Q. You’ve said your new book, I Need Your Love—Is That True? (Harmony, 2005), could have been called Two Huge Lies About Love.

A. Yes. The first lie is, “I can manipulate you to love me.” What happens, we know from experience, is that I become the person I think you want me to be. Then, when you say, “I love you,” I don’t really buy it—because you’re loving a facade I’ve created to pull those words from you. Manipulation is always dishonest and stressful, because it’s based on an untruth. Can you make yourself love someone when you don’t, or make yourself not love them when you do? Well, your partner is just the same. Minds are free. Ultimately there’s no way to control someone’s mind.

Q. Why do we try to manipulate our loved ones?

A. It’s ingrained. We’ve been taught: If I do this, I’ll get that. If I’m beautiful, strong, healthy, or dress a certain way, I’ll get a wonderful man (or woman) to love me. But sooner or later, the real me shows up.

Q. What’s a better way?

A. When we notice our antics and begin to pull back and become more genuine, people are attracted to that. When we are genuine, we can be content within ourselves, whether partners stay or go.

Q. What’s the second lie?

A. “If you love me, you’ll do what I want.” This belief is just as insane as the first. If your partner doesn’t do what you want, it has nothing to do with their love for you. Maybe they have a better way! Also, isn’t it wonderful that they’re standing on their own integrity?

Q. You’ve said that if you had a prayer, it would be: “God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, and appreciation.”

A. It’s so painful to seek people’s love or approval; we become their hostages because our happiness depends on them. We work so hard on our facade, and then when people aren’t grateful, we’re frustrated, angry, and resentful. What we’ve done is try to manipulate them—but we don’t say that part. We gave that person part of ourselves as collateral, but we present it as if we’re doing it out of the goodness of our heart.

Q. You’ve also said, “The teacher you need is the person you’re living with.”

A. Well, first you need to realize that you are your own best teacher. Your past shows you every mistake you’ve ever made, and it teaches you very kindly what not to do. Then there’s the person you’re living with. Anytime you’re frustrated with him or her, put that thought on paper, question it, turn it around, and begin again. In this way, that person clearly shows you every place in you that’s not free yet. We’re all responsible for our own freedom.

Q. This process of questioning your own beliefs, which you call “the Work,” has been described as speeded-up meditation—as not waiting for the truth to come, but using questions to activate the truth within you.

A. If you love meditation, it’s a jet plane! Some of us are just in a hurry.

Q. Another quote I love is: “Arguing with reality is like trying to teach a cat to bark—hopeless.”

A. I’m a lover of what is. What is, is. We don’t get a vote; our opinions don’t count. The present is always the story of a past, and what I love about the past is, it’s over. You need to ask, “What can I do to help from right here, right now?” That’s the only power you have. If you argue with the past, you lose the power to be as effective as you can be right now. And now is the only time you’ve got.