Narcissistic tendencies or traits can come in many different forms and levels of severity, while 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 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

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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.

Tony talks about the mental health and life lessons learned on a recent trip to Disneyland, including the brain’s fascination with anticipation vs. reward, the psychological importance of nostalgia, the “Coolidge Effect,”; how to “let go and play” (http://playtheory.org). Plus, Tony shares the application of his “4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation” with his wife during a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. Tony also discusses mindfulness tips, how “kindness wins,” and the link between ADHD and “hangry.”

Head to tonyoverbay.com/magnetic to be the first to know the start date of Tony's next round of his "Magnetic Marriage" course.

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that 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 own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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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[00:00:00] Today, we are going to talk about Disneyland, so even if you're not a Disneyland fan, I hope that you will sit back and enjoy a therapist take on the Magic Kingdom.

[00:00:26] Come on, take a seat.

[00:00:32] So a few weeks ago with my wife, my daughter MacKinley, my niece Taylor, we headed to Disneyland down in Southern California and a true confession. I did not go to Disneyland as a kid. And I don't want you to get out the violins or the sad music. But my first trip was with Wendy a couple of years after we were married, and she would go often as a kid. So she was so excited to share the magic of Disneyland with me. And it was wonderful. And we were married in the year nineteen ninety so long ago. So I have to believe that we went somewhere in that early to mid 90s. And so for anybody keeping score, California Adventure, the other theme park that is across the the, the little pathway there to Disneyland was first opened in 2001. So our first trip was classic Disneyland. I did a quick Google search and the rides consisted of the classics. There was, of course, a small world which literally did break down on us halfway through. And that song to this day still brings back memories as a nice way to put it. Of that first trip, there was Pirates of the Caribbean that was pre the addition of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow talking to you right before you made that ascent back to sea level, as well as so many other rides that were based off of the classic movies like Peter Pan and Cinderella and Dumbo and you name it.

[00:01:43] But this time around, we were pros. We had been dozens and dozens of times with our kids. And despite living in Northern California for a few years, we held season passes and we had made the drive down south whenever we had a free weekend and loaded up the kids and we were going to create good memories. Doggone on it. But this was one of the first times where I felt like there was absolutely zero kid related responsibilities here. McKinley as my kid. But she was I don't know, she's twenty twenty one, twenty two somewhere in that range and we could just go and be present. And in doing so, honestly, my therapist brain was on high alert of all the various correlations to the entire mental health world, the mental health process. So today, welcome to episode two hundred and seventy six. We're going to talk about those those things that the therapist picks up on while in Disneyland. So. Two hundred and seventy six episodes. Welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch. I am your host. Tony Over became a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mind will have a coach and writer and a speaker and a husband father for all those wonderful things. And I still would encourage you to go to Pathbackrecovery.com if you if you want to learn any any everything you want to know about putting pornography as a coping mechanism in the rearview mirror.

[00:02:54] And it can be done in a very strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be kind of way. But man episode two hundred and seventy six. I have to do a quick side note. I was at an event this weekend and I ran into someone, a woman named Robin Kopa. Robin had been a guest on my podcast, I think on Episode nineteen and it was so just fun to see her there. And we reminisced a little bit. Of course, I had my blockade of people. I had my handlers, my bodyguards. Now now that I have two hundred and seventy six episodes and as I had one of my assistants communicate with her, I wouldn't ever communicate directly with me. Man, OK, I'm trying to be funny right now, but I think what if somebody really does? Believe me, I had this whole bit in my head about, you know, that I was there with my with my hair plugs and my gold teeth and my all those things. I really wasn't that way. Was so good to see Robin. But she may just ask some questions about how the podcast is grown. And I do remember sitting with her literally on my couch on Episode nineteen to talk about parenting and recognizing in that moment, I wasn't really sure how to do an interview with two people in the same room and see if you could hear us.

[00:03:57] And I think if you go back on and listen to that episode, you don't really hear us very well. So it was so neat to just kind of reminisce with Robin about those early days of the podcast. And I'm so grateful for people who do listen to the episodes. And before we get to the topic today, of course, magnetic marriage course, I know I talk about it often, but it's because it's a phenomenal opportunity to teach you and a spouse new communication skills and ways to be more connected. And we'll give some examples even today of using the four pillars of a connected conversation, even when I was with my wife at Disneyland. But the next round of the magnetic marriage course is coming up. And you can go to Tony Overbay.com magnetic to find out more or just drop me an email through the website, through Tony Overbay.com and let me know if you're interested and I'll make sure that you are one of the first to know when the next round starts. And this is kind of fun. I'm heading to Utah later this week to film an episode of Family Rules with Brooke Walker. And I'll be talking about parenting. So if you don't follow me on Instagram, please do a virtual couch. And I'm going to try to film a lot of the behind the scenes stuff and I will keep you posted when that episode will air.

[00:05:02] I know it's for their season three and I'm not sure when season three debuts. So that's going to be fun. But let's get to the things that I learned at Disneyland. So I first want to start with this concept of anticipation and anticipation and the way that the the neuro neurotransmitter, the way that dopamine works in our brain. So do you have things in your life that you antispam? And I'm talking even if it's on a daily basis or if you anticipate date nights with a spouse or do you have small vacations and a weekend getaways, or do you have one big vacation that you're looking forward to that might even be months out? Or I remember when I used to do a lot of racing, ultra running, I, I typically had a race once a month. I would do 12 to 15 events a year. And I realized later that that was a way for me to always have something on the calendar, something to train toward, something to really look forward to. And a lot of that is we now have some pretty cool science around anticipation and dopamine in the way dopamine works with the reward center. So the person who put this best is James Clear. And in his fantastic book, Atomic Cabot's, he's talking about cravings. But the science is, I think, similar spot on. And I will relate this to Disneyland. He said. The cravings are the most underrated component of the habit loop because they have only recently been better understood.

[00:06:21] The strength and influence of cravings can best be demonstrated with a quick explanation of neurobiology. So he says that dopamine and I think we hear so much about the dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter in our reward experiencing pathway, and it was designed to evolutionarily encourage positive behaviors that help in survival. So that was the initial. That's why we have dopamine to encourage positive things to encourage. So dopamine plays into that reward center and we want to reward ourselves when we do good things. So that kind of makes sense. But he said only recently was it discovered that the largest dopamine spike in the brain occurs in anticipation of the reward, not actually while experiencing the reward. So put that in the context of when you are anticipating the reward, anticipating date night, anticipating going on vacation, anticipating the next race, anticipating whatever that you are anticipating, but that will actually spike or flood dopamine and dopamine is this chemical that not only is this feel good chemical, but it's also somebody like me with ADHD. When you take a medication, a stimulant, it is helping flood your brain with the dopamine that it's missing so that dopamine also helps you stay hyper focused and fixated on something. So it had been a while since we had been to Disneyland. So the anticipation factor really was on full alert. And we got there and we immediately made this beeline to California adventure.

[00:07:43] That was the tickets that we happen to have these parkop or tickets. We had to start in one park and then at one o'clock the floodgates would open and we could go back and forth these Park Hopper tickets. So we went to California Adventure. And my favorite ride is the one formerly known as Tower of Terror. But now it was Guardians of the Galaxy. So that was something that I had not experienced. And I again, I love everything about the ride that was Tower of Terror. So now I had this Guardians of the Galaxy experience to look forward to in a ride that I already knew the basics of. I was going to be going up in a tower and I was going to be drop in and lift it up and dropped repeatedly. And I love that. I love that feeling in my stomach. And so and I really enjoyed the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. So the anticipation was on high alert. So just waiting in line. My dopamine was flowing. I was like a little kid. I was so excited. I was locked in. And that ride did not disappoint for even a single second. It really didn't. And the lines were really short. We timed it just right as the world was kind of reopening post pandemic and we immediately went back and did it again. And that was the first time where I realized that the dopamine was definitely higher flowing and that anticipation of the unknown.

[00:08:58] And then we we experienced the ride, which was amazing and fantastic. But I could notice that even when we were in line again for that second ride, that it wasn't that now we were bored out of our gourds and we didn't want to do it anymore. But it definitely wasn't that same excitement. But here was what I thought was so amazing. And I was so aware of this for the rest of the trip that the dish every time we went in this, I feel like this further back, the clear's research. You have these opportunities in Disneyland to get your picture taken, which when I was a dad of younger kids, I found pretty annoying because then the kids always wanted the pictures and the pictures were very expensive. And then I would feel like a bad dad because I couldn't afford all the pictures, which, by the way, now I feel like my ATV is flown. But it was so fascinating to look at all these other angles of Disneyland. They had a then opportunity where you could buy all the pictures and one day for I think it was twenty dollars. And so I bought my wife, my daughter and my niece to tears and talking about what I've learned about the role of an actuary, because I've had clients now that have become actuaries for insurance companies or one that did for a large I think it was an online gambling establishment.

