A recent article in Psychology Today advises that thinking leads to doing and provides cogent examples of how people can be more effective in the task they’re about to engage in if they go through a mental rehearsal first. So if you’re an athlete, visualize making an effective tennis serve; if you’re about to buy a new car, go through a mental checklist of what you want in a car to help make your decision.
The article also warns of the negative impact “thinking leads to doing” can have too. For instance, if you’re mentally rehearsing negative interactions with your spouse, they’re going to come to fruition. If you start thinking about divorce, divorce is far more likely to happen.
As humans, I believe we regularly engage in mental rehearsals about future activities. I know I do, and I certainly get the sports analogies. When I’m about to tackle some hardcore moguls on the ski hill, I mentally plan my way through them first. I still face-plant sometimes, but that’s not my point.
My point is: everyone has annoying habits. I’ve got habits that would drive you nuts. And as much as I love to hype up how wonderful my wife is, I have to be honest: sometimes she does things that bug me. So when you plan out those little, daily interactions with your significant other, what are you focusing on in your mental rehearsals?
Here’s some advice from the article: “A focus on figuring out new ways you might handle the challenges is likely to lead you closer to the kind of marriage you were hoping for when you said ‘I do.’ Think about hugging your spouse more often. Think about listening more attentively when your spouse expresses concerns. Picture yourself expressing more appreciation for small things s/he does. Excellent. Your family life is likely to get better.”
I get this. There is much value in endeavouring to see your relationship – and the world – through rose-coloured glasses. Of course, the article states that there are things in a relationship that you shouldn’t tolerate, but know that the annoyances and struggles you face can be more manageable if viewed in a positive light before you tackle them. Don’t go into these interactions thinking it’s going to go badly, but plan for a positive outcome.
This is why I always plan to give my wife a big hug and a kiss when she gets home from work. It’s something I mentally rehearse everyday, and I think it’s helpful in getting her to overlook some of the annoying habits of mine.
When I mentally rehearse myself in the future – elderly, grey-haired and wrinkly – my wife is there next to me.