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Overcome toxic emotions to improve your relationships

Alberto Villoldo, PhD, is a psychologist and medical anthropologist, and has studied the healing practices of the Amazon and the Andean shamans for more than 25 years. The author of many bestselling books including The Four Insights: Wis...

Get rid of health-harming emotions

You are always in relationship with another, be it your beloved, your family, the taxi driver or yourself. Relationships bring out the best and worst emotions in us. When you're in a relationship, it's easy to get overwhelmed with instinctive "toxic" emotions that begin to negatively affect your physical and emotional well-being as well as your long-term brain health. Here's how you can overcome toxic emotions in your relationships and be the happiest and healthiest you can be.

Woman meditating

Toxic emotions are instinctive

Instinctive emotions are produced by ancient survival reflexes – often coupled with old memories of trauma – that are wired into your brain. You relentlessly attempt to convince yourself that you were right and the other person was wrong, even years after the event.

Toxic emotions of fear, sorrow, envy, jealousy and anger dredge up stories from your childhood or previous relationships. These old stories are superimposed onto the current moment and relationship, and that specific toxic neural network is reinforced in your brain.

Overcome toxic emotions to improve your relationships

1Create new neural pathways to create the relationship you want

Direct your attention toward new, positive neural connections of emotions you want to create in the relationship. Your brain can stop using the old emotional suffering networks, which will eventually fall by the wayside. Research now demonstrates that if you merely imagine yourself engaging in an activity, you can create the neural connections associated with learning it – without actually performing it. So focus attention on the positive emotions – well-being, happiness, trust and compassion – that will allow you to build the relationship you want.

2Meditate to focus on positive emotions

Research shows meditation practices not only change the structure of your brain, but can help you create and express emotions in a more positive manner. Practice stillness each day. From this place of stillness you can focus attention on positive emotions, heal the toxic emotions and discover inner peace.

3Write a new story for your relationship

When we forgive ourselves and others, we can reprogram the toxic neural networks in our brain. It works by re-imprinting the image of a loved one over the image of someone who has wronged you. Although you can override the programming of the old story, it is not an easy practice, because the mind will resist holding the image of a loved one together with that of an enemy. In your mind, or on a piece of paper, write a new story you want for the relationship.

4Seek stillness and enlightenment

Learn the qualities attributed to enlightened beings: inner peace, wisdom, compassion, joy, creativity and new vision of the future and for relationships.

By taking action now and learning to shift those toxic emotions, you are ready to engage your relationships in a new and enlightened way. Learn more at: www.powerupyourbrain.com.

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