Several readers have written to me asking to share more about toxic thoughts and how they destroy love. As I share in my book, Why Can't You Read My MInd?, Toxic thoughts destroy love because they erode empathy--the emotional glue that holds relationsips together. Here are three toxic thoughts and examples of how to extinquish them.
Three toxic thoughts to watch out for:
#1 The All or Nothing Trap: You see your partner as either negatively always or never doing things. For example, thinking, "My husband ONLY cares about himself.", is an all or nothing thought." A more fair alternative thought may be, "Even though my husband can be self-absorbed at times, it helps to remind myself of all the positive things he does for me and the kids."
#2 Catastrophic Conclusions: One partner exaggerates negative actions and events concerning the other partner. So, going to the place of, "My wife bounced this check and we are now gonna be destined to live on the street", is likely a strong overreaction. A better alternative thought may be, "She really can be quite reasonable. It will benefit both of us if I talk to her in a calm, supportive way about restructuring how we pay bills."
#3 The “Should” Bomb: One partner assumes the other will meet one or more of his or her needs—just because he or she should know that you need. For example, Debbie rigidly thinking that, "Mary should be more supportive about me taking this new job." can create emotional reactivity and communication shutdowns,.Debbie may want to consider another way to look at Mary's position. For example, "Even though Mary wants the best of me, the travel required for this new job likely is bothering her. If I give her some understanding on this she will likely be more supportive to me."
Remember, more than we may want to believe, the key to relationship satsifaction rests a lot in our own minds. Try to counter your toxic thoughts and you will likely find more joy in your relationship.
From: Bernstein and Magee (2003) Why Can’t You Read My Mind? Overcoming the nine toxic thoughts that get in the way of a loving relationship, Da Capo Lifelong Books