"One bad apple spoils the bunch," may be a cliche, but it's true — especially if that bad apple is a metaphor for your poor attitude. Whether you're a true pessimist or just in a funk, attitude changes will improve your relationship with both your partner, and with yourself.
When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw the miraculous changes that occurred in unhappy partnerships when both people just did a little work changing the way they thought about their situations. A joyous attitude really did help create a joyous life.
Now, if you're in a truly unhealthy relationship, a healthy attitude won't wave a magic wand over your problems. In fact, rationalizing away your problems with attitude changes in that case is actually a form of denial. But for those of us who just want to experience a little more joy, and who want to make the most of our lives with our partners, some attitude adjustment really is a great place to start. I've laid out some common positive attitudes that you can shift your thinking to, as well as why they matter and some concrete steps to help get you there.
1. Life Is Good
Life is good. But why is it so easy to focus on the bad and forget everything else? When you're single, it's common to think about how much it sucks to be single. But in relationships, do you also fall back on negative thinking?
How It Can Help: When you have a positive outlook on life, naturally you have a more positive outlook on your relationship. That can only make things better, especially when you're going through hard times.
What To Do: Practice gratitude each day, even for the little things. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal so you have something to look back on when it's hard to muster positivity.
2. I Deserve This
You absolutely deserve love and happiness. You deserve romance, hot sex, true partnership, and anything else that you want out of a relationship.
How It Can Help: When you feel like you don't deserve the good things in your life, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same is true when you feel like you're worthy. Also, feeling like you're not worthy creates a subtle inequality of worth. Not cool.
What To Do: Remind yourself that you deserve this happiness whenever you feel creeping doubt. Give yourself a mini pep-talk.
3. I'm Beautiful
Of course you want your partner to think you're beautiful, but it really only matters that you think it. You have to be able to rely on yourself for your own validation and to see your own self-worth.
How It Can Help: Being able to see your own beauty is part of having a healthy self-esteem, and healthy self-esteem is essential to healthy relationships.
What To Do: Stop all negative thoughts about your appearance in their tracks and replace them with positive thoughts. You might be surprised how many times per day you have to do this, but don't give up. You'll eventually retain your brain to stop going to negative places.
4. This Is My True Partner
Your partner isn't a child you have to look after, a master you have to serve, a doofus you have to deal with, or god you have to worship. Your partner is just that, a true partner.
How It Can Help: Equality is a beautiful thing. It makes life easier, and more fair, but also more enjoyable. Not to mention, equality is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship.
What To Do: Share the responsibility! Share the love. Share the work. Share the blame. Compromise. Approach life as a team. And don't let those tropes about lovable, but lazy idiot partners you see on TV be your reality.
5. This Person Is Not My Everything
It may feel like that, but it's not true. It can't be true. You have to be the center of your world, as a healthy, independent, fully realized person. No other human can or should complete you.
How It Can Help: When your attitude is that your partner enhances your life but isn't your everything, you keep your friends, maintain your hobbies and interests, and basically do you. And if the day comes when you lose them, you're still fine on your own two feet, no matter how sad it is.
What To Do: Do you. Keep your friends. Get to a healthy place where you can be alone and take care of yourself if you need to, even if you're in a relationship. Appreciate that your partner is amazing, but never lose sight of your individuality.
6. I Enjoy Stability
A lot of people get into a relationship, and when the butterflies wear off, they get bored, or they get scared that this person must not be the one. That's not necessarily the case. What is likely happening is the slow march of stability, which is wonderful and sustaining, if you let it be.
How It Can Help: If you never let yourself experience stability or stick things out when they're not exciting or fun, you miss out on the joys of deep, long-lasting connection.
What You Can Do: Learn to see stability as a great thing. As a sort of safety net that lets you do you while also doing your relationship. Learn to appreciate that sometimes boring is actually not boring, but content.
7. Money Isn't Everything
When your money isn't right, it's so easy to think your life isn't right. Everyone is guilty of this. We live in a consumer-driven society. Sure, it's hard to remember to see the silver lining when we're worried about rent, but most of the time, money worries get a bigger piece of our attention than they deserve.
How It Can Help: When we aren't fairly compartmentalizing money in our lives, we tend to let it overshadow other joys. Plus, money is a huge source of stress and arguments in relationships.
What To Do: Budget and do what you can. But take time to remember that money is just one piece of our lives.
Some healthy attitude changes should lead to some healthy relationship improvements. And that includes the relationship you have with yourself.
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