“I feel so critical of my partner. I can’t help pointing out every flaw.”

"Baby I love your Way" Peter Frampton by Mimi Stuart Live the Life you Desire

There are three important reasons to look for the positive in your partner. First, how you treat other people becomes who you are. Would you rather be understanding, supportive, appreciative and optimistic, or critical, stern, mean-spirited, and nit-picking? When you push yourself to act respectfully and overlook unimportant flaws, you will feel much better about yourself.

Second, how you judge others affects the way they behave and view themselves. When you point out how sloppy and clumsy another person is, those traits will become magnified. If, instead, you focus on their good qualities, they will tend to reflect those qualities.

Third, constant criticism will wreck a relationship and make you both miserable.

If you tend to be critical, you have to purposely develop the habit of appreciating the good in others. The neuro-plasticity of our brains allows us to change, but it requires a lot of practice. Every time you think, “What a slob,” you must force yourself to think and even express a different thought about the person, such as, “You are always there for me and the kids.” After 2000 or so thought switches, it becomes almost natural to change that particular thought. It also becomes easier to see the good in people around you, because they will thrive in an environment of appreciation.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Criticism and Contempt.”

Read “I’m shocked how much I criticize my dad for not standing up for himself.”

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6 thoughts on ““I feel so critical of my partner. I can’t help pointing out every flaw.”

  1. Sutara Ling

    Hi Alison, great piece..appreciated,
    2000x doesnt sound like much to me, so i will get started on my project..!/s

    i read competence & mastery of a new skill can take 10,000 hrs…


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  4. Jezra Kaye

    Alison, you mention “2000 or so thought switches.” Is that metaphoric, or do we know from some sort of science that this is roughly what it takes to re-orient a thought pattern?

    1. admin Post author

      Jezra, Thanks for your question.

      I was being more metaphoric, although somewhere in brain rewiring research, I did read that improving one movement in a sport takes about 2000 repetitions of doing it right. I can’t find the source though, but I’ll let you know if I find it. It might have been “The Talent Code,” “Rewire your Brain: Think your way to a better life,” or “Brain-Based Therapy with Adults.”

      I think the number of repetitions really depends on what one is trying to change. Changing the tone of your voice while reading a speech might take one or two repetitions. According to stroke recovery expert Peter Levine, becoming an expert musician or recovering movements for a stroke victim may take over a million repetitions or ten years. But those pursuits involve thousands of movements in themselves.

      Regarding making a behavioral or thought switch natural, I think it depends on a person’s age and motivation as well as how complex and ingrained the specific behavior to be changed is. If one is very motivated and stays highly conscious of the desire to change, I’m sure it can happen much more quickly than 2000 times. What do you think?

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