Understanding Relationships through Neurobiology

Member Question

"I think I am one of the nicest people I know. Why does every guy I date turn into such a jerk!"

- Jordan


Learning Together: Understanding Relationships

We talk a lot about the importance of ‘‘living in the moment’ and it is fascinating to discover a neurobiological understanding about what makes this so. This can only help us understand our relationships better. Circuits where our conscious and unconscious mind communicate with each other are being studied as researchers ask people to answer questions, look at differing photos, meditate, think sad thoughts while they look to understand how and under what conditions the brain functions best.

They have found organizational centers that we use to monitor and modulate each aspect of our internal and external relationships.  Just realizing that each of these mental activities are truly 'actions' is helpful.  When throwing a pitch in baseball, the motion of the pitcher seems almost on the edge of disaster. But each movement has been carefully refined, step by step, possibly taking years to perfect just one aspect of the pitch. It is said that 80% of any sport is psychological. Knowing what we know...how could it be any different?

How much skill does it take to love your spouse and encourage your children? We can 'decide in a moment' to get married or to have children, but even here, there is a tremendous amount of unconscious preparation for such a decision. Every second of our life prepares and refines our skills so that we can come to these decisions we seem to make 'in a moment'. Much like a river, where does it really begin? Does a river ever really stop? Rain is always swelling the banks, while the river continuously provides thousands of outflow tributaries. Each moment, a gentle rain is providing you nourishment to notice and grow. It remains up to us how many of our circuits are actively seeking this nourishment. In other words, not all of our circuits are always on.

Much like the river, even while we sleep, we are always receiving and giving. Our awareness of what is coming to us and how we allow it to pass through us refines our skills and changes our paths of decision making. Remaining mindful while helping others through the day will teach me, refine me, and allow me greater awareness so that when I return home I can share this new awareness with a sweet smile to my wife. If I don’t attend to the flow of life around me, and my part in it, I will likely never make it to 'the big league' of intimate relationships. To be able to enjoy the discussions around things in life where we feel differently, we must prepare the soil of our garden every moment of every day to enjoy such fruit. The garden of the intimate relationship exits reaching deep into each others minds, neuron by neuron, circuit by circuit through our mirror neurons. We exercise these neurons each time we ‘really see’ the person we are with. Like any of our strengths, it requires practice and skill to truly understand the living vessel we call relationship.

Personal Development Activity

What would it be like to really pay attention to how you were feeling and how another person was feeling, real time, while talking to them? Off and on we all do this, particularly if we are trying to sell someone something! What if we were ‘selling’, ‘I love you’, ‘I care about you’, ‘I respect you’ and...what if you were selling this to both you and the other person. Doesn’t that sound wild!

This week try this in relationships where this would feel comfortable to you. (Yes...eventually you will be doing this with everyone!) Now the fun part. Sometime after the conversation ask yourself, "As I was reaching deep and caring about myself and the other person, what message was I hearing my Higher Power offering me?"

If you want a little more on this, please listen to a few of our ‘thoughts for the day’ called "Recapturing our Higher Power" where I review what I learned from conversations the previous day!


Human Needs Psychology
Member Question: Neurobiology and Anxiety
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