Creating Intimacy vs. Seeking Validation in Marriage, Exploring our "Shadows" and Narcissism or Emotional Immaturity with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife

Posted by tonyoverbay

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife makes her 4th appearance on the Virtual Couch podcast! Tony and Jennifer discuss the difference between coaching and therapy. Jennifer currently offers couples coaching on her “Room for Two” podcast and group coaching along with traditional psychotherapy. They talk about the differences between creating true intimacy vs. seeking validation from others and moving toward self-validation and differentiation (learning how to be autonomous while still maintaining intimacy).  

They also discuss examples of what a secure attachment looks like in parenting and how we often unconsciously create a dependence on our spouse or our children to feel love. They touch on emotional immaturity vs. narcissism, and they break down what it means to understand our “shadow self” and how bringing our “weakness” out of the shadow can not only be liberating but also allow us to step more confidently into our strengths. 

Dr. Jennifer teaches couples and individuals how to strengthen their relationships, overcome relational and sexual roadblocks and increase their capacity for intimacy, love, and sexual expression. You can learn more about Dr. Jennifer’s courses, coaching, and her “Room for Two” podcast at http://finlayson-fife.com

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony’s “Magnetize Your Marriage” virtual workshop. The cost is only $19. You’ll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ


Tony: [00:00:00] Okay. Alright, action. , , can I tell you a funny thing ? I'm in an office where it's me and a bunch of divorce attorneys and I feel like there's a joke there, a group on and right out of my door.

, I've got an inner waiting room and they bring the people there to sign papers. I think it's because the conference room is full. So I have a couple right outta my door right now that are, they're getting sign doors papers.

Jennifer: Yeah. Oh, they're fighting. They're they're fighting.

Tony: Yeah. Yeah. So I was, there was apartment, I thought, okay. Should we just open the door and let's give them two, the two, two amazing episode. Yeah. And I can say, all right, Jennifer, let's see what you got. This will be fun. but that's a good, that's a good, uh, segue though. I, I really am enjoying your room for two podcasts.

What's that like for you.

Jennifer: I'd liked it. Yeah. It's been good. Yeah. It's been, yeah, it's been fun to do actually. So it's interesting to hear how much people value it or like how it gives them the chance to think about themselves without being in the actual discomfort of an office and in conflict.

So it [00:01:00] gives them just a sideways look and then they can think about, oh yeah, I do that. And it's easier somehow for our brain to process, you know, I'm actually preparing a lesson for on David and bash Sheba and how the prophet Nathan comes to David and says, oh, there's this guy that did this terrible thing.

And David's like, oh yeah, lose loser. Get rid of . And of course it's him. And that's so much who we are as humans. We have a hard time. Recognizing our own difficult behaviors, and this is just a way to help people see themselves through other people's stories.

Tony: Hopefully, I love it. They're quite there. So many things there that I think would be fun to talk about.

One of those is I did an episode at one point on gossip and I talked about how I found some data that talked about how we communicate through gossip. Exactly what you're saying of, Hey, what do you think about, , that guy?

And then if they say I know right then I feel like, oh yeah, yeah, he's crazy. But if they said, well, I feel like he he had every right to do that. [00:02:00] Then I'm like, yeah, me too. I mean, totally. I get it. yeah. Yeah. So we're judging of the, so we don't have to talk about the elephant in the room .

Can I tell you a, a funny thing for me? So I, I like to talk often about the concept of psychological reactants, the instant negative reaction of being told what to do. And I had had several of my clients suggest to me that I listened to room for two. And so I found myself saying I will not be listening to room for two and then I, and then I thought, why Jennifer's my top three most downloaded episodes.

And I'm a therapist. It would be nice to hear. And then I realized that was my fear was, well, what if, what if I'm like a really crummy therapist, you know? And, and so I want you to know that you have helped me a ton as well. Oh, okay. And yeah. And I've been able to do all kinds of self confrontation, but I'm curious though, do you feel like there is a difference between therapy and coaching?

I'm so curious about your opinion on this?

Jennifer: Well, the only thing that's really different for me is I'm not treating well, two things. I'm not treating mental [00:03:00] health issues, so I'm not treating depression, anxiety. Psychopathology. And if I work with somebody and that's emerging, then I'm saying, you know, go and, and find a counselor for this specific thing.

Yeah. So I, uh, so that's the difference. I'm making a mental health versus a developmental self-awareness distinction. Mm-hmm um, and then I also don't do long-term work with people. I do short term consultation. So I'm often where people are often stuck is that they can't see what they can't see. They can't see their participation in their troubles.

Yeah. And I think one of my skills is being able to see better how this couple is interacting and reinforcing the worst in each other. Mm-hmm . And when we're just aware of what our partner does, which is what we're usually most acutely aware of. Yeah. We become unable to get out of the pattern. Yeah. And so I'm trying to offer [00:04:00] that third view to help people's intelligence go.

and allow them to engage differently. So I'm not doing kind of long term handholding. I'm more trying to wake people up to themselves. They may go get a counselor to do that longer term work. Yeah. Especially if they're staying on the right muscle. Right. That can be very valuable. It's easy in therapy though, especially in individual therapy to pull for the therapist to buy into your self deceived picture.

Absolutely. Yeah. And then just get reinforcement for that picture rather than staying on our liabilities, our limitations. So, yeah.

Tony: Yeah. Well, I like what you're saying there too. I find that when someone is not aware of what they are not aware, and then if I just have empathy and I just say, man, that sounds hard.

I realize they walk outta the office and say, okay, he agrees, and, and it's oh, it's not agreeing, but they're so used. I feel like the people telling them they're wrong. But then just saying, man, that sounds difficult. I guess that must feel [00:05:00] like, oh, that, that felt validating. Yeah they

Jennifer: right.

Yeah. Good. Right. Exactly. And I think that you can validate the difficulty of a position exactly. Without making people think that it's the justified position or a better way of saying it or that it's gonna give them what they ultimately want. I think a lot of times I'm trying to be Christmas future for people.

And say, if you keep doing this right, as good as it may feel, or as justified as it may feel, you're gonna have a son who doesn't trust you or take you seriously, or you're gonna have a spouse who may manage you, but doesn't wanna be close to you. So I'm trying to help people see in our self deception, we can justify ourselves, but not recognize we're destroying our own happiness.

