Monday, May 26, 2014

Core beliefs and relationship conflicts

As a student of psychology as well as a married woman, relationships and their dynamics have always intrigued me. More specifically the causes behind the conflicts in a marital relationship fascinate me. Often they are clues to the partners psyche revealing the insecurities, childhood impressions, super ego messaging and so on and so forth.

Most of the time, relationship arguments are about our own issues projected onto our partner. If the message we heard in our childhood told us that we are unworthy of love and attention, more times than not, one will get upset at the spouse for not providing the TLC. The spouse could be showing his love through different helping around at home, giving you some time off from the kids, providing for the family.....but if you don't believe you are worthy of love, you will not see your partner's love towards you.

Growing up, if you were frequently criticised, even a suggestion coming from your spouse can seem like disapproval. The truth is your childhood messages have lead you to wrongly believe that you can do nothing right so when your spouse makes a suggestion for tweaking something you have done, you see it as fault finding and get defensive. Your poor partner has no choice but to retreat or get defensive himself, leading the path to another fight.

It can be hard for the person involved to see how his self beliefs are causing the friction in the relationship. Our innate defense reaction is to assign responsibility elsewhere.
If you find yourself questioning your partners love, trust, respect or care towards you, first dig deeper within yourself. If you have questioned other significant people in your life, of these very same emotions, be aware of the pattern and tackle it head on. Take responsibility and seek help.

Core belief work is offered by many professionals trained in CBT and that is a good place to start the journey of self awareness and acceptance. It frees you up to take control of your life instead of tying you up in the blame game where no one wins.

Core belief work helps you assess your negative conclusions about events by investigating its deep rooted origin. It provides present day evidence against the erronous self belief, thus making it irrational and irrelevant. This kind of therapeutic work can be revelatory for some. Often, it can change your perspective towards life. And the effect it will have on your marriage can only be seen to be believed.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Three pieces of advice

My mother in law once told me about three things that had helped her get through rough patches in life.
1. Never say I am tired
2. Never say I can't do it
3. Never say I am bored

Sounds simple when you hear them for the first time. But, when I began counting the number of times I said, I was tired or bored or that I couldn't do it, I was taken aback. Then I began to observe what these statements did to my thoughts and how they affected my behavior. I found to my utter surprise that I began to feel those feelings with a much higher intensity every time I said it out loud.

As we go through our daily ups and downs, these three statements can help us avoid reinforcing our negative emotions that would otherwise send us on a downward spiraling path. I was struggling with my undesirable emotions last week and when I stopped saying I couldn't do it and started telling myself that I am strong enough to handle anything that comes my way, I felt empowered and energetic to carry on.

These three statements are an example of how to sidestep negative self talk that could be detrimental to our mental health. But does that mean we should not acknowledge our sadness or disappointment or fatigue or boredom. Not at all. It is important to be aware of our emotions. However be warned that the next logical consequence of emotional awareness is indulging in them and wallowing in self pity. That is where we need to draw the line. Positive self talk will alleviate the mental stress and also nudge you towards solution seeking, which by its very nature will decrease your negativity.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Positive thinking

I met an old acquaintance last week after a few years. She had been through a tough time in the last decade. Financial troubles, a failing marriage and two school going kids had forced her to venture out in the working world at the age of 45 years. She had never worked before, always preferring to take care of her children and  her house. Family was her first priority. In this testing time, she worked like a slave, came back from her job and made sure she had hot food on the table for the family,every night. She also discharged her duties towards the extended family members with a smiling face. She participated in every family activity, wholeheartedly. The bitterness, if any, about her personal situation was never on display and she kept a dignified profile.
Last week, I asked her how she had coped with it all and yet maintained her love for life and child like enthusiasm for new experiences. What she said touched me to the core. " I can't change what happened in the past and I don't know what the future holds but I can certainly enjoy my present. I have two lovely kids, a house over my head and I am healthy. Life is good."
To me, she became the living proof of positive thinking......a stress busting technique that most of us have a hard time implementing in our lives.
An easy way to focus on the positives and leave the negatives behind is to wake up every morning and count on your fingers, the blessings in your life....your children, healthy parents, good career.....and do the same every night. This twice a day habit can become a transformational tool for a happy life. Try it out. I plan on doing it, too.