What is the difference between influence, control, and love? Is there room in a relationship to influence your partner, or do you simply need to let them be? Tony takes a few pages from Dr. Russ Harris's book ACT Made Simple https://www.amazon.com/ACT-Made-Simple-Easy-Read/dp/1684033012/ to discuss the role, in healthy relationships, of influence.
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[00:00:00] In Dr. Russ Harris's book, The Happiness Trap, he says, I'm guessing you've got a pet donkey to help you carry your goods to the marketplace unless you've upgraded to a camel. Now, what's the best way to motivate your donkey to whip it with a stick or to offer it a carrot? Now, both methods will get your donkey to carry the load for you. But over time, the donkey that is mainly motivated by whipping will get more and more miserable, battered and bruised, whereas the donkey, motivated by carrots, will be healthy and content and, he adds, will have really good night vision. Now, as it happens, humans have a lot in common with donkeys, and he says some more than others. And unfortunately, when we try to motivate other humans to behave the way that we want, we often use far too much stick and nowhere near enough of the carrot. The stick takes many forms. It can include criticizing, judging, demanding, insulting, threatening or intimidating. And it often involves sharing or blaming or evaluating the other person negatively or speaking in harsh words. And then he goes on to say that it also frequently involves deliberately withdrawing things that we know the other person wants, such as affection or caring, warmth, kindness, gratitude, company, or even just someone to listen.
[00:01:12] And he says the technical psychobabble jargon term for using the stick to motivate others is called coercion. We all have a natural tendency to rely on coercion because the fact is it typically works very often when we use coercion with others, we get our needs met. They do what we want them to do. But what effect does coercion have in the long term? How does it affect your relationship with the other person, whether it's your friend, your child, your partner or your employee? And he says the research on this is clear. The more we rely on coercion, the worse the relationship gets, the more coercive the parent, the more stressed and unhappy their child, the more coercive the manager, the more stressed and depressed their employees, the more coercive the spouse, the worse the condition of the marriage. So just as big sticks make donkeys sick and miserable, so does coercion create stressed, unhealthy human beings? So what's the alternative? Russ here says, you guessed it, carrots. Lots and lots and lots of carrots. Just like the stick. A carrot can take many forms. Carrots include kindness, gratitude, thank yous, talking calmly, being respectful, warmth, openness, caring, open mindedness, genuine interest in the other person. Understanding. Empathy. Compassion. Basically, the aim is to catch the other person behaving the way you want and actively reward them for doing so.
[00:02:38] The reward may be anything from a smile or a thank you, a pat on the back or so many other things that bring joy into the relationship. And hang on, Russ says, You may be thinking I shouldn't have to thank them or smile at them or be kind to them. There's a certain things they should just do. They should just do it. He said it's completely natural to have such thoughts. And if you don't care about the long term quality of the relationship and the health and well being of the other person, then sure stay with this stick. But if you want better relationships and you care about the health and well-being of your friends, your employees, your managers, your coworkers, your children, your partner, your parents, etc., then it's best to start shifting from that stick to the carrot. And he says the magic ratio of carrot to the stick, we know, is at least 5 to 1. In other words, at least five times as much of actively rewarding the behavior you like is trying to punish the behavior that you don't like. And this doesn't come naturally for most of us. But he says it's a habit well worth developing.
[00:03:35] Now, over the last few months, I talk so much about you showing up in a relationship as an autonomous, interdependent, unique individual full of your own experiences in your life. You are the only version of you. So one of the number one questions. So the number one question I get asked then once people understand that we can have love or we can have control in an adult relationship, not both. Then they often say, So is it okay for me to ask for certain things in the relationship? And it absolutely is. When you're coming from an emotionally mature, calm, confident, taking ownership of your own stuff. Place. So today we're going to talk a little bit more about the role of healthy influence versus control and how when you're showing up as the very best version of you emotionally mature, taking ownership of all of your own things that you bring into your relationship and into your life, that now we can start operating from a place of pure curiosity. And this is where two people come together to, in essence, edify or make each other better. One plus one doesn't always equal to today. We're going to show you how one plus one equals three. That and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.
[00:04:51] The. Come on in. Take a seat.
