ADRENALINE CREATES AN excellent medium
for self-feeding loops. For example, the natural anxiety about
meeting someone of the opposite sex can become exaggerated by
your extra fear, so your nervousness shows. Ponder the possibility
that your nervousness will show and that itself can make you
feel nervous, and then your fear of appearing nervous can become
a very real and uncomfortable reality. The fear that your nervousness
will show simply increases your adrenaline output, which makes
your fear even more likely to come true, which makes you even
more worried your nervousness will show. And so on. It's a self-feeding
But within your own body and mind is not
the only place self-feeding loops can thrive. They can also develop
in relationships. Especially close relationships.
Consider Sue and Pete. Sue has strongly
reacting adrenal glands. Pete pulled a muscle yesterday and isn't
in a good mood this morning. He's feeling grumpy and a little
depressed. His sore muscle is making him feel old. Sue doesn't
know this, so when Pete gets out of bed slowly, Sue teases him,
"You're moving a little slowly this morning, aren't you
Sue's comment hits Pete just the wrong
way and he snaps back, "You're getting old as fast as I
am." The venom with which he says this startles Sue, and
her adrenal glands immediately pump two gallons of heart-racing
rocket fuel into her bloodstream. In the blink of an eye, she
goes from a little hurt to totally pissed off. After a certain
level of physiological arousal, a person becomes unreasonable.
Sue, very angry now, is unreasonable and makes accusations and
threats she would never make in her right mind.
Pete responds in kind because all of Sue's
unreasonableness has really started ticking him off too. They
may argue for an hour. Both of them may spend the whole day stewing
in their own stress hormones literally soaking in stress
chemicals all day making them feel distressed and uncomfortable,
making them less effective at their work, and doing harm to their
Consider the same opening scenario with
one difference: Sue has meditated every day for the last two
weeks, once a day for twenty minutes. She has also made an effort
to remind herself to take a deep, slow breath whenever she feels
When Pete snaps at her in response to her
joke, she immediately notices her body's reaction. Even though
she has been meditating, her adrenal glands still respond, just
not as intensely. The feeling of stress reminds her to take a
deep breath. With that small difference, her response is a little
different than it was in the first scenario. She has a second
to think. Her system doesn't overload her. She says, "What's
the matter, honey?"
Can you see what a different scene will
play out from that? It will be much less stressful for both of
them. It will save both of them some needless suffering. It will
save them both some time. Remember, they fought for an hour.
When you don't feel like meditating, when
your motivation isn't very high, when you don't feel like relaxing
your tensions, or when you feel like drinking coffee, and your
motivation to make your own life better lags, think of your
spouse. You can lower your spouse's stress level by lowering
your own. Making your own system less reactive prevents those
nasty self-feeding loops from happening in your relationships.
It is a great gift you can give to someone you love.
Reduce your spouse's stress
by managing your anxiety well.
Your calmness can also improve your ability
to listen well and cultivate closeness, which will also benefit
your spouse. Read more about that here.