The Book: Introduction
This is the introduction to Connected:The Art of Building Relationships
The motivation for writing Connected: The Art of Building Relationships began with my realization that many people struggle with building and maintaining strong relationships in all facets of life.
Whether the issue is relationships with family members, co-workers, peers, or romantic relationships, many of us need help in learning how to be close to people.
Throughout this book I describe the value of intimacy, vulnerability, and passion in all types of relationships.
By the way, when I use terms like “intimate” and “passionate” some of you may have to remove your heads from the gutter. I am certainly not an expert on sex, and this is not another program on “how to enhance your sexual performance in eight easy steps!” When I refer to intimacy and passion, I am encouraging you to let go of your ego and control. Open your heart, and you will truly make joyful connections with people.
So many of us trudge through life reacting to situations and fears, missing out on countless joyful experiences. Far too many people are spending their lives reacting to their environments rather than creating them. Why?
Many people lack vulnerability, intimacy, and passion in their relationships.
As we grow, we give ourselves the opportunity to create a better reality for ourselves and connect with people in ways we may never have thought possible.
In writing this book, I have used numerous points of reference from my own life. I have been a counselor for people battling alcohol and drug abuse for over twenty years. I have seen the destruction of families and relationships as a result of this terrible problem first hand. Although this is my professional experience, the scope of this book is much broader. I may refer to situations I have dealt with professionally in order to illustrate certain points. Please do not alienate yourself from these points even if you have never experienced these situations in your own life. Your ability to think about, feel, and relate to the emotions involved is far more important than having the actual personal experience.
Another major frame of reference is my experience with my own family. I will spend some time describing my relationship with my wife and how it developed. It is a great example of letting down walls and connecting with another spiritual being on all levels. I am extremely grateful to my wife for her patience with me as I went through the process of removing my fear and tapping into my inner passion and love.
Being a parent is another major point of reference. Through working with other parents over the past twenty years, I have learned a lot about how to positively demonstrate my love as a father. My daughter, by being herself, has helped me to remain in a place of curiosity, passion, and joy.
Finally, my relationship with my in-laws provides another major point of reference. For the thirteen years I have been married, we have lived next door to my wife’s parents and grown close as a family. Through our experiences together, I have been able to learn a true definition of family and how this particular connection is one key to a successful and passionate life. These are not my only frames of reference, but they are certainly the primary ones.
This book will answer some questions that are extremely important to creating strong relationships. Most of us are on an unending existential search to find meaning and purpose in our life, and I want to share some simple ways to improve the quality of our lives. As we search for ways to define ourselves, we may attempt to find meaning through our work, through our possessions, through the performance of our children or through our marriages and romances.
There is no doubt that we ultimately define ourselves by our relationships.
It would be difficult to define ourselves without the reflection we receive through those around us. It is vitally important to determine whether our closest relationships challenge us to be better people. No matter how close the relationship, those we spend time with should create an enhanced sense of self. Any relationship worth maintaining should enhance our lives. Whether it’s your mother, brother, cousin, boyfriend, girlfriend or your mechanic, your relationships should provide you with joy.
How is this possible? Begin with an in-depth look at some fundamental belief systems and perspectives. The process continues by being able to identify different types of relationships and our roles in them. Finally, it concludes we are in a state of perpetual growth and possess the ability to change any factors in our lives that stop us from being vulnerable, intimate, and passionate.
This is a fun and exciting journey. No one has to do this alone. Let’s get started and build a more joyful and passionate life!