[00:05:12] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 319 of the Virtual Couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach or a writer speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of The Path Back, a online pornography recovery program that is helping people just become the very best versions of themselves that they ever knew that they could be. And in doing so, they stop turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography. You could plug in their anything gambling, food, their phones, work, all of those things. So if you want to know more about that, go to Pathbackrecovery.com. And I will also do a little business up front. The Virtual Couch Podcasting Network is beginning to grow. There are more shows that are planned in the future. Right now we've got the Virtual Couch podcast. There's also waking up to narcissism, but one that you may not be aware of is a podcast called Working Change and Working Change is hosted by Nate Christiansen, who has been on the virtual couch, I think four times, and he's also made a guest appearance over on waking up to narcissism. And when Nate is on, the downloads are Hi. And Nate and his wonderful wife have a show called Working Change where they are getting in there and talking about some mental health concepts as a couple, Nate works with me as an associate, professional clinical counselor, and his wife Marla is in grad school and they talk about that on the podcast, but she's also becoming a therapist and they are going to be quite a dynamic duo.
[00:06:35] So I would jump on and listen to working change right now while the stock is definitely going up. So invest right now and I think you're going to get a lot out of that podcast, too. And I also want to touch on the fact that I am getting ready with my friend Preston, Pug Meyer to launch another round of the magnetic marriage course. We have had three of these so far. They sell out pretty quickly. So this will be the fourth one. And the feedback on the first three have been nothing short of phenomenal. And I would highly encourage you to go to Tony over Macomb Magnetic and you can get on a waitlist there. But if you've heard me talk over the last couple of weeks, I also have another place you can go, Tony, over Macomb Workshop, because a couple of weeks ago I put on about a 90 minute workshop where I laid out a lot of the foundational principles that we go into a lot of depth on in the course. And by that I go so big, especially in this workshop, on the fact that we don't have the tools that we need from the factory to have the best relationships or marriage that we possibly can. There is absolutely no judgment said in that, or it's not meant for you to feel like I'm judging you.
[00:07:42] It's just that with 17 years now of being a couples therapist and well over 1000 couples that I've worked with, and that is the principle of where we go into relationships, in essence, codependent and enmeshed. Just because we do, because we bring all of our own stuff into our relationships. And by stuff I mean that all of us start from the factory, from the womb. We're talking at birth as these little needy creatures that we have to get our needs met or we will die. So we will do anything to get those needs met, especially as a child, as a kid. So moving forward, we have these attachment wounds. We have these wounds of trying to figure out what is the best way to get my needs met. And it is in our core. It is subconscious until you really start to bring these things to the surface and until you start really doing your own work or doing work together as a couple. So when you go into a relationship in essence program to get my needs met and then if someone doesn't meet your needs, then we take it as if that means they don't care about us, they don't love us, and we go into our relationships that way. It's no wonder that we don't feel like we can be as open or as vulnerable right out of the gate as we would like to be.
[00:08:48] And then if you don't have the tools to effectively communicate, then over time the smallest of things start to build and build and build. It's that little bit of a pebble in your shoe or this death by a thousand cuts or that kind of vibe. And when I get a new couple in my office, we might bring up a situation that I will just jokingly refer to as the Taco Bell drive thru situation, where all things go south in the ten or 15 minutes and the drive thru of a fast food restaurant. And then for a couple that's been married for 20 years, we can literally spend 30, 40 minutes on all the assumptions that are made in that scenario. And that's because the couple just says, why is it that we can't even go through a drive thru and not feel like we can't communicate or he should know or she should know or I was hurt when you did this or said this. And when you have the the joy of newlyweds, which is an amazing joy, it's the hope and dream and all those wonderful things. Then if I'm trying to go into that same conversation with a couple that's been married a year or two, they're going to say, You know what, no, this is a waste of time. We don't really need to talk about this. And that's where I want to say. But we do you need the tools early in your relationship to be able to communicate about even the smallest or what might seem silly things so that they.
[00:10:04] Start to grow into this larger thing down the relationship, because if you really feel like, you know what, it's not worth it. Trying to even express something that I felt a slight on in a drive through in just what I feel like is a moment of weakness, then that is going to build over time. And the problem is what we start doing is we're saying, you know what, I'm going to deal with? I'll deal with it later. I'm not even going to deal with it. I don't have to deal with it. My partner should just know. They should just know and understand me by now. We've been married for a few years and I'm sure that everyone knows that this is what you do in a relationship. But the problem is you're both having that same thought in your mind and you're both coming from your own experiences and relationships and the things that you saw your parents model. And so some of the feedback that we've had after the magnetic marriage course is literally people saying, I didn't even know what I didn't know. I didn't know that there was actually more that we could get into in our relationship and how that would affect the relationship for the better. I feel like I'm looking for my soapbox right now, so I will then just say Go, go to Tony Macomb Workshop or Tony over Macomb Magnetic and let's get your relationship in a better place.
