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: Three World Views People Come From

2. Upcoming Events: Getting Real Weekend in Northern CA  September 12-13, 2020,  Free Monthly Group Coaching CallFree Online Festival on Healing Addiction and Trauma Through Connection

3. Susan’s card games available on Amazon

4. 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.

Three World Views to Come From

Note to reader: This article is an excerpt from my 1983 book, Beyond the Power Struggle: Dealing with Conflict in Love and Work. The article here is the beginning of Chapter Eight. Later in this chapter, I consider a number of real life scenarios from the point of view of each of the three attitudes or world views. If you want to get the book, it is available for 12.99 on Kindle at

Now, here’s the article…..
Imagine this scene: 
You and the person you live with are accustomed to sharing dinner together every evening at about 7 p.m. Tonight, however, your partner has not arrived home by the usual hour. You are concerned but, after waiting a while, you go ahead and have dinner alone. In your mind you scan all the possible things that could have occurred to make your partner late. You decide against calling friends or the police because this type of thing has happened before on rare occasions and your partner has always returned.

Late in the evening, still having no word from your partner, you go on to bed. At about 11 p.m., you hear a rustling about in the kitchen. You go downstairs and find your partner sitting at the table munching on a sandwich. What do you think? What do you feel? And what do you say? Many people imagine the worst when such things occur: she’s been having an affair; he’s been in an accident; he’s involved in something illegal; she’s trying to provoke me to end it.

Other people try to make light of the whole situation, as if questioning the partner about it would be a symbol of ill will or lack of trust. They deny their concern and reassure themselves that everything is okay now that the partner has returned.

Still others respond somewhere in between these two extremes. They talk about their concern and ask what happened, without jumping to conclusions.

An unexpected event can move you in one of several ways. You can overreact as if it’s the worst thing that could ever happen, an unforgiveable sin. You can underreact and forgive your partner without question, preferring to ignore the situation rather than confront your partner. Or you can reserve judgement, keeping an open mind and seeking to learn what actually happened.

How you respond to an event such as this is a matter of choice. Unfortunately, the choices most of us make are based on such a complex of unconscious factors as to afford very little real choice in the matter. Nevertheless, it is useful to pay attention to our behavior under such conditions. This reveals much about our beliefs and assumptions about how people are disposed toward us and how the world works.

The Security/Control Attitude
Perhaps you deal with a situation such as a loved one coming home late by assuming you know what has happened, without needing to wait and find out. Maybe your assumptions tend toward the catastrophic: “She doesn’t care about me anymore!” Or they may be anastrophic: “He’s out with my friends planning a surprise party for me.” Or, even though you want to know what happened, you may pretend to overlook the incident: “I know he loves me, and that’s all that matters.”

All three of these assumptions, regardless of their apparent dissimilarity, are attempts to maintain a sense of control over a situation that is potentially threatening to one’s security. To avoid feeling helpless and vulnerable, people often jump to conclusions about why the other person did what he or she did, when in fact they are relying on inference and imagination. Whether one assumes the worst or the best, there is still a certain rigidity in this style of coping. The person armors against the unexpected, rather than experience the uncertainty of not knowing. Beneath this coping style, there seems to be an assumption that the world is basically an unfriendly place; otherwise why do I need to arm myself for protection?

The Security/Control style of coping often stems from one or more incidents in early childhood or infancy, in which the person experienced pain while being open, loving or trusting, or while under the care of someone inconsistent and erratic.

Such a child grows up with the attitude that it is a better, more secure, position to know how things will turn out than to not know. Uncertainty, unpredictability and ambiguity are avoided because they remind the person of the anxiety of her earlier life. Thus, much of her behavior becomes centered around maintaining a sense of security through control, the search for certainty, and the avoidance of pain or disappointment.

The basic credo of the Security/Control attitude is: “I maintain my sense of well-being and control by thinking I know things I cannot really know, by seeking certainty and predictability.” This attitude will lead a person to maintain a stance of certainty in ambiguous situations. In the coming-home-late example, their position might be: “Look, don’t bother to explain. I know who you were with—that blond from the office.….Don’t insult me with your reasons and excuses. And don’t try to comfort me. I will not be comforted!” The Security/Control position aims at controlling one’s own feelings and reactions, too, so as not to feel vulnerable to being hurt.

The Learning/Discovery Attitude
Another way of coping with an unexpected, potentially upsetting, situation is to stay open to learning. Since you do not know what happened, it can be helpful to attempt to understand what did happen and why. In this stance the essential values are to know the other’s feelings and experience, and to be known by this other person. The aim is understanding, not control. And the vehicles are self-disclosure and openness to hearing the other’s experience. In the lateness situation, a person might ask, “What happened to make you so late? I was expecting you at seven. I wish you’d called me. I was concerned.”
The stance is straight, open, and grounded in one’s own feelings. It does not bend over backward to comfort or appease the other; nor does it jump to conclusions about the other’s whereabouts or motives.

