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.


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?


*Ref.: The Game­less Relationship.


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:

JUNE 28, 2010, 5:17 PM
Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife
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 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–, 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, 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
620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018


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



How to…

Recently I received an e-mail from a per­son request­ing a refund because he had read many books on rela­tion­ships and that The Rela­tion­ship Saver was not help­ful.  A few oth­ers have com­plained that it’s not spe­cific enough. I’m sure that he is not the only one who has accu­mu­lated a lot of knowl­edge about sav­ing rela­tion­ships dur­ing a con­sid­er­able period of time, but has always been dis­ap­pointed because “it didn’t work”.

So, how is it that we are so knowl­edge­able yet can­not improve rela­tion­ships, no mat­ter what? The best exam­ple is over­weight peo­ple who want to lose weight. Most of them know exactly HOW to do it. The same applies to rela­tion­ships. We often know how to do it, yet we do noth­ing about it. And therein lies the problem.

Both The Rela­tion­ship Saver and The Game­less Rela­tion­ship are prac­ti­cal books of which there are two types: one, which spells out rules, and the other, which explains the prin­ci­ples. The Rela­tion­ship Saver is a “rule book”. It does not explain any under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples.  If they were included The Rela­tion­ship Saver would run to vol­umes. It is designed as a man­ual to be put to imme­di­ate use. Sav­ing a rela­tion­ship is often an urgent matter.

On the other hand, The Game­less Rela­tion­ship is a book about prin­ci­ples. Rules are cre­ated from prin­ci­ples, i.e., “Do not steal” is a rule, but it comes from a prin­ci­ple of hon­esty, cred­i­bil­ity, trust and integrity. A rule book is meant to be short  (look at The Ten Com­mand­ments).  To explain the under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples may take much longer.

How come we read all these books, we gather all the infor­ma­tion we can get, and our rela­tion­ship is still in trou­ble? I am sure by now you’ve guessed why. The magic word is ACTION, and not just any action. In order for a book to work, YOU must do the work. Sorry, there is no way around it. I wish there were a magic wand that you could just wave and your part­ner would change into a prince/princess and you would live hap­pily ever after. The only magic wand there is hap­pens to be the one you hold in the form of an ACTION that pro­duces a change in YOU. Here are some rules (with the under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples in paren­the­sis), which if you apply them, will not only improve your rela­tion­ships but will give you a much hap­pier life in general:

-    YOU must take action (actions are always in lan­guage).
–    YOU are the one who needs to change (peo­ple react to each other).
–    You can­not change other peo­ple (change can only be ini­ti­ated from inside and insist­ing that other peo­ple change makes you a vic­tim).
–    Keep your promises (integrity).
–    Do not gos­sip (integrity).
–    Do not judge, lest you be judged. (Your beliefs and inter­pre­ta­tions are NOT real­ity. They are only real to YOU.)
–    Leave the fol­low­ing phrases out of your vocab­u­lary:
o    I, you, he/she/it should (The world is what it is, not what you think it “should” be.
o    I’ll try. (“There is no try, you either do or not do” – Yoda from The Star Wars movie.)
o    I hope. (Hope is okay, but there is no action in it, there­fore no change.)

-    Love (uncon­di­tional love is the high­est level of self expression).

How do you fol­low the rules? By apply­ing them in action. Liv­ing by the rules is fine — many peo­ple do — but dis­cov­er­ing and becom­ing aware of the under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples and learn­ing from them makes you much more ver­sa­tile, secure and much more pow­er­ful; not to men­tion that lit­tle plea­sure of being right more often.

Dif­fer­ent peo­ple learn (or not) differently:

- Stu­pid peo­ple do not learn.
– Smart peo­ple learn from their own mis­takes.
– Clever peo­ple learn from other people’s mis­takes.
– Intel­li­gent peo­ple learn from PRINCIPLES.
(Dr. Lo)

So, how do you make the most of a prac­ti­cal book? Every sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent. Every sit­u­a­tion can be observed from dif­fer­ent points of view and thus inter­preted dif­fer­ently. No prac­ti­cal book, there­fore, can tell you exactly what to do in ANY par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion. You must make your own judg­ment accord­ing to your inter­pre­ta­tion of the cir­cum­stances accord­ing to the rules and prin­ci­ples learned from prac­ti­cal books. To the ques­tion I often get: whether The Rela­tion­ship Saver will get my love back, the answer is NO, The Rela­tion­ship Saver will do noth­ing for you.

Some peo­ple think that just by read­ing a book and hav­ing more knowl­edge about rela­tion­ships and/or if they are told exactly what to do in their par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stance they will save their rela­tion­ship. Rela­tion­ships are about being and not about doing. Doing is a direct result of being, not vice versa.  In other words, what you do is a direct result of who you are being in any par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion. YOU must walk the talk. YOU must learn about the changes you need to go through AND put them into prac­tice. And, YOU are the only per­son you CAN change, thus most likely chang­ing your rela­tion­ship and the qual­ity of your life. Do not give that power to ANYONE else.