Tony: Yeah. Hey, do you prefer one versus the other of doing a little more of that long term therapy versus the coaching and seeing Christmas future? I love that concept.

Jennifer: I mean, I probably like both actually on some [00:06:00] level. There are some people in my practice that I have worked with longer term, especially if I think it's productive and they're really working through things mm-hmm , but I probably honestly prefer the shorter.

Term work in part because people work harder if they think that as long as they can afford it, they can just have me on top in a sense. Right? Yeah. It allows the delusion that people just need more information. Yeah. As opposed to going out and doing the hard work of changing behavior. Yeah. So self awareness is only valuable in as much as it helps us to act differently, but it's in acting differently that we change our lives.

And so I never want to use the frame of coaching or therapy to interfere with people actually doing differently because it's an E it is tempting idea that someday I'll feel like doing this hard thing. Yeah, absolutely. I was just talking to somebody who [00:07:00] can be quite quite mean to her husband and get him to do things that she wants and.

and she knows that what she's doing is wrong. She knows it's destructive, meaning she's becoming, she's seeing herself and seeing that she's repeating what one of her parents did, but to actually go and tell her husband, look, I use your desire to have me be happy with you to take advantage of you. Mm-hmm, , that's very different.

Like it's one thing to talk to me about it, to go and actually expose it to him and say, I'm a jerk and , and you know, I'm not fair to you. Well, that takes a lot more courage. Yes. And most of us would rather just sit and talk about our, how bad we are or how we could do better or than actually going and doing better.

Tony: I agree and, or the old, well, I will do it later. I'll do it when yeah. I'll do it. When I have more time, I'll do it. When the kids are outta school, I'll do it when he's in a better mood or I don't want to confront him around his birthday or [00:08:00] Arbor day or whatever. Right. I pulled that way. Yeah, that was an day.

No, it's, it's a lot of people don't understand the years people have around Arbor day. Um, I do feel like the, what I like about listening to you coach, and I'm starting to use a lot of your vernaculars so hope that it isn't trademarked. I've been talking about a lot about, the courage and care taking.

So I appreciate that. And I also feel like I remember early in grad school, a professor saying that you're gonna get to a point where you really do feel like you just wanna say, Hey, here's what you need to do. But you know that that's probably not the most therapeutic thing, but I do feel like that's a place you're at now where I would love to help them skip steps if possible, even knowing that they still have to do the work

Jennifer: well, I Yes.

And no, uh, yeah, on the one hand I do think that a strength of what I do is I am helping people see things differently. Yeah. So I am literally trying to help people actually see their problems from a different vantage point. Yeah. Because I think it helps [00:09:00] them to do something about it. A lot of times people are in a meaning frame that try as they might, they cannot solve it because the meaning frame keeps them trapped.

Mm-hmm so that is, I'm gonna, you know, have my spouse make me feel good about myself or I'm going to get, hang on a second. Um, not no problem. Um, Yeah. I'm gonna get my partner to validate me and make me feel good about myself. Well, I think that's a meaning frame. That's in many therapies that is never gonna solve your problem because the locus of control is outside of you.

Yeah. So yes, on the one hand, I am kind of saying to people you have to wake up to, what's actually true here and I'm pretty direct and directive mm-hmm on the other hand, I think where I am maybe doing the opposite more is that I sometimes would wanna rush in and be like, well, answer like this, let's do a role play.

This is how you should say it. You know where more like, I'm just trying to [00:10:00] download a kind of a way of doing it, thinking that this is just about modeling. Yeah. When in fact, I think I'm more effective. The more I actually understand where someone is and realize that's outside of their capacity, they cannot do that yet.

And to talk to them as if they can, is only gonna make them feel bad, it's only gonna make them feel ineffectual. Yeah. So what's the right amount of pressure that they can actually do. . And so I'm trying to be a little more in tune with who the person is right in front of me and what they're actually capable of internalizing and making

Tony: sense of.

I love that. I love that. Cuz I know that you talk a lot about external validation and I, I really, I so appreciate I often say that if you're looking for external validation, I, there's a very little low chance the person will say or do the right thing. And then you get to say, they don't care about me and I'm a piece of garbage.

And then but I like what you're saying. Cause I feel like at times I'm now more aware of that the person in front of me, I think is trying to say the things to get me to [00:11:00] react and let them and tell them, Hey, you're doing a great job. They want the external validation from me and exactly.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, and that's hard.

Jennifer: Yeah. And so I think to be effective as a change agent or to help people get better it's quite a tricky process cuz you have to know what better. Which is in and of itself challenging, cuz it's our own depend our own. Development's dependent upon that. Yeah.

And then also knowing who the person is in front of you and actually seeing them as they are, not as how they are presenting themselves or as they want you to think they are. And then thinking about what is the right amount and the most effective way to pressure this person out of disequilibrium with themselves.

And that's a real process, a real learning process of what's most effectual for people, especially if they're like busy telling you you're doing a great job, even if you're not that that's also . Yeah. Which can happen too.

Tony: Mm-hmm absolutely. I'm gonna put a pin in something that you, that I just thought of that I want your [00:12:00] opinion on, and I don't know why I just gave you that preamble when I'm not gonna ask the question now but there's my train of thought.

 But I the part that I think that you just brought up that I so appreciate is man we're going through our own things, even as therapist that I believe mm-hmm and I I wanna give you so much credit. And I'm guessing, you know, you do a lot of podcasts. The last time that we spoke.

I thought I had figured everything out with this anxious and avoidant attachment, this dance of anxious avoidant attachment. I dunno if you remember this at all, and I presented five minutes of just data to you, that was like, I've got it figured out. And here's what the guys do, and I can speak to them, but, can you address all womankind?

And I feel like you said something effective, you question the maturity of the relationship in general. And I wanna be honest with you. I, I so admire you and I enjoy having you on. And I thought, oh, that wasn't the answer I wanted, it's funny because that caused me to take a look more at emotional maturity.

And I think I've said it on a few of my podcasts and I realized it wasn't long before I said, oh, she was right. You know, you were right. And it's caused me to really look more at [00:13:00] what that anxious attachment looks like and, and from a care taking standpoint and yes, , but, so I appreciate the, just, I try to be as authentic or vulnerable with my clients as well, because I think that emotional immaturity and a therapist is them pretending that they do know everything.

