The Getting Real practices help us free ourselves from the fears and limited thinking of the ego-mind, so we can meet each new moment with our open, authentic, loving presence.

In This Issue…

1. Blog: Unmasking the Need to Control

2. Upcoming Events: Getting Real Weekend in Northern CA  April 17-18, 2021, Coach Training Webinar, Honesty Salon via zoom webinar format; free group coaching call tomorrow (Oct 6)

3. The 10 Getting Real Truth Skills:  Let’s make the 10 Truth Skills a household word, helping to create a beneficial human presence on Planet Earth.

Unmasking the Intent to Control

In my various books, I put forth the distinction between communicating to relate and communicating to control. This blog will summarize some of the points I make in my books.

Every communication has an intent behind it. Most of us do not pay enough attention to this hidden intent—in ourselves and in others–especially if the intent has something to do with control—like trying to control an unknown outcome or trying to mask one’s anxiety about feeling “not in control.” In my research, I discovered that almost 90% of human communication comes from the (usually unconscious) need to control. Most of us are not aware of when we are communicating from a need to protect ourselves vs. when we are expressing our feelings and thoughts from the need to know and be known, i.e. to exchanging feelings and information, back and forth, trusting that whatever the outcome, we can deal with this as it unfolds.

The intent to control reveals itself in many disguises:
•denying that you feel pain when you’re hurting
•trying to impress others
•manipulating to get what you want
•being nice or agreeable to avoid a hassle
•lying to protect someone’s feelings
•assuming you know something that you really cannot know instead of living with the uncertainty of the situation (e.g. jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about what someone else’s behavior means)
•keeping silent to avoid conflict
•playing it safe, trying not to rock the boat
•trying to appear more “together” or composed than you really feel

As you look down this list, you’ll notice that all of these things have something to do with avoiding uncomfortable feelings (e.g. anxiety about feeling not in control) or avoiding an unwanted outcome (e.g. being judged, feeling rejected). Perhaps you recognize yourself in one or more of the above examples. If you do, then you’re probably aware enough to admit that this sort of controlling doesn’t really work. We may cling to the illusion of control and continue trying to predict or manipulate the outcome. For example, we may try to make ourselves feel more comfortable by assuming we know how someone else is going to react to us. But we really cannot know this sort of thing. Such things are unknowable until they are revealed in time. If you are focused more on avoiding the discomfort of “not-knowing” than on communicating and really listening to others, you are not present. You’re in your head or in the future—like in a chess game: “If I make this move, my opponent will have to make that move.” This is an example of the intent to control. This sort of strategizing keeps you in a state of chronic fear or anxiety. Trying to avoid uncertainty is very stressful. On the other hand, when you relax your grip, allow things to unfold, and pay attention to what is actually going on (vs. what you wish or fear), you become naturally more confident.

Most people are not even conscious of the fact that most of their self-talk and communication with others comes from the intent to control. It’s no wonder that they often feel frustrated and out of control. You see, the more you try to control things, the more out of control you feel. When you are more focused on creating a favorable outcome or a favorable impression than on expressing yourself authentically, you are reinforcing your fears and anxieties. You are, in a sense, affirming that if things do not turn out according to plan, you will not be okay. This puts your well-being on pretty shaky ground. The fact is you will be okay. And the only way to really discover this and learn to trust yourself is to risk feeling what you feel and expressing yourself authentically. Feeling and expressing what’s so for you in each moment is what I call “getting real,” or “relating.” There is a big different between communication that comes from the intent to relate vs. communication that comes from the intent to control.

 Controlling is Largely Unconscious

Most peoples’ communications are tarnished by unconscious defense mechanisms designed to protect them from feeling anxious, not knowing, hurt, rejected, judged, controlled, or not in control. Every one of us has been hurt by other people at some time in our lives as we have tried to express ourselves authentically, offer love, or get our needs met. Somewhere in our past we learned various strategies to protect ourselves in order to minimize further damage.
But healthy human communication is not really about protecting ourselves from discomfort or controlling how others react to us. Healthy communication is about knowing and being known, helping each other heal, and learning from experience. It is not about getting one’s own way. It’s about creating mutually beneficial solutions. It is not about avoiding uncomfortable feelings.  It is about feeling what we feel and sharing what we feel and think in the present moment. It is not about controlling what we feel. It is about sharing what we feel and think. I call this sort of open-hearted sharing, “relating.”

