On Love

Love is like a stand you take for some­one or some­thing — a stand you take FOR some­one, towards some­one, rather than it being an inter­nal state which you rep­re­sent with the word “love.” If that were true, if just that lit­tle bit were true, the dis­tance between you and the mas­tery of love would be very short. You and I could bring forth the phe­nom­e­non of love by virtue of a dec­la­ra­tion, “I love you,” where the dec­la­ra­tion was a stand, a com­mit­ment and we could see that that was not some “thing” called love, but an open­ing, a pos­si­bil­ity, a clear­ing in which our expe­ri­ences could show up as an expres­sion of the dec­la­ra­tion, of the stand, of the com­mit­ment, of the context.

If all that were really pos­si­ble, then the dis­tance between us and mas­ter­ing love is pretty short. You see, what shows up in a stand val­i­dates the stand. If a doubt shows up in the space of some­thing for which you stand, it shows up as an expres­sion of the stand, that is to say it shows up for you as some­thing to han­dle out of your stand, not as some­thing con­trary to that for which you stand.

So if love in our rela­tion­ships was a clear­ing in which life became present, even what we ordi­nar­ily think of as a neg­a­tive cir­cum­stance, in a clear­ing cre­ated by a dec­la­ra­tion of love, where the dec­la­ra­tion is some­thing for which you stand, even a so-called neg­a­tive cir­cum­stance does not show up in oppo­si­tion to that for which you stand, but shows up as some­thing to be han­dled within the stand. I know you’re sit­ting there say­ing “gee I wish it were that easy” and I’m say­ing it might be some­thing very close to that easy … just like that.

And I’m invit­ing you into this domain of pos­si­bil­ity where you don’t know the answers, where rela­tion­ship and love exist like a ques­tion. I know you think that love is a set of emo­tions and moods and thoughts and atti­tudes and out­looks and feel­ings. And I’m invit­ing you to con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that, that sim­ply is one inter­pre­ta­tion, not one with which you are stuck. That you do not need to live the rest of your life with­out love when you don’t have that set of feel­ings which you have hereto­fore described as love.

…that it might be pos­si­ble to bring love into your life, like a cre­ation, like some­thing for which you could be respon­si­ble, like some­thing you could bring forth on your our own as a mat­ter of dec­la­ra­tion and as a mat­ter of tak­ing a stand. And that you could bring love into those cir­cum­stance in your life when the rela­tion­ships are most dif­fi­cult, most prob­lem­atic. And you could do it as a sim­ple act of being where being is that for which you are will­ing to stand. And that the stand comes forth in a dec­la­ra­tion and exists behind the dec­la­ra­tion as a stand.

- Werner Erhard

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The Right to Be Wrong

Our cul­ture is built for win­ners. Every­one else is a loser. Whose aim in life is to be a loser? Not me, cer­tainly, and I per­son­ally don’t know of any­one who has. So, what do we do in the game of win­ning? We try to be right as much as we pos­si­bly can. Even if we know we are wrong we will try to con­vince oth­ers that we are right, or we will look like losers. “Look­ing good” is impor­tant. It projects a win­ner.  And I don’t mean just looks, but a gen­eral per­cep­tion of oth­ers that we are “in the know,” that we are always right, that we know what we are talk­ing about, that our judg­ments are cor­rect. We want to be trust­wor­thy and reli­able. We want to be RIGHT. We expect that oth­ers want to be right too and we “know” that if we admit that we are wrong oth­ers will not only gloat, make us look bad, lose respect for us, but also take advan­tage of us in every way possible.

All these attempts at being right are masks to hide behind in order to look good, but being always right is an impos­si­ble task to accom­plish. Suc­cess­ful peo­ple in busi­ness and in rela­tion­ships (busi­ness is made of rela­tion­ships like most any other action in life) have made dis­pro­por­tion­ally more mis­takes and have been many times more wrong than right.

The road to suc­cess is paved with failures.

One of the main com­plaints in unsuc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships is “we fight a lot.” Why do peo­ple fight? You guessed it: each per­son keeps insist­ing they are right by furi­ously jus­ti­fy­ing their posi­tion, by mak­ing their part­ner wrong and inval­i­dat­ing their partner’s point of view in order to win an argu­ment, so as not to be per­ceived as a “loser”. This down­ward spi­ral causes ver­tigo from which it is hard to recover.

So how do win­ners deal with los­ing, with being wrong and recover from their mistakes?

The rule of thumb is: the more insis­tent, sig­nif­i­cant and seri­ous you are about being right the more dif­fi­cult it is to recover, which implies that the more will­ing you are to admit, or could be wrong, and the sooner you can do it, the eas­ier it is to stop the down­ward spi­ral into rela­tion­ship dis­in­te­gra­tion. If you screw up a lot, you would even have to use that dreaded action to pub­li­cally or for­mally APOLOGIZE, which most peo­ple avoid like the plague.

I like to say that your rela­tion­ship is as good as your last conversation.

My inten­tion in this arti­cle is to uncover the lunacy of spend­ing our ener­gies, and indeed our lives, try­ing to be right about every­thing. Only peo­ple with low self-esteem and a low opin­ion of them­selves insist on being right all the time in a futile attempt to hide their inse­cu­ri­ties. If you are one of those peo­ple I sug­gest that you start doing exactly the oppo­site. Start being authen­tic. Stop hid­ing behind your right­eous­ness. Oth­ers will admire you for your courage, which most likely they them­selves do not have.  Peo­ple want to be right for fear of not being accepted, being shunned, rejected, not respected and, of course, not loved, when in fact the result is quite opposite.

This is how we “intu­itively” react to sit­u­a­tions when the right actions may be quite counter-intuitive: Most of our behav­ior is con­ducted from our rep­til­ian brain, our fight or flight instinct. We some­how uncon­sciously equate a chal­leng­ing con­ver­sa­tion with an encounter with a saber-tooth tiger. This brain, which has direct access to the emo­tional cen­ter (the amyg­dala), decides our actions. Becom­ing aware of what is REALLY hap­pen­ing, i.e., pro­cess­ing it through your con­scious mind (the neo-cortex), will uncover other pos­si­bil­i­ties and oppor­tu­ni­ties to “sur­vive” a con­ver­sa­tion with­out the knee-jerk reac­tion of hav­ing to be right.

In con­clu­sion: enjoy being wrong. You might as well, because most of the time you are. Con­sider that your beliefs are just that: YOUR beliefs, not nec­es­sar­ily facts. Allow oth­ers to have theirs. The world is not made to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Be gra­cious with oth­ers by allow­ing them to be wrong with­out beat­ing them up about it and mak­ing them wrong about being wrong. In other words, stop being right about their being wrong. If not imme­di­ately, but soon, they will start to rec­i­p­ro­cate, which ulti­mately leads to a great rela­tion­ship where each of you can be com­pletely authen­tic, and have the free­dom to be yourself.

To have a great rela­tion­ship you must give up the right to be right. Be a winner!

Good luck.

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How To Make Your Man Happy

After I say, “Give him sex when­ever he wants it,” I prob­a­bly have noth­ing else to add. But WAIT, there is a lit­tle more to it although not nearly as much as a woman* would require for her happiness.

The nat­ural instinct of men* is to “dom­i­nate.” That’s where it all starts. Men want to be deci­sion mak­ers and in charge, although the real­ity is that women always are. Men just don’t know it on a con­scious level. If you do not han­dle it right your man may become either openly or pas­sively aggres­sive. He is phys­i­cally stronger and his last resort is to use force. Be that as it may, you need to play a woman’s game. You are a woman; you should instinc­tively know how to do it. Play­ing a power game with a man is not a good idea.

Let him be in charge

So, to make your man happy you need to give him the illu­sion that he is in charge. This should be very easy to do because men LOVE help­ing women and solv­ing prob­lems. (Have you noticed how men are not so good at just lis­ten­ing? Men offer you solu­tions and help when you don’t even need it nor ask for it.) Start appre­ci­at­ing his enthu­si­asm and sense of respon­si­bil­ity for your prob­lems as well as his eager­ness to help you solve them. That’s how he expresses his love. He does not nec­es­sar­ily want to “fix” you. He owns your problems.

Men love and are proud of being able to pro­vide for and sup­port their woman, which can­not be said for women who really hate being the bread­win­ner of the family.

Give him his own space, phys­i­cal as well as mental

Phys­i­cally he needs his “cave,” his space where he can be undis­turbed doing his own thing. This may be a work­shop, garage, office, a den or a cor­ner in the home that he can call his own where he “reigns supreme.” He should be able to do what­ever he wants in that space: sort out his col­lec­tions, make some­thing, read, write, watch foot­ball, or just do nothing.

Men­tal space is also very impor­tant. It may come as a sur­prise to you but men often think of NOTHING. They need to do that occa­sion­ally. So do not force a con­ver­sa­tion if he does not want to have one NOW. He’ll come back to it when he is ready.

Learn to take what a man says at face value. He means what he says. Stop look­ing for hid­den mean­ings as to what comes out of his mouth. When he says that he is busy and can­not talk to you now, it does not mean that he does not love you. It means “he is busy and that he can­not talk to you now.”

Too sim­ple for you? Yes, that is the real­ity about men. They are VERY SIMPLE, for bet­ter or for worse. Also, men do not express their emo­tions as much as women do. Men can con­trol their thoughts and their feel­ings, but it does not mean that they do not have them. It is a 50,000 year-old sur­vival strat­egy. Try not to ques­tion it and make him into an overly sen­si­tive man. Do not try to turn him into a per­fect hairy woman. One, you will not suc­ceed, but if you do, he’ll change just to please you. Two, if you suc­ceed even par­tially, you will not like what you have.

Show respect

As much as women are about secu­rity, mostly emo­tional secu­rity that is, men are about respect. Notwith­stand­ing the fact that adults should earn respect and not be given it freely, there are some areas where your man will love you and respect you back if you show respect for his inter­ests and hob­bies, as well as sup­port him socially.

In other words, do not put down his inter­est in motor­cy­cles, his gun and knife col­lec­tion, cars, sports, or even bal­let. He loves his inter­ests and if you ask him why, he may even be eager to explain it to you at length and in detail, if you have the patience to lis­ten. If you do not respect his inter­ests he will with­draw, resent you, hide it from you etc., which obvi­ously would make him very unhappy.

If you respect him and are sup­port­ive of him in pub­lic, among friends and fam­ily, he will inter­pret it as the purest form of love on your part. “Praise in pub­lic, crit­i­cize in pri­vate,” as the adage goes.

If you want to per­pet­u­ate the attrac­tion in your rela­tion­ship, keep the gap between fem­i­nin­ity and mas­culin­ity as wide as pos­si­ble. If a woman adopts too many male char­ac­ter­is­tics and a man vice versa, the roles may reverse, attrac­tion will evap­o­rate to be replaced by either con­flict or indif­fer­ence. No one rel­ishes the prospects of this happening.

These are char­ac­ter­is­tics which apply to most men­tally healthy men. Of course, there are indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences, but do not assume that your man is so com­pletely dif­fer­ent that most of the above do not apply to him. If that is the case, he may be a woman, or he may be reluc­tant to exer­cise his “man­li­ness” with you. Con­sider that he may be try­ing to please you too much.

Good luck.

*Note: When I say a man and a woman, I mean male and female energy and nat­ural, genetic char­ac­ter­is­tics. (I talk about it at some length in The Game­less Rela­tion­ship.) Every human being has both char­ac­ter­is­tics. Men have more male and women have more female, and that can some­what vary from per­son to per­son and sit­u­a­tion to situation.

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Valentine’s Day Expectations

by Sara Aboulhosn

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  Radomir and I were casu­ally dis­cussing V-day and the crass com­mer­cial­iza­tion of just about all aspects of it and we started think­ing about what to write about for this so-called hol­i­day.  What topic would hit the nail on the head?  For me, it was easy to see – Unful­filled Expec­ta­tions.  Sorry Charles Dick­ens, not Great Expec­ta­tions but the unful­filled ones. They just pop up every­where, in all places, at all times; not just in romance. They do tend to stand out more on Valentine’s Day, though, because of the hype our cul­ture has built up around what we should do, what we should have and most, most, most impor­tantly what we SHOULD GET!

Oh, to be a woman (and I am) on V-day. We should get the flow­ers, the choco­late (even though we secretly or maybe not so secretly com­plain it makes us fat), the can­dles, the romance and yes, THE RING (if that’s where we’re at in our rela­tion­ship).  Hey, even if we’re past the ring stage, tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials tell us our man SHOULD be shop­ping at Jared Jew­el­ers or the like and buy­ing us a trin­ket from this or that lovely Valentiny col­lec­tion of jew­elry.  Depend­ing on the man, he might even be spring­ing for Tiffany’s and buy­ing us way more than a mere trin­ket.  The point is, though, he SHOULD be doing some­thing for us.  He SHOULD be show­ing us he loves us.  He SHOULD be spend­ing more money on us that he usu­ally spends and if he doesn’t usu­ally spend money on us, this is his chance to make it up and really show us he loves us.

I was so poignantly reminded of this whole nasty can of Unful­filled Expec­ta­tions by watch­ing the Valen­tine episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  Yes, you can pick up rela­tion­ship advice from these dra­mas, if you’re pay­ing atten­tion.  A cou­ple comes into the ER, he on a gur­ney, she walk­ing on her legs, both exit­ing from an ambu­lance that had picked him up from a car acci­dent. He was chas­ing her in his car – she ran out on him when she found out that once again, after 8 years, he didn’t give her an engage­ment ring.  Once again he got her hopes up with a small box, but instead of a ring, it had a “cheap neck­lace” inside (as she put it). She was harangu­ing him as he was being wheeled into the treat­ment room lying flat on the gur­ney, strapped down to pro­tect his neck, a gauze pad under his nose to sop up the blood, since his nose was broken.

