Nothing Is Ever ‘Good Enough’ In My Relationship

The simple shift you can make to transform your relationships. 

You can change your relationships immediately by doing this one thing. It doesn’t even matter what type of relationship it is;: romantic, workplace, parents, kids — it doesn’t matter. And no, this is not just another empty article promising “one quick fix.” This is the real deal. 

Here’s the thing: Most of us are used to connecting through criticism. If there’s a feeling of disconnect within a relationship, or we’re constantly wanting a partner to change and show up differently, then we’ll find ourselves criticizing their every word or action. We nitpick or nag. Sometimes we don’t even need to vocalize it, but it’s clear from our tone of voice or body language that we disapprove. 

Part of this is rooted in the way our minds work. Evolutionarily, we’re programmed to look for the negative. Negativity bias is what kept our ancestors alive. If you looked for the tiger, and saw the tiger, your family is still here. If your family didn’t see the tiger, you’re done! So there’s an evolutionary reason for all this criticism, but it might be misplaced. 

What Drs. John and Julie Gottman found in their research is that couples who were in it for the long haul had one factor distinguishing them from couples who eventually broke up. They studied newlyweds, recorded their conversations, and then did follow ups over the years. What they saw was this: the couples that stayed together had at least five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. Some couples even exceeded the five-to-one ratio with seven, eight, or nine to one! 

So if you find yourself stuck in a cycle of criticism with your partner, a simple way to shift it is to start noticing what they’re doing well. As they say, “What we appreciate, appreciates.” Soon, you’ll start to see more and more positives on which to focus. 

If we feel anxious, or there’s disconnection in our relationship, or we’re going through a rough patch, then we might unconsciously fall back on our hold ways of connecting through criticism. Some of us even work in jobs where we’re rewarded for that mindset and conditioned to look at what’s wrong so we can fix it and make it more efficient. Lawyers may be always looking for how to win an argument, for instance. So for some people, it could be a major shift to stop looking at the negative and find positives. A relationship built on positivity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s devoid of constructive feedback. But if all you’re ever doing is criticizing and giving feedback, why would anyone want to be with you? Because what ends up occurring is the other person could begin to feel like nothing they ever do is good enough. 

Humans love to be affirmed. I love it! Chances are you love it too! An easy place to start is by celebrating or magnifying the things you’re doing well. Acknowledge when you show up, and then you’ll start acknowledging where other people are showing up. Start to notice how you connect. Do you connect via criticism? Do you express your frustration with unsolicited feedback? What happens if you try this new approach? What changes might you see in yourself and your partnerships if you focus on the positives? 

I promise you, your relationships will transform.