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July 2011 Archives

July 1, 2011

Tossing Wheat in the Air

As people come to me with their personal and relationship problems, one of the most recurring themes I hear is the desire to get more love from a particular person or group of people:

"My husband never wants to spend time with me."
"I really want a relationship with this woman, but she just doesn't seem as interested as I am."
"My parents always favor my sister over me."
"My wife never wants to have sex."
"My boyfriend didn't call."
"I wish my boss paid more attention to me."
"My children are so ungrateful."

Most of us spend a significant portion of our lifetimes trying to get the attention, respect, gratitude, affection, and so on--the love--of other people, and it can be quite exhausting. With a change in perspective, however, we can be released from this tiresome and futile effort.

On occasion, when I was a boy, I visited my grandfather's farm and worked in his fields and orchards.winnowing wheat.jpg He grew some wheat, and once I remember that he pulled some grain from a stalk, rubbed it between his hands, and tossed it in the air. I asked him what he was doing, and he explained that rubbing the wheat between his hands separated the kernels from the overlying husks, or chaff. Then, when he tossed the mixture into the air, the wind blew away the lighter chaff, allowing only the kernels to fall back into his hand. Sure enough, when I looked into his hand, only kernels remained.

Today this process is automated, but for thousands of years people laid the wheat out on threshing floors where they beat the grain with sticks or their hands. Then they threw the wheat into the air, allowing the wind to blow away the chaff, leaving the kernels that would sustain their lives for the months and years to come. This process of the air separating the kernels from the chaff is called winnowing.

A similar process occurs when we tell the truth about ourselves. As we share the truth about our mistakes, flaws, and fears with the people around us, it's quite a productive act on our part. It's as though we toss our friends, family members, and others into the air--nonviolently, of course--and allow the truth we have spoken to separate the people who are capable of loving us unconditionally from those who cannot. People who are incapable of loving us unconditionally are offended by who we really are--or they're disgusted or repelled by us or simply not attracted to us--and our telling the truth therefore does us the great service of separating these people from the people who are attracted to who we really are.

As we tell the truth, therefore, we simply winnow those who can love us from those who cannot. The truth saves us all the time and effort of trying to convince and persuade people to like us. It saves us from a lifetime of earning and buying the "love" that, in the end, turns out not to be love at all but only an imitation of the real thing--which is therefore worthless. Anytime we make any effort to get people to like us, in fact, we are reaching out into the wind and grasping for the chaff, to bring it into the mix with the kernels of wheat. As we do this, the kernels often slip through our fingers, leaving us with nothing but chaff. How could we possibly be more foolish?

Most of us are so afraid to tell the truth about ourselves, and yet it is the truth that will separate the wheat from the chaff in our lives and in our relationships. The truth will make us free, and will bring us love and joy.

July 4, 2011

Eating With the Chickens

A mother eagle failed to return to her nest, where a single hatchling screamed for his supper. Eventually he jumped from the nest and fell to the forest floor, where a chicken found him and took him home to her barnyard.

The young eagle, Fred, was raised as a chicken, so naturally he assumed that he was a chicken. He learned to peck at the ground for seed and sit in the coop at night for safety. Occasionally he saw birds flying above him in the sky, but he thought nothing of it.

One day an eagle flew overhead and called to Fred, who thought, "Wow, that's just like the sound I make when I'm calling to my mother." Fred had always felt bad about his voice, which was so very different from the other chickens.

Then Fred realized that he could actually understand the cries of the bird overhead, whose name was Mort.

"Hey, you," Mort said.

"Who are you talking to?" Fred asked. He was thoroughly intrigued, because even though he had learned to speak Chicken, it seemed that he had some inborn ability to recognize Eagle.

"You," Mort answered. chickenandeagle.JPG

"What do you want?" Fred asked as he rotated his upturned head, following Mort's circling path.

"What are you doing down there?"

"Eating. What does it look like?"

"Yeah, yeah, I get that you're eating. But why down there with the chickens?"

"Duh, because I AM a chicken?"

"Ever noticed that when you talk, you sound different from all the other chickens?"

"Yeah, I have."

"And have you ever noticed your reflection in the water dish before you push your head into it?"

"Yeah."

"What do you think? Do you look like the other chickens?"

"No, not really. Always felt kind of bad about that."

"Notice how at night you take up like five times the space on the perch as the other chickens do?"

"Yeah, I have noticed that. Hard to miss."