Once again, after 8 years her expec­ta­tions were unful­filled. She couldn’t even open the neck­lace, which was a locket neck­lace. All she could do was run out of their home to escape the noise in her head which was prob­a­bly say­ing some­thing like, “He doesn’t love me, he’s using me, he’s this, he’s that…”

He needed surgery and after the surgery, as she was sit­ting by his bed­side watch­ing him hooked up to tubes and wires, look­ing washed out and gravely hurt, she told one of the doc­tors that although she had the ring picked out for when he finally pro­posed, look­ing at him there, she real­ized that all of that was crap. All she wanted was for him to be OK.  Unfor­tu­nately, it was too late and he crashed. They couldn’t revive him and he left the earthly plane with all of its unful­filled expec­ta­tions float­ing around.  Later, the doc­tor with whom the girl­friend had been speak­ing found his effects and in the midst of them was the “cheap neck­lace”. The doc­tor decided to open the neck­lace and what did she see?  Writ­ten on the left side of the heart, “Will You”, writ­ten on the right side of the heart, “Marry Me.”

That par­tic­u­lar story line ended right there. But can you imag­ine the anguish of the girl­friend if she was given the neck­lace?  Or if she wasn’t given the neck­lace? Either way, her unful­filled expec­ta­tions would be what she would have to live with vs. what was so.

All that really hap­pened was that her boyfriend of 8 years had not yet pro­posed on Valentine’s Day morn­ing, when she was hop­ing and expect­ing he would.  SHE was the one who had it mean some­thing.  And there’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to get mar­ried (sorry guys who’ve been drag­ging your feet – this is not a “get out of jail card” for you to jus­tify foot drag­ging).  It’s just that we need to take respon­si­bil­ity, each and every one of us, for our expec­ta­tions and own them as our expec­ta­tions. They are not our part­ners’ expec­ta­tions, our pets’ expec­ta­tions, our boss’s expec­ta­tions. They are OURS.  If our expec­ta­tions are not being ful­filled or met, we can decide if we wish to pro­ceed or not. As Ein­stein said, the def­i­n­i­tion of insan­ity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect­ing to get a dif­fer­ent result.  (Radomir reminds us of this often too, in his blog posts). Prob­a­bil­ity wise, a dif­fer­ent result might be got­ten at some point but is that good enough for liv­ing a ful­filled life?

What should the girl­friend in the show have done?  I can’t say – I wasn’t there dur­ing the times she was dis­ap­pointed pre­vi­ously, dur­ing the talks they had, dur­ing the wed­dings she men­tioned she attended with him where she cried her eyes out nos­tal­gi­cally think­ing of HER non-wedding.  I do know that she could have taken respon­si­bil­ity for her role in their rela­tion­ship. She could have quit blam­ing him. She could have grown up and decided if it was worth wait­ing for some­one 8 years, even if you loved them, if mar­riage was your ideal and not his.

I do know she could have decided what was really impor­tant to her and taken that as the credo by which to live her life. This way, when Valentine’s day came along and no ring showed up, there would be no drama, no run­ning out of the build­ing in a frenzy.  Just an abil­ity to be with what was so — that what was impor­tant to her was not there in their rela­tion­ship.  And finally, then she could have opened the neck­lace, or not, while the man was still alive.

I wish you a guilt-free, calorie-free, expectation-free Valentine’s Day!

Sara

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.

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Is what you do who you are?

How many times have you called your­self and oth­ers pathetic, stu­pid? “Not good enough” are the three words that would cover all the things that are “wrong” with you and oth­ers. Maybe you have noticed that this often func­tions as a self-fulfilling prophecy. After repeat­ing to your­self that you are stu­pid, you really start doing more and more stu­pid things. Why? Because you are “stu­pid”, of course! What else can you do? That’s how things are. Only stu­pid peo­ple do stu­pid things. Right? That’s who you are, you become con­vinced. When you think that some­one is __________ (fill in the blank) you relate to him/her as who she/he “is”, in appro­pri­ate fashion.

This prac­tice becomes even more promi­nent with your (ex)partner when your rela­tion­ship is not work­ing out the way you’d want it to work.

In the case of the rela­tion­ship brake up, in order to alle­vi­ate our suf­fer­ing we engage in a blame game, e.g. name-calling. It makes no dif­fer­ence whom we blame for the sit­u­a­tion as long as it is “some­one.” This, of course, includes our very selves. We first blame oth­ers, our part­ner and all the peo­ple he/she knows, and our friends and fam­ily for all sorts of dif­fer­ent rea­sons, from not warn­ing us to not agree­ing with our side of the story.  In order to absolve our­selves from any respon­si­bil­ity of a wrong judg­ment the com­plaint is not only focused on what peo­ple did, but who they ARE (thus name-calling), because of their deeds or the lack of. Of course, he lied to me, he IS a liar. Now, here lies the most dan­ger­ous and far-reaching mis­take. Peo­ple do all sorts of things, but that’s not nec­es­sar­ily who they are. If you lie once, are you a liar? If you fall in love with some­one else, are you a cheat, not faith­ful etc.? If you say some­thing rude do you become a rude per­son for­ever and exclu­sively. If you do a stu­pid thing it does not mean that you ARE stu­pid. You just did a stu­pid thing, and … by whose judg­ment your deed was stu­pid? Many “stu­pid” things we do turn out not to be so stu­pid after all. If some­one does not love you any more it does not mean that you are not lov­able, or not good enough as a person.

Although we judge peo­ple by their behav­ior, do not for­get that we judge our­selves by our inten­tions, and so do they. Step­ping into another person’s shoes and find­ing out what his/her inten­tions are is an act of grace, love and com­pas­sion. Also, you must under­stand that other peo­ple judge you by your behav­ior and that they are not obliged to know what your inten­tions are. They may not be inter­ested in your inten­tions. Your behav­ior speaks for itself. You have no right to expect peo­ple to be lov­ing, gra­cious and com­pas­sion­ate. You can­not make them wrong for it. All that has noth­ing to do with you, any­way. You need to be respon­si­ble for your own behav­ior and how you come across for oth­ers. At the same time it does not mean that you should asso­ciate at any cost with peo­ple who exhibit per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders in their habit­ual behav­ior. Ego­cen­tric, obsessive-compulsive, depres­sive, passive-aggressive, socio­pathic, bor­der­line, nar­cis­sis­tic, histri­onic etc. are just some exam­ples of the char­ac­ters to be avoided, not to men­tion abusers and addicts.

In the case of the well-balanced men­tally healthy peo­ple, the maxim that you should “treat oth­ers the way you want to be treated” is not very help­ful. There are too many oppor­tu­ni­ties to screw up. The bet­ter one would be

“Treat oth­ers the way they want to be treated”

To do this requires a large dose of the uncon­di­tional love and trust. (Accept the fact that not every­one who is offi­cially an adult will act as one all the time.) Peo­ple do make mis­takes, but mis­takes are part of life. The prob­lem is that we con­sider mis­takes to be “bad.” Mis­takes are just that, mis­takes, and an error in judg­ment. No one has ever escaped from mak­ing mis­takes. Why we are then, so harsh in blam­ing oth­ers (and our­selves) for mak­ing mis­takes. Being more for­giv­ing of oth­ers and our own actions is a cer­tain road to hap­pi­ness and self-growth.

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Open-Mindedness


Peo­ple are very open-minded about new things…

as long as they’re exactly like the old ones!

—Charles Ket­ter­ing

Def­i­n­i­tion

Open-mindedness is the will­ing­ness to search actively for evi­dence against one’s favored beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evi­dence fairly when it is available.

Being open-minded does not imply that one is inde­ci­sive, wishy-washy, or inca­pable of think­ing for one’s self. After con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous alter­na­tives, an open-minded per­son can take a firm stand on a posi­tion and act accordingly.

The oppo­site of open-mindedness is what is called the myside bias which refers to the per­va­sive ten­dency to search for evi­dence and eval­u­ate evi­dence in a way that favors your ini­tial beliefs. Most peo­ple show myside bias, but some are more biased than others.

Ben­e­fits of Open-Mindedness

Research sug­gests the fol­low­ing ben­e­fits of open-mindedness:

  • Open-minded, cog­ni­tively com­plex indi­vid­u­als are less swayed by sin­gu­lar events and are more resis­tant to sug­ges­tion and manipulation.
  • Open-minded indi­vid­u­als are bet­ter able to pre­dict how oth­ers will behave and are less prone to projection.
  • Open-minded indi­vid­u­als tend to score bet­ter on tests of gen­eral cog­ni­tive abil­ity like the SAT or an IQ test. (Of course we don’t know whether being open-minded makes one smarter or vice versa.)

Open-Mindedness as a “Cor­rec­tive Virtue”

Social and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists have noted wide­spread errors in judgment/thinking to which we are all vul­ner­a­ble. In order to be open-minded, we have to work against these basic ten­den­cies, lead­ing virtue ethi­cists to call open-mindedness a cor­rec­tive virtue.

In addi­tion to the myside bias described above, here are three other cog­ni­tive ten­den­cies that work against open-minded thinking:

1) Selec­tive Exposure

We main­tain our beliefs by selec­tively expos­ing our­selves to infor­ma­tion that we already know is likely to sup­port those beliefs. Lib­er­als tend to read lib­eral news­pa­pers, and Con­ser­v­a­tives tend to read con­ser­v­a­tive newspapers.

2) Pri­macy Effects

The evi­dence that comes first mat­ters more than evi­dence pre­sented later. Trial lawyers are very aware of this phe­nom­e­non. Once jurors form a belief, that belief becomes resis­tant to counterevidence.

3) Polar­iza­tion

We tend to be less crit­i­cal of evi­dence that sup­ports our beliefs than evi­dence that runs counter to our beliefs. In an inter­est­ing exper­i­ment that demon­strates this phe­nom­e­non, researchers pre­sented indi­vid­u­als with mixed evi­dence on the effec­tive­ness of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment on reduc­ing crime. Even though the evi­dence on both sides of the issue was per­fectly bal­anced, indi­vid­u­als became stronger in their ini­tial posi­tion for or against cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. They rated evi­dence that sup­ported their ini­tial belief as more con­vinc­ing, and they found flaws more eas­ily in the evi­dence that coun­tered their ini­tial beliefs.

What Encour­ages Open-Mindedness?

Research sug­gests that peo­ple are more likely to be open-minded when they are not under time pres­sure. (Our gut reac­tions aren’t always the most accurate.)

Indi­vid­u­als are more likely to be open-minded when they believe they are mak­ing an impor­tant deci­sion. (This is when we start mak­ing lists of pros and cons, seek­ing the per­spec­tives of oth­ers, etc.)

Some research sug­gests that the way in which an idea is pre­sented can affect how open-minded some­one is when con­sid­er­ing it. For exam­ple, a typ­i­cal method of assess­ing open-mindedness in the lab­o­ra­tory is to ask a par­tic­i­pant to list argu­ments on both sides of a com­pli­cated issue (e.g., the death penalty, abor­tion, ani­mal test­ing). What typ­i­cally hap­pens is that indi­vid­u­als are able to list far more argu­ments on their favored side. How­ever, if the researcher then encour­ages the par­tic­i­pant to come up with more argu­ments on the oppos­ing side, most peo­ple are able to do so with­out too much dif­fi­culty. It seems that indi­vid­u­als have these counter-arguments stored in mem­ory but they don’t draw on them when first asked.

Exer­cises to Build Open-Mindedness

In my read­ings, I did not uncover any open-mindedness inter­ven­tions. But in the spirit of creativity/originality I con­sulted Cather­ine Freemire, LCSW [Cather­ine Freemire, LCSW, Bal­anced Life Coach­ing, coachcat@jps.net ], a clin­i­cal ther­a­pist and pro­fes­sional coach renowned for her cre­ative think­ing. She came up with three exer­cises for build­ing open-mindedness which I think are def­i­nitely worth trying:

Select an emo­tion­ally charged, debat­able topic (e.g., abor­tion, prayer in school, health­care reform, the cur­rent war in Iraq) and take the oppo­site side from your own. Write five valid rea­sons to sup­port this view. (While typ­ing Catherine’s idea, I had a related one of my own: If you are con­ser­v­a­tive in your polit­i­cal beliefs, lis­ten to Al Frankin’s radio show; if you are lib­eral, lis­ten to Rush Lim­baugh! While you are lis­ten­ing, try to avoid the cog­ni­tive error of polar­iza­tion described above.)

1. Remem­ber a time when you were wronged by some­one in the past. Gen­er­ate three plau­si­ble rea­sons why this per­son inad­ver­tently or inten­tion­ally wronged you.

2. This one is for par­ents: Think of a topic that you con­sis­tently argue about with your teen or grown child. Now, take their posi­tion and think of 3 sub­stan­tial rea­sons why their point of view is valid. (This could also be done with spouses or any fam­ily mem­bers for that matter!)

© 2004 Authen­tic Hap­pi­ness Coach­ing. All rights reserved.

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The Freedom of Being: Beyond Right/Wrong


The Free­dom of Being: Beyond Right/Wrong, Win/Lose, etc.

By Larry Pearson

Taken from The Land­mark Newsletter

Land­mark Forum Lead­ers in Conversation

This pas­sage comes from The New York Times: “Long before seat belts or com­mon sense were par­tic­u­larly wide­spread, my fam­ily made annual trips to New York in our sta­tion wagon. Mom and Dad took the front seat, my infant sis­ter sat in my mother’s lap and my brother and I had the back all to our­selves. We’d lounge around doing puz­zles, read­ing comics, and count­ing license plates. Even­tu­ally we’d fight. When our fight had finally esca­lated to the point of tears, our mother would turn around to chas­tise us, and my brother and I would start to plead our cases. ‘But he hit me first,’ one of us would say, to which the other would inevitably add, ‘But he hit me harder.’

