Knowing Ourselves Through RelationshipsBy Dr. Margaret Paul
May 10, 2021
Knowing your own mind means that you get to consciously choose your intent in relationship to others, instead of operating on automatic pilot.
"We come to know our own minds through our interactions with others." ~'Mindsight,' Daniel Siegel, M.D.
I've often stated that relationships are the Ph.D. of personal growth – particularly our primary relationship with an intimate partner. Since we develop our most basic fears and beliefs in relationship to our parents, siblings, peers, teachers and others in authority as we grow up, we need to be in relationship to others - especially primary others - to become aware of these fears and beliefs. It is our important relationships that most trigger our fears and false beliefs.
Knowing your own mind is vitally important to being able to make loving choices on your own behalf and on behalf of others.
Yet, far too often, we get stuck on automatic pilot, reacting from the programmed fears and beliefs of our wounded self rather than from our conscious choice.
When we operate from our ego wounded self, we are automatically and unconsciously choosing the intent to control something and to avoid something. We are operating from our lower mind in the limbic system – specifically in the amygdala. The problem is that we cannot be aware of this from our lower mind. Our lower mind isn't capable of seeing and knowing itself.
We can see and know our lower mind only from our higher mind, which is the part that operates from the prefrontal cortex.
From this perspective, which is where the loving adult resides, we can know both our higher mind and our lower mind. We activate our loving adult when we consciously choose the intent to learn about loving ourselves and others.
Unless we were raised by warm, caring, attentive, connected parents who were attuned to their feelings and ours, and who knew how to help us regulate our feelings, we didn't develop the necessary neural pathways in our prefrontal cortex.
However, as Daniel Siegel states in "Mindsight," new research proves that our brains can develop these pathways at any age. This is called neuroplasticity, and is really great news! This means that even if we were traumatized, abused, or neglected, we can heal. We can develop the neural pathways necessary to consciously choose to love ourselves and love others at any time.
The practice of Inner Bonding develops these new neural pathways for the loving adult.
The more you practice Step One of Inner Bonding - staying present and mindful within your body, and opening to your feelings throughout the day, and then moving into Step Two, the intent to learn, as soon as you feel anything other than peace and fullness inside, the more you develop these neural pathways. The more you explore your fears and beliefs, in Step Three, and then open to learning with your guidance about truth and love, in Step Four, the more you develop these neural pathways. When you then take loving action for yourself, in Step Five, you continue to develop these neural pathways. Each step develops these important pathways so that, with time and practice, it becomes easier and easier to move through the steps.
We learn to see our own lower mind, our wounded self, in Step Three. When we open to learning about the false beliefs of the wounded self, we gradually become aware of our programmed automatic beliefs and resulting behavior. We come to know our own subconscious mind, and the subconscious becomes conscious. Since our fears and beliefs are often triggered in relationships, much of our learning occurs in response to our relationships.
The more we practice Inner Bonding, the stronger our loving adult becomes, and the easier it is to clearly see our own mind. With practice, we develop the ability to have conscious choice over our intent to either learn or control. It is this ability to have deliberate choice over our intent that moves us into our personal power and the ability to truly share love.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Today, think about what you do that makes you feel invisible to others. Do you give in to others rather than stand in your truth? Do you avoid asking for what you want to avoid rejection? Do you act like everything is okay when it isn't? Do you agree with others to avoid conflict? Do you ignore your own feelings but attend to others' feelings? If you sometimes feel invisible, notice what you may be doing to create this.
By Dr. Margaret Paul