I know I sound like a broken record on this; but I am going to state it again; relationships require hard work, dedication and effort, if it were to have a good and solid foundation and a healthy, positive future. Putting in the effort, though, might often feel like it is just too much to ask. No relationship is perfect, and no relationship is good all the time – we have all experienced those lows and those periods of negativity and doubt; it’s normal. You might be there now. You might be asking yourself; “now what?” or “where to from here?”
I often say to couples, the mere fact that you have a willingness to think about changing your relationship for the better…is already a positive! It means that you have positive intent, even if it’s just the glimmer of a thought somewhere in the back of your mind. When your relationship is in a negative phase, the hardest thing to do is to notice the positives; regarding your relationship in general as well as the two of you in the relationship. I am a very strong believer of the idea that our thoughts influence our emotions and our lives in general. To illustrate this, I would like to invite you to try something. Close your eyes and think back to the best; feel-good movie you've seen this year. Try remembering why it made you feel good and envisioning some of the scenes that made you laugh. Or think back to the funniest thing your child ever said to you as a toddler… Do it now.
Chances are fairly good that you had a smile on your face while thinking these thoughts, as well as a feeling of lightness and happiness or joy. Similarly; if you were to think about the saddest day of your existence; you would experience certain physiological results; heaviness in your body, frowning, as well as an emotional down that goes with it.
Positive thinking as an influential concept, has received a lot of attention from life coaches, academics, psychologists and the like. In his blog, Remez Sasson notes that: “A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health, and favourable results. If you adopt this mental attitude, you teach your mind to expect success, growth and favourable outcomes.” Some take it even further; “The Secret”, is a great example; the book reached the New York Times best seller’s list and stayed there for 146 consecutive weeks! It is based on the law of attraction and basically boils down to explaining how our thoughts and feelings send certain frequencies out into the universe which then attracts similar frequencies back to us. If you think and feel positively, you will attract positivity. If you think and feel anger, you will attract it to you, causing more anger. Some even believe that practising this “secret” is powerful enough to cure terminal illnesses such as cancer…
I don't believe that the power of positive thoughts has the ability to trump all other factors in play. I don't for one moment believe that I can pass an exam, on the power of positive thinking alone for example – maybe I just don't get it. In my opinion; that’s pure stupidity…or wishful thinking at the very least. I do however believe; with all my heart; that our thoughts very definitely can and do influence our emotions and our experiences; no doubt about that! The previously mentioned exercise illustrates this quite effectively. Another example of the influence our thoughts have on us is a quite commonly experienced one. When you are faced with a dilemma at work and you do not see any positive solution or outcome – you experience negative emotions, you are down, you feel heavy, defeated; the list can go on and on. As soon as you think of a possible solution, things start looking up. You feel lighter. You start experiencing emotions such as hope and positivity, you feel more energized, because it is not as bleak as you thought. You might even feel excitement and/or happiness… What changed? The problem is still there, nothing has of yet been done to change a thing…all that changed, was your thoughts…and they had an immense effect on your experience of the specific situation.
Let’s take this back to your relationship. If you are currently in a negative space with regards to your relationship; maybe all you need to change are your thoughts…I am not saying this will fix everything! I am merely proposing this as a start. Now I know, that many of you would laugh me off at this point; because; let’s face it – thoughts often have a mind of their own! They seem to enter into our heads without us wanting them there. We have no control over them! So how then do we change what we think!?
Start to look for the positives in yourself, in your relationship…and in your partner. Actively search for things that you can be grateful for and verbally mention them to your spouse; out loud. Keep a journal and physically write these positive things down. Read through it on a regular basis. Start looking for things that you can complement your spouse on and do so sincerely, on a daily basis. Your spouse, upon hearing this and experiencing this, will hopefully start thinking the same kind of thoughts, and if what we are saying holds some ounce of truth…if our thoughts do in fact influence our experiences…then this would be a great start to some positive change, to say the least.
If you believe the Bible to be true, as I do, then Romans 12:2 sheds some light on this issue as well. It states that you can transform yourself by renewing your mind…you have the power to renew your mind… 2 Corinthians 10:5: states that we can take our thoughts captive and make it obedient to God… taking your thoughts captive supports our experience of thoughts as often being foreign entities entering our mental spaces, but also confirms that we can practice control over them.
I therefore challenge you today – as soon as a negative thought pops up, take it captive! Decide whether this thought is life giving to your relationship, or whether it is life taking. Does this thought support your intention to change your relationship for the better, or is it hindering it. Then choose. Choose to replace that negative thought with a positive one, or go and read through your journal, go and complement your spouse, show gratitude for something…and when, not if, the next negative thought rears its ugly little head…do it all over again, and again…
I am not suggesting that this will solve all your problems; again I am merely proposing that this would be a great start to changing for the better!
Your experience, is your reality, is your truth…if you change your thoughts, and thereby change your experience of your relationship…you might just live a completely different truth than the one you are living now.