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Is It Time To Change Your Relational Mindset?

What Is A Relational Mindset?

A relational mindset is a set of beliefs about oneself in relation to another person.

These can be negative beliefs such as, “I’m not deserving of love,” “I will never be good enough,” and “People always leave me.”

Or conversely, they can be more positive beliefs like,“I am deserving of love,” "It’s healthy to set boundaries,” and “I am good enough for my partner.”

These beliefs not only inform how we see ourselves, but they also play a role in shaping our environment in the form of confirmation bias.

Simply put, we interpret new experiences as confirming our original beliefs.

If we think of ourselves in negative ways, we look for confirmation of those negative beliefs, which become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Relational mindsets come in two forms: fixed or growth.

Drawing on Dr. Carol Dweck’s work, our relational mindset can determine how we deal with and persevere through difficult times in our relationships.

If we have a fixed mindset, we can tend to struggle with conflict and disconnection, which may trigger our negative beliefs about ourselves and our partner.

We may become more frustrated, interpreting information that only further confirms what we believe, and consequently struggle to make repairs and seek resolutions in our relationships.

A growth mindset on the other hand, doesn’t shrink away from challenges, but instead embraces them for growth potential.

We all have difficulties in our relationships—times when our partner is not meeting our needs, and times when they frustrate or disappoint us. During these times it’s important to remember that with the right attitude, growth can occur within yourself.

How Can I Create a Relational Growth Mindset?

1. Recognize what triggers your fixed mindset. It’s important to link the events in your life, and your resulting feelings, to your mindset.

Here are some examples of what this looks like:

-“My partner is looking at their phone when I am trying to speak with them--and I notice that I am starting to feel rejected.”

-“My partner did not text me today--and I feel unimportant.”

These types of linkages can help you recognize when a fixed mindset is occurring.

2. Challenge your beliefs. Don’t automatically assume that what you think is accurate.

Using the second example noted above, it is possible the partner was very busy and didn’t have time to text that day. What other explanation might have caused this to occur?

The more you challenge your fixed beliefs about yourself and your partner, the more you can stay open to new information.

3. Remember your strengths. A growth mindset can put a challenging situation into perspective.

Here are some examples of what this looks like:

-“I know we are having a hard time right now--but we have always worked things out in the past and I know we will do it again.”

-“I know I feel bad right now--but I also know I am a loving person who is a good partner.”

Knowing your fixed mindset, its triggers and patterns, can go a long way in helping you feel more confident about yourself, more secure in your relationship, and better able to take steps towards creating a growth mindset.

- Tom Philp, LPC & CEO Stonebridge Couples

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