Excerpt from Making the Most of Your Relationships: How to Find Satisfaction and Intimacy with Family and Friends
Getting the Most from this Book
Books can be read for entertainment, or for instruction, which includes personal development. Being a self-help book this is a cross between instruction and self-development. Its main purpose is to help you build relationships. Here are some hints to help you get the most out of the book.
APPLYING WHAT YOU READ
Throughout the book keep asking yourself, ‘How does this apply to me, to my situation?’ In this way you will read with under-standing and purpose. Indeed without this self-application it is unlikely that what you read will make much lasting impression. As a writer I have to try to develop a relationship with you, the reader, in much the same way that any relationship is established and maintained. As you ask yourself ‘How does this apply to me, to my situation?’ you are reaching out to me, and listening to what I have to say; trying to understand why I have said some-thing in this particular way. The relationship between writer and reader is imperfect, because it is one-way; I cannot hear what you have to say, there is no feedback. However, taking that limitation into account, there are several things you can do to enhance what you read.
CHALLENGING WHAT YOU READ
Do not take everything I say as gospel. Challenge it. Criticise it. Say, ‘This is not for me.’ But don’t reject it out of hand. Think through why you are discarding it:
- Does what I say challenge you too much?
- Do you find it offensive, if so, why?
- Does it not apply to your situation?
- If it doesn’t apply fully, does it in part?
- How could you adapt what I have said so that it is more perti-nent to you and your situation?
- If you and I could have a conversation, what would you want to say to me on that particular issue?
One way you can make up for this lack of contact with me is to write it down, or even record it on tape. In this way you will add to your self-awareness, and if in so doing your relationships with other people become more satisfying, then your work has been worthwhile.
TAKING TIME TO ABSORB THE IDEAS
If you were reading a novel you would probably read through each chapter fairly rapidly, moving forward, eager to find out what the principal character was up to next. Certainly you may do this with this book, but you are the principal character, not me, not the hand-some, rich Lord Wellbethought, who is intent on capturing the love of the ravishing beauty. Just as a clever novelist develops the charac-ter gradually – you don’t learn everything about him in the first chapter – so with this book. The book is progressive, and in this way your understanding will develop gradually. Take time to absorb the material.
CHECKING YOUR UNDERSTANDING FREQUENTLY
When you reach the end of a chapter ask yourself, ‘What did I learn from that? What lessons can I take with me into the next chapter? What lessons can I take with me into the world of relationships? How can I adapt this to my situation?’
Work through the exercises and case studies
Take time to work through the exercises. Then think how you might apply the principles. Examine the case studies and think how they apply, or do not apply, to you.
MAKE NOTES OF IDEAS
Read with a notebook to hand to record anything that appeals to you. You may want to mark something for further study. Some people hate making notes on a book, but a tiny number in the margin will guide your eye to a reference. Treat the book as a study guide or workbook. Devote space to recording your self-observations. Be specific. But be cautious; if you are writing about other people, or even about yourself, do you want other people to have access to what you write? If not, then keep your writing safe from prying eyes. Even the most trusted of people may be consumed by curiosity about what you are writing. On the other hand, being open about what you are writing, with the proviso that it is private, might be enough to avert curious eyes prying into your inner thoughts. One of the advantages of such a record is that you can look back on it and see the progress you have made. As an author I find it necessary to read and reread what I have written, for by the time several chapters have been written the details of the first few are sometimes vague. That is why you might find it helpful to mark issues for review.
APPROACHING CHANGE GRADUALLY
Not everything in this, or any other, self-help book can be absorbed and put to use all at once. Remember, change takes place little by little. Be like a tree; let your leaves burst out slowly at the correct time. Given the right atmosphere you, too, will flourish. You have to create the atmosphere that encourages change.
This book can be a stimulus; it cannot create change. If there are things in your life you want to alter, then only you can do it. This book will encourage you to challenge the way you do things, the way you are. The rest is up to you. It one of your relationship traits is to heavily criticise, you have to determine to change that by trying to understand rather than criticise. If you find yourself con-stantly judging other people, then you can change that by trying to see things through their eyes. It your competitive spirit brings you into conflict with people, learning to be co-operative might be what will make a difference for you.
Listen to the underlying message
This book is not so much about absorbing information as hearing the underlying message. Just as a handful of people can look out of the same window and see something different, so no two people will hear the same message contained in this book. That is one of the things that will make the reading of this book exciting, discovering what you can take from the book to help you.