Episode 10: Dr. Susan Campbell: Getting Real in Relationship

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This week Chip meets Dr. Susan Campbell, author of "TRUTH IN DATING: Finding Love by Getting Real", as well as "GETTING REAL: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life" and "SAYING WHAT'S REAL: 7 Keys to Authentic Communication and Relationship Success." According to Dr. Campbell, a leader in the honesty school of psychology, both research and experience shows that when you show up honest and real, you become more attractive and interesting. First, your relaxation has a disarming effect on others, creating a greater sense of safety. And then by going first in terms of speaking honestly, you inspire others to take chances. The result can be a strong and even sexy sense of excitement and aliveness in the moment. Dr. Campbell believes most of us would be more honest if we only knew how to communicate without fear of damaging the relationship. And don't miss Dr. Campbell's exercises for you to try out yourself. More details on this episode go to http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/sex-love-intimacy/episode010-susan-campbell-getting-real.html


Dr. Susan Campbell: Getting Real in Relationship

Announcer:  This program is intended for mature audiences only.


Chip August:  Welcome to ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I'm your host Chip August.  Today on the show we are going to be talking about relationships.  We are going to be talking about telling the truth and we are going to be talking about getting real and we are going to be having that conversation with Dr. Susan Campbell.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  People put too much emphasis on the outcome of every dating interaction.  They are worried about getting the second date or worried about getting the first date or worried about getting to first or second base or whatever rather than just being present in the moment and sharing what they are feeling and thinking.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  A successful relationship for me is one where both people are growing and expanding in their self-awareness, in their ability to give and receive love and in their ability to be creative, which means to have a vision and make it happen.

Chip August:  Dr. Campbell is the author of nine books on relationships and conflict resolution.  She is an internationally known and acclaimed workshop and seminar leader.  She has counseled thousands of individuals and couples working both in person and by phone and is just a fascinating person here.  Today we are going to be talking about Dr. Campbell's ideas about truth in dating, about the skills that a person needs to lead an authentic life and maybe a little bit about the difference between controlling and relating.

Welcome Dr. Campbell.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Thank you Chip.

Chip August:  I really appreciate you being on the show.  I am fascinated by your book.  I want to talk to you little bit about this idea of truth in dating.  What is the idea behind truth in dating?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  All right, well ‘Truth in Dating’ is the title of one of my recent books.  The basic idea is that people put too much emphasis on the outcome of every dating interaction.  They are worried about getting the second date or worried about getting the first date or worried about getting to first or second base or whatever rather than just being present in the moment and sharing what they are feeling and thinking.

When people are worried about the outcome rather than being present, they are not as juicy.  They are not as attractive.  They are uptight and nervous and the life goes out of the interaction that could be a lot sexier.  So I say truth telling is sexy.

Chip August:  OK.  But –

Dr. Susan Campbell:  [laughs] It’s also scary!

Chip August:  Well, if that's true –

Dr. Susan Campbell:  [laughs] I heard your ‘but’ there.

Chip August:  Well, if that were true why wouldn't people be more honest right from the start?  You know, you don't have to coach the guy usually.  You don't have to coach the guy to take a shower before the date.  You don't have to coach the woman to put on something nice to wear.  Why do you have to tell people to be truthful?  Why aren't people more honest normally?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well people are afraid of the outcome.  They are afraid of being rejected.  They are afraid of causing hurt in the other person and of upsetting the other person if they say, “No, I don't want to have a second date with you.”  There is a lot of fear in the dating world.

And the truth in dating, the way I teach it is as a practice, like a yoga practice.  Practice is something that you discipline yourself to do, like tell the truth or at least notice when you're not telling the truth.  That is the discipline - telling the truth about what you are feeling and thinking in the moment.  We're not talking about the truth about the past or the truth about somebody else.  We are talking about your own feelings and thoughts in the moment.

It's the discipline that makes you inwardly stronger and less fearful about the outcome.  Because when you put your attention on the present moment you naturally feel more powerful.  When you are more present, you are more empowered.  Whereas when you are worrying about the outcome you are giving yourself a negative self-affirmation, like if it doesn't turn out the way I want it to turn out, I will not be OK.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  That’s kind of a negative thought that you are reinforcing in your own mind.  So truth telling builds courage and inner strength.  And being too worried about the outcome builds the opposite, which is fear.

