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Marital issues and negative thinking traps

What was I thinking?
What was I thinking?
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Cognitive distortions are at the core of what many cognitive-behavioral therapists try and help a person learn to change, especially when they have a negative impact on a relationship. By learning to correctly identify this kind of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” a person can then answer the negative thinking back, and refute it. By refuting the negative thinking over and over again, it will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.

More often than not it’s our thinking that creates or adds to our relationship stressors, subsequently, only making things worse. You can find many concepts like what is in this article all over the internet, the problem is, most people are not sure what to research or what to look for. Many counselors and other therapist have shared their ideas all over the web on cognitive issues, not all apply to directly to marriage.

But in this article let’s take a look at a few concepts and see how they can influence any relationship. We don’t always notice when we’re using filtering in situations. We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

This tends to make it hard to let things go. Always holding onto the hurts or un-pleasantries in life is no way to live. Another area that causes sink holes in marriage is all or nothing thinking, it’s black or white. In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure — there is no middle ground.

You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. Be forewarned, nothing in a marriage should be placed in this category. Now, we all know that perception is everything. The problem with that is, our perceptions are not always accurate. Yet, we base so many decisions on perception alone. Face it; you are not always in the right.

One of three things can happen here. You may overgeneralize; maybe jump to conclusions or even catastrophize situations. In overgeneralizing, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.

How about jumping to conclusion, are you good at that? Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us. For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct.

Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact. This one has more than demolished many a marriage. Jumping to conclusions is never good. Now for the mega-trap, catastrophizing. Please do not feel as though the stressors you are feeling are being minimized here.

People do go through some very hard times and I sympathize. In this thinking trap any relationship can have difficulty if you tend to see total chaos all the time. We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections). If a spouse is continually judging their spouse in this thinking trap, it will have a negative impact. Get out of the trap.

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