Neuroception also mobilizes our defenses when we detect a threat, which is what’s happening with Christine and Jack.
Even though they “know” cognitively that they’re safe with each other, their senses are receiving very different information through each other’s voices, eyes, facial expressions, and body language.
When we don’t feel safe, our bodies don’t want to engage, connect, or provide the emotional warmth our relationships need in order to thrive.
Creating a secure and safe bond
How does a couple convey emotional safety to each other under stress? How do they consciously pave the way for a connection that leaves them inspired and wanting more?
Stan Tatkin, PsyD, the developer of the Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT), incorporates neuroscience to teach couples how to recognize the safety and security system of their relationship to create and maintain lasting love.
In learning how to cultivate a sense of safety on a neuroceptive level, Christine and Jack began to intentionally communicate feelings of interest, acceptance, and love to each other.
They focused on being more intentional about greeting each other in a way that reassured and invited the other in. As they practiced this, their eyes and faces softened, and their voices became calmer and friendlier. Soon, a new way of connecting was possible between them.
Instead of dreading their reunions, they begin to look forward to them.
The beauty of a nervous system that helps us survive life-threatening events is that it also supports us in deepening our feelings of closeness and connection with one another.
Our relationships are far from boring when we feel safe. Emotional safety enables us the freedom to collaborate, dream, be wildly creative, share bold ideas, feel increased compassion, and express ourselves freely with one another.
The more we understand how our bodies play a role in our relationships, the more we can make them work for us instead of against us.
By Ellen Boeder