If you’ve been cheated on, one thing that can help you recover is to consider that the cheater often does not emerge unscathed. You can also gain perspective by looking at both sides of a story, as we did with the process of breaking up. So let’s enter for a while into the cheater’s fate.

Now it’s obvious that garden-variety two-timers, when they get nabbed, can lose a great deal. They may be ejected from a whole life that they didn’t want to leave: may lose partner, friends, good name and various other assets.1 But even what I called the “well intentioned” cheater—the one who stumbled accidentally onto a new relationship, and left voluntarily—can sustain serious losses.

And of those losses, the ones that interest me right now are emotional and spiritual.
So here are a few reflections on the surprising price paid by the unfaithful.

1. I’ll discuss the whole topic of the assets that are lost in breakups, “Surviving and Recouping”.

the lover’s reward
Unfortunately, when you cheat you draw your lover, even if he is unattached, into the same now-tarnished universe that you share with your spouse.

Firstly, when you “lie” with the other man, he is drawn into the same lie that you are telling. And from his point of view, he is betraying another guy. Usually he doesn’t hear that guy’s side of the story, and he may not want to, because we can more easily ignore feelings that we don’t directly witness. The people we interact with are real, and everybody else somehow isn’t.

Secondly, cheating inadvertently demonstrates the same thing to your lover that it will eventually demonstrate to your spouse, if and when they learn the truth. It embeds in your lover’s mind a perfect movie of your ability to stray and lie about it. He now has road-tested your unreliability, as if to prepare himself for the time when he will be the one flung out of the car.

The general effect of both these points is that the one you cheat with may have more trouble in the future trusting either gender, and in particular, you.

And that’s your first problem: you’re responsible for that.

the cheater
Now what are the direct effects on the cheater?
Just to spread blame around evenly (and to keep the pronouns simple), let’s make it a guy this time. Assuming he has half a heart, he is going to have a truckload of ills.
Beginning when the affair is still a secret, he will feel guilty.
When he is with his lover, he’ll feel guilty because he has to leave her too soon. When he is with his partner, he’ll feel guilty because he is holding a secret she doesn’t know. This will be especially bad when his partner is behaving really well, when she is being loving or playful or in other ways trusting. Even though she isn’t damaged yet in her own eyes, she is damaged in his, and this is an awful thing for him to carry around, a strange kind of sad horror. He may also feel weak and cowardly, because he hasn’t told her, because she doesn’t deserve such treatment.

And after the split hits the fan and it’s over, he’ll have plenty more reasons for guilt, especially if there are children involved. Then there’s strayer’s remorse. This happens when the blush comes off the
new rose and suddenly a fella realizes that the old rose was rather nice. The old rose didn’t have so many thorns as this tangled new one, and it had a pretty amazing red color that, come to think of it, endured through the years and reblushed itself often.

The grief of a man who sits in a parking lot in the rain because he doesn’t want to go home to his new love and can never go home to his old love, is a fine thing to contemplate.
The thing is, the person he wants to return to has done no wrong.
Like a screen idol who died young, she remains unsullied forever; she reigns in the memory and is burnished by the rag of his own mistake. No distance is so cold and unconsoling as the distance one created oneself.
How about trust? Oh yes, the liar’s blues are all about trust.
Deep down, the poor rogue has to doubt himself. Every time he gets involved with a new woman, he has to wonder in his bones, “Do I really mean it? Am I going to leave this one too? Do I buy my own line of malarkey?”
In his own eyes he has become a slightly shoddy product, a tarnished gold piece.
The actions we choose in our lives make it more likely that we will choose similar actions in the future.

Plus he has begun to carve a groove in which he now can more easily skate. The term “karma” is often taken to mean that what goes around comes around, and the guilty will be punished, if not in this life (where it seems a lot of them thrive), then in the next. But there is a more profound, and more chillingly plausible, sense of karma. That is, that the actions we choose in our lives make it more likely that we will choose similar actions in the future. If you drink alcohol in a moment of despair, you make it more likely that you will
drink again, and deeper, when you’re down. If you shy away from the thing you really want to do, if you balk because it is too scary, you are more likely to chicken out in the face of the next challenge.

If you compromise your integrity in little things, you are more likely to compromise it in big ones.
If a man leaves a worthy woman for someone else, if he breaks someone’s trust, he is more likely to see himself as someone who does that kind of thing, and that will make him less convincing in the nobler role he may want to play. Less convincing to himself, and therefore less convincing to the one he may need most to impress, the worthy woman down the line that he is most desperate to win.

If he can’t trust himself, imagine another problem his karma may bring him in the future—how is he going to trust any woman? Lastly, in our inventory of the cheater’s problems, we can’t neglect our old friend the ego. The ego may well have seconded the cheating. Cheating avoids the risk of commitment. And it resets the meter of intimacy, by which I mean that a new person doesn’t know you yet, and you escape from the growing knowledge of the old person. All of which the toad applauds. (To be known, it likes to say, is to imperil one’s dignity.)

So at the big meeting, the toad voted for making a break and seducing a new person; and therefore the toad may be feeling his oats, or his dead flies, and may get a little swelled up. He may congratulate himself on having the power to hurt other people, the blade to cut a wide swath through the trusting population. He may whisper in his owner’s ear: you are the Lothario, you cain’t be tamed by no woman, you can do as you please. “Guard your daughters,” he croaks in the night to all the farmers whose houses lie by his swamp.
Then we get a small-time felon, a man who cheated, who is no longer in charge of his own life. He has a new, badder boss: a toad dressed as a buccaneer.

And if anything is bad karma, that is.

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What an amazing thing we try for, when we launch a serious relationship. We’re picking one person, out of all the people in the world, to form a couple with, and around that couple we hope to structure our whole life—domestic, emotional, social, and financial, often including children. It’s amazing we ever have the temerity to place such a bet. The only way to do that is to really believe in it. It’s like founding your own religion. The belief in your partner becomes your central dogma.

So when that platform fails, when suddenly you find that this person isn’t going to be the one after all, the whole edifice of your life seems to slip, as if it has lost its moorings. There’s a sense that the whole universe has gone crazy, has tilted madly. The world isn’t right anymore. Your coordinates of truth have been knocked askew.

Even when you instigated the breakup, this can be true: your belief in the universe that the two of you represented, is gone. So how do you believe in anything?
We end up in a world that doesn’t feel crazy, but in fact it may be crazy.

We can’t live very long with that first crazy feeling, so after a while we have to erect a new belief system to substitute for the old one. And that’s when things get tricky, because the new system has to remove anything that may have led to the collapse of the old one. And the easiest way to do that is to get rid of the parts that made hope possible in the first place.

We end up in a world that doesn’t feel crazy—that’s what makes us more comfortable there—but in fact it may be crazy. In order to understand its insanity, we need to look harder at the madness that led to it, and still infects its timbers. That initial feeling of disorientation, that tilting feeling, which follows a breakup. I’m going to offer some comparisons here, to capture the sense of unreality, the surreal sensation, that is so hard to deal with. What is that experience like?

It’s like what a child feels when her parents divorce. I lie in my bedroom at night —or is it still my bedroom? It is on some nights . . . I don’t feel safe. The walls that kept the night away, they don’t feel so solid anymore. The big world can get me. The grownups had my back, so I could be a kid. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t feel the same way about them anymore. Or myself. It’s like what an adult feels when his parents die. Again, the buffer is gone. There’s no one between me and the grim reaper. I’m next on his list.

Moving even closer to religion, it’s like what one feels when one’s friend is struck down by a senseless accident. This is when people tend to lose their faith. They say, “The god I believed in wouldn’t have let this happen.” It’s like having the world’s best job, and one Friday morning they come to your office and they tell you to collect your things—just your personal effects—and they escort you out of the building. You didn’t
suspect a thing. You were doing a good job. Your position was solid.
This can’t be happening.
It’s a little like watching those towers come down. (I’m referring to the disbelief of seeing the physical structures collapse, and not the other sorrows of that grievous day.)

Things that were always true, aren’t true anymore.
• You don’t believe that other people are basically good, or that you understand them. Especially members of the opposite sex.
• You don’t trust your own goodness; it doesn’t seem obvious anymore that you deserve to be happy with someone.
• You doubt that any couples are really happy.
• You doubt your own judgment. You’ve always been a good judge of character, and in this instance you certainly did your very best to pick out a fine partner. And now it’s all gone to hell, so what does that say about your discernment?
• In particular, you doubt your own ability to detect fraud. You keep sifting through all the clues that were in the situation. All the signs that something was wrong. Apparently you could stare right at them and think they were fine. “I don’t know the real thing from the fake,” you tell yourself. “I don’t know a healthy relationship
from a travesty. Maybe they’re all fake, all travesties.”

So you conclude that nothing is what it seems. “What a fool I was,” you think. “I took everything at face value; I was so naïve.” You walk out the front door and the street feels different. Everything seems worthy of a certain suspicion. The tree may drop a limb on you if you walk blithely beneath it. The grass may contain a wasp’s nest. The people on the sidewalk are up to something. The cars all carry some smug secret, some mockery that may be at your expense. How did you ever believe in love?

John Donne wrote a poem once in which he said, “And now goodmorrow to our waking souls, which watch not one another out of fear.” And now you think, wouldn’t that be nice, to look at someone without any trepidation. But that’s exactly what you no longer know how to do.

You’ve lost your innocence.
I don’t mean naivety here—that’s a good thing to lose—I mean a deeper thing. A bad breakup can seriously affect your spiritual health, for a long time. It can mire you in what some traditions would call a “fallen world.” I want to unmask that impaired place, and to point a way out. To do that I’m going to walk us through a spiritual “landscape,” slightly exaggerated to reveal its true nature. That will help us see it for what it is, which is the first step in breaking free. why a fallen world is a bad place to live A fallen world is a seductive place.
It is a secure place, where you can count on things being the way you expect them to be. Namely, mediocre.

No surprises here.

It’s a safe place: you are not called on to take any serious risks.
And it’s an amiable place: there’s plenty of company. Maybe a lot of them are disillusioned, cynical, defeated. But they’re nice to have around, because they agree that there never was any hope and what
happened to you was inevitable. It happened to them too.
It’s a place where a constant dull pain is considered normal, and that’s why painkillers are considered life’s greatest invention. A fine world, this fallen one, except for one problem. It was constructed out of insanity. The builder (your psyche) took the madness, the sense of nauseating disorientation that struck you when your relationship first fell apart, and found a way to contain it, to shift the crushing weight of it, by spreading it out, graying it over, extending it through time.

Your old beliefs that we listed, the ones that trembled in the balance when the first shock hit, are missing now. They are nowhere to be found in the new world. It is sustained by the opposite principles.
If you strip off the façade of its buildings, you will find support timbers that say things like: All men are bad. You are unworthy of love. All couples are miserable. Your judgment is faulty. The earlier beliefs, now replaced, were what made love possible. This new world has taken the doubts that beset you in your stricken moment, and has enshrined them as dusty law.