"So listen close, kid. You're NOT a chicken."

"Come on."

"No kidding. You're an eagle."

"No."

"Yep. Just like me. Remember that reflection in the water dish? Who does that look like? Me or the chicken next to you?"

Fred was stunned. This would explain a lot, like why he always had more trouble picking up seeds than the other chickens, why the other chickens often looked at him strangely, why he always felt just a little out of place.

"Okay," Fred said, "so I might not look like the other chickens. So I might be different from what I thought. What are you suggesting?"

"Spread your wings."

Fred had learned not to do that, because when he did it in the chicken coop, he knocked everybody on the perch off onto the floor, and they didn't like that much. But he was fascinated by this eagle, so he was willing to give it a try. He stepped away from the chickens--so he wouldn't knock anybody over--and spread his wings. He had to admit, it was pretty impressive. His wings were like a tent compared to those of his brothers and sisters.

"Now, flap them up and down," Mort said, "very fast."

Fred began tentatively, but he found that something deep inside helped him with the speed and rhythm of the movement--like he was meant to do this--and in seconds he lifted off the ground. After he'd elevated a few feet, the height became frightening, so he stopped flapping and fell to the earth in a heap. "That didn't work so well," he said.

"Keep going. Don't stop. Your reflexes will kick in and help you with the details."

Fred began flapping again, and this time he persisted past his fears. Rising higher, he drifted toward a collision with the barn, but somehow he knew how to turn and avoid disaster. He just kept moving, and soon he was flying next to Mort.

"Nice job, kid," Mort said. Smiling from ear to ear, he added, "This is what eagles do."

"Wow, I'm amazed. And convinced."

For hours Mort taught Fred the intricacies of flying and hunting, and during one of their jaunts Fred noticed another eagle in a barnyard miles from his former home. Then he saw another. "What are they doing down there with the chickens?" he asked.


"Same as you. They got confused. They think they're chickens."

"Why don't they just fly?"

"Like I said, they think they're chickens."

"I'll go down and tell them they're eagles."

"Go ahead, but I've tried. Lots of us have tried. They won't listen."

"Really? That seems kind of stupid."

"Yeah, it does, kind of. But you didn't listen either."

"What do you mean? Of course I listened. I'm up here, aren't I?"

"Sure, but only after we called out to you dozens of times."
"No, you didn't."

"So you think I'm making this up? Why would I do that?"

"I don't remember you calling me."

"I believe you. You were so occupied with being a chicken that you couldn't see or hear anything else. We flew overhead, but you didn't look up. We called to you, but the clucking of the chickens was too distracting for you. Every once in a while we'd even fly close, but all the chickens just scattered, because they were afraid."

"You know, I can remember some of those times. I ran because everybody else did."

"So, we tried, kid, but you just couldn't see us or hear us."

"Wow, that's kind of crazy."

"Yeah, that's one way of describing it."

"I like being an eagle better."

"Makes sense, since you ARE an eagle."

"Some things about being an eagle seem harder, though. Like, nobody feeds you. You have to work kind of hard to get your food."

"True. But it's more fun. And you're getting old enough to begin finding a partner. Believe me, you would have found that difficult with the chickens."

"I see what you mean. I'm glad I didn't try. I'm glad I'm an eagle. It's better than being a chicken."

"Oh, I don't know that eagles are better than chickens, but if you are an eagle, it's certainly better to be an eagle than a chicken. Always works better to be what you are. Happier."

We're all eagles, but nearly all of us were raised in a barnyard, and we've found it frustrating to peck in the dirt and to communicate with the chickens in a language that didn't feel quite right. We want more, but we don't know what it is. In most cases, we need the help of other eagles, who can help us discover who we are. All we have to do is listen and have faith in what they say.

July 6, 2011

A Poke in the Eye

Dan was irritated that Cheryl was "constantly" offering him advice about a great many things.

"But I'm just trying to help," Cheryl said. "He's always doing stuff, or making decisions, without all the information he needs, and I'm just trying to help." youre-not-helping_web.jpg

"So really, you're just trying to love him, right?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Kind of like a hug."

"Yes."

"If each time you reach out to hug Dan, you poke him in the eye with an extended finger, do you think he'll feel loved as a result?"

A look of shock came over Cheryl's face as she realized what she'd been doing. Then she laughed. "Okay, I get the point."

