Now that you understand a little about why these self-confidence issues keep popping up in your early relationships, you can do something about them. We’ve created vicious cycles, a short interactive exercise for you to play with. It explains how we’re all wired and how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviour are connected. It will help you to learn how to break free of negative and unhelpful relationship patterns.
As you’ve just seen, one of the most practical things you can do to alter a situation is to change your thoughts. By changing your thoughts, your feelings and behaviour will follow, and this can influence the whole relationship.
So let’s see where you can start to adjust your thoughts.
Think about what you’re struggling with at the moment. Try not to think about numerous issues at once, but rather, focus on a single one that’s particularly bothering you in your relationship right now.
Now, consider your actual thoughts on that issue. They might look something like this:
Here are a few examples of how you can change a thought, which can start to affect the whole cycle.
We’ve already said that changing a thought can affect the entire cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. But sometimes, the thought doesn’t even need to be changed; it just needs to be challenged.
Sometimes our thoughts can be illogical or inaccurate. If you have ever thought to yourself “I’m not good enough” (and who hasn’t, at some point?), then you’ll know that changing that thought is going to be difficult because, ultimately, it comes from a place of insecurity. But you can challenge it, and this might start with asking yourself a few questions, such as:
Challenging your thoughts is a positive step towards increased emotional intelligence.
Remember, the easiest way to change your feelings and therefore your behaviour is to first challenge the thought – this is likely to have the positive knock-on effect that you need.
Because thoughts and feelings often pop up like reflexes, it’s sometimes a good idea to withdraw mid-flow. This helps to stop the vicious cycle while you pull back and reassess your thoughts. By changing your thoughts, you may even find yourself reversing the cycle into a positive one right there and then.
So the next time you find yourself in a situation where emotions have run away with you, or you’re behaving in a way that is unhelpful, try to harness the thought. Challenge it, change it if you can, and then see what happens.