Sex and Men

sex and intimacyMost men will try to play it cool and pretend like sex is no big deal to them. They initiate first contact, take control of any intimate decision-making, and act confident while they are having sex – so most women assume that they don’t share the same insecurities.

Men are just as insecure about sex as women, although many of them will not admit it. Even if you have been married for a long time and have enjoyed sex numerous times together, a man’s insecurities can still interfere with his performance. This post will explain men’s insecurities about having sex and how women can help them feel more secure.

Physical Fitness Insecurities

Men are insecure about how they look physically, especially when they are naked. Most heterosexual men find the male body unappealing and they are unsure why women are attracted to them. If they are overweight and not able to handle the physical act of sex without excessive sweating, they become so insecure that they think the woman must find them disgusting and want to stop. Assure your man that this is not the case. Women who want to receive compliments on their appearance should give their men the same compliments. It will improve his confidence and his sexual performance.

Fear of Being Rejected

Because men are usually the ones to initiate contact, they often worry that their sexual advances will be denied. If they are rejected too often, they will become insecure about even trying to have sex. If you are not in the mood or you don’t have time to have sex, make sure to tell your man that you still want sex with him, but you will have to postpone it until later on. Let him know that you will be waiting in anticipation just as much as he will.

Worried About Their Stamina

Men want to last as long as possible. They don’t want the woman they are with to be disappointed with how brief the sex might be or their ability to control themselves from having an orgasm. Sometimes sex will only last a few minutes, especially if it has been awhile since the last time the man has had sex. Make sure to let him know that you are satisfied and try to do things that may help him last longer, like slowing down your rhythm or changing position before he reaches the point of release.

Women are hard to please and a good man will do whatever he can to please the woman he loves, which unfortunately can create insecurities, especially in the bedroom. Make sure to build your man’s confidence and assure him that you are still attracted to him and satisfied with the sex life you share. It will result in better sex for both of you.

Brain Science – Emotional Styles – Part 6

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 6.12.14 PMDuring the last five entries, we have gone over the different emotional styles of the brain, deeply covering resilience to adversityoutlookhow brain patterns either persist or change and self-awareness. In this post, we will cover the ways to strengthen these emotion styles.

The brain can change. The first step in this process is identifying the circuitry problem – or the patterns of activity that are underlying what you are trying to figure out. The second step is figure out how to do an intervention to make the changes. Slowly, yet steadily, researchers have identified ways to strengthen the communication from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala – it is the strength of that connection and the relative activity in those two regions that underlies whether you are resilient or not. These researchers have found that one way to strengthen your prefrontal cortex is to exercise. The prefrontal cortex is the organ of executive decision making, planning and also postponing gratification.

Another way to strengthen your brain – and this may sound like telling an alcoholic to go to a bar – is to find ways to put yourself in situations where you have to resist temptation, where you have to postpone gratification, as this will strengthen your prefrontal cortex. Strengthening the prefrontal cortex will enable it to send stronger signals to the amygdala, which helps the brain calm down and change.

Another example for strengthening your brain is mental training or mediation which can be applied to self-awareness. Obsessive self-awareness can be uncomfortable, if not pathological, but with mindfulness meditation you can learn to step back from what you are feeling. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to have significant clinical effects in only a few short months. It has so much to contribute to the possibility of harnessing the power of neuroplasticity to change the brain, particularly in the area of attention. Mindfulness meditation helps to quiet down the amygdala.

You can find beginning and everyday guided meditations all throughout the internet. Also, many yoga studios offer mediation sessions during or after class. You may find your own ways of calming yourself – a ritual such as playing music, reading, cooking, anything that calms your mind – that makes you feel calm and peaceful, which will again help the brain calm down and change. All of these rituals and mindfulness mediations will no doubt help improve your relationships and overall capabilities of handling what life throws your way.

Brain Science – Emotional Styles – Part 5

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 11.31.37 PMIn the last month, we have gone over the different emotional styles of the brain, deeply covering resilience to adversityoutlook and how brain patterns either persist or change. In this post, we will dig deeper into another part of the emotional styles – self-awareness.