[00:10:09] But what an actuary does is they figure out the math, something I'm not very good at, but they figure out that math of what makes more sense to charge individually for the pictures or if you will, you get more money if you to say, OK, we can do fourteen ninety five a picture or we can say. Nineteen ninety nine, and then you get all the pictures you want in the day, so they had this photo pass nineteen ninety nine. So obviously the people at Disneyland are they're smart. They want to make a profit. So that must have been the financially better decision. And I was in so then we were going to get pictures taken all over the park and, and every ride so in every single ride. So yes we would then start to feel again. It wasn't that we were bored or were flat as we were waiting to go on the ride again. But I found myself and I'll give you a splash mountain as an example. The first time down that death defying drop when we're almost fallen out of the log, the pretend log to get the best picture we can as we're were plummeting to our death. That was exciting. So then the next time we go in, as we're waiting in line and even as we're just meandering on this water ride, this log flume, it did feel a little bit like I could almost fall asleep.

[00:11:19] But then when it was almost picture time, I remember at one point I was literally OK, guys, is go time because we will go over what picture are we going to do? I think we had a really funny one where, I don't know, my daughter Maggie holds her phone and it looks like we're taking a selfie. We're on this just steep decline and we're all kind of piling out to the left or the right posing for this photo. So that was a really fascinating experience to just see that, OK, that initial ride was amazing. But then we took an OK picture and then we proceeded to ride it several more times. This ride Splash Mountain over the next seventy two hours, always with the goal of taking a better, funnier picture so that dopamine would be obey until you got right up to the drop. And then it was go time and it was picture time and the excitement was solid. And so I found that same experience the first time we went on the ride of Indiana Jones. It was amazing. And we held on for Dear Life and we had fun. And then we went again with wondering what it would feel like if we just didn't ever hold on to anything with our hands at all. And that was thrilling and it was exciting every moment that dopamine was just flowing and we were thrown around like rag dolls, which was new and it was novel and it was exciting because our brains, they do want more and more and more.

[00:12:29] And not that I would anticipate that you were guessing that I would probably talk about anything to do with pornography and to talk about Disneyland, which there's I'm not putting a correlation there together. But I did think this was a fascinating time to talk about this concept called the Coolidge Effect. And so I did an episode on this a long time ago. But it's, again, talking about dopamine and tolerance. So our brain again, I just made the comment that our brain wants more and more. It wants new, it wants novel, and it wants exciting. And there was an article a few years ago by a Harvard scientist, Kevin Magennis, and he talked about the role of dopamine. And I thought he said that this is really fascinating to me. He shared that scientists have discovered and hang with me here. But if you place a male rat in a cage with a receptive female, they will mate. But once done, the male rat will not mate more times. Even if the female is still receptive, he loses all sexual interest. But if right after he finishes with the first female, you put a second receptor female in, he'll immediately begin and then a third and so on until he nearly dies.

[00:13:30] And that same effect has been found in every animal studied. And this is called the Coolidge effect. And there's a funny story of why it's called the Coolidge effect. And I'll let you go find the podcast I did on the Coolidge effect to hear more about that story. But so Kevin Margera said this explains why men use pornography, pornography as power comes from the way it tricks the man's lower brain. One of the drawbacks of this region is that it can't tell the difference between an image and reality. So pornography will often offer a man an unlimited number of seemingly willing females. And every time he sees the new partner with every click, it gives off a sex drive against. That means the lower brain, the Neanderthal part of the brain actually will eventually come to prefer pornography to the real partner. And so he says, think of the difference between playing chess and playing the latest video game. Even though chess isn't physical, it can't compete with the intensity of the video game in the brain over time. Prefers the video game and the reason it does is because of this chemical dopamine. So then what he talks about is that dopamine is also we talk about this. It's hyperfocus drug. It's also this drug of desire. And so when you see something desirable ah, as as James Claire talks about an atomic habits are when you find something desirable, when you anticipate something desirable, then the brain pours out dopamine.

[00:14:42] And so it says dopamine fixes our attention on that desirable object so gives you this power of concentration. So he says that when somebody clicks and sees this new pornographic image, the lower brain thinks that it's the real thing. So now all of a sudden, his brain says we must win over that willing female. So the first exposure to a new female who wasn't a potential mate wasn't something that happened to a lot of our ancestors, maybe only once in their lives that know it's this their brain was designed to find there are potential mate and pour out this dopamine winner over to a nice little dance, ruffle some feathers, whatever they do in the animal kingdom. And then we we get our mate and then we are good. So we're continually just gaming this. Permit system. And so when you look at it in terms of something like roller coasters or that sort of thing, it's pretty harmless. That can be really fun. But when it comes to someone that is searching out pornography as a coping mechanism, he said that if a person keeps up the dopamine screen by overstimulating himself with porn, then his brain will start to turn the volume way down. And the brain synapses don't like being overstimulated with dopamine. So they respond by down regulating some of the dopamine receptors, which means that those dopamine receptors, they withdraw. And and so then they they destroy that receptor within the neuron.

[00:15:58] So down regulation is how the brain then turns down that dopamine volume. And then once the dopamine binge is gone, it's left feeling this vacuum of silence so it feels depleted. So he says that's why pornography can cause this vicious cycle, that when someone who is prone to addiction, abuse, pornography, then they get overstimulated by dopamine. Their brain will destroy some of those dopamine receptors and that makes them feel depleted. So they go back to pornography. But now having fewer dopamine receptors, they will need to game the dopamine system. They start to find that they have to use pornography for longer or longer periods of time to have the same effect. And they may even have to start looking at more crazy, wilder things to try to get that same dopamine stimulation. So I've got a whole episode on that. And the good news is you can reveal those dopamine neural receptors by becoming able to turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism. But anyway, I digress. And I really didn't plan on going into that much detail. But I think that's such fascinating science, especially as we learn more about the role of dopamine. So dopamine in the anticipation of a roller coaster is fascinating. So I was the next thing that I learned in Disneyland, and this was so exciting. And I want to give a huge shout out to a podcast called The Happiness Playbook.

[00:17:18] My buddy Neal Hooper hosted and one of my good friends, Larry Florence, is the one who started it. And she runs an incredible nonprofit theater group in my area called Takeno Troupe. And they, Larry, came up a long time ago with something called Play Theory. And you can go to play theory big. And I would highly, highly recommend you go check out Play the and the Happiness Playbook podcast. But they have these four principles of play theory. And the second one is called Let Go and Play. And I had a daughter, my daughter, daughter and my daughter Sydney was in the Takeno Troop Theater Group years ago and was in a few plays. And I remember being introduced to this concept of play theory and I fell in love right away. And the second principle of play theory, and I don't think I've ever shared this, Larry, but I remember that so well that let go and play. And so I thought about that often while we were at Disneyland. I think about it often in a lot of things I do, especially when I'm out in public or I'm with my family or kids or somewhere we're just trying to be in the moment. But so let go and play on play theory dog. They say leave the ego at the door, have fun, leave your comfort zone. And with the phrase the kids, I'll send it, go all in.

[00:18:28] And nowhere do I do this more than on rides and being at Disneyland now, again, trying to be as present as possible, having just gone through this, what, year, year and a half of quarantine and committing man, I thought I did mindfulness before, but just having daily mindfulness practice over and over, it's now been years and years. But I had to double and triple down on my mindfulness practice over the last year and a half just to be able to stay present and stay afloat at times, emotionally, mentally. And so what what that looks like is let's scream, let's have an amazing time. And there were so many times where on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or on the water right in California Adventure or on Space Mountain, where and my wife is just all in with me that when we are on that ride, I let it go. I scream like a little kid. I throw my arms up in the air. I have the most fun and I want that to be infectious. I remember getting on the water right again. It's this eight people in this rounded tube and you're going to get soap. This is a California adventure and and just prepare to be soaked. And that's part of the fun. But we had four of us and four strangers that walked in, two groups of two and immediately and maybe some of you aren't going to like being on a ride with me, but I'm asking them, is this your first time on the ride? Are you excited? Are you worried about getting wet? And already these people that are kind of feeling like they were just going to kind of keep to themselves or starting to share with us a little bit more and then the anticipation, the dopamine starts flowing.

[00:19:56] And we are just in that moment and we are having an amazing time. And if somebody gets wet, we're screaming and oh, my gosh, and no, no. And try to move away from the water. And we just had the best time we let go and play. And how often can you check your ego at the door and let go and play? It's one of the most powerful things to show your kids. It's one of the most things that will cause you to feel the most alive if you're out there in public and you're so worried about what other people think about you, which let me tell you is. Normal, I feel like that is most people's default setting, and I know that it didn't help growing up a lot when I would tell my kids when they say, dad, that's embarrassing. And I would say, OK, well, if I see all these people tomorrow, then I'll apologize then. And I used to think I was pretty witty about that. But really, all you can do is be present for yourself, even in the with the fear of invalidation, that if somebody else saying, oh, jeez, you're embarrassing me, man, I am so sorry that that you are embarrassed, but I am going to go all in so that let go and play at Disneyland was one of the most amazing things that you could possibly do, because, you know, you only have one chance to make the most of every single moment of your life.

