Good mental health can be illusive!
And our thoughts and perceptions of events or words strongly influence our emotions and behaviors
Last week we said that how we interpret or give meaning to events, circumstances or conversations with others can determine how we feel and act. Our emotions and behaviors do not depend on these events by themselves, but by practicing healthy mental habits we can
We also looked at the first 2 of 5 mental habits couples can practice in order to improve their relationships and influence their partner for a more positive and healthy connection:
Habit 1: Choices! Change the Self Talk
Our choices of our thoughts about events-our self-talk-create our emotions and affect our behaviors! We create change in our lives by gaining control of our thoughts.
Habit 2: Attitude is Everything!
Decide what you will focus on. Affirm yourself. Consider gratitude.
3 more healthy habits:
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. (see Dr. Brene’ Brown on Blame
Habit 4: Change Negative Images
We cannot “get into” the mind of other people; we cannot completely know them, so we watch them from the outside. Listen and observe their behavior and remember things about them. And 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 Schema is 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 Your Relationships
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.
- 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; your healthy mental habits? Leave us a comment below and let us know if more on this subject matter would be helpful.