Why are most of us focused on the negative, especially with those who are closest to us? We expect more from our spouse and children, maybe because they’re a reflection of us. Or if we grew up with a critical parent who could never be pleased, we may be inadvertently perpetuating the same trait. We can be so hard on the ones we love the most and too often assume they’ll tolerate our criticism and see the value in our feedback. Obviously, the people who are in closest proximity to us are more likely to experience our uncensored selves. We may think our critical remarks are a way to toughen them up or keep them humble, but this approach often is unsuccessful and creates the opposite response than the one intended. In our efforts to motivate, teach, sharpen, and grow others, we totally neglect the good in them.
How much time do you spend reflecting on the good in your partner? And how often do you share it with them? Your spouse may be good at complimenting you or pitching in with the household chores. Others are amazing providers, work extremely hard, and generously share their rewards. Some spouses are great with affection and intentional about remaining physically connected. Or maybe you are married to a person who takes charge, leads the family in a positive way, and initiates activities to deepen relationships. Some individuals communicate well, talk through conflict, forgive, and let things go. And others work really hard at staying connected through texts, emails, phone calls, and communicate a real commitment to the relationship. It could be any combination of these items that you or your spouse value and implement.
Now, for those who aren’t very good at acknowledging the positive in your relationships, let me offer some suggestions. Our phones or computers can provide a daily reminder which can prompt us to share positive feedback. Try to be specific in your praise and if possible give it immediately after you notice a positive behavior. Attempt to develop ritual connections and ways to engage in conversations that focus on the positive aspects of relationships and life. When we pay attention, looking for opportunities to value, respect, and affirm each other, we will start seeing the good rather than the bad. Being positive and noticing the positive in others can be contagious. Make the effort to point out the good in the people you love and watch their reaction, since we all appreciate affirmation.