Our brains are hardwired to detect any possible dangers, and to act fast in order to survive. That’s a basic pattern of the brain function. For the brain – a danger is a danger, so there is no big difference between a fire threat and an offense in close relationships.
That’s how evolution worked out. A vital part of our biological survival is being a part of social system of relationships. Without hanging up in social space we can’t survive as species. To feel secure and to thrive – it is crucial for us to develop and maintain our social and personal relationships.
Society, no matter if you like it or not – operates on principles of deep conditioning: you’d make a wrong move, you’ll be rejected or punished. You were practicing and learning social rules of relationships from the beginning of your life; you’ve learned as a kid that your parents’ grim faces bring painful feelings (a fear of losing the value of belonging); the emotional pain taught you to avoid such situations. Later on you’ve learned that people would like you for something, and dislike you for other things. There are interpersonal strokes and rewards, there are also pains and no-gains.
Our minds are conditioned. Period.
Lack of loving connection – if we expect love to be there – is perceived by the brain as a pain (a threat to safety of belonging we need). A threat is a threat, and the mind acts fast to eliminate dis-pleasure and threats, using (conditioned) strategies learned in the past. That’s the simple description of what happens when we react impulsively to something unpleasant our partner does.
Things are much more complicated, given variety of strategies and our personal ability to be responsive or reactive; the ability to self-regulation. But it’s good to get a simple picture of what happens in loving relationship when the brain perceives a threat and hijacks love.
When we understand that our conditioned minds operate on a kind of an old software system (our conditioning from the past), we might look not for a new lover (starting the same cycle again) but for a better response system. And maybe looking for new ways of connecting and communicating.
If you’d have a good computer with an old Windows operating system (anybody remembers Windows 2000?) – would you buy a new computer or a new system?
Let’s explore what makes us using the old Windows 2000 in our intimate relationships, on and on.