Right. I don't know if you've did that I'm

Jennifer: oh yeah. I mean, first of all, I think most of us go into the profession because there's something in the idea that we have the answers and that we can help people. Maybe we came out of that in our own families. There's usually a reason why we're drawn to that particular role and there's real goodness in it.

Right. There's often this desire to help humanity and to. The world be better, but there can also be a narcissism in it or a pretense in it. Yes. Like I've got it all worked out. I know how things in fact are. And when we like that view of ourselves too much, it interferes with our effectiveness actually.

And it [00:14:00] interferes with our openness to where we are not right. You know what we're not getting. Right. I have often thought maybe I'm doing a better job than I am. If a client feels like they can't tell me, like, that was the stupidest thing you've ever said to me that was not helpful or whatever.

you know, because we often want a view of ourselves that actually keeps us from seeing what's actually true about us. .

Tony: Yeah, I so appreciate. I remember one of the clients, so I did my internship working for the church and I remember , I would run into people that would have experiences with other therapists and then had transferred because and I remember this aha moment where one of the guys said, , I asked the therapist about some concept about a marriage therapy principal.

And I said, have you ever heard of this? Or can I give you this article? And she. I'm the therapist, that isn't your role to do that. And I remember the, and the article that he ended up sharing, of course, then at that time I probably just wanted his validation cuz I was a brand new intern, but I read it.

It was amazing. And I just thought, boy, we do feel at times or at least I don't like to think I [00:15:00] do, but how, how dare someone tried to tell me I'm the one that has the right history's degree and you have the PhD people can't tell you anything. Right? Jennifer .

Jennifer: I wish I, well, that's the thing is like the

Tony: paradox.

So, and you mentioned,

Jennifer: well, I just think the paradox is the more we acknowledge. Our own stupidity, the stronger and the better we are. Yes. Right. And that's not to say that I'm always doing that. I resist it as much as anybody else. I like to feel competent. I like to feel like I've got it all worked out, but the more we can actually be genuinely humble.

It's an true measure of our capacity. And I don't mean eating dirt humiliated kind of humble. I mean, we stay open to what we're getting wrong. Yes. We we're open to what we don't yet understand. That's a real that our ego is not as important. As wisdom that yeah. How we see ourselves isn't as important as doing things that are actually helpful or right.

And [00:16:00] that's that's a real measure of moral courage, but really counter to human inclination because we like to see ourselves the way we like to see

Tony: ourselves. Absolutely. And it's funny, and now I feel like I'm giving you credit for my entire practice at this point. But in that same, episode, we talked about somebody that was a fan of you, both you and I, and they had talked about fitting some version of me talking about narcissism and you talking about mm-hmm, um, differentiation.

Right. And then, and you had just made a comment where you said, well, we all have a little, I think, right bill, you said we all have some narcissistic, we're all little narcissistic or something. Yeah. And I, and I remember thinking I remember. Oh, how dare you? I, I mean, not me , I mean, although, although I was right, although I was, I would always think that I was being clever by talking about my narcissistic traits or tendencies.

And then I start up this separate podcast waking up the narcissism because I just felt like there was such a demand and I work with a heavy population of people that are in these relationships with emotionally immature people. I used to say people with heavy narcissistic traits or tendencies and, and you were in my head there too.

And [00:17:00] about nine episodes in, I did a episode saying, am I the narcissist? And I talked about Excellent look, ? And I talked about looking at, from an emotional immature lens and that true narcissistic personality disorder, such a small percentage, of the population. That's right. , but we talk about it so often and that I have to tell you, Jennifer, that was like game changer because it gave, uh, it gave language for both sides of the street to be able to say, okay, here's how I show up a little more emotionally immature.

And it was just, yes, it was so nice. I mean, doesn't mean that it's solved everything, but I think it's been able to provide a framework for better communication.

Jennifer: Well, that's, that's great. And I think the more we wake up to ourselves genuinely and deal with ourselves, the more capable of intimacy we are, the yes, the better it is to be with us.

Like if your partner is diluted about who they are. Yeah. They're not safe to be with, if you're diluted about your own narcissism or whatever, you interfere with people wanting to be close to you because it's costly to be mm-hmm . So this self awareness is a big deal. And, [00:18:00] you know, narcissism can hide in the form of, you know, the object demanding.

I know everything, but it also can hide in the kind of martyr. Covert superiority. Nobody's giving me what I'm owed, cuz I'm over here sacrificing and nobody gets it. I mean, that's a kind of narcissism too, that, you know, we all start out narcissistic that's babies are highly narcissistic. The question is, do we grow out of our narcissism?

That's really what it is. Yeah. And some people it's so entrenched it's a narcissistic personality disorder, but really the challenge is, are egos. And do we dare to see ourselves enough to grow beyond them?

Tony: I love that. And okay. Now I feel like I'm about to ask for your validation and then I want to get into the topic.

I know I I'd sent you or emailed you about, I love that you said that, cuz I now have this big, , , soapbox where I like to say yeah, if we start from the womb, every little kid. Yeah. The baby, all their desires are, so I must emote to get my needs met then mm-hmm and since they're cute and they smell nice and things mm-hmm then people [00:19:00] meet all of their needs and then yes.

Right. , and then we move into childhood. And I, I like to say welcome to the world of abandonment. Now, if they are gonna be the pony for my birthday or I don't get to eat licorice for dinner, then, , how dare they, I'm asking for these things. Right. So right now I have to show up and figure out a way to get my needs met and then bring that stuff into adolescence.

And now I've got that dance of, um, my attachment to, how do I show up to get my needs met and my abandonment? Yes. I'm a little narcissist. So if they don't meet my needs, they must hate me. And uh, right. And it's so crazy then to think, man, when I feel like when you lay it out that way, and then of course we need external validation because we have no sense of self, but now we're supposed to step into a relationship.

And , now we can work on this together. And mm-hmm and become, become emotionally mature. , cuz I love where you talk about differentiation and your side of the street mm-hmm and not needing external validation.

Mm-hmm um, where do you see that role of how to communicate? Do you feel like communicating one's needs, communicating one's wants, , how do you address that?

Jennifer: Um, the way I think about it is that communicating who we are. Okay. [00:20:00] And not our needs, our needs is this, , kind of idea that I have needs and you partner have to fulfill those needs, meet them.

