The Connection Between Brain Function, Behavior, And Your Emotions

There are three parts of the human brain, referred to as the "triune brain." Paul D.MacLean, an early research director for the National Institute of Mental Health, postulated the Triune Brain Theory. It states that the human brain is a product of three stages of evolution and is actually three separate brains that have evolved into one brain over long periods of time.

Three Parts

The first section [the lowest portion of the brain] is comprised of the top part of the spinal cord, the medulla oblongata, the pons, and the cerebellum. MacClean calls this “the reptilian brain.” As he stated, “at its base [the human brain] was a variation in the elaboration of the reptilian brain."

The limbic system [located in the mid-portion of the brain] states MacClean, "was an elaboration of the new mammalian brain from the Jurassic period". He termed it the "mid-brain" or the neo-mammalian brain (new mammal).

The upper most and largest part of the human brain, the cerebral cortex, encompasses our logic centers, our "intellect." MacClean termed this portion "the neo-cortex" (new cortex).

Fundamental Behavior

The Reptilian or "vegetable brain" [recall the autonomic nervous system functions], is fundamentally concerned with homeostasis, which is involved in regulating all of the body functions that allow each of us to be human, get up every day, and live our lives. If you do not have a well-functioning lower brain, if you have a tumor, if you have a trauma, if you’re in an accident, if something happens to your brainstem, you may no longer have the capacity to control the day to day homeostatic functions to maintain your life.

Interpreting Information

Embedded inside the Limbic System is a structure identified as the Reticular Activating System, which has pathways as well as neurons traveling throughout the lower brain, up through the medulla oblongata, across the Limbic System, and into the Neo-Cortex or the "thinking brain".

The Limbic System and Reticular Activating System interpret sensory motor messages that are "incoming" from the person's environment. It is in this portion of the brain that we not only interpret the "incoming stimuli and information," but we also select methods for survival and adaptation.

Here is where it gets exciting to put the anatomy and physiology of brain function and the psychology of personality together!

Putting It All Together To Survive

We know the neo-cortex is our thinking, intellectual brain – our "smart brain" – and most of us know individuals who are brilliant academically or intellectually yet they are emotionally dysfunctional in the extreme. Our thinking brain would presume that being "smart" or intellectually capable would exercise dominion over one's emotions, however, the missing piece of information here is that our emotions actually are a survival adaptation mechanism that each of us individually develops as we process our early environment and social conditioning. Nothing is more powerful in the human being than its drive to survive! Hence, our emotions win the day in the battle between thinking and feeling.

It is critically important for each of us to understand that our emotions represent how we learned to adapt in our surroundings and environment, especially during the first 0-5 years of our development. Our familial "input" taught us, as did Pavlov with his dogs, how to respond to the stimuli we received as infants and toddlers.

Your Brain And Relationships

This embedded neurological conditioning is not overcome by the thought process, as the thought process for humans is the "newest" component to our primordial brain. It is in the adaptive portion of our brain where we form our "personality" and where we become conditioned to create and interact within relationships.

When we understand the possibility that the interpersonal issues that frustrate us may come not from "being difficult" or having "bad intent" but rather from our drive to survive and our interpretation of the stimulation and environment we were conditioned by, then we can begin to be "kinder and gentler" towards ourselves and others.

In summary, our emotions are the way we learn to live and survive in our world. We cannot "think them" into changing, but we can step back and appreciate the service and challenge they offer us in our daily lives.

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Mastering New Beginnings

"Happy New Year" is a greeting that fills us with anticipation, excitement and hope. The anticipation is for the new beginning we feel as the ball drops and we say good-bye to the past and look forward to the future. Our excitement is for the many possibilities that may lay ahead in the coming year and the hope is for a better twelve months than those that came before.

What are some simple, positive and productive actions we can take in this New Year that will support our optimistic January resolutions?

Clean The Slate

Cleaning and organizing your home space is one of the most positive ways to start the New Year. It has been shown in numerous studies that a clean, organized environment provides a sense of relaxation and calm and also helps us to be more productive because we are more organized. This results in a more efficient work or study outcome.

Spend Less

Commit to spending less and saving what you don't spend. Setting a goal of saving a realistic amount of money each month and achieving that goal by spending that much less is an empowering and satisfying way to take more control over your finances. It also reinforces the idea that you can transform your saving/spending patterns without much stress and strain.

