Changes in a Life ~ 2

Things to try ~ Things to learn ~ Ways of Looking at Things ~ 2

Marriage, Affairs & Relationship Discussion Forum ~
My last post ~ 'It is what it is' I say to myself with a smile .... 2-5-06
Coping With Life's Transitions ~
Letting go is a decision ~ 2
Trust ~ 2
Expectations-Boundaries-Accountability & Anger ~ 2
How & When & Why ~ 2
Healing, Forgiveness, Moving on ~ 2
The Sedona Method ~
Toxic & Difficult Relationships -Personality disorders ~ 2
Things to try ~ Things to learn ~ Ways of Looking at Things ~ 2
Metaphysical Points of View ~ 2
Internet relationships ~ 2
Love, Lovers, Friends & Friendship & their Relationships ~ 2
When It's Finally Over ~..OR..~ When it's Over, Finally ! ~ 2
Considerations & Perspectives to stretch your mind ~ 2
The Music ~

Things to try ~ Things to learn ~ Ways of Looking at Things ~ 2




 1. Assumptions: when we make assumptions, we're not living in the present moment.


 2.What you think you heard me say is not what I meant




 4. Just an Image or True Identity?


 5. Pattern chart (under construction)




 7. Relationship Advice: 3 kinds of love


 8. Create Fulfilling Relationships by Choice


 9. Frequently Asked Questions


10.Feelings, emotions - what are they?


11.The power of words.


12. An interesting article with some good insights - a personal accounting of Relationships & Love (not written by me) by a thoughtful young man.


13. Why We Chose The Person We Love


14. Warning Signs That You're Dating a Loser


15. The Gift of Conflict


16. How To Talk About Feelings


17. What is love?


18. Lust: You're Sexually Attractive THIS Long


19. Why communication is NOT the problem in relationships


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by Susie and Otto Collins

Several years ago, we attended a very powerful workshop on Spiritual Partnerships with Gary Zukav, author of Seat of the Soul, and his spiritual partner Linda Francis.

The great thing about attending a weekend workshop like this is that you get to learn a lot about yourself and your partner. We got to learn about how making simple assumptions can damage relationships very quickly. Simple assumptions that we make about each other and situations can lead to resentment, distance and emotional separation if left unaddressed.

During our 12 hour drive to the workshop, Susie had a apple as a snack. She asked Otto if he wanted an apple. He looked at the apple and saw only one and assumed that that was the only apple in the food bag. Since he wasn't hungry in that moment, but knew he would be soon, he mistakenly assumed that Susie was about to have the only apple.

A short time later Otto had tortilla chips for a snack instead of the apple he would have preferred. Now he didn't resent Susie for eating the "last apple" but he silently wished there was another apple to eat instead of the chips. Susie was unaware of his assumption and desire for an apple, and it wasn't until the food bag was taken to the room and unpacked that three other apples appeared.

If Otto hadn't assumed that there was only one apple in the bag, he would have had what he really wanted to eat instead of the chips.

Isn't this what we often do in relationships?

We silently want our relationships to be more passionate, more connected, more loving but we don't know how to communicate our needs to our partner.

We assume what we want isn't available or isn't possible, without attempting to make the connection with our partner and speak our needs in a way that they can be understood.

Sometimes we know what our needs are but don't express them because we are fearful what our partner will say or how he/she will react. So it's easier to keep silent.

In our relationship, we have learned that if we don't communicate consciously and constantly, we start to make assumptions about how the other will react in a given situation and those assumptions are usually dead wrong.

We've found that when we make assumptions, we're not living in the present moment--we are either in the past or in the future.

We suggest that you not make assumptions about how someone else is feeling or thinking in any relationship--no matter how long you've been together and how well you know that person.

We are all constantly growing and changing. If we want to grow together instead of growing apart, the most important thing you can do is to constantly communicate, one moment at a time. Decide to consciously create your lives the way you want them to be instead of allowing your lives to happen to you.

Live consciously at all times based on your intentions on how you want your life to be. The apple is there if you want it.
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You can benefit from communication breakdowns "What you think you heard me say is not what I meant."

JUNE 2000

by Janet L. Jacobsen

"What we have here is a failure to communicate" was a very famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke. Folks have been using the expression as an excuse ever since.

Whose fault is it when communication breaks down? This is behind many conflicts in relationships (and in the movies). Blame-placing becomes a bigger issue than problem-solving in a lot of relationships.

(Not just romantic relationships, mind you. Work place, parent/child, nation to nation, etc.)

Communication can break down for dozens, maybe hundreds of reasons. The first problem is when you don't know there's been a breakdown. The second problem is when you discover the breakdown and instead of trying to improve the communication, put all your energy into placing blame for the misunderstanding.

I suppose the theory is that once we figure out who gets the blame, they will learn their lesson and not goof up again. But the key thing I have learned from a bachelor's and a master's degree in interpersonal communication is that communication will break down. It is a fact up life. It's normal.

Get over it.


This does not, however, mean we shouldn't be trying to improve our communication. If you want to spend less time on conflict and confusion and more on fun and understanding, it pays to sharpen up your communication skills.

A significant number of communication-related studies have found that one of the most important ways to improve such skills is by how well you understand how well you are understood. This actually makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. If you deliver your message in such a way that the other person doesn't understand you, but you don't realize you haven't been understood, you're in trouble.

A fellow I know asked me recently why women tend to watch people's faces so much more than men do in conversation. I suggested that one reason is because men tend to decide what they want to say, and say it, and however it goes over is how it goes over.

Women, on the other hand, on average, decide the result they want, and as they begin to deliver their message, they watch to see how the other person is responding. Any looks of confusion, skepticism, disinterest, whatever, and they adjust what they're saying and how they say it as they go.

This may be why women consider themselves better communicators than men: they see themselves as more able to make adjustments than men are. But in my experience women operate on incorrect assumptions more than men do, so they may be more flexible in their approaches, but wind up wrong just as often.


So what to do if you want to improve how well you are understood? Two things: feed back and feed forward.

You've heard of feed back. You say what you want to say, and then ask the other person what they think you said. Then you compare what you meant with what they heard, and deliver your message again with the necessary adjustments.

Feed forward, on the other hand, prepares the other person for reporting on how well you communicated. It's when you say things like, "I have to tell you something and I'm afraid I'm going to say this wrong, so bear with me a minute." Now they are listening in a different way, and are less likely to react emotionally to what you say in the event you don't manage to say it very well. Then you ask for the feed back and proceed from there.

Improving your ability to see how well you were understood requires 1) that you realize you could improve the way you communicate, 2) that you want to improve, 3) your willingness to pay close attention to the communication process, and 4) your willingness to listen to feed back from others and make adjustments.

There is no shame in failures to communicate. Such breakdowns are normal. The shame lies in not learning from your mistakes.

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Your happiness is directly tied to your programming, not in what is happening "out there". In other words, it's not what the world out there is or isn't doing to you now, but how you view what is happening "out there".

Often we can't do much about what is happening "out there" or what your ex or potential single friends are or are not doing. But you do have control of your programming.

Yes, your ex, your parents, your teachers, your church, etc. all had a part in implanting your present programming.


Is this old programming simply not working for you? Are you unhappy with this programming? Then perhaps you should now decide whether or not you want to keep this old programming that isn't working out. Do you want new programming that will work and that you can be happy with?


They do not have to attend a class on navigation to enable them to fly south for the winter. No educational films are required on "How to Build a Nest". A squirrel doesn't have to be told to store up nuts for the winter. He inherited that programming.


All other fears, reactions and responses are learned.

What we are saying is - recognize that if all of your programming was learned, then it can also be unlearned.


that you were no good, undesirable, a reject, that you are frigid or "not a man", then your big computer may have finally accepted that as programming.


...if your big computer accepted it as programming, then the result is the same as if it was indeed true.


They have a term, "GIGO", which means "garbage in = garbage out".

If you have garbage programming, you are guaranteed garbage results. What you need to do is take a look now at your programming; if you are getting garbage results, say, hey, I can correct this programming if I want to.


You have been fighting the wrong enemy. It is not circumstances, fate, your ex or all those snobbish, cliquish singles out there. IT IS YOUR PROGRAMMING. You probably are ready to give up the battle anyway of trying to get all those people, your ex, your friends and the whole world out there to "shape up"


They go through life trying and trying, never giving up, on getting the whole world to straighten up. They are constantly frustrated, discouraged, heart broken, because the world just won't "shape up" no matter what they do.


Upset that your ex didn't do things the way you wanted. You are constantly failing in your attempts to get them to shape up.

When you change your programming about this, for example, it does not mean you give up on this and let your ex walk all over you.


Right now, perhaps your ex pulls your strings, controlling your happiness by what he or she does or does not do. In other words, they still control you. With a change in programming you will still prefer that your ex act in a certain way but your overall happiness is in no way dependent on what your ex does or does not do.


The definition I like best is, "pleasant feelings". If you really have pleasant feelings most of the time, then your programming is working. If you rarely do, it is not.

You say, baloney, if you had what is happening to me now happening to you, you'd feel terrible too.


Let's take an example. If your past experience and programming is that you should eat steak most of the time, then hamburger and meat loaf are a comedown and you are now unhappy that because of your finances after your divorce you can only afford hamburger.

Yet another person, who could rarely afford even meat because their ex was an alcoholic and spent every dime on booze, when this same person is free and can now afford even hamburger, that person is delighted with the same hamburger that you are unhappy with.


Our definition of the word programming here is "your on-file, automatic reaction and feelings to what happens to you".


Our classic example is when Mother said "never speak to strangers". Grandmother repeated it, your teachers and other reinforced it.


However, when you grew up, no one said "You are now grown up and intelligent enough to decide which people to talk to".

If you still have the old "don't talk to strangers" programming of your childhood, then when you do talk to strangers, you feel awfully uncomfortable. The result is that you hardly ever talk to strangers and if you do, you are uptight.


Say, for example, there are two people in a situation where they both have an opportunity to meet a stranger. The one with the childhood programming avoids this opportunity. The person with adult programming looks forward to and actually enjoys an opportunity to meet a new friend.


And each makes for two entirely different reactions The same situation, stressful for one person, enjoyable for the other.

Recognize that it is not what is happening, it is your programming about what is happening that is either working for or against you. If it is not working for you, change your programming.

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 Just an Image or True Identity?

by Matthew Palmer

A police officer pulls a car over for a routine traffic stop. The officer strides confidently up to the car, hands on his hips, with a bravado swagger as if he is fully in control of the situation. He peers into the driver's window. Suddenly, the man in the car pulls a gun and fires several shots. The officer falls to the ground, screaming and crying in a frenzy, "I've been shot! I've been shot! Call an ambulance! I've been shot!"

When the paramedics arrive, they discover the officer has not even been wounded. All the shots missed. The only observable damage is that this tough cop wet his pants.

This is an illustration of how identity works. In one flash, all of the officer's self-assured control leaves him, and he is reduced to the helplessness of a baby. The police officer's identity of courage is not real; he is not confident underneath his tough image which crumbles during a dangerous unexpected encounter.

Like the police officer, illusions of who we think we are -- and who we claim to be -- evaporate like smoke. Our true Identity is obscured and ignored to make way for our made-up image-the way we want others to see us.

How we define ourselves

In defining our image, we take all the things that appeal to us in the world to create how we want to see ourselves. We set out to make ourselves visible in the world so our images are reflected back to us through the desire of others.

We can try to define our identity according to how we want to be seen -- by others and by ourselves -- but this is an incomplete view of what true identity really represents because often the things we find appealing reveal what we feel is missing in our own lives.(1)

Image is so important to us because we all want to belong to something meaningful, desirable and important. The precisely fashioned images we show others are supposed proof of our value.

Since image is largely derived from the world around us, it may be helpful to note a few of the most powerful influences that pressure us. Influences shape our beliefs and ultimately what we truly value; what we value is a reflection of what is in our hearts.

Feeling the peer pressure

Peer pressure has a tremendous effect on all of us. Have you ever had a teacher or friend that had a positive and profound influence upon you? They probably influenced your values, which affected the image you portrayed and in turn impacted your lifestyle.

A study in the 1960s reveals the powerful influence of peer pressure cannot be ignored. Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, conducted experiments attempting to prove the immense power of influence exerted through peer pressure and authority.

"Although controversial by today's ethical standards, the experiments revealed a dark side of human nature: many subjects were quite willing to obey an authority even if such obedience meant inflicting severe pain on another person.

Even though the experiments were themselves a deception (that is, the electric shocks the subjects 'administered' to the victims were not real, and the 'victims' were pretending to feel pain as part of the experiment), many of the subjects suffered considerable trauma to discover that they had the capacity within themselves -- in obedience to authority and peer pressure -- to inflict such torture." (2)

The experiment illustrates that we really are not always consciously aware of how much influence those around us actually exert on us. Although another's influence may not be presented as an authority, they can still have a tremendous effect on us.

In response to the influence of others, we image ourselves in a way that we think is appealing and desirable to our peers; we tend to want to "fall into line" because of our desire for acceptance. A self image created with the objective of pleasing others is unreliable and ultimately a hollow and disappointing endeavor because the opinion of others is always shifting and approval is fleeting.

Bombarded with media messages

Popular media is another influence worth exploring. Countless ideas of what image we should adopt to improve ourselves and bring true happiness are constantly coming at us through television, computers or radio.

Constructing our identity has become a requirement in our modern Western society where we are constantly facing choices of identity and lifestyle.(3) We have seen various ways in which popular ideas about "self" in society have changed, so that identity is seen today as more fluid and transformable than ever before.

Consider how popular media has contributed to the change of our traditional gender roles. One text traces shifting gender ideals like this:

"The traditional view of a woman as a housewife or low-status worker has been kick-boxed out of the picture by the feisty, successful 'girl power' icons. Meanwhile the masculine ideals of absolute toughness, stubborn self-reliance and emotional silence have been shaken by a new emphasis on men's emotions, need for advice, and the problems of masculinity." (4)

Whether you believe the media is a reflection of changing societal values, or a leading force disposing of traditional social roles and values, media disseminates an enormous number of messages suggesting "better" forms of self-expression, gender, sexuality, and lifestyle. Although the public has its own robust and diverse set of feelings on subjects of gender, sexuality and lifestyle, the media uses seductive and proven methods of persuasion and represents a constant bombardment of image advice.

Even if we disagree with the images in our minds, they still can play on our emotions; the frequency of exposure to media suggestion can wear on even the most grounded person.

Peer and media influence are clearly not the only forces which may pressure us, but we are exposed to them every day, whether they be negative, positive, truthful, or fraudulent. These influences can be unreliable and inconsistent at best. As one text reminds us, "As long as you derive your identity from the world around you, you have to be concerned about losing it." (5)

Our attempts to define and image ourselves are a reaction to a deeper need within -- the need to satisfy an intense yearning deep inside every human being, a need for purpose and belonging. The problem of defining our identity from exterior influences is they are unreliable; even seeking definition from within ourselves can be unreliable with our fluctuating emotions and confidence.

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Pattern Table

One of a series of tools which we have used and which may help you identify the patterns which have been running your life, the underlying beliefs and, provide you with some clue as to the source. 

If you fill in the table below with the major events of your life, you should be able to see patterns emerging across the page. Although these pattern may not become immediately obvious, a common thread of cause and effect repetition will be seen to emerge, from which you may be able to find the origins of the present conditions surrounding you  (The chart is still under construction)

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 Control or "Concern"
Harlan Jacobsen Copyright 2003

Everyone has areas or parts of their life under their control. .........
.............. They also have an area of concern.

    Those that succeed understand the difference between the two, circle or area under their control and.......
    ........ what is classified as an area of concern.
Things, which you have direct control over, are things in your life over which you can affect by your decisions and actions in this direct control.

For example, you have direct personal control over the following:

  • - Your attitude about being single.
  • - How you respond to situations that occur in single life.
  • - Whether or not you will plan out your day, and your future.
  • - Whether you will go out to develop new friends.
  • - What time you will get up in the morning
  • - What time you will go to sleep at night.
  • - How much effort you will put into your job or career today.
  • - Whether you return calls or answer e-mails in a timely manner
  • - What you will eat or will not eat today
  • - Whether or not you will take the time to exercise today.  

These will give you some idea of which is which.


Here are some things over which you are concerned about, but do not have direct control over.

    For example, you may be concerned about the weather, but no matter how hard you try what you do or what you say will not influence the weather.

You may be concerned about the SARS outbreak, but no matter what you say or what you do, will not have any influence on when or where the next outbreak will occur.

It is true that people concentrate or worry about things that they have absolutely no control or influence over.

Why do they do this?

In affect wasting their entire day worrying or concentrating about something that they have no influence over will actually help make any difference..