It turns out that my brother and I were not alone in believ­ing that these two claims can get a puncher off the hook. In vir­tu­ally every human soci­ety, ‘He hit me first’ pro­vides an accept­able ratio­nale for doing that which is oth­er­wise for­bid­den. It is thought that a punch thrown sec­ond is legally and morally dif­fer­ent than a punch thrown first. The prob­lem with the prin­ci­ple of even-numberedness is that peo­ple count dif­fer­ently. Peo­ple think of their own actions as the con­se­quences of what came before, they think of other people’s actions as the causes of what came later, and that their rea­sons and pains are more pal­pa­ble, more obvi­ous and real, than that of others.” *

The stuff of wars, soap operas, divorce courts, Ham­let, and more all bor­row on that equa­tion, as do we. While we might wish we’d left that even-numberedness to our child­hood and ado­les­cence, it’s not to be. The dynamic of deal­ing with issues that are unwanted, yet per­sist con­tin­ues to play out in board rooms, neigh­bor­hoods, mar­riages, and between nations—we jus­tify, we blame, we complain.

Issues that are unwanted, yet per­sist can be a pow­er­ful impe­tus for change, as evi­denced by the progress of human rights, for exam­ple. But there’s another world of things that are unwanted, yet persist—things that we com­plain about over and over, like some aspect of our rela­tion­ships or jobs that is not work­ing, and yet we find our­selves keep­ing around.

If we put what’s “unwanted, yet per­sists” together with “fixed ways of being,” we get what we call a “racket.” It’s a “mashup” of sorts (a web buzz­word). In a mashup, one web appli­ca­tion is com­bined with another, mak­ing both appli­ca­tions more pro­duc­tive and robust—you get some­thing greater than the sum of the parts. If you mash up what’s unwanted, yet per­sists (which is most likely occur­ring as a com­plaint) and a fixed way of being, you also get some­thing greater than the sum of its parts, but in this case, the yield heads in the wrong direction—the com­bi­na­tion is unpro­duc­tive or more accu­rately, counterproductive.

com­plaint is some kind of opin­ion or judg­ment of the way things “should” or “shouldn’t be.” The eval­u­a­tive com­po­nent isn’t a com­men­tary on facts that are true or false, accu­rate or not, but again how we think thingsshould be. By fixed way of being we mean act­ing in a pre­dictable and repet­i­tive man­ner (like always frus­trated, always upset, always angry, always nice, always annoyed, always sus­pi­cious, always con­fused, etc.). What­ever ourfixed way of being is, it’s not some­thing we have a choice over. It’s just there—it shows up auto­mat­i­cally when the com­plaint shows up. It’s also worth not­ing that a recur­ring com­plaint doesn’t cause the way of being, nor does the way of being cause the recur­ring complaint—they sim­ply come together in one pack­age. The whole point here, though, is that it’s a fixed way of being, not a pos­si­ble way of being.

The term “racket” comes from the days of big-city gang­sters and street-level crim­i­nals who con­ducted ques­tion­able activities—loan-sharking, bribery, larceny—usually set up to get some kind of pay­off, cam­ou­flaged by an accept­able cover above sus­pi­cion. In a “rack­e­teer­ing” oper­a­tion, the efforts at con­ceal­ing what’s going on behind the scenes can become quite elab­o­rate so as to pro­tect and ensure the suc­cess of the oper­a­tion. We bor­row the term racket as it’s applic­a­ble to our con­tem­po­rary lives and because it car­ries with it many of the same properties—deception, smoke screens, pay­offs, etc.

Some­times per­sis­tent com­plaints orig­i­nate with us, other times they come at us from some­one else. It’s harder to see that we’re in “racket mode” with com­plaints that come at us, because it looks like some­body else is the per­sis­tent com­plainer, and we just an inno­cent bystander. But under closer scrutiny, it turns out we too have complaints—complaints about their com­plaints. Our match­ing com­plaint might show up like, “don’t they under­stand, don’t they know how it is for me, why are they nag­ging, don’t they see every­thing I’m doing for them?” When we com­plain, we feel quite jus­ti­fied that our response is appro­pri­ate to the situation.

We explain the ratio­nale behind our com­plaints to inter­ested (and unin­ter­ested) par­ties, and point out how pleased we are with our­selves for tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to sort things out—we have a cer­tain fond­ness for our attempts, for “try­ing.” We might get our friends, fam­ily, or cowork­ers to agree that we’re deal­ing with our com­plaints the best we can. If they point out that per­haps we’re the one per­pet­u­at­ing the prob­lem, we could feel mis­un­der­stood, put out, even busted. Seen from a dis­tance, there can be some­thing almost endear­ing about how we go about all this—as if it’s part of our authen­tic and sin­cere spirit—but actu­ally, our ratio­nale for doing what we do is another thing entirely. This is the cam­ou­flage or cover-up part. The decep­tive nature of a racket and the allure of the pay­off keep us from real­iz­ing the full impact rack­ets have in our lives.

The pay­offs for keep­ing rack­ets around usu­ally show up in sev­eral ways: being right and mak­ing oth­ers wrong (not the fac­tual kind of right, but think­ing that we are right and the other per­son is wrong), being dom­i­nat­ing or avoid­ing dom­i­na­tion, jus­ti­fy­ing our­selves and inval­i­dat­ing oth­ers (attribut­ing cause to some thing or per­son other than our­selves), engag­ing in the win/lose dynamic (not “win­ning” like a cel­e­bra­tion with tro­phies, applause, or con­grat­u­la­tions to the oppo­nent, but win­ning such that some­one else is the loser or is less­ened in some way). These pay­offs are like facets of a diamond—although one facet might be more dom­i­nant than another (and we might deny or not be aware that some aspect of a pay­off is active in our case), they’re really all at play.

The pull of these pay­offs is often com­pelling enough to get us to give up love, vital­ity, self-expression, health, and hap­pi­ness. That’s a ridicu­lously strong force. Those costs are the stan­dard fare of a racket.  It’s pretty obvi­ous that we can’t be happy, vital, and lov­ing while we’re mak­ing some­one wrong, dom­i­nat­ing some­one, being right, or jus­ti­fy­ing ourselves—one dis­places the other. This is where choice comes into the picture.

Rack­ets, although one thing, have two forms of exis­tence (some­what like ice and steam are two forms of H2O). One form of a racket shows up as “I am X, Y, or Z.” The sec­ond shows up as “ahhh, I have a racket that is X, Y, or Z.” When we are the racket, it shapes and deter­mines our way of being. But when we have a racket, it has very lit­tle power over our way of being. We have a choice about what’s at play—about giv­ing up our rack­ets, our posi­tions, our unpro­duc­tive ways of being. When we elect to trans­form our default ways of being—being right, com­ing out on top (the even-numberedness, so to speak)—we move to a place of free­dom, a place of pos­si­bil­ity. The ques­tion then becomes: How do I express my life? What would be, for me, the most extra­or­di­nary, cre­ated, invented life?  It becomes a mat­ter of art, of design. How extra­or­di­nary are the every­day aspects of our lives; how rich our lives are, how full of oppor­tu­nity, when we act on the pos­si­bil­ity of liv­ing life fully.

* Adapted from Daniel Gilbert, New York Times, 7/24/06.

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.

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Selfish Feelings

Are we our feel­ings, or we just have them? Some­times it seems that we are made of them.  Feel­ings per­vade our every day lives. How do we man­age them and how we use them or abuse them? We have good feel­ings and bad feel­ings. When we feel good we appear to be a totally dif­fer­ent per­son than when we feel bad. How do we man­age them and how we use them or abuse them? This is the sub­ject of today’s article.

We feel and express our emo­tions all day long. Whether we com­mu­ni­cate them by words or behav­ior, we make sure other peo­ple know how we feel. Or do we? We also try to hide our feel­ings for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, be it fear, polite social con­duct, inap­pro­pri­ate­ness of the moment, strate­giz­ing, etc.

It has been shown that if con­nect­ing path­ways in our brain, from the lim­bic sys­tem and amyg­dala in par­tic­u­lar (the emo­tional cen­ter of the brain) are sev­ered, a per­son is com­pletely unable to make any deci­sions at all.  So, emo­tions seem to be an insep­a­ra­ble part of our every­day expe­ri­ence, and for good rea­son, as you can see.

How is it then, that these same emo­tions often make our lives mis­er­able? Can we do any­thing about it? Let’s first see how emo­tions play out in our rela­tion­ships and if there are any dif­fer­ences in their influ­ence on people’s lives.

One way to approach this issue is to make a sim­ple dis­tinc­tion between hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal dif­fer­ences as to how peo­ple man­age their emo­tions. Hor­i­zon­tal refers to peo­ple who are mostly on auto­matic, express their emo­tions with­out a sec­ond thought, or on the other hand, hide their emo­tions out of fear. There also seems to be a nat­ural and con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ence between male and female feel­ing man­age­ment, with which we will be more con­cerned here.

Ver­ti­cal dif­fer­ences are more con­cerned with the level of aware­ness, our abil­ity to observe our­selves objec­tively, our emo­tional intel­li­gence and level of per­sonal devel­op­ment.

I would like also to dis­tin­guish the dif­fer­ence between feel­ings and emo­tions, i.e., between feel­ing some­thing and emot­ing it. This dis­tinc­tion may not be com­pletely accu­rate, but it cer­tainly is very use­ful: feel­ings are an inter­nal affair while emo­tions are a behav­ioral issue. Our feel­ings are “felt” in our bod­ies as an energy field, in our plexus area, our throat, our limbs, our head, etc. Feel­ings are con­strained within the para­me­ters of our body; they are ours. When, on the other hand, we act upon our feel­ings, we show emo­tions, we emote, we cry, laugh, smash things in anger, show love, etc. In other words, emo­tions are the expres­sions of our feelings.

Men and women are pro­grammed dif­fer­ently the way they process their feel­ings. (By ‘man’ I mean mas­cu­line and by ‘woman’ I mean fem­i­nine; both gen­ders have a mix­ture of both to dif­fer­ent degrees in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, so do not take this per­son­ally, and at the same time it may be use­ful if you indeed do so.)

One of the major gen­der dif­fer­ences in the realm of feel­ings is that women are feel­ing crea­tures and men are ratio­nal crea­tures. This comes from the appar­ent inabil­ity of women to con­trol what thoughts come into their mind. Since thoughts in most cases are trig­gers for feel­ings, women seem to not have con­trol of what they may feel at any moment. Since feel­ings are heav­ily involved in the deci­sion mak­ing process, women’s emo­tions may seem erratic to a man, incon­sis­tent, illog­i­cal, inap­pro­pri­ate, thought­less, etc, (add your own if you are a man.) That’s why it is thought that it is in a woman’s nature to change her mind often! No won­der this dri­ves men insane, but to a woman it is quite “log­i­cal and reasonable”.

If you were to pay atten­tion to the dif­fer­ence between a man and a woman’s vocab­u­lary, you may notice that women use the verb “to feel” and “a feel­ing” as a noun much more often then men. Guess why: Because feel­ings are much more impor­tant for women than for men. That does not mean that men do not have feel­ings, as many women pre­sume that men are defi­cient in the feel­ing depart­ment. In fact, men have just as many feel­ings as women; they just man­age them dif­fer­ently. Men, being hunters by nature, can­not afford to have emo­tions freely expressed while stalk­ing a deer, because the deer will escape, thus no food for that week. Men are much bet­ter at keep­ing a sin­gle focus and not allow­ing unwanted thoughts to enter their minds. (See The Game­less Rela­tion­ship.) On the other hand, a con­stant broad view and dif­fused focus allow­ing every­thing to come into the sphere of a woman’s aware­ness was a means of sur­vival in a hos­tile envi­ron­ment mil­len­nia ago. Thus, a man’s rela­tion­ship to feel­ings is dif­fer­ent than a woman’s, and although largely incom­pre­hen­si­ble to the oppo­site sex, is equally use­ful as a sur­vival tool. This is one of the rea­sons why a couple’s chance of sur­vival is much higher than a sin­gle person’s (not to men­tion repro­duc­tion opportunities).

In our rela­tion­ships, our roles have been deter­mined by thou­sands of years of evo­lu­tion. Just because we have lived in “mod­ern times” for rel­a­tively few years does not free us from our genet­i­cally pro­grammed roles. We, for instance, often hear of late that women want a ‘sen­si­tive man’. The moment a man becomes ‘sen­si­tive’ a woman does not like him any more because he is not ‘man enough’. I see it too often in my prac­tice. A whole new lan­guage has devel­oped about this, like “we are preg­nant”, not uttered by two women, but by a man in a mar­riage. Many ques­tions come to my mind such as, “How did these men get pregnant?”

What a woman means by want­ing a sen­si­tive man is one who is able to per­ceive what she is feel­ing. Men are prac­ti­cal. They want to solve prob­lems, not lis­ten to someone’s out­pour­ing of feel­ings about an issue. It is impor­tant for both sexes to edu­cate them­selves on the gen­der dif­fer­ences. Many rela­tion­ships could be saved if only we knew some of these secrets. Why they are still secrets, beats me. After all the knowl­edge we have accu­mu­lated, most peo­ple seem to be igno­rant about this subject.

