Tony describes in detail how his "4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation" works, including how to apply the 4 Pillars in any conversation where you feel stuck, unheard, unseen, or unloved. The 4 Pillars are: 1) Assuming good intentions, 2) Don't send the message of "you're wrong" or "I don't believe you," EVEN IF you think the other person is wrong, or you don't believe them, 3) Ask questions BEFORE making comments, and 4) Stay present, lean in, do all that you can to stay out of "victim mode." These 4 Pillars, along with the paradigm shift that the goal of a conversation is to be heard, not to resolve, will lead to more connected conversations.
Visit http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic to learn more about Tony’s Magnetic Marriage program, or visit http://tonyoverbay.com to take Tony’s free parenting course, or to learn more about his best-selling book; or only recovery program “The Path Back.” And please subscribe to “Waking Up to Narcissism,” Tony’s brand new podcast, which is part of The Virtual Couch podcast network.
EP 287 To Be Heard Is To Be Healed - Connecting the 4 Pillars of Communication
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[00:00:02] Hey, everybody, welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch, and that is my very smooth way of saying I forgot what no episode this is, but I think we're somewhere between two eighty five and two ninety. But I am glad you're here. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. A certified mine will have a coach and a writer and a speaker and a husband and a father of four, and all those things that I've gotten away from saying at the beginning of every episode because I just want to get to the content. I can't lie even to the point where this will seem like a setup, but I have completely spaced talking about my sponsor, BetterHelp for well over a month now. So if you are looking for help online therapy, then go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you'll get 10 percent off your first month's services. Betterhelp.com has an incredible assessment feature. You can be up and running with somebody within twenty four to forty eight hours and do it through email or online or all those wonderful things. So try Betterhelp.com virtual couch and there. I have meant to do that for so many times, but let's get to the material. I have so many things that I just think about when I'm just out and about. And over the weekend, I went on a quick road trip with my wife. We drove back to Utah just for a couple of days.
[00:01:07] We love doing a road trip together. We love listening to audiobooks and podcasts and solving all the world's problem. My wife would kill me if I ever told the content of this, but we have this running joke that one of these days I need to do a podcast and it is Tony and Wendy. Just show their ignorance about a variety of things. And if you just put the recorder on us while we're talking about a lot of things, so in politics, pop culture news, that sort of thing, we really realize at times that we are so compatible because we don't know as much as we think that we know. But I digress. So we're having this amazing time, but I had an opportunity to interact with quite a few people over the last forty eight hours. And when you're out and about and people know you're a therapist, you get asked a lot of questions, which I love. I absolutely love, which is why this is what I do for a living. When I was in the computer industry and somebody would ask me about hooking up their printer or something about a new computer, I would just feel I would just say, I don't know. Probably the people at Best Buy or something like that can help out. But when it comes to therapy, I'm really passionate about things, and so I work with a lot of couples. I have my magnetic marriage course, which has been delayed, but it's the next round is coming soon.
[00:02:14] So contact me if you want to find out more about that. But I work with so many couples that then it is difficult not to watch couples interact and not want to say, Hey, time out. Can I express what I think that he might be feeling? Or I think what she's trying to say is, which would be completely annoying. Nobody would ever want to have me at a party or just at any kind of an event. But I was I was having a conversation with somebody and they were talking about hearing the four pillars I do a lot of work with. I call them the four pillars of a connected conversation. And when people that I'm even working with will say, Hey, remind me of what the four pillars are, or where can I turn to the four pillars? I have a couple of podcasts where I talk about them briefly, but I realize that those even are often in the wedged in between other topics where then I'll say, Hey, this is a time where my four pillars of a connected conversation will really come into play because I feel like they are applicable not just in marriage, but it's the way that you communicate to your kids or to your employers or just anybody that you're trying to have a connected conversation with. And I really think that the way we communicate as human beings is not really that intuitive.
[00:03:20] We're playing this game constantly of just excuse me of trying to figure out, am I saying the right thing? Am I going to offend this person? Or am I going to leave myself looking? So we are just doing this dance constantly of what do you think? Should I say this? Or if somebody comes with a big, strong opinion, oftentimes we just find ourselves just, Oh yeah, yeah, that's a good point. And then we feel bad when we leave that conversation because we really didn't speak our minds or stand up for ourselves or that sort of thing. Because even as I say that phrase, we didn't stand up for ourselves. What does that bring to mind? I feel like that brings to mind this adversarial relationship that if we're going to speak, our mind has to be done with this just anger and I'm going to hold this boundary no matter what you say. But I feel like we just don't really know how to communicate effectively. And so we're constantly just trying to find this balance of wanting a connection with somebody and also then feeling like hurt or we've been misunderstood. Or then we also do this thing, I think subconsciously, where we may want to put down someone else's opinion or debunk their opinion. And we don't even realize sometimes that's what we do in order to make ourselves feel better about our own opinion.
