I was absolutely captivated by the subject matter of this book because I fall into the category of defining myself by what I should, ought, and must do to make my relationships perfect. I need to be needed. But Andrus tells us that if we make a conscious decision to live a life based on our own goals of commitment and justice rather than fulfilling others' needs, we might free ourselves of the burden of neediness in others and be more productive. And then, just possibly, we might meet the needs of others without being bound to their expectations. What a concept!
The author's motivation for writing this book apparently comes from seeing so many unhappy people, including herself, whose struggles involve obstacles in their relationships. She offers insights gained through her experiences as a Buddhist, wife, mother, friend, psychologist, and ex-wife. She recommends using the Buddhist principles, journaling, artistic expression, and discussions with trusted friends.
Some of her recommendations:
- Seeing others' lives as an extension of ourselves and appreciating the experiences they bring us instead of judging, blaming or criticizing them.
- Realizing there is a connectedness of all living and non-living beings, whether we are a mountain, a star, a snake, or a human.
- Bearing in mind that there is sanctity to life, and we must have a relationship with ourselves based upon acceptance, appreciation and genuine love.
- Taking responsibility for our feelings and doing whatever it takes to change ourselves, not others.
- Embracing conflict not as an experience to be avoided but rather a positive force for change.
- Choosing a communication style that will influence the response we receive because other people mirror our lives, and we attract certain types of people through our beliefs, thoughts, and actions.
- Accepting another person's views or changing ours in order to reach a common goal.
Andrus wants us to remember that when we make an effort to understand another person's perspective, we can experience peace. And because we are human, and not perfect, we can neither intentionally please nor displease someone else.
Good advice: We are the only ones responsible for bringing harmony into our lives. Better advice: Read this book to reinforce your relationship skills.
Susan Andrus is a writer, educator, school psychologist, and publisher. She currently teaches writing at Christopher Newport University.
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