healthier relationships Posts

Be an Exception Detective

Be an Exception Detective:

When you are not doing well in your relationship, the focus is on what is not working. It is human nature, when focussing on the negative, to feel as if what is going wrong is a long string of events that is a never ending pattern. When I ask couples in this state if there is anything going right in their relationship, they have a difficult time trying to come up with anything. In one of the theories in psychology, Narrative Therapy, one looks for exceptions when there are problems. It doesn’t matter how bad things are, there are always exceptions. There are times when the two of you are working well together in your roles or at your parenting or teaming up together against a problem. It is just that your focus is not there – you are not noticing these times.
One of the ways to make changes in a relationship is to begin to look for the positive exceptions that occur in your relationship. Focus on how well you do at certain times. What is it that you do that makes those times work? What is it that you are saying to yourself? What is it that you are actually doing? What is your attitude? What is your level of hopefulness that you can both do whatever it is? Notice what was happening before this event occurred. What was your stress level that day?
Compare that to the times when you are not doing well. Notice what you are saying to yourself then. What has occurred in your day that perhaps is getting dumped into the problem? What particular worries might have impacted your negative events and caused your stress level to be up when negotiating your life with your partner? What were you doing or not doing at that time? What was your attitude and your level of hopefulness that you could work together? Had you given up?
Take this bit of detective work into the exceptions in your relationship to the next level and use the principles in what works in your relationship to improve it. It sounds simple. We need to have behaviour patterns that do more of what works and less of what does not work. Unfortunately, what we often do is to do the same thing over, just trying harder at it, in the hopes that we will get a different result. Do what works and remember, again, what you focus on, gets amplified. Make sure that what you are focussing on in your relationship is what you want to have amplified. Go forth and be wonderful!