[00:11:09] Not saying that it's a bad relationship, but I would pretty safely say that it could be a better relationship. So today I am going to quote extensively from the Book Act made simple. This is by one of my very favorite acceptance and commitment therapy authors. That is Dr. Russ Harris. He's also the author of The Confidence Gap and The Happiness Trap, which are two of the best books to start your journey on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. And I highly recommend you check both of those out. So for anyone that listens to the virtual couch fairly often, one of the comments I hear the most is how much they appreciate the concepts around acceptance and commitment therapy or act. And I know that I go really big on the differences between we'll just call it traditional therapy or the fundamentals of therapy, which is that cognitive behavioral therapy model, the CBT model, which is the one that says your thoughts control your emotions, your emotions, control your behaviors. So it can be as simple as just replacing that thought and it will lead to a different emotion and it will lead to a different behavior. And I really do believe that most of the motivational speakers, again, I also am a motivational speaker or a lot of the life coaches or the people out there that are doing amazing things and changing lives are working from this cognitive behavioral therapy model.
[00:12:20] And I was a cognitive behavioral therapist for seven years, so I am absolutely speaking from experience. That was what I did day in and day out was said, okay, let's take a look at your automatic negative thoughts or your stinking thinking and what else could be a situation here, what else could be happening? And then it would feel good at times. And I do acknowledge there are times where you can just say, all right, I'm going to decide to think this or feel this, and that can work. And when it works, I am so grateful for that. But for most people, what happens is they feel like, okay, I get a little dopamine bump. Yeah, maybe that person didn't mean to make me feel bad when they forgot to call me back and they had invited me to go to some activity. But if I just tell myself, yeah, maybe they had something else going on, maybe their grandma got sick, maybe they had to run somebody into the hospital. Then you feel like, yeah, that, that makes sense. That probably feels better. But then life is is a series of I was going to say, unfortunate events. That's the Lemony Snicket reference from when my kids were younger. But I was going to say life's a lot more complicated. Life is a lot more pattern driven than that.
[00:13:22] So then when we go back home, maybe after therapy and you've just had a brilliant session where you've decided that maybe I'm just going to look at some other things that could have happened instead of this person just forgetting about me, because I would hate to feel like someone forgot about me, but then when we get home and we sit there and we have the we walk up to our house and we put on the shows that we like, and there's the familiar sights and sounds and smells, and our body keeps the score. That concept of Bessel van der clock of trauma where we sit back down and then all of a sudden we think, No, you know what? Honestly, I bet you they forgot about me. And that makes me even feel worse because I just spent a bunch of money in therapy and I felt pretty good for a minute there, but my brain keeps going back to They don't care about me. And so act says that, you know what, actually the way that you feel or the things that you're thinking or the way you're feeling is absolutely human. And you're thinking and feeling those things because you are a human being and you happen to be the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the earth. And so if you weren't thinking and feeling the things you would, that would actually be odd.
[00:14:20] So you can't just simply say, I'm going to be happy I'm doing it, because if I say I'm going to be happy and then I get some data to the contrary, or I wake up in the morning and say, This is it. I've been seeing some of my favorite people on social media that say every single day they just take a little dose of sunshine, rub it all over their their arms and their head, and then they go out there and they just choose happiness and they choose happiness all day long and every single thing happens. Great. And that sounds amazing. As matter of fact, as I'm saying it right now, I'm seriously thinking I would really enjoy that. But the reality is we want to go through life. We want to go and be and do and be as present as we can and take action on the things that matter. But things still happen. Life happens. People get in car crashes, people are running late to work. People get flat tires. Someone in your family gets something, unexpected happens and they call and they need help. And they put that upon you and they want you to help fix things or you forgot to pay a bill or you literally have there's some mishap and somebody's credit card fraud, and all of a sudden you're not even realizing it, but you're getting all these things that say you're overdrawn or whatever that looks like.
[00:15:25] And man, then to say, You know what, I'm happy. Well, now you're sounding a little bit crazy. Now you're the human part says, Man, that is hard, and I do feel bad about that. So acceptance and commitment therapy is amazing. And where I'm going with this, an amazing modality. And typically we're thinking about it from an individual standpoint that I am going to accept and acknowledge the thoughts, feelings and emotions I have. And I'm going to I'm not going to try to push them away because if I do that, if I say, okay, don't think these things, all right? Now, don't think of a chocolate cake, will you? Think of a chocolate cake? And when I try to say, okay, instead of thinking about the fact that I feel pretty bad that my friend forgot me and said, I'm going to think about the fact that maybe that they're really just they their phone fell in the toilet bowl or something because I've heard about that happening. Then instead to say, no, I'm going to accept the fact that I feel that makes me feel bad. Because I'm a human being and I might even have to sit and feel that emotion. Where do I feel it? It might feel it in my chest. I might feel it in my stomach, and I might look at that like a scientist. And how big is that feeling and what's that feel like? Is it round? Is it jagged? Is it dark? Is it light? Is it pulsating? And I'll acknowledge it because that's that's my feelings.
