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School Talk 20 - Relationships

(Audience participation in parenthesis)

Today we’re going to talk about relationships inasmuch as I have considerable number of calls and conversations every week, and the biggest part of them are about relationships. So I guess that’s the subject to talk on today.

So we’ll start with relationships of, shall we say work, the people you work with and so forth—we’ll start there and work on down to boy/girl later.

So right now, we’ll start with working arrangements. It’s interesting to notice that a lot of people who are, somewhat, in charge in a place of business that when they work with people they’re supposed to supervise, they give orders; but most people don’t like to receive orders. Does anybody here like to be ordered around? You like to be ordered around?


But you don’t work anymore—isn’t that right? So, when you’re ordered around, you usually feel somebody is being pushy or unkind, and I hear a lot of employees talking about how the bosses order them around. They don’t say, “Would you do so and so for me?”, “Would you help me out with this?” There are hundreds of ways of relating to people other than giving orders. So we’ll cover that one very quickly—giving orders is the last way in the world to keep an adequate working relationship going.

Then the next one we see is people who work together, maybe on the same level, and we see that there is a continual lot of fault-finding goes on. “This one over here didn’t do so and so. “ “They didn’t carry their load.” “They didn’t do this.” “They didn’t do that.” And so there are lots of contentions in those relationships also.

You work with people every now and then? Do you ever hear any of that going on? Do you hear a little back-biting going on? It could be fairly easy for you to see that most everybody is doing exactly what they feel is the right thing to do with what light they have. Instead most are finding fault with them. Maybe we could share a little light if we happen to have one. We could light a match.

I think it was a group called the Christopher’s. A number of years ago, they used to have big rallies, and in fact I attended one one time It was held in the stadium of a football field in and the man was giving the talk. He asked for all the light to be turned out—it became totally dark. Then he asked everybody to light a match--just a little old plain paper match. Well, the whole stadium was lighted up then. So it seemed that the theme of his talk was that it’s far better to light a match than it is to curse the darkness. So, after all, when we are generally faultfinding with somebody else, whatever they may be doing, or whatever they’re relationship to us, we are really cursing the darkness rather than striking a match and turning on a little light. Turning on the light works an awful lot better.

And then there is relationship with total strangers; and most of us handle those better than we do everywhere else. Did you ever notice that? With strangers you’re polite and you’re considerate--but with people you know, you take them for granted and they “ought to know better.” So the more intimate you know the person, the more you are apt to forget to be polite and considerate. I think that’s very strange, but I believe everybody here recognizes what I’m talking about.

So let’s talk about the boy/ girl relationships for a while inasmuch as that’s the one that covers about 70% of all the calls I get in a week. That the boy/ girl relationship seems to be a source of revenue for all people in business of marriage counseling--the psychiatric care and the psychological care—that’s just a big subject they all make over.

When people are together enough, they start taking each other for granted, and about the best way to ruin any relationship is to take it for granted. I love you and you love me—now let’s forget about that, we can grinch and find fault from here on.

I had a most interesting conversation just a few minutes ago on the phone. A person on the east coast called to say that he had talked to his lady friend. He had a date with her last night, Thursday, I think, and today they were talking and they have a date Saturday night. He said, “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow night.” She said, “Ok.” He was happy as a lark about it; but he felt all rejected because she didn’t say “Well, why can’t I see you tonight.”--but the fact was, he had a date with another girl tonight, so he would have had to turn her down anyway. But he felt rejected because she didn’t ask to see him tonight--even though he had a date. I said, “Well, what would you have done.” He said, “I would have told her I had other arrangements; and I would have felt wonderful.” In other words, maybe make her feel a little bad--so maybe many of the things that people do in their interpersonal relationship is to make the other one feel a little bad in one way or another. Did any of you get caught up in that? Did you ever work to make the guy feel a little bad? How about you? Did you ever work to make them feel a little bad?

(Oh yes.)

And then you feel in charge of the other person?

Many times in relationships, it would appear that each person is trying to figure out how to control the other. Does that ring a little bell anywhere?—that you want to control? You want to control the other person and the best way you know is when you got them controlled---you make them feel bad, is that right? You make them feel a little bad and then you feel in charge or in control?

Now what great value is that to anybody—you or them? Is that any value to you? I can’t see any reason for it, but nevertheless that’s what’s going on.

The other one, of course, instead of wanting to be in control is taking it for granted that you’re going to be treated like you’re a king or a queen, prince or princess without any effort on your part whatsoever. Here I am, I’m going to be treated a certain way—an unconscious expectation. Now we had a conversation not too long ago about expectation--expectation that is based on an ideal.

