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10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships
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This is a list of the top 10 books that I recommend to clients, both in individual and couples counseling.  Each one provides a unique way to better understand who you are and how you typically act within relationships.  You don’t have to be in a relationship for these books to be helpful; in fact, if you read these books before you get into a relationship, you’re much likelier to attract the right person. Even more importantly, you’ll know ways to stay happy and connected once you find the person for you.

1. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition
     by Harville Hendrix.

    getting the love you want

      This book is truly life-changing.  You will finally understand why you picked your partner, even though they often trigger you and may seem like the worst possible choice for you on many levels. Hint: it has to do with repeating familiar patterns from your childhood.  There are wonderful exercises as well, for you and your partner to do together to make you feel closer.

      2. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
         by Dr. Sue Johnson

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        hold me tight

          Another worldview changer. This book discusses the concept of attachment panic,which explains why you may feel so anxious and off-balance when your partner withdraws or acts distant.  This is a completely normal response for human beings, and Dr. Johnson explains how you and your partner can get out of this “dance” of closeness-withdrawal and genuinely connect on a level you did not think was possible.

          3.Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage
             by Laurie Watson

            wanting sex again

              For couples who are struggling with one or both partners experiencing low sexual desire, this is a wonderful, resource-filled book that provides education, clinical examples, and practical ways to jumpstart a fulfilling physical relationship.  Whether your decreased desire stems from boredom, deep seated hurt and lack of trust, or biological reasons, this book can provide you with new hope.

              4. The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You
                 by Elaine Aron

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                hsp in love

                  Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?  Do you need your alone time, hate chaos and loud noise, and feel overwhelmed and stressed when your routine is disrupted?  Whether you are partnered with another HSP or someone who constantly feels that you’re “making a big deal out of nothing” and entreats you to “just go with the flow,” you need this book.  It can help you learn to get the most out of your intimate relationships, while being true to yourself and your needs.

                  5. The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov

                  adhd effect on marriage

                    Since ADHD affects 4 percent of adults, there are many readers out there who want to learn how to deal with this issue within their relationships.  Even if you just suspect your partner may have ADHD, read this book. For spouses of individuals with ADHD, this book can save your sanity.  Finally you see that it’s not just you being hyper-critical; ADHD truly has a devastating impact on marriages if partners do not work together to ameliorate some of its effects.  Also discusses the phenomenon of the hyper-focused courtship, where someone with ADHD becomes focused on the relationship to the exclusion of all else, which feels great for the partner.  Soon after marriage though, focus often switches to something else, and the partner feels bereft. Sound familiar?  Get the book.

                      6. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
                         by Gary Chapman

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                        5 love languages

                          This classic book explain how have partners often  different “love languages,” which means that what is meaningful and loving to one may not what is valued by the other.  It’s wasted effort and harmful to your relationship if you keep giving someone what they don’t want, e.g. planning surprises for a guy who prefers affectionate touch, or doing the dishes for a woman who would rather hear verbal expressions of love.  This book helps you figure out your love language and that of your partner, and how to use this idea to create a closer connection.

                          7. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last
                             by John Gottman

                            why marriages succeed

                              John Gottman is one of the most respected and renowned relationship researchers of our time.  In this book, he guides you through figuring out what you’re doing right and wrong within your marriage, using self-tests (do you love quizzes?  I do) and straightforward advice.  This book is science-based yet easy to understand, and will give you concrete advice to help your relationship thrive.

                              8. The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love by Ty Tashiro

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                                science of happily ever after

                                  Ty Tashiro was a professor on my dissertation committee!  And even if he hadn’t been, I would have loved reading his acccessible, yet research-based book about why we pick our partners.  He discusses why our decision making abilities, so effective in other realms of life, often lead us astray in the area of choosing a partner, and what we can do about this.  And he’s funny too. Singles will have a special preference for this book, because they are still in the choosing-a-partner process.

                                  9. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

                                    Why do people eventually stop connecting physically and romantically after a few years or so of being together?  I am coining the word monotogamy to refer to this phenomenon, and although Esther Perel doesn’t mention this word (because I invented it yesterday), she has written a fascinating, un-put-downable book rife with clinical examples that show why relationships fall into a stale and boring pattern, with creative solutions to rekindling your desire.

                                    mating in captivity

                                      10. Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love
                                         by Dorothy Tennov

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                                        love and limerence

                                          Did you know that evolutionarily, we are only expected to remain passionate about our lover (the feeling of infatuation or limerence) for two years, so that the couple can stay together long enough to conceive a baby and raise it for it’s first year of life?  We are wired to become virtually obsessed with new partners, particularly when it’s uncertain whether they reciprocate our feelings.  This is truly an eye-opening read about why people become so infatuated with their crushes and new partners.  It was published in 1979, but has become a classic and is just as relevant today.

                                          Featured photo credit: Couple Reading Books via pagesay.com

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                                          Samantha Rodman

                                          Clinical psychologist, author, blogger, wife and mommy.

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                                          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                                          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                                          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                                          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                                          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                                          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                                          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                                          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                                          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                                          Warming up

                                          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                                          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                                          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                                          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                                          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                                          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                                          Stay hydrated

                                          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                                          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                                          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                                          Meditate

                                          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                                          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                                          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                                          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                                          2. Focus on your goal

                                          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                                          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                                          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                                          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                                          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                                          3. Convert negativity to positivity

                                          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                                          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                                          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                                          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                                          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                                          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                                          4. Understand your content

                                          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                                          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                                          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                                          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                                          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                                          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                                          5. Practice makes perfect

                                          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                                          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                                          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                                          6. Be authentic

                                          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                                          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                                          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                                          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                                          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                                          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                                          7. Post speech evaluation

                                          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                                          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                                          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                                          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                                          Improve your next speech

                                          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                                          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                                          • How did I do?
                                          • Are there any areas for improvement?
                                          • Did I sound or look stressed?
                                          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                                          • Was I saying “um” too often?
                                          • How was the flow of the speech?

                                          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                                          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                                          Reference

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