[00:04:29] So there are so many variables at play that I really thought today I would just go through those four pillars of a connected conversation and go through them in a little bit more detail and hopefully give a couple of examples along the way as well so that you can see how these four pillars can work in any kind of a conversation that you want to have. And I mentioned on one podcast that I had an opportunity to train some amazing, wonderful ecclesiastical leaders a little over a month ago on these four pillars of a connected conversation because a lot of people in their congregations are going to. These faith journeys, they're starting to really question their faith or who they are or their connection with God or these kind of things. And so when they come in to speak to their ecclesiastical leaders, their ecclesiastical leaders trying their best often say things that then maybe offend the person coming in, or maybe cause that person to feel unseen or unheard or unloved. So I feel like the first thing that we need to recognize, whether we're an ecclesiastical leader, whether we're a spouse in a relationship or whether we are a parent of a of a child, a teenage child, a small child or an employer employee relationship is that we need to to shift our entire goal. And the goal is not to resolve anything in the moment. I think that's one of the first things that we do, and I'll just say wrong for the lack of a better word.
[00:05:46] But we need to shift that paradigm that the goal is to be heard. And I say this often and another experience I had over the weekend with someone saying that they hear the things I say, they get pumped. They might even listen to a podcast two or three times. But then as soon as they go back to their day to day life, it's as if they just feel the wind out of their sails there. And they just go. I know to be heard just to be healed, and there's these four pillars, but I just I don't know if I have the energy because we just get stuck in these patterns, these patterns of interactions with people or these patterns in our day to day lives. And it's so easy to just say, I'm going to work on whatever it is later, I'm going to work on it tomorrow or next week. So I understand that you're going to most likely hear this today and you're going to think, Man, this makes sense. I want to I want to implement this, and then you're going to try to put it into play or put it in action. And especially when you're the only one doing it, it can feel frustrating. And so often we go back to the what's the point? I'm just going to keep doing things the way I'm doing things because nobody is listening to me anyway.
[00:06:47] So I want you to keep in mind that I'm going to try to get you so excited about the four pillars right now. And when you then leave this podcast and you're thinking, I want to implement this and I'm not just doing this as a sales pitch, come take my magnetic marriage course where we dig deep into the four pillars which we do. But I want you to know that it's absolutely normal to hear something. Get excited. You literally get a little dopamine bump in your brain. But then as soon as you go back to the quote real world, then your body and brain are flooded with all kinds of triggers. And there's this amazing book the body keeps the score. That, in essence, is talking about that very thing. Your body keeps the score. Your body goes back to this place where when it feels you are pulling up into the driveway of home and it's the time, it's time for the kids to come home from school. Your body's already starting to prepare itself. Or, OK, here we go. Kids are going to. They're going to fight me on homework. They're going to not want to do their chores. I'm going to try to keep the house clean. All of those things, so your body loves patterns, whether they're good patterns or not. So good patterns. So they're already prepping you for whatever you're about to take on.
[00:07:47] So again, it's perfectly normal that if you read a book or you hear a podcast or you watch somebody on TV or any of those things and you get pumped and you're going to change your life, you're going to do something different. It is so normal to then go back to day to day life and then feel like, Oh, now I don't have the energy and I need to do this a different time and just know that's a step that's a step in the right direction. Just starting to have that awareness is a big part of the the process of moving forward. Because for how long did you maybe not even know that there was a different way to interact with people or that you didn't know there was another way to look at your thoughts or your feelings or your emotions? Maybe you didn't even know that that was normal or human. So that awareness is a huge step. I know it doesn't feel as satisfying as we want it to feel, but it's a really big step on starting to take action. Just know that your brain bless its little pink, squishy heart is going to say, OK, I'll give you that little dopamine bump. Yeah, that's exciting, but that's the unknown. That's scary, and I don't know what that's going to turn out like. So why don't we just go back to this same pattern that we've been doing for a while? And the irony of that is that the more you turn back to that same pattern, the more that becomes a deeply rooted pattern in your brain.
