I often write in my blogs about how divorcing spouses can save much time and money by reaching divorce agreements out of court.
I emphasize that whether or not you’re involved in a divorce, you can use the tips below to negotiate and resolve conflicts with a parent, child, co-parent, boss or coworker – or anyone with whom you have a strong interest in preserving or improving the relationship.
Below are 3 ways to negotiate and preserve or improve key relationships (even if you’re not involved in divorce):
- Identify limiting core beliefs that distort thinking.
Most of us carry around a variety of limiting core beliefs about ourselves, which make us more susceptible to taking another’s words and actions personally.
Most often, we’re are completely unaware that they exist, yet they unconsciously drive our thoughts and behavior.
I’ve found that most conflicts result from failure to communicate because each person is experiencing “the facts” through their own core beliefs.
Examples of limiting core beliefs often include:
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m worthless or unworthy of love.
- There’s something terribly wrong with me.
- I’m a selfish person.
- If I fail or make a mistake, I’ll be labeled a failure and no one will ever love me.
- The problems in my relationships are all the other person’s fault.
There are also the “shoulds,” believing that we “should” do something even if we don’t want to. According to Jeffrey Brandler, EdS CAS SAP, there are many ways we “should on ourselves.”
These false beliefs often cause us to act against our best interests and can damage relationships. While these common beliefs are always false, they can nevertheless be very convincing.
- Challenge self-defeating thoughts.
When we carry around limiting core beliefs, our thoughts and emotions typically follow suit and drive our behavior.
It’s common to become overly focused on a single event and project the worst possible result. For example, a fight with your boss becomes I’ll lose my job or your child’s poor test grade becomes she’ll never get into college.
It’s often helpful to step back and take a wide-angle view of the situation to open up the many different ways of viewing it. Then, you can instead focus on what you ultimately want to achieve, for instance, improved understanding and closer connection with the other person.
Examples of common self-defeating thoughts include:
- Jumping to conclusions. For instance, in the example above, instead of fearing loss of your job, you might assess your own work performance and look at what you’ve achieved.
- Overgeneralizing. These include thoughts like “I’ll never recover.” “There’s nothing I can do about this. It’s hopeless.” “I can’t do anything right.” “They are always wrong.” Blaming others for your circumstances only gives away your power to them. Instead, take a wider view and put your thoughts into perspective. For example, if someone disagrees with you, all it means is that they have a differing opinion.
- Making assumptions about what someone else is thinking. This might include “my husband looks unhappy, so he is obviously unhappy with me.” Instead, you might ask your husband why he appears to look unhappy.
- Try these actions you can take today to negotiate and improve key relationships.
- Recognize that you have control over your thoughts and therefore, your actions.
- Be aware of your thoughts connected to any false beliefs and make adjustments. Catch yourself when thinking words like always, never, can’t, should, and shouldn’t. It often helps to write down your thoughts to get them out of your head.
- Understand that blaming others for your circumstances only gives away your power to them. Take back control by taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions.
- Listen to really understand how the other person views “the facts” and clarify his or her false beliefs.
The good news is that we can minimize our toxic and self-defeating thoughts and core beliefs. Most of all, don’t let them stop you from living the life you want and deserve.
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