Books have enor­mous power, but only if you coop­er­ate and if what you’ve read is reflected in your actions.


What Really Determines How We Live Our Lives?

This post is from a friend and men­tor Morty Lefkoe, at

It goes very well with my pre­vi­ous post and some oth­ers. And, very use­ful in highly emo­tion­ally charged sit­u­a­tions .… if you decide that you want to use it, that is. Unfor­tu­nately we often just won’t. How stub­born can we get, to our own detri­ment of course? No won­der our rela­tion­ships go down the tube, although we do have tools to save it.


For years I’ve thought that our lives—what we do, think, feel, and perceive—were the direct result of our beliefs and our con­di­tion­ing.  When I looked at the lives and beliefs of over 13,000 clients, I noticed a very close correlation.

In the past few weeks I’ve had rea­son to rethink that con­clu­sion.  I’ve iden­ti­fied a  cou­ple of steps between beliefs and how we live our lives, so I no longer think there is a direct connection.

In order to explain what the actual con­nec­tion is, let me briefly remind you of my three posts last year on “occur­ring.” (See here) Most peo­ple are not aware that the way real­ity shows up or occurs for them is not the same as what’s actu­ally “out there” in the world.

For exam­ple, if some­thing you’re about to do occurs to you as dif­fi­cult, for you it really is dif­fi­cult.  For you, the dif­fi­culty is a fact. Actu­ally, the project might require skills that you don’t have or per­haps you aren’t con­fi­dent about your abil­ity to do it suc­cess­fully. But the project itself isn’t dif­fi­cult.  Dif­fi­cult is in our minds.  Only the require­ments of the project are in the world.

So there is a pro­found dif­fer­ence between real­ity and how real­ity shows up for us, and most peo­ple usu­ally never make that distinction.

Back to my new real­iza­tion.  It now seems to me that what deter­mines our thoughts, feel­ings, behav­ior, etc. at any given moment is the way peo­ple and events (and even our inter­nal thoughts) occur to us, moment by moment.  And, for us, real­ity is this occurring—not how real­ity really is.

Are beliefs and con­di­tion­ing involved at all?  Yes, they are.  The con­nec­tion between our beliefs and con­di­tion­ing and how things show up or occur for us is   the mean­ing we are giv­ing real­ity moment by moment.

Here’s how I think it works: We have beliefs and con­di­tion­ings from ear­lier in life.  When we inter­act with any sit­u­a­tion, our exist­ing beliefs and con­di­tion­ings are the pri­mary deter­mi­nant of the mean­ing we give the sit­u­a­tion.  That mean­ing in turn deter­mines how it occurs for us.  And that occur­ring then deter­mines how we react to the situation.

Here’s an illus­tra­tion to make this real.  Imag­ine you have sev­eral beliefs, includ­ing What makes me good enough or impor­tant is hav­ing peo­ple think well of me. The sit­u­a­tion you encounter is: You’re with a group of friends, all of whom have the same opin­ion about some­thing.  You dis­agree.  That’s real­ity.  Given the beliefs you have, the mean­ing you might give this real­ity is: “It’s dan­ger­ous to dis­agree with my friends because that might result in them not lik­ing me or think­ing less of me.”  Given that mean­ing, the sit­u­a­tion prob­a­bly will occur for you as uncom­fort­able and you will feel resis­tance to speak up about your dis­agree­ment.   And given this way the sit­u­a­tion showed up for you, you prob­a­bly would not say anything.

Can you see that your beliefs would lead you to give real­ity the mean­ing you did?  … And can you see that given that mean­ing, the sit­u­a­tion would occur to you as it did?  … And finally, can you see that your behav­ior prob­a­bly would be con­sis­tent with how the sit­u­a­tion occurred to you? …

When I men­tioned this new way of look­ing at the rela­tion­ship between our beliefs and the way we live our lives, one friend said to me last week: Why are you com­pli­cat­ing the sit­u­a­tion?  If beliefs and con­di­tion­ing cause the mean­ing, which causes the occur­ring, which deter­mines how we life our lives, so what if there are a cou­ple of ele­ments between the beliefs and how we live our lives?

Here’s why this dis­tinc­tion can be very impor­tant.  If our lives are the direct result of our beliefs and con­di­tion­ing, then we could not change our lives until we found and elim­i­nated them.  But if our lives are the result of the mean­ing we give any given sit­u­a­tion, then it might be pos­si­ble to change that mean­ing, thereby chang­ing how we will act and feel in any given sit­u­a­tion, with­out elim­i­nat­ing the beliefs.