Chip August:  So are you telling people to tell the truth even about things that might hurt somebody's feelings?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  I'm telling people to have that conversation with somebody that they are dating and to say, “Look, I really like you.”  This is after you really like somebody. “I really like you.  I value honesty above all things.  Or at least honesty is a very high value to me in a relationship.  So I wonder if you would be willing to have an agreement.”  You have this conversation about making an agreement to tell the truth to each other even if it might hurt our feelings.

And you read the book so you know a little bit more about the premise of this and you perhaps even ask the other person to read sections of the book, particularly the section about why you would want to tell the truth.  Why does this make you a stronger person?  Why does this make your interactions more juicy and alive?

It's a little bit of a sales job there sometimes.  And many people will say, “Oh yeah, I believe in honesty too and I want to do this.”  And they won't really know what they are getting themselves into.  So that initial conversation, “I like you and I would like you to be my truth partner in a sense”, that initial conversation is the beginning of a longer conversation where the two people explore the limits and boundaries of the truth telling.

Like the question, do we want to tell all the details of our past love relationships?  Well maybe yes, maybe no.  That's your choice.  So what your definition of the truth is something that the two of you will define.  But at least you have a conversation about it.  That's really what I am recommending.

I'm not saying tell all the gory details of everything you have ever done.  It's really much more about being present in the moment.  That's what the truth skills that I list out and we are going to be talking about later in the show, are designed to do.  They are designed to bring you into the present moment with the person you are relating to.

Chip August:  Well, as long as you have mentioned them, let's go there.  You teach that there are 10 basic truth skills.  What are those 10 skills and how do they work?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  OK.  The first one I call ‘Experiencing What Is’.  What that really means is knowing the difference between what you heard or what you see with your own eyes and ears and what your mind does with that.  So you might see somebody that you are attracted to when you're having a conversation.  You might see them, while you guys are talking, looking around the room.  That's what you see.

But Chip, let's put you in this situation.

Chip August:  OK.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  You’re out at a cocktail party or a singles event and the person that you are very interested in and talking to is looking around instead of at you.  But they are still talking.  They are still managing to keep  the conversation going.  What goes on in your mind?  What might go on in your mind?

Chip August:  I'm sad to say I have been in that situation.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Oh!

Chip August:  I have definitely been in that situation where I am talking and she is talking back to me but in a way she is not there.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, yeah.  Right.

Chip August:  She is looking around the room.  And usually what is going through my mind is a thought, “Oh great, she is looking for somebody younger or somebody handsomer or somebody who looks richer or she is looking for somebody else.”  That's what is going through my mind.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Exactly.  Yeah.  And that is so touching.  And it is so typical of what our minds do.  Because as I said there is a lot of fear and we bring our worst fears into those situations where we are most attracted to somebody. 

So what we do in the 10 truth skills, that first one is, be careful to know the difference between what you saw, which is her eyes looking not at you but at something else behind you or around the room, and what your mind does with that – “Oh, she's looking for somebody more appealing or something like that.”

So just know the difference between those two things because the mind tends to project your worst fears onto an ambiguous situation.  So it is just really important to make that distinction.  So then the way we deal with that in a skillful way would be, “I noticed you are looking around the room and I am having the thought, “Oh my God, she's looking for somebody she wants to talk to next or she is looking for somebody better looking.””

And when you share what your self-talk is - I call that your self-talk - it releases a whole lot of pent-up energy and both people wind up laughing at it just brings the conversation present versus you just withholding that information and trying to talk faster or louder or be more scintillating.  That energy comes from a fear and you're not going to really be your best self.

I'm contending that you are going to be your best self if you just let it show, what is going on your mind.  That brings us to the second truth skill, which is being transparent.  So first is being a little bit suspicious of your own mind chatter.  OK.

Chip August:  Mmm hmm.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  It's knowing that distinction.  And then the second is being willing to share what is going on in your mind chatter or your feelings.  Like, “I'm watching you talk right now and what I am thinking is what a beautiful smile you have.”  You just share what's going on inside of you rather than just keeping it going on this more superficial level that most people stay at.

Chip August:  My fantasy is that women would find this easier to do than men.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well, that's a lot of people's fantasy.  But I tell you Chip, I have more men than women in the ‘Getting Real’ workshop that I do.