Eat Better

Eat less processed foods and more living foods – this is not only a healthy resolution but also a cost saving one as well. We as Americans enjoy an abundant lifestyle and have the highest obesity rate in the world to prove it. By focusing on life-giving, plant-based foods, we nourish our bodies. And, we save a lot of money by not buying high priced processed and often non-nourishing "foods."

Give Back

Identify an organization, charity or cause that you can either provide a small but heartfelt donation or voluteer time to. Participating in meaningful assistance to others is rewarding on many levels and is good for our health as well as our sense of contribution.

Each New Year is an opportunity for a new beginning…and life, it is often said, is a series of new beginnings.

 

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Fulfill Your New Year’s Resolution With Mindful Eating

Three studies provide an interesting, proven tool to help you fulfill your health-related New Year's resolutions. Not unknown in other parts of the world is the idea of addressing the first step to food digestion. This is an important factor in reducing excess body weight. Mastication, or simply put – chewing, has a significant effect on the hormones of our gut; which in turn affects energy intake, metabolic caloric use, and overall body weight.

Mindful, Conscious Eating

The studies support the practice of mindful, conscious eating and the physiological and biochemical improvements to nutrition and wellbeing, when a moderate rather than a “grab and go” eating lifestyle is followed.

The various studies focused on the following objectives: one being to compare the differences in how chewing was different between lean and obese subjects. Another was to evaluate if eating the same meal at varying speeds of mastication would result in different postprandial (after eating) gut peptide responses. The third study’s objective focused on how staggered, compared to non-staggered, meals affected hormone and appetite dynamics, food pleasure, and the resulting energy intake.

Manipulating Eating Habits

The three studies utilized volunteer subjects and were conducted at clinical research facilities. The first study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, January 1, 2010. The study subjects were 17 healthy adult males who were evaluated on the varying lengths of time they took to consume a meal. The first meal was consumed in 5 minutes and the second meal in 30 minutes. After each meal, the levels of gut hormones were assessed in the subjects, measuring the results for each of the meal durations. The conclusion of this study was that eating at a moderate rate, compared to a rapid rate, produces an increased anorexigenic gut peptide response, which resulted in a loss or decrease of appetite compared to the subjects who ate more quickly.

This is probably not a surprise to mindful eaters who, in many ways, eat their food as a form of meditation, chewing much slower than the majority of us do. They not only tend to enjoy their food more but also decrease their appetites and moderate their bodyweight. The second study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September, 2011. This study contained 16 lean and 14 obese young men who were the subjects of the study. There were two components to this particular study. The first component observed and investigated whether the obese subjects displayed different chewing patterns and factors than the lean subjects. The second component explored how the number of chews per each mouthful of a meal affected the subject’s energy intake. Two sittings of the same meals were consumed by each of the study subjects throughout the course of the day. The study used two specific amounts of chews per swallow. Each subject chewed one mouthful of food 15 times before swallowing, and then during the second meal of the same food, each subject chewed one mouthful of food 40 times before swallowing.

Chew More, Eat Less

The outcomes of this study were as follows: regardless of their body mass being either lean or obese, the subjects had ingested almost 12% less food (11.9%) intake after the 40 chews per mouthful meal than after the 15 chews per mouthful meal. This registered trial study concluded that using improved meal chewing interventions could prove to be a useful tool in reducing and combating obesity.

Much has been written about lower body weight and the French diet, as well as the eating habits of other countries and cultures compared to our American grad and go fast food lifestyle. These studies confirm something that has been apparent to other cultures, and even in earlier decades in the U.S.

Decreasing Hunger

The third study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, March 1, 2011, goes on to confirm that: staggered meals, where there were pauses in between the total consumption of the entire meal, resulted in a decrease of hunger, an increase in food reward, and greater satiety than in meals that were consumed without pause and at a faster rate of speed.

Our focus today in the U.S. is on reducing obesity in both children and adults, as well as addressing the growing epidemic of type II diabetes and metabolic syndromes, with their resultant increase in adult pathologies. Each of these conditions is directly linked to the over consumption of food. These studies are an invitation to our national culture to re-assess our fast-paced lifestyle as a means to reducing the leading health issues of our day.

If simply by slowing down how quickly we put food into our bodies we can save ourselves from individual and collective suffering, it would make sense for someone to start a campaign to ensure more time for kids and adults to eat a good breakfast, take a longer lunch and enjoy a more leisurely dinner.

