This isn’t an article about how to make more money (there are plenty of those already out there). Instead, it’s an article about something infinitely more important, an article about how to handle the oftentimes challenging reality that, if you’re like most people, you are simply not making as much money as you’d like. I see so many people wrestle with the feelings that money brings out in us that I decided this topic merited some extra attention. So, here’s the way I see it.
Relationships are the stuff of life. Quite literally, nothing in the universe exists that isn’t in a relationship to a whole bunch of other stuff, not to mention (indirectly) everything else in existence too. Of course, we homo sapiens, when we discuss relationships, we’re usually referring to the face-to-face, human-to-human variety, which are by far the most complicated of them all. In this article, I’ll explain what makes our interpersonal interactions just so mischievously difficult, and what to do about all those threesomes in which we keep unwittingly finding ourselves.
People are always changing, flowing through shifting emotional states. As we morph throughout time, one of the things that fluctuates is our desire for emotional–and physical–closeness. This phenomenon can really complicate relationships! Your partner might not want to cuddle or have sex or share a meaningful conversation at the exact moment you do, or vice versa. You might want to feel closer to someone who doesn’t want closeness, or want more distance from someone who seeks greater closeness from you. An important question then arises: What’s the best way to manage these ever-shifting desires for closeness and distance? Here’s what I tell clients.
People can be real jerks. They can be rude, condescending, insulting. They can be greedy, selfish, egotistical. They can be stubborn, narrow-minded, hard-headed, and sometimes just plain mean. You probably know a few people like this, people you avoid as much as possible, those sundry unpleasant sorts you’ve come to regard as, well, assholes. Chances are you’re not even the only one who thinks of these particular individuals in this way. A lot of folks likely consider them assholes too, probably for the exact same reasons you do. Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely if such people didn’t exist? Wouldn’t it be simply stupendous if the world we live in was suddenly completely free of assholes?
Manipulation gets a bad rap. In The Two Truths About Love: The Art & Wisdom of Extraordinary Relationships, as well as in my counseling sessions with clients, I explain how each and every one of us has 99% control of every relationship. Upon occasion, a client will remark, “Oh, but I don’t want to be thought of as controlling.” What a travesty! Such a person has yet to awaken to the limitless rewards that come from being manipulative. My goal, as a therapist, is to help people realize the essential role that skillful manipulation plays in our pursuit of success and happiness.
When we resent someone for something they did or said, we are holding onto something in the past, something we do not like, something we have not forgiven. Holding onto this thing is hurting us, just like holding onto a cactus. No matter how justified we may feel to be holding onto this perceived offense, doing so is causing us pain and solving nothing. So what if we are justified? It’s like proudly declaring, “I have a right to clench this cactus!”
Our internal friendship is a reflection of our self-image, the opinion we have about ourselves. If we do not like someone, we are not likely to have a very close relationship with them. Why would we want to? Similarly, if we do not like ourselves, we are not likely to have a strong and vibrant internal friendship. “How we think about ourselves” (our self-image) is really no different from “how we speak to ourselves”.