[00:16:34] That's a part of me. But now that I've acknowledged them and sat with them and not tried to push them away and not just try to change them, and now I can just go and take action on something that really matters. And I can feel the true sense of purpose in a day, even when I don't feel so good. And at the end of that day, it might not be that Disney moment where all of a sudden all the stars aligned. And I got to check for a whole lot of money. And then some mysterious, amazing stranger walked into my life and offered me either relationships or money or career options. No, but I made it through the day. I took action on some things that mattered, and I was absolutely human. And you put enough of those days together, and now all of a sudden you're living a life of purpose, and that can just be so satisfying instead of just chasing happiness until whatever the next thing is, I'll be happy when I have more money. I'll be happy when I get this car. I'll be happy when it's finally summertime. I'll be happy when I'm a little more financially secure because we get to those situations and all of a sudden, Oh yeah, the problem. The problem is still there.
[00:17:28] Haven't really done work on myself and figured out what really does matter to me. So when you're talking about act in this book, Act Made Simple by Russ Harris, he starts talking about some tips for applying act across a wide range of common interpersonal issues. He said, For convenience, and this is the chapters that we're going to focus on today. He is going to talk about applying act to a relationship. We're talking about applying the principles of act to friends, to family members, coworkers, teammates, fellow students, colleagues, employer and employee, parent and child worker in Boston, so on. And so where the where he likes to start is taking a look at your history. And when you're doing some work with act, you really do take a look at who matters, who are the most important people in your life and what are those relationships like? And if you just stop and pause for a moment right now, maybe give that some thought, who are the most important people in your life and why? And what are those relationships like? Are they positive? Are they negative or are they mutually beneficial or are they reciprocal relationships or are they guru and student kind of relationships? But what are they like and who's there for you when you're having a hard time? And if this work that you would be doing in therapy, for example, or even the things that you're trying to figure out is you're listening to this podcast really made a difference in just one of those relationships.
[00:18:51] Which relationship would it be and what would you do differently as a result? And by using those kind of questions, you start to get a sense of the client, if you're talking about this from a therapist standpoint, about their most important relationships, but more importantly, the quality of those relationships. And this is absolutely a wonderful starting point. So Dr. Harris says what's good and bad, he says if a client really wants to work on a particular relationship, we want to know both what's good and what's bad in that relationship. So some of the questions that you might want to ask yourself is, is in the good, what do you like about this person? And I'm just going to use the concept of your partner. So, again, this could be in any of the relationships that you want to take a look at. What do you like about your partner and what do you see as your partner's strengths or what do you see as their good qualities and what positive things is your partner say and do in your relationship and outside of the relationship? And are there times when the relationship is going well or maybe not so bad? And what are those? When does that happen? Where are those things happening? And what are you typically doing when the relationship is going well and what things do you like to do together? And it does break my heart at times where I have couples that come in and they've gotten to a place where there isn't really a lot of things that they like to do together.
[00:20:05] They may like to sit and watch TV together. We'll start from there. But they aren't having shared experiences. They aren't going into situations with curiosity and wanting to know more. And that's the part where if what you're pulling is the good times in the relationship, aren't a time of where you're really connecting, then I would love to explore that a little bit more. What actually helps you get along better? And he said, If I could watch you and your partner in those moments, what are the most helpful things that I would see each of you saying and doing? And now while we're there in that relationship, let's take a look at the bad. What are the things that you're maybe not as big of a fan of your partner and what do you see as your partner's weaknesses or the poor qualities? And again, these are things that you're just starting to process internally, or you might share those with your therapist. These aren't things that you're just going to go dump on to your partner, he says. What negative things does your partner say or do in their relationship and outside of it? And when is the relationship at its most challenging? What happens? And are you aware of what the triggers are that may cause these challenging or bad moments? And then he goes on to say again, If I could watch you and your partner in those moments, what are the most helpful things that I'd see each of you saying and doing in those times that aren't so good, that are bad? So what do you want in your relationship? And here's where I was so excited about doing this episode because again, I talk and I talked about this in the intro where I talk about you aren't trying to change your partner per say, you're not trying to say you need to do this different, but it is absolutely emotionally mature and okay for you to want to give certain things in your relationship and want to get certain things in your relationship.