      For you to succeed,...........
      .......... you need to concentrate..........
      ........... all of your efforts on things that you have......... control over.
So make a list of things within your control and a list of those things that are merely within your area of concern.
    Things you have of concern must meet the following criteria:

    No matter what you say or what you do, they will not have any influence over that item.

When you make a list of things that are in your direct control and able to see those on that list and realize on the "concerns" list, that there are certainly many things that you no longer have any influence over.

By putting your former spouse and marriage on your area of concern list, you will finally accept the fact that no matter what you say or what you do or say would not change what had happened or will happen.

    So even though you are concerned about your former spouse,, you eventually accept the fact that the former spouse was no longer within any area of control whatsover.
Move your efforts to what you control...........

..........Instead of concentrating on the things in this area of concern and feeling sorry for yourself,

    You switch and concentrate on the things still in your area of control,
    such as:

  • - taking care of your children
  • - being the best parent you can be
  • - spending quality time with them
  • - taking care of your physical body
  • - taking time to make big plans
  • - keeping a positive attitude towards building a new life
  • - planning/investing for children's college tuition
  • - becoming a top qualified person in your job.
  • - building and growing your job or business.
  • - developing a network of new single friends.

    By concentrating on your area of control, your area of control continues to grow in both your personal life and business life.

        You can and will develop a wonderful new relationship and a great new life.
    Your new life will just keep getting better and better.

    The person that concentrates 100% on what they can control will succeed in developing a bigger and better life, while the person that concentrates and will not let go of what is merely a list of "concerns" will be left wondering why they did not succeed.

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 Relationship Advice: 3 kinds of love
By Jeff Herring

There are three kinds of love:

love as a feeling, love as a decision/choice, and love as an action.

The confusion of these three kinds of love is the cause of much needless pain and suffering.

In an attempt to clear up this confusion, let's take a closer look at each of these three kinds of love.

Love as a feeling.

Oh, what a feeling. Let's face it, falling in love feels great. So does being in love. Throughout the centuries, poets, writers and singers have all extolled the glories of being in love.

Only problem is that it doesn't last.

Sorry to bring you back to Earth with such a jolt, but let's be honest. The emotional high that we feel just doesn't last on a day-to-day basis.

Remember the phrase "and they lived happily ever after"? Even though this phrase can be found at the end of most fairy tales, our culture seems to have accepted it as fact.

"Well," you might be saying at this point, "aren't we sounding cynical today." Maybe so, but if you'll hang in there with me, reader, it's going to get better really quick.

It's natural and normal for the feeling of love to ebb and flow in a relationship. That's why it's so important to understand that in addition to love as a feeling there are two other kinds of love.

Love as a decision/choice

Love is also a decision and a choice. There are times when we do not feel like loving in any way. In relationships, however, we are called to love even when we don't feel like it (sometimes especially when we don't feel like it).

Authors Gary Smalley and John Trent said:

"Every enduring marriage involves a commitment to an imperfect person."

What this means on a day-to-day basis is this: We may sometimes say to ourselves when thinking about our partner,

"You know, I really don't like you very much today."

Then this needs to be followed by, "and I'm going to love you anyway."

The choice and decision to love, even when we don't feel like it provides the sense of security necessary in a relationship to make it through the inevitable rough waters.

Love as an action

In addition to being a feeling and a choice, love is also a verb.

We can have the feeling of love, we can decide to love, we can understand all that there is to understand about our relationship, but we won't get very far until we take action.

Some couples I have worked with are very good at describing what is wrong with the relationship and/or the other person. It reminds me of what actor and comedian Lily Tomlin once said:

"I personally believe we developed language because of our deep need to complain."

One of the biggest myths about marriage goes something like this:

"If you really loved me, then you would (know what to do, know what to say, know what I like, etc.)."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead of complaining about our partner's behavior, we can simply ask for (request) what we would like. Sometimes that will be a request to do something. Other times it may be a request not to do something.

It goes something like this:

"I would like you to (fill in the blank)."

Then your partner gets to say either "Yes, I can do that" or "No, I won't do that, because (fill in the blank). What else could I do that would meet that need?"

In this way, we can put hands and feet onto the feeling of love. The really curious thing is that when we decide to love and take action in this way, it can lead us back to that feeling of love.

Jeff Herring is a Relationship Coach, Speaker, and Syndicated Relationship Columnist.

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  Create Fulfilling Relationships by Choice
By Leslie Gail

Everyone wants to be surrounded by loving, supportive, and uplifting people. Whether wanting to create a solid group of friendships, or looking for that special significant other, you need to invest some time and energy to make this happen. First you need to decide on the kind of person you'd like to meet, then you take specific actions to make that happen. Of course it would be easier and safer to sit at home and wait for these individuals to show up on your doorstep, but this is highly unlikely. You need to be willing to look at yourself first, because likes attract likes. Are you looking for certain traits and characteristics that you don't possess yourself? Be willing to look in the mirror first, make necessary changes and then go out there full stream. This week give yourself an opportunity to take a full inventory, detail exactly what you want and then spread the word.


1. What specifically are you looking for?

Are you craving a close friendship? Would you like to find a soulmate? Once you determine who you want to attract into your life, what specific characteristics do you want them to portray? Make a list of all their qualities. For ex. hobbies, physical characteristics, beliefs.

2. Look at this list often

Once you have outlined your master list, look at it often. By writing it down and then reading it, you are setting your intentions into motion. You need to be clear on what you want before you can attract that into your life.

3. Get out there

Once you have created the list, you need to get out there and meet this person. Be proactive! Don't wait at home for the phone to ring. Join clubs, volunteer, put your profile on line, etc...This week decide where you want to spend your time. Be willing to go out on a limb and take a risk!

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 Frequently Asked Questions ~ Jim Britt  

Question1: I always seem to be in a state of anxiety. Can you tell me what causes my anxiety and how to stop feeling the way I do?

  Jim: Anxiety is a combination of fear, anger and depression all rolled into one. Fear tenses your body and holds you back. Anger tenses your body and moves you forward. And depression tenses your body and holds you inward. So basically, when you suffer from anxiety, you are holding back, moving forward and holding inward all at the same time. Even though our natural tendency is to speed up in order to get more accomplished, what we really need to do is to let go and slow down! Slowing down allows you to observe the truth of the situation and be open to solutions instead of being blinded by the problem. 

Question: You talk about letting go of the need to control and still maintaining control of your life. How do you let go of control and stay in control?

  Jim: Letting go of the "need" to control is the key. Attempting to control circumstances that are beyond your control puts you out of control. In other words, don't attempt to control outcomes in which you have no control over. When you let go of your "need" to control, or your "need" to know an outcome, you are now in complete control. Letting go of the "need" to control the future places you in the moment where the real action is! 

Question: Can you explain the difference between a feeling and an emotion, and which one I should be concerned with letting go?

  Jim: There are two types of feelings. One, is a "pure" feeling which only exist in the moment, like the feeling you may experience when you're walking in nature. Other feelings are simply trapped energy patterns created from a past experience. When we experience an emotion such as "anger," for example, this is simply the energy from the past experience being triggered and put into "motion" in order to be released. E-MOTION = "energy in motion." When the stored energy is being put into motion, that's the time it can be released. Emotion is the opportunity for cleaning up, or clearing up, our emotional attachment to the past.  

Question: Can you define fear and what causes it?

  Jim: Fear is simply taking a past experience, projecting it into the future, with the anticipation of it happening again, and then re-experiencing it in the moment. For example, let's say that you had a failure in a past business and you're about to start another business. You have a thought that you certainly don't want to fail again (re-living the past experience), and you move into the future with the thought in mind that you don't want to fail again (re-living the past in the future). How you "think" and "feel" will be the results you attract. Why? Because that's your focus! So, in order to move forward into an abundant future with your new business, you must let go of your limited thoughts and feelings from the past, and move forward with total clarity. 

Question: How I stay in the flow where things happen more effortlessly?

  Jim: Many mistake "excitement" with being "in the flow." Excitement actually "spends" your energy rather than enhancing it. Excitement is created when the stimulation from "want" meets with the resistance from "lack." "Lack" is defined as "want" and "want" is defined as "lack." Working together, they neutralize one another. Inspiration is the key. When you become "inspired" by your vision, you will attract the people and circumstances you need to accomplish your objective effortlessly, while remaining in the "flow." 

Question: How can I forgive someone who has really hurt me?

  Jim: Forgiveness is really not about the other person. It's about self-healing by letting go of your resentment toward the other person. You can't control how another person lives their life, or what they've done to you in the past. The only thing you have control over in this situation, is how you feel toward that person. When you let go of your feeling toward them, this allows you to heal and to return to your natural a state of love. When you hang onto that old experience, you actually take on "their" issue by judging then for it. Letting go and moving on is the answer.  

Question: Why do we have to experience negative emotions?

  Jim: Negative emotions are not the enemy! They are rather a guide to self-discovery that leads to self-correction and self-healing. When used correctly, negative emotions become an opportunity for self-growth, putting and end to negative emotions. In other words, when you let go of an unwanted emotion, you will experience more self-love automatically, revealing more of your true nature. 

Question: How would you define intimacy?

  Jim: Intimacy is "sharing the full experience of the moment." In other words, "where ever you are, be there!" If you are in a conversation with another, be fully present. If you are eating a meal, be intimate with your food. You'll find your digestion and overall health improving. If you are taking a walk in nature, be fully aware of your surroundings. If you are going to hug a tree, don't concern yourself with what others are thinking, just simply "be" with the tree! If you are going to play, play! If you are going to work, work! Intimacy is being fully "awake" in the present.  

Question: Can you define happiness?

  Jim: Happiness only happens in the present. Consider the similarity of the words "happiness" and "happening." Happiness is living free of our regrets from the past or the fear of the future. Happiness is taking responsibility and accepting where we are now while moving toward what we would love in our lives. When we "hate" our circumstances, it's pretty hard to experience happiness at the same time. In order to "have" happiness, we must "be" happy. Happiness comes from us, not at us. 

Question: Isn't expressing my anger a good thing? Doesn't that get everything out into the open?

  Jim: The question is, "who wins in an argument?" The answer is no one. Most people who express anger don't really want to resolve the issue, they just want to be right! The best way to resolve any conflict is to let go of your anger, so that you can see the real truth behind the problem. This allows you to confront the issue from a place of love and be open to solutions, where everybody wins. 

Question: How can I have more love in my life?

  Jim: What we are really seeking is self-love, not love from another. When we pursue love from something or someone outside, we will fall short of the love that is available to us. When we leave love alone and not pursue it, it's natural tendency is to grow. The best way to experience more love, is to reveal more of your true nature by discovering and letting go of who you are not! 

Question: How do we transform our fears that limit us and separate us from the love, joy and courage of our true nature?

  Jim: We can begin by creating a new language, one that dances with love, that expresses our true feelings of caring for others and for the planet. We can begin to choose our words with care, words that empower us and others, words that affirm life, abundance, love, intimacy and a heart felt connection to all.

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By Kate

 Feelings, emotions - what are they?

"I still have feelings for her, but I don't love her anymore."

"It just feels so right to be together."

"I just can't bear the pain and anger anymore, I've got to get away from him."

"Our marriage is over - I just don't feel the same way about her anymore."

Our emotions are one of the things we use to measure life by. If we feel happy in a certain situation, we think it's a healthy place to be. If we feel unhappy, we think we should get out or change things. The danger is that we easily let our feelings take over from any values or common sense we have.

What are feelings - they are the emotions that rise up in us in reaction to events going on around us. We can feel happy, sad, excited, bored, anxious, embarrassed, miserable, to name just a few.

They are not thoughts or opinions arising from the mind, but sensations arising from the heart. If we say' "I feel that you shouldn't do that," we're expressing an opinion or thought and not an emotion.

Many men don't think they have any feelings. They've been brought up by our society to hide their emotions. "Boys don't cry." Yet some men do! It's funny how Italian men seem to be made differently - they don't mind crying!

Men really do have feelings. If you've ever seen a football fan when his team scores a goal, you'll see some feelings surface!!! At most other times many think it's somehow unmanly to express emotion, somehow a sign of weakness!

Everyone has emotions. It's just that some of us push them down out of the way. Some of us do this so well that we think we're unemotional; that actually means we don't acknowledge or express them, not that they aren't there.

Feelings are simply the way we respond to what's happening to us and around us. They are a sign of what is going on inside. They are also unique to us. No other person is quite like you and so know other person has quite the same set of feelings.

We can't control them or make them really go away. Have you ever tried making yourself feel happy, when you're miserable. It's not that easy.

How are you feeling right now? Calm, excited, bored, interested, anxious, fearful, embarrassed, irritated?

What can we do with our feelings?

It really helps first of all to recognise that we have them, to accept them in ourselves. It's ok to have strong feelings, although some of them may be uncomfortable and we'd really rather they went away.

We can share our feelings with our partner, lovingly and responsibly. "Darling when you shout at the children, I feel angry and frustrated and sad," is a bit better than, "You're always shouting at the children. You make us all feel so angry." The first statement is certainly not going to be a comfortable one for them to hear, but the second one will have them straight on the defensive! You would also be putting your feelings on the children. In fact your anger may have come because you hate conflict or you are afraid the children will stop loving you. You may even feel concerned that you have failed to bring them up right. If you blame it all on your partner, you may be being less than honest.

When we share our feelings carefully, then our partner at least knows what is going on inside. They are not left guessing what the cold silence and grumpiness signifies.

When you share your positive feelings, you're helping them to know you better: "I felt so excited when he offered me the job. It's just what I've wanted. I feel hopeful, as if the sun had just come out from behind a cloud."

"When Susie gave me a hug this morning, I felt so happy. It's made all the sleepless nights worrying about her

Where do feelings come from?

All of us want to be loved or valued or appreciated or allowed to make our own decisions. These desires reflect the basic emotional needs we were born with.

They can generally be summed up by:

  • the need to love and be loved,
  • the need for worth or value,
  • the need for autonomy, that is freedom to make our own decisions,
  • the need for significance, to know that we make a difference in the world.

We have lots of other needs which can be expressed in other ways such as the need to be chosen, to be respected, to be understood, etc.

The value of these needs is that they draw us into relationship - it is very difficult to find fulfilment for these needs in isolation, although careers, hobbies and such things can go some way towards meeting them.

Often we are not consciously aware of these needs until they are not met. Negative feelings like anger, frustration, sadness often arise when one or more of our deepest needs are not being met. For example, when we feel miserable or sad it may be a signal that we don't think we're loved or valued by others.

It is much harder to identify the needs behind positive feelings, such as happiness. To do that we need to know what is important to us. Perhaps we think success at work is very important to us, but if we look below the surface we may find that what really matters to us is that we have a sense that we have made a difference in this world, or that others value us. Our need for significance or value is being met.

Trying to make ourselves feel better

Difficulties arise in our relationships, when we don't realise the power of our needs and begin to try and meet our needs in an unhelpful way. If we have a strong need for love and security, then we may place very high expectations and demands on our wife or husband. We may expect them to be forever telling us and showing us how much they love us.

For example, the woman who is very insecure may feel hurt unless her husband is always telling her how good she looks. She may be constantly asking him, what he thinks of a new outfit or hair do and he may think her vain or shallow, when actually she's insecure. If he doesn't fulfill her needs, she may be drawn to some other man who does take notice of her.

A husband may be so insecure that he needs his wife to build up his ego all the time by keeping their sex life exciting. He may put pressure on her to do things she doesn't want. She may see him as unreasonable and demanding, when actually he's crying out for reassurance that she loves him. When things are a little dull he may judge his wife as boring and be tempted to look elsewhere.

Of course in marriage we should be showing love and appreciation for each other anyway, the problem is when we demand it as our right.

It can be very easy to try to manipulate situations deliberately to fulfil the needs we have, and try to force the relationship based on our terms not on mutual benefit. We might say something, like: "If you really loved me, you'd switch that TV off and talk." Or, "If you really cared about me, you wouldn't keep making excuses not to make love when I want to." This is emotional blackmail and doesn't help build a strong and happy marriage.

Instead the mature thing to do is to approach the situation slightly differently. If we want to receive love, then we can create the right atmosphere for that in our relationship by being loving ourselves.

Perhaps if you'd given him more attention when he came in from work and listened to his story about his day when you were eating supper he wouldn't have switched the TV on in the first place.

The husband who would like to make love more often, might consider what he can change in his own behaviour. He might consider what makes his wife feel special, perhaps a few gentle words, a loving phone call during the day, a gentle caress while she's making the supper, but these mustn't be done with an underlying demand.

If we do these things simply to achieve our own ends rather than to give something loving to our partner than we become manipulative. If we can reach out to give something to another person freely, then we often receive a blessing back.

Whatever you do, don't blame your husband or wife for those negative feelings and unfulfilled needs. It's not anyone else's responsibility to make you feel good. You can't expect any other person to satisfy all your emotional needs all the time. Likewise don't allow anyone to force their dependence on you.

The trouble is that behind our emotional needs are our spiritual ones. If we have a set of spiritual beliefs, such as belief in a loving Father God then we can also find fulfilment for our emotional needs there. Christians often say that knowing they are loved and valued by God, warts and all, helps them to be less demanding on others and more able to give love.

Keeping our relationship emotionally healthy

One model I've come across for emotional needs describes each person as having a sort of emotional petrol tank. When we are loved and affirmed by those around us, then our tank is full and we can cope with setbacks, hurts and disappointments.

You can see that with small children. If you sit down and spend time with them, giving them your full attention, having eye contact, cuddling up, having fun, encouraging and praising them, they become more relaxed, less ratty, less demanding of attention. On the other hand, when they've been ignored for a while, or you've been short tempered with them and critical, the situation just seems to go from bad to worse. They have few emotional resources to draw on and they feel insecure and doubt they are loved and valued.

We too can get irritable and restless, if our husband or wife ignores us, doesn't listen or show any sign of affection or appreciation. Sometimes it's hard to put our finger on what is wrong, we may just feel generally out of sorts. A little time, attention and encouragement from the one we love can lift our spirits and help us cope with life.

What a different world this would be if more of us were committed to valuing and appreciating others - our spouses, children, parents, friends, colleagues. It doesn't actually cost much to give someone some love and attention, but it's like ripples in a pond. Our love enables others in their turn to value someone and our little gift spreads out far further than we realised.

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 ** NOTE ~ this article is somewhat out of place within the context of this site, however, within it are many insights into how people argue on a day to day level having to do with their agendas and strategies; how and what is done to construct power to their wants. It's long, but useful if you have the patience to read it. At the least, you will be able to identify anothers approach and perhaps how to deflect when and if you need to. PDPJ
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  The Power of Words
Emotional appeals, fallacies, manipulations, disinformation,
misdirection, propaganda and Political Correctness
      Generally, when people get their own way with others, they do it with words; they want others to agree with their point of view, give them what they want, do what they ask and buy what they are selling. From the car salesman's hard sell, the hammering of TV commercials, the relative's request for a loan, the doctor's diagnosis to the child's pleading to stay up late, the seduction and/or assault of words is continuous.
      In these verbal contests between one person's desires and another's, some people find they always lose, convinced they must be wrong, while others consistently win; their logic, their reasons are so powerful, so compelling, they almost force others to change their opinions, their beliefs and their behavior to comply with what's being asked.
      This enormous power is in the meaning of the words, what they mean to the person who hears them. Far more than simple communication, truth, falsehood and the infinite shades between them, words have the power to manipulate other people's thinking and behavior. These powers have been defined as fallacious arguments.
      There are 20 or so of these misleading and deceptive arguments. Their tremendous power lies in the fact that they elicit emotional responses in those who hear them. While the arguments appear to relate to the subject under discussioon, they do not. In most cases they have little to do with the subject at all.
      Their danger lies in the fact that decisions based on them are not based on truth, common sense, logic, legality, one's best interests or right and wrong but on emotions favoring those who put forth the more powerful arguments. They are designed to benefit someone else!
      As emotions are constantly changing, opinions and decisions based on them also change. They are not stable, dependable or consistent over time. At any moment, they can be overthrown by someone else's more compelling argument. Unknowingly making choices based on emotional appeals and logical tricks, one allows others to control their thinking, and their behavior, setting themselves up to be used for someone else's interests.
      Recognizing these arguments for what they are renders them ineffective and powerless. Knowing them to be false and self-serving, one can separate their emotional responses from the subject at hand, knowing they are not the same thing.


      Appeal to pity. This argument appeals to feelings of sympathy, pity and compassion. It also appeals to the ideals of fairness, to support for the under dog. Children are masters of this one. Their "Pleaseeeee" will get them almost anything from loving parents who feel heartless if they don't give in. Often, between men and women, the appeal is to compassion, and guilt, for the wounded egos and hurt feelings which will result from being refused. All charities appeal to feelings of pity, sympathy and compassion for those in desperate circumstances and to one's desires to help and/or guilt for not doing do. An argument to elicit compassion and collective guilt is also a defense attorney's summation to the jury asking for an acquittal on the grounds that his client's upbringing was abusive or under- privileged even though that would not make him innocent of the charges against him. This appeal is also used by groups who, basing their argument on past abuses, claim special treatment to make up for them. Special Pleading follows from this argument.
      Arguing for something in one case and not in another just like it is Special Pleading. To argue that one child should be admitted to college and not another with the same grade point average, economic status, social and educational background is Special Pleading. The Affirmative Action programs stem from Special Pleading.
      Appeal to authority. From childhood, children have been trained not to dispute their elders, the authorities in their lives, and that training continues to condition adults to do what authorities tell them to do without thinking about it. No more than what "My Dad said..." or "My teacher said..." could be wrong, can anyone else who is presented as an authority. Like parents, employers are considered authorities because of their power over employees; government, because of its power over the people. In personal disputes, one party will assault the other's opinions by claiming to be or quoting someone claimed to be an authority.
      In truth, however, there are remarkably few real authorities. A real authority in any field is a truthful, conscientious expert. Even that is no guarantee they're right. In criminal trials, it is not uncommon for both the defense and prosecution to present expert witnesses who give completely opposite opinions. In our culture, doctors are considered to be authority figures, so much so that few patients question their doctor's professional reputation, qualifications or credentials. Neither do they ask for a second opinion, question a diagnosis or dispute any advice regardless of how ridiculous it is. In TV commercials viewers hear "More doctors prescribe..., More hospitals use..., More dentists advise...." Or just an actor wearing a white lab coat will imply an endorsement by doctors and the implication is enough. Endorsements by Hollywood stars, sports figures, etc. imply both that they are authorities and that their saying so makes "this" the product to buy. Direct mail promotions rely heavily on endorsements by those who claim to be authorities.
      If knowledge is power, to have knowledge others don't have is even greater power. Participating in a secret, having secret information, is the power of being up while others are down, being in while others are out. This power, real or implied, attracts people because secrets can become tools that they can use. When secrecy is used as a tool, however, it may be one of the most dangerous things on earth. Because of its nature, it is an essential condition for every abuse, every misuse of power, every crime, every lie.
      And secrecy sells. Some direct mail promotions promise the moon and stars but, sorry, we can't tell you what it is. The recipient, believing he may miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime, pays to learn the secret. And the con man, after gaining the confidence of his victim, imparts information which the victim believes to be secret. An implied loss for telling the secret prevents the victim from checking the information out but, had he done so, he would have found it to be false and the scam would have fallen apart.
      These arguments are biased and totally one- sided. In disputes of all kinds it is common to put forth one's own case while denying the opposition has any case at all. Political speeches, written specifically to sway the voters, advocate only one party line while opposing arguments, if referred to at all, are presented as the viewpoint from hell. When the media also has a political agenda of its own, reporting is neither fair nor impartial but slanted toward one particular viewpoint. Only in the adversarial climate of political debate are both sides of an issue equally presented.
      Appeal to force/fear. When anyone threatens, "You'll do it or else........." and means it, they are using an Ad Baculum argument because compliance is not dependent upon whether it's the best thing to do but on what will happen if you don't. The power here is that the consequences are real; they can happen. Often, in personal relationships, the argument is unspoken and the threat is to withdraw love. If your landlord says, "No pets allowed," and the consequences are eviction, if you're threatened with extortion or blackmail and the consequences are exposure and/or prosecution, all are appealing to feelings of fear.
      Called "being on the horns of a dilemma," a choice must be made between the cost of complying and the cost of not doing so. In the McCarthy Senate hearings in the 50s, all those summoned to testify before the committee, guilty and innocent alike, were forced to implicate and incriminate their friends and acquaintances or be branded Communist and blacklisted themselves.
      The Ad Baculum argument is used extensively in advertising and sales. For selling life insurance... "How will your family pay the bills?" sales of hospital insurance.... "How will you pay the bills (if they will treat you at all)?" sales of financial newsletters.. "When the crash comes you will lose all your savings if you haven't had my expert advice!" sales of cemetery plots, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, protective devices from pepper spray to air bags. Fear of loss is used by direct mail promotions that first raise recipient's hopes with promises of information that will cut taxes, save money, make money, sweepstakes and lotteries to win money, psychic help that will bring money, good luck, love, romance, etc. if they only pay a small (?) fee, and loss of it all if they don't. Even though they may not really believe it, many pay rather than take the chance.
      Argument against the man. This is a personal attack on the person who presents or endorses a viewpoint and is often used as a last resort when the facts cannot be disputed. Called "poisoning the well," the argument is that to destroy the credibility of the person endorsing the viewpoint will destroy his argument. This argument is used extensively to discredit candidates for election by dirty-tricks campaigns that lay their private lives bare to public criticism.
      In the 1992 election, Ross Perot came under fire, not for what he was saying, but because of his manner, his attitude, his walk, his voice, his ears and his size. And in the debate between Gore and Perot, the administration openly admitted that they were trying to influence the vote toward NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) by making it's opponent appear ridiculous. Governments routinely act along lines of self- interest but sell their policies to the people with emotional appeals.
      Expecting unbiased reporting of the news, voters hear instead derogatory adjectives and outright personal attacks on candidates. Unfortunately, since they have few ways of knowing what the facts really are, they tend to believe what they read, see and hear in the media believing anyone in that position must be an authority and if it were not true, those being defamed would sue. This is not the case for at least two obvious reasons. The media is in business to sell and "public" figures have become fair game. The court has ruled that in choosing to give up their "private" citizen status to become a figure in the public eye, they must put up with everything short of outright slander and libel.
      Very close to Ad Hominem is the Guilt by Association argument. If your spouse says, "You sound just like your mother!" and your mother is unpopular, the attack is aimed toward making your argument unpopular because she is. When someone says, "That sounds like something the Conservatives would say....." and their arguments are unpopular, the attack undermines your credibility by pointing to an unpopular cause you have endorsed. One commentator attempted to associate Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the minds of voters by pointing out the similarities in their background and education.
      Also allied to the Ad Hominem is the Tu Quoque, the "you, too" argument. This is the "Practice what you preach," two wrongs make a right argument; "If you can do it, so can I." What I do is justified because you do it. Teenagers use this argument a lot and couples use this one: "Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
      Appeal to the people, the masses. The appeal is to the need to belong, to be accepted. The argument is that one should like what most people like; that if everyone likes it, it must be good. That one should do what everyone is doing; that if everyone is doing it, it must be right. The big assumption here is that most people do like it, that most people are doing it. Even if they are, does that make it the best thing for you?
      Children, learning to live in society, learn to conform to what "others" expect. Later on their appeals for bizarre clothing, late night parties and cars of their own are on the grounds that all their friends are wearing it, all the kids are going, everybody drives to school. The great anonymous "everybody" exerts enormous social pressure to conform. At election time, when one person is ahead in the polls, that will often be enough to swing voters in his direction. Voters persuaded to vote the Democratic ticket because "they" are for the "the blue-collar workers," to vote the Republican ticket because "they" are for the "the white- collar people" results from this argument. Members of Congress are pressured to vote their party lines and members of religious, ethnic and racial groups support their leaders simply because they are members of the group. Propaganda supporting mob rule and hate groups stems from this argument for the people but, in these cases, not all the people. Only one particular group of people is included and all others are outsiders.
      The unspoken premise that belonging, being accepted, follows from conforming to socially accepted norms is the drive that sends buyers flocking to diet programs, beauty aids, plastic surgeons and fashion trends, all sold to buyers who want to weigh what they "should" weigh, look like they "should" look, wear what they "should" wear. In direct mail promotions, testimonials stating that others endorse a product are used to convince prospects that they should buy it, too.
APPEAL TO TRADITION    (Sacred cows)
      This argument, very close to the Ad Populum argument, appeals to those ideas, ideals and principles that people claim to respect -- loyalty and friendship, patriotism, rights and freedom, profit and capitalism and the democratic form of government. "My country, right or wrong" exemplifies this argument. To challenge or disagree implies that one is against, not the argument, but what everyone holds dear. To disagree with the way the government is run will draw claims that one must be a fascist; to criticize the economic system will elicit charges that one is a socialist or communist. Using this argument, almost anything that makes a profit, even if harmful and destructive, is justified in the name of capitalism. Currently, Americans opposing the war in Iraq are called disloyal, un- American, charged with not supporting our troops.
      Individual rights is such a sacred argument. From the first governments, there have been conflicts between where individual rights end and the rights of society begin. In totalitarian governments, society has all the power and individuals have few if any rights; democratic and republican forms of government try to balance the rights of each person with the rights of all people - individuals have the rights that do not conflict with the rights of society. In anarchy, individuals have unrestrained rights and governments cannot control or govern. Out- weighed by the rights of individuals, society (law and order) is unable to protect itself (the rest of the population) from them. Eventually, the cumulative effects from many small incursions alters the fabric of that society. In the past, when democratic governments have collapsed into a state of anarchy, the people have succumbed to a dictator giving up all their rights in order to end the economic chaos, the terror and the crime.
      This argument claims that since something has been done before it should be done again, and it should be done the way it has always been done. Legal decisions in most states rely heavily on previous decisions in similar cases. Likewise, if something has not been done before, it should not be done now. This is an argument, not only against change for change's sake, but change for any reason.
      Argument from ignorance. If something cannot be proved wrong, then it must be right and vice versa. Both opponents and proponents of the NAFTA disagreement were using this argument; the treaty was good/bad for the country because it could not be proven otherwise.
      Arguing that what is true of the part MUST be true of the whole. If it can be shown that some Americans are poor, the argument would claim that all Americans have a poor standard of living. Or that an increase in benefits for the extremely poor would benefit all Americans. Or that a tax break for the very rich would eventually "trickle-down" to everyone else.
      Arguing that what is true of the whole MUST be true of the part. If it can be shown that the United States has a high standard of living, the argument would claim that no American is poor. That if there are twice as many cars in the country as families, that every family has two cars. The claim that every person in the US owes an equal part of the national debt is as fallacious an argument as the one claiming that since we owed the debt to ourselves, there was no debt at all.
      This argument applies a general principle where, because of circumstances, it does not apply. One argument is that since America is the land of opportunity and opportunities exist for everyone, the implication is that the SAME opportunities are available to all. It is obviously untrue that the poor have the same prospects, the same favorable options available to them as the middle- class and the rich. The argument, however, suggests the poor choose not to improve their lot in life and trivializes both their obstacles and their accomplishments.
      Is an irrelevant conclusion, one that is completely beside the point. To argue that constructing levees to contain flood waters is unnecessary because it isn't raining is beside the point. Other kinds of irrelevances like red herrings (side issues) that attempt to divert the argument are included here. One might be the claim that, since a victim remained on the job, they wanted to be sexually harassed, or the rapist's defense that the victim wore a short skirt. Included also are diversionary tactics -- a lawyer's distracting the jury by flattering and amusing them or by diverting their attention from the guilt or innocence of the defendant to past inequities in the law, equality, opportunity, etc. The OJ case is a case in point.
      Sometimes called "hasty generalization," this argument applies generalizations from too little evidence and is the basis for almost all stereotypical thinking. If the first five people one sees in a town are women, one might conclude that only women live there. If the first few birds one sees are blue, one might argue there are only blue birds in the forest. The first few experiences one has with another race or ethnic group tend to generalize to every person in the race or ethnic group.

      Taking an argument to a ridiculous extreme. To claim that if abortion is legal, no babies will be born; if drugs are legal, all people will be addicts are examples of such arguments. Also, to accept nothing but perfection or to simplify issues to the status of all or nothing, black or white is a Reductio Ad Absurdum. Politicians making political mileage out of their opponents rely heavily on Reductio Ad Absurdum arguments. The way "politically correct" policies are applied are often reductions to the extreme, i.e. a man being forced to resign his job because he used the word "niggardly." (which means "stingy" by the way) Zero tolerance policies, as they are currently applied by some school administrators, are extreme applications of the Reductio Ad Absurdum argument, i.e. expelling a kindergartner for kissing a classmate on the cheek. More bizarre than that is a school that prohibits members of its band from shouting out the WORD "Tequila" because of their zero tolerance policy on alcohol. Another expelled a fourth grader for drawing a picture of a gun which, they claimed, he threatened his classmates with. And expelling kindergartners for playing cops and robbers, pointing their fingers and shouting "bang!" Unbelievable!
      "After this, therefore because of this" is the False Cause argument. If one event follows another, it is argued that the first event caused the second. Claiming that in this century every depression was during a Republican administration or that every war was during a Democratic administration is to assign False Cause.
      Is Begging the Question. The argument is circular in that it assumes what it tries to prove; the conclusion to be proven is the premise started with. That Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction is a circular argument, the Bush Administration assuming what the UN inspectors are trying to prove. Another often quoted argument is a proof for the existence of God which says that God caused the Bible to be written and the Bible says there is God. The same argument with the Koran has been used to prove the existence of Mahomet. A Tautology is circular by definition of the words as in "women are female."
      The value of statistics as proof in argument depends upon their interpretation. It has been found that while small numbers tend to be overlooked, large numbers are impressive. From statistical figures, many use only those parts which support their case. The government unemployment figures given as percentages of the population are used to claim that those are the only persons still looking for work. It is, however, obvious these are people collecting unemployment compensation since they are the only ones that could be counted. Those not registered would not be included no matter how long they had been unemployed and actively looking for work. The claim is thus misleading and falls far short of the number of people actually unemployed.
      Statistics from polls are used to sway those who need the acceptance that comes from subscribing to the majority opinion. By presenting the poll as "proof" of what the opinions of the majority are, it becomes the authority (Ad Verecundiam ) which must be followed in order to be accepted as a member of the group ( Ad Populum ).
      Polls cannot be believed unless, at the very least, it can be shown the pool of respondents was representative of the populace at large and that the questions were not slanted in any way. In short, unbiased and not intended to support and promote a particular agenda.
      Using statistics generated by polls to convince the populace that "nobody cared" about the lack of moral authority in the previous whitehouse was a massive media manipulation on a nation- wide scale. It used the Ad Verecundiam and Ad Populum arguments to argue that "Nobody else cared; why should you?" It is my understanding that there were polls taken showing totally different results, but the statistics quoted, and promoted, by the media come from those polls where the psychographics of those polled were carefully predetermined to give positive results. In other words, deliberately biased and inaccurate, intended to deceive.
      Misdirection is a red herring. Though the argument may well be true, it's real purpose is to direct attention away from another issue. Leaping immediately to mind is the government's successful crusade against smoking. Arguments that cigarettes addict children, cause disease and death and raise health care costs has directed attention away from the far greater problem, illegal drugs. At an astronomical cost to the taxpayer, the government's efforts have failed leaving the human costs of crime, misery and death unchanged.
      Disinformation is a euphemism for governmental lying. Although definition of the word indicates disinformation is a lie told by one government to another, that is not always the case. Governments lie to their own citizens. "All our POWs have come home, Agent Orange is not harmful, Gulf War Syndrome is only stress" come to mind. The Warren Report, issued to explain the Kennedy assassination to the citizenry, was widely regarded as a cover-up and, eventually, the word filtered down that the Report, while a misrepresentation of the facts, was actually issued to protect the citizenry from itself, to save them from the panic of believing Russia had done it. Considering that Kennedy's intention to withdraw from Vietnam died with him and Johnson, becoming President upon his death, escalated the war effort to full involvement, it may be the case that this country experienced a political coup d'�tat, unrecognized by the citizenry.
This desciption of Propaganda has been condensed and paraphrased from the writings of, perhaps, the all time master of propaganda.  
     What is propaganda? Propaganda is a weapon, and a frightful one in the hand of an expert.  
     Is propaganda a means or an end? It is a means that takes a form that supports the end that it serves.  
     To whom should propaganda be addressed? It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses.
     The function of propaganda lies in calling the masses' attention to the significance of certain facts, processes, necessities, etc. The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct. But its effect must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the intellect.  
     The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses. The ideas must be popular and their intellectual level adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be.  
     The more modest its intellectual ballast and the more exclusively it appeals to the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. For the overwhelming majority of people, sober reasoning determines their thoughts and actions far less than emotion and feeling. And this sentiment is very simple: it has no multiple shadings; no partialities, no gray areas. It has only a positive and a negative; love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie. In propaganda there are no ambiguities or half truths that might give rise to doubts.  
     From this the following rule results: The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points repeated over and over until the last member of the public understands and believes them. When there is a change and a slogan is presented from a different angle, it does not alter the content of what the propaganda is driving at. Only in this way can the propaganda have a unified and complete effect.  
     Humanitarianism has no place in propaganda. Its function is not to weigh the rights of people, but to exclusively emphasize the aim which it has set out to gain. Its task is not to set the truth before the masses with fairness; its task is to serve its own goals, always and unflinchingly. Consequently, it is correct to load every bit of blame on others, even if this does not corresponded to the facts. As soon as propaganda admits so much as a glimmer of right on the other side, the foundation for doubt has been laid.  
In the words of the writer:
     "Here, too, the example of enemy war propaganda was typical; limited to a few points, devised exclusively for the masses, carried on with indefatigable persistence. Once the basic ideas and methods of execution were recognized as correct, they were applied throughout the whole War without the slightest change. At first the claims of the propaganda were so impudent that people thought it insane; later, it got on people's nerves; and in the end, it was believed."  
      "And in England they understood one more thing: that this spiritual weapon can succeed only if it is applied on a tremendous scale, but that success amply covers all costs."
Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1,
Chapter 6, War Propaganda
      Truth and non-truth are in the use of language. To speak the truth is to say that which conforms to reality. Reality simply "is." There is nothing true or false in it until something is said about it.
      Most people, aware they do not know what the reality is, speak "opinion," qualifying their statements with "I think" or "I believe." Those who speak falsely because they don't know the difference between reality and illusion are seen to be suffering from some mental defect or disorder. Those who do know what the reality is and speak falsely about it are telling an untruth; they are lying. It is my opinion that 99% of all lies are told to manipulate other people or to gain an unfair advantage over them.
     As well as the socially accepted "white" lies, this includes all manner of cover-ups, misrepresentation, disinformation and governmental propaganda. It has been claimed that any lie, told often enough, will come to be accepted as the truth. That Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or that he was, in some way, responsible for 9/11 are excellent examples of BIG LIES becoming accepted as truth.
      If it's possible, "spin" may be even more dangerous than outright lies. Here, truth or falsehood is of no consequence. It simply doesn't matter. I highly recommend that you read the book "On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt.
      Since truth is reality based, one's beliefs, actions and expectations conform to reality. They work in the real world. To believe, trust or act on the basis of spin, half-truths and lies is to expect to benefit from a pseudo reality of smoke and mirrors created to benefit someone else. It's not going to happen! In this time and in this place, it is far from easy to find out what the truth is. Toward this end, we offer our new Alternative Media Outlets page,
Seeking the Truth in Media.
      Perhaps the greatest guarantor of truth that we have had in this country has been our First Amendment right - that of Freedom of Speech. I say "have had" because we have already lost much of it - and we have given it up voluntarily in order to be politically correct.
      "Political Correctness" is a manipulation so powerful it overpowers rational thought, ethics, morality, common sense; it's seen as more valuable than truth or freedom. And those who follow it rely on every other fallacious argument to convert and/or silence its critics making it a self-perpetuating manipulation. It has become an ideology so powerful it pressures all of society to conform, so pervasive even the law subscribes to it. "Political Correctness" looks like, sounds like, acts like brain washing!
      "Political Correctness" is a manipulation that not only uses fear but every other fallacy as well. One particularly insidious application extends the Ad Misericordiam argument to the extreme. The claim is that "feelings," a purely personal, affective state of one's own consciousness, must prescribe the course of group action, must be elevated to the level of national goals. NOTHING must be done or said that could, in any way, hurt somebody's feelings. Just recently, schools in a fair sized city in this state outlawed Halloween celebrations on the grounds that local witches were protesting. How absurd can you get!
      Any reference to anyone's ethnicity or race is out! Not only are jokes taboo, but so is mentioning ethnicity or race when referring to statistical data. No matter how accurate and true the data, anyone putting it into words is seen to be racially and/or ethnically biased! And anyone thus perceived is subject to punishment by one's fellow citizens! And, because the government isn't doing it, it's not illegal.
      How has it happened that a country once peopled by moral, tough- minded and rational individualists dedicated to a "live and let live" ideology has so changed in less than half a century? I suggest that the character of America's people has changed in large part to the "Marketing" character described by Erich Fromm in "Man for Himself." Fromm claims this character type is a response to a market driven economic system, and that those with this character orientation see themselves as valuable, not as individuals with integrity and courage, but as marketable commodities who, to be marketable, must be approved and accepted by others (Ad Populum.) Mass conformity, then, to the lowest common denominator is its natural outgrowth, but that in itself would not account for the direction it's taken.
      Perhaps the question is not "have we" but "why have we" become the stepford wives on a national scale? Is it possible that an evolution in the national character could produce such an emasculated, maleable and submissive population without some driving force behind it? I don't think so. Manipulations of all kinds (especially those that reach this level of brain washing) do not happen accidentally; they are designed to benefit someone. This intense pressure to conform started long before 9/11, but now, the current administration claims protecting ourselves from the fear of terrorism makes conformity and the loss of personal freedoms necessary. If the political elite did not, in the first place, instigate the fear and conformity of Political Correctness, they have certainly taken advantage of it.
      I think this essay on "
Greed" by Julian Edney, PhD, goes a long way toward explaining what we, as a nation, have become, how we got here and what we, the people, can do about it.
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 * Note ~ This interesting accounting has several links within it that take you to some more very interesting reading. PDPJ

On relationships and love

This was written mid-1998.


I have been putting off writing this for over five years, so a lot of the thoughts here are ones that have been brewing in my mind for a while. The reason I am finally writing this now is because I'm over a long (five year) relationship with someone I cared deeply about; I didn't really feel an urgency to put down my thoughts about relationships as long as I was involved in one. Unlike all my previous relationships (which were more than two handfuls, double entendre intended), this was a relationship that I didn't think would end and one that I didn't want to end. However, certain events (mostly screw ups on my part) occurred with the inevitable result, and now I am faced again with the prospect of not knowing whether I will be with someone I seriously care about. Thus this missive about my views on relationship and love which formed after a series of several relationships when I was a lot younger (I'm 26 as I write this). This is simply an addition to the rest of my philosophical missives. The major difference is that this one is written in first person, but like all the others, the goal is to put my thoughts on paper. The first person use may sound like I'm looking for someone, but you could in general replace all occurrences of "I" with "you" and might end up finding some truths for yourself in here.

A brief background: both people who know me and don't know me can easily see I have different passions and interests: science, philosophy, music, nature, and many many more. In previous relationships, I spent more time immersed in those passions than with the person I was in a relationship with. In an ideal world, I would go as far as to say that the person I was with didn't make me feel that she was primary and that my other passions were secondary. However that would be doing my own feelings and the person I was with a grave injustice. In reality, it is far too easy to be selfish and to take things for granted, without realising how short you come up in the relationship department. In the particular five year relationship that I didn't want to end, by the time the issue of me ignoring her was brought up, it was too late, regardless of what I did to save the situation. In fact, what I did, a sudden turnaround, only made it worse. For when you ignore and neglect someone over a period of months, whatever chemistry you had, even if it was the absolute best, gets lost and unhappiness sets in. The moment I realised what had happened, I promised to change, and I have changed, not just for the person I was with and perhaps will be with, but for my own self.

So the first lesson here is that in any relationship that becomes stale, there are underlying reasons. I think it behooves us all to determine what those reasons are, and if they have to do with you, think about why that is and what can be done for the next time. This sounds a bit preachy, but what I am trying to say is that it's all too easy to rescind the responsibility for one's actions and this is one of the biggest threats to a relationship.

When I was really young, when the idea of relationships didn't have any meaning to me, I was completely content with myself. I didn't need anyone to complete my life in any manner and there was never a time when I couldn't occupy myself. When I started getting into serious relationships, in my mid-to-late teens, I was completely content except for the brief periods during the ending phase of a relationship, but I had everything a person could want in life. Now I am single and I'm still completely content. This is partly the cynical side of me speaking, but it's true because I've always thought relationships to be a tradeoff between freedom in exchange for close companionship, i.e., exchanging one set of complications for another (to quote from Stigmata). (At one point this would include sex, but these days even though I enjoy it immensely, I think sex is overrated.) Ayn Rand (whose philosophies in general I think are completely trite and banal, but I'll quote her anyway) said

"Before you can learn to say 'I love you', you must first learn to say 'I'."

The problem, if you could call it that, has always been that I love myself way too much. I enjoy my own company. I can amuse myself for endless hours. This doesn't mean I'm not with my fears and insecurities that don't require support from other people, but assuming nothing is shaking my world, I'm perfectly fine hiking the Grand Canyon by myself or reading the latest comic books. In fact, I almost prefer it that way. I think this is the essence of a good relationship, wherein both partners are happy and comfortable with themselves, but taken to an extreme (i.e., if they're too comfortable with themselves, or worse, if one of them is comfortable and the other is not), it can lead to emptiness.

I say above that I changed for myself and now have decided to spend a certain amount of time with whoever I end up being with. Why? Because even given all my interests, I stopped doing (or didn't do) certain things that I enjoy doing. These are the simpler things in life that are less productive than solving a scientific research problem, writing software to fold proteins, writing a song, or coming up with a new scheme to thwart intellectual property. These include bubble blowing, kite flying, rollerblading, yo-yoing, playing on the swings in a park, listening to the ocean in the evenings/night, etc. (I suppose hiking would fall in that category also, though I'm more avid about hiking than I am about blowing bubbles.) These days I still do these things by myself, and I enjoy them, but I have come to realise is that it can be just as much fun (or more) doing these simpler things in life with someone else. Being with someone else forces you to do things you normally wouldn't do, which might be more fun than some of the things you do do. In fact, that's the best part of a relationship: the uncertainty, the random variable, that arises from not knowing and understanding another person completely. Being in a relationship makes life far more unpredictable and this is A Good Thing.

At the present moment, at the outset, I enjoy being with myself way too much to want to be in a relationship. However, I figure I will change my mind when I meet someone and certain sparks fly, as I have in the past. To me, the essence of a relationship lies in being close friends. This may sound corny, while I think physical chemistry is important, in the long term what matters are whether you can talk to your partner as you grow old. Thus it would be nice to share all the things I do above, the simpler things and the complicated things. Continuing on with this line of thought, I think it's not a great idea to get into a relationship for relationship's sake. That is, as the friendship develops, if stuff happens, that's great, and if not, that's great too. I think looking for a relationship generally is detrimental to ending up in one.

One final point I want to make involves people being scared of caring about someone deeply or commitment (see thoughts on love below). I think passion is important, and I think one should "follow their heart", whatever that means. However, impatience (sometimes confused for intensity, but it really stems from being passionate) can indeed destroy a blossoming relationship since it goes against societal norms. I am an extremely impatient person and this is both a virtue and one of my biggest flaws. Rather than play the waiting game, I'd rather push things even if it means a certain negative answer. In particular, this makes long-distance relationships untenable. It is strange to me that society views "moving too fast" to be a bad thing, and perhaps this is generally based on some valid reasons, but applying this to every case I think is wrong: it's easier to push people away than to let them in, and I think taking the secure/easy path leads to emptiness. I think sometimes you can end up in a relationship like in the movies, and when you do, there's nothing wrong with being impatient and going too fast. So if you feel you're in one of those, my advice is to not hold back---that will determine whether it really is like in the movies or not. I think a passionate relationship, even if short-lived, is worth the pain. I love like I've never been hurt.


So what is love? The big picture answer is that romantic love is a biologically driven phenomenon. It has been selected for because it helps our genes to propagate, along with a complex set of other qualities, and they're not independent of each other, i.e., the state of "being in love", "lust", "jealousy", "anger", "trust", and many many others, are all tied together in a complex way and it's really not a clever thing to separate them out. It's a complex function of the interactions happening within us.

But what is the nature of that state from an individual perspective? That's more of a personal thing and it's hard to describe. To me, being in love has many components but at its core is the view that you will do anything for the person you're in love with (cynically, this could be viewed as "putting up"). Your passions, etc. are SO strong that nothing the other person does could be bad in your eyes (i.e., you become very accepting). All this means that you essentially give up control of your emotions, etc. to the other person. It's a scary feeling to most people (and most people who have issues with trust, etc. have a hard time falling in love) but to me it's very exhilarating. Essentially you give yourself over to the other person. Since the state of being in love is ultimately biologically driven, it has a strong sexual/physical component to it ( i.e., what people call "chemistry"). But that's not enough to sustain the feeling and for that you need an intellectual and emotional compatibility (this is also discussed more below).

One experiences different kinds of love as one moves through life, but romantic love is an amalgamation of all or almost all of these other loves, and then some. For example, a romantic partnership might sometimes have characteristics of a parent/offspring or sibling relationship, and universally of a great friendship. This is usually witnessed as a romantic love-based relationship progresses over time.

