8 Brain-Based Habits to Elevate Your Relationships

8 Brain-Based Habits to Elevate Your Relationships

Relationships are crucial to having a healthy and caring life with those who you value. In Daniel G. Amen, MD’s new book, “Feel Better Fast and Make It Last“, these techniques come from research in the field of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Enhancing interpersonal skill has proven effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, and in improving both business success and marital satisfaction.

The acronym RELATING will help you remember the essential relationship habits:


Responsibility is not about blame. It is about your ability to respond to whatever situation you are in. What can you do today to make your relationships better? You win more in relationships when you ask yourself this question and stay away from blaming others.


Developing empathy involves a number of important skills, including mirroring, treating others in a way you would like to be treated, and being able to get outside of yourself.


Poor communication is at the core of many relationship problems. Jumping to conclusions, trying to read minds, and needing to be right are only a few traits that doom communication. Too often in relationships we have expectations and hopes that we never explicitly communicate to our partners or colleagues. Clear communication is essential if relationships are to be mutually satisfying.


Assertiveness involves standing up for one’s rights without infringing upon those of others, whereas aggression involves the use of verbal and nonverbal noxious stimuli to maintain rights.


Relationships require actual, physical time. In this era of commuting, traffic, two-working-parent households, e-mail, the Internet, television, and video games, we have seriously diminished the time we have with the people in our lives. Being present in the moment with your spouse, friend, or colleague can help make the other person feel appreciated and secure.


Ask yourself what thoughts are repeatedly going through your mind, and then consider how accurate they might be. Often when we tell ourselves little lies about other people, it puts unnecessary wedges between us and them. Relationships require accurate thinking in order to thrive. Whenever you feel sad, mad, or nervous in relationships, check out your thoughts. If there are automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) or lies, stomp them out.


Noticing what you like a lot more than what you don’t like is one of the secrets to having great relationships. Paying attention to what you like encourages more of that behavior.


One of the most famous prayers in history commands us to forgive others if we ourselves want to be forgiven. Forgiveness is powerful medicine. Holding on to grudges and hurts, even if they are small, increases stress hormones that negatively impact our moods, immunity, and overall health.

8 Strategies To Enhance Your Ability To Connect By RELATING

1. Ask yourself if you are taking RESPONSIBILITY in your relationships: “How can I respond in a positive, helpful way?”
2. Practice EMPATHY: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
3. In conversations, LISTEN and practice good communication skills.
4. Be ASSERTIVE: Say what you mean and stick up for what you believe is right in a calm, clear, kind way.
5. Spend TIME: Remember that actual, physical time with others is critical to healthy relationships.
6. INQUIRE into the negative thoughts that make you suffer in a relationship and decide if they’re true.
7. NOTICE what you like in the behavior of those around you more than you notice (and complain about) what you don’t like.
8. Give the altruistic gift of GRACE and forgiveness whenever you can.

At Amen Clinics, we’re committed to treating our patients with the least toxic, most effective regimen. For more information on how SPECT imaging can help provide a customized treatment plan to help heal your brain, call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online to schedule a visit.


  1. Your books are awesome because I have ms I’m 39 years old and I was an emergency room nurse I have 3 kids a wonderful husband but have been through it all are ups and downs and financial problems but I was reading about all your info and it gives me hope

    Comment by Hillary Rhodes — October 24, 2018 @ 4:23 AM

  2. Hillary, you sound amazingly capable. Keep that great outlook of hope. I’m sorry for the struggle. This broken world dishes hard stuff. But God…will work good things into the equation and will show you his purposes despite this. Stumbled on this- praying now!

    Comment by Christy Anderson — October 26, 2018 @ 2:53 AM

  3. I was wondering…Is it ok to say To someone: ” I do it for you, I expect you do it for me”?

    Comment by Jacynthe — October 31, 2018 @ 11:55 AM

  4. This is my favorite blog post. When I got it in this current email I finally deleted the old email from months ago! I don’t know how many times I went back to it and picked a letter for that day/hour/minute!

    Comment by Heddi — February 15, 2019 @ 7:57 AM

  5. I first heard Dr. Amen in 2008. Still r ad his information and know people who have been through his prorams. Still learning. This relationship information goes well with the Seven habits of highly effective people. Think Win-Win.

    Comment by Jeremiah Driscoll — February 15, 2019 @ 5:49 PM

  6. This is exactly what I needed to read today in this moment of my life. A few minutes ago, I was having a pity party about my schedule, my life, and the missed opportunities in my life. I started feeling the internal walls of my self-esteem starting to diminish as the walls of a sinkhole do. But I noticed how I have contributed to the demise of many of my relationships. I guess this is me taking responsibility for ending relationships that I could’ve held onto. I also see how I need to inquire of my own thoughts and what they are feeding me. A little while ago, “I was having low self-worth thoughts like what do you have to show for at 41 yrs. old and you’re single with no kids.” Yes, it’s true, I am the master at beating myself up, I don’t need anyone to do it for me. I also beat up other people in a figurative way. I look at their negative traits and I zero in on them. Then, I confront them with these flaws and just as easy as that the relationship is over.

    Wow, for me being able to identify this pattern that I do is golden. Now, I’ve got a tool to help me improve my relationships. This acronym is going to be implemented in my thought patterns from now on. Thanks for sharing this.

    Comment by Victor M. Reyes — February 16, 2019 @ 3:57 PM

  7. Invaluable post; Agree 7 Habits, Covey-too great. My spouse has Negative hurtful communication; I am trying hard to live peaceably, own sake. I thank you for this post.

    Comment by teresa — July 26, 2022 @ 9:20 AM

  8. wonderful post!

    Comment by Doug Morris — November 5, 2023 @ 12:31 AM

  9. excellent topic!

    Comment by Doug Morris — November 7, 2023 @ 2:23 PM

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