[00:21:01] So live it. And what I love about the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy is even then our brain will say, well, man, I haven't made the most of my life or maybe I haven't been as present or I haven't been able to let go and play. And that's OK. We'll note that, you know, your brain is constantly trying to orient itself by ruminating about the past. I wish I would have done more of this. I wish I would have known this earlier. I wish I would have been able to do these different things. And it's perfectly normal and human. And when you notice that you're having those thoughts or ruminations or looking back at the past, then just just note it just like me. Yeah, I wish I wish I did. I wish I would have had my ADHD diagnosis 15 years earlier. I would have been a whole lot more productive. OK, I'll note that. Or we then go when we fortuneteller, we get our crystal ball out. We say, and what if I'm what if I'm not present? What if I'm not able to accomplish the things that I really want to, then we'll just kind of acknowledge that then that would be hard.

[00:21:54] And I hope that's not the case. But I'm going to drop the rope of the tug of war on the past and the future and just worry about right now and not even worry. I'm going to be present. That is one of the best things that you can do. And I was going to save the best for last of the things that I learned at Disneyland. But I know how podcasts are consumed. I know that sometimes we do have the best of intentions and we get distracted and we don't come back to a podcast. So I'm going to be vulnerable and to be human, I'm going to be raw, to be authentic. And all the therapist words. And I want to talk about exchange that I had with my wife. And I got her clearance to share everything about this exchange, because if you are if you are in a relationship, if you're a couple, you are interacting with your with older parents or siblings or your kids or people in the workplace think you get the point if you are a human being. And I think there's some gold to be mined in this conversation. So I jotted down some notes. So forgive me if you're watching this on the YouTube channel and be reading a little bit here.

[00:22:54] So I really do enjoy a good nap. I feel like I don't I try to get the most out of every minute of every day. So when it is time downtime, my brain tends to say we're just going to shut off right now. So and there's something oddly satisfying to me about almost this repetition, repetitive tasks in order for me to provide an even better napping experience. It's almost as if my brain knows what's coming so I can actually relax some kind of setting the stage here that there are places that I nap Disneyland that are amazing, I can nap through now. It's a small world and it's just such a pleasant, pleasant nap with the repetitive nature of the song going on. Or I can nap like a champ in Pirates of the Caribbean. And the quick side note, when I was going to school, I started my college experience in Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. I was trying to play baseball there and we would leave. I was in this fraternity and we would walk the campus. And in the winter it was brutally cold. And at that time I also had a horrific comb over. I was losing my hair like nobody's business. I hadn't dealt with that yet, so man. And it would just cold and windy. And so I would if I could get into a building and then try to go take care of my flap of hair on the top of my head and be somewhat presentable.

[00:24:05] I wasn't going to go back out again. So even when I had gaps in the day hours, at times between classes, I would stay in a particular building. And there was one where I found this giant lecture hall and there was this two hour lecture, three days a week. I have no idea what the subject matter was, but I would just go in there and I would just settle down and I would take the greatest nap in the history of all naps three days a week, almost my entire freshman year. And it was this amazing experience because of just the repetitive nature of the droning of the professor. And it was just amazing. But anyway, Pirates', it can be my naptime. So we're on the right and here's where this is not going to be my best self, but again, I got to own this. So Wendy and I are in a row of seats by ourselves. I think we're in the second row. I believe my daughter, my daughter MacKinley and my niece Taylor in the front row and my wife just happens to be on her phone. We're starting to just float at the beginning. If you're familiar with the Pirates of the Caribbean, ride the restaurant, the Blue Bayou is to our right. And so we're not yet kind of engaging in the ride.

[00:25:02] And I don't I don't know what my wife is looking at. She's she's on her phone. And I just impulsively make this comment and I just say, hey, are you present? Make sure you present. And the second it came out of my mouth, I wish I could have taken it back. And I immediately apologized. And I I knew it wasn't necessarily the time, but I did not want to ruin that ride for her by what I had said. And so we worked through the four pillars of a connected conversation right there before we started getting into the the real meat of the ride. And so stay with me here, because there's some concepts of the magnetic marriage course I'm going to bring into here these four pillars of a connected conversation. And it was amazing. So either one of us could really jump into the framework if both of us were aware or both of us were committed to using these four pillars of a connected conversation. But even if one of us wasn't aware of the four pillars, you can you can still get to this framework. And let me explain. So I see her on her phone. So at that point, when I finally notice that I am being a complete weenie turd, you fill in the blank and that that was something that I wish I had not said then I can pillar no one, assume good intentions. So by that I mean that if I'm seeing her on her phone and it bothers me for some reason, we'll get to that, that then I can assume that she's not trying to do that to hurt me.

[00:26:22] And I know that can sound odd or maybe out of context, but stick with me here. So pillar number one, which is a game changer. I heard it two or three times yesterday in sessions of people talking about that. One is so it helps people stay more present. So assuming good intentions, she wasn't on her phone to try to hurt me. She didn't wake up in the morning and say, wait a second, the lights go down. I'm on Blue Bayou. I'm getting on that phone. I'm going to annoy the heck out of Tony. That's what I'm going to do. I mean, there's no chance that wasn't what was happening to number two. I can't say she's wrong or project the message that I don't believe her or that I think that she's wrong. And what that would mean in this context is that I can't then put off the vibe that that what she is doing is wrong, even if even if honestly, I feel like it is the third pillar is ask questions before making comments. And so, you know, I feel like you can you can assume the good intentions and you can not put off a message if I don't believe someone. But then if you just say, all right, but let me just kind of tell you my thoughts and then and then I want to hear what you have to say.

[00:27:15] So if I would have gone in there and just blasted her, so to speak, and told her all the reasons why, I think that that was not the right way to be enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean. But now I want to hear what her experience was, and that is the wrong way to do it. And I know I can go worst case scenario here, but I talk about it often. But I've literally had experiences before where someone like in that situation, me, for example, if I would just say, you know, I really think you should be more present. And I feel like what you're doing is going to the glare of your phone is going to bother people or whatever. And then if she were to say, hey, you know, my mom just texted me and one of my one of my siblings is sick, then I'm going to feel like, oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. Do whatever you need to do. We need to have that attitude of you, do whatever you need to do because you're you you're a human. I think it was last week's episode I talked about the concept of control in a in an adult relationship, you can have control or you can have love, but I don't believe they can. Hopefully they're both evidently they both go together.

[00:28:08] So that questions before comments, you know, that's that I can say, hey, tell me more about what you're doing. And then my fourth pillar is to stay present. Don't go run into the bunker. You know, if I would have just even if I would have hung in the first three pillars, assume good intentions, not put off this vibe that she's wrong. And I would have asked questions, tell me more before making my own comments if they were even valid or necessary. But then the fourth pillar, if I would have said whatever doesn't matter, my opinion doesn't matter anyway. You're going to do whatever you're going to do. Then all of a sudden I've gone into victim mode and now I want her to come rescue me. I want her to say, no, no, no, I you're right. I shouldn't be doing that or that sort of thing. So you can see how unhealthy a conversation can be or how unproductive a conversation can be and all the various ways that it can venture off into this unproductive path or down this unproductive path. So in this scenario, I basically work through those pillars for her, so and then when when in that scenario, once I kind of felt like I had expressed myself or I felt heard and she didn't say, OK, you're being ridiculous or that sort of thing, then it was my turn to take accountability for what I had said.

[00:29:15] And that is where I realized it was more about me. And let me quickly circle back there is that she even said, OK, hey, all right, she's going to assume good intentions of me even saying that even though I was being a jerk, that assume good intentions. I wasn't trying to hurt her by saying, hey, pal, be more present. And then second pillar, she was so gracious and kind and didn't didn't say to me, you're ridiculous. Even though she probably felt like I was in pillar three. And she's asking me, hey, tell me tell me why that bothers you. Tell me more about that. And then her pillar for she stayed present. She didn't say, OK, I guess I won't do anything that I want to do because you don't want me to be on my phone. So we both felt heard. And when when we both felt hurt, when especially when I felt heard, man, it was my turn to take accountability and ownership for what I had said, because that was more about me. And here's the fascinating piece of this. This exchange is that had we been arguing or had she all of a sudden shut down or if I was going to force my I wanted her to understand that she needs to not be on the phone because of how I feel. Then all of a sudden, we're locked into what Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy, calls these demon dialogs.

