Relationships is Charmaine Saunders’ sixth book. In it she aims to help you to
understand how stress works, how relationships work and how you can change
your life for the better. She doesn’t suggest that will have only trouble-free
relationships filled with nothing but joy. But you will be able to have relationships that are real,
healthy, and rewarding.
The chief aim of- Winning Relationships is to provide a blueprint to help you take an honest look
at yourself, the way you are are living and the quality of your relationships,
not only the close personal ones that bring you pleasure, those that confront
you as well. Both are equally valuable.
Online Price: $AU27.50
Number of pages:
Genre: Self Help
Publisher: Sally Milner Publishing Pty. Ltd.
Date Published: 2001
About the author
Charmaine Saunders holds a PhD in Social Psychology and is a practising counsellor and therapist in Western Australia.
She is also a university and TAFE lecturer, and runs community courses at various centres. Twice a week she presents a talkback-advice radio show on Triple M, Perth.
Dr Saunders brings to this book a wealth of life experience as well as extensive academic knowledge. She is a popular media
personality and has written many articles for newspapers and magazines, notably
a ‘Dear Charmaine’ column since 1984.
About the book
book is about winning relationships. That doesnt mean youll ever have
relationships which are easy, stress-free, continually joyful. What it does mean
is that you can have relationships which are real, healthy and rewarding. My aim
is to help you to understand how stress works in your life, how relationships
work and how you can change your life for the better.
have written five books previously, 4 of them about stress. Does this mean I am
a placid and relaxed person? No! I have had to fight the desire to stress out
all my life so the techniques and advice I offer are all from first -hand
experience. Everything in my work is about positive change and practical
self-help. I believe that each one of us has the power and strength to be happy
and successful and what I supply is simply the `how to part.
the chief aim of this book is to provide a blueprint with which you can take an
honest look at yourself, the way youre living your life and the quality of
your relationships. The tools I offer are applicable to all your relationships,
not just the close personal ones. Every one of us experiences many relationships
as go through a lifetime, some casual, some intense, some joyful, some painful.
There are people in our lives who seem to only bring us pleasure and others who
continually press our buttons and force us to confront our lessons. They are
both equally valuable.
more motivated you are to work through the ideas and suggestions contained
within the pages of this book, the greater will be your transformation and
progress. I wish you all that and much more. Travel this journey with me and
write to me about your life, your story and experiences. Many of my readers over
the past 15 years have written to me with feedback and its one of the
greatest gifts of my life. Writing is a lonely occupation but knowing that
people all over the world will read and benefit from my thoughts and words makes
it all worthwhile.
matters of love and the human heart, we are all seekers. Weve all been hurt
and weve all hurt others. The more we learn and grow, the less we feel the
pain of loneliness, isolation, regret, sadness, anxiety and conflict.
are encouraged to write to me at Box 637, Subiaco, Western Australia 6904 or on
email to <email@example.com>. My phone number is 61-0894873014
write this book with love and joy as I try to do everything. I hope you will
feel the same reading it.
THE NATURE OF STRESS.
We all hear so much about `stress today. Is it an invention of the late 20th century or do we simply make more of a fuss over it? Certainly, we can create even more stress by focussing on it too much and the truth is that stress is in fact not a bad thing. It only becomes `bad if we allow ourselves to live with too much of it or if we handle it poorly.
Stress is in itself necessary and even helpful to human life. The problems start when we get hooked on the negative effects of stress like pressure, rushing, anger, frustration, overachieving, obsessiveness, workaholism, perfectionism and control. These will all be looked at in later chapters but my plan is to examine in this first chapter some of the general issues surrounding stress before we apply them to the specific area of relationships.
Lets face it – some of us are naturally `stress-merchants who are easily harassed and want everything done yesterday and perfectly, while others can come face to face with a howling hurricane and shrug philosophically. It comes with the genes and whilst our basic natures are about the only thing we cannot change, the very fact of our awareness enables us to modify our behaviour and make healthy adjustments. For example, if you know that youre a naturally stressful person, you might want to adapt your lifestyle to suit your temperament. Some people get stressed if they have too much to do so cut back on non-essentials. Others have highly pressured jobs so they have to learn to delegate where possible and practise letting go at the end of the workday. Yet others have a lot of personal obligations and testing relationships; here, the skills of assertiveness and setting healthy boundaries will help a lot.
