Your Brain Articles

The Relationship Building Power of Empathy: Seven Conscious Actions of Empathic Listeners, 2 of 3

Friday, March 28th, 2014

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Empathy is a key emotion in building healthy, vibrant, mutually enriching relationships.

In Part 1, we described empathy as a form of love, a gift of our presence to actively listen, to emotionally connect, and to provide a holding place that shares the intensity of another’s experience. We also said that, consciously or subconsciously, empathy stems from certain intentions. It doesn’t stop there, however.

Actions are an essential part of expressing, giving and receiving love. Action seals the deal; and this is the topic of this post.

Without action, the best of intentions have no meaning, in other words, as if they never occurred or existed. Relationships are living entities, and they require certain actions to remain alive. 


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?


The Power of Forgiveness: Restoring Own Connection to Love & Healing

Friday, January 31st, 2014

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Though not easy, letting go of past resentments, a process also known as forgiveness, really works! Letting go does not mean forgetting a wrongful action or excusing how hurtful it was, however;  it means letting go the human survival-instinct to hurt the back, to retaliate or to wish as much or more suffering on the other.

Ultimately, we forgive because of its impact accordingly on the state of our mind and body (autonomic nervous system). While revenge may be our mind-body’s instinct in survival mode (where fear is the governing emotion, and body shuts off any consultations with the heart or higher intellect), revenge is never aligned with our body’s highest directives (built-in wisdom) to do more than merely survive, rather to thrive, to fulfill core yearnings, or emotion-drives, to matter, to meaningfully connect.


Five Skills that Predict Success in Marriage Relationships

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

images-874Thanks to advances in research methodology and neuroscience, relationships are now a science. The science of love relationships has identified several specific behavior patterns of partners that succeed in creating healthy, mutually enriching couple relationships. Partners who think and act in certain ways nearly guarantee themselves love relationships in which they feel fulfilled, loved and appreciated.

First, the good news is both you and your partner are wired for love, your body’s health depends on it.

Second, you are wired to release a certain love hormone, Oxytocin, the chemical known as the “cuddle hormone,”  in response to certain behaviors.

Feeling loved and secure has everything to do with knowing how to create an Oxytocin response that makes you and your partner feel loved and secure.


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?


Reach for the Stars in New Year 2014 — 7 Ways to Amp Up the Love, Calm the Fear

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Illustration image Here we are into a new year, can you believe it — 2014 — Happy New Year!

What a wonderful time to refresh, renew, ponder and reflect again on … what brings meaning to your life, your deepest aspirations, yearnings and dreams, or new ways to approach old challenges, big or small, in your personal life or relationship.

It’s energizing to write down goals, hopefully achievable S.M.A.R.T. goals, to increase our chances for good outcomes.


Your Health, Your Brain & the Power of Gratitude — A Key to Happiness, 1 of 1

Friday, December 27th, 2013

001 GratitudeWhat makes gratitude so powerful?

Gratitude is an emotion we use to express appreciation and thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift. It’s much more, however.

A powerful agent, gratitude can propel us with unstoppable momentum to find ways to express, exclaim and proclaim it to the world, or another person, perhaps shouting from the rooftops!

Words may not suffice to express gratitude, but this cannot stop us from trying.


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?


 
 

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