True or false? You only use 10 percent of your brain? Albert Einstein was a lousy student, and look how he turned out! Positive affirmations will lead you to self-love and happiness. To get the answers, you'll need to listen to this episode, but (spoiler alert) we are often building meaning and judging ourselves based on stories that aren't true and, in some cases, cause us to feel deep shame and fear. Tony talks about how certain myths around fear stunt our growth and what we can do to resolve our fears and doubts. Tony references "The Confidence Gap" https://amzn.to/3AuBPlb by Russ Harris for this episode.
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After completing the course material, you'll have a new, highly effective anxiety treatment tool that can be used with every anxiety-related disorder, from OCD to panic disorder to generalized anxiety disorder.
And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel to see a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0
Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384
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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
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve...holidays take on an entirely different meaning in a narcissistic family system. Trauma expert Shannon Thomas said it best "In healthy families, you're just yourself – your name, your talents, your strengths, and weaknesses. You're the person. But in a narcissistic family, things are different. Everybody has to find somewhere to be and a job to do within the family… they either support the narcissistic parent, or they are the focus of the narcissistic parent's rage."
Tony discusses the dynamics of the narcissistic family giving particular attention to the scapegoat. Tony extensively references Alexander Burgemeester's article "Toxic Narcissistic Family Dynamics Explained" from his excellent website https://thenarcissisticlife.com/narcissistic-family-dynamics/, and he provides a beautiful description of the true power of the scapegoat from the website https://anchoredabode.com/2019/09/03/scapegoat-definition-narcissism/
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[00:00:00] Hey, everybody. Quick note before we get started today, if you listen to last week's episode on waking up the narcissism, you heard that it was a surprise bonus episode from the virtual couch. That was because I had some audio difficulties. Well, those audio difficulties continued to a point, so I just wanted to give you a little heads up that this one may not exactly flow as best as I would like. But boy, we cover a lot of ground, a lot of information today. And I also realize there might be a couple of the audio files that are holdovers from last week from my previous attempts at recording. So you might even hear that the sound quality might differ just a tiny bit. We're going to try to take care of that in post-production. But you know what? Enjoy the ride on today's episode because again, a lot of ground, this one's a little bit longer, but we cover a lot of topics that they may not even be in order. And that might just be a fun little puzzle that you can put together over your Thanksgiving break.
[00:00:48] So let's get to the show.
[00:00:55] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 11, waking up the narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay in the licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And I want to jump right in. I want to thank you for your concern, your kindness, because in the beginning of last week's episode, apparently you could feel that the air had been let out of my balloon. I had this incident with a file that I had recorded, and now it will simply go down as the lost files. It was about 30 minutes of material about the narcissistic family system and the company that I use to record the podcast. I was going back and forth with tech support, and I'm following up because I again kind people asking How is how am I doing with this lost file? And it was this really fascinating. I almost felt like I was being gaslit by a large company, and that's fine. I know that they didn't mean to. I know that they had absolutely good intentions, but this file, I kept downloading the file that showed a large file size. I would plug it into anything I could that would produce sound and there was no sound. So at one point they came back and said, We've had some glitches, we've had some problems. We'd like to offer you a free month of our services and you have a backup of this file in this super special secret location on our server.
[00:02:08] And here's the link. So I go download the file and still no sound. So I go back and I say I would really like some help because I don't want to rerecord this bit of gold. This Jim. I didn't really say that, but I said if it's available there, I would love to not rerecord 30 minutes of just off the cuff reactions about narcissistic families based on this amazing article. And they came back to me and said, it really appears that there's no sound in the file. And then they they sent me a screenshot of the software and they have a part circled and they said, Do you remember if you had possibly turned off your microphone by pressing this button over in this corner? And I haven't responded, I just happened because I didn't even know that that button existed. And the irony is that I had hit pause at one point and then hit Go again, and I have two more clips from that same recording. I'm pretty sure I didn't hit the button that I wasn't aware of to mute my microphone, but regardless, we're back. We're here. Maybe there is some additional material that is intended to be in today's episode that would not have been in last week's episode. So we're going to talk about the narcissistic family system, and I've got one quick plug, so to speak.
[00:03:11] Maybe we'll get through this right away, but all my virtual couch podcasts, which I literally just hit publish on this is on Wednesday, November 17th I interviewed. I talked on that one about how opposites don't truly attract and why we like the people that we like. It was fun episode. I feel like I got off in the weeds a little bit on some of the research and data, but I had a fun time recording it. But I also had this part in the beginning where I brought on relationship researcher. He's a friend of mine, Nate Bagley, and Nate has a he's a master promoter and he has a thing called the Relationship Mastery PAC, and I have a brand new parenting course that I am going to unveil as part of this Relationship Mastery PAC. So I think he has about 10 to 15 experts that are talking about everything from co-parenting, not co-parenting. Sorry, they're talking about everything from boundaries and being overcoming perfectionism to intimacy and pornography and all of these things that these experts have come together. And we've put one of our programs into this relationship mastery package. And then it is a Black Friday sale. So I think it's going to go two or three days, three days, I believe, in the end of this month. And so if you
[00:04:20] Go to the
[00:04:21] My bio, the link in the show notes, then you'll find a link that you can click through and then you can have access to. It's the 10 to 15 courses. And I don't know the price yet. I'm going to be honest. But Nate said on the episode that it's going to be less than the cost of one therapy session, so I felt like I couldn't pass it up, and I do have this brand new parenting course that I'm unveiling. And so I just thought that would be a good place to put it now. I honestly thought about, is that is this the right audience for the parenting course? Because I'm really excited about the parenting course, but I understand. Let me pull up the marketing bullets that I was working on with a guy who helps me put together some courses. And here are the goals of this parenting course that I put together. It's getting you and your partner on the same page parenting confidently, parenting in troubled times, finding unity and a parenting approach, parenting together, helping your kids thrive, diffusing contention and the parenting partnership. Helping your kids feel more connected to you. Helping your kids become the best version of themselves, and while avoiding playing the shame game and furthering the divide between you and your children. And this fear that we're messing up our kids, the thing that every parent fears. And so I'm addressing all of that in my parenting program. So not that I'm trying to do some money grab, but I wasn't even going to talk about it on this podcast.
[00:05:31] I've talked about it a lot, talking about it a lot on the virtual couch. But again, the more that I put this information out about waking up to narcissism, whether it's one's own narcissism or the narcissism in their partner, that I really still feel like it would be nice to have a solid foundation of parenting. So even if your partner is not on board, maybe this can bring you some sanity. So it does sound like I'm doing a little bit of a sales pitch, but. I really feel like the 10 to 15 relationship courses for I'm going to guess it's going to be pretty cheap. So if you go to my show notes and click through this link to the Relationship Mastery Pack, then you can find out more information. All right. There's that. And then here's an email that I received. This was where I was going a bit earlier. So the person said they wrote me the nicest email and I'm still getting plenty. So if you've emailed me and the emails that people are sending me, I am reading them. I really am. They're really long. And I'm saying that in a man, bless your heart. I'm grateful for you taking the time to write the emails because I see you, I hear you, I'm reading you, and I just maybe haven't had the chance to respond back.
[00:06:32] And that doesn't mean that I don't care. And I love when people say, you know what? It just feels therapeutic, and they're grateful for the content being put out that sort of thing. But here's one that just said nothing's been as enlightening or as empowering to me as your podcast waking up the narcissism. And she says, for that, I can't thank you enough. And she said the very best part of it is that her husband actually is the one that said she needed to listen to it, which I can only imagine if somebody sends you a podcast and says, Hey, listen to this one about narcissism that's going to put somebody back on their heels. But she mentioned that he had left and he sent her the trailer, asking her to listen and then call him back. She said I didn't listen right away, which was difficult for him, because if he wants me to do something, it should take priority over anything else I'm doing or that I have planned for the day. So then he called me before I listened and he said, I'm driving you crazy. And she said she replied with sarcasm, really? And she said I thought it was the other way around. And then he said, No, no, it's me. I'm the one driving you crazy. Just let me know when you listen to it. So she said she listened to the trailer and then she texted her husband and said, When did you give Tony Overbay permission to put hidden cameras in our home? And she said that she at this point, she's only about halfway through the episodes, but she feels relief and making sense of a relationship.
[00:07:38] So I'm getting so many of those emails that I'm just I'm so grateful for that. But the funny thing is how many people are accusing me of having hidden cameras in your home? That one does make me laugh if I'm reading this, if I'm reading an email like that. And it's funny because most 98 percent of the emails that are coming through are very, very positive about their people are understanding and feeling enlightened. But you get the random one that says, Oh, you think you're so smart or that sort of thing. So I think when I see one that comes through and says something about cameras in our home, then I'm still looking at it like, Oh, is this going to be the person that's accusing me of something? And so that one's just fascinating. But again, I'm grateful for the emails that people are sending me, and they're they're so much fun things that we're going to do down the road here. I have guests lined up. I have just some ideas. I just I didn't realize how much this podcast would take off. And so I really want to make the most of this opportunity to reach out and just help people wake up to to narcissistic tendencies and traits and their own narcissism and narcissism and their family, the narcissism and their family dynamic.
[00:08:36] And that's that's what we're going to jump in right now. The lost episode, the file that was corrupted was about toxic, narcissistic family dynamics explained. And this is from a fascinating website that I really do love. It's called the Narcissistic Life, and the narcissistic life is written by a guy named Alexander Burmeister. He says he's the founder and creator of the narcissistic life. He holds a masters in clinical psychology, and he has spent the past decade working as a psychologist in the Netherlands, where he currently lives with his wife, who is also a psychologist, and his two cats outside of Amsterdam. He said he has an emphasis in neuropsychology. He has extensive, extensive clinical experience treating patients recovering from strokes and traumatic medical injuries, dementia, Alzheimer's and Corsica syndrome. And so again, this is what I love about this community is there is no scarcity mindset I can only imagine, and I'm taking a guess here that Alexander is a wonderful person who would just love for people to read all of his stuff and listen to my podcast and read all the books about narcissism, because it really does take a lot to understand the dynamic. So even when I have people that send me these emails or the clients that I work with on a daily basis, every single day, I'm working with people that are in relationships with some sort of narcissistic person with narcissistic tendencies or traits or full-blown narcissistic personality disorder.
[00:09:58] And it takes a long time. Let's just be honest, it takes a long time to not only wake up or have the realization, but then also to just figure out what the best path is. And some of the most touching emails I've received are the ones that I speak to often where people will read about it and it just says, Go, don't finish the paragraph, pack your bags, leave, grab everything. But it is not that easy. I understand that there are deep, complicated relationship dynamics variables. There's financial issues that are at play, and so it takes a lot of time to really start to understand and people that are in these relationships, I mean, their brains, their bodies, their body keeps the score. They go to this place of where they now are constantly on high alert and trying to read the room and manage the dynamics of the relationship and the family. And when you do that over the course of years, that becomes your deeply rooted neural pathways. I talk a lot about this on my virtual couch podcast. The brain is just a fascinating thing the brain wants to create patterns will be them good or bad because the more patterns the brain creates, the less electrical activity that in theory it has to expel and your brain bless. Its little pink, squishy heart is working off of a flawed premise.
[00:11:10] It believes that you have this finite amount of electrical activity, so it wants to do everything it can to conserve electrical activity so it can live. If you just look at the way that all species evolve and work is that we want to live. That's our goal. So our own brains have evolved to become this don't get killed device. And part of that is we will hunker down and we will just see if we can let the storm blow over because tomorrow is a new day. But then if we wait until a lot of tomorrows, then our brain is too settled in and it's it's got you there. It's just saying, you know what, I'll deal with this later. I'll deal with it. When the kids are out of the house, I'll deal with it. When we get older, I'll deal with it when we're retired, I'll deal with it when our stocks are vested, whatever it is. But our brain is designed to kick that can down the road infinitely because it just seems safer. Even though your brain may not like the situation that you're in. So that was a long tangent. But what I was talking about is there's no scarcity mindset here. And so I'm pulling an article today from the narcissistic life. And the article is called Toxic Narcissistic Family Dynamics explained, and I'm going to read a lot from this again. This is by Alexander Burmeister from his or Burmeister from his The Narcissistic Life blog.
[00:12:22] And and I'll read and react, I think is what we'll call it. And there's a quote. It's interesting because I recorded this last week, so I've thought about this so much and I realize that I can. Everything's fair game because I did not. I lost that file. So the quote that I've thought about a lot is Alexander starts this entire article off by saying in April of 2020. Trauma expert Shannon Thomas told the insider about the differences between healthy families and families where a parent has narcissistic personality disorder. And again, if you've listened up till now, I'm going to say narcissistic personality disorder or NPD, but I'm talking about whether it's full blown narcissistic personality disorder, or it's someone that exhibits narcissistic traits and tendencies because those can be on a spectrum. But for the most part, the people that are listening to this podcast are the ones that are experiencing the ones that are pretty high on that spectrum to the point of emotional abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, that sort of thing. So she says that the differences between healthy families and families where a parent has NPD, she says, In healthy families, you are just yourself. Your name, your talents, your strengths and weaknesses. You are the person, she said. But in a narcissistic family, things are different. Everybody has to find somewhere to be and they have to have a job to do within the family.
[00:13:39] They either support the narcissistic parent or they're the focus of the narcissistic parent's rage. And that one is really resonated with me because I thought about that. I've done a lot on the virtual couch episodes and a little bit on here as well about our attachment, the way we show up with our attachment wounds, the way we show up with their fears of abandonment, or I've been talking a lot lately about this desire or need for external validation. So every kid again starts out as self-centered, but the goal is with the proper modeling to go from self-centered to self-confident. But when you don't have that support or modeling, then we stay in self centered. And that's what causes us to have our own narcissistic traits and tendencies as we grow older. And I just thought that as simple as this quote is that in healthy families, you're just yourself. Your name, your talents, your strengths and weaknesses. You're the person. But then in a narcissistic family system, everybody has to find somewhere to be in a job to do within the family. Is that when you are being led typically in this narcissistic family dynamic that everyone, the narcissists themselves is desperate to feel special and the way they feel special is by? If someone has a different opinion, they take that as criticism and they are going to knock that opinion down and take this one up position. And so there isn't curiosity, there isn't differentiation, there isn't validation when someone has a different opinion.
[00:14:52] And so you really do as a survival skill, whether you're the spouse, whether you're the child, the kids, you start to figure out, how do I survive in this family system? Do I just lay low and not say a thing? Or do I just agree with the narcissistic parent? Do I then now join the narcissistic parent and then put down the my mom or dad or the sibling that ends up being the scapegoat child? And so what a crazy dynamic that becomes. You can't just be you, and I think about that so often with my own kids not trying to say, Oh, we've got this all figured out, but I just want to know who my kids are. I want my kids to figure out who they are. I want them to find themselves. And that is not. I want them to be a certain thing because it makes me feel better. That's that that deep version of external validation that if my kid isn't a world renowned brain surgeon, then what does that say about me? Well, that's pretty darn selfish right now. I can say I want to learn about my kid. I want them to succeed and whatever that means to them. And I want to be right there beside them as their guide. I want to be the the secure attachment to them so that as they are going about life. That they will have me to then say, hey, here's what I'm thinking, here's what I'm struggling with, and I get to say, tell me more not well, that's ridiculous.
[00:16:00] You shouldn't do that. I've told you a thousand times, this is the path to success. So that's where you just start to realize the heaviness, the weight of the narcissistic family system and what the role that can play. You already know if you're listening to this and you're the adult that it's at, what cost have you lost your sense of self? Do you have this heightened cortisol or stress hormone whenever you are in the room of the narcissistic parent or the narcissistic spouse, or even the narcissistic in-law or whatever that looks like because you have to be on guard, you can't be yourself because if you say something all of a sudden, it's going to be attacked. I don't think I went off this much on the last the hidden file, so maybe that's what we needed to talk about today. But Alexander says what's interesting is that the quote jobs are roles that Thomas talks about here are often quite similar between narcissistic families. And he says it is more and more people report their experiences, either with therapists or online than these similar roles. Keep coming up time and time again. So he goes on to say that as a society, we really need to get our heads around this. According to a study from 2008, the rates of narcissism have been increasing in the rate of increase has doubled since 2002.
[00:17:01] Now we are in twenty twenty one, approaching twenty twenty two. I'm not trying to say this with doom and gloom, but that was from 2008 and the rate of narcissism had been increasing. So I think that answers one of the questions I hear often is this increasing and you can see how if it really is about the modeling of parenting style, so is it nature? Is it nurture? Is it both? It would naturally start to increase because the people that are teaching the children to go from self-centered to self-confident, if they remain self-centered, then they are just modeling that self-centered behavior. So he said, since they are more narcissistic families out there than ever, it's important that we really understand these narcissistic family dynamics and the effect that they have on other members of the family. He said to understand the narcissistic family, we have to understand why narcissists would want to have children at all. And I thought this was interesting. We're going to we're going to go through this part pretty quickly because I want to get to the the roles and the relationship. But he said normally having kids is a natural thing. It happens when people are committed to each other and they want to share the rest of their lives together. But he said there's a word in there that generally isn't part of a narcissist vocabulary share.
[00:18:01] He said people with narcissistic personality disorder want everything to be about them and children, as we know, or perhaps the ultimate sacrifice. I have four of them. Listen to the virtual couch episode this week. One of my daughters down in Southern California, lost her last and final key, and I have learned the law in California is if my name is on the registration, I must be there in person. As they reekie, the car makes sense so that somebody can't just steal a car and say I lost my keys. So I took off Friday night, drove down to Southern California and had an amazing time with her. But I tell that story not to say I would like some pats on the back, please. I would like external validation. No, but it's there. The ultimate sacrifice. We ended up missing out on the world's greatest high school playoff football game that ever occurred in my city. Literally, it's all over the internet in a fog. This interception by my son's best friend when the game. But anyway, the ultimate sacrifice. You have to put their needs, their wants, their lives ahead of your own, even if it's in the form of driving seven hours down to Southern California to get a key made, but then having an amazing time with your kid. So as with most decisions narcissist makes, it boils down to their need for this narcissistic supply. He calls that adoration or praise or flattery. Essentially, they want the people to act around them as if they are fantastic or they're as fantastic as they imagine themselves to be.
[00:19:18] And then, he said, And then there need to avoid narcissistic injury, which is hurt feelings that arise when somebody suggests that the narcissist is not as fantastic as they think they are. And that's what I've been talking about in this world of external validation that that can come as easily as someone having a different opinion, that the narcissist views that as criticism. And then they will go to great lengths to defend their fragile egos because their minds immediately drop down into this shame where if somebody has a different opinion rather than sitting there from a differentiated place and saying, Tell me more, I love to hear about your opinion. They view it as an attack on their opinion, and so then they go to this place. Then that means that person must think I'm a horrible person when none of that's happening on the outside. The narcissist see children as an instrument to protect their ego is the next question, Alexander asked. He said, If you look at parenthood through this lens, you can start to understand how narcissists view children. Although many of them lack self-awareness, they do have a good sense of how certain behaviors are perceived. And image is everything. And as we've identified on a previous episode, narcissists are highly attuned to society's status symbols. So in other words, Alexander says that they know what's considered to be a good thing by other people.
[00:20:25] So narcissistic parents understand that if somebody is happy with they view this person's the narcissist. Life is seen as amazing, then they will see the narcissist as the better person. Therefore, a family is a way to improve their image. So, he said, now take this normal, healthy instinct to present yourself and family in a positive way, which is absolutely true. We just do that because that has to do with our need to compare because we want to be part of a group and we feel that if we are not showing up in a certain way, that the group will abandon us and. And that's a really dramatic, oversimplified version of that. But he said in this scenario, take again this normal, healthy instinct to present yourself and your family in a positive way and turn it up to 11. He said make it an all important obsession, he said. You don't need to portray a happy family member's image. You must portray the best family image. And he said the happiest, most functional, most successful family ever is what this needs to be. We are the special flowers. We are the most special family and then even my my thoughts here too, as he said, that it's not only he was talking about that, I feel like it's not just that, but then you also now have to either put yourself on the level of people that you think are also amazing families, or you have to now start to put others down and take this one up position.
[00:21:35] So he said, as well as being a way to present a good image to the outside world, a family gives the narcissist another opportunity a group of people that they will be able to maneuver into giving them the narcissistic supply that they need. He said it creates this mini world where they can retreat to and be the top of the social hierarchy, no matter what else happens elsewhere in their lives. They have this safe space to return to that their family is the most special family. And so, he said, as we learned earlier, achieving these goals involves pushing family members into some common narcissistic family roles. So this is the fascinating part, he says. All right, let's break down this narcissistic family dynamic and see what these roles are. And keep in mind that all of these roles tend to be persistent. That is, a child tends to only have one role in the vast majority of the time that the roles can also be fairly fluid, and you'll see what we mean by that, he said. Roles can change depending on the narcissistic person, the parent's whims or how people behave in this narcissistic family system. And I just want to say again, all the while this is the opposite of letting someone just be them in approaching them with a what do you want to do when you grow up? Who are you? What do you enjoy? Tell me more.
[00:22:37] And it isn't about saying, I can't believe you think that. I can't believe you want to do that. Do you know what that would mean to me? You're going to let me down and those sort of things. So I feel like at the forefront of this entire conversation is I would love for you to look at how you're showing up with your own kids. Yes, it means you mean so well when you want the best for them and you want to guide them and you want them to have success. But what does that mean? Is it? I want them to have the success that I want them to have because that makes me feel better about myself or look better around others, or I want them to find their success. And I want to be I sure want to be an adviser. I would love to say, Man, what would it look like if you explored this career opportunity or this educational path, but not you need to do this or you are a complete idiot? Let's jump right in and talk about the narcissistic family scapegoat. And actually, before I get back to this article by Alexander that I absolutely love, I had another tab that I had found long ago and looking up some information about the scapegoat and I just remembered it. It's a site called anchored abode, and they have some of the coolest information about scapegoat children or the scapegoat in the narcissistic relationship.
[00:23:39] This, and I do not know who the author of this this website is, but I'll put this in the show notes as well. But they said they're talking about. Have you heard the term love hate relationship? Nothing could define the relationship between a narcissist and a scapegoat better. And so here's a couple of quotes they share. The narcissistic scapegoat exist to carry off the wrongdoings of the narcissist, carry the shame and the burden of the narcissist sins, especially if the narcissist feels like something may be their fault or is triggered into feeling guilt or shame. They project that onto the scapegoat for the scapegoat to deal with so the narcissist can wash their hands of the matter and move on emotionally. And again, we're talking about narcissism, and the narcissistic scapegoat typically is one of the children. But I think if you're if you're catching the vibe, there's a definitely, excuse me, a scapegoat aspect for the spouse and the depth which they talk about on this. This anchor tivoed site says that this is truly traumatic because the scapegoat definition points to a denigration of the scapegoat as a person to keep them submissive. And it's common when dealing with the two opposing parties to find a commonality to bond them together. So within the narcissist family structure, the members are all pitted against each other as though they are enemies, which is the complete opposite of the family dynamic that I think that most of the pathologically kind people would like.
[00:24:54] They want this family. They want everybody to come back and feel comfortable and love to be home. Thanksgiving's coming up. I have all of my kids come in and my son in law, and we just want it to be this place where we can all just hang and just just enjoy each other's company and not have this overall level of cortisol and thicken the air where people have to figure out, what do I say or who do I need to be so that I can manage the emotions of everybody in the room? But here's what I loved about this website, this author, they said. Ironically, the scapegoat is actually the most stable. And they said, in contrast to popular belief, the scapegoat definition conveys is what is unrealized by most. That the scapegoat is the most grounded because they are aware of their feelings because they are willing to be truthful. They're emotionally healthy. As a person in the narcissistic family, they're the one that is ready to fight for justice. I talk often to someone who has taken on the role of the scapegoat, and they are made to feel crazy, especially in a large, narcissistic family dynamic where the person that finally says, Wait, this isn't right, this isn't OK. Now, all of a sudden, they're the ones that are made to feel crazy, they're the ones that the entire family system is now saying, Oh man, you have anger issues.
[00:26:01] You need to see somebody about that when in reality, this person is now bringing true awareness to an insane situation. There are a sometimes think of them as almost packs of narcissistic families in different areas, and a lot of the emails that I've received have been really when I talk about the length of some of the emails, they've been ones where just as an example, let's say that there are a bunch of narcissistic siblings. Let's say there was a narcissistic grandma or grandpa. And then there is the whole family that was then raised and that dynamic. So there's a nice group of brothers and sisters that now they marry and they have kids, but then the people that they have married to slowly start to realize, Wait a minute, I'm allowed to have my own opinion and I'm not crazy, and I've been trying to manage my family's emotions for so long. So they start to have their own opinions and then have their own opinions. Then they are met by their spouses as then saying, Jeez, you won't let things go or you. You now have all these anger issues, and this is where that gaslighting starts to come into play. So then the more that the person realizes, no, it's OK for me to have my own opinion, it's OK for me to have my own experiences. And when that isn't now viewed in a relationship with curiosity, when it isn't viewed from a place of differentiation.
[00:27:09] Now this person suddenly, let's say it's a wife in this example. Now, all of a sudden, she now becomes the scapegoat of the entire family of all of the her husband's brothers and sisters, all of their their spouses. Because if someone is threatening that this family dynamic, this family system isn't unique and special. Now, the group must bond together to make the person that is bringing awareness to some things that just aren't right to make them feel crazy almost like this gaslighting by committee. So what happens is that now we get into this echo chamber and this group or this family system full of narcissists all now need to tell each other what they all want to hear. So do they still feel like they are special and the people that are finally saying, Wait a minute, I'm learning more about what a relationship really should be like that those people are. The more that they want to talk about things, the more that they want to say, Wait, these things aren't right in our family, then the more they're ostracized. So it can be one thing when you're waking up to the narcissism of a spouse, but it's a completely different animal when you're waking up to the narcissism of an entire family system. But the traits remain the same. To get your baseline up self care, get that PhD in gaslighting and then just get out of these.
[00:28:21] These conversations that are that are not going to go anywhere and then learn to set boundaries. And here's what I think is fascinating. There's that fifth piece I like to talk about. Realize there's not anything that you're going to say or do that's going to cause the aha moment or the epiphany and change the narcissist or the narcissistic family. But once you have gotten yourself into a good place with that now you can start to look at what a real boundary looks like. So if someone is really saying completely negative or horrible things about about the person who is now exited this narcissistic family system, what a boundary starts to look like is, Hey, if I hear that you are now saying that I am the one that is crazy, then I'm going to. I'm going to stand my ground and I'm I'm going to then share that. Ok, actually, here's the facts is now I see them, and I know that this can sound like all of a sudden we're going tit for tat. But there's a significant difference in realizing there's nothing I can say or do that will cause the AHA or the epiphany. But just knowing that then when someone exits the narcissistic relationship, whether it's with an individual or a family, that narcissist or that narcissistic family now is going to create an entirely false narrative and basically taken a giant one up stand on the person that is now leaving the relationship or leaving the family in order to make themselves feel like they were right and that they are special.
[00:29:36] So I feel like there's a real different dynamic to a boundary versus saying something in order to try and have someone change. So it's basically if someone is saying, Oh no, because I have all these examples where people all of a sudden spread a rumor that, OK, oh no, he divorced her because she found out she was cheating and she was there. She wasn't. So if that's the case, and now she, whoever she is, finds out from someone that that he is saying that, oh no, she was cheating, then that's where it may sound petty, but a boundary can be, Oh no, I wasn't he? A relationship wasn't based in reality, or I realized that there was a tremendous amount of lies or falsehoods or so that. And again, I know that can sound like we're going into tit for tat mode. But until you've been in one of these types of relationships, it can be completely maddening so you can be absolutely zen and be a mindfulness guru. But then if the narcissist is continuing to just build an army based off of lies that they're telling other people to make themselves feel better, that what we're saying is that there's a way to potentially stop the building of the army, because then the narcissist will then basically just focus their supply on someone else if they.
[00:30:46] And I think it's Christine Hammond that it talks about, this is almost like training the narcissist. If the narcissist realize that, Oh, wow, if I say this bad thing about. My former spouse and now my former spouse is going to actually say in a in a pretty competent way, that's absolutely incorrect. Every time you say that about me, I will then share this truth, then they don't look at that and go, Oh my gosh, I need to stop because I'm saying the wrong thing. But they look at that as almost if there's now this electric fence and the grass and the the yard and the dog is now trained that if they go past that barrier, they're going to get shocked. So what are they going to do? They're going to go to a different side of the they're going to go a different side of the yard to play, in essence. So I hope that makes sense. That's something that I don't see a lot written about. But in working with enough people that have broken free from narcissistic spouses or narcissistic family dynamics, that it's one thing to just say goes in. Just don't let it affect you and take the high road. And those things are all wonderful. They are based in some really good places. But the reality is that sometimes you have to stop by a boundary. The this snowball or avalanche effect of the narcissist trying to create this false narrative of someone just to make them feel better about their decision to to their narcissistic or their pathologically kind spouse's decided to finally stand up for themselves, understand that it's OK for them to have their own thoughts, feelings, emotions and opinions, and leave the relationship where in a normal, healthy relationship, the the partner, the narcissistic spouse in that scenario.
[00:32:14] I guess if they were not, the narcissist would then say, Oh my gosh, you're right, I didn't. I had no idea that you felt oppressed. I had no idea that you weren't sharing your true feelings, thoughts and emotions. And that's the part that I love about being a couple's therapist is when you realize they just didn't know and they didn't have the tools to be able to truly communicate and express their differences. Again, that is key difference when working with narcissists as a couple's therapist is providing them with tools. And then instead of seeing this, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, it's no they're still wrong or that isn't what I really meant, or no, I didn't really ever say it that way or. And then basically the nurse exiting therapy. So boy, this is going on a lot longer than I had anticipated. I think I'm off on a little bit of a soapbox here. Let me step down off of that soapbox. But the author, when I was saying this, the scapegoat is the direct threat to the narcissist.
[00:33:01] They say that for this reason, it's no coincidence that this person is belittled and tormented into submission. It's the only way the narcissist can maintain control over a confident person. In essence, the narcissist will continually try to crush the strength out of the scapegoat. And they say what is also in realize is that the scapegoats emotional stability usually equips them to be the strongest and first to set boundaries against the nurses. So the scapegoat is typically the first to walk away from the toxic family. As they get older, they will start questioning. Wait, am I really that bad? Could I actually be the cause of these problems? Was this really my fault? And no, it wasn't. And that's where they say that the smear campaign begins. So moreover, it is that very inner dialog that ultimately saves them from the continual abuse. And it bolsters this courage needed to withstand the smear campaign. The author says that they need that courage because they're daring to step away. But then, however, the scapegoats reputation is now a focus for the narcissist. It's now an immediate threat to the narcissist or the narcissistic family, to the person that confronted them. So if a narcissist cannot sway the scapegoat to come back into the toxic relationship or the toxic family dynamic, then they will decide to protect their own image or protect their narcissistic family by destroying the person who dared stand up against them. So then you've got the friends and the families and all these people, the church leaders, the whoever is there are told these fabricated stories about how that person is crazy or their messed up, or they see a therapist or they've had to they've had to get medication or that sort of thing or how they have problems or they're overreacting or they're not forgiving or they're unloving.
[00:34:28] And the fact is that is all this just smokescreen to draw attention away from what the narcissist is actually doing. Did they just completely move on from from the marriage or the relationship? Did they not take ownership of the the role that they played in destroying relationships with close family members, their children? So and that is what they are going to now push away from because they cannot take ownership of that because they feel like someone is telling them that they doing something wrong. So the narcissist knows that, and this is the thing where people say, Well, is this conscious or is this just subconscious? But they know that they they are going to try to jump out there and control the narrative, and it's almost like they feel so you could set a boundary and say, Hey, we oh, sure, we're going to get a divorce. We didn't see eye to eye, but let's not talk negative about each other. And I have watched these dynamics so often where the couple then says, Yeah, no, we're not going to. And so then they get out among friends and a friend says, Hey, I heard you guys got divorced.
[00:35:25] And where let's say the wife in this situation is going to say, Yeah, we just we just grew apart. But then the this dynamic, the husband is going to say, Yeah, she she was really struggling with a lot of things. She's I don't know if she's doing really well, but I'm praying for. I hope she's going to get to a better place. And so basically then having this, it looks like captain empathy. But in reality, it is saying it's not taking ownership for any bit of their role in the dissolution of the marriage and now having to make the other person the wife. The scenario look and feel crazy so that they feel better about themselves, and the thing that kills me is it's that nurses don't even know what a healthy divorce if they I know they can sound like an oxymoron, but a healthy separation or what that can look like because what the effect it can have on the kids, what that really can look like and it's so simple is to just say, Yeah, we grew apart. I hope that they I hope that they are doing well. We want to be the best parents, the co-parents. We want to be the best coach grandparents that we can be. But they don't realize that because they're so impulsive in the moment to protect their fragile egos that then they are just saying these horrific negative things about this person that was once such a significant part of their life.
[00:36:32] And I think that just again shows just the character of the narcissist and again, man soapbox number two. Let me get off of this, and let's get back to this article by Andrew. So that just like I appreciated that this author talking about the scapegoat is actually the most stable, whether it's the scapegoat of a spouse or whether it's the scapegoat in the children. But they are the most stable because they are the ones that have truly woken up to this narcissism. And as they have woken up to that, that is the place that puts them in a more. Now they're going to go through some pretty rough patches to get to this better place, this higher ground. But I promise you, it is worth it when you get there. So man, now I feel like I'm back to this the nurse's family scapegoat from Alexander's article, and I'm going to buzz through this quick because we had a lot more to cover. We're going to talk about the golden child. We're going to talk about some examples from the group that I run. But in essence, then the scapegoat role in the narcissistic family is exactly what it sounds like, Alexander said. There the person in the family who gets the blame for everything. The narcissistic parent can use the scapegoat to generate the narcissistic supply through put downs and insults other forms of abuse.
[00:37:35] And then we'll try to turn the rest of the family against them, to which I can appreciate this term. He calls it family mobbing, but that abuse is not always overt and direct, and it can be subtle. So he shares that if the scapegoat triggers this narcissistic injury in the parent, then they may be punished directly. Most likely or indirectly, they most likely will. And he gives these examples that sounds so subtle, and it go back to that episode I did called death by a thousand cuts. But he said, for example, the narcissistic parent may cancel the their karate lessons, but say it's because they can't afford them. But when, in truth, it's because the scapegoat stepped out of line in some way. So he says, why does a child become? It's another form of control. It is so important for the nurses to manage other people's behavior because again, it gives them that supply. So the problem is with their children, it is different because the narcissists the children is an extension of themselves. So because of that, they do project their own traits and he says, both positive and negative onto their kids. But since the narcissists themselves are so insecure again, if we look at it, I think an episode I did a week or two ago where we talk about that pathological defensive narcissism, where they have this mask that is just paper thin that then when they feel like they are all of a sudden questioned that they are not the expert on everything or they don't know better than all of those around them that then they turn that immediately into anger because they can't take responsibility or ownership, or the fact that it's OK to say, Yeah, I don't know.
[00:38:51] I'm not really sure. Again, I go back to all these, OK, I could. I could tell you so many examples. But he says so with the children, though, it's different. So when the nurse sees the children as an extension of themselves, both positive and negative, that the narcissists have this insecurity, they project the weaker side of themselves onto their onto one of their children, the scapegoat. So they need to find this scapegoat to then be able to dump their own insecurities onto. And then they find this golden child to then say, and here is the fruit of my loins, not even having a clue of the damage that can do to either of the kids or all of them. And what that feels like to the entire family is now they have to manage their own roles. And do they support the scapegoat at times? Or are they going to become the target of the nurse's rage? Or even as we'll talk about here in a little bit what that can do to the golden child? So let me just run through a couple of examples that I found from the group.
[00:39:42] Ok, so one of the examples of the scapegoat child that I just have to share and I'm changing up a few things just so that we can maintain good confidentiality, but this is such a good example where the person shared that they one of their sons they can clearly identify is the scapegoat. And in one situation, the husband became fixated on things in the house even when they weren't turned on pulling power and costing money. And I love how this person had shared that she did a little of our own research, and it may cost somewhere around twenty five cents a year to leave a cell phone charger plugged in. And so while there were multiple people in the home, this scapegoat son then became the target of the husband, saying, You keep believing your things plugged in. This is a problem. You're costing me money, this sort of thing. And other than not doing that with anybody else. And so I felt like that was such a good example because there are other people in the home. It's a pretty I love that, she said. There's some truth a quarter a year, but it's a pretty flawed premise to begin with. So it does become more of a control issue. And then we will now target the scapegoat to then allow the narcissist there to take the one up position because they can make someone else feel bad. And if you just look at that, step back and say, OK, this is where is it? Is it more important to have control or love and an adult relationship? And this is clearly an issue of control.
[00:41:05] There were some other examples of scapegoat as well, and they just become it's heartbreaking. Another one where someone talked about one of their sons who has ADHD, and so everything that their son does, then that one's an easy one to say that's the scapegoat. So the husband can take this one up position and then say everything that he does is so annoying would be the buyer that they would project on to the scapegoat kid. This is the one with ADHD. And so then what is the son start to feel like? It doesn't matter what he does, he is going to feel less than and especially if there's somebody else there, another kid that does not have ADHD, where then you can see that is going to be someone where the narcissistic parent is going to say, Why can't you be more like this person and just think of what that does to the psyche of anyone. It doesn't mean even have to just be a young child. Any person where and people that feel like that scapegoat often feel like, then it really is what's wrong with them. It must be then goes right back to those abandonment issues that we talk about, that when you're moving from childhood and adolescence into adulthood, we are programed to feel like if if people are responding in ways that don't really feel like they hear us or understand us that then it must be me, it isn't the fact that it might be this person who has a problem personality disorder, but it's more of what am I doing? So then I start trying to do anything I can to make things better, to get this person to like me because it goes back to that.
[00:42:34] We still want the validation of other people, especially our parents. So that really is. There are so many more examples, though, of the scapegoat child that that maybe we will. I don't know. Maybe I have a big announcement. I think I want to make next week about ways to get to more of these Q&A and more examples, because I feel like the more that people really do hear those, the more they start to feel like they are not alone or they're not the ones that are going crazy, just some comfort in numbers or just starting to to people. The emails I'm getting are people that are just saying that it's bizarre to hear all of the similarities. But the second time we move on to the golden child, so the golden child and then what? It's funny. I feel like I have to do a reset, but it's because I started the podcast recording this morning and it's 12 hours later. And so I was going to say, Hey, so we're still here with Alexander Burmeister from the narcissistic life where in reality you have been there the entire time.
[00:43:28] So I feel like I will probably end up editing this part out. So Alexander says the golden child is pretty much the opposite to the scapegoat, where the scapegoat is the target of anger and criticism. The Golden Child is the target of praise and adoration. And most of the time, the golden child can do no wrong. Their successes are celebrated as if they are the narcissistic parents own, and their failures are brushed under the carpet or and this one is so true or blamed on the scapegoat. Some of the examples that I saw were things where if the golden child needed more training, let's say it was with athletics or that sort of thing, and then the scapegoat child got a ticket. This is an example that I had in my office not too long ago. Then, instead of just the fact that the scapegoat child got a speeding ticket because he's a human being and not trying to make him feel bad about that, then the scapegoat child, the money that they were going to pay on that ticket then became the reason why they couldn't get gold and child the training they needed, which would most likely this is according to the narcissistic parent, mean that golden child may not get the opportunity to play at a college that would then maybe get them even to the pro, so a speeding ticket to the scapegoat child ends up turning into and you just ruined your golden sibling's chance at the NFL and.
[00:44:41] Those are real stories. They really are. So the golden child tries to test boundaries of the parent with narcissistic personality disorder, and they soon learn that there's no real love or friendship behind the praise and can be taken away just as easily as it can be given out. So that's what's interesting, too, is that oftentimes the golden child, because it becomes almost a survival mechanism that when they recognize that they are the golden child. And I have talked to these people that have realized down the road that they were that golden child. They knew who that scapegoat child was, and it's almost like they have to do this to each man their own where when they are adults, then they want to say, I wish I could have just let my brother know or my sister know that I saw them, that I understood what they were. I could see what they were going through. But the golden child is trying to survive themselves, and they don't want to be made to feel less than as well. So they start to learn to play the game, they start to learn what they do. They can't and can't say, even sometimes to the detriment of where the narcissistic parent will want the golden child to join them as they talk negatively about the scapegoat child.
[00:45:39] And then Alexander says, How is the golden child chosen? Wonderful question. In some cases, it will be because they bring status to the family in the eyes of the narcissistic parent. For example, they might be captain of the football team, a straight-A student, or this one. It happens often they may be particularly attractive. So in other cases, it might be the child who is more attentive to the narcissist who buys into their view of the world must readily. I see that one a lot when it comes to people who absolutely agree with the narcissist, take on anything from politics to sports teams that are good or who they like in their church or that sort of thing. And so sometimes the wonder is that does the Golden Child adopt those similar beliefs as a way to attach or to get that validation? Or if they do just happen to believe that, then they go all in on that. And the more that they feed that narcissistic supply of the narcissistic parent, then the more that the scapegoat child looks like they do not support the narcissistic parent, as we've talked about before, then that can be viewed as criticism or an attack or saying that the narcissistic parent is wrong, to which then that narcissistic parent goes back to the old will say anything or do anything to defend their fragile ego.
[00:46:46] So whatever the reason, though, it will be something that helps the narcissistic parent get their supply, either by helping them present a happy family image to the outside world, or by simply making them feel more important within the world of the narcissist internal family life. So the golden child vs. the scapegoat child, Alexander said. In a way, the dynamic between the narcissistic parent, the scapegoat child and the golden child is this form of triangulation so that the abuse may not be directly targeted at the scapegoat, such as the bullying or insults and put downs, but it might be more indirect using the golden child as proxy. So, for example, he talks about the scapegoat. I want to take up an instrument like the violin, but they'll told they can't do it because they're spending too much money on the scapegoat child's Typekit adolescence. So instead of the parent stepping up and saying I, I am insecure and I do not want to tell anyone, no, so I'm going to pin this on the scapegoat child or they don't want to feel less than if they can't afford to have both lessons. So instead of saying we just aren't in a position to do that, it has to be, well, I wish we could. But these doggone tyquan adolescents, and if there isn't as much left for the scapegoat, then that's just how it is. The narcissistic parent uses the golden child is this tool of abuse by literally showing favoritism in front of the rest of the family, and he talks about favoritism isn't unique to narcissistic parent, so we don't assume that just because favoritism is going on, that it's because of narcissism.
[00:48:05] And he quotes one study in 2010 that found that 70 percent of mothers and multi sibling families could name a child they felt closest to. And ninety two percent of the children can name a sibling who argued with their parents most often. So the study also found poor mental health implications as a result of this normal favoritism. So once again, we see this pattern where narcissistic behaviors are the extreme end or an exaggerated version of things that are fairly normal. And this isn't an exact example of that, but I will find that oftentimes when people have gone through divorce and even we're not even talking about narcissistic co-parenting, but when there are when there's a divorce and the teenagers or whatever age kids are shuttling between mom and dad, and people will come in and talk to me about how, oh my gosh, because of this divorce, my kids are playing me off of each other. They're telling dad one thing. They're telling me another thing where I love, when I can bring a little bit of normalization, say, Oh no, that that is just teenager behavior. My kids will often ask me or have in the past asked my wife one day if they can get some money for something and then the next day, ask me.
[00:49:11] And then a few days later, my wife. And so then to me, it feels like they're not asking for very much. But boy, they can just be geniuses. So that doesn't necessarily mean that we're Typekit narcissistic parents. That can be a normal pattern, but you can see that the narcissistic behaviors will often expose the extreme end of a behavior. He talks a little bit about how the golden child treats the scapegoat child. They said the golden child might be encouraged to join in on the abuse, as we talked about earlier, either directly or indirectly. And sadly, they often do for a number of reasons, including to please the parent to live up to expectations. Ins to maintain this high status or because they have inherited or adopted a tendency toward narcissistic personality disorder themselves and or fear and all those who might not happen in all cases, if the golden child does adopt the behaviors, then it's understandable to say that life could be pretty difficult for the scapegoat. And the golden child might start to abuse the scapegoat in the exact same way that the narcissistic parent does, such as blaming them for the Golden Child's own mistakes and shortcomings. And I think that's how you start to see people worry often that, Oh my gosh, is my child going to become a narcissist? And remembering that children in general are. But I think this is starting to show that if the nurses can't take ownership for something and say my bad, then you can start to see here where we're handing that golden child the same ability to then say, Man, I could have done better if it hadn't been for the scapegoat.