[00:08:57] So every time that you think I want to do this thing different or you think, Man, that sounds good and I want to implement this, whatever this is. Give yourself a little bit of credit because you're also going to start creating this new neural pathway of, OK, that sounds good to me. I want to do that. And then your brain is going to say, Oh, yeah, yeah, we like that. And that's part of the process of starting to take on some new challenge. So let's go back to these four pillars of a connected conversation. This can occur with anything. So I had someone bring an example to me and I thought it was really fascinating. They were talking about there in a fairly new relationship. Things have been going pretty well. And now this person and I believe I don't have all the data, but I believe because they feel a connection, let's just say the let's say the woman. So they feel the connection with the woman. This guy now says, Man, I got to get my act together. So he's going to start doing things different. He's going to try to clean up his life a little bit. But the process of cleaning up his life a little bit is going to feel to the woman who now feels this connection like, wait a minute, where's this guy going? What's he doing? We've had this nice connection, but the problem is we don't know how to communicate.
[00:10:01] Something like that effectively, so that leaves the woman feeling sad, feeling like, oh my gosh, is this guy going to going to disappear now? And I don't know what the story the guy's brain is telling him. But if he's thinking, OK, I just got to figure stuff out because this is getting real, this relationship's getting real. So both people, in essence, want the same thing. They want a connection. They want a connected conversation. They want to connect their relationship. But now they're both going to go about it. I'm going to say again the wrong way. They're going to go both to go about it as being two humans that don't know what they don't know. So enter these four pillars of a connected conversation. Let me take this from either side, and I don't know all the details, but I feel like this is the beauty of these four pillars of a connected conversation that if the goal is simply to be heard, then you'll see how this works. What we typically want to do is just resolve something. We want somebody to know in that moment, this is how I feel and this is what I want you to do about it. And that other person may feel attacked or they may feel like, Oh my gosh, you don't understand what I'm trying to do.
[00:11:00] And so then they may withdraw as well. And so we just get in this pattern. My four pillars are based off of emotionally focused therapy, this amazing therapeutic model by Dr. Sue Johnson, and she just talks about that. We get in these patterns of these demon dialogs where somebody goes into tit for tat. And if somebody says, well, you just don't care about me, the other person will say, Well, really, I mean, I feel like you don't care about me or somebody will then pursue why? Why don't you want to hang out with me more? Why don't you want to spend more time with me? And oftentimes that can feel almost overwhelming or smothering to somebody. So then they will withdraw. So we've got this pursue and withdraw, or we've got this freeze and flee, where sometimes the more anxiously attached person is saying, Don't you understand, don't you see what this is doing to me? And the more that they put that on their spouse or their partner than the more that person just freezes because they don't know what to do, they're worried. If they say something, it could actually make things worse, even though the person that is talking to them is saying, Just tell me anything. But if that person says, I feel like you're smothering me a little bit, that's not going to go well, people, then the person that it was saying, just tell me something is all of a sudden you say, Are you serious smothering you? I love you.
[00:12:08] I want to be with you. I want to spend more time with you. So we just get in these patterns, these unhealthy patterns that we come to because we're human beings and we're trying to connect desperately with another person, but we're bringing all of our own stuff into that relationship or into that situation. So let me go back to this and we'll talk about a connected conversation using these four pillars. So the first pillar and I'm going to take this from the, let's just say, the woman side right now, and then we'll do it from the guy side as well, from the woman's side. My first pillar and and I want to spend a little time with this. My first pillar is assuming good intentions. That's the overview. But if you dig a little deeper, what that means is I really believe that no one wakes up in the morning and thinks, how can I hurt my spouse or how can I hurt my mom and dad? Or how can I hurt my employer? That even if it feels like that's what someone is doing, that if we want to keep the conversation going, if we want to get to a place where we feel heard, then we need to assume those good intentions that even if the person is angry or even if the person is withdrawn, that we have to understand that is the way that they feel they need to act in order to be heard or to get someone's time or to be understood or to be seen.