The main enterprise of a fallen world is the avoidance of reality.
That can be done in so many ways. Most of them involve addictive behavior. What you want is to forget the positive vision you once had, and how awful it was when it fell apart. Addictions are really good for that purpose. Everything from sleep to drugs to alcohol to TV will pitch in and do its part.
It’s a world where sins of omission reign supreme. (Sins of commission require too much passion.) You think of something to say at work—something that could solve a problem—but it might make waves, so you don’t. You see someone interesting across a room, but they might not like you so you don’t smile. You shy away, shy away, close the blind, close the door, close your mind.

Your life becomes a web of habits that forms a shroud over feelings that are too painful to face. And memories that are easier ignored. You’ve lost your innocence.

the way out
Is there any way to get it back?
Again, spiritual traditions have an interesting answer. They say, a god has to die. According to the ancient
Egyptian mystery religion, a man-god has to die on a tree, and be reborn, and then the rain will come again and the crops will grow. The waste land will turn green.

If you take that as a metaphor, it tells us what has to happen within your soul, when you are in this predicament. Something has to die in your soul, so that something can be reborn.

Which leads to a rather surprising prescription for what ails you, when you have lost your heart’s spark.
That is to concentrate on the parts of your being that are most screamingly idealistic, most prone to hope—and follow those impulses.

Devote yourself to the things you would believe in if the world were right again.
Dedicate yourself to others. Give some form of service to help the needy or the suffering. Or the planet. Fight for a losing cause that has merit. (People who did that are the reason some of those causes eventually won.) Take the dream you have neglected for years— the thing that scares you the most—and go for it. Get rid of the things (and people) in your life that pander to discouragement and Devote yourself to the things
you would believe in if the world were right again.

Say, “If the world has given up, that is just one more reason why I won’t.”
It may not be time yet to try for love. So try for something else, something that isn’t a need of your own. Something you believe in. Then a strange thing will happen. You will start to meet people who don’t fit in a fallen world. That is because you will be leaving it behind.

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DISCLAIMER:Some of the photos, links, articles are not owned by the site, and/ or not being stored by the site.Comments are views expressed by the readers. may not be held liable for the views of readers exercising their right of freedom to express.If you think we should remove those aforementioned elements due to copyright infrequent, feel free to tell us, and we will comply.


There’s a sense of betrayal that happens when romantic love deserts us, whether a third party is involved or not.

That’s because when someone is in love with you, part of that experience is being exalted above all others. When you are basking in that rarified esteem, it’s a high beyond compare. And when that high is taken away, you feel not just deprived but betrayed. You want to say, “Didn’t you really feel the way you said? If you did, why don’t you feel that way now?” There is a feeling that you have been dishonored, and that you’ve been lied to.

I want now to explore the experience of betrayal, and in particular how to undo its dangerous after-effects. Our attempts to avoid being betrayed again can lead us in just the wrong direction when we pursue new
love, so that we in fact encourage the trouble to recur and we use bad criteria to select our next partners. I’m going to use cheating as my case study, because it is probably the Laptops, blackberries, and cell phones make it easier to hook up, and easier to conceal the fact that you are.

Most telling example of betrayal and its dangers. Cheating is the most blatant violation of the promise of romantic love. That’s because being in love, in full flame, is by its very nature infidelity proof.  When your partner admires you above all others—when you eclipse the rest of the field—they simply don’t have any interest in being with someone else. This lack of interest, sometimes poetically described as being blind to everything but you, is one of the proofs that they really are in love. So when, later on, they evince an
active desire to mix it up with someone else, this is unmistakable proof that the spell of love is on the wane. When they conceal what they’re doing and you discover it after the fact, that is the final twist of betrayal’s knife.

So let’s look at this thing called cheating. It’s almost trendy these days: it even has its own TV show. Both genders are doing it more than they used to, and women are catching up with men as doers. Modern
technology has shown itself to be a two-edged romantic sword. The power of the Internet is a plus when we’re looking for a good partner, but it becomes a minus once we’re committed to someone, because it
offers up such plentiful opportunities for straying. Laptops, blackberries, and cell phones make it easier to hook up, and easier to conceal the fact that you are doing so.

They also offer new options, such as:
• flirting by IM, e-mail, or text message
• carrying on an online romance
• cyber-sex.

There’s no doubt that the prospect of hearing from someone (maybe a complete stranger) who is interested in you (and may not know you’re attached) is highly entertaining. It’s easy to get addicted to that stimulation.
But are these activities cheating, if they don’t go as far as hooking up in the real world?
A good rule of thumb: if you have to hide it from your spouse, then the answer is probably yes.
And that points up the inherent contradiction in all cheating.

Why hide it if it’s okay? And why do it if it’s not? There’s a tacit admission of guilt in the very concealment.

The cheater may answer: I’m not hiding it because I think it’s wrong; I’m hiding it because my partner:
• might not be able to handle it
• might not approve of it
• might be hurt by it.

But if these potential feelings are respected so much, why not also honor the fact that your partner would almost certainly want to know what is going on? And what about the risk that they will find out later, and may be more hurt then than they would be now? Whatever you say about it, it’s hard to call it straightforward. Just to clarify: if at the dating stage you sleep with a second person without telling the first, that may not be cheating, and it isn’t my subject here. I’ll focus on the situation where two people in love have committed to a monogamous relationship, possibly with children, and at some point down the line the secret straying occurs. I want to look at the whole process— how it happens, how the cheater
thinks about it, what it does to the person cheated on, and how to save the People don’t like being
forced to scrap their own history.

Future from its harmful influence. Then in the next chapter I’ll look another instructive subject—what cheating does to the cheater.

Cheating as avoidance
To open up the subject of cheating, let’s look at cheating as avoidance. Instead of dealing with the relationship they’re in, some people start another one on the side.
Let’s assume we’re talking about a guy here. A number of things may be bothering him about his main relationship; but it would be a hassle to talk about them with his partner and then have to face the
consequences of that and try to work through the issues. So he finds another avenue of relief. He finds a woman with whom he doesn’t have problems yet, and drinks pleasure from her loving cup.
Now he has two things not to talk about with his partner. Which, in an opportune way, seem to balance each other out:
• I don’t have to talk to you about our problems, because I am getting relief from another woman.
• And I can’t talk to you about the other woman, because that might stop her from providing the solution to our problems.
It’s a fine piece of juggling. And because a person who is getting relief is easier to get along with, it can happen that his partner, instead of suspecting what is going on, thinks things are improving.
So we get the two prerequisites of cheating: seeing someone else, and doing it secretly.
the theft of the past Now the main purpose of this chapter is to look at the damage that results from a cheating-related breakup; but what about damage before that? As hinted earlier, it can be argued that as long as the partner doesn’t know anything is going on, no damage has been done.

Cheating is okay if you don’t get caught. 

Unfortunately that’s incorrect on a couple of counts.

• The energy you put into your secret lover, if applied to your main relationship, might have saved it. So you are robbing your main relationship of its blood supply.
• Unfaithfulness isn’t ethically improved by the addition of lying.
When you lie to someone, you are damaging them. This will be more evident if we consider a point often made after cheating is discovered:
“It isn’t so much that you did it; it’s that you lied about it.”
What is the heart of this complaint? I think it’s about being robbed of your past. “If you were lying to me about that, then everything between us was a lie.” People don’t like being forced to scrap their own history. To look back on months or years of time spent with someone and have to say that they were a charade, a macabre game, is a nasty fate. “The life I was living in good faith, you betrayed and made into a joke.”
So while you are an undetected cheater, you are rigging the present with mines that will explode when the now is looked back on with knowledge. You are booby-trapping someone’s life, so it won’t hold up under future scrutiny. You are making sure they will feel like a fool, when they find out.
1. This point is even more obvious if you also have to lie to the one you’re cheating with, by pretending not to be attached. This kind of “double cheating” is also made easier by the Internet.

So they will say, “You thought me too dumb to detect the truth, and you thought me too insignificant to deserve to hear it. But other people knew about it (at least your lover did), and it was okay for  them to know, and those who knew thought it was okay for me not to know. I guess you consigned me to a lower level.” At this point our old friend Bar Guy pipes up. (Yes, I seem to have wandered back into that bar. It’s late afternoon and the sun is slanting in.) “Aren’t you getting a little uptight about this?” he says, looking at my laptop screen. “There are cultures where cheating is no big deal. Look at France. They’ve got another institution, right alongside marriage. It’s called having a mistress.”
“Well, if the culture allows it, then it isn’t cheating,” I say. “So it isn’t what I’m talking about. Especially if the wife or husband is in on the deal, and basically turns a blind eye to it.”
A woman overhears us and approaches from a group whom I suspect to be college professors. She has black hair pulled back in a bun, and cool blue eyes. “If I may, you need a historical perspective,” she says. “You have to bear in mind that in the old days, marriage wasn’t primarily about love—let alone sex. It was
about producing children. Economics, and for the higher-ups, politics too. A man wasn’t trying to get emotional needs met by his spouse. Especially not romantic needs. So it was natural to look for that somewhere else.”
“What—” Bar Guy says, “Are you saying mistresses are passé?” Ms. Professor laughs. “I don’t want to alarm you. In case you have one.”
“I don’t even have a wife,” Bar Guy says. “I used to. Now I’m on my own.”
“Do you like it that way?” she says. What usually ends their fine arrangement is that they get caught.
“No . . . no, I don’t. But it’s hard to meet women. Especially here.” He winks at me, and I’m wondering why. “They don’t seem to ever come alone,” he adds.
“Like me,” she says. “I’m with that group over there. I should get back to them.”
“You’re adventurous,” Bar Guy says. “You approached us. That’s unusual.”
Although I like his point, I can feel this discussion slipping its leash. I say to her, “I think you were about to say something about mistresses. You seem very knowledgeable; I wanted to hear what it was.”
“Oh—of course. I’m a sociologist . . . ” She looks at Bar Guy and laughs. “I was going to say that even in France I think you would get an argument from many women. Have you been to France?”
“Not really,” he answers. “I’ve been to Quebec.”
“Well I have a branch of my family in France,” she says, “and I think my cousines would be surprised to hear that they are fine with their husbands having mistresses.”
“I wouldn’t want to surprise them,” Bar Guy says. Again I try to pull the dog in my direction. “So you’re saying, today’s couples expect marriage to be exclusive—even in France?” I ask her.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Ms. P replies. “When you see your partner as your all-in-all, your soulmate and lover and friend— you’re not going to like the idea of him turning to someone else. And that’s the current template in the West.”
“Sure,” Bar Guy says, “but life isn’t a fairy tale. You try for all that, maybe you try for too much. Sometimes the soufflé falls. Things change. People have needs.”
“That’s true,” Ms. Professor says. “But missed shots don’t make a target any less worthy.” She sits down on the stool between me and Bar Guy, looks at him. “Do you know a lot about soufflés?” she says.
“I’m a wizard with an egg,” he answers.
“That’s interesting. Are you a chef?”
Bar Guy smiles at her and says “Only in my spare time.” Then he seems to remember that he was having a conversation with me. “So, the point I was trying to make . . . ” he says. “I read something about it in a book. It said even good people sometimes cheat on their way to their next relationship. Oh yeah, I think it was your book.” “You wrote a book?” Ms. P says. She seems genuinely surprised at the men you can meet in a bar.

