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If you stuck it out with me from the start of this series, congratulations for staying the course!

If not, may I please ask, as I have before to latecomers, for you start at the beginning of it and read the back entries in order till you get here—it well may change your life.

I believe human relationships to be both the strongest force and the most vulnerable force in the universe. Most people will get the vulnerable part of it, but the strongest? That is saying something, if you consider the power of gravity and space/time. Why is that? Well, as far as we know, we are the only species in the universe who laughs when we are amused, who cries when we are sad, who forgives when we are wronged, who plots, spins, dreams and connives; because of an extraordinary tool we developed (or was given to us, depending on your preference) called language. Through that, through our perceptions, our thoughts, our feelings and our subsequent actions we create something extraordinary. This thing is of endless variety, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, and sometimes heartbreakingly ugly. It is an ongoing daily dance between us and any other human with whom we are in contact.

Yet, there is a big problem with the dancers. None of us are really taught the right steps of this dance, or how to break free from poor choreography. We learned the dance from our parents, teachers and friends, standing on their feet as they went through its moves. We also learned it from our enemies and our foes. All of them—teachers, parents, friends and foe—in their intentional or unintentional teaching drew from their own experience. That experience invariably was tainted with wounds from their own past and with the flawed teachings of all those who that had taught them.

I attempted, with this blog series, to show you how to undo that.

Let’s remember that we are responsible for what happens in our relationships. Let’s be consoled that nobody escapes the breaking down of things. Let’s be reassured of our power to decreasing the damage of being broken down, and of our power in building something beautiful out of ashes. Let’s remind ourselves that if we look for them, we will find many, many gifts given every day just for us. Let’s be heartened that if take these gifts, soon we would not be able to help ourselves; soon we must start giving because we are so full, that we simply overflow.

The following ten rules about this beautiful, fragile, dynamic dance with others—when I follow them—
fulfill me sufficiently for every day of my life:

  1. Other people are not responsible for my feelings.
  2. Other people are not responsible for my actions.
  3. I cannot change other people, only me.
  4. Bad things are never personal.
  5. The centre does not hold: good things always break down, beauty always fade, thrills always dull.
  6. Good, beautiful and exciting relationships require ongoing work to not break down.
  7. I have immense, almost infinite, capacity to keep my relationships in good shape and improve them.
  8. There is always something good that comes out of something bad. It is my job to find that good and focus on that, instead of on the brokenness and the damage.
  9. Gratitude is the glue of happiness.
  10. I strive to give for the sake of giving, not for the sake of receiving.

It is my very fond hope that you will be inspired by this blog series to believe that you can create and maintain the most wonderful, warm and lasting relationships with whomever you choose.

Please, please believe that.

Then roll up your sleeves and start working. Sooner than you may imagine, you will note increasing and ongoing happiness, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you whom you love and care about (even those who used to be your adversaries).

Dr. Strauss l Wellness Lead
Follow me on Twitter @DrPieterStrauss