There are a few quotes in my quotes page which would aptly describe "love" from different perspectives. I think the concept of love invented by society is fiction (Plato called it a grave mental illness), particularly the various idealistic versions of it. Sartre considered love and relationships to inherently be a cycle of sado-masochism. That is, a person caring about another person generally wants the other person to reciprocate, but yet any action that compels reciprocation will lead to dissatisfaction. In other words, the person who is doing the loving wants to be loved, but yet does not want force the love and wants it to happen on its own accord. So in any given situation, the person who is doing the loving will objectify the person who is receiving it, compelling them to reciprocate (sadism). However, the person who does the compelling is not content when the love is reciprocated because he/she knows it was because of the objectification (masochism). This begins an escalating cycle of objectification generally culminating when the relationship ends.

Objectification in a relationship I think is just as bad as emotional or physical abuse (and is possibly the cause of abuse in many cases). I am against objectification: every time I begin a relationship I always worry that I will end up objectifying or being objectified. I think it is possible to overcome objectification and I think it requires the cooperation of all the people in a relationship. I think successful relationships (in all walks of life, not just romantic ones) are ones that step around the objectification problem.

This theme is epitomised excellently (and humourously) in The Simpsons and Akbar and Jeff cartoons by Matt Groening. I personally see The Simpsons or Akbar and Jeff to be the most realistic portrayal of relationships and love. Obviously few of us are like Homer and Marge Simpson, but the general idea of why there exists such a deep commitment between the two of them I think is a valuable thing to pick up.

So ultimately love I don't think is an emotion or a feeling, but rather a state of existence for and between two people. That is, love is the interaction between the partners in a relationship. This may vary based on the type of the relationship---it could be dysfunctional, as in The Simpsons, or sado-masochistic (as in the play Quills), or consummate (as in Romeo and Juliet). In an ideal world, love is a Zen-like state, where two people are together as one. (While this description appeals to the romantic side of me, the cynical side of me gags at such a statement---perhaps this is how it should be.) But we don't live in an ideal world, and no matter what, there's bound to be an imbalance---if the imbalance/assymetry is too much (i.e., one person cares too much and the other person doesn't care enough), then it's bound to frustrate. In such situations, it's better to end it completely (cut your losses) rather than end up in an objectifying cycle which will inevitably lead to a bad ending.

So what is my ideal of a great relationship? Everything I say below is except-able. That is, there are no absolutes and this isn't a box. In fact, I almost refrained from writing this because I've learnt that people aren't perfect (d'oh!), and more importantly, to not expect perfection. This is a good thing, because it would make a relationship very boring. But I'm going to say what my ideal is anyway. For now and always, I want someone I can do things with. I want someone I can see myself growing old with, someone I can be with when I am sixty. Such a statement requires the ability to think quite a bit ahead into the future, because for all my talk above being content alone, I am not convinced I'll feel the same way thirty years from now. I want someone who will be what they are and not change (personalities) just to make a relationship work. I want someone who knows what they want.

Exclusivity is also important to me personally. I'm a passionate person and I give a lot of my time and energy to the person I care about. In the end, all of it comes to naught if there's nothing to sustain and nourish it (i.e., if it's not returned). If someone isn't willing to be exclusive to you, and you are to them, then it ends up in a assymetric/objectifying situation. But besides some health-related reasons, the primary reason I think exclusivity is important is because of the energy you put in. For me also, it is how I fall in love.

However, I'm also a firm believer of the adage that you can't force a relationship, and so I think I want someone who, when they're unhappy for whatever reasons, even if the reasons are unfair, will work through it with me instead of bottling it up or pushing me away when things get tough. I want someone who is not afraid to trust or to get too close. I want someone who'll question me, who won't let me get out of line, who will correct my mistakes regardless of how stubborn I am, who will continually challenge me and will be able to deal with being challenged. And most important, an ideal relationship would be one where it is extremely casual and intense at the same time, much the way it was with my friends in first grade when I was five, possessing both passion and naivete.

Keep in mind that the moment I say I want these things, I'm beginning my objectifying process. So in reality, I just believe in going with the flow and seeing what happens---this has led to some incongruous relationships, but, as they say, 'tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and either you're in a relationship that makes you happy, or you're not. While it hurts each time you emotionally commit yourself to someone and that commitment is lost, I think those feelings enable you realise that you exist in this world. Also as I say above, I think it's not likely that one can find a relationship by looking for it.

This is corny (and extremely over-used), but the song Somebody by Depeche Mode, although demanding in tone, captures many of the things I've written above lyrically.

                                    want somebody to share,
share the rest of my life,
share my innermost thoughts,
know my intimate details;
someone who'll stand by my side
and give me support.
And in return
she'll get my support.
She will listen to me
when I want to speak
about the world we live in
and life in general.
Though my views may be wrong,
they may even be perverted,
she'll hear me out
and won't easily be converted
to my way of thinking.
In fact, she'll often disagree.
But at the end of it all,
she will understand me.

I want somebody who cares
for me passionately
with every thought and with every breath.
Someone who'll help me see things
in a different light;
all the things I detest
I will almost like.
I don't want to be tied
to anyone's strings.
I'm carefully trying to steer clear of those things.
And when I'm asleep,
I want somebody
who will put her arms around me
and kiss me tenderly.
---Depeche Mode, Somebody


People have written and asked me about the current status of the five-year relationship. I'm happy to say that the person I was involved with and I are extremely great friends now. Five years is a long time to know each other (it's now over eight) and I personally feel it's great to be able to continue building the history, albeit differently. And I've been in a couple of other cool relationships since then, though I didn't necessarily feel that way when they ended. (:

My upcoming album Twisting in the Wind features a two songs about love and relationships.

A more cynical viewpoint as to why relationships are screwed up...

Metaphorically speaking, before I get involved in any relationship, I am sitting under this beautiful tree with tasty fruits, enjoying the sun and whatever I am doing. I'm at peace with the world. Then along comes someone who tantalises and attracts you and so you run after them so they can sit under the tree with you. But then as you start running, you get caught up in the chase and forget about your beautiful tree. As they lead you into dark alleys and unfamiliar and strange places, you no longer want to be there but yet you're unsure about how to get back and since you have come this far you keep going in the hope things will get better. And then things come to a head where you lose them. Slowly you recover and find your way back to the three, but then the cycle repeat. Was it worth it? (: It's amazing to me how much the biology is so influential in why this cycle repeats (and why we feel the desire to be with someone).

But there is hope...

Perhaps though the person you're supposed to be with is the one you find when you are coming back to your tree (or a new tree) and you realise you've been under the same tree all along but were always chasing other people to be able to connect with each other.

The three components to a relationship

I believe these three components are necessary for a relationship to work: physical compatibility (this not only means you need to be physical attracted to each other, but desire a similar amount of closeness together, from hugging and cuddling to sex), intellectual compatibility (this is more elastic, but you definitely shouldn't have world views that pit you against each other), and most importantly, emotional compatibility (this is a personality match---two hot-headed people will have a hard time getting along; a person who's not ready for a relationship will have a hard time being with a person who is; etc.). This is in my mind is what leads to asymmetry in relationships. The three components are not mutually exclusive and play off of each other.

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Why We Chose The Person We Love

By Terri Arnold

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -- George Santayana

“Why do I always wind up with the wrong person? I want someone who is kind, loving, reliable and open. Yet my relationships are always with men who are angry, hostile, emotionally unavailable and cannot keep a job.”

“I want a woman who is emotionally stable and independent, but I always wind up with women who are overly dramatic, tend to hysteria and depend on me to make their decisions.”

These are common problems brought to me by clients. They blame bad luck, coincidence or accident for winding up with the exact opposite of the type of person they say they prefer in a relationship.

One very attractive female marketing manager in her mid thirties agonized - “If I went to a party and there were fifty men in the room - and 49 were college graduates who were business or professional men - and the 50th was a high-school dropout with a felony police record - number 50 and I would somehow find each other.”

We make our relationship choices based on life experiences accumulated from childhood. We subconsciously integrate these experiences and react from them to current situations. When a little girl has a father who is physically present but emotionally absent and does not provide her with the love and nurturing she needs, she will grow up with a big empty space in her heart where that love should have been. The message - although unspoken - tells her that she is not important and not deserving of love.

This little girl will subconsciously seek a man with her father’s rejecting characteristics - so she can relive her initial relationship - and this time she will win.

When a little boy grows up with a weak and dependent mother who increasingly leans on him in his father’s absence, he is put in an adult situation inappropriate to his years. Although in manhood he states he resents female dependency, he is used to taking the role of rescuer and naturally will gravitate to women with emotional broken wings that need fixing.

In our adult relationships, we seek to create situations in which we are comfortable - regardless of their dysfunctionality. If you grew up in a chaotic home, you will subconsciously tend to chaotic relationships. Our home environment, how we were raised, is what we consider normal.

Our adult relationships follow a pattern. A simple exercise will reveal that pattern to you. Write the names of all of the people with whom you have had a significant relationship. Under each name, list all the negative characteristics you can remember - for instance: bad temper, continually late for dates, poor money manager, etc.

After you have completed your list, review the character traits that are shared by your dating partners. Circle or yellow high-lite these recurring traits and you will see the emergence of a pattern.

While discussing the concept of this article with a friend, she was motivated to make the list and was uncomfortable with the fact that these traits stood out among her three past serious relationships: aggressive personality, alcoholism, and emotional unavailability.

I helped my friend work thru her feelings about this new realization as I did with my clients. Awareness of the pattern is the first step to changing it. Talking about it with a therapist or trusted friend is the next important step because you are then exposing this destructive pattern to the light and can carry this awareness with you when you begin your next relationship.

Be assured - patterns are not etched in stone. They can be changed with awareness and work.

About The Author

Terri Arnold, MS (Spicy Grandma) has been a Psychotherapist for over twenty years.

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Warning Signs That You're Dating a Loser

By Joseph M. Carver, PhD

Mental Health Professional
Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Joe Carver's Website

"The Loser"

Very few relationships start on terms other than sweetness and politeness. In the beginning, "the honeymoon" of the relationship, it's difficult to determine what type of individual you are dating. Both you and the date are guarded, trying to obtain information about the other as much as possible without seeming like a police detective.

Romantic relationships can be wonderful with the right person. A relationship with the wrong individual however can lead to years of heartache, emotional/social damage, and even physical damage. A damaging adult partner can damage us, damage our loved ones, and even damage the way we feel about love and romance in the future. They can turn what is supposed to be a loving, supporting, and understanding relationship into the "fatal attraction" often described in movies. There are a variety of "bad choices" that may be encountered each week - most of which are easily to identify and avoid. We all know to avoid people that appear insane or abusive and not select them as a dating partner. However, some individuals are better at hiding their personality and behavior abnormalities. In an effort to provide some warning about these very damaging individuals, this paper will outline a type of individual commonly found in the dating scene, a male or female labeled "The Loser".

"The Loser" is a type of partner that creates much social, emotional and psychological damage in a relationship. "The Loser" has permanent personality characteristics that create this damage. These are characteristics that they accept simply as the way they are and not a problem or psychological difficulty. In one sense, they have always lived with this personality and behavior, often something they probably learned from their relatives/family. Psychologists usually treat the victims of "The Loser", women or men who arrive at the office severely depressed with their self-confidence and self-esteem totally destroyed.

The following list is an attempt to outline the characteristics of "The Loser" and provide a manner in which women and men can identify potentially damaging relationships before they are themselves severely damaged emotionally or even physically. If your partner possesses even one of these features, there is risk in the relationship. More than three of these indicators and you are involved with "The Loser" in a very high risk relationship that will eventually create damage to you. When a high number of these features are present - it's not a probably or possibility. You will be hurt and damaged by "The Loser" if you stay in the relationship.

1. Rough Treatment "The Loser" will hurt you on purpose. If he or she hits you, twists your arm, pulls your hair, kicks you, shoves you, or breaks your personal property EVEN ONCE, drop them. Male losers often begin with behaviors that move you physically or hit the wall. Female losers often slap, kick and even punch their male partners when upset.

2. Quick Attachment and Expression "The Loser" has very shallow emotions and connections with others. One of the things that might attract you to "The Loser" is how quickly he or she says "I Love You" or wants to marry or commit to you. Typically, in less than a few weeks of dating you'll hear that you're the love of their life, they want to be with you forever, and they want to marry you. You'll receive gifts, a variety of promises, and be showered with their attention and nice gestures. This is the "honeymoon phase" - where they catch you and convince you that they are the best thing that ever happened to you. Remember the business saying "If it's too good to be true it probably is (too good to be true)!" You may be so overwhelmed by this display of instant attraction, instant commitment, and instant planning for the future that you'll miss the major point - it doesn't make sense!! Normal, healthy individuals require a long process to develop a relationship because there is so much at stake. Healthy individuals will wait for a lot of information before offering a commitment - not three weeks. It's true that we can become infatuated with others quickly - but not make such unrealistic promises and have the future planned after three dates. The rapid warm-up is always a sign of shallow emotions which later cause "The Loser" to detach from you as quickly as they committed. "The Loser" typically wants to move in with you or marry you in less than four weeks or very early in the relationship.

3. Frightening Temper "The Loser" has a scary temper. If your boyfriend or girlfriend blows up and does dangerous things, like driving too fast because they're mad, breaking/throwing things, getting into fights, or threatening others - that temper will soon be turned in your direction. In the beginning of the relationship, you will be exposed to "witnessed violence" - fights with others, threats toward others, angry outbursts at others, etc. You will also hear of violence in their life. You will see and witness this temper - throwing things, yelling, cursing, driving fast, hitting the walls, and kicking things. That quickly serves to intimidate you and fear their potential for violence, although "The Loser" quickly assures you that they are angry at others or situations, not at you. At first, you will be assured that they will never direct the hostility and violence at you - but they are clearly letting you know that they have that ability and capability - and that it might come your way. Later, you fear challenging or confronting them - fearing that same temper and violence will be turned in your direction.

4. Killing Your Self-Confidence "The Loser" repeatedly puts you down. They constantly correct your slight mistakes, making you feel "on guard", unintelligent, and leaving you with the feeling that you are always doing something wrong. They tell you that you're too fat, too unattractive, or don't talk correctly or look well. This gradual chipping away at your confidence and self-esteem allows them to later treat you badly - as though you deserved it. In public, you will be "walking on eggshells" - always fearing you are doing or saying something that will later create a temper outburst or verbal argument.

5. Cutting Off Your Support In order to control someone completely, you must cut off their supportive friends - sometimes even their family. "The Loser" feels your friends and family might influence you or offer negative opinions about their behavior. "The Loser" begins by telling you these friends treat you badly, take advantage of you, and don't understand the special nature of the love you share with them. In some cases, if they can't get rid of your best same-sex friend, "The Loser" will claim he or she made a pass at them. If you talk to your friends or family, "The Loser" will punish you by asking multiple questions or making nasty accusations. Eventually, rather than face the verbal punishment, interrogation, and abuse, you'll develop the feeling that it's better not to talk to family and friends. You will withdraw from friends and family, prompting them to become upset with you. "The Loser" then tells you they are treating you badly again and you'd be better to keep your distance from them. Once you are isolated and alone, without support, their control over you can increase.

6. The Mean and Sweet Cycle "The Loser" cycles from mean to sweet and back again. The cycle starts when they are intentionally hurtful and mean. You may be verbally abused, cursed, and threatened over something minor. Suddenly, the next day they become sweet, doing all those little things they did when you started dating. You hang on, hoping each mean-then-sweet cycle is the last one. The other purpose of the mean cycle is to allow "The Loser" to say very nasty things about you or those you care about, again chipping away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. "The Loser" often apologizes but the damage to your self-esteem is already done - exactly as planned.

7. It's Always Your Fault "The Loser" blames you for their anger as well as any other behavior that is incorrect. When they cheat on you, yell at you, treat you badly, damage your property, or embarrass you publicly - it's somehow your fault. If you are ten minutes late for a date, it's your fault that the male loser drives 80 miles per hour, runs people off the road, and pouts the rest of the evening. "The Loser" tells you their anger and misbehavior would not have happened if you had not made some simple mistake, had loved them more, or had not questioned their behavior. "The Loser" never, repeat "never", takes personal responsibility for their behavior - it's always the fault of someone else. If they drive like a maniac and try to pull an innocent driver off the highway to assault them - it's actually the fault of the other driver (not his) as they didn't use a turn signal when they changed lanes. They give you the impression that you had it (anger, yelling, assault) coming and deserved the anger, violence, pouting, or physical display of aggression.

8. Breakup Panic "The Loser" panics at the idea of breaking up - unless it's totally their idea - then you're dropped like a hot rock. Abusive boyfriends often break down and cry, they plead, they promise to change, and they offer marriage/trips/gifts when you threaten ending the relationship. Both male and female losers may threaten suicide, threaten to return to old sweethearts (who feel lucky they're gone!), or threaten to quit their job and leave the area - as though you will be responsible for those decisions. "The Loser" offers a multitude of "deals" and halfway measures, like "Let's just date one more month!"

They shower you with phone calls, often every five minutes, hoping that you will make an agreement or see them just to stop the telephone harassment. Some call your relatives, your friends, their friends, and anyone else they can think of - telling those people to call you and tell you how much they love you. Creative losers often create so much social pressure that the victim agrees to go back to the bad relationship rather than continue under the social pressure. Imagine trying to end a relationship and receiving tearful calls from all his or her relatives (they secretly hope you'll keep them so they don't have to), seeing a plea for your return in the newspaper or even on a local billboard, receiving flowers at work each day, or having them arrive at your place of work and offer you a wedding ring (male loser technique) or inform you that they might be pregnant (female loser technique) in front of your coworkers! Their reaction is emotionally intense, a behavior they use to keep you an emotional prisoner. If you go back to them, you actually fear a worse reaction if you threaten to leave again (making you a prisoner) and they later frequently recall the incident to you as further evidence of what a bad person you are. Remember, if your prize dog jumps the fence and escapes, if you get him back you build a higher fence. Once back in the grasp of "The Loser" - escape will be three times as difficult the next time.

9. No Outside Interests "The Loser" will encourage you to drop your hobbies, interests, and involvement with others. If you have an individual activity, they demand that they accompany you, making you feel miserable during the entire activity. The idea behind this is to prevent you from having fun or interests other than those which they totally control.

10. Paranoid Control "The Loser" will check up on you and keep track of where you are and who you are with. If you speak to a member of the opposite sex, you receive twenty questions about how you know them. If you don't answer their phone call, you are ask where you were, what were you doing, who you were talking to, etc. They will notice the type of mud on your car, question why you shop certain places, and question why you called a friend, why the friend called you, and so forth. Some losers follow you to the grocery, then later ask if you've been there in an attempt to catch you in a lie. In severe cases, they go through your mail, look through your purse/wallet, hit your redial on the phone when they arrive, or search through your garbage for evidence. High-tech losers may encourage you to make "private" calls to friends from their residence, calls that are being secretly taped for later reference. They may begin to tell you what to wear, what to listen to in music, and how to behave in public. Eventually, they tell you that you can not talk to certain friends or acquaintances, go certain places, or talk about certain issues in public. If no date is present on Friday night - "The Loser" will inform you that they will call you that night - sometime. That effectively keeps you home, awaiting the call, fearing the verbal abuse and questions you might receive if you weren't home for the call. This technique allows "The Loser" to do what they want socially, at the same time controlling your behavior from a distance or a local bar.

11. Public Embarrassment In an effort to keep you under control while in public, "The Loser" will lash out at you, call you names, or say cruel or embarrassing things about you in private or in front of people. When in public, you quickly learn that any opinion you express may cause them to verbally attack you, either at the time or later. If you stay with "The Loser" too long, you'll soon find yourself politely smiling, saying nothing, and holding on to their arm when in public. You'll also find yourself walking with your head down, fearful of seeing a friend who might speak to you and create an angry reaction in "The Loser".

12. It's Never Enough "The Loser" convinces you that you are never quite good enough. You don't say "I love you" enough, you don't stand close enough, you don't do enough for them after all their sacrifices, and your behavior always falls short of what is expected. This is another method of destroying your self-esteem and confidence. After months of this technique, they begin telling you how lucky you are to have them - somebody who tolerates someone so inadequate and worthless as you.

13. Entitlement "The Loser" has a tremendous sense of entitlement, the attitude that they have a perfectly logical right to do whatever they desire. If cut off in traffic, "The Loser" feels they have the right to run the other driver off the road, assault them, and endanger the lives of other drivers with their temper tantrum. Keep in mind, this same sense of entitlement will be used against you. If you disobey their desires or demands, or violate one of their rules, they feel they are entitled to punish you in any manner they see fit.

14. Your Friends and Family Dislike Him As the relationship continues, your friends and family will see what "The Loser" is doing to you. They will notice a change in your personality or your withdrawal. They will protest. "The Loser" will tell you they are jealous of the "special love" you have and then use their protest and opinion as further evidence that they are against you - not him. The mention of your family members or friends will spark an angry response from them - eventually placing you in the situation where you stop talking about those you care about, even your own family members. "The Loser" will be jealous and threatened by anyone you are close to - even your children. In some cases, your parents or brothers/sisters will not be allowed to visit your home.

15. Bad Stories People often let you know about their personality by the stories they tell about themselves. It's the old story about giving a person enough rope and they'll hang themselves. The stories a person tells informs us of how they see themselves, what they think is interesting, and what they think will impress you. A humorous individual will tell funny stories on himself. "The Loser" tells stories of violence, aggression, being insensitive to others, rejecting others, etc. They may tell you about past relationships and in every case, they assure you that they were treated horribly despite how wonderful they were to that person. They brag about their temper and outbursts because they don't see anything wrong with violence and actually take pride in the "I don't take nothing from nobody" attitude. People define themselves with their stories, much like a culture is described by it's folklore and legends. Listen to these stories - they tell you how you will eventually be treated and what's coming your way.

16. The Waitress Test It's been said that when dating, the way an individual treats a waitress or other neutral person of the opposite sex is the way they will treat you in six months. During the "honeymoon phase" of a relationship, you will be treated like a king or queen. However, during that time "The Loser" has not forgotten how he or she basically feels about the opposite sex. Waitresses, clerks, or other neutral individuals will be treated badly. If they are cheap - you'll never receive anything once the honeymoon is over. If they whine, complain, criticize, and torment - that's how they'll treat you in six months. A mentally healthy person is consistent, they treat almost all people the same way all the time. If you find yourself dating a man who treats you like a queen and other females like dirt - hit the road.

17. The Reputation As mentioned, mentally healthy individuals are consistent in their personality and their behavior. "The Loser" may have two distinct reputations - a group of individuals who will give you glowing reports and a group that will warn you that they are serious trouble. If you ask ten people about a new restaurant - five say it's wonderful and five say it's a hog pit - you clearly understand that there's some risk involved in eating there. "The Loser" may actually brag about their reputation as a "butt kicker", "womanizer", "hot temper" or "being crazy". They may tell you stories where other's have called them crazy or suggested that they receive professional help. Pay attention to the reputation. Reputation is the public perception of an individual's behavior. If the reputation has two sides, good and bad, your risk is high. You will be dealing with the bad side once the honeymoon is over in the relationship. With severe behavior problems, "The Loser" will be found to have almost no friends, just acquaintances. Emotionally healthy and moral individuals will not tolerate friendships with losers that treat others so badly. If you find yourself disliking the friends of "The Loser", it's because they operate the same way he or she does and you can see it in them.

18. Walking on Eggshells As a relationship with "The Loser" continues, you will gradually be exposed to verbal intimidation, temper tantrums, lengthy interrogations about trivial matters, violence/threats directed at others but witnessed by you, paranoid preoccupation with your activities, and a variety of put-downs on your character. You will quickly find yourself "walking on eggshells" in their presence - fearful to bring up topics, fearful to mention that you spoke to or saw a friend, and fearful to question or criticize the behavior of "The Loser". Instead of experiencing the warmth and comfort of love, you will be constantly on edge, tense when talking to others (they might say something that you'll have to explain later), and fearful that you'll see someone you'll have to greet in public. Dates and times together will be more comfortable and less threatening when totally alone - exactly what "The Loser" wants - no interference with their control or dominance.

19. Discounted Feelings/Opinions "The Loser" is so self-involved and self-worshiping that the feelings and opinions of others are considered worthless. As the relationship continues and you begin to question what you are feeling or seeing in their behavior, you will be told that your feelings and opinions don't make sense, they're silly, and that you are emotionally disturbed to even think of such things. "The Loser" has no interest in your opinion or your feelings - but they will be disturbed and upset that you dare question their behavior. "The Loser" is extremely hostile toward criticism and often reacts with anger or rage when their behavior is questioned.

20. They Make You "Crazy" "The Loser" operates in such a damaging way that you find yourself doing "crazy" things in self-defense. If "The Loser" is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 pm - you call Time & Temperature to cover the redial, check your garbage for anything that might get you in trouble, and call your family and friends to tell them not to call you that night. You warn family/friends not to bring up certain topics, avoid locations in the community where you might see co-workers or friends, and not speak to others for fear of the 20 questions. You become paranoid as well - being careful what you wear and say. Nonviolent males find themselves in physical fights with female losers. Nonviolent females find themselves yelling and screaming when they can no longer take the verbal abuse or intimidation. In emotional and physical self-defense, we behave differently and oddly. While we think we are "going crazy" - it's important to remember that there is no such thing as "normal behavior" in a combat situation. Rest assured that your behavior will return to normal if you detach from "The Loser" before permanent psychological damage is done.

Dangerous Versions of "The Loser"

There are more severe if not dangerous versions of "The Loser" that have been identified over the years. If you are involved in a relationship with one of these versions, you may require professional and legal assistance to save yourself.

Physical Abuser Physical abusers begin the relationship with physical moving - shoving, pushing, forcing, etc. That quickly moves into verbal threats with physical gestures - the finger in the face, clinched fist in the face, and voiced physical threats such as "You make me want to break your face!" Eventually, these combine to form actual physical abuse - hitting, slapping, and kicking. "The Loser" is always sorry the next day and begins the mean-then-sweet cycle all over again. Getting away from physical abusers often requires the assistance of family, law enforcement agencies, or local abuse agencies. Female losers often physically attack their partner, break car windows, or behave with such violence that the male partner is forced to physically protect himself from the assault. If the female loser is bruised in the process of self-protection, as when physically restraining her from hitting, those bruises are then "displayed" to others as evidence of what a bad person the partner is and how abusive they have been in the relationship.

Psychotic Losers There are losers that are severely ill in a psychiatric sense - the movie description of the "Fatal Attraction". Some may tell you wild stories and try to convince you that they are connected to The Mob or a government agency (CIA, FBI, etc.). They may fake terminal illness, pregnancy, or disease. They intimidate and frighten you with comments such as "I can have anyone killed..." or "No one leaves a relationship with me...". If you try to end the relationship, they react violently and give you the impression that you, your friends, or your family are in serious danger. People often then remain in the abusive and controlling relationship due to fear of harm to their family or their reputation. While such fears are unrealistic as "The Loser" is only interested in controlling you, those fears feel very real when combined with the other characteristics of "The Loser".

Psychotic or psychiatrically ill losers may also stalk, follow, or harass you. They may threaten physical violence, show weapons, or threaten to kill you or themselves if you leave them. If you try to date others, they may follow you or threaten your new date. Your new date may be subjected to phone harassment, vandalism, threats, and even physical assaults. If you are recently divorced, separated, or recently ended another relationship, "The Loser" may be intimidating toward your ex-partner, fearing you might return if the other partner is not "scared off". Just remember - everything "The Loser" has ever done to anyone will be coming your way. "The Loser" may send you pictures of you, your children, or your family - pictures they have taken secretly - hinting that they can "reach out and touch" those you love. You may need help and legal action to separate from these individuals.

Guidelines for Detachment

Separating from "The Loser" often involves three stages: The Detachment, Ending the Relationship, and the Follow-up Protection.

The Detachment

During this part of separating from "The Loser", you recognize what you must do and create an Exit Plan. Many individuals fail in attempts to detach from "The Loser" because they leave suddenly and impulsively, without proper planning, and without resources. In many cases, "The Loser" has isolated their partner from others, has control of finances, or has control of major exit needs such as an automobile. During the detachment phase you should...

- Observe the way you are treated. Watch for the methods listed above and see how "The Loser" works.

- Gradually become more boring, talk less, share less feelings and opinions. The goal is almost to bore "The Loser" to lessen the emotional attachment, at the same time not creating a situation which would make you a target.

- Quietly contact your family and supportive others. Determine what help they might be - a place to stay, protection, financial help, etc.

- If you fear violence or abuse, check local legal or law enforcement options such as a restraining order.

- If "The Loser" is destructive, slowly move your valuables from the home if together, or try to recover valuables if in their possession. In many cases, you may lose some personal items during your detachment - a small price to pay to get rid of "The Loser".

- Stop arguing, debating or discussing issues. Stop defending and explaining yourself - responding with comments such as "I've been so confused lately" or "I'm under so much stress I don't know why I do anything anymore".

- Begin dropping hints that you are depressed, burned out, or confused about life in general. Remember - "The Loser" never takes responsibility for what happens in any relationship. "The Loser" will feel better about leaving the relationship if they can blame it on you. Many individuals are forced to "play confused" and dull, allowing "The Loser" to tell others "My girlfriend (or boyfriend) about half nuts!" They may tell others you're crazy or confused but you'll be safer. Allow them to think anything they want about you as long as you're in the process of detaching.

- Don't start another relationship. That will only complicate your situation and increase the anger. Your best bet is to "lay low" for several months. Remember, "The Loser" will quickly locate another victim and become instantly attached as long as the focus on you is allowed to die down.

- As "The Loser" starts to question changes in your behavior, admit confusion, depression, emotionally numbness, and a host of other boring reactions. This sets the foundation for the ending of the relationship.

Ending the Relationship

Remembering that "The Loser" doesn't accept responsibility, responds with anger to criticism, and is prone to panic detachment reactions - ending the relationship continues the same theme as the detachment.

- Explain that you are emotionally numb, confused, and burned out. You can't feel anything for anybody and you want to end the relationship almost for his or her benefit. Remind them that they've probably noticed something is wrong and that you need time to sort out your feelings and fix whatever is wrong with you. As disgusting as it may seem, you may have to use a theme of "I'm not right for anyone at this point in my life." If "The Loser" can blame the end on you, as they would if they ended the relationship anyway, they will depart faster.

- If "The Loser" panics, you'll receive a shower of phone calls, letters, notes on your car, etc. React to each in the same manner - a boring thanks. If you overreact or give in, you've lost control again.

- Focus on your need for time away from the situation. Don't agree to the many negotiations that will be offered - dating less frequently, dating only once a week, taking a break for only a week, going to counseling together, etc. As long as "The Loser" has contact with you they feel there is a chance to manipulate you.

- "The Loser" will focus on making you feel guilty. In each phone contact you'll hear how much you are loved, how much was done for you, and how much they have sacrificed for you. At the same time, you'll hear about what a bum you are for leading them on, not giving them an opportunity to fix things, and embarrassing them by ending the relationship.

- Don't try to make them understand how you feel - it won't happen. "The Loser" only is concerned with how they feel - your feelings are irrelevant. You will be wasting your time trying to make them understand and they will see the discussions as an opportunity to make you feel more guilty and manipulate you.

- Don't fall for sudden changes in behavior or promises of marriage, trips, gifts, etc. By this time you have already seen how "The Loser" is normally and naturally. While anyone can change for a short period of time, they always return to their normal behavior once the crisis is over.

- Seek professional counseling for yourself or the support of others during this time. You will need encouragement and guidance. Keep in mind, if "The Loser" finds out you are seeking help they will criticize the counseling, the therapist, or the effort.

- Don't use terms like "someday", "maybe", or "in the future". When "The Loser" hears such possibilities, they think you are weakening and will increase their pressure.

- Imagine a dead slot machine. If we are in Las Vegas at a slot machine and pull the handle ten times and nothing happens - we move on to another machine. However, if on the tenth time the slot machine pays us even a little, we keep pulling the handle - thinking the jackpot is on the way. If we are very stern and stable about the decision to end the relationship over many days, then suddenly offer a possibility or hope for reconciliation - we've given a little pay and the pressure will continue. Never change your position - always say the same thing. "The Loser" will stop playing a machine that doesn't pay off and quickly move to another.

Follow-up Protection

"The Loser" never sees their responsibility or involvement in the difficulties in the relationship. From a psychological standpoint, "The Loser" has lived and behaved in this manner most of their life, clearly all of their adult life. As they really don't see themselves at fault or as an individual with a problem, "The Loser" tends to think that the girlfriend or boyfriend is simply going through a phase - their partner (victim) might be temporarily mixed up or confused, they might be listening to the wrong people, or they might be angry about something and will get over it soon. "The Loser" rarely detaches completely and will often try to continue contact with the partner even after the relationship is terminated. During the Follow-up Protection period, some guidelines are:

- Never change your original position. It's over permanently! Don't talk about possible changes in your position in the future. You might think that will calm "The Loser" but it only tells them that the possibilities still exist and only a little more pressure is needed to return to the relationship.

- Don't agree to meetings or reunions to discuss old times. For "The Loser", discussing old times is actually a way to upset you, put you off guard, and use the guilt to hook you again.

- Don't offer details about your new life or relationships. Assure him that both his life and your life are now private and that you hope they are happy.

