How to Thrive In Your Relationship
How do you talk about your Significant Other? What words do you hear when you think about them? Relationships can feel stressful, and we train our brain to see reality in the way we create it. It’s all about the framing–the words we use in our head and out loud. If you want to not only get along, but to thrive, it is important to be purposeful about how you speak about the other.
Framing Your Experience
Imagine walking up to a male colleague and asking him, “Hey! How did your weekend go?”
He replies, “Oh man, it was so stressful. I went to this cabin up north with my girlfriend’s family. They went skiing all day so I stayed behind and worked. We took my girlfriend’s car but the tires were shot. I didn’t trust her to drive because the weather was so bad. I had to clench the wheel the whole time and could only go about 30 mph.
Cars were passing me and I thought we could end up in the ditch at any moment. We could only drive partway home because it was so dangerous. We had to spend the night in Duluth and scramble to get an appointment for new tires in the morning. I had to even reschedule one of my appointments just because she didn’t take care of her stuff.”
What an awful experience, right? What are you thinking about the weekend and his girlfriend?
Imagine This Instead.
“Hey, how did your weekend go?”
He replies, “Oh, it was amazing! I got to spend the weekend in this lovely cabin up north and meet my girlfriend’s family. They love skiing and I don’t, so I got to spend the day at the cabin and catch up on some work while they hit the slopes.
The weather got bad the day before we were going to leave, and I’m more comfortable in the drivers seat, so we decided to head out early and avoid the worst of it.
It was the icy kind of snow and the tires weren’t so great, so we drove slowly, took our time, and stopped partway home in Duluth. She splurged for a hotel room and took me out for dinner and the next day we got new tires put on before we went home. We had a great time!”
What’s the Difference?
Notice your reaction and judgement about the first situation and the second. It’s the exact same story, framed differently. (And I know, because I was there! In fact, he was laughing about how he was going to tell his friends I took him out to dinner in Duluth to celebrate his anniversary.)
What is The Story In Your Head About Your Partner?
Words create reality. What we focus on, grows. Are you choosing to see and speak about the aspects of your partner that encourage you to thrive? Or to create negativity and conflict?
Confirmation Bias is people’s tendency to look for, interpret, and see information that is consistent with their existing beliefs. Talking poorly about your significant other focuses the brain on those aspects, which reinforces the neurological pathways and makes the tendency for you to see their shortcomings instead of strengths.
Neuroscience Behind Words
Even how we talk about ourselves changes our emotional state, and thus our ability to engage in relationships. One research study on negative talk in children said, “These results suggest negative self-talk plays a role in the generation or maintenance of anxiety in normal children.”
Overall, spoken, heard, or thought words can cause situational stress. When we are stressed, it’s hard to create bonding and intimacy of any kind.
Rewire Your Brain
“if you practice something consistently, such as meditating, exercising or learning how to play an instrument, you’re likely to alter your brain to associate the relevant parts of its structure.” Citation
No matter your age, your actions and thoughts (both positive and negative) that you repeat about yourself or others can form new neural pathways. How can you reframe your thoughts towards your partner so they are more positive?
Now, I’m not talking about ignoring red flags or spiritually bypassing. I’m talking about finding the positive (or at least more neutral than negative) spin on a situation. Are you choosing to speak drama to get attention or affirmation from others? Or are you looking to boost positivity in your mind about your significant other and your relationship.
Ready to make a change in your thinking fast? Give me a call and let’s chat about the options. I’m here for you.