Whether it’s joy or anger, we’re wired to catch and spread emotions. Here's how to inoculate ourselves against negative ones.
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Cleaning up emotional pollution
Steven Stosny, Ph.D.
Once the mind becomes convinced that it needs something, its pursuit can easily become obsessive, compulsive, or addictive.
Unless there is agreement on a strategy to repair the relationship, any tactic either party employs will seem like manipulation.
In small doses, anxiety is a vital emotion. Without it, we could be killed crossing the street and would find ourselves ill-prepared for many of the important tasks of life.
Resentment is the persistent feeling that we're being treated unfairly—not getting due respect, appreciation, affection, help, apology, consideration, praise, or reward.
Ultimately, the choice between valuing and devaluing is a choice between empowerment and powerlessness.
If you feel that something your partner does is “stupid,” describing the behavior in the kindest language will not hide your true feelings.
Due to the vast contagion of emotions, even our most subtle interactions with other people help determine whether they treat their loved ones well, ignore them, or hurt them.
If you're resentful, then you’ve probably devalued, demeaned, sought to control, manipulate, or deliberately hurt the feelings of loved ones.
If you make forgiveness a goal, it remains elusive—just when you think you’ve got it, it’s out of reach again.
The measure of a behavior in love relationships should not be whether or not it’s abusive or sarcastic. That sets the bar way too low.
Avoid the attitude of, “Connect when and where I want—or not at all.”
We have to struggle to maintain a sense of humanity.
Environmental polluters spread waste in the environment without regard of its effects on others. Emotional polluters spread hostility in the environment, disregarding others.
The entitlement culture has all but equated the virtue of humility with the symptom of low self-esteem—with dire consequences.
Intolerance of disagreement rises from the dread of uncertainty, a dread that severely limits growth and accomplishment. Uncertainty drives us to learn more and connect to others.
Those who condemn others are the least likely to know they’re suffering.
In love relationships, power struggles are not really about power – who gets to rule. They’re about value, specifically, attempts to compensate for precipitous drops in self-value.
Resentful people often get into trouble in intimate relationships, without doing anything wrong; their bodies and expressions devalue and express hostility.
Abuse is at heart a misuse of power. Power and responsibility are morally inseparable: The more power we have, the more responsibility we must assume.
By the time we’re adults, emotion regulation habits are almost completely habituated.
Whenever abusers feel uncomfortable, disappointed, guilty, ashamed, or sad, partners and children are likely to be blamed.
When you frame the problem as the character of your partner, rather than the way you interact, change requires one or both of you to sell out the sense of self.
In addition to psychological harm, contempt lowers the efficiency of the immune system.
Conviction is the strong belief that your behavior is right, moral, and consistent with your deeper values.
Most signs of emotional abuse indicate entrenched behaviors likely to worsen without specialized professional intervention.
What is a shorthand for dehumanizing judgments mired in bias and prejudice, revealing more about those who use them than those they stigmatize?
Choosing the wrong metaphor can make the struggle for autonomy and connection seem like standing astride two galloping horses at once.
Binocular vision gives an accurate view of a relationship as a whole. No matter how accurate one partner’s perspective, it's incomplete without the other's.
It’s absolutely imperative to identify blind spots, own them without being defensive, and adjust behavior to compensate for them.
One of the worst things we can do for the health of a relationship is pretend that we know how to make intimate unions work.
Steven Stosny, Ph.D., treats people for anger and relationship problems. His recent books include How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It and Love Without Hurt.