Our Brain Can Change for the Better

affair recovery-survivors Blog-Christine-Our-Brain-Can-Change-for-the-Better

I've been reading about something called 'neural plasticity' in Emily Nagoski's book, Come As You Are – a book often recommended by Rick to learn about women's sexuality. In the midst of this seemingly endless period of 'recovery,' I really needed to read something positive and hopeful and validating.

How could a book discussing women's sexuality and brain science be uplifting?

When we find ourselves stuck in the slog of trying to change another's attitude about one's unfaithful spouse – when one has waited many months to see any change of heart in the unfaithful, it can get pretty discouraging.

Then I read a book that describes what science has found to be true in humans: when we act a certain way long enough, the neural connections in our brains actually change. They adapt to our new way of behaving, and that behavior not only becomes tolerable, it becomes instinctive. In other words, it would be uncomfortable, if not impossible, to return to the old ways.

For example, suppose I am given community service hours at a homeless shelter to make meals – at first I go because I've been told to do so under duress. My human brain allows me to 'fake it until I make it'. Eventually, I will come to not only tolerate cooking meals, I will enjoy and want to continue cooking meals for the homeless. The action itself will become its own reward and my brain structure – my neurons – will reconfigure to support this newfound habit.

Reconfiguring our brain for healthy behaviors is not a quick fix. It won't happen overnight. But it WILL happen if we continue the healthy behavior.

I believe this is why so many 12-step sponsors require acts of service from their sponsees. The sponsor gives his sponsee a helpful, healthy task which the sponsee is told to do no matter how he feels. I have heard many stories shared by those in recovery that demonstrates the positive effects of rewiring their brains. Bottom line? They learn to do better. They heal. How wonderful and hopeful is that?

We can change the way we act and so can our spouse. We can change for the better.

The key is A-C-T-I-O-N, regardless of feelings.

Rinse and repeat.

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski.

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Thanks I'm the unfaithful and

Thanks I'm the unfaithful and changing old ways and doing new ways over and over has seems to help..thanks for this article..


Thank you for this post and the book recommendation. I agree that action needs to happen regardless of how we feel. As the betrayed, I’m stuck in a place where I want to move forward with sexual intimacy but my husband is not interested. I want to respect his recovery process, but I’m also very concerned about the future of our sex life since it’s nonexistent, was not a big part of our relationship even before the infidelity, and not an area he wants to work on right now. I’m hoping he will take action in digging deeper into his view of sex as part of the recovery. I do believe we can change and we have to take action to build those new habits.

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