What’s the most important thing in a relationship? Some people will say honesty, others will claim communication, and some will say enough time away from each other! Let’s be fair: all of those things are vital. But I believe the most crucial thing is setting a positive tone.
Yes, I need to communicate with my partner and tell him what’s going on with me. Yes, I absolutely need to be honest and clear about my needs. And hell yes, sometimes I need to go on a vacation with my girlfriends!
But if he comes home to me being in a bad mood every night… Before long, he’s not going to want to come home to me at all.
We are all living our lives and going through our own individual struggles. It’s a popular misconception to think that other people have it easier than us. They don’t. We all take turns lying awake at night. And as we battle with our challenges, our lovers are battling with theirs. Our most essential role, then, is to create a positive, fun, loving environment for the other. To make their life a little easier.
And we do that by controlling our own behaviour.
I heard a story once about a woman who was dating a man. He said to her, “I’m about to launch a business, and I don’t have time to start this new business and be in a relationship.” When she relayed this to her coach, she replied, “When he says that, what he is really saying is you are work. Coming home to you is another problem to solve. When you greet him at the door with your stresses, your anxieties, and your worries, you become another chore to him, and he cannot conceive of how he will be able to do both.”
That blew my mind and completely changed how I viewed my relationship. I thought about all the times that my man had come home to me in a sad girl sulk, or to a slow-boiling rage which I would unleash upon him when he least expected it. I realised how insane and unfair that was, how it was essentially a type of emotional violence. I had made the mistake of thinking that because my man is strong and capable, he could — and should — just take whatever I felt like throwing at him.
Au contraire! And to take it a step further, when I practiced creating a positive mindset, I realised that actually, I am the one who sets the tone of the relationship. My man is simply reacting to me. If I am happy, he will follow suit.
It is my job to set the tone. It is my job to set intentions around how we interact. It is my job to create the container in which we live.
So often, we wait around for someone else to “make us happy”, either by pouting when we’re not on the receiving end of certain behaviour, or expecting them to put on a dog-and-pony show when we want to be cheered up. But this is a game no one will win. You know this already: you have to make yourself feel good, and this is even more true in an intimate relationship than it is when you are alone. Yet somehow it is so easy to fall into the trap of expecting the world from the person we love.
If you are a sensitive person (hello), flipping your thoughts and making feeling good a priority can seem like an insurmountable task. Creating a positive mindset can be unbelievably hard when you’re struggling with stresses or mental health. I find it difficult almost every day. The good news is that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And the even better news is that while you may start out doing this just to keep the peace in your relationship, you are actually giving yourself a gift. Learning how to be strong and choose a better thought again and again and again is an incredible practice that makes YOU happier, healthier, and more creative. Your partner is just the lucky one who gets to hang out with you!
This is not about pretending we don’t have problems, denying our feelings, or covering everything up with a phony positive facade. Accepting our feelings is an essential part of our emotional health! This is about not wallowing in our negativity, allowing it to dominate our life, or letting it destroy our most meaningful relationships.
In my next post, we’ll discuss the methods and tools we can use to switch our thoughts to a better place. I’m excited to share them with you. Stay tuned.
Peace and love,
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