[00:50:28] This one is interesting, too. Alexander talks about the enabling parent, he said, because people with narcissistic personality disorder are deeply dependent on others for their supply. Or, as we've talked about here, they seek they absolutely drink up that external validation the they usually have enablers in their lives. And he says that often the romantic partner is one of them, although the enabler can also be taken up by other siblings and by enabler, it can sound so this such a negative thing. But I think, as we've identified on this podcast already, several times, it can often be the enabler is the pathologically kind person or the person who acts as the buffer who is going to make things better. And they're doing it for all the best reasons because they know that if they aren't, they're trying to negotiate the family situations that things could be bad for the kids. So it's almost as altruistic put themselves as this sacrifice in the family for the good of the kids and trying to just make things as smooth as possible. So he said enabler simply someone who then supports or encourages a particular behavior in another person.
[00:51:30] The enabling parent usually buys into the nurse's view of reality and will generally not question it. In fact, they might even make excuses for the nurse's behavior. Try to downplay the negative aspects of it, and they say that this is usually especially true in public, where they might serve as a kind of a reputation cleanup crew, which I love that phrase, but also within the family structure. They might downplay the abuse that's targeted as the scapegoat, and I feel like this one is where I want to start moving into the realm of what it will look like to co-parent with a narcissist and and be able to go there next. And even before I get to that, I think it's safe to say that it isn't always just we're talking here about narcissistic family dynamic and the scapegoat child, the golden child. But often the spouse of the narcissist really does become the scapegoat. As part of that, I know that Alexander talks about the enabling the piece of that and enabling. This is where I feel so bad because I feel like the kind, nice person who was trying to manage the situation. It would fit technically under this enabler, but they're enabling because they are trying to make the best of the situation based on the information that they have to deal with. And I think that there's a couple of examples from the group when I posed this question where people talk about, let's say, the wives in this situation with the husband being the narcissistic parent that where Alexander would talk about the enabler.
[00:52:56] But then they find themselves in the role of the scapegoat. There's a phenomenal example where one of the women was talking about how she would buy presents for everybody and everybody from the people in her family, her kids and her husband, and she would also buy presence in her husband's family. And so at one point, the husband had said, I want to take care of this. I've got something that I want to buy my family and he doesn't follow through. So then Christmas rolls around and she hears him talking to his family, and he says, Did you get presents? Did he get the presents we sent? And they said no. And then he said, Oh my gosh, my wife must not have sent those presents. And so then she gets to literally hear him throwing her under the bus because then it makes him not feel bad that they don't have presents. And so when she then asks him why or why did he say that? Because she reminds him, you were going to buy them presents? And she even knew the exact present that he had said he was going to buy. He then says, I didn't have time to do that because I'm the one that works. You're the one that is at home all day. So he still couldn't take any ownership, and now she was the scapegoat, and his family now thinks that she's the one that dropped the ball when in reality, she was more than willing to jump in and do what she always did and buy those presents to make him look good.
[00:54:14] Now she doesn't because he said that he wanted to take care of that. He didn't, doesn't take ownership of it. She ends up not feeling worse, looking bad. And so you can see where then the as Alexander says, the enabler. Sometimes I want to say the buffer or the pathologically kind person becomes the one who then takes the brunt of everything. Or there's another wonderful example in the group Wonderful. Wonderful is the wrong word. It's it breaks my heart example, but a good example of another woman who was talking about how her mom, who was the narcissistic parent in her family that ends up marrying another person that just feeds her narcissistic mother. And I do often see that sometimes I have people say, Does the narcissist ever find themselves with another narcissist? And absolutely. And sometimes people say, Well, how does that work? It's because they're both just and I know I use humor sometimes where these are intense situations, but where they both are just feeding each other of how amazing and wonderful they are while also not listening to the other person. So it's quite a dynamic. But what happens is neither of them are taking ownership of things, which I think it just feels like there's a double dose of crazy pills going around, especially in things like holiday situations and the person who's trying who's typically been again, as Alexander says, the enabler or I say, the buffer, the person that's trying to manage the situation so that their kids may not feel less than or in the spotlight of the narcissist.
[00:55:37] But then everybody feels crazy. She gave examples of people just hanging out around the home of the nurses around the holidays and everybody checking in saying, Hey, is everybody in the area? Are we going in together because we almost have to go in as a united front? Because if somebody gets in there and they are isolated and alone, then now all the gaslighting is going to be focused on that one person. And what I thought was really interesting is in this scenario, this person said that she's also seen her daughter become the scapegoat. Or so sometimes the scapegoat is the wife, the mom, or it's the kid. But then it's her narcissistic mother and narcissistic mothers, new husband that those are the two narcissists. So there's just a double dose of this family dynamic of narcissism. And but what was so, so interesting is she said that. She feels like her mom is trying to recreate what I know I'm being confusing, the woman who posted in the group said it was their dynamic growing up with her grandparents, so her mother's parents, who her mother's parents were the kindest, nicest people.
[00:56:35] So people did want to go to grandma and grandpa for the holidays. So now the person who posts its mom is in essence saying, I want to recreate that. But rather than recreating it from a place of genuine love and empathy they're creating, they're trying to create it from a place of control. And don't you? Why don't you? Why don't you kids adore and admire me like we all adored and admired her parents or the person posting his grandparents? And it's because it's not based on a foundation of actual empathy and in providing this emotionally stable environment, which I think the reason I love that post is because I think the people that are hearing this and are saying, Man, OK, it's nice to feel like I'm not the crazy one, but what do I do next? Because I feel like the buffering or the enabling that the pathologically kind person is trying to do in this situation is literally trying to create this wonderful family tradition. So here we go into the holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas, and I know that I just want to. I hope if you're hearing this, it's making sense. I feel like I'm all over the place, but I hope it's making sense and that I see you and I know that you are saying, OK, it's another year. Here come the holidays, and what can I do to make this work? But it's that thing where the very way that you're trying to make it work by buffering and by managing is what probably makes you feel even more crazy.
[00:57:56] So I don't know if going into the holidays now with this new awareness and knowledge and knowing that, OK, this year I am going to go in knowing I'm not crazy. That's that second thing I like to talk about that you're starting to get maybe, maybe get your bachelor's now, maybe get your associate's degree in gas lighting. Maybe you're studying to get your bachelor's, and one of the exams that you're going to about to take is going to be. Maybe one of the exams that you're about to take is going to be witnessing this family dynamic from a completely different lens, so you're going to go in there with your emotional baseline a bit higher because of this awareness, you're going to you're going to really try to be aware of the gaslighting and you're going to get out of these unproductive conversations because, you know, now that they aren't going to go in a positive direction. And I also hope that in that scenario, then you're going to learn to start to set boundaries that OK, if somebody is starting to gaslight my scapegoat kid, then the boundary of my said is, we're going to we're going to we're going to take off now or we're going to we're going to walk outside or I'm going to I'm going to validate the scapegoat kids experience in that moment.
[00:58:58] And that's where I start to get into. And then that number five thing realize there isn't anything you're going to say or do that's going to cause them to have the AHA moment you're doing these things more from a boundary than, say, I acknowledge the scapegoat kid I do in this moment, or if I'm being the scapegoat in that scenario that I'm going to calm calmly, competently express that I have a different opinion or I disagree with what somebody is saying. Knowing that is, it could likely bring some emotion where the nervous system might go into the Oh my gosh, I can't. Why are you being so difficult or but knowing that, OK, no, I'm starting to have my own opinions and stand up for myself, which goes a little bit into what I had alluded to a minute ago, which is the co-parenting with the narcissist. Whether you are co-parenting, whether you are parenting with the narcissist, I think this is the stuff that's really interesting to me, and I don't feel like there's a whole lot written on this, and I would like to change that. But and it sounds so wrong for somebody if somebody is listening and they do not understand what narcissism does in a relationship, a parenting relationship, a co-parenting relationship that we're if we accept the fact that there is most always going to be the scapegoat child or the person that the narcissist is going to put in that one down position, then rather than be the buffer rather than make up reasons why.
[01:00:16] And let me just give the generic example that that I run into often where let's say that whether you are any divorced from a narcissist situation or you are currently parenting with a narcissist and you are sitting with the child and dad is supposed to come pick up the child. So again, it could be whether it's coming from a divorce standpoint or dad is just supposed to come and take the child somewhere else. And dad has forgotten dads two hours late, and this is where if you just hear this and you haven't had this live this experience, somebody's going to say, OK, so he's not perfect. He's running a little late. But no, we're talking about a consistent pattern of not taking ownership or accountability of things like being late or saying, Yeah, I'll come get you. Because in that moment, the nurses then feels that external validation people say, OK, good. No, that'd be great if he came and picked them up or you took him somewhere with you. And then they don't show up that. Instead of saying, Hey, champ, the I'm sure your dad had a lot going on. I'm sure he's just busy. But when you're sitting there internalizing, Oh my gosh, I'm the one now sitting here again, trying to comfort my child who feels left and abandoned by their dad.
[01:01:18] And again, this is just where the father is in our system situation. I know it could be the mom as well, but I think the the the better way is that when we're doing that, then what we're basically telling that child is that you're wrong. You are wrong to feel this way. There's a good reason why dad did this, but the kid is starting to feel like, OK. And then I guess my emotions, my opinions or my view of the situation must be wrong as well. So I'm going to start questioning my view of reality, where I think there's a I guess we could call it a middle ground there where I'm going to say, Hey, I am so sorry. What what are you feeling right now? And if they're saying, I'm mad, I'm mad that dad forgot again, I'm mad that he's late. I thought that, and I can't imagine that he's going to come and say, Oh, I thought that you were going to remind me, or I thought you were going to bring the I thought you were going to bring him where I was. And so saying, man, that would be frustrating, but that really would. I'm so sorry that you that you feel like there are times where he doesn't care or I feel and again, I'm validating what they are sharing.
[01:02:16] I'm not telling them, Oh, no, no, he does care, but I'm not saying the opposite. I'm not throwing him under the bus and saying, I know he totally doesn't care. He does this to me too, but I'm validating and empathizing with what the child is expressing. So if they're expressing frustration, if they're expressing hurt or anger, those are all valid emotions because they're the emotions that that person is having. So we can validate them and say, No, that would be hard. That would be really hard if you feel like he doesn't show up or she in situations that she forgot again. I hear you. That would be really difficult. But hey, I just appreciate you expressing yourself. So we're validating and we're building that inner wealth. We're validating and then we're saying, but I but I see you. I acknowledge that you are consistently trying. You're putting yourself in positions where you're hoping that dad will come because you want this experience with him. So that would be hard. So what am I doing? I'm not telling him he's wrong, the kid. I'm validating them. I'm showing them what empathy looks like, and I'm not making excuses for somebody. And so I really feel like that's one of those things that we'll explore a lot more in the coming weeks about co-parenting. There's a little bit more here, but I feel like this one's going on. I. Actually recorded this over two days and three different situations, so I don't know if this thing is going to end up being 30 minutes or an hour, but I will share the length of this post from the narcissistic life because there's a little bit more here.
[01:03:31] We just talked about the enabling parent and Alexander goes into impact on the family scapegoat. And there's a couple of good quotes that come out of this one is from Peg Streep as Psychology Today, who reports an experience of the girl who had been a scapegoat by her family. And the quote says, I honestly believed every word my mother and siblings said about me. I blamed myself for everything and I couldn't take credit or feel pride in anything. So when something good happened that it was a fluke when something went wrong, I knew I had made it happen because I was flawed and deficient, which then shows those abandonment attachment things that we talk about in previous episodes, and even the impact on the Golden Child. The Golden Child is also, Alexander says, the porn and the nurses game. They're being pushed into this role. They're being abused and manipulated to. And the purpose of that golden child's role, I can remember, is to support a tend to or provide the supply to the narcissistic parent and often to the complete exclusion of their own needs and wants. So Julie Hall, a trauma consultant that tells the story of this person, named Lynn, a woman who was pushed into the golden child role in her family growing up.
[01:04:28] She said it was too complicated for me to manage having relationships other than with my mother, who was her, the nurses and her family. My only friends were people I could hang out with at school when my mother couldn't expect me to be at home and it was horribly suffocating. That's the fascinating work of suffocating. I felt I couldn't breathe, and it was like I was in jail. So the golden child, he says, is more likely to become trapped with the narcissist due to this undeserved praise. So it creates this this. I was going to say the word conundrum, but it creates this just interesting dynamic where the golden child is getting their validation and praise and their kids. They want that again. It goes back to that. That's how they're trying to make sense of the world as if, well, if my parent is praising me, then I think I must be OK. If my parents getting mad at me, then it must be me. That's our view as kids. So then he just talks about the narcissistic family tree. Does it run in families? And maybe just to be able to give a shout out to I'll put in the show notes there again the link to this article so you can go check out that what he has to say about the narcissistic family tree. So let me wrap this up, and I will just say again, I so appreciate you being here.
[01:05:29] If you feel like you're a woman in particular in relationship with the narcissistic male, whether it's currently, whether it's and it could be a parent, it could be a sibling, it could be in a work environment. I have a really neat group that is this really it's it's so powerful to watch people interact and feel heard and understood. So you can send me an email through my website and we'll see if we can get you connected there. But please continue to send me your emails, send me suggestions for episodes, send me your questions. Like I mentioned earlier, we're going to do something with some Q&A here coming up pretty soon, but I just can't thank you enough for being here. This is funny because again, I'm recording this a completely. Day after I started the recording, I had not been on my social media and a little bit because no one had started causing anxiety because I feel like, Oh my gosh, I start to do my own comparisons of other people that are doing the work that I do, or I feel like if I don't have enough time to get back to people, then I feel bad about that. But I was on last night and somebody had sent me a direct message and said that they found me thanks to an article on KSL about podcasters that had Utah roots because I had gone to high school and college there.
[01:06:35] And it was a phenomenal, amazing article.
[01:06:37] And I know now that there are people that have found me from that or that that article talks about the virtual couch and on the virtual couch. I talk about this waking up the narcissism, and so I had a message from someone that had felt so validated because they had just run across this article that talked about certain podcasters and found the virtual couch, which then led them to hear. I would just I would love and appreciate it. If you do spread the word, if you're in groups where they talk about narcissism and again, this is where it's so hard because I feel like I'm saying I would like my ego validated as well. But no, I just am so grateful for people that are sending me the messages saying that they feel like I've got their house bugged or I know what they're going through because of the examples that we give. Because the more that people get the information, the more they understand that they are not alone, the more they understand that they're not crazy. It does raise that emotional baseline. It does cause them to feel like they are. They know that they can now take some steps, even if it's a slow process, but they can start to make more sense of their life. And when they can do that, they can start to then realize if they have lost their selves, how to find themselves, how to find people that will provide support and doing that as the first step to recovery. Thanks again, and I look forward to talking to you next week on waking up the narcissism.
Tony shares why opposites don't attract in the long run and why ultimately we like people who are more similar to us. PLUS Nate Bagley, relationship researcher and host of the Growth Marriage podcast, comes on to talk about his incredible Relationship Mastery Pack https://www.epicmarriageclub.com/a/2147499720/h3Cn8yaE Get thousands of dollars in relationship tools for one special Black Friday price featuring Tony's brand new parenting course: 3 Keys to Positive Parenting - Bring the Positivity without Messing Up Your Kids Even if You're Not Sure Where to Start! Go to https://www.epicmarriageclub.com/a/2147499720/h3Cn8yaE to sign up for thousands of dollars worth of relationship tools for less than the cost of one therapy session.
In today's episode, Tony refers to the article "Do Opposites Really Attract?" by Clifford Lazarus Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-well/201907/do-opposites-really-attract and "Why Do We Like People Who Are Similar to Us?" by Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/close-encounters/201812/why-do-we-people-who-are-similar-us
With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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=v95myQ
[00:00:01] Here is a law that you may not be aware of in the state of California, only the person who is on the registration of a car can have a new key made for said car if you have lost all of your keys. So it was with that new information that I found myself barreling down Interstate five this past Friday night on my way to Southern California to spend some time with one of my daughters. And it was on this trip that my daughter and I, while sharing some wonderful fruit and waffles at a quaint Long Beach breakfast restaurant, were waiting for the locksmith to arrive. And while we were waiting for the locksmith to arrive, we were contemplating life and friendships and how complicated the wonderful and frustrating that relationships could be in general. What I'm going to go into detail today is on why relationships can be so complicated and what is it that we don't know that would surely help us with determining not only our potential love relationships, but our our friendships in general. We're going to talk about that and so much more coming up on today's episode of the virtual couch.
[00:01:02] The. Come on in. Take a seat.
[00:01:19] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 295 of the virtual couch. I will be up front with you before we get to the heart of today's episode. I am going to digress. I'm going to bring on a friend of mine and I would say friend of the podcast. He is a marriage researcher. His name is Nate Bagley. Because Nate reached out to me with a pretty incredible deal a couple of weeks ago, and it is. It is something that I can't pass up of making you aware of. So without any further ado, let me interrupt this episode with a quick interview of Nate Bagley and we're recording. There's no countdown. Nate Bagley, how are you doing?
[00:01:54] Great. How are you, Tony?
[00:01:55] Good. It's good to see you again. I we've only talked to each other for real two or three times, but yet I feel like such a connection, and I like to think of myself as a very energetic person. I feel like you've got me beat hands down and
[00:02:07] Oh, I don't know, man, we're
[00:02:09] Texting each other yesterday, and all of a sudden I want to create ten more courses. I want to solve all the problems, and then I just because within just a couple of texts, all of a sudden I've got somebody on the I've got my web guy on the line and we're going to change the world. So I don't know how you do it. Is that like your superpower just making things happen?
[00:02:27] I do like to make things happen that that's a pretty good explanation of my superpower.
[00:02:32] Yeah, OK. I enjoy it. It's contagious and I love you, Tony. Got it. Yeah, I just in context, I was flying into Utah a couple of weeks ago, and I think I just texted you or maybe just said, Hey, you're because you weren't. You're not in Utah anymore. We'll talk about that. But I was going to speak, and I just said something about always trade messages with Kurt Franklin and we were talking about you. And so then you just said, I think, or no, did you reach out to me now? I feel like I don't
[00:02:56] Know, right? We ended up talking somehow.
[00:02:58] We did. And Nate said, Hey, do you want to be a part of a Black Friday sale? And I just thought I didn't know that these were things for people that create courses and stuff. So I was all in because of Nate's doing it. It's going to be big. And so. What is your what is your Black Friday sale? How did this idea originate and what are we doing? What are we doing on Black Friday?
[00:03:16] Yeah, I just know whenever you're in a relationship with anybody, whether it's with your partner or with your kids, or with your parents or your siblings, your friends, coworkers, you eventually going to run into a hiccup, a problem, a speed bump. There's going to be something that that challenges your relationship and maybe gets in the way of you having the connection that you want. And if you ignore those problems, nothing really gets better and the bad things typically get worse. And so I've been thinking about what are some ways that I could help more people get access to the solutions that they need access to. And I was like, Come on, man, you know, so many Nate knows so many experts like Tony and other amazing therapists and thought leaders in the relationship space. And I thought, why don't we all come together for one weekend black over Black Friday to Cyber Monday and contribute a course or a product or a resource that could help people solve their relationship problems and then sell it all together? That huge package of like a collaborative bundle for one insanely low price. And we I talked about it with people like you and everybody seemed to be on board. They were excited about this idea of coming together to create what we're calling it, the Relationship Mastery PAC. And it's just a whole bunch of incredible resources that you can get for the price of what you would typically pay for one resource. And so that's what I'm excited about is we've got people who are coming in to help you break generational bonds that we've got people coming in that will help you break generational cycles. We've got people, we've got experts talking about perfectionism and co-dependence. You're talking about parenting. We've got rebuilding trust. We've got so many different topics that are being covered that will help people in all aspects of their life.
[00:05:05] And so this is what's funny. If I go back to what your superpower is, when you said, do you want to be a part of it? And again, just being super honest and vulnerable and all those fun therapist's words, I felt like if I don't do this, I'm missing out because Nate is going to find a lot of people and I really like talking about parenting and I've got this new course. And so I thought, this is absolutely perfect. And then I love how you're saying and I know it's going to sound sales pitch to my audience, but it's insanely cheap. And when you even shared that I even thought again, it's well, Nate's doing it. So this must make sense when you have, there's what, 10, 15 different courses that are part of this package. I'm on board. This is going to be really exciting. You're talking about trust. What's your course about? I feel like I still haven't had you on my podcast to talk about things that you're really passionate about. You know, yeah,
[00:05:50] When they will make that happen. Yeah, exactly. You know, I don't think I understood trust when I first got married and I thought of, you know, if my partner was hurting then and I didn't mean to hurt her, or maybe I had done something by accident or I didn't have negative intentions, then why should I apologize? Maybe, maybe you should just be less sensitive. And then I realized talking to my wife, so my wife is a nurse and people in the medical profession, they take this Hippocratic Oath do no harm. And if you're in if you're a doctor and you're in the room of a patient and that patient is suffering with some sort of disease or injury and you have the means to help them, you help them. And I'm like, Man, why is why don't we treat our partner the same way in marriage? Why if we have the tools to heal them, to take away their pain? Why wouldn't we do that? Why do we have to be prideful about that? So the product I'm offering is called the trust workshop. It's a five day workshop where I walk people through the steps they need to take to heal the emotional, emotional wounds that they've inflicted on their partner throughout their relationship and recreate trust.
[00:06:54] I love it. I do. And I was going to make the joke of when you said, Hey, how about don't be so sensitive? How does that go over? Never quite worked very poorly.
[00:07:02] It doesn't never work. When you say
[00:07:03] Something doesn't, it doesn't end. And what I really appreciated with you was even just in the text where I was saying, I'm putting together this parenting course. You jumped right in and hit all the right questions and asked me, OK, what are you doing with parenting and what's going to be different about it? And because I really feel I don't know if this has been your experience, you have how many kids do you have? Just one, OK, one kid, were you and your wife? Did you talk a lot about before the birth of your child or did you just make assumptions that you had?
[00:07:27] There's a lot of assumptions that we're on the same page with stuff, and we've already bumped into little things
[00:07:33] Like what comes to mind? What are some of the biggest challenges you find?
[00:07:36] Ok. So our daughter just turned one, and this is probably one of the most tense. It's not like a conflict, but it's just a it's a hard thing that we're managing. So our daughter just turned one. We moved to Costa Rica and we wanted to give her swimming lessons before we got here so that she would be comfortable in the water. And maybe, heaven forbid, she fall into the pool or the ocean. She had some skills to at least like bob up and wouldn't sink to the bottom and panic. So my wife put her in swimming lessons and it was really high anxiety for me to watch this little girl who doesn't even didn't even know how to walk yet get tossed into the pool and learn to swim. And there were moments where I like. I had severe pushback because I, my protective instincts were kicking in and I wanted to get my daughter out of the pool and maybe she wasn't ready, and maybe we shouldn't be practicing with her in this way. And my wife was a lot had a much higher tolerance for anxiety. It was like, No, it's going to be fine. She's going to be safe. And anyway, that was like a it was an emotional tension that we had to manage and it was something that was good for our daughter. But we there have been moments where we didn't necessarily agree on how to make those swimming lessons happen.
[00:08:46] Yeah. So I love that and I'm curious, are you much of a swimmer yourself? Do you come from a, you
[00:08:51] Know, I'm not a very good swimmer.
[00:08:53] I am you. And it's funny because I have Alison Carlson, who was my brother know my son in law's sister. I've had her on my podcast and I watch her stories on Instagram. And they're doing that where the babies float and they swim, and I can't watch it. And so I didn't know we would talk about this. But this is this gives me anxiety as well. Yeah, my my wife is saying, Man, I wish we had this when we were, when our kids were little, we would have, you know, thrown them all in the pool, and I feel like I don't think we would have. But then I realized I can't swim as an adult male. But I love that example because in the parenting course I'm putting together, I like having a parenting model or paradigm to work from. But I also feel like we don't do enough of talking about what our experiences are that lead up to our ideas about parenting. And so your example is so good because if you had been born in the water, then this might be a completely different conversation.
[00:09:40] Yeah, yep.
[00:09:41] Yeah, totally. Rica picture everyone has a beachfront house. Is this true?
[00:09:46] Not everybody, but we. We live about a three minute walk from the beach, which is really nice.
[00:09:52] Ok, so how are you doing with your water and are you out there swimming in the ocean every day? Or is this give you anxiety?
[00:09:58] I feel like I should change my name to Bob, really, because I bob in the water. I just I go out to about shoulder level and catch the waves. Yeah, yeah.
[00:10:09] Hey, Nate, we are. So we are truly similar creatures
[00:10:12] There because I feel as long as my feet can touch the ground, I'm pretty. I'm pretty comfortable.
[00:10:15] Absolutely. Hey, can I ask you? And so first of all, before I even move on from that, so your relationship master pack, I'm going to have the link in my bio. I'm going to be talking about it every chance I can. It really is an insane amount of tools that you put together and people like myself that are just saying, if Nate's a part of it, let's do this. So the price is it's crazy how low that is. Any other final thoughts on that of the
[00:10:39] I mean, the last thing I would say is Black Friday is typically the day that people spend on things. And I just think that it would be great this year if we all decided we were going to invest in our relationships in ourselves. And I don't think there's any greater investment. I don't think there's any greater way to spend your money, and I don't think there's any way that I've seen where you can get more bang for your buck than this thing. That's ultimately what I wanted people to do is see Black Friday as an opportunity to invest in what matters and not just in Christmas presents and little deals that they see online for the flat screen TV or whatever. That stuff's fine and great, but nothing will make you happier than having an awesome relationship, and if we can help contribute to that. I think that's a win for all of us involved.
[00:11:21] I love it and I love that. You had said earlier, too, that if people don't do something about it, it's not only does it not get better, but a lot of times it gets worse because we get to beat ourselves up about why have I not done something more about this? And in my world, we talk about experiential avoidance a lot, which is just that kicking the can down the road, it'll all be better later when it'll be better when the kids are older or when we get a better job, we make more money and then we get there and find out, Oh, that was not the case.
[00:11:45] Hey, our problems followed us.
[00:11:47] How about that? They did. They did, right? Ok, great transition. So follow the links in my I'll have the links in the show notes. I'll have it on my bio. All those wonderful things and I can't wait. So if you got do you got a couple more minutes? Nate? Yeah, tell me about this move to Costa Rica. How long ago was this? Did you start thinking about this? What was that like to move to a completely different country? I want to hear it all.
[00:12:06] It's been nuts, man. We yeah. So my wife was pregnant and a front line nurse during the whole COVID explosion a while back, and it really took a lot out of her. She was really, I think, emotionally and physically burned out. Postpartum has been it was really hard for her. And so get to this point where, you know, I'm running my own business, I'm trying to take care of our baby. When she's at work, she's exhausted, she's tired, I'm exhausted, I'm tired. And we finally just had this honest conversation that, hey, things are not working the way I think we would like them to if we were to take an honest assessment of our relationship and our life right now. I don't think that this is very sustainable. And she agreed and we said, Well, what can we change? And I I had a honest. I want to give major props to my wife for being mature enough to hear this in the way that I meant it. I told her, I think you're giving the best of you to your work and our baby and I are getting what's left. And she started crying and she's like, I think you're right. Wow. I think you're right. I think I'm giving my energy and my time and my attention to solving all these issues and taking care of all these people at work and. And then I come home and I got nothing left and I just recover and then I go back to work again. And she's like, That's not the kind of mom I want to be.
[00:13:31] It's not the kind of wife I want to be. And I said, Well, what do we need to change to help you feel better about that situation? And she said, Well, maybe I'll quit my job and I said, Great, if you quit your job, we're not tied to our to Utah where we lived. What do you want to do? And do you want to leave? Do you want to stay? And she's like, What if we just explored some ideas? I say, great. We really enjoyed vacationing to Costa Rica a couple a couple months before that. And we both speak fluent Spanish. And so we just put some feelers out there to see if we could find a place to live. And within two weeks with barely trying, we found a place to live that was right by the beach. We had found our friends magically showed up on our doorstep, saying that they needed a place to live. They were getting kicked out of their house, their landlord was ending their contract. And we're like, Do you want to live in our house? And it's like all these, all these things were just falling magically into place and we decided, Hey, why not? We don't have any reason not to take this risk and go on this adventure. And so in a span of about two to three months, we packed up all of our stuff, plane tickets and moved out of our place and flew down here. And now here we are.
[00:14:35] Wow. And it all started, and I so appreciate the love to have your wife and you're one to talk about this at some point, but that those difficult conversations, I often say, were so afraid of contention that we avoid the tension altogether that
[00:14:48] Now I'm looking out my bedroom window at monkeys swinging in the trees. Literally.
[00:14:51] Ok. And I'm looking out at a parking lot and the field and a freeway.
[00:14:56] Yeah, but you live in, you live in California, so you got the sunshine in the nice weather.
[00:15:00] This is true, but no monkeys, though that's got to be that's a literal monkey snake.
[00:15:04] What was
[00:15:04] That? Literal monkeys?
[00:15:06] Little monkeys? Yeah, we wake up every morning. Howler monkeys. It's OK. What do they do? 6:30 in the morning we hear. Oh, and I'm like, Oh, there's the monkeys.
[00:15:17] Oh, so that that conversation did that take a lot of preparation for you to present that to your wife? That conversation?
[00:15:25] Honestly, it just came up laying in bed one night. She was just laying there kind of miserable and sad, and I always had no idea what to how to comfort her. And it just came to my mind like, Hey, let's just. Are you OK to have an honest conversation? And she's like, OK. And then we just started talking. It just happened.
[00:15:41] So no, I love it. I know we traded some texts at one point about I did an episode or a differentiation and just really talking about how we get away from that enmeshment and codependency, trying to be interdependent and differentiated. And I feel like when we can get to that place, we can look at any conversation more with this curiosity and not of condemnation or criticism or or that sort of thing. So do you feel like that was that moment where, hey, I'm having my experience and yeah, I want to hear hers?
[00:16:07] That's exactly right. Yeah, I had just thought about it enough. Realize this isn't this isn't really working for me, at least for a short period of time, I can handle that type of stress and that that dynamic, but the stress is mounting. My wife's mental, emotional and physical health was not great, and neither was mine. And I figured if we ignore it, like I said at the beginning of our talk, if I ignore it, nothing's really going to change. But if I take some initiative and share how I'm feeling and get curious about how she's feeling and where she's at, maybe we can come to a solution. And then three months later, we're on the beach getting a tan. So the solution,
[00:16:45] We're looking at monkeys that worked. So I think what it's saying is if you too want to be on the beach with a tan looking at monkeys start start to lean into these uncomfortable conversations.
[00:16:54] It's more doable than you think it is.
[00:16:56] And that's why we say it's like it seems so scary. But there's a person named Terrance McKenna, and he says that it's like jumping out into the great abyss and realizing there's a featherbed. And I think too often we're just so afraid of that abyss and that that there will be nothing there.
[00:17:09] And I think the thing that keeps us from jumping is the safety of the plane. Yeah. You know, you live this life in this little compartment, and it's the way that everybody else in that compartment is living their life and you're attached to the way that you eat and the things that you own and the neighbors that you have and the routines that you enjoy. And we had to sacrifice all that. People are like, Oh, are you just rich? And you know, it's like, No, we're not rich at all. But we're not. We're not as attached to our possessions and our home and our neighborhood and our routines as other people typically are.
[00:17:46] So was that a process of becoming less attached to those things? Or do you feel like by nature the two of you are are more not about those?
[00:17:55] I think we're a little more we. Well, I tend to be more adventurous and I think I put some pressure. Angelyne is amazing at saying yes to my crazy ideas. Wow. So I think I have that. Maybe that's a little bit more innate in me, but also, I don't know. I just I think in my early 20s, I decided that I didn't want to live a boring life. Yeah, OK. And I took a couple risks to do some big projects, and it panned out great. And I was like, Wow, when you take risks like sometimes failure is the failure of taking the risk is even better than not taking the risk at all.
[00:18:35] I love that and I really feel like that is the case. And we so we want we want to just know that everything's going to be comfortable and safe and I can understand that. But that's still our good old childhood stuff we bring forth into into adulthood. No, I love that I do OK. I was wanting to just promote the thing, and now I want to interview you and your wife. So I'm going to leave it right that as a teaser. So I would maybe have you
[00:18:54] And we'd love to come back, Tony, anytime.
[00:18:55] Ok, let's do it, and let's talk about what that took to have that difficult conversation. And then I would love to have a shot of you with the monkeys. I think we got a lot to talk about. So thank you so much for the invitation to. Yeah.
[00:19:07] Thanks for. Thank you for the invitation. Yeah.
[00:19:10] And link in the bio. And again, I would love for people to take my parenting course, but there is so much more here. That's incredible. And I was particularly drawn to your course on trust because that's something that it would be just phenomenal for people to have, as well as all the other things as part of that. Nick Bagley, thanks for taking the time.
[00:19:26] My pleasure.
[00:19:27] Ok, well, we'll see you soon. Ok, so honestly, go check out the link in the show notes and be prepared for me to share this link. Like nobody's business. Because, as you can tell, and I could talk to Nate for days, what a nice guy. But as you can tell, the business or the lineup of experts that Nate is put together is phenomenal, and the topics cover all kinds of things that will help you in your relationship. And I can't wait to dig deeper and have you go into your parenting and learn more about parenting and getting on the same page with your spouse and parenting. So let's get back to today's episode. So the main body of where we're going to go today is from an article entitled Why Do We Like People Who Are Similar to US? By Gwendolyn Seidman, and she's a Ph.D. from the articles from Psychology Today. But before I even get to that one, I found another article by Dr. Clifford Lazarus called Do Opposites Really Attract? Because I think that's one of the first things that people ask me often is do, don't, but don't opposites attract, which I think is a wonderful question, and I do believe it's one of those pop psychology myths that I often hear brought up in my office or in my marriage course, for example, magnetic marriage. We're talking about polarity and we're talking about building this. If you were just two completely similar people that then would things be a little bit more boring? And so I think that I have been one to send almost mixed messages myself.
[00:20:45] So I want to be able to lay in that plane today that we're going to find out very quickly here that that opposites do not. In fact, they may attract out in science, but in relationships. You really do want to find some similarities. But then the similarities is where things may end in a sense, because we do want some similarities, but then we want to recognize that we do have our own unique experiences that we're bringing into a relationship. So that's really. The gist of where I want to go today, because I think it can be confusing that it's exciting when we learn more about someone and we may feel like, OK, that person is my complete opposite, so I want to spend more time with them. And that might be an initial draw or euphoria or give you the nice little dopamine bump, but ultimately it helps to have some similarities with someone. But then what do we do with those similarities? Do we still feel like we have the tools to be able to speak our mind and still have our own experiences? So we're going to cover that, but before I get there? This is from the article by Clifford Lazarus called Do Opposites Really Attract? He said it's an incontrovertible fact that opposites attract. Then there's a pause. And he said, if we're talking about electromagnetic Valeant's and charges such as those found in atoms and magnets.
[00:21:57] But in the macroscopic animate world of intimate relationships, nothing could be further from the truth. And I think that right there that you feel that just feel we want that, that excitement and that energy around completely opposite people, but then that works in science. But he said if there is an attraction between two very different people, it will be unlikely to stand the test of time because compatibility and genuine long term intimacy are usually based on similarities, not differences based on similarities, not differences. It doesn't mean that that's imperative or that's the only way that this will work. So he said, consider a basic friendship. Who are your friends and how fundamentally similar versus different are they from you? He said it's unlikely that a super progressive, liberal, nature loving vegetarian will be best friends with the staunch conservative climate change denying recreational hunter and trapper. And he said even more superficial differences, like preferring hiking and tennis to golf and fishing can be a social chasm that is hard to bridge. And he said, based on decades of personal experience that he has helping to stress couples, and I will throw to that as well. Thousand well, well over a thousand couples later and 15, 16 years of sitting with people in therapy sessions. I will agree with him. But he said also a great deal of corroborating anecdotal information from his colleagues and then sound research evidence and eat references.
[00:23:14] A 2012 article by Gottman and Silver, which talks about why people do stay in relationships or what makes relationships last. He said here are the major zones of compatibility that can help predict if a marriage or a loving relationship will last. He said the first one is a world view. The second one is basic activities that they do together. The third one is sexual relationship and the fourth one is this fundamental temperament. So that's a completely separate podcast that I would like to do at some point, but I just wanted to address that. Do opposites really attract again? And the electromagnetic valence world? Yes, but in relationships, we need something more to sustain the relationship. So back to story time, I remember my wife's grandparents, Charles and Mary and Marshall. What a classy couple. And I remember talking with Grandpa Charles before he passed, and I think it was when we were up at Grandma Marion's funeral, and my wife and I were were fairly newly wed. We were in her early 20s and we were visiting him in Issaquah, Washington. I believe it was, and I was asking him a secret to a long, wonderful marriage that he had had with his wife. And he said to me that he and his wife spent a lot of time together. And so often you hear this concept of where you go, you have your own things and then you make sure you take care of your own things.
[00:24:25] But I like that. He said that they spent a lot of time together and I have taken that to heart and my wife and I spend a lot of time together. So whether it's going on long bike rides or exercising together or simply just running errands together, we spend time together and there's so much there. I could put a whole podcast episode together there because I don't want that to feel like I am giving in and just spending time with her so that she will like me. It's not about the external validation. And please, if you did not hear my episode last week, I got so much good feedback and I really feel pretty passionate about the concept of external feedback. Are you spending time with someone because you genuinely care and you are curious and you want to know more about them and you want to experience their situations or the things that they are interested in, and you want to do that so that you can learn, learn more about them. Or are you spending time with them so that you can pout and then say, OK, I checked the box now, will you come spend time with me so that you can so I can get my needs met? Because that is the opposite vibe that we want in a relationship. You really want to be OK with self validation so that you can enter into your partner's world with genuine curiosity.
[00:25:28] My wife loves and it's funny because we've gone through periods, which I think is so normal where I remember at one point we watched a whole lot of cooking shows cooking network. But then we went through travel shows and tiny house shows and beach hunt bargain fronts and these things that I liked being with her. But I looked at those with genuine curiosity. More of the Hey, tell me, tell me more about what you like about these shows, and I may not have liked them. So then all of a sudden I'm finding the human interest element. I can't lie is a therapist that constantly diagnosing everybody in a very loving, progressive, safe way. But watching the interactions between the people on Cupcake Wars, where she may be looking at these are amazing cupcakes. And then we're having a shared experience talking about, I wonder what he thinks. I wonder what that interaction is about, where she's saying, I wonder how they make the. I came in pull names of ingredients or something. Those cupcakes look the way they do. So you're having a shared experience and you're not trying to break down the other person's view of why they like something you're approaching it with. Truly, tell me more curiosity. So fast forward, and Wendy and I recently celebrated our 31st anniversary, which still blows me away to this day. Thirty one years, we were married when I was 20 and she was 19.
[00:26:35] And while the therapist in me wants to say, of course, your experience will be your experience, and that could work wonderfully for people. We got lucky. That was very, very young. I say so openly now. And it is my very strong opinion that I wish that there was more of a time period that could elapse before people got married. I worry that people get married too quickly because of that euphoria, because of that dopamine bump of the new love when we're presenting ourselves in our very best ways. And we're assuming that, well, once there is intimacy or once there's the ring on the finger or once we have kids or once we get real jobs, or then everything will get better, when in reality, it would be wonderful to be able to explore who you are as a person and understand who they are as a person before making that commitment, but again, another podcast for another day. But so I know that this next part may not sound clinically sound, but I honestly am married to the kindest, nicest person that I've ever met in my entire life. And so that is wild to me, and I know that I simply got lucky. Here's the part that is not scientific jargon or proof, but I really do. I call it the crapshoot theory, and that is not a clinically sound theory, but we had no idea that we would share so many interests and views when we were that young that would then carry on some 30 plus years later.
[00:27:46] So now, of course, we don't agree on everything. And if you follow my podcast really over the last year or two in particular, I have learned and shared so much more about differentiation and about acceptance and commitment therapy, about you showing up as you. You're the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the Earth and that we go into relationships and we are we're enmeshed and we're codependent because that's the way we show up wanting to get our needs met. And we want people to like us because coming from childhood, coming from adolescence, teenager hood that we still have this belief that if someone has different thoughts, beliefs or opinions and they're completely different than ours, that then they if they find out what we really think or believe that they will leave us and we will be abandoned and ultimately abandonment to our brains equals death. So we're constantly doing this push and pull of trying to figure out how to show up in a relationship so that we will get our needs met and so that our partner will not think that we are absolutely insane and run away and leave us. So that's our factory default settings. So then people become enmeshed and codependent. And then as you go through life and you have different experiences, you start to realize there are certain things you care about, certain things you love, certain things that frustrate you.
[00:28:53] But when we express those things often, then if they come as a shock to our spouse or partner, they will often say, I didn't know you felt that way. To which our our poor little still inner child wounding brains view as criticism. And when we feel like we're criticized, we immediately worry that that criticism is going to go into shame that this person is going to think I'm a horrible person or a bad husband or a bad father. So when we view things as criticism and not as curiosity, then we when we feel this criticism coming on, then we go into this protecting our ego stance and the way how do we protect their ego? We may withdraw. We may get angry, we may get sad. We may just give in. We made a statement. You're right. Going going into almost like this victim mode. Or we might guess light. We might say that's the most insane thing I've ever heard. Like, I can't even believe you really think that. But all that comes from the same place to protecting our ego where as adults, now we need to learn how to self validate. We need to learn how to stand and earn our calm, confident, energetic self and know that it's OK to like and believe the things that we like and believe and then show up into a relationship. Not saying, Do you like me because of the things that I like? Instead of just saying, Hey, here's the things I like.
[00:30:05] What do you think? And then having these adult mature conversations, that's one of the things I've been going on so much about over the last two years or so is figuring out this, this interdependent, differentiated version of ourselves instead of this enmeshed version. And so it is OK to have these differing views. In fact, you are literally just two people that are having your own experiences in a relationship. And so as soon as you can recognize that, then the relationship can really up its game because we're two people trying to go through life and figure out things together together. Figuring out things together does not mean that we have to have the exact same opinions on anything. And I have to tell you what was interesting last night, Preston Quagmire and I had week two of our magnetic marriage coaching call, and this round, I have to tell you is and I say this, I feel like this is what people do where I was and say, this is my favorite round. Although if you were in either the first two rounds, you were awesome as well. And if you did not sign up for the magnetic marriage course, honestly, please still contact me and get set up for the next one that we will run at the beginning of the next year because it's such an incredible experience. But in this coaching call, there was some.
[00:31:11] They were so kind, we were talking about the the basis of the four pillars of a connected conversation, which is are the fundamentals of this course, and we were talking about that. It is OK to be aware that you do not need to seek external validation from your spouse, that you need to learn how to get internal validation. Validate yourself, be calm, confident with the things that you care about and then show up with that confident stance in your relationship. And when you are not seeking external validation, then you are really coming at conversations with true curiosity. I gave this example of a week or two ago of going on a run. I'll make it so brief because you can go listen to this and I think last week's episode, but I went on a run. I had had this meniscus trouble for a couple of years. I didn't know if I would. This is not something. It's not as dramatic as I'm making it sound. I didn't know if I would ever run again. I knew I was running. I didn't think I would be able to start bumping up distances or getting some speed again. But I had a nice, longish fast run and as I came in the door and my wife said, How was you run? I said it was awesome. It really was. And I found myself wanting to let her know that I just ran the fastest I've run in two years, but I realized and I just took a pause and I realized that, OK, I felt great about that run.
[00:32:31] I can't believe I'm getting back to this place. While it's not running 125 miles in the course of twenty four hours or a 50k or 100k or any of those. But I really did go through this period where I thought I might not be running much at all again because of this meniscus injury from basketball, no doubt not even from running. But then I thought, I feel great. And so if I had put it out there to her in that very moment that I ran faster than I have in a long time. There were so many things that I was. She had a potential to get quote wrong that if she would have said, Oh, how much faster was it than your fastest? Well, in reality, it was like two seconds faster than my fastest. But I was just excited about it. So if she would have said that in that moment, I realized if I would have been seeking that external validation from her, I wanted her to validate something in me that I wasn't even quite sure how I wanted it validated. So then there were a lot of ways that she would have not been able to validate what I wanted her to validate. So if she would have said how much faster, I could have been deflated and said, I don't know, it's like two seconds faster, is that the point you now? Now I feel like she must not care about me, or she doesn't appreciate me the way that I want her to, but instead know I felt awesome about the run self validation.
