It’s easy to get caught up in your thoughts. What your mind says is not always true. This is known as a cognitive distortion.

I see couples do this all the time. They are stuck in an old thought pattern, and it is destroying a perfectly good relationship.

Don’t ruin a perfectly good relationship, with a toxic thought pattern.

Toxic thought patterns will leave you with feeling stuck. You will feel like you have no way out. That is not true. Learn to look at your options and make choices that are good for you, and the relationship.

Here are ten cognitive distortions you definitely want to stay away from:

  1. Making a big deal of something small. Sometimes the small things really are small things. When your partner leaves out a smiley face on a text, don’t read into it. He may of been in a hurry and that is why he left it out.
  2. Assuming the worst. This is where you think that your action will have a negative outcome. Your partner may not do things the way you do, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Deciding something will go wrong at the start, never has a good ending. Have an open mind and stay positive.
  3. Labeling at first sight. Stay away from labeling your partner’s best friend as a ‘loser.’ Try to find evidence that he isn’t a loser. This will also make your partner feel defensive and begin to create emotional distance in the relationship.
  4. Refusing to enjoy yourself. Seeing having fun as a waste of time, or not productive. Simply laughing together will help bring you closer as a couple.
  5. Blaming others. Every time something goes wrong in the relationship, you blame your partner. This will cause resentment. Remember a relationship is about the “we” not the “I.”
  6. Making your partner responsible for your feelings. You need to be able to self-soothe when you are in a relationship. Take a bath, read a book, watch a comedy or write in your journal. This will take the pressure off of your partner.
  7. Acting entitled. 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 partner to clean up. Not OK.
  8. Expecting everything to be fair. This is unrealistic. A good example of this is when you watched the child all day on Saturday, and therefore your partner should watch the child all day on Sunday. This will cause resentment. Life isn’t fair, you need to learn to cope.
  9. Clinging to your own point of view. You need to be able to see a problem from your partner’s perspective. For example, ignoring your partner’s emotional needs or complaining your partner is too needy. This is a selfish way to think.
  10. Having unrealistic expectations. Don’t “should” on yourself or your partner. For example, expecting your partner to always know what you are thinking.

Try not beat yourself up for using these cognitive distortions. We’ve all used them. I think the brain is wired to use them. The good news is you can rewire your brain, and start using thought patterns that will better serve you.

Start today by changing one negative pattern in your relationship. It can be small. Catch your partner doing something right in the relationship, rather than something wrong. This will help show appreciation in the relationship.

It’s also important to spend quality time together. Yes, this means go out on a date. Start by telling your partner five appreciations. Make them genuine. It’s important to set time aside for your relationship.

If you liked this article, there are more in Relationship Challenges. It is filled with helpful tips for your relationship. Many couples go through highs and lows in their relationship. You aren’t alone.

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping couples in San Mateo, CA who are looking to rebuild a close emotional connection and get their relationship back on track. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.

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