Many ago, I had a terrifying experience, a Near Death Experience. It was a shocking and terrifying experience. In fact, I was very, very fortunate to survive.
As a result, I was laid up in the hospital for two weeks. During that time, I forgot about almost everything in my life, including my work, hobbies and usual interests and possessions. I never gave them a thought.
Naturally, I spent my time trying to find a way to recover and survive, and thinking about what was truly important in my life. While searching for answers, I had a crystal clear insight. A revelation.
It came to me with the ferocious power of a hurricane . . . what mattered most in my life was not my career, not my home, not the myriad of things I thought mattered . . . what mattered were my relationships. My loved ones . . . my precious family members, dear friends, wonderful business associates, and ALL my relationships, including my newest relationships with hospital staff, were ten times more important than I had ever imagined!
Over a period of three months, which I spent in recovery, I began to see and understand the true beauty and importance of relationships for the first time.
I noticed that some other patients did not have the generous support I had, and did not do as well. They seemed alone and disconnected.
These very relationships were helping me to survive. They gave me inner strength, inspired and comforted me. My relationships warmed my soul and helped me to believe in myself. They gave me hope. They made me feel much less alone and frightened. Their love lifted me above my pain and misery. My relationships formed my very foundation in life. Even though I had been a therapist for the past 25 years, I had never grasped the true essence of relationships, and their dire importance to our functioning and survival.
At the time of my crisis, all the special people in my life came together to support me. And, believe me, I needed their support! When people came to see me, I felt an immense sense of gratitude. They made my stay in the hospital bearable and helped me to get through the trying experience. They were truly my earth angels.
I felt their concern, their kind words and their tender touch in every cell of my being. My angels lifted me up and gave me hope.
From my hospital bed I watched my visitors and nurses and other helpers come and go, marveling at how good they made me feel. I was totally unprepared to realize fully the powerful influence the people in my life had on me. Without their constant care I would not have made it.
Reflecting on my life, after my terrifying experience, I realized I had never fully acknowledged the role of relationships in my life. Nor had I embraced my relationships to the fullest extent possible. I felt as though I had not given enough or cared deeply enough. I had not told the people in my life just how much I appreciated them.
Before leaving the hospital, I promised myself I would never again take a relationship for granted.
I promised to put my relationships first for the rest of my life. I was determined not to lose my newfound vision. I had seen the truth about relationships. I had discovered (the hard way) that relationships are our lifeline to sanity, happiness and success. They bring us peace of mind and contentment. Relationships make us truly beautiful.
From my hospital bed I immediately embraced those with whom I had been at odds in the past. I told everyone I loved them, which was not my typical modus operandi. My communication skills grew so much stronger. I had changed. I had become a man of courage. And I had allowed my relationships to change me.
How did my terrifying experience change my life?
Nowadays I take great care with all my relationships. I invest more time, energy and concern in them. I take care of them. I pamper them. And I don't sit around and wait for people to come to me. I go to them!
Nowadays, I try to put my relationships first. I try to say what's in my heart. I don't wish I had the guts to say something in my heart. I just say it!
I let others know how I feel, that they are important to me, and I try to inspire them to be all they can be.
You can learn from my terrifying experience, too. Just take a look at all the wonderful relationships in your life, and ask what you can do to take your relationships to the next level, the power of ten.
1. Going to bat for others is one of life's greatest pleasures
2. Give, give, give and love, love, love
3. Listen with sacrifice . . . shh!
4. Do not judge, criticize or complain
5. Celebrate the successes of others before your own