Couples & Criticism
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Louise Hay
I find this statement so apt, and it also applies to relationships. Criticism can creep into your communication and slowly but surely destroy your connection. Instead of letting this happen, you can challenge yourself to see all the possible traits and actions of your partner that you could appreciate throughout the day, and then speak out. Be curious, there is still so much to discover about each other, that discovery that came so easily to you in the first days of the relationship. At some point we believe we know everything about our partners and we take off our pink glasses of appreciation and admiration and automatically fall back on our old programming which, in many cases, is one of criticism and focus on what is ‘lacking’. Whether we have inherited this from our parents, society or this is how we also view ourselves, the result is the same: a slow but sure erosion of the connection.
Criticism can hardly be interpreted by the other as anything other than an ‘attack’ (“you are wrong”) and your partner will therefore almost immediately go into his or her fight-flight or freeze response, resulting in friction or conflict.
Instead, you can examine yourself to see what the desire or wish is that underlies the criticism/irritation, and then to express it. It takes a lot of practice to master this, I’m still not always good at it after 15 years with my partner, but when you manage to spend days and days, and at some point weeks, without that negativity, the reward is a connection that feels safe, respectful and positive and that can therefore continue to flourish and grow.
Photo by Teamwoodnote, sculpture by Alexander Mil
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