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Monday, July 18, 2016

Can you provide a non anxious presence to others?

Amy Banks writes in her book, Wired To Connect, "A new field of scientific study, one I call relational neuroscience, has shown us that there is hardwiring throughout our brains and bodies designed to help us engage in satisfying emotional connection with others." p.3 Dr. Banks then goes on to describe four neural pathways which she describes as the smart vagus nerve, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, the mirroring system, and the dopamine reward system.

The first neural pathway has to do with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system more commonly known as the "fight/fright/flight" response when we are threatened and/or stressed.

Banks asks us to consider our relationships with the 5 people we spend the most time with or spend the most time thinking about and on a scale of 1 - 5 with 1 being none, 5 being always and 3 being half the time, rate how we experience these relationships one at a time with these questions:
I trust this person with my feelings: This person trusts me with his/her feelings; I feel safe being in conflict with this person; This person treats me with respect; In this relationship, I feel calm; I can count on this person to help me out in an emergency; In this relationship it's safe to acknowledge differences.

In Bowen theory, the concept of anxiety is very important. People have different set points of anxiety with some being very high strung and others very laid back. On a scale of 1 - 10 how anxious are you most of the time? What would help you lower your usual level of anxiety and tension? There are many ways of doing this from chemicals, whether medications or other drugs licit and illicit, and behaviors such as relaxation and meditation and "chilling out."

In your relating to other people to what extent are you a non anxious presence? It is providing a  non-anxious presence which Edwin Friedman, one of Murray Bowen's students, believed to be the most important therapeutic contribution of a psychotherapist. The question is how does a person achieve a low level of anxiety so that he/she can be a non anxious presence with other people?

To be continued


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