I was ruminating on why we form relationships – specifically why do we marry? When we are young children are a biological push and to a certain extent property and status are social pushes. So I put these aside and thought about those folks whose relationship really seems to work. What I’ve noticed is that there is an appreciation of each other that appears to give each of them a freedom to be themselves. Their very differences are what make the relationship strong. They have learned to see the value in the others difference and they even come to depend upon that difference at times.
What would happen if we saw 'marriage' as more of a partnership? What would happen if we saw our other relationships as more like a 'marriage?' Maybe the key is looking at building a long-term asset/value. Not all relationships have to be a 10 to be perfect as they are, but the commitment to maintain over the long-term needs to be shared.
Relationships are curious things. We come to them with so many preconceived notions, expectations and desires. What would happen if we became curious about our partner? Curious about who they are and why they do what they do, willing to explore in order to understand and then be willing to express delight in the unique person they are?
This led me to think about how inherent in their appreciation was a deep respect. I believe it is possible to respect someone and not appreciate them, but I don’t think you can appreciate someone and NOT respect them. What do you think?
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Habits, we all have habits. Habits are, ideally, shortcuts to behavior we find useful. Once we make something a habit we can do it without thinking, we put it on automatic pilot. The problem, of course is that some habits are not our friends and we find ourselves doing things we’d rather not do, or that have bad or inconvenient consequences for us. Habits can hijack our best-intended behavior.
Our brain is a willing partner in helping us form habits. The neurons in our brain have dendrites at the end. Information jumps from the dendrites of one neuron to the dendrites of another. If we do something over and over we collect a lot of neurons that are engaged in making that activity happen. If we do it really, really often then the brain figures that this is important and to make it happen even easier it covers these neurons with white stuff called myelin. It’s a bit like paving a highway versus a muddy road, same path, but you can go faster.
Get angry a lot? What about those ‘hot buttons?’ See a spider and scream? Each of these denotes a myelin-paved path that the brain has made very easy for that information to go down. These experiences are sometimes called an amygdala hijack. They happen fast and make us feel like we are out of control.
Being ‘out of control’ is sort’a true, but the good news is that you can get that control back. Neuroplasticity – the ability of your brain to change, is something that you can actually stimulate. In doing so you actually change the structure of your brain. This is what happens when you consciously decide to ‘break’ a habit.
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Kathryn Alexander, MA Author
A student of human nature, of living systems, ethics and now neurobiology and brain science - I see the same thing everywhere - we need to get reconnected: to ourselves, others and the planet!