THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Basic principles of living

By Fred Cavaiani

The following are some of the principles I have learned after listening to people for over 46 years.

- You can't heal what you can't feel.

- Each moment of life is a cross and a resurrection.

- When I listen attentively to others I will experience wisdom.

- Freedom comes from allowing myself to be open and broken.

- When I become quiet and reflective I open myself up to experiencing God.

- Stay out of your head and stay in your heart. Your head will follow your heart but your heart will not follow your head.

- Whenever you read something worthwhile read it slowly, not to finish it but to experience it. Pay close attention to the verbs because that is where the action is.

- Do not worry about finishing prayers, be concerned about experiencing what you are saying or reading.

- The reflective person is the wise person. The harried and hurried person rushes through life and misses the divine experience of the present moment.

- Anger is the superficial feeling hiding what is really beneath it. Whenever I am angry I am in the wrong ballpark.

- Underneath anger is always hurt, sadness or insecurity which needs to be felt and experienced.

- Whenever you feel anxious, focus on the part of your body that is feeling tense. Embrace it. Experience it. You will become calmer and the feelings that need to be felt will begin to surface.

- Throughout our life but especially as we become older, our unfinished business will begin to surface. Let it be experienced. It will bring you into a deeper connection with yourself and with God.

- We all have emotional gaps within ourselves that we haven't finished passing through. Childhood often prohibits us from feeling the pain and the joy that we needed to experience. Adulthood is to nurture that little hurting boy or girl inside of us. It is also to nurture that happy little boy or girl inside of that has forgotten or minimized the good memories.

- You can't be happy unless you can allow yourself to be sad. Our happiness is directly related to the willingness to embrace our pain.

- When I embrace my pain I open up to happiness. When I am genuinely happy I will be off guard and some pain will be allowed to surface. All the feelings are connected. Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin.

- Tears are never a sign of weakness. They are signs of strength and an admission that something real is going on inside of ourselves.

- It is important to have an inner circle of friends who speak from the heart and are willing to share their weaknesses and strengths with us. We also need to do the same to lead a healthy and honest life.

- To be humble is the ability to listen carefully to others and to learn from everyone.

- There are always two viewpoints of every statement. Which is correct is irrelevant until I understand the reason for the viewpoints.

- Do I want to be happy or do I want to be right.

- I am not being right if I do not have compassion for you.

- The most important principle in life is to immerse myself deeper in God and to bring more love and compassion into the world.

- Spirituality is an ongoing, active, energized connection and relationship with God. Religion is a means of deepening this connection and relationship. When religion becomes an obstacle to this connection by judgments and condemnations of others, it is no longer a genuine religion.

- The truths that remain throughout the centuries in psychology, religion, and human relationships are always based on humility, love, compassion and reflective prayerful meditation/contemplation.

- Judgmental and condemning people and institutions do not make the world a better place.

- God has always loved us and has never been angry at us because God is Love. The roadmap of life is always one of Love, Compassion and Surrender.

- When I open my heart to other people I open my heart to God.

- Everyone is meant to experience happiness.

- Happiness will always be felt when I realize that pain is to be embraced and not avoided when it is upon me.

- Each moment of life should be an experience of God.

After listening to people for over 80,000 hours over forty years I have discovered the above principles to be so very true. What a privilege it is to live life and experience other people and experience God.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan he is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Apr 12, 2016