Early on in our practices we learned that feelings are neurochemically based. Emotions and what we think are vitally interconnected in a feed-back loop in our brain. There aren’t many things in this life we can control (contrary to popular opinion) but we CAN control what we THINK .
In psychology, inner conversation is called self-talk. Research shows self-talk has the power to actually shape our perceptions. The way we talk to ourselves influences how we view ourselves, how we view other people, and how we interact with others.
Self-talk can change negative feelings such as shame, loneliness, and anxiety to feelings of pleasure, reassurance, and safety. Our thoughts also influence our self-esteem and self-confidence. Self-talk not only affects these emotions and characteristics, but also how we view others.
Here’s some basics to guide you:
- Neuroscience has shown us that love has real estate in the brain. Love lights up the right hemisphere.
- Brain scans and longitudinal studies have revealed that neglect, abuse and early chronic stress damages the developing brain and primes people for addiction, disease and premature death.
- Lack of love shrinks the brain’s hippocampus. Neuroplasticity allows for some neural growth and rewiring, but the damage from early severe neglect and abuse may be permanent.
Attachment science tells us that it’s never too late to create a secure base in relationship. While we are wounded in relationship, it’s neurobiologically true that we heal in relationship too. We don’t have to heal in the same relationship where the wound originated, as studies show that, through attuned, reliable emotional connection, we can grow the front of the brain, our pre-frontal cortex, which mediates empathy, trust, intuition, self-regulation, even morality.
Practicing sensitive and responsive communication, mindfulness and compassion (including self-compassion) changes the nervous system, our chemistry and circuitry from an anxious, hyper-vigilant mode to a calmer, more connected state.
It’s not “nature versus nurture,” but both nature AND nurture. When we actively, intentionally and consciously practice strong bonds, we nurture our nature.
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“If you truly loved yourself,
you could never hurt another.”