[00:33:40] So then when I shared with her a couple of days later, this experience of not going to her for the external validation, then we were able to have a shared experience. Then I was able to share with her, Hey, check out my thought process around the run and what it was like and what how I had to dig deep. And then it wouldn't have mattered what she said. If it would have been, well, how much faster was it? And I would have said two seconds. Can you believe that? And now we can talk about that with curiosity because I wasn't seeking that external validation. So the reason I bring that up is that I really do feel like as we are starting to realize the way that the the messages that we get in relationships that are not the correct way to really build a truly magnetic marriage are a very solid relationship. I realize now where was I going with that? It was in this call last night. We were talking about this external validation and people were saying, But I want to please my spouse. I want to please my wife and I appreciate that so much. But wanting to please them also then puts a lot of expectation on them that if they aren't happy, then that I've done something wrong, and now I need them to give me a checklist of what I can do to make them happy.
[00:34:45] So it's just the wrong dynamic. We need to seek that happiness and that validation internally and raise our baselines up and then have these shared experiences together so we can look at these experiences with real curiosity and real connection and not feel like then playing this constant game of what do I say here and how do I show up? And am I making them mad? Or why did they say that they just made me mad? It sounds exhausting. So let's get to this article today that I think is going to help a little bit with that. So my daughter and I are talking about this conversation of why do we like the people we like? And so I find this Gwendolyn Seidman article and she the name of the article really is why do why do we like people who are similar to us? And so I'm going to read this and we're going to react. I guess it's another one of these experiences that I really enjoy. And she says that research examines why we prefer people who are similar to us. So she said it's not surprising that we tend to like people who are similar to us, and she notes and has a link to a large body of research that's starting to confirm that.
[00:35:41] But the reasons why we like people who are like us can be complex. She said that first, there is a difference between actually having a lot in common with somebody called actual similarity. Just remember that one and then believing that we have a lot in common, which is perceived similarity. So already we have actual similarity and perceived similarity, and these two kinds of similarity are related, but they are not the same thing. She said that you may think that you have a lot in common with somebody, but you might be mistaken or you might initially assume that you have a lot in common. With the person that you really don't know much about. Only to find out that you are not actually on the same wavelength once you get to know each other. Or you may assume that you have a lot in common with somebody because you like them. There are also a lot of different reasons why we might like people who are similar to us, but we may actually be anticipating that somebody who has a lot in common with us will like us more. Or maybe we just find it more fun to hang out with somebody that shares our interests. And so there's a lot in that paragraph there when we even look at the concept of actual similarity and perceived similarity because actual similarity is just it's a thing.
[00:36:41] If I go talk with somebody, I just had a client who I had no idea liked basketball as much as he did, and I really do enjoy basketball. I just do. I enjoy watching my son play, but I really enjoy the professional game I love. There's just so much I like about it, but it harkens back to. That was a happy place for me growing up playing a lot of basketball I literally had in my garage, growing up at home, a full court nerf hoop with wooden back boards that I would just run up and down the court for hours and hours. Every morning, every day, every night with my know, my CD player playing music. And so that was just this place that I went to just escape. And we're talking as a kid and it was a happy place. So I know that basketball means so much to me, and it may not mean that exactly that to somebody else. But we were having this shared experience and it was an actual similarity. There are other people who a person might wear, let's say, an NBA jersey into my office. I've had that happen on occasion, and then I will have a perceived similarity. I will believe that they must be on the same page. But then when you start to talk to them and then they really don't know as much, and then oftentimes we will almost feel this disappointment or letdown that somebody isn't on the same page, not realizing that there's a reason there are so many different things that go into the makeup of what we like or why we like it.
[00:37:49] So I love that concept initially of actual similarity and perceived similarity. And I think the perceived similarity piece makes a lot of sense in the concept of we we want connection, we want a community, we want a group or a people. And so when we are starting to perceive similarity, we're really wanting to know that there are people that think similarly to us because if we do and I feel like this is in our DNA, that then we know that we are part of a tribe. And if we know that we're part of a tribe, then we know that we are going to be OK. We're not going to be abandoned. We're not going to be left out on our own so that we can be eaten up or devoured by the wolves or the saber toothed tigers that our brain is still programed to worry about. So she said, the less information we have about a person, here's where things get really interesting. The less information we have about a person, the more actual similarity affects liking. So the less that we know about somebody, the more that the actual similarity affects liking. So in studies where people just read about a stranger and they don't actually meet them. Finding out that they have a lot in common with the stranger greatly boost their liking because they have nothing else upon which to base their impression.
[00:38:54] This, according to Gwendolyn. So in studies where people and just to clarify that one, so if we're reading about somebody and we're reading that, they're actual things that they identify with. If I'm reading a book autobiography about someone and they are to talk about their childhood and what basketball meant to them, then I am going to. That's an actual similar thing that we have in common. So that is going to boost my liking of this just not fictional, but person that I don't know. But she said that in studies where people actually meet strangers with whom they had more or less in common actual similarity affected liking, but not as much as in studies where people never met the stranger. So it's the concept where in longer term situations where people have more of a chance to really get to know somebody like friendships and romantic relationships, actual similarity has no effect. Only perceived similarity does. This is where it gets so interesting. So as you said in part, this is because in long term relationships, people have already filtered out dissimilar people who they don't like. You won't be friends or date somebody you dislike due to having nothing in common. And that's where over time, we will most likely have weeded out people that we really don't find an actual similarity. So once that we are with someone now, we want to have perceived similarities.
[00:40:04] We want to we want them to like us and we want to like them. So we want to be on the same page. But then this is where I feel like we really don't have the tools or sometimes the emotional maturity. That sounds like a judgmental statement, but it's not that we don't necessarily have the tools to be able to say, Wow, we actually even view this thing like in basketball. I wish I had a better example at the top of my head, but let's stay parenting today. I talked with Nate about this parenting course that I'm putting together now. It's a whole new. It's a new parenting course where we're going a lot deeper than the free Coresight offered over the last couple of years. But in parenting, we can have we may have this perceived similarities that that we really assume that we're on the same page, but we really don't have the tools at times to communicate why we think differently about even something like parenting, when in reality, we come to the table with completely different expectations of parenting based on the way that we were parented. We've spent just constantly a lot of amount of time growing up, probably thinking about the kind of parent we want to be and not even knowing that there might be a different parenting model. And so as we get into these relationships. And again, I love how Gwendolyn shows that actual similarity doesn't have the effect the perceived similarity does, because now we're playing this push and pull a game of, we want to believe that our partner has a lot in common with us.
[00:41:21] We perceive that there are a lot of similarities here without actually communicating about them. And this is where I want. If you're listening to this and I hope that this isn't too confusing, but if you're listening to this and you are in a relationship, then I'm not saying, Oh my gosh, pull the ripcord. If you feel like you aren't on the same page with things, because if you're in a relationship, most likely you've already have some similarities. But now I would love for you to just take a look and see, are you perceiving that your you and your spouse are on the same page? Because if that perception is there and then you really haven't communicated about the differences or the nuances, take parenting again. For example, if you haven't had the conversations or you haven't been able to have the tools around how to say, OK, here's what I feel like is the way that we should parent. What do you think? And because we don't want to look at that as I'm seeking external validation, if I say to my spouse, I'm a really big positive parenting. And if I say and if they say, Oh, really like, that's interesting. And then we feel criticized now we're going to withdraw, maybe we're even going to go on the attack.
[00:42:19] But if our spouse grew up in a home where they had more of an authoritative parent, and so they felt like that was helpful the way that they grew up. Now let's have a conversation because the truth is we're going to probably find somewhere to meet with those experiences where if I feel like I've been more of this positive parent and consequences are hard and difficult, and they've been more of this authoritative and you start with the consequences, that's a starting place. And so if we've had these perceived similarities now, let's really talk about what those similarities really are and what the differences are in our parenting styles. And then let's start to communicate so we can come up with a unified front. So she said that and all these types of studies perceive similarity had a large effect on liking. So it's more important to think you have a lot in common with someone than it is to actually have a lot in common. Now the buck doesn't stop there, then we need to learn how to communicate about it. So she said that researchers have proposed several different reasons why similarity might increase liking, and these reasons were examined in a study by Adam Hampton, Amanda Boyd and Susan Sprecher, just published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. So there are these five different areas, and we're going to go through these pretty quickly.
[00:43:26] Consensual validation So she said meeting people who share attributes makes us feel more confident in our own attitudes about the world. Meaning that if you love jazz music, meeting a fellow jazz lover shows that loving jazz is OK and maybe even a virtue. I have a client that I love working with, and he he likes anime. He really does. And so he was in a clothing store at some point in a very attractive girl came up, saw that he was wearing an anime T-shirt. And she said, I like anime. I like that show and I loved it. You know, he has a lot of awareness. And so he came said, Check this out the fact that she acknowledged anime. I was wearing an anime T-shirt. She was beautiful. He's like, it does. It makes you feel like, Hey, this is OK. Even though he was already going out into the world wearing this anime T-shirt, kind of putting that out there. But now we do. We want that consensual validation is what the researcher called calls it. There's also cognitive evaluation, so this explanation focuses on how we form impressions of other people by generalizing from the information that we have. So we learn that a person has something in common with us, and that makes us feel positively about that person because we feel positively about ourselves. So when we then assume that the other person like us has other positive characteristics, and so if we I run into this often where if I meet someone at a race because I used to do so many races and I would do these trail runs on Saturday mornings, bright and early, I had this zero effect of family theory, so we would get a bunch of us up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and go do 20 30 miles on the trails.
[00:44:50] And you just started to assume that everybody that was there at that point that we generalizing this information we have. So if everyone is there and they are there early and they're trying to get home before their kids wake up, that we must all be on the same page. So it's almost this again, cognitive evaluation that that that because we are in this group of people and we're having this shared experience that we must have these similar values or goals. So we generalize that these people must believe the same thing. And I remember at one point learning that someone they were there and they didn't have kids and they had never been married and they were older. And. And it's funny because and I realize now how invalidating this was, but at some point I was on, when you're running, you would get, you're in a group. But every now and again going down a trail or something, you would find yourself running more or less with one person or a couple of people. And I had shared with him that when he's telling me more about a story and I just wish I could take this one back, but I just said, Well, what are you doing here then? If you don't have kids and that sort of thing? And because look at that, I made this cognitive evaluation instead of saying, Hey, tell me about what your life is like, tell me about because it turns out that he likes get up early, like taking care of that for the day, and then he likes doing a lot of projects and and just going and meeting with friends and connecting with people.
[00:45:59] So it didn't have to be that you must have young children here that you do not want to impact with your long runs because you feel selfish. Or it could be a variety of things of why somebody shows up in a situation. The third thing? The third part of different reasons why similarity might increase liking is the certainty of being like, she said. We assume that someone who has a lot in common with us is more likely to like us and in turn we are more likely to like people if we think they like us. And that can sound so simplistic. But it's real that the certainty of being liked we so desperately want connection and and this is again, as we mature into adulthood, we want to be able to self validate, but we have to recognize our factory settings or that we want to be liked because we feel like if we're liked, then we matter.
[00:46:44] And if we matter, then we will survive. So we are going to find ourselves often with people that we have more of a certainty of being liked. Think about people maybe in your church group or just people that are just hold these real similar interests that we're going to. We're going to congregate around them primarily because more of the certainty of being liked. But I hope that what you're seeing is that just because we have that certainty of being liked or that assumption that we have things in common doesn't necessarily mean that that's the case. And I think we're starting to set the table that we need this awareness because if we go into let's again go with our church congregation and we feel like there's this perceived similarities. And I think in a church congregation, you could say there's actual similarities because we may have similar beliefs, but then even the belief system that we have can be nuanced and we may still all be playing this game of we're all here, so we have a perceived similarity. But do we actually have things in common? And if that's the case now we're more around people that we hope are going to like us. This is more of the certainty of being liked. But if we start to then find ourselves and have our own thoughts, opinions and beliefs, then we can start to feel like instead of being able to still interact with our church congregation and feel like it's OK to have different thoughts and beliefs, we start to sometimes feel like, Oh my gosh, I everything I knew is no longer valid because I thought that we were all on the same page.
[00:47:59] I thought we all had the same belief system, but in reality, we learned that life is more nuanced than that. It's not as black or white. The fourth one, she said, fun and enjoyable interactions. And this is again going back to these the research around different reasons why similarity might increase liking. It's just more fun to hang out with someone when you have a lot in common, so that one goes and challenges that opposites attract. So that was number four. It's fun and enjoyable interactions. As simple as that sounds that we enjoy hanging out with somebody when we have a lot in common, I guess hosted a podcast a couple of weeks ago, and it's an old friend of mine named Jim, and it's called the Sad Dads Club. And it's such a fun podcast. It is completely different than the virtual couch. I joked at one point that, Oh, I don't know if fans of the virtual couch would really enjoy whatever the topic was that we were talking about, but fun and enjoyable interactions. I think that's the third time I've guest hosted on their their podcast, and they have one hundred and sixty episodes and they theirs is live and there's a lot of cameras.
[00:48:59] And so it's on YouTube and on audio, but it was just fun. It's really fun and we joke and I did go into full therapist mode on a couple of things, but it was just exciting. And we're talking about hobbies and guy things and and things. I don't even know how to do fix things and that sort of stuff, but it was just a fun and enjoyable interaction. And then the last number five of these. Different reasons why similarity might increase liking based on this research is, Oh, I lost my place, here we go, self, oh boy. Ok, here we go. Self expansion opportunity So according to self expansion theory, one benefit of relationships is that we can gain new knowledge and experiences by spending time with somebody else. So when you can go into something and again, I'm going to overuse the word curiosity because it's a wonderful word. But when you go into something with true curiosity, then one of the benefits of this relationship is you can gain knowledge and experience by spending time with somebody else. When you go in there thinking that you're supposed to know everything and then you get defensive, if they say, Oh, do you know much about whatever this is fixing a car? And if I say I absolutely know nothing, but I love your experience, I love that your expertize. So I want to learn. Tell me more.
[00:50:05] Or and that's one of the things maybe I enjoy about being a therapist is people coming in and the therapist doesn't say, Here's what you need to do. But I love having knowledge and can help people uncover and figure out a lot of the things that they may be struggling with. Addiction, my path back group, my pornography recovery group, that meeting people where they're at and realizing that we have these voids in life, I feel like people aren't as connected in their parenting or their marriage or their faith or their career or their health. And so as you start to help people figure those things out that they realize they don't have as much of a desire to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, I appreciate when somebody comes into me and they say, I want a magic pill or a magic bullet or magic words that will cause me to just feel better instantly and just be able to validate that man. That would be amazing, wouldn't it? But but here is knowledge and experience that I have. So when we spend time together, then I love to share that experience with you and I would love to when I get in an environment, somebody that knows things, I don't know. Why would I don't? There's no way I would know these things that I don't know. So that self expansion opportunity that a lot of times we like the people that we like because we can learn more from them, but that that one's hard.
[00:51:13] And I know that she didn't put these in necessarily in an order or a hierarchy, but I feel like that one self expansion opportunity, putting that in fifth place in this research that that one is one of the more difficult ones because that one takes humility and takes us being able to show up with just complete curiosity and being able to say, Yeah, I don't know. I don't know anything about that. Even if somebody says, you don't know, I don't. So she said even though a dissimilar person would be more likely to actually provide new knowledge and experience, research has shown that people who are more likely to see self expansion opportunities when interacting with somebody who is somewhat similar rather than dissimilar to them, then that can be much easier. So we're still working off of this concept that we really do have this actual similarity and this perceived similarity in the role that that can play in the way we connect with people. So let me give a couple of these studies because I always think this is fun and then we'll wrap things up for today. But she said in their study, Hampton and colleagues examined how well each of these five reasons could explain links between similarity and liking in situations involving both actual and perceived similarity. And the study, one hundred and seventy four undergraduate students interacted with each other in pairs. So before meeting, the students didn't know anything about each other.
[00:52:21] The students then completed a questionnaire about their likes and their interests. She said the example was reality show or sitcom, and then their personality example, sloppy or neat or neat freak, and I think they had more questions than just that. The researchers gave them a bogus version of that same questionnaire supposedly completed by their interaction partner. The answers were rigged to be either highly similar or dissimilar to the participants own answers. So again, every one of the one hundred and seventy four undergrad students took this these questionnaires. But then when they would give you when you had your questionnaire and then they would give you the questionnaire of the person that you were interacting with now one on one. Some of the groups were given the actual questionnaire and then others were given a bogus version of the same questionnaire that was supposedly completed by the partner that they were about to interact with. So after viewing the bogus information, participants rated how similarly similarly, they thought the person was to them. Again, this is that perceived similarity, and they rated how much they liked that person. So they have this complete bogus set of data, and they were saying how similar I am to this person based on the bogus data and therefore how much I liked them. And then the two participants had the chance to meet and then get acquainted. And then once they actually got to know each other, they again rated perceived similarity in liking.
[00:53:34] So that makes sense. It's a cool study because you get this this form that says this is what that person is like and it's a bogus form. So then you base your do I like them based on the bogus form, then you get to meet them and interact with them, and now you're going to go back and fill out another questionnaire that says, Do I like them? So the key to the study, both before and after interacting with each other, the participants answered several questions designed to measure these five different reasons for liking the consensual validation, saying that my future interaction partner will probably support my attitudes and ideas, and my future interaction partner will likely be validating that as they will help convince me that I am correct in how I approach life and that cognitive evaluation that second one, the question might be something like my future interaction partner is probably well respected. And then the third one, the certainty of being liked, the question was something around. I think my future interaction partner will like me. And then the fourth one, the fun and enjoyment. An example there was my future partner and I will probably laugh during our interaction period. And then the fifth one self expansion opportunity was an example of that. One was interacting with my future partner would likely open the door to new experiences. So first, they found that people generally like their interaction partner more, both before and after the interaction if they were led to believe that their partner was similar to them.
[00:54:46] So again, there's that perception of similarity. However, the effects of perceived similarity were stronger than the effects of the experimental manipulation of the bogus information. So with that, bogus information actually having no effect on liking the person after the interaction, and she says that this makes sense because any assumption of similarity based on false information then had no connection to the reality of actually interacting with that person. So we can have this perceived similarity. But then when we actually interact with somebody that that's where we really get to know somebody and it just shows how important it is to truly get out and engage with somebody and meet with somebody and interact with somebody. So that's the perceptions of similarity based on the real interaction wiped out any effect of the bogus similarity information. So the more we can go and do and hang out with people, the more we really are going to build that connection. And this is no knock on people that don't have access to people. We just went through a worldwide pandemic. People were shut in. But the more that we can really interact with people, the more we can really trust our gut or our senses and understand if we feel like there is a connection there. And then she said the consensual validation helped explain why people who perceived a greater similarity like their partners more after the interaction, but not before.
[00:55:56] And she said this is presumably feeling validated, requires more of a chance to connect with somebody who shares your values and preferences, rather than just this vague notion that you might have something in common. And so this certainty of being liked by the partner helped to explain why people like similar partners more both before and after the interaction, expecting to enjoy the interaction also help to explain why people like similar partners more before the interaction with that partner and then the actual enjoyment of the interaction also explained why people like similar partners more after they interacted. So the results also suggest that these feelings of enjoyment were were by far the strongest factor and overrode the effects of either the consensual validation or the certainty of being liked. So the researchers pointed out this might be especially true among a sample of young college students than for older adults. And other factors might be because they were they were grad students. They were they were having a shared experience. In a nutshell, I know that last part might have gotten a little bit out in the weeds. A little bit confusing, but what Gwendolyn is saying is that this entire study helps us understand why similarity can foster liking when people first meet. But it doesn't shed much light on why a perceived similarity is important in longer term relationships. She said it's likely that in long term relationships, factors beyond fun and enjoyment can contribute to the positive effects of similarity.
[00:57:08] For example, romantic partners who are similar to each other have fewer conflicts and married couples with similar educational attainment or that are similar in age or that are less likely to divorce. Now, that doesn't mean that if there's an age gap or an education gap, that then that people are doomed. But that's just what the study start to show more of a connection with. Bottom line it is important for you to find your people. We all want to find this people, this tribe. But then when we get in among our people, our tribe, or we find these people with these similar ideals or similar goals or values, hang on to that word. Similar, it doesn't mean that they have to be exact. It doesn't have to. It doesn't mean that if somebody doesn't exactly like the things you do, that anything is wrong, if anything. What we're starting to learn here is that the similarity is what brings us together. But now with that similarity, now let's foster some real connected conversations and find out. We may have these similarities, but what are the differences that we bring to the table and out of those differences? Those differences are not there to make someone feel less than. But they're more to help us now start to really drive a connection so we can find out more about somebody.
[00:58:17] And when we find out more about somebody that doesn't invalidate our own experiences, and if we feel like we're being criticized when somebody talks about their experience, then just be able to check in with yourself and know that man. That's normal for me to start to feel like if this person has different experiences than me, that my brain wants to immediately go to this this little kid version of then they must not like me. No, it's not. That's not what the case is. You are you. They are them. And the quicker that you can then say, Tell me more and let's find out. Let's find out more about each other. That's where the connection really occurs. It's not from the enmeshment, it's not from the codependency, but it's from learning who you are and helping someone. All I was say helping someone discover who they are, but they need to find who they are. You find who you are. And now you have these shared experiences with curiosity. And yeah, they're going to be a little tension. There's a potential for invalidation, but that's the part that where we can really have some growth. Thanks for hanging out today. Thanks for if you made it all the way to this episode through the end of this episode. I appreciate it. Once again, I forgot to mention my sponsor, Betterhelp.com, but I think I gave enough things at the beginning. But if you are looking for help, go to Betterhelp.com virtual Cavs get 10 months off. Your first months of services, and
[00:59:25] I will see you next time. I never forget.
[00:59:35] Compressed emotions flying past our heads and out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful. And plastic waste and rubber, most are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter, most wonderful. It's my. News of discount price.
A growing body of research now shows how long-term narcissistic abuse affects the hippocampus and the amygdala of the brain, areas that regulate memory and control emotion. And while someone may not be your classic, malicious or malignant narcissist (there are several sub-types of narcissism), even someone with narcissistic tendencies, traits, or "dustings" can do emotional and physical damage to those they interact with. Tony also gives his five tips for surviving narcissistic abuse. Tony refers to the article "Neuroscience: The shocking impact narcissistic abuse has on the brain," by Lachlan Brown from https://hackspirit.com/3859-2/
With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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=v95myQ
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--------------------- TRANSCRIPT -------------------------
[00:00:11] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 10 of
[00:00:13] Waking Up the Narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast, where I will throw a plug in will know today, this week, this week. Earlier this week, I did an episode on Seeking External Validation, which referred to my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode of Waking Up to Narcissism last week, and I really do feel like they they're starting to just vibe together at times. So if you haven't listened to the virtual couch, please go take a look at that.
[00:00:40] And here is where
[00:00:41] I will be is authentic and raw and vulnerable as I can. I am sitting here recording this intro, and I'm going to share an older episode of the virtual couch on complex post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and the effect that narcissistic abuse can have on the short term memory and the amygdala. Now, why might you ask I again, in the vein of full authenticity I have over the last two or three days at different times, been recording an episode on narcissistic family systems and scapegoat children and the golden child and putting all these pieces together. And I have part of one of the files. It's about twenty five minutes long that has no audio. So I have spent a couple of hours this morning, nice and early trying to figure out my issues, and then I submitted the file to the company that my record with. And it looks like there just might have been a glitch and the audio didn't record.
[00:01:37] So I have sat here for
[00:01:39] About five minutes just staring at my computer screen, but the show must go on. I want this consistency, so we're going to do this bonus episode, but I will if I have to rerecord the stuff about narcissistic family systems and scapegoat child and golden child, then I will do that and I will get that episode out to you next year. Next year I am. Let me bring myself back to present. Next week we'll get one that that one out to you next week. But in the interim, I would. I'm going to read a couple of emails because I just continue to get the emails. And if you are interested in more information on the women's group, the private women's group for people that are in relationships with narcissistic men or and that can be whether it's a spouse, whether it's a sibling, whether it's a boss, whether it's a feeling that way in a church leader, it really is a it's just a support group and it's just phenomenal. And a lot of the things that were part of this recording, this lost episode, this lost recording where I had posed some questions to the group and they had amazing things to say, and now I do not have access to that. So I will rerecord that if we need to. But there's just a few emails. I'm getting a few every day, which is still just so I'm so grateful for. But here's here's some of the ones that I think are just really interesting.
[00:02:48] I'll change some of the details, but someone sent one recently that said they listen to the episode about narcissistic awareness grief and then just finished a session with their therapist. And I love that people are bringing this into therapy. And she said, I have been so excited to bring her up to date on my recent AHA moments, and the session just flew by. And as a therapist man, I love those sessions. And she said, I now am just feeling so incredibly proud of myself and I love that she is saying this. Everything that I had described in that narcissistic awareness grief episode was, she said, it's exactly her own recent awakenings and that that she had heard put into words exactly what she was describing to her about her most recent breakthroughs. And so it's like a shot in the arm. It's so validating to realize that I've got this and I'm on the right path, and she shares some more stuff. And it's just it's really nice to hear people feel like they are. I love the way she's saying that, that it's realizing the awakening, it's validating that I'm on the right path. That doesn't mean that it is going to be a real smooth path, but you are on the right path and just know that that path is going to have bumps and and ruts and those things along the way. But you're on your way to a more, more sense of purpose finding out who you really are.
[00:03:52] And ultimately, that is what builds that confidence. And it raises the waters around you when you let your light so shine that others will then feel that that power, then Marianne Williamson poem that I love. Who are you to play small so that others around you will not feel insecure because your job is to be the best version of you? You can be for yourself, for your family, your kids, that sort of thing. So I was grateful for that. And then I also get emails that are, they're hard. They're sad. The person shared that they're their husband, their spouse had stopped speaking to them over the weekend, this past weekend because they are about to start a new job. And she has been staying home with the kids, and she's aware, she's aware that she probably won't get the payment that she deserves because she's been out of work. But it's the first offer she's got and she is taking action. And I love that because we too often just feel stuck and we feel like I don't know what to do. And we think and we think and we ruminate, but we need to start taking action. And maybe this job isn't the ideal job, but it's it's getting her on a path of self-confidence. But of course, even though her narcissistic tendency traits husband has been saying that he feels like she waste time when she's not working now, of course, he's saying that he's going to be wasting his time with this job, even though he, she says.
[00:05:09] All you do is waste his money, which I hate that phrase, I don't usually the word the hate. But I the wasting my money. If you're in a marriage, you're working with a deliberate, Dyadic collaborative process. It's our money. It's the family's money, but wasting his money. So now she goes to try to make money, and now it is going to be a waste of time. So I get the point that it's going to feel like you can't do anything right regardless. So I just love this person's email because it is. It is her saying, you know, the old darned, if I do, darned if I don't. But if I'm going to start doing and I'm going to do things that are going to start to raise my emotional baseline and help me now learn, maybe I like this job. Maybe I meet people here. Maybe I start to connect with others. Maybe I start to feel better about bringing in some whatever it is it is doing, instead of just continually thinking and ruminating because of the gaslighting or the nurses can make you feel so crazy. So an example there. There's another one. This is talking about therapy. Someone also sent me one Hi Tony, my therapist recommended your podcast and I've really appreciated it. So many things have rung true and help me feel seen, and it is truly difficult to be in a relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies.
[00:06:16] And then she goes on to share a lot of examples, and I just want her to know I. I've read them all, and there are so many here that are so, so good, but also break my heart where I wanted to read a little bit of one where she said that he will say often that he feels like he hasn't met. She doesn't meet his needs that are not being met physically and emotionally, and he doesn't feel like anything has changed that. He says he hasn't seen her making any progress. But I feel like that alone is coming from not a place of curiosity where he's saying, I haven't seen you make progress instead of saying, Tell me about you. You know, tell me what's going on. Tell me what you're working on. I'm looking at this with genuine curiosity because she shared that rewinding the week before, she had sent nice messages at work different, you know, saying that, Hey, I'm thinking about you messages that he did not respond to all day where I can imagine that he's saying, You don't think about me because I hear that one so often, not even to say that he's on his way home and she and her kind, probably pathological kindness as which I understand. But if I had a busy day, then it's not OK that my messages aren't over the top, or I'm sure that she's heard the if she's had a busy day, then he will most likely say, Well, you know, I still think of you when I'm having when you're having a busy day.
[00:07:24] So she said that she wrote notes, put them in his lunch, put them around different places so that letting him know that his work doesn't go unnoticed. And but he just keeps saying how he he thinks that that is whether it's too little, too late or not enough or. And so again, from that vein of just feeling like you, you're going crazy and that you're told you don't do enough of this, whatever this is, you don't you don't send me notes now the person sends notes, and now they're not acknowledged. And now if you say, Hey, what about those notes? Oh, well, now you know you only did it because I asked you to do it. So I get the crazy making. And so I just love when people are sending things and they're saying that they they are feeling more heard that they're feeling more understood. And so that is maybe the opening to say, continue to send those emails, those messages. But let's get now to this episode on complex post-traumatic stress disorder and a tiny bit of background on this as well. I held off on this one a long time because I worried that people would would feel like this is even more of the crazy making and the effect it can have.
[00:08:27] But then I realized after airing this episode and it's it was episode two hundred and something early to hundreds on the virtual couch. So it was well over a year ago. This one gets referred to a lot as one of the episodes where people started to say, I have to do something this. This is proof that this this emotional abuse or this the gaslighting, the not feeling understood or heard or feeling this crazy making can literally take a negative effect on the brain. And so there is nothing better than starting to take action so that you can put yourself in a better place because this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can affect you in ways that then you are more in your reactionary brain. So then when I get the people that are so nice and kind that are trying to make the best of things and make things work, and they respond to me and say, But he is right, you know, I do get angry. I do say mean things. But this is where I often say, Do you just get angry and say, mean things out in the wild? Or are you getting angry and saying mean things in more of a reaction to feeling like you are not being understood or there is no curiosity in the relationship, or that you're continually being told that your view of things is wrong, because then that's your human.
[00:09:32] You are being reactionary. And so the more you're going to learn about this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and the more you're going to learn about gaslighting and raising your emotional baseline and truly finding your sense of self and purpose, then the more confident you will be. And we've already identified that, unfortunately, the more confident you will be, the more that will now be viewed as most likely a threat to the person with the narcissistic tendencies because they view it in this black or white. If you have a different opinion, you are telling me mine's wrong, so then therefore I must I must defeat you. And that is not a mature adult relationship. So let's get to this episode on PTSD. Two seconds more of housekeeping if you are. And for therapy counseling, and you're not quite sure where to go and you don't really and I really feel like this is really applicable in that, yes, this is about to be a quick ad, but I think it's really applicable in this situation because I know a lot of people that are in these relationships with narcissistic traits or tendencies, people or full blown narcissistic personality disorder. I have women that won't participate in the group call because they, your husband will know and they can't have that happen. So if you go to Betterhelp.com Betterhelp.com virtual couch, then there is their therapy options there that are literally therapy, text therapy, messaging therapy, video chats.
[00:10:44] And so where early on in my own therapeutic career, I thought, Well, I don't know if that's very effective. Well, we got to meet people where they're at. So if you feel like you need help and you feel like you're not quite sure where to go or you don't want to go somewhere in person or out in public, then this might be a good option and go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you'll get 10 percent off your first months of counseling services, and they are licensed professional counselors and therapists. And during the assessment process, and it's all a form you fill out online, then I would be pretty open and honest in about worrying about emotional abuse or those sort of things so that they can put you with the right counselor. And the best part about this one is that if you do not have a fit with your counselor, it is very, very easy to lovingly break up with your counselor, your therapist on better help because you can just open up your online portal and say, I think I want another therapist, so go to Betterhelp.com slash virtual couch, get 10 percent off of your first month's services, and then let's get to this episode on complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Send me your messages. Go to Tony Orbcomm, send through the contact form, and next week we'll get back to that family systems and narcissistic family systems.
[00:11:49] Hey, coming up on today's episode of the virtual couch, we're going to get a little bit heavy. We're going to talk in the world of neuroscience and the shocking impact that narcissistic abuse can have on the brain, how it can actually impact your short term memory and also dig deep into your amygdala and cause your amygdala to flare up. That's that fight, flight or freeze response. And more importantly, we're going to talk about what you can do if you're in a situation where you may be experiencing narcissistic abuse that and so much more. Coming up on today's episode
[00:12:17] Of the virtual academy.
[00:12:28] Thank you for joining me on episode two hundred and twenty one of the virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified, mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four ultra marathon runner and creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people like you reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all and trust me, it can be done and a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way. Then head over to Pathbackrecovery.com. And there you can download a short e-book that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's pathbackrecovery.com, and welcome to the podcast. I am again going on YouTube so you can find the virtual couch channel on YouTube, and you can find me at all the places that people can find people at the virtual couch on Instagram or at Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook. And I'm just glad you're here, and I am going to get to the topic today. But speaking of pornography addiction, who was? I was in the intro. I just was going to share a little bit of a moment that I had over the weekend. I thought it was pretty fascinating. I was asked to go on a national radio show was the Walter Stirling show, and it's carried nationwide, even in my local market of Sacramento and KFBK, and I was prepared for this.
[00:13:48] I knew a little bit about Walter Stirling, so I came into my office and the topic was pornography and the pandemic. Was there a rise in use pornography use? And I had a very spirited conversation with Walter. He was very respectful and I really enjoy any time that I can talk about something because I'm just going to share what I know. I'm going to share my truths. And a lot of times I've been on those kind of program situations, and I think that people maybe think I'm going to get a little bit more defensive or that I might be a little bit kooky or nutty. And I don't know. Maybe that's all relative. Anyway, maybe I am. But it was a really fun experience, and here's why I wanted to talk about it because I experienced this situation and I did record it, and I think it might be fun to share the track at some point. But he was saying that he disagreed that he didn't think that pornography addiction was real, that there was anything wrong with turning to pornography for a stress relief. That sort of thing. And here was the thing. The first thing that I tried to establish was, if that's where he's coming from, then that's great.
[00:14:46] My job is not to try to convince somebody who is not interested in moving away from pornography or lessening pornography in their life. And at this point now I've got about 15 years, and when I was promoting my book, he's a porn addict. Now, what an expert and a former addict to answer your questions, which I played the role of the expert that is a best seller on Amazon. Yes, I am self-promoting, but I'm very proud of that book with coauthor Josh Shea. I had added up at the time about twelve or thirteen hundred people that I've been able to help individually. Not just that's not including the online pornography program, the path back. And those are people that came to me and said I would like to view pornography less. So when people are coming to me, then absolutely, I can work with that. Any string pulled the shame. Become the person you always wanted to be way as I talk about in the intro. But when somebody comes to me and says, I don't think it's a problem and I don't think I should quit, then all I can say is, OK, all right. And I even introduced on his radio show one of my favorite phrases psychological reactants, which is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. And so I let them know that, Hey, Walter, I can't tell you to stop if that's not something that you want to stop.
[00:15:50] And so I don't know if he was interested in me being more combative, but I had a nice exchange. I talked to him about how when it's used as a coping mechanism, that people are choosing pixels over people and that when people are even if a couple is looking at pornography together, if that's something that they want to do, then great. I believe that there is more of an opportunity for connection between the two of them without having to turn to a third party of sorts in that scenario. And then I barely was able to touch on the fact that pornography, addiction or pornography and even pornography addiction is not something that is a diagnosable addiction. There is compulsive sexual behavior, impulse control disorder. So I 100 percent understand that what I'm trying to do is help people move away from that. If that is something that they would like to move away from because it's a time it sucks up. The time sucks. The life out of people, warps their sexuality can make them feel like if they aren't looking at an image of someone perfect who is always, you know, the image always wants them, that that's their version of reality when it comes to intimacy. And so if someone is coming to me saying I would like to do that less, please, then we we look at their areas of their life. Are they feeling satisfied in their parenting? Are they feeling satisfied in their marriage or in their health, or in their career or in their faith? And so as we shore up those areas using my favorite modality, acceptance and commitment therapy kind of dial in their values, get them working towards something that they really believe in and parenting through the nurtured heart approach and feeling like they really have a parenting model and dialing into their couple's relationship with emotionally focused therapy.
[00:17:22] When you get all those things working together, there is less of a siren song of pornography of. Food of online gambling of any of those coping mechanisms, so I just wanted to share that it was a really fun experience. It's funny. I walk home, not walk home, I drive home, I walk in through the garage and my wife was kind and she listened to it on the local radio station and had filmed it through it up to a family chat that we have. But I love the fact that one of my daughters comes in and she's like, Hey, what were you doing tonight? I was like, I was on a national radio show. I was like, Oh, OK, I hand over to my friend's house. But I just think, like every dad's doing on a Sunday evening, jumping on a national radio show and talking about pornography, compulsive sexual behavior with someone who was trying to, I think initially maybe attack them and then coming out of that and feeling like it was OK.
[00:18:06] So anyway, that made for a fun weekend. I did enjoy that and I will put up more about that. I think I've asked Walter if I can use that clip for a future episode or that sort of thing. There is a bunch of intro in the YouTube video. I'm going to say that you can now start the real topic of narcissistic abuse and its effects on the brain at whatever this minute mark is. So thank you for hanging in there. So today I'm going to turn to an article and I'm going to do a lot of riffing, as the kids say today, because I'm going to talk a lot about narcissistic abuse. And the reason why number one is that this is an area of my practice that I do a lot of work with. I think I've shared in previous episodes where I talk about narcissism or I talk about gaslighting, any of those things that I've actually had an opportunity to testify in some court cases on narcissistic abuse or narcissism in general personality disorders. And it wasn't something that I necessarily anticipated. And I think initially when I started working with more men, that the percentage of men that suffer with narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder or traits of narcissism is much higher than that with women. So I started working a lot with men who had narcissistic personality disorder are again traits of and then working with them in their marriages.
[00:19:22] And oftentimes that led to marriage therapy and then at some point often is the case. The narcissist is not a huge fan of counseling because they, for the most part, think they're doing everything pretty darn well. And you end up working with the spouse and helping them work through dealing in a relationship where there is narcissistic personality disorder, narcissistic traits. So the title of the article that I'm referring to today is one from it's called Hack Spirit, but it's called neuroscience the shocking impact that narcissistic abuse has on the brain. And it's by a writer named Lachlan Brown. And this is from a couple of years ago, and I've been sitting on this one for a while and and there's a couple of different reasons why maybe I'll get to them in a little while, but I want to give a little bit of a background. Someone says narcissistic abuse is one of the worst types of psychological abuse that one person can do to another. But unfortunately, many people are stuck in these types of relationships, and I have done a couple of episodes on a concept called trauma bonding, and we're going to circle back around to that in this episode as well, because that trauma bond is what keeps people stuck in relationships with narcissistic individuals. And man, there's so many things I want to say in this episode, so I hope that I can bring this all together.
[00:20:31] But one of those is if you are listening to this and someone has forwarded this to you and said, Hey, I think you're a narcissist, will you just do me a favor and just sit back, relax and just listen and just take this in and try to not be so responsive? Try to not be so reactive? Because here's what happens. Often I've done a couple of episodes on gaslighting, for example. Gaslighting is that that concept where when someone is saying, Hey, I think that you have not been very nice lately, let's say the wife says that to the husband and then the husband says, Seriously, you think that I haven't been nice? Have you looked in the mirror? I can't believe you're saying this matter of fact. The fact that you are saying this to me makes me realize how mean you are. And that's so by the end, the wife is thinking, Oh my gosh, am I am? I mean, am I the one? I can't? Wow. I shouldn't have even brought that up. I guess I really am mean, and it can just be this crazy making behavior. And please go look at some of the episodes I've done on gaslighting, if that's the case. But so what has happened often is I will work with the wife who will hear that episode one of these episodes on gaslighting or one of the episodes like I'm going to do today, and they'll send it to their spouse that they worry me suffer from some narcissistic tendencies.
[00:21:44] Or I like to call Dustin's of narcissism, and then the person will hear that. And then they'll say, Yeah, you know what? She does gaslight me. And honestly, it was one of the most interesting kind of profound experiences I had where when I did an episode on gaslighting and there was one of the women that I was working with, two of the women I was working with happened to on that same day, send the episode to their spouse. And within two hours, I got texts back in. Both of the spouses said the same thing that the wives sent the episodes about gaslighting to the narcissistic husbands, and they both responded with, Thank you for sending that to me. Now I know what you're doing to me. You are gaslighting me, and I used to try to come up with something clever of a way to ensure assure the wife that that is not the case. And here's one of. The things that came up with that, I feel, is one of the best descriptions, if you take the wife out of that narcissistic relationship and put her in a new relationship, she will then be viewed as simply kind if you take that narcissistic person and put them in a different relationship. They are going to continue to have their own sets of rules when it comes to finances.
[00:22:48] They're going to continue to gaslight, they're going to continue to not apologize. They're going to continue to not own up to their behaviors. So oftentimes I almost will. I do. I say, Hey, that's one of those signs that you are being reactionary. I can remember one of the first women that ever came into my office, and she said, No, I do. I do. I get so angry with my husband. I do yell at him and I often say, OK, were you a yeller to begin with? And she says, No, I wasn't. So you are yelling in reaction. You are yelling to not feeling heard. You're yelling to not being validated, you're yelling to being made to feel crazy. If you take you into and put you in a relationship with someone who says, Hey, tell me more about that. Oh my gosh, I can understand that. I didn't realize that's what I was doing. Would you just yell at them randomly? No, you wouldn't. But take your spouse and put them in a different relationship? And most likely, the person that they would be in that relationship with is going to eventually start yelling because they feel crazy, because that person, that narcissistic person is not owning up to their part of the relationship. And one of the key things here is remembering that narcissism is a personality disorder.
[00:23:52] There are certain things that are we call them personality disorders. And one of the key components of a personality disorder is that person is stuck in their ego. They cannot step outside of their ego and see things from another's point of view, so they don't believe that they're doing anything contrary to what is right, which is why things like gaslighting just flow. And again, as narcissism nature is it nurture? There is belief that it is a little bit of both, and it typically comes from childhood trauma or abandonment, where then a a kid, every kid is designed to go from self-centered kids or self-centered. That's what we do when we're kids. We don't know how to fend for ourselves, so it's just everything is about me. Give me that. That is mine. What about me? And then when there is not secure attachments with caregivers or when there is abuse or there is abandonment, or if the kid's parents are narcissists, so that's model behavior, then they never make that jump from self-centered to self-confident, so they move forward as a self-centered individual into adulthood. So that is why it can feel like you're arguing at times with a 10 to 12 year old boy when you're arguing with someone that suffers with narcissistic personality disorder or traits of narcissism. And again, narcissism is not just this always this grandiose, malicious look at me in the mirror. There are various subtypes of narcissism, and I've done an episode or two on that as well.
[00:25:15] So there's a little bit of just an overview or a background. And one of the things that I find interesting is that when I started working with more people that struggle with their in relationships with narcissists, and you'll see this as we read through this article today that a lot of people, when they find out that they are being gaslit or they realize, Oh my gosh, he has never owned up to anything or he completely lacks empathy and we can switch it around he or she. But I'm going to say he for the most part today at that point, if you Google, that you are going to see that the everything on the internet says Run immediately be done and go. And I completely understand that if somebody has worked with hundreds now of couples where there is a narcissist involved, it's really difficult. And so I made a decision long ago that I wanted to. And this is what a therapist is supposed to do. Meet the client where they're at. That client is going to read that article on the internet that says Run, and it's not like they're going to immediately say, Oh my gosh, I don't even think about that. I'm going to pack my bags. I'm going to get out of here. No, they're typically going to go through a process of, first of all, it's it's not that bad or he's he's a good guy or he's nice.
[00:26:22] So I think I can make this work. I think I'll tell him that that he's a narcissist. Maybe that'll work, which I always say one of the first rules of Narcissist Club is you don't tell the narcissist, Hey, think you're a narcissist? Because they're not? That's part of the problem. They're not going to say, Oh my gosh, tell me more about that. I didn't even realize that. So I'm going to get into more of that. In fact, let me just give an overview right now. Quick drink. I have five things that I do talk about when I'm working with someone that is in a relationship with someone who may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder are traits of narcissism. The first thing I asked my client to do is raise their emotional baseline. And by that, I mean self-care. They need to put themselves in a position where they can make good decisions and when they are continually being beaten down emotionally. If they are physically drained, if they're not getting sleep that they need, if they don't feel like they have any emotional support they bear, they're being gaslit. A lot of times with narcissists, they sequester, which means that they make it not very exciting or difficult to reach out to family or friends, any of those things that lowers their emotional baseline. They don't feel good about themselves, and that does not put someone in a position to make the best decisions for their life or their family moving forward.