Chip August:  Wow.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  It is amazing.  I am trying to figure out why that is.  But one of my stories about it - I don't really know why - is that truth telling takes courage and men like a challenge.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  So I know that when they get in the conflict situation a lot of men don't like to know what the woman is really thinking, when it is a conflict situation.  But I think that is a stereotype.  More and more men are looking at themselves and saying, “You know I have been a conflict avoider or a people pleaser all my life, or just try to get what I want all my life.  And that's not working.”

And of course women have been more comfortable generally in the realm of sharing feelings and asking for help and so forth.  But I'll tell you men are catching up fast.  I've been doing this work for 40 years.  And in the beginning it was true that the women would drag the man to couples counseling.  Now just as often it is the other way around.

Chip August:  Although I have noticed that with men in my own practice and in my own workshop frequently I hear men say, “but I don't know what I am feeling.  I don't know what I am feeling.”

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yes, before we do any of the exercises, we brainstorm feelings.  There is a list of feelings.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  In several of my books and the games too, I created a couple of games that teach these skills.  One is called ‘Truth in Dating’, ‘The Truth in Dating Game’.  It is a card game.  And one is called ‘The Getting Real Card Game’.

In the instructions that has a list of feelings.  So you can pick one from this list type of thing.

Chip August:  I want to talk more about this.  I love this.  This is great.  Hang on.  I want to take a short break and give a chance for us to give some support to our sponsors.

I'm talking to Dr. Susan Campbell.  We are talking about being real, about truth in dating.  Please come on back after this short break and we will talk some more.




Chip August:  Welcome back.  You are listening to ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I am your host Chip August and today I am talking to Dr. Susan Campbell and we are talking about truth in dating.  We are talking about honesty.  We are talking about getting real.

When we took the break you were talking little about these games.  These are card games that you have developed?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yes.  I sell them on my website.

Chip August:  Oh, OK.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Actually before I started this work, this truth telling teaching work, maybe about 15 years ago was when I started focusing mainly on honesty as the better, cheaper, faster way to grow personally than psychotherapy.  I think if people can learn to be honest particularly about when they are not being honest and look at the fears underneath that, that is the deeper work that psychotherapy usually gets to - clearing out those fears.

If people can learn to do this, they won't need therapy.

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  So games are even more in the direction of self-help.  And they are things where you can buy the game and you can host a game night.  A lot of people are doing this.  Host a game night or game event in your home.  Invite your friends.  It teaches people how to give and receive honest feedback.  That's one of the things.  And it teaches people how to be more transparent and be clearer in sharing feelings and self talk.

So honest feedback is something most people don't get enough of.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Particularly high quality honest feedback. So that's what the games are designed to do.  They are designed to break down walls and teach you the truth skills.

Chip August:  People would play this like they play Pictionary or like they play Scrabble with people, yeah?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.  I hear like, “Oh, it was Thanksgiving.  I had a bunch of friends over for dinner and afterwards we played the ‘Getting Real’ game and we played for three hours and nobody wanted to go home, that type of thing.

Chip August:  OK.  You are saying all this stuff about truth telling.  I want you to know first, I completely agree.  It's the same thing I teach.  I want to say back some of the things that my clients would say to me if I gave them this advice.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  OK, good.

Chip August:  Probably the most common thing I hear is I will have husbands say to me, “Look, my wife asked me, “Do I look fat in this dress?”  If I tell her yes she looks fat in this dress, I am in the doghouse for a week, you know?  So are you really saying that I should answer her honestly when she says, “Do I look fat in this dress?””

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well first of all, I would say to that man and let's pretend you are that man right now - what do you feel when you hear that question?  That would be your truth.  The deeper truth is what do you feel hearing the question, not whether she is fat or not.  Your thoughts and your evaluation are a surface level of the truth.  Your feeling of fear and ambivalence during the question - that's the truth.

That's what I do.  I do encourage people to speak about that.  Like, “Honey, when I hear that question, I get scared.  I don't know if you're going to trust me if I say no or if you are going to get hurt if I say yes.  What am I supposed to do here?”  And that again is the deeper self-disclosure.  It is endearing to most women if you say it the way I just said it, you know.

Chip August:  Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  It takes practice.  You have to practice these truth skills before you get as good at it as I am.  I have been practicing a while.  But I wasn't always great at telling the truth either.  That's why I am doing this work because I think we all need support.

Chip August:  What if it is not invited?  What if it is more like I am with this person and, oh my god, they just have atrocious breath.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.