[00:21:35] But I hope you can get the sense of the difference. The difference is when you have the tools to actually communicate and when you're coming at something from an emotionally mature or not a manipulative place. So when you have that in mind now, when we focus on any relationship, there are these two important things to consider. What do you want to give? What are your talents, your gifts, your abilities? What are the things that you want to give in the relationship? And in a perfect world, in an ideal relationship, what are the things that you want to get? Some people like myself, I know because of my anxious attachment, my attachment styles growing up, maybe those deep feelings of not feeling like enough are not good enough, that that's one of the things that drives me to really want that connection with other human beings that I might not want as much downtime or alone time I want I might want more connection with people.
[00:22:21] And so if I'm going to express that to my wife and if she's one who doesn't necessarily need as much of that social interaction, then if she is willing to give that to me, then we may go out and be a little bit more social, even if that's not ideally her thing. But it's not coming from a place of me demanding this or saying that I will leave if you don't give me this because we're going to have an emotionally mature. What I like to talk about the four pillared conversations to say, Well, tell me what your experience is or tell me what you like, or tell me what works for you, or tell me what your what you saw modeled growing up. Because there's a reason why we say do or think the things we do again, because not only we're the only version of us, but this is that part where we're bringing all of our own baggage into our relationship. If, let's just say hypothetically, someone grew up and they didn't have a strong connection with their parents or family, and they did feel more isolated than they might have a bit more of this avoidant attachment style.
[00:23:15] They may feel like I'm perfectly fine hanging out in my room or hanging out at home or watching TV. But then that same person are not that same person, but someone that also grew up in a home where the parents were a little bit more emotionally distant or unavailable. They may have this just deep need to go and connect because they didn't have that attachment with their parent. So we all have different experiences that cause us to like the things we do. But then when we finally have an opportunity to express the things that we like or the things that we would find ideal in a relationship, and we can do so coming from a place of curiosity and wanting to understand what our partners experiences were like, now we absolutely can say, Hey, here's what I always anticipated giving in the relationship and here's what I thought our relationship might look like. But we're going to talk about it in a way that we can have this dyadic collaborative process. So that first question, what do you want to give Russ here says That leads to your values, how you want to behave toward and treat your partner and what you want to contribute to the relationship. The second question leads to wants and needs what you would love to get in the relationship and how you would ideally love to be treated.
[00:24:24] And he said that we want to get a picture of the sort of relationship the client wants to build and of what they've tried doing so far to make that happen. And so some of the questions I might want to ask you right now is if the work in therapy, for example, is successful, how would your relationship change and what you be doing differently? What would your partner be doing differently and what will you be doing less and more of? Or what do you anticipate that your partner will be doing less and more of, and how will you treat your partner differently? And those are the kind of questions that you want to start taking a look at from an emotionally mature place. Again, not a manipulative standpoint. And our magnetic marriage course, we cover a lot of this that we go into so much of this, I have to say. But my buddy Preston, Pug Meyer, says usually right at the beginning of the course that we don't want to take the course with our elbow, meaning just hitting our partner with our elbow saying, Yeah, do you hear that? Are you getting that? What he's saying? Because some clients are going to be very focused on what they want to give in the relationship and how they want to change. And they're willing to work hard and they want to live their values.
[00:25:23] They want to behave more like the sort of partner that they want to be. But others are more focused on what they want to get out of the relationship, and they're often dissatisfied with the relationship where they see their partner as the problem. And so they're reluctant to look at their own role in the various ongoing issues. So needless to say, we know that relationship work is a lot simpler and it can be a lot easier with that first scenario where somebody is really focused on what they want to give in the relationship. Then that second one where they're completely focused on what they want to receive in the relationship, but just by starting to have this conversation and bringing some awareness to this is a huge part of where you go next when you're trying to heal or work on a relationship. And so then Russ talks about going through what have you tried, what has worked so far? Because I love where he says you want to explore all the different strategies that you've already used in your relationship and trying to improve the relationship or deal with difficulties and identify the ones that have worked or the ones which haven't. This is that scenario of which are you using the stick or are you using the carrot? He said, Have you already tried fighting, yelling, complaining, criticizing, demanding, blaming, judging, calling names threatening? Because I would guess most likely most people have tried that, he said.
