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  • One Tool To Instantly Improve Any Interactions With Your Partner! A-B-C…It’s As Easy As 1-2-3

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    Are you currently experiencing what many couples do that have been together a while? Possible stagnation, going through the motions, negative interactions, a loss of connection, etc. These things happen over time and tend to build. Today I’m going to teach you a tool that you can use to combat these experiences and strengthen your relationship again. 

    A client recently told me she saw a “meme” online that stated, “Act like your dog when your partner comes home”. Now, wouldn’t that be awesome!? 

    You get home from a long day at the office and your partner is super excited and lovingly rejoicing that you have walked through the door and meets you with a warm embrace. Some people still have that and my hats are off to you, keep up the excellent work. 

    However, for some, there is instant irritability, anger, silence, or a long list of ‘honey-dos’ extended shortly upon arrival that takes the magic out of that experience and brings forth a wave of negativity.

    As we progress in our relationships, our ‘love bubbles’ have to shift to include more things in them and as a result, sometimes we are not as good at prioritizing our partner to the point where now they have become an annoyance with so much to balance on our plate. 

    Life gets busy, school or work takes priority, self-care makes a reappearance, hobbies, and more, that prevent us from making sure we are prioritizing our partner. 

    Sometimes, we start to contribute negatively to everything our partner does. It’s up to us to cultivate passion and connection in our relationship and not give too much power to these other things in life that are also important that we must balance so we can continue to thrive in our relationships. 

    To go through more of a clinical lens, the experience of contributing negatively to everything a partner does is termed “negative sentiment override”. 

    To put it into perspective, in the beginning when you are dating someone, if they are twenty minutes late to dinner, you’ll probably just eat all the bread, check your social media, and text your friends that you’re excited, while anxiously awaiting for their arrival. 

    Current day, years later, if this same situation presented itself, you are now the character Anger from the movie  “Inside Out” as the metaphor my boss likes to share. 

    A clinical tool that we teach here at Solid Foundations Therapy is the ABC model of thinking. 

    ABC model of thinking is embedded in cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT for short. This is a popular buzzword in the therapy world and many clients are familiar with it. It has the most research-based support for a therapeutic model and has yielded consistent results over many years. 

    The ABC model is great and works well with healing from anxiety and depression symptoms. It also works well with faulty thinking in general. 

    Here is what ABC stands for:

    A= Action   

    This is what someone else does. It’s a stimulus that is occurring to be more formal. Our job is to assume the action will never change and assume that the action is neutral, positive, and not of malicious intent. 

    B= Belief

    This is how in our minds we explained why whatever action/stimulus/behavior occurred. This is where all the action happens. Our perspective and what we believe is our reality, regardless if it is accurate or not. The important thing is to be able to challenge this belief (more on this below) and replace it with a neutral or positive belief that we can buy into.

    C= Consequence 

    This is how we feel as a result of our beliefs. The belief we have is instant and from A to B it is in milliseconds. If we want to feel better we need to change our beliefs and not demand that other people, such as our partner or things, change just so we do not feel a certain way. Remember that thoughts are not facts and that feelings are not facts. Also, all feelings are valid, but it does not mean they are accurate. Further, feelings are not forever, but they can seem like it when you are in the moment. Keep these in mind as you read on. 


    Put into practice we need to replace any negative beliefs with something more neutral or positive to have a positive response or neutral response instead of a consequence. 

    Ask yourself, “does this make me feel more neutral and supportive towards my partner to have this belief”? The new belief should make you feel better and support the data that your partner loves and cares about you.

    An example of this put into practice is as follows: 

    If my husband leaves his clothes on the floor: what is more likely that he did this on purpose to spite me, or that he was late and in a hurry and did not take the extra time to put them in the hamper? 

    We need to cosign the belief that is more believable. This becomes challenging when we have negative sentiment override. When we are experiencing this, it then becomes more likely that he is trying to spite me, versus he was late for work, in a rush, and didn’t care about the tornado he caused in getting out the door (ha!). 

    Thinking errors, trauma, and other things impact our belief system but that’s a blog topic for a different time I plan to write in the future. 

    There are a lot of other things that impact our belief system, but in order to give our partner the benefit of the doubt, we can support the side of the experience that puts them in a positive, neutral, or loving light versus finding ‘evidence’ that they are not meeting your needs to support negative sentiment override experiences. 

    Find the belief that does not cast your partner in a negative light; if you are in a healthy relationship and the person is truly trying, this is likely the most accurate belief. 

    Doing this will help repair how you view each other and lead to stronger, richer, experiences in conversation and will boost connection as well. It allows the relationship to be an emotionally safe place again. 

    A struggle with this approach is that many people think they are lying to themselves. However, research supports that the more positive and neutral belief is more accurate most of the time. 

    Again, your partner is not just trying to get you and hurt you. You need to find something that is believable that you can cosign.

    I encourage you to practice this tool often to improve the quality of your relationship, connection, and overall interactions. 

    To recap: 

    A= Action

    B= Belief 

    C= Consequence

    Replace any negative belief with a neutral or positive belief that is more likely and makes you feel better; this is the most likely explanation. 

    How you think is how you will experience life! 

    Disclaimer: DO NOT, use ABC thinking to justify any form of abuse. Abuse is never okay and nothing ever justifies abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling with intimate partner violence please get help at the domestic violence hotline today: 800-799-7233. 

    If you enjoyed learning about this tool, please contact Solid Foundations Therapy today to start a new way of thinking. Visit our website at www.solidfoundationstherapy.com or give us a call at 630-633-8532 today!