Archive for July, 2010

Jul 29 2010

Conflict: Resolving Conflict Helps Relationships Grow

Every relationship goes through stages of development.Stages are often marked by important rituals and life events, like engagement, marriage, birth of children, school, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, silver years and death and dying.

In a relationship, two people find each other and as long as the sparks are flying, get into a relationship and explore making a greater commitment.

This first stage in relationship development is often referred to as the “honeymoon stage” where everything seems to go great and there is a lot of chemistry, fun and probably a lot of great sex too.

When you get beyond the “honeymoon stage” and enter into a longer term commitment,  eventually some crisis will put your relationship to the test.

The conflicts at this stage can be related to loss issues, death of loved one, work, money, extended family, children, or attractions or affairs with other people.

Whether you are both comfortable with high conflict or not, this stage can determine the ultimate success of your relationship.

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Jul 21 2010

Amygdala: How Our Brain Processes and Stores Emotional Memory

The amygdala is the part of our brain’s limbic system responsible for the processing and memory of emotional reactions and triggering the fight, fight, or freeze process for human beings.

In the image below, the amygdala (dark red color) can be seen as part of the limbic system, just below the thalamus (also dark red).

The amygdala has been called the “emotional sentinel” of the human brain because it is primarily responsible for helping us to know when it is safe and unsafe.

The amygdala receives signals from our senses which it quickly evaluates. If the signal is safe, all is good.  However, if the amygdala determines the signal to be a threat, it sends a message to the hypthalamus to produce dopamine, epinephrine and norepenephrine which provide the chemical fuel for us to fight, flee or freeze.

The studies related to the amygdala have demonstrated that damage to the amygdala or negative personal experiences can result in such things as an inability to determine safe or unsafe facial expressions, hyperarousal, exaggerated fear responses or absence of fear responses.

So, if you grew up in an abusive, dangerous household, it is likely your amygdala has processed and stored those memories in a way which may keep you hyperaroused and unsure about the intentions of your partner.

Any tension or conflict with your spouse may easily result in a yelling match leaving you both depleted and demoralized.

Biology mixes with personal history, with disastrous results for personal and intimate relationships.

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Jul 06 2010

Listening Mistake: Defensive Listening

Yes,  but…! How many times have you experienced this? We are talking about an idea we have and someone else has to tell us we are wrong.

In a marriage,  we need to be good listeners. We can’t just disagree and blast our partners by telling them their wrong.

This is where the reflective listening process is so important. We show our partner we are listening by reflecting back what they are saying to us, not what we think of what they are saying.

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