Learning to take personal responsibility for your 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 if they just continue bumping their way along through life the world will right itself and give them their due; but it doesn’t work that way. To see positive actions coming your way, you need to take them.
It might be hard for you to see past your present difficulties. Unfortunately, when the pressures of daily life seem 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 trouble starts. If you can rethink this process — and recognize that taking out your unhappiness on a loved one is 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 them to inquire what’s going on 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 walk through the front door. Look at the pressures nagging at you, wherever they might 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. Making this distinction, in many cases, can help to shift 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 project your pain inappropriately, it causes great discomfort. But when you share your pain in a thoughtful way, it reduces hurtful feelings. Choose to be thoughtful. It’s that simple.
By self-processing and discussing your feelings in the right way, you will calm yourself and reinforce a sense of safety in your relationship, because your partner will see you have the strength to deal with whatever comes.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. is an award-winning psychotherapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of eight books and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 35 million readers. You can reach him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com