Do you keep score in your relationships of all the times your loved one has disappointed you? This can create a negative atmosphere that is difficult to overcome. I often tell my clients, “Whatever you are looking for, you will find.” What I mean is, if you expect someone to disappoint you, you will only focus on what he/she is doing wrong in order to prove you are right. I know we do this to protect ourselves from getting our hopes up and being let down. The problem with this behavior is we miss out on the good things our loved one is doing.
Dr. John Gottman, relationship expert, has found in his over 40 years of research that for every negative interaction there must be five positive interactions to overcome the negative sentiment. With this in mind, we need to be focusing on ways our loved one pleases us instead of disappoints us. Don’t take love for granted. When you notice something pleasing, let your loved one know how much you appreciate it. This increases the probability that the pleasing behavior is repeated. Following are more ways you can increase positive interactions in your relationships.
- Take time to learn what is happening in your loved one’s world. Ask questions about their day. Stop and respond to their attempts to connect with you.
- Compliment your loved one often, especially in front of others.
- Show an interest in your loved one’s hobbies or interests. This says, “You are important to me and I want to know more about you.”
- Avoid criticism, as this can feel like a direct attack.
- Be willing to say, “I’m sorry,” if you know you’re in the wrong.
- Be willing to accept an apology when given. Harboring un-forgiveness breeds resentment and a desire to get even.
Ann Sheerin, MA
Asheerin @ GROWcounseling.com