In February, as our thoughts turn to Valentine's Day, and relationships, it is important to know how our unhelpful thought patterns and our old brain "wiring" can sabotage our current and new relationships and what to do about it. Brad Pendergraft, Brain Optimization Therapist and Coach,
shared these tips:
1. If you are in a relationship, avoid the "couples counseling position." Too many couples have been in counseling, or heard about it, and are convinced that it is healthy to sit down opposite one another, stare into each other's faces, and give a list of criticisms and grievances. This conditions the brain to associate the other's face to the pain that is being caused, creating brain "wiring" that brings up the negative emotions whenever they look at each other. Bad idea.
2. A good idea is to do exactly the opposite. "Anchor" in positive emotions by regularly taking the time to talk about past positive memories, vividly remember them, and then gaze at each other's faces, look in each other's eyes, etc. It just deepens the good feelings and brings them back into the present at a glance.
3. Expand this idea. It is healthy even for couples who have been together for a long time to keep creating new examples of "our song," or "our place," or pet names. These are ways to quickly pull up positive feelings, and then make them stronger every time they are experienced. It is especially powerful to create a private gesture, like a gentle touch of the face, that is only done when there is a strong positive feeling, or when there is conflict and a need to reconnect.
4. What about for people being affected by bad relationship memories, whether currently in a relationship or single?
Memories of a bad relationship can haunt a new relationship, or make people reluctant to even try again. An easy visualization exercise can be very effective in reducing the power of old memories. Whenever the memory comes up, just imagine the picture fading away, turning the colors to black and white or gray, making the picture dim and fuzzy, and pushing the image off to the horizon. You will be surprised how the emotions will fade as well, allowing you to replace the image with a positive memory or hopeful picture of the future.
Remember that your brain is easily conditioned by repeated thoughts. Take action to make sure that when you think about future love, or you look into your lover's eyes, you are reminded of the good times, and you let the bad times fade away!