“We all confront challenges in our relationships. Whether with spouses, lovers, partners, children, parents, friends, or co-workers, relationships have the power to make us happy or intensely miserable. This book explains how to truly understand how we relate to each other and what we need to know to create and sustain outstanding relationships.
The reader of this book is a wife or a husband interested in a happy marriage; a professional who wants to better understand her clients; an executive who needs to relate better to a business partner; parents who wish to relate better to their children and to teach them how to relate to others; adult children who need to deal with difficult parents; single people who want to find love that is reciprocated; and teachers who want to help students to be smart about their relationships.
With this book, I am reaching out to readers who are not trained in any of the helping professions, and making the knowledge I have gained as a professional over many years available to everyone.
I believe in free will, but I also believe that each of us is embedded in a system of relationships that has a mind of its own. That is, each of us is a free spirit with infinite possibilities, yet we all live under the constraints of the relationships with those we love and those we need to collaborate with.
This book will elucidate some of the traps we fall into when we negotiate the space between our free will and our relationships. We all have our own personalities and points of view, but the moment we become part of something bigger—a relationship—that entity takes on its own “personality” with its own dynamic and “rules.”
In this book you will learn how to understand your relationship with your partner, your children, your colleagues, your friends. I will also give you tools for change and show you how to increase passion—not just sexual or erotic passion, but vitality, enthusiasm, joy. We have all had the experience of thinking that we truly understand another person.
If the model we have constructed of the person we live with has served us well for some time, we tend to believe that we know who that person really is. But sooner or later our companion does something unexpected. It can be shocking, and we might initially think that the person has changed, but that’s rarely the case.
The other person has merely shown an aspect we had not incorporated into our model, because no prior situation had brought it to our attention. The other we know is not the other as he or she is, but a model we have constructed on the basis of our own experience.
We tell ourselves stories about who we are and who other people are—stories that are constructed through our own points of view and the way we see the world and our relationships. When the other person doesn’t fit our story, we can be shocked, disappointed, and angry, questioning whether we ever truly knew this person.
The same thing happens to our model of, for instance, the planetary system or the universe. When a model works well and provides useful answers, it comes to be considered as a true description of reality. But sooner or later something incompatible is observed, a recession of Mercury or a beam of light that does not follow a straight line.
Such observations constitute constraints that no longer fit the accepted model and that make it unviable. Eventually a new model is constructed that fits the new observations. This book will provide new models for understanding relationships and new strategies for improving them.
This book is filled with simple step-by-step procedures and examples to help you understand whomever you are interacting with as well as to understand yourself; to connect with others; to resolve conflicts; and to create outstanding relationships in every area of your life.
In the Workbook section at the back of this book, you will find exercises designed to help you put these relationship skills into practice. Some of my objectives are:
• To encourage you to deliberately and purposefully control your behavior, rather than be controlled by others or by uncontrollable impulses.
• To encourage you to recognize that you are not passive, that you are in control of your body and mind, so that you are not subject to unpleasant or unproductive thinking. I want you to feel empowered by this recognition.
• To help you control violence and anger—of all the actions and emotions to be controlled, these are the most important.
• To develop your empathy so you can be more intelligent and fair in relationships. This book will help you to gain a more accurate understanding of someone else’s point of view and, ultimately, to better understand human nature and human suffering. This will enable you to be a better relationship partner and a more compassionate, kinder person.
• To encourage hope (a situation can only be resolved if it is not seen as hopeless) and humor (which is what makes the human condition bearable).
• To promote tolerance and compassion so that you can live within your family and your community.
• To encourage forgiveness and kindness as the only ways to live in relationships.
• To promote harmony and balance within you as an individual and in your relationships.
• To harness and direct your enthusiasm for what is truly important….”