Negativity creep

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Ever started out on a house renovation and the project just kept getting bigger and bigger…adding one more change, one more fixture, and even one more room? Contractors call it “scope creep”.

Well, relationships experience their own painful version of creep: “negativity creep”, which we will define as the unconscious process of allowing painful, defensive dynamics to slowly replace loving intimacy in a primary relationship.

Jeannie Ingram, an Imago therapist from Atlanta, Georgia has been noodling on negativity; more specifically, how to work towards eliminating it from our relationships.  She offers the definition above and describes how it creeps into a relationship, often so slowly that we don’t know it’s happened until it’s too late.

Harville Hendrix, co-founder of Imago Relationship therapy, says that “negativity creep” is so pervasive that it’s like air for us or water for fish. We don’t see it. It’s the atmosphere of our eco-system”.

Those of us who are attempting to reduce and eliminate negativity in our relationships find that we have to work on it every single day. As Doug Wilson, another Imago therapist from Houston, Texas says, “Everything can be going great and than one slip, one digging comment….and, instantly it is like flies at a picnic.  One fly attracts another and soon you have a swarm.”

And Carole Kirby, an Imago therapist from Ann Arbor, Michigan reminds us that we easily slip into negativity without much awareness because the alarm centre of our brain (the limbic area) takes charge and slides us right into negativity as it tries to protect us. Unfortunately, instead of protection, it catapults us with one comment, accusation, or a look followed by the other’s comment, accusation, or glance into a quicksand of negativity.

Dare y’a: – Are you doing the negativity creep? C’mon, be honest with yourself! We can all find ourselves there when we don’t  even realize it. Here’s the antidote for the negativity creep….change the climate in your relationship by focusing on your body language. Remember to smile a little more, have a positive and kind voice tone, HUG your partner, do a caring behaviour, and ….whatever you do, be sincere about it.  Dare ya!

Yours truly,
Tamara and Maureen

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