A successful personal relationship is like a recipe where you and your partner each provide some of the ingredients. Get the right combination and the recipe will work out and you’ll both come back for more. But if something is missing or too overpowering you won’t want to try it again. Before you start building a relationship you need to know what combination of ingredients you are bringing to the mix. This means really knowing yourself: your attitudes, values, beliefs, habits, interests etc.
It can be difficult to be honest with yourself about yourself. You need to ask probing questions that get to the root of things in order to see yourself clearly. This is an area where life coaching methods are particularly useful. Life Coaches use questioning techniques to empower people. They ask questions in a way that encourages you to explore your character, motivations, beliefs, values and fears. They help you identify any habits or attitudes you want to change and to decide how you will do this. And they keep you on track by checking your progress and supporting you as you explore any problems or barriers to progress.
With a little practice you can apply the methods used by life coaches and self-coach yourself to successful personal relationships. It is important to realize that at first you may experience resistance to this technique from your unconscious mind. This is the part of your mind where all your past experiences are stored, complete with all the positive and negative emotions you attach to the experiences. If you ask a question that ‘touches a nerve’ your subconscious mind is likely to try and avoid giving an honest answer in an effort to protect you from harm.
The best way to learn about yourself is to begin to notice and explore your reactions to situations. For example if something happens and you get angry about it, finding out the reason for your anger can help uncover your beliefs and attitudes. Don’t ask direct questions as chances are you won’t get the answer you need. Approach the subject gently, asking questions such as ‘What is it about the situation that has made me angry?‘
Don’t stop at one question. Use your first answer as the basis for more questions. If you believe you’re angry because of how someone spoke to you, explore what exactly triggered the anger. Maybe their tone made you feel like you were a child again, being told off by a parent and this brought back the resentment you first felt aged 6 or 7. Or perhaps their words made you feel powerless or incapable. You may find the answers don’t come immediately. Be patient: plant a question in your mind and leave it alone. In time you will get the true answer.
Avoid asking yourself the question ‘Why?‘ This single word is very powerful and negative. Try it: ask someone a series of questions beginning with ‘Why…? You’ll find they quickly start to get defensive or irritated by the constant barrage of ‘Why’s.
To change a negative behavior using life coaching techniques you need to know what behavior you want to use as a replacement and then ask yourself what steps you can take to make sure you do substitute the preferred behavior. As soon as you notice yourself slipping back you should think about what happened and why you didn’t use the new behavior you had identified. Your answer may uncover other beliefs or attitudes that your subconscious mind is trying to protect. Once these are exposed you have a chance to do something about them.
Learn about your interests too. Chances are these will provide good opportunities to meet people who could become close friends or even partners. Ask yourself what exactly it is about the activity that interests you. You may decide you enjoy helping people or using practical skills. You’ll have better rapport with people who have these same interests.
Knowing yourself helps you make the right choices when building personal, social and work relationships. Spend some time learning to use the life coach method of open and probing questions and you’ll soon be building successful new relationships with confidence.