So, why did I title this arti­cle Self­ish Feel­ings? It is about the ver­ti­cal dif­fer­ences of emo­tional man­age­ment.  Feel­ings are very per­sonal and par­tic­u­lar to every­one and for every sit­u­a­tion, yet we use and abuse our feel­ings to express our emo­tions in order to manip­u­late, blame, credit, cre­ate guilt in oth­ers, etc. Granted, we often do it with­out even being aware of it. Two year olds may be for­given for doing it uncon­sciously (although I’m not sure that it always uncon­scious even at that age) but with adults it is a sign of being irre­spon­si­ble and unaware or mind­less. Not being respon­si­ble for your emo­tions can be very destruc­tive for a rela­tion­ship. You can­not have your emo­tions run ram­pant and dump your feel­ings onto oth­ers when­ever you “feel like it”. It is a sign of infan­tile behav­ior not suited to fully devel­oped adults. I hope you real­ize that to be only con­cerned about how you feel, how oth­ers feel about you, or how you want them to feel or not to feel about any­thing or any­body else, includ­ing them­selves, is sim­ply self­ish. This world does not revolve around you although it may seem like it to you. Such ego­cen­tric behav­ior is nat­ural for chil­dren at a cer­tain devel­op­men­tal level. It is time to real­ize that a human being can go through higher lev­els of devel­op­ment past the ego­cen­tric, namely ethno-centric, world-centric, cosmo-centric and fur­ther, which we are yet to discover.

So, whether you are a man or a woman, it may be time to start work­ing, if you already haven’t, on becom­ing self-aware instead of being self­ishly self-conscious and notice where your self­ish feel­ings are at work and are inappropriate.

Feel­ings are such a huge sub­ject that I’m sure we will return to it. In the mean­time please post your com­ments, thoughts and ques­tions so that we can learn from each other.

Happy feel­ings!

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Don’t Tell Me What To Do!

When I was about 17, my par­ents strongly objected to some of my friends. Yes, they were my friends and my par­ents didn’t know them nearly as well as I did oth­er­wise they would have agreed with my point of view. The more they protested about my spend­ing time with them the more time I invested into our friend­ship. To tell the truth – and after all these years I can – even then I intu­itively knew that they were right, but there was no way that I would ever do what they told me to do. My eager­ness and need to be right and the power of mak­ing my own deci­sions was sim­ply over­whelm­ing. Sure enough, most of those friends turned out either not to be such good friends as I imag­ined. Sev­eral of them became alco­holics, or ended up in jail. And, yes, I admit my par­ents were right. They knew what was good for me and they acted as respon­si­ble par­ents to the best of their abilities.

No-one-tells-me-what-to-do atti­tude is per­fectly nor­mal for teenagers any­where. Their need to break away from their par­ents’ influ­ence and prove them­selves as able to be suc­cess­ful and respon­si­ble in the “real world”, is healthy and nec­es­sary behav­ior for the devel­op­ment of a healthy psy­che. But as we mature this atti­tude may present a sig­nif­i­cant bar­rier to healthy rela­tion­ships and a happy life.

First, this kind of rebel behav­ior may result in push­ing away any­one who comes close to you. This is how it usu­ally works: You know from your own expe­ri­ence that it is very easy for you to see when oth­ers are about to do some­thing that will not serve them well. If that per­son is a stranger or just an acquain­tance you most likely will not open your mouth to stop them. But, if it is some­one you care about, you will do your utmost to point out the fal­lacy of his/her intended actions. So, when­ever you become resis­tant to the sug­ges­tions of the peo­ple who care about you, you are jump­ing into don’t-tell-me-what-to-do modus operandi. In other words, you are digress­ing into a teenager. I cer­tainly do not pro­pose that you should accept all rec­om­men­da­tions from every­one who cares about you. What I am sug­gest­ing is open­ness to the pos­si­bil­ity and will­ing­ness to con­sider other points of view.

This kind of resis­tance to do what peo­ple ask you to do (or not to do) is a sign of inse­cu­rity, low self-esteem, infe­ri­or­ity com­plex and such. The more often you exer­cise your “right” to do what you want, the more you alien­ate peo­ple around you and more you push your­self in the direc­tion of inse­cu­rity and low self-esteem. Choos­ing not to do what peo­ple ask you to do is just as much a free choice as accept­ing other people’s requests and sug­ges­tions. You have right to change your mind. The choice is always yours. Be respon­si­ble for it. By refus­ing other people’s requests because you did not gen­er­ate the idea, and think­ing that some­how by accept­ing it you will lose power, is a vic­tim behav­ior. The choice is always yours no mat­ter which way you go. In fact, by accept­ing, or at least con­sid­er­ing and being will­ing to dis­cuss it in order to learn more about other people’s point of view, you show gen­eros­ity, trust, respect, under­stand­ing and secu­rity in your own beliefs. Para­dox­i­cally, the more you are open to the pos­si­bil­ity of chang­ing your mind the more you gain self-esteem. Most cul­tures teach us that chang­ing your mind under any cir­cum­stances makes you a per­son of a weak char­ac­ter, wishy-washy and less respected by oth­ers. Con­sider the fol­low­ing: you decide to do some­thing against other’s rec­om­men­da­tion, and you fail. Who do you blame? Your­self, of course (low esteem). Do you learn from the expe­ri­ence? No, you don’t. You vow that you’ll do it bet­ter the next time using the same strat­egy of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do vari­ety. Do you give credit to the per­son who sug­gested oth­er­wise? No, you resent him/her even more. What hap­pens if you suc­ceed? Do you give your­self credit? Rarely. It’s just you. You just made a good choice. That’s it. You were lucky this time (low self-esteem). Your rela­tion­ship with that per­son worsens.

Now con­sider that you take some­one else’s advice. If you fail, what do you think? You see, I told you so. I should have done it my way. (Higher opin­ion of your­self.) If you suc­ceed, you will be grate­ful to him/her and you will praise your­self for mak­ing a good choice of accept­ing the sug­ges­tion and exe­cut­ing it (high self-esteem). Your rela­tion­ship with that per­son will become stronger.

So, yes, just as you have right do to what you want to do, no mat­ter what advice you get, you also absolutely have right to change your mind to your ben­e­fit and take other people’s advice. These are the two equal sides of the same coin.

Again, by all means, you should NOT go around doing what every­one tells you to do (low self-esteem), but being able to make a sound choice free of the bag­gage from the past, or emo­tions that may pop up unbid­den at those moments of deci­sion. Some­times even “blind trust”, although nor­mally regarded as irre­spon­si­ble, is accept­able. Think of pro­fes­sional advi­sors, teacher, friends and oth­ers that you trusted blindly, maybe with mixed results, which, by the way, will always be mixed, i.e., we will always make occa­sional mis­takes whether we do what we want, or if we lis­ten to other’s advice. Mis­takes are a part of life. Learn to live with them. But at least with the absence of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do atti­tude you will have hap­pier life, bet­ter rela­tion­ships and open end for self-growth and being a respon­si­ble wise adult instead of a per­pet­ual teenager.

Doing what oth­ers request from you, being a “yes” per­son, will pro­vide you with an oppor­tu­nity for ser­vice, whether it is gladly bring­ing your part­ner a cup of cof­fee*, or car­ing for the sick and elderly, or any­thing in between. We grow by serv­ing oth­ers. We serve our­selves by serv­ing oth­ers. We are social ani­mals. “Doing onto oth­ers what they want done to them­selves” is a higher motto for peace­ful rela­tion­ships and peace the world. It is an atti­tude of peace, not con­fronta­tion. It is about care, con­tri­bu­tion, pros­per­ity, effi­ciency, effec­tive­ness and self-growth from teenage-hood to adult­hood. Remem­ber the choice is always yours.

To be bound by our choices is not to have lost our freedom

but to have exer­cised it.”

Robert Brault

Radomir

*See The Rela­tion­ship Saver: “Reverse the process”

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Self Defense For Verbal Conflict

My good friend Philip, an Aikido prac­ti­tioner,  wrote this arti­cle. I imme­di­ately rec­og­nized it as a gold mine for resolv­ing rela­tion­ship con­flicts (although this par­tic­u­lar story is about a con­flict with a neigh­bor) and and at the same time devel­op­ing your­self. Our auto­matic behav­ior is to re-act to each other which, as I men­tioned in The Rela­tion­ship Saver, throws a wrench into the wheels of our rela­tion­ship and into a down­ward spin. Here Philip elo­quently explains how to stop react­ing and take your  rela­tion­ship into your own hands, the Aikido way.

Enjoy.
Radomir

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Self Defense For Ver­bal Con­flict

By Philip Stearns

A cou­ple days ago my friends Radomir and Antoinette were accosted by their next-door neigh­bor, a young, 20-something woman.  Based on the per­ceived affront of a car parked too close to her dri­ve­way, the woman mate­ri­al­ized on their front porch, banged on the door and, when Antoinette answered the knock, pro­ceeded to threat­en­ingly cuss her out as being an incon­sid­er­ate, f-ing bitch before head­ing back across the drive to her house.  Her hus­band Radomir, upon hear­ing of the inci­dent, made the trip next door to get to the bot­tom of the sit­u­a­tion.  He was met by a sim­i­lar stream of invec­tive high­lighted by the resound­ing bang of the door slam­ming in his face.

Hav­ing been friends with Antoinette for many years and know­ing her to be an extremely polite, respect­ful, gen­tle, soft-spoken, reserved Eng­lish woman, this scene seemed almost amus­ing in its absur­dity.  Who could get so worked up with Antoinette?  The look on her face, how­ever, revealed how shaken up she was by the episode.  Radomir, him­self an expert in human inter­ac­tions and rela­tion­ships and an author on the topic, was sim­i­larly both­ered by the extreme nature of the ver­bal attack.  The ques­tion imme­di­ately arose in the con­ver­sa­tion as to how I would have han­dled the woman had it been me stand­ing in the door­way, nose-to-nose with the rag­ing, abu­sive shrew.  I prac­tice a defen­sive art called aikido – some­times referred to as “the art of peace” — that is all about resolv­ing con­flict so this real-world episode demanded con­sid­er­a­tion and raised the ques­tion: how do you han­dle a sud­den, intense ver­bal attack so that every­one can win?  After all, the lady was their next-door neigh­bor.  You don’t want to aggra­vate the rela­tion­ship.  But you want to defuse the sit­u­a­tion and, ide­ally, feel good about it.

Before explor­ing approaches that can be taken in sit­u­a­tions like this, it is use­ful to under­stand a cou­ple of facts about human biol­ogy and psy­chol­ogy.  Under­stand­ing them is the key to both keep­ing your cool under fire and help­ing your assailant sim­mer down.

First of all, humans are equipped with an amaz­ing brain, the prod­uct of mil­lions of years of evo­lu­tion.  The brain is actu­ally made up of many inter­ac­tive parts.  Some two dozen or so of the old­est parts make up some­thing called the lim­bic sys­tem, a set of brain struc­tures that line the inner bor­der of the cor­tex.  Phys­i­o­log­i­cal func­tions such as sleep cycles, heart rate, blood pres­sure, hunger, thirst, sex­ual arousal, for­ma­tion of long-term mem­ory, fight or flight impulses, among other low level, basic func­tions, find a home in the lim­bic sys­tem.  This is the area of the brain that kept us alive through ancient times of extreme adver­sity.  This is where the impulse to flee from dan­ger is gen­er­ated and where the reflex­ive instincts to pro­tect our selves, our chil­dren, our food, our shel­ter and our stuff come from.  Sur­vival has always been the name of the game and fight-or-flight was a key to enabling us to see the sun rise another day.  Even now, after count­less gen­er­a­tions, if we per­ceive we are being attacked or threat­ened in some way, elab­o­rate hor­monal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes instantly emanate from the lim­bic sys­tem trig­ger­ing emo­tional responses like fear or anger.  The reflex­ive instinct towards self-defense rises from the ancient rep­til­ian brain, insist­ing we flee or fight.  Inher­ent in these reflex­ive feel­ings is a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity from exter­nal sources of danger.

The next useful-to-understand fact of human nature is that each of us pos­sesses a set of bio­log­i­cal ‘switches’ for our emo­tions.  These switches are entirely auto­matic and they are uni­ver­sal.  They are often referred to as the Affect Sys­tem and they devel­oped along­side the lim­bic sys­tem to aid in our sur­vival in some way.  Most of the emo­tions that are trig­gered are thought of as being ‘neg­a­tive’, such as fear, anger, shame, dis­tress, dis­gust, etc.  A few are ‘pos­i­tive’, like inter­est, excite­ment and joy.  For our pur­poses here, it is only impor­tant to under­stand that:

1.  These emo­tional switches exist and they are fun­da­men­tal to who we are.  We all have them.
2.  Only a sin­gle switch/emotion can be acti­vated at-a-time.  An anal­ogy would be those old-fashioned car radios with ‘radio but­tons’; when one is pushed, the oth­ers pop out.  So, for exam­ple, we don’t expe­ri­ence fear and joy simul­ta­ne­ously, or anger and inter­est.  If you are feel­ing joy­ful and some­thing sud­denly fright­ens you, joy will give way to fear, and visa-versa.
3.  The third fact that is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant to our expe­ri­ence in a sit­u­a­tion that we per­ceive as being threat­en­ing is a phe­nom­e­non often referred to as “affect res­o­nance”.  In a nut­shell, peo­ple tend to auto­mat­i­cally share emo­tions to one degree or another.  If a per­son is upset in our pres­ence, we tend to feel upset.  We res­onate emo­tion­ally.   The pres­ence of an excited per­son tends to make us feel excited, too.  Joy begets joy, anger begets anger, and so on.  This is most read­ily observed in chil­dren.  New­borns in a hos­pi­tal nurs­ery, for exam­ple, can eas­ily be seen shar­ing  ‘dis­tress’.  One hun­gry baby starts cry­ing and all the babies join in, hun­gry or not.  For­tu­nately, as we grow up we grad­u­ally learn to mod­u­late these emo­tional reac­tions.  With­out the learned abil­ity to get a han­dle on this phe­nom­e­non of Affect Res­o­nance every upset per­son would trig­ger upset in all of those around him.  Every tear would gen­er­ate a tor­rent of tears.  So, as we mature, we learn to mod­u­late the impulse to spon­ta­neously share the emo­tions of those around us.  Nonethe­less, we still feel the basic impulses when exposed to another person’s emo­tional state.