But it’s time for me to go. I leave them leaning over their drinks.

the well-intentioned cheater 
Bar Guy was right. Otherwise-honest people sometimes conceal a serious new relationship, at least while it’s starting, from the person they’re still married to. Let’s say you’ve made a good effort in your marriage for years but find yourself basically miserable. You haven’t tried to find a new lover, aren’t looking for one, are willing to stick with the marriage to the bitter end. And then someone appears, and conversation occurs, and light breaks through. The thing is, at the beginning you may not know where that light is leading.
And one day on the road you realize you’ve crossed a border, even though there was no signpost to mark it. You’ve left behind the State of “It’s too soon to tell my spouse about this, and anyway I don’t know what it is yet” and you’re now in the State of “I’m going to have to talk about this, and there is going to be a great upheaval.” Certainly, the truly honest thing to do would be to talk about it as soon as you know something—or better yet, to end one relationship before you even think about embarking on another. But it doesn’t always go that way. So your spouse gets lied to, for a while.

the garden-variety two-timer
And of course there is another kind of situation, where unfaithful spouses aren’t on the way to a new relationship at all, and don’t have that justification for their behavior. In vast numbers of cases, they simply want some action on the side. Maybe the outside lover isn’t available as a partner (maybe they’re in a relationship they can’t get out of); maybe kids are involved; or maybe our cheaters just have too much
to lose. So they don’t want to leave their spouse. If forced to choose, they would choose to stay in their marriage. But they don’t want to choose: they want to have their cake and eat it too. (Or as I always
thought this expression should read: eat their cake and have it too.) Such persons are interested in permanent concealment, so they are unlikely to voluntarily let the cat out of the bag. What usually ends their fine arrangement is that they get caught. And then they get kicked out, and they lose a whole lot of things that they didn’t want to lose.

the fallout
In either case, and regardless of who breaks it off or how it is discovered, the one cheated on is impacted in special ways, which can get in the way of future love. Let’s see what they are, so we can counteract
The blotted diary. I spoke of this before: the ignominy of being forced to rewrite your own cherished history. It is like having kept a diary, and one day you find you have to take a black marker to it and cross out pages and pages of a life you valued. And the thing is, people aren’t too careful when they are crossing out entries and tearing up photographs. They tend to throw out the good with the bad. The days that really were sunny, the absences that were innocent—they get trashed along with the rest. Everything is sullied; everything goes.

The longer-term result is cynicism, or even a loss of faith in the benign world that one used to take for granted—we’ll look at that “fallen world” predicament, and one possible solution to it.

The return of the toad. Being rejected and dumped is bad enough; being left for another is worse; and being lied to about being left for another may be the worst of all—in terms of the offence taken by the kingly ego. We have seen how the toad reacts to this: how he takes control and shoulders the heart aside, so a person becomes too well defended to be able to love. All that applies to the cheating situation, in spades.

Inability to trust. But the toad isn’t always the star of the show. People with properly trimmed egos also get cheated on and hurt. And a major consequence is the loss of the ability to trust.
It is disquieting how easily we humans fall into generalizing about the other gender, based on one person. We become bitter; we take a jaundiced view of all men or all women. We think we know that they are all
liars, all users, all betrayers. This may be the result of simple hurt, but it’s a child’s response, a simplistic retreat from other people. I think it’s especially likely to happen when our trusted partner turned out to be
brutal and nasty, and seemed to enjoy hurting us. “I get it,” we say. “All men/women are snakes in the grass, just waiting to reveal their evil nature. But they won’t get me!” Unfortunately this prophecy turns out
to be only too true. In the smugness of victory we find isolation.

The quest for Mr. Won’t-leave. Another troubling legacy of cheating —the obsessive search for someone who can be trusted. It’s risky to judge honesty by whether someone says he is honest.

 I have had a number of requests for advice through the Web site, along the following lines:
My boyfriend/husband left me for a younger/older woman, whom he’d been seeing on the sly for six
months. I want to find a new guy, but I’ve almost lost my belief that any man can be trusted. So I have a plan; please tell me if it is any good.
On my new personal ad on a major dating site, I stress in my profile that the man I’m looking for must
be honest and loyal, a good person, as I am—no cheaters or players!

Also, my last guy had certain characteristics.
• he was ten years younger/older than I am;
• he drove a really flashy sports car/didn’t even own his own car
• he was a lawyer/a carpenter
• he lived with other men/lived with his parents.

So I have vowed not to have anything to do with any guys who have any of these features, because I’ve
been burned once.

Will this plan work?
My answer has been: no, it won’t work.
It isn’t a good idea for this woman to try desperately to find The Type of Man Who Won’t Cheat.
Because the characteristics she will use to identify this type—to ferret him out from the vast unwashed mass of men—are deceptive.

Mr. Honest. Suppose she focuses on his inner character, on his honesty. Then (especially online) she will probably have to rely on his words to announce him. That method is a snare in which she is likely to catch herself. A woman who hangs out a sign saying she is looking for honesty is likely to attract dishonest men: they will quickly sense that she has been deceived before, and that she is sensitive and vulnerable on this point. In their eyes this means she can be deceived again. All they have to do is talk about honesty and integrity and faithfulness and loyalty, and how their whole life has been dedicated to these virtues.
Most men realize that they have not always been wholly honest, and will admit it when pressed. Men who boast about being perfectly honest, may be conning you. Now am I saying that honesty isn’t a virtue? Oh god no. I think it is one of the highest virtues, and may be the last bastion against life’s most dangerous temptations. (There are many occasions when we know we could get away with something, but we don’t do it, for the simple reason that it would require a lie. When people tell the truth even though it puts them at a disadvantage, they are showing humanity at its best.)
But I think it’s risky to judge honesty by whether someone says he is honest. Especially if you’re looking at an online ad, not at a person. A better way to assess honesty is to observe someone’s actual behavior
over time; see if he is willing to criticize himself; get to know him. People tend to be more honest when they think they will be believed and understood and accepted, so it’s nice if a lot of that goes on too.

The problem, even if you find a truthful man, is that honesty alone won’t keep a person from falling for someone else, or from concealing it for a while. We’ll see in a moment what else is needed to prevent that outcome.

Mr. Won’t-Leave. My advice example illustrates another troubled response: fixating on external features of the person who left you for someone else. In a kind of superstitious or magical reasoning, the victim tells herself that whatever the last guy was, that’s what to avoid. The guy who dumped me was a carpenter ten years older than me who didn’t own his own car, so if I stay away from those things I’ll be safe.
So all of the characteristics of the guy who cheated on her become red flags for the future, regardless of whether they had anything to do with his cheating! It’s kind of like the ancient Pict who noticed that a
hailstorm came after he ate an apple, so he never ate one again.

The root of both mistakes is believing that there is a certain inherent type of person, “the type who won’t leave.” If you look for that, you are looking for a phantom. The truth is that any man, or any woman,
may leave if they don’t have enough reason to stay. So if you want a partner who will hang around, and will make you want to hang around, what you should be looking for is someone with whom you have so much
going that either of you would be nuts to leave the other. That’s right, the key to people not cheating is not their character so much as the quality of the rapport they have. Otherwise known as compatibility. Find a
man that you have a lot in common with, in a lot of areas. For example, values, career goals, sense of humor, sexuality, intellect, entertainment. . . the list goes on.

A man like this will be too engrossed in you to think he could do without you, and you will feel the same. The experience of being left for another, and lied to about it, is one of the toughest ones that life hands out. It takes time to recover from the blow, but you are more likely to recover if you are aware of its potential after-effects and consciously resist them. We’ve done some of that work in this chapter, and we’ll do a lot more in what follows.

Compatibility is discussed in detail in Part Two of Why Mr Right Can’t Find You. I’ll explore it in relation to the lessons of the past

Meanwhile keep this positive goal in your back pocket: instead of being crippled by the experience of being left for another, use it as motivation: redouble your efforts to find a partner who is really a good match for you.

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We’ve got the toad in stir. That nosy chaperone, that overzealous coach who inflicts his bad judgment on us—I’m calling him the ego.

Am I on solid ground in doing so?
We talk about people’s egos all the time. We say so-and-so has an inflated ego, and so he behaves badly. Someone else is lacking in the ego department. We may even have a dim sense that Freud said something
on the topic. What is this mysterious part of the human being called the ego? And how does our romantic success depend on it? Sigmund Freud, the black-bearded Viennese man who invented psychoanalysis, thought of the human psyche as a sort of unruly conversation among three characters: the ego, the superego, and the id.

His id was a gargoyle churning with primitive impulses; his super-ego a stern moralist planted by our parents. That left the ego, which he saw as the everyday self that tries to survive in the face of constant harassment by the other two inmates. But out here in the world of non-psychiatrists, the word ego followed its own current to a different place. It ended up meaning something akin to pride or conceit, something toxic. That’s how I’m
using it—only more so. I’m sticking that label on the saboteur that Heather identified in her life: a stowaway, an interloper, a scheming toad who whispers insidious advice to the unwary self.

(It’s also possible to use the word “ego” in a positive way, as in “I wish I had a strong ego like you”. But I will call that positive quality “self-worth”, and for clarity, will confine the “ego” label to the negative part of the psyche that I have pinpointed.)
We want to understand how the ego interferes with romantic relationships, so we can free ourselves from its influence. In order to do that, we need a more general picture of how it operates.
So with the toad safely in jail, I sent a team of investigators to follow his tracks backwards to a stagnant pond near the railroad tracks. There they found an old storage shed, littered with broken hearts and failed dreams. In a dark corner they discovered a driftwood plaque.

A flashlight revealed its title:

The Sacred Wisdom of the Ego. They read on:

1. I am the best—it’s a foregone conclusion.
2. The worst thing is being mocked or demeaned by others.
3. The second-worst thing is not to get enough credit, not to be recognized and praised when you achieve great things.
4. It’s more important what other people think of you than what’s true.
5. Don’t take risks, because failure hurts too much.
6. It’s better not to find out about any areas you are weak in. To be tested, or helped, is to be insulted.
7. It’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose.
8. Make war, not love (provided you have the advantage).
9. Humility is for sissies.
10. It’s all about me.

From this document a lot was learned about the ego’s basic motivations.
Its agenda is to inflate and protect its owner’s status/ranking at all costs. Unfortunately this tends to interfere with the very things that could actually earn the status that the ego craves. And that’s how the victim is cheated.

Photos, memos, and old newspapers stained with pond scum were also found in the storage locker.

Loving someone involves vulnerability and effacement of the self. It also risks rejection and heartbreak. To the yellow toad, these are outrages. His designs against them—and our countermeasures—

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Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

One of the most basic inhibitors in a love relationship is the resistance to being told what to do. People are afraid they may be dominated by their partner’s desires and somehow forced to go along with or do things that are not what they really want. On the surface, this is a reasonable concern. No one wants to be a “doormat” or lose his or her independence. However, it never occurs to most people that even resisting
simple requests is a basic behavior pattern that started at an early age. Have you ever watched a very young child throw a spoon or something off his or her highchair, over and over? Even if the parent says “don’t,” this action is like a very fun game to the child. When the child becomes mobile, he or she continues the game by running in the opposite direction from the parent. Saying “come here” is tantamount to a command to run somewhere, anywhere else.

