Your thoughts affect your mood, and how you relate to yourself can either lift or dampen your spirits. Neuronal activity in the brain activates hormones which are synonymous with feelings. Constant self-criticism results in a "what's the use" attitude, which leads to depression and a cranky attitude, which doesn’t work well in your marriage. Continuous free-floating thoughts of impending doom lead to anxiety attacks. Negative self-talk creates stress. What I do to help clients become aware of self-inflicted stress is first, to ask them to become aware of what they're saying to themselves -- if there is a constant stream of negativity, it will create stress -- just as being followed around by someone who's constantly carping on you would be stressful. Also, if they're fighting within themselves -- not able to come to a solid idea of what they want -- that will make it difficult to make decisions, and increase the stress. Dysfunctional relationship patterns also are stress-building. For example, if you are constantly guilt-tripped by someone else, or you and your spouse fight, or you are too worried about others' opinions of who you are and what you're doing, you'll be a lot more stressed than if you know how to get along with others, when to listen and when to trust yourself. Most of my clients don’t realize that they can be in charge of their own feelings, and no one else is responsible for making them feel better.
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