But let’s take for instance that if each of us considered in our interpersonal relationships, our boy/girl relationships that you could run an experiment of being in the process of continuing to court that other person. Now you’re not taking them for granted when you’re courting them. When you began the relationship you were trying to gain something sooner or later--perhaps a situation; and when you got it, you dropped the courting. But I wonder what would happen if you carried that on day after day after day—I wonder how it would work out? Might be a lot of fun, who knows?

Now this man called from over in Maryland a while ago. He’s courting his wife. She’s not at home right now; but he’d like for her to be at home--so he’s courting her. Now she’s been having a ball. He told me that she said she’s having more fun than she’s had in 20 years. She’s all light and happy when he takes her out. And, for him, she’s more fun than she’s been in 20 years. Well, he hasn’t courted her in 20 years, you see? But now he’s courting her and she’s thriving on it—only difference is she says what are you going to do tonight—do you know? That’s it. But I don’t think that’s all so essential—but what about the courting. They’re just starting on this arrangement, and perhaps they want to keep it going.

No relationship is permanent unless it is worked at. I think about everybody here can agree to that, is that about right? It’s not permanent unless you continue to nourish it.

If you bought a lovely houseplant and put it in your house and you never watered it or fed it, I wonder how long it would stay pretty and green.

(About two days.)

About two days--especially in Arizona, it goes “Pluup” and its little head is down. Relationships are very much the same way, they have to be cultivated, and cared for; and if they don’t mean that much, why even have it. If it’s not meaningful enough to take care of the houseplant, why would you buy the houseplant in the first place? Why have it if you don’t intend to water it or feed it a little bit and see it has the proper light. And when it outgrows it’s present container, you get it a bigger one, is that right? You get its feet in a bigger box; and if you don’t, it dies with root rot. Its feet gets all tangled up--It gets in bondage. By the same token, the relationship that grows also needs an extra amount of space for it to be there!

So those considerations can be done; and relationships can be the most elevating delightful experience of human existence or they can be the most cramping and damaging ones. It’s all according to how we see it. If we see it as a great treasure and of great value, then you could put forth some effort to keep it watered and fertilized so to speak. You could keep it cared for and cultivated; and it doesn’t get into the deterioration or stagnation.

And by the same token, it can then be elevating to everybody concerned and can become more joyful as the years go on, but you always have to look at it as though it’s brand new. I can see it as knowing that person moment to moment—all new.

I’m in the process of knowing you; but I don’t really know anybody. If I came up and said I know Mary—that’s the last time I’d ever see Mary. From then on I’d only see that picture that I decided, the conclusion that I knew, and she happens to be a dynamic changing individual every day--thank goodness. She’s quite changed from what she was three weeks ago. She looked like a pile of sulfur wandering around here; but now she’s very bright and “uppey” and thank goodness she’s different.

Now if I decided I knew her then, I would see her as a sick woman, and that’s the only thing I would have as a picture of her. How many people do you know of that you think of as being sick? How many people can you think of that you know as being gritchy? You know somebody griped one time or other- and you decided you knew them then and you tag them—you label them and that’s that.

So I don’t want “to know” anybody. I want to be in the process of knowing you and that is brand new--fresh every moment—and the person, then, is always new. If you know them, you closed the door--you left them back there somewhere. The person that’s here now, you have no conception of, you only have that picture that you know about. You’ve got that labeled and pressed; and obviously it would be very boring after a while because you got the same old label there.

But if you’re in the process of knowing the person, then there is a continual and ever brand new relationship every day; and new things are always a little more interesting than when they get old and stagnant. If you have a new car, you’re really proud. It’s better than the old worn out one that’s got one fender dangling loose on it; and you haven’t washed it in six years. But the new one you go out and polish and shine it and all that goes with if.

So in our relationships, we could use the same approach. So if there’s anything that I think could be valuable to any one of us here at any time, is that we keep alive a relationship; and by keeping it alive means that we water it, cultivate it, and fertilize it so to speak. What do you fertilize it with—kind considerate words every now and then--not too far apart--not once every year or two, birthdays and Christmas and things like that? It might be that every day of the week wouldn’t hurt it too much—possibly even several times a day might not hurt it, who knows? I think that people have never been overfed with attention and approval. Attention and approval is maybe the fertilizer of relationships.

Somewhere down in South Africa a few years ago, a man ran an experiment on babies, and babies have relationships with somebody too. In an orphanage, they took about 160 babies and divided them into two groups—80 in each one. In one group, a motherly lady came in each day and picked the babies up and cuddled and petted them, cooed to them for an hour, and then they came back later in the day and did the same thing again. The entire 160 were all fed the same thing--they were all given the hygienic care, keeping them clean and dry and warm—all the necessities. The other 80 never had anybody pick them up—they stayed in their cribs and were only picked up long enough to change their diaper and put a bottle in their mouth—whatever was necessary to do for them.

