Being with some people makes us feel better. Being with others can make us feel worse. The exercise helps you assess a relationship you’re not sure about and suggests an assertiveness technique you can use to help improve the relationship.
If you think a friend, partner/girl/boyfriend is making you feel low in mood when you’re with them, start to notice how often that person has that effect on you and how severe the effect is (you could score it from 1-10 each time). This helps you make sure it’s a real trend rather than both of you having off days.
If after a while you’re sure that a particular person repeatedly makes you feel unhappy, a good way to address it is to talk about it in a non-confrontational assertive way (eg When you do/say xxxxxxxxx, it makes me feel xxxxx and think xxxxx. I’d really like it if you did xxxxxxx instead. It might go something like this: ‘When you say I’m a really negative person, it makes me feel upset and I think you don’t like me very much. I’d really like it if you could say something encouraging or nice to me’.) If you keep saying you want them to change how they behave towards you and it doesn’t have an effect, then you can choose to spend less time with that person.
It’s good for us to find people that are supportive and we can be supportive back. We all know that there are some situations where it’s difficult to avoid people that have a negative effect on us. Yet you can keep trying to encourage them to treat you differently by using the assertiveness technique above in different ways.
And remember it’s important to think about the part you might play when a relationship (with a friend/partner/workmate/boss/parent) starts going through a tough phase and how you might change what you do and say.