Don't Pick the Flowers, by Greg Baer, M.D.
Don't Pick the Flowers

Don't Pick the Flowers

As I have counseled with thousands of people, I have encountered a theme so recurrent as to be almost monotonous. Almost all of us make demands on the attention, gratitude, respect—the “love”—of particular people, and these demands uniformly lead to disappointment, anger, and frustration. I can illustrate this by presenting the case of just one man, Steve, as he talked to me about his wife, Janet.


“She always seems to be pulling away from me,” he said.


“In what ways?” I asked.


“When I want to have sex, she’s almost always resistant, sometimes a little and sometimes completely. When I’m gone from the house for several hours, I always call her to let her know where I am, and just to check in with her. But when she’s gone from the house for hours, she hardly ever calls. It’s like she’s just emotionally distant all the time, and when I talk to her about it, she just gets more distant.”


“Can you see,” I asked, “that you’re placing demands on her to fill your emptiness?”


“Yes, I can see that, but where else am I supposed to go? She’s my wife. And when I feel empty, what else am I supposed to do?”


“Sometimes just seeing that you’re making demands will help you be less demanding.”


“You’d think so, but when I get empty, I still want her to do something to make me feel better.”


“So let’s talk about the consequences of your demands. When you pressure Janet to give you sex or attention or whatever, does she like it?”




“And then what does she do?”


“She usually pulls away even farther.”


 “So the more you try to get what you want, the less you get it.”


“You’re right, but when I feel empty, I forget that, and then I push her to get what I want.”


“So instead of talking only about the negative consequences of your pressuring her, let’s look at the positive consequences of your accepting her as she is.”


I then shared with him the following metaphor.


Years ago I was on a long hike in the desert with a friend. This particular part of the desert was especially arid, so there were sand and rocks everywhere, and an occasional cactus, but the rainfall was so sparse that I didn’t see a single green leaf. After an hour of walking, though, I spotted a small yellow flower in the shade of a cactus plant. I bent down to pick it, but my friend stopped me and explained that the seeds of this plant often lay in the dry ground for years, growing only after the slightest rainfall, and if I picked this flower before it had a chance to produce seeds, I could kill off any possibility for the plant to reproduce.


Sobered by that thought, I kneeled down on the ground and admired the flower where it grew. It was beautiful, and I enjoyed it all the more knowing that my leaving it there would probably lead to the growth of more like it.


Had I picked that flower, I would have destroyed its beauty and eliminated the beauty of all its descendants. 


The joy we receive from our relationships with other people can often be like the pleasure I received from that desert flower. We consistently find the greatest happiness in simply allowing people to be who and where they are—observing them and being with them. When we attempt to take what we want from them, however—when we pluck the flower from their stem, no matter how subtly we act or justified we feel—we eliminate the possibility of experiencing the full beauty we might have had, and often we kill the relationship entirely. 


People are even greater miracles than flowers, because the very act of observing them and appreciating them can nourish them and empower them to grow and blossom all the more. As we accept and love people just as they are, they become more beautiful and have even more to give. What an inducement that should be for us not to meddle with the miracle.




About Greg Baer, M.D.:

For twenty years, Greg Baer, M.D. was a highly successful surgeon, teacher, civic leader, and entrepreneur. But despite all his accomplishments, wealth, and respect, he felt empty

and unhappy. He became a drug addict and nearly committed suicide. In his subsequent search for genuine happiness, he learned some principles that have changed the lives of hundreds of thousands.


After Dr. Baer retired from one of the busiest solo ophthalmology practices in the United States, he began a new career of writing, teaching, and speaking. He has:


   • Written 16 books about relationships, marriage, and parenting. Real Love—The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love and Fulfilling Relationships* AND Real Love in

Marriage—The Truth About Finding Genuine Happiness Now and Forever* were published by Gotham Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Real Love has been translated into multiple languages, with 8 books of the series published in China. Other books by Dr. Baer include:

       Real Love in Parenting—Nine Simple and Powerfully Effective Principles for Raising Happy and Responsible Children*

       Real Love in Dating—The Truth About Finding the Perfect Partner*

       Real Love in the Workplace

       Real Love and Freedom for the Soul – Eliminating the Chains of Victimhood*

       Real Love for Wise Men and Women—The Truth About Sharing Real Love

               (* Also available as Audiobooks)


   • Produced the three-CD audio series, The Truth About Love and Lies.


   • Produced the 6 DVD set (with Workbook), The Essentials of Real Love.


   • Produced the PBS television special, "Real Answers," viewed nationwide.


   • Appeared on over 1500 radio and television programs from coast to coast. Dr. Baer has a compassionate and engaging media presence, typified by the following review:

“You’ll want to listen to this program in a doorway — it’s like an earthquake!

He rocked my foundation! Greg Baer touched me deeply.

He’s got the answer to finding happiness in life.”

(Tony Trupiano, Talk America)


   • Counseled personally with thousands of individuals and couples, profoundly changing their lives with the principles and power of Real Love.


   • Conducted over 300 seminars and corporate trainings and delivered speeches to audiences across the country where he has taught the principles of Real Love.


   • Developed a comprehensive website that offers Real Love education through video coaching, webcasts, chat rooms, and much more.


Said Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, the best selling management book of all time, Real Love is the single most powerful motivator in a leader’s toolbox. Clear and unsentimental, this book is required reading for a profitable workplace.”


Dr. Baer and his wife, Donna, are the parents of seven children and live in Rome, Georgia.


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