Looking at the Flip Side

rr-imageIf you’ve been hurt by the one you love, don’t forget to look at the flip side. That’s the other side of the coin, the positives, the reason you have been with the person in the first place. It’s only fair, but don’t do it because it’s fair.  Do it because the flip side says as much about you as it does about him.

In the same way you were honest about how much he hurt you, now be honest about how he’s been good to you. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You have to look at the flip side if you really want to know what’s going on, to get a full inventory. You can’t judge a person only by the worst things he did, you also have to look at the best to get a complete picture.

You can probably think of one thing to be grateful for, about this person. That’s a start. Tomorrow, think of another. In fact, every day, identify one new thing you are thankful for regarding her. This can be her behavior, her characteristics, or anything she brings to the table.  Schedule a reminder in your phone to think of the daily appreciation. It won’t take long before you’ve covered the usual things and you’ll have to dig. Digging’s good. Don’t make stuff up, just notice stuff you wouldn’t normally have.

It’s human nature to focus on the negative, especially after you’ve been together for a while. The problems, the hurts, and the disappointments are always much more noticeable, while the benefits get taken for granted. You have to do something deliberate to counter the tendency to just see the bad.

This exercise works even better when you actually tell the person how much you are indebted to him. Just watch him start to melt. Observe just how much more frequently she makes your favorite macaroni and cheese when you express gratitude before shoveling it in.

If you can’t even come up with one good thing you’re thankful for, then take stock of the positive memories you made together. What were the things that attracted you to her? It can be super sad to think about the promise you had as a couple, especially given what has transpired since then; but it’s important to take note that you saw something in him then.

How does looking at the flip side tell you something about you? Whatever attracted you to her, may well be the very thing that later drives you crazy about her. You liked him because he was fun loving, now he seems irresponsible. She was the very person who could keep you organized, now you feel suffocated by her need for order. He was a rock, but now he’s rigid.

This is where you went wrong. You looked for a partner who made up for qualities deficient in yourself. You were attracted to the fun loving guy because you tend to be pretty serious; he helped you have fun. You needed an organized person in your life because you weren’t. You were a pushover with your kids, but he could make them listen. Finding someone who complimented you looked like a match made in heaven, until it wasn’t. Now it seems a match made in hell.

If you really thought being fun-loving was the way to go, you would have been fun-loving yourself and wouldn’t have needed someone to loosen you up. If you thought it was important to be organized, you would have been organized, and you wouldn’t have needed someone to organize you. If you really believed the kids needed a firm hand, you would’ve learned to be strict, rather than outsource all the discipline to someone else and then fight with him because he’s so mean.

You learned that you don’t share the same values. You joined with someone different from you because she was different, then you tried to make her just like you.

Here’s another way that looking at the flip side teaches you something about yourself. Take a look at those things you are grateful for. Her blonde hair, his warm smile, that macaroni and cheese. The way she lets you sleep late in the morning, his love for the kids, the vacations you took together. What do they say about you, that you like such things? These things teach you and affirm your values.

Your values are your moral compass. They tell you what is important. They keep you from getting lost. Showing gratitude is another method find your way and keep you from getting distracted by all the hurt and pain you experience.

Published by Keith R Wilson

I'm a licensed mental health counselor and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor in private practice with more than 30 years experience. My newest book is The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad. I recently published a workbook connected to it titled, How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again. I also have another self help book, Constructive Conflict: Building Something Good Out of All Those Arguments. I’ve also published two novels, a satire of the mental health field: Fate’s Janitors: Mopping Up Madness at a Mental Health Clinic, and Intersections , which takes readers on a road trip with a suicidal therapist. If you prefer your reading in easily digestible bits, with or without with pictures, I have created a Twitter account @theshrinkslinks. MyFacebook page is called Keith R Wilson – Author.

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