- If you start feeling guilty during a phone call, get off the phone fast. More people return to bad marriages and relationships due to guilt than anything else. If you listen to those phone calls, as though taping them, you'll find "The Loser" spends most of the call trying to make you feel guilty.

- In any contact with the ex "Loser", provide only a status report, much like you'd provide to your Aunt Gladys. For example: "I'm still working hard and not getting any better at tennis. That's about it."

- When "The Loser" tells you how difficult the breakup has been, share with him some general thoughts about breaking-up and how finding the right person is difficult. While "The Loser" wants to focus on your relationship, talk in terms of Ann Landers - "Well, breaking up is hard on anyone. Dating is tough in these times. I'm sure we'll eventually find someone that's right for both of us." Remember - nothing personal!

- Keep all contact short and sweet - the shorter the better. As far as "The Loser" is concerned, you're always on your way somewhere, there's something in the microwave, or your mother is walking up the steps to your home. Wish "The Loser" well but always with the same tone of voice that you might offer to someone you have just talked to at the grocery store. For phone conversations, electronic companies make a handy gadget that produces about twenty sounds - a doorbell, an oven or microwave alarm, a knock on the door, etc. That little device is handy to use on the phone - the microwave dinner just came out or someone is at the door. Do whatever you have to do to keep the conversation short - and not personal.


In all of our relationships throughout life, we will meet a variety of individuals with many different personalities. Some are a joy to have in our life and some provide us with life-long love and security. Others we meet pose some risk to us and our future due to their personality and attitudes. Both in medicine and mental health - the key to health is the early identification and treatment of problems - before they reach the point that they are beyond treatment. In years of psychotherapy and counseling practice, treating the victims of "The Loser", patterns of attitude and behavior emerge in "The Loser" that can now be listed and identified in the hopes of providing early identification and warning. When those signs and indicators surface and the pattern is identified, we must move quickly to get away from the situation. Continuing a relationship with "The Loser" will result in a relationship that involves intimidation, fear, angry outbursts, paranoid control, and a total loss of your self-esteem and self-confidence.

If you have been involved in a long-term relationship with "The Loser", after you successfully escape you may notice that you have sustained some psychological damage that will require professional repair. In many cases, the stress has been so severe that you may have a stress-produced depression. You may have severe damage to your self-confidence/self-esteem or to your feelings about the opposite sex or relationships. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors are available in your community to assist and guide you as you recover from your damaging relationship with "The Loser".

Credit: This handout was written by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist. It is provided as a public service and can be reproduced as needed. Dr. Carver is in private practice in Southern Ohio and is affiliated with three regional hospitals.

Dr. Carver has thirty years of clinical experience in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, private practice, state hospitals, child-protective agencies, community mental health centers, neuro-rehabilitation, and now juvenile correctional facilities. He is currently in private practice and the Psychology Supervisor at Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility.

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The Gift of Conflict

"No man is an island" said John Donne in 1624, and while he may be guilty of sexism, he appears ahead of his time in other ways as he expresses a basic ecological and spiritual principle, going on to say, "...every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in all of mankind."

The great naturalist John Muir expressed a similar sentiment in this 1906 writing, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." Indeed there is a seamless web to which we are all inextricably intertwined; a cosmic, universal web in which the pure essence of life flows through all creation. The electronic connections of the World Wide Web are just beginning to externalize in material form what has always existed in energetic form.

And yet, if we are all connected in this manner, this means that whether we like it or not, we are inevitably in relationship with all things and all peoples. What is the nature of this relationship? As discussed in Buddhist psychology, all relationships in the mind and in the world ultimately take on one of three forms: we're either neutral; we like; or we dislike the other that we're in relationship with.

It seems self-evident that we would want to collect as many in the "like" column as possible: we naturally move towards those people, experiences and places which resonate harmoniously within us. But this betrays an important truth: some of our best teachers and most profound lessons come from those experiences and people we dislike, from those who "push our buttons", from those we cannot stand to be around. And why is that? It's because these experiences and people force us to see life from a different perspective, to get out of our self-created, self-limiting cocoons and filters of reality and consider alternative possibilities. They force us to grow, to learn, and to expand our beliefs about ourselves and the nature of life. Conflict energizes any system and when approached with a positive, constructive attitude, leads to creative solutions and ideas. For conflict prods and encourages us to stretch further, dig deeper and learn to be better people. It's easy to be compassionate and loving with those that treat us well, but the real growth comes when we can treat everyone we interact with in a loving manner, and in so doing honor that universal essence which flows through us all.

Well, you might say, that sounds good in theory, but how do I deal with my resistance to such people and experiences? Here are some helpful tips:

-seek out those that have a different belief system or world view than you do. Really try to understand how and why they think and believe the way they do. None other than Sigmund Freud once claimed that it was "intellectual suicide" to only talk to people who believe what you do (though he was also famous for surrounding himself with "true believers" and not speaking with others who dared to opposed his ideas!)

-if someone you meet elicits a very strong negative feeling in you, examine that feeling in detail. What is it about their ideas or personality that grates you so much? Do you, as Shakespeare said, "...doth protest too much?" That is, is there something in YOU that is similar to this person that makes you want to run the other way? In his wonderful book "A Path With Heart", Jack Kornfield relates the tale of his returning to New York City after living in an ashram for years and leading the life of a renunciate. He felt completely at peace and that he had mastered the art of feeling serene in any situation. However, while waiting for a family member in the waiting room of a salon, several women looked critically at him and the way he was dressed, and suddenly he was flooded with enormous anger welling up inside of him. He realized that his spiritual training had not touched an entire other dimension of life, the interpersonal, and this experience led to his entering psychotherapy to understand why he reacted so strongly.

-learn to see each person you meet as your teacher. What does the person next to you right now have to teach? Your spouse? Your boss? Your neighbor? Everyone truly does have something to teach you about life if you are open to it. Remember Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, who, upon meeting up with the beautiful Kamala, remarked, "Such women will always have much to teach." Yes, and so will people you perceive of as materialistic, selfish and greedy business owners; unpleasant and unhelpful service workers; and loud and arrogant personalities, to name just a few.

-look into your past and ask this question: who does this person remind me of? Have I been holding onto a grudge, a hurt or a resentment for many years that this person has come into my life now to remind me of? If so, explore ways of resolving your own issue that's getting projected onto this person. This person may be a signpost of something in you that may need attention.

So don't be afraid of conflict. Rather than avoid it, embrace and invite conflict into your life! Conflict is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to stretch and become a healthier, more creative and evolved person. Let each conflict help to transform you into the healthiest, most loving person you can become.

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 How To Talk About Feelings

by Tony Schirtzinger; ACSW, CICSW

How can we talk about our feelings? How much is too much? How much is not enough?


Whenever we talk to anyone, we make three quick decisions.

We Decide:

1. Whether To SAY What We Feel. 2. Whether To EXPRESS The Feelings. 3. Whether To WORK AT PROBLEM SOLVING.

We usually make these decisions automatically or subconsciously. It can be very helpful to make them consciously instead.


Here are some different ways we state what we feel, and my thoughts about when each is appropriate.

"LEAVE ME ALONE" Statements...

  • "I'm OK."
  • "Can't complain."
  • "Doin' Fine!"
  • "Average..."
  • "Nuttin' special"

Use these when you are with people you don't trust, or whenever you want to refuse to talk about feelings.

Another way to convey this "leave me alone" message is to simply answer "yes" or "no," or to only say a few words which barely answer the question.

"ASK ME AGAIN" Statements...

  • "Been better."
  • "Fair to middlin'."
  • "Kinda good, kinda bad."

Use when you don't know if you want to talk about feelings or not, and when you want the other person to encourage you to say more.

"I DON'T WANT TO KNOW" Statements...

  • "I'm just stressed."
  • "I'm just out of sorts."
  • "Something's wrong but it's OK."

Use when you are afraid to state (or know...) exactly what you feel..


  • "I'm angry, but I don't know why."
  • "Depressed again."
  • "My feelings are hurt."

Use when talking to a therapist.
It's a therapist's job to help you figure out why you feel what you feel.
It's not a lover's job or a friend's job.

When non-therapists try to respond to this, there is almost always a disagreement.


A sad person can just look sad and say nothing at all, or cry fully for a long time.
An angry person can just sit and glare, or cuss and scream and throw things.
A happy person can smile quietly or dance jubilantly.

We feel better the more we EXPRESS what we feel. The only important factor is: "How SAFE am I to express it now with this person?"


  • "I'm really pissed at Jim, my boss! Nag, nag, nag!
  • Artificial deadlines just to harass me! Playing favorites with his girlfriend again....!!!"

Use when you are with someone who will let you "vent" for a few minutes.


The natural order of things is to FEEL FIRST, THEN THINK, AND THEN DO.

We can FEEL our feelings quite well with anyone safe who cares about us.
We can even do this well enough alone (although it can take longer that way).

We can do some thinking and problem-solving with our friends, but GOOD problem-solving requires that the other person be more "detached" than close friends can be.

So, when friends aren't enough to help you, or you can tell you are trying your friends' patience, do your thinking and problem-solving with a therapist.

READY TO FEEL AND THINK WITH YOU Statements... [Same as the last example, PLUS...]

  • "... I was thinking about this and I think it has something to do with how my mom and dad got along....
  • She was always using sex to manipulate him..."

Use when you want to vent and think things through to solve a problem. This is NECESSARY in ALL close relationships occasionally - but not appropriate as a REGULAR way of communicating except in therapy.


  • "So, I think it's all about my parents and that time when she beat me and he took my side until she seduced him.....
  • How do I decide what to do about all of this now?
  • What would be the best way to get over this so it doesn't get in my way anymore...?"

Use mainly in therapy. (Very seldom seen anywhere, even in therapy...!)


State and express your feelings as fully as you can, preferably with friends but alone if necessary.

When you feel stuck about what to DO about your feelings and about the problems that created them, see a therapist.

About the Author:

Tony Schirtzinger, ACSW is a licensed therapist in Milwaukee. He works with a wide variety of people dealing with any topic, rather than specialize in any one field.

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What is love?

"I love chips. I'd have them with every meal."

"I just love him so much. I can't live without him!"

"I don't know if I love him any more. I feel empty and distant."

How can we use one little four letter word in such different ways? The word love trips to our lips so easily, but do we know exactly what we mean? In classical Greek, they had three words for our one.

Eros is the word they would have used about romantic love, excitement between lovers, affection, physical attraction. Phileo is the love of friendship; common interests and admiration are factors in phileo love. Agape love is love that endures even when things are difficult, when we have been let down by the one we love or feel hurt or even unloving. It's love without expecting anything in return. It's wanting the best for the other, not counting the cost to ourselves.

All three sorts of love can be valuable parts of marriage, but the one that empowers commitment and joy is agape, enabling us to love through difficulties, 'for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part'.

What is your love like?

What is unconditional love?

A child or grandchild reaches up their arms to give us a hug. A young man asks his sweetheart: "Will you marry me". It's so easy to respond in love in such situations when someone obviously loves and appreciates you.

But how about the teenager who is giving you the lip, who leaves his dirty underwear all over the bathroom floor, or the husband who comes in late each night and sits straight down in front of the television and falls asleep? They are not so easy to love, because we don't seem to get anything back, no affection, no appreciation. We might as well be invisible. When we do get a reaction it often hurts - the critical word, disrespect. Then it can be even harder to love.

At times like this we don't feel warm, romantic or loving. We often feel angry, hurt and lonely. Can we still "love" in these circumstances? Can we act with love, even when we don't feel "loving"?

My father told me as a teenager that he would love me whatever I did, that nothing I did would stop that love. He was true to his words, despite disapproving of and being hurt by my actions and behaviour as I grew up. His words have had a big impact on my life. It has meant a lot to me to know that at least one person had a love for me, a love that was dependent not on my actions, but on his will and commitment.

Love is more than just warm romantic feelings - it is a decision we can make with our will, despite our feelings. When we see love like this, then our relationships can grow and flourish even through the difficult times. If we're always keeping score of how well we've behaved to each other, or base our love on how we are feeling, then there's little hope for a healthy relationship.

How can we love unconditionally?

So what does this decision to love involve. It involves:

  • wanting what is best for the other person, as much or more than what is best for us
  • forgiving them and not holding out for revenge
  • accepting them warts and all, rather than trying to change them
  • looking for ways to show that we care for them and value them
  • believing that things can change for the better.

That sort of love is powerful - it can break down indifference, heal hurts, soften hearts and bring out the best in others. But it's costly too. It can't live alongside pride or selfishness or bitterness or unforgiveness. They have to go, if you want to be able to love that way.

It's very hard to love when you get absolutely nothing in return or even worse if you are being constantly let down. Most of us love others and treat them well, because we believe that then they will love us. That's not such a bad reason to love someone, but what do we do when they don't act lovingly towards us or let us down?

If we see love as being about giving to each other, about being the best we can for each other, rather than finding fulfilment, then our relationship is more likely to flourish.

Some examples of unconditional love

Where does this picture of love come from? Some people recognise it intuitively - the parents who keep loving a wayward child, the partner who forgives their husband/wife after an affair and offers a new start together.

Corrie ten Boom, who survived the Nazi death camps, tells of an occasion after the end of the war when she was speaking at a meeting about forgiveness. At the end of the meeting a man approached her holding out his hand. She instantly recognised him as one of the warders from the camp who had treated her and her family so badly. In that split second she was faced with the reality of the choice to forgive. She held out her hand and shook it as he quietly asked her forgiveness.

There's another story that illustrates this sort of love. It's about a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. The prison officers were demanding to know who had stolen some food, which had actually been taken by one of the jailers. They began to threaten the execution of prisoners one by one to force a confession.

The innocent man couldn't bear the thought of his friends dying in this way and stepped forward to confess and was shot on the spot.

Such love and concern for others can seem foolish or courageous. There is another man who has made his impact on human history and who many believe really demonstrated this sort of selfless love for others. That man is Jesus, who many believe died a cruel death to take the punishment every person deserves for their sin and rejection of God. Some view his death as a pointless waste and failure, but for others he is an inspiration to help them love others selflessly and sacrificially.

Loving like that can seem impossible without a little help. So next time you don't know how to go on loving you might like to ask for God's help.

Love is….

Love is always being willing to say sorry…
Love is wanting the best for the one we love…
Love is seeing the potential in our loved one…
Love is telling them what you value in them….

Love is forgiving and not holding on to hurts….
Love is living today as if it were your last, but looking forward to a fresh tomorrow…
Love is listening with all your heart
Love is knowing when to speak and when to sit together in silence

Love is the most precious gift you can receive……
AND the most precious gift you can give……

What do you think love is?????

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Lust: You're Sexually Attractive THIS Long
That head-over-heels feeling of the first passion of love that leaves you unable to eat or sleep or think of anything else lasts at most two years. That's the word from researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy, who found the bodily chemistry that makes people sexually attractive to new partners switches from lust to cuddles after no more than two years, report the BBC News and The Daily Mail.
 Why? Blame it on hormones. Using blood tests in volunteer couples, the Italian scientists identified the specific hormone changes that occur as lovers move out of the first flush of new passion and into a stable relationship. When couples are in the early stage of a romance, their brains are awash in hormones called neutrophins. Oddly at this time, testosterone increases in women, while it decreases in men. Once the couple have been together for one or two years, those so-called "love molecules" give way to the "cuddle hormone," oxytocin.
 "If lovers swear their feelings to be ever-lasting, the hormones tell a different story," biochemists Michael Gross and Donatella Marazziti wrote in Chemistry World, the journal in which the findings were published. "Whether more nerve growth is needed in the early stage of romance because of all the new experiences that are engraved into the brain, or whether it has a second, as yet unknown function in the chemistry of love, remains to be explored."
 Just because that initial rush of lust disappears, all is not lost. Dr. Petra Boynton, of the British Psychological Society, told the BBC there is a danger that people might feel they should take hormone supplements to spark those feelings of lust again. Instead, the "cuddle hormone" is nature's way of helping couples stay together--a kind of chemical glue.
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Why communication is NOT the problem in relationships

By Robert Gerzon

Chris and I were coaching a couple, Ron and Sara, who were having difficulties in several important areas of their marriage, including money, parenting and sex.

"What do you think the root problem is?" I asked.

Sara replied without hesitation, "Communication!"

"Yeah, communicating with Sara can definitely get frustrating," agreed Ron.

When we ask couples about the cause of their problems, "communication" is the most common response. It is also the most frequent answer when pollsters ask the general public what's at the root of relationship problems.

It also happens to be dead wrong. Communication is almost never the real problem. Nearly every one of the hundreds of couples we have coached are communicating with each quite effectively.

