There is a Buddhist saying, “You are what you think.”
- What do you think about yourself?
- What do you think about your present relationship?
- What do you think about your past relationship(s)?
What thoughts are running around in your head right now about yourself — right now, say them out loud or write them down.
I was recently sitting with a client who has a long history of judgment about her body. She can be quite harsh on herself about her weight and play mental games to try to “encourage” herself to lose weight. [Read: she is mean to herself in your private thoughts thinking this will motivate her.] I asked her to say some of these thoughts out loud. She said:
- “I hate the way I look in my clothes.”
- “If I were thinner, my husband would love me more.”
- “I will accept myself when I am a size 6.”
- “My body embarrasses me.”
She was shocked at how unkind these statements sounded when she said them out loud. But we went further.
She has a five-year-old daughter. So, I said to her, “I want you to say those exact same statements out loud as if you were saying them to your daughter.”
- “I hate the way you look in your clothes.”
- “If you were thinner, [people] would love you more.”
- “I will accept you if you lose weight.”
- “Your body embarrasses me.”
Just one statement in, my client started sobbing and said, “I would NEVER say these things to my daughter!”
I asked, “But those statements are somehow good enough for you?”
I went on, “Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with someone who said those things to her?”
“Of course not!”
My client is not unique. Most of us have a litany of unkind thoughts that run through our head throughout the day. We are so used to these thoughts that they become background noise. But, if we were to externalize these thoughts and imagine someoneELSE saying them to us, what would that be like?
Would you choose to be a relationship with someone who said these things out loud to you?
The answer would likely be ‘no’.
And yet, you are in a relationship with yourself and you feed yourself these thoughts on a regular.
And then — you expect others (primarily your intimate partner) to treat you better than you have chosen to treat yourself! The irony!
You can also apply this to your relationship if you are in one as well:
- What do you think about your partner?
- What do you think about your relationship?
- When you are angry with your partner, what kinds of things do you think about him/her?
- How do you describe your relationship to other people?
Remembering the Buddhist wisdom, “you are what you think” consider what kind of impact this may be having on your relationship and your life.
And no, I”m not saying that if you change your thoughts than magically everything will get better. But I am saying that your thoughts play a key role in coloring your attitude about yourself and others. Before you are too quick to ask your partner to change you might consider first examining and cleaning up your thoughts!
Want some personalized support in doing this work? Contact us today and one of our licensed therapists will help you get started. Call today, 720.457.3342 or book an appointment online but clicking one of the red buttons at the top of the page!