RSP 16: Joe Bailey on Compatibility, Listening And The Weird Secret To A Better Relationship


This week I interview Dr Joe Bailey, where we discuss:

– How the principles behind state of mind apply to love and intimacy

– The role of our thoughts in relationships

– Why falling out of love is so common

– Why Joe feels compatibility is overrated

– Why there are so many communication problems in relationships

– The role of fear in relationships.

You can get in touch with Joe via his website –

 Joe Bailey’s life purpose is to help people find true happiness and peace of mind. Towards this end, he studied psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels, eventually becoming a licensed psychologist.

For the past thirty years, Joe’s desire to understand the connection between the psychological, physical and spiritual facets of human beings has pulled him into a deeper understanding of the whole person and away from the current fragmented view.

His search led to a health-based approach to counselling, prevention programs, workplace wellness and the attainment of a personal life of peace, joy and fulfilment for all people.

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Full Transcript (transcribed by Arthur Peters)

ANKUSH: Welcome to the relationship series, my name is Ankush Jain and each episode I’ll be speaking with a different state of mind expert on the subject of relationships. Enjoy!
Welcome to episode 16 of the relationship series. This week I’m interviewing Joe Bailey. Joe Bailey has worked for several decades in many guises: as a marriage and family counselor, University teacher, trainer of therapists he’s an author of several books and he’s been a consultant to organizations. The most… one of the books I’m really interested, that we’ll be talking later on “Slowing down to the speed of Love”, but I’m really excited to delving a little bit deeper into relationships, so: Welcome, Joe!

JOE: It’s good to be here, Ankush. Thank you for inviting me.

ANKUSH: No problem. Now normally I’m always say a little bit about how I know the person I’m interviewing and you’re the first person, I think, on this series that we’ve only met, I think, literally about five minutes ago, when we dialed in, but we’ve already had a bit of a giggle and a laugh, so I’m sure we’re gonna have a great time on this interview.

JOE: We’ve a very deep and long standing relationship, Ankush, we just don’t know it yet.

ANKUSH: So let’s just jump straight in.Can you tell the listeners a little bit about your professional background in your own words? What your experience has been from your career point of view.

JOE: Yeah, I think I probably got into this whole profession of being a clinical psychologist and a family therapist because of my own family, you know, we all grew up in families and that’s where I learned about relationships. And in my own family we didn’t know how to communicate. There was, you know was a very german-british family in America, and we’re all in America and so our conversations were very surface, you know, it was about the weather, how to get the tasks around the farm done and so it was a … there was a lot of feelings going on underneath and I think, just intuitively I was drawn always to working with people one way or another and so I kind of parted ways from the rest of the family, who were in agriculture and I went into psychology, which my father and mother could not figure out at all, but I guess I was trying to understand how to connect with people, you know, how to have a relationship in a more meaningful way, how to experience that feeling of love and connectedness and so I was very drawn in the field of psychology to get into family therapy, couples therapy and studied with some of the great family therapists in the United States, Virginia Satir, Carl Whitaker, and many others, who are kind of pioneers in the whole area of family therapy. And after about ten years as a family therapist and psychotherapist I learned about this new development in the field of mental health and psychology and relationships called “The three principles” or “Health realization” which for me, hearing about it first was very difficult, because it went just about everything I’d learned about .. as a family therapist, but there was something about it that struck a chord of truth with me that there was really looking at .. a getting at the more fundamental principles that were behind all human experience, not just relationships, but, you know, creativity, following one’s passion in life, to having an intimate relationship, to being able to have satisfying work and professional life. So, when I learned about these principles, I really drawn to them for myself, because I was a burned out psychologist. I was experiencing at the young age of 33, I was already ready to quit, I was so tired and burdened by my own thinking about myself and my clients and how can I really help them. And when I learned about the kind of a deeper science behind how human experience is created through the power of the mind, the power of thought and the power of consciousness, it was quite illuminating to me. It really, very quickly unburdened me of my distress and my burnout. So very selfishly I enrolled in an internship in these principles and took a year off of my life to really dive deeply into this for myself and completely shifted gears professionally from a family therapy orientation to this new paradigm of psychology called “Health realization” or “Three principles psychology”. But when I came back to work the next week, after first learning about this, it not only alleviated much of the stress I was feeling but it created a whole new relationship with my psychotherapy-patients, the people I was working with to help them with their addictions or their marriages or parenting issues, you know, I had a whole variety of types of people I saw, but immediately saw the practicality of this deeper principle-based psychology in working with families and couples. So I’m really glad we’re talking about this, because it’s something, that is near and dear to me to the point that I actually wrote a book about this principles and relationships, Mind, Thought and Consciousness, how they relate to intimacy and to love. It’s called “Slowing down to the speed of love” and I actually credit my wife with a lot of what’s in this book, because as I was writing it, she would help me see that I really wasn’t quite as grounded in this particular chapters I thought was and so it was a book that taught me more writing it than probably I passed on to the reader, because I had to keep evolving in my own understanding of relationships in order to write it. So anyway, I don’t know, if that’s answering your question or not.

