When we’re struggling in a relationship, our attention is often drawn to problems, either in the relationship, our partner or ourselves. This makes sense from a survival perspective because one of the jobs of our mind is to protect us by being on the lookout for things that could go wrong. This is what’s called negativity bias. The negative bias refers to our tendency to not only notice negative stimuli more easily than positive stimuli, but to also dwell on it for longer.

One way to counteract the negativity bias in your relationship is get to know the other side of the coin: each other’s strengths. Your strengths are pre-existing thoughts, emotions and behaviours that allow you to function and perform at your optimal level. As well as being something that you’re naturally good at, your strengths energise you. When you’re using a strength, you’ll often feel like you’re in a state of flow. We all have strengths, but the pattern and nature of our strengths is what makes us unique.

How to explore your strengths

If you’re keen to discover more about your strengths, we’d recommend working your way through a free strengths test. It’s a really interesting process.

Your answers to the questions below will also point you in the direction of your strengths:

  • When you’re in “the zone”, what sorts of things do you tend to be doing?
  • What sort of things do you do that you receive compliments for?
  • What seems to come easily for you?
  • What do you tend to be doing when you feel most energised?
  • What do you tend to be doing when you feel calm?
  • Putting aside all potential barriers, what sorts of things do you feel you were born to do?
  • What sorts of things do you do that improve your mood, leaving you feeling better than before?
  • Which personality traits and abilities make you different from other people?
  • Once you both have a sense of your individual strengths, spend some time sharing this information with each other.

The reflection prompts below may help to get the discussion flowing:

  • Share a strength of yours that you were most surprised by.
  • Share the strength that you feel most proud of.
  • Which strengths do you think you use in your relationship?
  • Which strengths do you admire in your partner?
  • How do your strengths clash as a couple?
  • In what ways do your strengths work well together?
  • How could you utilise your individual strengths to enhance your relationship?

Sometimes when and your partner have been struggling for a while, or breaches of trust have occurred, it can feel almost impossible to focus in on positives like each other’s strengths. If this is the case for you, getting some extra support from a couples therapist can make all the difference. To get the ball rolling, learn more about couples counselling and book an appointment online.

Image by David Dovoracek.