The Valued Self

Criticism fails in love relationships because it embodies two of the things that most human beings hate the most: It feels like rejection and demands submission. In short, it threatens both autonomy and connection, throwing the Grand Human Contradiction completely out of balance.

Although people hate to submit, we actually like to cooperate, which affords balance of the Grand Human Contradiction. (We choose to cooperate, which enhances autonomy, while strengthening the connection.) We have a built-in reward of well-being for cooperation, probably because it was necessary for the survival of the species. Critical people demand submission but they really want cooperation — willing, resentment-free behaviors to further the good of the relationship. They seem oblivious to this key point about human nature: The valued self cooperates; the devalued self resists.

If you want behavior change from a partner, child, relative, or friend, first show value for that person. If you want resistance, criticize.

— Steven Stosny, Empowered Love, p. 35

[Photo: Burg Katz, Rhein River, Germany, July 23, 2006]

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