[00:27:31] Number one, I say, raise your emotional baseline. Number two, I say, get a PhD in gaslighting now, not literally a PhD, but learn all you can about gaslighting, because that is one of the key components to recognize when you are being gaslit, because that is when you can realize I'm not crazy. I really do understand and I have so many examples that I've worked with, and I think I gave one not too long ago. That was literally one where it was a guy that had spent a decade enjoying peanut M&Ms in front of his wife. And then at one point she gets some peanut M&Ms. And I don't know what the narcissistic trigger was that day. But he says, Why did you give me these? And she says, because you love them. And he said, I've never enjoyed these. I can't believe that you got me peanut M&Ms. And she's going back to basically literally conversations on how the peanut M&M is the finest of all the M&Ms and how anyone that doesn't enjoy these must be crazy. And how sometimes if you leave them out on the dash, they melt just a little bit and they're perfect and they're wonderful. And she has all of this data and he's saying, I never said that and I and really, you don't even know me.
[00:28:33] If you think that I enjoy peanut M&Ms, I mean gaslighting getting your PhD and gaslighting and understanding in that moment. I don't know why he's doing this, but I know he likes peanut Eminem. So that's the bottom line. So getting the PhD in gaslighting. Another one is learning how to disengage from unproductive conversations, which kind of follows that once I understand gaslighting. I'm not going to continue to participate because the narcissist is not going to own their own crap. They're not going to own their own part of the conversation. The fourth one is setting boundaries. A boundary might be, Hey, when you started swearing at me, I'm going to walk out the door and being able to commit to that because that's when the gas line, oh, fine, walk away. You never want to deal with things, but that's a boundary. But the fifth one, which is the most difficult one, and this goes back to an article that actually a client had sent me years ago from a blog. I think it's called Ask Men. It's by this, this researcher, PhD candidate. I'll have to put that a link to that somewhere in the show notes. But it talked about narcissistic, emotional trauma and abuse. But that fifth thing that I like to share is you have to realize that there is nothing that you will say or do that will cause the aha moment for the narcissist to go, Oh my gosh, I finally get it.
[00:29:42] And that one is hard. I've been doing this a long time, and when I share that with people, that one can feel a little bit hopeless. I understand, but I can also think of people I work with on a daily basis, who once they know that they'll identify these situations where they were saying, and then I found myself thinking, if I say it this way, if I'm really nice, if I withdraw, if I get angry, there's some way that I will be able to express myself. But then he will finally go, Oh my gosh, I get it. So those are those five things that I typically say to keep an eye out for. But again, I know that it's not just as easy as understanding, Oh my gosh, I think he might be a narcissist. I have been gaslit my entire life. And once you hear this more about the narcissistic, long term narcissistic effects on the brain that it's not so easy just to say, pack up the bags, kids, we're heading out. So I get that. So back to this, whether it's a child and an emotionally abusive parent or an adult with a narcissistic partner, the effect is the same narcissistic abuse can leave much more than emotional damage. So according to recent studies, and this is from around twenty seventeen, is when the first of these studies came out.
[00:30:45] Neuroscientists have discovered that long term narcissistic abuse can lead to actual physical brain damage. And so there's a pretty fascinating some picture, some functional MRIs that if you go look up an article on this that it will show the effects of long term narcissistic abuse. So we know now that constant emotional trauma over a long period of time can cause PTSD like symptoms. I did an episode on PTSD complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is what long term emotional abuse can lead to. But we also know that in the world of betrayal, trauma, when someone finds out about a significant event or betrayal that also can have these similar effects of PTSD, where there can be triggers that can cause someone to go into fight or flight mode where their amygdala, which is what? What supplies the cortisol, the stress hormone, the adrenaline that will then overcome the prefrontal cortex or the part of the brain that makes logical sense the amygdala fires. It was in the fight or flight mode, the prefrontal cortex, the decision making part of the brain says we're not needed here. We're about to go into battle with the saber tooth tiger. We're going to shut down. So then the person becomes just pretty used to when they get triggered and it can be the gaslighting, it can be just not being heard. It can be emotional withdraw, but then their brain is triggered and they go into this fight or flight response and that prefrontal cortex shuts down.
[00:32:05] So this neural pathway is created where long term narcissistic abuse can cause that amygdala to fire, just to fire and go from zero to 60 and have someone just feel like just panic or anxiety or that fight or flight or freeze. Lachlan goes on to say, this is why anyone in a destructive relationship with a partner who cares little for the emotional well-being of their family should leave immediately, especially when children are involved. See, there's that component there that when someone reads that, I think it doesn't often feel for the person who is in that narcissistic relationship or trauma bond. They may read that, and it's OK. Maybe some of these things are true, but how easy is it to just leave immediately? And I understand that it's difficult. Seek help. Go meet with somebody who understands personality disorders, he says. However, some people don't take this warning too seriously because of it. It's emotional basis, which is very well said. What many people fail to realize is that emotional and psychological distress is only one side of the coin that victims of long term narcissistic abuse experience. There is also this physical aspect of brain. It's in essence brain damage. So when suffering consistent emotional abuse victims experiencing and here's where it really starts to make sense. A shrinking of the hippocampus and a swelling of the amygdala, and both of those can lead to long term effects.
[00:33:24] It's important to know what is the hippocampus. The hippocampus is crucial in learning and developing memory, especially the hippocampus is a big part of short term memory, and the amygdala is where, again, fight or flight response. It's where negative emotions reside, which cause the fight or flight response. So the amygdala is the home of shame and fear and envy and guilt, and all of those emotions that cause one to go into fight flight or freeze mode. So think about that. It affects the shrinking of the hippocampus, which is memory and the enlarging of the amygdala, which is where these negative emotions reside. I like that he goes into the hippocampus Greek for the word seahorse. It's part of the brain that's hidden inside of each temporal lobe, and it's shaped distinctly like two seahorses, the hippocampus. They look like the little highways I've heard them described as it looks like a kind of like a green bean shell or that sort of thing. But I can see I could see Seahorse a little bit of a boring seahorse. Maybe not the seahorse that was the most popular on campus, but a seahorse nonetheless. And so one of the most important functions in the hippocampus is for short term memory, which is the first step to learning. So information is first stored in short term memory before it can be converted into permanent memory. So without short term memory, it can be very difficult to learn.
[00:34:41] So damage to the hippocampus is a lot more disturbing than scientists initially thought. In a study from Stanford University and the University of New Orleans, they found that there was a strict correlation between high levels of cortisol. Again, that's the hormone caused by stress and a decreased volume in the hippocampus. So when the brain is so active in fight flight or freeze mode, when that amygdala is enlarged or enraged, then the hippocampus the part of the brain for memory is taken a backseat. So the more stress that people become, the smaller the hippocampus became, which is just another reason why learning how to be mindful meditative can be such a powerful thing. So now understanding the amygdala, let's talk about that. So the amygdala often people recall or refer to it as the reptilian brain. The Neanderthal brain. And that's because it controls our primal emotions functions, including fear and hate and lust, as well as your heart rate and breathing. So those are very important things, right in the amygdala. So when triggered, the amygdala is where the fight or flight response is made, and so narcissists keep their victims in a state where their amygdala is constantly on alert. So when they walk into the room and they constantly are, I don't know, is he in a good mood or is he in a bad mood? Or is he going to talk about, Hey, today, let's go on an expensive vacation? Or is it going to be tomorrow where he says, I don't know, we're going be able to make it this month.
[00:36:01] Checking accounts kind of low, that sort of thing. And then then the next day, he wants to go out and and make giant purchases. And then it just keeps you in this walking on eggshells mode. Then that is when you can be in this constant state of alert or just fear worry. So then over time, now what this data shows is that victims fall into this permanent state of anxiety or fear. And then the amygdala reacts to the very slightest signs of abuse. The narcissists can even just utter something that is pretty basic or but not, you know, banal. And then the person in is with this trigger response is going to all of a sudden have their fight or flight response kick in. And then they feel like, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. So long after the victim is escaped, the relationship, according to Lachlan in this article, they will continue to live with PTSD like symptoms, including increased phobias or panic attacks due to this enlarged amygdala that has become used to living in a state of fear. This is what causes part of that trauma bond, and so that is to protect themselves from their reality. They often use defense mechanisms that make it easier to cope, such as projection.
[00:37:08] So victims often convince themselves that they're narcissistic. Abuser has positive traits and intentions, such as compassion or understanding, when in reality that might not be the case and that is part of the trauma bond. Let me flip over to I've got a tab up here from talking about healing a broken heart a few episodes ago and the amazing Ted talk by Guy Winch. In that episode, I worked in some trauma bonding information as well. Here were some of those things in his book Betrayal Bonds, Patrick Carnes, who is just a well-known researcher, talked about things to consider if you are in a tree or in a trauma bond. If you have some of these things that there's a constant pattern of nonperformance, yet you continue to believe promises to the contrary that you continue to believe that narcissistic abuser is going to do the things that they say that they're going to do. And instead of when pushed, then, you know, blame you for something not happening or others seem disturbed by something that's happened to you or was said to you. But you're not, you know where others are saying, Man, how do you let him treat you that way? Or I wouldn't do that if you constantly run into that kind of data or you feel stuck because the other person keeps doing destructive things, but you believe there's really nothing you can do about it, you try to change the person into becoming less destructive, but trying to get them to stop an addiction or try to convince them to become a non abuser.
[00:38:23] But you may try to continually talk them into being nice to the kids that seems so basic, or you keep having these repetitive, damaging fights with the person that nobody wins because he's never going to own his part of the fight or part of the situation. Or you seem unable to detach from somebody, even though you can't trust them or at times you really don't even like them. Or when you try to leave this person and you find yourself missing them to the point of longing that's so awful that you believe it's going to destroy you. And Patrick Carnes talked about unusual, unusually trauma. Bonds occur in relationships involving inconsistent reinforcement, such as those with in addictions or alcoholics or domestic violence situations. Dysfunctional marriages can also cause trauma bonds because there's always a time when things seem to be, quote normal. Other types of relationships involving trauma bonds can be in religious organizations kidnapings hostage situations, all of those things. But the environment necessary to create a trauma bond involves intensity, complexity, inconsistency and a promise. So victims stay in these trauma bonded relationships because they're holding on to that elusive promise or hope. And that is, there's always manipulation involved. Victims are prey to manipulation because they are willing to tolerate anything for the payoff, which is that elusive promise and the ever present hope for fulfillment.
[00:39:37] Some deeply personal need within the victim. So oftentimes in a traumatic relationship, they're looking right at it, but they can't see it. And then only spending time away from the unhealthy attachment can the person often see the the destruction that it's caused? So that was a little bit more about trauma bonding. And so that came from the concept of projection where victims will convince themselves they're narcissistic. Abuser has these positive traits. Another one of the defense mechanisms that the people that are in relationships with narcissistic abusers will do is compartmentalize victims focus on the positive parts of the relationship separating from them, from the abusive parts and thus ignoring them. And I will talk about this for the rest of my career. But remembering literally the first time first person where they owned up to one thing in a couples therapy situation, and then the wife and I hung on to that one thing for quite some time. It was like he told the truth this one time and then all of these other times that was not the case. And I remember just having this aha moment of thinking, Wait a minute, the relationship is supposed to be, we're telling the truth all the time. And then once in a while, there might be this, well, I wasn't completely honest because I worried that might hurt you or those sort of things, someone that's actually owning that part of it, compartmentalization.
[00:40:52] So that's what that one was or denial victim and victims end up believing that their situation is not as bad as they feel and that it's easier to live with rather than to confront it. And this is a great big dose of what's called experiential avoidance kicking that can down the road. I'll deal with this and I'll deal with it later. I'll deal with it when summer arrives, I'll deal with it. When the kids are back in school, I'll deal with it. When the kids are out of the house, I'll deal with it later. And then a damaged hippocampus, which now we're learning that is crippling most everything that we know. So back to this article. The researcher or the writer Lachlan says the hippocampus is perhaps the most crucial part of the brain when it comes to knowledge and function. Everything that we do or understand, read and learn rests solely on the hippocampus functioning properly. And so this is because the hippocampus is involved in the formation of new memories, and it's also associated with learning and emotions. But the hippocampus, when it is, it's damaged when the. Body releases the cortisol hormone, the stress hormone during these times of stress and then cortisol effectively attacks neurons in the hippocampus, causing it to literally shrink. So the amygdala is then stimulated by the cortisol, which turns our thoughts and neural activity from increasing our mental acuity to worries and stress.
[00:42:01] And so when these distressing emotions are pushed to the extreme, then our brain activity is pushed beyond its zones of effectiveness. And so what I appreciate is that there's along with this as you can rebuild your hippocampus and calm your amygdala. So there is always a way back to a functioning normal brain through certain methods like EMDR. I've done an episode or two on that or mindfulness or a combination yoga, talk therapy, EMDR mindfulness. All of these things have shown promise in growing the hippocampus in just a few sessions. The data that he shares here is that it can regrow up the six percent of the hippocampus in just a few sessions. Emdr can also calm the amygdala at the same time, allowing your brain to react more rationally to situations. I've had some clients that have gone and done EMDR for everything from narcissistic abuse to PTSD, first responders, car crash victims where it has allowed them to have a little bit more indifference when engaging in these powerful memories that have really taken a toll in the past. But again, he wraps up this article by saying the first step is ultimately the most important one getting out of the destructive and abusive relationship before progress can be made. And I agree. I do understand that and I and if that is possible, if someone believes that they are being very much emotionally abused in a narcissistic, abusive relationship, then that is that that is the best thing you can do is to get out of that relationship so you can start to feel like yourself.
[00:43:27] You can start to feel whole. But again, I want to let you know that I understand how difficult that is because I have worked with hundreds of people that have tried to get out of relationships with narcissists. And it is. It can be a lengthy process. It can. And so the first thing you can do is seek help. And I know that is a process in and of itself because oftentimes the narcissistic abuser does not want you to go get help. And so if you need to hear it's going to sound like a total plug, but Betterhelp.com virtual couch, they even have text therapy, email therapy. If you don't feel like you can meet with somebody through Zoom or in person or anything like that is a great place to start and gather data. Get information. Oh, there was I was going to read there's a book called The Human Magnus Syndrome, and this is about the human magnet, why it can be so difficult to get out of relationships with narcissists. And there are two things that I thought were so fascinating. I'm going to wrap this up. The author, I think it's Ross Rosenberg. And but talking about this, this human magnet, this trauma bond, he uses the phrase codependency when he's talking about the victim of narcissistic abuse.
[00:44:34] And I know that can sometimes offend people. They want to say, I'm not codependent, so just bear with me here. But he says codependency is both a relationship and an individual condition that can be only resolved by the codependent. It's fascinating, right? Many co-dependence are attracted to and maintain long term breakup resistant relationships with pathological narcissists. Most co-dependence are selfless and deferential to the needs and desires of others over themselves. They are pathologically caring. Now, I've never heard pathological use with caring, but as I have read this with several clients that are in relationships with narcissistic men or vice versa, that speaks to them, they are pathologically kind and caring people. So if that was in a a healthy relationship, that would be a strength and a gift. But he goes on to say they are pathologically caring, responsible and sacrificing people whose altruism and good deeds are rarely reciprocated. Well, some co-dependence are resigned to their seemingly permanent relationship role. There is actively, albeit unsuccessfully, attempt to change it, and these people become preoccupied with opportunities to avoid change or control their narcissistic partners. Despite the inequities in their relationships and the constant suffering they do not in their partnerships and codependency is not just limited to romantic couplings as it manifests itself in varying degrees and most other significant relationships. Three more paragraphs out of this book, then, will be done.
[00:45:56] Pathological narcissism, he says although pathological narcissism is not a new term, I use it in this book to represent a person with one of four disorders. Pathological narcissists are people who fit the diagnostic criteria for either narcissistic, borderline or antisocial, which is sociopathic personality disorders and or active addicts. Despite the many differences between these four disorders, they all share core, narcissistic personality thinking in emotional and interpersonal characteristics. Here's the key to varying degrees all pathological narcissists are selfish, self consumed, demanding, entitled, and controlling. They are exploited people who rarely or selectively reciprocate any form of generosity. Pathological narcissists are only empathetic or sensitive to others. When doing so results in a tangible reward for themselves and. Or when it makes them feel valued or important or appreciated, and this is what I really appreciate about the author in this book, he says, because narcissists are deeply impacted by their personal shame and loneliness, but consciously unaware of it. They do not in their relationships. Positive treatment results are rare for narcissistic rare, although active addicts are included as one of the four pathological narcissism disorders. Their narcissism may only be addiction specific. In other words, when sober and in recovery, their true personality type will surface. This can be any possibility reflected on the continuum of pathological selflessness to pathologically selfish personality types, so I highly recommend that book the human magnet syndrome. But so that's that's all I have for you today.
[00:47:24] If you feel that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship that may be doing a number on your amygdala and growing, your are doing a number on your hippocampus and growing your amygdala. The first step is I'm just thankful that you're listening to the podcast. Share this one with someone that you feel like might need this type of help and reach out and get some help. Talk through this with somebody because I know that it is very difficult to just immediately hear something like this and say, Oh my gosh. Pack my bags. I'm done. I get it. I do. I've worked with so many people that this is a process and that is normal. So I want to meet you right there where you're at. Thanks for joining me today. If you have questions specific about narcissistic abuse or emotional abuse, if you have examples of gaslighting, whenever I do an episode like this, I almost feel like making this call out. Send them to me firstname.lastname@example.org and and a lot of times I'll read those in a future episode and those help people understand that they're not crazy or they're not alone. All right. Hey, thanks for joining me today, and I wish you the best. I hope you will get lucky. Get lucky, get help if help is what you need. And I'll truly I'll see you next time on the. Stressed emotions flying. So heading out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful.
[00:48:36] And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating
[00:48:40] Past the midnight
[00:48:41] Hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. He.
Tony explores why where the need for external validation comes from. Why do we care what others think? And why the need for external validation is the opposite thing to do for self-confidence and to feel connected to others.
With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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=v95myQ
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[00:00:15] Come on in, take a seat.
[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety four. The virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I'm ready. I'm ready to get started. Let's dove right in today. It is story time. A couple of weeks ago, I had finished up a pretty heavy day at work. And honestly, don't get me wrong, I love everything about my job. I really do. But I guess it's what I hear from Dennis, from time to time that I've worked with. People don't go to the dentist because everything is going great. Even if you are just going for cleaning. There's this underlying fear of what if I have a cavity or what if they say I'm not flossing enough or my gums bleed, or they know that I don't floss on a regular basis? Am I supposed to swallow the water along with the cleaning stuff? And does this, Dr. Retford actually want me to answer him about who my favorite Marvel character is and why? Why is he asking me this while he's two knuckles deep into the left side of my mouth? But my point is people come to therapy to talk about problems. And again, I love it, but it's kind of just what it is. But by the time I leave my office, at times there can feel a little bit of emotional exhaustion. So on this particular time, I left and I just wanted to get home and I wanted to go on a run and my wife was busy.
[00:01:29] A lot of times she'll either run with me or she will jump on the bike and ride alongside with me almost looks like a scene from Rocky, and she's I'm running, she's writing, and we just process the day. I want to hear all about what she's been up to, and she'll ask me questions about what's going on with me. But on this particular time, she was busy. So I'm going to go on a run and I love to listen to audio books and the height of my ultrarunning career. I would just get up earlier and earlier, just especially when I was into a good book. I remember the book Unbreakable, which was about the Oh my gosh, I'm Louie Zamperini, and he was a World War Two, I believe veteran shot down in the middle of the ocean. I remember being so into that book that I just wanted to get up earlier and earlier, and I remember running the back side of the town that I live, and I was so into the book and I look up and I almost ran right into a skunk. It was really early in the morning, and I remember I screamed like a young child and I jumped out into the road and I remember thinking, I am so grateful that it was 4:00 in the morning because I didn't know anything.
[00:02:30] I didn't know where traffic was. I didn't know if a car was coming and if that would have been middle of the day and heavy traffic. I would have jumped right out in the middle of the car because I was so into this book and then I got scared by the skunk. But I but I digress. So I was running and I was listening to this audio book, and it's a good audio book. And I love it, but not this night. I just couldn't focus. I couldn't just stay with the story, so I switched to music. And then that just felt like so much noise. So I turned off my music, my audio books, and I just ran to my breathing and my footsteps and. And it's funny when I say this now, this isn't the point where I say something about mindfulness and running to my breath. And no, I was just in my head. I was running a really. I was running angry. I was disappointed that I couldn't even listen to music or a book, and I finished my run. And it turns out as I look down on my data, my watch, my app that it was the fastest run I've done in a couple of years since a meniscus tear that I suffered and have been struggling through for a little while. So I walk into the house and my wife asked me, how was my run? And I tell her it was great.
[00:03:32] And I noticed I was so aware of the fact that I wanted to tell her it was my fastest and that I couldn't listen to anything. But I also caught myself thinking a lot about the need for external validation versus validating oneself. And I hope you hang with me through this episode because we're going to talk about a lot of things that have to do with validation because I can imagine some might hear this and say, Well, of course you want to tell her it was your fastest run, and that was all the things going on in your head. But hear me out. So at what point again, I was thinking about external validation. So did I. What did I did? I want her to validate me and tell me how amazing I was versus self validation. I felt really good about this time that I had. And then at what point is the sharing of data? Simply a shared experience? And I am a huge fan of shared experiences. We don't do those enough. So I waited a couple of days and then I shared all of this with her, the things I'm sharing with you. And she said, of course, she would have loved to have heard about my time, my speed or not wanting to listen to a book or a music, which I appreciate it. I appreciated her saying that, but I shared with her that I had a little bit of an epiphany that I want to tell her my time, especially right then because I wanted her to validate me that I want her to say, Oh my gosh, my hero.
[00:04:43] There is no other soon to be fifty two year old man who could have possibly run that fast a mere two years after tearing a meniscus. Or did I really just simply want to share my experience with her? But the truth is, I am the only one who can truly know that, but I recognized that it was most likely the former. I truly probably did want to her to say my hero because I realized that there are a lot of things that she could have said that would not have left me feeling validated. And here's the key validated in the way that I wanted to be validated. Which is entirely unfair of me to put that type of expectation onto my wonderful wife because I can't honestly say in that moment that I knew exactly what type of validation I wanted. And so if she would have said that time is good, right, I would have said, really? Is that a question? I could only imagine that? Or if she would have said, how much faster is that than your previous time, then? I think I maybe wouldn't have been as excited because according to my Strava app, it was literally only a couple of seconds faster.
[00:05:40] I was looking for validation in the way that I wanted validation. So why on earth wouldn't I or couldn't I validate myself? I was happy with my accomplishment. I was happy with my time. I went through a period after running about 150 or so marathons and ultra marathons over 20 years that I wondered after this meniscus tear if I would ever be able to run more than a couple of miles again. Honestly, I tore it playing basketball. I didn't talk about it. I put on a ton of weight. I don't know if I've ever talked about it. I recorded a few episodes what I felt like immediately after going to a doctor. At one point I had put on a fair amount of weight. We're talking like twenty twenty five pounds and I was sitting there after an MRI and he's telling me your meniscus is shot and it looks like shredded chicken or something. I still remember that my wife was in the room and I was the guy saying I felt like Uncle Rico and Napoleon Dynamite, saying when I was in high school, I could throw a football over that mountain over there. I was saying, Oh man, I've run over a dozen races of over 100 miles in well over 100 marathons, and I felt like he was just looking at me thinking, Cool story, bro. You're twenty five pounds overweight.
[00:06:41] You've got a torn meniscus that isn't doing much for you right now, is it? So there were so many things that that I feel like I was seeking validation that I wasn't even aware of at that time. I'm going back to this experience just a few days ago, and so I never thought that I might even be back in the position where I was throwing down a decent time at five miles. So I was excited. So that evening that I ran, I did validate myself. And with this new awareness, I can imagine that I would have I could have then moved into wanting a shared experience, even in that moment. Hey, check this out. I had my best time yet. I was running a little bit angry and I couldn't listen to music. So you see, when we're able to self validate or avoid what one wise person once told me was called compliment fishing. I love that term, because how often are we just fishing for compliments instead of because our spouse doesn't really know? Where am I supposed to say, what's the compliment that you're looking for if you tell me? But then if we say, then it doesn't feel sincere. It's not sincere. Anyway, if I'm if I'm fishing for the compliment or if I'm seeking this external validation that I'm not even really aware of exactly how I'm wanting to be validated. But so if we can avoid that compliment fishing or that just seeking external validation just for the sake of seeking it, then we're able to remain more autonomous and independent.
[00:07:55] We're able to take a look at ourselves and then from this differentiated state and again, remember, differentiation is where one person ends and the other begins. And this is that fascinating goal of relationships. We are codependent and enmeshed more or less in our factory settings. And so when we start to be autonomous and interdependent and in differentiated that at first it can feel a little bit scary. It's like we're putting ourselves out on our own. And if we're coming from this enmeshment in a relationship, whether it's to our spouse or our kids or our church leaders or our employee or boss, that it's going all of a sudden feel like we're standing up for ourselves. And that's almost what we fear. We almost fear that we are kind of being a jerk. No, this is how I feel now. Instead of just saying, Hey, check it out, this is what I'm thinking. This is what I'm feeling. This is what I'm noticing, because when we get to this differentiated state, then we can share with our spouse with fascination or curiosity the contents of our mind. So at that point, there isn't anything that they could say that would be. And I'm going to air quote wrong, because how on earth would they or should they know what I'm expecting them to say? Instead of viewing things of you, you said the wrong thing.
[00:09:06] It's you said a thing. Now let's check it out. Where does that come from? Tell me more about that. And I realize it really does lead perfectly into my four pillars of a connected conversation. If she were to say, Is that time good and I am coming from this differentiated place, then I get to slide right into my pillar one assuming good intentions, she wasn't trying to hurt me with what she said. She wasn't trying to put me down with her comment that there is a reason why she's saying what she's saying or asking what she's asking, which then I get to move into my second pillar. I can't tell her she's wrong or put across the message that I don't believe her. That's ridiculous. Even if in certain situations I didn't believe her, I didn't really feel like that was the right thing, because that would just be my opinion. So even if she and I have had many, many conversations around time running times and how important I feel that certain mile times are, even if we had a poster on the wall that said, when Tony runs this fast in the future, then we will all celebrate because we know that that is a great time telling her that really, you don't know that that's a good time.
[00:10:03] That's ridiculous. You absolutely, absolutely know what a good time is, is not going to drive a connected conversation, if anything. Now we get to get out in the weeds and we're arguing about things that have no bearing. On the relationship, and then pillar three is questions before for me to say, Oh, hey, tell me what you think when you're thinking of a good running time, because now I want to, I want to understand her. I want to hear her. The goal of my four pillars of a connected conversation is to be heard. To be heard is to be healed. So if she were to say something like, I know we've talked about it, but I wasn't sure if you were saying this was a great time for you post meniscus or from before you were hurt. So I was just asking. And then Pillar four is staying present. Don't go into victim mode. What if I would have said, OK, I gotcha. I guess the conversations that we've had around running times of war did not stick. So therefore that means that I don't mean very much to you, and I shouldn't have even shared this with you because when we go into that victim mentality, when we retreat back into our bunker, we're asking our spouse to come rescue us then. And I wasn't even planning on talking about the four pillars, so I'll just leave that there. But from my waking up the Narcissism podcast last week, which again, if you haven't checked that out, please do and subscribe and rate and all that stuff.
[00:11:08] The feedback is just it's phenomenal. I sound a little bit in my ego there, but I've been humbled by the feedback to that podcast and the support there. But from the episode last week, there was a really fascinating quote by Dr. Eleanor Greenberg, and she was talking about traits of narcissistic personality disorder. So please understand, right? This second that as I am about to quote what she wrote, that I am not saying that, you know, listening to this right now is the narcissist. But if you listen to any of the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast or if you've heard me talk about abandonment and attachment, many of my previous virtual couch episodes just know that every little kid could be viewed as an egocentric, tiny narcissist in training because of their narcissistic traits. Because as a little kid, the world truly does revolve around you because you're coming from this place, that abandonment truly does equal death. You must get your needs met. The world does revolve around you. So if people are not meeting your needs, then therefore it could lead to abandonment. And abandonment is death. So you must get those needs met. So you must seek that external validation to know that I'm OK because if I'm not OK, these people might leave. And if they leave, I die.
[00:12:12] So coming in that context, and actually, I just did an episode on context last week, but in context, then she says that narcissism. So I'll say narcissistic traits or tendencies are a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem and the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation. And then she also added that I think this is the part with coming from little kids low, lower empathy. So then as we get older, the goal is to move from self-centered to self-confident. So then if you follow that, that train of train of thought or this logic when she's talking about series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation. So childhood family situation, meaning that we're trying to navigate the intricacies of childhood to get our needs met so that we won't be abandoned? And then she says that that left the person with unstable self-esteem. Ok, hey, welcome to childhood, you know, or adolescence or teenagers, or that this unstable self-esteem. I love that the way she phrases that and then the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation, which means that we feel confident when others say that we're confident we feel bad when others say that we're bad. So it would make sense then that if these are these traits or tendencies in childhood, that we would want to mature or grow out of them that then look at the opposites of these things.
[00:13:34] So then unstable self-esteem. We need to step into our self-confidence again, not self-centeredness, but self-confidence, and then learn to regulate our self-esteem without external validation, which means validating ourselves internally. The key to that is finding things that really matter, things that that you can take pride in things that you find a passion with. And she went on to talk about two just fascinating concepts. One is called whole object relations and saying that people that struggle with narcissistic traits, tendencies, personality disorder. So then I would say again, every little kid. So we want to mature into these, into these concepts. She talked about whole object relations. This is the capacity to see oneself and others in a stable and integrated way that acknowledges both the person's good and bad qualities. We all have them. We all have good and bad qualities. Can you look at somebody and see not just the bad, but the good? But then here was the even bigger one. She talked about object constancy, and I really recommend you go. Listen to this episode on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. I think I titled it something to do with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but object constancy is amazing. This is the ability to maintain a positive emotional connection to somebody that you like, even if for a while you are angry or hurt or frustrated or disappointed by his or her behavior.
[00:14:45] So how as a mature adult and human being, if someone suggests something different, if they say no to you, if they have a different opinion, it's this struggle with object constancy that comes into play. So if someone says, I don't like what you're doing, then all of a sudden, if we cannot maintain this object constancy, then that means that we just flip a switch and we go from hot to cold. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll, I was for which one is bad. Which one is good, but can we maintain whole object relations that people can have their own opinions and just because they express an opinion doesn't mean that it is criticism? I talked to a couple of weeks ago ago about when we feel criticized. We again, our childhood programing says that we're so afraid of going into this shame spiral. And so if somebody says, Oh, I would have done something different and I talked, I gave a think I gave an example about something I was talking about with my wife. It's hard to not feel like someone else's opinion is criticism, so you have to mature. Look at it in a very mature way to say, Oh, that's their opinion. I want to know more because I'm confident in the things that I am expressing, or if I'm not, then I am open as a differentiated individual to hear other people's opinions.
[00:15:59] But that doesn't mean that my value or my self-esteem is based on other people's opinions, or that doesn't mean that I'm wrong to have another opinion. So when we feel criticized, we're so afraid of going into the shame, spiral or shame cycle that we do anything to protect our fragile egos, including getting defensive or when people will gaslight or when people get angry or they withdraw. So I really feel like the last few weeks I've the theme I think I'm trying to go here is that we need to step into our calm, confident energy, recognize that we are an individual, that we are the product of all of our again abandonment and nature nurture DNA. All of our experiences make us who we are, whether if we're talking in a religious context, you're a child of God, the only version of you, and you have your own talents and abilities. And the quicker you can find them, then the more you are going to feel confident and step into the self confidence. But even when you do now, all of a sudden, as you are differentiated and interdependent and you're the only version of you, then you are going to start feeling more invalidation because you are no longer absolutely seeking the external validation to tell you you're OK. But it's still in our DNA. It's in our programing to say, What do you think about what I'm saying or doing? And if somebody says I don't like it, then we need to get to this place to say, Oh, I appreciate your opinion.
[00:17:16] Tell me more. Not OK, well, I guess I'm a bad person or I need to change the way I think, feel or the things that I do. Elinor Greenberg said that without whole object relations and without this object constancy, that people with these narcissistic traits or tendencies, that sort of thing can only see themselves in other people. And one of two ways either they are special and unique and omnipotent and perfect and entitled, which she called high status, or they're defective or worthless, or she said, garbage, low status. So this means that the person struggling with these narcissistic issues or immature, I'll just say immature view of self or others cannot hold on to his or her good opinion and good feelings about somebody once they notice the flaw and someone else. Again, that's the immature way to show up. So then all of a sudden the other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal to being devalued as nothing special. But here was the big paragraph. So we are trying to grow into our mature, confident selves as adults and narcissists often seesaw and again narcissistic traits tendencies. The things we bring forth from childhood often seesaw back and forth between these two.
[00:18:17] So when we are feeling when someone is feeling good about you or more accurately, you are making them feel good about themselves. So when they are seeking external validation and you say the right things, then they see you as special because that makes them feel special. They aren't internally validating themselves. They are basing all of their worth on the opinions of others. But then what if the person doesn't say the right thing now? They feel criticized and they go into this defense mode so you can see we're just setting each other up for for failure instead of just saying, here's how I feel, how do you feel? And I'm telling you it could be that simple. It really could. So back to this object constancy, she says that when they are feeling good about you or more accurately, you're making them feel good about themselves. They see a special, then you do something they don't like, such as say no to one of their requests and suddenly you are now all bad or you are worthless. And then later on, you might do something that makes them feel good about themselves again, and they're back to seeing you as special. So my point in mentioning that is that this drive for external validation is the immature way to view oneself or others that as we can learn to be happy with our own times back to this running example and then share an experience and know that you're the person you're sharing the experience with can absolutely have a different opinion.
[00:19:37] Because if we are wanting them to tell us the things that we want to hear and we aren't even 100 percent sure what we want to hear, we're asking that person to validate a version of ourselves that we're not even sure of. So I will speak to that more here in a little bit. I've got a I've got a couple of notes on my outline, but let me get back to back on track. So again, left, I don't know, unchecked when we are seeking external validation, we want somebody else to help us feel good about ourselves, and that is not a good way to show up in a relationship. Back to my running example. I want my wife then to validate me. And not only that, I want her to validate a version of me that I'm not even in. Fairly certain of myself, so it's a safe bet that she is at a significant disadvantage of getting that right because if she's trying to read the room, read me and say the right thing to validate me. I hope you can see then that is far too many variables. But if I am validating myself, if I feel good about the time that I just clocked on the road, then I don't need her to validate me. So if I share an experience with her, then what I really want to do is share the experience and whatever she says is what she says.
[00:20:41] So then I can approach what she says with curiosity. If I'm my own person. And let me just add when it comes to connection polarity attraction, and I talk a ton about this in my magnetic marriage course. But the way to build that connection or that polarity in a relationship, that passion, that chemistry is not by seeking external validation, is by showing up with this calm, confident energy. And then and curiosity and genuinely wanting to know your partner, genuinely wanting to know their opinion, not who you think they are or who you think they should be, but get to know who they are. Because if they have a different opinion than you, even on your running time, then do not shut down. You do not say, Well, I guess you don't even care about me. No, you say, Hey, tell me what your thoughts are and then be prepared. Nay relish in the fact that she has another opinion because that is going to spark conversation. I was talking with someone yesterday and they put it so well I had to stop and type this out on some notes. He said Our mind doesn't realize that when we exit adolescence, that we exit this parental worldview that we have, that we have our parents there, that they have always swooped in and validated, you know, whether it's good or bad.
[00:21:50] But they have given us this attention, a.k.a. validation that we have thought helps us understand who we are, how we show up or where we fit into the world. He was saying, You pick up language and behaviors from your mom or dad, so at some point it truly is time to fly from the nest. You have your opinions, other people have theirs. And I'm telling you if we were all secure in our knowledge that we are literally all different, then we could celebrate it. If we can embrace that somebody is different than us, then it doesn't mean that something is wrong with us. It means that we are all human. There were just a bunch of people going around doing people things, and my goodness, this would be an exciting world. It would be more of this world full of depth and color and flavor. If we all could just step into ourselves and learn what makes us tick and we could share that experience with somebody and they could say, Tell me more and what do you think about that? And now we're collaborate. We're having this Dyadic collaborative process. We're processing emotion in concert with another human being. I was I was doing a little bit of research on this external validation, and I have to be so honest that I am going to. I'm going to quote someone, and I lost the source of who this who was saying this.
[00:22:55] So just know that some of the things that I'm going to talk about for the next probably five minutes or so as we wrap things up are going to leave it there. I will try to find this and put it in, the show notes. But the author was saying, What does an unhealthy reliance on external validation look like? They said not being able to confront people or disagree. Changing your thoughts and beliefs because someone else either approves or disapproves, and ascribing your self-worth to the approval of others are all examples of a reliance on external validation. If our and this is from Dr. Rita Stein, Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University. If our life plans are even just short term goals are guided by external criteria without a true understanding of what it is that we actually want or what fulfills and satisfies us, then we end up at a minimum disconcerted and unhappy and at a worse with a midlife crisis and severely depressed. And so this is where I found this this article. I talk about abandonment attachment. I think that they did a really nice job of just summing it up much more condensed than I do. But they just said, Where does this come from? When you're a small child whose whole existence and well-being depends on others, then rejection actually equals existential death. And since we are constantly hurt and validated and rejected and many overt and highly subtle ways as children, then a lot of us grow up into wounded and self selfless adults whose self-perception is skewed or blurry.
[00:24:11] So if we never explore or even recognize this phenomenon, this is seeking external validation or who we are as a person, then we, this author, said we are doomed to be dependent on other people's opinions and judgments and perceptions of us, which can make us so vulnerable to being manipulated and potentially being manipulative ourselves because we are manipulating others to get that external validation instead of learning to validate ourselves. So the author said for many, it means that they are defined by others. For example, if others think you're great, you must be great. If someone thinks you're bad, then you must be bad. And this goes back into that whole object relations that I was talking about earlier. We are all both good and bad. We were all just a product of the things that we have been through in our lives, and I would even check that and say we are all just having experiences. I won't even put it into the good bad category because those are all based in context of how someone was raised as someone's family situation, their need again, their nature, their nurture. And if they perceive you as flawed, accurately or inaccurately inaccurately, then you may. They have a tendency to feel horrified.
[00:25:16] The author said here such a person has two problems one, they constantly need other people's approval and validation to feel that they are a good person, to feel pleasant emotions or to even feel alive and to they feel shame or guilt or anger or loneliness or anxiety or confusion or other painful emotions when someone disapproves of and invalidates them, which then often leads to dysfunctional behavior to manage all of it. Now we're into the world of unhealthy coping mechanisms because somebody hurt our feelings because somebody disagrees with our point of view. And those are, and this is the part that I just, boy, it is fascinating. It's sad, but that we then move into adulthood with a lot of these childhood coping mechanisms and attachment wounds and abandonment fears without even knowing them. They're so deeply embedded in our subconscious that we, when someone invalidates us, then we will turn to unhealthy coping coping mechanisms. And it's a way that our own brain, our own body, is saying, I am hurting. I want to be understood. I want to be valued. I want to be cared about. But we're doing this now in this echo chamber of addiction or turning to our phones too often or food or bingeing on shows or pornography or drugs and alcohol and spending. And all of these things that then we do in secret because we feel so bad about the way that we're showing up in public.
[00:26:31] And why are we feeling bad about the way we're showing up in public because we are basing our self-esteem and our confidence on how people then react to us? But instead, we need to just show up. This is who we are. We're going to figure things out. We're navigating our life and it's going to get bumpy and messy. But as we start to do more and find more of a purpose and turn toward things that matter value based goals and take action on those and be aware of this, wow, it looks like I'm seeking external value. We're going to start to find ourselves. We're going to start to raise our emotional baselines and really step into the person that we need to be. And if our partner isn't up for that, then is that a mature relationship? Because you can't keep doing the things that you're doing if it is causing you to feel less than or not letting your light so shine so that others around you will not feel less than we are all put on this earth to shine, to do good things, to be the best version of ourselves, we can be because that lifts up people around us. It lifts ourselves up. So this is one of those situations where I feel we just get it all backwards, where people are just so again afraid of saying the things that they really think or feel or being the person they want to be.
[00:27:43] But yet that is exactly the thing to do to then raise your self-confidence and raise those others around you. And if they don't, if they don't step up as well, if they don't show up with curiosity, then is that a healthy relationship? And I'm talking about friends. I'm talking about spouses, relationships, jobs, churches, all of those things, because that is not the way to build one's self-esteem, self-confidence. The author then said that she said they'd give a few simplified examples. She said, If somebody likes your post on Facebook and everything is well and good, but if they don't, you start to feel terribly anxious or empty or invisible. And I was thinking about some funny things about this. I hear so often how many times do you come upon a post and nobody has liked it yet, and you want to like it, but you don't wanna be the first person to like it because you don't want it to look like you are just scrolling on Instagram or Facebook all day. If that post was just a minute before, instead of just being in the moment having your experience, I don't have to explain to anybody that I just got on Instagram and I was the first one to like a post. Who cares? But I hear people talk often about when I got there. I don't want be the first one because I don't want somebody to think that, well, that's all you do is to sit there liking people's posts.
[00:28:49] Or I talk often about YouTube versus podcasts. Boy, talk about invalidation. I will release this podcast today and it will get tens of thousands of downloads and I will feel very. I did not do video on this one today, but I will if I release the audio on YouTube and I have people that say that's the only way that they listen to podcasts. But if I put that out, it'll get one hundred views or listens. You know, kids these days, the teenagers that I still work with from time to time will pull up my YouTube channel and see, I don't know, a thousand followers and a bunch of videos, and none of them have a lot of views or likes, and they'll say, Oh, I thought your podcast was really popular, and then I find myself wanting to defend my fragile ego and say, Well, let me show you the download numbers on the podcast app. It's millions there are now. Do you think I'm impressive? So in reality, I enjoy putting out podcasts, people listen to them, and even if they didn't, I enjoy putting out podcasts. So even when we're trying to be aware and differentiate it and not seek external validation, our brain still goes there. So another example of this seeking external validation, and if somebody agrees with you, then you must be right and you feel confidence and joy.
[00:29:50] But if they don't, you feel threatened and lonely and upset and self doubtful and socially anxious and so on. So then you may spend your entire life, and many do, chasing after acceptance and validation and feeling terrified of rejection. This author went on to say, And we're going to we're going to wrap things up here as a coping mechanism. Some individuals become people pleasers who are afraid to be their true selves or take care of themselves. A lot of them don't even know who they. Really are or what they actually feel or what they truly think or what they like, and the author says their mental boundaries are closely enmeshed with others because they were raised to take care of others and neglect themselves. I heard a quote once that said, if you have always put yourself others first, then you're showing them that you see yourself as second and others then have developed this different, these different tendencies that tend to fall on the other side of the spectrum, where then they will disregard others or their boundaries or their humanity and only care about themselves. And that's what people start to talk more about when they're using the terms narcissism or antisocial behavior. So whether it's people pleasing or narcissistic or antisocial behavior or something, the underlying or often ignored question really is why? Why would somebody want to put another person down? Why do other people feel the need to put others above themselves? People want to be nice or people want power, or because deep down, we're hurt, we're empty, we can be anxious or lonely, or we may feel ashamed or guilty.
[00:31:15] But all of these traits, all of these tendencies of whether we have to put ourselves in a position of one up or better than are those we feel that we have to acquiesce or just always go to what is best for others, that both of those sets of behaviors can be referred to as some type of lower self-esteem. And which is fascinating in this other article. This isn't the one I was talking about. Am I waking up the narcissism podcast? The author said. Although narcissism is often falsely perceived as high self-esteem, when actually it's the opposite, it's incredibly low, low self-esteem, self-esteem and fragility. But that deep early fear of rejection and abandonment can haunt us forever, and that urge for validation and acceptance and the fear of rejection is all. It's there, it's present. It's almost like this background buzz of the refrigerator in your home. And so in so many cases, that does become the core issue or problem is this constant fear of rejection or abandonment. And so then as you grow into a mature adult, a mature human being, that that is where we recognize that fear of abandonment or rejection.
[00:32:24] But then we realized that was OK to get us through adolescence. But now we can get our needs met by ourselves, and that doesn't mean that we don't want a relationship. It means that we show up in a relationship confident. So now we are this we edify each other. It's the one plus one is three kind of a vibe and then differentiation. And I've talked about it when done correctly is going to come with a heavy dose of invalidation. And again, here's where it gets interesting. So by default, in relationships, I feel like we do put our best foot forward and that's OK. But what do we fear? What if we say or do the wrong thing that our partner will leave and remember? Abandonment equals death? So we do. We continually play this game of tug of war with our emotions and behaviors. And what should I say or do? How should I act? And that is exhausting. Imagine what it would feel like to be able to just be and to just say and just do. And if the other person doesn't respond in a way that we had hoped they would, that's OK. They have their own experience as well. I spoke to somebody recently about their experience with a difficult college math class that they're taking. They're behind and they don't want to go to their professor for help because of the fear of invalidation.
