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The Power of Subconscious Learning: Transform Your Thoughts, Transform Your Life

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

images-823Findings show that thoughts are powerful activators of life transforming inner processes. They activate neurochemical signals that accordingly generate emotions and actions, learning and change, to include the formation of behavioral patterns or habits.

Subconscious learning in itself is a powerful and efficient built-in capacity. When what we learn is aligned by chance to our goals and highest interests for personal and relational health and well being, it can support us to grow in positive directions and to realize amazing and creative outcomes and passions. What if it doesn’t however? Limiting beliefs or toxic thinking patterns can harm our health, keep us stuck in life-draining addictive behavior patterns, and at best place limits on our happiness.

Even in the best of circumstances, we pick up limiting belief wiring in the formative years of childhood. At this time they were useful. They serve to protect us at a time in our lives when we are most vulnerable emotionally, and thus also physically. The same belief systems that defend and ensure our survival in childhood, however, later in life become obstacles to our growth and realization of our fullest potential to find meaning, and create a joy filled life.

Unless transformed or rewired to tell a different more empowering story of your life, these beliefs produce a toxic stream of thoughts that subconscious keep us stuck going in the same direction.

To your brain and body, to grow means to change. And to change in positive directions means to learn and grow from within. To truly influence “change” in others and life around you, your greatest source of power as a human being always lies in what you have most control of, and that always means you, for example, being aware of what thoughts, beliefs may be blocking you at any moment (from influencing change around you).

We are conditioned to think too highly of our ability (power) to change others (mostly illusion), and sit passively on what is the real miracle-making power to change self from within.

Several actions are necessary to transform thoughts and limiting beliefs, however, the most important has to …

The Relationship Building Power of Empathy: Four Intentions of Empathic Listeners, 1 of 3

Monday, March 17th, 2014

images-344Empathic listeners are relationship builders. They have a cultivated ability for being present, empathically connected. How do you cultivate empathy however? It starts with set intentions, at least four of them.

For human beings, empathy may be one of the greatest gifts to give or to receive, and perhaps one of our deepest yearnings. It is a form of love, an aspect of love that is expressed through the act of listening to understand from the eyes and heart of another (or self). This is what makes empathy an essential ability to cultivate, and thoughtfully give.

When someone we love disappoints us in some way, this can automatically trigger painful emotions inside.

And when we are in pain, for example, feeling hurt, angry, or disappointed, often one of our greatest yearnings is for empathy, that is, an understanding love from another human being that affirms, in a moment of need, that we are valued. We want to know that our feelings and life matter. And thus a common human undertaking is to look for evidence that another loves us enough to want to understand us from our own perspective, to want us to have what we want (even when not possible), to want to see us happy and fulfilled, personally as well as in our relationship, and so on.

Three Obstacles to Intimate Communication Between You and Your Partner

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Loving KissCreative Commons License Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Compfight

Communication is the life tool with which we may create and strengthen our relationships, and relationships are all about emotional safety and meaningful connections.

Communication is a tool like no other. Whether verbal or nonverbal, it is to your emotional and mental health, and relationships, what food and water are to your body. You may be wondering, if talking is such a “loving” activity why do you experience so much pain in your communications with one of the most important persons in your life, your partner?

How to Argue to Live Authentically (and Strengthen Your Relationship) 1 of 3

Monday, January 20th, 2014

6135_1072891877077_522792_nEver find yourself in the same reactive discussion with your partner again and again?

Okay, the details may be different, but overall do you get into a scripted dialogue in which you can guess what your partner is going to say or do in reaction to something you say?

(Most likely, by the way, your partner likely feels the same way too.)

The stuck feelings seem all too familiar to couples in a relationship. Like others, both of you likely wonder, at times, whether there’s a chance of ever getting the love, understanding, acceptance, appreciation, romance, etc., you want. You know, the feelings you had at the start of your relationship. It seems you’ve tried everything. Is it too much to ask to feel valued, important — and connected — in your relationship?

7 Ways to Energize a Healthier Brain

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Branches of Humanity

Sergio Marchi via Compfight

          1. Turn any criticisms into clear requests

Think of words as emotion-activating agents, and reframe criticisms into requests to produce high- rather than low-energy emotional states in your self and others. Brain fact: Low energy emotions (fear-based) block creative thinking to the extent they intensify, and even worse, activate our automatic defense strategies. When this happens, high levels of cortisol turn off our brain’s learning mode, which may explain why we stop listening when we feel attacked. Rather than saying,”You’re always angry and on the attack,” say the following: “Speak to me in a voice that lets me know you love me when you’re upset.”

2. Describe problems in solution focused language.

Use words to craft that reframe a stubborn problem in solution terms to give your self and others a fresh and energizing perspective. Brain fact: The images that positive action-oriented language energizes in our brain produce action-activating emotions emotion-command neural circuitry and associations that can move us to take action more easily and effortlessly. In contrast, problem-focused language can leave us feeling de-energized, in a rut or states of boredom, which can seem “real” after prolonged use, however, they are simply habits — neural associations — that we have subconsciously formed, stored and reinforced over a period of time. This means they can be unlearned. Rather than “You always leave me to do everything,” say “It’s a privilege to care for our house. I want to do my part to make sure you do not miss out on the great feelings of taking part as a team member in caring for our house.”

