Part of Cognitive Therapy is to change the way we think about situations. One error many get locked into is called “negative filter.” This is a person who only sees the bad in things and complains all of the time. This can be toxic for any relationship, and make you feel angry and depressed all of the time. If you are a parent, do you only point out what the child did wrong, not what they did right? If your spouse helps with a chore, do you see the spot they missed? This is disheartening for your loved ones and it does not inspire them to do better. Are you the person that only notices bad customer service? Are you always waiting for the next bad thing to happen?
Let’s get out of the spiraling mind trap. Here is a way. When your child brings home a test, don’t just comment on the missed answers – look at what they did well. If they tried their best and it was not that great, don’t give false praise – they know it’s false. Instead, comment on how hard they tried, the effort they put in. It acknowledges their hard work. When someone helps out, do you have to point out the spot they missed? How about thanking them for the help? After working all day, it is one less thing you have to do. If the spot bothers you, take care of it later. You only have to clean a spot, not the entire area or object. If they cooked dinner so you did not have to, and all they know is how to make Beanie-Weenies, thank them, smile and eat. Yes, even if you are not keen on Beanie-Weenies. Personally, I dislike hot dogs, but after working all day, hot food that I did not have to cook looks fantastic. I will eat them with a smile. If you have a clerk that goes the extra step for you, thank them. Tell the manager about the great service you received. Tell people on Facebook! So many times, good work goes completely unnoticed. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate something they do. Even if they have done the same thing for years. Don’t you love a compliment?
This is called a positive override. It is like a switch in the brain. When we notice good things, then we notice even more happy and good things. Before you know it, you are more upbeat and relaxed. Also, when bad things happen, you don’t spiral out and make mountains out of molehills – another thought error. Instead, you handle things as they come.
Challenge yourself to start noticing the good things in life, no matter how small. You may be surprised at how many good things are there!