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  • richardharkness33

Your distracted brain is ruining your relationship

Let’s start with the glaringly obvious fact we all know but few of us are really tackling.


We all know mobile phones are, in many ways, horrible for us.


Before you click away because you’ve heard it all before I promise I’m going somewhere with this.


( and bear in mind it could be your overstimulated brain that’s stopping you being able to hold focus long enough to keep reading! ).


Mobile phones are our shiny little attention seeking, focus draining companions.


A complex relationship and not the kind of relationship that is best for us.


Yet they are only one form of hyperstimulation of the brain that can be taking away from your minds potential. Others forms of similar stimulation include:


Drugs ( including the ones society deems acceptable and taxable )

Gaming

Gambling

Pornography


Yet perhaps something we don’t often consider how these are ruining our relationship?


To understand why we need to rewind the clock on human history to a time and pace of life unimaginable to modern humans.


For most of humans history on this earth we were used to little more noise than the sound animals, conversation or grunts from our fellow humans. Long periods would have been spent alone, walking in silence with our thoughts as our main companion.


What by modern standards would seem like unfathomable, and for most of us insufferable, periods of nothing much at happening at all.


Focused on the world around us looking for our next meal, tending to our primitive homes and seeing to our young.


Nothing much to distract us from the thoughts in our heads.


THIS is the world which our brain is hardwired for. Our hardware hasn’t changed at all.

But in the last 100 years or less the pace and level of stimulation available in life has rapidly accelerated.

What used to be a rush to us like a fresh strawberry or the zest of a lemon hasn’t got a look in next to apps, the latest bite of doom from our news feed, the escapism of an online world or the endless sexual buffet of choice in online porn.

In this context perhaps we can see why these things listed above are classed as “supranormal” forms of stimulation.


They light up our reward and addiction centres of the brain. Instant hits of pleasure and opiate release in the brain ( not dopamine — that’s whats released in anticipation of the reward ).


All this supranormal stimulation is way beyond what we are wired for.


But with this comes a nasty price to our relationships that gets slowly worse over time.


Through pathways in the brain something called “down regulation” occurs.

What was once was an exciting and novel distraction and relief from day to day existence and our occasional mildly terrifying thoughts stops working. So we seek more, our system responds, becomes sensitised to the new thing and so again it stops working. Whats even more alarming is we not only get used to it but our brains response actually reduces.

What we sought to give relief from normal existence is no longer rewarding and our normal existence is getting pushed further and further down the list of “rewarding activity” in our brains.


How might this overstimulation and down regulation show up in our relationship?


See if you identify with any of the following?


  • Finding life boring and like an endless treadmill.

  • Finding our relationship dull and overly familiar.

  • Avoiding wanting to do things with our partners so we can consume more of the above.

  • Making unhealthy comparisons and expectations of our partners.

  • Being unable to concentrate on what our partner is saying or unable to recall things that have happened with them ( filed under “boring” so easily forgotten ).

  • Being so focused on our devices we miss the warning signs our relationship is in decline going on around us.

  • Our partners sensing this and withdrawing to their devices too — or worse the arms of someone else that’s present and engaged and interested in them.

Some or many of these might be going on for you and you may have no idea what was causing it or why you felt the way you felt.

On paper maybe you have it all according to the modern world. Yet you feel empty and turning to these sources of pleasure over and over.


It’s well established what these methods of trying to ease our minds do to us and our ability to concentrate and be productive.


But next time you reach for your favourite temporary balm, take a moment to pause, breath, and ask yourself what is it taking away from your relationships?


Come back to the world.


Best wishes in your journey.


Man and woman sat on a sofa at opposite ends. Both are ignoring one another and staring into their mobile phones

( If this has helped you or you’ve been on this journey and recognised it in your own life I’d love to hear from you. )


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