Focus on What's Working

Complain. Bitch. Moan.

It’s easy to do this when we’ve been in a relationship for a while. We may take the positive things for granted and just expect them to be there. We are programed as animals to notice what is not working because this keeps our focus on survival. But how many of us just want to be surviving our relationships?

It feels a lot better to be focused on thriving. And when we focus on what’s working, it also gives us hope.

Try focusing on what is working instead of what is not working. This strengths-based approach lets you see what you’re already good at and realize that there is a lot of foundation to build on. Do an activity with your partner where you both choose several strengths (a minimum of three) that you have in life and/or in your relationship. Such strengths could include clear communicator, humor, honesty, creativity, or perseverance. Now think about how you can each expand your strengths to other areas that you may be struggling in. Often what works well in some areas will work well in others, if you can creatively expand it. Also, being positive instead of negative has been found in research to expand our capacity for inventive solutions. This is a powerful tool to break through feeling stuck in your relationship and move to thriving.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego