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


*See The Rela­tion­ship Saver: “Reverse the process”


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.



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.”



Responsibility In Relationships I

This should have been my first entry, but since the issue of respon­si­bil­ity is time­less this may be just as good a time as any to bring it up and clear some air about rela­tion­ships in gen­eral, and your rela­tion­ships and my writ­ing in par­tic­u­lar. So, since you are read­ing this blog I’ll make it about you. Let’s con­sider that the qual­ity of your rela­tion­ship has NOTHING to do with your part­ner and EVERYTHING to do with YOU. In other words you are the one who is 100% respon­si­ble and has the say-so how it goes for you. This, of course is not the truth, but I invite you to start act­ing as if it is and notice what mag­ick may occur.

Now, how resis­tant are you to this notion? Take a lit­tle time and think about it. Does it empower you or does it DIS­em­power you?

Before you try to answer this ques­tion a few words about respon­si­bil­ity. When I say 100% respon­si­ble we need to be on the same page, i.e. we need to agree what is meant by respon­si­bil­ity. In this con­text what I mean by respon­si­bil­ity is NOT bur­den, fault, blame, credit, shame or guilt. Respon­si­bil­ity sim­ply starts with say­ing you are cause in the mat­ter and that you are able to choose a response. You may not be able to choose what hap­pens, but you are always able to choose how you will respond to it as opposed to sim­ply auto­mat­i­cally react to an event or a sit­u­a­tion. In tak­ing such respon­si­bil­ity there is no eval­u­a­tion of good or bad, right or wrong. There is only the stand that you take and the real­ity of what is.

Being respon­si­ble starts with the will­ing­ness to deal with a sit­u­a­tion from the point of view that you are the gen­er­a­tor of who you are, what you do  (how you choose to respond) and what you have. Again, that is not the truth. It is just a place to stand.

Now, in this con­text does being respon­si­ble make you more or less in con­trol of your life? Is being respon­si­ble an empow­er­ing way to be?

Take every chance to be responsible.

Best regards,


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Teenage Relationships

A while ago I was inter­viewed by a jour­nal­ist from South Africa by e-mail about teenage rela­tion­ships. I thought you may like it … and hope to get you inspired to com­ment or ask ques­tions. So, here it is:

Lita Fifield-Weaver wrote:
Hello again
Thank you for let­ting me ask you some ques­tions, sorry I can’t ring as I live in New Zealand.

1. What com­mon thread do you see in fail­ing relationships?

All happy fam­i­lies are alike, but an unhappy fam­ily is unhappy after its own fash­ion.“
Leo Tol­stoy (1828 — 1910)
Lack of the basic Four Prin­ci­ples that must be present in every healthy and suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ship: integrity, sense of respon­si­bil­ity, com­mit­ment and love. (To find out more about these I enclose my book The Game­less Rela­tion­ship) There are as many rea­sons as there are peo­ple as to why they are not able to keep the afore men­tioned prin­ci­ples in their lives. Rea­sons vary from imma­tu­rity to alco­holism, per­sonal beliefs acquired while grow­ing up to present life con­di­tions, get­ting together for the wrong rea­sons and abu­sive rela­tion­ships. Feel free to make up your own.
2. Is there a down­side to help­ing peo­ple with relationships?

No, if you rig­or­ously sup­port them in devel­op­ing the Four Prin­ci­ples. It hap­pens often enough, though that peo­ple real­ize that both of them would be bet­ter off if they split up. That does not mean that they have to be strangers or ene­mies. Peo­ple who do not under­stand the Four Prin­ci­ples as well as the pro­found dif­fer­ences between mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine nature should not barge into other people’s relationships.

3. What meth­ods do you use to help cou­ples or indi­vid­u­als with their relationships?

I don’t think that I am using any par­tic­u­lar method. I am a per­sonal coach. So, after hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple I usu­ally very quickly get to the bot­tom of the prob­lem and some­times have to use cer­tain meth­ods to remove the bar­ri­ers to their aware­ness to what is really going on and what kind of games they play. I find that a lack of self esteem and ingrained beliefs are most com­mon cause of problems.

