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Growing up, we learn how to communicate with the most important people in our lives – our caregivers; the people on whom we rely for our survival. Usually, these are our parents. Sometimes, we have other important people in our lives, like siblings, grandparents, or other family or friends.
By the time you become self-sufficient and no longer rely on your caregivers for survival, you have developed habits of communication that are hard-wired in your nervous system.
Your nervous system is concerned about one thing and one thing only: your survival. As a result, any time you sense emotional danger (hurt, distrust, rejection, abandonment, etc.) you are wired to react without thinking. This is unconscious and automatic, and it happens quickly.
Healthy relationships require emotionally-regulated systems. In relationships, we are responsible for understanding one another’s nervous system. In love, our nervous systems are in constant communication – sending cues of danger or cues of safety. Eighty percent of what is transpiring between you and your partner is influenced by your nervous system’s perception of safety or danger.
When your system interprets danger, you automatically move into self-protective reactions. When you sense cues of safety, you are able to relax, be playful and let your guard down.
Effective communication requires an accurate understanding of automated reactions and conscious efforts to change this wiring. The good news is you CAN change the automated reactions that are hardwired in your nervous system by doing small things over and over. The key is to do the right small things.
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