[00:13:22] And that is stuff that we're bringing into our relationships. That's not necessarily about the person in front of you. That's the way that they have felt like they have to interact in order to be heard or to get someone to really pay attention to them, even when it's manipulative, even when it's controlling. And I want to put asterisks here right now. One of the hardest things when I do a podcast like this or I go speak about these things is if you follow any of the work that I've done. I also work with personality disorders. I work with things like narcissistic tendencies, narcissistic personality disorder. And so I have a new podcast called Waking Up the Narcissism that has blown me away with the feedback and the amount of downloads with only four episodes. So I do often say I want to put a little asterisks that if you are working with someone with a personality disorder, that, yes, it's still the same. Four pillars apply. But the goal might not necessarily be in achieving a connected conversation, but it might be in order to for you to find a healthy framework in order for you to recognize that I'm not going to be heard.
[00:14:22] And I often say that I feel like these four pillars they apply in one of two ways. Either one is that it's just people not knowing what they don't know. And so when they're handed this new tool and they practice this new tool now, all of a sudden they really do start to connect with each other, or they're handed this new tool and they can't even play in that same framework. And at that point, then I feel like sometimes some really difficult things need to happen in a relationship where the person that has felt like they aren't heard or aren't seen or aren't understood, and they've tried this framework and it still isn't going well, then that might be time to really take a serious look at your relationship, because that relationship might not be the most mature relationship, but head over to waking up. The narcissism, the podcast, if you want to learn more about what I'm talking about there. But so today we're going to talk about just if it's people that just don't know what they don't know. So back to this situation. So that is assumption of good intentions. So if all of a sudden this person's put together three months of really a connected relationship with this woman and now they have just for the last week or two, they've been a little more distant immediately. That woman may want to say, Oh my gosh, I see where this is going, and I can't do this again, and I in their right.
[00:15:28] I mean, bless their heart. They I can understand why people get frustrated and why they say, Wait, wait, I just text me. Just let me know. Come on, why don't? Don't I deserve this? We've had such a good relationship, but with that assumption of good intentions, what that will do is it will keep us in the conversation. So then that will lead to pillar number two, that you can't put out that message that someone's wrong or that you don't believe them. And here's the key. Even if you do feel like they are wrong, or even if you are really struggling to believe them because the goal is to be heard and stay with me because I think this is so important. So let's say in this situation, we assume the good intentions that that person is not trying to hurt me. If I'm that that woman, even when they've withdrawn and they haven't been as responsive as they have been before. But if I assume good intentions, they're not trying to hurt me. That leads me to be a little bit more curious and have a little bit more empathy for whatever they are going through. So then if they just say I just I kind of forgot I lost track of time, or I just I worry that I'm not going to be able to be the person that you need me to be.
[00:16:27] Even if we feel like that's ridiculous because I saw you, I also saw you active on Instagram or on Facebook, so I know that you were really doing something else. You know, all that says to me is that you really don't care about me. But even if we have that information, the goal is to keep this conversation going to be heard. So we have to then assume those good intentions. And then even if we don't believe that that person, we don't believe what they're saying or what, we can't put that message out or this will shut the conversation down. So, OK, then I can understand that I feel like if that person really feels like they didn't have time or they felt like they lost track of time, then I can understand then that why they didn't reach out to me. Pillar three is questions before comments, and I think it's so important that you can nail down any of these pillars and you can see where conversations devolve in your own relationship. So let's just say that you had your four pillars in front of you and you said, OK, I'm going to assume good intentions. I'm going to assume that they're not trying to hurt me. Even if they are. I'm not going to say that's a load of garbage, even if I feel like it is. And so then three is I'm going to ask more questions before making comments because you could do the first to correct.
[00:17:30] But then if the third one, if you just say, OK, I appreciate that, but let me just let you know that I just sat up all night and I was stressed and worried. And I know if you were lying in a ditch somewhere or I felt like all of a sudden I didn't mean anything to you, but but OK, but let me hear what you have to say, and you can see how then that's going to cause that person that is on the receiving end of that to just feel maybe like, you know what? No, I'm obviously not enough for or I'm not going to be able to have this relationship. So. So I don't know if this is going to work. So you can see how any of these moments that conversation is all of a sudden going to go from connected to, it's going to devolve. It's going to we're going to get into our bunkers. I'm going to start just hurling insults, which leads to pillar four, which is a difficult one to it's to stay present. It's to not go into your bunker. And I'm not a fan of the word victim because I know that there are real victims. People go through things and they are victims. But if when purely in this context of talking about having a connected conversation that if they all of a sudden hang in there with those first three pillars, they assume good intentions.