At the end of one year, the ones that had been picked up and cuddled were thriving quite nicely. Of the 80 that was in the group that hadn’t been picked up and cuddled and petted a little bit every day, over 70% of them were dead and the others were sick. That gives you some kind of inkling as to the value of giving attention and approval and what it can do for relationships..

I used to run a practice and most of my practice was women—not arranged that way, I was not a gynecologist or anything. I just took mine off the street--whatever came in—most of them were women.

A man used to come by to pay the bill once in a while and said how much his wife was costing him for doctor bills: and I told him he could run me completely out of business if he would pet his lady a little bit more--love her a lot--take her out and tell her how wonderful she was. He said, “Aw shit, I’d rather pay the bill. That took care of that noise in a hurry, you know, so we found out how that rambled. Obviously, I could have been totally cheated out of my income. I was happy to tell them what they could do, but I knew they weren’t going to do it anyway. But they could have saved all their doctor bills, practically 100% except for a few accidents now and then—somebody sprained a toe or something might need a little attention. But the rest of this, the sickness bit, this wasn’t working well, that wasn’t working well, this wasn’t working well, that wasn’t working well—that could have been eliminated with the greatest of ease.

But nobody wanted to do that, and I went ahead and took my fee and was quite happy to do so. But I, at least, gave them all attention when they came in. Might not have had them but two minutes; but I patted them on the back and told them how nice they were, and told them they’d feel better and a few other things.

One old lady—I patted her on the back one day as she went out the door. Always when she went out, I’d say you’ll be feeling better real quick, and she’d give one of these long “Ahhhhhhhhhhh, I sure hope so,” And this one day when she went out the door, I patted her on the back and said, “You’ll be dead before midnight.” And she said, “Ahhh, I sure hope so,” and went on out the door. Not two hours later it sunk through. She called me up and said, “Did you say I’m going to be dead tonight?” I said, “Of course not, I said you’ll be feeling better,” and she said, “Thank goodness.” That’s how much she heard, but at least we got her attention—as long as she got some attention, she knew how to respond. “Ah, I sure hope so.” And that takes care of that end of it.

Now let’s see if we can begin to be cultivators of relationships. Everybody here, I notice, is in some sort of relationship—everybody. You’re in work relationships, your in friendship relationships, you’re in romantic relationships, you are in some sort of a relationship because human life is relationship.

The only place I’ve heard of it being totally eliminated was over in China a few years ago. Their form of punishment for a criminal was called ostracism; and ostracism worked like this. Nobody saw you anymore, you were a “no” person—you had committed a crime or something against the community; and the community got together and said, “Ling doesn’t exist anymore.” So he walked in a grocery store, nobody saw him. He walked in a restaurant, nobody saw him. He walked down the street, nobody saw him. In other words, he was cut totally out of relationships. This was a death sentence. Nobody had to do anything about it, the guy died in a little while.

So relationships are life, and we’re all in them; and we all have many kinds of relationships. We have parent-child relationships. You have work relationships. You have friend-worker relationships. You have commercial relationships of people you do business with; and as I said about everybody I know has romantic relationships of some sort or other going on. If we are working at all on those, in seeing that those relationships are cultivated, those are increases of what we could call life--the more relationships and the more dynamic relationships are--the more alive you are. The less you are paying attention to them have them all categorized--you think you know everything about them and have them all figured out, the less alive you are.

So I think that it is very vital. It is-a very essential part of our existence is to be aware of our relationship, and that we value them. We value putting forth the energy and the attention that is required to keep all those relationships enhanced and growing. That’s when you’re more alive. Whenever they start dying off, you have less and less relationships; and then you are less and less alive. When all your relationships are kind of “blah”, then you are pretty well much like that Chinese gentlemen that got ostracized. Have any of you felt very, very lonely sometime or other in your existence. That’s when you had your relationships cut down to a minimum, about right? What did it do to you? It was very unpleasant wasn’t it? And when you get them all doing good, it’s very pleasant and you’re bright and shiny, huh?

Ok, I’ve talked long enough now let’s have questions and comments. We got lots of people, so we can have lots of questions and lots of comments. It doesn’t have to be a question; it can be your viewpoint, ok? Knock down everything I’ve said. Say it’s all wrong. I’m happy with it. Let’s talk. Who wants to be first?

Mary, you might as well be number one being the youngest; you may be the brightest, ok?

