I work with couples every day around the issue of managing perceived hurts, disappointments, and insults. One partner says or does something, and the other partner reacts to it internally before formulating a response. This initial internal response is usually about a thought the receiver has about what he or she perceives has just happened. It comes in the form of self talk, something the receiver says to him or herself about the occurrence. It generally involves some “meaning making” or interpretation of the event. (example: “He keeps forgetting the shopping list because I’m not that important to him!”). This critical self talk part of the process colors the whole ensuing event. What people say to themselves then effects the feelings about the event, and ultimately the behavior related to it.
So, listen to your self talk, and take this quick test:
- Are you routinely assigning negative meanings to your partner’s behavior? (List them).
- Might there be more benign meanings for it? What would they be? (List them).
- (If you’re at a loss for ideas), ask a reasonable person who cares about both of you, for their thoughts about other possible more benign meanings.
- Are you recycling some old, worn out narratives which applied to any other relationships earlier in your life? (List each next to its corresponding relationship).
- Pay attention, and you may avoid talking yourself out of a good relationship!
Goodnight for now,