by Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist
What we focus on expands. If we want to improve our relationships, one of the first steps is to start looking for good in the person.
You’ve possibly heard of this exercise that many coaches learned from Tony Robbins, but in case you haven’t, let’s try it. Look around your space and take note of everything in the room that is blue. Go ahead and do it. Just takes 3 seconds. Okay. I’m going to close your eyes and try to remember everything in the room that’s purple….
That was probably a little challenging, because you told your mind to remember what was blue so it automatically ignores the other colors. This is how our minds work. What we train our minds to focus on will be primarily what we see. We will ignore all the other things that are present and notice what we choose is important.
In relationships, this is a hugely important point to consider. Early in a relationship, we tend to focus on the positive aspects of the other person. Whether it’s our new baby’s adorable little hands and chubby wrists, or the way our partner’s eyes simply sparkle when they smile. We feel so in love. However, over time we begin to notice what annoys us about them and the things they do that get on our nerves. We pay less attention to their cute traits and find ourselves feeling increasingly irritated. Not only do we find them irritating when they are with us, but when they are not around we think of them in negative ways. We grumble to ourselves about them each time we have to pick up their dirty socks, find dishes in their room, or step on another Lego.
Since our minds become conditioned based on what we choose to focus on, the more we think of them with anger, frustration, disgust, and disappointment, the more of this we’ll see. It’s not that they aren’t doing anything kind, fun, positive, or beautiful. It’s just that we have conditioned our minds (typically by experiencing extreme emotions while noticing their annoying behaviors) to find evidence of them being frustrating, disgusting, and disappointing.
The beautiful thing about our wonderful minds, though, is that the same way we conditioned ourselves “against” them can be used to condition our minds toward them. We can choose… intentionally… to see their good traits and behaviors. We can make a conscious decision to notice when they are doing something good. We can decide to look for reasons, even very tiny ones, that help us remember why we love them.
As we do this, we come to realize that our view of them will shift. It doesn’t mean that the things they do that suck are going to no longer bother us. But it does mean that we get to see them as more than just that. We get to see the things we appreciate about them. We get to see the ways they enhance our lives. We get to feel better in their presence. And as we do this, we begin to improve our relationships (unless they totally suck and don’t have ANY good qualities Just throwing in that disclaimer, but more often than not this is not the case. )
As parents, our children can do a lot of things that get us upset. However, when we begin to only notice those things, we begin to treat them differently. Their negative behavior may have started the pattern, but as we feed into that negativity with yelling and nagging and always looking angry whenever we interact with them, we continue the cycle. As we continue to meet them with sighs, frowns, and side eyes, they continue to give us reasons to do so. Before we know it, our relationship doesn’t feel like a relationship at all.
We can turn this around by choosing every day to find one thing about our child to be grateful for, or one thing they did that made us smile, or to intentionally pay them a sincere compliment. As we shift what we are looking for, we will become aware of more reasons to smile.
The same applies for other relationships. Sometimes the one good thing we can find in another person is the lessons we learn from them. Your boss may be a turd who’s rude to everybody. Maybe you choose to focus on how you are learning from them how to be a great supervisor by noticing how their behavior impacts you and your co-workers. You can choose to use them as a crash course in how not to do it, or to form a list of what you want in your next soon coming position. You can even use them as fuel to see how capable you are as a future supervisor. The goal is to shift your focus in order to feel better in your environment.
We get to shift our experiences of the relationships around us, simply by shifting what we choose to focus on. We can train our brains to find reasons to smile. The more we search for these positive reasons the more of them we’ll find. Today, I am choosing to start looking for more reasons to smile. How about you?
Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist
Co-Founder of SISTAMoms with Yvonne Monique Livingston LLC
Designer/Author/Speaker I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!
Owner/Designer/Publisher MDillon Designs & Publishing
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