Right!  Now we have an under­stand­ing of these basic facts of human nature.  How might this serve us when faced with an enraged, scream­ing, threat­en­ing neigh­bor who has appeared on the doorstep intent upon vent­ing her rage and mak­ing you feel as bad as humanly pos­si­ble?  Let’s take a look…

First of all, the most nat­ural expe­ri­ence for most peo­ple is for your body and mind to become highly reac­tive as affect res­o­nance kicks in.  The woman is loud, angry and threat­en­ing.  You may well quickly feel hot, shaky, per­haps fear­ful or angry.  Maybe you will feel guilty or ashamed if your car really was block­ing the neighbor’s dri­ve­way.  Or, you might be dis­gusted by the bizarre dis­play. What­ever the ini­tial feel­ings, they will almost cer­tainly be neg­a­tive.  The inten­sity of the assault will be a shock to your sys­tem.  The first step toward tak­ing advan­tage of the sit­u­a­tion is clearly to get a grip on you.  You can feel your­self los­ing it.  What to do??

Remem­ber that what­ever affects (switches) are being thrown and what­ever emo­tion you are expe­ri­enc­ing can be coun­ter­acted by con­sciously throw­ing a dif­fer­ent switch.  The trick is to con­trol your mind.  It might be use­ful to see the woman on the porch as being a sales­per­son who is sell­ing you some­thing you really don’t want to buy.  After all, why would you want to buy a body full of rag­ing pep­tides and a head full of dis­tress?  Or, in the words of Tom Waits, “a head full of light­ning and a hat full of rain.” So, the first order of busi­ness is to CHOOSE to move your atten­tion con­sciously to some place other than the woman’s face which is the pri­mary pro­jec­tor of her rage.  My favorite loca­tion in this sit­u­a­tion is the bot­tom of my feet.  Put your atten­tion on the soles of your feet and become aware of the feel­ing of pres­sure com­ing from the con­tact with the floor.  Think about the feel­ing, visu­al­ize your feet and the way they greet the floor.  Are you wear­ing shoes?  How do they look?  Raise your big toes and see how the sen­sa­tions in your feet change.  Put them down again.  Take a deep breath and imag­ine the air is trav­el­ing all the way down to your feet.  Put your atten­tion in your feet.  Breath into them.

What this exer­cise is doing is cap­tur­ing your atten­tion and trig­ger­ing the “inter­est” switch.  You are switch­ing off the neg­a­tive emo­tions and turn­ing on inter­est.  You are calm­ing down and giv­ing your­self a break from being buf­feted by your own biol­ogy.  Now, main­tain­ing your aware­ness of the bot­tom of your feet, move your atten­tion to the woman’s body.  Notice that you can now do that with­out feel­ing reac­tive.  Inves­ti­gate all the ways she has become rigid, unbal­anced and unsteady.  Allow your­self to be absorbed in this inves­ti­ga­tion.  Then take another breath and extend com­pas­sion towards this trou­bled woman.  Feel a con­nec­tion form.  Reach out to her in your mind.  You now have some­thing that she dearly needs.  You have calm, empa­thy and compassion.

This is where the magic begins.  Notice that one of two things is going to hap­pen.  Either the woman is going to break away and leave because she feels her mood slip­ping away and she is invested in hold­ing onto the intensely neg­a­tive feel­ings… or…. she is going to calm down.  She is look­ing for resis­tance and you are giv­ing her none.  The abil­ity to main­tain her rage depends on your resis­tance.  She needs some­one to push on to main­tain her rage. When you take the resis­tance away, so goes the ugly mood.

Affect res­o­nance goes both ways.  Just as your emo­tions are trig­gered by your neighbor’s intense anger, so will her mood be affected by YOUR emo­tional state.  THIS is your power.  This is your road out of a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and into a sense of peace and empowerment.

So, the name of the game is not to react to your neigh­bor… but to con­trol you.  When you trap your own atten­tion and become inter­ested or even – with prac­tice — joy­ful in the pres­ence of your neigh­bor, she is going to feel her own mood alter in accor­dance to the laws of her own phys­i­o­log­i­cal makeup.  It’s just a fan­tas­tic and for­tu­nate fact of human biol­ogy.  Your neighbor’s abil­ity to main­tain her rag­ing emo­tional state is under­mined by your own pos­i­tive pres­ence.  She can­not feel your inter­est, com­pas­sion, or your love with­out res­onat­ing to it and with­out hav­ing her neg­a­tive emo­tions switched off.  By con­trol­ling your­self you are switch­ing off your neighbor’s anger switch.  You have the power.  And it’s a win-win.  Once calm, you can work out the details of your differences.

The prob­lem in human con­flict is never the per­son attack­ing you.  The only issue is how you feel about it.  That feel­ing becomes a choice when you under­stand how your feel­ings oper­ate.  And, once you have expe­ri­enced the real­ity that what you choose to feel either sup­ports or dis­solves your attacker’s neg­a­tive inten­tions, it becomes dif­fi­cult not to ask the ques­tion, “who is really respon­si­ble for this situation?”

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Happiness In Troubling Times

In pros­per­ous west­ern cul­tures divorces are sky-rocketing while in poorer soci­eties fam­i­lies are far more sta­ble. What are the rea­sons for this phe­nom­e­non and what has that got to do with us? Do I have to become poor in order to have a happy rela­tion­ship, you may ask. Not really, but on the other hand, you may have no choice.

You are aware, I’m sure, that the econ­omy in the U.S. is not exactly at its peak per­for­mance and there are unde­ni­able indi­ca­tions that it will get worse, much worse. This time I became painfully aware of the inevitable down­fall of our econ­omy. It may not hap­pen tomor­row, but in 5 to 10 years it is inevitable. It may sound like doom-and-gloom, but all the met­rics and his­tory point in that direc­tion. Pre­dict­ing the future is a risky busi­ness, but one thing is for cer­tain: we may not become exactly a third world coun­try, but we are cer­tainly mov­ing in that direc­tion.  It is hap­pen­ing slowly, so it may not be so obvi­ous. Think of the prover­bial frog in water that is get­ting warmer and warmer until it’s too late. It dies with­out try­ing to escape. Denial will not help. If you want to know the real­ity of the present state of the U.S. econ­omy there is a plethora of lit­er­a­ture out there to sup­port it. If you want to read only one book on the sub­ject, try Sur­vival+, Struc­tur­ing Pros­per­ity for Your­self and the Nation by Charles Hugh Smith.

All these years we have been trained by the main­stream media and adver­tis­ing that the “pur­suit of hap­pi­ness” means procur­ing mate­r­ial goods and sta­tus that in turn will make us happy. In other words, the more we have the hap­pier we will be. The pro­pa­ganda of con­sumerism has dis­torted our inalien­able right of the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness, from a struc­tured jour­ney (with the inevitable set­backs) to the fleet­ing eupho­ria of a new purchase/ acqui­si­tion. We have renounced our title of cit­i­zen and embraced the con­sumer avatar while becom­ing dif­fi­dent to the free­dom of reality.

In order to pre­pare for what’s com­ing and the end of pros­per­ity as we know it (although it will be incre­men­tal instead of sud­den. Have you started feel­ing like a frog?), we need to dis­tin­guish what it is that really makes us happy. Inci­den­tally, the same things that make us happy turn out to be our best sur­vival tech­nique when the bad times hit.

Numer­ous stud­ies of the multi-faceted inner sen­sa­tion we call hap­pi­ness are largely inter­nal and relationship-based. Com­mon sense sug­gests that secu­rity offered by wealth and income boosts well-being, but stud­ies find addi­tional wealth pro­vides dimin­ish­ing returns. Beyond a cer­tain rel­a­tively low level, addi­tional wealth in any form (cash, goods, travel etc.) offers lit­tle improve­ment in well-being (read: happiness).

This soci­ety is pro­mot­ing pos­ses­sions, titles, enti­tle­ments, and asso­ci­a­tions with the “rich and famous” as a source of hap­pi­ness, but per­sonal integrity is essen­tially mean­ing­less and val­ue­less in the cur­rent con­sumerist frame of reference.

The pro­lif­er­a­tion of the so-called self-esteem indus­try is an unre­al­is­tic, feel-good mar­ket­ing ploy as well. Just as mar­ket­ing pur­pose­fully con­fuses hap­pi­ness with con­sump­tion, so too does the self-esteem indus­try con­fuse exter­nal met­rics and slo­gans with inner secu­rity and well-being, (i.e., you can be, achieve, have what­ever you want, imag­ine, con­jure etc.!!) with no men­tion of the nec­es­sary hard­ship, unpleas­ant choices, inevitable suf­fer­ing, and set­backs on the way to success.

Pros­per­ity and “real wealth” can­not be mea­sured by the size of one’s home or range of pos­ses­sions, but by health, access to FEW (food, energy and water –what we often take for granted), mean­ing­ful work and a net­work of peo­ple who care about your well-being.

When the going gets tough, as it surely will, out of the things men­tioned above, rela­tion­ships are the only one fac­tor over which we can have con­trol.  We must under­stand that nei­ther pos­ses­sions nor titles will make us happy, but rather the rela­tion­ships we nur­ture with oth­ers. By build­ing healthy fam­ily rela­tion­ships first we will undoubt­edly thrive in the face of mate­r­ial scarcity.

Our per­sonal pros­per­ity and the pros­per­ity of our soci­ety will largely depend on the true, hon­est and deep con­nec­tions we develop with other peo­ple and not on what and how much we have. Nei­ther will we be able to rely on the state to pro­vide for us.

In order to start the process of true, hon­est and deep relat­ed­ness, we need to start with build­ing such a rela­tion­ship with our­selves first. In other words we need to grow up. Peter Pan and Cin­derella must be left in the past where they belong and be exchanged for a deep rela­tion­ship with real­ity, start­ing with grat­i­tude for what we have now. No move­ment is pos­si­ble with­out acknowl­edg­ment of the real­ity of the present situation.

The next step is fam­ily. First, sort out and com­plete your rela­tion­ship with your par­ents (alive or deceased). With­out doing that you can­not be really free in any other rela­tion­ship.  Your part­ner (hus­band, wife, etc.) must have, in your mind, the same sta­tus as the other mem­bers of your fam­ily, i.e., your chil­dren and your par­ents. Think­ing that you must be “in love” in order to be in a happy and lov­ing rela­tion­ship is an ado­les­cent con­cept. Also, there is no sub­sti­tute to being 100% com­mit­ted, 100% in integrity, and 100% respon­si­ble for your life and your rela­tion­ship. Learn what love is (hint: it’s not merely a feeling.)*

Your friends and neigh­bors are next. Learn to give first, with­out expect­ing any­thing in return. It could be any­thing: a kind word, a com­pli­ment, or help, ser­vice, mate­r­ial things, food, etc. Share your pos­ses­sions and life with them. In tough times you can never have enough your­self of what you may need. By shar­ing what you have will entice the oth­ers to give you what you may be lack­ing. This is how friend­ship, trust and com­mu­ni­ties are built. You may need to orga­nize in the future to form busi­nesses, orga­ni­za­tions and local gov­ern­ments. Mere schmooz­ing and net­work­ing ain’t gonna cut it. You need to get to know each other on a per­sonal level. You need to break bread with them, some­times literally.

As you can see, mov­ing from a con­sumer iso­lated soci­ety into a true com­mu­nity — which seems to be an inevitable step in the next five to ten years — will take some doing if we don’t want to be swept away by the eco­nomic hard­ships that lie ahead.  For­tu­nately, the steps we must take to adapt to changes are the same steps that will bring us hap­pi­ness, pros­per­ity, and close­ness to our fam­ily and loved ones.

What do you think?

Radomir

*Ref.: The Game­less Relationship.

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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How To Make Your Woman Happy

Note: What fol­lows does not apply to ALL the women ALL the time, but in major­ity sit­u­a­tions it could be very use­ful and right on the mark.

I shall attempt to lay out as suc­cinctly as I can a guide to most com­mon issues we, men, need to deal with in our rela­tion­ships with our women. Too often we for­get that we are deal­ing with a “dif­fer­ent species” i.e. female Homo Sapi­ens and by default, if we want to be nice, we treat them the way we want to be treated. That’s what we have been told: “Do unto the oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.” Wrong! When deal­ing with the oppo­site sex, in fact with oth­ers in gen­eral, we should use the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of this rule:  “Do unto oth­ers as they would have it done to them­selves”. In other word treat oth­ers as they want to be treated.

Well, the prob­lem arises when you have no idea how oth­ers (women) want to be treated. Espe­cially when it changes all the time depend­ing on cir­cum­stances and on con­stantly chang­ing feel­ings that women are so good at. Men are cer­tainly dis­ad­van­taged in this area. The best we can do is to become good at a guess­ing game. So often we find our­selves with a foot in our mouth not under­stand­ing what hap­pened and how we got there, although we treated our very much loved woman exactly the way we would want to be treated.

Here I will try to out­line some “rules” that will keep your foot where it belongs, on the floor.

Since this arti­cle is aimed at men I will deal with this issue in bul­let points. Here are some of the basic rules when deal­ing with a woman we love:

• First and fore­most: take full respon­si­bil­ity for what comes out of your mouth as well as how you choose to inter­pret what you hear.

• Reas­sur­ance. Our women need to be told that we love them. We erro­neously think that our actions like work­ing and pro­vid­ing for the fam­ily clearly com­mu­ni­cates our love for her. We often think that the more we work the stronger is the mes­sage of our love. Wrong again. Noth­ing can sub­sti­tute look­ing in her eyes and telling her: “I love you.”

