Good mental health! It’s a statement we hear quite often, but the reality of what really constitutes it is sometimes illusive. For most of us, the interplay of our thinking, emotions and behaviors must be taken into account for good mental health. It is often our misunderstanding of the interaction of these three that can cause some conflict, confusion, or distress.
People’s thoughts and perceptions of events or words strongly influence their emotions and behaviors.
It is not a situation or one conversation that determines how we feel, but the way we interpret or give it meaning. Most of us relate how we feel about events, things and circumstances; so we spend a lot of time attempting to arrange and change circumstances so we will be happy. The truth however, is emotions and behaviors do not depend on our environment only, and neither does our happiness!
5 Habits to Improve Relationships for Healthy Connection
Here are 5 mental habits couples can practice in order to improve the relationships and influence their partner for a more positive and healthy connection:
Habit 1: Choices! Change the Self Talk
Our thoughts and belief systems are commonly known as our SELF-TALK. Believe it or not, we can choose what we think about. Our choices of our thoughts about events-our self-talk-create our emotions and affect our behaviors! Self-talk initiates and intensifies our emotions. It directs how we behave and what we say to others; and what people say to themselves governs the way they feel and act.
We create change in our lives by gaining control of our thoughts. Is your self-talk a critical voice or an affirming one? Our thought processes, such as how we view ourselves and others, and how we approach problems, have been programmed throughout our lives from our development, family interactions, experiences, relationships, knowledge and other influences. We can decide on some of our mind’s influences-such as what we read, watch, listen to- but others such as parents or our environment we cannot. But we can choose what influences and input will shape our mind by believing and dwelling on that material.
“As a man thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs
Habit 2: Attitude is Everything when it comes to Mental Health
One of the most significant decisions we can make daily is our choice of attitude. Making a determined decision of your will to change your attitude definitely leads to a healthy mind. We control our attitude; we have the power to change it if we decide to.
- Decide what you will focus on. Will it be positive things or negative? Positive minds are always full of hope and also more confidence.
- Affirm yourself. What do you tell yourself all day long, your self-talk, inner dialogue? Think of your strengths (everyone has them), remember the skills and abilities you have. What are the roles you play so well? (like being a great parent, or teacher, worker). What positive characteristics make you who you are? Make a mental or physical list; practice reminding yourself often.
- Consider gratitude. Gratitude comes from the word gratitude meaning to find out what is pleasing or to give thanks. The “attitude of gratitude“ creates a sense of openness, appreciation and kindness. Again, this is a choice to focus; either on what is missing in your life, or what you presently have. Try being grateful for what you already have in your life and you won’t be as disappointed.
Habit 3: Don’t Distort!
Be aware and be careful of how you perceive situations, events and even the behaviors and intended messages of others. It is certainly easy to get trapped into the most common distorted thoughts:
- Filtering-tunnel vision; looking at one element of the situation without looking at any others.
- Overgeneralization- a conclusion is based on one incident or piece of information.
- Mind reading- snap judgments where there is no evidence for the assumption which is made based on hunches, intuition, a couple of experiences or vague feelings.
- Emotional reasoning- if I feel it, it must be true.
- Blaming- someone else is responsible and it takes the responsibility off of us.
Habit 4: Change Negative Images
We cannot “get into” the mind of other people. And we cannot completely know them, so we watch them from the outside. So, we listen, observe their behavior and remember things about them. This is where we develop a set of summary conclusions and create patterns about them so that we get a “psychological portrait” of people.
We can take hundreds of our traits, patterns, conclusions and experiences of a person and organize them into categories which we label-our “schema” of that person; a description of their personal qualities and behaviors. We have to be extremely careful though, because Once you’ve established this portrait or schema about your partner’s personality or intentions, we tend to do a few things in the way we process information about them and often it will be negative.
- Attention is paid to only information that “fits” our label or portrait of our partner. It is natural to filter out or ignore anything that doesn’t fall into line with the image of them that has already been created. When the negative thinking happens, there is no room for positivity.
- The mind often plays the same thoughts over and over like a tape that is on a loop. If we do not adequately process difficult incidents or events we continue to see them in the same negative manner. So our negative description of their personality and behaviors persist and endure.
“We are the product of our thinking, so it is important that we choose carefully where to focus our mental energy.” Dr. Charles Stanley
Habit 5: Put the Positives in Play for Mental Health
Hey, life can be stressful, hurried, and just downright hard sometimes. Positive actions and sentiments toward our partners are not a given. They don’t just come naturally a lot of times when life is happening! So, intentionally adding positives into the relationship consistently is crucial. But how do you put the positives into play? Here’s a few ideas:
- Intentionally build friendship. Plan fun, dates, activities, leisure time, conversation and planned times to talk about meaningful things together. This promotes mental health.
- Build appreciation and gratefulness. We all want to be appreciated for the things we do, the characteristics we possess and positive attributes and personality traits we exhibit. Catch your partner performing helpful and courteous acts or using their gifts and abilities. Make sure you tell them what you see them doing, and why it is important or meaningful to you.
- Be more aware! We cannot appreciate or be grateful for what we are not aware of. And when we are not looking to be helpful and understanding in what is affecting our partner we miss the chance to connect and bond with them in significant ways.
- Respond positively. Throughout our everyday lives we interact and engage each other in multiple ways. Being very careful in how we respond to one another, or if we respond, actually builds trust over the long term. When we respond with positive words and tone, we express our respect and desire to ”be there” for our partners. We are saying “I am here for you, I care, you are important.”
What we think about, what we dwell on, where we FIX OUR MIND, will dictate our peace!
How’s your thinking? Leave us a comment below and let us know if more on this subject matter would be helpful.