Avoiding being told what to do is so normal that it has followed most of us through the many stages of our lives largely unnoticed. In the next section, Ariel relates her experience of first noticing Shya and how his way of being was so different that it set him apart. In this story, you can see how mental processes follow us from an early age and how they become so normal that they are transparent. Perhaps it will take you back to times when you constructed the groundwork for your relationships as you know them today.

In 1980, I took my first personal growth course. Taking this workshop was really exciting for me. It helped me look at how I related to my parents, my sisters, and my life. I looked at my fears and aspirations, my career and appearance. I really went for it with everything I could muster. I remember we had to fi ll
out a form and one of the questions was, “What do you want to get out of this seminar?” I was in heaven. This question was an easy one. I wanted to get work as an actress, lose weight, like myself better, improve my love life, stop being so afraid, fix up my relationship with Mom and Dad, and about one hundred
and ten other things. I even had to attach an extra sheet of paper to handle all of the items that needed work.
As it turned out, something freed up for me in that group. I went to three auditions the week following its completion, and I landed all three parts. I was on a roll. But by the time I went to the evening seminar where Shya walked into my life, the freshness and sense of freedom had already faded, and I was an old pro at this new system that I had just learned. Already my excitement for life had diminished, and I was replacing it with
a reasonable facsimile of true enthusiasm.

“It’s time for announcements,” said Shya, our new seminar leader, from the front of the room. This was the third evening of a ten-session series, and it was the third time we’d had a new facilitator. Unbeknownst to me, these courses rarely had more than one leader, but for some reason we were on our third.

Announcements! We all knew what that meant, and I was ready to show it. I sat up in my chair and, along with the two hundred or so others, I clapped and cheered and stomped my feet. “Announcements” was the part of the seminar that was devoted to offering other courses and projects and tickets to go to big groups with your friends at places like New York’s Beekman Theater. We were all enthused.

“Oh, be quiet. I know all about you guys,” Shya calmly said as he settled into the chair in the front of the room. “You all clap and carry on, but you don’t buy tickets or do anything. It’s just for show.”
Glancing down, I noticed my hands were suspended in mid-clap. Quickly I lowered them into my lap and looked back up at Shya. He was sitting quietly, just waiting. He is the most arrogant person I have ever seen, I thought. Who does he think he is? “Listen, if you want to buy tickets, then buy tickets. If you don’t, then don’t. But making all that noise is just insulting if you don’t really mean it. If you want to buy tickets, then do it for you, not for my approval—or anyone else’s, for that matter. It’s time to get honest about what you want.”

The truth reverberated through the room. It was quiet. It wasn’t forceful. Shaken from a mechanical complacency, suddenly I started to come alive again. The next thing I knew, my legs were taking me to the ticket table, where I bought five. I didn’t know to whom I would give them, but I wanted to buy them because I wanted to, not because it was the right or expected thing to do. Who does he think he is? was replaced with Who is this guy?

A year or so later, as I sat behind my receptionist’s desk at the chiropractic office where I worked, I looked up to see Shya filling out a form of his own. It was the new patient questionnaire.
This gave me time to examine him up close. This guy is quite handsome, I thought, as I inspected his short brownish hair and his lean physique, and I must admit the rolled-up sleeves of his dress shirt revealed a nice pair of forearms. And then, there was the motorcycle. Shya had arrived wearing a brown herringbone-patterned sports jacket, shirt, tie, and helmet. The biker look mixed with the corporate image I definitely found enticing.

When Shya left after that initial appointment, my real detective work began. As the door closed behind him, I took my cup of coffee and his chart and did a little research. In Shya’s particular case, the new patient information form provided both the doctor and me with pertinent facts. I fully planned on reading the questionnaire with entirely different motives than Dr. Don had intended. I wanted to see if Shya
was a good candidate for dating, and so I scanned the form.

Hmm . . . forty-one years old. Okay, I can live with that, but what about . . . Great! He’s single . . . no communicable diseases, heart problems, etc., etc. Excellent!

When it came to the part on the back of the form where it said “Reason for Visit,” I was pleased to note that Shya had filled in, in a strong distinctive handwriting, “For tight muscles and to relieve stress.” Oh good, he’s not sick; he’s just looking to take care of himself.

I was happy that Shya’s diagnosis called for him to come to the office three times a week for a series of weeks, then twice a week, and so on. He soon became one of the first patients on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and eventually he came early enough to chat, share coffee, and sometimes muffins.

One particular Friday morning started out normally enough, but something happened that has highlighted that day in my memory and kept it from fading into the shadowy indistinctness of past day-to-day events. The outer door opened on a very gray day, the rain falling in sheets. As I buzzed Shya into the office, I watched as the heavy drops rolled off his face and down the khaki-colored rain slicker. This day was defi nitely not
the best for motorcycles or their riders. Shedding his wet outer layer, Shya held up the soggy paper bag that held our coffees. This had become a morning ritual. By the time he arrived, I was ready for a second cup and a break. I had begun looking forward to his visits.

That morning Shya’s face and hands were particularly rosy from the cold, and he held the steaming container of coffee in his cupped hands to soak up some of the warmth. This did nothing to heat his nose or the backs of his hands, and so he teasingly touched his chilly fingers to my face. Squealing, I jumped back, a few drops from my cup sloshing over the side and onto my desk. Pulling a tissue to wipe up the spill, I said lightly, “Oh, go away, you. Just be quiet, put your coffee down, take your chart, and go into Room 3. Lie down and wait for the doctor.”

An amazing thing happened. Shya set his cup on the counter, and without saying another word, he picked up his chart, turned, and went down the hall, turning the corner and moving out of my line of sight as he made his way to Room 3. He had done exactly as I had asked. The reception area became very still. The coffee steamed on the counter. I could hear the rain pelting down against the window, and the goose bumps on my
arms had nothing to do with the storm raging outside or the remembrance of chilly fingers on my face.
After a few moments, tossing the tissue in the wicker garbage basket, I quietly followed Shya down the hall and turned the corner so I could look into Room 3. There his chart was, nestled in the Plexiglas door pocket, waiting for the doctor so he could know at a glance whom he was seeing and review the course of treatment. It had surprised me how often I had to chase after patients with their chart and slip it into the door pocket for them, even though it should have become routine for them to take it after the first couple of visits or so. And there was Shya, lying facedown on the chiropractic table, relaxing and waiting for his turn with Dr. Don.
What a curious feeling. I hadn’t realized, before that moment, how much people embellished upon or resisted even simple instructions. I couldn’t remember people ever simply doing what they were told. I rarely did what I was told, at least not exactly.

For example, in fifth grade, I came in from recess one bright and sunny spring day, only to be greeted by a lengthy test, which my teacher, Miss Tyler, had devised. “Okay, class,” she said. “This is a math test. It is mainlystory problems . . .”I hated her. It was unfair. Life was unfair.
“You will have sixty minutes to finish the test, and it will count very heavily toward your overall grade. There will be absolutely no talking. Anyone who talks or is found cheating will get an automatic F. Those of you who finish early may go outside.”

Fat chance, I thought. It was cruel of her, in my opinion, to entice us with the great outdoors, because everyone knew that story problems were the bane of all math tests, and now we had several pages to wade through in only one hour. Miss Tyler faced the blackboard, picked up the chalk, and in her best cursive script wrote, “Be sure to read all of the instructions thoroughly before beginning. You will have sixty minutes.” Then, chalk in hand, she pointed to each word, and as if we were morons, she also read them out loud, underlining the word all. Then she looked at the class and smiled. She actually smiled as she said, “Any questions?”

“Okay, children,” she announced, glancing at the clock, “Pick up your pencils, turn over your papers, read the instructions, and begin.”
Quickly I flipped the test over and began.

First the instructions:
“Be sure to write clearly and legibly” . . . blah, blah, blah. I quickly scanned the pages to see if I could find a strategy that would let me finish the whole thing with a minimum of mistakes and still have a few minutes outside. As if to tease me, the  breeze gusted and brought with it all of the fragrant promises of spring. Tightening my resolve, I sat up straight and dove into the pile of questions starting with number one.
I was diligently working through the fifth problem when Anita, the class smarty, put down her pencil, gathered up her test, handed it to Miss Tyler, and went outside. I couldn’t believe it. Next John got up, and looking a bit smug, he handed the test in and went to play. One by one, students began finishing their tests. My friend, Jan, looked at me with a slightly sheepish grin as she headed out to the playground. I tried not
to let it distract me. I was determined to get outside. About this time, Miss Tyler started chuckling, and she was joined by the chuckles of Mr. Miller, the other fifth-grade teacher, who for some reason had appeared in the front of our room. I found the combined laughter of the two teachers downright disturbing.
“Sshhh!” I found myself saying. I didn’t think I would be risking an F for reminding my teachers that we were working here, and besides, “Sshhh!” wasn’t exactly talking.

My testy shush and glowering look didn’t quite get the response I had expected. Miss Tyler and Mr. Miller suddenly broke into a fit. They laughed so hard that Miss Tyler began to hold her sides and exclaim, “Oh, Oh, Oh!” We all stopped to stare as they snorted and wiped tears from their eyes.
“Ariel, did you read the instructions?” Mr. Miller asked, while attempting to keep a straight face. Glancing around at the third of the class still seated, I protested as only a guilty child can, “Of course I did!”
Actually I hadn’t really read the whole paragraph of instructions. I had wanted to get it over with. My noisy, indignant protestations brought on a whole new wave of laughing and snorts and “Oh!” and other odd exclamations from Miss Tyler and Mr. Miller.

“Class, please put down your pencils,” Miss Tyler commanded, and I was about to protest because we still had half an hour left and I wanted to pass the test, but something in her eye stopped me.
“Ariel, will you please read the instructions to the class.” In my best voice, trying to sound as if I actually had read them all, I began, “Be sure to write legibly and clearly. In the margins be sure to show your work. If you get the answer wrong, you will be awarded partial credit for work you did correctly. If you do not show how you arrived at your answers, you will not be credited, even if you get the right answer. Be sure to read all of the questions before you begin. Answer only questions four, thirteen, and thirty. Hand in your paper without
talking and then go outside.”
“I can’t see the rest of you wasting this beautiful day simply because you didn’t follow my instructions,” Miss Tyler said, with a smile that seemed quite kindly now. “Go ahead and go outside with your friends,” she continued as she dropped the tests she had collected into the wastepaper basket, “and be sure to throw your tests into the trash before you go.” This was one set of instructions I wasn’t going to resist.
As I quietly returned to the reception desk of the chiropractic offi ce that day, I was as stunned as I had been that time in fifth grade when I found out that I hadn’t followed the instructions. Shya had simply done as he was requested. Why did I find this so remarkable? I replayed my instructions in my mind: Oh, go away, you. Just be quiet, put your coffee down, take your chart, and go into Room 3. Lie down and wait for the doctor.
Shya hadn’t taken that extra sip of coffee, nor had he said, “Okay,” or added any other filler. He had simply followed my instructions and completely fulfilled my request. I am not sure why this affected me so deeply, but it did. I was inspired by the economy of his movements and touched that his actions seemed to be without reservation. And I didn’t feel like I had been bossing him around either. He simply was responsive
to my request, and I felt powerful, listened to, and somehow special.
Once, Shya and I were walking down a street in New York City when he suddenly stopped and whirled around, staring intently at the retreating backs of a couple who had just passed us. “Rick, is that you?”
The couple turned around. Rick was a fellow Shya had known while living in Maine, someone he had neither seen nor spoken with in almost fourteen years. Rick, it turns out, was visiting Manhattan from his current home in Washington, D.C., with his girlfriend, Lisa.
Shaking Shya’s hand, Lisa said, “I’m glad to finally meet you. Rick has told me so much about you.”
“In fact, I was just talking about you the other day to one of the CEOs I act as a consultant for,” Rick noted. “I was telling him about the time you came to my house for a barbecue. Do you remember it?”

