This could also be described as the’ contentment and soothing system.’
There are times when we are not under any threat and no do we want to achieve or do something ; we are content with the way things are and simply chilled out.
Our minds slow down , and this feeling of slowing can help us learn to be present in the moment . It turns out that the brain system involved in helping us feel content, calm, not threatened or rushing around doing thing, are also very importantly linked to kindness and affection ,
How does that work ?
Well, consider the baby who is distressed .
What will calm the baby ?
Sometimes , stimulating and distracting hi, or her can help, but mostly it is receiving a cuddle and the soothing tones of the mother’s voice.
Indeed, when we are distressed , we often like to turn to other people who(we hope) will be understanding , supportive and kind- – and these qualities often calm us down. It doesn’t necessarily reduce the problem as such, but to feel understand and valued is very important.
If you are depressed , you may say.’Yes, but I don’t have anybody who really understands me.’ If this is true at least highlight the fact that you intuitively understand that the quality of relationship is very important to your wellbeing.
Sometimes we need to work to build relationships, and of course that’s a two-way process. If you want other people to take an interest in you, it helps to place yourself in situations where there are people you can relate to- for example , working for a charity or joining a club. Taking an interest in other people helps , too. There is now good evidence that the more interest we take in others the happier we are, whereas the more we get focused on our own problems the less happy we are.
However , there is one type of relationship that is essential to you and does not depend on other people – this is the relationship you have with yourself. We know that signals of kindness are very powerful to our brains, so it makes sense that if we learn to be kind, valuing and supportive of ourselves this will stimulate the brain system that create positive feelings in us.
In turn, this will help us to lift out of depression . In contrast , if we are critical and constantly putting ourselves down with an angry voice then we will be stimulating the threat system . When we do that we are stimulating all kinds of processes in our brains and bodies that can make us feel bad- and if we do that day in , day out then you can see how this can only increase or maintain depression , not lift us out of it.
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