This is a post in the Choosing Change series inspired by the work of Dr. Dan Siegel, UCLA)

When your Brain and Mind engages in goal-oriented activity to develop skills that produce constructive, functional, and “win-win” Relationship outcomes with the Brain and Mind of your partner, your effort not only results in the creation of a Triangle of Well-being but your interactions with each other also results in the production of good Interpersonal Neurobiology.

Listed below are 12 “losing strategies” that either create or continue conflict in relationships, followed by 12 “winning strategies” which when integrated into your life help to not only create a good Triangle of Well-being within yourself but will also help you to (re)create good Interpersonal Neurobiology with your partner.

After each losing and winning strategy is a question posited to assist you in deriving insights and answers that will hopefully help you to make sense of any situation that creates conflict and begs for repair. I encourage you to invite trusted others to help you in your resolve to produce good neurobiological outcomes.

At the bottom of this post I’ve included a printer-friendly PDF that you could download and keep on hand. Good luck!

Interpersonal Neuro + Triangle of Well-Being picture

These losing strategies cause relational “ruptures” and conflict

  1. Refusing to live an examined life. Not taking “Time-ins” hinders self- and other exploration and discovery. How could taking a “Time-in” help you to examine what matters the most?
  2. If you’ve done nothing wrong, then complain, be critical, shame or vilify; all serve to dehumanize others. What unexpressed hurt is causing you to rage like this?
  3. Relationship Ruptures Dysregulate. Dysregulation interrupts Attunement and rouses the Automatic Pilot. What applied strategy could help to restore emotional balance?
  4. Ignore your MPFc (Middle Prefrontal Cortex). A “hijacked” mind will remember all the regressed, fearful or familiar places to get lost in. What Middle Prefrontal Cortex function (insight, intuition, empathy) could help now?
  5. Keep scorching your earth. Further dysregulation of your emotions ensures resentment and tunnel vision. What valid intimacy need or value is overlooked or lost in your dysregulation?
  6. Ruptures lead to Misery Stabilizers. Misery begs for flight, escape or relief through habit, vice or abuse. How might you sabotage your personal progress or relationship?
  7. A-C-T Reactively. Maladaptive schemas evoke mistrust, entitlement, hypercriticalness, harm, and punitiveness. Which maladaptive schema from my past is threatening my present ability to function effectively?
  8. Disorders inject Chaos or Rigidity. Being shipwrecked on either shore thwarts integrated solutions that heal. What solutions or “data” do I need to integrate to create attunement?
  9. Character defects like manipulation, hard-heartedness, arrogance, rage or neglect cause additional ruptures. Which foible do I need to own, eliminate or replace, because they interrupt repair?
  10. Limited Integration of values and skills reduces the options your brain needs to access in crucial moments. What ego defense or cognitive distortion blocks me from integrating data?
  11. Repetitive ruptures cause insecure attachments, defensiveness and are not the best use of your energy. What choices will I make that help to replace insane ruptures with sane behavior?
  12. Not Cooking with C.O.A.L. (Curious, Open, Accepting, Loving) burns us due to unresolved issues that linger. How could being curious, open, accepting and loving help to resolve relational issues?

These winning strategies create well-being and good neurobiology!

