The discovery and understanding of how neural patterns operate subconsciously and recent findings on intimate relationships have greatly increased not only our understanding of what causes these problematic patterns for many couples, but also what they can do about it.
Quite honestly, the “real” issues are not what partners argue about.
What can disturb this special relationship, essentially, between the conscious logic part of your mind and the subconscious felt-emotion part? In a word, fear.
More specifically, limiting beliefs can activate the body’s fear response unnecessarily. Your survival is not at stake, for example, when you discuss a sensitive issue with your spouse, yet your body’s defenses act “as if” it is, i.e., with an angry outburst or an emotional shut down.
Actually, it’s a science. It’s based on some of the latest findings on the brain. It involves using the brain’s power of imagination to “rehearse” optimal performance outcomes, your goals, dreams and future.
It works. Sports psychologists use this approach, for example, to train top athletes and champions to achieve optimal performance.
What does this have to do with your personal life and relationship? You can use this same power to achieve your goals, start a new healthy habit, or let go of an unwanted one.
When your subconscious mind acts like a scared parent, interrupting your life or resisting your efforts to implement change, with its hyper-reactive protective instincts, more than anything, its greatest need is, first, assuring words from you, then, follow up actions that emphatically say you now take full responsibility for the care of yourself and life.
Like a scared parent, your subconscious won’t let go of its protective role without assurance, in word and deed, that you can survive on your own.
When you are upset, you likely yearn for someone who will listen without judging or trying to fix you, and perhaps responses that gently nudge you in the direction of restoring your sense of belief and hope in yourself or others, perhaps life. Everyone needs this from time to time. It’s like the refresh button on the computer.
What word describes this feeling? Empathy.
When you are not centered, fear has overwhelmed the balance of the body, and thoughts feel scattered because the emotional part of the brain is flooded. Your subconscious mind has stopped cooperating with your conscious mind, in fact, it has hijacked all the systems of your body, as happens, whenever the stress response of the body gets activated.
Whether you are worrying about the future or a problem that needs to be fixed or just entertaining anxious thoughts, in effect, you are unwittingly throwing off your body’s balance by entertaining worrisome thoughts that focus your mind on anxious images “out there” somewhere in the future.
When your subconscious mind does not cooperate with your plans, though it may feel like a saboteur, in reality, it’s more like a scared parent. It’s been tracking your beliefs. You’ve scared it into thinking you need to be rescued (by your defense strategies).
It also believes your physical survival is at stake in any emotionally painful situations, when it’s not (hopefully)!
Whenever you get triggered, unless you know how to calm your mind and body, your subconscious mind automatically activates the “fight or flee” response, which interrupts all normal processes of the body to redirect the energy of all systems in the service of your survival.
Despite good intentions, it seems a part of you, in certain areas, opposes your wish to stop an unwanted behavior or to implement a new one.
Whenever you want to do one thing and do another instead, most likely, you’re experiencing incongruence between the goals of your “conscious” and “subconscious” mind.
Ever notice how many of your thoughts, during a communication with your spouse, take you out of the present moment to future worries or past laments? If you’re not aware of what you tell yourself in your mind (self-talk), and uncertain about how to return to the present moment, you are at risk of mismanaging your emotions in sensitive discussions with your partner.
The thoughts you think inside your mind end up on your lips. Life-draining thoughts cause similar emotions that, in turn, produce unwanted behavioral outcomes, such as reactivity, in your discussions. And, the point is to obtain great outcomes for both, right?
Now, there is a proven solution: developing a practice of mindfulness to master your emotional states.
In this moment, you feel energized for triumphant outcomes, however, you may also wonder, will you maintain your enthusiasm from start to finish?
Rest assured, you absolutely can!