Some of My Favourite Relationship Resources

What are some of the most life-changing books and resources I’ve encountered in the past 25+ years of my personal growth and exploration journey?

It was very hard to narrow it down to just a few but here’s a start!

To be in healthy relationships, I think it’s essential that we have a healthy and loving relationship with self.  One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read on this is Susan Anderson’s book called “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing.”  She goes through the five stages of abandonment: Shattered, Withdrawal, Internalizing the Rejection, Rage and Lifting with a description of each and special exercises for healing.  I think everyone should read this book – whether or not you believe that you have experienced abandonment!  Her companion book “Taming Your Outer Child” is another keeper.  You will learn so much about self-sabotaging behaviour from this book.

Gary Chapman has written two very powerful books: “The 5 Love Languages” and “Love as a Way of Life.”  I encourage all my coaching clients to check out his 5 love languages so they can understand what theirs is, and the language of loved ones, whether it’s a spouse or a child.  When you understand your love language you can ask for what you need.  When you understand the love language of loved ones you can express your love in ways that are meaningful to them.  I think this is a real game-changer!  In “Love as a Way of Life” he talks about the qualities of being a loving person.  With descriptions and short assessments you can see if you walk the talk of being a loving person.  Again, a book that is very relevant to relationships

I learned about Alison Armstrong a few years ago from a male friend.  Since then, I have been to one of her “Queen’s Code” workshops, I’ve listened to audios, watched her videos and I’m a convert!  She has been studying men and women for over 25 years and she sees how women often expect men to behave like an ideal woman.  When they don’t women punish them and don’t honour who they are or what they are really good at.  I see this around me all the time and, through Alison’s work, I have learned skills and new understandings for really appreciating and connecting with men.  This is really important stuff!

Lastly, I really like a book by Daphne Rose Kingma called “Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours.”  She starts out with an examination of why breakups are so hard… and the overt and covert reasons we get into relationships.  The author doesn’t see ended relationships as “failures” but instead encourages readers to see them as opportunities for growth.  She offers a series of exercises to help with this process and to give closure.

I do customized coaching with my clients and I incorporate a lot of these resources.   It’s great to read books on relationships but it’s even more powerful working with a trained professional!

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Opening to Love

What does it mean to “open to love” and how is this different from how most people live their lives?

I think it would be safe to say that most of us have felt hurt, disappointment and perhaps even betrayal around love.  Our families may not have given us the love we craved.  We may have experienced painful breakups.  As a result, some people view love with fear and suspicion.  We may go through life with our hearts carefully guarded, waiting for one person to earn our trust so we can give him the key.  Although this strategy may work for some, I believe that living in this way limits the flow of love and results in isolation and unhappiness.

How would things be different if you saw love not as a feeling but as an action?  As a choice?  Gary Chapman in his book called “Love as a Way of Life” gives us seven qualities of loving people: forgiveness, tolerance, generosity, kindness, humility, courtesy and patience.  To be able to be truly loving toward others, we must be loving toward ourselves.  How do we need to forgive ourselves?  How can we be more patient and tolerant toward our imperfections?  When we hear the inner critic can we stop the voice and be kinder?

I invite you to take the risk of opening to love today and treating all you meet with love whether it’s a family member or a clerk in your local store – and especially yourself!

One of my favourite poems by Hafiz, a 14th Century Persian poet concerns a rose:

HOW DID THE ROSE?

How

did the rose

ever open its heart

and give to the world all of its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light against its being,

otherwise we all remain too

frightened.*

Becoming a more loving person with a open heart isn’t going to happen overnight, of course.  However, every great journey starts with a single step.  What step could you take today to become a more loving and open-hearted person?

* from “Love Poems from God” by Daniel Ladinsky page 161

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