Today I met up with my lovely friend and work colleague Cath. We always have a great catch up. We share our love of mindfulness, meditation and wine, so we have plenty in common!
We got on to the topic of our husbands today and I had to confess to being less than lovely to my husband Martyn. I have been a bit of a nag. It’s all to do with petty house cleaning issues. I know that in the grand scheme of things it is petty to get annoyed when he leaves sprinklings of sugar or crumbs on the work surface, or to get cross when I see that he has left the foil milk lid on the side rather than putting it in the bin. My frustration at these things seems to have been heightened over the last couple of days because he has been away over the weekend and Noah and I had the house spotless, just the way I like it.
When I told Cath about these petty niggles she almost seemed relieved that I had the same sort of home issues as her. Her pet hates over washing being draped all over the radiators, rather than on the clothes horse, all of a sudden seemed more valid. Her frustration with paperwork being all over her house became worthy of discussion. We had a good giggle over our own pettiness and it was great to vent!
So how can two lawyers, who seek to be mindful in all areas of their life, get so frustrated over things that really don’t matter?
The answer? Well research in neuroscience is showing that we’re all hard wired to register and remember negative events more quickly and deeply than positive ones. Perhaps this explains why despite the many positive things that our husbands do day to day we are more prone to remember the instances where their behaviour doesn’t meet out high expectations. The result…we think with frustration ‘they always do that’ and this again reenforces our negative bias.
So what can we do about it?
Many lines of research show that when we use our intention and attention in sustained and focused ways, we can do much to overcome the brain’s negative bias. So I set to work to overcome my negative bias towards Martyn right away and already I feel better and we have been much nice to each other.
When Noah and I were in the car I suggested a game…’lets think of reasons why we love daddy’. Noah’s first response was ‘because he chops trees down in the garden’ – brilliant – I loved the response. It is true that he does 99.9% of the gardening! We thoughts of lots of other reasons, his generosity, his kindness and his love for us. Tonight Martyn cooked dinner, brown rice spaghetti and a ratatouille type sauce. It was lovely – and he even wiped the side and cleared up afterwards! What more could I ask. I am truly appreciative and have realised again just how lucky I am.
So we are back on a good foot and I feel settled and happy again and not irritable and dissatisfied. The power to reset the brain with a simple game is amazing. Next time someone gets into your negative thoughts have a go at listing the positives, reset your mind and recover your relationship!