Each time we're "trying to help" or love someone, we need to consider whether it's a gesture that the other person would like. Sure, there are times when people actually need a poke in the eye, as in the case of a wise man telling someone a difficult truth they need but don't want to hear. But such times are the exception. On the whole, people don't feel hugged when we poke them in the eye.

July 8, 2011

Waiting to Recharge

I have a Kindle, an electronic device that allows me to read a whole library of books that have been downloaded to its memory. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen is a power indicator, informing me how much of the full electric charge remains. A Kindle's battery can supply enough power to read for long periods, as much as weeks at time, but still I watch the indicator to give me an idea when it's time for a recharge.

Oddly, when my Kindle gets to about 60% charge, it suddenly displays a warning that I'm almost out of power and need to recharge. Then the power status depletes from 60% to 0% roughly three times as fast as it did from 100% to 60%. Once the power reserve gets below a certain level, the device empties out a lot faster than one might anticipate.

As human beings, we often experience a "power depletion" much like this. We believe we're doing pretty well, but then we encounter a difficulty, then an unkind word, then another obstacle that we have to overcome. compassion 1.jpgWe can feel our physical and emotional strength draining away, but we continue to engage in stressful activities, certain that we're strong enough to cope.


But then somebody says something, or an additional burden is heaped upon us, and suddenly we become irritated. We can't believe that such a small thing could set us off. We fail to realize that we've been draining power for some time, and the "power indicator" has been telling us in various ways that we need to recharge.

We'd be much happier if we paid attention to the signs that our supply was getting low. There's no shame in that. We just need to recognize it, and then we can STOP and do what's necessary to regain the power we need. We might simply rest, or get away from people, or make a phone call to a loving friend. But we need to do this before the crisis hits, which means that we're out of power completely. At that point we're ill equipped to respond, and recharging can often be more difficult.


Learn more here about the commitment required to find the Real Love that will change our lives--and how it's worth every effortt we make to find it.
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July 11, 2011

Finding Real Love

As people learn the principles of Real Love, they almost uniformly ask how they can find and feel the real thing. They want to feel the actual power of Real Love, which is far more fulfilling than simply learning principles. It's the FEELING of Real Love that changes lives, not just the intellectual understanding of the concepts.

Fortunately, there are so many course of actions we can take to find Real Love and experience its healing power.

1. STUDY Real Love book cover smaller.jpg

Read the book Real Love, which you can find at any bookstore or on the website at this link.

Read the many other books in the Real Love series, as described at this link.
Most books are also available as eBooks and audio books.

Read the blogs and aphorisms that illustrate the principles of Real Love and will brighten your every day. You can do this by signing up for Facebook at www.Facebook.com.facebook logo 2.jpg Then look for Greg Baer, Author of The " Real Love" Series. If you already have a Facebook account, you may be able to access Greg's page directly by going to this link.

You can also follow Greg on Twitter at this link.twitter logo 3.jpg


Watch The Essentials of Real Love, probably the best introduction to Real Love, Essentials of RL front cover.jpgas found at this link.

Also study the workbooks designed to accompany the DVDs:
Regular workbook at this link.
Bible workbook at this link.

Review hundreds of coaching sessions with Greg at this link.

Review ten one-hour-long video chats with Greg, sampling from hundreds that he has done live with the Real Love community at this link.

Listen to dozens of Real Love Radio shows that Greg has hosted, at this link.

Surf the extensive website at www.RealLove.com and learn from the many other articles and educational opportunities provided there--Greg's Top Ten, for example at this link.

We have gone to great length to provide as much as possible to everyone at no cost whatever. Make use of it.

The more we study these true, life-giving principles, the more we tend to feel the power that emanates from them.

2. CONFERENCE CALLS
On the website at this link, you can learn the details of how to participate in a number of telephone conference calls every day of the week. On these calls you can practice telling the truth about yourself live and experience the power of feeling accepted and loved unconditionally. Or you can choose to just listen as others talk about themselves.

3. REAL LOVE FORUMS
Participate in the Real Love Forums, at this link, where people come to ask and answer questions about Real Love and its application in real life.

4. FIND PEOPLE TO LOVE YOU
Gradually accumulate a group of people who can love you unconditionally as you tell the truth about yourself. It's this feeling of being loved that changes our lives. Make a habit of talking to these people every day. How can you find them? You may find them on the conference calls or in the Forums, described above. Or you can share the Real Love book or the Essentials DVDs with friends, and as you do that, you will naturally find people who express an interest in the principles of Real Love. You can learn more about finding such people in Real Love for Wise Men and Women, which you can find at this link.