Chip August:  I don't even know if they have atrocious breath but I can't stand the smell of it right?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.  Yeah.  It's your own preference.

Chip August:  They haven't asked my opinion. But I am having a reaction.  Do I tell the truth?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  I would say to that person because it is probably somebody you don't know very well - if you have been married a while you probably can say something like, “Honey, do you want a breath mint?” Or “Would you like to go brush your teeth?” [Laughs]

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Because I'm having a sensitivity to the way your breath smells.

Chip August:  My wife just says, “Honey, your breath!”

Dr. Susan Campbell:  But if you are on a first date or something like that, it's much more awkward.  So then I would have the truth telling conversation right then and there.  I would say something like, “You know, we are getting to know each other and I want in my dating to feel like I am becoming friends with the people I date.  I want to be able to feel as comfortable with a date as I do with my friends.  Toward that end I want us to look at the question of would we tell each other if we did something that was offensive?  Or would we just hold it inside and create distance the way most people do on dates.  They just hold stuff inside. 

“Like even the question of bad breath, you know.  Would you want to know if I thought your breath was offensive?”

So you would make an agreement rather than just charge right in.  Do you know what I mean?

Chip August:  Would you make that agreement on a first date?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  You might.  It depends on your comfort level and how much you like the person.  If you are pretty sure that you're not going to see that person again, then you want to have a different conversation.  That conversation would be something like, “OK.”  See, for me I would want to have this conversation, even very early in the date or before the first date, “If we decide we don't want to see each other again, are we going to tell each other the truth about that?”

See I like to do things that way.  Let me tell you Chip, this truth in dating practice, this yoga of communication, is not for everyone.  It is not for the fainthearted.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  So those of us who are out there in listener land right now, you're checking in with yourself.  Does this sound like something that coordinates with my values or is this like, ‘Oh no.  Give me a break.  I just want my life to be smoother.’

If you want a smooth, comfortable life, that is your choice.  But if you want to live a life where you are continually growing and stretching your comfort zones, then you might want to try truth in dating, and truth in relating.  This isn't just for dating - the book and the practice is for people in relationships period.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  One of my books is focused more on dating but most of them are just relationships in general.

Chip August:  I love the subtitle – ‘Finding Love by Getting Real’ - I love that.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.

Chip August:  I love that.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  The love you find by getting real is twofold.  You find the love of your life outside of yourself but you also drop into a place of love, self-love because through this practice what you get in touch with is your fears, your deepest fears.  And I think we need to learn to love our fears, like our fears of rejection, our fears of abandonment, our fears of being controlled, our fears of being seen as controlling, our fears of being seen as too needy - all of that kind of stuff.

If the truth telling practice gets us in very immediate contact with those fears and if you can love your fears, you can love just about anything.  And it pops you into a state of love.



Chip August:  I definitely want to talk more about this control stuff.  I definitely feel like that's a very fertile topic here.  But I want to take a short break first.  I want to get a little chance for us to support our sponsors.

You are listening to ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I'm Chip August and we are going to take a short break.




Chip August:  Welcome back.  This is ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I'm Chip August and we are talking to Dr. Susan Campbell.

Susan, before we took a break you were talking a little bit about control and controlling behavior.  I actually think that is a big issue among couples.  Tell me a little bit about the difference between controlling and relating and why it is important to know that difference.

Dr. Susan Campbell: OK.  I make the distinction between communication where the intent of that communication is to control, and by that I mean to control the outcome or to manage your own anxiety about not knowing the outcome.  Like when you ask for a date, you don't know if the person is going to say yes or no, so you have anxiety there.  I'll tell you in a minute what controlling would look like in that situation.

So controlling is covering up your real feelings, like covering up your anxiety, so that is like controlling yourself or trying to manipulate the outcome, like acting really scintillating or cute or funny when that isn't what you really feel.  Maybe you're not feeling very positive but you cover up your real feelings just so the other person doesn't realize that you hurt.  Maybe they were an hour late for the date or something and you make a joke about it rather than admitting that you were really hurt by that.

So that's an example of controlling.  Opposite that is communication where the intent is to relate.  And what relates means is simply revealing your present feelings and thoughts in the interest of transparency.  There is no intent to manipulate how the other person sees you.  You basically say what you feel like, “I was hurt when you showed up an hour late.”  And you just let the chips fall where they may.  The other person may be uncomfortable by your saying that.

