Here is a sobering truth for you: We all have toxic thoughts that wreak havoc on our intimate relationships. You may even feel lucky that your partner can't actually read your mind and find out that you have toxic thoughts. But trust me, these toxic thoughts don't automatically go away. Tragically, they often lead us to think our way out of love.
As I wrote in my relationship book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, toxic thoughts can be quite difficult to deal with unless you become aware of them.
Some examples of toxic thoughts are:
- "I can't rely on him for anything!"
- "She always makes it about herself!"
- "He should know how I feel by now!"
- "She always just spends, spends, spends without any regard to how stressed out I am about money!"
While there may be some kernels of truth underlying these thoughts, the common denominator is that they are rigid, global, and sadly, can become self-fulfilling when dwelling on them. That is when toxic thoughts destroy empathy--which is what I refer to as the emotional glue that holds relationships together.
Here are a few of, what I term, relationship "anti–toxidants" that you can use to rethink your toxic thoughts and help significant lower the volume of your toxic thinking patterns toward your partner:
- "I am individually responsible for my thoughts and feelings toward myself and with my partner.
- "When my partner makes mistakes or falls short, I will forgive him (her) because he (she) is only human"
- "Countering my toxic thoughts leaves me feeling more objective and gives me more opportunities to work out differences with my partner."
These "anti-toxidants" are not magic. They may even seem painfully obvious, but do you really take the time to reflect and focus on them? It takes effort and maturity to rise above our own toxic thoughts. If, however, you really try to be more mindful of these unfavorable, toxic thought patterns that can crush your loving relationship, you will likely feel more fulfilled--and so will the one you love.
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over 23 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS Eyewitness News Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC, and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Why Can't You Read My Mind? , and Liking the Child You Love, Perseus Books 2009)