5. JOIN A REAL LOVE GROUP
Sharing the truth about ourselves with others is a powerful way to create opportunities to feel unconditionally loved. Feeling loved in person is usually far more effective than the work we do by email or on the phone. As we participate in loving groups, we can be seen and loved by several people, and we can see the effect of Real Love in the lives of many. support group 3.jpg
If a Real Love group is not available near you, take the steps to form one. Share the Real Love book or the Essentials DVDs with friends, and as you do that, you will naturally find people who express an interest in the principles of Real Love. Gradually, you can ask these people if they have an interest in joining you in a Real Love study group. You can learn a great deal more about forming and running Real Love groups in the book Real Love for Wise Men and Women at this link.

6. ATTEND REAL LOVE SEMINARS
You can find these listed on the website at this link.

7. HIRE A REAL LOVE COACH.
Although we have provided a great deal of free material on the website, on many occasions people find it difficult to apply the principles of Real Love to their individual lives and their relationships. Nearly all of us have been living without enough Real Love all our lives, so it's difficult to suddenly change our view of love, ourselves, and the people around us. Real Love coaches have been trained to help you see the REAL cause of problems in your life, and to show you what you can do about them in a simple, practical, and lasting way. Most important, Real Love coaches will give you a consistent experience with being loved, which is essential to our emotional health and fulfillment in relationships.

You can learn more about coaching at this link.

Some people have wondered how coaches could offer unconditional love and yet be charging them for the service they provide. You can learn more about this at this link.

8. REAL LOVE INTERVENTION
The most powerful Real Love experience we offer is a 2-3 day intensive coaching experience with Greg. Copy of Copy of Group%20Shot%20w-%20Dr.jpgMany people have said, "My experience with Greg in Georgia has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I had read all the books, listened to all the tapes, and been to more seminars and counselors than I could name. The Intervention was better than all that put together. I'm now a better husband, father, and employee. Most important, I'm a lot happier ."

You can learn more about Interventions at this link and by writing to Greg personally at Greg@RealLove.com

July 13, 2011

Stretch Through the Pain

A year or so ago I began to experience increasing pain in my left knee, with accumulation of fluid in the synovial space. When non-prescription, oral anti-inflammatory medication proved ineffective, I saw an orthopedist, who discovered that my knee showed considerable damage and osteoarthritis. I had never sustained a notable injury to that knee, but apparently the minor, repetitive trauma sustained during years of walking, jumping, lifting logs, moving dirt, and so on had accumulated.

Surgical removal of torn cartilage and injections of various compounds into the knee resulted in some improvement, but there were considerable periods where I just sat in a chair and kept my knee immobilized in order to minimize the pain. I also limped a good deal, in order to minimize pain. Before long, the pain had spread to the other knee and hip.

A physical and postural therapist explained that my limping and immobility had caused muscles and tendons to shrink on my right side, leading to motion problems, inflammation, and even more pain. pain free.jpegHe showed me how to do some exercises that would stretch tissues that had not been properly used in some time. As I began the regimen, I moaned. "Ow, that really hurts."

"Yeah," he said, "it's supposed to. In order to get you moving normally, we have to stretch the tissues that have contracted, which will hurt. You have to stretch through the pain, not avoid the pain." He also added that we wouldn't stretch to the point of causing unnecessary misery.

I found it remarkable that the avoidance of pain can actually cause long-term pain, and that treatment involved facing the pain head-on. I persisted in doing the exercises, and my pain has improved considerably.

Similarly, almost all of us avoid activities that might result in emotional pain--being wrong, telling the truth about ourselves, and more--but in the process we create the wounds of feeling alone, misunderstood, and unloved. We can grow only as we stretch through the pain. We have to tell the truth about ourselves, admit when we're wrong, and face situations and relationships where we become afraid. If we act only to reduce pain, we guarantee that it will continue.


Click here to learn more about the potential usefulness of pain.
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July 15, 2011

Climbing the Eiger

In Switzerland there's a mountain called The Eiger, which rises more than 13,000 feet above sea level. It's a popular mountain for climbers, but it's also quite dangerous, having claimed dozens of lives over the years. One of the dangers of The Eiger is that much of the mountain is limestone, which crumbles fairly easily as water from rain and snow freezes in tiny cracks, causing them to become wider and deeper.