When Shya shook his head, Rick continued, “It was the most amazing thing. I guess it happened about eighteen or twenty years ago. You came to my house early one night when I was preparing dinner for our families and friends, and you asked if there was anything you could help with. I told you that it would be helpful if you could clean the grill, chop a little firewood for later, and bring the dishes out to the table. And you know what? You cleaned the grill, chopped a little firewood, and brought the dishes out to the table. You didn’t change the order in which you did these chores. You didn’t add anything. You just did as I asked. It was almost as if there was a second ‘me’ out there doing those tasks, and it was an amazing experience I have never forgotten.”
Shya’s ability to be present made it possible for him to listen to what was being asked of him and then do it. However, the ability to simply follow instructions or fulfill a request can be difficult for many people for several reasons. Oftentimes people are so busy in their thoughts that they are not really listening, and so it is then virtually impossible to be fully responsive. When you are doing something else, requests are often
held as an intrusion or an inconvenient interruption to your plans. When this happens you may do what is asked of you, but your actions are likely to be less than wholehearted. And again, as we discussed in the chapter about hidden agendas, many people have never looked at their childhood decision to be “independent.” When this is the case, even simple requests are automatically resisted or embellished upon.
The ability to say “yes” to the requests life makes upon you has far-reaching and profound ramifications. When you bring awareness to your automatic “no” without judging yourself for having it, then it loses its power to dominate your life, your life choices, and your relationship (Third Principle). Rather than being taken advantage of, people who learn how to be a “yes” to life’s requests become more direct in their actions and in their ability to communicate. They are subsequently more
productive, effective, and satisfied. On an intimate level, one who discovers how to listen to his or her partner and fulfill requests will find physical intimacy becomes far easier, more pleasurable, and more fulfilling.

When discussing being a “yes” to your life, it is important to establish what is meant when we use the terms surrender and succumb and to distinguish between the two. There is a vast difference between surrendering and succumbing to the requests made upon you by your life and your partner. Surrender is when you take on another’s request of you as though it were your own. Succumb is when you do what is requested of you and victimize yourself for having to do it.
How many times have you said, “Yes, I will,” to what is requested of you and then resented that you had to? This is succumbing. Succumb is when you complain in your thoughts about the injustice of the request and how you are doing it only because they asked it of you, not because you want to.
We define surrender as allowing yourself to do what your life requests of you, and sometimes, your life shows up as requests made by your partner. Surrender is when you fulfill a request as if it were your own idea in the first place, with the intention of having it be a really great idea. This is distinctly different
from fulfilling the request with the intention to prove to your partner that he or she was mistaken or misguided to have asked in the first place. In other words, if you succumb to a request, you will not have fun and you will be proving him or her wrong. When you succumb, frequently you will hurt yourself somehow to show your partner just how wrong he or she is. When you surrender to a request, however, you both win and
experience satisfaction as a result.
Many people find surrendering very challenging, because once they are in a relationship, they start competing with their partner. This dynamic can be especially strong for women who compare themselves and their achievements to those of their mate and want to prove that they are equal to, as good as, or, in fact, better than a man. It is also strong for men who have been programmed not to let “girls” get ahead of them.
Many women have not discovered that they can just be themselves and still include their femininity. They haven’t seen that they don’t have to be manly in a man’s world. They haven’t recognized that they can be very potent and powerful as human beings without force, because force looks really bad on a woman. Of course, it doesn’t work so well for men either. If you have the choice, the ability, the willingness to surrender,
then you are truly independent. It takes a very strong person to say, “Yes . . . yes . . . okay, yes . . . yes . . . sure . . . alright . . . yes.”
If you have the ability to sidestep the early programming of not wanting to be told what to do by another, then you actually have the ability to honestly say, “No, I don’t want to do that,” when “no” is your truth. When you have the ability to surrender, you become powerful in yourself, and your union with a partner becomes a powerful one. Whether your relationship is new or well seasoned, there is the possibility of surrendering to your life and your partner and having your relationship enter the realm of the miraculous.
Sometimes when approaching the idea of surrendering to one’s partner, people get worried they will lose themselves, get taken advantage of, or become a “doormat.” If you find yourself with one of these concerns, then take a step back and realize that dissolving your automatic “no” truly has nothing to do with your partner and everything to do with how you approach your life. Start with noticing your thoughts and attitudes about
normal day-to-day activities. For instance, when you brush your teeth, do you still resist “having to”? Or have you ever noticed that you will leave unwashed dishes in the sink and then pass by them throughout the day, even though their mere presence is a request to wash them and put them away? Or how about making your bed, paying that bill, balancing your checkbook, returning that phone call, or replacing that burned-out
light bulb? When we are talking about surrender, we are talking about developing the ability to be a “yes” to the “requests” life makes upon you. When you become practiced at being responsive to your environment, saying “yes” to your partner becomes a wonderful dance of taking care of each other rather than a begrudging, list-keeping tit for tat.

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;) 
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There are agendas that people are aware of, and then there are those of which they are unaware. It is the latter that cause problems in our ability to relate.

We are going to identify some of the typical hidden agendas that we have seen in the course of working
with individuals who are looking for a mate, as well as with couples who are looking at the mechanics of their relationship. It has been our experience that when people become aware of what they have been doing mechanically and don’t judge what they see, they have a choice to continue their actions or not.
Again, awareness allows for freedom from the domination of old behaviors. The simple recognition of unaware patterns, if not resisted but seen for what they are, will free you from the mechanical restraints of these previously unrecognized hidden agendas.

Before we look at the types of agendas that can interfere with a person’s ability to relate, let’s examine the mechanics of these strategies for living.


As we discussed earlier, people can only see what they already know. What they have no knowledge of does not exist. Minds act very much like computer programs. They function by comparing new data to information that is already in the system. Therefore, anything that occurs outside of the program is not
recognizable. Back in the late ’80s, when the two of us bought our first computer, we also set up our first database to keep track of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of  people who wanted to be on our mailing list. The particular program we purchased would translate any data entered into a preset form. For
instance, we could type in “ariel & shya kane,” and our program would automatically convert it so that the fi rst letter of each word would be capitalized to read “Ariel & Shya Kane.”

The problem was that this formula, while mostly accurate, didn’t always work. There were times when an individual’s last name was not capitalized, such as the name “den Ouden.” Zip codes longer than five digits couldn’t be entered, and foreign zip codes that included letters were rejected also. Because this was an early database program and was less sophisticated than the ones we have today, there was no way to override the
automatic preset fi elds. Obviously, the people who wrote this program could not conceive of all the uses for their creation. They were limited by what they knew to be possible and by what they had thought to create. So the program did not take into account that users might have European clients, that not all names are capitalized, and that, in the future, zip codes would have more than five numbers.

Agendas act like those automatic fi elds. They were preset when we, as individuals, were much less sophisticated, and they run without the benefit of what we have learned since their inception. Bringing awareness to your automatic programs acts like a complimentary software upgrade. It allows you to keep
what works and modify what doesn’t. This leads to appropriate behavior rather than having to repeatedly make mistakes that you are powerless to correct.


If you are not aware that something exists, including an agenda, it may still exist in reality, but in your experience it does not. For example, in 1992, the two of us were in Hawaii with Max, Shya’s eight-five-year-old father. We stayed at an oceanfront condominium. From our vantage point, we could see migrating
humpback whales spouting and jumping out of the water, but Max could not. Then we took him out on a whale-watching trip where these enormous creatures came close to the boat. When we went back to the condo, he looked out at the ocean, and suddenly he could see the whales. Now he knew what to look for. We had pointed them out before the boat ride, but he could not see them.

There has to be a context created in which to see. People look through what they already know and, not unlike our early database program, reject what isn’t in their preset field of knowledge. So if they don’t realize there is a whole other paradigm, a whole other reality, a whole other context in which to operate, for them it does not exist. You might think, What is wrong with that? The answer is nothing. However, what you know limits what is possible for you. There is a saying—“If you can dream it, you can have it.” But if you don’t know of the existence of something, you can’t even dream it. Ask yourself, What if there are things I don’t know that could radically alter the quality of my relationships?

Some of the limitations in your capacity for having an exciting, vital relationship are your unaware agendas or goals. (Webster’s primary defi nition of agenda is “a program of things to be done.”) On one hand, agendas and goals are very useful. They allow us to focus on those things that need to be completed. They allow us to steer a course to a destination. They keep us on track so that we don’t get distracted, and they allow us to see if we have achieved what we set out to accomplish.

But agendas can also limit what we can see, fettering our interactions with others and with our environment. They do this because we are driven toward the completion of that goal and we become blinded, as Roger did, in our attempt to get what we think we want or need.
Take, for example, a couple who are expressing their particular points of view about how to raise their children. One would assume that, since these people are working to have the best for their family, they would be working as a team to discover what is best for their kids. However, each comes in with a set agenda about what might be best for their children, an agenda more than likely imposed by their own upbringing.
The atmosphere is often competitive and adversarial. The outcome of the conversation oftentimes is defined by whose agenda “won” and whose “lost.” In addition, if each individual’s underlying hidden agendas are to not appear stupid or not let a man/woman tell him or her what to do, then the playing field is littered with hazards to a well-balanced resolution. It is as if each person’s hidden agenda dictates the outcome. Rarely is it harmonious.

Another type of hidden agenda is when one or the other of the participants in a relationship feels that he or she must have an “equal” say or wants to control the way the relationship functions. So he or she keeps score. For instance, a woman might complain to herself, Last time we went out, he decided which movie we were going to, so tonight we’d better see the movie I want or else! Now, she may not be aware that she keeps score. The agenda to be in control and have the final say keeps score. She just feels that now it is her turn to say which movie they are going to see.

We have a friend who always resented that her parents seemed to favor her brothers. She grew up feeling certain that men got special treatment and was out to prove not only her equality but also her superiority. She told us that when she chose men to date, she had the agenda to pick those who were “less educationally pedigreed,” and her whole approach was adversarial. If her partner seemed more intelligent than she, she
would express her insecurities by picking a fi ght. Her whole strategy for a successful relationship, prior to bringing awareness to her way of relating, was to intimidate and dominate. It didn’t allow for much in the way of intimacy. Her life choices were controlled by her unaware resistance to how her parents related to the boys versus the girls in her family.

When you are operating through an unaware agenda, you do not listen to what is being said. When you have an idea or a plan about the way something is supposed to go, you only see the relevance of what is being said as it applies to your agenda. True listening is a function of intentionally re-creating the point of view of another. If you are operating through an agenda, you cannot possibly see another’s point of view. You
can only see it in relationship, in agreement or disagreement, to your preferences.