And you care.  You care about the outcome.  You don't mean to make them uncomfortable.  But you care that they are so then you relate.  If you see that they are uncomfortable after you said that you say, “Now with the look that I see on your face, tells me that maybe you are uncomfortable.  I appreciate you for letting me see that.”  Or you say something about your own feelings, something about what you observe in the moment.

See, relating is very much present time.  What am I feeling and thinking?  What am I noticing about you?  It's that kind of thing.  Controlling is not in the present time.  It's about the future.  And whenever we are thinking about the future we are in an anxiety state.

Chip August:  I imagine that this can be a little confusing for people.  I know that my partner for instance gets really disappointed if I do something, so I begin to feel like she is wielding her disappointment.  But she is just telling me her feelings in the moment.  Do you know what I'm saying?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, her sharing her disappointment can feel to you like manipulation.

Chip August:  Exactly.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  You shouldn't do that anymore.

Chip August:  And it might be a manipulation.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  It might be.  Sometimes it is.  Sometimes it isn't.

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  You know, if you just give me a sentence written in a book, it would be sometimes hard to tell whether it's controlling or relating because you have to look inside yourself.  So let's say your partner says, “I'm disappointed that you forgot my birthday or you didn't remember it until three days later.”  You don't know where that's coming from.  You don't know if you try to control or relate.  And it's not really your job to figure that out.

But if you are in a truth telling environment with each other, you might say, “When I hear you say that I get my control button pushed here.  I imagine that I am being controlled.  That's one of my buttons.”  See one of the best ways to relate, one of the deepest and most powerful ways to relate is to be able to know what buttons you've got.

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  The button about being controlled and to be able to say something that reveals that.  “So I got my control button pushed.  Was there any control agenda in what you said?”  If you get more transparent and personal, she might, unless one of her control patterns is defensiveness, which is a pretty common control pattern.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Let’s say she feels disarmed because you have just disarmed yourself.  She looks and says, “Yeah there was a little bit of an agenda here that ‘you don't ever do that again’.  And you know Chip, I don't mind if people come from the intent to control.  I just want them to know when they are doing it and when they are relating.  This is a self-awareness practice.  This is not like here are the rules for how you're supposed to be.  It's here are the rules or here are some questions you might want to look at to be a more self-aware and authentic person.

Look at whether you are relating or controlling.  When you are controlling see if you can get to the point where you can admit it.

Chip August:  I see.  So it is as much about awareness of when you are actually trying to control what's really going on in you.  But I noticed that you kind of talk also about people who seem to be addicted to control.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, most of us are addicted to control and we don't even know it.

Chip August:  OK.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  What I mean by that is we are addicted to controlling life so it stays within our own comfort zone.

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  And we don't even realize that.  But let's just take a look.  You know?  If you really take an honest look at yourself, you realize how often you want your partner to change so that you can feel better.

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  That’s control.  Rather then, when you don't feel better, when you feel pain or when you feel triggered, you take a look at yourself and you take a look at what fears that triggered.  “Oh, my fear that I am not being listened to, my fear that I am being controlled, that I'm going to be abandoned pretty soon now.  Any day now this person is going to leave me for somebody better.”

If those buttons are running you it's good to know that they are.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  And by being in a relationship, and I think by now we all have the idea that a relationship is a very good vehicle for personal growth.  So by being in a relationship you are bound to get your buttons pushed and you are bound to get that opportunity to see yourself more clearly and to see your buttons.  So my thing is, if our buttons are going to get pushed anyway, let's make it more conscious and let's actually make it fun.  It can be fun.  It can be, “Oh my God, I've discovered another button that I didn't even know I had.  I'm going to tell you about it.”  It's like a discovery process rather than shameful.

Chip August:  It’s my experience that people who are controlling don't want to give it up because it works.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, you're talking about the really super controlling people who have a dominating type personality.

Chip August:  Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  That’s only one type of control.  But yes, let's go with that type of control - the dominators.  I call them the ‘Captain’ personality.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  You know, it's my way or the highway.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  You say it works.

Chip August:  Well, I mean they get –

Dr. Susan Campbell:  It does.  It does work to get people to obey you.

Chip August:  They get to control people.

Dr. Susan Campbell: But people also build up walls of protection around themselves in your presence.  You may not realize that.

