- optimize your relationships
Options for Solving
Tools you can use
By Peter K.
Member NSRC Experts Council
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This brief YouTube clip previews key points in this article.
The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons. I've reduced that to seven.
This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships. These articles build on Lessons 1 - 3, and prepare
you for Lesson 5 (evolve a nourishing family) and Lesson 6 (learn
to practice effective parenting).
relationships create conflicts or problems - clashing values, perceptions,
needs, and preferences. Your beliefs and knowledge shape how well
you're able to resolve the relationship problems you encounter among your
personality subselves and with adults and kids.
proposes (a) 18 premises and (b) practical guidelines to help you avoid or resolve any
relationship problem. To use these resources effectively, you'll
need your true Self to
in any social situation..
This article assumes you're familiar with...
intro to this Web site and the
perspective on human
requisites for a
nourishing relationship, and...
analyze relationship problems
Begin by reflecting for a moment. Think about various relationship problems
you've had, and rate your ability to resolve them "well." Which of these
statements best describes you?
_ I know how to define "effective
relationship-problem resolution" now.
_ My true Self usually
guides me in most social
situations (Lesson 1)
_ I/m fluent in the
now (Lesson 2).
_ I'm consistently able
to effectively resolve any relationship problem with adults or kids
_ I can resolve some
relationship problems effectively, but not others.
_ I'm usually unable
to resolve significant relationship problems effectively.
_ I know how to resolve
relationship problems among my personality subselves.
I'm _ slightly _ moderately _
very motivated to improve my relationship problem-solving ability now..
Premises About Relationship Problems
A "premise" is a point of view about something. See how these premises
compare with your beliefs.
Circle which of these applies to each premise below: A = "I
agree," D = "I disagree," and ? = "I'm not sure," or "It depends" (on
interpersonal "relationship" exists when the presence, absence, attitudes,
and/or behaviors of one person (or personality subself) ":significantly
affects" another person or subself. "Significantly" is a subjective
judgment. (A D ?)
Adults and kids vary in their need for social
relationships. "Introverts" find more comfortable stimulation within
themselves. "Extroverts" need social relationships to feel stimulated and
valued. The degree of introversion or extroversion is determined by which
usually control the host person. That depends of how much
the person got in early childhood. (A D ?)
Social relationships van be mutual
("reciprocal") or one-way (one person is somewhat to totally indifferent to
the other) :(A D ?)
Regardless of age, gender, and setting, mutually-satisfying
relationships usually have most of these
of ingredients. Missing ingredients cause "problems." (A D ?)
5) A need
is a physical, mental, psychological, or spiritual discomfort. The
word problem means "one or more
unmet needs." Neediness
is normal, not a "weakness." (A D
vary from superficial ("I need the car now") to primary
("I need reliable, accessible transport, and security"). When people focus on surface needs and
that cause them, "problem-solving" is temporary at
best. Once aware of thee need-levels, anyone can learn to identify primary needs
(A D ?)
7) all human
behavior is caused by each person trying to fill their current
primary needs well enough. So
major relationship problems hinges on
all involved people wanting to
and fill their current
(vs. surface or secondary) needs. (A D ?)
Most social frustrations, conflicts, and divorces happen
because people (i.e. their ruling
identify and own their primary needs,
genuinely rank their
and other people's needs and dignity as equally important and valid, and
how to fill their mutual needs (problem-solve) well enough.
Once aware of these
factors, anyone can
reduce them. (A D ?)
Healthy adults are
for filling their own primary needs! If you are able-bodied and mentally healthy, and you expect your partner, a child,
or others to regularly fill your needs, you're inviting disappointment, frustration, hurt, anger, and resentment. This
is specially true if the others accept the responsibility! (A D ?)
If you regularly accept responsibility for filling another competent adult's
needs, you are
them (blocking their growth) and
encouraging a dependent relationship. Enabling (vs. empowering) someone is inherently
disrespectful. (A D ?)
11) Needs can conflict
causing "ambivalence," "uncertainty," and "confusion."
