When we apply an understanding of neuroplasticity, i.e., how the brain’s neurological functioning adapts to change, we can appreciate that we all have the capacity to heal from past trauma and wounding interpersonal experiences. Just as our wiring can be negatively altered from painful exchanges (e.g., resulting in faulty reactionary systems such as a hypersensitivity to threat), so may it heal from new and positive experiences. For example, when we share with people we trust and receive in return love and kindness, we become open to the potential for a corrective emotional experience (a positive experience that can override and even heal prior negative experiences). It’s almost as if our brains are subject to an autoimmune response in that when we are mistreated by others, we tend to turn on ourselves. However, when we are appropriately nourished and cared for, we develop a stable and resilient neurological system – and the new science is showing that it’s never too late to get that which has been deprived.
The motivation to build and maintain positive relationships is amplified when we recognize how our neurological functioning is impacted. Research has demonstrated that kind words, patience, understanding and validation from others literally enhances our immune systems. Our resilience to stress becomes stronger and we are able to face difficult times with less depression, anxiety and fear. When we consider just how powerful these small opportunities can be, we can allow ourselves to be inspired by their incredible potential.
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