[00:30:26] And then we get into the tit for tat or people do the freeze and flee or the the pursuit and withdrawal. There's these these dances that we get into. And what's so unproductive about those dances is she could have easily said, OK, well, you do this. And I said, OK, well, but you do this. And that's the tit for tat. And what are we not talking about when we're into these demon dialogs? We're not talking about the core issue or the core emotions or feelings that are underneath why we express ourselves the way we do. So she stayed present and and she heard me. So again, I felt hurt and I had to take ownership and accountability. Please do not skip this step of taking ownership of what what meaning you put to something. So I realize this is more about me. I realized it was about the times where I feel like she may spend more time looking at her phone. Then what, like looking at me and adoring me? I mean, it's not exactly that, but maybe not being as present with me, maybe when when we are together. And so this is such a common thing that couples are dealing with. So I was able to share that with her, that it was my anxious attachment style, it was my neede attachment style that was underneath my comment to her. It was my way of wanting to say, hey, don't you care about me? But boy, did I do it in the wrong way.

[00:31:39] So she stayed present. She heard me, she validated me. And then she dropped trou knowledge on me and saying that she appreciated me taking ownership of my comment and my feelings because her immediate thought when I had just blurted that out and boy, you could see how we could have got into a tit for tat really easily. And then I probably I maybe maybe I wouldn't have taken ownership of my role in that conversation. But she said that my proclamation going into the pirates of wanting to nap through the ride, I didn't really sound like I wanted to be very present. Right. But I didn't see that. So then once I felt heard, once I took ownership, that that, hey, you can be on your phone, you can do whatever you want to do. You are a differentiated, interdependent individual. And and I care about you regardless. I care about you. You don't have to be a certain way for me to love you, that you I want you to be you and I want us to be able to have these conversations out of curiosity and from a tell me more about that standpoint, because that's when we get to the good stuff. And this is that's why I wanted to go in so much detail about this little exchange. I just talk more about it than we did on the ride.

[00:32:43] But you can see how being able to have a framework to have the conversation that we left that conversation and we both felt heard we both felt like we took ownership or accountability of our part and we felt like we could we could we could understand the good intentions behind why I said this really silly thing and why she why she does the things that she does. She does them because that's who she is and she's human. She has her own experiences, as do as do I. And so we can have more productive conversations. We have this framework that isn't about tit for tat or back and forth or anyone trying to control the other ones, saying here's what you need to do on this ride, that kind of thing. So speaking of pirates, that also brought up a really fascinating thing to me, and that's this concept of nostalgia. So when I talked earlier in the episode, I mentioned that I did not go to Disneyland growing up. And so and I again, I'll own this, I think this is anything that can keep the gasp, the loud gasp sound effect. But I did grow up going to a couple of theme parks, Dollywood in Tennessee and I think a Six Flags in Texas when I visited my cousins one time. And so I knew roller coasters and those are exciting to me. So when I went to Disneyland for the first time as an adult, I was a little bit disappointed and I didn't think I thought it was full of all these amazing rides.

[00:34:07] I didn't realize it was more about nostalgia. So then I did a little bit of digging for this episode, and I found an excellent podcast called Speaking of Psychology. And there's a Dr. Christine, I think it's Vojtko talked about the role of nostalgia in psychology. It's in their episode ninety three. And does nostalgia have a psychological purpose? And she was asked by the interviewer, and if that's so good, the interviewer, the interviewer said your research has shown that nostalgia can be a stabilizing force and it can comfort us during times of change and transition. Can you explain that a bit more? And so Dr. Bochco said, yeah, change whether it's good change or negative change, we know it's stressful and change can be very difficult to grasp because in some sense, at a very deep level, change threatens us. And so it can be a little frightening because we're not one hundred percent sure that we can control our environment. So change can feel scary. So one of the most important aspects, she said, of being a healthy human is being able to have a sense that you're in control of things and our brain wants control. And that's why I talked about last week, that we can have control or love in adult relationships. I wasn't saying that control was why it's crazy.

[00:35:12] Somebody wants control and that's how we're wired, because we feel like if we don't have control that then we are going to die. I mean, to oversimplify it. So Dr. Bychkov said when things start to change either very substantially, such as major events in a person's life, getting married, getting a divorce, a new career, going back to school, graduating from school, it can often be comforting to have a nostalgic feeling for the past. That reminds us that although we don't know what the future is going to bring, we do know who we have been and who we really are at our core, and that is part of what nostalgia can do, she said. Nostalgia can be a very comforting emotion. It also brings back it stimulates memories of the times when we were accepted or loved unconditionally. You start to see the psychological component of nostalgia that oftentimes if someone goes back to this place in Disneyland and they wear their their favorite shirt and they put on their Disney ears and you see a lot of people with that and they're just all Disney, because Disney oftentimes represents a time where they felt like they had more control or they had more safety or there was more love. And so I can understand where that nostalgia comes because that is such a powerfully confronting phenomenon if we scratch that one. Right. I'm trying to read Dr. Bosco's quote and watch that one all together.

[00:36:24] But Dr. Bochco says that is such a powerfully comforting phenomenon, knowing that there was a time in life when we didn't have to earn our love or we did not or we didn't deserve it because we earned a certain amount of money or we were successful to a certain point, or that's what gave us our our value, she said. Our parents, for example, or siblings or friends, simply love this unconditionally. And that is a wonderfully comforting feeling when we're undergoing any kind of turmoil in our personal lives. So when you are going through these difficult experiences or going through change events in life, oftentimes our brain wants to go back to nostalgia. And so if you are a heavily nostalgic person, then I would imagine you've got some very, very comforting memories of your past. And then I talked a little bit last week about this concept called relational frame theory, where we will then take an emotion or a feeling and then we'll combine that with that in the same frame as a place maybe like Disneyland or a smell like homemade cookies or a sound where if we go in here, water the ocean, for example, to me, what a relational frame of comfort to go to the ocean and hear those waves on the beach to the point of where it's a happy place. And thankfully, my wife's as well. And so when we will often say that I would love to retire at the beach and then I have someone else say to me, oh, you don't want that because of the sand and the wind and the this and the that, that's where I love to bless their heart.

[00:37:47] That's not their experience, you know. But but that is one that I can put in this relational frame of goodness, so to speak, of that it does bring comfort and it helps me feel maybe more in control with my surroundings. Mindfulness, I put in my notes here, mindfulness coming out the wazoo, and it didn't auto correct Watsu, so I think I probably spelled that right, that would be a zero. So we drove through the night to get the Disneyland. We arrived at our hotel around 3:00 a.m. We pulled up. I was driving and I went to the front desk and you can literally see the lights on the front desk. It's open. It's all windows. But nobody was there. So the doors locked. This has ring a bell. I ring that bell and Man did I ring that bell about 15 minutes solid. I ring that bell. And it was one of those where you could see a room connected to the front desk. So I rang and rang. I found myself getting frustrated and I can only imagine that person was asleep in their room. But as much as I would start to notice my stress level or noticed myself getting frustrated, I didn't give in to it.

[00:38:49] I didn't react to it. I mean, I would notice it, acknowledge it. And then I would turn back to literally being very present and pushing the button, ringing the bell, smiling at my family as they looked out of the car, kind of like, what's up? And so I just noticed it. I didn't react to it. Mindfulness, remember, mindfulness is not trying to stop a thought. I want to say this every chance I get. People often say, I've tried mindfulness, but I can't I can't clear my mind. Well, nobody can. I mean, not that I'm aware of. So the mindfulness practice. Let me be let me just go over this. There any chance I get I use the app called Headspace. I don't get anything for that. In the app Headspace. The practice goes as follows. Typically, it's a guided meditation. There's a wonderful British guy named Andy who then says, all right, welcome back, sit in your chair and then start to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Man, I feel calm just even saying that. And I just sat up in my chair, but breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and that is starting to lower your heart rate because remember, the higher your heart rate is elevated, the more of the stress hormone cortisol starts to get secreted, created. And when your brain gets cortisol, it thinks something's about to go down.

[00:39:59] So it starts to shut down the the the prefrontal cortex or the limbic system. It starts to shut down the part of your brain where you you have you have rational thought and it starts to fire up that Neanderthal brain, that amygdala. So as you get more elevated, as your heart rate raises, then you are actually going into more of this fight flight or free state. So one of the first things you're training your brain to do is to come back to calm and lower the heart rate, lower the cortisol so you can tap into that part of your brain that can think logically, which will allow you to be more present. And then you're in the Headspace app than Andy will often just go quiet. And that's the time where my brain starts to think and think and think often even thinking I don't have time to even do this mindfulness exercise. And then at some point he will say, OK, hey, gently acknowledge you're thinking and then come back to the breath. Think about breathing and just in through the nose, out through the mouth, or think about your do a body scan, feel your back against the chair, your your butt on the seat, your legs on the floor, your feet on the floor. And because what you're not doing when you're thinking or focusing on your breath or focusing on a body scan or listening to the sounds around you or the smells or whatever you can focus on.

