Shared Heart

The Secret Power of Need-Shared Heart Newsletter 3.27.24

Dear Shared Heart Friends,

Welcome to our The Secret Power of Need, end of March, beginning of April 2024 Newsletter.

Summer Couple’s Retreat June 20-23

Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy, and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

Excerpt from this month’s article:

“There is a major difference between codependence and interdependence.”

“A Couple of Miracles is an amazing book by two amazing humans. I was brought to tears many times. I don’t want you to miss a word of this outstanding book.”
—Susan Campbell, PhD, author of Getting Real

Semi-Finalist, Book of the Year, Online Book Club

A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles, available only on as a Kindle e-book for only $6.95 (or paperback for $18.95). Here’s the link: A Couple of Miracles

“I would add to Joyce and Barry’s number of miracles … this book! When two health professionals, despite our training, can open their minds and consciousness to the truth of life, miracles can happen. Read this book!”
—Bernie Siegel, MD, author of Love, Medicine & Miracles

“A truly inspirational story that can open our hearts to appreciate the many miracles that can come through love, compassion, and wisdom. A real page-turner!”
—John Gray, PhD, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

“The Vissells’ latest book, A Couple of Miracles, will bring tears to the eyes of readers: tears of joy, tears of compassion, tears of heartache, and tears of laughter. It’s got everything! Readers who are skeptical about miracles should be warned that this book could turn you into a believer! Read this book if you’re looking for a jolt of pure inspiration!”
—Linda Bloom, LCSW and Charlie Bloom, MSW, authors of 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married

Unbelievable Book Sale: To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man (each regular price $15.95) now $15 for both with free shipping; and if you buy both, as a bonus, just $3 each (and free shipping) for as many as you want of the following books: The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, Rami’s Book, Light in the Mirror, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

Shared Heart Column
Heartfulness April 2024
with Joyce and Barry Vissell

“The Secret Power of Need”

I rarely felt safe when I (Barry) was a small child growing up in Brooklyn, NY, in the early 1950s. I needed love but dared not show it. I was afraid of being ridiculed or, worse, physically abused. My need for love eventually went underground, hidden even from me. Like many of us, I learned how to present a show of strength, independence, and competence.

But in truth, we all need love. For me, it took having an affair with Joyce’s best friend in 1971 and Joyce ending our marriage to realize the depth of my need for Joyce’s love. And it was this epiphany that eventually saved our marriage, even though it took two years to fully heal from this betrayal.

There is a significant difference between codependence and interdependence. Codependence arises out of our unconscious need or dependence upon another person, and is thus often expressed in an unhealthy way. It is a refusal to acknowledge our dependence upon another, and therefore puts pressure on the other person to fulfill our needs. In order to grow in love, we must realize our interdependence, the awareness of our healthy need for one another that puts no pressure on the other person.

An important aspect of the journey of relationship involves first the recognition of our codependence, really our “neediness,” and then our acceptance of it. For each of us to accept our codependence is to accept a part of our humanity rather than to judge it, make it wrong, or push it away, which keeps it buried and unconscious. Accepting our codependence humbles us, and can lead to our awareness of healthy dependence, which we refer to as interdependence.

It is important to remember that there is a vast difference between feeling our need for another (an aspect of interdependence) and expecting or demanding another to fill that need (an aspect of codependence). Interdependence implies taking responsibility for our feelings, desires and actions, and requires nothing from another person. When we don’t take responsibility for ourselves, a codependent interaction is the result, and we come across as too needy. When there is a feeling of joy or peace mixed in with our feeling of need for another, we are touching upon interdependence, and healing our codependence. I remember one time, when I was a resident in psychiatry and on call at the hospital, I felt the depth of my need for Joyce’s love. I called her on the phone and told her how much I needed her love, and how happy it made me. There was zero pressure on Joyce to do anything except feel how very important she was to me. It made her very happy, and still does today every time I reveal my conscious need for her love.

Some years ago, Joyce and I were invited to teach a weekend on relationship wellness to a group of fifty people who were in the middle of a longer program. Unfortunately, we did not know much about the content of the whole program. Nevertheless, we dove in with this group, and helped them become vulnerable with their need for love. At the time, we didn’t understand why there was so much initial resistance, but eventually everyone opened to their deeper needs with, what seemed to us, a rather extreme amount of tears and catharsis.

