Try to be more appreciative
Whether thinking about your own individual relationship life or yourself in a relationship it is possible to seek to be more appreciate in your relationships. It might even be possible to be grateful for what you do have and not to focus on what you don’t have. Furthermore preferable to look at the good, at what you like, rather than what you dislike or even loathe.
Not dismissing genuine feelings and distress
Not for a minute does your disappointment, distress, unhappiness, anger, pain, and all other feelings need to be dismissed – all those feelings and the rest of those that make up a human being deserve to be given attention – but they need to be put in perspective. I am not talking about people who are in the middle of a battle zone or in dire circumstances, perhaps suffering fresh and extreme grief, but rather the majority of us living ordinary lives.
While it might be satisfying to complain and gossip about your partner’s shortcomings – and why wouldn’t you want to be able to share your frustration with the right people – criticising and complaining to your partner at the expense of expressing gratitude and appreciation is asking for trouble. Again that does not mean not being able to express your unhappiness about something, but that being appreciative as well helps avoids the trap of always being critical and contemptuous.
Being consumed by your downheartedness is counterproductive and is such a waste of a very short life,
Gratitude is good
Is there anything to be grateful for in the relationships you have on your mind? Anything besides having someone to blame? If so is it worth pausing for a time and dwelling on the things you appreciate instead of always dwelling on all the things you are disappointed in? Arguably it is. Research indicates that people who are upbeat when appropriate tend to enjoy every part of their lives more, not just the relational parts.
What would stop you from saying to your partner ‘I love it when you do such and such”, ‘watching you cooking is a treat’, or ‘I really appreciate it when you listen and just let me talk”, ‘the hugs you give when I’m down make such a difference’ and ‘it is so helpful when you take the kids to school’
There is another reason for being appreciative instead of always down
As Dr Rick Hanson mentions in his article on How to Take in the Good (http://www.rickhanson.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Taking-in-the-Good.pdf) you can overcome the negativity bias and choose to make your brain like velcro for the good things in your life. The more you stay in a negative pathway the deeper the pathway becomes – just like a ski track – and the harder it is to wipe it away. Thus the more you develop new pathways that focus on the good things in your life and those parts of your life you feel grateful for the more they can dominate in your waking hours. But you have to consciously seek that which is pleasant. It doesn’t come easily.
People say ‘but I can’t stop the negative thoughts coming’ and it is true you can’t. They come unbidden. However you can choose not to engage them, allow them to linger, or dominate the other thoughts and memories. You can interrupt them even if you know you have to come back to them at a time when you can give them measured attention. For example, on what to do about a pressing problem: that takes proper thinking. It need not dominate and spoil everything else. And that is up to you. The more you argue that you can’t stop them, avoid them or cope with them the more likely it is that you won’t. You just embed them deeper. You let them triumph. Not intentionally as it is difficult to switch long standing habits and practices. The brain is drawn to negative experiences and there is an evolutionary reason for that. Being attuned to negative experiences and therefore being alert to them happening again is important; we need to be prepared to avoid those situations that bring trouble. That makes sense. As Hanson says, ‘the brain is primed to go negative’.
Celebrating the light
But what is stopping you celebrating the light in your life? How can you acknowledge the people with whom you are intimately and even more distantly related who make you laugh, who offer words of wisdom, who are supportive in times of need, cook meals at opportune times, or give what and when they are able? What about all the facets of relationships that you do receive, rather than do not?
Imagine when lying down to sleep at night you conjure up pleasant times: moments when everyone around you was laughing: considerate moments with friends or family members, holidays when there was so much to enjoy, gestures of kindness
Being appreciative about the good things in your life and relationship is a choice and being constructive can be helpful.
Get proper help if you need it
If this isn’t possible, it might mean those aspects of your life that trouble you deeply have not been attended to sufficiently. It is very difficult to be upbeat and grateful when there is so much that has not been recognised, acknowledged, and empathised with. Explore what stops you from taking in the good.
There will be good reasons.