[00:18:29] They don't tell the person they're wrong, even if they're pretty sure that that person is not being honest or they feel like they are wrong and they do ask questions before making comments, they say, Tell me more about your night. What was that like? Tell me where you were or what was going on. We can do all three of those well, but then oftentimes that fourth pillar, we just go run and dove back into our bunker and we just say, OK, well, you know, I guess my opinion doesn't matter. I guess I just need to sit around all night, wait for you and whatever you want to do because you see what we're doing there is that when we go into that, more of that victim mode or that withdraw or run back to our bunker, what we want to do is we want our partner to come rescue us. We want them to say, No, no, no, no, you're right. You're right. I'm sorry. I just need to do more of what you're asking me to do. Which would it be ideal? Maybe it would. But but we really don't want to get our relationship in this situation where we're almost requiring this person to react in the way that we want them to react. We want to be able to be heard. We want to be able to express ourselves.
[00:19:25] But then and this can be really uncomfortable at first, but then we want to just hear each other because then when we walk away from a conversation instead of thinking, I can't believe that person said that or next time, this is what I'm going to tell them. We walk away and say, OK, that must be hard for them. If they feel, if they feel like they are struggling with keeping track of time or if they feel like they want to be this new version of themselves. But they're really struggling with that because that lead me to maybe have more questions and more empathy of, Hey, I was thinking more about what you said last night and tell me more about this change you're trying to make. What's the hardest part of that? What are the challenges because we all want to be heard again, to be heard is to be healed now. We go back to this four pillar conversation. So if the woman in the scenario just now, she has hurt him and he feels heard now, we've got a pretty significant thing that can happen. So she didn't shut him down even if she wanted to, even if she could. And she could have probably pretty easily said, but you said you were going to call it seven 30 and now it's nine 30 and you never did. And you know what, how that makes me feel and all those sort of things.
[00:20:24] But then if I just if he feels heard now I get to go into if I'm playing the role of the woman, I get to go into the I feel I worry, I wonder statements. So then if it's if it's OK, I appreciate that. And that would be hard. If you feel like you're trying to make these changes or you feel like you're losing track of time or I just I just I feel like we've had such a great connection. And I just worry that if we aren't being able to communicate effectively that we're missing out on opportunity to connect or I just I worry that when I don't hear back from you, when you said you were going to reach out to me at some point, it's hard for me because let me take you on my train of thought. I worry that that means that you aren't necessarily as interested or I worry that I maybe have said something offensive, and I'm not even aware of it. Because if you put it in those, I feel I worry statements after you just heard that person. Now we're more likely to have a connected conversation now. If the woman in the scenario starts saying, OK, that's ridiculous. You know, you told me you would text me and then you never did. What am I supposed to do with that? Now we're putting that person on. The defense and income is one of my favorite concepts.
[00:21:26] Love, hate relationship with it. But psychological reactants of that instant negative reaction we have of being told what to do. And here's what that can look like in a relationship. If somebody says, Yeah, you always tell me seven thirty and then you never text me back that person hearing that is not going to think, Oh my gosh, I think they're right. They're going to think, Oh yeah, well, I can think of nine times that I texted you back. So when we throw out these, you need to understand or you don't get it, or I don't even think you care, or even though that's where we're coming from because we hurt and we want to be heard, we want them to understand this is hard. Now, if we say those things in that way of psychological reactants, I call them reactants hooks. If we use the always or the never, so you never you don't care. Or then that person isn't leaning in and saying, Tell me more. They're thinking, I don't care, Oh, I did this for you or we did this or and we just start to go into these. We go into our bunkers pretty naturally. So back to this woman, if she is then heard him, even if she or she had to assume the good intentions and she had to say, Man, even if I feel like he's I don't necessarily believe him or that's hard for me to understand.
[00:22:29] She doesn't just straight up say that she has the questions, then she doesn't go into a bunker and say, Well, I guess my opinion doesn't matter. He's still he's still present. He's still leaning in. And now she gets to say that I worries and I feels now in a perfect world. They both are adhering to the four pillars that would be ideal, but oftentimes this is a way to just change the dynamic. And this is one of those funny things. I'll go on a tiny tangent, but I just have this goal. This hope that I can teach these four pillars to people in premarital counseling or in parenting or that sort of thing. But there's this odd concept, and let me take you on my train of thought here. We don't know what we don't act like. This is like a big revelation. People are saying, OK, is that the big, exciting thing? But what I mean by that is that when couples come into my office, they come into my office because they feel like they need to go to counseling therapy, that sort of thing. They feel like they need help communicating. Why do they need help communicating? Because oftentimes some big event has happened. There might be infidelity, there might be exposure of addiction, or they may just feel like I don't know how else to be heard. And I don't know if this marriage is viable.