Knowledge is power so find out about yourself first and then plan around that. Also allow for family conditioning because if you came from a family background where stress was the norm, its quite likely that you will fall into the same trap as an adult. Identify your particular stress trap and change that first. It could be your job – is it wrong for you? do you have to work under stressful conditions? have you got a difficult boss or unpleasant co-workers? are the hours too long? do you have to travel a long way to get to work?
Is it your health? Health problems are a pretty accurate gauge of stress levels because long before you realise youre in stress overload, your body will start to break down in small or big ways depending on your general fitness. Is it your home or neighbourhood?
Is it your mental attitude and psychological state? Finally, is it your relationships, close or otherwise?
Even if you are not naturally stressful, just the fact that youre alive at this time in history will cause stress to you. We may not have discovered stress but we have certainly found many ways to make it far more complex and damaging. Instead of it working for us, it then works against us, and by far the most destructive factor about chronic stress is its insidious, subtle nature. It has a seductive quality that offers pleasure while its hurting you, makes you `high while youre absorbing all its negative energies. I make it sound almost human, dont I? Well, stress is highly personal and its comparable to the effect drugs have on addicts. It feels like your best friend but its robbing you of all discernment and discrimination.
Its the ongoing, habitual stress you need to beware of, not the occasional burst of pressure that happens to everyone from time to time. This is due to the reasons I mentioned in the previous paragraph – once it gets hold of you, you can be hooked for a long time before you even notice the harm its doing and then, you have to release yourself from its hold on you in the same way as you do with any other addiction.
I prefer to advocate prevention and all of my work with stress whether in books like this one, in classes and workshops or on radio and television, has to do with education for stress management as a part of overall lifestyle.
The first step is total honesty with yourself and taking stock of the stress in your life. If you feel that you yourself are living with acceptable levels of stress then look at the people, situations and events around you – are they being experienced at comfortable levels? Armed with this information, you can make a plan of action thats realistic and relatively easy. If your stress management plan is hard work, youve simply created another stress for yourself instead of alleviating pressure. Identify your main stress area and think of simple ways you can moderate the problem. Of course, sometimes, a radical approach is required as in the case of the wrong job. It may very well be necessary to leave employment that is affecting your health, for instance.
To help you decide if your stress levels are reasonable, here are some common stress symptoms for you to check off:
inexplicable aches and pains
low immunity to infection
loss of memory
loss of libido
breakdown of key relationships
If you feel that you are displaying quite a number of these symptoms. do not panic. Even a lifelong stress habit can be redressed. Heres what I suggest you do:
Take a long, hard look at your overall lifestyle
Identify your particular stress trap
Write down some small ways in which you can make positive improvements
Commit to a more balanced way of life
Lets take each one of these in turn.
1. Stress management is essentially life management. We each have 24 hours a day to live and adults have the choice of how to structure and spend those hours. It always amuses me when people say to me, `But there arent enough hours in a day. What would be enough? Busy people would say they need unlimited time and depressed people would say a day feels like ten years! Its all relative and in many ways, a rationalization for not getting things done. The secret is to use the 24 hours each day in a balanced way yet too much control is as bad as none. I prefer to use the word, `manage as it is gentler and less rigid. Balance certainly is a key factor as is time management. So, in examining the lifestyle you currently have, look at all its aspects – diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, relationships, work, money, home and any other details that relate to daily living. If youre ruthlessly honest, you will very quickly identify your weak spot and that leads to point 2 –
if your stress trap turns out to be a key relationship, you have to either let this person go out of your life or change your interaction pattern. This is a more difficult one than if its your old clanger of a car or the suburb you live in or an unsuitable job because those are relatively easy to change. Whatever it is, you must take the bull by the horn as it wont ever get better by itself; it can only ever get worse.