Once we have stopped sabotaging our relationship with threats and criticisms, we can act quickly to start filling the space with healing positivity. (People aren’t going to know what hit them!) Here’s how:
First, notice that habitual negative memories and feelings take over our bodies, not just our minds. Notice how often we can resolve to be kind, just prior to acting mean! This happens because the hurt or negative feelings have formed “body habits” that hijack the mind, making it nearly impossible to resurrect love. In fact, having watched thousands of hours of family therapy sessions I’ve recorded in my office I can tell you that people in stale or conflicted relationships often get hijacked by the negative emotions held in their body. You can watch it happen, even when they don’t mean to. So, if we want to resurrect love, we need to work our negativity out of our bodies, not just our minds.
How do we do that? Brain research offers a clear answer:
We must ambush our relationship with experiences that are novel, highly active and fun.
Novelty is important because new and different experiences take over our brain, making old and habitually negative brain activity almost impossible. So, if the familiar pattern is to hang out (and have conflict) in the kitchen, then have your next conversation in the living room. Better yet, go to a coffee shop, go for a walk, or visit a restaurant you’ve never been to. Get creative. Rearrange the furniture, start playing different music in the background and use an essential oil diffuser.
High levels of activity are important because physical activity stimulates both sides of our brain, making it difficult to collapse into old “stuck” emotions. So rather than sitting down to talk, consider walking or riding bikes or horses (hey, why not?).
Fun is important because pleasurable activity releases positive, soothing hormones and neurotransmitters into the brain. The presence of these chemicals makes old, negative patterns much more difficult to activate. So, consider playful activities, such as playing a game, dancing, or even going to a park and soaking up the fun others are having.
It’s time to take charge and begin filling our relationship with positivity. It’s time to exercise some fresh imagination and invite others into some activity that is novel, different and fun. It’s time to resurrect love!