If you have relationships in your life that are not going quite the way you want them to, you've possibly had arguments about what's not working. You might have attempted talking calmly about the problems to see if you could make some changes. You might have even tried ignoring what was going on all together in the hope that the problem would just work itself out. If you think you've tried it all, and you're still dissatisfied with a relationship in your life, don't give up yet... here are four steps that will help to improve your relationships from the inside out.

~One – Identify What You Value~

In order to have healthy, satisfying relationships, you have to know what is important to you; to go deep inside and discover what it is you most truly value -- what you want to experience in your relationships.

When we asked a woman in one of our seminars what she valued, she said that she valued it when people didn't fight.

We asked her why it was important to her that people not fight, and she said, "I feel very tense when people fight and it doesn’t seem to get them anywhere."

So then, we said to her, "It sounds like what you really value is harmony and effectiveness." She looked at us very excitedly and said, "Yes, that’s it!"

We use this example to point out that strategies are different than values. If you believe that the only way for you to have harmony and effectiveness in your life is for people not to fight, then experiencing what you value is at the mercy of others. On the other hand, if you understand that your strategy is driven by your value for harmony and effectiveness, it's possible to identify other strategies you can use to experience that value in your life.

~Two – Knowing What You Want~

Along with being able to tell the difference between your strategies and what you value it’s also important be able to identify what you "do want" instead of what you "don't want." You may think that it's six of one, half dozen of the other, but they are actually quite different.

You may have heard this joke: A man is talking to his co-worker, "My wife told me she didn't want me spending so much time at the office, so I joined a bowling league." A funny line, but it's also the perfect example of the importance of expressing what you "do want" and not what you "don't want". What the wife really wanted (and could have said) was that she wanted her husband to spend more time with her.

It's important to remember that knowing and expressing what you "don't want" will NOT get you what you "do want." The next time you find yourself saying things that start "I don't want..." stop yourself and let the other person know what it is that you do want from them or from the situation. Combine this with your ability to identify what you value, and you'll begin to notice a real change in the flow of your relationships.

~Three – Exploring What They Want~

Once you're clear about what you value and want in your relationship, it's time to start thinking about the other person's point of view. Understanding what someone else values and desires is critical to creating genuinely satisfying relationships. Taking this initiative is something that you can do that will immediately improve the quality of your communication and in turn, your relationship.

Of course, one way to find out what they want is simply to ask them. It's a place to start, but it's not always the most effective way of getting to the truth about what a person really values. As we pointed out above, people often think in terms of their strategies as opposed to focusing on their values.

If you ask them what they want in your relationship you may hear things like, "I want you to _____" (fill in the blank).

...spend more time with me
...stop being such a know-it-all
...listen when I'm talking, etc

Clearly, these statements just tell you what they want you to do, not what they value. Getting to the values hidden in these statements may require a little detective work on your part. Don't just take their answers at face value; dig down beneath the surface to find out what values are at the base of what they want. Once you have an idea about the other person's values and what's most important to them, it's much easier to relate them to your own values and identify ways you can work together for mutual satisfaction.

~Four – Be Gentle With Yourself~

When you're struggling with a relationship, self-doubt and recriminations can often aggravate a situation. While trying to sort things out, it's very common for the past to creep in and trigger that little voice in your head to start whining, complaining, judging, and criticizing the relationship. You tend to focus on how the other person is acting, how you're acting, how it's been in the past, etc. You've probably also become resigned to the idea that things will never change and may be depressed about what the future holds.

This is a common reaction, but the trick here is to avoid taking the things that the little voice in your head says personally. Remember this the next time you start feeling discouraged, "everything that everyone does or says (including this little voice in your head) is in support of something they value; they are trying to meet some need." Instead of giving in to what your inner voice is saying, ask yourself: "What do I need that is causing me to think this way?" Try to get underneath what you're saying and identify what you value that is missing in the situation.

In other words, be gentle with yourself. The point here is that you commit to taking the time you need so that you can keep your attention focused on what you value, your deepest desires for the relationship, and creating mutually satisfying outcomes with the other person.

Author's Bio: 

Using these methods, you can actively improve your relationships from the inside out. If you're interested in more advice on how to find true happiness through these and other self-growth techniques sign up for our free thought-provoking and motivational Weekly Action Tips eMail series at: http://www.FocusedAttention.com/cmd.php?ad=317928.

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