Self-awareness refers to both awareness of your body – meaning the heartbeat or respiration rate and the feeling of what is on your skin – as well as what you feel emotionally. Have you ever had someone say to you “you seem angry?” and your response was “no, I’m not angry.”?  Or vice verse? It could very well be true that you or the other person was indeed angry and giving off the energy, yet not aware. Many of us at times have bouts of failure of self-awareness, which comes from the insula. The insula has what is called a viscerotropic mass – viscero refers to the interior organs and tropic refers to the placement, the representation of those organs.

People with a very active insula seem to be extremely self-aware, both emotionally and physically. When we discussed positive outlook and the ability to bounce back from a setback (being resilient), it sounds as if only one of the ends of this spectrum is the place to be as who would not want to be happy and ore resilient, right? However, this is not necessarily the case and with self-awareness you tend see where you may need to improve on yourself even more.

Self-awareness starts with just that – awareness. When you begin to analyze and pay attention to your mind (thoughts) and body (heartbeat, touch, etc.) you become more self-aware. Once one becomes even slightly self-aware, especially when analyzing where they currently are in their lives, they will likely try to change if they feel that it would improve their life. This is a great step towards a better life and better relationships.

Next post, we will wrap up our series of the emotional styles of the brain with ways to strengthen and improve all of the styles.

Brain Science – Emotional Styles – Part 4

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 6.50.20 PMIn the last three posts, we defined the first two emotional styles of the brain. The first being resilience to adversity. The adversity can be a wide range of so-called setbacks – from the most trivial things such as someone cutting you off in traffic to the more significant setbacks such as the passing of a loved one. The second being outlook – meaning whether you have a positive or negative view on life. This week, we will continue our theme of emotional styles of the brain by going over how the brain patterns persist or change.

With brain patterns, these questions may come to mind: How long have they been there? It is a brain pattern that existed (or that was established) during childhood as the brain develops? Was it present at birth? Can it be changed?

When Dr. Davidson did research on day-old infants, in the experiments he found that even at birth, there were clear individual differences and left/right asymmetry in terms of activation. Everyone’s genetic makeup is different, but the big question is do these differences persist? Dr. Davidson helped discover that what you are born with is not necessarily what you are dealt with as the brain and behavior can change.

Neuroplasticity is the idea that the brain can change – either for better or worse. The brain has the ability to change in both structure and function. Consider learning and memory – these are constant examples of how our brains are able to change form. When you learn something new and also when a new experience enters your memory, this is the brain changing – expanding and retaining.

Brain structure and function can change in response to two forces:
1. The life you lead
and
2. Thinking yourself into a different brain.

The life you lead, meaning the experiences you have – physical as well as emotional or mental – are signals from the outside world. This is similar to your brain collecting memories and learning new information. The other way the brain can change structure and function is in response to purely mental activity. This is similar to the second brain emotional style of outlook. Higher left activity is associated with a more positive outlook; higher right activity is associated with more negative outlook.  To change the brain grooves, you can think yourself into a different brain by working on a more positive outlook (or negative, as the door does swing both ways).

Next post, we will continue our five part series of the emotional styles of the brain with more on outlook and self-awareness.

Brain Science – Emotional Styles – Part 3

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 9.39.00 PMIn the last month, we have defined the first two emotional styles of the brain. The first being resilience to adversity. The adversity can be a wide range of so-called setbacks – from the most trivial things such as someone cutting you off in traffic to the more significant setbacks such as the passing of a loved one. The second being outlook – meaning whether you have a positive or negative view on life.

Let’s look closely at the second style, outlook, which can be broken down to be defined as either positive outlook or negative outlook. The left prefrontal cortex in a resilient person can be 30 times that of someone who is not as resilient – this means that there is a a pretty big difference in brain activity within people who are clinically depressed and those who are not clinically depressed. For people who suffer from depression, activity in the right prefrontal is much higher. For people who are healthier and have an overall positive outlook on life, activity is the left prefrontal is greater. In other words, left side activity equals positive and right side equals negative.

The thing to remember about these specific findings is that everyone has ups and downs in their lives, so the left and/or right asymmetry can change. This relates back to the first style – adversity – under certain difficult periods of people’s lives, they may behave and/or react differently during these times. This is simply just part of the ebb and flow of life as a human.

