The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No. 6 – Avoid Negative Comparisons

The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No. 6 – Avoid Negative Comparisons

by Dr Emma Gray - 3rd December, 2018

Avoid Negative Comparisons

In this final instalment of the Keys to a Healthy Relationship I am going to talk about how damaging negative comparisons with other people’s relationships can be. Nature has programmed us to do this, to compare ourselves to others, its function is to motivate us to improve our performance, an important strategy in the ‘survival of the fittest’ game.

However, sometimes this tendency kicks in, not when it can help us, but as a default response when we are feeling bad, self-critical, self-doubtful, lacking in confidence.

It is important to remember that we are not neutral, objective observers, even less so when we are feeling insecure. At these times we are more likely to filter out information that would support our self-confidence and more likely to focus in on information that suggests we are ‘less than’. This applies to all aspects of our lives, including our relationships e.g. her husband is more caring/attentive, they have more fun, she just understands him/doesn’t give him a hard time etc.

When we are happy, we are far less aware of what others are doing, when we are happy we are content in our own worlds, our attention is less likely to be drawn outside. These thoughts are a sign that self-doubt has crept in, that our confidence has taken a knock. These thoughts are not necessarily related to the health of our relationship and even if it is your relationship that is knocking your confidence, these thoughts are not a helpful focus.

Instead of buying into these thoughts:

1. Write the thought down so you can start to get a bit of distance from it and limit its power to dictate your mood.

2. Look at the evidence that supports it.

3. Look at evidence that contradicts it e.g. what information are you filtering out, how much goes on that you don’t see.

4. On the back of this try to put together a thought that more accurately represents what is going on and provides a more helpful focus.

For some examples, take a look at the video that goes with this blog.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

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