Your synapses are firing throughout the day to keep you alive and safe.
Your brain holds all of your past experiences and knowledge to help you better interpret what is going on around you and help you to automatically respond to threatening situations.
Your brain wants to be as efficient as possible so it creates links, scripts or stories that it tells itself automatically when something is triggered so that you don’t have to waste any energy in making a decision of what to do next.
This is super helpful in many ways:
When you get into the driver seat of your car your brain tells you to follow a certain script without thinking: “seatbelt, brake, turn on engine, check mirrors, signal, go into drive.”
Or if you were cut off by a dangerous driver later that same day, maybe the script would be: “danger!, brake, slow down, check mirrors, eventually either pass or change lines if necessary to say stay safe and avoid the dangerous driver.”
But our brain can also cause some trouble when it is triggered by something and it makes the wrong interpretation of the event:
When your partner shuts down and pulls away from you.
When your partner isn’t in the mood for sex.
When your partner criticizes something you are doing.
All of these situations are uncomfortable and because our brain wants to keep us safe it can jump to negative scripts or fears:
“They don’t care. They aren’t attracted to me. I’m not good enough.”
And then we automatically react to these assumptions to protect ourselves by:
Pushing our partner to open up, talk, ease our concerns, tell us the truth
Pulling away from our partner so we won’t feel rejected anymore.
And then our partner’s brain makes its own interpretations (also usually incorrect) that cause them to react.
And around and around we go.
The thing is we can’t read our partner’s minds and their behaviors aren’t the full story.
What if when your partner shuts down they are actually beating themselves up inside and worried they’ll never be good enough for you?
What if when your partner declined sex it’s actually because they’ve been feeling insecure about their body and they are worry you’ll be grossed out when you see them naked?
What if when your partner criticizes you they’re actually terrified of being disconnected from you and desperately need your reassurance?
I’m not saying all these examples apply to your relationship every situation is different.
The beautiful thing is if we learn to slow down, listen and respond to each other we can re-write these automatic responses our brain has created so we can still close again.
Our therapists at Love Heal Grow have training in the leading research-based couples therapy of our time and I’ll let you in on a secret – all these methods seek to help people slow the scripts down and reconnect in a different and more secure way.
If you are ready to stop trying to read each other’s minds and instead get closer through listening and understanding, reach out for couples therapy today. We’re here for you.