You may have heard about the 30-day zero Negativity challenge from Dr. Harville Hendrix. He writes about this from personal experience in identifying the corrosive nature of negativity in his marriage. A negative attitude will negatively impact our personal lives and our relationships when we are focused on what’s wrong or missing. When that negativity is expressed repeatedly to our partners it can destroy the relationship.
Negativity, in this challenge, is defined as any transaction that the other experiences as hurtful. It can refer to any negative comment or behavior, critical comment or behavior, or any devaluing comment or behavior. This challenge helps each partner become more aware of how they may be hurting the other partner. There is a mutual commitment to take negativity out of your relationship.
So how does it work? Well the person who experiences something as negative will say, “Ouch!” Then the partner who created the “Ouch” has a chance to ask for a “Do Over.” This provides the opportunity to change whatever was experienced as negative and express it in a more thoughtful and respectful manner.
While practicing zero negativity, you can also become more aware of practicing positivity. As part of the challenge, it is important for you to share three appreciations each day with your partner. Each appreciation needs to be new, something you haven’t shared with your partner before or perhaps a new take on something previously appreciated. So for example, if you appreciated your partner for making dinner, you can say it again with the added twist of “I appreciate the love you put into cooking for our family.”
Practice this for one month and see what happens. If your partner is not willing to participate, you can still go ahead and do it. Eliminating your contribution of negativity in your relationship can make a big difference. And practicing appreciation will help create a more positive environment for both!
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