Log In Your Own Eye” Inventor

By: Steven Lutz, Psy.D., L.P.

Many people come alone into therapy overwhelmed in a difficult relationship. They may have tried many things to improve the relationship such as individual and/or couples therapy, self-help books, support groups and other strategies, yet continue to feel discouraged and dissatisfied, believing that their partner is to blame. Sometimes people come into therapy to see if they are ready to render an ultimatum to their partner, or maybe even decide whether they should end the relationship altogether. The Compassionate Demand Letter (CDL)can be a helpful tool once you have taken some time to address the, “Log in your own eye”.

The “Log In Your Own Eye” Inventory (LYEI) is an exercise based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 that when we are upset by the behaviors or attitudes of someone else, we need to first pay attention to our potential role in the dysfunction or broken relationship. This is not to suggest that we are wrong about our partner’s negative behavior or attitudes or that we somehow “deserve” any mistreatment or abuse! Instead, the LYEI exercise, based on the faith-based book, “Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? Handling the Difficult People in Your Life” by John Townsend, Ph.D., is designed to help you think through, and better “own” how you might be playing a part in the dysfunction.

Dr. Townsend believes that intimate relationships can be our greatest teacher, revealing and exposing hidden immature, wounded, or even destructive parts of ourselves. Even failing relationships can be great sources of information and potential for growth, if we are willing to be humble and teachable.

Consider the following questions and ask yourself honestly if there are some things that you can work on or do differently. Regarding broken or damaged relationships, wise people seek feedback and humbly address their part before making major decisions. This inventory will challenge you to work through the following questions with your therapist and the help of wise, supportive people beforeyou clarify your course of action regarding the relationship.

1) Are you absolutely sure that you are not a bigger part of the problem than you have acknowledged?
– Have you taken the complaints of your partner seriously and made legitimate attempts to change? Would your partner agree with this? Have you ever heard this sort of feedback from people before (family, friends, employers, etc)? Might there be more truth to this feedback than you previously thought, even if your spouse delivers the feedback in a harsh or exaggerated manner?

– Have you genuinely sought the truthful feedback of others who truly know you and your partner? Have you asked them to point out potential blind spots in you? Have you asked them to be truly honest with you, vs. just supportive?
– Have you truly done your own therapy, making sure that you have addressed your issues and your part?
– Have you honestly tried to love and value your partner, rather than focusing on your own happiness or getting your needs met?

2) Have you “allowed” your partner to make you resentful and unhappy?

– Do you blame your misery on your partner rather than taking ownership for your own emotional well-being?
– Have you “allowed” your partner to negatively impact your friendships, social or family support?

– Have you withdrawn from other positive aspects of your life due to your unhappiness in the relationship?
– Have you “allowed” your physical and/or spiritual well-being to suffer as a result of your unhappiness?

3) Have you thoroughly explored your “codependency” in this relationship?

– Have you “enabled” your partner to avoid the pain and consequences of his/her immature, hurtful, or abusive behaviors?
– Have you failed to cultivate your own healthy support system and community due to being consumed in the chaos of this relationship?

– Have you neglected your own needs, wants, self-care, relationships, etc. due to trying to “fix” your partner?

4) Have you honestly looked at how and why your past attempts to make the relationship better have not worked?
– Have you been too quiet and compliant, “waiting” for things to change without speaking up?

– Have you grown “politely resentful”, preferring to avoid conflict than have honest conversations? Have you “owned” and worked through your own resentment? -Do you sound critical or harsh in giving feedback? Do you show contempt (superiority) to your spouse when you voice your complaints?

– Do you give “mixed messages​ ? Do you make threats without real consequences, or act as though you are okay with things sometimes and then express anger about them other times?
-Have you kept your relationship problems too private? Have you failed to ask for help from supportive people for yourself and your relationship?