Yeah. And that just means that this isn't about love. This is about obligation. Okay. Now that's different than saying we're automatons and we have no impact on each other. Cuz of course we do. Um, but intimacy is not a use model. It's a knowing and being known model, which I think is. Higher it's developmentally further along.

Yeah. So when we're younger in our development, we think of a future partner as fulfilling our needs, making us feel loved, making us feel worthy, validating our sexuality, right. Our desirability. That's how most of us get married is in that frame of dependency because we haven't matured into someone who can accept ourselves really yet.

Yeah. But when I talk to couples about intimacy or communication, I'm talking to them about showing [00:21:00] who they are and using communication to get clearer about who they are. Mm-hmm not about trying to get something from the other person. Yeah. So the intimacy is unilateral in that you're showing who you are.

So just in the conversation I was having, I do group coaching sometimes. And somebody was asking about the question of how, what does it even mean to be. Okay. And she's somebody who wants high levels of control. So I was saying, well, it's showing your spouse who you actually are. Here's what would be an intimate statement?

I'm a user I take advantage of you. I use your discomfort with my anger to get things from you. Highly intimate conversation.

Tony: yeah, yeah. Right. But it sounds like the, to someone that is used to codependency and enmesh, does that just sound like, well, wait I'm hanging myself out the dry or they're gonna, they're gonna use that against me or

Jennifer: right.

Well, that's kind of what her [00:22:00] fear was. Well, I will lose my control over him. If I reveal my trade secrets now he's, she's not married to an abusive guy. He's not gonna use it to basically exploit her. Yes. She's afraid she'll lose control over him. And she depends on him to manage her reality. So she doesn't want to reveal herself.

So I would say she doesn't want intimacy. She wants control

Tony: control. Yeah.

Jennifer: So a lot of us use the framing of intimate communication to keep control of our partner. Mm-hmm, much more than we're using it to reveal who we really are because who we really are is often not that great. I don't speaking against human beings, I'm talking about our own inclinations to do ego reinforcing things that aren't particularly loving.

Right. We're very good at doing that as human beings, even needing to be needed is a ego reinforcing behavior that isn't necessarily [00:23:00] about loving other people.

Tony: It's about demanding love

Jennifer: in a sense. Well, or it's about needing to be validated by them being dependent on you in some way.

does. . Sometimes we're over functioning for the sake of our kids and. You know, I have a child with autism and this was when he was starting his freshman year in high school. And my husband and I were kind of concerned because he was going to catch a bus. And I'm like, just worried was he, he did had, was coming out of a school, especially for kids on the spectrum, into a normal like school for neurotypical kids.

And so we were worried and we would sort of over function, walk them to the bus stop and do all these things. Well, one morning my husband and I both slept in and we woke up to, well, he had left a phone recording on an answer machine, what we had back then saying something like, you know, oh, so we woke up in a panic, he'd gotten himself out the door, caught the bus, realized that the dog was outside [00:24:00] in the yard and wanted to make sure that we were aware of it.

So called to tell us to let him in. I mean, this was like way more mature than we were expecting. And it was just this moment of awareness that we were so busy being needed, that we were actually interfering with his autonomy. Yes. ? And so sometimes when we want to see ourselves as the epicenter of our children's lives, or want to see ourselves as necessary to our spouse, we operate in ways that are actually interfere because we wanna UN like therapists will do this to keep somebody in a relationship with them because you wanna feel so important.

Yeah. When in fact what they actually need is more autonomy from you.

Tony: Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm well, and , I've read no more Mr. Nice guy . And I feel like , that was a big one for me to recognize that when somebody feels like, no, I'm so nice that I, anyone would like me exactly.

Or I right. And that's the part where exactly that's very

Jennifer: much yeah, yeah. Is needing to be needed. That nice guy. I'm gonna be the best man. And then you're gonna always wanna [00:25:00] have sex with me because you're gonna feel so lucky and that's still about ego reinforcement. It doesn't look narcissistic because it's the nice guy, but it's deeply self preoccupied.

And so it doesn't feel desirable mm-hmm or trustworthy because there's all these covert contracts connected to

Tony: it. Yeah. Can I ask you, and this was just one that I've been thinking about lately, so mm-hmm, , when we talk. If I can have someone understand that, that they don't need that external validation and they're okay.

They, as, as they are. But then if they never grew up and had that secure attachment to a parent, so now I'm telling the client that no, you can now you find yourself. And we identify their values. You know, I love acceptance and commitment therapy, and then we'll some, some value based actions and take action.

Mm-hmm and don't ruminate. , but do you find ever. First of all, I'd love your thoughts on that concept of how one starts to find their self, because I almost feel like I'm noticing, okay. The person's still even, and doing a values exercise of almost still saying, is this the right value?

What do you [00:26:00] think, do you think this is what I mm-hmm . And so even on the path of trying to find one self, so they can internally validate mm-hmm if they never had the model of a secure attachment, then I, I do wonder if sometimes that is asking this person to do this thing that they're saying, I, I think, am I doing this right?

But then I shouldn't be asking you because,

Jennifer: yeah. Yeah. So first of all, it is very the most fortunate people of course came out of securely. To use that language securely attached to family systems. And what I would say is differentiated family systems. Yes. Yes. So a differentiated family is not a lot of times people think differentiation is autonomy and attachment is attachment, but differentiation is actually the ability to balance our need for autonomy and our need for connection.

Yeah. Yeah. So differentiation includes attachment, but also our desire to belong to our autonomy because human beings want both things. Yeah. And it's our ability to balance that, be in connection without losing our independent, psychological [00:27:00] functioning that defines how differentiated we are in a loving family, in a differentiated family, the parents can actually know the child because they can manage their sense of who they are and they don't need the child to reinforce them as important or as necessary.

They're able to invest in what will facilitate that child. Growing into their own strength and they can facilitate what kinds of limits and privileges that child needs. So , the child grows up. The lucky child grows up, knowing that I can both be in relationship and belong to myself. Exactly. And I get to have both.

And so it's much easier to go and replicate a relationship. You're not gonna marry somebody that's more needy than you. You're gonna marry somebody who's at a similar level of capacity in terms of that ability to balance those competing demands. Yeah. Those of us that grew up in a family that was more enmeshed or psychologically entangled are going to have [00:28:00] more confusion.

Well, I say they inherit a way of being in relationship. They inherit how you, how much self gets to be there and how much connection gets to be there. and so like to use the attachment lip framing, some people are overly autonomous, like avoidant or they're overly avoiding, uh, relational, which is en mashed or what's the word

Tony: you use?

Anxious attachment anxious, attach anxious. Yeah.

Jennifer: So the point is, is that in my work, what I do is I'm showing people that they are replicating a pattern. That's keeping them from freedom from that pattern. I like that. So even if they're going to a therapist and they're telling them how to talk to each other, they're still replicating an anxious attachment in my opinion.

Tony: Yes. I can see that. Absolutely.

Jennifer: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So it's not helping them learn how to stabilize their own functioning. Mm. Now, ideally you've got that already. Okay. So I'm to go through the first [00:29:00] phase of life without meeting the primary needs of that first phase, it's very challenging. Mm-hmm . And, but our fantasy is that you're gonna get it from a therapist or get it from a partner.

And a therapist should facilitate the process. The person needs to go through. But in my experience, the way that people most find their strength is by confronting their participation in a fantasy like that. My spouse is gonna make me feel good, but I keep doing things in order to get that, that make me feel bad.

Yeah. And so, for example, if they can wake up to that pattern and see how it works against them and their spouse, Then they have the chance, then what happens is they're cleaning up their internal reference. Okay. And they're more able to organize their minds at a more autonomous level now by autonomous, I don't mean avoidant, right?

I mean, they're [00:30:00] more able to stabilize their sense of who they are. So for example, if I have confronted in my own life, like, okay, I keep pressuring my child for a picture of myself as a parent that I want. Yes. That's actually burdening him and is interfering with both knowing him being good parent to him, but also giving him pressure to manage myself.

Mm-hmm okay. I see where I learned it. I know my parent did some of that. I'm doing it too well, that waking up and realizing this is affecting my child. And saying, I I'm not gonna do it. I, I, I have to manage my own fears. I have to manage my own expectations, my own anxieties, that I'm not enough anxieties that I inherited.

Mm-hmm but I'm not gonna make them my child's problem. They're my problem. Now, as unintuitive as that is right. You wanna go make 'em your spouse's problem, your therapist's problem. Somebody else's problem . Yeah. Cause you want [00:31:00] someone to solve it for you. Yeah. In the fantasy that there is a pseudo parent out there.

Yeah. But there isn't when you're an adult. And so the way you do it is you say like, I have to offer better than what, because I don't, I don't respect what I'm doing. Mm-hmm I didn't respect it when my parents did it. I don't respect it when I do. So I have to do better and handle myself and handle my fear and handle my disappointment.

Now that sounds very lonely. It is, it is quite alone, but the more you can metabolize and handle yourself and function differently, the more you actually go and create, so for example, with my son, during that time, I was doing things that made him wanna get away from me. Yeah. Right. Didn't want my influence, even though I was certain that he needed it and you know, he did need help, but because I couldn't see my participation in the problem, I was actually creating a child that wasn't being helped and was trying to avoid me.[00:32:00]

Mm. As I self confronted more and started being more honest in those conversations and dealing with myself better. Right. You know, what happened is he became much more trusting, much more open, much more. Dealing with his own challenge in a better way and liked being with us more. Yeah. So you actually build that secure attachment by facing your.

Tony: And that's where I feel that makes, makes sense. Oh, it does. And, and you've yeah, I've appreciated the way you've talked about, on the room for two podcasts, the, it's almost like you're, I feel like you're doing it right. If you are having to deal with some invalidation, because that means that right.

And I will, I've had two things I think are really fascinating. One one of my daughters she's she had gotten herself in some really good shape and she said, Hey, I realize now that we had, and she was trying to frame it and to not hurt my feelings, but I said, Hey, I'm curious, you know, tell me more.

But she said the relationship that we had with going out to eat when she was growing up was probably not healthy [00:33:00] because it was everything celebratory was done out to eat. And, uh, and I so appreciated her comment. And I realized that was one of those moments where I wanted to defend myself and say, Hey, I was raised a, you know, a feral cat.

I mean, going out to eat was like, I'm trying to exactly right. But then I realized that was my, my experience. And then absolutely her experience was. And she's probably right. You know, and, uh, yeah. And so I am so grateful for that, but I, it almost broke my heart the way she tried to present it to me, cuz it was from this.

Oh, I don't know if this is gonna go well. And that's where I wanted to say, am I gonna hurt my dad's feeling? Yeah, yeah. Right. Which is I say, and then I have to tell you another one that this is just, I think is fascinating. I feel like my goal, I had three girls and my son is my youngest. He's 18 and he just graduated high school and he came up to me not long ago and said, he said, oh dad, I almost forgot to tell you.

I left the burner of the oven on for hours the other day. And I have to tell you, it was so funny cuz I, I felt like theirs, my job is done. You know? Well done secure attachment. Yeah. [00:34:00] There is zero chance. I would've told my parents that. And even when he told me that I wanted to. All the things, you could have don't, you know, or burn that.

But I thought this is amazing that this guy could come to me and say, look, what I did. He is that honest. Yeah, it was wild. Cause I felt like, okay, he knows that he doesn't, he can come to me and there is that, well, he can be

Jennifer: intimate to use that language, right? Yes. That he can show himself and say, look, oh, by the way, I made this mistake and that he trusts you can handle it.

Tony: It was crazy.

Jennifer: This movie that I saw as a kid around, I which one, a little boy who burn it was Avalon, is that what it's called? Avalon was like, and this little boy burned down the store, his dad's store and like devastates the family. And he went and told his dad, dad, I'm the one who did it. And you know, and it's, and what the dad does is say, no, you weren't the one, it was because of an electrical thing.

And it wasn't you. And I think the dad actually did it to protect the son from his [00:35:00] own self recrimination. But I just knew at the time thinking. that's his parent. That's a true parent, right? That, that it really, the parent handles the anxiety for the benefit of the child. But the child knows that the dad can handle who he is and will show who, who he is flaws and all and not break the parent.

Yeah. Mm-hmm

Tony: I love it. I do. Are you familiar with Ross Rosenberg? He, he wrote the book human magnet syndrome. I dunno if you're familiar. No. So , I'm released in an interview with him on the narcism podcast in a couple of days, but he has this concept where he is trying to redefine codependency , he calls it self-love deficit disorder and, and he just talks about, this core shame comes from this place of fundamentally bad, or I'm only as good as what I do for others, which then leads to this feelings of loneliness, which then leads to this almost like the withdrawal and then turning to what he calls drug of choice, which is a, a narcissistic or emotionally immature.

Lover. And then, and then becomes this selfless compulsive caretaker who then tries to control others into loving him. And[00:36:00] yes. And then the opposite or the treatment, he calls this self love abundance, but it was something we were saying there about even with your son or what we're talking about with this, where I, and I pulled this up, he's got this self love, abundance pyramid where he says, I am lovable because I am, I don't have to work at being loved, which leads up to this existential piece or freedom to live as an imperfect, but worthy and lovable person.

Yeah. But this next part is the thing. I feel like you, you share so well, but he says, so self-love self respect and self-care that engenders the same from others. And I feel like the part, right. And I feel like that part where, when people, they don't know what they don't know, they didn't see it modeled they're enmeshed to codependent because they're, we are.

And then, then that differentiation and interdependence. And we're two autonomous people. I feel like I can preach that all day, but I feel like I can almost watch the eyes glaze over where the, where it's the yeah. But then we're not, but where's the part where. We're dependent upon each other as if that's the, the goal.

Right. And it's like, so I don't think people even know what that looks like. Yeah.

Jennifer: Yeah. People are afraid if we don't need each other, [00:37:00] why would we be together? Yeah. It's very hard for people to understand. That's actually, when you really choose somebody. Yes. When you actually value someone because they matter to you and you care for them, and they're an important person in your life.

Not because you need them. That's the birthplace of love actually that you're not using them anymore. And so that's really where true friendship lies is, you know, this person, I mean, we all want to be chosen, right. A lot of us will take being needed as the kind of security blanket. For the fear that we wouldn't be chosen, that we wouldn't be deemed worthy enough of being chosen.

Yeah. But the greatest gift is to be chosen by a partner to know that they value you, that they want to be with you. Not because they need you, but because they are grateful for you, they value who you are. They value the friendship and you know that you have a true friend, not one you have to [00:38:00] earn. Yeah.

Tony: And I love that. Cause I will say often when people can find this Nirvana, that relationships aren't as difficult as one might think that they would be, not that they're. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Is not that without problems, but you know, like you can show up as calm, confident, energy and differentiated and interdependent and curious and tell me more and know that that person's view is not an attack.

I love that. You know, it's funny. I feel like I've kept you here for so long. Do you have a little more time? Sure. Okay. So the, because I realized the thing that I actually emailed you about and that you sent me on a journey without knowing as well is I, I would love your, is there a simple way to explain the young Ian shadow self?

Cause I feel like the, the getting to self confrontation and I feel like I, I understand the concept, but I feel like I don't really know how to speak to it or apply it. , is that a part of your

Jennifer: yeah. Role? I mean, I haven't actually studied, well, maybe I did way back say okay.

But but I can talk about my understanding of what the shadow self is or what it is. Okay. Cause I think it's very [00:39:00] connected to differentiation. It's very connected to becoming strong. And , there's a lot of Christian concepts in my opinion, that really support it. So. Do you mind if I go a little religious for a moment?


Tony: go full religious. Yeah. Okay. I'll I'll even stop. Say a minute at the end, even let's let's do

Jennifer: this. Okay, good.

Do that. okay. Um, you know, I think that a really core part of the Christian message is this idea that the true birth of goodness is when we stop needing to see ourselves as good. Okay. Right. That, yeah. It's the refusal to acknowledge our own capacity for evil. That makes us evil. Right. That makes us dangerous.

And so where Christ was most critical is people that would use religion to inflate a picture that they are above and better than other people. Yeah. Right. That to play out a persona of superiority rather than we are all sinners. [00:40:00] Meaning we are all deeply imperfect and the paradox is the more that we can actually accept that the freer we are.

Yes. And I don't mean by accepting it, meaning we indulge it and say, well, exactly the sinner. So like, whatever, I'm just gonna live it up. Now. I don't mean that we are irresponsible, but that we stop trying to manage our egos and how we're seen and live truthfully live in line with what is in fact true about ourselves and others.

And the thing is, you know, again, I'm, I've been asked to teach this lesson on David and best, but I think the angle that I want to go on this lesson on Sunday is around this idea that even David right is capable of deep sin. Right. So even, yeah, and aren't, we all sort of David chosen and loved by God, but all capable.

Of self deception, ego aggrandizement telling ourselves that we're above other people's mm-hmm , you know, that, that we don't have to live by the same rules [00:41:00] and therefore able to dilute ourselves into abjectly harmful things. And so our freedom is in paradoxically, staying, being aware of our capacity to do that.

That's what allows us to integrate who we are. A house divided is always fragile. And when we refuse to see our darker selves, we are always house divided. If we refuse to know our darker selves, that doesn't mean you're indulging your darker self. Yeah. But you are aware of your capacity that if you refuse to know it, you're not gonna want intimacy because your partner will know it.

And they'll try to talk

Tony: to you about it. I don't mean to cut you off on this, but can I just share something that, but don't lose a thought, but it's interesting. I've got, and I almost was gonna send you this in an email and press pug Meyer. And I, you know, we have this marriage course and we've integrated this just recently of it's from a book that has strengths weaknesses.

So the strengths that says light the weaknesses, it says shadow. So one of [00:42:00] example is the strength or the light is energetic and then the weakness or the shadow is exhausting. And I feel like if I look at myself, I mm-hmm , I don't know if you can tell, I, I feel very energetic, but what is my, the shadow of that or what is what I know people are aware of?

I can be pretty exhausting. So, is that, that concept where I have to be able to, okay. I can bring that too light. It doesn't mean. I, to look at it like, well, I'm exhaust thing. What am I gonna do? Okay. Right.

Jennifer: Okay. Right. Exactly. I like what you saying? So that's true. Like a lot of our strengths have a liability built right into them.

Okay. Right. Okay. And that, the thing that we are good at is also often got a dark side connected to it. And the more aware we are of that, again, it's not for the point of berating ourselves and saying we're worthless or anything like that, but more, I have to keep track of my shadow self so that I am channeling my choices into what is in fact good.