[00:41:14] So again, your brain isn't clear, but you're not thinking about the thought. You're not ruminating about the negative thought. You're not worrying about the future that can cause anxiety. You're not giving in to the compulsion that follows the obsession with obsessive compulsive disorder. You are bringing yourself back to present over and over again. And yes, oftentimes you as soon as you come, you are not being present. Your brain immediately can go back to where it was, what it was thinking, what it was doing, and oftentimes will say, see, it didn't work, but that's the way our brain works. Your training the brain to be able to bring it back to the present moment. So I, I really feel like there were so many opportunities to be mindful. Mindfulness in long lines. I remember being at this place called the Pizza Press one night and I don't know if I've seen a line that long, but we were we were hungry. We were hangry and and we had already exhausted other options on where to eat, how quickly we could get back to a hotel and get food, lines everywhere. So that was one of the most mindfulness challenges I think I've taken on. And it worked. We made it through. We got the pizza, we ate. And it was it was amazing. adrenalin. When I'm at this when I'm waiting for this, reading this buzzer for 15 minutes, finally I hear somebody say out of nowhere, can I help you? And I jumped and there it was.

[00:42:37] And this one is a really funny thing that I've learned just from my office experience here is that after every session, I typically have to go to the bathroom and stay hydrated. There's probably too much information there. But then when I come back, I often say if my door open to my clients to come on in, I've got a little fridge that can grab a drink, that sort of thing. And so I will often not have heard them and feel like I'm only in the bathroom for a little short amount of time. So I come back in and I've got a client sitting on the couch, even though that's what I want them to do, that oftentimes I jump and it's one of the funniest things because now it's like, OK, I almost can wait for it. Give it about 20, 30 seconds and here comes the adrenaline and you can literally feel it through your you feel through your veins. And it's fascinating. Really quick side note. If you've ever done cryotherapy, which is that get into negative ninety in the negative two hundred degree temperatures, it's something that a lot of athletes do for recovery. I usually save the cryotherapy for any race over 50 miles, but when I do cryotherapy, it's it's a similar thing. So you will go in this negative 90 degree room and walk around a little bit and then from there enter a negative, sometimes one hundred eighty or two hundred degree room.

[00:43:44] And boy, you have to keep walking around and then you come out of that room, your core body temperature is just cold and all of your blood has gone to to save your your your life. It sits around your heart and it's really working to keep you alive. And then the experiences that I've been on, then they put you on an exercise bike and just have you barely start pedaling and then you feel it's so wild you feel the blood go from your heart, out through your body to your extremities. And part of that, the belief is that that will help clear out some of the lactic acid or some of the things that will make you sore as the days progressed. And I have found that I feel like I'm sore not as long. But my only point is that that is the feeling that you get if you really can if you get a good scare by your kids or anything like that. And if you can tap into that just being present in that moment, you can literally feel the adrenaline rush through your body. So one of the most fascinating things, I love it. So adrenaline, just a couple more things and then we'll wrap this one up. I also put a note that kindness wins, even though I was frustrated, especially in this experience with this person that wasn't there at 4:00 in the morning, even though I was frustrated, he apparently had walked down the street to get coffee, didn't leave a sign that said he would be right back.

[00:44:55] You know, none of those things. And I could have let him know all of those things. But I have a personal value of kindness or compassion or non confrontation. So that's what I turned toward. So now, if somebody has a core value of justice or order, meaning that they are an absolute rule follower, then perhaps it would have been more in line with their core values to let that person know that it would have been more helpful for future people. That might be showing up at 4:00 a.m. while he's getting coffee to know that. You'll be right back. So please leave a sign. But this is what's kind of fascinating. So check this out. If I was telling somebody that has this value of order or justice, if I were telling them, oh, you shouldn't have done that, you shouldn't have told them those things, then they're going to think, OK, cool story. But that's that that's who I am. Just like if I have this value of kindness or compassion and somebody is telling me and I'm just giving this example, but I think you can maybe see where I'm going. Think of all the times or somebody like you don't need to do you tell that person that they need to do whatever and it's something that you would never say or never do, then guess what? You don't have to do it.

[00:45:55] I mean, that is that's where I talk again about control. I remember having this experience well before my therapy days. I remember being on a business trip with someone and they were the ones saying, hey, you need to call that waiter over and you need to tell him that he needs to do this. And I remember having this moment where I thought, no, you can I mean, if that's what your experience would be. And this person that I used to travel with on occasion, they started to get frustrated with me because they now knew that I was going to say, oh, yeah, I don't care about that. Or but if you would like to, then that would be fine. So I think that taps into that. If you are trying if you were trying to do something that is not in line with your core values, it's kind of falls into the ranks of what we call an act socially compliant goal. And you're doing it because you think you should or you're supposed to or you have to, and your motivation is going to be weak and ineffective because it goes against your sense of self or who you are as a person. So but if I'm tapping into my Value-Based Goal, is it the right thing to do? Well, is there a right thing to do? And that's why I bring up this example of I kindness.

[00:46:54] For me, that's a value, compassion, connection, humor, those things. So if I'm tapping into those, then, man, he scared me. That was funny. I'm going to tell him that he's saying, I'm sorry that I was I wasn't here. And I'm saying, hey, no problem. Now, now we're here. Now we're now we're having an experience. Now we're having a connection. How's your night been? You know, what time do you start? How often do you take a walk? And are there people often in my scenario or is this completely unexpected? So kindness. So in that scenario, I felt so. Much better walking away from that situation, even though it was frustrating, waiting for 15 minutes, I threw just a few random sampler notes here that I'll maybe just blast through. And these if you have questions or thoughts or think that they would make a better podcast or another podcast, shoot me an email. But I saw somewhere I put on here turow's and being angry, ADHD and angry. And I just saw in in a brief mention on a video that angry or being angry and hungry was a very strong symptom of ADHD. And I thought that was kind of fascinating because my family will make fun of me constantly that I am the nicest guy in the world until we placed our order for food.

[00:48:06] And then I just I get hangry. And now that I'm aware of it, I notice I am angry. I comment on the fact I'm hungry. I jokingly say I am going to not keep talking about being hungry while I try to stay present. So I thought that was interesting that sure enough, when when man what. I would get angry. Hungry that it was it was hard to not start to become a little bit angry. Sunk cost. If you're familiar with that concept. That's the old I've invested two million bucks in this project that is losing money repeatedly. But I'm going to put another million in because while I've already put two million in, you know, it's a sunk cost. That's a big dramatic example from the business world that I had a client that I worked with at one point, that that was what we were processing in a session. But I also talked with a good friend of mine that I used to travel to Japan with. He was a financial guy, Scott, and he would often talk about the concept of sunk cost and how we can even apply that to you. Pay for a meal. But now you're full and we often think we don't want to waste. But you've already paid for the meal. So at that point, it doesn't necessarily do one any good to continue to pile that food away because it's already been purchased.

[00:49:16] Or I think about that. If you are about to go on a trip to Disneyland, this might be the or any theme park or any vacation. And if you have not already laid out a budget and if you don't already have a value of boundaries or order or rules or those sort of things, then I feel like there needs to be some acceptance that, look, when you pay money for admission to a park, then, boy, try your it can still feel very frustrated. Can't believe I paid a hundred and something dollars to get in here, you know, and now we have a line and now we have this normal thoughts or human. But boy, those are incredible opportunities to come back to the present moment and just be present. The money has been spent, the present the food has been purchased to be present. If the planning wasn't done in advance to have cheaper food or snacks or that sort of thing, then the complaining of it is in a productive, workable thought be present. So I thought that was kind of fascinating. Real quick smile at the parent who you notice that seems overwhelmed. And I remember being that parent and my wife and I were handing out smiles for free on this trip. And you start to really recognize that. I mean, I remember being there with the kids in the stroller and somebody drops an ice cream and that sort of thing.

[00:50:25] And so sometimes a smile is all that they need. I just put a note on here. You'll dry off eventually. You know, again, talk about being present. I feel like it was that acceptance doesn't mean apathy, principal, that once I accepted the fact that I was going to get soaked on the ride, then once I accepted it, then I wasn't trying to contort my body and pulling things in my back to the point of where and then being angry. If I got wet, it was like be present, accept the fact that on the water ride I most likely will get wet and then enjoy the heck out of it. I'm not going to Swan dove into the water, but when I got wet, I got wet. Because you're going to dry. You really are. You'll dry eventually. And I talked to I wrote a note here about an experience in a line where I turned toward my value of knowledge. I noticed that we were getting a little bit worn out and there was a little bit of silence between the four of us in line. And the other three people in line were probably fine with it. But my anxious attachment style, which I want to take ownership of, was constantly saying if everybody isn't talking, they must be mad at me. How fascinating is that? Right. I'm a therapist. I'm a pro.

