Learning that you need to take personal responsibility for your own moods can be a relationship saver. It’s especially important to avoid inflicting a bad mood onto your partner. What’s known in psychotherapy as “negative projection” can make someone you love doubt themselves and their relationship with you.
It takes some work to keep your life and relationships positive. It doesn’t happen on its own. Many people think that if they just continue bumping their way along through life, the world will right itself and give them their due, but the truth is that it doesn’t work that way. If you don’t take positive actions, you won’t see many coming your way.
It may be hard for you to see past your present difficulties, though things are usually never as bad as they may seem. Unfortunately, when the pressures of daily life get too overwhelming, it can be hard to feel good about your circumstances, no matter what they are, and you may look for someone to blame. This is where problems start. If you can rethink this process – and recognize that taking out your unhappiness on a loved one is totally unproductive and will lead to much bigger issues – you will be more inclined to hold your tongue until you can share your feelings appropriately.
You should also consider that berating the very person who could support you best in this situation is counterproductive. Stomping around and venting when you’re in a bad mood will more likely push your partner away than inspire him or her to inquire what’s going on with you and offer assistance.
Instead of coming home with a bad case of the grumps, I advise you to do your best to uncover how you are feeling and get a grip on yourself before you get home. Think about the pressures that are nagging at you, wherever they may be coming from, and think your way through dealing with them.
It is also wise to see that most problems are not life-changing but are simply annoyances, and that’s an important distinction. It gives you the choice of changing your mood from bad to neutral (never try to force a good mood). If something is just an annoyance, it is much easier to let it go and reduce your stress. When you can approach what’s bothering you in this manner, you are much more likely to give off a positive vibe, or at least not a negative one.
One other thing to consider is that infecting your mate with your bad mood can also be hurtful. Think about it: Do you really want the one you love to be wounded too? When you share your pain in a thoughtful way, it reduces the hurtful feelings, but when you project it inappropriately, it causes greater discomfort. It’s that simple.
By self-processing and discussing your feelings in the right way, you will calm yourself and create an added sense of safety in your relationship, because your partner will see that you have the strength to deal with anything.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple – How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com. Follow his daily insights at www.twitter.com/BartonGoldsmith.