Dr. Richard Davidson has been doing research on the emotional styles of the brain for over twenty years. Dr. Davidson’s research has been on all kinds of walks of life, including everyday hard-working Americans, undergraduate volunteers, children and infants, and also a Tibetan monk community. These monks lent their time and brains to science by having Dr. Davidson run MRI’s and EEG’s on them. In his findings, Dr. Davidson has found that these monk’s left prefrontals were off the chart compared to his other findings making this evidence for the stark difference in the brain activity that underlie emotional and personality differences. The monks are constantly smiling, people of good will and constantly help one another. And their brains can prove it.

Next post, we will continue the emotional styles of the brain, digging more into how brain patterns persist or change.

Brain Science – Emotional Styles – Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 12.19.52 AMLast post we defined the first two emotional styles of the brain. The first being resilience to adversity. The adversity can be a wide range of so-called setbacks – from the most trivial things such as someone cutting you off in traffic to the more significant setbacks such as the passing of a loved one. The second being outlook – meaning whether you have a positive or negative view on life.

Let’s look at resilience more closely. It would be nearly impossible for any of us to get through our human lives without some sort of setback. What really distinguishes people in terms of their success is whether or not they are knocked back on their heels by these setbacks. Resilience is a product of two specific regions of the brain: one is the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) and it sends signals to the amygdala, (the fear center of the brain).

The thinking part of the brain is front and center in our emotions. Prior to our technologically advanced society, say ten to twenty years ago, neuroscience thought that the emotional brain and the cognitive brain hardly ever met. However, research has found that not only do they meet, they are great friends and collaborators. With resilience, it turns out that the ability to send signals from the prefrontal cortex, which is the region just behind your forehead, to the amygdala, which is more in the center of your brain, means that the strength of those signals and the frequency of those connections determine how resilient you are.

The amygdala is the region that sends out signals that you may interpret as be afraid, be depressed, or be aware of potential danger. When these kinds of signals are going full blast, it is very hard to be resilient. The prefrontal cortex basically says to the amygdala “shhh!” When it is able to be quiet, people are able to be resilient. The prefrontal cortex is basically modulating the amygadala and vice versa.

The amygdala also sends signals to the prefrontal cortex (which has been known for many years). It perceives the information, sends the information to the prefrontal cortex – which again is the more thinking, planning, executive function part of the brain – and the prefrontal cortex then takes the right evasive action or figures out the situation to keep you out of danger. What is new here within the last ten to twenty years is the idea of the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) communicating with the amygdala (the emotional part of the brain).

Next post, we will continue the series of the emotional styles of the brain and get further into the four styles.

Brain Science – Emotional Styles – Part 1

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 10.25.27 PMThe brain is the source of all our emotions and behavior. Although humans have known for many years that all our behavior, feelings, and thoughts come from the brain, there has not been much progress in learning exactly how it works until recently. Researchers have been looking at many aspects of our emotional life and tracing them to specific patterns in particular regions of the brain. In this research, they have found that one size does not fit all. In other words, you have to take into account the individuality of the patient which can often be determined by DNA and also previous circumstances that may have happened during the patient’s lifetime.

The first emotional style is resilience to adversity. The adversity can be a wide range of so-called setbacks – from the most trivial things such as someone cutting you off in traffic (but if this happens at the beginning of your day, it could trigger negative emotions starting off your day) to the more significant setbacks such as the passing of a loved one. Under certain difficult periods of people’s lives, they may behave and/or react differently during these times.

When you have a setback, and we all do at some point, how do you bounce back from it? Is it pretty quickly or do you wallow in anger, unhappiness or jealousy, or any other negative emotion? Everyone will vary in how well and how quickly they are able to recover from such adversity, and also depending on how significant the setback may be. On one hand, people are resilient – look at how we as humans have survived on this planet for thousands of years. Yet with the more significant setbacks, your resilience could be thwarted (which is completely acceptable), so the resilience relies on the circumstance. Researchers are now seeing particular patterns of brain activity in particular regions that actually show the ability to quickly and easily bounce back or the difficulty to bounce back.

The second emotional style is outlook – meaning whether you have a positive or negative view on life. Do you tend to think that things will work out for the better regardless of the situation? Or are you more of an Eeyore with a gloomy cloud over your head with no hope for better days? There are also particular brain patterns and brain activity at play here that underline whether you have a positive or negative outlook in life.

This is part one of a series of blogs on the emotional styles of the brain, which will begin to cover your brain and your relationships in upcoming week’s post.