we do, why we react a certain way, and why we sometimes feel like we are stuck in life.

Exercises and active meditation are effective tools to help us use the behavioral cycle to our advantage and fight off negative feelings that arise when feeling depressed, anxious, or sad.

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