Finally, one person needed to clue us into what was happening. The focus of the training thus far has been on the unhealthiness of needs and the vital importance of getting rid of human needs to achieve spiritual growth. And then we come along and encourage the opposite, to embrace all our needs as a way to embrace our humanity, creating a more solid foundation for our spirituality. One by one, each person in the group expressed their gratitude for what we were bringing to them, describing it as a breath of fresh air. The overall leaders of this program were not present, and we were never again invited to teach in their program. They might have had a mutiny to face after our “helpful” workshop.

I like to share that one of my highest paths of spiritual growth is the path of need and dependence. At one workshop some years ago, I vulnerably shared how deeply I need Joyce’s love. During a break, a woman approached Joyce and said, “Barry is so needy! How do you stand that?” Joyce immediately said, “Please wait right here,” and ran out of the room to find me. When she did find me, her face lit up with joy and she said, “Barry, there’s a woman who thinks you’re too needy!”

I was stunned and deeply flattered. Never before had anyone called me too “needy.” Overjoyed, I said, “Where is she?” Joyce grabbed my hand and guided me back to the woman. Standing in front of her with a grateful smile on my face, I said, “You really think I’m needy?”

The woman was not smiling. She was dead serious and a bit uncomfortable with my eager joy. Still, she said, “Yes, I do.”

I grabbed her hands and said, “Thank you. Thank you for seeing a part of me that I have kept well hidden for far too many years.”

I’m not sure this woman really understood my joy and gratitude. She looked a bit confused, but I saw the slightest smile creep onto her face.

We need to acknowledge and be honest with ourselves about our codependence and our unhealthy ways of relating. Yet our eventual healing and fulfillment lies in accepting our interdependence, the awareness that we are not alone. We need each other very much. Our survival as a species depends on our interdependence. We can only survive through love and cooperation … and acceptance of our need for one another and our need to give to one another.

Semi-Finalist, Book of the Year, Online Book Club

Order our new book HERE

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are passionate about conscious relationships and personal spiritual growth. They are the authors of 10 books and a free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Visit for their free weekly inspirational video and monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationships and living from the heart.

Our schedule at a glance (details below — All events are now in-person):

April 24-28: The Greatest Journey (Mentorship Program)
June 20-23: Summer Couple’s Retreat 
July 19-21: Esalen Couples Retreat

Quote of the Month:

“Rather than pretending to be strong and independent, we can find our true strength by freely admitting our human emotional need. The humble person is not afraid of dependence.” – The Shared Heart, p. 24

Please join Joyce and me in holding a vision of a world where women, men and children of all nations, races and religions can see and feel the divine in themselves and one another. Here is our current 2024 workshop schedule. Joyce and I would love to see you at one of these events. Please remember how important this spiritual-emotional growth work is. Together, let’s take another step on this journey into the heart of love and deeper awareness, where real-world healing begins. Peace be with you all.

April 24-28: The Greatest Journey (Mentorship Program)

Find and live your dream, your passion, and your purpose! Individually and together with a small, carefully chosen group of 8-14 participants, these 6 months will help you transform your life.

June 20-23: Summer Couple’s Retreat

Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy, and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

July 19-21, 2024: Esalen Couples Retreat

Learn skills to dramatically improve your relationship while luxuriating at one of the most uniquely beautiful retreat centers we have ever visited.

We are excited to offer our first musical recording, “I Stand for Love,” a FREE album of sacred songs and chants. You can download the whole album for free or listen to it on YouTube. Wait until you hear the exquisite harmonies added by our son, John-Nuri.
Free Album Download
Listen on YouTube

Volunteers Needed. The Shared Heart Foundation needs volunteers. If you would like to support our vision and work, no matter where you live, email
Counseling with the Vissells. For individuals or couples who want help, you can choose from one hour to a two-day intensive with either of us.

Our love and blessings to you all,

Barry and Joyce Vissell

If you missed our last Shared Heart Newsletter, it is right here.


BeckyWillis is a "glass is half full" type of person, so she decided that she would share that with others. After going on 15 years in the blogosphere she decided it was time to make a change and in doing so help uplift others. Her husband is her biggest cheerleader; you can visit his site at

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