THE RULES FOR PLAYING THE GAME OF RELATIONSHIPS
ALL OF LIFE IS A SYSTEM OF GAMES. SOME GAMES JUST REQUIRE MORE CAREFULLY-DEFINED RULES THAN OTHERS.
People often look at me with big tearful eyes and ask what they should do to make their relationships work. I always give the same answer, which is simplicity itself: "If you want to enjoy any game and not get disqualified halfway through, then stick to the rules of the game!"
Relationships are no different to any other game and the rules for playing this game are very clearly defined. Yet, people are always so amazed, so indignant and so hurt when they get disqualified from the game for having ignored the rules! How's that for logic? But what is even worse is the fact that most people are such terrible spoilsports. Always insisting on wanting only to win, they take all the fun out of life because they want you to lose just so that they can win.
What then of the rules? I am purposely not going to explain these at length. Why? Because I'm not a spoilsport! Half the fun of playing the game of relationships is to find out through your own experience what these rules actually mean to you as an individual. None of us are the same - except possibly in stupidity! We are all unique, we all have our own specific value and therefore our own particular style of playing the game of life. That style is your personal signature - the mark you make upon the world and the mark by which you will be remembered. Some signatures are truly beautiful works of art. Some are strikingly neat and clear. Some look like a spider walked through an ink blotch. Some look like .... I don't know what! Some are just plain ugly. But far too many are so very childish - the mark of gross immaturity. You must decide for yourself what your mark upon the world will be - what you would like it to be.
Here then, are the rules for playing the game of relationships, which is but the game of life itself. If you study these rules you will find that I have already given you everything you need to know about how to use these rules. If you use them, they will generate experience, and that experience will be your experience, your knowledge and therefore also your power. So study them, use them and above all, don't forget to have fun! People are so serious about wanting to win that they forget to have fun. It is therefore hardly surprising that they end up being old before their time, become senile and consequently resort to childish behaviour!
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HAVING THIS PERSON IN YOUR LIFE.
It takes two to tango, so stop trying to play the blame game. See your own role in, and your own contribution to, what is happening in your relationship (romantic, professional, etc.)
DON'T TREAT THE OTHER PERSON IN YOUR LIFE ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU WOULD A STRANGER.
Familiarity has a dreadful habit of breeding contempt! Therefore treat your spouse as you would a stranger; also your boss, your kids, your family and your friends. Always treat others politely and with respect, even if you have known them ever since Pa fell off the bus.
ACCEPT YOURSELF FOR WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE.
Acknowledge your shortcomings to yourself and remember that they are your passage to power and your ticket to freedom. Therefore stop trying to pretend you are not your potential. Instead of continuously justifying your behaviour, learn to listen. Most important of all, learn to listen to your heart, your feelings.
ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE; FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE.
Start giving yourself and those around you credit for what you and they are doing right. It is so easy to criticise, to break down, to point out failure. But how often do you praise either yourself or others for a job well done? We all need a pat on the head from time to time to keep believing in ourselves - even you!
ACKNOWLEDGE GENDER ACCORDING TO ITS PROPER POTENTIAL.
If you are a man, then treat the women in your life as females and not as your mother. If you are a woman, then treat the men in your life as males and not as little boys.
Learn not to waste time through indulging in your behaviour. Instead, learn to communicate effectively by being open, honest and ruthless. Don't assume that others can smell what you are silently stewing or fuming about.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND IN OTHERS.
Stop believing that everyone is out to get you. Practice the mirror concept and therefore acknowledge that others are there to help us and not to victimise us!
MAKE ALLOWANCES FOR THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALES AND FEMALES.
LAUGH! LIFE IS FUN!
Learn to see your own actions, physical, emotional or mental, as well as those of others, for what they really are, namely, folly. If you do, you will find yourself laughing a great deal more than crying. People are really very funny creatures, and that includes you!
KEEP A JOURNAL.
Life is the most important journey you will ever undertake, and every important journey should be carefully logged in a journal. If you do that, you will be surprised at how much you learn about yourself, about others and about life in general. Record everything, even your feelings, emotions, thoughts, dreams and, of course, the date. Dates tend to reveal patterns, like for example, feeling morose around Christmas time, or feeling happy in spring, etc. But the most important thing about keeping a journal is that, by writing everything down, you actually commit yourself to your decisions and therefore you start taking responsibility for your own life.
THE PASSWORD FOR LIFE AND FOR HAPPINESS
Our relationships are always a reflection, a mirror, of our relationship with ourselves. Remember that always. Therefore if we want to be happy, we must first establish a good relationship with ourselves, and through that, become a whole person who is self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-contained and consequently also self-contented. How can anyone ever hope to have a successful marriage if either that person, or his or her partner, or both, are incomplete in themselves? It is simply not possible to have a good relationship with only half a person!