ANKUSH: Yeah, well I’m very interested, could you share some insights from both the book and writing the book on your own relationships?

JOE: Yeah, you know, when I met Sydney Banks, the man who actually first expressed in the words of the three principles this new paradigm in psychology, when I first met him, it was the same day, I actually met my wife, so I fell in love with my wife, the day I met Sydney Banks, so that was quite an interesting coincidence. And I thought, I really knew about intimacy, I, because I was a marriage counselor and even though I’ve been divorced, I thought I was an expert in this area and when I met my, my wife’s name is Michael, she’s a female but has a male name, and she quickly realized that and I quickly realized when I was with her that much of the time, I was with her, I was thinking elsewhere. I was thinking about other things, I was distracted and preoccupied and the would say: “Joe, come on back, you’re not listening to me and, and so for me, how this really helped me more than anything was to become a better listener, because I was completely unaware of how much thinking I was doing about what I was thinking about what she was thinking and projecting my thoughts on her and I was having more of a relationship with my own thoughts than I was having with her. And I didn’t realize that my own thinking about relationships, because had a lot of thoughts as a family therapist about what it meant to have a good relationship and what it took to have a good relationship and I didn’t realize, that all my professional training was actually in the way of experiencing true love or true connection between my new wife and myself. And, so, by … And this is kind of the key point of this interview that I’d like to get across today: What’s helped me more than anything is to realize that a relationship is nothing more than the thoughts that I have in my head in any given moment about the person who I’m in relationship with. That it looks like a relationship is something out there, but a relationship is really the thoughts we’re having in our head in any given moment. And I might be having an absolutely terrible time in a relationship when the other person is having a wonderful time because they’re experiencing their thoughts while I’m experiencing mine. And if I’m really having a bad time in the relationship, I might, it might look like because of the way thought works, because thought immediately turns into my perception, that it looks like my spouse, my mate is making me unhappy, but realizing that the source of my experience is really my own thinking has really freed me up to take things less personally that are happening from other people, to be more neutral in my relationships and to really make more room in my own mind for that connection of love between us, because when we share presence with one another when our minds are calmer, when we’re more in the moment, we experience that deep connection. That’s what falling in love is really about. When we’re, when we fall in love with another human being, so that a lot of our thoughts get suspended, they get removed and all that’s left is this moment. And, and then as we develop more and more in the relationship, we begin to develop memories about this person and habits of thinking and, and we start to, we can start to lose that deep connection, because we’re now relating to our thoughts about each other rather than to each other in truth. And falling back in love, which I’ve done many, many times, I’ve been married now for 34 years to, to Michael and I fall in love with her over and over again and it’s whenever I forget the past, let go of my thoughts about her or myself in this relationship, what’s left is this deep connection that, that when the day we met we knew, was there when we fell in love that first day, we experienced our true selves, this true essence of who we are. And that’s what I pass on to my people, that I work with, whether it’s corporations, couples, newly weds, oldly weds, people been married forever who have run into problems, having an affair, alcoholism and I, I help them to remove the veils of thought that are getting in the way of that feeling of connection and intimacy. And that’s, I don’t know if this makes sense, but it’s, it’s so… Falling in love is, is easy, but falling out of love is, is more common, because we, we start to build up mental plague in a sense. We, we get our own thinking of the past or the future in the way of, of experiencing that oneness and that connection

ANKUSH: So what’s your view on compatibility?

