Are you looking for mutually satisfying relationships and sustained joy?
Learn to read minds.
At Life Model Works, we call this the “Level 3 of the control center.” It is what helps us synchronize energy levels with other people, read their body language, and gauge their well being on a moment-by-moment basis.
The result is, we feel some of what they feel as we put ourselves in their shoes. We understand their perspective. A painful misfiring of this system leaves us disconnected, isolated and frustrated. It is difficult to sustain joy at home when we cannot hear what others are saying or feel what they feel.
THRIVE Training sharpens this skill with a variety of training exercises that alternate between rest and face-to-face joy, along with creative nonverbal activities. With practice we fine-tune this important relational brain system. The result of properly engaging the Level 3 reading system is the ability to “link” our brains in such a way that our interactions are rewarding and fulfilling.
The nonverbal aspects of our conversations create mutual connection. We both feel validated, comforted and understood. We are glad to be together. It is not so much our words, rather, the rapid exchange of nonverbal signals that are detected, interpreted and transmitted. The brain processes nonverbal communication much more rapidly than words. This dynamic process engages the brain regions that determine whether we will approach or avoid, or break into the two-step.
When this brain system is misfiring, sustaining joy becomes most difficult. Non-relational patterns emerge as the defensive areas of the brain at Level 2 steer our interactions. We feel alone, guarded, triggered and anxious. We fail to attune. We may incorrectly interpret facial and body cues based on what we feel and think instead of the what is actually felt and expressed in the other person. We may say things like, “You look angry, what is your problem?” “Am I boring you?” Sustaining joy quickly heads south for the winter.
Here are five suggestions for amplifying the reading system.
- Clarify what you think is going on in the other person’s mind. “It looks like you are tired. Is something wrong?” And, “You sound upset with me. Did I do something?” These questions update our minds.
- Seek mutually satisfying goals. “It is a high value for me to protect our time for joy. I would like to be supportive, not annoying in this process. How can I be an encouragement for you as we seek to practice joy?”
- Identify triggers and practice relational sandwiches. Sometimes people are simply lost in their own distress and unable to gauge what is happening in another person’s mind. Relational sandwiches are a simple and successful way to navigate discussions so we keep relationships bigger than problems. See Joy Starts Here Chapter Eight for more.
- Play games like Charades and tell nonverbal stories. Exercise 10.2 in the THRIVE Basic Skill Guide gives you the opportunity to practice nonverbal stories from events in your day. This interactive exercise, and others like it, amplifies your reading system. Try this fun exercise and notice the result.
- Pursue additional training with THRIVE, Connexus and Joy Rekindled marriage retreats to further strengthen this essential brain system.
This is part five of Chris Coursey’s series on living with sustained joy. You should go back and read parts one, two, three and four.
Learn more in Thrive Training
Want to live with sustained joy? Be sure to read the rest of this series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.)
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