• Emo­tions. Women emote very dif­fer­ently then we do. A woman hav­ing a dif­fused focus as opposed to single-focus of us, men, can­not con­trol what thoughts come into their head. Thoughts trig­ger emo­tions and we men find our­selves in trou­ble, not know­ing what hit us. There is no logic and no con­nec­tion to the present sit­u­a­tion. We can­not con­nect dots and We start ask­ing our­selves what did we do wrong. Most likely noth­ing. Feel­ings some­times go ram­pant in a woman. She can­not con­trol it. She can­not choose  what to think about. Say­ing “Don’t think about it”  does not help. Try to close the issue by resolv­ing the con­cern. Of course you need to find out what the real con­cern is and that may take some doing.

• Secu­rity. Again we think that the most impor­tant thing for a woman is that she feels finan­cially secure. That’s why, as I men­tioned before, you do your best to pro­vide for her. That’s awfully nice of you, but you may be bark­ing up a wrong tree. What she really wants much more than “money and things” is emo­tional secu­rity. This means that she can count on you to always be there for her and that she can count on you to be her best friend.

• Lis­ten­ing. We men lis­ten for a prob­lems and look for solu­tions. We also lis­ten for the point of the con­ver­sa­tion. We have no patience to lis­ten to a chrono­log­i­cal unfold­ing of a story with­out know­ing were it is going. As soon as our loved one tells us that she has a prob­lem, we are think­ing how to fix it. Wrong! Your women is quite able most of the time to fix the prob­lem her­self. If she can­not she will ask you for help. You need to trust that. What she wants from you is to lis­ten to her and acknowl­edge how she feels about it, because her feel­ings are the prob­lem that she needs to com­mu­ni­cate to you. Once you know that, it becomes easy (or not) to just lis­ten and not offer your solu­tions because there are none. She is deal­ing with her feel­ings which she has no con­trol over. So, next time she comes to you with a prob­lem, do not lis­ten to her prob­lem, lis­ten for her feel­ings. Do not offer help, wait to be asked for it, or ask if she wants your help.

• Sex. We men are very vain. When our woman does not want to have sex with us, we take it per­son­ally. Sex is our pri­mary drive in rela­tion­ship with a woman. Not so for them. In fact once you under­stand that woman’s “warm-up time” is much longer than ours and that she needs to be fore­warned so that she can antic­i­pate it, things become much eas­ier. It’s not about you. Women are wired dif­fer­ently and for a good rea­son. (I’m not going to go into it here.) Very often she just wants to be close to you, to snug­gle and be cud­dled. Of course, when­ever that hap­pens you think about sex. Hold your horses, not so fast! It DOES NOT mean that she wants sex. If you insist on it every time she comes close to you, she will start avoid­ing you. You scare her off. Take it easy, take your time. Once she gets into it, she WILL enjoy it as much, or maybe even more than you do, but patience is an oper­a­tive word.

• Beauty. A woman asks a man: “Does this dress make me look fat?” Man: “No, your fat makes you look fat.” Baaaaad move. That’s how you can talk to other man friends and not to a woman, because women are dif­fer­ent species. They will never inter­pret it as a joke, or just take it as plain truth. Remem­ber, it’s all about feel­ings. Her inter­pre­ta­tion would be …. well, make up your own. Women want us to find them attrac­tive. They want to be looked at and we, men want to look. Per­fect match! She has a deep need to know that she is beau­ti­ful for YOU. When she asks you how she looks do not say, just fine. Cul­tural pres­sure to look beau­ti­ful is great and it can hardly be avoided. So, tell her often and hon­estly that she is beau­ti­ful. You do not have to use exactly that word, but there are so many oth­ers and other ways to say the same thing. Be cre­ative.
These are just some of the points that we men often are not aware of, or sim­ply do not bother to prac­tice them. Try them, they work. Ask your women.

(Next arti­cle will be for women about men)

Let us know your thoughts and expe­ri­ences about this from both men and women.

Thanks

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Maintaining A Healthy Relationship

The fol­low­ing arti­cle describes what I have sus­pected for a long time and writ­ten about in one of my pre­vi­ous posts. We think that we should know how to man­age our rela­tion­ships and thus are very resis­tant to look­ing for help until it is often too late.

Smart busi­nesses invest in adver­tis­ing and devel­op­ment in the peri­ods of their pros­per­ity. We also invest on a per­sonal level when, as is men­tioned in the arti­cle below, we go to the den­tist for a check up. We do not wait for our teeth to decay first.

The New York Times Arti­cle, Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife by TARA PARKER-POPE is about research by psy­chol­o­gists in the topic of rela­tion­ship main­te­nance. Since I am a coach and author, here I’d like to point out that there is a dif­fer­ence between coach­ing and psychology.

Coach­ing is only for men­tally healthy peo­ple and it is mostly ori­ented towards future actions. We do not delve into the the past and “fix” things, we cre­ate the future. If we notice that there may be some deeper issues that need ther­apy, we would refer our clients to a therapist.

Since psy­chother­apy in this coun­try is a busi­ness, and it could be a very prof­itable one, I think that too many healthy peo­ple are made to think that they need ther­apy or coun­sel­ing (which is also mostly done by ther­a­pists) in order to be able to repair their relationship.

This is by no means intended to bash psy­chother­a­pists. After all, my daugh­ter will be one very soon. There are many cases where ther­apy best be used, but I have seen many peo­ple go to ther­apy as a default option when a lit­tle healthy coach­ing can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world. Ther­apy can be expen­sive, where just a few insights into the core prin­ci­ples of a suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships may cause all the change that you want in your relationship .

All this said, here is the link to this excel­lent arti­cle by Tara Parker-Pope that was sent to me by my friend Anabela Enes:

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JUNE 28, 2010, 5:17 PM
Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife
By TARA PARKER-POPE
Stu­art Brad­ford Does your mar­riage need ther­apy? If you’re like most peo­ple, the cor­rect answer may well be yes, but your answer is prob­a­bly no.
In most mar­riages, one or both part­ners resist the idea of coun­sel­ing. Some can’t afford it, or find it incon­ve­nient. And many view ther­apy as a last resort — some­thing only des­per­ate cou­ples need. Only 19 per­cent of cur­rently mar­ried cou­ples have taken part in mar­riage coun­sel­ing; a recent study of divorc­ing cou­ples found that nearly two-thirds never sought coun­sel­ing before decid­ing to end the rela­tion­ship.
“It seems like we’re even more resis­tant to think­ing about get­ting help for our rela­tion­ship than we are for depres­sion or anx­i­ety,” said Brian D. Doss, an assis­tant psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Miami. “There’s a strong dis­in­cen­tive to think about your rela­tion­ship as being in trou­ble — that’s almost admit­ting fail­ure by admit­ting that some­thing isn’t right.”
Mar­riage coun­sel­ing does not always work, of course — per­haps because it is so often delayed past the point of no return. One recent study of two types of ther­apy found that only about half the cou­ples reported long-lasting improve­ments in their mar­riages.
So researchers have begun look­ing for ways (some of them online) to reach cou­ples before a mar­riage goes off the rails.
One fed­er­ally financed study is track­ing 217 cou­ples tak­ing part in an annual “mar­riage checkup” that essen­tially offers pre­ven­tive care, like an annual phys­i­cal or a den­tal exam.
“You don’t wait to see the den­tist until some­thing hurts — you go for check­ups on a reg­u­lar basis,” said James V. Cór­dova, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at Clark Uni­ver­sity in Worces­ter, Mass., who wrote “The Mar­riage Checkup” (Jason Aron­son, 2009). “That’s the model we’re test­ing. If peo­ple were to bring their mar­riages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that pro­vide the same sort of ben­e­fit that a phys­i­cal health checkup would pro­vide?”
Although Dr. Cór­dova and col­leagues are still tal­ly­ing the data, pre­lim­i­nary find­ings show that cou­ples who take part in the pro­gram do expe­ri­ence improve­ments in mar­i­tal qual­ity. By work­ing with cou­ples before they are unhappy, the checkup iden­ti­fies poten­tially “cor­ro­sive” behav­iors and helps cou­ples make small changes in com­mu­ni­ca­tion style before their prob­lems spi­ral out of con­trol. (Typ­i­cal prob­lems include lack of time for sex and blam­ing a part­ner for the stresses of child rear­ing.)
“Cou­ples won’t go to mar­i­tal ther­apy with just the one thing that they are strug­gling with,” Dr. Cór­dova said. “So they end up strug­gling in places where the fix might be sim­ple, it’s just that they them­selves are blind to it.”
Not sur­pris­ingly, some ther­a­pists are cre­at­ing online self-help pro­grams to reach cou­ples before seri­ous prob­lems set in. Dr. Doss and Andrew Chris­tensen, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les, are recruit­ing cou­ples at www.OurRelationship.com to study such a pro­gram.
The online study, financed by a five-year $1.2 mil­lion grant from the National Insti­tute of Child Health and Human Devel­op­ment, will deliver online ther­apy to 500 cou­ples. It is based on “accep­tance ther­apy,” which focuses on bet­ter under­stand­ing of a partner’s flaws — a tech­nique described in “Rec­on­cil­able Dif­fer­ences” (Guil­ford Press, 2002), by Dr. Chris­tensen and Neil S. Jacob­son.
The method, for­mally called inte­gra­tive behav­ioral ther­apy, was the sub­ject of one of the largest and longest clin­i­cal tri­als of cou­ples ther­apy. Over a year, 134 highly dis­tressed mar­ried cou­ples in Los Ange­les and Seat­tle received 26 ther­apy ses­sions, with follow-up ses­sions every six months for the next five years.
Half the cou­ples received tra­di­tional ther­apy that focused on bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and prob­lem solv­ing, while the oth­ers took part in a sim­i­lar pro­gram that included accep­tance ther­apy. Five years after treat­ment, about half the mar­riages in both groups were sig­nif­i­cantly improved, accord­ing to the study, which appeared in the April issue of The Jour­nal of Con­sult­ing and Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy. Dr. Chris­tensen says about a third of the sub­jects could be described as “nor­mal, happy cou­ples,” a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment con­sid­er­ing how dis­tressed they were at the start. (The cou­ples who received accep­tance ther­apy had bet­ter results after two years, but both types of ther­apy were about equal by the end of the study.)
The hope is that an online ver­sion of the pro­gram could reach cou­ples sooner, and also offer booster ses­sions to improve results. Even so, Dr. Chris­tensen notes that the dis­ad­van­tage of online ther­apy is that it won’t give cou­ples a third party to ref­eree their dis­cus­sion.
“Nobody thinks it’s going to replace indi­vid­ual ther­apy or cou­ples ther­apy,” he said. “There’s gen­er­ally a sense that the inter­ven­tion might be less pow­er­ful, but if it’s less pow­er­ful but is eas­ily admin­is­tered to many more peo­ple, then it’s still a very help­ful treat­ment.”
Researchers at Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity offer an exten­sive online mar­i­tal assess­ment, called Relate, for cou­ples and indi­vid­u­als. The detailed ques­tion­naire, at www.relate– institute.org, takes about 35 min­utes to com­plete and gen­er­ates a lengthy report with color-coded graphs depict­ing a couple’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­flict style, how much effort each part­ner puts into the rela­tion­ship, and other things. The fee is $20 to $40.
Aus­tralian researchers are using the same assess­ment, along with a DVD and tele­phone edu­ca­tion pro­gram called Cou­ple Care, found at www.couplecare.info, to reach fam­i­lies in remote areas who don’t have access to tra­di­tional ther­apy. The Utah and Aus­tralia researchers have begun a ran­dom­ized, con­trolled trial of about 300 cou­ples to deter­mine the effec­tive­ness of the approach.
Pre­lim­i­nary data show that cou­ples reported improve­ment, but Kim Hal­ford, a pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land, St. Lucia, in Aus­tralia, said more study of long-term effects was needed.
Dr. Hal­ford notes that as more cou­ples meet through Web dat­ing ser­vices, the appeal of online cou­ples coun­sel­ing may increase. “If infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is inte­gral to how you began your rela­tion­ship,” he said, “then if ther­apy is required it’s not sur­pris­ing that they would look to online tech­nol­ogy.”
A ver­sion of this arti­cle appeared in print on June 29, 2010, on page D1 of the New York edi­tion.
Copy­right 2010 The New York Times Com­pany
Pri­vacy Pol­icy    NYTimes.com
620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018

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If you are not sure about qual­ity of your rela­tion­ship, you may check it HERE

If your rela­tion­ship is less than you may con­sider “per­fect”, The Game­less Rela­tion­ship will expose exactly what may be missing.

Thank you

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Lust vs. Love

lust |ləst|

noun

very strong sex­ual desire : he knew that his lust for her had returned.

[in sing. ] a pas­sion­ate desire for some­thing : a lust for power.

(usu. lusts) chiefly The­ol­ogy a sen­sual appetite regarded as sin­ful : lusts of the flesh.

Yes, of course, we all know the dif­fer­ence. We talk about love, sing songs, write poems and recite quotes, express it to oth­ers, cher­ish it and gen­er­ally put it on an emo­tional pedestal. We all know that “Love makes the world go round.” Or, do we some­times con­fuse that ever present and overused word “love”, with another word which is “sin­ful”, not to be men­tioned in not only polite soci­ety, but some­how regarded as weak­ness prop­a­gated for cen­turies by most reli­gions as unde­sir­able. This dreaded word is, of course you’ve guessed it, LUST.

Yet, I sug­gest that these two words, love and lust, are much more inter­change­able in our lives than we would like to admit. This some­how applies to men more often than women, which is not to say that women are immune to lust. On the con­trary, it can be just as strong a dri­ving force in a rela­tion­ship although most of the time does not lead to a long-lasting and happy partnership.

Of course, as we can see from the def­i­n­i­tion above, lust is closely con­nected with sex. Although you may lust for money or ice cream, this is not what we are talk­ing about here.