3. Replace judgements with curiosity.

Stir thoughts that spawn curiosity instead of criticisms or harsh judgments of yourself or others. Brain fact: Whereas criticisms tend to demotivate and keep us stuck in old thinking and behavior patterns (emotion-command neural circuits that activate fear), curiosity motivates us toward …

Securing a Love Relationship: Understanding the Core Issue In Couple Relationships, 2 of 3

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

images-871How is it we can feel so connected one moment under the influence of certain substances — to include love  — and wonder the next what were we thinking?

In Part 1, we considered three areas of the brain that work together to produce feel-good chemicals, and that, depending on the circumstances, can literally alter our emotional states of body and mind to the point of putting our ability to make choices (personal power) out of reach. The automatic release of this chemical mix can lead us to making poor and potentially dangerous decisions, and even worse, form an addictive habit or pattern.

To retain our choice making capacity, it helps to understand that a key underlying issue in relationships, based on decades of research on attachment and intimacy, is the connection.

Five Nurturing “Be’s” for Parents to Add to Their To-Do List, 1 of 2

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

images-461It’s been said before. Relationships are like a baby mobile in that a slight touch on one side causes ripple effects felt throughout the system.

Our early relationships are particularly formative. It is in early years that our brains form structures that, absent a change causing event, subconsciously, serve as reference points for relating to self and others throughout life.

Parents are often provided what-to-do-or-not-do lists to promote healthy child development, less often is the focus on the quality of emotional presence parents can bring, at any given time, to interactions with their children. In this post, we discuss two of five states of being, or “BE’S,” that parents can use as guidelines to nurture healthy relating capacity in children.

Because our mind-body refers to these early structures automatically, how we parent makes a difference. When we were children, for example, our parents’ brains subconsciously set parameters in what emotions we “should’ or “shouldn’t” feel or express, according to their own taboos and belief systems.

The Impact of Childhood “Attachment Styles” On Couple Relationships? 2 of 2

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Emotions are central to attachment, and based on their effects on our autonomic nervous system, they fall primarily in one of two categories, love or fear in varying intensity. In other words, they are either overall stabilizing or destabilizing.

Perhaps no relationship is more intense, complex and challenging in its ability to discombobulate our otherwise healthy ability to think clearly and intelligently, make sound choices and engage common sense.

When our bids for connection with our partner fail to elicit the caring response we yearn for inside, our body’s autonomic nervous system activates distress signals, whether we’re aware of them or not.

Attachment is about the actual and perceived outcomes of our attempts to get closer or connect with a loved one. It can be as simple as asking for time together, seeking some level of understanding, or saying “Hi,” these bids for connection, and our responses to them, shape and are shaped by our perceived sense of the quality of connection we realize.

10 Excuses for Not Saying “I’m Sorry” or Making Amends

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

images-308Among the most powerful words to say in healing our relationships are, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me. How can I make it up to you?

And yet, even when we know we’ve acted wrongly, something inside blocks us from saying so or taking action to make amends. More often, that something is a set of beliefs we hold that act as excuses.

Excuses are often assumptions that, whether conscious or subconscious, block us from taking action. Here are ten most frequent ones.

1.  I’ll be seen as a bad person and not appreciated for the good things I’ve done.

This excuse also distracts us from directly resolving an issue. It focuses our attention on our fears, in particular the fear of not fulfilling our yearnings to matter and to feel we contribute value in our relationships.  

How 3 “Attachment Styles” in Childhood Impact Your Couple Relationship? 1 of 2

Friday, June 21st, 2013

images-846A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science found that partners’  early childhood attachment styles impacted their ability to recover from conflict in their adult couple relationships. Partners with secure attachment styles in childhood tended to be more resilient and recover faster.

The research studied the early attachment styles of 73 participants from birth and, over a two year span, measured their conflict recovery styles, emotional wellbeing, relationship satisfaction and their relationship stability. The ability of partners to rebound after conflict seems to depend on each partner’s personal attachment style as an infant.

That’s huge. For one, this tells us how key the formation of healthy relationships is to our wellbeing throughout life.

What is Attachment?

Attachment refers to the quality of our first emotional connection to our primary caregivers, more often, the relating pattern between the child and mother.


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Recent Comments
  • Mark1: This sounds like NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). If this is the new way I would like to try it. I thought...
  • Athena Staik, Ph.D.: Thanks for the comment Jess in LA. Yes, I agree there are contradictions, and believe...
  • jess in la: So, forgiveness requires the other party to take responsibility and rectify the harm they created. How...
  • Vee: Thank you for a comprehensive and more contemporary description of ego and ego stength. It’s helped me...
  • Miranda Salley, HHP, HHC,AADP,: A culminating piece. Well done Dr. Staik! Brilliant contribution. Thank you!
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