Okay. And the more that we can actually accept and know our shadow [00:43:00] self, the more trustworthy we are. Because it's not running around controlling us and we refuse to see it.

Tony: Yes. Oh, I love that. , there's another one on the list the confidence that the shadow side of confidence is arrogance.

And so sometimes I feel like's right. People feel overly confident about their views on everything. If I go back into this emotional maturity or the narcissist I, that field, I work with it, it is fascinating where they're confident that they know more than the therapist. They're confident they know more than the doctor they're and that does that.

They, they are living with that. I think that shadow self of arrogance and not willing to confront,

Jennifer: yeah, exactly. Okay. And therefore it interferes, you know, I had a very narcissistic guy show up who was a doctor, and he's trying to tell me how to do the work. Right. And so I was saying to him, it's like me showing up and telling you how to do surgery on my leg.

Right? Yeah. And I said, I feel sorry for you genuinely, because you are interfering with the help you need. Yeah. You're desperate to be loved. [00:44:00] You're desperate to have people to wanna be close to you. And yet you are too afraid to let go of what of the picture that, you know, everything and that you're in control of everything.

Mm. And you're never gonna get what you want. Now, I mean, I remember this narcissistic demanding guy, like his ears, his ears, his eyes filled up with tears. I dunno what his ears filled up with, but his eyes filled up with tears and, he is sort of this moment of being known. I think I said it better than that than I just said it.

But you know, it was like this moment of being recognized and known and that he really was, his shadow was running everything. Yeah. Okay. Into the

Tony: ground. Yes.

Jennifer: Yes. And until he was willing to face that and see that he wants to control everything, including his wife that was about to leave him. Yes. He was not going to get anything that he really cared about.

Yeah. And so a good therapist or coach, or friend or church leader is gonna help you see your [00:45:00] shadow self, not to make you feel terrible. Mm-hmm but to help you go and sin no more to get stronger. Yeah. So it's when we face our demons, that we are able to integrate and choose in a more solid way.

And I think that's what spiritual development always requires. Okay. The fantasy that we're all well, intentioned and good, just making missteps in communication and so on is just fantasy land. I mean, you don't get Nazi Germany out of well intentioned people. Yeah. You think about how quickly Putin has been able to mobilize people into evil, evil leaders, exploit our tendency to self delude and exploit our desire to be connected to a group.

To vilify and do harm. We're very, very vulnerable to it. As human beings in the us today, we have groups of people who hate the other group. Yes. And feel justified because they've been diluted exploited by [00:46:00] media, by leaders, into the idea that the other half is different than you. Yeah. Rather than we're all capable of evil, we're all capable of self deception.

Instead of the question of what does the other group understand that I don't yet understand what does my spouse understand about me? That I don't yet understand if we'd settle down and open up, that's a person that wants intimacy and is willing to deal with who they actually are rather than asking everybody else to deal with who they are.


Tony: I, I like that. Cause that makes sense of putting that shadow version or that shadow self in, from a society. I mean that, I, cause I, boy did you, this could be a whole other topic for another day even, but I don't know what that was like for you the last couple of years, but I have never seen.

Polarity come into my office even, and then awful. Right. And then and just, and in marriages, just all kind. Yeah, it was so wild. And then I felt like it was that, okay, somebody starts with some sort of cognitive bias, then they jump into confirmation bias. Then they jump into some echo chamber and all they're gonna hear is the things that they feel like they have to [00:47:00] hear.

Yeah. Or some, for some reason that something is wrong with them. And I felt like our, our curiosity just went out the window for a while.

Jennifer: Yes. And, and so much fear, which would make it hard to settle down and understand. Cuz you're terrified. If you understand the other side, you'll give them power and you'll be dead, you know?

And so it's this. And so, so many limbic people, myself included on some level, to be honest, you know, of like, you know, what's happening in the larger conversation that we can't understand each other anymore. Yeah. So,

Tony: yeah. I think I can give you an amen. That was, well, thank you. But the shadow was, so I appreciate that was so well laid out and I really am grateful for that.

I, okay. Here was the thing I was gonna say earlier. And then I can I, now I need to let you go, but I really appreciate your time and I could thank you forever. And you're my top three downloads and I'm guaranteeing this won't be, you'll hit number four, great. Like 400 podcasts now. I mean that you already big that's deal and I appreciate that.

You come on. No, thank you. So when earlier, what, the thing I was thinking about was I interviewed this forensic psychologist once, and [00:48:00] then it was funny because that was one where I feel like, okay, maybe he was a little bit emotionally immature, AKA narcissistic, because he thought he thought I just wanted talk to him.

I thought we were interviewing for a podcast. We were done. And then he said, oh, you can't use that. So that was kind of fasting, but the details that were amazing. He talked about how after interviewing, I don't know if it was hundreds or a thousand or more people for the insanity defense, where he talked about knowing when somebody comes in and they DRL and they jump up on the chair and they bark and stuff that he is like that guy's not insane.

You know, he's playing the role of insane. He's just playing. Yeah. Right. Exactly. But then the guy that comes in and he's got the dead stare and , he gives some version of the crime he committed that this person has been doing his job for so long that he knows.

And I'm so fascinated by yes. And I feel like in almost everyone's profession at a daughter work at Starbucks for a while, and she knows, she knows a good whatever the, you know right. She knows how you do it. Yeah. And, and, and I don't. And so I feel like the part that I love about this work and the part I hear coming through in the room for two, [00:49:00] and I can only imagine is in your office is.

That's the part, I feel like that we know, I, I know emotional maturity, I know narcissistic behaviors mm-hmm or, you know, or, you know, this differentiation in coaching. And so that's where I feel like it is, it just comes across so well. And so go back to that emotional maturity or narcissism or people that are saying, no, I know better.

And just, you know, I don't know. I dunno if you see where I'm going with that,

Jennifer: but I'm not quite following your question to keep going though. Cause I'm

Tony: not sure. Cause it wasn't one. I think I realized halfway through there. I was saying, I just want to say that I see that you absolutely are so good and know what you do.

I want you to validate the fact that I do as well. And then I want to tell all the people that are trying to. Trying to get you that feel like no, I know better than them that they all need to buzz off. I think that was the point. Yeah.

