We are a pattern-seeking species. Not only do we have a tendency to slip into patterns of behavior, but we tend to see situations in patterns. Something happens and we make a judgment about it. Something happens again and we make another judgment, leading to an opinion. Soon we’ve developed a judgment that is lasting, impacting our behavior.
We use this pattern-forming ability all the time. For example, how many times have you seen an image in a cloud? That image, of course, is not in the cloud—we have imposed our own interpretation on the way it’s shaped. How often have you been sure you’ve spotted something you’re looking for in the distance, only to find when you’re up close that it is something totally different? Recently while out sailing and looking for whales, I spotted what I thought to be a sea lion more than once, only to find out it was a bobbing piece of driftwood. So much for perception.
Unfortunately, when it comes to relationships, once we’ve made a decision about how something appears, it is difficult to change our minds. Once we’ve made a judgment about a person, or viewed an event from a certain perspective, it’s a difficult and arduous task to view it from another angle. Our pattern-forming abilities are acute and fairly accurate at times, while completely flawed at other times. Consider how quickly you form an opinion about whether or not you like someone. Consider how long it takes to change your mind if you first decide you don’t like that person.
If, for example, we believe we are loved and cherished, we’re likely to respond positively toward our mates. If, on the other hand, we feel disrespected, we’re going to have difficulty acting with love toward them. Can you see that our attitude—what we believe—are critical to how we behave?
A profound truth and central principle is simply this: believing is seeing. What you believe to be true about your mate will influence how you view him or her. Your attitudes will influence how you treat your spouse. In everything, your attitude is showing.
Looking at Your Attitude
Your attitude is the lens through which you view your mate, seeing him or her either in a primarily positive or predominantly negative light. Have you considered your attitude toward your mate? It is time to step back and evaluate your perspective. Are you wearing brightly colored glasses, allowing light and goodness in, or are you wearing dark-colored glasses, focusing on all that is wrong in your relationship? Your answers to the following questions will help you determine your attitude.
Taken from 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage: How to Bring Out the Soul Mate in Your Mate by David Hawkins. Copyright © 2009. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers