Do you ever have it when you just can’t seem to get out of a negative rut with someone?
Maybe that someone is your husband, a family member, a friend, a coworker or a neighbour.
The thing is, we might know there is tons of good about this person, but we just have a really hard time focusing on it… especially when the person does something or some things that get under our skin…
If I told you all the great things about my lovely husband, for example, you’d probably think he was super- awesome –and you’d be right!
But sometimes I can hardly see those good things because of the annoyances that push my buttons. More often then I’d like to admit, my mind is whirling for long periods of time on what I think are his “faults” and weaknesses.
But in the end, this way of thinking is less about his faults, and more about me and my and my faults
…specifically the fault of focusing on what I think are his faults
…rather than all that is good and right about him.
I think some of you may relate.
Unfortunately, when we are often thinking of the negative, it also often spews out of our mouths and in our actions, discouraging the ones we really want to encourage.
But how do we get out of this rut?
How do we start focusing on all the good in a person instead–good that usually vastly outweighs the person’s perceived faults?
One way is to do a very simple activity that can really change your perspective quickly.
But though it often does work quickly, I think it is also really important to keep doing it (or referring to it) so that it’s effects will become long-lasting.
Here it is:
Simply get out a sheet of paper and write down all the good things you can think of about this person.
So simple, right?
- the person’s good traits (personality traits, abilities, and other things you like about this person)
- good things they’ve done recently or a while ago
- and things about them that make them a “gift” in your life.
Don’t worry too much if your different lists overlap.
I think if you think hard enough, for many people your list will get surprisingly long and your heart will be surprisingly filled with gratitude (and maybe some conviction about your habit of focusing on the negative in this person.)
People tend to live up to the beliefs you have about them.
So even if your list paints this person as absolutely amazing (and really–he or she is)
and even though it doesn’t address his or her faults or weaknesses, (which he or she certainly has)
–I believe it will actually help you view this person in a more realistic light rather than negative light, and will therefore help you treat them better and help you enjoy your relationship more.
I’ve included this free printable with the questions above to help you do just that:
Just enter your first name and e-mail address to get it.
So print it off, fill it with all the positives, and then put it somewhere where you can look at it periodically to remind yourself to focus your mind on the good.
I’d suggest you not put it in a pubic place where the person might see it and maybe be hurt that you have trouble dwelling on the positive about them.
But in times of temptation, you could refer to it to quickly get a better perspective.
I’d also strongly suggest you periodically pray through the list and thank God for the gift this person is to you, asking Him to help you think about these positive things more often.
Old habits die hard, and if you don’t regularly build the habit of thinking about the positive of this person, you’ll likely revert to old ways of thinking. Don’t worry–I relate with that, too!
But if you do continue at it, you’ll probably find your own attitude improving, and even see the person’s response to you improve, as well! In the end, you’ll probably enjoy a much better relationship.
(There are no guarantees, though, and I just want to also say that if this person is abusive to you, putting space between the two of you would likely be better than trying to improve the relationship from your end much at this point.)
Yes, there are certainly times we need to address weaknesses and faults in others to help them,
and I there can be a lot more to improving a relationship than simply focusing on the positive,
but I think you will notice that focusing on the positive in a person can often make a huge difference in the quality of the relationship.
So download the printable, get out a pen, and begin making your list.
I think you might be surprised how well this activity can change your perspective and really help your relationship.
What do you think? Is thinking (and writing) about the positive enough to turn some relationships around? What are your experiences with this?
[If you would like some assistance improving a relationship (with family, friends, coworkers, spouse, etc.), I’d be happy to coach you in that. Although counselling is better for really deep problems, if your relationship is basically fine but needs some tweaks, coaching could be the thing for you. Book a 20-minute Discovery Session (by phone or Skype) to see if coaching with me sounds like it will be effective for you.]