I think that it is pos­si­ble to do that and I’m in the process of con­duct­ing an exper­i­ment with 20 peo­ple over a ten-week period to see what is required to change the mean­ing we auto­mat­i­cally give to sit­u­a­tions.  So far it looks like it can be done.  I per­son­ally have done it many times, even though it can be dif­fi­cult to do it consistently.

Now in the long run you still would want to get rid of the rel­e­vant neg­a­tive beliefs and con­di­tion­ing because, if you don’t, the next time a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion comes up, you’ll prob­a­bly form the same mean­ing, which you will then have to change.  On the other hand, if you elim­i­nate the neg­a­tive beliefs, you’ll form a dif­fer­ent, more pos­i­tive mean­ing the next time, and you won’t have to change it.

At this point you prob­a­bly are ask­ing: So how do you change the mean­ing we auto­mat­i­cally and uncon­sciously give events every minute?  The same way we elim­i­nate the mean­ing we gave the events that led to beliefs as a child.  Give the events two or three dif­fer­ent mean­ings so that you can make real that the mean­ing you gave the sit­u­a­tion is not “the truth,” and then real­ize you never saw the mean­ing in real­ity.  You only can see real­ity; mean­ing is always in our mind.

Also, it seems that some peo­ple are able to ignore or tran­scend how things show up for them. I’ve observed a few peo­ple who seem to be suc­cess­ful finan­cially, in their careers, and in other aspects of their lives (such as deal­ing with eating/weight issues)—who still have a bunch of neg­a­tive self-esteem beliefs.  That wouldn’t make sense if our lives were con­sis­tent with our beliefs.  But given what now appears to be true, as I’ve described above, these peo­ple either are chang­ing the mean­ing of sit­u­a­tions con­stantly or are tran­scend­ing the way things show up for them.

Peo­ple who do the lat­ter seem to be able to say to them­selves: “Yes, the world is occur­ring as dif­fi­cult, or me as inad­e­quate, etc., but so what?  I don’t care about real­ity (how the world occurs to me), I’m going for it anyway.”

In look­ing at my own life I can see that I’ve done that from time to time.  I have  pur­poses or goals that I am so com­mit­ted to that I can totally ignore how things occur for me.  One exam­ple is I have decided to dras­ti­cally cut down my con­sump­tion of sugar and have just a square or two of choco­late after din­ner and none dur­ing the day.  Most days after lunch I feel a desire for choco­late.  I notice that feel­ing and ignore it, say­ing silently to myself: “I don’t care if I feel like eat­ing choco­late, I’m not going to do it.”  There is no strug­gle or effect and I don’t think about eat­ing choco­late any more after I have that thought.  It’s as if my com­mit­ment is so much greater than the way my desire for choco­late shows up for me after lunch that the desire for choco­late feels irrelevant.

I’ll have more to say about chang­ing the mean­ing you have given a sit­u­a­tion and tran­scend­ing how the world occurs to us a few weeks after the Lefkoe Free­dom Exper­i­ment is com­plete and I have the results from 20 exper­i­menters.  In the mean­time, check it out your­self.  See if you can notice that you gen­er­ally are not aware of the dif­fer­ence between real­ity and how real­ity occurs or shows up for you.  And then see if you can change that occur­ring by chang­ing the mean­ing you had just given the sit­u­a­tion in front of you.”


Well done Morty! Great arti­cle and excel­lent insight.




This is what the dic­tio­nary says about what we mean by Humil­ity:
humil­ity |(h)yoōˈmilitē|
a mod­est or low view of one’s own impor­tance; humbleness.

But is this really enough to grasp the whole impor­tance humil­ity plays, or does NOT play in our lives? Is being hum­ble a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive trait?

Hum­ble (v.)  and humil­i­ate (v.) sound sim­i­lar, but humil­i­ate empha­sizes shame and the loss of self-respect and usu­ally takes place in pub­lic, while hum­ble is a milder term imply­ing a low­er­ing of one’s pride or rank.

So, why and how is this impor­tant in a rela­tion­ship? Con­sider that what makes us who we are, is our world-view, our opin­ions, our ways of deter­min­ing what’s true and what’s not. So how do we deter­mine what is true in a con­ver­sa­tion? What we do is we com­pare what we hear or see with what we already know and see how it is the same or dif­fer­ent from our past expe­ri­ence. Also, we check our feel­ings to see if we like it or not. That is basi­cally how we deter­mine what is true and real and what is not. This is all very well for a 5-year-old, but unac­cept­able for a healthy fully devel­oped adult. A five-year-old will say that he does not like broc­coli because it is yucky. What he does not see is that it is not that broc­coli is yucky; in fact, quite the oppo­site is true. He calls broc­coli ”yucky” because he doesn’t like it. He, of course, does not see it that way. He thinks that any­one who likes broc­coli has no taste to say the least. This is what we call “onto­log­i­cal arro­gance”. Ontol­ogy is the branch of phi­los­o­phy that stud­ies the nature of real­ity. Onto­log­i­cal arro­gance is the belief that your per­spec­tive is priv­i­leged, that your way is the only way to inter­pret a sit­u­a­tion. While onto­log­i­cal arro­gance is nor­mal and even cute in chil­dren, it is much less charm­ing in adults.

