Betty Lacine, MS, LPCC

Valentine’s Day promotes romance and relationships.  Ifamily_portrait5t is vital to keep our current relationships strong and to build new ones on a solid foundation.  Today we will go on a search for gold that can strengthen any relationship whether it’s a romantic one, within a family, or even between friends.  This activity requires participation, so grab a pen and some notecards or a piece of paper before we begin.

Finding gold is our goal.  A gold miner rarely finds a gold nugget lying on the ground, they use tools to sift it from the water or dig it out of the ground. So it is with relationships; it is vital to put in conscious effort to search for t
he gold nuggets in the people around us to keep the ties strong.  At first it might feel awkward or forced, but the goal is to have this search for gold become a mindset and a lifestyle, so we can be an encouragement to everyone around us and especially to those in our families.

For a couple, each person uses one card.  On the card write down three to five positive things you appreciate and admire about the other person.  These can be something the person does or an inner quality they possess whether large or small.  Examples are a cheerful smile, works hard, kind to the children, keeps the house clean, honest, trustworthy, dependable, good listener, patient, artistic, shovels the snow, etc.  Then the couple takes turns telling the other person what they have written, stating each item as a specific compliment.  Example, “I appreciate your optimistic outlook on life.”  The recipient listens to each compliment and is only allowed to say “thank you” or make some other positive comment.  They are not to argue over the qualities or disallow what was written. After stating the compliments and getting thanked the writer gives them the card.  Then the other partner gets to speak out their specific compliments.   It is important to say them out loud, not to just hand the card over and let the other person read it.  Hearing the compliments spoken is important and is training for making looking for the gold part of everyday life.  The recipient gets to keep the card to read over what the person appreciates about them.  The card can be placed somewhere in the home where the recipient will see it daily, such as the dresser, bathroom mirror, or kitchen counter or can be carried with them.

In a family this can be done with each person writing a card for every other family member or it can be done as a group.  If each person writes out a card, the recipient can re-write all the comments on one card, so it can be displayed where they will see it daily. When done as a group; start with one person and everyone else can call out a quality or something they admire while a designated scribe writes them all down on a card. The qualities are stated as compliments, example, “I like the way you are always willing to help me with my homework” and “willing to help with homework” would be written down. Again the recipient says “thank you” or some positive comment such as “I never knew you liked that” and is not to argue or disagree.  Once each family member has a list of “gold qualities” written down, they get to keep their card.  In addition, the qualities for each person can be written on a poster, decorated, and displayed in a prominent place, to encourage family members to continue to give specific compliments to each other.

“Looking for gold” starts as a one-time activity, but the goal is to make it a mindset and a lifestyle. This can be reinforced in a family by going around the dinner table and letting each person receive compliments from other family members.  Again their response is to say “thank you” and receive the compliment.  The same with couples and friends, the goal is to learn to look for the gold in each person on a daily basis and to tell them in a specific compliment.  “Good job” is nice to hear, but “I love the way you arranged the plates so carefully when you set the table” lets the person know exactly what you appreciated.  Behavior that receives specific praise is likely to be repeated, however, the goal is never manipulation, but an honest appreciation of the good qualities each person possesses.  The ultimate goal is to appreciate friends, partners and family and to express that appreciation often and in specific ways.  The whole tone of a relationship or family can change as members feel loved and appreciated.  Have a great Valentine’s Day and go on a gold hunt in the people around you.