It would be tempting for mountain climbers to make attempts on The Eiger during the warm months, when it would be more comfortable to climb in the sunshine and moderate temperatures.climbing The Eiger smaller.jpg But wise Alpine climbers know that when the weather is warm, the rocks loosened by the winter freezes and thaws tend to come loose and fall from the rock face onto the climbers below. So, climbers make their ascent in cold weather, when the ice and snow tend to lock loose pieces of rock in place.

By choosing to make their ascents when they'd be least comfortable--in freezing weather--climbers of The Eiger actually improve their odds of reaching the top. It is often so in our personal lives. Most people I know are guided by one paramount principle: Avoid pain and maximize comfort. Regrettably, comfort can be numbing and distracting, actually leading us away from what we really want, which is growth and genuine happiness. These higher goals require that we struggle through moments--a great many of them, actually--of inconvenience, injustice and pain.

It turns out that we must climb The Eigers of our personal lives in conditions that are often uncomfortable. Rather than avoid these difficult moments, we need to embrace them and learn from them.
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Learn more here about the folly of making the elimination of pain our primary goal.
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July 18, 2011

Three-Inch River Rocks

Several days ago a woman angrily complained to me about some behaviors of her husband that were irresponsible and lazy. After listening for a minute, I said, "Now that you have the load in your yard, it's a little late to complain about it."

She asked what I meant by that, so I explained further. Recently I did a bit of landscaping in the front of my house, and one of the steps involved laying several tons of river rock on the ground around some plants, to act as a ground cover, to prevent the growth of weeds. I called a supplier to ask about the availability of three-inch rocks, which I had ordered before.

What are three-inch river rocks? truck dumping rock 2.jpg As the earth's crust shifts, over many thousands of years, the stone in the earth is broken up. Under the influence of gravity, some of this rock settles down into riverbeds, where the water knocks the stones together. This constant pounding action breaks the rocks into smaller rocks and polishes the rough edges, resulting in the smooth stones found in riverbeds.

Over time, rivers change course or become much smaller than they once were, which exposes large expanses of dry riverbed. Gravel companies use this rock for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they use it just as they find it, to fill in spaces for construction. Often, however, they sift the material they find in the riverbed, in order to create materials for more specific purposes. First they "run" all the material over a fine screen, and whatever drops through the screen is used as sand. The remaining material is processed over screens with progressively larger openings, in order to yield gravel and then rocks of increasing sizes.

I was ordering the rocks that were produced after running the river material through several screenings, the last being a three-inch screen. All the rocks delivered to my house, therefore, would be between two and three inches in diameter. When the truck arrived, I inspected the load to be certain that the rocks were what I had ordered, and then I instructed the driver to back up in the driveway and dump the load.

In years past, on more than one occasion, I had been less than careful about deliveries to my home, and on such occasions misunderstandings had led to significant problems. Suppose, for example, that when I ordered the three-inch rock, I had not checked the load before the driver had dumped it in my driveway. And suppose that the person who took the order had checked the wrong box on the order form, so that I got four tons of gravel dumped on my driveway? Suppose, then, that I had called and insisted that I didn't order gravel, but the clerk--afraid to admit a mistake--insisted that I had ordered gravel? We would have had quite a mess, wouldn't we? Cleaning up four tons of gravel is not easy, I can tell you from personal experience.

When you're getting something delivered to your home, it's much easier to decide what you want, clearly state what you want, and be sure that you're getting what you want before you accept it, than it is to accept it and then fuss at people about changing your order. It works much the same way with marriages and other long-term committed relationships. Many people that I have known--most, to tell the truth--have been in such a hurry to find someone to love them that they have simply let the truck back up in the driveway and dump the load. Then, when they discover that whatever has fallen off the truck doesn't quite suit their needs, they're terribly disappointed and upset, and they want to change their order. They want to take it back, or they want the gravel to transform itself into three-inch rocks, or in some cases they want the gravel to magically become petunias.

In defense of those who do this, most people don't have the first clue what they really need in a relationship. Most people have so little familiarity with Real Love that they don't know how to look for a partner who is capable of beginning and sustaining a relationship based on truth telling and unconditional love. So it's virtually unavoidable that they will get a load of Imitation Love, which for a while may seem fulfilling to some degree.

