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Do you think learning communication skills always feels like work? Here is a way to make learning communication skills fun!

What if developing communication skills in a relationship felt easeful, even leading to a sense of empowerment over time?  Sadly, this is not usually the case and here’s why.  Couples often don’t look for tools until repeated conflict arises.  By the time dissatisfaction begins to be expressed, there is already a certain amount of distress built up in each person and the relationship. Obviously when we feel stressed, hurt, fearful, or angry it can be more difficult to find our internal balance and curiosity, making learning more challenging.  

Why can it be more challenging to learn new tools during upsets?

When a sense of disconnection happens between people this creates activation in the brain and nervous system releasing stress chemicals. This can bring up defensive survival patterns from childhood. It can take some time and work to get to a more neutral baseline and be able to absorb the new information and structure of the communication tool being learned. This is a normal part of the process.  However, when we connect positive feelings associated with the practice as well as with our partner, it is much easier for our brain to default to what has yielded pleasurable results.  This helps us take on the new tool much more quickly and easefully.  Read on to discover how to make learning fun and how making learning fun will encourage your brain to grow.

How can active listening using positive experiences make learning fun? 

Healthy relationships are a large determining factor in our overall quality of life. A game changer, that not many know about, is sharing positive experiences using a tool like active listening (as taught in Module 1 of the RDP Couples Communication Course). The positive experiences can be individual memories, past shared memories with your partner, or even dreams of the future. Mirror neurons get activated transmitting the joy, excitement, expansion, etc. being expressed.  This creates feel-good chemicals, like endorphins and oxytocin, which are shown to support physical health, as well as strengthen the bond between couples. We, or more specifically our brain begins to associate practicing with pleasure! Active listening is a deceptively simple yet powerful tool for intimacy.

Why does doing something fun encourage neuroplasticity? 

Another benefit of having fun when practicing communication skills is that when challenges do come up, and they will, we more readily choose, with a sense of confidence, to implement our new tools/behaviors instead of old reactive patterns. This process is called neuroplasticity. The brain literally begins to carve out new pathways associated with positive pleasurable feelings while weakening the ones that no longer serve us. It is truly exciting news that our brains remain plastic all our lives so there is always room for growth and deeper satisfaction with our partnerships. 

A tip for new couples:  

Couples often wait until conflict arises to learn new communication skills.  Sometimes they don’t come into couples counseling until years down the road.  However, the beginning of a relationship is also a great time to do this.  During this time, things are usually going pretty well.  The so-called “honeymoon period” in a new relationship can be a great time to set the foundation for good communication that can be relied upon when issues inevitably surface. When we are in this first phase of a relationship there is usually a lot of communication going on as we desire to discover more about each other, therefore bringing in new practices to enhance mutual understanding aligns with the positive emotions already engaged. It is a healthy aspect of human nature to want to repeat and practice what truly feels good.

Final thoughts
Good communication skills are a doorway into cultivating safety, vulnerability, and intimacy between couples. In time, and with practice, our skills incorporate naturally into a way of being.  Eventually, our positive communication skills become our default patterning.  We move toward each other’s inner worlds with a sense of openness, curiosity, and joy. We begin to experientially know that as we make space for genuine connection it feels good.  Research has been showing that playfulness increases the level of neural plasticity of our brains! So, let’s have fun getting to know ourselves and our partners better.


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