Agendas often blind you to the truth of a situation because, as it was with Roger’s 6 percent, you have a strong preference for life to show up the way you want it. Here is an example: Julie’s husband told her, “I need to get my own place for a while. It is not personal to you or the kids, but I need to be alone and think
about my life. I love you and don’t want to be with anyone else; it’s not about that. I just need some breathing room.” Although this was very difficult for Julie, she supported him in his move. This is not to say that fights did not erupt, but all things considered, it went smoothly. The couple kept things relatively friendly at first and continued to be sexually intimate. It was hard for Julie to see him get a lease for his new place and furnish it, complete with rooms for their children to spend the night. But through it all, he insisted that it wasn’t necessarily permanent. “Just give me time,” he would say. “If you’re upset all the time, you’ll turn the kids against me.”

Julie waged a battle within herself to stay centered. In her heart, she loved him and dreamed that things would return to the way they had been—as she remembered them—in the early days of their relationship. And the sex was all the more intense because it wasn’t so frequent, and she really wanted to be with him when she could.

Each time Julie went for an interlude at her estranged husband’s house, it was more and more like a home. First the carpets, then the curtains, then the small touches that he had not wanted to be a part of when they had created a home together. One day, while in his bathroom, Julie noticed condoms in his medicine cabinet. She confronted him. “Why do you have condoms? We certainly don’t need them!” Julie knew full well that her husband had had a vasectomy after the birth of their second child.

“It is not my intention to have sex with anyone else. I have condoms in case something were to happen. You know how important it is to have safe sex in this day and age. I honestly don’t plan to be with anyone else. Why can’t you believe me?” Even after Julie overheard a telephone conversation her husband was having with his assistant, where she caught him telling this woman that he loved her, Julie actually still defended his actions to her friends and swore he was coming back to her.

Things devolved from there, but Julie still did not want to see the truth. She really wanted to believe that he was sincere. Another way to describe Julie’s agenda to have her husband back is false hope. She desperately hoped that he would come home, and this acted like a powerful drug, dulling her senses to
the reality of the situation.

Haven’t you from time to time made choices where, in retrospect, you said to yourself, What was I thinking? P. T. Barnum once said, “You can’t fool an honest man.” Well, you can’t fool an honest woman either. Julie’s unexamined hidden agenda to have her husband come home no matter what kept her from
being honest with herself.


Drew is a handsome entrepreneur who is dating and looking for a relationship. But as a young child, he defined himself by being “independent.” If his mother, father, or friends made a suggestion or request, he routinely did the opposite. In some ways, this behavior may actually have helped strengthen his stamina to get things done. Drew often surprised his family and friends by persevering in the face of terrible odds, but it
never occurred to him that many of the challenges he faced were of his own making.

One Friday evening, Drew had a date with a lovely lady in whom he was very interested. He was supposed to leave at seven to pick her up for dinner and a movie. But he didn’t begin to get ready until 6:30, which was not enough time to shower, shave, get dressed, and get to her house on time. It wasn’t as if he’d been busy all day. Instead, he had goofed around, whittling away the hours until he was so pressed that he could make it on time only if there were absolutely no unexpected events, such as a phone call he needed to handle or traffic on the way.

Unbeknownst to himself, Drew is so locked into his agenda of proving his independence and not wanting to be told what to do that he didn’t even want to be told what to do by himself. This dynamic is commonly labeled procrastination. He set up the date but then resisted the time constraint because anything that tells him where to go and what to do—even his own schedule—is an anathema.

How many times do we, as individuals, operate like Drew? We want to have a magical relationship, and yet, mystifyingly, our actions seem to be directly opposed to what we say we want.

Let’s tease the Drew scenario out a little further. It is now 6:45 and Drew is rushing to leave. He dumps his clothes in a heap, showers, hastily shaves, and rifles through his closet in search of the perfect outfit, discarding this and that until he finds something to wear. Now, leaving a trail of destruction behind him, he rushes back into the bathroom, combs his hair, and automatically reaches for his cologne, spraying it liberally.
Drew freezes midspritz. He has just remembered that the woman he is going to meet has a severe allergy to scents of any kind. He now is pressured by the time and has to make a decision. Oh, well, he thinks, it will probably wear off by the time I get there. I can’t be late, and he rushes out the door. Poor Drew. His date is now a recipe for disaster. He really, truly likes this woman. He also cares about her, but his unwillingness
to be told what to do, which he is unaware of, takes precedence over his adult aim of having a satisfying relationship. His desire for independence is the background, mostly unnoticed, upon which he plays his life. His reaching for that bottle of cologne and his dashing out the door anyway even after he realizes his mistake acts out his resistance to having his life constrained by this other person’s allergies. Somewhere he resented being “told” not to wear fragrance. He is habituated to automatically challenging anything that seems to impinge on his rights.

In the preceding story, Drew had one agenda to be on time and another agenda to find a mate, yet simultaneously and unawarely he also had the agenda to not be dominated by the requests put upon him by his life. So here we have a classic example of simultaneous yet conflicting agendas. You might think that Drew’s story is an extreme case. Not so.

Here are more everyday examples:
The two of us were invited to a dinner where some of the guests were vegetarians and the host was not. He prepared baked red peppers, some of which he filled with beef and the others he stuffed with mixed vegetables. But somehow, there just “happened” to be partially cooked ground beef filling the bottom of the “vegetarian” peppers. Upon looking at this “mistake,” our host realized that his disagreement with his guests’
food preferences was displayed in his finished product without his awareness. What might appear as an accident was really not an accident at all but an unconscious agenda in disguise! A waitress told us that she had a tendency to forget orders or make mistakes when she disagreed with or didn’t like the customers’ food choice. She surprised herself by seeing that her agenda to be right about her taste in food was more important than good service, customer satisfaction, and tips.

We have seen one partner of a couple resist the other’s way of doing things even though it destroyed the relationship. We have also seen people fi red from jobs because they refused to follow how the boss wanted things fi led or presented because the employees had to do things their own way, even if it cost them their livelihood.

Take a look at any two-year-old. A parent’s admonition not to touch something is the same as a command to touch it. Sometimes this age is called the “terrible twos.” This is because at this age, children are virtually uncontrollable and have a tendency to do everything that is contrary to what is being requested of them. “No!” a child will emphatically state as he or she rushes toward the street and the parent, aware of danger,
has to restrain him or her. As adults, haven’t we observed our own behaviors that seem to be at war with what we want to accomplish in our relationships? Hasn’t the voice of reason whispered, I better get ready to go if I want to be on time, while the other voice in our head wheedles and whines, Just five more minutes,
until we are so pressured that we can hardly make it on time? That “just five more minutes” conversation may sound suspiciously like the one you had with your parents when they were trying to get you to go to bed.
Drew has tried to analyze why he is often late to important engagements. He has even made resolutions to be on time. So, when faced with calling and communicating with his date and giving her the option to say, “Don’t worry about the cologne,” or “Take a shower and come later,” or “Let’s have our date another day,” he rushes out the door in hopes of it being all right but, in all honesty, knowing that he is bringing a problem
with him.

“How to fi x this?” you might ask. Well, fi xing or changing this pattern will lead to more inappropriate actions. Don’t forget, Drew’s resolution to be on time—as if this were the source of his problems—has blinded him to the fact that “on time” is not always the right or the only choice. If, on the other hand, you simply become aware of your hidden agendas, you will not have to act them out mechanically. With awareness, you become free to make appropriate choices in your life.

Some of your agendas may actually be inherited traits. We, as individuals, may think we are making personal choices in our lives and be totally unaware that we are actually acting out some script that has been handed down, via our family lines, as a blueprint for survival. For example, we know a man who breeds Peruvian Paso horses, which are known for their smooth gait and good temperament. We’ve been told that these traits have been reinforced through generations of breeding. This is true of humans also. Your family has learned to survive via some patterns of behavior that are useful, but only if you do not have to operate through them or rebel against them. For example, if you were raised in a family where people worried, this way of relating to life will have been passed down to you. This automatic tendency to worry may not be useful or productive or produce any satisfaction in your life, yet if you are unaware of the familial inclination to be anxious, you will personalize it and think that is has something to do with you.

Once you notice this predisposition, however, there is no need to keep perpetually worrying or to fight against this habit. With Instantaneous Transformation, the mere seeing of this behavior pattern is enough to have it dissolve. With awareness, this familial trait will lose its power over your life.
Friends of ours, Jed and Lena, had a child, Anna, a beautiful, innocent baby, growing, absorbing, and learning from her environment. We have known her parents for more than fifteen years, and during this time we have also seen them grow. We have seen their triumphs and their disappointments. Their life experiences have included births in the family and the deaths of loved ones. Lena has a particular facial expression when she is upset and crying. Her chin quivers, her lower lip sticks out of its own accord, and these traits make her sadness or upset an endearing, sympathetic picture. When Lena cries, one is compelled to take notice and be sensitive and caring. Well, guess what? The day she was born, Anna, who had never seen her mother cry, had a miniature version of the quivering chin and protruding lip. She didn’t “learn” this behavior from her
mother. It was a preset survival tool that she has in her genetic toolbox of survival techniques.

For an infant, crying is a way of communication, but as an adult in a relationship, it can be an annoying habit that individuals use in an attempt to avoid conflict. We have seen both men and women cry in an instant as a way to gain sympathy. There once was a doll called Tiny Tears. It was a favorite of young girls who got to practice being mommies and comforting the baby when it cried. We had a young client, Tina, who cried whenever she was on the spot. At work, the crying mechanism would turn on if she thought she was going to be given input by her boss. With her boyfriend, it was hard to have a serious conversation without the tears turning on. Her crying was as mechanical as it was for the Tiny Tears doll. If the circumstances applied a little pressure, her eyes would well up, whether she wanted them to or not. And Tina hated the crying.

She was embarrassed at work and at home. It was a case of the First Principle of Instantaneous Transformation all over again. The more she tried to avoid crying, the more she was provoked to cry (First Principle). When Tina brought awareness to her situation, she realized that she could only be crying when she
was crying (Second Principle). As Tina began to let herself be teary without judging herself for it, the tears became less automatic (Third Principle). Tina also took one other important step. She told herself the truth that sometimes she used her tears as a tool to gain sympathy. When she was young, crying was a ploy that kept her parents from punishing her. It was hard to be strict with someone who was already punishing herself so harshly. Crying her way out of difficult situations had become a way of life. The problem was that this way of relating did not support a functional relationship with her boyfriend nor support her advancing in her job and having a sense of well-being in her life. With awareness, the courage to tell the truth, and application of the Three Principles of Instantaneous Transformation, the tears became a thing of the past.

After Becky and Jake were married, Becky continued with one of Jake’s family traditions by making chicken soup every Friday evening. However, try as she might, Jake would always say, “Becky, your soup is very good, but it’s not as good as my mother’s.”

So Becky bought the best ingredients, changed the spices, tried with more vegetables, and still heard, “Thank you for making me this soup. If only it were as good as my mother used to make.”
One Friday afternoon, Becky went down to the basement to take the clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer when she discovered that the washing machine had overflowed and there was a tide of sudsy water covering the floor. By the time Becky got the mess cleaned up and returned back upstairs, she realized that the soup was burnt. Frantic because it was too late to get another chicken and start over, Becky set the table and decided to serve the soup anyway and hope for the best. When Jake got home and sat down to eat, she placed a bowl in front of him and returned to the kitchen for bread.