Rewarding Success

It is usually the simple things in life that bring the greatest rewards. Rather than worrying about the number of calories we are putting into our bodies, it might be refreshing to shift our attention to our chewing habits, which have proven in these studies to reduce food intake by 11.9%, decrease caloric uptake, improve one’s food satisfaction, and enhance greater satiety.  A lot of reward – for not a lot of effort.

Journal of Nutrition, March 1, 2011; vol. 141; no. 3, 482-488
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September, 2011; vol.94; no. 3, 709-716
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, January 1,2010; vol.95; no. 1, 333-337

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End Of The Year Relationship Tune-Up

As one year ends and another readies to begin, it is the perfect time to assess our relationships and initiate a "Tune-Up". Given the ever growing demands of our daily lives, it becomes very easy to overlook the “care and feeding” of our intimate, family and long-term relationships. Relationships have been shown to have a significant impact on our health, happiness and longevity; taking care of them and keeping up on their maintenance are essential.

Taking the time to have a “tune-up” for your important relationships is worth the effort. Here are some simple but important interpersonal behaviors that will help tune up your relationships and add to the fulfillment and satisfaction you desire from them. 

Conflict resolution

Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but the ways we handle and respond to it are not. Some of us try to avoid dealing with conflict, while others want to immediately resolve things head-on. Instead of trying to avoid conflict, it can be constructive to objectively write down our thoughts and feelings.

We can share them with the other person in a way that expresses how we feel and in a style that makes us comfortable, possibly in a letter, greeting card or email. For those of us who tackle conflict head-on, it can be helpful to take a step back and discern if this issue is something that must be resolved immediately or whether we can give ourselves time to process what has occurred, allowing us to see the conflict from the other person’s perspective.

Respecting The Others Person’s Experience

Respecting your partner’s or friend’s experience of a particular conflict doesn’t mean you “go along to get along” or that you should not express your own experience or feelings about it. It does mean that you respect and consider the other individual’s unique experience of what has occurred. Recognize that he wants to be seen, heard and valued just as much as you do.

By being open to accepting what the other person is feeling and what he has experienced, you send the message that you sincerely care about his feelings. And, while you may not agree with those feelings, you bring integrity to the relationship that allows the other person to be who he is and express feelings in a safe and non-hostile environment.

Learning New Communication Skills

There is no doubt that communication in all types of relationships can make or break them, but changing how we relate to one another is easier said than done. This difficulty stems from inherited or past communication patterns that can quickly lead to hurt feelings or emotional disconnection. What’s more, most people don’t have the knowledge, skills or the time to invest in changing how they behave. Learn new skills to enhance your relationships and watch them flourish!

 Would You Rather Be Right Or Be Loved?

An important question to ask when we dealing with conflict in a significant relationship is: Would you rather be right or be loved? This simple litmus test can help reveal a balance and a win-win situation for both the parties in a conflict. It also allows us to reflect on what is important in both our life and in our relationships.

 

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The Value Of Truly Listening

Listening to another person lets them know that you value what they have to say and what they think or feel. All people want to be listened to, and sometimes it is the only thing they really want from us. The most precious gift we can give to another person is our full attention – looking at them and sincerely listening to what they have to say. 

The Joy Of Being Heard

We have all had the experience of being listened to by others. The more sincerely and attentively they have listened, the more valued we feel. This is an essential human need to be listened to and to know that our contributions are valued by others.

When Problems Arise

Not being listened to and not being valued in this essential way is the cause of many problems in relationships of all kinds. From couples, to work, to family and children, we see that when people do not take the time to nurture their relationships with mindful, present listening – the relationship declines.

A prime example of this is when we first begin a romantic relationship and we listen to every word our beloved is saying. You can see the same couple out at dinner 5-10 years later, sitting across the table from each other with nothing left to say. This is because the essential communication between the two of them has been damaged.

An Easy Solution: Listen Closely

We damage these relationship communications when we stop listening to the other person but rather think about what we want to say next or what matters to us rather than providing quality attention to them. As a relationship professional, I can share with you that if you want to make just one change in your relationships to truly improve and enhance them, start by listening to the other person. Look them in the eyes and let them know you are there, being present to what they have to say.

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Why Do We Need Emotions?

Most of us perceive the brain as serving “thinking” or intellectual functions. A person often thinks of his or her personality as what is going on “from the neck up.” In fact, several parts of the brain — not just the thinking cortex — contribute to who a person is and how their personality is formed. 

