Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

I’m delighted to share an interview with Yehuda Berg, author of The Spiritual Rules of Engagement (Kabbalah Publishing, 2008) and a noted kabbalistic scholar and co-director of The Kabbalah Centre International. He’s also the author of many books, including the bestselling, the Power of Kabbalah. The Spiritual Rules of Engagement is a small, easy to read book that packs a lot of spiritual wisdom for finding and maintaining a loving romantic relationship. It’s endorsed by Ashton Kutcher, who credits Yehuda Berg’s teachings for the success of his marriage.

The rules in this book aren’t about game-playing. They guide you to use the spiritual laws and the technology behind them to become a person who can recognize your soulmate and nuture the relationship. The book explains the spiritual reasons behind the way men and women think differently.

While The Spiritual Rules of Engagement is written for women, men would learn from it too. Besides telling you how to recognize your soulmate, there’s an emphasis on the importance of working on loving your partner more and more as the years pass so that your relationship continues to deepen and get stronger. Here’s what Yehuda Berg had to say:

You referred to Kabbalah as a spiritual technology. What’s the thinking behind that? People view Kabbalah as a religion. It’s not a religion. You don’t know exactly how exactly a computer works but you know it’s a technology you need to send emails, and other things. Our spiritual work is the same thing. We may not always understand every part, but at the end of the day if we follow certain rules, there are certain places we’re going to get to and certain results we’re going to get. Besides countering the religion aspect, it’s an actual technology. You don’t have to do anything. There’s no judgment. There’s conscious choices and conscious results or actions.

How does a man and woman either attract or repel each other? Unlike what’s very popular with the Law of Attraction, Kabbalah believes in the law of what’s similar. If I’m similar to someone, I bring them closer. If someone is further from me, I draw them away. So if I want a positive person in my life I need to be working towards being that. If I want someone who could support me, I need to be able to support somebody else. Whatever it is that I want to get in this life, I need to open a space in me to bring that into my life. It’s not just the intention; not just thinking. Yes, you do need all the proper intentions and thoughts. But you also need action. If you take the intention plus the action it will make us either similar or take us further apart.

Why did you write The Spiritual Rules of Engagement for women? I wrote this book for women because I’ve found that it’s usually women who are not taking their role to where they need to. The support and emotions are the role of the woman. In Kabbalah, the woman is the make or break person. The guy just wants to be told what to do and he’ll do it. Men are action oriented. Tell us “go capture that flag” and we go. We can conquer the world but need a support system.

In what ways do women run relationships? The woman is the person with the GPS navigation system about where the relationship, and the guy, will go. It’s not an outward control that tells your man he must do this or that. It’s really an internal understanding of your power. I go through this in the book and write it for people who have almost no background. Once a woman understands her power and her role, a quiet internal power and navigation happens, as opposed to an outward expression of control.

Would you say it’s about a woman learning to control herself? It’s totally about controlling herself. We each have certain tendencies that always lead to chaos, that we need to get a handle on. You can’t just shut it down it down because somewhere it will explode. Ask yourself, “how can I control this or use it for something good?” We all have things that blow us out—anger, depression, jealousy. We have to make sure that we have whatever has taken us down before in relationships, under control.

What mistakes do you see women make in how they handle themselves with men? Women often don’t find their place in a relationship. If they are in a victim consciousness, they want to be in a relationship and will take whatever he does, sometimes even accepting emotional or physical abuse and accepting things as is, just because they want this and will be a total victim to have it. Then afterwards, they ask, “Why was all of this done to me?” But you are actually part of the problem. Not everything was done to you. You could have said no at any point.

Some women go to the other extreme of complete control. They think, “No one is going to mess with me or hurt me. I’m going to make sure that I’m in complete control of this relationship.” Both of those extremes tend to be the problem. The very great and amazing middle is where a woman knows her role and the power that she has to navigate a relationship and understands:

* Where she needs to support and strengthen the guy
* When to let him be by himself

And there needs to be a balance between the go, go, go energy of a guy who’s constantly action oriented and not words oriented, and a woman who uses more words and emotions. Find that balance without being a victim or trying to be in complete control.

Please explain “receiving for the sake of sharing.” In The Spiritual Rules of Engagement, I talk about that we can work our whole lives to receive for ourselves. There a maximum capacity for how much you can receive. But the moment we let others receive with us, we receive for the sake of sharing. “How can I really share this with my family?” This doesn’t mean working twenty hours a day so your grandchildren can have money. Meanwhile you don’t see your kids. So are you really sharing? No, you’re taking.

You need to find a balance where your existence still has a “me existence,” because that’s our nature,” but you can find a way to include others, which starts with family and friends. Eventually there’s a kind of global responsibility we feel—we’re in this boat together on one planet. Each person needs to find a little something they can do to hel
p this world. Part of life challenges is to surround yourself with a small group, whether it’s a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, children, friends, that really are there for you unconditionally. That can only happen if you receive and take from this world with others in mind also.

You said the order of a relationship is meet, marry, love? This is the essence of this book. So often the goal is to be with the girl or guy. People can be together for ten years, get married, and get divorced six months later. What’s the goal for most people? Being together or getting married? Most Hollywood movies end with the kiss on the beach or at the wedding. But that’s just the beginning of the work in Kabbalah. A person who’s with someone for ten years should have greater love for that person than at five years, or one. If you know more about your partner in ten years and love less, you really didn’t know them before. This is one of the biggest challenges in life. The more you know someone, the more layers they reveal, the more garbage. So you should love them even though and even more because of who they are.

What advice would you give for some who complains about never meeting a potential romantic partner? There’s three levels—shut down, open and desperate. Some people say they want to be in a relationship but don’t really want to be. They’re shut down. To them I recommend doing anything to go out on a date and break the cycle of “I don’t want to.” If someone is desperate, they need to work on their desperation. A person who’s really open and not desperate should continue to work on her life. See if there’s something in the past that’s still inside you that hurts—something you didn’t close from your last relationship. If you feel there are no men to meet, it means there’s something a little off. Think about whether there’s something underneath why there’s no one. Ask yourself “where in me am I not letting a man in?”

What your best advice for developing a loving relationship? Ask yourself why you want to be in one. If the answer is, “I don’t want to be alone,” buy a dog. If you’re answer is, “I want to be able to share everything of me with someone,” now you’re talking! But too often we look to find the person and not someone we want to have something special with. Do you want to just have someone, or someone to take care of you? That’s not a good reason.

Check out Yehuda Berg‘s book, The Spiritual Rules of Engagement (Kabbalah Publishing, 2008). It can help you from the beginning of a relationship or to help make a relationship stronger.

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