[00:33:28] We were able to track back experiences and their in their childhood or in their high school years, where a professor did say, Oh, you should know that. And so this fear of invalidation, this person said that they were worried that the professor will say, Well, you should already know this material and the professor because the professor had already lectured on the project. And I said to this person that what's so fascinating about this example is because the professor was in that moment most likely feeling and validated as well. And he was taking this person's request for help as criticism that he was not a good teacher. And so he felt like the student was then invalidating him and that he must not have understood the principles of the lecture because the professor must have been bad. So we're all walking through these minefields of invalidation on a daily or hourly or minute by minute basis, continually worrying about whether or not somebody will accept our offering to this collective consciousness of society. I think I've gone on too long, but I hope that you can see the message today that I would love for you just to be more aware of. Am I seeking external validation because I want the person to say, you're the best? Or am I trying to share an experience? And that's where it starts, is with awareness of the trans theoretical model of change. What a nerdy psychological theory.
[00:34:37] But it's amazing says that we go from not knowing to knowing. And then, even now that we have this awareness or knowing that doesn't mean now that we're going to be perfect at having this awareness or putting new things into play, that it's going to now take some intentional work. Because when you are not actively working on yourself, your brain is going to go back to the default patterns the deeply dug in neural pathways, a.k.a. the path of least resistance. So when you are aware that you are seeking external validation in that moment, even it's OK to say, Hey, check this out. I realize I am wanting you to say that I am an amazing person and that's not fair to you because. Or one you might not think I'm very amazing with what I'm sharing right now, especially the way I'm showing up. But number two, I'm not even sure exactly what version of amazing person I want you to say that I am. So instead, I need to feel confident in the things that I'm saying are doing, or I need to be able to express them in a vein of curiosity and saying, No, I'm not asking you to respond a certain way. I just want to share this experience. I would love to get your thoughts or your opinions and tell me about your experience with whatever the topic is we're talking about. And let's look at this with curiosity, and let's do this with the goal is to be heard, not to resolve or not to check some box.
[00:35:46] It's really to be heard to have a connected conversation so that we can grow closer together and so that we can feel safe, that every time we do have something go through our head, we can go share that with somebody that we care about, that we feel this secure attachment to. And then we can just start doing and thinking and processing. And that's the way that we're going to start to get to more of a connection or a confident sense of self. So I will leave you there. Thank you so much for taking the time with me today. Hope you have an amazing week. I would love to get your comments, your thoughts, your feedback. Feel free to reach out through to me through Tony Overbay. And once again, I have left the Betterhelp.com ad till the very, very end. But if you go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch, you'll get 10 percent off your first month in the world of online counseling. Go do what over two million people have done. Now you can start seeing someone virtually text, email virtual sessions within a couple of days, which is pretty incredible right now. There's a real, real difficult time or shortage and good therapists out there. And but go try that virtual betterhelp.com such virtual couch. Have an amazing weekend. I will see you next
[00:36:46] Time on the virtual couch.
[00:36:52] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful. And that's waste and rubber ghost are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. He. News of discount.
People in relationships with narcissists often find themselves in a constant state of “reading the room” or “walking on eggshells” in hopes of navigating the large number of hidden, emotional landmines. But one wrong step and a landmine explodes, leaving a trail of destruction to the self-esteem of the narcissist’s victims. Today Tony sheds light on the reasons behind the black or white, all or nothing thinking, a concept called “object constancy.” Tony refers to the article “The truth about narcissistic personality disorder” by Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201708/the-truth-about-narcissistic-personality-disorder You can read more about the wonderful work that Elinor has done by visiting her website here www.elinorgreenberg.com
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visitinghttp://pathbackrecovery.com And visithttp://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 herehttps://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
#communication #compassion #therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro
[00:00:12] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode nine of Waking Up to narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast, and welcome to people that are watching on YouTube. You can go find the virtual couch channel on YouTube if you would like, and I realize I'm wearing a loud shirt when it comes to the camera, so hopefully the focus won't go in and out too much. But I want to continue to just thank you. I cannot thank you enough for the feedback and I'm reading them. I apologize that I can't get back to everybody at this point, but they're there because of the feedback, because of the numbers of downloads and the support of the show. There's there's some cool changes that are coming and that'll be. We'll talk more about that in the next two or three weeks, but you can go to Tony over the contact form there and please continue to send me examples. Those are going to be used in different ways in the future. And also your questions. There are I have guests lined up. I've got so much, but the feedback has just been again overwhelming to the point where I just want to get some of this content out and we'll settle in. We'll find our stride. There's some amazing guests to have on people that are in it, in the trenches, and I think that'll be pretty powerful too, because a lot of the feedback that I'm receiving is from people that just feel heard.
[00:01:26] They feel heard, they feel seen, they feel understood for sometimes the first time. But I want to get to the content today because if you we're going to, we're going to build a little bit on my episode a couple of weeks ago talking about the waking up, the narcissism in general, that you are possibly the person who is waking up to the narcissism of a spouse or somebody in your life, or you're maybe starting to wake up to your own narcissistic traits or tendencies. And I hope that that was pretty clear in an episode where I talked about narcissistic personality disorder versus narcissistic traits and tendencies. And what I love about the comments that I've been receiving are from people that are saying, OK, hold up, maybe this is me, maybe I have some of these challenges and and so a little bit of that and then a lot of people that are saying, I finally don't feel crazy. I don't feel like I am the only one that's going through what I'm going through in my relationships. But today we're going to go deep, we're going to go really deep. There's an article, there's two articles that I hope to get time to. I might. This might end up being a two part episode, but there's an article by Eleanor Greenberg, PhD, and it's from Psychology Today, and I'll have the links to the articles that I refer to today in the show notes.
[00:02:36] But it's the article is simply called The Truth About Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and the subheading is what therapists know about narcissism that you need to know. And it's it's significant, too, because this was posted four years ago in August of twenty seventeen. And the reason I say that is it feels like narcissism. The phrase the term is in the zeitgeist. It's what people are talking about. A lot and a lot of people have asked, Is this something that is on the rise or are we just talking about it more? And I think there's a little bit of both, but I just this makes so much sense because it was around this time frame where I felt like all of a sudden I have this confirmation bias, and I think my wife would joke that, well, do you think everybody is a narcissist? And I said, Well, it feels that way at times. But then we go on to learn more about these narcissistic traits and tendencies, but it just has been talked about so much. So if you're new to this show on my Virtual Couch podcast, which is pushing three hundred episodes now and five years, I like to think that I don't just want to throw out pop psychology or just my thoughts or ideas. I've done a little bit of that here on waking up the narcissism, and I'll always let you know if this is.
[00:03:45] This is my unscientific, anecdotal data from 15 20 years of being a therapist or if there's some research, or if I'm referring to another article. And then a lot of times, I think the kids these days call it reaction videos, or I will be reacting somewhat or reading an article that hopefully I want you to be able to go. Read this yourself. And there's the articles are based off of good old, evidence based data, and then I'll try to throw my own spin or my own flair on this as well. So I'm going to read a lot from this article, and I'll throw some comments in here. But Eleanor starts by saying every once in a while, a new diagnostic label emerges into the mass consciousness and people start to use it. And very good point. Misuse it as a synonym for bad behavior. And she said this year's label so again, go back to twenty seventeen. She said this year's label seems to be nursing narcissist, and so she goes into what I went into an episode or two ago of actual narcissistic personality disorder, but she doesn't lay it out just from the definition from the diagnostic and statistical manual of diagnoses that therapists use. She said narcissistic personality disorder is the name for a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem, the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation.
[00:04:59] Boy, we're going to talk about that. This need for external validation and low empathy. And, she said, is with all of the major categories of personality disorders, which are borderline narcissistic and schizoid people with. Narcissistic personality disorder also lack whole object relations and object constancy, and that might sound a little bit like psychobabble, but I first wanted on this episode, I have another article where I talk about object constancy because it's it's pretty fascinating when you learn what this term means and then how it relates to narcissistic tendencies, traits or personality disorder. So she talks about a whole object relations that she said this is the capacity to see oneself and others in a stable and integrated way that acknowledges both the person's good and bad qualities. So that's whole object relations and an object constancy, which we could do an entire episode on that itself. This is the ability to maintain a positive emotional connection with somebody that you like while you're angry or hurt or frustrated or disappointed by his or her behavior. So you can maybe see where we're going to go a little bit today. If you have a narcissist in your midst or if you sometimes feel yourself like this, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pull that that's that's what object constancy is. Can you be frustrated or angry with someone and then still maintain this connection or love for them? And so I so, so often hear this yo yo effect, this boy.
[00:06:28] One minute he's telling me, literally using the most foul language, and then five minutes later, he says, Hey, so what do you want for dinner? And when I'm talking with people in my office, I often talk about, that's what it feels like. You're arguing with the 10 year old boy and or I might be given too much credit in those moments. And then ten minutes later, I call it the Hey, do you want to go ride bikes theory where you're feeling like, Wait, you just eviscerated me emotionally, verbally told me all these things. But now you want to go ride bikes you metaphorically or you you want to go get dinner or what you want to watch on TV where you're sitting there thinking, I'm kind of crushed and devastated that the person I care about just called me these horrific names. And that's that's that struggle with object constancy. Eleanor says without a whole object relations and object constancy, people with narcissistic personality disorder can only see themselves in other people. So that alone is significant. They can only see themselves in other people. One of two ways either they are a special, unique, omnipotent, perfect and entitled high status, or they are defective, worthless, and she says, garbage, which is low status. So this means that that person is struggling with these narcissistic tendencies or traits can't hold on to his or her good opinion and good feelings about somebody.
[00:07:43] Once he or she notices, the other person has a flaw that the other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal to being devalued as nothing special. So when they lack this object constancy, there's this constant battle, this back and forth. Eleanor calls it the seesaw back and forth between these two of is someone special, unique, omnipotent, or are they this low status meaning? Are they defective and worthless? And then they are trying to see themselves in relation to that other person. So she said, while they're feeling good about you or more accurately, you are making them feel good about themselves. They see you as special because they are special. Everyone around them is special. This is the best. This is the the best person I've ever met. We had the connection like I've never had. This is the best restaurant I've ever been to. This is the best show I have ever seen. And there's someone was telling me about they know they just started to grate on them when somebody said this was the best burrito I have ever had in my entire life. Until we find the next best burrito we've ever had in my entire life. But it's not about the burrito, it's about how special they felt in that moment or how they felt that you had. You made them feel special or they were they had this elevated status, this high status.
[00:08:55] So then therefore everything it's this all or nothing, this black or white, this Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, because there isn't this object constancy. So then you do something like, say, no, it's one of their requests. Suddenly, now you are all bad or worthless. And then later on, you might do something that makes them feel good again, and they're back to seeing you as special. So I feel like this is I hear this in my office often, and I've even experienced this when I've worked with couples where one of the partners was on the very high side of narcissistic tendencies, traits or full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. And I am all of a sudden the greatest therapist that has ever lived. No one has ever told them the things, and it's because they have felt heard or understood. They felt special. Kind of a unique example of this at one point. And this, I mean, I always want to be as authentic and open as I can be. I felt like I was well into my practice. This was just a few years ago. I can literally think of the person that that I had this aha moment with. But they were, we're talking narcissistic personality disorder. I was working with them as as a couple. They wanted an individual session and I bring them in and they are telling me all these things. Well, hey, only I can do this because she keeps doing this and this and this.
[00:10:07] And it's clearly I'm aware that this person will not take ownership. Accountability of anything, literally anything. And so I'm what I mean, if I say, well, yeah, but you need to understand this, then we're just in this psychological reactants battle again, psychological reactants the instant negative reaction of being told what to do. It is not like this person is going to say, Oh, wow, I hadn't thought of that. They're going to say, Oh no, I've done that or I've tried that, or you don't understand. So rather than do that, I'm empathizing with them. I'm validating them because I am hearing them and I'm understanding them. So if they are saying, Look, I've done all I can do, she she has changed and we know from earlier episodes that what that means is she is now having her own opinion. She is now standing up for herself and she is not acquiescing to my greatness. She is not telling me that I am right and giving in to everything that I need. So all of a sudden now she has become difficult and he doesn't know if he can do this anymore. So then I simply say, Well, that sounds. It sounds really hard. And if you feel like that's all you can do or you've done all you can, then yeah, I can understand why you are. You're pretty frustrated. So that person then goes on and relates to his spouse that Tony agrees with me.
[00:11:14] He he really thinks that we both think you're you're crazy. And we both think that there's nothing I can do. So they cannot sit in their own sense of self. They have to then say external validation. Even this therapist agrees. And this is where you can see the layers of narcissism and how difficult it can be. Because going back to the scenario I'm painting for you, I did not say any of that. But when the person actually feels validated, then they mistake validation for agreeing. So if someone because they're so used to people saying, Yeah, but or you don't understand or and then finally, people just giving in and just saying, OK, sure, yeah, whatever you think, which then elevates their status, they feel like they were right. That is why they feel right about so many things. And then if anybody finally does to say, Huh, OK, that's interesting, that would be hard. Then they say, and they agree with me as well. So it's such this difficult dance with the narcissism wanting to not try to change them. Give them this aha moment or epiphany, because we talked about in episode one. That's one of my five rules of interacting or trying to save your sanity with someone in a narcissistic relationship is you have to realize there is no aha moment or anything you can say that will cause them to have the epiphany. So when we finally drop the rope of the tug of war, of trying to say what you don't understand is or OK, but last time you said this or when you just realize this isn't helpful or productive, unfortunately, it then also causes them to feel like they are right.
[00:12:42] But the fascinating thing is they're going to feel right regardless, because gaslighting comes as this childhood defense mechanism, it's it's in the air they breathe. And so when they continually are going to flip things to make them right or flip things to make you feel less than then, does it truly matter whether or not you try to engage in battle and try to prove them wrong? Or if you just have acceptance and say, OK, I didn't realize that whatever they're saying and then knowing that they are going to then say, See you think I'm right again? My point being, if they are going to feel right regardless, now this becomes about you and your sanity of you getting out of unproductive conversations, getting your PhD and gaslighting, setting healthy boundaries. When you say this, I will leave the room. So Eleanor talks about normal versus pathological narcissism. So this goes also into a little bit of what we talked about a couple of weeks ago with the narcissistic traits, tendencies, and I really feel like she she has some concepts here that I haven't really covered before, so I like this, she says. Unfortunately, in the English language, the word narcissism has come to mean two entirely different things, depending on whether it's being used formally as a diagnosis, as a narcissistic personality disorder or informally as a synonym for positive self-regard.
[00:13:52] She says I'm often asked isn't a little bit of narcissism healthy and normal? And she said, I'd like to clarify that distinction before she goes on. And it is such a good question because I will often hear and this is again what I'm trying to convey in some of these recordings is that we we all have these narcissistic traits and tendencies. But even you can sense my hesitation and even saying that because I know the audience that I'm speaking to has such a strong, visceral, emotional negative reaction to even the word narcissism, which I absolutely understand and agree. And that's why I tried to lay out the narcissistic traits or tendencies. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about when we view things as criticism, then our own brain goes to this protective place where we feel like we are being criticized when someone is disagreeing or trying to point out what they think are our faults and again, how adorable that they feel like they know what is best for us. But our brain goes into protective mode because we are so afraid of going into this shame cycle. This shame spiral remembering that shame is very different from guilt. Guilt is I can feel bad about a situation, but then shame is I feel horrible and bad about who I am as a person.
[00:15:04] So guilt can say I feel bad that I forgot someone's birthday. Shame can say because I'm a horrible person. And. No one will ever love you. So we don't. Shame is good for nothing, absolutely nothing I often talk about with my recovery work. I've got an online pornography recovery program called The Path Back, and I say that in working with individuals, I think I'm over 16 hundred where shame is a component of recovery at all. The shame pieces is just not. There's nothing healthy about that guilt. Guilt can be a stop sign at times, man. I feel bad that I forgot somebody's birthday. I probably need to do a little better job of putting reminders in my phone or being a little more engaged and trying to follow up on people that I care about. That can come from guilt. But shame, that is that's that is not a positive thing at all. I think I get my point, but when we are trying to criticize, we do anything to defend our ego because of this fear of going into this shame cycle. So in defending our ego, then that's often where we use unhealthy or immature ways to defend that ego, such as withdrawal, such as anger, such as agreeance or in the case of some of the narcissistic traits and tendencies, the gaslighting of Oh no, no, no, that's not what I meant, or you don't even get it, or I can't believe you even said that.
[00:16:19] And so the as we grow into mature adults and we're trying to become differentiated, differentiated again as maintaining this autonomy and still having a relationship with somebody, meaning that we recognize that we literally are the only version of us that's ever walked the face of the Earth. So we have our thoughts, feelings and opinions because we're a human being. And then when you really start to stand in that confidence or understanding that this is who I am and as we grow and mature and we are aware that sometimes we are seeking this external validation. So we're handing the keys to our emotions over to another human being. And if that human being happens to be somebody that is is having this object permanence or if they are struggles with object permanence or object constancy and they don't feel good about themselves. And you just said, what do you think about me then? Now they want to take this one up position, so they will then take that opportunity to put you down. And so I've worked with a lot of clients that have talked about that feels literally like betrayal, where this is the person that I'm that I care about, that we're supposed to figure out problems together. We're supposed to grow old together. And when I hand them my emotions and say, What do you think about this? It's as if they take that those emotions and then crumple them up in their hands and throw them down on the ground and stomp on them.
[00:17:34] So how would one not feel less than? And then I started to get a little bit fired up because this is a how dare you someone that you are in a relationship, treat you that way and then leave you feeling like less than when. Now we know when we're talking about this object constancy that in that moment they just see this as a position to go one up to make themselves feel better, which then is coming from this place of low empathy or no empathy because of their own childhood wounding, of not seeing that model or having those things happen to them. And so I hope that made sense as I laid that out. So she said that she's the clarifying this distinction between normal and pathological narcissism. She says normal healthy narcissism, which again, sounds like an oxymoron. I know it does. But she said this is a realistic sense of positive self regard that is based on the person's actual accomplishments. It's a relatively stable thing because the person is assimilated into their self-image, the successes that came as a result of their actual hard work to overcome real life obstacles because it's based on real achievements. Normal healthy narcissism is relatively impervious to the minor slights and setbacks that we all experience as we go through life. Normal narcissism, she says, causes us to care about ourselves, do things that are in our self interest and associated with genuine self respect.
[00:18:49] But that does not mean that that is a so I must put someone else down. And I remember going to a training long ago, actually, I had a client talking about this yesterday, and it was I love this conversation, but we were talking about the concept of ego. And a lot of times we we are afraid of the sphere of pride or this fear of saying, no, I really do feel like I'm good at this, or I feel like this is maybe something that I have been put on the Earth to do. This is my passion. This is my mission. This is my calling because we fear this pride that other people are going to say, Well, you think you're pretty special, don't you? But there's a healthy version of Ego and this training I went to long ago, I remember I will never forget this, but the person talked about that if there are people throughout history that had they not had a healthy sense of self or ego that they would not have put themselves in positions to change the world. And they gave this list of Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. I mean, there are so many people that had they not been confident and been able to embrace their sense of self, which then can come across to others as, Oh, you think that you are special or better than? But when it is based off of real, tangible things that that you feel are are part of who you are that you found your calling or your passion, then that is a healthy sense of self and.
[00:20:10] You are stepping into your ego to be able to benefit others, and this is where I just love any concept that has to do with letting your light so shine that you will lift others around you. As a matter of fact, I have thought about many times talking about my favorite poem in the world, which is the Marianne Williamson poem, and I am looking it up right now because I was not planning on saying this, but I absolutely love this poem and this is me stalling as I am. Here it is. But it's a it's our deepest fear. And if you haven't heard this poem, you've maybe heard it over and over. But listen to this because this is think about this from a term a standpoint of stepping into one's sense of self or owning one's sense of self or self confidence, but yet not to the desire to put others down. Marianne Williamson said Pop up on my computer. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fears that we are powerful beyond measure. She says it's our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented or fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God and you're playing small does not serve the world.
[00:21:17] There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that's within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. I love everything about that poem because if you break it down from a I want my children to feel I can find their sense of self and sense of purpose, and that when we are saying, Oh, don't don't say that or don't be, you need to be humble and you need to, I don't know, not not feel prideful that I understand where that comes from, when it is this false sense of self or false pride, or doing it to the detriment of someone of putting someone else down. But when we can help lift somebody up and really find their passion, then they literally do let their light so shine that it lifts others around them. And this phrase here's the healthy sense of ego, as there's nothing enlightened about us shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
[00:22:20] And when she says again, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. When I am doing couples therapy, I want people so desperately to realize that the codependent and enmeshment that is what happens when we are all getting together with somebody else, just trying to put out our best self and not say anything that will ruffle the other person's feathers. And I understand that. But then we want the goal is to be with another human being and then edify each other. We are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being, but it is not from I can't believe you think that you shouldn't think that you don't get it. It's from a tell me more. What's that like for you? Because you're two independent people in the relationship. You are two people with your own experiences so that in a healthy way will breed curiosity. And when you recognize that you both have two different experiences and you can share those and not from a place of wanting to put the other person down, then that that is when you just let your light so shine that others around you are lifted up. And it isn't a situation where people are. They walk into the room and they have to read the room. Oh, it's bad man, or what's mom of two today? It's a man.
[00:23:25] I want to be around these people because they lift me up because of their positive energy, because they are finding out who they are and they are encouraging anyone around them to discover who they are as well. I'm on my soapbox. This is so that's that's what we're talking about normal, healthy narcissism that one can think of it as something that is inside of us pathological or defensive narcissism. She said this is a defense against feelings of inferiority and when we are young children, as I've laid out in previous episodes, I can understand when people feel less than because they are young children and they are egocentric and the world revolves around them, and they don't have an understanding of the plight of their caregiver. But that is this self-centered view of the child and then boy, bless their heart if they didn't have the modeling as a child to then go from self-centered to self-confident. See, this is where that self-confidence is. This is what that self-confidence looks like. It is not a self-confidence to put others down. It's a self-confidence to say, Oh my gosh, I'm finding my sense of self and my purpose in life. And if I can find another partner who is going to help me bring that out as I will help it bring them, bring it out with them, then we can we can change the world. And again, not in a change the world. Look at me how special I am, but as we are just stepping into our own sense of self, that it will lift the waters around us for everyone.
[00:24:40] Pathological defensive narcissism again, defense against feelings of inferiority. This person dons a mask of arrogant superiority and an attempt to convince the world that he or she is special. Inside the person feels very insecure about his or her actual self-worth, and the facade of superiority is so thin that it's like a helium balloon. One small pinprick will deflate it. So Eleanor said this makes the person hypersensitive to minor slights that someone with healthy narcissism would not even notice. It's kind of a fascinating trait, and I have found and this is where. You can start to see I still have such a fear of sounding like the narcissist that I have been or the ones that I work with that don't have the awareness, they aren't waking up to this narcissistic traits or tendencies. But when I hear that or when I read that phrase where it says minor slights that somebody with healthy narcissism would even notice as you become self-confident and as you become differentiated, meaning I'm going to maintain my autonomy. And then it really is a bless someone's heart who thinks that they can tell me how I'm supposed to think or feel or what I'm supposed to do. And it takes an intentional effort and work because when we laid our foot off the gas of this work that we're doing, our default is to go back to this wounded child who seeks validation from the world around them.
[00:25:52] So I find myself over the years when somebody is saying, I don't even know if I want to tell you this thing that I think about your podcast. And I understand that long ago, I probably would have felt like, Oh no, what are they going to say? They don't like it. Very true. Not a story. And I read one of these last week, actually, but at the beginning I would. I would say, Hey, here's who I am, and here's some stories from the week. And people would say there would be these reviews that would say, just skip the minute 12 and get to the point. Or he rambles too much or he goes on tangents, and I would still find this little this little pinprick of, oh, that's criticism. But then I would want to then respond with defense, saying, OK, well, when you have your podcast, you can skip right to the point. But this is my podcast. This is my my. This is the way I'm doing this, and that's OK. And so I still notice there's an IV. So oh my goodness, I appreciate the reviews. And if you have a second and you can go review wherever you listen to your podcasts rate and review because it is really fascinating. And it sounds like I'm see this list. It sounds like I'm begging for reviews, but it really is that people are saying it's a five or one because I feel like the ones are saying, Who does he think he is? He's the actual narcissist, blah blah blah.
[00:27:03] And the fives are saying, Man, I feel heard and understood, and you're relatable in those sort of things. But I got another one last week that said tangential rambles too much circles back on things. These are to get to the point. And then I thought, Oh, bless their heart, how do they know what my point was and how do they not know that I have been going off on tangents and circling back to things my entire life? That is who I am, and I feel confident that that is who I am. So that's OK. So that this pathological defense of narcissism, then major slights feel like criticism. And we've already talked about what criticism can do. Then we go to great lengths to defend our fragile egos. She also says the let's see narcissism instead. Someone with this type of defensive narcissism is easily wounded, frequently takes any form of disagreement as a serious criticism like we talked about and is likely to lash out and devalue anyone who they think is disagreeing with them. She says they are constantly on guard trying to protect their status. Pathological narcissism can be thought of as a protective armor that is on the outside of us. So Eleanor said, and I still agree with what I'm talking about narcissism in the article now.
[00:28:07] She says that she is thinking about pathological defensive, narcissistic strategies that people with narcissistic personality disorder developed to deal with the life that began as an adaptation to their childhood experience, not healthy internal self-regard. That's our goal healthy internal self-regard. So then, she says, why is why is defensive narcissism then unhealthy? She said having narcissistic personality disorder. So then I would add in there or traits or tendencies, or maybe high on this narcissistic spectrum. She said it is like going through life, always on the defensive. And man, I feel like you can probably sense that with the narcissist in your life. She said If you are narcissistic, your self-esteem is always on the line, and I hope you're seeing this abyss where we're going or how we're building this case here today, she said. You tend to feel insulted and criticized when no insult or criticism is intended. And in addition, you lack emotional empathy. Now please listen right here if you are the sensitive person, if you are the one that is listening to this because you finally feel heard and understood, but you keep circling back to wait a minute. Am I a narcissist? Because Tony just said that this is you feel insulted and criticized when no insult or criticism is intended. This is the thing where I say, if you just dropped you into a healthy relationship where you felt heard and understood and you were in this world of tell me more and oh my gosh, I want to know all about what your experience is, and there is no part of trying to put you down or tell you you're wrong consistently or there isn't this emotional dysregulation or weight.
[00:29:30] I thought you said this one minute and this another minute, then you would be a completely different person. Because when people have been in these cycles of emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, when they have been in these toxic, unhealthy narcissistic relationships, then yes, they may feel criticized. When then when their spouse says, I didn't mean to criticize you, you took it that way. I can't be in charge of how you feel. That sounds familiar. That that is not. I want you to. Not only tonight. I hope that as you hear things where I say that you feel insulted and criticized and no insult or criticism is intended that you recognize that now the more your understanding are waking up to the narcissism of the person in your life that now you're seeing no, there was an insult or a criticism because of their own lack of self regard of their own wounded childhood showing up here as an adult so they are criticizing or insulting because they don't have that object constancy. Because in this moment, because they feel bad, they need to put you down. You can even say how much you like doing something.
[00:30:33] And this is where that mimicking often comes in, where they're like, Oh yeah, I love doing that to me. I think I'm really good at it, because if you all of a sudden are this elevated status, then they don't have that consistency or that object constancy to be able to say, Oh man, you, you are so good at that you go and you do your thing because they now feel attacked. They feel on the defense, and you can quickly hear examples where people within all of a sudden will say, Man, well, I wish, I wish. I would have had that opportunity probably been really good at that, too. So now they just said, Oh no, I would have been better if I would have had more time or. Well, that's that's why I'm glad you can do that, and I hope you're grateful for the sacrifices that I have made so that you have been able to do that. And that is where instead of somebody just saying, Oh man, you are good at that, I love that you're doing that. Tell me about your journey of whatever that is. No, it can't be about that, because that is making it about the other person. That is the that would require the nurses to say, I'm curious and I want to know more about you. And they would have to check their ego at the door instead of defending their ego.
[00:31:33] Wait, if you're better than me, then I'm less than. And so that constant black or white up or down Dr. Jekyll or I so hope this is making sense. This is that stuff sometimes where I feel like, Oh my gosh, that makes so much sense, and I just want to share this with the world, but I worry that it maybe isn't coming across that way. She said that in when you're talking about this defense of narcissism and the unhealthiness of it says you don't feel any pain when you hurt other people or if you do, it is so much less than the average person feels. As a result, your sensitivity is all one way. She said you may attack someone else for the slightest misstep or even use the or for somebody using the wrong word while you know in your heart that the person could be dying in front of you. And all you want is you feel annoyed at that inconvenience of them dying in front of you. I have so many email examples of this concept of people that are literally broken legs on their deathbed, having babies, whatever it is and the narcissist in their life is annoyed because it is inconveniencing them. They. Who is going to, who's going to praise them, who's going to get their dinner, or they're not going to able to have sex with somebody for a while, whatever it is. What a what an inconvenience that you are having this baby.
[00:32:39] Oh, what an inconvenience that you now want to go. Or that I was going to go do something. And now you, you are going to affect my plans that I have so many examples of that, of the emails that have come in. So she said, all of this makes it hard for narcissist to sustain serious intimate relationships after the early stages of the relationship. Significance there because after that honeymoon period, after that love bombing, because she said they are continually trying to prove that they are superior because they are constantly defending their fragile egos. They are constantly in this world of everything is a criticism, and if someone else is is better than them, then that makes them worse. They can't have that object constancy in their lives. It's black or white. It's Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And funny story about that. People bring up the doctor just like he's Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And I just have to tell you one of the funniest things, and I know I'm not going to do this right now because because I think this is how funny it is. I don't know if anyone really ever knows which one is the good one, which one's the bad one, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And so I love when somebody brings it up in a session because it's usually a pretty, pretty powerful moment where they will say, no, it's this black or white or on or off or all or nothing.
[00:33:42] It's like they're Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And I almost count down on my head three to one, and then they say, which one is the bad one? And I would say, I don't know, and I feel like I've looked it up a dozen times. So I think that one's kind of funny. So they're continually trying to prove that they're superior. They tend to misperceive and overreact to other people's behaviors. They are extremely self-centered. They lack empathy for other people's feelings, and they are willing to devalue and humiliate other people. I still remember one of the first women I ever worked with would continually talk about her soon to be nurse. Sadistic acts and just how he he would constantly talk about how I owned that person, meaning that I put them down, I put them in their place and showing trying to present to her now. Aren't you impressed because I have this one up position on everybody I put them down or people that are going to pick apart anything about somebody else because that puts them as superior, she says. Red flags for a narcissistic personality disorder. She said although diagnosis is best left to the mental health professionals, there are common signs of defensive pathological narcissism that the average person can learn to recognize. She said I think of these as red flags for narcissistic personality. These are really good.
[00:34:46] She says status consciousness narcissists make statements that show that they are extremely aware of status markers and frequently call attention to their own or other people's status. They may make comments such as Do you know how rich he is or every important person in the city will be at this charity party or this person is such an important person? And they say that I have to be there. Everybody will think I didn't get an invite. So this making statements to show extremely aware of status markers, I being completely honest again, I love everything about my job. I love being a therapist. A lot of times I will say that early on, as I started working more with this population of trying to, I want to help people. I want to work with the people that feel when they are starting to wake up to narcissism in their spouse or someone in their life. And again, as I've said in many of the episodes, they will read something that says, Don't finish this paragraph and leave the relationship whatever it is, and I understand it is not that easy. So as I started to say, OK, I want to be able to work with this population, these people, and then help them figure out what they can do to raise their emotional baselines and put them in a position where they can thrive, where they probably spent so many years of doing the opposite of thriving, of just being desperate to survive.
[00:35:53] And so then in order to get the people here on my couch or in my chair, I realized that my opening of my virtual couch podcast was a licensed marriage and family therapist certified my employment coach, a writer, a speaker, a husband of father of four ultra marathon runner. And so I would talk about often my accomplishments, which again, I feel like was saying, Hey, look at all the things I am doing, please validate me. But I feel like it also helps bring in people that if they have this status consciousness, that they don't want to just go see some guy that's going to sit back and with the patches on his elbows. And I think in olden days, the therapist is smoking a pipe or something, and he just continually says, Tell me how you feel about that, because it's fascinating to see that the status consciousness that narcissist often do want to say, Wait, I'm working with the best. This guy has a podcast. He isn't just a therapist, he runs or does all these sort of things. So. So it is. It is interesting because sometimes you do want to meet the person where they're at just so that you can start to have the conversation. She talks about hierarchical thinking. She said they place every person, every place and every object that catches their attention on a hierarchy from lowest to highest, according to some status markers that they value with regard to people.
[00:37:00] They tend to be deferential and super nice to the people that they consider above them, those that they consider below them, they look down on, or they mistreat or ignore or graciously condescend to treat well, depending on their mood. The examples they hear often are people and the way that they relate to, let's say, a waiter or waitress at a restaurant that I thought, this line is so good where she said those they consider below them, they look down on mistreat, ignore or graciously condescend to treat well, depending on their mood that oftentimes I've had people talk about in the love bombing stage how the person is a generous tipper, that they say so many nice things to the the waiter or waitress. And then when they continue to go on dates with the person or the married with the person, that over time they start to feel like the person is quite rude to waitstaff or that sort of thing. And often it's because, OK, this doesn't. They don't. Being nice to them doesn't serve my purpose any longer. Now we're back to this hierarchical thinking, and I want them to know that I am this elevated human being and that makes me feel better. She said they tend to get into dominance fights with people who are on approximately their own level and have trouble with the idea that anyone may be their love. That's probably a little bit dramatic, but when the narcissist then does want to battle me and try to say, What about this or you don't know this, or you're only saying that because you want money or you're only saying this and it does, it takes a lot of, I guess, that healthy version of the self-confidence or ego to stay present when somebody is on the attack and trying to devalue you because but it helps so much when you recognize they're trying to break me down or they're trying to devalue me to lift them up and then, oh, bless their heart that they feel like that's the way that you interact with human beings that you feel like.
[00:38:33] If you OK, you win, you win the argument. You get nothing. There's no trophy. You get the you may feel this temporary bump of superiority, but you have left just a path of decimation in your midst of then as you have felt better about yourself, how do your how does your spouse feel now? How do your kids feel now? They don't look at you and say, Oh my gosh, dad's amazing because he just eviscerated us with his words and he won. It doesn't work that way. So she said that back to this hierarchical thinking with regard to people, they tend to be differential super nice to those they consider above them. Ok, those they consider below them, they look down on mistreat, ignore, again, condescend, treat well, depending on their mood.
[00:39:08] These dominance fights happen, she says. They're hierarchical thinking and their emphasis on their status. Leave them to continually make comparisons about everything in these comparisons. One thing will be marked off is better, which is higher in the hierarchy. Again, I talked about earlier Best Burrito, Best Vacation, Best Show. Then the other. And she said they're likely to pepper their conversation with references to where people are with regard to their place on some hierarchy, such as I belong to a much exclusive club than they do or yeah, I mean, I've scored higher on my sats in that person. Did you know I found out that I went to a better college than they did? Or, yeah, you know, they drive a much older car than I do, and everything becomes this hierarchical, which is the opposite. They drive this car or in reality, are we even giving? Do we care about the car that they drive? She said to a narcissist. Nothing has inherent value aside from its status. Therefore, the value of anything and everything can and will change when its current status in the narcissist reference group changes. So something can be important. Somebody can. Let's take the car example. I remember at one point someone talking about their husband was obsessed with Teslas wanting to get a Tesla. They were going to get a Tesla, couldn't wait to get a Tesla, and then they realized that they couldn't afford a Tesla.
[00:40:16] So rather than say, Oh man, I thought I could afford one there, much more help. I want to say, how easy is that? How simple is that to say it's in essence taking accountability or ownership or saying, Oh my bad, I thought they weren't so expensive. But then instead, she said that Oh no. Now anyone that drove a Tesla was most likely one of the most the dumbest human beings on the planet because they could be using that money for this or this or this, where this person had literally been obsessed with it and telling everybody about it for over a year. But as soon as it wasn't, it didn't have value for them that they couldn't hold that status. Then they had to then make it the worst thing in the world. No object constancy, right? One mindedness true narcissist can only see things from their own perspective. This is similar to how very small children view the world. They can't understand how two people might have different yet equally valid points of view. And if they offer their view and you offer them a different one, they assume you were telling them they are wrong. Fascinating. And if they if you were telling them wrong, that is criticism. So they feel like a little kid that you are, then not only you're telling them wrong, but you are going to put them down and you are going to abandon them. And if you remember a couple of weeks ago, a couple of times throughout this podcast, I talked about what abandonment an attachment looks like, that abandonment is in our program and our DNA that if we are abandoned, abandonment equals death.
[00:41:34] That is why we come from the womb expressing ourselves to get our needs met and people meet our needs as a baby. But then as we grow into childhood, adolescence, young adult adulthood, we have to realize that when people don't meet our needs, it's not because we are broken. It's not because something's wrong with us. It's because people doing people, things imperfect people, imperfect world. And but when the narcissist is still stuck in this childhood adolescent state of mind, then if someone isn't meeting their needs, then they fear this abandonment to the point of they will do anything to get those needs met, even putting someone down or elevating themselves up. And again, it just starts to make more sense, which doesn't mean that it doesn't still hurt, or you don't still feel the emotions in those moments. So she said back in this, if they are offended, yeah, and you offer them a different view, they assume you're telling they're wrong. They're likely to react as if you are attacking them. Rather than you simply giving your opinion. They will project the source of the problem onto you. You are likely to hear statements like Why do you always have to disagree with everything that I say instead of saying, Tell me more about that.
[00:42:35] Tell me more about that is one of the most powerful phrases that one can say hypersensitivity to slights, he says. They're they're hypersensitive to feeling slighted or mistreated in any way. They assume that if they feel hurt, the other person is doing it on purpose and in their mind, they are always the innocent victim. And if the other person then must be the hostile perpetrator, she said, their refrain is, how could you do that to me? And she said, Fill in the blank with anything from restaurant hostess is giving them a less preferred table. So you saying something in public that they decided showed them in less than perfect light? If you make the joke about them with around your friends and all of a sudden you're going to hear about it, I can't believe you did that. But then if you say, OK, you are constantly making jokes about my hair or my teeth, my clothes, then they say, OK, well, that's different. You shouldn't be so sensitive, but I can't believe you just put me down. So that hypersensitivity to slights and in their mindset, they are always the innocent victim and the other person is the perpetrator. It is not me. It is you. It is always you. Just a disproportionate anger, she says. They get extremely mad at things that seem quite minor to most people, like waiting an extra 10 minutes for a table in a restaurant because again, it's a slight.
[00:43:34] It means that there is this hierarchy. It means they are less than in their mind. So then they feel like you are attacking them that you think that they are a horrible human being. She said their degree of fury and hurt will seem very disproportionate to the actual situation. For example, she said, Your new boyfriend wants to wear, wants you to wear a particularly sexy dress to the party where you will meet his friends. You forgot to get the dress from the cleaners plan to wear something else instead. Gets furious with you and start screaming and threatening you, I am not taking you to meet your friend, my friends, if you wear that she talks about extreme language and this is the part I think can be so hard because I see this in my office and this is again, I feel like this is the part that goes into that object constancy, that they can't maintain a relationship with someone when they feel slighted, when they feel less than. But then they go to these extreme sensitivity and then we'll just want to burn the village down behind them to put them in this elevated status. So she said, everything and everybody is either perfect, special the best or else they are the absolute worst. There's nothing in between and anyone that they are mad at automatically becomes the worst possible human being in the world, which then if you if they are mad at you at that moment, they are mad at you and you need to know how mad they are because they have to take that one up position.
[00:44:39] Because if they don't do that, then they feel like they they are not the special one. And if they're not the special one, then they may not exist. They may be abandoned and abandonment at their core equals death. She gave an example. She said Cheryl described her boyfriend, her last boyfriend, to her new boyfriend this way. He changed. I thought he was a good, decent person when I met him, but I was wrong. He was a disgusting, abusive, violent person. I should have had him arrested. She said that would be quite believable if it were not for the fact that Cheryl described her last three boyfriends and exactly the same way. So either Cheryl is the worst judge of character in the world, or she lacks whole object relations and switches from seeing the person as all good to all bad when she sees any flaws. And we're going to be doing a lot on this podcast in the not too distant future on co-parenting with narcissists or even just parenting in general, I posed a question in my group, my online group, private group for women in relationships with narcissistic men or people in their lives. And boy, the feedback has been pretty phenomenal about the co-parenting piece, and it really does feel like you often start.
[00:45:38] And as the marriage therapist, the best thing you can do. The best thing in the world you can do is if there is a divorce that you can still wish the best for your spouse. That's the mother or father of your children. And so you why would you not want to have a good relationship with them? But this object constancy, this when this thing hits, then does the personnel of a sudden have to view their ex as the worst human being? And I need to let everybody know, including the kids they need to understand because I am hurting. And that's one of those things where I feel like it. Just it doesn't. It's not helpful. It's not productive. It doesn't lead to the person ever feeling better about themselves, and it doesn't put the kids in a position where they thrive, because now they have this relationship where they are constantly feeling this stress in the home of the narcissistic parent and then they feel the exact opposite and the other. So now talk about the little kid. This is why kids that have been through trauma a lot when they're young, when they're older, you often hear refer to them as old souls y because they've had to interpret or navigate these complex situations young instead of this acceptance that this is where a relationship is. And we the relationship isn't going to work. So can we then pour into our kids the fact that they are OK, you know that we love each other.
[00:46:52] We just maybe weren't right for each other. And we want the we want mom and dad both want the other person to be happy. But the bottom line is you guys are awesome and we're going to make sure that and putting the other spouse down is the there is no part where that fits into the we want you guys to be awesome because that's going to make them feel less than the kids. Low empathy, they say, and do things to hurt other people without seeming to care about causing pain. Sometimes they're oblivious to other people's reactions because they're so focused on themselves. And if you point out that they said something that hurt you, they're likely either make light of it and it meaning that way you're too sensitive or they turn it around and attack you. Only somebody like you would think that was an insult. Or will you do this to me all the time? Now we're getting back into that, that gaslighting a couple more here. Cruel descriptions of people. Many narcissistic people use language. Other people will find cruel and inappropriate. They say things out loud that other people might think, but they keep themselves for fear of hurting someone. And this one, I have so many examples of these that just pop into my head. The one that Eleanor says is I can't believe somebody as fat as her is wearing that dress, or she thinks it makes her look good or that's the stupidest waiter I've ever had.
[00:47:55] You hear those things and people just go, Oh man, I can't believe they just said that. And but in that moment, hopefully, as you are seeing throughout this episode, that it becomes this Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, it becomes this lack of object constancy. It becomes this they must put themselves up and put somebody else down or else they are not special. They are not special. Then they fear this internal abandonment and abandonment equals death. Ok? This is my A.D.D. that just kicked in. I have been telling myself, I promise I will remember to talk about Betterhelp.com. I apologize. This is one hundred percent an ad, but there are costs involved with the podcast I keep thinking about. I've had a note here on my computer, but super quick if you are looking for counseling. If you are starting to hear things that even throughout this podcast, you realize, I need to get my sense of self. I need to discover who I am. I need to learn what healthy boundaries are. And you do not know a therapist in your area and therapists are hard to find right now because thank goodness the mental health stigma has been eroding over the years, and the worldwide pandemic has led to a lot of people now turning to needing help and even what I'm doing now with a lot.
[00:48:55] People is online therapy. Never thought I'd be doing that back in the day, but now it works. It really does. So if you go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch, you will get 10 percent off your first month's services with a real licensed therapist in your area, not even in your area, but licensed so typically licensed in your state. And the process is pretty easy online. The cool thing about doing something like online therapy, admittedly, is that if you don't have a vibe with your therapist, then you're not going to get very far. I was talking about this with my wife and my nephew, who is in grad school and starting to see clients. Just a fun story. But he was we were talking about just building that rapport and that there's some cool data that I've talked about on my virtual couch podcast where if you don't feel a connection with your therapist, then it doesn't matter what modality they use, you're not buying what they're selling. So you really need to feel that connection. Betterhelp.com If you don't feel a connection, really easy to just press a little button in your portal and say, next, it doesn't really say that, but it's that vibe. So Betterhelp.com virtual couch get 10 percent off your first month counseling, and let's get back to the show. So a couple of things left here. Cruel descriptions of people, she said. So we talked about that.
[00:50:01] Oh, that's what we talked about with the language that people use, but the inability to apologize or admit mistakes. Oh my goodness. Nurses construct a defensive facade in order to protect their shaky self-esteem, she says. They don't actually have stable enough self esteem to admit mistakes and apologize without feeling more shame than they can tolerate. That is so well, said Eleanor, as she put it that way. That and then the second part. So that's where they feel shame that awareness that they are so afraid of shame. And unfortunately, this isn't a thing where you can say, Hey, I learned today that you probably don't apologize because you are protecting your your ego from feeling shame, because shame is incredibly destructive. So I get it so you can say you're sorry. Even the person then hears that as criticism, and then they are protecting themselves from shame because you were telling them they were a horrible individual. So it is such a interesting problem or pattern, and this is why it is so hard, because what would somebody be doing in that scenario if they're violating my number five of the five rules of work with someone with narcissistic traits or tendencies? If you're doing that, you're trying to give them the AHA moment or the epiphany so that they will change. And you mean, well, I know you mean well, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way, and the person needs to come to this awareness that they need help.
[00:51:13] And a lot of times by you setting your boundaries, raising your emotional baseline, getting your PhD and gaslighting, getting out of unproductive conversations and realizing there isn't that thing you'll do or say that will cause that aha moment or the epiphany, then that is truly what will then put that distance and that distance. You will then be met with the phrases that we already know. Why are you pulling away from me? Why are you being so distant? You take everything too sensitive, all those things, and it's because you're starting to break the cycle or break the pattern. And then as you do that, I feel like you realize this is not a healthy relationship, not a viable relationship. And that is perhaps a time where they may then seek help. But even then, they may be going to help going to seek help for somebody to tell them how awesome they are and how bad you are for leaving. It is so difficult, and we're going to tackle this on a future episode, too. I feel like a couple of the main topics I get in questions are, again, the nurses change. How long do I wait? How long ago it last? And we'll start talking about that more in the coming weeks. So that inability to apologize for mistakes. So then she says that they also believe on a deep, sometimes unconscious level that if they admit that they are not as perfect as they pretend to be, the other person is going to take the admission as an opportunity to degrade them, humiliate them and I will add leave them.
[00:52:27] So instead of saying my bad and it can be that when you own up to your stuff, then the world continues to move on and it's not as scary as it feels. The problem is that if you are hearing this and you're the nice person, I'm sure that you are, you have been in a pattern of saying maybe it was my fault or my bad and hoping that then that will show them. See, I did it. But instead, oftentimes when you say my bad, I'll admit to that one. Then instead, they say, OK, what else? What else can you admit to? Now do you see how right I am and not a healthy relationship? And then she says, punch line. While narcissist are unique individuals, they usually have a number of things in common which boy? This podcast, I think, is bringing that out with the feedback I'm receiving because they share similar problems how to stabilize their shaky self esteem, how to get the admiration and validation that they crave, and how to deal with their extreme sensitivity to minor slights and criticisms. Excuse me, most of them use very similar coping strategies. She said. If you keep the above list in mind and the difference between normal and pathological narcissism, she says, you can become quite adept at recognizing the more commonly encountered narcissistic patterns.
[00:53:35] Amen. Eleanor Greenberg She's a gestalt therapy trainer who specializes in teaching the diagnosis and treatment of borderline narcissistic and schizoid adaptations. And you can find her at Eleanor Greenberg, but I think we'll wrap it up there. We're pushing an hour, and I think I initially wanted these to not be quite that long. But I hope you can see we had a lot to cover today, and I hope that you had some light bulbs go on. Some awareness and all that wonderful stuff. I would love to hear your questions if you are a woman who is in need of some additional support. Should we note, and I can put you, we can have you take a look at this private group for women in those relationships again, its relationships with the nurses in their life. We have people on there that it's their parent, it's their coworker, it's their kid, adult child, it's their spouse, it's their former spouse. It's there. There's a lot there, but boy people are starting to really speak the same language. So thank you so much for taking the time to listen. If you got a lot out of this episode, please feel free to forward it to somebody. If you or if you're a member in an online group yourself that deals with narcissism and it's not like I'm being so cheesy here, but it would literally be.
[00:54:38] It would be an honor if you posted about the podcast in those groups, because I'm not saying that from a I seek the admiration and validation of the world, but just reading the emails that come in every literally every day, people that finally feel heard or understood. And so that's the goal. I think I said this in earlier episodes, but there is no scarcity mindset by any, I hope any therapist that's working in this space because if you're working in the space, you know that people need to do a lot of research, they need to do their own digging. And it is such a process to wake up to their narcissism. And when people ask me, Well, how long is it, boy, I feel like I'm being dismissive when I say it takes as long as it takes. And what you're doing right now is what you need to be doing. And there is no what's wrong with me. Why didn't I get out faster? Why didn't I know sooner? Those aren't helpful thoughts. Bless your bless your heart for, you know, when we beat ourselves up, we have this belief that internally that someone will come and rescue us. But when we're beating ourselves up internally, it's ourselves that need to then come rescue us. And so that's what you're doing right now by finding out more information. So have an amazing week. Keep those questions coming, and I will see you next time on the Waking Up to the Narcissism podcast.
Each of us is a unique mixture of life experiences, and we bring all of those experiences into our conversations with others. In today's episode, Tony explores the role of context in conversations. Tony shares an example of how one word can dramatically change the meaning of an entire paragraph from the book "On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You Are Not," by Dr. Robert Burton https://www.amazon.com/Being-Certain-Believing-Right-Youre/dp/031254152X/ and he shares cultural differences from the article "15 Fascinating Cultural Difference Around the World," from https://www.cheftariq.com/lifestyle/cultural-differences-around-the-world/
Tony also uses his 4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation to show the importance of curiosity and context in conversations.
Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic right now to sign up for Tony's free marriage workshop held Wednesday, November 3rd at 6 PM PT!
#conversation #context #communication #compassion #therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro
-------------------------------- TRANSCRIPT ------------------------------------
[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety three of the virtual couch, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified my blabber coach, writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the path back in online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. Go to Pathbackrecovery.com if you want to learn more about that. There's some group calls that keep gaining steam and the program itself. We've got a nice group of people and people are just changing their lives. They're becoming the people that they always want to be. So that's pathbackrecovery.com and a huge thing. And I will go so big on this because I got this episode out on a Monday morning instead of the usual Tuesday morning. Because on Wednesday of this week, Wednesday, the I am stalling as I look at a calendar Wednesday, the third at six p.m. Pacific time. My my good friend Preston Pug Maya and I, Preston is the one who helped me create the magnetic marriage course. We are going to do a marriage magnetic marriage workshop again. That's at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time. So go to Tony over magnetic and you will find out more information on how you sign up to attend this free event. And it is a free marriage workshop and we are going to cover so many things about how to make your marriage more magnetic. And there's a little video on there on that that page that you'll get to that.
[00:01:24] I highly encourage you to just take a quick look at because the more that we talk about the magnetic marriage course, the more people that have gone through the course. I am telling you you don't have the tools by nature, and that is meant by no no disrespect. There's nothing wrong with you, but you really don't have the tools. We don't come from the factory with these tools of to be heard is to be healed and these four pillars of a connected conversation that we teach in the program. And there is just so much more. And so people typically have to get to a pretty bad spot before they go looking for tools on how to repair their marriage. And I am telling you, these are the tools that if you can embrace them now that I believe you can really help prevent a lot of the where people start to feel disconnected or they that wedge grows between them, go to Tony over magnetic and you can watch a little video and you can sign up to participate or to watch the marriage workshop, which is this Wednesday at six p.m. So I hope that I will see you there on the live stream that we're going to be doing, and I can't wait. So let's get to today's topic today. I'm talking about context, and I thought about so many different things I wanted to to share with regard to context.
[00:02:35] But I've been speaking a lot lately. I talked about this event in Utah that I spoke at. I came home from the event and then I did a couple of there called fire sides in my area. Then I did a lesson today for a couple of church congregations that got together, and all of these are on mental health. But there are so many common factors that are occurring of that lead people to not feel heard or to not feel seen or to not feel understood. And so these four pillars of a connected conversation that we teach in the marriage course, their gold, they really do. They can help in so many different situations. But I find that we just often don't understand the context of someone else's life or their experience, even if we share the same home with them. If we share the same bed with them, we still don't understand truly the context of where their brain is in any given moment and the situations that they have been through that lead them to express things the way that they express them. And so when we are not looking at a relationship out of curiosity, we are missing this incredible opportunity to really connect with our spouse. And I think a lot of times we don't understand the context that somebody is bringing in to any given moment. So I'll give you a really silly example. I'm doing this on video right now and I have a beard.
[00:03:47] It's the longest beard I think I've ever had. It is, I know, the longest period I've ever had in my entire life. And someone was asking me about why the beard and there are so many thoughts here that are going to sound silly but silly, because out of context, they just sound like some ridiculous reasons that somebody spouting off when in reality, I wanted to grow facial hair. But there are a lot of context clues that lead up to that. Let me take you through a few of them. Cue the violins, but I have never had a lot of hair. I went bald in 19 or 20. That's a rough go when you are 19 or 20 year old guy. I was trying to play baseball. I was in a fraternity, I was at Kansas State University and this was a long time ago. I'm almost fifty two and there wasn't a lot of information. I couldn't just go Google premature, balding or hair loss or that sort of thing. And of course, I would look at my family and there was not a lot of hair in my family on the men's side. So I should have had a little clue there. But I thought, you know, because I've been wearing too many baseball hats, is that the reason why? So fast forward, and in two thousand three, I finally shaved my head and that was a little earlier than people were shaving their head.
[00:04:50] So I got a lot of comments about that. A lot of people assumed that I was ill. I remember having a package going to a FedEx location around Christmas once and a lady looked at me and went, Oh. And she said you can go ahead, and I felt great. But I think that she thought, Oh, I must have lost my hair and chemotherapy or something like that, so fast forward, I moved through my life. I'm bald, and any time I even thought about having facial hair, I always thought, and this is just my take. But when someone is bald and they have facial hair, I always think, how do you, where do you know to cut off the line there by the sideburns? And here I never even tried that. So then three years ago, I finally succumbed to glasses. I can't hold things out long enough to see them my short. I need reading glasses. But then just being in the office and looking at my iPad and looking up at the client and then looking down at my iPad again, apparently I was doing some damage to my eye. So I have these office lenses, so we got some readers and then they help people that are a little bit further away become more clear. And so I finally have glasses and I think, Oh my gosh, that is the line of demarcation where you can grow your facial hair up too.
[00:05:53] So I start growing out the facial hair, then I realize I feel pretty good at the age of 50, when I turn 50 and my beard has some gray and white and red and brown and all kinds of all the colors like Skittles is what my beard is. And then I think, man, I never thought I would feel this good at 50. So there's a part of me that thinks I kind of enjoy looking a bit older. And so there's so many things in context. And yet I still will find myself in the presence of people who will say, Oh, I think someone that's not clean shaven, and then they fill in the blank about what their judgmental statement is. So context can mean so many different things. Not that someone needs to defend themselves of why they grow facial hair. That's a whole other conversation. But it's interesting just to one of the ways to really lead with curiosity is to want to know the context that somebody has grown up in or the context of why they're behaving the way that they are behaving. And in reading the book on being certain by Robert Burton, M.D., the subtitle of that is believing you were right, even when you're not. There's an exercise that he does in there that is talking about this, about the feeling of knowing, but it is an amazing exercise that has to do with context. And so I've shared this when I've spoken a couple of times.
[00:07:02] And so I wanted to fit this into a podcast. So quite frankly, this is a podcast built around this exercise. And then I have some really neat things that talk about fascinating cultural differences. And do you look at different cultural differences with curiosity or do you look at them with judgment? Do you say, Well, that's ridiculous. Those people shouldn't do that. They should do things the way that we do them or the way that I do them? Or do you look at that and say, Hey, I want to know more about that, because if you can do that with a different culture, why can't we do that with our spouse? Or why can't we do that with our kids? I went and played golf with my son yesterday. My wife is out of town. It was just my son and I, and we had some of the funnest conversations around some things that I won't even talk about on the podcast because it'll sound like I'm sure there would be people saying, Well, why would you even talk about that with them that might encourage him to do this or this? But it was. We talk nonstop through nine holes of golf and on the way up there and back because I just wanted to know more about his experience and in hearing him and not telling him, Wow, man, I can't believe you did that or can't believe you said that he's just so much more open to to talk.
[00:08:03] And then, quite frankly, this is where I feel like we have things backwards in so many different things that the more that he feels heard and the more that I can understand his experience, especially in the context of today's youth and friends and social media and high school and all of these different variables that, yeah, I had my experiences 30 something years ago. So now I want to know. I want to know what the context is that he's he's working with right now. There was some of you may have heard about this because we thought it was just a local event, but there was a message about a potential school violence last week, and it turned out to be more of a national, more of a national story. But it was really interesting just to hear him talk about what that's like these days growing up and how often you do hear in social media or people having videos or sending pictures or Snapchat or these sort of things of people that are threatening violence or that sort of thing. When I was in high school, we didn't hear about that at all. And so what is it like to grow up that becomes more of a regular thing? So just understanding the context of where someone's coming at and what their experience is can lead to so much curiosity and can just build a much better relationship.
[00:09:13] So here's let me take you through this exercise, and I really think that this is going to be you'll enjoy this. I can't lie. So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm going to read a. This is from the book on being certain, and I'm going to I'm going to read a little bit here that's going to lead up to the exercise. So, Dr. Burton says to begin our discussion on the feeling of knowing, he said, read the following excerpt at normal speed, don't skim or give up halfway through or skip to the explanation because this experience can't be duplicated once you know the explanation. So take a moment to ask yourself how you feel about this paragraph that I'm about to read. After reading the clarify, and then I will give you a clarifying word, and then I'm going to read the paragraph again. And as I do so, I want you to pay attention to the shifts in your mental state and your feeling about the paragraph. And I really feel like this is something that when. You hear this. I would love for you to share it with your kids or share it with your spouse, or because this can only be done one time, it can only be duplicated once. So let me read this paragraph and I'm going to read it straight through, and I just want you to just check in and see how you feel about this paragraph. Here goes newspaper is better than a magazine.
[00:10:16] A seashore is better than the street. At first, it's better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times, take some skill, but it's easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it and want successful complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast, and too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs a lot of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful and Iraq will serve as an anchor. And if things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance. So when you heard that paragraph and I just did this when I spoke at an event this morning, do is it comprehensible or is it meaningless? And thankfully, whenever I spoke about this, no one has known where I was going with this, and so it feels pretty meaningless and incomprehensible. And so Dr. Burton says, feel your mind sort through potential explanations. Now here's the fun part. He says, now watch what happens with the presentation of a single word. Some talk about context. Let me give you one word and see how things change. And then I'll go a little bit more about that. But the single word is quite. Kite, kite, so now as I reread this paragraph, feel the prior discomfort of something amiss is going to shift to this pleasant sense of rightness. Everything fits, every sentence works and has meaning every one of them.
[00:11:38] And let me do that then. So let me start here. So remember, the context is a kite. A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is better place than the street. At first, it's better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it's easy to learn even young children can enjoy it. One. Successful complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs a lot of room, and if there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. Iraq will serve as an anchor, and if things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance. So how did that discomfort shift once you had the context of what that paragraph was about? Dr. Burton says everything fits. Every sentence has meaning. When you heard that, he said, it is impossible to regain the sense of not understanding, he said in an instant without due conscious deliberation. The paragraph has been irreversibly infused with a feeling of knowing, and so I'm doing a little bit of a stretch here, but I feel like that same. We owe that same concept to the people in our lives, to the conversations in our lives. Do we understand the context in which they are providing? If I just start talking about things and if my wife hears them as nonsense, does she truly understand what the context is that I'm delivering information? And if not, then there comes curiosity, and curiosity is where a connection really occurs.
[00:13:02] And needless to say, this is where then I just move right in to my four pillars of a connected conversation. That first pillar truly being that to the assumption of good intentions that nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, here's how I'm going to hurt my spouse or my partner or my mom or my dad, or I'm not. And I certainly don't want to put myself out there, and my goal today is to feel dumb. That's not it either, or as president, I've been talking about. Even more so lately is if you have a hard time with that, assuming good intentions, then you can dig a little bit deeper and just really understand that there's a reason why somebody is expressing themselves the way they are. So picture and I know that this isn't going to happen exactly. But if someone is expressing to you what sounds somewhat meaningless information, then do you have the context? Do you have that keyword of tight? Are they talking about something? And they are talking about something because they grew up on the West Coast and they're talking about something to do with the beach, and you have never literally been to the beach. Are people talking about going to Disneyland? I didn't go to Disneyland until I was with my wife after we were married, and I never even realized a lot of the context of things that I was missing when people would make cultural jokes or references around Mickey Mouse or Disneyland or that sort of thing.
[00:14:11] It's a small world. After any of those things, I realized I didn't have the context. I didn't have that one key word kite that would make sense of a lot of the things that people were talking about. So where I want to go next to those four pillars of a connected conversation, if you really look at how that works, then when I'm talking about context is I want you to approach your relationships with this curiosity and it can be hard. I talked last week in an episode of my Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, which I think this concept is so deep when we are having conversations with people and we feel like we're being criticized. And the criticism can come in so many different ways. We may feel criticized when that person absolutely does not mean anything to be critical. So when somebody says, Hey, I don't think you should say that to our son, then it's hard for the person not to start to feel, get their feelings going and feel like, Oh man, I think that they're criticizing me instead of looking at that with curiosity. Looking at that in context, what's the context that my spouse is expressing of why they feel I shouldn't say something in particular to my son a real experience? And if you haven't heard that episode, I was talking about this quote.
[00:15:17] I had been talking with Gail and Condi on her talk show, and it had gone really well. I was talking about narcissistic traits or tendencies, and then I laid out that that quote that oftentimes people that have narcissistic traits or tendencies, which can be all of us. Because, man, I would love for you to go listen to that episode because I talk a lot about how moving from childhood, we all have these egotistical narcissistic traits or tendencies where we do feel like everything revolves around us, and we don't really have a lot of empathy for the plight of our caregivers because we're we're little kids and the world really does revolve around us. And so there's so much there to talk about. But when we move forward into adulthood, our hope is that we will grow from self-centered to self confident to go from that immature way to express ourselves and relate to other people to a more mature way. And that mature way is to listen with curiosity and empathy and to say, tell me more not to feel like we have to control every situation or put someone down or have our way be the only way that is an immature way to communicate. So these four pillars and thinking about the context of which someone else is expressing. Is it's just a way to connect and it's a way to connect, it is not our factory settings.
[00:16:29] We have to be intentional about staying in a conversation and being present and asking more questions and then not turning to this feeling of criticism so that then we shut down and then we do anything we can to defend our fragile ego. So pillar one, that assumption of good intentions, or there's a reason why somebody is saying or doing the things they're doing. I think that it just moves right in here. If somebody is again expressing themselves in a way that you don't think is meaningful, then go dig for that tight explanation. Go find the context which they're expressing themselves. Pillar two is you can't say you are wrong or I don't believe you, even if you think they may be wrong or you may not believe them because the goal is to keep the conversation going. The goal is to be heard, to be heard is to be healed. To be healed is to hear someone. So knowing the context of the way they're expressing themselves can be so key to understand what their experience was like growing up. One of the things I was speaking at recently was that it was to a large congregation of people that are very active in their faith. I didn't grow up with a lot of religion in my life, but would have adopted a lot of religious principles later in life. And so I oftentimes don't have that background of spiritual, scriptural knowledge, and I used to feel really bad about that.
[00:17:46] But now I understand that is just the context in which I grew up. That's my schema as a whole. Other psychological thing that's pretty fascinating or all of the things that I bring to that moment then make me the person that I am. Pillar three is the questions before comments, which I think is so important you can assume good intentions that someone's not trying to hurt you when they say a bunch of things that sound maybe meaningless. Even if you feel like they are wrong about what they're saying, you telling them they're wrong. We'll shut that conversation down. And Pillar three is then questions questions for comments. Instead of saying I get through both the first two pillars instead of violating Pillar three and saying, OK, I have no idea what you're talking about, let me just tell you what it sounds like you're talking about, but now go ahead and tell me what you're talking about, because that's going to shut the conversation down or pillar four is to not go into your bunker. It's to stay present and just stay in that conversation and say, I really do want to know. I'm maybe struggling to really understand the context, but I'm here and I care about you, and let's stay in this conversation until we both feel like we have some understanding or we both feel heard.
[00:18:47] So let me jump into some. There's some really fascinating found an article. It is. It's about different cultural differences. It's called fifteen fascinating cultural differences around the world, and this is from it's from Chef Tariq, who is a resource of Middle Eastern recipes. So I really do feel like I went digging around his website and there really are some phenomenal recipes. But I'm not much of a cook, but some of the things sound amazing. But he has 15 different cultural differences that I think really are, and I think you'll see where I'm going with this before I get to the 15. He has some general do's and don'ts, he said. Make sure you tip in the United States, but don't be insulting and do it in Japan. And before I became a therapist, I went to Japan for about a decade, three or four times a year, and that is absolutely true. At least in the time frame that I was going, you don't tip in Japan, and I used to feel I would say to my my friend Yoshida San, Well, yeah, but I'm an American, so why don't I tip? They'll think that's really cool, but not understanding the context that you do not tip that that is not something that is cool. They will not view that as, Oh my gosh, this guy is amazing. It's a man. You don't respect our culture, so not tipping. And here's another one that's very true. Slurp away while eating in Japan, but don't you dare in the United States without coming across as very rude.
[00:19:58] This is a very true story. The first time I ever went to Japan and I had this new suit I was wearing and we went to a ramen place, a noodle place. Again, the most true of all true stories, and I pick up my bowl of noodles to slurp them like I had been trained to do, and I literally dumped them right into my lap and they were so hot and it was this really cool new suit I had. And then I had to go to the bathroom and I had to take my pants off and I had to wash out the the pants. And then it was a I didn't even know at the time, but it was a family restroom. And so a woman walks in and I'm sitting there my underwear, trying to wash my pants out and so I can just speak from experience that that slurping away is encouraged. But make sure you hang onto your bowl. That would be what I would do. He also says Don't mix up Aussies and Kiwis in New Zealand. Do not blow your nose in public in Turkey or Japan. Another one in Japan. My my, my business partner Yoshida San, would cover his mouth when he would speak on the phone, cover his mouth when he would use a toothpick. And so when you think about that, it just looks like we are just these people that are just out there, bold and loud by just talking on our phone, picking their teeth and blowing our nose, apparently.
[00:21:01] He said, I wouldn't jump the queue or the line in the UK, and I know that one as well. Don't stand in a queue in the Middle East. Don't stare at people in Germany, he said. The best thing to do when traveling for international business or for fun is to read up on new countries that you're visiting and that is so true. So while we're here and we're talking about context, here's some just fun things that are, he says, cross-cultural understanding is paramount. If you want to get along with other people from other places, let people feed you in Ethiopia, he said. If you find yourself in Ethiopia dining with locals, you may be in for a surprise. If someone reaches for your mouth with some food, be sure to eat it. Otherwise, you might be seen as rude. This is because one way of showing affection in Ethiopia is to feed the people that you're eating with. So if they are reaching out with their hands, putting food into your mouth, feel honored. And how fun is that to know that there are these just such different things that are happening in other cultures? So if there isn't a need for context, I feel like this is so relevant. Make sure to get naked in Iceland, he said.
[00:21:59] Icelandic people are very relaxed about nudity, and in fact, women have the right to be topless in public if they want without fearing any kind of backlash. However, he said when it comes to swimming pools, Icelandic people are very uptight about hygiene and the naked body. So when going to the pool, you must take a clean bathing suit with you and not wear it under your clothes. Once in the changing room, you'll get completely naked and take a shower while being watched by the shower guard. And this is to be sure that you wash your intimate private areas along with other areas before being allowed to leave the shower area. Only then can you put your suit on and enter the pool to enjoy swimming, soaking and relaxing. So that's a lot of rules you would know, and this did remind me I used to go to the onsen the Japanese hot springs when I would travel. And I remember one time, Boy, you had to get right there and buck naked. And that wasn't something I was used to and just walking around. And I just remember at one point they had a hot the hot springs and a cold pool. And I did not know that going from open vascular place into a very cold pool that I all everything in my whole body, my capillaries, my arteries than just seized up. And so I remember sitting down into that pool and already being very aware of my nakedness and then feeling like I literally was having a heart attack and that I was going to die in this cold pool in Japan.
[00:23:14] But then it turns out that I was not supposed to go immediately from that hot to cold, and eventually then everything seemed to be OK when meeting people in Japan, he says. Tell them your age now. I did not run into this one, but he says it's very common and not considered rude to ask a person's age in Japan when you meet them for the first time. The Japanese language is rich and complex, and it's the language has different words depending on the age or status of the person you're talking to. And I do remember that you can say orgasm us is a good morning in Japan, and there's you throw a little more flavor into it if the person you're speaking to is older. Number four, he says, do all the talking with your mouth in Turkey. Hand gestures and signals are always better to use in your home country where you understand what they mean. And I realized that I speak with my hands a lot. I really do. But he said, for example, in Turkey, allowing your thumb to protrude between your first and second finger in a fist, which is I'm doing right now, is extremely rude. And he said, also don't make an OK gesture unless you mean to call someone, he says an A-hole and a very derogatory way.
[00:24:17] So giving someone the OK, not OK. In in Turkey number five, he says giving gifts in China can get you into trouble in certain. Gifts in China can cause great offense, such as giving cut flowers, which is only done at funerals, giving a clock as seen as bad luck since. The words giving a clock sound just like the words attending a funeral, a gift of shoes would be interpreted as giving a gift of evil again because the word for shoe and evil are very similar and nothing with the number four is that is associated with death. The word for sounds like the word death handkerchiefs are a symbol of saying goodbye forever, so those don't go over well, either. And he says, finally, don't give a sharp object as that insinuates you want to cut off the relationship. He says you should be safe with a gift of fruit or tea or even alcohol. Number six, don't touch anyone's head and Malaysia, especially babies, which is really hard to do because they're so cute and they smell good. But babies don't touch the head of an adult, either, you said, just better to hold back on that impulse. And also Malaysia, it's rude to to point where directions are normally given with an open hand. Cultural differences are not. It sounds like Chef Tariq is saying it's better not to make hand signals when in a foreign country. The number seven, he says, use both hands in South Korea using both hands when handing things to other people.
[00:25:26] Whether your business card or especially money number eight, keep your feet on the ground in the Middle East. Apparently, it's considered very rude to show people the soles of your feet or even point them in their direction and be very careful when you sit with your legs crossed. Just a few more here. Keep a knife and fork in your hands and chili. He said. It's very rude and chilly to eat anything with your hands. Even when eating french fries always have a knife and a fork at the ready. And 10 No. 10 don't make a toast with your wine in Georgia, not the state Georgia, but the country. Georgians make toast with wine, vodka or beer if they wish someone bad luck. Many cultural differences exist around the consumption of alcohol, so it's good to be well versed, and, he said. However, 10 to 15 toast a night in small glasses with other alcoholic beverages that must be downed is in one. It's completely normal. Number 11 This is fascinating because I'm a fan of showing up on time, if not a little bit early. But he says don't show up on time for dinner in Tanzania. So it is considered rude to turn up for dinner on time in Tanzania, where you are expected to be 15 minutes late at the very least. And when you do show up, do not give any hints that you smell the food as that is very rude.
[00:26:29] So imagine then just someone like myself showing up and on time a little bit early and then saying This stuff smells amazing, and all of a sudden you're drummed out of the country. Number 12 Never put a fork in your mouth. In Thailand, a fork in Thailand is used to shovel the food onto your spoon only and not for eating with. So that is the job of your spoon. This one's interesting. Pucker up your lips and Nicaragua number 13. Knowing about some cultural differences will keep you safer in Nicaragua. Pointing with fingers is not done. Instead, people use their lips for this job. They pucker their lips and gesture in a certain direction, usually to point out something happening nearby. Number 14 Go hang out in the cemetery in Denmark. When many people around the world want to hang out, relax and maybe have a picnic, they usually head for a park. But not so in Denmark, where they head to the cemetery for little rest and relaxation. The cemeteries there are very well manicured and host a lot of people, especially during nice weather, and this is a pun warning coming, chef Tarek says. A cultural difference or a custom that we can live with on account of the graveyard. And then 15, this one actually sounds kind of fun. Throw a tomato at someone in Spain. La Martina is a festival in Spain that is all about throwing tomatoes at each other.
[00:27:35] It all started in nineteen forty five when a parade careened out of control, overturning a fruit and vegetable stand, and people began throwing tomatoes at one another out of frustration. And after a couple of years, the authorities tried to ban the practice. But they said, if we can't ban this and so a festival was born. So throwing usually lasts an hour and there are some rules to adhere to. No tearing or throwing T-shirts. No hard objects or bottles squash the tomato a bit before throwing it so as not to hurt anyone and stop when you hear the signal. And once done, the fire department hoses down the main square, revealing a very clean ground due to the citric acid and the tomatoes. So something makes me wonder if that was a wise plan to actually clear or to clean an entire block or that sort of thing. So I hope you can see why I enjoy those. It's fun to learn different things about different cultures, but I've talked often about the idea. I mean, today we're talking about context and we're talking about, do you bring that same curiosity about that? You would, in a culture are saying, Oh, wow, I didn't know that into your own relationships or in your relationships. You say, Well, that's ridiculous. Or you might have even been saying these things are ridiculous here, as would some people in other countries think some of the traditions that we do are ridiculous as well.
[00:28:47] I'm literally recording this on Halloween. My family's out of town and handed out some candy, then ran over to record a quick podcast. And I remember talking with someone else in Japan who had talked about the Halloween holiday didn't make a lot of sense. And I've heard comedians joke about this often, and my wife and I have talked about this from time to time. But it is pretty fascinating that you tell people to your kids, don't go up to strangers, don't take candy from strangers. Except for this one day when they're dressed up in these really scary masks. So I can only imagine what that must be like to a country that doesn't have Halloween, where they must feel like it literally doesn't make sense. So we dress up. Some people are dressed up as Super Mario, but then others are these demonic things from. But then we're all getting along and we're all handing out candy and putting it in pillowcases. And then every now and again, you'll watch a horror movie like Halloween, where now someone with a mask is actually a bad guy. So it is really interesting when you take that in context and then really take a look at we have our own things that I'm sure are pretty crazy, that other countries would think that that's they don't understand why we do them. So the goal the challenge this week, I think, is to really start to just have that word curiosity in your mind.
[00:29:54] And with curiosity does come questions. It comes tell me more. And I feel like you are going to have to watch and see. Check in with yourself on. If you do feel certain things as criticism and oftentimes when we feel criticism, then our brain immediately goes to protection mode. We are so worried that when somebody is saying something that is not the way that we view or think about something that for some reason they're putting us down in our brain is this don't get killed device. Our brain is this I must protect myself device. And so oftentimes when somebody does ask a question about why you do something the way you do or they tell you that they don't necessarily agree with what you are, what you agree with, that our heart rate will start to elevate a little bit. We'll start to go into this fight flight or freeze mode. And so that's why it is so imperative and important to be able to recognize that you are two different individuals to have in a conversation, each with your own experiences, each with your own context around the things that you're talking about. Fascinating, fascinating data. If you look at even looking at twin studies where two twins can go throughout life, literally sharing DNA and going through life together, and they can watch something happen, so the same input. But then if you ask them to write what happened to completely different outputs, so if you're looking at that from a context of with twins, then how on earth are any of us having the exact same experience? We aren't.
[00:31:12] We may be in the same place, but at any given moment, our brain is just a amalgamation of just a potpourri of experiences that lead up to how we think, feel or behave in any given moment. And it's we're in this over half an hour. I'm going to wrap this thing up, but I just feel like any chance I can get to express to anyone that you are not broken. You are you, you are the only version of you. So I really want people to not think what's wrong with me, but reframe things when you think things instead of saying, What's wrong with me for thinking this, say, check out what I'm thinking because you're doing this whole game of life for the first time ever and every moment that you are in, the moment that I'm recording this, the moment that you're listening to this, it's the first time you've ever brought yourself to this situation right now. And so the things that I'm expressing, the things that you're thinking while you're hearing are not meant to be done with what's wrong with me or why am I doing this? It's more of a Hey, check out what I'm saying. Check out what I'm thinking. That's fascinating. And then look at that with yourself, with curiosity.
[00:32:16] Look at Wow, why am I thinking that when I was laying out some of these cultural differences, some of them, you may have laughed, others you might have thought, Oh, that's ridiculous. Others you might have said, Wow, that makes a lot of sense. So look at that with curiosity. Take that that. Take this episode and I'll have the show notes. I'll have the link to the article that I referred to, and not even just to listen to what those cultural differences is are. But then ask your spouse, your partner, your kids, you're whoever. What do you think? Do you think that's funny? Could you see yourself doing that? Look at things with curiosity, not with judgment, because we need to stop. We would change this whole narrative of feeling offended when someone expresses their opinion, and we need to feel safe enough that we can go to the people that we care about and express ourselves in a way that in any way, because that's we desire connection. We desire to know that somebody is there, that we matter, that somebody cares about us. And the way we do that is human interaction. But we are not going to keep putting ourselves in a position to interact with other human beings if we are constantly being met with a feeling of judgment or shame or that sort of thing. So take this next week. Be a little more curious. Think of the context.
[00:33:27] What is the word that one word kite? What are you missing from this person's experience that they're sharing? And find out and then just learn more. Tell me more about that and maybe hold back on wanting to let somebody know why you think what they're saying is wrong or that you disagree. And I promise you that you are going to start to feel more of a connection and you are going to feel your yourself feel a little bit. I think we've all had these experiences before where you have had a negative interaction with somebody, and that does not feel good to carry that around with you. It breaks my heart a lot of times, my son, I'm wrapping this up. I promise my son and I were driving by some an older guy that was in this truck and he just looked angry and we were about to miss an exit. So I did get in pretty quick and he was so angry and there was no part of me that woke up that day and thought, Man, I cannot wait till about one thirty in the afternoon. I'm going to drive down the freeway and I'm going to. I hope I can hit it right where I'm going to try to get wait to the very last minute and then cut over and get on this exit. And I promise you, it really was safe. But he was so mad and I told my son that breaks my heart to think of what that.
[00:34:30] Son must feel like and how often they must feel that way, walking around life feeling. Why do people do what they do? Why can't they just do it this way instead of looking at life with curiosity? So there's my goal. There is my hope. There's your assignment for the week and do not forget. Go to Tony over Bacon Magnetic and sign up to to find out more about this workshop, which is Wednesday, the 4th. Oh, now I just panicked. Is it Wednesday the 4th? It is Wednesday the third Wednesday, November 3rd 6:00 p.m. Pacific and find out more about that. Boy, if anyone's still listening, I completely botched doing the Betterhelp.com ad again this week. Betterhelp.com Virtual Couch If you are interested in the world of online therapy, sliding scales a very easy process to get on board and find a therapist that can help you with so many different things. So you deserve to to take a look at your mental health. Betterhelp.com All right. Have an amazing week. If you are, I think any of you who have been joining me over on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, the Apple had there were some list that I saw where the growth of it, it's up four thousand percent a week with the people subscribing and listening. And so I could not be more thankful for the people that are supporting that podcast as well. So I have an amazing week and I will see you next time on the virtual couch.
Tony Overbay LMFT shares an example of gaslighting that led to setting a healthy boundary. Tony then tackles the topic of boundaries. What are healthy boundaries, and why are they so difficult to enforce? Tony refers to Kier Brady LMFT's article "5 Type of Boundaries For Your Relationship," http://www.keirbradycounseling.com/relationship-boundaries/ as well as Dr. Robert Glover's information on boundaries from his book "No More Mr. Nice Guy."
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----------------------------- TRANSCRIPT ----------------------------------
[00:00:12] Hey, everybody, welcome to
[00:00:13] Waking up to narcissism episode eight. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mindful habit coach and a writer and a speaker and a husband and a father of four. And that is the you can tell I was doing that a little bit choppy. That's the way I start my virtual couch podcast. Just it's deeply rooted neural pathways that are going to that when I'm in front of this microphone. But welcome aboard. If you're new, I'm so grateful you're here. This podcast is just continuing to grow at an astronomical rate, and I'm not saying that to say How cool am I or is that? But it just shows the need. And so I see you, I hear you. I'm getting the emails on a daily basis, and I just want you to know I'm reading them all. It's it's hard to get back to people, but I am reading them and I have a sincere desire to just respond to everybody because people are sharing so many amazing things of feeling hurt or feeling understood for the first time. And there are so many questions coming in that working with some of the folks behind the scenes to see what the best way is to try to maybe put a second episode out and hopefully be a bonus episode, a Patreon episode or something to do some more of the questions and answers. Get more guests on because I don't know if I shared this early on, but I've started a nonprofit and that's attached to this women's group for that that I am a part of, or that I started this private women's group for women who have been through or in currently in relationships or even have narcissistic family members, bosses, that sort of thing and are just trying to learn how to maneuver and raise their emotional baseline, stay more present and the connection that these women have have. They've grown close, they share experiences and continually, and this is done in such a loving way. Let me know as a therapist, as someone that can help with the knowledge I have that nothing is the
[00:01:57] Substitute for
[00:01:58] People that are talking about this, that have gone through the experience themselves. So the nonprofit set aside there, when I say maybe a patron,
[00:02:05] I want you to know it's not so that I can almost 50 to. It's not so I can start my midlife crisis and get some gold chains and hair plugs in a sports car.
[00:02:13] But it would be more to hopefully help with this nonprofit, and the goal of the nonprofit is to possibly help people that need the legal fees that need relocation, costs that just need mental health support. And so I have rambled on far enough. Let's get to the episode today. I have a gaslighting example that is just it's incredible, and I think it touches on so many different things. And I want to talk today a little bit about boundaries because one of the things in the five things that I talk about to be able to maneuver, interact or start to gain some traction in your relationship, whoever the narcissist
[00:02:46] Or narcissistic
[00:02:47] Tendency person is in your life. And you know, I talk about five things. Number one is raise your emotional baseline, which is self-care. Self-care is absolutely not selfish, and putting your needs first is something that is really difficult for people who are the pathologically kind who often find themselves in the relationship with the pathological narcissist or the person
[00:03:06] Who is going
[00:03:07] To continually take advantage of someone. And so raising that emotional baseline is so important. Second, I say, get your PhD in gaslighting because I'm still I don't want to say amazed or because this is the work that I do. But people that haven't heard of the term gaslighting, you don't really know what gaslighting is about, which just is all the more reason why it's so important to to spread the podcast out or other podcasts that talk about things like gaslighting. Because when your words are turned against you and you walk away from a conversation feeling even worse, that is not a healthy relationship. Because if you get into my own narcissistic traits or tendencies here, but if you've listened to some of the virtual couch podcast episodes I do about my my marriage, my marriage course, my four pillars of a connected conversation that we really should be able to talk with our spouses or partners or colleagues or our kids about anything. Because you are your own autonomous individual, you're the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the Earth. So your opinions and your thoughts and your emotions, everything, they are valid. So when you are expressing those to someone and they are being turned around on you, that is not a healthy relationship. And whether, again, whether it's with a spouse or a sibling or a parent or a
[00:04:20] Church leader or a
[00:04:22] Boss or any of those things. So that second one is get your PhD and gaslighting. Then I talk about getting out of unproductive conversations. You're removing yourself from those situations. The fourth one is setting boundaries. And so we're going to talk today about boundaries because there's a lot of confusion on what a boundary is and what it even looks like to hold the boundary. And then the fifth thing I talk about is recognizing there isn't anything you're going to say or do that's going to cause that aha moment or that epiphany where the person that has been emotionally manipulative or
[00:04:48] Abusive or that they are
[00:04:49] Going to all of a sudden say, Oh my gosh, I did not understand what I was doing. I will never do it again. Because even if they say that, then often it's to get themselves out of that situation. Help you to feel better. And then until
[00:05:00] The pattern repeats itself at some point and I call that a
[00:05:02] Shelf life, let's get to the episode we are in the episode. Let's get to the example on gaslighting, because again, this one is I'm going to read it. I asked the person for permission. And I am changing some of the details, because because that's what we want to do to protect the confidentiality of the person, but it's so good. The person said nice things about the podcast and they said that they're the episodes of narcissism. A few years ago on Virtual Couch was what really did wake them up to their narcissism and their spouse and help them realize that they were not the problem that he was the one with the dysfunctional thinking. She said that at
[00:05:32] That time, the
[00:05:33] Virtual couch, they helped give her language to be able to describe something that for so long, she wasn't able to pinpoint. She gained also some knowledge from Christine Hammond, who I had on my podcast. She has a phenomenal podcast about understanding today's narcissist. And she said it truly was a hinge point in her marriage, not because it fixed the issue. And again, that's why I love about this. This email is so real. She said it didn't, but it allowed me to learn how not to engage in a way that would feed his narcissistic supply. She said she met with a therapist who also helped her implement some boundaries and learn to walk away during unproductive arguments and to avoid the trap of getting lured in. This is an ongoing practice that she's still not perfect at, and again, this is an ongoing practice, and we're going to talk more about that, especially when setting boundaries. We want to think that we set a boundary and then there we go where it's done, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. So it's an ongoing practice of doing this. She said she still finds herself taking the bait in an effort to defend her position on something, and before she knows it, she's on the roller coaster ride. But it always ends with her feeling frustrated and completely drained of energy by the time the conversation is over.
[00:06:32] She said My energy continues to be expended during the hours after the argument, when I ruminate and replay the conversation on loop in my brain and I stew over all of his attempts at gaslighting manipulation, she said. When will I learn just not to engage and to walk away, which she's on her way? The awareness is one of the biggest factors and again, ongoing practice. And I feel like what happens is, and this is part of us being human is that we do let our guard down the things that have worked for us and give us some hope. We then feel a sense of relief. And so sometimes we do let our foot off the gas. So we kind of our brains go right back to the path of least resistance. And so we fall back into some of the similar patterns and behaviors. And I want to talk about this too. I like to again, if you're new to the podcast that I really do enjoy humor, I am joking at times when I when I say I was about to say, I'm an expert in this field, I know what I'm talking about. I've got this podcast. I've been doing this forever. I've testified in court cases and yet then I can find myself in some of the narcissist in my own life of getting all of a sudden caught up.
[00:07:29] And then all of a sudden I am defending myself and I've got that psychological reactants, that instant negative reaction of being told what to do, even to the point where someone might say something that I somewhat agree with. But then I find myself just saying, I don't agree with that at all. As a matter of fact, I've never agreed with that in my entire life, and I'm sitting there thinking, OK, I'm almost a fifty two year old guy who's a theoretical expert in this field, and I just got lured in. I just got caught. And so it's just a process. And when you recognize that you have been caught up in that narcissistic hamster wheel just when you can, when you bring awareness to it, just gently step off. Don't beat yourself up. Don't tell yourself you don't do that. What's wrong with me? Story? Just I notice I'm noticing, and I need to remove myself from the situation and just regroup. Review the game film. See, maybe what we're what led to falling back into the pattern with the narcissist? Oftentimes, I use this acronym. It's called Halt Hungry, angry, lonely, tired. And oftentimes that acronym can describe a lot of what leads up to when we go back and we engage in something that we know isn't healthy for us. On my
[00:08:30] I've got a pornography recovery program called the Path
[00:08:32] Back and on there, I talk so often about the difference between compulsion and impulse. Compulsion is something that's premeditated, and somebody is fixated on getting their next fix, whether it's something like pornography or food or gaming or gambling or shopping or anything like that, that you can do some really good work and then address the compulsive nature. So we could even fit it into this situation of you can address this constant need or desire to prove yourself to the narcissist fix the narcissist buffer for the narcissist, explain to the narcissist. And so you can have that compulsive piece down where now you are more present in your day to day, but then you can hit with an impulse because you're human because you maybe are hungry or angry or lonely or tired. And so that will oftentimes lead to impulsive reactions, impulsive behaviors. I give an example. Oftentimes when I'm talking about compulsion versus impulse of I can really be working on trying to not eat junk food. As matter of fact, the timing of this is perfect. I'm recording this on Thursday, October 28th, and I think last year I gave an example of Reese's Pumpkins the the mixture of chocolate. The peanut butter is amazing. It really is. It's just the right amount if you get that thing just slightly chilled to. Holy cow, that's OK. I need to bring myself back to center. But last year I told myself I am going to try and not devour an insane amount of Reese's pumpkins leading up to the holidays.
