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Couples Therapy: Taking Things Personally That Aren’t Personal

It’s a little too easy to get triggered by our partners. We can be really quick to take things personally, get defensive, or even create problems in our minds when there are no actual problems to be solved.

“He didn’t express excitement when I called him” can turn into: “He must be mad at me.”

“They went out without me” can turn into: “They don’t want me around.”

“She was late to our date” can turn into: “She doesn’t respect my time.”

But why?

Well, alongside the idea that many of us have some traumatic experiences and attachment wounds that have shaped how we respond to our environment, we are really fond of mind-reading - even though we’re not very good at it. People often take things personally when we shouldn’t, as it gives us something to “do” while also giving us a false sense of control (like creating little puzzles in our heads to solve). We get to take all of our past experiences and form a narrative that often doesn’t have much to do with what’s currently happening. And we then project that onto our partner… Super helpful, right?

Here’s the thing though… Our past does not predict our present. It can certainly influence it, but it does not define it. And applying narratives based on past hurt only keeps us - and our partners - feeling stuck.

Him not responding to you with excitement doesn’t have to mean he’s mad at you.

They’re going out on their own doesn’t have to mean your presence isn’t a present.

Her tardiness doesn’t have to mean your time is invaluable.

Let’s try doing something other than thinking ourselves out of discomfort. Let’s flip the script. Let’s go for a walk (I know - generic, but still); let’s clear out our email inbox or go learn to play pickle-ball; lets do literally anything action-oriented that doesn’t involve hurting our own feelings over scenarios that may or may not even be true.

Feelings are not facts. Sometimes we need professional guidance to help us with this concept and gain tools around it. If you notice yourself or your loved one engaging in thoughts and patterns that don’t serve you, email or call me to set up a free consultation today! We can start shifting the thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve you in your life and your relationship(s) into ones that do. Virtual sessions are currently offered for California residents. 

Remember - our insecurities don’t get to define us, our lives, or our relationships. Unless we let them.


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