This brief article shows how we neglect our relationships and clarifies the utter importance of relationships . . . while explaining a powerful strategy for getting the most of all your relationships and mining the gold within each and every relationship in your life.
Please let me say from the beginning that I am a relationship specialist, and I have done relationship therapy and coaching for almost thirty years. Now, I want you to know that a few years ago I suffered a near death experience (NDE), in which I learned just how essential relationships truly are to all of us . . . even more essential than I had dreamed!
This article will detail one of the insights I gained from my tragic but extremely helpful NDE, along with a perspective resulting from my long career as a relationship therapist.
How We Neglect Relationships
We don't mean to neglect our important relationships -- and they are all important! -- begins in our minds when we tell ourselves a fictional story. The story varies but goes something like this:
"A few of my relationships are important. I like some people in my family, and I have close friends and colleagues . . . but I don't have time to take an interest in many of the people in my life. And I have no patience for problems that may occur in my relationships."
Now when things go wrong, such as having an argument with a family member, we often think thoughts like these:
"To heck with him, I don't have time for any grief, if he wants to get mad at me, let him! I won't speak to him for years . . . I'll pretend like he doesn't exist. I don't want any part of my brother because he's an idiot! If he calls me again, I simply will not answer the phone!"
Another way we neglect relationships is simply to spend very little time getting to know people, and not taking an interest in more distant family members or friends, or to forget about people and just concentrate on ourselves.
A Case In Point
About a decade ago, a family member I hardly knew came to see me. He brought his wife and we had dinner together. Before he left I promised I'd go and visit him at his house very soon.
Well, I got busy and didn't go . . . his wife died a few months later.
Then I heard he was struggling to keep his interest in living, and I told myself I'd go and cheer him up. But I got busy and guess what? I didn't go.
He died a few weeks later.
Ever since then, I have been angry with myself. Oh, how I wish I had taken more of an interest in him. He seemed so interesting, and so wonderful, yet I had no time for this man, a member of my extended family, who had always lived just under my radar.
Sadly, I squandered an opportunity that will never come again. He's gone. She's gone. And I didn't even take the time to go to him in his hour of need.
What a jerk . . . I was!
Now, I would give anything to have another chance to be there for that wonderful couple. At this man's funeral, I discovered something I didn't know about him. I learned he and I were members of the same fraternity . . . a secret no one in the family had realized.
I was stunned to learn that he and I had held strikingly similar views on many things, that he and I were brothers in many senses of the word, and yet my stupidity had kept me from getting to know him and becoming his friend and ally.
What an incredible opportunity I missed. What kinds of things might we have done together? What a great relationship this might have been for both of us!
I am loathe to admit this, but this is only one tragic story of its kind in my life. Now, I can hardly believe I was like that . . . or I had made such foolish decisions . . . how blind I have been.
There are countless ways to neglect or tear down our relationships, and it never pays . . . it's always foolhardy! Every single relationship in your life is like a bank account with all kinds of deposits in it.
Neglect a relationship, and you lose. Along with many other people. The ripples go out for a long ways when we toss a pebble into the ocean of human relationships. And those ripples touch so many lives in so many ways.
Before my NDE, I made lots of assumptions about my relationships and took them for granted. I made very little effort to go out of my way for anyone, unless it benefitted me in some fashion. How sad . . . how short-sighted!
But after my NDE, I try to take every opportunity to see the beauty in people, and to explore my relationships, and ultimately to mine the gold that lies dormant within each and every one. And, believe me, there is unseen gold in all of them!
Now I see relationship problems in a new light: all problems are worth solving! Your relationships are worth the effort. Taking the easy way out will only hurt you, in the end, and detract from your happiness . . . and peace of mind.
A Powerful Strategy For Mining Your Relationships
Every relationship in your life has a hidden gift for you, waiting in its hands. Sometimes the gift amounts to an important life lesson and other times it may be a chance at shared joy and comradeship. In other situations, it may be a material blessing. You never know. Why not begin to cash in on those gifts in more proactive ways?
Do a little relationship inventory and examine each relationship, good and bad, in your life, and ask yourself what you could do to advance each one to a higher level.
Then go out and do it . . . one relationship at a time. Communicate. Open some new doors. Open your heart to newfound happiness. Love people with more of your heart. Give more of yourself.
While you're at it, be sure to remember and use this knowledge . . . The greatest gift of all is the one you can give someone. Your support and encouragement may make all the difference to someone in your life. Communicate with people. Connect with them. Give of yourself to all your relationships and the world of happiness and joy will open to you. Devote a little time to a relationship you may have neglected or never quite appreciated, and great things are sure to happen. Greater happiness and success will be yours.
Richard Hamon is a dynamic coach and therapist with 30 years of professional experience. Richard helps people to solve their relationship problems, enjoy truly extraordinary marriages and find exceptional success in all areas of their lives.
You'll find all kinds of articles on how to spice up your relationships and lead a happier life at Richard's website, Happy-Relationships.com. Find out about personal coaching programs to assist you in quickly reaching your loftiest goals. Discover eBooks, relaxation CDs and other informative products, such as a free relationship quiz to help you assess your relationship.
For more information on conducting state-of-the-art relationships, the latest research on true happiness, and Richard's products and services, please go to: http://happy-relationships.com