We all have an internal dialogue and at one time or another we have misread our partner. You can't always believe what your mind tells you. Here are ten cognitive distortions you want to stay away from in your relationship:
- 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 your 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 is 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.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She has taken all three of The Gottman Trainings for Couples. For more help, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com.