However, notwithstanding this, remember too that we cannot see ourselves for what we really are without a mirror, or several mirrors. Of all the mirrors we need, the most important of all is the mirror which most closely reflects for us our own inner counterpart. This does not necessarily mean that everyone must get married, but it does mean that all of us do need to have a close relationship with someone of the opposite sex, irrespective of whether this is your spouse, a family member, friend, or your boss at work.
To have a close relationship does not mean that you must have a sexual relationship with that person. It simply means that it must be a relationship based upon the principles of intelligent co-operation. In this respect it is wise to bear in mind that most relationships nowadays are based not upon intelligent co-operation, but upon animal lust. Animal lust is great! But we cannot learn too much about ourselves behaving like bucking broncos all day long. To buck away is hugely enjoyable for as long as it takes, but regardless of how much you want to impress others with your bragging, you are still going to have to cope with your lack of happiness afterwards.
Commit yourself to being happy and you will find that in no time at all life will be taking on a very different meaning, a far more enjoyable meaning than it had before. The reason for this is that, like with any commitment, if you are committed, you will also want to show it to the rest of the world. It is quite as simple as that. When you commit to marriage, you are proud to show the whole world your wedding ring, and so it should be with your commitment to happiness, to life and to yourself. None of us have a guarantee on life, or on what life holds in store for us, but one thing we can be certain of is our commitment to ourselves to be happy, "for better or for worse". And so too should it be with our lives and with our relationships within that life. "For better or for worse", we all have the ability and the right to choose where we are going to place the focus. We place that focus either on, "Life is a bitch, and so is everyone in it"; or we place the focus on, "All the experiences in my life are so many richnesses which I harvest with love and with joy, because each and every one of them yields happiness through the medium of knowledge."
Only once you have embraced your sadness fully and have cried all of your tears can you know the full meaning of real happiness. If we did not have night, how could you ever know the difference between day and night? Likewise, if you have never experienced both success and failure, how could you ever know what it is to be successful, to be happy?
I think you are a truly great person! I don't care if you think you are the very worst person under the sun, no matter what you have allowed yourself to become. All of that baggage you have buried yourself under is simply behaviour, and behaviour can be changed at any time you choose to do so. I think you are great because you are my mirror! Even if your behaviour stinks, I know I am no better and no worse than you are. Perhaps you are for me an old mirror, but unless I have been there, unless I have been where you are at now, how could I love you? I love you simply because you are me, and I am you, and together we are all units of the one life. Behaviour is one thing and we do not need to accept or to love someone's behaviour. But potential is something else, something precious, valuable, and in each and every case, unique and irreplaceable. I love you for that!
All of life is merely a system of relationships and if you look very carefully you will see that every relationship, regardless of what type it is, is an investment - an investment in yourself! I personally will not invest in anything unless I believe that it is going to be a good investment, that is, one with good dividends. But once I have invested in something, I am also fully committed to my investment, come hell or high water. As a result, when I look at my life, I know that I must have believed this life to be worthwhile as an investment, otherwise I must assume I was pretty dumb! If it is a good investment, then "for better or for worse", I choose to remain fully committed to my investment, to my life and to you. For me personally, it is more pleasurable that way, besides which, I love it, for it is such good fun! For me happiness means having fun, and I have always had fun, even in the saddest moments of my life, and even when the wheels have come off so badly that I was doubtful I would ever find them again. But sad moments come to pass, and the wheels can always again be found. And so the journey goes on - the Journey of Adjustment!
For me the only thing that really matters is that I am real, and that you are real, because then life too is real. This, after all, is the only password we need in order to access life, in order to access happiness. So, if there is a final rule for handling life, for handling relationships, and which sums up all of the others in a nutshell, it is the rule:
BE REAL. MAKE YOURSELF AND OTHERS REAL.
As Captain Life warns us all, not to have that required password, or to try and avoid finding it through life's experience, is to forfeit our lives in one way or another. Some people die physically, some die emotionally, some die mentally, and some just die somewhere inside, in that the spark has gone from their lives, from their eyes and from their hearts. These are the walking dead who are never real, but who are like so many phantoms passing through our lives. I see these phantoms, and yet it is not possible to have a relationship with a passing shadow. In order to have a relationship, it must be with a being who has substance, flesh, bones and, above all, a heart! In other words, to have a relationship with someone means that that person must be real. Nothing else matters, for it can all be changed during the Journey of Adjustment.