How Talking About Things Can Actually Worsen Your Mood

“Does reliving the issues of the day serve any real purpose?”

Recently I met up with a few co-workers for happy hour. Yet moments, after we clocked out and headed to our destination I had a sneaky suspicion this hour, wasn’t going to be very happy….

We weren’t even out of the building before the talk turned to our annoyances: co-workers that weren’t pulling their weight; customers that were demanding things we couldn’t do; workloads too big to manage. And before I knew it a conversation that started out as a mere recollection of events turned into an exchange that had all the makings of an argument (elevated voices, sharp speech, aggravated movements)… only, we weren’t arguing.

And here’s the sad truth:

YOUR BODY CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE.

Your body cannot tell the difference between the first time the THING happened, and your re-telling of the THING that happened, especially if the same emotions resurface. Your body goes through everything all over again. As long as you remain emotionally invested in the re-telling of the THING… you’re going to suffer.

Let’s say you come home from work and your spouse asks, “How was your day honey?” You start by telling him about an argument you had with a customer and then the emotion you thought you left at work is now sitting on the couch right between you and your spouse. You haven’t seen your spouse all day, and he just wanted to know how your day was – but now you’re fighting because you got offended that he didn’t want to listen to your story, or that he was taking the customer’s side.

Your fuse is much shorter because your body doesn’t understand that you aren’t arguing. And instead of getting over the issue you had, you’ve now given it more power. You’re no better than you were…

“There is a fine line between processing the experience to make it manageable, and reliving it and re-traumatizing yourself.” – Philippa Perry

Want some advice on what you can do to save yourself (and your spouse)?

LET IT STAY WHERE IT STARTED.  

You give that issue, that person, that thing more life when you continue to revisit and rehash your situation. You’ve “fanned the flames” by re-telling the story and allowing the emotion take over.

Remember most humans are empathetic and if your spouse is like mine he will take on your pain, your anger, your frustration, and your sadness. Then BOTH of you are affected by whatever it was that originally had only happened to you.

When you get home don’t even acknowledge that it happened. Because… I ask again, “does reliving the issues of the day serve any real purpose?”

Tell me about it: Why do you re-tell stories of frustration to other people?


(Image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lentzstudios/)

30 Minutes to a Happier Marriage

How often do you come home from work, plop yourself down on the couch, and proceed to disconnect from the world? Your spouse was hoping to talk to you, your children are chanting your name and your answer is, “just give me a minute!”

Don’t they understand you’ve had a rough day and you don’t want to think about anything?  You just want to distract your mind by scanning through Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and websites until you’ve gained your sanity back. Before you know it you’ve dwindled away an hour of your time, but you’re feeling recharged. NOW YOU ARE READY TO ENGAGE. Except now your spouse is busy and doesn’t have time for YOU and your kids are off playing, or at a friends house.

What do you think that does to your relationship?

Lifestyle website YourTango.com polled 100 mental health professionals and found that communication problems are the most common factor that leads to divorce (65 percent), followed by couples’ inability to resolve conflict (43 percent).

Want to stay more connected to your spouse but don’t want to lose your sanity? Follow this basic trick to help you see how putting your spouse first can be the best medicine for that crummy day. (And if it’s not, at least you’ll be able to go back to mindless stuff afterward)

I call it Thirty for Three, Three for Thirty and here’s how it works:

Thirty for Three – If you are separated from your significant other for more than three hours – you owe them thirty uninterrupted minutes .

Three for Thirty – As soon as you are in each other’s company again you must make it a point to be within three feet of each other, for thirty minutes.

A couple things to point out:

  1. These 30 minutes of time do not add up – you do not get an hour for six hours of separation – it only applies if you’ve been apart for three hours or more.
  2. If it isn’t possible to be within three feet of your spouse the minute you see them again, you can schedule it for later in the day, but remember: the success of the exercise weighs heavily on whether or not you are around each other the minute you are together again.
  3. I should mention: these 30 minutes should be TV, Computer, and Phone free – just you and your significant other – uninterrupted.
You can use these thirty minutes to talk about vacations, dreams, jokes you heard, things you’ve wanted to tell your spouse but just haven’t found the right time. Tell them how much they mean to you, show them how much you care.

Image Courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/126193407@N07/

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