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How Toxic Thinking Destroys Relationships

Consequences Negative Thinking in Relationships

A successful relationship is determined not by the number of years spent together, but by how well it is sustained. Here are some of the effects of negative thinking in relationships that you should be aware of in order to avoid further damage to a meaningful connection.

The fate of your relationship lies in how you think about it.

Impact of Negative Thinking in Relationships

Toxic thinking has a powerful impact on relationships because your toxic thoughts profoundly influence how you feel. This is one of the most important points about toxic thinking to understand. The thoughts we think when we talk to ourselves don’t just go in and out of our heads. They stick.

Our feelings, moods, and actions are driven by our self-talk. I’m sure you have heard yourself or someone you know say, “I don’t know why, but I feel so close to him today,” or, “I can’t figure out why I’m so angry with her.” There’s no mystery. This is proof of the power of your underlying self-talk. Your thoughts can either make you feel good about your partner and your relationship (if you think positive ones) or disappointed, angry, sad (if you think toxic ones) about your partner and your relationship.

If you’re telling yourself over and over again that your relationship partner is irresponsible and lazy, what feelings are you going to have about him? Bad ones. You’re going to feel like you’ve hooked up with an irresponsible, lazy guy. How could you not?

If your internal self-talk tape has “She’s holding me back” on constant play you will end up focusing on all of those events or experiences in your life that prove to you that your partner is somehow holding you back.

The Consequences of Negative Thinking in Relationships
Toxic Thoughts and Relationships

Related: The Truth About Dealbreakers In Relationships

You are going to feel badly about yourself for letting her hold you back. You are going to feel badly about her—after all, she’s the one preventing your dreams from coming true. And you’re going to feel badly about your life in general—how could you not when your dreams have been thwarted this way? You are going to create the reality around yourself that you are being robbed of something because she is holding you back.

And what kind of relationship can you have with these types of thoughts swirling around in your head? Not a very strong one.

You can also make yourself physically sick. If you’re a toxic self-talker about yourself or your relationship, you might have high blood pressure or a nervous stomach. Maybe you suffer from headaches or are overweight. Toxic self-talk harms us physically as well as mentally. When we talk toxic, we feel toxic—stressed out, tired, and often depressed and anxious.

So, even if you don’t realize you’re telling yourself something toxic about your partner (because we so often self-talk without realizing what we’re saying), toxic talk still silently and strongly influences the way you feel and behave. If you repeatedly tell yourself something toxic about your partner day after day or during argument after argument—“He can’t do anything right,” or “She’s an impossible nag”—eventually you will perceive that toxic statement as the reality, even if it’s not.

Related: The Silent Killer of Loving Relationships

Toxic Thinking Creates Its Own Reality

As I explain in my book, Why Can’t You Read My Mind?, the relationship reality you experience is shaped by you. Think about that fact for a moment—even if it’s not the reality. That’s a powerful statement. It’s also scary, isn’t it? We can turn our thoughts into reality—thoughts that we may not even be aware we’re having. This means that even if we’re not unattractive to our intimate partners, we can actually convince ourselves, and therefore others, that we are, just by thinking such a thing about ourselves. That is scary.

In my field, you’ll often hear the phrase, “What you resist, will persist.” So true: Toxic thoughts will not just go away by themselves. After thousands of hours of psychotherapy with people from all walks of life, I can tell you with confidence and certainty that many people think that they can ignore or outrun their toxic thoughts—but they’re wrong. Over and over, I have seen couples at various breaking points, with one or both partners feeling anxious or depressed, turning to food, alcohol, or drugs for comfort.

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Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein

Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized parent coach and psychologist. He has over 30 years experience providing child, adolescent, couples, family counseling and coaching. Dr. Bernstein conducts seminars and public speaking events on child/teen/adult child behavior, self-esteem, addictions, self-mutilation, ADHD, learning disabilities, discipline, difficult children, parenting issues, personal wellness, workplace challenges, and leadership development throughout the greater Philadelphia area. His work has been profiled in several media sources, including radio in several countries, twice on The Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, and NBC National News. Bernstein also has been repeatedly quoted in Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan Magazines.View Author posts