[00:09:49] And even right now, I haven't done any. I forgot about them and now I'm going to be thinking about them. But it compulsively. I have been very aware this time last year that I was not going to continually think of. I need to get Reese's Pumpkins. Those would be nice to have. I'll put some in the refrigerator, I'll have some of my office. And so I had that dialed in and we were heading to my son's best. Well, tournament, he was playing a tournament, it was a Saturday. I had a really good workout that morning, but I had also seen a bunch of clients leading up to that week. I probably didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked, so I wake up on a Saturday. I get up early. I work out hard because I want to have my workout done before we go and watch my son play basketball. And I didn't. I didn't probably eat a good, healthy breakfast because I just didn't do it. So then I what am? I'm hungry, I'm tired. And so I walk into like a 7-Eleven and I'm going to get him some Gatorade and they're there on the counter. Reese's Pumpkins, what do I do? I impulsively grabbed two of them and I walk out with them, and then I brought them to my office
[00:10:47] At that time, and I think I ate one as soon as
[00:10:50] I could fit it into my mouth. I put the other one in my fridge at work, and then a couple of days later, I did the same thing within seconds. Now do I beat myself up about it? No, that that was. I fell into an impulse because of one of these triggers hungry, angry, lonely, tired. So if you find yourself falling to an impulse and then engaging with the narcissist in your life, then give yourself some grace. It's a process. It is an ongoing practice, as this is, this person said. So that is a really long lead up to say to the next part, she said. This leads me to my gaslighting example. A couple of years ago, when my therapist taught me the walk away strategy, I began to implement it during arguments where my husband was yelling or cussing or belittling me when I would tell him, Hey, that's not OK with me. We'll revisit this conversation when you can be calm and she would walk away. He started blocking exits with his body, and I have heard of this often. So often, she said. This happened several times. He would stand in front of the doorway, and when I would try to leave, he would say no and blockade the exit. She said she would try to squeeze through, but she's one hundred and twenty pounds and he's well over two hundred. So there wasn't really a way that he could.
[00:11:52] He would tell her that the conversation was not over and he would attempt to pull her back in. And she said she just learned to turn her back to him remain silent, no matter what. And he would continue to say things to try to get her to engage. He would tell me, Quit acting like a child or you're so immature. Why are you giving me the silent treatment? And eventually he would give up and leave enraged and oftentimes punching a hole in the wall or walking out and slamming the door. And she said he's had to replace doors because he slammed them so hard. I've talked with so many people that have holes in their walls where people have punched through in this narcissistic rage or anger. She said. Eventually, she got tired of him blocking her in and refused to engage in that argument. One day he was standing in front of the door with his arm across it so she couldn't leave, and she told him that if he didn't let her go, she would call the police because she was being held against her will. And he called her bluff and said, Go ahead, and he's in the medical field. So if he happened to lose his license to practice medicine, he said, that's all on you. And she said, Oh my gosh, you know,
[00:12:48] That's he's he's
[00:12:49] In this medical profession. She's a stay at home mom without a college degree. She can't support her family. So in her mind, she thought, Doug, Honey, he's right. She can't risk him losing his license because they have kids to feed. They have a family to support. And he'd also convinced her that it was her fault for not being willing to finish the conversation. But she backed down. She said she didn't call the police, and by doing that, he was able to continue to gaslight and manipulate her once again. So she said, fast forward a couple of years, she found herself in a similar situation and this was pretty recent, and he was not letting her leave during an argument. And this time she managed to make it past him. She quickly grabbed her keys, ran to the car which was parked in the garage, and she hit the button to open the garage door, ran to the car, turned on the engine. As soon as she threw it in reverse, there was her husband standing there. I can almost picture this like a scary movie where there he is right behind, she said. He'd already hit the button and the garage door was beginning to close before she could back out. So then he ran over and he pulled the little rope on the garage door to keep it from opening. She said she was trapped and she had no way to leave her car.
[00:13:47] He walked next to the door and tried to get in, but she had locked the doors, and she said she told him to hurry and open the garage door because the car was running, and she was worried that they might even be in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning or, you know, enclosed garage with the engine running, and that she hoped that would help them come to a senses and open the garage door and allow her to leave. But at that point, and she was so true in the way she put this, she said. At that point, it was a battle of control and he was not about to back down because to the narcissist, it is all about control. He told her, Oh yeah, that's pretty stupid. You might want to turn your engine off. But she said the message was clear that he wasn't going to let her leave, so she did turn her car off and she decided to use what little control that she did have. She said I told him he had three seconds to open the garage door or she was going to call the police. And he said, go ahead thinking that there was no way I would follow through with my threat like I have not done in times past. But she said this time she knew better. She said she knew that whatever the result was from the police being called was not on her, that it was on him due to his actions.
[00:14:50] She proceeded to count to three and then she dialed nine one one, and as soon as the dispatcher, she had him on the phone. Then he opened the garage door and let her leave, and he called her crazy. He told her he was being ridiculous, that she was being ridiculous because he didn't even touch her. And so then she told the dispatcher what had happened and that she no longer needed the police to come. But she was told they still needed to come and assess to make sure that she was safe. When the police came, they spoke to her and her husband separately, and they told her that when he blocks her exit and doesn't allow her to leave, it's considered a form of abuse and that he could go to jail for that. And she told the officer that she wasn't interested in pressing charges, but asked him to please tell her husband what they told her and that that it was considered abuse. So the next day, her husband and her had a conversation about it. And of course, there was little to no acknowledgment on his part of anything, any wrongdoing, and she had told him that the officer had told her that was abusive. And he said, Oh, that's absolutely not what the officer told me. In fact, they said nothing like that, which, oh man, I see that one in my sessions, often where people will use me against the couple.
[00:15:51] And there's a quick remedy to that. But I know that this isn't necessarily something that she could have enacted. I don't know. Maybe she could have. But I will have. Let's say the wife will text me and say, Hey, when you met one on one with my husband, he said that you were pretty clear that I am the problem. And man, that is the air that the narcissist breeze is to then triangulate, put to put that person, put the spouse in the hot seat and say, No, everybody thinks that you're the crazy one. Everybody's telling me this, and oh my gosh, they hand me a gift at that point because when I say, All right, hey, let me group text you and your husband and just make sure we're on the same page, because I absolutely would not say that and did not say that. And you do that one time and then and then that does help or correct the behavior and which I think and I actually learned this from Christine Hammond, where that's in my fifth rule of working or trying to work with a narcissist. You're not trying to give them that aha moment where they go, Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. I can't believe I did that. But unfortunately, at some point that is setting a boundary because in that trains the narcissist to say, OK, when you do this, when you try and triangulate against me, then I will reach out to the person that you are pinning against me.
[00:16:54] And that takes some guts. But I start seeing that often when I get a new client. And let's say again, it's let's say it's the wife and the husband is the narcissist. I've had so many of these where the husband will then say in the room, even because he's trying to convince me I was talking to your to your cousin and your cousin was even wondering why you're not on medication or why you're not nicer. And you can just watch the air go out of the wind out of the sails of the woman in that situation who says, Whoa, my really. My cousin thinks that too. I thought I had a great relationship with my cousin, but in reality then I love when somebody can say, I had no idea. Let me reach out and ask my cousin more, because the Narcissus is going to say, Well, no, no, I don't want you to do that. I don't mean to involve them. That's on you. But no, that's the gaslighting. So at that point, let's text the cousin and the husband, and I don't care even the therapist and say, Hey, I understand that you think that I should be on antidepressants or that you think that? I mean, I would love to talk about that.
[00:17:46] And what do you think happens? The cousin says, I have no idea what you're talking about. She said what? I appreciated this and she said I was so proud of myself that day for sending the message to my husband that he can't continue to manipulate, control and gaslight me. And since that time, he has not tried to keep me from leaving when we get into an argument. And she said, I'm slowly learning I won't be able to reason with them. So why bother getting into the argument in the first place? Bless her heart. Holy cow. That is it right there? Is it fair? No, absolutely not fair. But is it productive? Yes. As you are waking up to the narcissist in your life, this is a great example of the slow process. But then the empowering feeling that that process can it isn't always satisfying because you aren't. You aren't going to feel heard or be able to resolve that in a mature way like you deserve. But once you can accept that fact, then no longer are you trying to seek out that mature connection or conversation if it is not possible. And that's where you do get to work on yourself, raise your emotional baseline, become the person that you want to be. And boy, we're going to talk about that. I've got another group call
[00:18:48] Coming up tonight, and
[00:18:50] We're going to talk about that there, where it is one of the one of the hardest things to see are the women or men or in relationships with narcissistic women when they do break free that they often have realize that they have just been whoever they have needed to be to appease him, to buffer between him and the kids. And so trying to find that identity is a real difficulty. So I'm not going to give more on that because I've got somebody that is just has such a wonderful way to put that. But that's going to lead us to talk about boundaries. Let's move into that part of today's episode. So one of the
[00:19:20] Articles that I found that I really enjoyed that goes over different types of boundaries is by marriage and family therapist out of Georgia, and her name is Kim Brady. So I have not reached out to cure, so I hope that she is OK with me sharing her. This article she wrote about five types of boundaries
[00:19:38] For your relationship,
[00:19:39] And I'll have a link to it in the show. But she
[00:19:41] She laid out very well
[00:19:43] The five different types of boundaries. One is physical boundaries, and she says those refer to your body privacy, your personal space. She gives the example of someone might they might enjoy public displays of affection, or they might be uncomfortable with it. If your partner kisses you in public and you're uncomfortable with it, that you need to let them know and you can see right here where things start to get interesting. If you have someone in your life who doesn't respect a boundary or tells you, OK, you're you're crazy, or will I like to be? Physical in public, and so you need to be OK with it, then you can see where people start to back the line up on their boundaries, and the more they do that, the more the person, especially someone with narcissistic tendencies, traits or a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder is going to continue to push those boundaries again. I think I said in an earlier episode that the boundary at some point to the narcissist or person with narcissistic tendencies is becomes somewhat of a challenge. So she says sharing your preferences and expectations might feel difficult, but not sharing them. Excuse me, can make you feel disrespected, and it might be easy to establish a boundary around your partner not slapping you, for example. Perhaps the boundary in consequence is quick to define in this case, if you slap me, I will leave. However, in other areas, it can be tricky, and she talks about how sharing your personal boundaries can improve your relationship, know what you are and what you are not comfortable with, and share this with your partner. And the key here is that in a healthy relationship, that one should be able to and I always say in the virtual couch, no one likes to be should on. You should do this,
[00:21:11] You should do that.
[00:21:12] But here's the healthy version of that that you should. You should be able to share your, your truths, your hopes, your dreams, your boundaries and have your partner view that with curiosity. Not well. You need to understand that I have my needs to that kind of that kind of a vibe. The second one she talks about is emotional boundaries. And she says in order to establish emotional boundaries, you need to be in touch with your feelings. And again, you can see where the difficulty can lie. When someone who is in a relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies and again, I'll stop laying out that whole, I think you know where I'm going with that. When I just say narcissist, someone that is on that entire spectrum of narcissistic traits and tendencies to full blown narcissistic personality disorder. She says healthy emotional boundaries require you to know where you end and where your partner begins. And if that phrase sounds familiar, that's I love talking about the concept of differentiation. That's our ultimate goal is to be differentiated. Differentiation is a healthy relationship with one with a partner and yourself. Differentiation is where one person ends and the other begins. And so instead of being enmeshed and codependent in a relationship, you want to get to interdependent and differentiated.
[00:22:19] Differentiated is how it's too autonomous individuals that can maintain a relationship without trying to break down the other person's view of the world or reality. And, quite frankly, not having to defend your own in a healthy way. You get to differentiation, and there is a lot of curiosity involved with differentiation, but I often say that when a couple gets different becomes differentiated. At first, there's going to be the strong desire to go right back to codependency or right back to enmeshment. So if somebody starts to say, Hey, here's my opinion that I have this different opinion. That's the person starting to grow. If that's you. If you've been in this relationship where you felt like you weren't allowed to have a different opinion, then you are not differentiated. So the more that you are standing up for yourself, not acquiescing, saying, Hey, no, actually, I like this, or actually, I would prefer you not do this. And we talked to one of the earlier episodes that that is where the narcissist will often say, Oh, well, you, you're being pretty mean right now are rude. Or Boy, look at your anger or you don't let things go.
[00:23:16] All those kind of things
[00:23:17] That a lot of that, that is when someone starts to differentiate. And again, differentiation is healthy. Differentiation starts to happen when people aren't afraid of the tension in a relationship. We're often so afraid that things will be contentious or that they will go to contentious, that we avoid tension altogether. She's saying if your partner is upset and you notice yourself sharing, this feeling boundary might be needed. Notice that when you feel guilty or ashamed or upset and undervalued, she said, boundaries might be needed when you notice these feelings coming up around certain issues or situations here says If you are upset and your partner tries to fix it, you could feel as if your partner isn't hearing you. Your partner might be trying to help you, but it just leaves you feeling more upset. And she said this is a place where a boundary might be helpful. You could say when I'm upset, I would like you to listen to me without trying. Or sometimes I just need to vent. Excuse me when you try to fix things, I don't feel heard. If I want your advice, I'll let you know. And you can see where that sounds like I'm being rude. If I want your advice, I'll let you know. But it's not said with that intention. It's the I just want to be heard and I love when my wife can say to me, I just need to. I just need to vent. And man, now I'm starting to creep over into so many of the virtual couch episodes. I do healthy relationships, my whole marriage course, my magnetic marriage course is about learning how to communicate more effectively, and I have these four pillars of a connected conversation that in a healthy relationship, these four pillars are gold.
[00:24:37] They are that to assume the good intentions that no one wakes up in the morning and thinks, How can I hurt my spouse? Or a deeper level of ad is that there's a reason why someone presents the way they do. The second pillar is that you can't put off the vibe or the energy that you that your partner is wrong or you don't believe them, even if you're pretty confident that they're wrong or you don't believe them. My third pillar is you ask questions before making comments in the fourth pillar. As you stay present, you don't retreat into your bunker or go into victim mode. A quick example of this is, let's say that you and we'll say. The woman in the relationship finally says in this vein of starting to be differentiated or wanting to set their boundaries says, I feel like you don't, you don't appreciate me, I feel like you don't even know me. And if the husband, then in that scenario, you know, responds with, Well, you don't even know who I am or I can't believe you even say that. Do you even have any idea who I am? And do you know all the things I do for you to know the things I buy for you? Do you know the do you know how good you have it? Then that is breaking multiple pillars.
[00:25:41] So what I mean by
[00:25:42] That is if I'm working with that couple in my office and if the wife excuse me, says, I don't think you even know me, I feel like you're, you're not there for me, then I do everything I can to stick to this for pillared framework. So the husband in that scenario has to assume good intentions that she did not wake up one day and say, I know what I'm going to do and I'll wait till about five 30. He walks in and I'm going to spring the old. I don't think you know me lying so that I can hurt him. No no one wakes up and thinks, How can I hurt someone in a healthy relationship so that pillar one, I have him listening and assuming those good intentions. The second pillar is then in that scenario, he cannot say, I don't believe you or you are wrong, because if so, then that's going to shut the conversation down immediately. The third pillar has questions before comments, and that scenario would have him then say, Tell me more. Help me find my blind spots. And none of that involves, let me fix it and or let me judge what you're saying.
[00:26:35] And then the fourth pillar that people spend, I do get a little gender stereotyped here that guys are pretty bad at four. I mean, we all find ourselves falling into patterns of violating one of these pillars if you really look at when conversations go south. But that fourth pillar is not to retreat into one's bunker or go into victim mode and victim. I'm not a big fan of that word, but I think you know where I'm going with that. But if somebody let's say that he says, OK, he's going to assume good intentions. She's not trying to hurt him. She can't say or he can't say, you're wrong. That's ridiculous. I don't believe you because that will shut the conversation down. He asked questions before making comments. So tell me more. Help me see my blind spots instead of just saying, OK, let me just tell you what's going on in my life. You don't think it's you don't think I'm stressed with trying to provide financially or
[00:27:18] Those sort of things, or
[00:27:20] If he makes it through all three of those pillars in a positive way. Breaking that fourth pillar could be saying, OK, I guess my opinion doesn't matter, and I'm just a paycheck because that he's wanting the wife then to say, No, I shouldn't have said anything. You're right. I'm sure I'm just overthinking things or that sort of thing. So then when she feels heard, not fixed or judged, but heard in a healthy relationship when someone is given that tool, my four pillars of a connected conversation, then he gets to say, OK, maybe in that third pillar when he asks questions, he she says, When you come home, you just you just don't say much. You just give me a little bit of a nod and you head right into right into the family room. And so then once he says, Man, I appreciate you sharing that I when I walk in, I felt like you were stressed with the kids, and I felt like I was just going to add to that stress. So I just retreat to another room and then try to come back when I think you must be ready. So in a healthy relationship. And that's one where that is, not just him being him gaslighting you, then that's one word now. Once you feel heard and then you become the listener, he becomes the speaker, then you will assume those good intentions as well, that he wasn't trying to hurt you with that behavior.
[00:28:28] And when he says that he really felt the stress in the home and he thought that he would just add to that, so he went to another room, then it's OK. I can. I appreciate that. I can understand that if that's where you are coming from. And again, I can't tell you you're wrong or I don't believe you. And then that would make a little more sense. And then so when the couple feels heard and understood the goal of my four pillars, it's a whole paradigm shift is not to resolve, but it's to be heard because again, in a healthy relationship, the more you can communicate in that way in that fashion, the more you can get toward differentiation and realize you're both having two different experiences and we just don't have the tools to communicate. But the difficult part about my four pillars is when, when that isn't an unhealthy relationship, it just becomes another tool to be weaponized. That was in two emotional boundaries. Three. She talks about sexual boundaries. These are important sexual boundaries. Refer to your expectations around physical intimacy. What is and isn't OK with your sexuality boundaries around frequency, sexual comments, unwanted sexual touch expectations around others, involvement in your sex life and what sexual acts are performed and are off limits should be discussed. Healthy sexual boundaries include mutual agreement, mutual consent and understanding of each other's sexual limits and desires. And I appreciate that.
[00:29:38] Kerr says that if you were sexually abused in the past and you were triggered during certain positions, the sexual boundaries needed and you might want to avoid sexual contact with your partner if you're reminded of a traumatizing experience. And this is where again, I say that in healthy relationships, one has these conversations and it doesn't go to all or nothing. It doesn't. My pillar for it doesn't mean that if the wife in the scenario says that when we have sex this way or the frequency or when I just feel like you just want, I'm just object. If I'm objectified, then my four pillars can. Lead to oh my gosh, I didn't know you felt that way. Tell me more Instead of, OK, what am I supposed to do? I have needs as well, no for intellectual boundaries. And this is why I liked this article that she wrote. We don't often talk about intellectual boundaries and electoral boundaries encompass ideas and beliefs. Boundaries around showing respect for different views and ideas can keep your feelings from being hurt. Talking down to someone or treating them as though they're not smart enough to understand what you're trying to say can damage your emotional intimacy. And if you feel as though you can't discuss certain topics with your partner because you believe they don't respect your opinion or put you down a boundary is needed because, she says. When you're afraid to share your views or opinions, because your partner's responses, you're going to leave feeling hurt or upset.
[00:30:45] If your partner calls you names when you have a different opinion or a political view, you could feel as though they don't value your thoughts or beliefs. And man, it's so wild to see such a vast difference of this in my office, and I know the people that are in these relationships with narcissistic people often feel like, no, this is normal. And that's where I just say my heart goes out to you because I have the pleasure, the fortune, the benefit of talk about with couples. I've worked with well over a thousand couples doing these four pillars of a connected conversation, and I often say for a good seventy five percent of the ones in my office, they get this new tool of a way to communicate. And then it was just they didn't know what they didn't know. And but with people with these narcissistic traits and tendencies, they get this new tool and then it just becomes another another tool in their arsenal to manipulate or to gain control. And that's where I then oftentimes will work hard to help the person that is that is being manipulated, gaslit or emotionally abused or intellectually abused to or financially abused or spiritually abused or sexually abused to to understand that OK by becoming differentiated and setting boundaries, it's OK that that's that's a healthy version of a relationship and with the intellectual boundaries.
[00:31:54] And this one just hit me. I do a tremendous amount of work with people with strong faith communities, and I do a lot with navigating faith journeys and faith crises. And because that is a big part where people start to have two completely different opinions and that's OK, even if they grow up with the same belief system. And and there's a whole bunch of work I do around this concept of Fowler stages of faith, I speak literally a worldwide to that. And so being able to approach even a faith journey with curiosity with a couple is a chance to grow where in controlling relationships, it's where one person starts to put the other person down because they're starting to have different opinions or beliefs. She also covers financial boundaries, and those are said they're all about money. And some of the narcissist money is such a fascinating thing because when they have not been modeled or tapped into emotions throughout their lives, I'm saying they don't know what they don't know. The financial thing is so big that finances become the only way to express, in their opinion, express love, maintain control, and so many things are about finances. Look at all the things I've done for you. Look at all the things I bought for you. Where do you think you'll be without me financially and where the oftentimes the opposite the partner in the relationship with the narcissist is saying, at this point, I don't care about finances.
[00:33:09] I just want to be heard. I just want a connection. I want to be valued emotionally. So she says financial boundaries are all about money boundaries around joint versus separate accounts, how much goes into savings, what purchases you want to make and how much discretionary funds you'll have. Each can keep you both on the same page where your finances are concerned. Having different rules and agendas related to where you spend and how you spend your money can cause a great deal of strain on your relationship. So if you feel that you are often fighting about money, boundaries are probably needed, and discussions about your financial goals up front can keep finances from becoming a point of contention. But I will tell you, even in healthy relationships, the financial conversations can be difficult because there is so much that goes into finances as far as even comparisons to other people. And boy, I'm going back to my. This really isn't a plug, although I can't lie. I'm about to start my next round of my magnetic marriage course. And so my partner who helped me create it, Preston Pug Maya and I were actually doing a webinar about this. I think it's next Wednesday, which is something November 3rd or 4th. I don't know the date at the top of my head, but if you're interested, you can just shoot me a note through the contact form at Tony Overbay dot com.
[00:34:16] I can give you a little more information, but where was it going with that? Oh, that this four pillars. Even I say that we often try to go immediately to these high charged topics, which is a sex, politics, religion, finances and parenting, and we don't even have the tools to be able to communicate effectively about lower charge topics. From where do you want to go to eat or what does retirement look like? Or What's your favorite movie or song? And I just want you to know when you're hearing this. I hope that this concept of boundaries resonates and that you it can even give you some excitement as much as it's probably going to have some fear about the importance of setting a boundary. But I do understand that oftentimes we don't even have the tools to have the conversations to set a boundary. And so I realize now I really sound like I'm plugging my magnetic marriage course. But even if you just go over to the virtual couch and just look for virtual couch and four pillars, if you google that or my name and four pillars, I've done a lot of episodes on these four pillars of a connected. Conversation, and that might be the thing that you need to be able to start to communicate about boundaries, let me and thank you to hear Brady and again, what a great article and I'll put a link there. And she says her mission is to help people transform their personal relationship challenges into life enhancing opportunities for growth.
[00:35:25] So I appreciate that. Article And last but not least, this is ironic is the there's a book called No More Mr. Nice Guy, which I really do enjoy by the title alone. It can sound like teaching the the person who is nice to not be. It's not that it's really helping people take a little bit more ownership and accountability. A lot of the concept of the nice guy is is in play as well in these relationships, where there are people with narcissistic traits and tendencies who get into relationships with people that are maybe more highly sensitive and helping someone get out of what they call this nice guy syndrome is not saying be a jerk, but sometimes it's just saying, Hey, take ownership of your own emotions and feelings and don't project those onto the other person. The reason why I say that is I'm going to read a little bit from the book by. It's by Robert Glover, and it is. It's called no more Mr. Nice Guy, but he just has a really nice section on boundaries. And so let me just read that. And instead of where he says, Nice guy, I'm going to say, I'm going to say person. He says we find this real quick. Ok, he says setting boundaries helps. And again, he says, Nice guys, I'm going to say people setting a nice setting, nice
[00:36:31] Guys setting boundaries helps people reclaim
[00:36:33] Their personal power. So he says the boundaries are essential for survival and running. Learning to set boundaries allows people to stop feeling like helpless victims and reclaim their personal power boundary. Setting is one of the most fundamental skills that he says that he teaches people. He says recovering nice guys. But I will say people that are trying to become more emotionally healthy. And he says he demonstrates the concept of boundaries. This is what I really was drawn to by this chapter that he has in his book. He said I demonstrate the concept of boundaries by laying a shoestring on the ground. And he says, I tell the person that I'm going to cross his boundary and push them backwards. Instead, I instruct the person to stop me when they begin to feel uncomfortable, and it's not unusual for the person to stand well back from the line, allowing me to violate that space several steps before they even begin to respond. And once, he says, once I start pushing, it's not uncommon for the person to let me push them back several steps before they do anything to stop me. And sometimes the person will let me push them all the way back to the wall. And he said, I use this exercise as a graphic demonstration of the need for boundaries in all areas of life that people are usually more comfortable backpedaling, giving in and keeping the peace. What does that one? Sound familiar? He says they believe that if they take one more step backward, the other person will quit pushing and everything will be smooth. And I just felt I felt like that example is so powerful, he says, that this is a great line. I like as well that in time, they also learned that boundary setting isn't about getting other people to be different. It's about getting themselves to be different if somebody is crossing their boundary.
[00:37:57] It isn't that.
[00:37:58] And he says it isn't the other person's problem. It's theirs. Now, I don't want that to sound like you are doing something wrong. I want you to say, Oh my gosh, that makes more sense, that I need to learn to set these healthier boundaries. And if my spouse will not respect boundaries, period, then is that a viable relationship? And he says, because of memory, fear that people often unconsciously reinforce the very behaviors that they find intolerable due to their childhood conditioning. And this is so deep. We'll end with this today, he said. Due to their childhood conditioning, they teach the people around them that they will accept having their boundaries violated. And as people start to take responsibility for how they let people treat them, their own behavior begins to change. And that's where you are waking up to narcissism, whether you are the narcissist to the person in the relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies or traits. So then as you stop reinforcing the things that you aren't willing to tolerate, the people around you are given an opportunity to behave differently. It gives the relationship a chance to survive and grow. But I will be very clear in saying it gives that relationship a chance to survive and grow. It doesn't mean that now that you start setting your boundaries, that then everything will be better, but it will start to feel empowering and that is my goal for you. And again, if you heard the last episode and you are the person saying, Wait a minute, can I be the narcissist?
[00:39:09] Then thank you for listening to this. And if you recognize, Wow, I do cross these boundaries that people said, especially my spouse, because I just I just feel like I be honest. Do you feel like but I know better, but they don't understand, then that's an absolute time to stop and
[00:39:24] Say, Wait a minute, I need
[00:39:26] To stop and respect that boundary. And when I do that, then that can help me get to curiosity.
[00:39:31] And then there are tools like my four pillars of a connected conversation that will allow people to try and at least have the conversations. And the conversation is about being heard. I say so often you can only have
[00:39:43] Or control in an adult relationship, not both. And love comes with a heavy dose of curiosity. All right.
[00:39:49] Hey, we cover a lot of ground today.
[00:39:51] I am literally wrapping up right now because it is four point forty nine a.m. and
[00:39:54] I happen to have a five a.m. client today. Thank you for
[00:39:56] All the work you're doing. Thank you for the feedback. Please keep sending me the questions, the comments. I read them, I read them all. I read actually almost running late with this podcast because I got some amazing emails last night and if you're interested in joining that group. For women who are in relationships with narcissistic people, it doesn't just have to be a spouse, it can be a
[00:40:14] Parent, a sibling, a coworker, a church leader or whatever it is, there is power in numbers.
[00:40:20] Shoot me an email through the contact form on Tony over bakam. And if you are interested in hearing a little bit more about the magnetic marriage course that my buddy Preston and I do, the timing is pretty good and you can shoot me an email through there too, and I can let you know more about what's coming up with that.
[00:40:34] So have an amazing day.
[00:40:35] I see you. I really do. I appreciate everything that you're doing and your change in the world when you're sending me your emails and quotes and comments and I read them, I'm telling you, I get to see the stats. And this podcast has found its way already to one hundred and something country, tens of thousands of downloads. And so I just I appreciate everything you're doing. All right. Have an amazing, wonderful day weekend, and we'll talk to you next week on waking up the narcissism.
Tony introduces his latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism." In this crossover episode, Tony shares that narcissistic tendencies or traits can come in many different forms and levels of severity. At the same time, as a mental health condition, there is currently only one diagnosis. Tony tackles the question of whether or not we use the label of narcissism too broadly, and if we spoke more about what narcissistic traits and tendencies looked like in our everyday lives, would more people be able to take ownership of their narcissistic tendencies, or behaviors?
Tony refers to the article "5 Types of Narcissism and How to Recognize Each," by Courtney Telloian (medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO) from PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/health/types-of-narcissism.
If you have questions or comments, or suggestions for a topic of a future episode or if you want to share your story or examples of gaslighting in your relationships, please send through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com
Visit http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic to learn more about Tony's Magnetic Marriage program, or visit http://tonyoverbay.com to take Tony's free parenting course, or to learn more about his best-selling book; or only recovery program "The Path Back." And please subscribe to "Waking Up to Narcissism," Tony's brand new podcast, which is part of The Virtual Couch podcast network.
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[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode seven of the Waking Up the Narcissist podcast, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of another podcast called The Virtual Couch. And as a matter of fact, I think I am doing. I'm going to do a and this episode is going to be on the virtual couch almost as a come on over to the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. Because when I cover narcissism on the virtual couch, the download numbers are they're big there. I talk about parenting, I talk about marriage, or if I talk about narcissism, it seems like the numbers are a few thousand downloads more than most. So if you are listening to this on the virtual couch and you've maybe heard me talk a little bit about this other podcast, it's called Waking Up the Narcissism and come on over. We're on episode seven and the numbers are already pretty phenomenal. So I know that there's a need here that people are emailing and emailing like crazy and saying that they feel heard. They feel understood. And so I welcome you over to this other podcast. I'm also using a new recording software. I'm going to give that a shot and it is. It's a program that will allow me to do some live streaming because the amount of questions and that I get on the waking up the Narcissism podcast is pretty phenomenal, and I thought I got a lot of questions on the Virtual Couch podcast, but I'm getting questions daily emailed about narcissism.
[00:01:16] So we're going to we're going to do more of the Q&A answers over here on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, and so I'd like to be able to do some live streaming. So if you are a YouTube person at all, you can go to the Virtual Couch YouTube channel and this episode will hopefully be up there by the time you go. But I want to get into a few things. I had a bunch of things, a bunch of emails that I was going to read, but I just want to jump right in today because I'm going to cover an article that is going to talk about narcissism on a spectrum now, narcissism in and of itself. The word carries so much weight, it carries so much emotion. So I do know that when let's just say that people are emailing me and they are saying, finally, I feel heard, I feel understood. The gaslighting makes so much sense when I lay out these five tips in interacting with the narcissist in your life. Whether it's your spouse, whether it's your employer, whether it's an adult child or anyone, somebody in your church, congregation or church leadership that it gives people a lot of they feel empowered when they know that, Oh, this is a thing and I am not crazy. But then if you then the rules always mean if you say, don't tell the person they're in our sister, they will lose their mind.
[00:02:27] How dare you call me that? And I will have people come into my office often and say, Hey, what even is this narcissist thing that I keep hearing about? Because it is in the zeitgeist, it's out there. You hear about it all over the place. And so the term itself, I think, is misused. And so here leads to a little bit of a story that will then get to an email that will get to an article. And I think we're going to make some sense of this. And I specifically had in mind that if you really do feel like you want someone to try and understand that you think that they may have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, I'm not going to lie. I have that in mind with this episode. So if somebody has gently nudge this episode over to you and said, Hey, this might be something that you could listen to, then I would love for you to just take a couple of deep breaths and I'm being serious and through the nose out through the mouth. Give me two or three of those because that's going to lower your heart rate a little bit. It's going to get that cortisol lowered in your brain. You're going to be able to tap into your prefrontal cortex and stay in your logical brain, because so many times when people say, I think you're a narcissist, well, then all of a sudden we feel like we are criticized.
[00:03:35] And if you're criticized, then you, you start worrying about diving down into this shame. So then we do everything we can to protect our ego. And that is what we're going to talk about here in a minute instead of just saying, OK, if somebody is going to offer this information to me, they're not just throwing it out randomly. There's a reason. So why wouldn't I want to listen with curiosity because I can still choose to agree or disagree? But curiosity is what then can lead to more of a connection between people. But I'm jumping ahead. So story time. About a week or two ago, I was interviewed on a show called The Middle, and it's by a friend of mine named Gwendolyn. Condy and Caitlin had asked me if I could cover mental health, faith and narcissism, which I feel is an interesting trio of subjects. And it was an hour long. It was an Instagram Live interview. Actually, I have it on my virtual couch Instagram account. So if you are an Instagram person, go find that and it's in the highlights. But we covered the mental health. We covered the some of the faith related things and we didn't have a lot of time. And then Gayle and said, Hey, before you go, I'd love for you to to cover narcissism.
[00:04:43] And honestly, I felt like we didn't have enough time. So I think I may have said something like, Oh, I don't know if we have enough time, or maybe we can cover it next time. And she said, Can you just give me a quick overview? And I done a little bit of preparation. I had a quote up in the background for me, and that quote was. From a podcast I had done quite a while ago where I was talking about these different subtypes of narcissism, and so I want to read this quote because in the context of the interview, I thought it was fascinating and what I'm admitting to here is I had a bit of an aha moment during the interview, so I shared with her that if you're talking about a clinical diagnosis of narcissism, this this information says individuals who meet the criteria for having narcissistic personality disorder generally can be generally described as having a belief of superiority over others that gives them entitlement to special treatment and an obsession with grandiose fantasies of success and power. And I feel like that part I think I shared with her that I don't feel like I do see a lot of people that are clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disordered people. But this next line is what is pretty fascinating. The next line says. Deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos.
[00:05:58] Now there's another line after that that says they're also self-absorbed and have lower levels of empathy for others, and this may lead them to take advantage of people in their quest for excessive attention and admiration. And right after that, the article says narcissism exists along a spectrum. However, however, and all of those are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder do not adhere neatly to this characterization. And so there are, in essence, three major types of narcissists. And so in that particular article or in that particular podcast that go into those subtypes. But let me hone in on the second line that I read out of this paragraph that deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And again, if you are here and someone has suggested that you listen to this episode of the podcast, or if you're just one who is starting to wake up to narcissism and you have been finding a lot of information that you feel resonates with you and your relationships. One of the things I talk about often is that we are all at birth moving forward, technically little narcissist. And let me explain. So from birth, when a child is born, they enter the world. And if they are not, if their needs are not met, if they are not fed, if they are not watered, if their diapers are not changed, then they die.
[00:07:16] So we're programed with this abandonment equals death. So that's a pretty significant thing. As a matter of fact, I was listening to Hidden True Crime podcast, and there's a forensic psychologist on there that I'm just really enjoying listening to his take on so many things. And he was talking about attachment. And he said that when a baby is born, in essence, they don't even know that they exist. They don't even know that they are an entity until they do have some interaction or feedback with with another human or another individual. And so we are programed that we need to get our needs met or we die. And it's pretty easy as a baby because babies are cute, they sound awesome and they smell pretty good, except for the part where when they do go poop, but you go grab a baby and you take care of it because they they're they're just so darn cute. And so we're programed in our factory settings that if we emote, if we express ourselves, that people then meet our needs and now you start to get to ages two or three or four. And this is where the concept of abandonment kicks in. And I often lightheartedly say when kids start to get that age, it's welcome to the world of abandonment. Because if a kid then now expresses themselves and they say, I would really enjoy candy before dinner and the parent says no, think about it.
[00:08:26] Moving forward from an abandonment equals death standpoint from birth that if all of a sudden my parents aren't going to give me candy before dinner, we view that as, wait, I just expressed myself and someone did not meet my needs. And this doesn't make sense because in their, you know, in our programing, it's because if they aren't going to give me candy before dinner. What else are they not going to give me? And if they aren't going to meet my needs, then I may possibly die. I may go back to this abandonment equals death model that is programed into my very fabric of my being. So from an attachment standpoint, now the kid has to figure out, how do I get my needs met? Now what do most kids do? They cry, they scream. And then what do parents often do? Ok, fine. One piece of candy before dinner. But we're never doing this again. But does the kid hear any of that? No, they just got their needs met. They got their candy before dinner. And so kids then often adopt all sorts of different attachment styles so they may get very angry and moody until they get their needs met. They may withdraw until their parent goes up to them and says, Hey, champ, you look like you're feeling down. Or they may become the scholar. They may become the scholar at school, and they receive praise because they get good grades.
[00:09:38] Or they might be the star athlete. Everybody says, Oh my gosh, you're amazing. And so all of these are attachment patterns in order to get our needs met because if we don't get our needs met, then we die. So moving up through childhood from childhood and adolescence, we are the center of the universe. So now put that in context, and this is where I say bless their hearts. Every little kid is a narcissist because they are ego centered. The world revolves around them. They don't have a concept of what is going on to their caregivers, so if they want, they want new shoes or they want new pants because their friends have newer shoes or nicer pants and they say, I want these things and their parent who may be financially struggling, they may have just had a job loss. They may be going through a divorce, who knows. But to the little kid, they want their stuff. And if they don't get it, it goes back into this, this memory bank, this DNA bank, where if they don't get their needs met, then that means I may die. So I am going to pout. I am going to yell, I am going to scream, I'm going to coerce, I'm going to steal. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to lie because I need my needs met. And this is where you start looking at gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism that if a child feels like if they take ownership of something, they're going to get in trouble or if they gaslight is a way to get their needs, that again starts to be plugged into their DNA.
[00:10:56] So the big difference is that we all then start as self-centered. But then the goal is with the proper modeling examples from parents and those around us that we gain this emotional maturity and we move from self-centered to self-confident. And this is why when you are arguing with someone that has narcissistic traits or tendencies as an adult, I often say you literally feel like you're arguing with a 10 year old boy. They can then respond or react and be very angry. And then a few minutes later, we're good, right? We're going to go hang out. You don't go ride bikes because they feel like that is there. We just had an argument. But now, one minute later, we're fine. We're to someone that is maybe more highly sensitive. Then they they are going to feel that argument and they're going to feel like something's wrong here and this isn't working, and we need to figure this out. So that abandonment attachment thing is so significant because now let's go back to abandonment. So as we move forward into life, people are now all having their own experiences. But we're still programed with this kid brain, this kid DNA.
[00:11:58] So if people then don't respond to us the way we want them to? Where do we go? We go to this, OK? It must be me if I can't get someone to meet my needs, they respond in a different way. We still have this belief that I must be broken. I must be unlovable. Something must be wrong with me when as a human being, now you know that you're going through all of your own stuff. So somebody says, Hey, can you babysit my kids? And if you have some event going on instead and you say, Man, I wish I could, but I'm not going to be able to. It's it's unfortunately pretty rare where the person just says, OK, no problem. A lot of times are like, Oh, OK, we must not like my kids or they must not really care for me, or I would have canceled the meeting to watch their kids. So it must be me. Something must be wrong with me. So with that said, let's go back to this part of this quote, and let's talk about narcissistic traits and tendencies. So we are bringing all of that into adulthood with us. So when deep down, we are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame, so then go we go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. So after this interview with I'm going on a walk that night with my wife and we're talking about something and I just say, You know what, I'm going to, I'm going to say this to this particular person, and my wife is just weird walking a dog, and she just says, Oh, I wouldn't say that.
[00:13:15] And I, this is why I like to say I'm a marriage and family therapist. I'm a couples counselor. I have a I have I feel confident in my knowledge of these four pillars of a connected conversation that are the basis of my magnetic marriage course. And yet I really did think back earlier in that day to this quote of deep down, we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And so in that moment, I think I just said, Oh, OK, yeah, no, I'll do. I'll give that a thought. But I did a check in with myself and did I feel criticized? I did, and I know my wife wasn't criticizing me because as the marriage therapist that I am, I want every couple to realize that you are two unique individuals having your own experiences. That is what differentiation is instead of codependent and enmeshed. We want to be interdependent and differentiated, differentiated where one person ends and the other begins. So we are two different people coming into a marriage. We start it with this codependency and enmeshed because that's just what we do. We put up our best selves and we're worried that if we get too open or vulnerable, that our spouse will say, Whoa, I did not know that this is the person I'm marrying.
[00:14:24] I'm out of here. So then we play this weird attachment tango for most of our marriage, and we never quite feel like we are ourselves, or we never quite feel like we can express ourselves in the way that we truly believe. Because sometimes if we all of a sudden say a few years into our marriage, I really I really like this particular show. And if our spouse says, Well, really, you've never watched it before or you don't like other shows like that, what do we feel like? We feel criticized. And then that's where this quote is so good that we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. And what a shame. I even talked about this on waking up the narcissism. I go so big on this on the virtual couch. Shame and guilt. Two different things. Guilt, I feel bad about something. Shame, I am a horrible person and no one will love me so deep down when we feel criticized, do we go to shame? So when I'm walking with my wife on this particular evening and she says, I wouldn't say that to this particular person that we're talking about, then I did feel, Oh, OK, that feels like a little bit of criticism. And if I had let myself go down into this place of shame, then I could have easily said, Wow, she thinks I'm a horrible person and a bad husband and probably a bad father too, and I go into this shame spiral.
[00:15:33] So then the next part of this line says so then very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. So then go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. Now there are several ways that we go to protect their fragile ego. One of them gaslighting. I could have easily said, Oh, OK, well, I appreciate your opinion, but you know, research shows that the thing I'm about to say is really, really good. Would I be making that up? Probably having done that in the past, probably have or other ways that we go to great lengths to protect our fragile ego could be anger. Anger is about control when someone erupts with anger. They may have this pattern from the time they were a kid that that might be the way they got their needs met was being angry, so they may just reflexively say, Are you kidding me? That's really how you feel, you believe. And so then that's going to shut the conversation down. But it protects the person's fragile ego or withdraw if the person is just decided. I'm not going to say anything ever. I'm not going to share my opinion then that is a way to protect our ego because we don't want we're protecting our ego or ego.
[00:16:35] Is this inner sense of self. So. I really felt like this line made so much sense on the fact that if we're all accept this fact that we move from childhood into adulthood with some of these egocentric traits, I don't even like to say narcissistic traits because you say this to the wrong person. And then they're going to say, See, you are the narcissist. And no, I'm not talking about that because it hits much different my friends. The emails I am getting. There is a very vast difference of people that have had this gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, and that has been their pattern for their entire lives. So it is reflexive. It's the air that they breathe. And so it really doesn't matter what you say, this person is going to turn it around on you and they're not going to take ownership. And again, if you are one of those who have felt so heard in the first six episodes of this podcast, then you know what I'm talking about. If you're somebody listening to this right now and you're thinking, Yeah, my spouse does do that, I want you to take a look at yourself, which is the big part of why I was excited to talk about this today. The name waking up. The narcissism is deep. It is deep because I'm talking about people that are waking up to the narcissist in their life and and recognizing that they are not crazy.
[00:17:45] But I am also talking about waking up to one's own narcissism and because I talk often on my virtual couch podcast about my narcissistic traits and tendencies. And I have had people now emailing me saying, Are you just you're just joking right? Or you just you're just trying to make fun of that? Or you don't really have that, do you? And oh, I do. And that is the part that I feel so excited to share is that we have to then take ownership of our own actions, our own responses. So if you are a person who is waking up to the narcissism in yourself, then welcome aboard. Let's go on a journey. If you're the person that's waking up to the narcissist in your life, then please find validation and the things that we are talking about because it is phenomenal to feel heard and to feel understood, and I hope you can see the difference there. So that led me to pulling up an article that I just think is so good. The article is I've got a year. I just started clicking around, and I guess this is the fun thing about being alive. Live stream. Ok, here we go from Psych Central says five types of narcissism and how to recognize each. This is medically reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Witzel was written by Courtney Killian on September 15. Twenty Twenty One and why? Every time I refer to an article, can it not just be a really easy name? So, Courtney, I apologize, Jeffrey, I apologize, the link in my show notes.