“Becky, get in here!” Jake bellowed. Cringing, she returned.
“Becky, this soup. Finally, it’s just like my mother’s!”

When you are looking for a loving partner, you may automatically have a hidden agenda to look for the things you experienced as a child that you associated with love, even if they are not necessarily things that you would want in a partner from an adult perspective.

Like with the chicken soup analogy, you may pick a partner with the same attributes that you saw in your first love, your mother or father. If so, you will look for a man or a woman who embodies those old familiar ways of being or relating, even if, in truth, they are not something you as an adult would prefer. A child’s mind is not discerning. Love from a parent can come with extras attached, such as anger, frustration, etc.
Without awareness, you may unwittingly be repeating a family tradition rather than choosing a partner who truly fits. If you grew up in a family that argues, you will look for a partner who will fight with you because that is your schematic for love. With awareness, you can reveal what has been hidden.

If you don’t judge yourself for being attracted to people with "bad” attributes, the way will be open to build a partnership with your current mate. Or perhaps it will be with a new partner who will satisfy your adult desires for relationship rather than fulfi lling your child’s idea of love.

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Start with the idea that how you do anything is how you do everything, and it will empower you to investigate how you relate—not just in a love relationship, but also with yourself and all others. This defuses the mindset of looking to fix what is “broken” and sets you on the path to having magical relationships in all areas of your life. Your DNA is unique and in every cell of your body. The way you relate to life and to others is also unique to you. The way you operate is predictable, so it will repeat itself over and over again. Of course, there will be instances when you do not react as you usually do, but if you look at the overall pattern of
your behavior, you will start to identify these predictable, recurring ways of relating. In other words, in certain situations with certain types of people, you usually respond the same way. Using our anthropological/transformational approach, if you become aware of the way you function, behaviors that
have heretofore interfered with or destroyed relationships can be identified. Then the Principles of Instantaneous Transformation again come into play. If you realize that you can have related only the way you did until you became aware of your behaviors (Second Principle) and if you do not judge what you see, these mechanical behaviors will complete themselves (Third Principle), creating the possibility for magical relationships. Of course, if you resist what you discover, this will reinforce your automatic, reflexive behaviors and keep them around (First Principle).


People have the idea that if they change their location, it will change their lives, but this is not the case. Here is an example: Jack moved from Colorado to New York to get away from a dead-end job, difficulties with his associates, and a relationship that was going nowhere. Within five months, he had alienated most of the people who had befriended him upon his arrival and had subsequently quit his new place of employment. Jack thought the dating scene in New York was brutal; everyone was totally unfair, and he needed a change. He picked up and moved to Texas. In this new location, things turned from bad to worse. He started a new business and quickly got into legal troubles. After a long and costly series of dealings with the law, he promised to change his ways, and the authorities let him go with a mere “slap on the wrist.” So on Jack went to California, where he started the same type of business with another dubious partner and he immediately got into similar troubles with business associates as well as with the California state and federal authorities.
Even though he changed his location, Jack kept creating basically the same circumstances. The same scenario kept recurring wherever he went. People initially liked him, went out of their way to support him, and were always disappointed when his true colors became apparent. Even though he met new people in these different places, somehow he managed to create the same outcome, over and over.

Of course, Jack’s story is an extreme example, but it typifies how personal patterns follow people wherever they go. Have you ever noticed that similar interpersonal dynamics between you and others develop over and over? This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t move or find a new boyfriend or girlfriend. What we are suggesting is that the most exciting journey is the one of self-discovery. When you know yourself and are able to dissolve the mechanical responses to your life, then the primary person you are relating to—you—will be an excellent companion.

We had a participant come to one of our winter retreats who was a victim of spousal abuse, having been hit, bitten, and beaten. Even the family pet had been threatened with bodily harm.
Here is what happened: Jim’s first wife, Rita, was abusive (yes, women can be abusive, too). She would regularly fl y into a rage and had once even physically attacked a motorist whom she found offensive. Jim finally found the courage to dissolve this marriage. Rita was not going to change; she was unwilling to be responsible for her anger and how she expressed it. So Jim found a new relationship. It started well, but shortly he discovered that he wasn’t any happier. His new partner was not physically abusive, but  communications between them broke down and physical intimacy was rare. Soon Jim discovered that his partner was having affairs. Life moved on, and eventually Jim met and fell in love with the woman who is now his wife. Although Jim and his wife, Dahlia, are happily married and have been for years, at first the
seeds for disharmony were there. In the early stages of all three relationships, Jim was excited, attentive, and loving. As the weeks and months progressed, his habitual way of relating emerged. He became frantic at work, stressed, and less communicative, and each of his partners felt neglected. Resentments grew, intimacy ended, and Jim and his mate would fight.

Because we were a part of Jim’s life during all three relationships, we were able to see that he related in a similar manner with all three partners. However, each of these three people dealt with the stresses of his mechanical way of relating with mechanical, reactive behaviors of their own. His first wife had a violent predisposition, and his way of being evoked her rage. His second partner was more quietly aggressive, and the way they related resulted in promiscuous behavior. Dahlia had a different predisposition. When upset,
she traditionally became quiet, clingy, insecure, and depressed. She would want to stay home every night and resented the time that Jim gave to anyone, even his clients.

Here is how Jim and Dahlia went from having a normal, quietly unhappy relationship to creating a great one: First, each of them realized that when upset, they had ways of relating that were not conducive to creating a magical relationship. With our coaching, Dahlia spoke up about what was bothering her, and Jim actually listened without defending himself. He didn’t judge himself for how he was being, and interestingly enough,
Dahlia didn’t judge him either. She just wanted him to hear her, to be more aware of her, to know how she felt. She wanted him, the man she fell in love with, not the frenzied fellow he had become.

Actually, all three of Jim’s partners wanted his attention, and they all had different ways of expressing their displeasure.

We are not saying that Jim caused the violence, the affairs, or the depression of his partners. What we are saying is that your unexamined behavior patterns will link up with your partner’s mechanics and produce problems. Should you stay in a relationship that is violent, for instance, because you have evoked unfinished business in your partner? Of course not. Our point is that your partner is not behaving badly in a vacuum. As we said before, there is no good one and no bad one in a relationship. As Jim became aware of the mechanical ways in which he distanced himself from his partners both emotionally and physically, then he and Dahlia were finally able to express and live from the passion they had for one another and their passion for life.

Now that you have a basic introduction to Instantaneous Transformation, awareness, and our anthropological approach to relationship, we will transport you to one of our New York City Monday evening seminars as experienced from Ariel’s point of view. Come ride along and immerse yourself in transformation and relationship from our perspective. In the light and easy format of our seminars, people have discovered personal well-being and have transformed their ability to relate. Join us as we meet some amazing people and see the natural unfolding that is a hallmark of true transformation.

The Monday evening meeting was really beginning to cook.
As I looked around to scan the faces and survey what was happening, I smiled to myself. It was hard to believe that only one hour ago, Shya and I had been standing outside enjoying the balmy air of an Indian summer evening. On the horizon, the sky had been fading to that really dark indigo blue that I have
loved ever since I was a child. Sometimes it still surprises me that even between Manhattan’s tall buildings, the beauty of a night sky can grab my heart and give it a gentle tug. Soon after admiring the sky, Shya and I had walked into the building and went into the auditorium we had been renting for these weekly seminars. As the room began to fill with participants, I felt a light breath on the left side of my neck, and my body responded with goose bumps rippling down my left side. Smiling, I turned to give Shya a squeeze and appreciated his new haircut.

We had gone to our friend and master hair cutter, Michael, that day because it was time to get a trim. As Shya sat in the chair, covered with a big plastic apron to catch the shorn hair, Michael had been grappling with what exactly it is that we do in our workshops.
“Is it like the EST training or like the Landmark Forum?” Michael asked while performing a particularly neat feathering cut on the top shock of hair on Shya’s head. “No, it is not like EST or Landmark at all. I guess you could see some similarities if you looked through a system that was based in EST, but then again, if you looked through a system that was based in psychotherapy, it would look like psychotherapy, or if your background was based in Zen, it would look like Zen.”

“We even had someone compare us once to Amway,” I added with a grin.
Michael looked at me incredulously. “But Amway is a company that sells household products. How can anyone even think to compare what you do to that?” he asked rather indignantly in his rich French accent.
“Well, actually, Michael, it isn’t so strange a comparison,” Shya continued, fl ashing a grin back in my direction as if to say, Ariel, you’re really mischievous today. You got him going. “See, people can only draw upon what they know. Let’s look at it this way. You know everything that you know, right?”
“Yes.” Michael resumed feathering. “But you also don’t know everything that you don’t know.
So when I tell you about our transformational seminars, the natural process for your mind is to understand. Your mind will fi t what I say into a framework it already knows and is comfortable with. It simply deletes the nuances of what it doesn’t know and puts in what it assumes is a reasonable facsimile.”
Shya looked thoughtful for a moment before continuing, “My father used to like to sing nursery rhymes to me. I grew up by the ocean in Far Rockaway, New York, and I loved it when he would take me by the hand and we’d go down to the seaside. By the time I was five or so, I used to like to watch the people
in the ocean on hot summer days, and my dad would sing, ‘My body lies over the ocean. My body lies over the sea. My body lies over the ocean. Oh, bring back my body to me.’ It was one of my favorite songs.”
Michael began chuckling as he reached for his electric razor to clean up some of the fi ne hairs on the back of Shya’s neck.

“Several years later, I discovered that the true lyrics were, ‘My bonnie lies over the ocean,’ but as a youngster, a bonnie wasn’t in my vocabulary yet. What Ariel and I do has a flavor that is uniquely our own. If our work were based in anything, it would be based in not punishing yourself for being yourself and not having to change or fi x yourself to try to fit some kind of ideal you’ve been taught as to how you are supposed to be. We have discovered that when a person gets into the moment, his or her life transforms instantaneously.” “Do you prepare for your groups?” “There are certain workshops, such as our business courses, that we outline, but even so, we leave room to be inspired by the participants themselves. If we didn’t take into consideration who was coming, it would be like planning on baking a cake without knowing what ingredients were being delivered to the kitchen.”

Later that Monday night, when Shya murmured in my ear, “Looks like our cake is arriving, Ariel,” I had fun looking at the “ingredients” who were showing up.

As I saw friends, acquaintances, and new faces round the corner and enter the lobby, I chuckled to myself as I imagined all of us entering the room for the evening as if it were the oven and we would all be baked when we emerged, yet none of us knew what was on the menu.

Seven-thirty rolled around, and it was time to begin. Shya and I took our places in the tall director’s chairs that made it easier to see and be seen by all. An expectant hush fell over the room.