[00:51:27] Fifty one years old and very secure in my and myself. But the brain is going to do whatever the heck it wants at times and that good old, deeply rooted and anxious attachment style from childhood is saying their silence. Are they thinking I should be carrying the conversation? So in those moments I turned, I noticed that my anxious attachment style was fired up. And so then I just noticed it, acknowledged it, didn't try to push it away, didn't try to change that thought, didn't try to say don't think those things noticed it, and then just dropped the rope of the tug of war with the anxious attachment and then just pivoted toward a value of knowledge. And so I found myself continually Googling a ride and then just talking about fun facts about the ride. And a lot of times that we would be engaged in a pretty fun conversation. So turn toward your values when you are noticing the anxiety, the depression, the overthinking. And and I already covered this one. But, man, just give yourself permission to scream. Go big. Be present, have an amazing time, and on that note, have an amazing week. I appreciate you sticking with me this long. Those are the things that this therapist learned from his trip to Disneyland. And I would love if you have additional thoughts or questions or your experiences, comment wherever you're seeing this on a podcast app or on YouTube channel or shoot me a tweet. Email contact@tonyoverbay.com. I'd love to hear your experiences and I'd love to talk about those at some point as well. All right, everybody, thanks for joining me.

[00:52:58] Compressed emotions flying past our heads and out the other and the pressures of the daily grind

[00:53:06] It would have been to in rubber ghost voting

[00:53:13] Last minute and push aside things that matter most. Sales of discount price on an opportunity to

[00:54:05] Take over the world of.

[00:54:10] It's always on the back burner until can afford to, I always pushed

[00:54:17] For the shot of. Find. Chiang Mai Mai Tai.

[00:54:58] Develop these tools don't explode.

Nate Christensen, APCC, joins Tony to discuss attachment styles and how they relate to addiction, and how attachment shows up in marriage. Out of the various attachment styles, what does it look like when an anxious attachment style meets up with an avoidant attachment style in relationships where trust has been broken? If you are interested in working with Nate you can contact him through the contact form on Tony's website http://tonyoverbay.com. Tony and Nate are also facilitating Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back, find out more at http://pathbackrecovery.com

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that 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 own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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

---------- TRANSCRIPT ----------

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 270 of The Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay, and today, prepare to go to school. You're going to learn a lot today, and I have no doubt about that. And my associate, my friend, my colleague, Nate Christianson, back on live because a few weeks ago I reran an episode that Nate did on giving his Ten Commandments of dealing with depression. And that went absolutely fantastic. But in this episode, Nate was back in the studio and as I shared in that best of Nate is my new associate and associates. All were formerly known as interns. And he and I talk very briefly about that in the beginning. But an intern or an associate in a therapy and counseling world is basically somebody who has received their master's degree in counseling. They've been seeing clients as part of their practicum or is their coursework. And now they're able to work out in the private practice setting or in a clinic or a nonprofit. But they have a clinical supervisor that they can turn to to discuss clients and cases and get advice or support those kinds of things. So I am Nate's clinical supervisor. So if you're looking for help and you like the cut of Nate's jib, it just just for fun. I love a good turn of phrase. And I use that one from time to time. The cut of one's jib fun fact that is a nautical reference. In the 17th century, the shape of the jib sail was often what I identified a boat's nationality. So hence whether it was hostile or friendly. If you saw the Jolly Roger or the skull and crossbones coming at you in the middle of the ocean, well, most likely you'd report to the captain that, in fact, you did not like the cut of that ship's jib.

[00:01:26] But anyway, that term was being used figuratively by and I think it was like the 1400's to express a like or a dislike for somebody. But I like the coordinates, a jib. So if you like what Nate is offering, you can contact him through the contact form on my website, Tony Overbay Dotcom to see about working with him. And we do reference my online pornography recovery course, the path back a couple of times in this episode. So if you are interested in more, you can head over to Pathbackrecovery.com to learn more about that. And before you hear the music come in, if you're struggling to find a counselor or therapist in your area, but you're ready to get help processing or dealing with challenges in your life, then please do go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch for 10 percent off your first month services of online counseling. Betterhelp.com intake process is really easy and they will have you speaking with or emailing with or texting with or zooming with a therapist who can help you with a variety of challenges from anxiety and depression, those sort of things that you might be struggling with. And if you don't feel like you're connecting with your therapist, Betterhelp.com makes the process of switching a therapist very simple. So you owe it to yourself to at the very least, give counseling a try. And if doing it online is the way to make it happen for you, then by all means go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch today. So let's get to this episode on talking about attachments and and addictions, betrayal, trauma, all of those things with Nate Kristiansen.

[00:03:03] So, Nate, we're back.

[00:03:07] Yes, how are you doing?

[00:03:08] I'm doing great. I'm seriously giddy and excited. We are sitting beside each other and we are recording a podcast again. I ran the one of the best of episodes on the Ten Commandments of Depression. Right. And you get people that are saying they heard you on the virtual couch and you better say yes right now.

[00:03:24] I think just people that I'm related to. OK.

[00:03:26] All right. In there, they say, man, you don't need that Tony guy. You need to venture out on your own. That guy's a boat anchor. They say they know they love you. But I was really excited. And you are now officially your title is

[00:03:38] Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, which sounds

[00:03:41] Really cool.

[00:03:43] It's probably sounds cooler than

[00:03:46] Nate is working. And I don't know why I was telling Nate before. Why do I feel like I don't want to date is working for me? I don't like any of that. But the way the process works is when you are an associate professional clinical counselor, you must have a clinical supervisor. Yes. And that happens to be me. That's correct. Yeah. So Nate is in an office right beside mine, which I'm just giddy about, and I get to work with Nate. We get to see each other on a daily basis. And then the theory is that what every ten clients you see in a week, I get to talk with you for an hour. Right now it is well.

[00:04:19] So we'll have the we have our normal supervision and then you have additional hours based on how many clients I see. So the more clients I get, the more we get to see each other.

[00:04:29] So I'm very excited, which now it sounds like I'm telling to this shameless plug. Natus is open for business. Yes. So if you're in our area, are actually doing telehealth or that sort of thing, please reach out through Tony Overbay dot com. The contact is funny. I didn't even say or contact me directly, but it sounds like I would like all the control and I will filter through what gets the name, but I'm not really saying that. So I don't know if you do have contact information right now or just get me through my website or anything.

[00:04:52] So I did set up the email. It's just a Gmail. Nate Kristiansen counseling at Gmail dot com.

[00:04:58] Are there like five hundred ways to spell Kristiansen?

[00:05:00] Surely there are soldiers. So what's your RISC?

[00:05:04] And this seems like a pretty standard one

[00:05:08] Could be sure people still do so many different ways that I'm not even sure

[00:05:12] It's so neat. And I wanted to get together again and I want to get to the content, but I feel like I could go on and on. But Nate has joined me on my pathbackrecovery.com calls, the weekly group calls, and I love that group call. And so you've been on there for a couple of weeks now. And so because Nate has some background experience we're going to talk about today on the podcast, and then he's also there because there was a time to go to my son's basketball game. Nate took over, which is really nice. And and Nate's interested in working with the population of men who are women that are struggling with addictions, compulsive sexual behavior, impulse control disorder, that sort of thing. So it's been really nice to have not only Nate here, but also with a lot of the skills that you bring to the table. So we want to talk about

[00:05:54] That today, right? Yes. What are we talking about? Well, I guess a quick intro. So I'm this is like a second career for me. Probably third, actually, but I'm in my early forties, so this isn't where I started in life. But it's kind of where I've ended up. I've struggled with, like my own mental health issues for a long time. So I was really interested in mental health. It's kind of that stereotype that every therapist has their own problems are working out, and that's why they're in the field.

[00:06:18] Do it's funny, I would hear that. And I was like, not me. I just I just feel a love of this draw. I think it was two, three years. And I'm like, oh, that was exactly one hundred percent. Yeah.

[00:06:28] Eventually you'll find some skills in the closet, you know,

[00:06:32] Where there were quite a few.

[00:06:34] Yeah. So anyway, I recently completed my coursework at Northwestern University and thank you, Tony, for accepting me as an associate. I'm super excited to learn under somebody that really knows the ins and outs of the areas that I'm hoping to work with people in.

[00:06:50] And if you've heard Nate on previous episodes, Nate, now we've had a nice friendship, a good relationship, and we would win. I would I would talk to Nate. I mean, we get right into the the thick of the psychological theories and those sort of things. And that's why when you were in college or in getting your graduate degree where I had you on a couple of those podcast episodes, and I feel like you are very comfortable with this. And so when you talk about it being a second or third career, does this feel different already?

[00:07:17] Yeah, it does, because any career job that you do, you come in usually with kind of a low knowledge base. And so you're learning as you go. And in grad school, you do a lot of work with people in a clinical setting before you graduate, but then you have the personal experience layer. And so I have issues. I was diagnosed in my early 20s with anxiety disorder, also with depressive disorder. I think the most accurate term now in the DSM is major depressive disorder, and that's something that's been on and off. The anxiety feels like it's always there. So it's more of a management thing. And then actually, just a few years ago, I went down the road to the Aymond Clinic down in the. Bay Area, and because they're still having some questions, what's going on, and so they had me take a bunch of assessments and did a brain scan and congratulations, you have ADHD. Welcome to the club. Yes, thank you. Very excited to be in.

