Most of us have critical or punitive voices inside our heads. In schema therapy, the punitive voice is a mode that can get triggered in any situation where one finds fault with oneself. For example, Marla has a tendency to binge on sweets at night. She’s overweight and wants to lose weight and is much more disciplined during the day. After she binges, she usually feels sick and starts to beat up on herself saying things like: “You’re pathetic. You’re fat. You’re weak”.
Have you ever found yourself giving your partner the silent treatment, rolling your eyes, or blaming your partner for your own actions? Albeit small, if these behaviors occur high in frequency and intensity they are markers that often accurately predict whether a relationship will succeed or fail.
The path out of this relational trap is to first take on an approach of zero negativity: for both parties to commit absolutely to refraining from put-downs, negative comments and behaviors. It's imperative that both members of a couple make a strict commitment to this approach. Not just temporarily, but always.
The unhappy fact is that teasing and bullying are a normal part of the rough and tumble struggle for social status. We are hardwired with the compulsion to compete for belonging and status in our social groups, and sometimes it goes too far. So, what can you do to help your children with this very difficult fact of life?
No one likes to be criticized, fairly or not. It’s always difficult to deal with, and it can hurt. Because I’m a writer of books and columns, and because I’ve lectured, appeared on radio and TV, I am sometimes recognized in public. I’m glad I’m not more recognizable, for along with the lovely feedback, gratitude and complements I get from many people, others feel compelled to criticize, often in a mean way, and often without having even read whatever book or column they’re criticizing.
Nobody likes to be criticized. Let's face it-- most of us overload ourselves with negative judgments a lot of the time. When your partner regularly lumps on his or her nags, put downs and “advice” for how you might do things better, it can be a heavy and crippling load to carry. The combination of your own criticisms with your partner's put downs can cause your self esteem to dip even lower and intensify conflict between the two of you.
"You could always fill out those annoying coupons and subscribe her to fifteen magazines," Dan chirped in his forever positive voice. "That's not helpful," Molly sniped at him. He reached over to pull her into a hug. She was stiff in his arms. "I just can't understand it." she sighed "How can she not have anything good to say....even now....especially now."
Rejection and criticism arise because of one word: fear. When we are in a state of fear in a relationship, the twin towers of negativity—rejection and criticism—become an embodied part of the couple.
Sometimes the toilet seat up is just the toilet seat up. But other times, that vertical piece of porcelain in the powder room is nothing short of a death wish, proof that your man never really loved you or respected you, and justifiable cause for exiling him to the land where couches replace beds and where sex is a single-person sport. At least that's how it feels. As April's issue of Psychology Today explains in an article entitled "You're Driving Me Crazy," petty annoyances can easily "coalesce into a vast, submerged force when they take on a different meaning in your mind – when you add them up as evidence of a character flaw or moral defect." But they don't have to.
Nagging won't help; but a partner's unhealthy habit hurts more than his or her life expectancy. Taking on too much responsibility for a partner's bad habit is a classic sign of codependency‚ and an unhealthy dynamic in which one person becomes too wrapped up in the other. As she learns to cope with her husband's smoking; Meagan Francis also explores where his problem ends and hers begins. What does she find? "While it's OK to worry about a partner when they're doing unhealthy things, detaching from their habits—while keeping the lines of communication open—is key. Of course, there are some non-negotiables. Illegal drug use, heavy drinking, addictive gambling, and anything severely self-destructive may warrant a "quit or else" attitude. But for those not dealing with extreme cases, ultimatums aren't the answer, and neither is an expectation that your partner will comply with your wishes. Instead, use your mutual respect to reach a compromise."