In most relationships we don't need to set standards. That would be counterproductive, actually. We can't require that our mailman or our boss, for example, be unconditionally loving. We can, however, require that anyone who applies for the position of lifetime partner have certain traits.

When some people hear this, they protest, "Wait a minute, if you require something of someone, then we're not talking about unconditional love anymore." interview-your-date.jpg Allow me to explain. If I were looking for a wife, there are certain standards that I would envision for that position. Without such standards, in fact, I would be a fool. The requirements for such standards become obvious when I list them. I require that a wife be a human being, for example. If an applicant for the position were a giraffe, that would be an insurmountable obstacle. I would require that a wife be a woman. Given my sexual orientation, that just isn't a negotiable point. And if I want a genuinely happy relationship, I would be looking for other characteristics, which are listed in the book Real Love in Dating.

The point is, the time to raise these standards is during the selection process, at which time I am not requiring that any one person change to meet my requirements or make me happy. This is why my standards are not incompatible with unconditional love. At no point am I failing to unconditionally accept or love anyone I am dating. I am, however, refusing to join in a lifetime partnership with anyone who does not meet the standards that I have set for such a partner.

If you want three-inch river rock on your driveway, order it and inspect it before it's dumped there. If you want a relationship based on Real Love, set your standards based on unconditional love, observe your potential partners closely for their ability to be truthful and unconditionally loving, and choose a partner according to the compatibility of those standards and his or her behavior. Do not jump into a relationship based on impulse, hormones, and the temporary gratification of the trading of Imitation Love, and then--when everything falls apart--complain that your partner is not what you ordered. Don't order gravel or accept whatever is dumped in your driveway and then hope you can turn it into what you really wanted--three-inch river rock or flowers--later on.

The woman who complained to me about her husband knew what she was getting--mostly--when she married him, so she got what she ordered. She needed to realize, in addition, that no amount of complaining on her part would ever change him, nor would it make either of them any happier. In an unhappy relationship, the only solution is for US to find more Real Love in our own lives and to share that with our partners. In the process, we always become happier, and our relationships usually respond to a remarkable degree.


July 20, 2011

Tilling the Ground

One day my kids and I were watching a commercial on television for a garden tiller--a motorized machine designed to churn up the soil for planting, weeding, composting, and so on. After a few seconds, we all began to laugh. The tiller was working beautifully, but the close-up showed that the soil being tilled was rich, loamy earth that could almost be tilled with your hands. Who needs a power tiller for that?

One of the kids said, "I'd like to see them film a commercial with that thing on dry Georgia clay." We have a tiller--the largest, most powerful one I know about--and on hardened Georgia clay TillingSoil_thumb.jpg it doesn't act anything like the one we saw in the commercial. Our machine bounces and lurches over the hard ground, often barely scraping away an inch or less on each pass, and the person operating it is often jerked around like a rag doll being pulled on a chain behind a moving car.

In short, a tiller may work great in one kind of soil but be almost impotent on another kind. As human beings, we discover the same experience in working with other people. When interacting with some people, we're confident and effective, while with others we're at our wits' end. We can't do anything right.

We don't need to feel bad about these failures. It doesn't mean we're incompetent--after all, with some people we're quite effective--but it does mean that in some circumstances we simply can't handle the challenges. We need to observe our flaws and weaknesses, maybe even get the love and guidance of wise men and women, and gradually we'll grow. In the short term, we may even need to avoid some difficult people and situations, because they overwhelm us.

Remember the tiller and don't expect yourself to be equally effective in all circumstances or with all people. Some people are just too much, like Georgia clay.


Learn more here about the challenging process of making mistakes and learning from them.


July 22, 2011

A Crystal Ball

Ten years ago I began to regularly visit Brenda, a widow. Of her six adult children, five would have nothing to do with her--one of whom was in prison for trying to kill her--and one, Audrey, spoke to her only when she wanted money to buy drugs. Audrey had abandoned her two children--Carl, age 6, and Tim, age 4--to be raised by Brenda.

Brenda complained to me that her ungrateful witch of a daughter--Audrey--was always coming around for money, but when I suggested that she not fuel Audrey's drug habit, she didn't listen. I also suggested that her yelling at Audrey in front of her two grandchildren probably wasn't good for their emotional health, but again she didn't listen. So Carl and Tim were raised in an environment filled with conflict.