[00:26:29] Have you tried withdrawing? Have you tried going cold or going silent? And if so, how has that worked? And then if we identify workable strategies, that is the things that maybe someone says in my office, some of the things that they recognize do help or do build a relationship in the long term. Then we want to explore why are those not our go to things? What makes those things not easy to to slip into? If they feel like the times that you guys are really able to communicate well, it's because you've gotten, I don't know, a good night's rest. You're not arguing it 10:00 at night or later, and the kids are down. And then maybe you've had a connected moment. Maybe you've read something together, you've gone gone a little bit spiritual, or you've given each other a foot massage or whatever that looks like. And then you're able to say, Okay, I want to write down the things we want to talk about, or I want to spend some time where we're just going to talk about things other than our schedules and the kids. And there's a routine that works and why aren't we doing more of that? And Russ says, Unfortunately, in most cases, we discover far more unworkable strategies than workable ones. So we want to tease this out the same way that we do with an act where we talk about creative hopelessness. We help clients recognize the strategies that work in the short term and the ones that work in the short term to get their needs met don't typically work in the long term to build a healthy relationship.
[00:27:45] And this is where that coercion works. So sometimes we coerce our partner into something or we guilt them into something, or we demand these things of them, and we may get that in the short term, but that is to the detriment of the relationship. So we might say, for example, all right, when you yell angry at your partner and demand that they do what you want, yeah, you absolutely may get them to do that in the short term, but in the long term, it only fosters ill will and resentment. And when you're taking a look at this, I want you to look at this with the utmost respect, empathy, compassion. This is why pillar one that I talk about is not only just assuming good intentions, but there's a reason why people show up and do the things they do. If they feel like the only way they're going to get their needs met is through coercion, then we want to take a look and explore that because yeah, it's gotten their needs met and if they've done that long enough, then when they feel insecure, where they feel if they feel scared or anxious or afraid or any of those things, then their brain is already going to turn to coercion.
[00:28:36] It's going to turn to manipulation because it's going to say, that's the way I get my needs met. Or if you're in a relationship where you feel like you often just have to acquiesce or withdraw, then is that something you've had to do in order to keep the peace? Because in essence, that might be what you're doing to get your needs met. If your needs, if your need for peace is very, very important because you're worried about your spouse negatively impacting your kids, then you may absolutely have a pattern in the short term of just taking ownership of things that you don't even need to take ownership of in the name of peace and the name of your spouse not being mean to your kids. And here's where things just get real. They really. Do is Russ Harris calls it the challenge formula. So if you go through all of those things about your relationship, he said, it's important to bring in the challenge formula. There's basically three options for dealing with the relationship in this scenario. One is to leave, and that's why this is where things are getting real, because I would imagine people didn't get into their relationship with that goal of leaving or that even that option of leaving early on or ever in a relationship. Number two is to stay and live by your values, change whatever you can to improve the situation and make a room for the pain that goes with it.
[00:29:49] Or number three is stay in the relationship and give up acting effectively, do things that make no difference at all or tend to make it worse. And that's what so many people do. They stay, but then they give up trying to live by their values because they feel it's not worth it. They feel that that short term negativity in the relationship is just all that they're used to. And that planning for the long game and dealing with that invalidation just feels like it's just not worth it. And that's the part where people often then just kick that can down the road. Things will be better when the kids are out of the house or that sort of thing. So you want to explore those options. And as a therapist, this is what can be really difficult that sometimes leaving is the best option. For example, Russ here says, with an abusive or narcissistic partner, or if someone is absolutely feeling like they don't even know who they are, like they've lost their complete sense of self or identity and they don't even know how to get it back. If there are these deeply rooted neural pathways or again, as Bessel Vander Kok says, the body keeps the score where every time they are around this person they feel like they just don't even want to try or they feel like their body is screaming at them that this is not safe.
[00:30:56] Then then bless both their hearts at that time, is it more healthy for each of them to then be able to find a way toward peace and toward being their best version of themselves? But then he does say that when we want to explore these options, that if so, going to therapy, taking a course is a great start, but going to therapy will focus on the actions necessary if you feel like you need to leave, or how to overcome the internal and external barriers to doing so. But if it doesn't want to leave, can't leave is ambivalent about leaving. Then Russ says that leaves only options two and three, and most clients by this point will readily see that they've already been doing option three. And that's that one of just giving up and hoping things will change at some point. So then they want to start taking a look at that option to stay and live by your values, change whatever you can to improve the situation and make room for the pain that goes with it. And there's a phrase in act that I need to do a whole episode on, but it's an it's called workability. So if your client then says something like, it's all her fault, she's the problem, she needs to change, not me. Then I'm happy to validate those feelings, normalize those thoughts compassionately, bring in this concept of workability. And again, it's so fascinating to see validation.