This arti­cle is about being able to dis­tin­guish between love and sex. Why, you may ask. As I men­tioned in pre­vi­ous arti­cles, being present to, and con­scious of what is real and what we imag­ine in our own minds can and will make the dif­fer­ence in your abil­ity to make sound choices and cre­ate your own hap­pi­ness. How many bro­ken rela­tion­ships and mar­riages have you known that started with a cou­ple being “madly in love.” Maybe it was one of your own. The divorce rate in the mil­i­tary is about 80–90% mostly due to young peo­ple hav­ing sex for the first time, falling in love (read: lust) and get­ting mar­ried, and the num­bers tell you what the out­come is for the most part.

How many times have you con­fused love and lust? How many times have you told a woman that you love her just to get her into bed. How many times have you actu­ally believed it if you are a woman? What were the con­se­quences? How many hearts have been bro­ken because peo­ple could not dis­tin­guish between the two?

Men and women usu­ally “fall in love” for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. Real, uncon­di­tional love has noth­ing to do with this phrase. For men, qual­i­ties, which mostly have to do with sex, i.e. looks, are impor­tant. By their good looks women are sub­con­sciously flaunt­ing their fer­til­ity. And, women know very well how to do it: thus, make-up, tat­toos, boob implants, high heels and such. For a woman, what is more impor­tant is the approval of her attrac­tive­ness and man’s abil­ity to sat­isfy her other needs. For a woman lust is rarely first on the list. Be aware, if sex hap­pens to be first on your list if you are a woman, run as fast as you can if you do not want an almost cer­tain break up in the near future.

This is in a nut­shell, how we oper­ate in rela­tion­ships. Our wants and needs go hand in hand. Nature has designed our mat­ing game to per­fec­tion. Our “self­ish genes” are ful­fill­ing their self­ish agenda very well — too well some­times. (There are 6,500,000,000 peo­ple on earth mostly poor and strug­gling for survival.)

Yet, we like to think of our­selves as con­scious beings in con­trol of our actions and lives. Noth­ing can be fur­ther from the truth; lust and sex are the most ancient and the strongest impulses that are hard to con­trol. Yet there is hope. The vehi­cle to knowl­edge is lan­guage. The vehi­cle to wis­dom and hap­pi­ness is the con­stant expan­sion of our aware­ness of the dis­tinc­tion between real­ity and our inter­pre­ta­tions of it. In other words, call­ing a spade a spade might help. Timely dis­tin­guish­ing between lust and love may save you from a life­time of suffering.

In the end I would like to make clear that despite what the church, your mother or soci­ety says, there is noth­ing wrong with “lust of the flash. Lust is a hormone-driven nat­ural process aimed at repro­duc­tion and it is hard to fight. As long as we do not con­fuse it with love we can put it to our ser­vice instead of being its slave.

Love and lust! Just know the difference.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Is It Fear, Or Is It Love?

We talk a lot about love in rela­tion­ships as being the most impor­tant ingre­di­ent with­out which a rela­tion­ship can­not be sus­tained. So, we always talk about how we want to be loved more, how the love was lost, how to regain love and put the “spark” back in our rela­tion­ship. We think that some­how that feel­ing of love or a lov­ing feel­ing should always be present and only then we would know that our rela­tion­ship is OK. When a rela­tion­ship is break­ing up there seems to be a simul­ta­ne­ous loss of love, or loss of love pre­cedes the break up. We treat love as a “thing” that can some­how be lost. If it can be lost, then we think it can be gained as well. Peo­ple who use The Rela­tion­ship Saver are always on the side where their partner’s love for them was lost and they want their part­ner to regain it. They live in a state of fear that they will not be able to get their part­ner to regain their love for them although they “love“ them “with all their hart.” No one notices the con­tra­dic­tion and impos­si­bil­i­ties in this kind of rea­son­ing, or rather wish­ful think­ing: love and fear don’t mix, like oil and water.

First we must under­stand that that elu­sive “love” is a state of mind and it is much big­ger than a sim­ple feel­ing. You can only receive love if you are able to give it. There is no such a thing as a lim­ited sup­ply of love. You can­not share love. Love is not a pie so when you give two slices to one per­son there is none left for another. When you love, every­one and every­thing receives all your love all the time. You do not have to with­hold love for one per­son in order to have “enough love” for another per­son that you love. Love has no bounds. You are either in a state of love or in the state of fear.

If you are sav­ing “your love” for one per­son or thing, you are being in a state of fear, which elim­i­nates love. Love is much big­ger than a feel­ing for one per­son. Love starts with the accep­tance of real­ity itself. Accept­ing real­ity for what it is and not what you think it “should” be is the first step to expe­ri­enc­ing the state of love. You can­not love one per­son and not love other peo­ple and the world itself. So, by now you might have noticed that the kind of love I am talk­ing about is uncon­di­tional love. And, yes, that is the only love there is. When­ever you have a rea­son for lov­ing you may be sure that it is not love. It most likely is a need. Ask your­self why you love your part­ner. Is it because he is good to you, strong, hand­some, good father, or is it because she is beau­ti­ful, sup­port­ive, good mother? Now ask your­self what would hap­pen if your part­ner loses those qual­i­ties or stops doing thinks that you love him for. Your love will most cer­tainly dis­ap­pear. We can safely con­clude that your love is not uncon­di­tional, but you were get­ting what you needed and you were grate­ful to your part­ner for it.  Your part­ner sat­is­fied your needs and that’s why you “loved” him. And, fear of los­ing it was always present, or you just took it for granted. You did not love your part­ner for who he is, as a per­son, but for what he does, or what need of yours she could sat­isfy. So when your part­ner says he is not in love with you any more, or that she does not love you any more, he/she prob­a­bly never really did in the first place. You were only sat­is­fy­ing one or more of your partner’s needs and now you don’t.

Fear of los­ing a per­son is often trans­lated into “I love him so much”. Con­sider that you don’t. If you did, you’d let him go. You do not need him. I know that it may sound coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but life does not con­form to what you think life should be. Life just is. You were born alone and being an adult, you do not need any­one to tell you that they love you. You are the one who is capa­ble of lov­ing and that’s the only way to receive love. You can­not extract love from any­one. Love is liv­ing with­out fear. Love dis­perses fear like light dis­perses dark­ness. Liv­ing in fear is like liv­ing in dark. Turn the light on and be fearless.

•    Love is not a thing.
•    Love is not a feel­ing.
•    Love is a state of mind.
•    Love is choice.
•    The oppo­site of love is not hate, it is fear.
•    Love is pos­si­ble only where there is no fear.
•    When there is fear there is no love.
•    Where there is love there is NO fear, no mat­ter what.
•    Love is free.
•    Love is fear­less.
•    When you love you can­not be afraid.
•    Jesus was not afraid of dying. He loved.
•    Love is oppo­site of fear. One can­not love and be fear­ful at the same time.

Prac­tic­ing uncon­di­tional love requires fear­less­ness. You must be brave, con­scious, com­mit­ted, in touch of and respect­ful of real­ity and counter your knee-jerk reac­tions. When being in a state of uncon­di­tional love you will expe­ri­ence free­dom like you’ve never known before, peace, tran­quil­ity, and feel­ing of invin­ci­bil­ity and sense of per­fec­tion. You know that every­thing is just the way it should be. Expe­ri­enc­ing uncon­di­tional love is not the same as liv­ing in an illu­sion­ary la-la land. Liv­ing an illu­sion is liv­ing in you own imag­ined world that does not rep­re­sent real­ity.  On the other hand, liv­ing in uncon­di­tional love you are keenly aware of, and accept­ing of real­ity, know­ing full well that shoulds, and coulds will not change it. You real­ize that com­plain­ing about what already is, makes no sense and so you are free to take action now to have your future be dif­fer­ent than present and what it was in the past, fully aware that you can­not change the past itself. Liv­ing in uncon­di­tional love is THE most pow­er­ful and fear free place you can pos­si­bly be in.

Do you have enough guts to do it? Go ahead make my day!

Love

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Who chose your partner?

Whether your rela­tion­ship is going well or not you can always think back to the out­set of the rela­tion­ship and, if you are able to look at those begin­nings with an open mind and objec­tively, you can always say, I told you so. Or at least your par­ents, rel­a­tives or friends could say it.

Our ini­tial rea­sons, feel­ings and intu­ition, or denial of the same are very telling about what our rela­tion­ship will look like in the future. No sur­prises here. If, say, when you first met your part­ner your intu­ition told you that he/she was not for you for any par­tic­u­lar rea­son or in gen­eral, and later you gave in to your feel­ings and rea­sons for not trust­ing your intu­ition, you may very well regret it at some point in the future. If you got into the rela­tion­ship with an agenda, when­ever your agenda gets ful­filled or is not per­ti­nent any more, the rela­tion­ship will most likely dis­solve. You may even be unaware of the real rea­son why you do not want to be in a rela­tion­ship any more, so you will look for some super­fi­cial imme­di­ate rea­son to end it, but if you go deep enough you will always find that orig­i­nal agenda being the real rea­son and cause for your “change of heart”.

Now imag­ine that your part­ner came into the rela­tion­ship with an agenda that he/she has never revealed to you. Often they may not even be clear about it them­selves, or they may be in denial about it. You may end up bewil­dered and con­fused as to what hap­pened. You will never get a straight answer from your part­ner for the rea­sons men­tioned above and you will have to set­tle for some other lame and unbe­liev­able excuse for the break-up. Either way, the real rea­son most of the time lies in the ini­tial rea­son for being in the rela­tion­ship in the first place.

So, who chose your part­ner? Were they your fears, long­ings, desires, inner child, inse­cu­ri­ties, low self-esteem, lone­li­ness, sex drive, you name it. These are just some of the rea­sons. Men and women usu­ally have very dif­fer­ent ones. That par­tic­u­lar dif­fer­ence makes it very dif­fi­cult for you to dis­cern what the real rea­sons are for your part­ner want­ing out.

But when all is said and done, the rea­sons for break­ing up most of the time are just that: rea­sons, plau­si­ble sto­ries, excuses and expla­na­tions. Orig­i­nal agen­das are rarely part of the break-up con­ver­sa­tion and tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for it is not even on the radar screen. It is much eas­ier to blame the other for your lack of com­mit­ment, respon­si­bil­ity, integrity and gen­uine love.

Aware­ness exer­cise: Being hon­est with your­self is very demand­ing, often uncom­fort­able, some­times even impos­si­ble, but nev­er­the­less, it is an essen­tial prac­tice for being in touch with real­ity and your growth and devel­op­ment. This exer­cise has two parts: a) no mat­ter how resis­tant and uncom­fort­able it may be, admit to your­self the real rea­sons you got into the rela­tion­ship in the first place, and b) remem­ber what your ini­tial reac­tion was when you met your future part­ner for the first time. What con­clu­sions can you draw from these mem­o­ries? Cau­tion: This is nei­ther the place nor the time to blame any­one, includ­ing your­self. Just notice what insights you come up with. You may even share them with your part­ner if you think it appropriate.

Please share those insights  with us.

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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For Men

Here we go again about men/women dif­fer­ences! I keep get­ting calls and e-mails from men with trou­bled rela­tion­ships and the most com­mon prob­lem that I hear stems from a man’s lack of knowl­edge, aware­ness and accep­tance of the enor­mous gen­der dif­fer­ences that are the root of most of the trou­bles in relationships.

Here we will address one of the very char­ac­ter­is­tic modus operandi under­ly­ing women’s behav­ior, which men in their sim­plic­ity can­not even fathom, let alone thor­oughly understand.

Why do men so often find them­selves bewil­dered by their wife/girlfriend’s behav­ior when she wants to leave? Men usu­ally ask them­selves: “What did I do? Noth­ing changed.” When men find them­selves in this sit­u­a­tion they usu­ally start doing every­thing wrong and the oppo­site to what they are expected, yes, expected to do. Women have expec­ta­tions, all the time. The most com­mon expec­ta­tion is a mind-reading abil­ity. Yes, men are sup­posed to exactly know what their women are think­ing at any moment even though she exhibits behav­ior that is com­pletely oppo­site to what she wants. For exam­ple: she will push her man away expect­ing him to pur­sue her so that she can be assured that he loves he. Never mind if you have been mar­ried for years. There is never enough proof of love and a feel­ing of secu­rity. What she wants is a MAN by her side with whom she can feel secure. And most men do just the oppo­site, they either get angry, or start grov­el­ing and ful­fill­ing any whim that she may have. If you get angry she’ll be afraid of you. If you grovel she will despise you. Women will end­lessly test you, although this may be done on a com­pletely uncon­scious level; nev­er­the­less, you are being con­stantly observed and tested for your love, pro­tec­tion, loy­alty and man­li­ness in general.

Secu­rity is the pri­mary moti­va­tion for a woman to seek a rela­tion­ship, while a man usu­ally only has sex on his mind. In order for a woman to feel secure she most of all needs to feel loved. Their basic secu­rity need is emo­tional secu­rity. Women usu­ally do not want the respon­si­bil­i­ties and chal­lenges that men seek either. They do not want to make sur­vival deci­sions, com­pete to suc­ceed, have to make money, or think how to buy a house. But, this kind of secu­rity — mate­r­ial secu­rity — is not nearly as impor­tant as the secu­rity in the knowl­edge – that needs to be con­stantly rein­forced — that her man loves her.

There is a prover­bial say­ing that when a women says “no”, she means, “yes”. This is not to be taken lit­er­ally, but there is more truth in it than you may think. When she is push­ing you away she most likely wants you to pur­sue her. If you are not giv­ing her enough atten­tion to assure her that you love her, she may even seek the com­pany of another man who will “adore” her, but we usu­ally know what he really wants, don’t we? A woman needs attention.

The worst thing a man can do is to ignore her, blame her or be angry with her. While a man can be angry and still love his woman, a woman can­not do that. Her only real­ity is her inter­nal, emo­tional real­ity of the moment. When she is angry with you, you may just as well be dead at that moment. Women are allowed to express their emo­tions and that seems to be their inalien­able right. On the other hand, men are not sup­posed to do that, as it is per­ceived as “irre­spon­si­ble”. Women often com­plain that men do not express their feel­ings, but when they do, women per­ceive men as weak and not manly enough, there­fore not so desir­able. It’s a Catch 22, lose/lose situation.

