Have you ever heard the saying, “Your thoughts become your reality?” Why is it that our thoughts so easily turn toward criticism and find it so difficult to appreciate what and who we have? This phenomenon manifests most in our closest relationships, our partners in particular.

One school of thought is that we imagine situations and outcomes throughout the day, visualizing how things should go and when our plan goes off-script, we end up feeling disappointed. The truth is that we have set up expectations in our own internal narrative and when anyone – especially our partners – don’t meet our imaginary outcomes, we feel let down. This can lead to being overly critical and even angry.

Here are some ways to avoid negativity and embrace appreciation.

Stop the script – Realize you cannot control everything and let events play out naturally.

Expect the unexpected – While your partner might not do exactly what you had imagined, notice their efforts.

Notice with your heart – Even a small gesture, like vacuuming the floor or putting away dishes is a small act of love. See that genuine effort for what it is – a gift.

Point out the good – It’s easy to see flaws, but what if we shift focus to the good? Your partner might be messy, but they work long hours to help financially. When is your partner silently pleading for your attention? Give it. The best we can give each other is our time and companionship.

Set Appreciation Goals

Whether it is interacting with your coworker or your spouse, set appreciation goals. Point out two or three things each day or week to show them that you see them and you care.

Noticing the positive will shift the focus from being a critic to being grateful because your mind will begin to search for positive characteristics that make love grow.