So now that you know the difference between relating and controlling, go forth and notice the intent behind your own communications!

Upcoming Events

Getting Real: The Power of Conscious Communication  

A covid-safe in-person weekend workshop outdoors with Susan Campbell [Everyone will be screened with an interview; we will be seated 6 feet or more apart, wearing (personalized!) masks; group limited in size to assure safe distancing]

April 17-18, 2021  10am-5pm both days

Cost: $350

“You can only be as honest as you are self-aware.”

GETTING REAL teaches 10 truth skills that make you a more present, aware, spontaneous, authentic communicator. Most people have fears and insecurities which interfere with being fully present and honest. These insecurities can be healed. If you learn to put your attention on your here-now experience, rather than trying to control the outcome of your communications, you discover the real source of personal power, love, and inner security.

In this workshop, you will learn how to:

•   communicate with presence, authenticity, and spontaneity (even when you feel fear about it)

•   be aware of how you impact others

•   clear the air and keep it clear

•   repair rifts in trust and connection after a misunderstanding

•   keep your present relationships free of accumulated unfinished business

•   come back to being present after your fear-buttons have gotten pushed

•   communicate from the deepest parts of yourself—so you can be truly heard and accepted

•   notice and free yourself of all the ways you “go on automatic” as you communicate or listen

•   replace these “control patterns” with honest, spontaneous self-expression

•   recognize all the various disguises that mask the “need to control”

•   ask for what you want without being controlling

•   say “no” or mark your boundaries with compassion and sensitivity

•   embrace and value the silences in human communication

•   heal past trauma and unprocessed pain

•   communicate about difficult topics in ways that foster deep intimacy and trust

The workshop is intended for people who want to join with like-minded others to explore honesty as a spiritual awareness practice, getting to the essential self that is beyond conditioned fears, beliefs, and control patterns. Emphasis will be on developing communication skills and relationship practices that you can take home and integrate into your daily life.

Cost: $350

Time/date: April 17-18, 2021 (Sat-Sun), 10am-5pm both days

Location: Sebastopol, CA, one hour north of San Francisco (directions to follow registration)

REGISTER NOW: Call Susan’s landline, (707) 829-3646 or email:

Led by: Psychologist Susan Campbell has worked as a relationship coach for over 50 years. A former professor at the University of Massachusetts, she is author of 11 books on relationships and communication. Her website is

Coach Training Webinar: Facilitating Groups Using the 10 Getting Real Truth Skills (via Zoom)

 A 6-week webinar for new and experienced coaches with Susan Campbell, Ph.D., author of GETTING REAL and other titles, using Zoom

Time: 6  consecutive Thursdays, beginning Thursday, January 7, 2021, noon-1:30 pm Pacific time (3-4:30 pm Eastern time), and ending Feb 11.

Cost: $300 (visa, paypal, transferwise, and mastercard accepted)

To register or get more info, call or email Susan’s landline at (707) 829-3646 or

You will learn and practice how to facilitate workshops that teach Susan’s getting real practices in novel, fun, and useful ways. Specifically, you will learn how to:

-create a safe group context that welcomes emotional pain, vulnerability, and reactivity/triggering. (All these things can be used as grist for the healing and growth mill.)

-help clients develop their ability to be with emotional discomfort in a way that fosters healing trigger sensitivities and trauma

-work skillfully with difficult group members

-work skillfully with your most challenging group situations

-teach exercises that stretch participants’ capacity to ask for what they want and mark boundaries

-teach exercise that deal with learning from conflict and differences

-learn about stages of group development and which types of exercises work best at different stages

-teach exercises that help participants “relate more and control less”

-teach exercises that help participants learn to clear the air and keep it clear

-use your own authentic feelings and responses to participants in helpful ways—thus, refining yourself as an instrument for positive change

–teach exercises that help participants heal unfinished emotional business

–teach exercises that help participants develop their capacity for inner witnessing

You will also learn how to integrate these tools into your existing coaching style and repertoire.

You will be given homework assignments to practice with a homework partner on a separate phone call during the week.  This will require an additional hour per week of your time.