[00:23:29] So they come in when they come in. Guess what I get to do? I get to teach them these four pillars. And when things are rocky or things start to feel desperate, then people cling on to these things like a life raft because they didn't even realize what they were doing, and they didn't realize that there was another way to communicate. So all of a sudden they're saying, Please tell me more. And those episodes of podcasts, or even allude to four pillars of a connected conversation. Those are downloaded thousands of times more than others, or the two rounds of the magnetic marriage course. That Preston and I have done sold out just immediately, and the results have been amazing with the couples that we've talked with there because you don't know what you don't know. And then even when you start to learn new tools, just like I was talking about earlier, that doesn't mean that they're easy to implement. So you have to you have to go through something to then want to learn something new. And then when you start to learn something new, you feel like this makes sense. I want to do this. But then if you're not being very intentional about it, your brain goes right back into these old rutted neuro pathways or the path of least resistance. You're human. That's the way this works, so you have to be more intentional. That's why I literally have four pillars that I in the course that we have.
[00:24:33] I've got a worksheet that I want people to literally hold out, and they think to themselves, I don't hold a worksheet. However, a year old person in a relationship, but how's it working out for you? That's, you know, it just pulled the paper out in front of you. Go through the four pillars. Tell your spouse that I am. I am trying to learn something new, and I would really appreciate you to go on board with me on this journey because we need to change the dynamic. And what I think is really fascinating about this is if you're the spouse that is feeling unheard and you feel. Your let's just say in the scenario, let's say the husband feels like everything's great, you know, what's the big deal? Then forward this to them? Tell them to fast forward to whatever this point is right now and let me hey person listening to this? No, no. I'm going to please assume good intentions on my part. But if your spouse is coming to you and they're saying that I'm struggling, I don't know if this is working, whether a relationship is working or I don't feel like we're as connected as we can be. Even if you feel like it is, then this is an opportunity to connect with your spouse because you can have love or you can have control in a relationship. You can't have both.
[00:25:34] And so in this scenario, if you feel like things are OK, but your spouse is struggling, if they seem withdrawn, if they seem cut off, if they aren't wanting to be as intimate as you would like them to be if they aren't laughing at your jokes, if they aren't telling you you're the hero or when they do, you feel like it's transactional or it's forced, then guess what? There is a way to communicate better. It just flat out is I would encourage you to then use four pillars that I've been talking about earlier in this go back and rewind. Then you can hear these, but do assume good intentions. Your spouse isn't trying to hurt you if they say, I don't know how to communicate with you anymore, I feel like you're withdrawing that they aren't trying to hurt you. They don't know how else to be heard. And then the second pillar is you can't tell him you're wrong, even if you think they're wrong. Excuse me, even if you think they're wrong, you can't say that's ridiculous. You're wrong, because what does that do? Shuts them down? And then I want you to ask questions before making comments, Hey, tell me why you feel that help me find my blind spots and it's going to get it's going to feel tense and I say so often we are so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether. And I promise you, there's a way to use that tension to then have this growth.
[00:26:37] And this is the part that is just fascinating to me is that couples are just in this type of enmeshment or codependency that they aren't even aware of because it's just the way that they keep doing things. And they just keep doing things the way they're doing things, hoping it'll get better later, it'll get better when the kids are out of the house, so it'll get better when we get the new job, they'll get better when we buy another house, it'll get better when we retire. But it it doesn't get better just without doing anything. It takes intentional work. And even as I just celebrate my 31st wedding anniversary and I'm a marriage therapist, I developed these four pillars of a connected conversation and I've got millions of downloads on a podcast where I talk about these very things. And every time that I'm having these conversations with my wife, I will recognize opportunities where we, we missed. We miss communicated or that. So we need to go to these four pillars ourselves. And when we do, then we learn more about each other and we feel more connected. And so when you have this tool or this framework, then you actually get excited to talk to your spouse about something. Or if you say something and you watch them shut down instead of you just easing back out of the scene. Now it's like, Hey, I noticed that you.