[00:32:05] Sometimes people are so not used to receiving validation that when you say, Man, that sounds hard, I can understand, tell me more. That would be hard if you feel that way. They say, See, Toni agrees with me, when in reality I'm just validating. No, that sounds hard. I validate your experience because that is your experience. But then with this concept of workability, it's that if you hold on tightly to those thoughts that it's all their fault. There's nothing I can do. Then what direction will those thoughts take you? Will they try to help you try something new and different that might improve either you and how you show up in the relationship or the relationship in general? Or will they keep you just doing more of the same stuff that's not working and hoping that at some point something's just going to magically change. And here is the probably the big takeaway today is that if a client is open to that option, too, and again, as a reminder, option two and again, in Dr. Harris's scenarios that he's laying out, that option one is, do you feel like you need to leave the relationship then option to stay and live by your values, change whatever you can to improve the situation and prove yourself and make room for the pain that goes with it. Because that is going to change the dynamic in the relationship or option three is stay but then give up acting effectively.
[00:33:17] Do the things that tend to not make a difference or even make things worse, which is in essence more of the same. So now let's talk about influence versus control. And this is with a pretty big asterisks or an assumption that we're talking about emotionally. Sure, we both might be somewhat emotionally immature, but we want to work on things in the relationship. We want to become more emotionally mature, less codependent, more interdependent, more differentiated, recognizing that, okay, yeah, we didn't have the right models. We want to have a better, more connected relationship where we both feel heard and seen and understood because we typically get ourselves into trouble in relationships because we forget this big difference between influence and control. Russ Harris says, We can influence other people, but we can't actually control them. He said, You know, even when you point a gun to someone's head, you do not have total control over them because the history books are full of war heroes who chose to die rather than to reveal secrets to the enemy. And basically he says the way that we influence other people is through what we say and what we do. Now we can influence through lying and deceiving, gaslighting, threatening bullying, or we can influence through being kind and fair and assertive and honest. And he just says that there are just so many ways in which we can influence other people. The question is, do we want to have a good relationship with the other person or do we want to control them? Because if we want to have a good relationship, we need to focus on the ways of influencing that person that are healthy for the relationship.
[00:34:46] And at this point, Russ Harris mentions that a client will typically say, okay, so are you saying it's all up to me? And he says, Well, I hope not. In the best of all possible worlds, both partners actively are working on improving the relationship. But he said the thing right now is and again, he's given a hypothetical here where he's saying you're the only one here in therapy if that's the case. So he said, you know, if your partner wants to come in and work with me or with another therapist, that would be fantastic. That would be great. But until then, all we really can do is look at what you can do differently, what you can do differently for yourself, and then how that may potentially influence your partner. Not from a manipulative standpoint, but from a I can only have influence through my actions, the things that I do and say. And he said, this is where a client will often say, but it's not my fault. And as a therapist, he says, Absolutely, yeah, it's not your fault. And let me know right away if I say anything that makes you think that I am blaming you.
[00:35:39] But he says, What I'm saying is if you want to improve the relationship, the most effective and powerful way to do that is to focus on what you have most control over, which is your words, your actions, the things that you do and the things that you say. And at that point, he says, the client will typically say, okay, what are you suggesting? And he says, I'm suggesting we look at more effective ways to influence your partner, new ways of saying and doing things that might work better for both you and for your partner. And he said, at this point, some clients will come out with a bunch of reasons why they can't the yeah. Buts is what I call them. Well yeah but we don't have time or. Yeah, but he doesn't really seem to care or. Yeah, but she works late, whatever it is. But he said that those are the it's not my fault, it's hers, that she should be the one to change. It won't work. I've tried before, I can't be bothered. I don't have the energy and so on. And he said, If so, then we have to start looking at diffusion of recognizing those are thoughts and bless their heart and we can acknowledge the thoughts. But are they just stories that my brain is telling me because my brain is trying to go into protective mode? And he says that then assuming that the client has chosen to stay in the relationship, then important lines of inquiry start to include how the client sees their partner, what kind of partner the client wants to be.
[00:36:53] And on that note, how do you see your partner? On my Waking Up the Narcissism podcast last week, I talked again about the Maze Bright and Maze doll experiment with rats. And I think it is worth noting here and it is absolutely fits into that. How do you see your partner? I'll go through this one quick. This is from an article from a website called Science of People.com, and it's by Vanessa Van Edwards. She says, Have you ever heard of the expectancy effect? Once upon a time, a pair of adventurous researchers had participants undergo a very unique experiment. They were told that they had to train rats to quickly make it through a maze. Half of the participants were told that they had maze bright rats that carefully were bred to be highly adept at completing mazes. The other half were told that they had maze dull rats that had no training in completing mazes. The participants had five days to train the rats to complete the maze. After those five days, the Maze Brite Rats were able to complete their task twice as fast as the Maze Rats. But of course, she said, here's the catch. There was absolutely no difference between the two groups of rats. Both sets of participants got randomly selected rats with absolutely no maze experience whatsoever, she said.
