Linda: Keeping track of how difficult (selfish, dishonest, controlling, unreasonable, cruel, stubborn, bitchy, mean, aggressive, distant, cold, shut-down, possessive, irrational, hysterical, illogical, over-sexed, under-sexed, boring, passive, rejecting and unloving to name a few) the other person is, is building evidence in a file. The thicker the file grows, the more we feel justified in holding our partner responsible for the trouble. It is the chronic self-justification that promotes our prejudice against or partner, distorts our memory, promotes arrogance, creates injustice, generates arguments, and distorts love.
Keeping a file adds “evidence.” Support from family and friends go in the file too, even though they only hear one side of the story, even a rewriting of history goes into the negative file. By being on the lookout for when the mind is lapsing into such unwholesome beliefs and attitudes, we can change our thinking and behavior accordingly. The accumulation of blaming ways of thinking inflames the normal differences that all couples have. By continuing to believe our judgments regarding our partner, we are over-emphasizing the negative aspects of the relationship. Such thinking serves to brainwash one or both partners. Continuing in this way we are likely to discover at some point, that the judgments and self-justifications, are taking us right out of the relationship. When couples get positioned like this, they are at risk of separation to get out of the psychological pain. Or what’s even worse is to stay together and live out their lives as the Bickersons, shaming, blaming, feeling worthless, unloved, and helpless to do anything about it.
There is only one way out of the ghastly dilemma.
- Attitude shift: A change of attitudeis required to stop being so judgmental.
- Self-discipline: Holding back on the impulse when we have been harmed, by resisting all impulses to get them back, take revenge, and to be vindictive.
- Reactivity: To work with the reactivity and retaliation that shuts down communication so that both people can be heard with respect is a game changer.
- Openness: The tight grip of justification that is being used to make their position the only sensible and realistic one, must loosen. In its place, we can open to hear what the other’s person’s needs are and to choose to hold those needs are being legitimate.
- Empathy: By not being so preoccupied with our justifications there is room for empathy to feel with our partner around how our attitude and actions are causing them distress. Then we can begin to put in some corrections.
- Take Responsibility: When we make some breathing room, we can stop blaming and become more flexible.
- Understanding: A committed attempt to understand the other person’s way of being can work wonders.
- Forgiveness: See if you can find some mercy for the ways you have been hurt and disappointed so that we can start fresh to rebuild trust.
- Catch them doing things right: Cultivating sincere appreciation and gratitude will sweeten up a relationship that has gone sour.
- Let go of the old file: Not only can we stop adding to the transgressions file, we can destroy the entire file.
- Start a new file: We don’t need that old one anymore and can now replace it with the appreciation and gratitude file. Don’t just keep track of the good attributes silently in the file. Let your partner know.
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