Jennifer: well, that's good. That's very intimate of you.

Tony: no, I, now I realize now I realize it wasn't even a question. It was back when we were talking about something, I realize that you had mentioned something and I just I'm so fascinated by that concept of, and [00:50:00] maybe that was my own emotional I maturity of I used to try to do my bookkeeping. I used to try to do my website and I realized, yeah.

That I, then I went to a QuickBooks conference once I made it through about an hour, but I'd already spent, had the room in San Francisco. So I told my wife to come on down and then we just, I, I'm not gonna ever know this stuff so it's really understanding that there are things that we know things we're good at.

And if we don't know them, we're not good at them. Then I guess the maturing process is, is, uh, taking ownership of that. Maybe that's where I'm going with that. Yeah, yeah,

Jennifer: yeah, exactly. And yeah, like part of being wise is knowing what you don't know. Yeah. I remember sitting for the licensing exam and most of it was about knowing what you don't know I mean, like don't do harm.

Right. And that was kind of, I remember thinking like, this is so much less about what you do know and being clear about what you don't know. So you're not trying to solve problems without competency to solve those problems. And you know, the, at least that's a no harm kind of idea. And, but I think [00:51:00] that, yeah, it's kind of amazing in life.

Like it's really true. The more, you know, the more you realize you don't know. Yeah. But I've sometimes had the feeling when I'm learning to do good work of both that I'm getting better at it, but how far I am still from, like, what I mean is it becomes more evident. Like the finish line is like doesn't even exist anymore where I used to think it, that meaning how one can actually grow within oneself.

the ability to be effective in helping other people change is its own thing. It's one thing to see things. Yeah. But to know what actually inspires people the right amount. I mean, like there, it is just infinite numbers of ways that, that I could get better. Yeah. Um, I do think it's valuable to actually do the podcast because then I'm forced to listen to my own meetings and then I'll be like, oh my gosh.

how did I miss that?

Tony: Yeah. Right. But that's.

Jennifer: That is because [00:52:00] you can at least step back and see where you're getting manipulated by the client or you're in your own diluted idea about something and missing with cues or whatever. So,

Tony: yeah, I love it. I love that. And I love that vulnerability. Um, cuz I find, I just had a session last week where we've been working under a certain premise with the client and in a couple situation and now the more that we are working through things, I feel like it's that movie, the sixth sense where we just found out that Bruce will was dead the whole time.

Now we're going back and working through the sessions and it's like, okay. Yeah, I kind of, yeah, this is

Jennifer: information I was missing the

Tony: whole time. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And then I feel like it's humbling. It is humbling and I love that. It's humbling. And I feel like the client is both equally appreciative of my honesty and vulnerability, but I feel like there's also a little bit of a shouldn't you have caught this, like aren't you the guy that does the

Jennifer: right?

Yeah. So I I'm sure that's right. But I also do think that. I think if you're really genuinely doing your best, as limited as, as that may be. Yeah. This is, I think true with kids also. And your [00:53:00] spouse is that if you are sincerely self-correcting and you really are trying to do right. Um, there's a lot of forgiveness for that because even with our kids, even if you're getting it wrong, but they know you have their interests in your heart.

Yes. They can track that. And human beings, we just keep on being human. I don't know that we have much way around that, but it, but our desire, but our desire to do right by one another is a big deal. And certainly not something to be taken

Tony: for grant. No. Okay. Let me give you one more bit of praise , because this was one that I think I was able to, I worked into my own relationship.

, I feel like you've talked about working from a place of trust and and I feel like it's different than have the client say, what am I just supposed to trust them? And I say, well, no. How could you, these things have gone on but I feel like the example that I, yeah, that I had in my relationship and I've, I was able to use your operate from a place of trust.

And I felt like it made so much sense was my wife and I having a conversation where she had felt [00:54:00] like I was maybe doing a little bit of the gas Lighty stuff that I talk about, on podcast mm-hmm and I felt like, oh, tell me more. And then she had explained a situation in a way that I showed up.

And then I know that that is a way in the past that I did show up more emotionally immature. And I would've because I felt my fragile ego was being attacked. That I was trying to defend that fragile ego and. And and I, man, I was so grateful for that. Her saying that, cause now I said, oh, now it's needing to operate from this place of trust that I'm aware of that previously exhibited emotional immaturity.

So now yes. You know, in the past, if I was disagreeing with her, you gonna offend it was. Yeah. And it was right because I, I, because how dare you I'm I know everything. Right. And now if I say, oh, I don't think that's the case. It still sounds as if I'm the you right. Extending it off. Yeah. But now I'm saying, oh, I, now I'm aware of what I, how I'm showing up.

And now I can confidently from a healthy ego, say that I'm, I'm confident that this is a, a true view of what was going on. Mm-hmm . [00:55:00] Yeah.

Jennifer: So yeah. Right. No, it's true. It's really good to be open to what our spouse sees, even though every cell of my body wants to believe they're wrong. absolutely.

Okay. I will humor you and listen to yours. You, and then you're like,

Tony: Oh, I love that where? Yeah, I love when it, when it is like a, okay. No, that is actually a very good point. Okay. I, I, and I have to not do the, I'll give you that one, but we'll

Jennifer: see,

Tony: goes next. one time you got it. Right. Okay. Um, Hey are so where people, people obviously go find you a room for two podcasts, everybody in the world needs

Jennifer: else.

Yeah. So we can find everything. Yeah. Everything on my website, which is my last name, Finn Lason hyphen fife.com. And you can find the room for two podcast, um, which again is all the couples coaching sessions. You get to listen to. So good and hear, hear yourself through these meetings and see what you can do to make things better.

And then I have online courses, um, on [00:56:00] self and sexual development and relational chip development. They're all there. And then just, um, conversations like this in my conversations with Dr. Jennifer podcast.

Tony: So, okay. I love it. Yeah, I do. Thanks so much for coming on Jennifer. I enjoy this so much. And, uh, and, um, I don't know.

I just, I really appreciate you taking the time and, um, I think it's a guaranteed, uh, gonna be top four. So thank you so much.

Jennifer: Okay. Let's hope or my ego will

Tony: be that's right. I will tell you it is regardless. I'll inflate the numbers from you, both you and I, me. Okay. Great to see you. All right. Take care, Jennifer.

You, you too byebye.

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