Re-train your brain for healthier relationships

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Re-train your brain for healthier relationships

At the heart of everything, we find relationships. Most of these are unintentional relationships that happen situationally, but some are relationships that stem from our choices. From the moment we enter the world, we will have a relationship with everyone and everything: from the space around us to the people who are present and how each made us feel.

While these connections are as old as life, the Scientific Revolution sparked Newton’s insight in 1687. He discovered that when two bodies interact, they apply forces that are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. This is known as Newton’s Third Law: the law of action and reaction.

In other words, everything is related to everything. It’s science. And, as sentient beings, our relationships influence our thoughts, feelings and actions (or reactions…).

Have you ever noticed how something as simple as the weather can affect your feelings and choices, or how the energy of someone else in the room can fill you with hope or totally deflate your sails? What about coffee, sugar, meat, milk, gluten and soy – what is your relationship like with them? What about your money, job, family – how do these relationships leave you feeling and influence your choices?

Sometimes these feelings are legitimately influenced by external forces of attraction; sometimes, they start in our head. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that attempts to modify thought patterns to help change moods and behaviour. If negative thoughts begin in our head, we can hopefully end them there too.

According to a recent blog on healthline.com, CBT is based on the idea that negative actions or feelings are from current distorted beliefs or thoughts, not unconscious forces from the past. These patterns can form into several categories of self-defeating thinking (also known as cognitive distortions).

These may include:

  • all-or-nothing thinking: viewing the world in absolute, black-and-white terms
  • disqualifying the positive: rejecting positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason
  • automatic negative reactions: having habitual, scolding thoughts
  • magnifying or minimising the importance of an event: making a bigger deal about a specific event or moment
  • overgeneralisation: drawing overly broad conclusions from a single event
  • personalisation: taking things too personally or feeling actions are specifically directed at you
  • mental filter: picking out a single negative detail and dwelling on it exclusively so that the vision of reality becomes darkened

When we can identify and observe these patterns of thinking, we can do something about them! This means that if the stock markets crash or someone crashes into our parked car, we can re-train our brains for healthier reactions.

We can learn to manage and modify distorted thoughts and reactions, and accurately and comprehensively assess external situations and reactions or emotional behaviour. Practising accurate and balanced self-talk will help us reflect and respond appropriately. So the next time you’re talking to yourself – see if you can retrain your brain and feel healthier.

<Click here for more on CBT>

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