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  But if you look at any time you have been in a relationship with a super controller, how trusting and open did you really feel?  Wasn't there some distance that you kept from this person, some self-protection?  That's the price that gets paid when you are a super controller or Captain type.  People don't really let themselves get really close to you.  Unless they - and close would not be the right word here - but unless they have what's called a ‘trauma bond’.

If you had a real super controlling parent and you got used to that kind of thing, that kind of constant traumatic relating, you might be attracted to a super controller.  If the alcoholic comes home and slaps you around or something or that energy, because that's what you got used to in your childhood so you could become very bonded to that kind of thing.  But that's not a healthy bond.


Chip August:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I have a psychiatrist friend who likes to remind me that clinically speaking it's very hard to tell the difference between true love and complementary neuroses.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.

Chip August:  We are going to take another little break here to give a chance to give some support to our sponsors.  You're listening to ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  We're talking to Dr. Susan Campbell and we will be right back.




Chip August:  Welcome back.  You are listening to ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I'm your host Chip August and we are talking to Dr. Susan Campbell.  We are talking about relationships.  We are talking about telling the truth.  We are talking about control versus communication.

Susan, I was reading in your book ‘Saying What's Real’, your subtitle ‘7 Keys To Authentic Communication And Relationship Success’.  What is a successful relationship?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  A successful relationship for me is one where both people are growing and expanding in their self-awareness, in their ability to give and receive love and in their ability to be creative, which means to have a vision and make it happen, to be creators in their lives.  So I think that is a successful relationship.

If you are growing in self-awareness the rest of the stuff is going to take care of itself.  Self-awareness is the key to everything like being honest about what is going on inside of you.  Then you can make good decisions about what job you want, which house to buy.  You have to know yourself first.  And most of us are too afraid of emotional pain so that we are in a lot of denial about some of our faults or we are in a shame state about our faults rather than just being aware of them in a loving and self accepting way.

But this practice gets you to be more self-loving and self-accepting.  And it is a practice.  It takes practice.  And it takes a practice partner.  You can't do it alone.  You have to have a willing practice partner.

Chip August:  Right. Not the event but the process does.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yes.

Chip August:  When you say it this way, I hear a lot of ‘self’ in there.  There is a place where my mind goes, “Well, isn't part of being a couple getting out of self focus and into focusing on the other.”  It sounds so self-oriented.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well that's interesting that you say that because the whole energy around this practice is love, loving yourself.  Once you love all your parts it pops you into a state where you really are in a state of love.  And you love the other person and you don't expect them to change so that you will feel better.  You just really truly love and accept others as they are.

That doesn't mean that you don't wish for something about them to change and that you don't communicate with them about that.  That's not counter to love.  Love is an inclusive emotion.  It always includes the other and that is the goal of the practice.

Chip August:  Yeah, so as I am tapping into myself self-love I am simply making myself into a more loving person.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yes.

Chip August:  And that greater loving person is going to show up as more loving with my partners and my kids and my life.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yes.  And when I say love I mean owning your shadow parts, owning those parts that you once were taught are not OK, like being too needy or something.  That's a big one for a lot of women.  Women have that fear that if I really showed all my needs, it would scare him away.  But if you can love your neediness then it expands your ability to be that way in a different way.  You're not as dependent on others for love.

Chip August:  So in a way it's responding to your self-critic with a loving voice.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yes.

Chip August:  So how about doing this within your family, with your kids.  Can you do this with teenagers?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Absolutely.  Yeah.  One of the things that teenagers hate is to be controlled.  They are very vigilant about controlling energy.  So I give an example in one of the books.  I think it is the book ‘Getting Real’ where the woman walks down the stairs.  Her teenage daughter has just come in and tracked mud all over her newly waxed and cleaned kitchen floor and instead of saying what she feels about this she does a controlling thing – “Oh my God.  Who tracked all this mud in?”  And she dramatizes the thing.

Dramatization is one control pattern that some people use to avoid just direct person-to-person.  And then I share, well what if she had said to her daughter, “When I saw the mud on the” - first you have to get the person's attention – “I want to talk to you.  When I saw the mud on the floor I really felt disappointed and actually hurt.  My thought was, “Gee, Sarah doesn't really care about how much work I do around here.””  And she just shares her feelings.

Now that doesn't mean that the teenagers going to respond positively.  There are no guarantees about how, but it is more self respecting and it is more other respecting to treat your teen as a human being who can handle your feelings rather than dramatizing – “Oh, you never pay attention to all I do around here” You know, the big drama queen thing.

