In her latest album, Taylor Swift confesses, “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” She may have a point.
We all know it can be easy to become frustrated with our partner. As humans, we tend to focus on the negative more than we realize, contributing to conflict within our relationship. There is relief in knowing that it’s not our fault—it’s evolutionary! The key to counteracting this frustration is to become more aware of our thoughts. This awareness will help us make choices that will improve our relationship.
Research from the National Science Foundation shows that approximately 80% of our thoughts are negative, and up to 95% of our thinking is habitual. We can still intentionally have a positive outlook towards our partner despite being hard-wired to ruminate in our negative headspace.
It’s true: negative thinking hurts relationships. Negative self-talk can lead us to assume our partner’s motivations are negative, leading to conflict. Programmed towards the negative, we can become reactive. We might react to a towel left on the floor or the state of the toilet seat as proof that our partner is being disrespectful rather than, more realistically, accepting that it’s not about us.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Clinical Psychologist and New York Times best-selling author, says another person doesn’t ever cause our reactions—they are rooted in our personality due to life experiences and childhood conditioning.
Thankfully, studies show we can overcome negative thinking and heal our relationship. When we acknowledge our negative thinking and refocus on the positive, giving our partner the benefit of the doubt, we create higher levels of commitment, communication, and feelings of love.
Begin by recognizing your negative thoughts in the moment and declaring, “Hi, it’s not my fault, but oops, it’s me!” In this mindful moment, challenge your negative thoughts and consciously focus on the positive. It’s not easy, but with practice, this technique can become a habit that supports your healthy and happy relationship.
Being more aware of your inner voice will allow you to consciously improve your relationship with your partner and transform your relationship with yourself.
Healthy Love Habits is Raising Arizona Kids’s monthly relationship column for learning simple habits to create the healthy and loving connection you desire and deserve.
Karen Aurit, LAMFT, is Director and Co-Founder of The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation. Karen is a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in mindfulness. Karen is married to Michael Aurit, and they live in Phoenix with their with their two daughters. To learn more, visit auritmediation.com