Carl was doing terribly in school, but Brenda said, "I just can't do anything with 'im. He won't listen to me." So Carl didn't do his homework and fell progressively further behind in school every year. Neither child was given any responsibilities around the house, so they grew up believing they were entitled to do whatever they wanted. Their sense of entitlement and victimhood led to frequent conflicts between them, but when I told Brenda that their quarrels weren't healthy for them, she insisted that they were just being boys. It was cute, she said.

When Carl and Tim were six and four, respectively, I said, crystalBallSmall.jpg "Brenda, if you keep ignoring the loving and teaching these kids need--if you keep allowing the house to be run by conflict and without responsibility--the day will come when you'll call me and tell me that first one and then the other kid is in jail, and there won't be a thing I can do about it."

She ignored me, of course, and the condition of the children continued in a predictable fashion. Months ago Brenda called and told me that Carl was in the youth detention center, charged with four felonies. He's now been sentenced to five years of imprisonment, and Brenda is both grief stricken and mystified about how all this could have happened.

Although I accurately predicted what happened to Carl--and will almost certainly happen to Tim in the near future--I did not have a crystal ball. I'm not a magician, but I can tell you with fair confidence what will happen in the future if I have enough information about the past and present. I know, for example, that if a ball falls off the edge of a table, the laws of gravity decree that the ball will fall at a rate of about 32 feet/sec/sec, with minor influence from atmospheric pressure and humidity.

The Laws of Happiness are just as exacting and predictive. If we ignore love and responsibility in the raising of a child, the resulting pain will cause the child to react in a number of ways that are high unproductive and mostly predictable. If, on the other hand, we consistently love and teach a child, he will be free to exercise his native creativity, desire to be productive, and inclination to connect with and love others. We need to see more clearly what we and our children are believing and doing, so we can see where those perspectives and behaviors are taking us.

July 25, 2011

Picking out Loppers

Sylvia called and said, "I'm so confused about relationships. I feel stupid."

"You probably are stupid about relationships," I said. "Almost everyone is, but that's not a problem, IF you're willing to see it and change it. You can fix stupid. What happened?"

"I met a guy, Blaine, and we hit it off right away, but now something's gone wrong, and he's avoiding me."

"And you don't quite know why."

"Right."

"And your feelings are hurt."

"Yes."

"So let's figure out why. You thought the two of you were 'hitting it off' in the beginning. Why did you think that?"

"We were having fun. We enjoyed being together." loppers.jpg

"Understandable. And how did you behave around him?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Did you behave differently toward him than you are behaving toward me right now?"

"Well, I suppose so."

"It's a virtual certainty that you did. With him, did you do more flattering, more laughing, more energy in your tone, that kind of thing?"

"I guess so."

"Don't guess."

"Yeah, sure I did. But it's different with him than with you."

"Different how?"

"Well, I'm not sure."

"Tell me is this would be accurate, then. You treated him more like a boyfriend, which means that you hoped that you could develop a more exclusive, intimate relationship with him."

"Yes, that's true."

"And THAT is the problem, sweetie."

"I still don't get it."

"Did you hope that he'd like you?"

"Sure."

"That's why you were doomed right from the beginning. You misunderstood the entire purpose of the early stages of a relationship."

"What is it?"

"You believe--as almost all people do--that if a relationship is pleasurable early on, the goal should be to maximize the relationship, to help it move along to the next level. But in order to do that, we unconsciously behave in ways designed to win the approval of the other person. That's entirely understandable, but it's wrong, because then we're not being genuine. We're not truly being ourselves. In short, we're lying, however unintentional it might be."

"And the moment we lie," I continued, "we've entered the Field of Death, where we trade in the currency of Imitation Love. The problem, of course, is that the trading of Imitation Love is FUN. That's why it's so distracting. The entertainment and pleasure we get from it are very rewarding, so the more we get, the more we want. In the absence of Real Love, in fact, that level of enjoyment is very easily confused with happiness. So we convince ourselves that in order to be happy we need even more Imitation Love. And if we get enough from one person, we do everything we can to get more. THAT is how most relationships develop, and if we have no experience with Real Love, we're certain that such relationships are good."

"Yes, that's exactly what happened with me and Blaine."

"But then something always goes wrong. The effect wears off, or the trading becomes not quite fair in the eyes of one partner or both, or whatever."

"That's what happened. Almost exactly. So what can I do different? So this doesn't keep happening to me."