So that's one example.  Another thing with teens is they really need to be appreciated.  And in the book ‘Saying What Is Real’, one of the 7 Keys To Relationship Success is to be able to specifically appreciate your kids for the things that they do well.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Sometimes with parents I need to have the parent make a list.  We have to really dig deep to think of the things that are positive about especially the teenage kids. [Laughs]

But when they do that it transforms the relationship.  They really pay attention to appreciating and appreciating about the specific thing.  Like “I appreciate that you did your homework last night without anybody having to say anything to you.”  It's not just, “I appreciate you for being a responsible person.”

General is fine but specific is better.

Chip August:  There are two things.  One is that when I work with families in crisis I actually ask them to make this sort of deal once a day; this is how you start if you do dinner together.  This is how you start dinner.  You have to say something you appreciate about every other person at the table.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Lovely.

Chip August:  And it just gets everybody in the habit of looking for things to appreciate.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, yeah.  I usually do things like that in my office and then I see that everybody has got tears in their eyes.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  I go, “What’s going on?”  And they go, “Why don't we ever do this at home?”

Chip August:  Right.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  So good job Chip.  That's beautiful.

Chip August:  The other thing is that I coach people and they say, “But I can't think of anything.  There is just nothing I appreciate.” I have found it very useful to just try the sentence ‘you seem like’ and just notice what happens when the appreciation is ‘you seem like a nice person’ or ‘you seem like you're really trying’.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, that at least primes the pump and gets them going.

Chip August:  Yeah, it often just opens the door.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.

Chip August:  Yeah, my experience is that everyone, everyone in my life, including me, thrives in an environment of appreciation.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, and you can't go wrong with appreciation.  And then if you have some negative things to say if you have got a backlog of appreciation there, it is sort of like money in the bank.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  And they can more easily hear the negative things.

Chip August:  Yeah.  Now, a little bit more about this honesty.  I have this fear that somebody is listening to this and they are going to go home and tell their lifelong partner, “Now unload all the things they've never said”, and wind up in divorce court.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah.

Chip August:  So how do you use this kind of tool to avoid divorce court?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well, it is really important for couples who have been together for a while or even a short while to have a regular clearing the air practice so that the gunnysack of grievances doesn't get so full that they just do one little thing and then dump the whole sack of grievances out on them.

So I get couples, after I have been working with them just a very short time maybe one or two sessions, I teach them how to clear the air by saying first of all the sentence, ‘there is something I want to clear with you’.  That has relationship intent, a relationship enhancing intent to it.  ‘There is something I want to clear with you’ and then you use a particular structure.  There are several structures that I offer, but one is, ‘when this happened I felt’.

And then the other person just receives it.  ‘Thank you’ and then they also say, ‘hearing you say that now I feel’.  So it's hearing you say that ‘I feel’ is another very good sentence structure that helps people stay in their feelings rather than in their defensive reaction.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  ‘Hearing you say that you are disappointed that I didn't get you a birthday card, I feel sad or I feel sorrow or I feel sorry that I didn't do that.’  I try to keep people in the discipline of these short sentences because if you just say short sentence without a lot of explanation, that silence - and this is one of the truth skills that we didn't get to - embracing silence.

Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  That silence, after you have said something significant, is a very important part of the communication.  You just leave some space for your words to sink into the other person and for yourself to feel your own caring of how the other person is going to react.  There are vibrations in the silence.

Chip August:  Mmm hmm.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  And we want to learn to tolerate those vibrations and not have to always use words.

Chip August:  I'm so glad you said that because my fear is that people hear this and wind up in this endless stream of processing.  My experience is that we need to hear each other.  We don't need to process.  We don't need to discuss it.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, it takes fewer words to speak the truth.


Chip August:  Yeah.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  And when I was dating - I am in a mated relationship now - but when I was dating, and I did this ‘Truth in Dating’ with the guys I was dating, one of them said, and it was said more than once, “Gosh, you would think we would be processing more, but we are processing way less than any other relationship I have ever been in.  This is so much more efficient, this practice.”

Chip August:  Yeah, yeah.  This is great.  I want to talk a little bit more but I want to take a break.  We want to support our sponsors.  This is ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I'm Chip August and we will be right back.




Chip August:  Welcome back.  You are listening to ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’.  I'm your host Chip August.  We are talking to Dr. Susan Campbell.  We have been talking about truth and relating and talking about being authentic and having communication rather than control.

