Yes, Best and Self-Help can co-exist in the same sentence. So can SELF-help and Relationship. When it comes to our love relationships, the stronger and healthier we each are as an individual, the better partner we can be.
So, guess what? It is all about YOU. Take a look inside and grow personally and your relationship will too. A bit scary? Take heart. You are not alone. In fact, you are better off navigating the path with others. All of us have to figure out our individual place in life as we journey from childhood to adulthood. No one individual can evolve without information and feedback from outside sources. We need others to help us see ourselves better. Others are mirrors showing us what we cannot see without their reflection. These may be paid professionals, trusted friends, bosses or mentors. Sometimes our best mirrors are people who drive us crazy - even strangers or acquaintances.
Often a qualified third party is necessary to help us see our blind spots and/or to help couples navigate some of the normal challenges in a relationship or marriage. A teacher, life coach, therapist, counselor, minister, mediator or other qualified person really can help couples reduce the emotional toll and improve the quality of their dialogue as they address issues - better than they could on their own. But, a mirror can also take the form of a book or seminar that we soak in and discover information we didn't know that we didn't know. Self-help is relationship-help.
These are my top 5 oldies-but-goodies that should not be forgotten and really can rock your world when you get stuck. And we ALL get stuck from time to time. They are listed as my Influencers on my website. There are many more good books, but these are an oasis in a dessert of the sappy self-help section.
1. Getting the Love You Want by Harville and Helen Hendrix One of Oprah's most successful Book Club books. Published in multiple languages world-wide. Be sure to get the workbook too. Hendrix shows us how we repeat patterns and bring the unconscious needs of what we long for from childhood and put unrealistic expectations on our partner. Tough nut to swallow, but it is a human condition. We all do it. To ignore it is to invite discord and conflict. And, Hendrix provides a solid path for a loving way out.
2. Self-Matters by Dr. Phil McGraw Yes, the Phil McGraw as in Dr. Phil. His ground-breaking book helps us identify and separate from the programming from our upbringing that is driving our current behavior unknowingly. Like Hendrix' approach, by separating the past from the present we are then finally free to create a new (aka better) future. The Pathways program is an intensive weekend program that was developed by Dr. Phil and his father.
3. Loving What Is by Byron Katie Having navigated her own breakdown and near suicide, Katie's survival drove her to create a revolutionary approach to dealing with overwhelm, sadness, tragedy and anxiety. Magical in its simplicity, it is easy to understand. And, of course, the challenge is in following it. Also, her website is full of great videos with Katie walking individuals through the process. It is very easy to relate to by witnessing others going through the same challenges.
4. The Breakthrough Experience by John Demartini
Especially useful to help resolve anger and upset with individuals or past events that still get us emotional or we can't let go of. While Dr. Demartini takes some pretty large leaps from physics and neurology to validate his approach - which is unnecessary, it is a practical and useful approach. Those with an intellectual bent will especially appreciate this book. The weekend experience is nothing short of powerful and life-changing; if you like the book, go spend a weekend with this master. Demartini is quirky and a bit out there, but he is beyond insightful. If you can get a few hours with him, he will change your life.
5. Getting Unstuck by Pema Chodron. The 20th Anniversary was just reprinted in 2016. A best seller then and now for good reason. Chodron is a Buddhist monk, but she has an ability to apply the wisdom of the philosophy without any attachment to the religion (pun intended!). Her writing is both eloquent and understandable, and her approach is amazingly practical.
Bonus: #6 Brene' Brown. A newer researcher and more mainstream than Demartini but just as eloquent. No doubt her volume of work will stand the test of time. Check out her TED talks. 18 minutes well worth your time.