In charged sit­u­a­tions most of us assume that we see things as they are; that is not so. We actu­ally see things as they appear to us. Check out for your­self. When was the last time that you met an “idiot” who thought exactly like you do? Do you believe peo­ple dis­agree with you because they are “idiots”? Or do you call them “idiots” because they dis­agree with you? Do you think your spouse is push­ing your but­tons and wants to make you mad on pur­pose? Or do you think that because you do not like what they have to say and the way they say it they seem to “push your but­tons” on purpose?

The oppo­site of arro­gance is humil­ity. Humil­ity has the root in Latin word humus, mean­ing ground. Onto­log­i­cal humil­ity, on the other hand, is the acknowl­edg­ment that you do not have a spe­cial claim on real­ity or truth, that oth­ers have an equally valid per­spec­tive deserv­ing respect and con­sid­er­a­tion. (Hence chap­ter two in The Rela­tion­ship Saver about agree­ing with your part­ner.) Acknowl­edge that there are many ways to look at the world. Some are more prac­ti­cal and ”true” for you than oth­ers. Nev­er­the­less, they are only views. They are never objec­tive truths; they are always inter­pre­ta­tions, per­sonal maps built by our lim­ited senses pass­ing from our indi­vid­ual and unique fil­ter woven from our past expe­ri­ences. It never even resem­bles THE truth. The fact that we agree about any­thing with any­one is only coin­ci­den­tal and it is always a prod­uct of our will­ing­ness to agree. It does not make it more real or truth­ful though. It is easy and nat­ural for us to dis­agree, to push our truth as the right one. It is sweet to be right and that oth­ers see the world as we do. Our arro­gance in this respect has no bounds. Onto­log­i­cal humil­ity makes sense intel­lec­tu­ally, but it is not the nat­ural atti­tude of a human being. It requires, at least, the cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment of a six-year-old.

Onto­log­i­cal humil­ity does not mean that you have to dis­re­gard your own per­spec­tive. It is per­fectly hum­ble to state that the cir­cum­stances are “prob­lem­atic” as long as you add “for me”. That acknowl­edges that the same cir­cum­stances may not appear prob­lem­atic “to you”.

There are times when you can “agree to dis­agree” and at other times you will need to bring the con­ver­sa­tion to some agree­ment. But we’ll talk about that some other time. Stay tuned and try to behave as if you are at least six.

By the way, I saw a great bumper sticker yes­ter­day: “You don’t have to believe every­thing you think.”



Disagreements in Marriages and Relationships

In my last arti­cle we talked about how the attempt to make clear what we are actu­ally talk­ing about may resolve many repeat­edly frus­trat­ing arguments.

Here I am going to dig a lit­tle deeper into the causes of dis­agree­ments and argu­ments in rela­tion­ships. Why do cou­ples argue so much? You would think that since you will­ingly started your rela­tion­ship that you must have agreed on most issues and even in the areas where you ini­tially did not you thought that as rea­son­able peo­ple you would be able to work things out. Well, after months and years of being in a close rela­tion­ship not only did the dis­agree­ments not get bet­ter, they got worse.

We do not see things as they are.
We see things as we are.


Jean Piaget, the French child devel­op­ment psy­chol­o­gist, con­ducted a reveal­ing exper­i­ment. He gave a group of chil­dren a wooden block, which was painted red on one side and green on the other. After exam­in­ing the block he would show them the green side and ask them what color he was see­ing. Most chil­dren younger than five years old answered “green”. They were inca­pable of rec­og­niz­ing that the per­son on the other side could see some­thing dif­fer­ent than they did. Older chil­dren gave the cor­rect answer. They under­stood that while they were see­ing the green side of the wooden block, the researcher on the other side saw red. These chil­dren demon­strated that they had devel­oped a sense of per­spec­tive, the abil­ity to appre­ci­ate the sit­u­a­tion from another point of view.

