Your Brain Articles

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.

Securing Real Love: Three Chemicals That Make Us Feel We’re In Love, 1 of 3

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

The science of couples love is a fascinating study of human nature  – perhaps at its best and worst.

Human beings get unhinged about a lot of things, yet nothing seems to compare to the actions of desperation, and the emotional roller coasters in the dance of romance.

Where in life are we suddenly in the most intimate of circumstances, contemplating dramatic shifts to our lives and future plans, with someone who was a total stranger a relatively short time ago?

Free Up Energy By Giving Self Permission to Feel Painful Emotions, 1 of 2

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

images-849The longer we ignore or stuff painful feelings, the harder it is to work through them, and the more unpredictable our behaviors and life outcomes can be. Rather than a putting-out-fires approach, you can power up your life by learning to healthfully process painful feelings, and that means identifying, feeling and understanding your feelings in a way that helps you make informed actions in dealing with them, as they surface.

The very thought of doing this may bring up feelings of resistance. Your response may be, “Why bring up old stuff?” You likely feel “comfortable” with current ways you stay “in control” of life around you, i.e., by staying busy, avoiding conflict or shaming people who get upset, among others. These old defense strategies, at least superficially, can bring us quick-fix relief, thus, seem reliable, proven ways of dealing with stressors.

It makes sense that you would not want to feel or deal with painful emotions. After all, human beings are wired to move away from pain, and drawn instead to what feels pleasant and comfortable.

Reasons Not to Give Up On Someone You Love (Who’s Acting In Hurtful Ways)

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Never give up hope or think it is too late for someone you love and care about to change in healing directions.

Let go of trying to change them, for certain, and you may need to make the tough choice to let go of the relationship rather than watch someone you love engage in harming behaviors — but always keep your hope alive.

To never give up means to remain consciously active in hoping:

  • To see the best outcomes in another person’s life.
  • To keep believing in their capacity to awaken to their own inner resources of wisdom, inspiration, and positive action.
  • To remain committed to treating them (in your mind and outward actions) with unconditional regard and dignity regardless how much you may disagree with what they are doing (separating the value of person from their wrongful actions is key to your healing as well as theirs).
  • Last but not least it also means: to let go of thinking that, without you to micromanage the loved ones’ feeling states or choices, etc., they’re hopelessly lost.

What We Know From Studies of Intimacy and Attachment

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
images-426Why are some interactions with your partner so intense? And why do you, in certain situations, say and do things you’d rather not – perhaps with a compulsion to do so?
Many partners have “Ah-ha” moments of recognition when they first learn that some of the feelings they experience in response to one another have very real biological causes.
The answer to these questions, to a great extent, has to do with certain chemicals or hormones — neurotransmitters — that are naturally released by the body. In other words, at least physiologically, what explains our feeling loved and enthusiastic, or feeling shaky and panicky, is the particular mix of hormones our body produces. And aside from intervening variables, such as food and drugs, that also directly alter the emotional and physiological states of the body, the hormones released are a direct outcome of our perceptions of events in and around us.
This last statement is a key aspect to understand in developing our capacity for emotional intelligence (emotional regulation), and thus, our capacity for cultivating emotional intimacy and meaningful connections in key relationships.
Hormones such as endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine produce feel-good sensations, and others such as cortisol and adrenalin produce feel-bad sensations.

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.

5 Distinct (and Surprising) Habits of Happy People

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

images-775The pursuit of happiness can be described as both a deep concern and obsession of human beings throughout time. This quest to discover how to live our best, most fulfilling lives is a phenomenon that cuts across cultures. The fever has intensified in the last decade thanks in part to a growing body of research that links happiness to benefits ranging from greater health, happier relationships, boosts to creativity, and even higher earnings.

Physiologically, happiness is an emotional state, a mix of feelings produced by some combination of feel-good hormones. It’s much more than an occasional emotional burst of dopamine, however.

It’s a process, it’s work and it’s a balancing act.

Recent research reveals that happiness has a paradoxical nature. A recent publication, What Happy People Do Differently by Drs. Todd B. Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener summarized some surprising findings emerging from studies of happiness. It appears the habits of those who are happiest include regular doses of activities that produce feelings of discomfort, doubt, uncertainty.

Seven Habits to Bring Out the Best in Life and Relationships, 2 of 2

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

images-515This post is a continuation from Part 1 that listed four of seven mindful, conscious habits that bring out the best in life.  A conscious habit is a choice to practice, remain aware and take action in the direction of working wonders in your life and relationships.

Here are habits five through seven:

Habit #5.  Positive Thinking 

Take complete responsibility for the thoughts you think.  Your thoughts trigger emotional states that have tremendous power to energize or de-energize your momentum. One of the biggest mistakes most people make in their thinking is to focus on what they do not want, what they lack, what’s not going right, and so on.

This is a mistake because whatever we put our thoughts on is emotional energy that expands.

Think of emotions as energy in motion, which means they drive and shape our actions.  Always begin every morning, each activity or interaction with others with the end in mind, focusing on what you want to create. 

Wounds of Childhood: Three Understandings to Facilitate Healing of Past Wounds in the Present

Sunday, May 12th, 2013


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