Welcome back to this series of blogs/videos on creating more connected relationships with your still active Mormon family and others.
In the first video, we talked about the power of choice – that is, the ability you have to make conscious choices about your thoughts, words and actions.
Today, we talk about Looking for What is Wrong vs. Looking for What is Right
One of the big traps that people fall into within relationships is to focus on the negative. If any of your relationships aren’t working, you may be caught in this trap too. That means that you tend to specifically look for and emphasize
- What is wrong or not as you want it to be in the relationship.
- Areas of disagreement between you.
- What you don’t like or approve of about them.
- Resentments or hurts.
I call this the trap of “Looking for What’s Wrong”
It’s an easy one to fall into because when you chose to leave the Church, at some level you had to decide that you didn’t agree with it, or that you don’t approve of certain things, or that it was just flat out wrong!
It’s easy to transfer those negative judgments about the Church, onto active members.
Also, if you left and other family members didn’t, you likely experienced or even still experience disapproval and negative judgments from them.
In that kind of situation, it’s easy to respond to judgments and disapproval with more of the same. And thus you’re in the trap.
I call this wearing the “What’s wrong glasses!”
All you tend to see are the things you judge as wrong or bad about the person or circumstance. When you’re in that kind of a negative head-space, how does it feel to you? And how does it likely feel to the others that you’re judging?
But the good news is, you have the power of choice! You can choose to take off the What’s Wrong glasses and look for what’s right instead!
Looking for what’s right means emphasizing the things that you like or appreciate, or the things on which you do agree.
You can think of this positive filter, as your What’s Right glasses.
Through them you can look for:
- Things you appreciate about your family members – like qualities that are positive and admirable.
- Things you can complement them for.
- Common bonds or experiences.
- Areas of mutual interest or talent.
- Or anything else about which you can find something positive.
For years I was caught in the trap of wearing my What’s Wrong glasses with my mother. When we were together, I would constantly think about how I disagreed with and resented her. I mentally judged her and focused on what I did not like. I was often cold and short with her or sarcastic or snarky. My negative judgments prevented us from having a better relationship.
But one day, I figured it out. I decided to try focusing on the positive. Though I didn’t call it that at the time, I chose to put on my What’s Right glasses and view my mom and the family situation through them.
I chose new ways of thinking, speaking and acting with her, and it made a huge difference. I began to see her in a much different and more loving way. I no longer judged her, and I no longer felt like I was being judged by her either.
So my suggestions for you are as follows:
- Notice if you have been wearing What’s Wrong glasses, and filtering your experiences with any people in particular.
- If so, consciously choose to remove that old negative filter, and to put on the more positive filter of your What’s Right glasses instead.
- Practice ahead of time – before you’re together – and make a list of the positive things about the person.
- Review the list several times and as you think about the things you like or appreciate, allow yourself to feel positive, appreciative or loving feelings.
- Then when it’s time to see them, imagine that you’re pulling out your What’s Right glasses.
- Put the glasses on, use them in your interactions and see how your experience changes.
I hope this was useful for you. If it was, please share it with other ex-Mormons – or with anyone else who has been looking for what is wrong and might benefit!
I welcome any comments, feedback, questions or sharing you might have.
Watch for more short video tips for creating better relationships with your active Mormon family and others.