How often in your rela­tion­ship have you behaved as if you were younger then five? How often do you think that your point of view is real­ity itself and if your part­ner does not see the sit­u­a­tion or event the same way you do, he/she is plain “wrong”. That is called onto­log­i­cal arro­gance, think­ing that what you think is real is real for every­one else as well, that you are right while every­one else who does not agree with you is wrong. When our daugh­ter, Diana, was five years old, she would say that she didn’t like mush­rooms because they were yucky. In fact, the oppo­site was true. Diana called mush­rooms “yucky” because she did not like them. She thought that any­one who liked mush­rooms had no taste: a typ­i­cal case of onto­log­i­cal arro­gance. Ontol­ogy is the branch of phi­los­o­phy that stud­ies the nature of real­ity. Onto­log­i­cal arro­gance is the belief that your per­spec­tive is priv­i­leged, that your way is the only way to inter­pret the sit­u­a­tion. If you see green every­one else must see green also, oth­er­wise they don’t know what they are talk­ing about. While onto­log­i­cal arro­gance is cute and endear­ing in chil­dren, it is much less charm­ing in adults – yet it seems to be preva­lent in adults. It may become quite dev­as­tat­ing for a rela­tion­ship if your onto­log­i­cal arro­gance adopts the behav­ioral atti­tude of “it’s my way, or the highway”.

In charged sit­u­a­tions most of us assume that we see things as they are; it is not so. We actu­ally see thing as they appear to us. Check it out for your­self. When was the last time that you met an “idiot” who thinks exactly like you do? Do you think that peo­ple who dis­agree with you are idiots, or you call them idiots because they dis­agree with you? (Instead of “idiot”, you may sub­sti­tute the epi­thet which you usu­ally use on your partner.)

The oppo­site of arro­gance is humil­ity. Humil­ity comes from the Latin word humus, mean­ing ground.  Being a hum­ble per­son, a per­son with onto­log­i­cal humil­ity, means that you real­ize that you do not have a spe­cial claim on real­ity or truth, it means that you are well grounded in real­ity. Remem­ber, the first step to trans­form­ing any sit­u­a­tion is being in a pro­found rela­tion­ship with what is so. You would under­stand that other people’s and your partner’s per­spec­tive are just as valid as yours and that they deserve respect and con­sid­er­a­tion. Onto­log­i­cal humil­ity makes sense on an intel­lec­tual level, but it is not our nat­ural atti­tude. It requires, at the min­i­mum the cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment of a six-year-old.

If we are to stop argu­ing, dis­agree­ing about every­thing, quar­rel­ing, scream­ing at each other, etc., and as a result feel not under­stood, deserted, resent­ful, angry, aloof, dis­ap­pointed, not loved or respected, we must stop behav­ing as five-year-olds. We must make an effort to be aware of our own per­spec­tive and point of view, allow oth­ers to have their own, and attempt to step into their shoes and see their per­spec­tive on the world. Only then would we be able to start to under­stand why they think what they do and why they do what they do. This does not mean that you have to be a psy­chol­o­gist and under­stand every “how” and “why” the other per­son thinks; respect­ing another’s point of view would be suf­fi­cient. Also, by prac­tic­ing onto­log­i­cal humil­ity it does not mean that you are giv­ing up your own per­spec­tive. It is quite hum­ble to say that mush­rooms are yucky as long as you add “for me”. You may be hum­ble and still assert your­self, your views are com­pletely valid, as long as you do not oblit­er­ate and inval­i­date or dis­re­gard your partner’s point of view. This is why I had a whole chap­ter on agree­ing with your part­ner and why I refer to it in The Rela­tion­ship Saver.

Dur­ing our lives we all have very unique expe­ri­ences on the basis of which we form our world-view, our men­tal model of the world.  Your men­tal model is your own par­tic­u­lar set of deeply ingrained assump­tions, gen­er­al­iza­tions, beliefs, and val­ues. From this model stem all the inter­pre­ta­tions and mean­ings we give to our expe­ri­ences. Mean­ings and inter­pre­ta­tions, as I men­tioned in other arti­cles, are not “out there”. They are formed “in-here”, in our minds, and everyone’s men­tal model is dif­fer­ent, some­times only slightly, but dif­fer­ent nev­er­the­less. We must start being aware of other people’s mind mod­els and start appre­ci­at­ing and under­stand­ing them if we want our own mean­ings and real­ity to be under­stood and appre­ci­ated by oth­ers. Only then can we aspire to start hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions as adults, and not as four-year-olds. We might even learn some­thing we didn’t know that we didn’t know. It’s time to grow up.

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Are You A Yea Or A Naysayer?