4. You have a daugh­ter, does she, or did she come to you for help with her relationships?

Yes, and I am proud of it. When­ever she asks for help I have to put my “coach­ing hat” on, stop being a father (which is not easy) and become a coach. So far I have suc­ceeded, and so has she.

5. Have you used your own skills to improve your relationship?

Lately, yes, but, I wish I knew 20 years ago what I know now .

6. Are there cer­tain  per­son­al­ity types which are more suited to estab­lish­ing  a long-term rela­tion­ship in life?

I don’t believe so, con­trary, I am sure, to so many astrologers, and typologists.

7. What are the advan­tages of a long term rela­tion­ship early on in life?

I don’t see any. Men are ready when they are ready and women are ready (for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons) when they are. It is impor­tant that per­son is mature and will­ing. For some peo­ple it hap­pens at 16 and for some never.

8. Is it more com­mon that in some cul­tures peo­ple get mar­ried when they are older rather than younger?

It looks like that peo­ple in the West get in long term rela­tion­ships later in life. Fam­ily bonds and fam­ily sup­port in the West are much weaker, so peo­ple have to rely more on their own per­sonal strength to sus­tain a healthy rela­tion­ship, and that comes only with a cer­tain level of maturity.

9. What do you believe is your biggest suc­cess in life? Why?

I stopped smok­ing in 1983 after 20 years of smok­ing 3 packs a day. To beat addic­tion of any kind is the biggest suc­cess that one can have, in my opinion.

10. Is there any advice your regret giv­ing some­one? Why?

I do not regret any because, luck­ily, peo­ple never lis­tened to my bad advice. I am much bet­ter at it nowadays.

11. You want your clients to be at their best at al times,

Every­body is ALWAYS at their best. That is the law of real­ity. Peo­ple would always do bet­ter if they could. So they are always per­fect exactly the way they are and exactly the way they are not, NOW. (Please see The Game­less Rela­tion­ship chap­ter on Love)

12. But how do you man­i­fest your best?

You always do. The ques­tion is who you are going to be NEXT?

13. Have you dealt with arranged marriages/relationships in your trav­el­ling to Kuwait, Yugoslavia  and the United States, what bar­ri­ers did you have to over come in these circumstances?

In many cases, espe­cially in tribal and closed soci­eties arranged mar­riages work well. If they don’t, the peo­ple who had arranged the mar­riages did not see the pos­si­ble pit­falls. In a fast chang­ing world as it is today it is very dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the cir­cum­stances which may influ­ence peo­ple to change.

14. What are you opin­ions on teenage relationships?

It is only nat­ural that teenagers will form rela­tion­ships. It is a parental duty to edu­cate their teenagers. This is mostly done by the exam­ple of their rela­tion­ship with each other and their fam­ily mem­bers, strangers, and most impor­tantly by hav­ing a great rela­tion­ship with their chil­dren from day one. If they leave it until the time the chil­dren become teenagers, it is more often than not too late. The prob­lem is that the knowl­edge that the par­ents have about rela­tion­ships is what they’ve learned from THEIR par­ents which may not be very help­ful two gen­er­a­tions later.

15. Do you believe that teen rela­tion­ships are a dis­trac­tion? Why/why not?

Dis­trac­tion from what? School, maybe, life, no.

16. What is a healthy relationship?

We usu­ally know when we see one: peo­ple are happy, free, fully self expressed, ful­filled, love is present, etc. In other words they have the Four Prin­ci­ples as a part of their life, although they may even not know it if you ask them about it.

17. Look­ing back now, would you change any­thing about your life?

No, life is per­fect exactly as it is and it is per­fect exactly as it is not.

The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less Relationship

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