A woman always keeps a close watch on her man. Often her actions will seem to a man as unrea­son­able and con­tra­dic­tory, but you must know that very often she will test you, albeit uncon­sciously, to see how much you love her and how much of a ”man” you are. This behav­ior is most obvi­ous at the point of break-up, and this is where most men fail by behav­ing the oppo­site of what women want to see. Men start beg­ging, plead­ing and grov­el­ing, or being angry and resent­ful. Noth­ing can be more dis­gust­ing or fright­en­ing to a woman. Either way this just con­tin­ues the down­ward spi­ral towards the final break-up. Such behav­ior by a man is not sur­pris­ing and it comes nat­u­rally to men, because — sur­prise ! — men have feel­ings as well. Nev­er­the­less, in such a sit­u­a­tion a man must hold his ground and be what is expected of him, a MAN.

In con­clu­sion, men need to learn to walk the edge all the time. Women have to walk their own, but that is their con­cern. We men need to learn about women’s needs but per­sist in being manly in order to attract and keep a woman. Oppo­sites attract, remember?

What is your expe­ri­ence? I’d love to hear from you.

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Truth, Opinions and Points of View

I am sure you’ve had a lot of expe­ri­ences where your opin­ion about some­thing was com­pletely dif­fer­ent to other people’s point of view. It can be quite frus­trat­ing to have some­one argue against what you know to be true. When­ever some­one dis­agrees with your point of view you are quite cer­tain that that per­son either does not under­stand, is stu­pid, not as well informed as you are, did not have the expe­ri­ence you’ve had or that he knows that you are right, but does not want to admit it. All these jus­ti­fi­ca­tions – and feel free to add your own – are the proof that your point of view is cor­rect and that other peo­ple are at least wrong if not down­right delu­sional. So how is it pos­si­ble that other peo­ple do not see some­thing that is so obvi­ous to you? How can they be so short­sighted or illog­i­cal, lack com­pas­sion or love, be so incon­sid­er­ate and cruel or what­ever the par­tic­u­lar case may be? Some­times you find your­self won­der­ing whether the whole world has gone mad or if it is just you.

In order to be able to explain this phe­nom­e­non we must first dis­tin­guish what we are talk­ing about, i.e. , point of view and opin­ion. Def­i­n­i­tions from the dic­tio­nary may be of assis­tance here:

opin­ion |əˈpinyən|

noun

a view or judg­ment formed about some­thing, not nec­es­sar­ily based on fact or knowl­edge : I’m writ­ing to voice my opin­ion on an issue of great impor­tance | that, in my opin­ion, is dead right.

the beliefs or views of a large num­ber or major­ity of peo­ple about a par­tic­u­lar thing : the chang­ing cli­mate of opinion.

( opin­ion of) an esti­ma­tion of the qual­ity or worth of some­one or some­thing : I had a higher opin­ion of myself than I deserved.

a for­mal state­ment of advice by an expert on a pro­fes­sional mat­ter : seek­ing a sec­ond opin­ion from a specialist.

Law a for­mal state­ment of rea­sons for a judg­ment given.

Law a lawyer’s advice on the mer­its of a case.

PHRASES

be of the opin­ion that believe or main­tain that : econ­o­mists are of the opin­ion that the econ­omy could contract.

a mat­ter of opin­ion some­thing not capa­ble of being proven either way.

ORIGIN Mid­dle Eng­lish : via Old French from Latin opinio(n-), from the stem of opinari ‘think, believe.’

THE RIGHT WORD

When you give your opin­ion on some­thing, you offer a con­clu­sion or a judg­ment that, although it may be open to ques­tion, seems true or prob­a­ble to you at the time (: she was known for her strong opin­ions on women in the work­place).

A view is an opin­ion that is affected by your per­sonal feel­ings or biases (: his views on life were essen­tially opti­mistic), while a sen­ti­ment is a more or less set­tled opin­ion that may still be col­ored by emo­tion (: her sen­ti­ments on aging were shared by many other women approach­ing fifty).

A belief dif­fers from an opin­ion or a view in that it is not nec­es­sar­ily the cre­ation of the per­son who holds it; the empha­sis here is on the men­tal accep­tance of an idea, a propo­si­tion, or a doc­trine and on the assur­ance of its truth (: reli­gious beliefs; his belief in the power of the body to heal itself).

A con­vic­tion is a firmly held and unshak­able belief whose truth is not doubted (: she could not be swayed in her con­vic­tions), while a per­sua­sion (in this sense) is a strong belief that is unshak­able because you want to believe that it’s true rather than because there is evi­dence prov­ing it so (: she was of the per­sua­sion that he was inno­cent).

As you might have noticed, nowhere in these def­i­n­i­tions can you find that your opin­ion equals the truth. I heard so many peo­ple say, “It’s my truth”, and they leave it at that, as if their truth some­how becomes true and just as valid as The Truth itself. Of course they find many rea­sons and other opin­ions that attempt to jus­tify their opin­ion, but the bot­tom line is that all these rea­sons and excuses are just plau­si­ble sto­ries that often prove noth­ing. In fact it still boils down to no more that mere over­rated opin­ion. So how do you dis­tin­guish between truth and opin­ion? Let’s start by rec­og­niz­ing that we rarely come face to face with the truth. Objec­tive truth is a very elu­sive con­cept, and it is a con­cept because “the truth” does not exist in the mate­r­ial world. It is always and only an INTERPRETATION and MEANING that we give to any par­tic­u­lar event. Events have no mean­ings and inter­pre­ta­tions imbed­ded in them, they are not an inte­gral part of ANY event. Inter­pre­ta­tions and mean­ings are fully and wholly gen­er­ated by human minds and do not exist in nature per se. (Of course this is only my opin­ion.) Nev­er­the­less, like any­thing else, our opin­ions serve a very use­ful role in our lives and like any tool they can be used or abused. Now, how do you know if your opin­ions serve you or not? This is eas­ier said than done, but every bit worth prac­tic­ing. Self-awareness is the first step. Being con­scious and able to per­ceive your behav­ior when you are adamantly assert­ing that your opin­ion is the cor­rect one may make you aware of the futil­ity of your approach to the sit­u­a­tion and open your eyes to other pos­si­bil­i­ties and more effi­cient and effec­tive ways to deal with the sit­u­a­tion. Under­stand­ing that the inter­pre­ta­tions and beliefs we hold so dear come from our past expe­ri­ences and have become part of our per­son­al­i­ties and which we can­not lightly dis­miss, may help us rec­og­nize that other people’s opinions/truths as well as our own are just dif­fer­ent points of view. A point of view is just that: a point from which we view the world. Prob­lems arise when we neglect to rec­og­nize that from the point we see the world or an issue, has one major short­com­ing: we do not see the very point from which we make our obser­va­tion because we are stand­ing on it. Rec­og­niz­ing that there can be more than one point from which the world can be observed and thus be seen in a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive will allow us to be more flex­i­ble in our rela­tion­ships with others.

In con­clu­sion, remem­ber that many truths through­out his­tory were debunked and nowa­days make no sense even to a child but in the past were held as irrefutable truths. Think of the earth as being the flat cen­ter of the uni­verse. How about all the gods of ancient Greece and Rome? Newton’s physics is not the final word on our uni­verse any more either. At a more mun­dane level, you may find that what­ever you thought to be true about your par­ents, your part­ner or your chil­dren may not be so, for the time being anyway.

From all this you may be tempted to come to the con­clu­sion that there are many truths and that they all may be equal. That cer­tainly is not so. Some truths are more equal than oth­ers or some opin­ions are bet­ter than oth­ers. Cer­tain truths may be more true to some than to oth­ers depend­ing on the con­text because con­text in which opin­ions and “truths” arise is deci­sive. We’ll talk about con­text some other time. Stay tuned.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Relationships On Automatic

Yes­ter­day we went to see the movie 500 Days of Sum­mer. It was a love story, a rela­tion­ship story, which left me very unset­tled and frus­trated. As I was leav­ing the the­ater I kept ask­ing myself, what was it that was mak­ing me so uncom­fort­able, even angry? Since anger almost always comes from loss of power, I started search­ing for the source of the pow­er­less­ness that I felt.  Then it dawned on me that the char­ac­ters in the movie had no con­trol over their feel­ings and actions and they did not know why or how things were hap­pen­ing to them. Obvi­ously I was iden­ti­fy­ing with the male char­ac­ter in the movie. Both of them were like leaves in the wind of life. It all was very real. I bet that the screen­writ­ers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber must have had sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences to be able to make a movie this powerful.

Such behav­iors which are com­pletely auto­matic, with which we are so force­fully genet­i­cally pro­grammed that we are pow­er­less when faced with it, are preva­lent in humans and although they may be counter pro­duc­tive in today’s soci­ety, they pos­i­tively rule our lives.  In order to start solv­ing a prob­lem, one must first cor­rectly iden­tify the core of the prob­lem. So, this led me to the ques­tion: “If I had to choose one thing that dri­ves each gen­der what would it be?”

From all my expe­ri­ence with peo­ple’ s rela­tion­ships, as well as my own, I came to the con­clu­sion that the bot­tom line rea­son for female behav­iors is SURVIVAL and for males it is CONTROL. Many peo­ple would say that feel­ings are what drive women, and power and sta­tus are what drive men, but both boil down to sur­vival and con­trol. This totally makes sense when you con­sider that women are directly respon­si­ble for the sur­vival of the species and that “self­ish gene.” On the other hand, man’s duty is to pro­tect and ensure that their “self­ish gene” will sur­vive too and the best way to do that is to make some sense and order and take con­trol of this world.

So is there any­thing we can do about it? Yes, I think so and that is to stop resist­ing our nat­ural devel­op­ment, EVOLUTION. We must evolve in order to sur­vive. By evolv­ing I mean adapt­ing to the ever-growing com­plex­ity of the prob­lems we face.  Here we are again, hav­ing to iden­tify a prob­lem before we can tackle it. So, In order to over­come our thou­sands of years of pro­gram­ming we must repro­gram our genetic infor­ma­tion and bring it up to date.  (Sci­en­tists are find­ing that it is not only pos­si­ble but that is nat­u­rally hap­pen­ing all the time from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. Our actions and behav­iors today will impact gen­er­a­tions to come.) The first step is to stop resist­ing it and argu­ing against it and become aware and present to its power over us, dis­tin­guish it as such, as often out­dated auto­matic behav­ior and bring our free choice into play. Are we ready for it? Some are and some are not. Only the future will tell.  So, go and see the movie and try to look at it through the lens of sur­vival and con­trol for woman and man respectively.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/


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Relationship Repair

How does one go about repair­ing a rela­tion­ship? We know how to repair other “things”, like cars, equip­ment, house, clothes and what­not. The ques­tion arises as far as rela­tion­ship repair is con­cerned, is a rela­tion­ship a “thing”? As I men­tioned in my pre­vi­ous posts, rela­tion­ship, although a noun, should not be treated as a thing but as a verb, or as an action, if we want to have any hope in our quest for rela­tion­ship repair.

So, in this con­text we will treat rela­tion­ship repair as an action since it is a verb. Action, on whose part? Who takes the action and what would the action con­sist of?

From our point of view, if only our part­ner would change his or her ways every­thing would be just fine “as before” and rela­tion­ship repair would be com­plete. Unfor­tu­nately, that is only our “point of view”. The prob­lem with our point of view is that from that point we see all other points but our own. We are blind to it, because we have so much invested in it that we take it for granted that it is as real as it can get. Our point of view is the only real­ity we are aware of. Our rela­tion­ship and our part­ner occur to us a cer­tain way, which is only real to us, and is the only real­ity we accept. Any other point of view when dif­fer­ent from ours, is sim­ply not cor­rect, not true and WRONG. There­fore, in our attempt to repair a rela­tion­ship we always look to the other side to change his/her behav­ior and their point of view to coin­cide with our own and to take this cru­cial action that would make every­thing OK so that rela­tion­ship repair can take place. Although repair­ing a rela­tion­ship may be much eas­ier that way, it rarely works and we know it. Try­ing to change oth­ers is a fruit­less endeavor for the same rea­son I men­tioned before: “oth­ers” have their own “point of view” and if you think that the way you see the sit­u­a­tion occurs bet­ter to them then their own view, think again. You can­not change other peo­ple! The sooner you accept it the sooner you will be able to pro­ceed to a rela­tion­ship repair stage.

As we are look­ing for the alter­na­tive to chang­ing oth­ers it would be good to notice that what we call “relat­ing to oth­ers” usu­ally con­sists of react­ing to each other. If that is so and if you can­not change your part­ner what is left to do is that you change your point of view. The first step is admit­ting that you have one. Whether you think that your world-view, your opin­ion of how things are and your point of view are the cor­rect ones or not is beside the point. If you want to engage into the process of rela­tion­ship repair you must look at your own behav­ior, which is usu­ally in your blind spot – you do not know how you occur to oth­ers – and real­ize that your part­ner is react­ing to your behav­ior there­fore cre­at­ing the con­flict and dis­rup­tion of your rela­tion­ship. Take note, this is not an oppor­tu­nity to blame your­self or start think­ing that it is all your fault. There is no blame in this process only respon­si­bil­ity to claim, which is the first step to true empow­er­ment and an oppor­tu­nity to take the sit­u­a­tion into your own hands towards com­plete rela­tion­ship repair. If you change your behav­ior, your part­ner shall react to that. Now you are in charge. Good luck.

The whole process is dealt with in The Rela­tion­ship Saver and expanded upon in The Game­less Relationship.

Com­ments and ques­tions are welcomed.

Thank you

Radomir

The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less Relationship


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