You and your partner both have full lives – full of emotions, jobs, tasks, children, histories, phone calls from the parents, the goals for the future, the finances… the list goes on. Modern life doesn’t show many signs of slowing down any time soon, and we weren’t really raised to know how to deal with all of this high level of stimulation. I’m a GenXer – we didn’t even have the internet when I was a teenager. Life is speeding up.
You hold the to-do list in your mind, and when you crash at the end of the day, you notice what has been left undone. You may even lose sleep over it. You might drink to deal with it all. If you have figured all of this out already and are living free of stress, awesome, this blog post is not for you. If you are most humans and can relate, read on.
Because if you are living like this, and also want meaningful relationships, you and your partner both need to do something about your individual stress.
Chances are, if you are looking at a to-do list of all the things that are not done, you are also critical of yourself, and also your partner. If you are maxed, chances are good that you are looking at the heaps of dirty laundry and identifying that your partner has not washed this laundry. If you are working hard and still worried about finances, chances are you are looking to the other person in the relationship and asking what they are doing about it.
You have your own stress, your list of worries, and if you are not careful and mindful, each stress and each worry may become a brick in a wall between the two of you.
Because when we are in fear and scarcity about anything, it is going to impact our primary relationship. We can’t be in stress, fear, and fight or flight in some areas of our lives and then completely turn it off for our relationship with our partner. Brain chemistry just doesn’t work that way.
Recently, I was giving a webinar and talking about the brain in stress, and two hardworking people currently looking to improve their connection said, “Oh, I didn’t think about how my work stress was impacting our relationship.”
Modern humans are living somewhere near fight or flight in the nervous system all the time. For the decades that I was, I didn’t even realize it. Signs that you are, also include short breath, breath only goes into your chest instead of filling out the body, stomach issues, consistent worry, falling into bed exhausted, insomnia – to name a few.
These are signs of sympathetic arousal – the aspect of the autonomic nervous system that goes into effect when we are under fight or flight, or when something is wrong. When we are in this state, we are protective, fearful, and we point fingers, or worse.
In consistent fight or flight mode, you continue to build a wall between you and even the one that you want to connect with most. It would be a great time to ask yourself how you are doing this in your relationship now.
This is how your partner, the one you want to get closer to, begins to look like an enemy. Modern life is disrupting your connection – with yourself and with your partner.
You really can’t be expected to navigate the modern world without consciously understanding stress, the effect on the brain and body, and taking steps together with your partner to ease these effects. You can dismantle the walls, you can ease fight or flight. And when you do, the brain knows how to socially engage again, which is great news for the real intimacy and connection you crave – under it all.
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