How often do you pause to consider the true intentions of your partner prior to reacting with anger, irritation, or suspicion over something they have said or done? Are you quick to rush to judgement and assume that their intent was to upset you or to disregard your feelings? How would your reaction have been different if you assumed that your partner had positive intentions, as opposed to negative ones? Having the ability to assume positive intent can result in experiencing less frustration, anger, and unnecessary conflict.
We all rush to judgement. Due to our history and past experiences we may have a tendency to jump to conclusions about people’s motives prior to having all the facts. Part of this is protective and functional, it prevents us from getting hurt or being taken advantage of. But what if our conclusion was wrong? Couldn’t an awful lot of stress and conflict been avoided had we assumed the positive instead of the negative in our partner?
This doesn’t mean that we ignore being wronged or neglect to examine how someone may have harmed us in the past. If someone has a pattern of hurting you repeatedly, you would be wise to approach anything they say or do with a healthy dose of skepticism. But should you be so quick to assume the negative with those who you believe genuinely care about you? For example, let’s say your partner was not as attentive as you would have liked when you were discussing your stressful day. There are several ways to interpret their response. One being that they are self-absorbed, insensitive, and don’t care about your feelings. An alternative perspective might be that they themselves are stressed and overwhelmed, or they misunderstood how important the issues were to you that you were discussing. Your emotional reaction will be very much influenced by which perspective you choose.
There is power in remembering to assume positive intent. If frees you from unnecessary irritation, frustration, and anger. It allows you to approach and respond to your partner in a way that is respectful and nurturing. This allows for more open, honest, and productive communication within your relationship. Next time you find yourself reacting in the moment, pause and try to assume that perhaps the intention is not to upset you.