These couples are communicating their disagreement with each other. They are communicating their dislike of the other person. They are communicating their displeasure about being in the relationship. And they are communicating all these things very successfully.

"Give us an example of one of your typical 'communication problems' so we can see what's really going on," said Chris.

"That's easy," replied Sara. "We had a fight before we came here tonight. Ron just infuriates me. I've asked him a thousand times to put his dishes in the dishwasher when he gets something to eat and he never does."

"Aw, c'mon, Sara," said Ron with exasperation. "How many times do we have to go over this. I'm a responsible person. I put my dishes in the dishwasher most of the time. I just don't do it on your timetable."

"My timetable!" responded Sara with indignation. "I shouldn't have to see your dirty dishes sitting on the counter for even a minute! I wouldn't have to if you'd just put them away when you're finished eating. If I didn't put them away you'd let them sit there for days."

"You never give me a chance. I had to go call Zack's soccer coach back about the game tomorrow and when I walked back into the kitchen to put those dishes away you jumped down my throat before I had a chance to do it. If you'd just relax and lay off the constant criticism things would be a lot nicer at home."

"OK," I interjected, "I think we get the picture. So is this what you mean by a communication problem?"

"Yes, I can't seem to get through to him at all," replied Sara with obvious irritation. "It's such a simple thing. Put your dishes away when you're done with them. Yet no matter how many times I ask him he doesn't seem to care."

"And I can't get her to stop micromanaging my life no matter how many times I tell her," added Ron.

"This is clearly a frustrating situation for both of you," I said. "Would you like some help resolving it?"

"Sure," they both replied.

"The first thing is to be willing to look at the problem in a new way. It's not a communication problem. Let me show you what I mean by that. Sara, how are you feeling when Ron leaves his dishes on the counter?"

"Irritated, upset, angry, hurt, disappointed," she replied.

"Ron, are you getting the message?"

"Loud and clear."

"So Ron would you acknowledge that Sara is an effective communicator, that she's getting her message across."

"Yes," said Ron grinning, "I get what you're saying now. Sara, you are definitely a good communicator."

Sara smiled too, starting to see some humor in the situation.

"Ron, how are you feeling at those times?"

"Frustrated as hell with her."

"And Sara are you getting Ron's message?"

"Yes, of course," she said with a trace of sadness.

"So would you acknowledge that Ron's an effective communicator too?"

"Yes. Ron, you are a good communicator. I guess I just don't like what you're communicating."

The problem is not feeling loved

If "communication" itself were the real problem in a relationship, it would be a problem all the time. Often couples also believe that "differences" or "incompatibility" are the root problem. Yet we know couples who are as different as night and day and who love being married to each other. We also know couples who are quite similar in their beliefs and viewpoints who argue constantly over the smallest things.

In working with hundreds of couples over the years we found that the only time couples ever complain about their "differences" or about having "communication problems" is when they aren't feeling loved by the other person. The real problem in relationships is not feeling loved by the other person.

So Chris said to Ron and Sara, "Communication can definitely become frustrating, unproductive and painful between couples. But communication is a symptom and not the root of your problems."

"Well, then what is?" asked Sara.

"From what you've told us, Robert and I believe that the root problem is that you don't feel loved by each other at those times."

They both looked at us in shock. And then they looked at each other.

Sara was the first to recover: "You're right, I don't feel loved by Ron at those times and I know he doesn't feel loved by me. I get upset and frustrated with Ron a lot, but I do love him. I want our marriage to work."

"We wouldn't be here if we didn't still love each other," Ron added somewhat defensively.

"It's wonderful to realize that you really do love each other," said Chris encouragingly. "So why don't you tell each other that?"

"Right now?" asked Sara.

"Sure, right now. And maybe tomorrow too," Chris smiled.

Ron and Sara exchanged "I love you" and we could feel the atmosphere in the room warm up. Their tense bodies relaxed and they moved closer together on the couch.

"That's does feel better, doesn't it?" I observed.

Both Ron and Sara nodded and smiled.What's your Love Ratio?

"There is an important and revealing question that every couple should ask themselves," I said. "And that is: What is our Love Ratio?

"In other words, what's the ratio of positive, loving interactions to negative emotional interactions in our relationship? Couples stay together because they have a positive Love Ratio -- the love outweighs the negatives. Couples separate when the negatives consistently overwhelm the love. And all the negatives -- anger, resentment, jealousy, withdrawal, hurt -- stem from fear and anxiety.

"A simple but very powerful formula for creating a dynamic relationship is 'Increase the love and decrease the fear and negativity.' Saying 'I love you' frequently and doing things that make the other person feel loved will dramatically increase the positive, loving energy in any relationship.

"When there's a high Love Ratio in a relationship it functions as a kind of cushion or shock absorber. An occasional negative incident is not going have much impact on a relationship in which there are lots of loving interactions. One researcher found that couples report experiencing satisfaction with their relationship when the ratio of positive interactions to negative ones is at least 5 to 1."

"That makes a lot of sense," said Ron. "I can see I could be more pro-active about showing my love to Sara."

"The problem for me," said Sara," is that I just don't feel any love for Ron when I see those dishes on the counter. To be honest, I really hate him when he does it. I don't like admitting that, but I do."

"Same here," agreed Ron. "When Sara puts me down I'm so far away from loving her it's not funny. Those are the times I think about separating, just so I wouldn't have to listen to her criticism. I get what you mean now. The problem is not communication. It really is that we don't love each other at those moments."

"Right," I replied. "Once you define the problem accurately, the solution is much easier to find. So -- what is the solution?"

"It seems kind of obvious," Sara said. "We need to love each other more. But we have different ideas about what's the right thing to do. I don't see how I can love Ron when he ignores my requests and keeps leaving his dishes."

"But differences are not the problem," observed Chris, "even though do you have different approaches to putting dishes away, and different ideas about parenting, money and sex. Fear of your differences is what turns differences into relationship problems.

"So now we need to look at the other half of the formula: how to decrease the negative energy in your relationship," Chris continued. "Some of the most common types of negativity in intimate relationships are angry arguments, physical or emotional abuse, emotional withdrawal and neglect (the "silent treatment"), resentment, criticism, scorn, withholding affection and sex, and what we call the "Four Disses": disrespect, dishonesty, disapproval and disgust.

"Whenever these symptoms appear it's a sign that at that moment the relationship has become fear-based rather than love-based. When these symptoms predominate month after month it indicates a reversed Love Ratio and a relationship in which the fear has overwhelmed the love.

"So, Sara," Chris continued, "it sounds like you'd prefer to keep loving Ron when he leaves those dishes sitting there. Why is it hard to love Ron then?"

"Because I feel he's not loving me."

"So this is one of those vicious cycles. You feel like he's not loving you. He feels like you're not loving him. And you both stop loving.

"What if you could turn that into a virtuous cycle? What if you could keep the love flowing even when it seems like the other person isn't loving you?"

"That sounds great, but I really don't see how we can do that, given who we are," said Ron.

"We can show you how to decrease that negativity right now," I said. "Ready to learn how to love each other more?"

"OK," they replied somewhat skeptically.

The Power of Inner Talk in relationships

"Sara," said Chris, "Let's work with your part of the cycle first and then we'll look at Ron's."


"So when you see those dirty dishes on the counter, what are you saying to yourself?"

"I'm saying, I can't believe Ron did it again. I've asked him a thousand times. If he loved me he'd put his dishes away. He just doesn't care about me."

"Good, Sara," said Chris. "That's what we call your Inner Talk. Inner Talk, or self-talk, is a term that describes our cognitive thought processes as an inner dialogue. So how does your habitual Inner Talk affect you? Does it make it easier or harder for you to love Ron?"


"When your Inner Talk blocks your ability to love, it means you're listening to what we call your Toxic Voice. Let's see if you can tune in to a healthier inner voice, your Natural Voice. What kind of Inner Talk would still be truthful but would also make it easier to keep loving Ron at that moment?"

Sara thought for a moment.

"Well I suppose it would help if I said: Ron left those dishes on the counter again. I don't like it when he does that. I don't know why he did that. But I still love him."

"Wow!" Chris exclaimed, "That's great, Sara! What a difference. How does your new Inner Talk change the way you feel toward Ron?"

"I feel less angry and more loving," replied Sara, her face softening.

"Ron, how would you feel if Sara changed her Inner Talk in that way?"

"I'd love it," said Ron excitedly. "That's the thing. I would just love it if she stopped criticizing me."

Creative Inner Talk increases the Love Ratio

"Good, so let's work on your part, Ron," I said. "What is your Inner Talk when Sara is upset with you for leaving dishes on the counter?"

"Oh, I suppose I say something like: There she goes again. Never gives me a chance, always on my back. I hate being treated like an irresponsible kid when I spend so much of my time working hard for my family and being so responsible. If I'd known she would turn out to be such a bitch, I wouldn't have married her."

"Good work, Ron. I appreciate you being honest about your Inner Talk."

"Hearing myself say it out loud makes me realize that it really is very negative and toxic."

"So how does that Toxic Talk affect you? Does it make it easier or harder to love Sara?"

"Much harder. It makes me angry at her. And to be really honest, I'd have to say it makes me want to leave my dishes on the counter just to spite her."

"Interesting how that works, isn't it?" I nodded. "So can you think of a more creative kind of Inner Talk that would help you keep loving Sara even when she's criticizing you? What would your healthy Natural Voice say?"

"This part's harder," replied Ron thoughtfully. "I don't know what else to say. It never occurred to me there were any other possibilities. Give me a minute."

After a few moments Ron continued, "OK, here's what I could say: Sara's upset because I left my dishes on the counter. I know I was planning to put them in the dishwasher, but she's doesn't. She's feeling like I don't love her, but I do."

"That's much better, Ron. How does that Inner Talk make you feel?"

"Definitely makes me feel kinder and more loving -- like I want to give her a hug," Ron replied. He added, "And it makes me feel more like putting my dishes away. I don't really enjoy aggravating Sara."

Turning to Sara, Ron hugged her and then said, "Honey, I'm sorry if those dishes have been bothering you so much. It's just a habit I have from back when I used to live alone. I do get around to it eventually. But I can understand why it irritates you when you're working in the kitchen. It really is kind of inconsiderate. I can't promise you it'll never happen again, but I can promise you I'm really going to make an effort to change that. I want you to know that I love you."

Sara's eyes moistened and she reached for Ron's hands, "I know you love me. And you know I love you too. Even when I criticize you. I know you're very responsible and you're a great husband and father. It's just that I depend on you so much. It scares me when you do something that I think is uncaring and I just start to lose it emotionally. I'm sorry that I've made you feel criticized and unappreciated. But I'll use my new Inner Talk to keep loving you even when something like that happens."

"Congratulations," Chris said. "You've both passed the Love Test. You decided to love each other more and increase the Love Ratio in your relationship. You decided that you love each other enough to change your own behavior. And, just as important, by understanding the power of your Inner Talk you now have an effective tool that enables you to change old dysfunctional relationship habits into conscious, loving actions."

When Ron and Sara returned two weeks later they told us they had experienced the best two weeks they'd had in years.

Sara said, "Ron's been putting his dishes away almost all the time. It sounds strange to say, but this has been very healing for me. It might seem like a little thing to someone else, but to me it's a big thing. And it shows me every day that he really does cares about my happiness.

"After a few days of Ron's new caring behavior," continued Sara, "I realized that as a kid I never felt like my parents really cared about what I wanted. It was always about what they wanted me to do to be a "good girl." I remember promising myself that when I grew up, I'd never let myself be treated like that again. So when Ron would disregard my needs it really panicked me to think I'd married someone who didn't care about me. I actually had a good cry with Ron one night, it felt so good to know he really, truly does loves me."

"I never knew how much that was hurting Sara," said Ron. "It was great to see how happy I could make her by changing that behavior. And one time I forgot to put my coffee cup away she asked me if I was done with it and then gave me a kiss and said, "Let me put that away for you, honey." That blew me away.

"My Dad was a real authority figure," Ron continued, "and everything had to be just so. I realized that whenever Sara criticized me it felt just like my Dad coming down on me. It triggered that fear reaction and brought out the rebel in me. I feel a lot more relaxed around the house now that we've worked this through -- and I don't mind putting my stuff away. I think we've both been kind of surprised at how much we mean to each other and what a big effect being more loving can have on how we feel."

"It's made a big difference," agreed Sara. "I've felt more open and our sexual relationship has been more frequent and more passionate.

"Yeah, that's been an unexpected bonus," smiled Ron. " I've noticed I have more energy and I've been more productive at work too. Our son Zack seems happier too."

By learning to love each other more Ron and Sara were able to dramatically increase their Love Ratio and reap more of the benefits of being married to each other. They understood that the only problem in relationships is not feeling loved. If each of us learn to love the other person more effectively, we can all feel loved more of the time. The great thing about the Game of Love is that when you play it right, everybody wins.

Love is an infinite spiral

The raw, unconscious love of sexual-emotional attraction is enough to get a relationship going, but it's not enough to keep it going. When they realize that relationships take work, some people conclude that "love is not enough".

We believe that love is enough, it's more than enough. Love is everything. But for a couple to stay in love, their love needs to grow and evolve. Love that does not grow begins to shrivel and die. Effective loving is a skill that needs training, practice and encouragement.

Not all the couples we work with learn as quickly as Ron and Sara. Emotional defenses caused by past hurts, whether from childhood or adult relationships, can block the expression of love in the present and often need to be brought to consciousness and released. Yet every couple we have worked with who love each other enough to change have been amazed at how different the same relationship can feel once they get to the next level in loving each other.

If a couple discovers that one or both of them don't love each other enough to change their behavior that's important to acknowledge. Occasionally when we work with a couple they discover that the problem lies in the very foundation of their marriage. One of them, or both of them, didn't love each other enough to get married but they did anyway. Some people know this when they are walking down the aisle and some are unaware of it. When people marry "for the wrong reasons" it is usually because they weren't loved for themselves as children. As a result, they lack sufficient self-love and self-knowledge to choose the right partner. We have to know who we are before we can recognize our true soulmate.

Yet even some marriages with shaky foundations can be improved. After an honest discussion about the past, some couples do find it in their hearts to forgive and to love each other in the present.

Sometimes it's so important to people to be "right," that they would rather be "right" than be loved. When individuals decide they don't want to change their behavior, they can then make a conscious choice. They can stay in the relationship and accept it for what it is, and thereby experience less toxic conflict and more appreciation for what does work. Or, if they feel that they are in a toxic relationship where the negativity outweighs the love by too great a margin, they can separate and move forward in their life as individuals.

Our love-centered approach to relationships works well for couples at all stages -- from those who are trying to decide whether to marry each other to long-term couples whose marriage is floundering or has lost its passion. By focusing on "loving each other more" and increasing the Love Ratio, it quickly becomes clear if two people care about each other enough to create a happy marriage.

Choose love, grow love

Love is an infinite spiral. The wonderful thing about spending the rest of your life together is that you can continue rising to higher levels on love's spiral.

After more than 20 years together Chris and I are both more passionately and spiritually in love with each other with each passing year. We continue to be amazed and grateful for the healing power of love and how it has transformed our lives. We've found there are two simple secrets to creating a dynamic, loving, lifelong relationship.

One: Choose love. Marry the "right person." Choose someone who loves you for who you are, someone you love enough to have as your companion on life's journey.

Two: Grow love. Make a commitment to grow in love as an individual and as a couple. Make a mutual pledge to keep increasing the love and decreasing the negatives in your relationship.

Some important ways you can increase the Love Ratio in your relationship:

Trust in the power of love. Don't let fear interfere.

Always be honest and be yourself -- your partner knows what's really going on anyway.

Be a "warrior of the heart" -- it takes courage to love and to be loved.

Work hard -- personal and relationship growth is sometimes the toughest work you'll ever do, but the rewards are incredible.

Be quick to apologize. Because we are all imperfect, we will sometimes hurt the one we love. Don't feel guilty and don't get defensive. Remember that you area good person. Find out what hurt the other person and why. Ask them what would work better next time. Change your behavior so your partner feels loved.

Learn to forgive. Forgiveness is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of intimate love. Don't ignore or bury hurt feelings. But don't criticize or judge the other person either. You both deserve to feel loved. Forgive your partner for hurting you, tell them you love them, and ask them if they'd like to know what you need to feel loved.

Heal hurts and defenses from the past that block your ability to love in the present.

Connect with the universal Source of Love. Ask your Higher Power (your Sacred Voice) for help in making the changes you need to make so you can become a more effective channel for love.

Aim for ecstasy! Play, have fun, enjoy living together, push the boundaries of love every once in awhile -- and make love often and passionately!

Keep your relationship filled with positive energy, affection, ecstatic sex, acts of kindness and happy memories and you will continue to ascend to higher levels on love's infinite spiral.

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