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How to rewire your brain to develop healthy relationships with your friends and family


Struggling with an insecure attachment style can make it virtually impossible to have truly healthy relationships with the people you care about most. Whether its anxious attachment or avoidant, perhaps you’ve been reading about attachment styles and have come to realize you’ve got insecurities that you need to overcome in order to be happy. Either way, it is possible to “rewire” your brain and revolutionize your relationships with other people.

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Hal Shorey explains how the brain works — and how you can change your own negative perceptions with just a few simple tweaks.

Transforming negatives into positives

Dr. Shorey explains that with dedication, it is possible to transform negative thought loops into positive ones. Neural pathways that are used frequently become stronger, while those that are used less often became weaker.

“So, if you have been stuck in a cycle of recalling painful memories or imagining anxiety-provoking interactions or heartbreak, these circuits will be well established and readily triggered,” he explains.

But new memories and emotions can be used to re-wire the brain and build a more positive outlook. Repeating positive, imaginary experiences coupled with positive emotions can yield amazing results — but it does take time. Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can strengthen these positive pathways.

Dr. Shorey says that one of the biggest changes you can make is to stop criticizing yourself so intensely. The negative self-talk so many of us engage in does nothing but strengthen a negative, anxiety-ridden life experience. Positive self-talk is integral to overcoming insecurity.

Positive affirmation cards and “mirror work” are some other great options for supporting a healthier emotional state. Read positive statements to yourself out loud, or look in a mirror while saying something nice to yourself, like “I love you.”

Shorey says that with time, these techniques and others can help to “rewire” your brain. But how does it all work?

How the emotional brain works

As Dr. Shorey explains, an area of the brain known as the “limbic system” is charged with controlling most human emotions.  The amygdala is one of the system’s major parts, playing a key role in emotional memories and responses, as well as attachment processes. The almond-shaped organ is known for producing autonomic responses associated with emotional stimulation, fear and arousal.

It’s also linked to mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and social phobias.

“The amygdala is an automatic processor and storehouse of emotional memories. We can use our knowledge of how the amygdala works to shape our own personalities,” writes Shorey.

As the expert explains, the amygdala receives sensory information from the thalamus. It then determines if the arriving sensory input is a “threat” or “not a threat.”

Shorey notes that what makes for a threat can vary greatly from person to person; your attachment style and emotional sensitivity have a tremendous impact on what you may view as a threat. Some information regarded as a “threat” by the amygdala may be so subtle that you don’t even notice it. Once a threat has been detected by the amygdala, adrenaline is released.

But the amygdala doesn’t just receive signals from the thalamus, it gets information from the cortex as well. The “conscious processing” center will also make its own decision on whether or not the threat is real, and send a message to the amygdala.

But, there need not be an actual, external trigger for this warning message to be sent. The cortex can send threat signals to the amygdala even when there is no threat, simply through imagination.

“The point here is that what our emotional systems respond to is incoming data, but these systems do not care where that data is coming from (real situation or imagination). Because of this, emotional experiences can be modified intentionally by using your imagination and your own voice and words,” Shorey explains.

By using the brain’s own pathways and processing, negative loops can be changed into positive ones — without Big Pharma’s toxic drug cocktails. Learn more about natural approaches to health at AlternativeMedicine.news.

Sources for this article include:

PsychologyToday.com

DANA.org

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