JOE: I think compatibility is kind of overrated.


I, I would, you know, if I would’ve, and you can ask my wife, this question too, the answer’s the same, that if we were to have gone to a dating service and, and we would never have matched up together in a million years. But there was something in the chemistry when we met that we knew, we were to be together. We knew, our, something in our hearts knew that, that this was the one. When we both felt the same way, thank god. I was relieved when I finally got up the courage to ask her two weeks later, if she was as deeply as, in falling in as deeply in love with me as I was with her and she says: “You too?” And, so, I kind of lost my train of thought there… I got so involved in my memories of my wife. But, but when, when we, when we are cleared of, of all of the projections and all of the memories, that feeling that we had, when we met, gets reignited. And that is so important as, as when I talk to couples for them to know that love is always present. It’s always available, just like the sun is always there, even if it’s on the other side of the earth or behind a cloud. It’s still there and that love is still there in our relationships, but it’s clouded by our own personal thinking, by our own personal memories of previous relationships, fears that we might have of getting hurt, fear of being close to another person because it might not work out and so we put up these barriers of fear to make us safe, but what they really do is keep us apart. And what help people learn whether it’s in working on a business-relationship, a love-relationship, a parent-child-relationship, is how to get past our own personal thinking to that, that, it’s almost like there’s a, a channel that connects all of us, there is no separation. And when we’re connected to that part of us that is creating our experience, what I would call mind or divine intelligence, when we get connected to that part in us, we get connected to that part in other people. Like I can feel that with you right now, even though we’re continents apart, I feel a connection, I can feel a relationship, just in how you’re responding and how I can see your face. There’s a connection there. And other people listening to or watching this might be feeling that as well. So when we have a moment where we, we kind of fall into ourself, we’re falling into love. And when we fall into love and we look out of our eyes, we feel love for the object of what we see, so what we’re really experiencing is our own love, we’re experiencing this love that is the essence of who we are. And for me that’s what these principles have helped me as a marriage counselor, as a organisational development, consultant, help organisations, help individuals, because it’s all about relationships, I, I work a lot with physicians and I just got of the phone with three different physicians talking about patient-doctor-relationships. And what gets in the way of that relationship is when they’re really in a hurry to get on to the next patient or they’re thinking about the last patient, they’re not with the patient they’re with. And so just being aware that you’re caught up in your thinking brings you back to that connection.

ANKUSH: I love that you brought up that, that idea of speed, because I was going to ask you that the first three books that you wrote had speed in the title in terms of “Slowing down to the speed of life”, “The speed trap”, “Slowing down to the speed of love”. Are talking about the speed of thought or the speed of thinking?

JOE: Yeah, time is really a, a psychological creation, the physicists of today, the great physicists talk about time is really man-made, it’s not a, a real thing it’s a psychological creation. And so we get caught up. When we’re caught up in time like being in a hurry, being stressed out, being caught up worrying about the future, being caught up regretting the past, we’re really caught up in our thought in the moment. And when we see thought in the moment it kind of dissolves time into this one eternal moment. And so I, I, I, I wrote that first book with Dr. Richard Carlson, the guy who wrote the “Don’t sweat the small stuff” series and we were sitting at an, an annual conference of these three principles in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not Cambridge, England and we wanted to write a book together and, and so we were brainstorming: “What should we write about?”. And I had a patient of mine who I asked at the last session what he got out of his therapy and he said: “I guess I learned to slow down to the speed of life. My whole life I’ve been rushing and trying to accomplish things and do things and I didn’t know how to just be, I didn’t know how to be in the moment”. And so Richard and I decided to write a book about what we had learned for ourselves, which was to live more of our lives in this moment by slowing down life to this moment and so the speed of life is the moment. It’s the eternal now. And so these three principles “Mind”, “Thought” and “Consciousness” that create our moment to moment reality for me were the key to unlocking the power of now, the, another author Eckart Tolle wrote about what Zen-buddhism has been about, what meditation has been about, all the things that I studied for the first twenty years of my career, could be condensed into this principles, that help us discover in a real practical, simple way how to live in this moment. So that’s why I wrote those three books, cause we live in a really insane paced society that is in a hurry to get nowhere…(laughing)

That has missed the whole point of life, because we’re, we’re so caught up in this illusion of time that we miss life.

