Humans are tricky little creatures. We’re controlled by a fatty brain that looks like a head of cauliflower, containing more neurons than there are people in the world. The answers to our thoughts, beliefs, and habits lie within this organ, yet a lot of our questions still remain a mystery.
Understanding the conscious and subconscious mind is quite the endeavor.That’s why the entire field of psychology was created almost 200 years agoand constantly makes new discoveries that will continue for decades to come.
Though we are all unique individuals, we function under the same basic physical make-up. Our brains have identical molecular structures; they just vary in terms of DNA.
All biology jargon aside, what I’m getting at is that most of the people you encounter in your life behave under the same rules as everyone else. Though their DNA differences may make them more of a “Type A” or introvert, people are basically walking psychology exams just waiting to be evaluated.
And you don’t have to be a therapist or hold a prestigious Ph.D. in neuroscience to understand basic concepts that help make sense of human behavior: yours, and those around you.
All you need is an intrigued mind, a bit of curiosity, and access to the internet.
Ask Yourself What You’re Most Interested In
I started my journey into the world of psychology with a guiding hand from my therapist. I was taught all types of theories on how our subconscious minds function and why I would so often see my insecurities reflecting back at me in other people (hello, projecting).
It wasn’t until I found myself single, once again, and wondering why I stayed in a relationship I hated that I began seeking my own answers. I came across books like Codependent No More and Attached; my mind was blown, and my interest in psychology has thoroughly peeked ever since.
Finding a subject that you’re interested in is a great starting point for what to begin reading up about. Maybe you’re struggling with communicating your needs to a partner, perhaps you notice your behaviors are eerily similar to the way your parents treated you as a child, or maybe you’re like me: finding yourself dating the same man only with a different face.
Whatever your struggles or current predicaments may be, use those a launching point. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking what is causing you pain into your own hands and learning as much as you can about it.
Or Simply Read Up About The Prevailing Theories on Relationships
Nothing says, “I love myself,” like preventative care concerning the relationships in your life. Knowing about various theories of how humans function will create a solid foundation for any future relationships you form. You don’t need to pick a specific aspect of relationships; the subject alone is going to give you a lot of constructive material.
A prevailing approach used in relationship therapy at the moment is the “5 Love Languages” coined by Gary Chapman. In his book, he details the five different ways that people receive and give love: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.
For me, this idea has been mind-blowing, and the underlying notion seems to be wreaking havoc in many relationships. Say your way of showing love is by telling another person how much you care about them. But in their world, physical touch is how they are able to receive love, so your words are sweet but not as meaningful to them.
Or you could see it from another perspective: If quality time is one of your love languages, but you’re dating someone who is busy and just sends you gifts all the time (perhaps their love language), you’re going to think they don’t care about you.
I’m sure you could see how this would create a lot of tension in a relationship. And without people knowing about this concept, many people go through relationships feeling misunderstood and unloved.
Knowing about relationship theories like the love languages opens a door for your future romantic endeavors to be secure from the get-go.You can have a talk with your partner, and understand how their mind works; understand what truly makes them feel cared for.
There are plenty of concepts out there like this one; many that can be applied to all relationships, not just romantic ones. You just have to do a bit of digging to find them.
Research What Information Exists Out There
We live in a world where knowledge is literally at our fingertips. The internet is never-ending with information on anything from how to create your very own potato launcher to understanding how human behaviors are shaped by underlying fears.
A quick Google search on a topic will gift you with hundreds of credible sources to begin learning about the dynamics and nuances of human relationships. You can even head over to your library (yes, people still do that) and check out psychology books that interest you if having physical material is more your thing.
You don’t have to sit and read through research papers either. There are various news sources, journals, and blogs out there that recap the latest findings and put concepts into easier terms to digest.
Nowadays, we really have no excuse for learning new topics. Everything we need is at our disposal, right behind that bright screen we stare at for most of the day.
The Benefits Go Beyond Romantic
Sure, understanding romantic relationships seem to be the hottest subject right now: men and woman function in vastly different ways and it’s common to get our wires crossed, especially when sex is thrown into the mix.
But understanding the ways the human mind works extends to your platonic relationships too. Having a basic understanding of human behavior can benefit your relationship with your parents, boss, siblings, neighbors, co-workers, or complete strangers you may interact with.
Knowing simple concepts such as projecting, that beliefs shape each person’s reality, and how people actually want to be treated on a biological level can be extended to every person you encounter throughout your life.
I have a friend that works in project management at a technology company. His work involves him knowing a whopping zero amount of psychology. But he recently told me that he wanted to know more about the subject so he could better understand his clients. Instead of assuming what would make the best product based on what his company did in the past, he wants to understand the basic concepts of what is satisfying and best functions for the human mind.
When it comes down to it, psychology isn’t solely reserved for the therapist’s office. This area of study affects all of us, no matter who we interact with, every single day. We’re not doing ourselves any favors by completely ignoring the subject.
It’s like having a friend who is always coming up to you and giving you a back-handed compliment on your outfit. You can continue to let those comments rack up until you begin to resent the friend; maybe you’ll even say something but have them write you off.
Or you can understand a bit of psychology. You can understand that human behavior like your friend’s, most of the time, doesn’t even have to do with you.
Relationships, platonic or romantic, are complicated and impossible to fully understand. But instead of walking around blindly accepting what unfolds, psychology can give you a bit of invaluable insight into the complex world of other’s behavior.