The Cortex Of Survival

The cortex is what we refer to as the smart brain. Most of us know individuals who are brilliant academically or intellectually, yet they are emotionally dysfunctional almost in the extreme. We often presume erroneously that the thinking brain should be “smart” enough to exercise dominion over emotions.

However, the missing piece of information here is that emotions actually are a survival-adaptation mechanism that each of us develops as we process our early environment and social conditioning. Some of us learn to be assertive or aggressive in our environments. Others may learn to become passive or try to become invisible to stay safe and secure.

Nothing is more powerful in a human being than the drive to survive. Hence, emotions win the day in the battle between thinking and feeling. It is helpful to understand that emotions represent how we learned to adapt in our surroundings and environment, especially during the first five years of development.

More Input

Our familial input taught us, as Ivan Pavlov taught his dogs, how to respond to the stimuli we received as infants and toddlers. This embedded neurological conditioning is not overcome by the thought process; the thought process for humans is the newest component to the primordial brain. The survival adaptive portion of the brain is where the personality forms and where people become conditioned to create and interact within relationships.

Relationships And Conditioning

Frustrating interpersonal issues may come from the drive to survive and the interpretation of the stimulation and environment that conditioned us, rather than from being difficult or having bad intent. Understanding that can allow a person to begin to be “kinder and gentler” toward himself and others.

In summary, emotions enable us to live and survive in our world. We cannot think them into changing. However, we can step back and appreciate the service and challenge they offer us in our daily lives. We can also explore techniques that allow us to have greater control over our emotions.

For a free chapter download of the award-winning bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills, visit: http://www.changingbehavior.org

Is Social Media Damaging Your Work Environment?

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When most of us think of an unhealthy work environment, we visualize “sick building syndrome,” difficult staff members, or the classic “boss from hell.”

After attending a conference populated by a number of staffing agency directors, I recently received an insight into the latest unhealthy work issue that is getting the attention of a lot of organizations: obsessive social media use while on the clock.

Resulting Social Issues

It is becoming such a concern that more and more companies are having their computer networks re-tooled to block Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites on office computers.

How much of a problem is it that a significant number of younger-generation workers, who were raised on personal electronics, cannot stop checking their Facebook and text messages while they are on the job and being paid to spend their time attending to the tasks at hand?

That employees are noticing and becoming concerned that this trend is affecting their productivity and even their bottom line. This says something important about the current immediate communication impulse and what is being called “the narcissistic tendency” we are developing as a culture.

Staying Focused On The Job

The focus and integrity to attend to the job we are expected to be doing and the ability or willingness to not pay attention to ourselves when we are getting paid to be working seems to be lacking today more than ever before.

Cellphones, emails, text messages, social networking and other electronic forms of communication have begun to hold our attention prisoner–even when we are on the job. Not only is this unfair to the individual or organization paying our salary, but it also sends up a red flag. We are growing more and more self-absorbed.

Can someone be healthy when overly concerned about the moment-to-moment activities of life? There are (most commonly in humor columns) reported Facebook posts by individuals who record practically every minor act and event of their day, posting them publicly for all their friends and fans to read.

Infalated Narcissism

Is it true that we are becoming a narcissistic society, so unable to pull ourselves away from the details of our lives that we no longer put in an honest day’s work?

Health is made up of many things. Being productive, making a contribution, working hard and enjoying what you do are all part of a healthy lifestyle. If social networking and electronic communication are pulling you further away from a balanced and healthy work life, it may be time to unplug and unlink.

Finding fulfillment and feeling commited to what we do in our work as well as how we do the work are important parts of being a productive, contributory, healthy, happy individual. Not only is excessive electronic communication often overly self-centered, but it can also distract from other essential aspects of a balanced life. That’s something to consider.

For a free download of the bestselling, award-winning book Changing Behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

12 Steps For Handling Difficult Relationships During The Holidays

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Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and the December holidays are on the horizon. Some say: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Or is it? For many of us, the holiday visits back home to family members are something to be dreaded. While we look forward to the pleasure of celebrating these festive times, there is also the memory of past conflicts and the very real possibility of new confrontations that we find ourselves anxious to avoid. We can tell ourselves that this is the year we will not get stressed out or upset with visits to or from our families. This is what we strive for yet, most often, not how things turn out.

