Is your boss or business partner being too controlling?  Does it seem like your spouse doesn’t care about your feelings?

Perhaps you find yourself extremely irritated or put off by someone for reasons you can’t explain.

Have you ever experienced when someone close to you says or does something and all of a sudden, negative thoughts automatically pop into your head?  I know I have.

These types of thoughts trigger certain emotions like annoyance, frustration, or irritation, and form our perceptions.  And these perceptions influence how we act toward others.

When our actions arise from negative perceptions, they can be damaging to any type of relationship, especially when we act on them repeatedly.

While perceptions can seem automatic, we can actually prevent them from hurting our relationships.  Here are 3 things we can do:

1.        Recognize that our perceptions of others are largely false.

Perception simply acts as a lens through which we view reality.  It is not reality itself.

2.        Recognize perceptions in the moment.

When you notice you’re becoming increasingly angry, irritated, or frustrated, stop.  Negative emotions are signals to change direction.  Simply become aware that what you might think the other person is up to, to hurt you, for instance, may not be true.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

-Viktor E. Frankl

3.        What are you missing?

Chances are your automatic thoughts are focused too narrowly.  If it’s your significant other or someone else close to you, they might simply be responding to their own insecurities or fears.  Likewise, what are some of their qualities or past behaviors that you admire or love?

The next time you find yourself becoming seized by negative thoughts and emotions about someone close to you, know that you have the power to change course and turn things around.

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