I happened to find a slip of paper today with the words 5 to 1 ratio written down. I had forgotten about this magic ratio (offered years ago by relationship researcher and therapist, John Gottman), and decided to share it on this blog to inform my readers but also to remind myself.
The basic idea is that it takes five positive interactions with a partner to neutralize one negative. Think on that. I'm not saying you have to begin praising your partner day in and day out (although what would be so bad about that?). Positives might include: really listening to your partner, expressing affection, validating something s/he did, offering to help, using humor, etc.
I want to expand the magic 5 to 1 ratio to negative interactions with oneself. For every negative statement you make about yourself or to yourself, it will take five positives to neutralize. Most of the people in my practice and in my personal life, rarely say anything positive about themselves.. In fact, the "critical internal voice" of most people is often relentlessly negative while at the same time, unacknowledged. Think on that. So step one in using this ratio for the Self, is to begin to listen to that critical voice: become aware of it. Second step is to counter the negativity.
For next day or two, I challenge you to play with this ratio. Try it on yourself. See how you feel if or when you shift your focus to this 5-1 ratio. It could be life-changing.