For instance, you might choose to focus on your tendency to repeat, “I haven’t had a girlfriend in so long; I’m such a loser.” You can start by being aware of every time you say this to yourself, and then replace that thought with a more positive message: “I’ve had a dry spell for a while, but l’ve been in relationships before and I can find someone special again.” If you believe this new message at all, you might help yourself to think it more automatically by consciously practicing it.
Don’t be hard on yourself if this doesn’t work. The approach has its limits. If the new statement is in direct conflict with your self-perceptions, repeating it will never be wholly convincing, just as you will never convince yourself that night is day, no matter how many times you label the moon as the sun.
What’s most important now is that you become more aware of your thoughts and how they affect you. By doing this you are establishing a solid foundation for understanding your feelings and beliefs about yourself and your relationships, and for relating differently to those feeling and beliefs. Once you realize this, you have a better understanding of how your emotions work. Making this connection is an important step in relating more positively to yourself.
Exercise: Changing your “Thought Bubble”
Your negative thoughts — either in the form of self-criticisms or in the form of perceptions that your partner does not sufficiently value you perpetuate your attachment-related anxiety.
To begin, make a chart that you can fill in each day. Label five columns: Date, Situation, Attachment-Related Anxious Thoughts (related to your partner and you), Effects of Thoughts on Feelings and Behaviours, and Disconfirming Evidence.
Example: Changing your “THOUGHT BUBBLE”
Situation:- Patrick met his friends out at a bar
Attachment-Related Anxious Thoughts (related to you, and to your partner) :-Him: He wants to go out with his friends so he can look for someone he likes better than me; I can’t trust him; he just wants to be with his friends and doesn’t care about me Me: I’m not interesting enough; I’m not pretty enough
Effects of Thoughts on Feelings and Behaviours:- Feelings: Anxious, jealous, afraid of him leaving me, angry with him, inadequate Behaviours: Check his cell phone when he’s home and not looking; call him a lot when he’s out
Disconfirming Evidence:- He’s always making plans for us to go out; he so thoughtful and tells me he cares (my logic is flawed); Lori’s boyfriends go out with his friends and I don’t think he’s getting ready to leave her; I have friends who like talking with me and find me interesting and fun to be with
Date: Noting the date will help you keep track of patterns, especially if you complete this during different periods of time.
Situation: Write down details about the situation related to your current, past, or potential partner that triggered you to become upset.
Attachment-Related Anxious Thoughts: Ask yourself, “What thoughts reinforce my attachment-related anxiety?” It can be helpful to note thoughts related both to yourself and to your partner. Some examples are:
- If only I were more interesting, he’d feel stronger about our relationship and spend time with me instead of the guys.
- If only I were prettier, he might want to stay with me.
- He’ll leave once he really gets to know me, or once he finds someone better.
- He doesn’t want to hang out with me, so there must be something wrong with me.
- He doesn’t care how I feel.
Effects of Thoughts on Feelings and Behaviours: once you are clear about what you say to yourself, think about how this makes you feel, and how it influences your behaviours.
Disconfirming Evidence: Pay attention to how your reactions unfold in daily life and how they are a consequence of your flawed thinking rather than the likely reality of your situation. If, you worry that your boyfriend’s going out with the guys means he’s not very interested you, you might consider these questions:
- What evidence is there for the idea that he might be happy with me”? (for instance, he tells me he loves me; he texts or calls me every day; he took care of me when I was sick.)
- In what ways am I critical of myself? (for instance, I view myself as boring or stupid for thinking he’d want a future with me.)
- If my best friend were in the same situation, would I think the same thing about her and her situation? If not, what would I think? (for instance, I’d think his wanting to go out with the guys has nothing to do with how interesting she is. He shows her that he cares, so it’s clear that he wants to be with her.)
If your attachment-related anxious thoughts remain entrenched, or change seems to be coming too slowly, you might need a little more help. You can find this help by actively developing your capacity for self-compassion.
This Article is taken from Insecure in Love
Written by Arshad. A