Among the readings I have recently ingested. I came upon a video and a subsequent article that stated that we are in the relationships we are in simply because its what we know. We know how to deal with our current relationship, no matter how hard or how difficult. No matter how unhealthy, we go back time and time again because it's what we know. Learning new ways of dealing with things would be uncomfortable and open us up to feeling things outside of our comfort zone therefore producing anxiety, vulnerability and emotional overload. So we maintain our survivor modes.
Or as some would say, we put on our "Martyr Capes".
If this sounds all too familiar to you, then try this on for size;
There is a science to this madness.
The brain's receptors are desensitized to the trappings of the current relationship. It's what the Brain has come to know as "normal". We can function. This is what we know. This is what we're used to. We have been conditioned, just like Pavlovs dogs. If we veer outside of this, we are uncomfortable.
Have you ever broken up with someone and dated someone new? Upon going on a date with this "new" person, you felt out of place? Mistrusting? Felt as though this person doesnt know you, and that they are just feeding you the lines they think you want to hear? So mistrusting that it is almost impossible to have a good time?
This "new" experience is outside of your comfort zone! Yelling, screaming, criticism, apathy and arguing is your norm. Someone being nice , complimenting you, and listening to you, just for the enjoyment of spending time with you is foreign! This new incoming information doesnt line up with what your brain knows as "normal"and the body responds with uneasy feelings and real discomfort.
Believe me, when I heard this information, I was floored. I guess because I am used to science being the constant in my life, I trust science to explain many things, but my relationship? Wow!
The article states that this phenomena is comparative to "drug & alcohal addiction". The hypothalmus (part of the brain) makes certain chemicals (peptides) that match up with certain emotions we experience on a daily basis. So there are chemicals identified to correlate with anger, sadness, joy, victimization, love, etc.. Immediately upon experiencing this emotion, the brain produces the chemical and releases it into the bloodstream and the flow takes it to the "receptors". (receptors: arms or hands that act as gateways to the inside of cells) When the chemical (peptide) reaches the receptor it locks in. The chemical (peptide) then sends a signal into the cell.
Experience of this continually conditions those receptors, and shapes how we think and respond. An overload of this chemical to the receptor, changes the receptor. Therefore also changes the cell. The cell before this chemical, had an instructional guide. It had a job to do and knew what chemicals it needed to do that job. But when we overload it with one certain chemical the instructions change. The cell doesnt recognize good or bad.
It only recognizes the presence of this chemical. This chemical is so strong and so frequent that the cell now recognizes a need for it. When the cell realizes a reduction in the chemical it looks for it. The cell sends a message to the brain, "I need my fix today". The brain then looks for the stimulus for this chemical, which was the Emotion that produced it. So if your anger or frustration, or depression caused that chemical to be produced, your body is now seeking it.
The brain now looks for things to cause the emotion, so that the chemical will be released from the hypothalamus. Even if you decide to leave the relationship. The need of your body for that chemical draws you back to the stimulus. (the bad relationship)
It needs the "fix" of depression or anger. If you are not in the relationship the brain takes to your memory to depress you. It needs it's fix. Your body is now addicted to your anger and depression.
We are physical, chemical and emotional beings.
This is what makes us human. This only becomes a limitation when we keep accessing those same emotions and attitudes on a daily basis, that don't serve us and go nowhere in terms of growth or evolution within the relationship.
How can we say that we want a better relationship, when we are experiencing and reacting to the same emotions and experiences everyday?
How about this? A new chemical comes into play.
It might be the right chemical, produced by the right emotion but the brain recognizes it as "abnormal" and triggers the body to respond accordingly. We have trained our brain to be unable to recognize what is good for us. Now, when the "new peaceful and joyous experiences" that our heart, body and peaceful mind really need and is actually good for us, won't be recognized by our brain. We actually are now uncomfortable, because of the new "joyous" experiences. We dont know how to react. Now what?
Next time: How to break the addiction of a Bad relationship.
- Rick Hanson, Ph.D.: Fire up Those Neurons for Positive Thinking (huffingtonpost.com)