All calls will be recorded and archived on the web, so you can re-listen to calls or hear a call if you have to miss a session.

Bio: In addition to her Getting Real work, Susan has taught group process/group dynamics and T-groups at Stanford, Harvard, and UCLA business schools.

Honesty Salon in Webinar Format 

Next January-February I will offer a six-session Honesty Salon in webinar format (zoom). It is scheduled for 6 consecutive Wednesdays, beginning January 27, 2021, noon-1:15 pm Pacific time.

Cost is $200 for the 6 sessions. An Honesty Salon is a small group experience where we practice the 10 Truth Skills with one another, sharing whatever arises in the present moment. We use a set of simple communication guidelines that assist us in un-hooking from identification with mind chatter and being innocently open to whatever arises.

Between sessions, participants will have the option of meeting in dyads or triads to de-brief and do practice exercises. All sessions will be recorded and archived on a private page, so if you miss a session, the recording will be available to you.

To register or get more information, email me at  If you are interested in this offering, and the announced  time is not convenient, I may be able to change the time.  So please contact me about that at the email address above.

Free Monthly Group Coaching Call, Tuesday October 6

I will be hosting my free Getting Real group coaching call Tuesday, October 6, 4-5pm Pacific time.  We use a telephone conference line. To get on the conference line  from the US or Canada call (712) 770-4010 and then enter pin number 781976 (plus #).

On this month’s call, I will respond to everyone’s questions re problems you encounter in your interpersonal, family, or peer group relationships. I will also encourage dialogue about how to relate more and control less in your daily communications. As I address your questions, I will invite sharing from the group regarding your best practices for dealing with relationship problems. These calls always involve lively discussion and deep sharing. I hope you will join in.

To call in from the UK, dial: 44-330-998-1227 (local access number)

To call in from Germany, dial: 49-209-8829-4402 (local access number)

From France: 33-1-7890-0674

From Australia: 61-2-8077-0511

To find other local access numbers outside the US, contact

Replay Available 

If you miss the call and would like to access the recording, call (712) 770-4019 and then enter pin number 781976 (plus #).

The 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live Authentically

Here is a summary of the 10 truth skills detailed in the book, Getting Real. For those of you familiar with my latest book, Five-Minute Relationship Repair, you may see that that entire book is about truth skill #6, Taking Back Projections. This is such a complex and often difficult-to-master truth skill. So I thought it deserved a whole book. 

Now here’s the list:

1. Experiencing what is  You have a felt body-based sense of your present feelings and sensations. You can notice and not identify with your judgments, projections, and interpretations.

2. Being transparent  You can disclose to others what you are feeling, sensing, imagining, or saying to yourself—with the simple aim of “knowing and being known,” free of the need to explain or defend.

3. Knowing your intent  You can consciously reflect on the intent of your communication. Is it to relate or to control? Are you revealing yourself in the interest of transparency or are you managing and strategizing in order to avoid discomfort?

4. Asserting what you want and don’t want  You can express a desire clearly and impactfully, without expecting to get everything you ask for. You mark boundaries when you need to.

5. Thriving on feedback  You are open and curious about others’ impressions and reactions to you.  This is different from being dependent on others’ reactions.

6. Taking back projections  You know how to learn from situations where your buttons or “favorite fears” get triggered. You can differentiate your fear-stories from what really happened.

7. Revising an earlier statement  You can re-visit an interaction if your feelings change or if you discover later that you have mis-spoken or were on automatic. You can say, “If I had it to do over….”

8. Holding differences  You can hear and empathize with someone else’s feeling or viewpoint while at the same time holding a different feeling or viewpoint. You can “be with” the tension of holding both in your awareness at once.

9. Sharing mixed emotions  You can communicate your multiple feelings about an issue or situation, e.g. You may wish to clear the air with someone while also fearing that your words might feel hurtful to the other.

10. Embracing silence  You can allow some space after you have spoken. You do not fill in the space with explanation or justification. You can experience the nonverbal emanations in the silences during a conversation.  You can tolerate uncertainty, ambiguity, not knowing.

Practicing these skills brings you to a deep and abiding sense of serenity, presence, and compassion. These three words that describe the qualities that we begin to embody when we practice Getting Real.

Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *