One of the best pieces of relationship advice I have received is this: Never use definitive statements that attack the other person’s character or personality. This is often done using the words always and never.
“You always take leave your dishes in the sink.”
“You never shower.”
“You are lazy.”
When your significant other hears blanket statements like this, their automatic response is going to be defensive. This is because obviously, these statements are offensive. Your words have put them in a box, limiting them to that specific description, forever. Now, it’s one thing to learn not to do this to someone you love, but it’s quite another to learn not to do it to yourself.
I learned about the power of negative self-talk for first time when I was on the volleyball team in high school. Every time I would miss a pass or shank the ball in the wrong direction, I would verbally beat myself up. I would mumble things like, “WHY can’t I EVER get this right??” I had no idea the effect it was having on my performance until my coach pointed it out to me.
When you tell yourself or others things like, “I’m so lazy,” “I can’t cook,” or “I am never on time,” 1. People will believe these things are true, and 2. YOU start to believe these things are true. These negative words put you in a box. They limit you from even thinking you can achieve your goals, which will inevitably keep you from reaching your full potential.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
A couple months ago, I learned this lesson again when I realized I was making no progress with my goals. I knew it was because I kept focusing on all the ways I kept failing. In hopes of fixing this, my friend (who also had some goals she needed to achieve) and I came up with an idea. Every Friday, we would email each other 3 to 5 “good things” that we accomplished that week. The only rule was that we couldn’t mention any failures, limitations, or excuses as to why we didn’t succeed.
I now have a HUGE list of all these great things I have accomplished in the last two months. Overall, my house is cleaner, I feel healthier, and my relationship with my husband AND the Lord is a whole lot stronger. Simply reflecting on my “good things” each week gave me the motivation I needed to press on and achieve even more good things the following week. For the first time in a long time, I feel so encouraged. My goals are totally achievable!
So, whenever you need to confront your significant other OR yourself when either of you are slacking, remember:
- Choose your words wisely. Words that attack the person’s character (or your own) are not going to bring on a positive response or a positive change.
- Kindly remind yourself that you CAN achieve whatever you put your mind to, and create a plan of action.
- Find a friend that will listen to your “good things” each week, or simply write them down and reflect on them when the week is over.
- Remember, if you’re a believer, you have the added bonus of asking God for help and using the strength of the Holy Spirit to help you achieve what seems impossible.