You may be wondering what a cognitive distortion is and why you have them in your relationship? Relationships can bring out the best in us, or the worst.
This is when your mind convinces you that something is true, when it really isn't. These thoughts are inaccurate and reinforce negative thinking. There is a direct link between what we think and how we feel. So, what does this mean? You may be dooming yourself and your relationship.
We all have an internal dialogue and at one time or another we have misread our partner. This can set the tone for your relationship.
Here are ten common cognitive distortions in relationships:
- Negative predictions. Overestimating the likelihood that an action will have a negative outcome. Maybe, your partner doesn't do things exactly like you, that doesn't mean it is negative or wrong.
- Underestimating coping ability. You are capable of self-soothing when you are in a relationship. It's nice when your partner helps soothe you, but it's alright for you to soothe yourself. For example, take a bath, read a book or write in your journal.
- Thinking an absence of effusiveness means something is wrong. Believing an absence of a smiley-face in an email means there is a problem. Interpreting, "You did a good job" as negative if you were expecting "You did a great job." This is not the same as being taken for granted. Sometimes, the small things really are small things.
- Entitlement beliefs. Believing the same rules that apply to others don't apply to you is a recipe for disaster. For example, believing that because you worked all day means you can come home and make a mess in the kitchen, and leave it for your spouse to clean up is alright.
- Belief in a just world. Believing everything in your relationship must be fair at all times. For example, "I watched our child all day on Saturday, now you can watch our child all day on Sunday." This will eventually cause resentment.
- Seeing a situation only from your own perspective. Failing to look at a topic of relationship tension from your partner's perspective. For example, ignoring your partner's emotional needs or complaining they are too needy.
- Shoulds and musts. Don't should on yourself or your partner. For example, "I should always give 100%", or "You should know what I am thinking."
- Cognitive labeling. For example, mentally labeling your partner's best friend as a "loser" and not being open to evidence that he/she isn't a loser. This will also make your partner feel defensive and cause emotional distance in the relationship.
- Blaming others. Every time something goes wrong in the relationship, you blame your partner. It's important to take responsibility for your behavior. Remember, when you are in a relationship it's about "we" not "I."
- Failure to recognize the cognitive benefits of restorative activities and activities that increase positive emotion. For example, seeing having fun together as a waste of time. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
Try not to beat yourself up for using these cognitive distortions. We have all used them at one time or another. It's not too late to change your thinking patterns and have a reasonably happy relationship.
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Lianne Avila is a Licensed Mariage & Family Therapist. She has 14 years of experience in the field. If you're looking for help with your relationship in the San Mateo area, please call (650) 892-0357 or email Lianne@LessonsforLove.com.