Positive Sentiment Override

Dr. John Gottman coined the idea of positive sentiment override. This idea refers to viewing your partner and overall relationship through a positive perspective. On the other hand, negative sentiment override means seeing your partner and relationship through a negative lens. This can happen when partners are focused on perceived negative experiences and qualities of their partner. There are many ways to foster positive sentiment override, and it is something you can actively work toward every day. Here are some ideas:

  1. Focus on your partner’s strengths. When resentment, frustration, anger, and other difficult emotions build up over time, this can start to cloud the way you view your partner. It’s likely that your partner has many strengths and positive qualities which helped to draw you to them in the first place. Think about some of the good qualities your partner has and try to celebrate their strengths.

  2. Empathize with your partner. There are likely many opportunities to practice empathy in your relationship. If your partner had a bad day, offer a listening ear and let your partner know that you are there for them. Try to see the world through your partner’s eyes by listening to their perspectives and asking clarifying questions when needed.

  3. Practice mindfulness. It can be helpful to practice staying present within your relationship so that you can show up for your partner in a positive way. Practicing mindfulness of your partner’s feelings, needs, and experiences can help them to feel a sense of positive regard.

  4. Show appreciation. Take time to share positive moments with your partner by acknowledging their efforts. Giving consistent positive feedback, encouragement, and appreciation can help you see your partner and relationship in a positive light.

This blog post was written by Taryn O’Neil, LPC. To learn more about fostering positive sentiment override, reach out to one of our licensed counselors today here.