Difficult Family Dynamics

According to Dr. Jeffrey Fine, Ph.D., director of the American Foundation for Conscious Parenting, our families can be “a breeding ground for repressed resentments and hostilities left over from childhood.” We might anticipate that once we have grown up and moved away to create our own lives and families these feelings would diminish, but, as many of us experience, unfortunately they do not.

One potential solution to transforming the holidays from stressful to joyful is the application of identified communication skills that have been researched and shown to facilitate changing difficult relationships. Behavioral Engagement is a 12-step set of communication skills that has been the subject of hospital pilot studies over a 2-year period.

The outcomes of these pilots showed the participants experienced a significant improvement in their relational outlook and attitude after interacting with the communication skills model. Originally developed to enhance relationships between doctors, nurses and patients, the model was also applied and studied with business and family relationships.

James Prochaska, Ph.D., renowned researcher on behavior change and author of Change for Good — the Six Stages of Transtheoretical Change says of Behavioral Engagement: “The process of Behavioral Engagement has the potential to transform relationships that are suffering or struggling to ones that are thriving!”

Generally, one of the most recommended approaches to staving off holiday conflicts is to “try and accept family members or friends as they are.” Unfortunately, this good intention can be easily sidelined without specific communications skills that can help keep us on track.

Easy 12-Step Model

The 12-Step Model of Behavioral Engagement offers specific, easy-to-learn communication skills that have been proven effective in changing conflicted relationships into compatible relationships based on the understanding that we all want to be valued, respected and listened to. The steps are based on physical, psychological, hormonal and neurological aspects of human relationships and communication. They start with the understanding that while we cannot change others’ behavior we can change our own behavior in how we relate to others, which can result in a transformative outcome for all participants.

We can do so by using specific, simple communication skills and following the steps that have been shown to be effective in creating greater receptivity and generating more positive emotions in relationships that have previously been conflicted or stressful.

If you have experienced or are anticipating challenging relationships during the holidays, you may wish to apply these easy steps and see if they can assist you in having happier and even healthier holidays.

Step One: Be physically comfortable when communicating. This removes discomfort that can distract from the conversation. Distractions reduce your attention, focus on the person you are speaking with, and decrease the conversational rapport and receptivity.

Step Two: Understand what you want. Our intentions are powerful behavior motivators. Understanding what we want from an exchange or a relationship can assist us in communicating more clearly our thoughts and feelings, inviting greater understanding and intimacy. Example: “I really want to understand what you are upset about.”

Step Three: Centered body posture. Uncross arms and legs and present open, receptive body language. To send the message that you are respecting the conversation and giving the other person your fully attention, do not play with your watch, glasses, hair or continually look away from the person you are speaking with. Committing to being focused is an important element in communication and sends the message that you care. We can all feel when someone values being with or speaking to us.

Step Four : Sustained, soft eye contact has been shown to stimulate oxytocin, which opens emotional centers of the brain and enhances trust and feelings of love and intimacy.

Step Five : Respectful inquiry. Asking rather than telling or directing and using “I” statements rather than “you” statements creates a safe, non-judgmental environment for the other person to communicate openly.

Step Six: Responsiveness. Using appropriate responses, such as facial expressions, smiling, head nodding and so forth, indicates you are listening and understanding what the other is saying without interrupting or interjecting. This acknowledges the value you have for their communication.

Step Seven: Pauses between responses. Instead of immediately speaking as soon as the other person is finished, allowing for appropriate pauses when someone has shared a thought or feeling with you creates for them the experience that they are being respectfully listened to, and that you are truly present to them.

Step Eight: Non-judgment. By not allowing yourself to focus on your unspoken mental and emotional judgments you eliminate the unconscious communication that is sent through subtle and gross body language. Unconscious, non-verbal body language is something most of us pick up on and they can make or break the communication.

Step Nine: Leave the ego at the door. Eliminate the push-pull or power struggle of previous relationship interactions by letting go of taking control of the communication and allow for equity between you and the other individual.

Step Ten: Re-centering when you start to lose focus. Mentally repeating simple words you identify as prompts to get you back to the focus of the conversation is a quick and effective way to get yourself re-centered in the exchange. Example: “Back to focus” or “Get centered.”

Step Eleven: Collaborative mindset. Working toward having a win-win outcome eliminates conflict and improves the quality of the relationship in both the short term and the long term.

Step Twelve: Sacredness of relationship. Sacredness means “worthy of respect.” When we are aware of appropriate verbal and behavioral boundaries within our communications, we hold the other person in high esteem and create fulfilling, lasting relationships.