(I’m not the youngest, he’s the youngest.)

Well, he’s not here, he doesn’t count, he’s been ostracized, ok?

(Sounds real true to me.)

You’ve kind of run into it, ok? How about you? Have you got something to add, detract, take away from or comments?

(I don’t think I have anything to add, I agree.)

You agree, you’re going to work on it?

How about you John?

(I have a question that varies from it a little bit. When we categorize people, we close the door on them,)

Oh yes, we label real well, and then we don’t even know what we’re doing. You see, I don’t think any label for a human being other than a human being is quite adequate. So we’ll say that sometime or other in my life I said, “I’m a cook.” Now I’m hooked, I’m a machine over here that can cook and that’s the end of it. I am a human being that can cook, maybe; but I’m a human being that can drive a car, but I’m not a driver. I have been known to smoke a cigarette or two in my life--that doesn’t make me a smoker.

Have you got any comments?


Here’s a lady that’s got a comment, come up here.

(The one thing you didn’t talk about in relationships is how we try to control each other.)

I did talk about it, you just closed your ears off lady—that hit too close to home, and you closed it off, dear.

(He even talked about you.)

I even said it specifically, didn’t I? That’s the trouble with having your daughter here in the room—she was listening, you weren’t.

(Perhaps you are knowing someone, but now there’s a certain pattern that each one of us……..)

That we keep up for a while anyway; who knows what day that pattern will change. So I know they’re doing it at this moment, but I don’t know whether they’ll do it tomorrow, or whether they’ll do it any other time. They did—but they do undergo changes.

(If we see ourselves a certain way, and that’s the way I am.)

…which you believe yourself to be--which is probably erroneous. We talk about a subject of self knowing; and it’s kind of well to notice that every once in a while that you undergo changes, but you know you can also have yourself categorized. I’m very this or that or the other thing. Oh, I’m probably the nicest person in the world because I had that moment one time and I convinced myself that I’m always that way so why not stick with it.

But we don’t keep up with how we’re doing all the time, so it’s well not to have #1, or anybody else “labeled” and concluded that “I know them”. We talk about self-knowing; but I don’t think you’ve ever said we know ourselves. We talk about self-knowing which is a continuous process. I may do something altogether different today than I have ever done in my life, who knows—probably have already.

(Have you ever heard the person say, when he talked to you and he says, “Well, if you know me, you know how it went.”)?

Right, and I say I don’t know you and no telling how it went.

There’s somebody calls me sometimes and they spent at least three fourths of their nickel with the phone company saying,” you know”, and I always say, “No, I don’t.” And they never do catch on to what I’m saying. “You know”, “you know”, “you know”, “you know.” And I say, “no, I don’t know.” “I don’t know--what do you mean?” And they say, “Well, you know,” and I say, “No, I don’t!” It ruins their money, but it’s all right, I have fun with it. All right another comment, another question.

Yes sir.

(Is there some part of us which is consistent?)

It must be so small that nobody’s found it yet; but we’ll agree that there is one--it is probably about the size of the point of a very fine needle, and is seldom, if ever, used; but it could be and it could grow if allowed to, or worked at a little bit. But that point is so small in most people that we haven’t found it sir.

(In achieving and accomplishing things in our life which have been built upon things which have been done before…)

More than likely, most people make the same problems year-in and year-out, don’t they?

(I wouldn’t know about that.)

You wouldn’t know about that. We haven’t talked about that. “You used last year’s problems to work on this year’s problems, huh? I’ll agree with that. Ok?

(Last year’s promises.)

No last year’s problems are the same; and you know if I had that problem from last year, no doubt I can reactivate it and struggle it out this year. So that’s all right, no doubt we could work it up. It can change from Chandler, and if we move to Peoria, it doesn’t make any difference--you can move as many times as you want, but it still comes out the same way. There’s no hope, helpless, won’t happen, no way. So we sometimes use these things to build on—yes, we can use all of our past failures to guarantee future ones. Ok?

All right, any other question, comment?

(Does there ever come a point where you build on something so much that you can’t get rid of it)

Oh, I don’t think that you couldn’t get rid of it, maybe not want to--but could be gotten rid of. I’ve never seen anything that was permanent in this world except change.

I’ve been around as long as any of you, so I’ve been watching for a while to see, and I haven’t seen anything that’s permanent except change and changing does do that, even though we resist changing sometimes with difficulty.

Ok, any other comment? All right, we’ll call it a day and we will have another talk; and due to requests, it will be on Monday instead of Friday now. I love one day of the week the same as the others--they’re all alike, but the request is that we have it on Monday and the time is 4:30 pm.