Here is how you can, with one almost mag­i­cal touch, not only repair, but have your rela­tion­ship back again.
One of the first things I say in The Rela­tion­ship Saver is that if you want to start repair­ing your rela­tion­ship you will have to start agree­ing with your part­ner. The first think that may think about when I say this may be some­thing like, “Why or how should I agree when he/she ______.” Before you start defend­ing your posi­tion on this issue stop and think what result you want to achieve. I pre­sume that you want him/her to change their mind and agree with your point of view. Of course you do, because your point of view is bet­ter, right, fair, cor­rect, eas­ier, more log­i­cal, etc., and, it may very well be so. But, again, think about what out­come you want and whether forc­ing the out­come would work. You might have noticed that it does not, espe­cially in con­fronting sit­u­a­tions. When your rela­tion­ship is fine, when you are in love, when you have noth­ing to lose includ­ing your face and your pride it is easy to agree, but in a sit­u­a­tion when things are not going well, sur­vival kicks in and you are dri­ven to pro­tect your­self and coerce your part­ner to be on your side so that you can feel safe again. Say­ing no in such sit­u­a­tions is auto­matic, backed up with sheer hope that if you say no over and over again that some­how he/she will see the light. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, it almost never works. Your part­ner finds him/herself in the same sit­u­a­tion like you, defend­ing his/her posi­tion and try­ing to sur­vive the sit­u­a­tion just as well as you do. So, your instinc­tual reac­tion to a dis­agree­ment from your part­ner is to dis­agree as well and then the rela­tion­ship rapidly spi­rals down­ward out of con­trol. Although it may be counter intu­itive, to stop the down­ward spi­ral from plum­met­ing you need to stop react­ing. Notice that re-action means tak­ing the same action over and over again. The way out of this quag­mire is to do some­thing totally oppo­site: AGREE. Start say­ing yes. Since no does not work any more, yes might, and this is why. Say­ing yes is unex­pected. It inter­feres with the flow of the down­ward spi­ral, stops the process of react­ing to one another. When he says that he is going to do some­thing that you may not agree with and you put a cog in the wheel by say­ing okay, at that moment he will have to take respon­si­bil­ity for his actions. At that moment he does not have to react to you any more by doing it “just because ______.” By say­ing yes you may not stop her from doing what she is bent on doing any­way, but by being okay with what­ever she wants to do you will stop the ani­mosi­ties in your rela­tion­ship. I should men­tion that by say­ing yes it does not mean that you actu­ally want your part­ner to go through with his choice action, and of course he will know that , but what you will do is show respect for his deci­sions even if you do not like them.

As you might have noticed, say­ing Nay most often does not make the world com­ply with our wishes, but by say­ing Yea we get in tune and agree­ment with real­ity instead ask­ing real­ity to change to our wishes. It never does any­way. In The Rela­tion­ship Saver one of the first rules for repair­ing your rela­tion­ship is being happy. It is no coin­ci­dence that the first rule of com­edy improv is never to say “no”, because it stops the con­ver­sa­tion in it’s tracks. You must have heard it before that if you want to have a effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion never say “yes but” because it has the same mean­ing as no. Instead you may say “yes and” which means “I agree”. Agree­ing with your part­ner is another rec­om­men­da­tion of The Rela­tion­ship Saver.

In con­clu­sion, the first step to change is being able to be pro­foundly related to what is. Unless you are able to fall in line with the real­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, you have no hope of chang­ing it. Liv­ing in a la-la land of your thoughts and wishes, divorced from real­ity and negat­ing it, is not only inef­fec­tive and unre­al­is­tic, it is down­right child­ish. It is time to grow up even if you do not want to, for your own sake!!!



Ego In A Relationship

ego |ˈēgō|
noun ( pl. egos)
a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

I am not a psy­chol­o­gist, so I’m not going to go in depth about all the facets of ego, super ego, etc. For the pur­poses of this arti­cle, I will con­cen­trate on the above def­i­n­i­tion and what it means for rela­tion­ships. In this “new age” we often hear that in order to be spir­i­tu­ally and even morally and eth­i­cally advanced we must shed our ego because it is some­how in our way. Hav­ing an ego, or a large ego (what­ever that means), in our mod­ern cul­ture is a bad thing. Noth­ing can be fur­ther from the truth.

Ego is not only indis­pens­able – you can­not get rid of it because it is part of your per­son­al­ity – but also very nec­es­sary in order to have, as it says above, a sense of self. Now, we can talk about a healthy or unhealthy, bal­anced or unbal­anced ego. Where in our rela­tion­ship does this ego, or sense-of-self, come into play? A per­son who has low self-esteem is prone to being a vic­tim, depressed, a drug addict, an alco­holic, etc. The other man­i­fes­ta­tion for low self esteem (the self-importance part) is when one’s ego is arti­fi­cially boosted, which usu­ally hap­pens in order to com­pen­sate for some short­com­ing. These peo­ple hav­ing a low self-esteem will do any­thing to mask it, hide it, pre­tend that they have high self-esteem and try to con­vince oth­ers of the same. They develop their own kind of sur­vival strat­egy doing oppo­site of the ones who acknowl­edge it and exhibit their depres­sion, vic­tim­hood and other short­com­ings, by being overly ambi­tious and very suc­cess­ful (which doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make them happy), or become bul­lies, abusers, right­eous fanat­ics, or even crim­i­nals. Exhib­ited low self-esteem and con­versely exag­ger­ated self-importance are detri­ment to one’s grasp of real­ity, thus cre­at­ing a dis­cord between their own per­cep­tion of them­selves and that of others.