When dealing with family holiday conflicts it can be helpful for us to try simple, proven communications skills but also to reflect on the wisdom of the question: “Would you rather be loved than be right?” Often times when we elect love over being in control or being right relationships shift for the better.

What Is Success for America?

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Most Americans want to be successful in our lives. But when you look closely at what determines personal fulfillment and success, you’ll be intrigued and surprised.

American Express conducted a study called “The Life Twist Study,” published in early 2013. It examined what American’s believe are the most important and valuable aspects of their lives. The study, based on a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, shows that only one in four Americans still believe that wealth determines success.

An impressive 73 percent, close to three of four people questioned, did not identify wealth as the most important success criteria. This is a revealing statistic if one considers the May 2013 Economist magazine article citing that “Money can indeed buy happiness.” It appears now that more of us are identifying happiness and success in ways that do not target wealth or income as a focus or goal.

The Importance Behind This Data

The outcomes of the study are a bit of a surprise, given our uniquely American obsession with material wealth and accumulation. The top five items identified as most important for an individual’s success include:

  • 85 percent of respondents said health was most essential.
  • 83 percent stated that having a good relationship or marriage is critical.
  • 81 percent said that having good financial management (which is not wealth per se) is extremely important.
  • 81 percent believed in the importance of a good life-work balance.
  • 79 percent (more than three of four subjects) specified that having a job or career you love is essential.

Where Americans Agree

The most agreed-upon element for success, in which 94 percent of the participants agreed, was that being open to change (flexibility and adaptability) is a key component for personal success.

Another interesting finding stated by the author of “The Life Twist Study”:

“Dozens of the survey’s findings reflect a new American notion of success, but perhaps none more starkly than the sentiment that Americans ranked ‘having a lot of money’ 20th on a list of 22 possible contributors to having a successful life. This sentiment mirrors the steadily rising trend… that Americans are increasingly placing greater priority on living a fulfilling life —  in which being wealthy is not the most significant factor.”

Shifting Attitudes

The study offers the most likely cause for the significant change from previous studies on this subject: Our downward economy and high levels of unemployment are having more than just financial impacts. They are contributing to changes in attitudes regarding wealth and success.

The study also reports that 43 percent of Americans say they have experienced a financial setback. However, more than 50 percent of the surveyed stated that their experiences have helped them identify what is really important in their life. In addition, 42 percent of the participants say that going through adversity has opened them up to new experiences.

Transforming Our Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills

workshops

All of us, from time to time, identify things about how we behave that we would like to change. Changing our behavior is very difficult because it is the result of the many learned responses we develop as soon as we come into the world. There is research today suggesting that conditioning that can begin even in the womb.

How we learn to adapt to our environment, what outside events or stimulation feels safe or threatening, how we view the world we live in, what our beliefs and values are, and so forth all play a role in how we learn to behave towards ourselves and others. These factors also influence how we learn to communicate.

The variations of how each of us learns to adapt in the world around are most noticeable when we are in relationships with others. What behaviors each of us bring to a relationship determines how well, or not, we are able to work together, live together or love together.

An example of how our conditioning impacts our relationships is seen in how couples relate to each other and get along before and after having children together. It is often, after the children come along, that the couple begins to have conflicts which stem from how each of the individuals was raised, what values they have, or what they believe is best for raising a healthy or successful child.

While it is inevitable that we do have conflicts with others because we are uniquely different and uniquely conditioned individuals, there are easy to learn, proven communication skills that we can all apply to any of our relationships to make them more fulfilling and positive for both ourselves and others.

A basic and simple skill that we can all apply to our very next encounter to improve our communications with others is putting aside the ongoing conversation in our mind, our concerns of the moment, or what we want to say next, and focusing completely on the individual in front of us and what they are  sharing with us. Being fully present to another person shows them that you value and respect them and that you are sincerely interested in what they are feeling, thinking and communicating with you.

We all want to be valued and in our fast paced, electronic-communication world having another person look at us directly while we speak, respond to us with smiles, head nodding or other gestures that let us know they are listening, without their speaking or interrupting us is a wonderfully validating experience that uplifts both ourselves and the person who is generous enough to give such affirming attention.

If you would like more information on how to make your relationships more rewarding and successful through easy-to-learn, proven communication skills, you can download a free chapter from my book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with East to Learn, Proven Communication Skills by going to www.changingbehavior.org