Feeling positive about ourselves (or others, or our situation, or ____ (fill in the blank) can be difficult, right? In so many ways complaining, grumbling, or negative thoughts are what’s natural, and they’re what comes easily. However, we aren’t victims to our own thoughts (even when it feels that way). I know I’ve said many times on this blog that words have meanings, so I want to give you a little tool today to help aid you in feeling positive and healthy towards yourself, others, or a particular situation you might find yourself in in life.
The 5:1 rule. John Gottman, a psychology professor, had a “love lab” at the University of Washington. There, he studied couples, following them over the course of many years. One of his findings was the 5:1 rule. In relationships, to feel positive and happy about the other person and the relationship as a whole, there needed to be 5 positive interactions for each negative interaction.
Let that sink in for a minute! It’s not a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. Clearly, as humans, the negative has a much bigger impact on us than the positive, which is why we need so many more positive interactions to help balance our the negative interactions that we have.
So I’m going to take this a step further. While this rule was outlined for couples, let’s expand it to ourselves, our relationships, and the situations in which we find ourselves. What if we allowed the 5:1 rule to play out in each of them as well?
When you’re struggling with feeling positive about yourself, someone you have to interact regularly with, or a situation you’re in (i.e. WINTER), you can choose to repeat positive or negative things to yourself. If you repeat the negative over and over, you’re of course going to feel negative, but if you train your thoughts on the positive, then perhaps you’ll find that your emotions might follow suit.
It’s worth the risk of trying, right?