"When you're early in a relationship and having fun, you need to realize that the wise goal is not to get more from it. The wise goal is simply to gather information about the other person and about your relationship. You're just learning. You're practicing the art of being yourself with another person, and you're learning how that works out--for you and for them. Do you see how different this would make every relationship you have?

"I think so. A little, anyway."

"If you are just gathering information, how could you ever be disappointed in what happens? How could you ever be hurt?"

"Makes sense. Takes the pressure off any relationship, right?"

"Right. Let me illustrate. Not long ago I went to a hardware store to get a pair of loppers. Loppers are a kind of scissors with long handles that are used to cut tree branches. The first pair I looked at seemed okay. The handles felt good, the blades were sharp. But next to them was another pair. They were heavier, stronger, obviously better for the kind of heavy cutting I do a lot. But then I saw another pair, and they were simply amazing. In every way the construction was the best I'd ever seen for a pair of loppers. I bought them and have been happy with them every time I've used them. Now, let me ask you, Do you think I was disappointed with the first two pairs?"

"Doesn't sound like it."

"Not at all. Were my feelings hurt that the first two pairs didn't work out for me?"

"No."

"Of course not. And why? Because I didn't try to make the first two loppers do what I wanted. Instead of forcing them to be what they were not, I just gathered information about them. In fact,, my examination of the first loppers actually helped me to find exactly what I wanted. The first two pairs helped me find the pair that was perfect for me."

Finding a partner is not unlike buying a pair of loppers--or buying anything else, for that matter. The first two pairs I looked at had good qualities, but not enough to buy them. Similarly, everybody has some good qualities, but that's just not enough if you're thinking about living with that person for the rest of your life. Sure, we can learn to unconditionally love anyone--a dog, for example--but not just anyone can participate in an unconditionally loving relationship.

Don't settle for the cheap loppers. Don't settle for the superficially entertaining partner. Go for a partner who can go the distance with you, who can help you cut the largest branches--the most difficult life problems--without breaking.


Learn more here about dating and finding the right partner.
Part 2
Part 3


July 27, 2011

Better Yield, Less Effort

Martin called me and said, "My wife, Cynthia, is all gaga over this Real Love stuff, and she wants me to get involved with her. But we've already done marriage counseling, read books, done retreats. None of it made any difference. Why try again?"

I asked him what he did for a living, and when he said he was a wheat farmer, I asked, "What if I could give you a seed that would give you a 50% increase in crop yield, while requiring wheat farmer 1.jpg 50% less fertilizer and water? And the seed is less expensive. What would you say?"

"I'd try it tomorrow."

"I would think so. And that's what Real Love is. It's the seed we've all been looking for all our lives. I'm not asking you to try harder or try again. I'm suggesting that you try something vastly different. In the long term, Real Love is less work and will give you a yield that is dramatically different from anything you've ever seen. The yield, in fact, isn't just more. It's an entirely different crop, a better crop, one that keeps on giving."

People often protest that they don't want to try again, or try harder, or do something else, but Real Love is the most important ingredient for our personal happiness and for fulfillment in our relationships. Plant the seeds now, fertilize them, tend them, and watch them produce the joy you've always wanted.


Learn more here about how the path to Real Love is actually easier than everything else--Imitation Love, Getting and Protecting Behaviors--we usually do.


July 29, 2011

We Need a Little Crazy

At a very young age Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism. She could not relate to the feelings of other people and often became overwhelmed by noises and other changes in her environment. Most people considered her a cripple, but her mother insisted that Temple not be institutionalized and instead found educators who would work with her daughter.

Although Temple paid a high price for her autism, she had an ability to see some things in ways that no on else could. While living on a ranch, she discovered that she could see and hear patterns of movement and sound from the cattle that she correctly interpreted as having significant meaning. Temple Grandin.jpg Her insights have revolutionized the way cattle are herded and slaughtered, with untold savings in time and money for the food processors, along with a vast decrease in confusion and discomfort for the animals. She is now a university professors and speaks all over the globe on a variety of subjects.

It has long been the case that the innovations in the world have been made by people who are, well, different. If we were all the same, where would innovation come from? Such people are often thought to be odd, or even crazy, by those around them. But we need such people. We need a little crazy, even in ourselves. Rather than eradicating these peculiarities in ourselves and others, we might consider being tolerant of them, perhaps even nurturing them and allowing them to benefit all of us.


Learn more here about accepting our differences.


About July 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Greg's Real Love Blog in July 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2011 is the previous archive.

August 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.