ANKUSH: Yeah, I, I’m, I’m really enjoying that explanation and it’s certainly something that I can relate to, sometimes feeling, feeling that being busy is better than, than not doing anything, even though it’s, it’s nowhere to, to get to.

JOE: Yeah.

ANKUSH: Another question I had was… I often hear people say in relationships that, you know it’s a communication problem, and what I’ve been pondering recently is, that’s really vague and it doesn’t mean anything. What’s your take on, on people saying: “Oh, it’s a communication problem.”?

JOE: Hm… Well I would say communication breaks down, not because of an inability to speak but more of an inability to listen. And when we’re listening, we’re often rehearsing what we’re gonna say next or we’re judging what the other person is saying or we’re relating it to a past memory and so we’re really not communicating, we’re not really in union with that other person, we’re more interested in our own thoughts than what they’re saying. So true communication is true interest, is true curiosity, it’s really wanting to understand. And when we have that stance when we’re communicating we’re going to be impacted by what the other person is telling us. And it’s in that listening, I have a sign on my wall on my therapy office that says: “Everyone just needs a good listening to”, because when people are telling their story, they’re telling their, what’s on their mind and someone is really listening on the other end, it, it calms them down and it gives them a reflective relationship to what they’re saying, they start hearing themselves. And when they hear themselves, they’ll often have insights about what they’re saying and they go: “I can’t believe, I’m thinking that, that’s not even true, is it?” And they’ll have a realization about their own thoughts, because of the communication that was happening, because that other person was listening so deeply that allowed them the space to have reflection about their own thoughts. So the world needs a lot more of that instead of a lot, a lot of talking it’s really more about a lot of listening. And you are really being listened to you will speak more from your heart. I remember sitting in a prison a few years ago, my colleague was talking to a felon and murderer and she was sitting on the lawn next to him and she was just listening and he, he finally looked at her and he says: “Stop it!” and she says: “Stop what?”. He said: “Stop listening to me that way!” And she says: “What? What? I’m just listening to you.”, she says, he says: “When you listen to me that way, I feel like I have to tell the truth.”


So there is something about a, a really good listener that allows the speaker to hear their own wisdom and their own illusions, their own fallacies, their own misunderstandings that has the self-correcting wisdom built into it. Now, we don’t have to have another person around to listen to ourself. This is what reflection is, this is what true meditation is. It’s in, when we’re sitting in a place where we can have our own thoughts and not judge them or interrupt them or analyse them or try to figure them out but we just observe our thoughts, that’s truly meditation. And it’s in the observing of that thought, that we have insight. And all an insight is, is a divine thought. It’s a, in, it’s a new thought that came from where ever thought comes from. It, it’s a new thought, that is a sight from within, that allows us to see life in a new way. And when we see life in a new way, our life evolves, our relationships evolve, we evolve, because we were not limited by our past thinking. Resilience, the ability to bounce back, the ability to have a new life is, is nothing more than seeing life in a non-habitual way with new thinking. So when we can have that kind of thinking in our relationships, our relationships is, are born again and again… I, I, I will honestly say, in my own marriage I’ve had scores of marriages to the same woman. We’ve only been remarried once and that was just because we wanted to renew our wedding vows. But we keep rediscovering more and more about ourselves and each other as we stay together in this state of presence, in this, and we’re, we’re not there all the time, believe me, you know, we go in and out, we get caught up in our thinking, in our lives, we’re human, we’re not some, we haven’t arrived at Nirvana here or anything, but, but the principles that we talk about of how thought is creating our, our feelings, we’re always feeling our thinking in the moment and Consciousness is bringing those thoughts and turning them into a perception, that we can be aware of as our reality. This is an incredible gift that we’ve been given to create reality and when we understand the principles behind it, it allows us to recreate our lives again and again and again. Recreate our relationships, recreate our vocations, recreate ourselves and we’re only limited by our own thinking

ANKUSH: That’s … I’m just enjoying, my mind almost stopped, I’m just enjoying listening to you, that was so beautiful.