“Good evening. I’m Ariel for those of you we haven’t met.”
“And I am Shya. Welcome to our Instantaneous Transformation evening. Tonight, it is possible to open the door to living in the moment and discover how to have a truly satisfying life. Tonight is designed to allow you to discover and dissolve those mechanical behaviors that rob you of spontaneity, joy, creativity, and relationship. The theme tonight is Instantaneous Transformation. Ariel and I have discovered that when you get into the moment, your life transforms. And by transformation, we mean a quantum shift in all aspects of your life, a shift where you are returned to a sense of well-being and you are able to respond effectively and appropriately to your environment. By the simple act of awareness, which is an observing without judging what you see about yourself or others, it is possible to melt the barriers to happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.” Many folks began to nod their heads in agreement with Shya’s words. His description was consistent with their experience of transformation. I also noticed a number of new folks who were beginning to acquire that intense look that seems to come along when the mind is sorting out a particularly difficult
problem. I could relate to the disorientation I read on many of the faces. I imagine I had a similar look when I first learned to use a personal computer.
Sitting in front of the Macintosh screen that blustery November morning, I had felt so inept. There were words that I thought I knew. They were supposedly in the English language, but even so they made only limited sense. I found the manual— with its new application of old, familiar words—daunting.
“Take the mouse and drag it across the mouse pad to move the cursor on your screen,” it read. The only mouse I had ever been familiar with had been the little gray and white kind with the quivery whiskers from my childhood, and surely anything that cursed on a screen should be censored. And even when I did
understand the concepts and the new usage for these words, my mouse-clicking skills left a lot to be desired at fi rst. Now it is hard to remember what it was like not to use a computer, but at first I had to embrace learning something new. So as I looked at the faces of those in front of us, I had compassion for their process of rediscovering familiar words used in a new context.

“There are actually things that you can do that will keep you from being in the moment,” Shya continued.
“And we are going to tell you what they are so that you can do them if you wish to avoid the phenomenon of Instantaneous Transformation,” I finished and smiled.
Folks shifted in their chairs, laughing appreciatively. In the front row, Shya saw an earnest face looking back at him. An attractive African-American woman in her mid-thirties sat with pen poised, ready to record the main points.
“Hi. What’s your name?” he asked.
The woman checked behind herself to make sure he had been addressing her. “Vanessa.”
“Hi, Vanessa. It’s nice to see that you are here obviously looking to get the most from the evening.”
Vanessa’s shoulders gave a hint of relaxing.
“May I make a suggestion?” She nodded.
“We recommend that you don’t take notes.”
Vanessa smiled a brilliant smile and lowered her pen.
“See, taking notes will take you away from here. You will be collecting data or information to apply to your life later to fix what you think has been wrong with it in the past. You can’t work on yourself to have your life transform. Remember, we said that just getting into this moment is enough. In order to take notes, you have to translate, abridge, and write down what is said into an understandable format for later. But what is of use
here tonight is not easily understood.

“For instance, you can understand what makes a sunset become a brilliant red, but understanding is not the same as the intensity of the experience. Perhaps you can just hang out, relax, and see what happens. If you get ‘present,’ you won’t need any written pointers or guidelines or tips to take away from tonight.

“See, Vanessa, this brings us to the second thing that will keep people from being in the moment—their agendas. An individual’s ideas and goals of what they want severely limit the infinite possibilities that life has to offer, because they will scan for what they think is needed in order to be happy and filter out so many other rich and varied things. When a person is striving for something, it is usually based on the idea that what he or she has now is insufficient or what he or she did in the past was wrong. It’s funny, we’ve seen people come to our groups hungry for a job or to get a relationship or to have more fun in their lives, to name but a few agendas, and they are so serious about these goals that they miss this moment. And in this moment, an
available, attractive person may be sitting nearby but will be overlooked in the act of seeking. Others have literally talked the potential employers sitting next to them out of offering them a job because the out-of-work individuals were so busy trying to get ahead that they disregarded the people who had jobs to offer. You would be amazed at the number of people who are actually being serious about their search for fun. See if you can be here tonight and let go of trying to get ahead.”

Vanessa nodded thoughtfully. I could tell she was a little reluctant, but she was game to give it a go. Bending down, she placed her pen and pad under her chair so she wouldn’t be tempted and would be free to be there. As she sat up, Vanessa graced us with another brilliant and infectious smile. I appreciated that smile and also the fact that she had let that pad, her pen, and the idea to take notes really go. She took our suggestion and made it her own. Transformation was already happening here. Vanessa may have been reluctant at fi rst, but by the time she sat back up, she was truly there.

I shifted my focus to include the entire room. “We suggest you listen. And by that we mean really listen—not only to us but also to whatever anyone has to say. Get interested. Invest yourself in being here with totality. Watch where your mind wants to wander off, as if what is happening in your life in this moment is not important. Notice if you take exception to a word in order to miss the essence of what is being said.
“Most people think that they are listening when what they are really doing is completely different. Frequently people are actually agreeing or disagreeing. When you agree or disagree, you take what is being said and compare it to what you know, to the knowledge you have gathered from the past. Depending on what is in your knowledge bank, you will say to yourself, ‘Yes, that is true,’ or ‘No, I don’t agree with that.’ But this takes you out of the moment. You will naturally agree and disagree with things as the evening progresses. It’s a normal, automatic function of our minds. So don’t make yourself wrong or chastise yourself when
you see it happening. Just bring your attention, your awareness back to what is being said. That is all you need to do.

“Speaking of comparison,” I continued, “that is another function that will take you out of here. How many of you have ever read self-help books or articles, meditated, taken a personal growth class, or gone to therapy?”

Almost everyone raised his or her hand, and as I looked around, I noticed a man in the front who was slumped down, looking as if he were there under duress. This was just another weird seminar that his girlfriend, who was sitting on his left, had dragged him to. She was nudging him to get him to raise his hand because she had taken him with her to many different events, but there was no budging him.

“Your mind compares. We will say things tonight that may sound similar to things you have heard before because you all have a handicap. You are smart. And smart people, people who have worked on themselves, have the hardest time hearing things newly. In Zen, they talk about the beginner’s mind. See
if tonight you can be willing to let go of what you know and be here as if for the first time.

“Let’s see, what else will take you out of the moment?” I said, looking at Shya and then looking out to those assembled

there because, for now, I had run out of steam. There was a pause as we all contemplated the question.
“Proving and defending,” a familiar voice from the right side prompted. Shya and I smiled in unison at Roger. His comment had come from a rich background with us, and he was willing to share his expertise with others, even at the risk of looking foolish. Roger has bright red hair, freckles, and a dimple in his chin, and he is one of our dearest friends as well as our accountant and money manager.

“Go ahead and explain what you mean by proving and defending,” Shya said, giving him the challenge because he knew the story that Roger was about to relate. Immediately we were touched because our friend was about to reveal the foibles of his youth, the much lesser version of himself from more than fifteen years earlier when his business was young. “Well,” Roger began with a good-natured grin, “if you are here to prove anything, such as how smart you are, how you know better than Ariel and Shya do, then you will miss being here this evening. Actually, I am very familiar with defending or protecting a point of view. See, I am Ariel and Shya’s accountant . . .”

As Roger began to unashamedly tell his story, the morning he was referring to came into focus in my mind’s eye. We had met with him that day because Shya and I had decided that from then on, when possible, we would not spend money before we actually earned it. People often paid their tuition for our groups in advance, and we had gotten into the habit of spending the money as it came in. Our concern was that if for some reason people’s plans changed or we had to cancel an event for some unforeseen reason, we would not have the money to give back. We did not want to have to manipulate people to be in our groups because we had already spent their money. Shya and I had the idea to put payments that participants made in advance for groups into an escrow account and only release the funds to ourselves once we had actually earned them.

Enthusiastically we told Roger of the plan. He didn’t understand it. We explained it again. Still he looked dumbly at us. I tried to explain the concept again in very plain terms, like one of those story problems I had hated in math class as a child. I knew that this explanation would work. I was excited.
“Hang on, Shya, let me give him a great example,” I said, confident that this would do the trick. “Ready?”
Roger nodded. “Joe pays us for a workshop that he plans to attend. We spend the money. Two days later, Joe’s mother unexpectedly falls ill, and he has to fl y out to California to be with her. He misses the course. We want to refund his tuition, but we have already spent the money. Had we known better, we would have
held his money aside, in case there was an emergency, so that we could give him a refund. Only after Joe actually completed a course with us would the money he had paid be ours, because by then we would have earned it.”

I sat back, rather proud of myself. The morning sun reflected off the glass-topped table. I waited for Roger’s face to clear, but he still stared at me as if I were speaking a foreign language. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was this the brilliant man we knew and loved? Was this the fellow who had majored in accounting, had worked for a big accounting firm, and finally had become a certified public accountant after passing the
rigorous CPA exam?

All of a sudden, Shya started laughing, and his laughter deepened into a belly laugh. “I get it. I get it. I fi nally fi gured it out,” he said.

Roger looked a little nervous that he might fi nd out something that would make him feel even more inept, but at the same time he seemed relieved because we had been trying to explain this concept for over an hour.
“Roger, tell me, how do we pay you?” Shya asked. “Uh, by check,” Roger replied, mystified.“But do we pay you an hourly rate, by the day, or what?”

“Oh, that’s simple to answer. I get 6 percent of Ariel’s and your gross income in exchange for doing your bookkeeping and taxes, paying the bills, keeping your workshop records, making deposits, etc.”
Although Roger had answered Shya’s question, it didn’t give him any relief. He still remained in a stupor, but I was beginning to see the joke.
“And tell me, Roger,” Shya continued, “when do you pay yourself your 6 percent?”
“I pay myself as the money comes in.”
“Are you attached to doing it this way rather than, say, paying yourself each time we complete a group?”
Suddenly the storm clouds that had obscured Roger’s vision cleared as if they had been sent scuttling off by a stiff breeze. Instantaneously, just by becoming aware of what he had hidden from himself, our friend got “smart” again.
“Oh, my gosh. I didn’t see that. I didn’t want to give up my 6 percent. I didn’t want to have to wait to get my money until you finished each course; I wanted to use it as it came in. Wow! My investment in immediately taking my 6 percent made it impossible to hear you. I actually blocked the sense of what you
were saying because it threatened my agenda.”
“Your hidden agenda,” Shya prompted. “You had even hidden this agenda from yourself.”
“Boy, is that ever true. Thanks. Of course, your idea of an escrow account makes sense.”
During that evening seminar, as I saw Roger so eloquently explain to a room full of friends, acquaintances, and strangers about discovering his 6 percent, I realized that his way of being, his whole bearing and demeanor were not just signs of maturing. Plenty of people age without letting go of the old behavior patterns that are a vestige of their childhood. No, Roger had truly transformed. I was happy for him. Shya put his
arm around me, and we leaned back to hear the rest of Roger’s story.

I have heard a Yiddish term, kvell. When I think of this word, I think of it as meaning to revel deeply in the richness of something and to really relish the moment. As Roger spoke, both Shya and I were kvelling. We knew that Roger was handing these people the keys to be stars and to be transformed themselves. Unabashedly, Roger re-created who he had been so long ago in a way that it became real again in the retelling.

As he allowed a room full of folks to laugh with him about his 6 percent, his investment in his hidden agenda, he was demonstrating the possibility that they didn’t have to judge themselves—that, in fact, it was possible to not only look at but laugh at their petty investments, their own 6 percents.

With Instantaneous Transformation, simply noticing a behavior pattern, but not judging it, is enough to have it lose its power over your life. As you continue reading this book, we encourage you to discover your own hidden agendas and, like Roger, see if you can have a sense of humor about what you find.

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My Beautiful Distraction