One subself may
need their host person to act (thought stream: "Come on,
pick up the phone and call!"), and one or more other
subselves may urge "No, no! You'll probably get lectured at and rejected
which will hurt. Don't
These inner clashes are so common we're
often not aware of them. (A D ?)
way to reduce inner conflicts effectively.
Premise 12) A
relationship problem between
two people can really be a cluster of concurrent
internal and mutual conflicts:
<< conflict >>
conflicting primary needs
conflicting primary needs
example: if Jack says "You never listen to me" and Jill dutifully or
anxiously tries to improve her listening,
Jack may stay dissatisfied because his
unspoken primary need is to feel more valued and respected by Jill. That would take spontaneous (vs.
new behaviors from Jill. It also might take Jack
reducing his old
which has nothing to do with Jill.
(A D ?)
Recall - these premises form a foundation for solving relationship
problems effectively. How do they compare to your beliefs so far?
13) People who focus
inner conflicts (among
their personality subselves)
first are best able to resolve interpersonal problems because
they minimize confusing contradictions,
D ?) If you
agree, is that what you usually do?
14) Internal and social relationship problems often involve a stressful dynamic
described by Dr. Steven Karpmann in 1968 as
Persecutor - Victim
- Rescuer (PVR)
Problems between two people (or subselves) often involve a third
person in a way that keeps the problem going.
(A D ?) With your true Self
use the seven communication
in Lesson 2 to avoid and dissolve PVR triangles
15) PVR triangles are often (a) caused by
and (b) may create or amplify
These three stressors often occur together in any human group. They're
specially common in low-nurturance (dysfunctional), divorcing, and step
families. Few adults are aware of these three stressors or what to do about them. (A D
Interpersonal relationships can be...
where both partners genuinely feel "I choose to be with
you, and I can live well enough without you if I must."
Social surveys steadily report this feels best,
and lasts the longest,
where one or both partners give their power and personal
responsibility to the other, believing "I can't live without you." Such
people are usually
and will experience significant relationship "problems" until they
commit to personal
or relationships are...
independent: neither partner really needs much from the other, and
has a weak or no emotional/spiritual
They may pretend otherwise to themselves and/or other people.
The level of childhood
(low > high) and the mix of each person's dominant subselves
(false selves vs. true Self) determines which
type of relationship they (you) usually form. (A D
awareness, most of us try
to fill our needs by...
fighting and arguing (about who's wrong,
and/or whose needs come first);
minimizing, and numbing;
over-analyzing, discounting, and/or ignoring
emotional and spiritual needs;
and manipulating (my
current needs outrank yours), and...
and/or withdrawing emotionally or physically.
None of these strategies fill
adults' and kids'
primary needs well enough.
use them are unaware and often
arrogant, or stupid!
(A D ?) This is why
(identify and reduce psychological wounds) is
essential for effective
Premise 18: When
based on genuine
can empower any adult or
child led by their
analyze and resolve their innerpersonal and interpersonal problems (need conflicts)
well enough. Few parents or schools teach all these skills,
you and your family members probably need to learn them together.
How aware were you of your premises about relationship problems? Who's responsible
in your family for learning, modeling, and teaching such premises and effective-communication skills?
Learn something about yourself from this anonymous
Before reading further, pause and identify several "relationship problems"
you have at home, work, school, or socially. Keep them in mind as you
Let's put these premises to work.
Resolving any relationship "problem" (need-conflicts
and people) involves specific proactive steps. The first steps
aim to answer six questions:
"Is my true Self (capital
me now?" If not, make
your first goal.
"Is your Self guiding
now?" If not, see this after
you finish here.
"What do I really
"What do you really
"Do you and I see each other's
needs as equally important now?", and...
"What - if anything - blocks filling
our respective needs well-enough now?"
on each of these options, and
decide if anything prevents you from acting on them now. Hilite or asterisk
any that seem specially important. Option - checkmark any guideline you're
1) Commit to mastering (at least)
your knowledge with these
Grow the habit of
confirming that your true Self is
of your personality. When s/he is not, lower your expectations.
you are responsible for deciding what you need and
respectfully to get it.
