Making Great Relationships Book Summary - Making Great Relationships Book explained in key points
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Making Great Relationships summary

Rick Hanson, PhD

Simple Practices for Solving Conflicts, Building Connection, and Fostering Love

4.5 (278 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Making Great Relationships by Rick Hanson, PhD is a self-help book that offers practical advice for building and maintaining healthy relationships. It emphasizes the importance of mindfulness, empathy, and effective communication in fostering connection and resolving conflicts.

Table of Contents

    Making Great Relationships
    Summary of 5 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 5

    Become your own best friend.

    You’ve probably heard the saying, It takes two to tango. Essentially, no one person is responsible for the health of their relationship with another. So you might be surprised to learn that all the changes, habits, and practices for building better relationships you’ll learn in this Blink are focused squarely on one person – you. 

    Here’s why: you can’t control the actions or behaviors of others. But changing the way you relate to the people in your life is entirely within your control. And it all starts with how you relate to yourself. In fact, this might be the most important relationship you’ll ever have.

    Imagine a time when you were a really supportive friend to someone who was having a hard time. What did you do for them? Perhaps you encouraged them, gently rebutted their self-critical talk, reminded them how special they are, and spent quality time with them. Doing all this for your friend probably didn’t even feel too difficult – it’s second nature to support our good friends when they need us.

    Now, imagine lavishing that kind of care, respect, and supportive encouragement on yourself. Does that seem just as easy? Probably not. But befriending yourself can actually allow you to build better relationships with others, too. 

    Ready to learn a few techniques that will help you be a better friend to yourself? Great, let’s begin.

    The first technique is about respecting your own needs. Often, we’re frustrated by our relationships because they’re not adequately meeting our needs. But encouraging others to meet your needs will be much easier once you also consciously try and meet your needs yourself. So try this exercise. Sit down with a blank piece of paper, and write two words at the top: 

    I need …

    Now, finish the sentence. What relationship-based need springs immediately to mind? Maybe you need your partner to pay you more compliments. That’s a valid need! Sit with that need for a minute. Does it go any deeper? How would having that need met make you feel? A compliment from your partner may give you a feeling of self-worth. More than the acknowledgment that your hair looks nice, this feeling of self-worth is what you’re really after. 

    Once you’ve identified this deep-down need, ask yourself if you could meet it without relying on other people. Perhaps at the end of every day you could reflect on what you did well, and take a moment to appreciate your own capabilities and talents. When your needs are met, your cup is filled; it’s powerful to realize that you can fill your cup yourself.

    Here’s another way to start becoming a resource to yourself: cultivate a calm centeredness. Even our best relationships can get rocky when we’re experiencing stress – maybe you’ve snapped at a friend after a poor night’s sleep or found yourself picking fights with your partner when a work deadline is looming. Feeling calm instead of stressed won’t magically solve any problems in your relationships. But it will help you put them in perspective and deal with them reasonably. 

    If you’re feeling stressed, here’s a quick fix: take a deep breath. Really. Breathe in for as long as you can. Then, as you breathe out, match the length of your exhale to the length of your inhale. Slowing your breathing actually activates your parasympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves that promotes feelings of ease and relaxation. Sometimes a deep breath is all you need to take you from boiling point to cool, calm, and collected. When relationship flashpoints are triggered – your parent is overly critical, or your partner is giving you the silent treatment yet again – practice breathing slowly, in and out, before you take any further steps. 

    Finally, let’s talk about forgiveness. Think about your friends. They’re all pretty great people, right? You wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t. But none of them are perfect. And when they make mistakes, you forgive them. So, guess what? Being a friend to yourself means learning to do something incredibly difficult – forgiving yourself when you inevitably make mistakes. 

    How are you going to do this? You’re going to train yourself to be self-forgiving. Now, this exercise might be uncomfortable at first. Think about a time when you were in the wrong. Start small – an unkind remark to a friend, perhaps. Now, relive that incident. Face up to the facts of what happened, and be especially attentive to those facts that make you feel the most uncomfortable. It’s time to own up to your wrongdoing. On a piece of paper, finish this sentence: 

    I am responsible for …

    Next, draw some parameters around your feelings of shame. Finish this sentence:

    I am not responsible for …

    Things you’re not responsible for might include ways in which others misinterpreted or overreacted to your actions. These things are outside your control.

    Wrap up the exercise by acknowledging the ways in which you have made amends for your mistake, and reflect on how it helped you learn and grow. Repeat these steps whenever you can find the time, and you’ll soon be extending the same compassion and forgiveness to yourself as you would so easily extend to others.

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    What is Making Great Relationships about?

    Making Great Relationships (2023) is a practical guide to building nourishing, healthy, communicative relationships. It shares simple strategies designed to troubleshoot conflict and break unhealthy cycles, as well as best practices for deepening and strengthening positive relationships.

    Making Great Relationships Review

    Making Great Relationships by Rick Hanson, PhD (2022) is a comprehensive guide on building strong and fulfilling connections with others. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With practical exercises and valuable insights, it provides readers with the tools they need to improve their relationships and create lasting bonds.
    • The book offers evidence-based strategies and real-life examples that help readers understand the dynamics of relationships and navigate challenges effectively.
    • By exploring the power of empathy, communication, and emotional intelligence, the book goes beyond surface-level advice and dives deep into the intricacies of human connection.

    Who should read Making Great Relationships?

    • Couples who feel stuck in an unproductive relationship dynamic
    • Friends who feel their needs aren’t met by their social circle
    • Colleagues whose interactions are marked by conflict and poor communication

    About the Author

    Dr. Richard Hanson is a psychologist, a family and couples counselor, and the New York Times best-selling author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain, among other titles.

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    Making Great Relationships FAQs 

    What is the main message of Making Great Relationships?

    Making Great Relationships emphasizes the importance of developing healthy and fulfilling connections with others.

    How long does it take to read Making Great Relationships?

    The reading time for Making Great Relationships varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Making Great Relationships a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Making Great Relationships is worth reading as it provides valuable insights and practical tips to improve your relationships.

    Who is the author of Making Great Relationships?

    Rick Hanson, PhD is the author of Making Great Relationships.

    What to read after Making Great Relationships?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Making Great Relationships, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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