[00:08:13] And it's funny I forget that you have been to the Aymond Clinic because I talk about that constantly. I mean, that brain scan technology is fascinating to me. And I love the fact that you came away from that with the brand new and exciting diagnosis, because it was what led me down my own path was working with a client that got a brain scan and he showed the scan. And this Dr. Amena there had circled an area of the brain and said, basically, there's your ADHD. And I thought, that is fascinating. And then I thought about eight other things at the same time.

[00:08:42] Yeah, yeah. So that's my. Well, and I guess the other issue that we will talk more about is I've struggle with addiction. And so thankfully things are really come together for me in the last couple of years have been able to really move past these addictions and experience sobriety for the first time in 20 plus years. And my mental health is is finally in a really solid place. And and so that's why I'm excited to be here and do this. It's definitely something that I'm I know you're passionate about. I feel really passionate about.

[00:09:15] And I feel like that's the thing where I was going there, too, of does this feel different now? And it's one of those I didn't realize what I didn't realize in my previous career in computer software that it felt more like I'm checking a box and I'm just doing a thing. And now this is where, man, I love it and I can't wait to work with clients and come to work. And if you are struggling with any of the things that needs talking about and are thinking about seeing a therapist, I really would love for you to keep your eyes and ears open or mind open, as you hear, because I feel like one of the things that we talk about often is you need to have a good fit with your therapist. And and I find that a lot of people that will resonate with something, maybe for the first time they're hearing it on a podcast. And I really want people that are listening to take that as a cue to reach out and maybe get some help. And if it's Nate or whoever it is, yeah, let's deep dove into where we go in today.

[00:10:06] Yeah. So I brought in some material which was actually my capstone project and my capstone project was on attachment theory and how attachment theory intersects with the idea of addiction. And I was particularly looking at compulsive sexual behavior. I don't know how much you've talked to on your podcast. Within the clinical world, there's a lot of debate going on about whether or not sexual behavior should be classified as an addiction, as OK.

[00:10:33] Yes. And it's funny when you go first, because I do a little bit with this and it's interesting and we continue to make it about myself. But when I even started the virtual couch, it was the talk about my path back pornography recovery program. And but then I realized quickly I didn't want to be pigeonholed into just talking about it. But I've swung so far to the other side that I don't talk about it enough. So, yeah, so talk about that. Is it an addiction

[00:10:55] Or so I don't know, getting into my own past and my own issues. I've had multiple like truly what are considered addictions and conquering those were a big challenge. But I can tell you, looking specifically at pornography that felt every bit the addiction that any of the other addictions do. And I understand that from a clinical setting, especially for sex therapists, they want to keep that window open. A lot of what I read when I was putting together my paper was they weren't ready to say it was an addiction. And it almost sounds like when you read differing opinions that different people in that same field could feel very different about it, depending on who you talk to.

[00:11:39] Yeah, and I totally agree. And I have. So where I've gone with this is and I've even been very clear about now calling my pet back program a pornography recovery program instead of a pornography addiction program. But I want to meet my client wherever they're at. So some people feel like that label of addiction is really heavy and it's shaming and which can even make things worse. But I also found people that they say, no, I need to know that this is a thing in order for me to feel like I can get help for it. But lately I've been talking a lot about the concept of impulse and compulsion. And just simply, when you look at compulsive sexual behavior or impulse control disorder, that in a nutshell, a compulsion is premeditated and then an impulse is not. And so I'll talk often about you can especially with things like turn into pornography as a coping mechanism that people can get the compulsion maybe under control, so to speak, and then they can still find themselves the acronym Hault, hungry, angry, lonely, tired and maybe fall prey to an impulse and then act out, relapse, have a set back and then beat themselves up. And sometimes I feel like the brain's just waiting for that so it can jump back on and say, OK, can we start doing this again, can we get the dopamine fix and that sort of thing. But what I love is that your paper and you though, really dig deeper and look at the attachment piece to that. Yes. OK, so that's why I'm excited to talk about that, because, again, the. Recovery programs or or those sort of things are wonderful, but I really do believe that if you want to if you want to get to the core of this, this is very good. A really good counselor therapist is going to be worth their weight in gold because it's it's not just about when I feel triggered. I do some push ups or I sing a song or that sort of thing. We've got to figure out what are some of those unmet needs.

[00:13:17] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I totally agree with that. And that's I think one of the pieces I really like about the path back is it gives you like a clear direction of things that you can not only explore within yourself the self awareness piece, but also the tasks that you can do in order to. They're obviously based on values and things like that to get you towards going towards the direction that you really want to be in. I'm going to commit the cardinal sin right now and quote something that I can't that I don't know who said it. I found it when I was writing my paper and I lost it and I couldn't find it again. But I know what they said. It was in a research paper and it was beautiful. And they said and because of what I was doing at that point, as I was researching how attachment relates to addiction generally, not necessarily just compulsive sexual behavior, but just addiction generally. And what this researcher said was people don't have an addiction problem. They have an attachment problem. And I thought, holy cow, OK, there's so much here. What am I going? I was just getting into that rabbit hole. So I don't know if you have any thoughts about that, if you would, in your.

[00:14:20] Oh, OK. So that is awesome. I wanted to quickly I wanted to say I said that. Oh. But I've been through I mean I really do that but but I feel like that so and this is not supposed to be an ad for the path back I promise. But I can make it an app for my book. And I feel like this is the part where I really feel like when I started working in this area that it was more about the behavioral mechanisms to overcome turning to pornography. So it was. So when you have a thought, you just need to do this or you just need to do this. And I was trained a little bit in that and then I felt that is just not holding water. And so I what I call these five voids that when people feel like they aren't connected in their parenting or their marriage or their faith or their health or their career, that then they turn to a coping mechanism. So like pornography. So then I feel like then when you start looking at how to become a better parent or a better in your relationship or your career, then all of a sudden at the core of those is attachment, which is right of how do I show up to get my needs met? And then we get some nice abandonment side issues there. And I love everything about what you're talking about, but back to you.

[00:15:29] Yeah, I know. So attachment is super fascinating. There's a few different ways to view attachment. I divide divided. It is simply as possible. There are different terms that people use. So when I broke attachment up, I had secure attachment, which is the positive attachment that we want everyone to experience. So you hopefully had a good childhood with parents that were attentive, that help you help meet your needs, that maybe denied you some things that you shouldn't need, because also a part of attachment is understanding boundaries and differentiation, which is the idea that this is where I start and and where you begin. So we're not overlapping too much. Then we get into the other parts of attachment, which this is where problems start to come up. One is defined, are known as anxious attachment, one is known as avoiding attachment, and the other is sometimes called avoidant, anxious, anxious, avoidant or mixed attachment as some combination of the the two. And what we tend to see is people with each of these attachment styles often have similar experiences at some point in their life and often when they're young. So the program that Northwestern I went through was psychodynamic. And what that means is we're highly focused on what happens in early childhood experiences. I know you're really big to act and I love act.

[00:16:46] But what's funny, though, you say this is it is funny because I remember. Yeah. And I do love act and bring yourself back to present and those sort of things and turn to values. But those are all determined by your childhood experience. Right. And I remember I was going to come out and be the therapist that was going to just deal with the present until you literally start working with clients. And then it's OK. We got to go back to the past.

[00:17:05] Yeah. And to me, act is like the if you're going to make the Disney movie, it's frozen because it's a let it go. You have an emotion show up and then you just kind of let it go. But there's some beauty to that because even in work as a psychodynamic therapist, when you're working with someone and they're stuck in something about their past, they can't change and they also can't let it go. They're not able to progress.

[00:17:28] And that's a very good point, because I do feel like and I think my wife has brought great awareness to me where I do maybe because I love ACT so much and I've seen it change people's lives, that then where I'm saying, oh, it's normal to have that thought or feeling or emotion. And that's cool. Right? So now just make room for it, acknowledge it, don't fused to it. Move toward Value-Based Goal, in essence, let it go. And I do feel like people are like, yeah. And then like but what if I can't. Right. And so now here comes back to attachment psychodynamic going to figure this out.

[00:17:58] Ok, so with attachment theory, I really identify strongly with anxious attachments, so anxious attachments come typically when a young person doesn't have consistency from their primary caregivers. And by consistency, what I mean because no parent is perfect. Right. So what you have is you have parents that are maybe with one hand loving you and with another hand maybe acting violent towards you. So what you end up having is they don't know if they're coming or going with their parent. Now, that's not to say that parents always have to be perfect, but parents that are better at apologizing when they do something wrong, that are better at changing and allowing children to see them change, parents that are better at acknowledging their faults. Those seem to help with those kind of attachment wounds. Parents that are this is your fault. I'm only doing this because of you. And then five minutes later, they're loving on them like it never happened. It never gets brought up. Sometimes that's really what we're talking about. We're talking more of

[00:18:59] A lay down on the couch while you do this, because I've always identified as anxious attachment as well. And then I feel like when that shows up into adulthood, it really I love how you said it's like I really don't know if I'm coming or going or where I stand. And so then if I feel like my wife is if something's off, then I'm like, it must be me, right.