  1. Practice Awareness. Awareness leads to insight, reflection, information, intuition, morality, guidance and strategy. What have you learned about your situation that needs the best of your attention and awareness?
  2. Practice your Spiritual Disciplines. Prayer, Contemplation and Reflection help us to humanize others, which may be needed. How could loving my “enemy” and praying for my persecutor help me right now?
  3. Breathe to Regulate your Body and Mind. This gives flexibility with your responses and a larger “window of tolerance.” Call a “Time-out with an explanation” to practice mindfulness and personal grounding.
  4. Use your MPFc (Middle Prefrontal Cortex). What Agape-oriented values are uploaded and memorized for the present or future repair of ruptures? What well-placed values (patience, listening, grace, negotiation, curiosity) could assist you with a repair?
  5. S.I.F.T. your Mind. What Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts surface that you need to pay close attention to? What vision of how you’d like it to be is appearing in your mind, of which you’ll be responsible?
  6. S.I.F.T-ing leads to an Awakened Mind. Openness ushers in Options, Possibility, Empowerment and New Neural hopes. What thoughts, options or strategies do you wish or need to integrate now?
  7. Be A-C-T-I-V-E.  Be aware to challenge/change and terminate old schemas and investigate, validate and evaluate new ones. What Healthy Adult mode behavior (nurture, boundaries, creating safety) do I need to deliver right now?
  8. Mental Health Heals. Practice value-oriented behavior to engage in dyadic regulation to repair relationship ruptures. What Agape-oriented values, when skillfully delivered, will help me to repair this rupture?
  9. Values and Virtues like Empathy, Sympathy, Compassion, Love, Understanding and Kindness repair ruptures the best. Which values, when integrated will help me to be flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized and stable?
  10. Rapid Integration of values creates neurobiological calm and movement to rewrite “Me to We” relationship narratives. What “must have” values are to be included in the new relationship narrative being created?
  11. Consistent Repair creates new linkages in your brain. S.N.A.G means you’re Stimulating Neuronal Activation and Growth. What reliable, dependable and predictable behavior will help to reestablish safety and rebuild trust?
  12. Practicing your Values keep you in the River of Integration. Using these tools creates flow and the experience of health. What values will help to heal trauma, restore harmony and produce secure attachments?

Thank you for taking time to examine how the integration of these goals, activities, and skills could help you to produce and enjoy the Triangle of Well-being and the experience of good Interpersonal Neurobiology between you and your partner!

I encourage you to keep these strategies close by and to review them regularly to create the effective linkages that your brain will recall when you most need them. By all means add other solution-oriented values, virtues, behaviors, and practices that help you to become productive, proficient, wise and above all, skilled at living (the Greek word Sophia)!

12 Steps to Changing your Mind with Interpersonal Neurobiology (Downloadable PDF)

Also, as time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3 – 2 – 5 – 4 – 24″ for additional information that could be helpful. I welcome your comments below or via email and your favorites, your retweets and your “+1’s” if you have a brief moment and find the information helpful. Again, it is my desire to provide the very best info for your consideration.

Dr. Ken McGill

TeleHealth/Video counseling sessions are available for those who prefer to meet online – Dr. McGill

Businesswoman presses button psychological counseling online on virtual screens. technology, internet and networking concept.

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About Dr Ken McGill

Dr. Ken McGill is an ordained minister and has been involved in counseling for more than 25 years. Dr. McGill holds a Bachelor's degree in Religion from Pacific Christian College (now Hope International University), a Certificate of Completion in the Alcohol and Drug Studies/Counseling Program from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. McGill received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Psychology from Azusa Pacific University in May, 2003. Dr. McGill's dissertation focused on the development of an integrated treatment program for the sexually addicted homeless population, and Ken was "personally mentored" by dissertation committee member Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sex addiction work. Dr. McGill authored a chapter in the text The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction, with his chapter addressing the homeless and sex addiction. Dr. McGill is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the States of Texas and California and Mississippi, and is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, through the International Institute for Trauma and Addictive Professionals (IITAP). Dr. McGill had a private practice in Glendora, CA (Aspen Counseling Center), Inglewood, CA (Faithful Central Bible Church), and Hattiesburg, MS (River of Life Church), specializing in the following areas with individuals, couples, families, groups and psychoeducational training: addictions and recovery, pre-marital, marital and family counseling, issues related to traumatization and abuse, as well as depression, grief, loss, anger management and men's and women's issues. Dr. McGill also provided psychotherapeutic treatment with Student-Athletes on the University of Southern Mississippi Football and Men's Basketball teams. Dr. McGill served as the Director of the Gentle Path Program, which is a seven-week residential program, for people who are challenged with sexual addiction, sexual anorexia, and relationship issues. Dr. McGill also supervised Doctoral students in the Southern Mississippi Psychology Internship Consortium with the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. McGill was inducted into the Azusa Pacific University Academic Hall of Honor, School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, in October, 2010. Dr. McGill currently works as a Private practice clinician with an office in Plano, Texas, providing treatment with people who are challenged in the areas mentioned above.


Daily Bread for Addressing Compulsion