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One simple thing you can do to start feeling more positively towards your partner.

Dr Katie Stirling

At times we can get stuck focussing on the negative aspects of our relationship, seeing all the things that aren’t working and identifying all the things that our partner doesn’t do, instead of seeing what is working and the things we appreciate in our partner. When we have lots of conflict in our relationship or find our emotional bank account is on the empty side we might go into what John Gottman calls negative sentiment override.

Couples Counselling: Happy Couple on bike

What is Negative Sentiment Override and How Do I get out of it? 

When we are in negative sentiment override, we start seeing our partner and our relationship through a negative lens. The good news is that you can use one simple strategy to start shifting out of negative sentiment override into positive sentiment. How I hear you ask? By beginning to appreciate your partner.

Connecting With Positive Memories

When we appreciate our partner we connect with those positive memories and feelings. It has a snowball affect we begin to more easily recognise and appreciate the things that our partner does. Better yet when we voice these appreciations to our partner it makes them feel good too and they are more likely to want to do more of these things that make us feel good

Notice your Partners Positive Qualities

So where do I start? Start by thinking about one thing that you regularly appreciate in your partner, are they a great parent? Are they caring? Do they do things that are thoughtful? Once you’ve got the quality you appreciate in mind start looking out for the times your partner is displaying this quality and then begin sharing these appreciations..

Share an Appreciation

You can share these appreciations by letting your partner know what quality you appreciate in them and giving them an example. For example "I appreciate what a great dad you are I loved watching you take the time to play dress ups with our daughter this morning". 

Is it really that simple?

Sounds easy right? However, it can be hard to start sharing appreciations when we are stuck in negative sentiment override. When we feel unappreciated ourselves, disconnected, or unheard in our relationship it can be hard to start communicating appreciation to our partner. It might help to set yourself a goal, maybe start with sharing one appreciation a day. You could set a reminder on your phone. The sooner you begin sharing appreciations the sooner you can start removing the negative lens and shifting back into positive sentiment. Change begins with you, what is the one thing you are going to change today to ensure you are living your best life?

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 By Dr Katie Stirling

Katie is a Clinical Psychologist and Certified Gottman Couples Therapist.
Katie has a practice on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, as well as an online psychology,
health and wellness practice online with her partner Andrew. Katie delivers immersive couples retreats on the beautiful
Mornington Peninsula, the Sunshine Coast and annually in Bali.