“It is common for most of us at one point or another to have experienced difficulties or challenges in our personal relationships whether it is with your spouse, or partner. However when such problems become entrenched or habitual then people begin to feel stuck and experience anxiety, irrationality, anger, and hurt, depression and unhealthy jealousy. Some of the more common problems experienced in relationships could be: Feeling anxious about a partner leaving for another, ending the relationship or thinking about infidelity or in an infidelity already. You may also experience anxiety about communicating your feelings in the right way and worry that you must always say things in the right way or with the right tone. There could be anxiety about a partner’s anger, anxiety about confrontation or irrational jealousy, where you track your partners every move, check text messages which may result in confrontation leading to aggressive behaviour, anger and hostility. It is also common to experience hurt where you think that your partner’s insensitive behaviour towards you implies lack of care and love. You also may experience feelings of guilt about past behaviours or wrong doings. You may also know that your partner’s behaviour towards you may be inappropriate. That you are being put down in public, in front of your friends but you do not know how to resolve it because you have low self-esteem about yourself. These are some of the common problems we deal with in cognitive behavioural therapy. At the heart of CBT is that our thoughts and beliefs cause our emotional states and cause our behaviours.
If your thoughts and beliefs about yourself or your partner are unhealthy then your feelings and behaviours within the relationship will also be unhealthy. Essentially the message is that we are responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, our behaviours and the types of relationships that we tolerate. When you don’t take this responsibility then it is likely that it will be projected on to your partner and you will believe that your partner is the cause of your feelings and for the way that you act. Common beliefs like ‘he made me feel this way,’ or ‘she makes me feel small,’ ‘he makes me shout,’ are rife, but this is not true. It is you that makes you feel how you do and makes you do, what you do. So some basic techniques from CBT which you may find helpful as a starting point:
1) Accept that you are responsible for your own emotions and actions.
2) Communicate without pointing a finger, use expressions like, ‘I feel angry about…’ and not ‘You made me angry about…’
3) Accept yourself as a valuable but imperfect human being, judge your behaviour rather than your worth, for example, accept that you are a fallible human being but you can learn from mistakes and change for the better.
4) Be assertive and not aggressive. Communicate your thoughts and feelings appropriately and not defensively. Being assertive means that you have the courage of your own convictions but that you are also prepared to compromise if you see another person’s point of view.
5) Do think of the bigger picture and to remember to focus on your partners good qualities and demonstrate that.”
This is an excellent brief introduction to the principles of CBT by hypnotherapist Avy Joseph. With the contribution of hypnotherapy we may be able to mentally rehearse the above suggestions in a hypnotic state. This way new healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving may be incorporated into our subconscious mind in a fast and easy way, becoming part of who we are at that particular time in our life.