[00:38:04] Yes, you read that right? The rats were exactly the same, but the participants were told that they had faster rats somehow, and it helped the rats actually perform better. And the study has been repeated over and over again and it is called the expectancy effect. So I in that scenario, we go back to what Dr. Harris is saying is how do you see your partner? So I often say, do you see your partner as Maze Bright or Maze? Do you look at your kids as Maze Brighter Maze style, or do you look at yourself as Maze Bright or Maze Dole? And he talks about he calls them rainbows or roadblocks. He said most of the time, do you see your partner being like a rainbow, a unique, magnificent work of nature that you can appreciate that enriches your life? Or do you tend to see them more like a roadblock, an obstacle getting your way, stopping you from getting what you want in life? Rainbows are roadblocks maze bright or maze dull? And I think that's a really important part to put together as you are starting to try and do this influence versus control. So he wraps things up in that scenario of talking about how if you're in that world where you are now committed, you're looking at that option to your recognizing that you only have influence over the things that you do or say.
[00:39:15] But that that. Is going to allow you to change the dynamic, your own dynamic, and how you show up in the relationship. Well, now at least we've got some direction. And at that point, this is where I feel like and I really hadn't thought about this as being a one large, giant commercial for my magnetic marriage course. But why not? Because I really feel very passionate about those, the skills or the tools that we teach there. Because I feel like if now you realize, all right, I need to take a look at my side of the street or how I show up in the relationship and am I trying to control or am I trying to influence? And influence is not a bad thing if you're coming at it from an emotionally healthy or mature standpoint or point of view. But then I still feel like we don't have the tools in order to be able to communicate effectively. I've had two, three sessions already this morning and I've worked my the four pillars have come up in all three of them. So there's a tool. The tool is an amazing tool. The tool says pillar one, assuming good intentions or there's a reason why people say or do the things they do that nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I'm going to hurt my spouse. Pillar two is it's a mindset shift. It's I have to I can't tell them that.
[00:40:21] I think that they are ridiculous, that they're wrong or I don't agree with them, even if I am going to reserve the right to disagree or that I actually do even have literal data that says that they are wrong. But I'm not. That isn't what I'm going to go in with. I'm going to move on to Pillar three. I'm going to ask questions before I make comments. I'm going to say, tell me more about that. What's that like for you? And then Pillar four, I'm gonna stay present. I'm not going to go into a victim mode. I'm not going to retreat to my bunker. I'm not going to get I'm not going to work hard to stay present, not tell the person they're wrong, and ask questions only to say, okay, well, I guess I don't really have an opinion, just a paycheck or my opinion doesn't matter because now I'm going into that victim mode. I want my my spouse to rescue me. And if we can use these tools and again, I feel like these are tools that need to be found. And when are they found? When somebody feels like, I don't know what the relationship is all about or what it looks like right now. I miss not being able to feel connected. I hate the fact that I my I get a pit in my stomach when I hear them pull up in the driveway or I feel like I have to see if now's a good time to bring something up where in the past, maybe we were able to just communicate about anything.
[00:41:25] So people have to go through these things at times, then even go try to find the tools, then they find them. And then it's still clunky or awkward to use the tools because they're brand new. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things out there that can help. So I hope that this made some sense today. This whole concept of coercion, of control, of control versus love is so pivotal to me. And if we go back to the metaphor that we started with, are you trying to use a stick to coax that donkey along, or are you coaxing it along with carrots? Because if so, not only is that donkey going to probably be there for the long haul, it's going to react better. It's going to do more for you. But as Russ Harris said, can have better eyesight. Hey, thanks for spending the time today. If you have additional thoughts, questions, feel free to send me a message through the contact form on Tony com or go to Tony eBay.com slash workshop to get the 90 minute workshop that I did or go to Tony over eBay.com slash magnetic. If you want to learn more about the magnetic marriage course, taking us out per usual is a wonderful, The Talented, the amazing oral performance with her song. It's Wonderful and I will see you next day.
[00:42:36] Compressed emotions flying past our heads and out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind. It's wonderful. And plastic waste and rubble. Ghost floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most to the world.
[00:43:10] Takes up all my time. Eight.
[00:43:36] Citing news of discount price. A million opportunity. The choice is yours to take or lose. It's worth. Always on the back burner until the opportune time. You're always pushed to go farther. Shut up.