[00:27:42] I noticed that you withdrew. Take me on your train of thought and you're going to use these four pillars because you know that they're going to lead to more of a connection. And there's a couple of other things I wanted to share, and I'm looking over at my notes here. But these four pillars we I would love for you to even just start to look at your own conversations and which one of the pillars do you feel like are the biggest challenge for you or which ones? Again, is it hard for you to just assume good intentions if your spouse is just saying things, saying things that offend you, or saying things that cause you to withdraw? Because I promise you that he or she is not waking up in the morning and thinking about four or five o'clock today, I'm going to go in there. I'm going to say this thing, and that'll really take him for a loop that if they're saying that thing, that that is that they're they may just be blindly unaware of how that affects you. And that doesn't mean that then something's wrong with you. It means that we aren't connecting. We aren't. We don't have the tools to communicate that Pillar two is don't send the message of your wrong or I don't believe you, even if you feel like they're wrong or you don't believe them. Why? Because we want to be able to stay in the conversation so that you can get to the part where you say, Man, I appreciate that I can understand or it helps me understand where you're coming from.
[00:28:48] And so here's what here's how I feel about that. Here's what that looks like for me. The third one asked questions before making comments. Don't let me go back to two, and I say this often. One of the most fascinating things about Pillar two as well is I give the example often of if you have a kid that comes to you and they say, I can't do this math class, I'm not smart. And you say, Hey, champ, you can do anything, you can do hard things. I didn't like my math class when I was a kid, but we're telling them, even though it sounds like we're trying to pump them up, we're telling them, Hey, you're wrong. So it does lead to if we don't put out that vibe or message of your wrong or I don't believe you, it gets us to that pillar. Three have to say, Tell me more. Tell me why you feel like you're struggling with math. And I give. I have so many just examples, but one of those was someone that had there's a number of dyslexia, so the parents didn't even know because the kid had never expressed himself. So once, he said, because I literally don't know if I see the numbers correctly, well, then you can't just positive vibe your way through that one so that this connected conversation formula was able to get that kid heard.
[00:29:43] And then they were able to get resources. And that's that's what I always want to say. And now he is, but I don't know, math well enough to say some real smart person. And that was Albert Einstein. That's not true because this was just a few years ago. And then that fourth pillar stay present. Lean in. Don't go into victim mode that you can hang in there for all three of the first pillars and then all of a sudden to say, Well, I guess my opinion doesn't matter. You know, you can do whatever you want to do because when we withdraw that way, we're wanting our spouse to come in and rescue us and we want to stay present. We want to stay in that conversation. I would highly encourage you to go find a couple of the episodes I've done on differentiation because this conversation formula, this connected conversation formula, what that does is it keeps us in a conversation so that we can learn more about our spouse and so we can be heard. Because here's that thing that's fascinating what differentiation really means. It's where one person ends and the other begins. So by nature, we are enmeshed and codependent because that's the way we come from the factory. We're afraid that if we are abandoned, that we will die.
[00:30:42] So we are trying to figure out how do I show up in my relationship so that my spouse will like me so that my kids will like me, so that my employers will like me, so that my church will like me? And so over time, what we realize is we're not being true to ourselves when we're trying to just show up and be whoever someone else wants us to be. We're seeking our validation externally where we really need to be able to build ourselves from within and have that confidence from within. But then what's fascinating is as we try to do that in our relationships, and especially when the other partner doesn't know that you're on this journey of self-discovery or that you're trying to better yourself so that you won't feel like you're dying in your relationship, that as we start to find ourselves, maybe we start to wear different jewelry, we start to dress a little bit differently. We start to express our opinions a little bit more. Our spouses all of a sudden are going to feel threatened because they're, Whoa, who is this person that they're thinking, This is crazy? Whoa. In essence, think about that. What they're almost saying is, wait a minute, you've got different opinions, you know, how dare you? What does that do to me? But that's the scary part where we can feel like, Oh, this is going to go bad. This person is going to leave me this person's.
[00:31:42] If I talk to him about it, this is going to go bad. But it's actually the opposite that as we watch our spouse develop. And come into more of their own and they get more confident and we're doing the same, we have this formula in a way to connect that this differentiation that we're two different people that were two different people that now are showing up in a relationship. And when we have this way to connect and have these conversations, then that builds some curiosity in the middle of the relationship. When you first start to differentiate, you are going to deal with invalidation. You're going to get a lot of Whoa, I don't know you like that or really you think that's a that's a nice thing or that's cool. And that's what leads us to keep jumping back into our old patterns. But we have to break that because that's what leads us to feel like we aren't heard. That's what leads us to feel like we are unloved or what's wrong with us. And that causes us to just kick that can down the road that we'll deal with it later. But you can see now that the longer you put that off, the bigger that gap divides. But the sooner that we can learn these tools and start to communicate that, yeah, we're going to feel a little bit of that invalidation. But as we learn to communicate with that, that's why I feel like these four pillars are gold.
