Understanding Yourself

The Essential
Relationship Workbook

People are fascinated with classifying and predicting human behavior, as there is an innate drive to understand ourselves and those around us. This exploration has been motivated by medical, psychological, and philosophical purposes. Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine, ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) classified people into four identifiable quadrants that he referred to as humors. He labeled the four quadrants Choleric (yellow bile), Melancholic (black bile), Sanguine (blood), and Phlegmatic (phlegm). He described these in terms of physical and emotional characteristics.

During my long dual-career path as both a licensed Family Therapist and a corporate training manager, I have come to firmly believe that success in life is to a very large extent dependent on the quality of relationships one is able to establish. Notice I did not say the quantity of relationships. Relationships that are founded upon real emotional connections, and backed up with integrity, tend to last for a very long time. On the other hand, relationships begun simply due to convenience or proximity, like the “friends forever” from summer camp that you have never seen again, don’t really matter very much.

If you hope to build high-quality relationships, you have to invest the energy to really understand people and you have to start with an objective understanding of yourself. And it’s not as simple or intuitive as you may think. You must be open-minded and teachable in order to discover things about yourself you might not know.

Making good relationship choices starts with clarity about your primary needs, wants, and natural preferences. Some people want a partner with whom they can build a community-based home life and family. Others want someone who is adventurous and lives for the moment. Some want a person who loves to discuss deeply complex and intellectual matters. Others are seeking the deepest levels of soul bonding.

Let us talk about relationships and the factors that make things last. There are countless dating services available for the public. Some of these services are astonishingly expensive and some are free. Much of the research from the past 50 years shows that compatibility is the leading factor for predicting success in relationships. Simply speaking, that means finding someone with whom you are genuinely comfortable spending your time. Following personality, next in importance is interests, and then things such as religion, politics, etc.

Research shows that we are born with 40 percent – 60 percent of our personalities already predetermined. The rest is developed by the habits and beliefs we form throughout life. Being with someone whose psychological make-up aligns comfortably with yours, and really likes who you are, significantly increases the chances that you will enjoy your lives together. I have created a simple tool called the Personal Tendencies Indicator (PTI) that people may use to better understand themselves. However, any tool can be beneficial. Whether it is something complex and costly, like the Meyers-Briggs, or something simpler, like Social Styles, the benefits can be impressive. Once you become clear about your own personal make-up you will have an improved understanding of what compatibility means for you, individually.

With the you part of the equation clearly understood, you will have a powerful basis for evaluating a relationship’s potential. In addition to being clear on what your personal tendencies are, you will be able to better assess whether or not you will be compatible with another person.

My greatest hope is that I can help some people avoid getting involved in the wrong relationship and thereby avoid all the misery and peripheral harm that comes from them.

Start by becoming clear and up-to-date with the YOU portion of the equation. With that accomplished you will be ready to move ahead with an objective and open mind.

This is foundational for the skills you will need to find a nourishing and long-lasting relationship.