Whether you've heard it countless times from your partner, or whether you realize it yourself, if you're the "sad one" or the "serious one" or even, the "negative one" in your relationship, this is for you.
Entitled to your emotions, feelings and opinions
You are allowed to feel whatever you are feeling. No matter the reasons, we are all entitled to our emotions, feelings and opinions. Don't let anybody ever tell you otherwise, or make you feel bad for feeling something that doesn't seem right to them.
The Rule When Voicing It
While you should feel absolutely free to feel, there's a bit of a rule when it comes to voicing it.
You see, we tend to place blame and use our emotions as guides. "You never listen because you think I'm uninteresting", or "you belittle me when you don't listen" - sounds familiar? Phrases like these create guilt and defensiveness in your partner and actually, belittles you even more.
"I feel discredited and belittled when I'm talking to you and you seem distracted." Ahhhh much better. You could even add "Are you distracted right now? Is there a better time to talk to you about this? It'd mean a lot to me if I could share my feelings with you." Pay attention to what your partner will say after this. Hopefully, he or she is an honest and caring individual who will tell you the truth.
Now, all you have to do is accept that it may not be the right time to talk about this, or that he or she may not be interested. In which case, it's always good to remember that your partner shouldn't have to fill all the roles a village could. Turn to a friend or a relative.
When we're emotional, we make communication mistakes. A minimum of calm and reason when voicing opinions is key to a happy resolve!
The Scale of Comparison
Again, while you're absolutely free to feel whatever comes upon you, remember that what is troubling you has its importance on your scale of comparison in your reality.
Often times, we expect our partner to award our issues the exact same importance we do. I hate to break it to you but that is simply not realistic. We are all different individuals, with different experiences and certainly (and hopefully) different concerns throughout the day. Let it be the job, the family situation or simply our own sensitivity threshold, an issue will seem more or less important depending on whatever else is going on in our lives (our realities).
Imagine for a second that you were a medical doctor, working at the hospital. You come home in the evening and your partner starts to cry in the kitchen because the milk spilled all over the counter and the floor. What importance does this have on your scale? How ready are you to understand his or her reaction? Or even, how ready are you to comfort him or her even though it seems like an overreaction?
On the other hand, imagine you've slept poorly and you've got a sore back. You've spent all day cleaning the house and finally finished cleaning the kitchen when as you're opening a carton of milk, the cat runs to you and losing your balance, you spill the milk everywhere. You feel like a good cry would help. Your partner comes home and gives you absolutely no credit or legitimacy for letting the boohoos out. On the contrary, he or she makes you feel bad for feeling overwhelmed. How ready are you to hold your tears and smile? How ready are you to see the big picture?
Explicitly Accept and Acknowledge Each Other's Realities
Easier said than done, but not impossible. That's right.
When you realize that you both have different realities and therefore, scales of comparison, you're able to take a step back and without necessarily understanding why, just accept and acknowledge what the other is going through.
How? Here's perhaps an idea:
"Thank you for being patient with me. I realize I've been rather negative lately. I want you to know I'm really happy and grateful for the trip we're taking together next month and the fact that we're both so healthy. I love you for everything you are and you've done for me. I tend to focus on the areas of improvement because that's who I am and I don't want to disappoint you or myself. I want to work on being more positive, and I will start doing what is necessary to make things better. You don't need to understand why for now. I'll be able to explain when I figure it out myself."
"Thank you for being patient with me. I realize I can sometimes be insensitive when you're down. I'm dealing with so much at work lately that every other issue seems trivial but it's not personal. I think you're doing such an amazing job, and I believe in you. The reason why I complain that you're too negative is because truly, I just want you to be happy and it makes me sad that you're not happy. Maybe you could tell me what could make things better for you? I'll make an effort to be supportive and use positive language to describe you and what you do so as to help lift you up. I know your reality is different than mine, but that doesn't mean that whatever is making you feel sad is less important. It's important to you and I respect that."
Meet Halfway, Compromise, Don't Sacrifice
Compromise is the relationship's currency.
We each have our own realities but on common grounds, where we meet and build our relationship, there's a ton of compromises taking place.
It's likely that either you or your partner is making sacrifices. It's a dynamic that's common in relationships. Sacrifice though is when one of you gives in to meet the needs of the other, sacrificing his or her own. Let's just say, it's not the best. If you're sacrificing your needs for the other, you're losing your sense of self, you're jeopardising your own self-love and respect. It's likely that your identity is dimmed and you're being absorbed by your partner, living through him or her. Stop it! You deserve so much better. And news flash: you're at fault here!
Learn to make compromises. In other words, ways to meet both your needs and make both of you satisfied and happy. Surely, that cannot work each time. So, make sure that when your partner's sacrificing, you're the next one.
For example, replace "I'm not going to your friend's birthday party, he makes the worst jokes, I hate it" with "I know it means a lot to you that I'm there so I'm coming for an hour and then I will leave." Then, you ought to make sure that both of you accept not to have it your way all the way. It's a half-way meet.
Next: taking ownership and building yourself up. Subscribe here if you wish to be notified. Nothing else will be sent to you, promise!
Read part 2.