Stop Overthinking Your Relationship by Alicia Muñoz addresses ruminative thinking patterns that can damage relationships.
The author describes rumination as a pattern of passive rather than active thinking, and she describes different kinds of rumination cycles such as blame or control-based rumination. These each relate to a shortage of “some important psychological nutrient.”
There was a bit of pseudoscience talk to do with thoughts and energy. I tracked down a reference that the author cited, and it was so poor quality that I was pretty surprised someone with a graduate degree would be citing it. If there are three exclamation marks in the title (“Scientific Study on the Particle Nature of Thoughts – Do Thoughts Matter and Mass!!!”), that’s never a good sign. The author also described a “relationship field” in terms of energy and vibrations and such things. The woo woo element struck me as unnecessary for discussing things like boundaries and attachment styles, but I’m sure that framing interrelatedness that way will be helpful for some readers.
The book focuses on a process the author calls SLOW (Seeing, Labelling, Opening, and Welcoming), and there is a chapter devoted to each step in that process. Seeing is about being aware of what’s going on inside of you. Labelling involves writing down your thoughts and labelling the associated rumination cycle type, triggers, and attachment fears. The book differentiates between thoughts that are facts and pseudofacts (i.e. opinions, judgments, assumptions, or expectations). I’m used to the acceptance and commitment therapy idea that thoughts are not facts, full stop, so the thoughts=facts thing threw me off a bit.
The Opening step is about anchoring in the present and exploring what’s underlying ruminative thoughts, and the Welcome step is about being vulnerable and allowing your emotions.
Another thing that threw me off a bit was talking about “palliative care” in the context of relationships. The author was using palliative in the sense of the Google definition “relieving pain without dealing with the cause of the condition.” However, “palliative care” is “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients… who are facing problems associated with life-threatening illness” (World Health Organization). Having worked in health care, that’s what comes to mind for me, although linking a relationship and a terminal illness probably isn’t what the author was after.
Some of the chapters were a little on the long side for me, although that’s mostly because my concentration isn’t very good, so that probably doesn’t apply more generally. The case examples that were presented didn’t feel particularly natural to me, but then again, I’ve been single for a good long while, so what do I know? I didn’t feel connected with what the author was saying, and I’m not entirely sure how much of that is the book not really accomplishing what it set out to do and how much is the author and me just looking at the world differently. Perhaps it’s some of both, but I’m leaning more heavily towards the latter. The author has three previous books with very high ratings on Amazon, so clearly her approach works well for a lot of people.
Stop Overthinking Your Relationship is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.