Making Relationships Less Difficult
Bill Cottringer

“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.” ~Anonymous.

It is not easy to be successful at anything today because of the many obstacles that seem to never stop getting in the way. Relationships pose additional challenges making them become even more difficult to have consistent happy endings for very long. Being successful is not something we do naturally and success is always a reward for doing the right thing in the right way. But in order to do that, you have to be basing your thoughts, words and actions on the truth of the matter at hand, which turns out to be more not the case than is.

Communication is the vehicle for exchanging the virus of misperceptions of what the truth isn’t. Consider these common complaints in relationships:

She says:
• He never communicates his feelings.
• He doesn’t support me emotionally.
• He doesn’t listen or understand when I need that most.
• He doesn’t want the same things as I do.

He says:
• She doesn’t understand that I need to fix things, not just listen.
• She wants me to change into the way she wants me to be.
• She is always caught up in her own world to be concerned about mine.
• She has unrealistic expectations for me.

Now here is the real problem—Our brains are not really hard-wired to find or speak the truth. We are much more inclined to take short cuts in accepting what is far from being true as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The result of all the shortcuts the brain naturally takes results in a head full of beliefs about the certainty of what you think you know that isn’t necessarily so. And since we communicate and act on what we believe to be the best available truth, which really isn’t, failure is much more of a natural outcome than success. Now add the intense emotionality of a relationship with more investment to make it be successful, and it becomes a real mess.

A quick review of how we come to know what is true can be helpful to unravel the messiness of a relationship. The truth of any situation that we believe is a leap of faith in the particular perception we have formed about a situation and the particular perspective from which that perception is formed. The trouble with this sequence is that unless you have the right perspective to perceive another person’s behavior or words accurately in a relationship, everything that follows probably won’t be true, leading to likely failure in the relationship.

Truth will always be tentative and evolving, waiting to be found by using the right perspective in launching your perceptions and evaluation of what you think and believe to be true about the other person or situation at hand, prompting you to act or react the way you do and get the results you get from doing this. But, a wrong perspective always leads to a wrong perception and that leads to a wrong action or reaction, which can only get wrong results.

Superior photography, like Ansell Adams maintained, is mainly a product of where you are photographing a thing from, or the particular viewpoint you are using. In this sense, what you see in your own viewfinder is mainly related to where you are looking from. When you change perspectives, you see something different. So if you don’t like what you see, believe, think, hear or feel at any given time, the easiest way to change those results is to move to a different perspective, either in time or place.

This all sounds too easy because it is not and we all know that. The perspective you choose to perceive what you act on is driven by very deep-seated unconscious paradigms, or major assumptions you make about how life and people really are and why, which are hidden and resistive to changing. We all either think we are in control or not or somewhere in between. We all think things will eventually work out or not or somewhere in between. We are all happy or not or somewhere in between. We all accept bad habits of others or not, in varying degrees and patience. The usual place for our perspectives is in between and of course that is where we get stuck and paralyzed and seemingly unable to get the results that are natural from using the right perspective from the right underlying paradigm.

The truth be known in any relationship is that you can’t begin to change another person until you learn how to change your own perspectives of perceiving him or her by examining and questioning the underlying paradigms that are driving those perspectives and perceptions. Of course, that is the most difficult thing you can ever try to do because it is the gateway to the unique creativity of great inventions and discoveries that change the world in huge ways, like computers, digital time, nuclear energy and viewing the world as round rather than flat. This only happens enough to let us know it is possible.

In the meantime, what can we actually do make relationships less difficult? The difficult challenge here is to slow down enough to start noticing three important things that you haven’t been aware of all along:

• Consider accepting the dismal but likely true reality that most of what you think you know to be so, isn’t. This major paradigm shift opens a wide door to another half of all possibilities; one paradigm revision here and you are doubling your chances of success and happiness in a relationship and going 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds.

• Realize that where you are looking from determines most of what you see. Move a little to the right or left, ahead or behind, or up or down in your approach, timing, location or words and then experience the positive change which closes the feedback loop and puts you more in the driver’s seat of your own brain.

• Understand how any perspective is limited by the unconscious paradigm of “either-or” mentality and that paradigm itself is either true or not, which of course is absurd. Replacing our wrong “either-or, win-lose” thinking about truth with a “win-win, and-and” version opens the door to another 50% gain in success possibilities.

Take some of the difficulty out of relationships by noticing these three things that you haven’t been noticing and begin to experience a much better relationship.

“You can bend it and twist it... You can misuse and abuse it... But even God cannot change the Truth.” ~Michael Levy.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or