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Do you ever wonder why you itch and how/why the body reacts with the scratch?  It’s pretty complicated and heavily studied.  Yet for this I broke it down to a simple design.  Here we go: 

  1. Some stimulus to the skin, causes an irritation that releases immune cells that produce histamines 
  1. This triggers inflammation that sends a message to the brain in the form of an itch 
  1. The brain commands the motor neurons to produce the scratching action to remove the irritant 
  1. The reflex scratch produces mild pain to shut off the itch sensation 
  1. The mild pain produces serotonin which is a “happy hormone” that produces a positive feeling 

Simple, logical, elegant yet so complicated if you dove into the deep end.  Well the study of the itch and scratch has been around for some time.  Yet the simple reflex process has entered our culture and language in the form of idioms.  Some examples are: 

  • I am itching to try that. 
  • I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. (maybe a little cynicism there) 
  • Happiness is having a scratch for every itch. 

All of these are implying that, in life a desire is itching at us and needs to be scratched in order to be satisfied.   Since the detection, notification and response of the itch/scratch reflex is hard wired into our nervous system, it happens automatically.  Many times, unknown to the host.  In our professional and personal life, the itch is not as easy as the sensing of an irritant on a part of the body and scratching.  Or, is it?   

I suggest that we do notice itches in our personal and professional life, but the complex world of our cognitive brain is not as easy to filter and may need training or development to see our itch and find the scratch for that itch.  With higher thinking desires, where choice, knowledge, preparation, morals, ethics and other cognitive players come to the party, developing a scratch may be overwhelming but not insurmountable.   

This is where coaching, training, planning come in.  Personal and professional development is the process that helps someone find their itch, challenges them to see a clear picture of what’s possible, supports them via motivation, finding resources and ultimately helping in setting and attaining goals. 

But one thing is certain; If you don’t scratch your itch, it will always irritate you!