[00:32:45] They really are. The more you learn to communicate and have a framework to communicate where the goal is to be heard, the more you're going to start to realize, Oh, we do have different opinions, but that doesn't mean that they're going to leave me. That means that I want to know more about how they feel and then and can end up asking me more about how I feel. And now we're going to have this curiosity in the middle, which is going to lead to this cool feeling of polarity and connection. And all of a sudden, we're going to think I kind of dig that person, not the Oh, are they going to leave me? But it's whoa, that's my person. Tell me more. And that takes a little bit of a ride into this feeling of insecurity. It's hard. It really is. But this is where there's author Terence McKenna, who said one time it's like jumping out into the abyss and finding out that on the other end, there's a feather bed because we're so afraid again. We're afraid of contention. We avoid tension altogether, but then when we get good at tension. Lo and behold, we we start to learn more about our partner and they start to have our back more and we start to feel more connected and more confident. It is amazing, and that's part of going back to that.
[00:33:40] We don't know what we don't know, which I just realized. I started this tangent 20 minutes ago, saying, I wish I could do this four pillars and get everyone to learn this in middle school or high school or before they get married. But they often feel like they're OK. They don't have to be. They don't have to be all nerdy about some framework and four pillars. It's really not that big of a deal, but it is. If this if this flowed from someone, if they pillared everything, then they really could find themselves more connected with all of those around them, and they could find a quicker way to get differentiated and find out that they really are their own unique individual person. And that just feels just thrilling. And then they can actually find the things they love to do and their passions and their hobbies and their spouse may be doing the same thing, but now there's curiosity and it's not a threat. And so now we can ask questions about what each other likes and we can go along and do those things because we want to be a part of this shared experience with our with our partner. So I hope I was able to hit my goal today of going over those four pillars just a little bit more detail. And if you disconnect it with you, feel free to share it with your spouse or share it with your work or whoever your ecclesiastical leader.
[00:34:46] But just know that to be heard is to be healed when you implement this framework. Then what happens is instead of again, I mentioned this earlier instead of walking away thinking, I can't believe they said that, or next time I'll say this or I'm so hurt. Then you walk away from a conversation even with more curiosity, and I cannot even explain that when that becomes the norm, that then you look forward to these conversations, even if they're difficult, because that there's exponential growth there when you walk away from a conversation, feeling curious and not feeling shut down. And boy, I just want everybody to be a little taste of that. If you could just take a little pill and it would allow you to see what this looks like six months down the road of practicing this. I guarantee you you would just drink this thing up like water. This new way to communicate because we just don't know until it does sound like this is a big giant plug for my next magnetic marriage course. If that's the case, feel free to contact me. That is fine. But even if not, I just want you to start knowing there's a different thing out there. There's a better way to communicate and you can you can research it and find it and practice it and whatever that feels like for you. I just want you to know there's a better way.
[00:35:47] And so that is my hope that you will feel heard right now that you'll feel like, man, this connects and that even if you don't take action on it right now, that's OK. You're a human. You're people doing people things. But the more that you start to recognize and even start to look at conversations or people around you when people learn these four pillars of a connected conversation. One of the funniest things is they start to say, and then we start seeing it everywhere, start recognizing people, not communicating very effectively. And I say, I know, right? It's like being a dentist. And all sudden, you see, everybody has bad teeth, but it's not from a Oh my gosh, how dare they have bad teeth? I've talked to several dentists, my dentist, the great guy who it's like, Oh no, I wish I could fix all their teeth. That's how I feel with conversations. Kind of go back to the beginning of this episode where I talk about when I'm communicating with people. I just wish I could just call a timeout and infuse them with four pillar verbiage, and it's just flowing running through their veins so that they can have this more of a connected conversation. Because if we all did that, oh my goodness, it would just be an amazing have an amazing love for you to start thinking in terms of these pillars and then taking us away, per usual, the wonderful, the amazing, the talented Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. All right, have a great day, everybody.