JOE: Well I just thought, I’d stop, so if you have another question you wanna ask me, you can ask me.

ANKUSH: Yeah, one, one, one thing I was going to ask, cause that your most recent book was called “Fearproof your life” and in your bio you talk about how there’s a wave of fear that swept through our culture. And, And I was wondering, I’m sure you must touch on that in terms of how that comes up in relationships as well and that role that …

JOE: Yeah!

ANKUSH: … fear can play in, in damaging relationships.

JOE: One of the definitions I give of fear is the acronym, and I didn’t invent this, but other people have talked about it, is: Fear is: false, ‘f’, expectations or evidence, ‘a’, appearing, ‘r’, real. False evidence appearing real. So when we, when we believe what our eyeballs are telling us, we don’t take into account that our own thinking is creating that perception. And so in relationships all, there’s so many people who’ve fallen in love, who never complete that love, people who don’t follow their heart and experience that relationship because they’re afraid of being hurt, afraid of rejection, afraid of being judged, afraid of not being accepted, afraid of not giving, getting as much back as they’re giving, afraid of being a fool. All of these are false evidences appearing real. When we see fear for what it really is, it’s just our own thinking in the moment it clears our mind so that we can take risks, so that we can do, what our heart tells us to do instead of being limited by what our fears tell us not to do. So when I wrote that book I was talking to a broader audience, because our whole media has become obsessed with fear, you know, with terror, with terrorism, with violence, with wars, you know all the horrible things happening with climate change and all those things are happening but focusing on all the horrible things, so we can sell more products through the advertisers, is, is really getting a very skewed view of life. Life is so infinite and abundant and if we focus solely problems and the mistakes and the issues of our time we won’t have the intelligence to solve any of the problems, issues and difficulties of our time. So I work with people who work in really tough professions: Police, politicians, leaders of corporations, doctors and I teach them the same principles, so I can teach them how they can to get their best thinking brought to bear on a problem rather than their worst fearful thinking. So leaders are learning to lead by inspiration rather than fear and when we lead by, there’s a, our great president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was very good friends with your Winston Churchill gave a talk at the very beginning of his presidency when we were in the great depression and he, his famous quote was: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. And with that speech he uplifted the american public and gave them hope so that they could begin recreating a new America, that, you know that was, you know desperate. There was incredible unemployment and poverty and lot of homelessness and starvation and with his words of wisdom he was able to transform people psychologically so that their lives could begin to change and take us out of the depression. So fear is a very powerful misuse of the gift of Thought. It can also at times keep us from putting our hand in the cage of the tiger so there’s a reason, we have fear, but false fear which is fear based on our own imagination and past memories is what interrupts the, our ability to actually be safe and to listen to our instincts and to know, when we actually really are in danger versus when we’re imagining, we’re in danger. And we remove the imagined dangers, it gives us a lot more room to deal with the real things that we need to protect ourselves from in life, which are very few actually. And the opportunities are way more abundant than the things we must protect ourselves from.

ANKUSH: Well, unbelievably, we’ve run out of time, and …

JOE: That was quick!

ANKUSH: It was very quick, indeed.


So that’s a lovely place to leave it. For anyone that’s listening, if they want to get in contact with you or find out more about you, what’s the best way to do that?

JOE: Well, you can go on my website, which is just and “andassociates” is spelled out as and you can contact me there or learn about my other books, I have a lot of videos on there about all kinds of topics, so they’re free to anyone who wants to listen

ANKUSH: Great. And people can get hold of me as usual on, on facebook, which is and on twitter which is @ankushkjain. Joe, it’s been an absolute pleasure and for all the listeners: I’ll see you next time.

This was the relationship series podcast. If you liked this episode, please share it and leave us your feedback online. Thanks for listening.



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