Good friendships help us through the trials of life and provide company and entertainment. However, many people need help either in forming new friendships or in enhancing existing ones. Shyness or other difficulties can interfere with our ability to form rewarding relationships. The good news is that the art of friendship can be learned, and loneliness does not have to be with us for ever.
This book looks at blocks that may prevent people from forming warm, close relationships, and suggests ways in which you really can turn strangers into friends. Subjects covered include:
personality and longterm loneliness
why we need close relationships
how friendships form and what may prevent them from doing so
improving listening skills and using body language effectively
how to protect yourself and establish good barriers
dealing with negative emotions such as anger, both in yourself and in others
seeking romantic relationships.
Sheldon Press £7.99
A book that puts back what "self-help" takes away, 7 Mar 2007 Amazon.co.uk
Reviewer: Ross (Scotland)
My own personal battle has been with depression, anxiety and making and maintaining relationships - friends, girlfriends, colleagues and parents have all been shapeless battlegrounds and sources of much discomfort and confusion for as long as I can remember despite throwing everything I have within in me (and my bank account) at the problem. I have sunk a small fortune into a mountain of self-help opuses since 2002, carrying out the exercises, worksheets, plans and mood diaries conscientiously - yet the same problems have always remained. All the visualisation, self-hypnosis, rapport techniques and silly affirmations in the world weren't cracking what felt like something totally fundamentally wrong with me.
OVERCOMING LONELINESS finally approaches the subject from an angle that has been sadly lacking in self help for all too long - the Human Dimension. In my library right now I have over 80 self help works, including all the big and much vaunted names you might expect from this field. That Csoti's experience is primarily as a secondary-level teacher is telling for me. The truth is, so many of the psychology professors and hi-charisma motivational gurus out there that generate volumes of theory and 'social techniques' miss the key point - that relationships are just that: RELATIONSHIPS - the way that two entities interact and enrich (or not) and FEEL towards one another. Csoti approaches the subject in a wonderfully refreshing way and provided me with something that I have been looking for for years: The rulebook of roles and principles that we must fulfill and observe if we are to get on with each other. If we are not connecting with colleagues or friends, chucking out one of the quick rapport techniques that self help is so often based around is of little long term benefit. It is cold, often perceived as weird by the recipient and its use keeps ones focus away from where it should be: The other person.
OVERCOMING LONELINESS helps you to understand how and why the other person feels, and hence reacts, as they do as a result of your behaviours. Csoti also writes very therapeutically and offers a great deal of support, making you question negative beliefs and soothing you at the same time as giving genuinely helpful advice on how to appreciate and handle both the important and not-so-important people in your life.
Csoti helps you to seek your own definition of loneliness and friendship and goes on to detail the fundamental roles and rules of personal relationships. Most importantly for me, she points out the common personality quirks and behavioural pitfalls that can land us in hot water, and ultimately lead to broken or diminished relationships.
I would like to see the author expand upon this work with a book entirely written for a MALE with emotional and relationship issues - something which she frequently acknowledges as being different from the female experience and which I feel is largely unaddressed in the current available literature.
This volume has been like someone flicking a lightswitch in so many dark corners for me.
The Woman Writer June 2006
'This is one of many practical texts in Sheldon Press's series Overcoming Common Problems. The author has been a secondary schoolteacher and houseparent and clearly understands the difficulties that can confront people of any age or sex in today's world. As she points out, good friendships are important in life. They help us cope with unavoidable upsets and they provide company, support and shared enjoyment.
'But many people need help in making and keeping friends. Loneliness and isolation are common modern problems. This book examines the concepts and rules of romance, the emotional blocks that can derail relationships and how to develop effective communication skills. It tackles difficulties such as depression, phobias and panic attacks that can act as barriers to friendship and suggests coping strategies.
'I particularly like Marianna's suggestion of creating an imaginary garden. "To help with feelings of desolation imagine your social contacts as a garden." Trees could represent family family to give shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. Evergreens could be close friends who give support all year round, perennials more distant friends, met only occasionally. "Keep your garden pretty and healthy so that it is visited by birds, bees and butterflies. If you provide the right conditions, your garden will thrive as your relationships."
'This is an excellent and readable book, full of constructive advice, with a sensible index, suggestions for further reading and a list of useful organisations.'
At last, a self help book that truly helps, 13 May 2009 Amazon.co.uk
By It's getting better all the time (Midlands, UK)
Like the previous reviewer I too have read many self help books in the past as I've always had problems forging close relationships of any kind, because of neglect during my infancy. Sometimes I find self help books upsetting - they go into great detail describing problems that I identify with, perhaps explaining why we have the problems we have. Books like that merely cause more regret for the past, bitterness at my upbringing and despair and not being able to turn back time and undo the damage.
This book is different. It is beautifully written and takes all the hurt and blame out of what is going on when relationships don't work. It just very clearly states where we may have been going wrong and the effect we're having on other people and most importantly, what to do differently in the future to get a different outcome.
Other books often make me feel as if I missed out on so much crucial parenting at an early stage of life that nothing I do now can alter the way I am. This book changed my view about this and gives me hope that I can be different. This book clearly states in clear non-judgmental language that everyone can be lonely at times and it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with us and is nothing to be ashamed of. She says that loneliness and lack of friends can itself make us feel unworthy and not deserving of love and friendship, this in itself is a normal reaction to lack of positive feedback from other people and can be overcome. If we have attitudes that are unhelpful (and she says what they are) we can adjust them, if it's something we've unwittingly been doing, we can change it and if we lack skills, we can learn them. She outlines the rules that relationships are built on (and that most people were lucky enough to have been taught from birth).
Before reading this book I'd always felt like an outsider looking in. I've always felt that other people are working from a position of knowing more than I do and that I've been trying to play a game without having the rules explained. To those who learned these rules when they should they would probably laugh that a grown person should have to be told these. And it would be funny if it were not true. Now I know that I'm not the only one that feels this way.
If any of what I've said resonates with you, then buy this book and experience the differences it can bring to your life.