[00:19:01] But I'm going to read a lot from this and I'm going to respond react because this is right out of the gate. This is so good, says as a personality trait, narcissism can come in many forms and levels of severity as a mental health condition. There's only one diagnosis, so there's the big key. There is a mental health condition, a diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder, and it's part of these this cluster of personality disorders, narcissism, histrionic, antisocial and borderline. And there are some traits, if you did this Venn diagram that intersect in all of those. But as far as personality traits, that's why I laid out that entire abandonment and attachment argument, because I really feel like that makes a lot of sense to when people feel like, Wait, am I the narcissist? And I always say, if you're asking yourself, if you're the narcissist, you're not, there's a wonderful chance that you're not. But do you maybe have a few traits or tendencies? Most likely, yeah, because you're a human being who who came from birth. If you were born as a two year old person with emotional maturity, then no. But for most of us, when we feel criticized, that's still deep within our DNA, even if the person isn't meaning it as criticism. So as a personality trait, narcissism comes in many forms and levels of severity.
[00:20:16] As a mental health condition, there's only one diagnosis. So Courtney says, you might be wondering what does it actually mean to be narcissistic? And are we using this label too broadly or are there different types of narcissism now? My personal and professional opinion is that it is being used broadly, but there are also different types of narcissism. I feel like this is a term that needs to be understood more because it is used so often and we have this immediate response when we hear what the word narcissism. So she says, in fact, you may have noticed terms like narcissist or narcissism are becoming increasingly popular. Yes, they are. And there are even a few lists of famous narcissists going around. And she says, it seems that everybody knows somebody, whether it's a family member or a coworker or a frenemy who fits this label. But these terms are also loaded and highly stigmatized. Well said. So this is why it's important to understand what they mean and how they manifest. So she has a little point in the article that says narcissism is a personality trait versus a personality disorder. When people talk about narcissism, they might be referring to, it is either part of someone's personality or as narcissistic personality disorder, which is also called NPD. So we might refer to it as that moving forward here. A little bit narcissistic personality disorder is a formal diagnosis that's classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM five.
[00:21:31] As a Cluster B personality disorder, NCPDP is usually diagnosed when narcissism extends beyond a personality trait and per se. Persistently affects many areas of your life. The DSM five lists only one type of narcissism, but researchers and other experts on narcissism have found multiple ways that can show up as part of someone's personality, including those with the formal diagnosis. So we're going to talk about that a little bit more. If you're interested in what that narcissistic traits and tendencies in the DSM talk about, then I can. I would refer you to eight types of narcissism and how to spot them episode of my virtual couch podcast. But how many types are there as a mental health diagnosis? Again, there's only one, but it manifests in different ways, as does the personality trait on a general level. Narcissism is closely tied to extreme self-focus, an inflated sense of self and a strong desire for recognition and praise. And this is where I start tapping into the narcissistic traits or tendencies that I've noticed, even in my own self. Extreme self focus. I'm pretty open about adult ADHD, but there's definitely a correlation there in some situations. Inflated sense of self is that we want to be the special one. Why? Because if you look back at those roots of I need my needs met, we start to develop these tendencies.
[00:22:45] Some do in childhood of that. If I am the best fill in the blank or I get the most attention of whatever I'm doing that I get my needs met that praise or that adoration is going to ensure that I will survive. So that will often lead to this inflated sense of self or a strong desire for recognition and praise. I can tell you often that on my own journey through narcissistic traits, I'll take the podcast. For example, the virtual couch. I just released episode two hundred and Ninety, and I just spoke at an event in Utah four and a half hours where people came to hear me speak. And I would have thought long ago, that's my dream. That's all I ever want. But boy, as much as I loved every minute of it, when we're done and people want to come up and say nice things, I want to go away because I always thought, That's what I want. I want that praise. I want that adulation. But then it turns out, Oh, I was chasing that thinking that then that would make me feel whole. But in reality, that is it's nice, but you realize that is that recognition and praise that we seek because we want to be the special one because if we are the special one, then our brains saying, I think we're good. I think we're going to survive. I think we're gonna get our needs met.
[00:23:54] But if you talk about narcissism, a researchers have broken down the narcissistic personality trait into overt narcissism, covert narcissism, which we've talked about some of these terms as well. If you look at that concept of overt narcissism. You really are talking about when someone is, it's outward. It's overt, it's out in the open. It's and that's what leads to some of this grandiose narcissism. Covert is a little bit more behind the scenes. I'm looking up in my notes, overt and covert. So again, the fun. So people with overt narcissism are typically extroverted, bold and attention seeking, they may become aggressive or violent if a person or a situation challenges their sense of status. The covert subtype is less obvious. A person with covert narcissism may come across as shy or withdrawn or self-deprecating. And often, that self-deprecating piece can be interesting. I was going to say frustrating where people can go into the victim mode or the self-deprecating mode. Then you go to rescue and then now you're vulnerable, and then the person then lets you know all of the things that you are doing wrong, even trying to rescue that covert narcissist. There's also the antagonistic narcissist, the communal narcissist and the malignant narcissist, according to this article, and we'll talk more about. That said, it's also possible to look at narcissism in terms of how to fix your day to day life and your ability to form relationships.
[00:25:07] So in this context, narcissism can either be adaptive or helpful or maladaptive and unhelpful. So the point of using categories is not necessarily to label someone you think might have narcissistic qualities. And in fact, some research suggests that it could be more accurate to view narcissism on a spectrum from less to more severe. So you might then imagine that a different type of narcissism might fit somewhere along the spectrum. So enter Exhibit A, an email that I received that I think is amazing, and this is another thing that led me to want to dove into this episode now sooner than later. I've gotten a couple of these emails like this, but this one, I asked the person if they were OK if I read it, and they said, sure. They said, I'm a second generation, at least narcissistic husband and my wife deserves better. I've listened to many of your virtual couch podcasts. And I just binged on the first six episodes of Waking Up. Can you address what a person on the narcissistic spectrum can do if they want to break the link or cycle? I feel like my wife and I should separate because I treat her horribly. I think she would be better off without me or until I figure out how to improve. And then he put help. And I just said, I am so grateful for your honesty, your vulnerability. And then I had asked for permission, but I shared what I did here that I carefully chose this name, waking up the narcissism because I want to cover a lot of topics, including my own waking up and the fact that when we talk about narcissistic dusting or narcissistic tendencies, that is part of this narcissistic spectrum.
[00:26:30] And so I would love to be able to tackle on this podcast the from the victim of the narcissistic and the narcissistic relationship. But also I have my I have my own grandiose dreams. I was like this my narcissism, my grandiose dreams that I can be the special one who can then also speak to the person who may be waking up to their own narcissistic tendencies or traits. So again, if your spouse has said, Hey, I worry that you may have some of these traits or tendencies, then it welcome aboard and what a journey of self-discovery. And one of the reasons I hesitated and I hesitated on my virtual couch podcast to talk about this is because when women are in these emotionally abusive relationships and again, I have a separate woman's group, a private group formed for women who are in these relationships, whether with their spouse, their employers, their parents, their church leaders, whoever it is, those stories are so similar. So there is a if you are one who feels like you can, nothing will ever be enough. I will never get it right. He is never wrong. Then again, you know who? I'm speaking to you.
[00:27:33] Those are the majority of the emails I'm getting. And the problem is that is typically and I talked about this in an earlier episode. That's typically what we call the pathologically kind person who then when they are met up with the pathological narcissist, it creates this human magnet syndrome, which is really hard to break. Today's episode is talking more about, Hey, somebody that is starting to resonate some of these things that they hear about narcissism starting to resonate. Is this just a version of? I didn't know what I didn't know. And so it may be a tendency or trait, but I really want to work on this or do better than welcome aboard. Let's talk a little bit then about Courtney in this article says adaptive versus maladaptive. What does that mean? Some research draws a line between adaptive and maladaptive narcissism, and this helps show the difference between productive and unproductive aspects of narcissism. Again, to the emotionally abused victim of a narcissist, a productive version of narcissism sounds like an oxymoron. And it does. And it is for that that that pathological narcissist who will refuse to ever even listen to anything that you may have to say about. We need help. I think this might be a problem in the relationship, but to someone like the person who wrote me, I've actually had a couple of people write me or to myself or some of my clients that I used to call their unicorns people that over time start to then say, Wait a minute, could I possibly be? Because again, if you just tell someone, I think you're a narcissist, first of all, we got some psychological reactants.
[00:28:56] They're like, No, I'm not. How dare you say that? There isn't that curiosity. You have to have the relationship of trust with someone to be able to start doing and explore that, which is why I love nothing more than being able to talk with people or work with people long enough for them to finally say, Could it be me? And then even then you'll watch me say, Hey, tell me more. Tell me why you're asking that question. And that's a big reason why I talk about my own narcissistic traits or tendencies. Because. I want to say, look, it's hard work, but boy, is it worth it to really start to dig in and deep dove because you are not going to you are not in a healthy, connected relationship. If you are one who is realizing that you have these narcissistic traits and tendencies was I guarantee you that your spouse has suffered because of this or your children have suffered because of this, that there is a very I don't want to say likely chance. It is a thing where the people around you have had to wonder which version of you is going to walk in the door.
[00:29:49] The fun loving one, the one who is down, the one who says, Let's spend money, everybody, let's go out to eat, or the one that comes in the next night and says, Man, all I am is a paycheck that you guys. I mean, that inconsistency is just phenomenal. So adaptive narcissism refers to aspects that can actually be helpful, like high self-confidence, self-reliance or the ability to celebrate yourself. And this is not talked about often because when you hear those, if you have the narcissist in your life, you say, Oh, they have plenty of self-confidence and self-reliance and the ability to celebrate themselves. But I think this is talking about the concept of from competence in a standpoint of the people that are letting their light so shine that they can lift those around them. That kind of a vibe. I remember giving a talk one time and talking just about ego, and at the time I almost felt like I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I had been to a training and somebody had talked about ego, and they talked about If you look at people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus, those people, they had to have confidence in order to put themselves out there to change the world. So I feel like that is more in line with what someone is talking about with some of this adaptive narcissism. Sometimes I see a lot of clients, I'll see a lot of clients in one day and then go give a speech or then come home.
[00:31:00] And sometimes my wife will say, Man, are you? How are you doing? Is that hard to transition? I used to think, Man, this must be some gift. And then the last two or three years, I thought, Ooh, is that adaptive narcissism, where in that moment I am just as present as all can be? But then the ability to switch from task to task is that a bit of that adaptive narcissism so that it allows me not to just lose myself in each one of these clients, where in any given day I can go from divorce to somebody that's worried about committing suicide? Then there's a marriage just breaking up, or there's a death in the family or whatever. Somebody finding out about a terminal disease. And you can go from one to the other to the other, and then you have a teenager coming in that just wants to talk about their favorite YouTube channel. And you're just going from one to one and just loving every bit of being able to connect with this person and hear them and help them, but then go home and just say, Hey, what are we doing tonight? So I feel like that might be a version of some of that adaptive the maladaptive narcissism, though that's the part that's connected to traits that do not serve you and can negatively impact how you relate to others and to yourself and others.
[00:32:00] Entitlement, aggression and the tendency to take advantage of others fit under the umbrella of maladaptive narcissism. And that is then what leads into the symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder. And again, that's why I love this concept that they are. There are these symptoms, the diagnostic criteria, a mental health professional, you're trying to find at least five of these nine symptoms to reach a formal diagnosis, grandiosity and self-importance, fantasies of success, perfection or power. A strong conviction of being special and unique. A need for admiration and praise. Entitlement pattern exploiting others for personal gain. Low empathy, envy, jealousy and distrust or arrogance. Haughtiness and scorn. And then the diagnosis criteria require these symptoms to remain consistent over time. Show up in most of the domains of life. So one of the jokes I remember in grad school when you're taking a class on diagnosis is so somebody hits four of these nine and five gives you the formal diagnosis and they go, Oh, OK, I'm off the hook. I guess I'm not a narcissist, but in reality, that's why this concept of things being on a spectrum is so important. When most people do talk about narcissism, it's the maladaptive kind that they're referring to. So unlike the adaptive, maladaptive narcissism is connected to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, higher chances of experiencing unpleasant emotions, lower empathy. And so the research has found that while maladaptive narcissism tends to decrease the older we get, adaptive narcissism doesn't decline as much over time.
[00:33:28] And so, in addition, both adaptive and maladaptive narcissism can be passed on through genes and influenced by your childhood upbringing. There you go. Nature, nurture yes. Yes, indeed. Overt narcissism. And by that, I meant that it's both overt narcissism, also known by several other names, including grandiose narcissism or this type of narcissism is what most people associate with the narcissistic personality. Someone with overt narcissism might come across as outgoing, arrogant, entitled, overbearing, having an exaggerated self-image, needing to be praised and admired, exploitive and lacking empathy. Some research connects over narcissism with the big five personality traits and extroversion and openness. And it also suggests that people with overt narcissism are more likely to feel good about themselves and less likely to experience uncomfortable emotions like sadness, worry or loneliness. And please go look on my virtual couch episodes for HSP highly sensitive person. There is such a correlation on highly since. The people connecting with narcissists and then the nurses telling the highly sensitive person so often to not worry about it. Get over it. It's not a big deal, whatever it is, but the highly sensitive person, that is not the way it works for them. So I feel like these are those traits that just start to really shine or stand out. And people with overt narcissism may also tend to overestimate their own abilities and intelligence.
[00:34:43] One study published in Twenty Eighteen also suggests that overt narcissism might cause somebody to overestimate their own emotional intelligence. That's right. They might. I think that one's check and these are the things where I will go, and I call them things like narcissistic math, where there are times early on, even in my podcast where I might be getting a thousand downloads, I'm like, Yeah, two thousand downloads an episode. So why? Who am I trying to impress? Somebody doesn't even know what the download numbers mean, but then to me, I'm overestimating these abilities are the intelligence or whatever that is. And so in this whole concept of waking up to narcissism, it's been fascinating. I did a whole episode on a thing called the Dunning Kruger effect, which in essence says that the more you think you know, the really the less you know. Now on the surface, that sounds pretty insane. But politicians are pretty famous for Dunning Kruger effect, where take, for example, someone on the campaign trail that go into a coal mining town. This is a real example from a couple of years ago, and they read a paragraph on coal mining and then they go in. I know I got it. I know I can speak to this audience. And then they talk about coal and the importance of coal and coal mining. This and coal mining that and the people that are actual coal miners are thinking this person doesn't know what they're talking about.
[00:35:50] But then to the narcissist, all of a sudden they think I'm in the moment. Matter of fact, they're going to say, you know, I think I could've sworn one of my relatives lived back here in this area. You know what? And then I started telling stories about my, my great great grandpa who mined coal. And and to this day, every time I see a chunk of coal, then I think of my grandpa and then somebody goes and checks and sees that, Hey, your grandpa, he, you know, he washed bottles at a manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie, totally making all that up. Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism and closet narcissism, covert narcissism is the contrast to overt narcissism. While many people think of narcissism as loud and overbearing, trait people with covert narcissism do not fit this pattern. Instead, common traits of somebody with covert narcissism include expressions of low self-esteem, a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression and shame, introversion, insecurity and low confidence, defensiveness avoidance and a tendency to feel or play the victim. So this is where I go back to that quote as well. So when someone then feels like they are being criticized and they get hit, that shame, that low self-esteem, then they turn inward and then they tend to play the victim in hopes that someone will rescue them. But the biggest problem is they go back to that. Gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism and this desire for power and oftentimes the covert, the covert narcissist.
[00:37:11] I feel like it's almost like the spider who lures you into their web. You go to help, and all sudden you find out that that doesn't work, so matter. Fact, it makes things worse because they also feed off of that, that victim mentality and the energy that you give them and trying to help and then turn around and gaslight you so you walk away from there feeling bad about trying to help them. So while somebody with covert narcissism will still be very self focused, it's likely to conflict with a deep fear or a sense of not being enough. A study on personality and covert narcissism published in 2017 found that it was most strongly linked to high neuroticism or a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions and agreeableness. Someone with covert narcissism is likely to have a hard time accepting criticism, but unlike a person with overt narcissism, someone with covert narcissism may be more likely to internalize or take in the criticism more harshly than it was intended. So if somebody starting something by saying no offense or they're going to take offense and research suggests the categories of covert and overt narcissism aren't always mutually exclusive. In other words, somebody with overt narcissism might go through a period where they show more signs of covert narcissism. All we got, we got two or three more. We're going to hit this quick.
[00:38:14] I did not mean this episode to go this long antagonistic narcissism. According to some research, antagonistic narcissism is a subtype of overt narcissism. With this aspect, the focus is on rivalry and competition. Some of the features include arrogance, a tendency to take advantage of others, the tendency to compete with others or disagree, ability or openness to arguing. And according to research from Twenty Seventeen about facets of narcissism and forgiveness, those with this antagonistic narcissism reported that they were less likely to forgive others than people with other types of narcissism. People with antagonistic narcissism may also have lower levels of trust in others, according to a study from 2019. Communal narcissism is another type of overt, and it's usually seen as the opposite of antagonistic narcissism, so someone with communal narcissism values fairness and is likely to see themselves as altruistic as all giving. But research published in 2018 suggests there's a gap between these beliefs and the person's behavior. So people with communal narcissism might become easily morally outraged. You see a lot of this in religious narcissism or institutional narcissism from religious organizations describe themselves as being empathetic and generous, but in react to things as they see as unfair. But what? Makes it so interesting is what makes she Courtney lays this out perfectly. What makes communal narcissism different from genuine concern for the well-being of others? The key difference is that for people with communal narcissism, social power and self-importance are still playing major roles because they still are coming from this place of.
[00:39:37] That's the way they feel like they are the special one. Look at my empathy. Look at my concern, look at my leadership capabilities. But yet I will take no ownership of the hypocrisy of my own behavior the way that I act. For example, while communal narcissism might cause you to say and believe you have a strong moral code and care for others, you might not realize that the way you treat others doesn't match up with your beliefs. So you may be preaching this love and empathy as you then gaslight and then take no ownership and make someone feel less than malignant. Narcissism can exist at different levels. This is the last one. Malignant narcissism and malignant narcissism is a far more severe form, and it can cause a lot of problems for the person living with it. Malignant narcissism is more closely connected to overt and covert narcissism. Someone with malignant narcissism may have many common traits of narcissism, like a strong need for praise and to be elevated above others. But in addition, malignant narcissism can show up as vindictiveness, sadism or getting enjoyment from the pain or putting down on others aggression while interacting with other people or a paranoia or heightened worry about potential threats. So somebody with malignant narcissism may also share some traits with antisocial personality disorder. And this means somebody with malignant narcissism could be more likely to experience legal trouble or substance misuse.
[00:40:43] And in a very small study involving people with borderline personality disorder, those with malignant narcissism had a harder time, reducing anxiety and gaining better ability to function in day to day life. So I'm going to read her recap. She says narcissism, whether it's a personality trait or personality disorder, makes relationships more challenging. Amen. Different types of narcissism, whether covert, overt, communal, antagonistic or malignant, can also affect how you see yourself and interact with others. And when it comes to treatment, narcissism can be very tricky because most people living with it don't necessarily feel the need to change. I will add another amen because I get the only time I really get to work with a what then can potentially be a unicorn, as if someone does come in couples therapy and then they are open and they're willing to say, OK, I'm willing to hear you. I'm willing to to to listen or be a little bit of open. And I have to tell you that is really tricky as well. I kept another email up here just in case I had more time. Someone had emailed and said, What if our counselor isn't getting it? They said the podcast seems to come out at the perfect timing for me in my relationship with my wife. We're currently going through marriage counseling and they have a question whatever counselor doesn't appear to be picking up or addressing the spouse's narcissistic tendencies.
[00:41:53] They both are very quick to talk about my co-dependence, but the only thing said about my spouse is inability to take any blame or actually work on the marriages. They can't be forced, which this person says. I obviously agree based on your podcast in their own research, but their biggest fear is that when they are wrong about their wife, their wife's narcissistic behavior, and whether or not they are the narcissist, and they've signed up to see a separate counselor who specializes in narcissistic and codependent relationships. But it does spark interest, and I hope that this podcast in itself is getting is helping with the answers to that. Because if a counselor is not aware or familiar of personality disorders, or I'm going to be super honest because I have a couple of these things going on right now, or I'm noticing that there are a fair amount of clinicians that perhaps go into the helping field to validate themselves. Or so I feel like there's a fair amount of us in the helping profession that have these strong narcissistic tendencies or traits because we get to be the special one that helps other people and tells them what to do, which is absolutely not the way that therapy is supposed to work. Therapy is not a I will tell you what to do. It's a let me learn more about you and let me guide you.
[00:42:59] Let me stand beside you and then walk up to the obstacles in your life and then say, Hey, what do you want to do here? And what are your biggest fears or what are your insecurities? And then let's work with that. It's not a I will weigh in and I will tell you what to do. Bring to me your legal troubles, bring to me your tax questions, bring to me your business ideas, and I will then weigh my I will give my opinion on them. That is not what counseling is about, that that is perhaps a more narcissistic treated counselor or therapist. Again, narcissism can be tricky because many people living with it don't feel the need to change. But living with the narcissism poses its mental health effects, including anxiety, depression. People turn to substance abuse and sometimes the impact of these effects causes the person to reach out for help, which is what I am grateful for, which is what my women's group is for, which is, I think why this podcast is just the reception has been phenomenal. So when someone living with narcissism seeks professional support, there is a lot of potential for growth and improved mental health. But I covered this in, I think, the first episode. The unfortunate part is when the person that is starting to wake up to the narcissist in their life, then they are going to be met with a lot of invalidation.
[00:44:07] Oh, do you think you're smarter than me? Or now you care, or you better not go talk about me? Or there's so many things that now you're more disagreeable, or now you hold on to things more or but no, it's because you are starting to become. Differentiated, and you're starting to recognize I am me and I cannot lose myself, that's not what's best for me, it's not what's best for my kids, my family and my relationship. Am I modeling? And so it's difficult, is it? That can be. That's why there are so many resources like my podcast articles, you name it, just devour the information and know that it's going to take a lot longer than you would like. It's a long process, but you have begun the process. Honestly, if you're even listening to this podcast, stay on it. If you made it this far and you're somebody that's starting to say, Do I have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, then holy cow. Bless your heart. Start doing a deep dove yourself and start to be aware of those things that you are recognizing as that maybe these are some of my narcissistic traits or tendencies and own it. Take ownership of it if you are afraid to just own it to your spouse. Write it down. Try to find somebody that you can talk to about it. Do your own research because I want you to find that that piece it is.
[00:45:22] It is. It is possible to wake up to narcissism, both to your own narcissism or the majority of people listening to this podcast through the narcissist in your life. And that is such a hope of mine. So I'm going to wrap it up. If you have questions, continue to submit them through Tony overbay.com. Go to the contact page if you're interested. If you are a woman interested in joining the group again, it's for people that are in relationships with co-parenting with have been through the wringer with have narcissistic parents bosses. The interaction is amazing and we have group calls every other week and those are just I can't even I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to see people connect. It's not just a complaint to place, it's a place where people feel heard and empowered. And that's what you really need is you wake up to narcissism and whatever those forms are. I need some sort of ending catch phrase, and I feel like that now is the part I need to say, you know, I think, Dr. Laura, you say, go take on the day and I feel like I don't want you to say so. So there's a thing, there's some words, but have an amazing day, and I look forward to hearing from you questions that sort of thing as you wake up to narcissism. I didn't really feel like my heart was in that one. All right. We'll see you next time.
Are compliments ever a bad thing? And how important is the delivery of a compliment? Are people genuinely going over your compliments with a spell checker and thesaurus taking offense to the improper use of has, have, or had? Today Tony tackles the topic of compliments and why it would do us all good to embrace both the giving and the receiving of compliments. Tony references the article "You Probably Don't Compliment Other People Often Enough" by Art Markman Ph.D.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ulterior-motives/202110/you-probably-don-t-compliment-other-people-often-enough as well as "Scientific explanation to why people perform better after receiving a compliment," from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121109111517.htm
. With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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[00:00:15] Come on in, take a seat.
[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety one of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and all those wonderful things. And today we are going to talk about compliments, and I am going to give you very solid takeaways. Today, I learned quite a bit about compliments and why we give them and do we give them enough and what the best type of compliment is. So stick with me on this, but let me share what I think was a pretty funny time sink this morning while preparing to record this episode. I got into my office incredibly early. I'm very excited. I love podcast recording day and I am. I'm talking, I'm ready to hit the record button and I find myself wanting to talk about a particular compliment that my wife and I reference often. And we've been married thirty one years now, and it's something to the effect of if you say, Hey, what do you like about me or do you know what I like about you? And one of us just says the other person, Oh, because you like animals and old people and we laugh and we don't explore it much deeper because we've been saying it for so long. So I decided that I would find that quote and I would work that into the episode because that would be kind of fun and nostalgic. But 30 minutes later, I have absolutely nothing.
[00:01:30] I googled it in so many different ways. I googled the actor who I thought said it. I thought it was John Cusack, and I looked for the movie and then all of his movies. And then I quoted specific things and sayings and old people and animals and what I like about you and I just got nowhere. But it led to so many different and I'm just being right off the cuff here in my mind, I thought it led to so many different rabbit trails, which again, now being completely honest. Then I had to Google, is it a rabbit trail or is it a rabbit hole? It has to be a rabbit hole. So I google that. And here's what I came up with is the saying rabbit hole or rabbit trail says used, especially in the phrase going down the rabbit hole or falling down the rabbit hole. A rabbit hole is a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully or troublingly surreal state or situation. So then I realize I'm not even using the phrase correctly to even find the movie quote that I wanted to use it for that I never found. But I will say that while on my Googling journey, at one point I thought that the quote I was looking for was from the movie Cocoon, and I am literally thinking right now I was about to say, Don't ask me why, but I think it's because the quote that I'm talking about had to do with older people and cocoon as a movie about older people.
[00:02:41] But anyway, it did lead me to find an amazing quote on, dare I admit, Pinterest? Pinterest is a social media thing that I still don't quite understand. I know there are boards and pictures, and sometimes when I Google things, it will take me to Pinterest and I go there and then I need to log into something. But my wonderful assistant, Crystal has connected me with a Pinterest account, which then I admittedly haven't done anything with. So at least this time it just came up, which was fun. But I was there. But here's the quote. The quote said people talk about caterpillars becoming butterflies as though they just go into a cocoon, slap on wings, and that they're good to go. But caterpillars have to dissolve into a disgusting pile of goo to become butterflies. So if you are a mess wrapped up in blankets right now, keep going. And it wasn't attributed to anybody in particular. I absolutely love that quote because I feel like how often are we all feeling a little bit like? We are a disgusting pile of goo wrapped up in blankets? And if so, carry on my friends, because someday there's going to be some wings and you're going to you're going to sprout. I wasn't going to talk about this at all. I was, but I was doing the Peloton over the weekend and it was just pouring rain where I met in Northern California.
[00:03:50] We're talking the reign of the centuries. It hasn't rained this much forever and we went from drought and fires to now rain and the fear of floods and mudslides. And I had someone in my office yesterday saying, Is this end of times? I mean, are you starting to see cats and dogs living together, things that are just signs of the apocalypse? And and I'll tell you the funniest thing. This is going to sound like a first world problem, but we happen to have this big palm tree in the front yard because we live in California and it tipped over a while ago. It tipped over with just a little bit of wind and some rain, and we just threw some really good palm tree soil in there and put some steaks and tied it up, not food steaks, but steaks in the ground. And it's now held in like a champ, and I feel like there's something to be said there. Sometimes we just need to get the right soil under our roots. I really do. I thought about that so much because it withstood the two days of just pouring rain and the ground being soft and moist and and it really hasn't been back in the ground. As long as I thought this was going to be years before it could really withstand the pressure of rain and wind and wet soil.
[00:04:53] But boy, you put the right roots in there, and it had me thinking about doing a whole seminar or webinar on the right roots of a marriage or the right roots of parenting, or the right roots of what you are trying to accomplish or achieve. And because I feel like I have those the parenting model, the nurtured heart approach, or the couple's model, which is the my my four pillars of a connected conversation based off of Sue Johnson's emotionally focused therapy. Or individual models of acceptance and commitment therapy and really starting to just become differentiated and say, Hey, bless the heart of those people who are trying to tell you what to do and think, but this is your journey and you are going to figure out who you are. So I feel like that all that screamed at me when I just looked at this palm tree standing in my front yard. So I hope that you will recognize that you all have this potential to be butterflies. Oh, where was I going with that? Riding the Peloton and there was a Peloton ride about mental health awareness and World Mental Health Day, and it was just amazing. And the instructor was talking about who they are now versus who they were quite a long time ago. And they were talking and not directly saying this, but talking about the fact that if they would have made some big decisions back when they weren't feeling so great about themselves, what a different path that would have led and how really being able to focus on their self care, their confidence, their self-worth put them in a position to then allow them to now go and meet people that they now are connected with or get jobs now that that they really feel a passion for.
[00:06:15] And so often I work with people that are feeling so down in the moment they feel hopeless, they feel stuck, which leads them to feeling like they don't want to do anything. But and it's so hard in that situation. That person can feel so, so stuck, and they can feel like they don't know what to do. And I realize that times I sound I can sound dismissive or invalidating when I say, Man, that's the time to just do. And if somebody says, do what? It's anything other than try to think your way out of that problem, go and do. Go and interact. Go walk, go talk. Go to the gym, go to the mall, go to church, go to a volunteer, go to a meet up group and then your brain is going to say, I don't want to, and I say, absolutely. I understand that you don't want to. And you can even invite your friend. I don't want to to come along with you while you do. And that's one of the best ways to to get yourself out of a rut.
[00:07:04] It may seem counterintuitive because we often feel like we have to think our way out of things. We often think that we have to say, OK, I need to wait until I feel better to then go and do something, even though I don't feel very good now. And the book I referenced so often Russ Harris is the confidence gap. I love that title now. I used to not be a fan of it, but the confidence gap. We tell ourselves that when I'm when I get the confidence, then I'll go and I'll do whatever the thing is. But in reality, I have to go and do the thing in order to build the confidence. And so when we can accept the fact that we're not feeling very good, maybe we're this goo of a future butterfly in a cocoon of blankets that when we accept the fact that, yeah, where I'm at and it makes sense why I feel the way I do, because I've gone through a whole bunch of stuff that I really would rather not have gone through. But then once we accept that, that doesn't mean that now that's our lot in life. But once we accept that now I do feel bad about this and I wish that things were better. Now it's time to take action and go and do do anything. And ideally you go do things that are core to your values or your sense of self or sense of purpose.
[00:08:05] But in reality, even somebody saying, well, don't even know what that is. That's that's another one of those ways that the brain kind of just lobbies for the path of least resistance or to not do things because it can say, Well, we don't even know what to do, and then we buy into that. We say, See, my brain doesn't even know what to do, but don't be held hostage by your brain, especially when things aren't going well in your life or you feel like they could be better. Your brain is trying to protect you. A lot of times your brain says, Let's sleep this one off. It should be better tomorrow, when in reality, that's part of the pattern that's gotten people in the place that they are. So thank your brain. It's in its pink, squishy heart, but maybe try something a little bit different. Invite it your brain to come along with you while you start to do. But I digress, and I think I talked about this on an episode recently where somebody wanted the feedback that I received said they love the show, but I ramble, and then I need to get to the point. At first, back in the day, I would have felt like, Oh man, I better get to the point. But hey, this is my point. My point is that the way we often do with life is we put our sights towards something and then other things come up and then we talk or we deal about those other things.
[00:09:06] So I loved the fact that the person took the time to rate and review my podcast and give me that compliment. I really do. Or even that criticism. They said nice things before that. I'm really grateful for that. But I will say that this is my point that that life does go tangential and it can go in a lot of different directions. And one of the things I love is just that concept of flow, which is what I'm doing right here. But let's get to the episode today. So we're talking about compliments, and there really, really is some interesting information. I'm going to start with a little bit of nerdy. This is from the National Institute of Physiological Sciences and then Re reprinted in Science Daily. And then we're going to go from a little bit nerdy to then a Psychology Today article that puts things together. And then I'll end with some thoughts, so this one might not be too long. So this science daily reported from this National Institute of Physiological Sciences the scientific explanation to why people perform better after receiving a compliment. Japanese scientists have found scientific proof that people doing exercises appear to perform better when another person compliments them. The research was carried out by a group led by the National Institute for Physiological Sciences Professor Nori Hiro Sato.
[00:10:13] And then. There is a lot of other people in there that I'm absolutely going to butcher names Sadako and a bunch of other people professors that did this research. So the team had previously discovered that the same area of the brain, the striatum is activated when a person is rewarded by a compliment or cash. And as a person that has a teenage son in my house right now, this caught my attention right away. A compliment or cash is in the same area of the brain, the reward center that they coincide. So their latest research could suggest that when the striatum is activated, it seems to encourage the person to perform better during exercises. And here's the research. Adults are recruited for a study that asks them to learn and perform a specific finger pattern, so pushing keys on a keyboard in a particular sequence as fast as possible for 30 seconds. And once participants had learned the finger exercise, they were separated into three groups. One group included an evaluator who would complement participants individually. Another group involved individuals who would watch another participant receive a compliment, and the third group involved individuals who evaluated their own performance on a graph period. So no evaluator, no one giving compliments, no one witnessing the giving of compliments. So when the participants were asked to repeat the finger exercise the next day, the group of participants who received direct compliments from an evaluator performed better than participants from the other groups.
[00:11:37] So it indicates that receiving a compliment after exercising stimulates the individual to perform better afterwards. It's almost like it's this cherry on top of the sun, or it's almost this part where you just lock in that performance or that task or the ability to do that task by the compliment is what it seems. So according to Professor Siddhartha to the brain, receiving a compliment is as much of a social reward as being rewarded money. Now again, insert joke there. Let me tell that to my teenage son, but I really. It didn't bring some awareness, though, that I feel like oftentimes people are only motivated by money. But I think this speaks to the fact that money seems like such a tangible thing that it does say, Hey, here's a well done, but to the area of the brain. The striatum receiving the compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. And Professor Serato said We've been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message praise to encourage improvement. So complimenting somebody could become an easy and effective strategy to use in a classroom or during rehabilitation. And so that that study led to another article. And this is an article from Psychology Today that I think will make this a little bit more tangible.
[00:12:52] This is by Art Marcum, PhD, and this is from Psychology Today and an article called You Probably Don't Compliment Other People often enough and research is. The subheadline says research suggests people don't realize how good compliments make others feel. The key points in this article, it says, are that people underestimate how good compliments will make others feel. People focus too much on phrasing the compliment in the right way. That part is fascinating to me, and maybe this is as somebody with admitted ADHD that I just impulsively can give a compliment. And I don't worry as much about phrasing the compliment correctly. But this makes a lot of sense as I find that a lot of times people say that they want to compliment somebody, but they're not sure what to say. And this just again speaks to how different we are in our own experiences, the way our brain processes data. Because when I hear people in my office say that sometimes in my brain, I think, Well, you're overthinking it, just say the compliment. But I know that it's not that easy for people that struggle with what to say. And then he also says that focusing on the sentiment of the compliment can make it more likely for people to give compliments. So Art said, think back to the last time that you got a compliment from somebody else. It probably felt pretty good.
[00:13:58] Even a stranger telling you that you're wearing a nice outfit can be a nice thing to hear, and then compliments from friends or colleagues or loved ones can be particularly nice to hear, and for that matter, it can feel good to compliment somebody else. But he said that most people don't compliment others as often as they should. A paper in the Twenty Twenty One issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explored why this happened, so they shared that in one set of experiments, participants were randomly assigned to either generate compliments or to receive compliments. So, for example, in one study, pairs of people walking together in a public park were stopped, and on average, they knew each other for at least around 10 years. One participant wrote out three compliments for the other person that were supposed to be nice things that they hadn't told that person before. Then the Compliment writer predicted how nice the other person would feel, receiving the compliment, and then they also focused on how awkward that person would feel. And in addition, they rated their compliments for how warm they were. That is how nice the sentiment was, as well as how well phrased they were. And then the recipient read the compliments, and then they rated how good they felt receiving them, how awkward they felt, and how warm and well phrased the. It's were, and the key finding was that participants underestimated how good the compliment would make the recipient feel, and they had a control condition showing that people do not underestimate how other people feel in general, which was fascinating.
[00:15:25] So it was specific to the effect of giving somebody this compliment. So reading that again. The key finding was that participants underestimated how good the compliment would make the recipient feel. So if the person giving the compliment wrote down on a piece of paper and they didn't have the exact date, but let's say that out of half out of one one out of 10, if they said, OK, the person, it'll probably mean something around a five or six to them. Well, the person receiving the actual compliment said, now that one, that one felt like an eight, even if it wasn't the most sincere compliment. So it shows that we crave this compliments. We crave hearing others say things that they appreciate about us and I have. I have deep thoughts on this, and it goes way back to the concepts I talk about, often on attachment where when we're born into the world, a baby doesn't even know that they exist. They don't even know they're an entity until they they interact with other human beings, till they're fed, till they're there, their diapers are cleaned or but then they have an interaction with others. And then we are programed from that point to know we exist or that we're alive. So sometimes I feel like we must go throughout our lives.
[00:16:25] Oftentimes, we're just in our own head, so even just receiving a compliment from somebody is almost this just the the subconscious? Just check in with somebody to say, Do I exist? Am I alive? And we want that attention. We want that. We want to know that we we exist, that we matter. And so far better to know that we matter from somebody that is giving us a compliment. Participants also overestimated how awkward the recipient would feel. So again, the first thing that they overestimated was are they underestimated how people would feel in general. So people like receiving the compliments, then they overestimated how awkward the recipient would feel. So the person giving the compliment and again, they don't give the scales on this. But let's say that same model, if they said, you know, I think that people are going to feel really awkward receiving the compliment. But the people receiving the compliment also said, no, I actually don't feel very awkward if it feels pretty good. The third part of that was participants also slightly underestimated how warm the recipients would find the compliment. So people, they really appreciated the compliment. It didn't make them feel as awkward as the person giving the compliment thought. And then the people receiving the compliment also found that they found it quite warm that of getting that compliment from the person giving the compliment. And then finally, participants strongly underestimated how well phrased recipients found the compliment to be.
[00:17:40] So again, they strongly underestimated how well phrased recipients found the compliment to be. So let's dove into what those findings mean. So participants were asked how often they complimented the person they had been walking with, and people systematically said that they give fewer compliments than they think that they should. So it speaks to the fact that we're pretty aware that it would probably be a better world if we were giving more compliments. And this set of findings was replicated several times. It wasn't just this one occasion. So the upshot is that people underestimate the positive impact that a that a compliment will have on others. And art goes on to say that in particular, recipients focus quite a bit on the sentiment expressed, and they're not that concerned with the way it's phrased. And I feel like this is something that in my office we'll talk about where if I if somebody is worried about the way they are going to phrase a text, I have people that will spend so long on text. And but then I will often say, how often do you receive a text? Where then you break down the grammar, or you can't believe that the person didn't capitalize something or didn't have the the correct apostrophe or question mark? And not often people aren't as concerned with the way that something is phrased. So if you're a person who finds yourself not expressing compliments or sharing things that you would like to share with somebody because you're worried about the way it's phrased, then please hear this that this these findings that were replicated several times that was one of the biggest pieces to this was participants strongly underestimated how well phrased recipients, how well phrased recipients found the compliments to be.
[00:19:11] So meaning that people don't necessarily care very much about how it's phrased. It's the sentiment and the fact that somebody is expressing a compliment that really matters. Another study demonstrated that this mis estimation of the impact of compliments affects whether people choose to give them. So in a final study, Art shared that individuals wrote out compliments for another person in their lives, and then participants were directed to focus either on the warmth of the compliment or again on how well phrased it was. And participants who focused on the warmth of the compliment rated themselves later as much more willing to deliver the compliment to the other person than those who focused on how well phrased it was. So it just backs up further that if you're over focusing on how you phrase a compliment, then it makes sense where you are not going to deliver those compliments. And meanwhile, now we've got this data that says, by the way, people love getting compliments and they like them more than we even think they do. So putting these findings together, it says that people miss a lot of opportunities to make other people feel good because they don't deliver the compliments they think of.
[00:20:12] And then he says, and this is such a good summary, a big reason why they don't give these compliments is because they underestimate how good those compliments will make the other person feel. And a big reason why they underestimate the impact of the compliments is because they focus more on executing the compliment and meaning and saying it the right way than on how good the compliment will make other people feel. So in conclusion, he says, if you have a chance to compliment somebody else in your life, you, you should probably do it. Let's talk about this. In conclusion, this is one of those. What do we learn today? Moments that, oh, maybe right now is a real quick. I didn't want to throw things up in the beginning, but my magnetic marriage course with Preston Pug Meyer, we've been saying this for a little while, but the next round is coming in early November. So contact me. You can go to Tony over Bacon and then shoot me an email through the contact form. If you want to find out more information, we're going to hold a webinar. I believe it's going to be next week at some point to just give more details and give a little bit of a preview for the course. This is round three. The first two rounds sold out pretty quickly and but you can just contact me and I'll make sure that you're on that list to find out more.
[00:21:14] And if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then I will try. And that's at virtual counter at Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist. Then I'm really going to try to do a better job, be more intentional about sharing when the webinar will hit and what that's going to be like. And then I continually forget to mention that Betterhelp.com is a wonderful sponsor of the virtual couch. And if you go to Betterhelp.com virtual account, you get 10 percent off your first month's services, and Betterhelp.com can get you speaking to a licensed professional counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist in your neck of the woods. But but doing so via tele therapy, via phone calls or video chats or texts, or there are so many ways to connect to a therapist, and it's well over a million people. I think it's up to one point five million people have taken advantage of better help services, so don't put that off. They now offer couples counseling as well. So go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you deserve to to address some of the mental health concerns. Because it's been a crazy two years, it really has. And as a therapist, I'm a big fan of people going to therapy period, but especially now give yourself a give yourself some grace, take a little bit of self-care and just go and find someone that you can talk to, whether through betterhelp.com slash virtual couch, somebody in your area, whatever you need to do, so do that today.
[00:22:28] All right. In conclusion. Giving compliments It does so much not only for those who you give them to, but I believe it does a lot for the person given the compliment. Why? Because much like the science of gratitude, when people are keeping any type of a variation of a gratitude journal, they're looking outside of themselves and looking for things to be grateful for, which absolutely puts the mind in a state of a positive confirmation bias, meaning that you're looking for more things to be grateful for. So trust me, you are going to find more of what you're looking for. Be it negative or positive. And I know I know the brain and thoughts, and I know that it's more complicated and nuanced than that. But in general, the concept of confirmation bias is so real it is just so real. When I bought my current car, the one I'm driving right now. It was funny once I bought it, man, I see those cars everywhere. And when I started shaving my head long, long ago, all of a sudden, Oh man, there were far more people walking around with shaved heads. So my challenge to you would be to be a bit more intentional about giving compliments with maybe a couple of caveats.
[00:23:28] You cannot expect a compliment in return. You may find yourself expecting a compliment in return, but I would encourage you to give a compliment to make someone's day to help make them feel them feel more confident without expecting something in return. That is next level Zen Master kind of stuff. Give out goodness into the world. We were all doing a bit more of that without the expectation of reciprocity than the overall vibe in the world and the entire universe would amp up. It would be amazing, and I would also encourage you to look for something about the person, not simply their looks or their outward appearance or even their outward actions. The compliment, although trust me, that is a great place to start. But what do you admire about the character of someone else? And you got me thinking a lot. I was thinking about my wife and hands down is the kindest human being that I have ever been around. It's amazing to watch her kindness in action now. Can it be to her detriment? First of all, who am I to say that's her own personal experience? Do I feel like there are times that her altruism or her putting the needs of others ahead of her own may cause her more emotional stress or pain? Sure. But that's my opinion, and it's my experience, and ultimately, I want her to be not. Ultimately, I do want her to be the best version of her, not a version of her, that I would like for her to be, because that would be insanely selfish and self-centered of me.
[00:24:37] And it's exactly the opposite way to have a true connection in a relationship. So we are to you as well in your relationships, your two unique individuals coming together to try and battle the world together. And holy cow, we need to have somebody there with us if we can. The two heads are better than one. One plus one is three. Not not enmeshed, not codependent, but that's a podcast for another day. So if you've made it this far, I can just tell how much I really do appreciate you. And yes, I am complimenting you on this podcast that we are talking about compliments. I know, but it is absolutely sincere and genuine. I know that when I started this podcast five years ago. There were around six or seven hundred thousand podcasts and many that weren't being updated regularly. Now I did a quick Google search while I was Google searching everything else in the world and there are well over two million podcasts. So any minute you spend with me on the virtual couch or on my new podcast, waking up the narcissism is the ultimate compliment to me and and I thank you for that. All right. Taking us away, as per usual is the amazing, the wonderful,
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