You opened the door here little bit.  You mentioned that you are not dating right now.  You're actually in some committed relationship.  So do you mind if I ask you something at little personal about you?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Go ahead.

Chip August:  Well I couldn't help but notice on your website that you have led quite a life.  You have done a lot of things in your life.  How in the world did you get from sailing the oceans in boats, weren't you?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah, I took two years off from a very busy professional career to drop out.  And my husband at that time and I built the sailboat and we sailed around French Polynesia for two years.

Chip August:  Wow.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  At while we were sailing I wrote the book ‘Beyond the Power Struggle’ because I had so much material.  Two people on a tiny sailboat, totally interdependent with each other is kind of a recipe for control battles.  So I got to be an expert on how to get beyond the power struggle.

Chip August:  I love that.  You took a vacation and it became a magnifying glass for what you needed to look at, right?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  That’s one thing about my life.  It has been a very adventuresome kind of risk taking life.  But it is good material for books.

Chip August:  [laughs] Well it's my experience also, I have to say, as a teacher that the teachings that are really valuable are not the ones I read in books they're the ones that I have lived in my life.  Out of that life experience I have really developed a deeper appreciation for the human condition.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Yeah. 

Chip August: If people want to get in touch with you, how can they reach you?

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well, it's all on my website, the home page of my website, which is www.susancampbell.com.  They can order the books and the games and the audio programs and get a free 15-minute coaching session with me if they are considering hiring me as their coach. 

I am accessible.  I'm easy to reach.  I live in Northern California in Sebastopol but I counsel people all over the world.

Chip August:  I have to say, personally I thought your website was incredibly informative.  I found it very useful.  For those of you who did not write that down, just know that you can pull up the transcript of our conversation and where you find Dr. Campbell's name, you will also find a link to her website.  So please do visit.

I also want to say that if you have a feedback for me, you can reach me at [email protected].  If you have ideas for the show or ideas for my blog, I would definitely like to hear those ideas and in fact, my wonderful sponsors at iFrogz, who make accessories for iPods and MP3 players have given me a bunch of goodies.  If you suggest a really good idea that I use for one of my shows or for one of my blogs, I would be happy to send you a little gift from iFrogz.  And you might want to look at www.iFrogz.com

Dr. Campbell, before we leave I like to give my listeners and exercise to do, something that they can do themselves that might help their relationship, that might help in the areas of sex, love and intimacy.  I was wondering if maybe you would like to offer one of those.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Well, the one that would be the safest and the simplest - I am going to give two really quick ones.

Chip August:  That would be great.  Take as much time as you would like.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  One is just simply face each other and complete the sentence, ‘I appreciate you for - ’.  You say it and then your partner says an appreciation.  You say it in your partner says it.  And go for a minute or two on that one.

Then the other one is for conflict.  Somebody has a beef so it's sort of like, ‘When you forgot my birthday I felt disappointed’.  OK, so you start out with the beef using that structure, ‘When this happens I felt - ’.  Then the other person, all you can say from then on in, and you go back and forth on this one, is, ‘Hearing you say that, I feel - ’.  So I say, “Hearing you say that, I feel sorrow.  And then you go, “Hearing you say that, I still feel angry.  Hearing you say that, I'm still scared.  Hearing you say that, I feel tender toward you.”

It's a really good exercise in staying present to your feelings and not getting defensive and not overexplaining.  Those are two very useless control patterns, overexplaining and being defensive.  So this practice, ‘Hearing you say that, I feel - ’, you would be surprised how deep things go when a couple will simply allow themselves just that one phrase.


Chip August:  I love it.  I think both of those are extraordinary.  I'm going to use those.  Those are great.  I'm going to try that with my wife.  That is wonderful.  Thank you so much.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Oh, you're welcome.  I have really enjoyed talking to you Chip.

Chip August: I was just going to say the same thing to you.  I really have enjoyed this conversation.  And I suspect I'm going to wind up with lots more questions and who knows, maybe I will call you back in six months and we'll do this again.

Dr. Susan Campbell:  Great.

Chip August: Thank you so much Dr. Campbell for being on the show.  This brings us to the end of another one of our shows.  I want to thank you all for listening.

For text and transcripts of the show and any other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at www.personallifemedia.com.  This is your host Chip August for ‘Sex Love and Intimacy’. Please join us again next time.


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