14 Nov 6 Thinking Habits That Are Poisoning Your Relationship

Falling in love and being in relationships can at times do crazy things to the way people think. Rational, sensible people with rational, sensible thinking habits can get a little tangled up in thinking habits that aren’t rational and sensible at all.

This is fine when the irrational thoughts are merely about how lucky we are that we’ve found the most attractive partner ever to walk the earth, or that we are undeniably the first and only couple ever to be so happily in love.

It’s not so fine when the honeymoon phase ends and the inevitable differences and relationship challenges arise, bringing with them loads of opportunities for thinking habits to cause strife.

Partners need rational, sensible thinking habits if they are going to successfully navigate their way through normal relationship ups and downs.

For partners wanting a great relationship that’s healthy and strong, it’s crucial to know what irrational thinking sounds like, to identify it when it’s happening, and to correct it when it does.

Here are 5 of the most common thinking habits that I consistently see are poison to healthy happy relationships. Are  any of these thinking habits familiar to you?:

1. Mindreading

Do you make assumptions about what your partner is thinking? Do you come to conclusions without even checking out whether they are right? And do you expect your partner to automatically know what you are thinking, and what you want?

“I just know what he was thinking when he said/did/didn’t do that…”
“If she really loved me, she would know what I’m thinking/needing/wanting…”

Sound familiar? Stop it. You are not a mindreader, and nor is your partner. Next time you are tempted to jump to a conclusion about what’ going on in your partner’s head, check out your assumption and ask.

2. Polarising

Do you see things in extremes? Are things black… or white? Perfect… or disastrous? Success… or complete failure?

“This isn’t perfect… so it must be a total failure…”
“He’s angry… so I’m going to end up single and alone…”

Life is not black and white. If you think in extreme, polarised ways, you’re missing the middle ground, and jumping to conclusions that aren’t necessarily true. Look for the “grey” zone between the two extremes.

3. Personalisation:

Do you believe things are your fault when they don’t go well? Do you find yourself thinking that you must have done something wrong when your partner is in a bad mood?

“What did I do… and what must I do now to make him/her better…?”

This is fine if something is actually your fault, but totally irrational if not. You can’t be responsible for everything, especially stuff that’s going on for your partner personally. Check out whether there’s something you can do, be supportive when you can, but otherwise let it go.

4. Catastrophic thinking

Like a bit of drama? When something unexpected or unwanted happens, do you jump to extreme “worst case scenarios”? Does your world fall apart?

“This is completely terrible… OMG! A total disaster!!!!”

Save the histrionics. Pause, breathe and be calm. There will be time for the drama when really bad stuff happens, but until then, learn to take stuff in your stride. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your partner will thank you for it.

5. Filtering

Do you hold onto the bad… while completely disregarding the good? Do you remember the one thing that goes wrong, but not even notice the other ten things that go right?

“You never do nice things for me…”

What you look for is what you will notice. Change the lens. Make a point of seeking out what’s right and letting the rest fade into the distance. You’ll start to notice the good stuff more and more, and be much happier and more grateful for it.

6. Holding on.. to negative stuff

Do you suffer “bad moods”? Do you wake up feeling annoyed/sad/bad and hold onto that mood for the day without necessarily knowing why? Do you hold a grudge with your partner simply because you haven’t let go of something?

“I’m still so mad at him/her…”
“Life sucks… This day is going to suck… Nothing is good… Poor me…”

Life is too short. Know the difference between issues that deserve to be discussed and resolved, and those that need to be put to rest. Sort things out, or learn to let go. Resentment is relationship poison.

Toxic thinking habits are sneaky. They seem so natural that many people just believe them without even noticing that they aren’t necessarily true, rational, nor healthy.

Like many bad habits, changing them starts with acknowledging that they are there. Start catching yourself out. Then start turning these thinking habits around.

Work together to rid your relationship of these toxic thinking habits. A relationship based on rational, fair, healthy thinking habits is a happy relationship.

Pamela Pannifex is a psychotherapist, marriage therapist, naturopath and founder of Sunshine Holistic Counselling on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. For over 20 years she has been helping people create personal wellbeing and relationships that thrive. Contact Pamela here.