Curi­ously enough, our cul­ture treats low self-esteem as nor­mal, espe­cially if our behav­ior com­pen­sates for it; in other words if we pre­tend well oth­ers buy into it. In my prac­tice I have never met a per­son with gen­uinely high self-esteem. Peo­ple with “very high self-esteem” and grandiose think­ing are con­sid­ered to have delu­sional dis­or­ders (isn’t low-self esteem delu­sional as well?), and are usu­ally put into insti­tu­tions under the guise of Napoleons and Cleopa­tras. Those who do not end up in a men­tal insti­tu­tion become so-called great lead­ers such as Idi Amin, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, and … you name it.

All these ego imbal­ances have con­se­quences and they show the most with those we are clos­est to in our rela­tion­ships. As you can see, main­tain­ing a healthy and bal­anced ego is of the utmost impor­tance if one is going to main­tain a happy rela­tion­ship. Med­i­tat­ing and hav­ing some kind of spir­i­tual prac­tice, doing yoga, exer­cis­ing etc., is all very well and they should not be neglected, but neglect­ing aware­ness about who you are, how you occur to oth­ers, hav­ing your bound­aries, pre­cisely defined val­ues, ethics, being in integrity and aware what you tol­er­ate (where you are out of integrity), in other words, with­out keep­ing your ego healthy and in bal­ance, hap­pi­ness and suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships will always be out of your reach. (Remem­ber, you choose your part­ners too.)

Hav­ing a healthy ego means hav­ing a strong sense of self as sep­a­rate from oth­ers. Hav­ing clear bound­aries and dis­tinc­tions between our own feel­ings, thoughts, needs and desires and those of oth­ers, and also being respon­si­ble for what’s our own.

I may be delu­sional, but I think this arti­cle is great! Of course I am never good enough, but that’s another story. :>)

Man­i­fest your best.



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.


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Thinking & Destiny

Some­times it’s good to be reminded of some basics, which may be very obvi­ous once brought to your atten­tion, but which we rarely   apply in our day-to-day deal­ings with our part­ners in our relationships.

So, here it is: OUR THINKING CREATES OUR DESTINY. I am not claim­ing that this is THE truth, but if you regard it as such your life will change for the bet­ter. We, our phys­i­cal bod­ies, are the exe­cu­tion­ers of our will. Every­thing starts with thought. Noth­ing hap­pens with­out it. Check it out if you do not believe me: your next move depends on what you are think­ing NOW. And, it is always NOW. Later becomes now and past when­ever it hap­pened, always hap­pened in what was then NOW. No one can put thoughts in your head. No one can make you think any­thing. Think­ing is a process that starts and fin­ishes inside your mind. It often looks as if some­one made us have cer­tain thoughts, but that is in fact impos­si­ble. All they do is they trig­ger some mem­o­ries and beliefs that we keep close and dear and when they are chal­lenged or con­firmed we REACT with our thoughts. These thoughts gen­er­ate feel­ings. There is no feel­ing with­out a thought except a phys­i­cal pain when we get cut, burned or hit. (This point can be argued as well, but I will not go into it at this point.)

Can you see how this can apply to your relat­ing to other peo­ple? Just because we are not aware that we are the cre­ators of our thoughts and/or are not will­ing to take respon­si­bil­ity for it, we tend to blame oth­ers for our des­tiny, for how our life and our rela­tion­ships go. By pass­ing on our respon­si­bil­ity to oth­ers we will­ingly give power to oth­ers to cre­ate our des­tiny and in return reserve the right to blame them and make them wrong. This is the way of the vic­tim, and I can see how being a vic­tim can be com­fort­ing. Hav­ing no respon­si­bil­i­ties is like being a child again, no power and seem­ingly no wor­ries. Being an adult means, to a large extent tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for your actions. And, since every action (and inac­tion) starts with a thought, your free­dom and the well­be­ing of your rela­tion­ship starts with your con­scious action for tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for what goes on inside your head. Your future, your life and your des­tiny depend on it, no more and no less.

Best regards,


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The Meaning And Reality

The core mean­ing of the word rela­tion­ship is to “respond com­pletely to another, like respon­si­bil­ity” says Krishnamurti.