If you can't accept that, suspect that a well-meaning false self controls you.
this framework to analyze what is
the relationship problem - for whom?
of thinking or saying that "this problem is a
/ disaster / catastrophe." These are emotionally
explosive terms that can scare your subselves and other people, and
promote impulsive (unwise) reactions.
6) Make (vs. "find")
undistracted time to work on the problem alone and with others involved.
7) Grow and use
a Personal Bill of Rights to help, and affirm
others' equal rights.
(wounded) people have major trouble
with this until they commit to true (vs. pseudo) wound-
8) Accept that
your opinions, values,
rights, and needs are just as legitimate and important as anyone else's, regardless of age, role, race, faith, or gender.
9) Help everyone
(wanting to reduce current discomforts) is
normal and healthy,
That includes needing and accepting help.
10) Note that trying to help someone
who doesn't want help is really about your
needs, and is inherently disrespectful.
11) Help each other accept that
conflicts among subselves and people, and the emotions that go with
them, are normal and potentially healthy, not inherently negative, wrong,
12) Accept that
emotions are useful pointers to unfilled needs. Emotions are natural and
neutral, not "negative" or "positive". How our subselves express or act on emotions can
be productive or harmful.
More guidelines for resolving any relationship problem...
Focus on identifying unmet
primary (vs. surface) needs,
wrong or at fault (blaming and defending).
Criticizing, minimizing, denying, and defending
hinder effective problem-solving, and suggest false-self control.
this table and cooperative
help identify your and your partner's primary
aware of your problem-solving
and help each other learn and use all seven
need-conflicts, separate and rank them, and work on one at a time.
The alternative is "riding off in all directions" and not filling each
person's needs. Use the
guidebook to patiently strengthen the effectiveness of your
15) In important social situations, practice
objectively noticing your and your partners'
16) Aim for good-enough compromises
and solutions rather than perfection, "winning," or being right.
Be alert for and avoid
They're sure signs one or both of you are controlled by a false self.
17) Help each other brainstorm
viable solutions, vs.
doing black-white, either-or thinking.
There are always more
than two options!
18) Help each other stay focused
on identifying and filling current primary needs vs. detouring too often
past or the future.
19) Enjoy growing the art and skill
of praising and affirming yourself and each other. Learn how to
20) Identify what
problem-solving techniques (e.g. these) consistently work for you as a person,
a pair, and as a family. Then
help each other do
more of them. Help each other stay aware of your
This minimizes having
you communicate amplify your relationship problem
21) If you or another
person feel stuck
in resolving a mutual dispute,
review these guidelines
as teammates, not opponents;
these common communication-blocks
and tips together. They apply equally to
dialogs among your subselves and with other people; and...
these communication basics together, and
help each other improve your seven communication
22) Reality-check your
of yourself and each other. Your problem-partners may not be able or willing to
23) Check to see that you
partners are each able to spot and resolve
conflicts, and associated
24) Review these effective problem-solving
steps. and read these
Then learn from this conflict-resolution
a wide-angle perspective. This article is a summary outline.
To fully optimize
your subselves' and social relationships, patiently study (at least)
lessons 1 thru 4 in this ad-free self-improvement
Notice also how many relationship-problem-solving options you have. Go
back over this list and rank-order which guidelines you want to learn and
try first. Accept that reaping the rewards of these options will take
steady commitment, awareness, practice for months, and a willingness to
see mistakes as chances to learn.
If you have young people in your life, note your opportunity to teach
them these premises and resolution-guidelines over time. If you don't - who
Lesson-4 article offers (a) premises about relationships and relationship
"problems"; and (b)
practical options for solving inevitable relationship problems
(conflicting personal and mutual needs). Mull and discuss these premises with the key people in
your life, toward clarifying what you each believe.
Your beliefs will inexorably shape how effectively you resolve your
conflicts (fill your respective needs) together.
Option - print and place your version of these premises
and options where you can access them easily. With
specially difficult problems, read them out loud to each other...
Pause, breathe well, and reflect
- What are you thinking and feeling now?
Recall why you read this. Did you get what you needed? If not - what
you need now?
these questions - your wise resident
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