The Learning/Discovery position is based on the assumption that the world is friendly and that we have what we need to make good decisions if we pay attention to what’s really going on. People who hold this attitude trust that the more open you are to current reality, the more capacity you will have to deal with life as it is. Thus, new information, even painful or surprising information, is to be welcomed rather than avoided. Such an attitude generally comes from an early environment that was loving, trustworthy, and reliable, or from a decision later in life to open oneself to the ever-changing nature of life, even though this may at times bring painful surprises.

It often happens that a person will live a good portion of life in the Security/Control position before realizing how limiting it is. At this point, the person may make a conscious decision to live in a way that is more welcoming to life’s vagaries. The idea here is to grow in understanding of oneself and others and also in one’s ability to respond flexibly in a wide range of situations.

The basic credo of this constellation of motives, the Learning/Discovery position, is, “I learn and discover the true nature of things by being open to experiencing what is occurring in and around me.” In this stance, there is a drive to discover and express one’s latent talents and feelings. Novelty, variety and unpredictability are valued because situations which offer such novelty also challenge one to develop new modes of coping. The coming-home-late situation might thus be valued as a potential stimulus to personal growth and deeper understanding between partners. Here, one realizes that pain and crisis can be symptoms that something needs to change.

The Unity/Participation Attitude
The third attitude, I call the Unity/Participation position. Here, one feels no separation between oneself and others or the environment. The world is not seen as friendly or unfriendly. Instead, one is simply a participating aspect  of the whole. One belongs to a we-system in a couple relationship, or to the corpus humani in relationship to the world. One’s attention is focused not so much on oneself as an individual, but on the whole world and oneself as a part of it. One seeks to become attuned to the environment, much like the strings of a guitar are tuned so that they will vibrate together with a harmonious resonance. A further goal is to contribute to one’s surroundings in beneficial ways, such as to bring friendliness where there has been tension, or insight where there has been confusion.

The Unity/Participation attitude is one of intuitive empathy and understanding of others, often without verbal communication. This is the person who knows what is needed in a situation and is neither afraid to take action nor to let things alone, depending upon what the moment calls for. In the coming-home-late situation, the Unity/Participation person knows that the other feels a need to explain, and remains available to listen with open, undistracted attention. There is no special concern with obtaining any particular outcome; one is oriented more toward loving what shows up than toward getting what one wants.

While it is not common in our culture, there are many people who do hold this attitude, usually after many years of deep inner work. There are many religious, spiritual or philosophical traditions which espouse this world view, and adherents often belong to a group or network of like-minded others. Since this position is so far from the norm of today’s society, some sort of support system is often needed to help one sustain such an attitude.

Upcoming Events

Getting Real: The Power of Conscious Communication  

A weekend residential workshop with Susan Campbell

September 12-13, 2020  10am-5pm both days

Cost: $350 (includes lunches; and lodging, if needed)

“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 (includes lunches and lodging, if needed. All deposits are fully refundable at any time–due to our shared uncertain future!)

Time/date: September 12-13, 2020 (Sat-Sun), 10am-5pm both days

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

REGISTER NOW: Call (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


Free Monthly Group Coaching Call,  June 2

I will be hosting my free Getting Real group coaching call Tuesday, June 2, 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 participants’ questions regarding relationship issues that are ‘up’ for you. 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 #).

We Are the Medicine: An Online Festival for Human Connection 

On June 13, I will be presenting a one-hour mini-workshop on “What to Do When You Get Triggered” at a free, online festival called “We Are The Medicine” to highlight the importance of connection during quarantine.

Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distancing.
Everyone is welcome! This event is for the whole community, including those in recovery or anyone struggling with isolation. Invite loved ones, whether they’re far away or in quarantine with you, and come connect online in a real way with other human beings.

Tickets are free. All donations & proceeds go to preventing drug overdoses through human connection and social health. Register at

There will be workshops, games, and talks; including keynote speeches from: Maureen McCarthy at the Center for Collaborative Awareness, Sara Ness of Authentic Revolution, Sarah Peyton of Empathy Brainbest-selling author Dr. Susan Campbell, TED talk speaker Dr. Rachel Wurzman, addiction specialists Dr. Anita Gadhia-Smith and Dr. Ron Smith, and Hilary Jacobs Hendel of The Change Triangle.

Experience new tools for creating deeper connection in your life, and learn about how creating more connection is changing the world into a healthier place for all of us to live.

Getting Real Card Games Available at Amazon

I am happy to announce that both the Getting Real Card Game and the Truth in Dating Card Game are now available to buy at

The link for Truth in Dating is:

And the link for Getting Real is:

Please help me out by going to these links and either ordering a game or posting a review. Amazon reviews really help.

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.

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