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”


What Is Happiness?

In The Rela­tion­ship Saver I sug­gested that one of the actions you need to take is to be in high spir­its, cheer­ful and happy. As you have prob­a­bly noticed, it’s eas­ier said than done. Just decid­ing to be happy does not nec­es­sar­ily make you happy. So the ques­tion is, how do you achieve this eva­sive hap­pi­ness that every­one strives for?

First, we must dis­tin­guish what hap­pi­ness is and the ori­gin of “ the word hap­pi­ness.  The word happy orig­i­nated in Mid­dle Eng­lish and meant the same as lucky.  In my lan­guage, Serbo-Croatian, we have the same word for happy and lucky. What I find inter­est­ing is that most of us still treat our hap­pi­ness as luck, some­thing that we have no con­trol of, some­thing that just hap­pens or not — as if we have noth­ing to do with it. In other words, we often think that hap­pi­ness is some­thing that’s pro­duced by out­side events, like money, stuff, shop­ping, pos­ses­sions, other people’s love, respect, com­pli­ments, care, etc. We often say some­thing like, if such and such hap­pens (get pro­mo­tion, dif­fer­ent job, new car or clothes etc.) or if you were only to do so and so (buy me flow­ers, give me a com­pli­ment, have sex with me, etc.) it will make me happy.  We also say to our chil­dren that if they clean their room or have good grades we will be happy. So inad­ver­tently we teach our chil­dren gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion that they are not respon­si­ble for their own hap­pi­ness and should expect oth­ers to do some­thing for them, or that the out­side world and cir­cum­stances should adapt to their wishes so that they can find hap­pi­ness in life. Although some events may induce a feel­ing of hap­pi­ness and even tem­po­rary eupho­ria, hap­pi­ness is not merely a feel­ing. The dic­tio­nary says:

happy |ˈhapē|
adjec­tive ( –pier , –piest )
feel­ing or show­ing plea­sure or contentment

Hap­pi­ness is also con­tent­ment. Con­tent­ment is a state of hap­pi­ness and sat­is­fac­tion. So, hap­pi­ness is not merely a feel­ing it is a state of being.

So, how do we achieve a last­ing state of being happy? We must start with rec­og­niz­ing that any state we find our­selves in, whether it is hap­pi­ness or depres­sion, is gen­er­ated within our­selves, by us mak­ing mean­ings and inter­pre­ta­tions of the events that we find our­selves a part of. We often can­not influ­ence out­side events, but what we can always do is choose what inter­pre­ta­tions and mean­ings we give to those events. As I men­tioned ear­lier in my other writ­ings, mean­ings and inter­pre­ta­tions do not reside in events — they are solely a prod­uct of our own mind. There­fore, we have com­plete con­trol of how we inter­pret any event, although it cer­tainly does not seem like that some­times. We are in charge of con­ver­sa­tions with our­selves and unfor­tu­nately there is noth­ing new we can tell our­selves. What we do most of the time is auto­mat­i­cally regur­gi­tate the past in our mind, often blam­ing our­selves, feel­ing sorry for our­selves and in a word, being vic­tims and enjoy­ing it. Yes, there is a cer­tain plea­sure in being a vic­tim (more about this a lit­tle later).  Instead, we could use our intel­li­gence that only humans are endowed with and observe our thoughts and actu­ally choose what we want to think about. All right, so what could we think about in order to be happy?

You must be aware that your inter­pre­ta­tions an mean­ings are inti­mately con­nected to your set of val­ues. They are a dri­ving force behind how you per­ceive reality.

Now, what we need to do is estab­lish what our val­ues are. What is it that we value in our lives? Hon­esty, love, integrity, dig­nity, courage, rela­tion­ships, well­be­ing, pros­per­ity, co-operation and … add your own? I found that high­est val­ues that are not sub­or­di­nate to any other ones are truth, hap­pi­ness, free­dom, peace and love.
Now, ask your­self a ques­tion: how do I com­pro­mise my val­ues in every­day sit­u­a­tions in order to achieve cer­tain goals, such as being “suc­cess­ful”, mak­ing money, sur­viv­ing, keep­ing a job, main­tain­ing a rela­tion­ship, being loved, appre­ci­ated and respected? How often do you lie, cheat and deceive your­self and oth­ers in order to pro­duce a cer­tain result, to be suc­cess­ful? If that sounds too harsh for you, think of all those white lies and with­hold­ings of infor­ma­tion or truth in order to pro­duce or avoid a cer­tain reac­tion in oth­ers. Are all these actions that you are “forced” to do con­trary to your val­ues, which you ulti­mately want to man­i­fest in your daily life?

We are told that suc­cess brings hap­pi­ness, that suc­cess­ful peo­ple are happy. Look around you. Are they? Are you com­pro­mis­ing ful­fill­ment of your high­est val­ues by  achiev­ing inter­me­di­ate suc­cesses at any price, like mak­ing money, acquir­ing mate­r­ial things, win­ning a con­tract or some­one else’s “respect”, etc? It is fas­ci­nat­ing how we uncon­sciously grav­i­tate towards the things that ulti­mately mean very lit­tle to us and in the process we sac­ri­fice the very val­ues that moti­vate our behav­ior and make us happy. How often we do some­thing that we very well know we should not and that can be hurt­ful to some­one else and our lit­tle secret never gets recov­ered, but we fully well know that it was com­pletely con­trary to our beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. What often hap­pens is that they are exactly those behav­iors that we always dis­ap­prove of in pub­lic and make oth­ers wrong about. When­ever your emo­tions go ram­pant about cer­tain wrong doing of some­one else you may be sure that that is your own pro­jec­tion of what you do or did and which is con­trary to your val­ues. Those actions of yours and when rec­og­nized in oth­ers are cause of unhappiness.

So, you might have noticed here that hap­pi­ness lies in the process and not in the result. You can see that every action has two pur­poses. First you can act to move towards a desired result. Sec­ond, you act in order to express your val­ues. Align­ment between your behav­ior and your val­ues is a mea­sure of your high­est integrity. Your behav­ior always expresses your values-in-action. Your integrity hinges on whether your values-in-action agree with your essen­tial val­ues. The envi­ron­ment we find our­selves in con­stantly demands of us to make deci­sions and you inevitably face the ques­tion of pri­or­i­ties: you put integrity before suc­cess, or you put integrity sec­ond and go for suc­cess at all costs. It is fash­ion­able today, espe­cially since The Secret and The Law of Attrac­tion became pop­u­lar, to think that we are in total charge of our des­tiny and what hap­pens to us is of our doing. It often may be so, but it is a very sim­plis­tic way of think­ing. To actu­ally man­i­fest your real­ity requires much more than most peo­ple think, but I will leave that sub­ject for another arti­cle. Suf­fice it to say that other peo­ple may also be try­ing to man­i­fest their own real­ity in con­flict with our own, which may make things very com­plex and com­pli­cated. The fact for most of us is that most of the time we are thrown into sit­u­a­tions requir­ing that we sim­ply need to deal with them the best way we can. Think of play­ing cards. We are dealt a hand and we must play the best way we know how. In other words, we must acknowl­edge that God does not take sides (that is if you are reli­gious) and that we can­not change real­ity. But, there is still a lot we can do in any given sit­u­a­tion: we are in full con­trol of our inter­pre­ta­tions of any event and the choices we make. A sit­u­a­tion may not be in your con­trol, but you can always choose to act in integrity because you con­trol your own your thoughts and behavior.

Act­ing con­trary to your val­ues and com­pro­mis­ing your higher self for an inter­me­di­ate gain may rob you of the ulti­mate goal you want to achieve, to be happy now and in the future. This is the place where you have a choice between being a vic­tim of cir­cum­stances or being in charge of your life and your hap­pi­ness. By sim­ply look­ing into the future and solu­tions to your sit­u­a­tion and dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties instead of lament­ing how the life and the world is unfair, you will get empow­ered instead of vic­tim­ized, you will be con­tent know­ing that you are doing your best instead of feel­ing sorry for your­self and blam­ing oth­ers. Results are never guar­an­teed and we will fail more often than we would like to admit, mostly because of cul­tural pres­sures. But, when you are being in integrity through­out the process you will be happy even if you do not suc­ceed. You will know that you did the best you could because you did not com­pro­mise your val­ues and came out of it being in integrity, whole and com­plete. You will not relin­quish your power to the cir­cum­stances to deter­mine how you feel. You are always in charge.

In con­clu­sion, we may safely say that you will be happy when your behav­ior and your inten­tions are in sync with your val­ues, when you put the process before the result, when you are in integrity at all times. Wait­ing for cir­cum­stances, envi­ron­ment and other peo­ple to change and make you happy is a pre­scrip­tion for depres­sion, frus­tra­tion and mis­ery and a life of per­pet­ual vic­tim­hood. All you can do is what you do to live your life with­out com­pro­mise guided by your val­ues, and that is more than any­one else can do for you.

As you might have noticed, the prin­ci­ple of integrity applies to every area of your life with­out excep­tion. I want to leave you with the ques­tion: where have you been out of integrity, for­get­ting and com­pro­mis­ing your true val­ues in your rela­tion­ship? How often do you expect oth­ers to make you happy? Are you a vic­tim, or are you in charge of your life, con­tent and happy?
I wish you all the hap­pi­ness in the world.



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.



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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Money, Economy And Relationships

In the past it was com­mon for divorce rates to spike dur­ing times of finan­cial inse­cu­rity. Back in the reces­sion of 1997, the divorce rate rose close to 20%. How­ever, econ­o­mists note that dur­ing really tough times, such as the Great Depres­sion in the early 1930s, divorce rates sta­tis­ti­cally decline because peo­ple can’t afford the lux­ury of split­ting into two sep­a­rate homes, and what is also very likely is that divorce was not as com­mon and as socially accept­able as it is today.

There are sev­eral angles we can look at this prob­lem. The first one is a mat­ter of

1. Integrity

Noth­ing works with­out integrity. (You can find much more on Integrity in The Game­less Rela­tion­ship ). At one point we made cer­tain promises and dec­la­ra­tions, like “For bet­ter or for worse” and “Till death us do part”, which we con­ve­niently for­get when times get tough. We very eas­ily find a “rea­son and excuse” for break­ing our promise. We make our­selves believe that these rea­sons are real and valid when in fact the are just a plau­si­ble story which we decided was true. Exam­ples: He is not mak­ing enough money. It is not good for my child to live in these con­di­tions. Or, she does not want to get a job to help out in this crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion. This takes us to the issue of

2. Being a victim

It is so easy to take the role of a vic­tim, just stop being respon­si­ble for any­thing. Give your power to oth­ers and declare that none of this has any­thing to do with you. Again, find­ing a good rea­son and excuse is essen­tial. If you were hon­est you would dis­cover your rea­sons and find many ways to jus­tify your actions. The plain truth is that it is eas­ier to blame oth­ers and assert your right­eous­ness than remem­ber that you’ve taken an oath.

3. Rea­son for being married.

Did you marry for a com­fort­able life, sex, to have chil­dren, because you “had to”, because it was “the thing to do”. These rea­sons some­how come up as excuses when the going gets tough and are used as excuses to walk away with­out con­sid­er­ing that YOU made an uncon­di­tional promise. In other words, when you said “I do”, you lied to every­one, and most likely, to your­self as well.

Of course there are rea­sons, such as abuse, but very few that may actu­ally jus­tify aban­don­ing mar­riage, but ask your­self if abuse started before the econ­omy took a dive and you were sell­ing out, or has it become a good rea­son to jus­tify your leav­ing when ship is sinking.

There are a few other games peo­ple play when it comes to ditch­ing a mar­riage, but these would suf­fice and you can think of oth­ers for your­self. The point I am mak­ing is that money is NEVER the real rea­son for break­ing up a mar­riage, the above rea­sons are.

So, do not pass the buck and blame money (pun intended), look inside first.

Best regards,


Rela­tion­ship Saver

Game­less Relationship

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