Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) is an exciting interdisciplinary
perspective, drawing from the fields of neuroscience, psychology,
complexity theory, and relationship studies. Other related fields
of study include, affective neuroscience, social neuroscience and
social cognitive neuroscience.
At its core, interpersonal neurobiology holds that we are ultimately who we are because of our relationships. While it was once thought that our early experiences defined who we are, interpersonal neurobiology holds that our brains are constantly being reshaped by new relationships.
Because interpersonal neurobiology stresses the importance of healthy relationships for a healthy mind, it also stresses the importance of taking good care of your connections with others.
Research on adult attachment is guided by the assumption that the same motivational system that gives rise to the close emotional bond between parents and their children is responsible for the bond that develops between adults in emotionally intimate relationships.
An attachment pattern is established in early childhood attachments and continues to function as a working model for relationships in adulthood. This model of attachment influences how each of us reacts to our needs and how we go about getting them met.
Our style of attachment affects everything from our partner selection to how well our relationships progress and to, sadly, how they end. That is why recognizing our attachment pattern can help us understand our strengths and vulnerabilities in a relationship.
Mindfulness is a skill we can acquire, a compassionate practice we can integrate into our lives, allowing us to have an easy, always available, method to calm ourselves down when distressed. Mindfulness increases our awareness of what we are experiencing and allows us the space to decide how we want to act in our daily lives. It is easy to picture how enhancing these abilities within ourselves would lead to better outcomes in our relationships.
Imagine, for example, being triggered by your partner. Picture yourself in that heated moment when everything just feels overwhelmingly wrong: anger is bubbling over inside you, combined with intense distress. Now imagine being able to feel your emotions without reacting in the moment. Imagine observing the emotions and thoughts that are arising without getting caught up in them — being able to keep your emotional balance. This allows you to think about how you would like to respond in the situation vs. how you would instinctively react. Mindfulness is a means by which we can get to know our thoughts and stay connected to our feelings without falling victim to inappropriate, intense reactions based on unresolved issues from our past.