Let’s see what this really means. Respon­si­bil­ity, as I explain at length in my book The Game­less Rela­tion­ship, is abil­ity to respond and not merely to react. Also, most of the rela­tion­ships most of the time are hap­pen in reac­tion to each other. (Ref. : The Rela­tion­ship Saver.) That’s why it is so easy for a rela­tion­ship to go into a down­ward spi­ral with­out appar­ent hope of sur­vival. We now also have to dis­tin­guish response from reac­tion. To respond is by no means same as to react. Reac­tion is auto­matic, based on our thoughts and inter­pre­ta­tions when we are engaged in a rela­tion­ship. Response is based on what actu­ally hap­pens, on the real­ity of the action, and not on our inter­pre­ta­tion of what we saw or heard. In other words one responds to what is being said and not to one’s own mean­ings and inter­pre­ta­tions to what is being said. To respond appro­pri­ately to any sit­u­a­tions takes much more than tak­ing the sit­u­a­tion at the face value. First, it takes thor­ough under­stand­ing of your own think­ing process and only then the think­ing process of oth­ers. This requires thor­ough aware­ness of your actions, by being an avid observer of your­self, by being in the present moment. So, as we can see the rela­tion­ships never hap­pen in the past. So, don’t bring up the past and don’t dwell in the future, in what should and should not be. Your trans­for­ma­tion of your rela­tion­ship begins with a pro­found rela­tion­ship with what is.

This needs prac­tice, so, prac­tice, prac­tice and prac­tice and .… prac­tice now.

Best regards,


The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less­Re­la­tion­ship

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Do You Act Or React?

React­ing means to act again, re–act. React­ing is based on what we already know and often so well that we do it auto­mat­i­cally. Some reac­tions are very use­ful for our sur­vival, like pulling our hand back from a hot fur­nace or jump­ing away from an oncom­ing car. In other words when our bod­ies sense dan­ger we react with­out think­ing. This kind of reac­tion is all very well in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, but the part­ner in our rela­tion­ship may end the rela­tion­ship very quickly with­out our even being aware that our reac­tions are auto­matic and counter to our best inter­est. So, what is the mech­a­nism of reac­tion? If we can be become acutely aware of this mech­a­nism when­ever we are in a sit­u­a­tion to react, or in other words, when our but­tons are being pushed, our rela­tion­ships and our lives may look com­pletely dif­fer­ent; we could be much more evenly bal­anced, avoid prob­lems and expe­ri­ence a much higher degree of hap­pi­ness. React­ing is a very use­ful sur­vival tool, it is based on learn­ing from experience.

Some expe­ri­ences are use­ful to remem­ber and remem­ber­ing them at the right moment can save our behind. The prob­lem arises when we react to the present sit­u­a­tion which is SIMILAR to the past ones. For instance, you were bit­ten by a snake once and now you are afraid of every­thing that crawls, like lizards and such. An exam­ple closer to rela­tion­ships would be that if you had an abu­sive father, now you think ALL men are abu­sive. Another exam­ple would be that your par­ents always told you what to do and now you get angry and resis­tant to ANYONE even ask­ing you to  do some­thing. If you thought that your par­ents did not love you, you will think that any­one who expresses their love to you is phony and lying or not hon­est. In these sit­u­a­tions you often tend to blame oth­ers for “mak­ing you feel that way” or “mak­ing you do cer­tain things”. So, you get the idea; cer­tain words and behav­iors by oth­ers push your but­tons or trig­ger mem­o­ries of the past and you are sim­ply RE-acting your past. You have no choice and no free will in the mat­ter. You can now begin to see how this auto­matic behav­ior can be detri­men­tal to your rela­tion­ship. But all is not lost. You actu­ally can take respon­si­bil­ity for your but­tons; they are yours after all and if you didn’t have them nobody would have any­thing to push.

This brings us to the alter­na­tive. Being respon­si­ble for your actions means that you are able to respond, thus response—able. What does this actu­ally mean, and more impor­tantly, how do you be response—able? For most peo­ple respon­si­bil­ity is bur­den, fault, blame, credit, shame or guilt. I sug­gest that if you take respon­si­bil­ity as will­ing­ness to deal with the sit­u­a­tion from the point of view that you are the one who has a choice about how you are going to act in a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion, you are going to gain power beyond your wildest imag­i­na­tion. Some­one said there is a moment between any stim­u­lus and a response and the choices that you make inside that win­dow of oppor­tu­nity is what your life depends on.  As you can see, respon­si­bil­ity is a mat­ter of free choice; it is an exer­cise in free will. Respond­ing is not sub­ject to your feel­ings or cog­ni­tion. It is inten­tional choice in accor­dance with your val­ues, ethics and morals and not some fleet­ing feel­ing, asso­ci­a­tion or thought. These belong in the cat­e­gory of reac­tions so it fol­lows that auto­matic reac­tions are irre­spon­si­ble actions. Now it becomes obvi­ous that no one can make you feel or do any­thing, ever. I do under­stand though that every action has its con­se­quences, but you are ulti­mately the one who will make the choice about what con­se­quences your actions will have.

Now that we have dis­tin­guished react­ing and respond­ing, I hope you can see that tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for any­thing and every­thing that hap­pens to you in your life, no mat­ter how unrea­son­able it may be, will make you more con­tent, pow­er­ful, suc­cess­ful and ulti­mately hap­pier than merely react­ing to what hap­pens to you.
Take charge of your life: be responsible.


The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less Relationship

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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


The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less Relationship

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