[00:19:16] Right. So we internalize things. Sometimes what you see is a pattern with people with anxious attachment. And this is not always true. But if you think of attachment, a spectrum on one end, someone being highly anxiously attached on the other one, some. So not being actually attached at all, the closer you get to the end of the spectrum where someone is highly anxiously attached, you tend to see more and more people with a low self-image and you tend to see people that are seeking they have more of a positive or hopeful worldview, hopeful that the world can help the help tell them they're OK.

[00:19:48] Ok, so can you see the tears in my eyes, as you say this, are they typically about five foot eight bald the set? I mean,

[00:19:55] I'm six foot ball anywhere between there. OK, yeah. So that's typically what we'd see from people that are anxiously attached, shifting over to people that have more of an avoidant attachment. Typically what you see with people that are buoyantly attached is they would come from childhood homes where they didn't they were neglected. They weren't necessarily given much attention. And sometimes they're very independent, but they really struggle with incorporating emotion because no one really train them. They never really learn. They never really saw or maybe they just saw at a distance. And when they get older, they struggle to know what to do with any kind of emotion. If you look again on the spectrum example, someone that's very far to the to that attachment of being avoidant versus the other side being not very avoidant, someone that's very, very avoidant in their attachment might resemble someone that you could classify as a narcissist. OK, they really struggle to hear when anyone offers any kind of criticism, even if it's constructive and positive, they have a difficult time taking responsibility. They tend to just do their own thing and feel like they're fine. They have more of a positive, like maybe even over accounting for for what they actually are. Or really a grandiose perhaps. Yes. Yes. So a really high positive sense of self. And they tend to view the world in a negative way. So they're like everything that's wrong in the world is outside of me.

[00:21:21] I'm good. And I can give you a perfect example of this. Hopefully my wife will forgive me this because she was telling me the story. So she has someone that that that's that's been in her life for a long time. And this person did something that she didn't love. And so she sent them an email and let them know, hey, this is what happened. And I don't think this is trying to smooth the situation out, share how she felt while also getting to see the person was willing to maybe change. So it didn't happen again in the future. And the person's response to her was, I don't make mistakes, boy. So she was like, OK, that person just shut the conversation down. And they're not even willing to consider the fact that they may have done something and maybe not even intentionally, but they did something that was problematic for someone else. The sad part when you get into these highly emotionally attached people is because they have such a hard time with self-awareness, because they struggle with that emotional component of feeling there's something wrong with them. Like that's that's their strategy. Yeah. I'm not going to allow anything to tell in the world to tell me there's anything wrong with me. They really have a difficult time improving themselves in certain areas because they just don't feel like there's anything wrong.

[00:22:34] So they take no accountability. And what's fascinating, so I talk about gaslighting often, and I read once that gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism in childhood. If I admit that anything is wrong, then I may be booted out of my home. There's abandonment and abandonment equals death, and so I will. And so when that pattern has always, literally always been there of I'm not going to I'm not going to admit to anything, then I learned stall, I learned to turn it back around and somebody learn to get overly emotional so that I can get out of a situation, I learned to control it with anger, but anything other than take responsibility. Right. So I appreciate. Yeah.

[00:23:09] So anyway, and then the mixed attachment style is people who vacillate between the avoiding peace and the anxious peace. Generally speaking, those are considered relatively rare, like five to 10 percent of the population. And it's the hardest to try and treat. But those are all areas that relate to compulsive sexual behavior. People with anxious attachment are more likely to engage in sexual behavior with multiple partners because they're constantly worried that somebody is going to drop off. So they got plenty in their back pocket. People that are avoidant are more likely to engage in paid sex or in pornography. They want control of the relationship. And then obviously people that are mixed are going back and forth. So it may not look like obviously one or the other. It might be all of the above that they're engaging in. So that takes us back to the compulsive sexual behavior piece. So my paper, which and this is where it becomes a very tough sell. My paper was if someone is in a relationship and they are discovered. What then does do both parties do if they want to try and continue the relationship, because what you have is you have a broken attachment already in one party. Then you now have a damaged attachment and betrayal, trauma in the other party that just discovered this. So how do you fix that? Yeah. So I'll I'll throw this at you real quick. What do you do in this kind of a situation?

[00:24:38] And so this is where I have I go back to those identifying those voids and then in this scenario. So someone is definitely going to not feel connected in their marriage. Yes. And so I don't know if you did you you didn't in your program. There wasn't a lot of couples.

[00:24:53] No. So clinical counselors are more specific to individuals. So I can actually see couples because I'm working under a marriage and family therapist. You and you can give me supervision on that. But if I were to not take additional coursework and not get enough hours under you and get licensed as a clinical counselor, state of California will not allow me to see couples. OK, so there are some restrictions if I want to do that and I have to go on

[00:25:17] And I and it's funny because I know we were talking earlier, I wasn't necessarily aware of that. But I even feel it's funny because I feel like the couples therapy training that I received even as a marriage and family therapist and just being authentic and real and stuff, I felt like it was more of just this reflective listening kind of a piece. And the reason I say that is because I feel like bringing reflective listening into this betrayal, trauma, anxious attachment issue. And I didn't know early on in my career at the time is not fun. That's right. Because it's really saying, OK, what do you hear this person saying? All right, can you reflect that back when you hear this person saying, I feel like you would sit back and say so, is that how you fix that? And so I in part of my own work, I found E.F.T. emotionally focused therapy, which is no surprise based on attachment, and it is a framework. So when you're saying, OK, throw it back and what do I do with it? It's so important. I feel like they have a framework because the people are the anxious attachment once the once the validation of the therapist as well. Right. And then the avoidant attachment is probably feeling like there's I can't trust anybody. And I've heard that before. I can't even trust this therapist. And so sometimes that can they can really hunker down in their bunker. And then the anxious attachment now naturally is going to try to go and rescue, but then also then feel like this lack of validation when that person isn't responding. Right. And then the therapist is sitting there saying, OK, I'm not the referee. And so this framework of EFT is beautiful and I talk often. That's the basis of my magnetic marriage course and with these four pillars of a conversation. And so I feel like it's imperative that you find a a framework to operate from because you it's almost like you have to get people back on to the goal of being heard not to resolve. And then you will watch attachment and abandonment wounds come up like crazy.

[00:27:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the other thing that I thought was important with this is it's important for couples to understand their partners attachment style, because if you have someone that's say avoidant and they're trying to work on that by the worst thing you can do is constantly chase them, that's going to push them further away. So you have to find a way where you're able to give them space, but you're still connecting regularly. If someone is anxiously attached by, the worst thing you can do is give them tons of space. Absolutely. Because they're just going to feel more and more like you have to understand, like from an anxious attachment standpoint, if someone is giving you space, what they're communicating to you is they don't want to be around

[00:27:42] You, which then that's where. So I had had an episode that I think I just reran it recently with Jennifer Finless. And before where I threw out that, I really felt like I had cracked some code. And in finding a pattern of a lot of the men I was working with had that anxious attachment style. And then add to that maybe a nice love language of words, of affirmation and physical touch. And a lot of the women then I was I felt like men identifying that there's a lot of avoidant attachment and then a lot of love, language of quality time and acts of service. And then I felt like a lot of that led to is a guy feeling like seeing his wife withdrawn and then wanting to go pursue. And then when she doesn't respond, he's saying, OK, are you are we good? And if she's saying, yeah, we're fine. And then ten minutes later, she's not jumping up and down and telling him he's awesome and wanting to have sex with him, then he's saying, are you sure? Is this me or are we sure you OK? And then I and then here comes I believe in that middle is exactly what you're saying, psychological reactance of that instant negative reaction to being told what to do. So I feel like the guy is basically saying, look, validate me. Right? And I feel like that is what drives that avoidant attachment even further away. And then they are both just so far away from each other. And then I feel like, OK, now they're in their bunkers and who is going to come out first? And I do wonder and I'm having a little bit of an aha moment thanks to you right now. So then would it be safe to say that anxious attachment when given that space, then that's where that maybe that impulsive behavior may kick in?

[00:29:05] Yes. And so this is the fascinating thing about pornography. Covenant Eyes, who produces some software to help people, has a pretty big white paper. And I was reviewing it. Not long ago, and they talked about one of the one of the struggles with people that that compulsively use pornography is what they're viewing is someone in the vast majority of cases that is always available for sex. Yeah. And then they start to be like, well, why can't I have that? Well, you now have an unrealistic expectation because you've conditioned yourself over who knows how many years of pornography or whatever it may be into believing that that is what a relationship is when it's not.

[00:29:43] Yeah, and it's so funny they say that because I, I have a lot of the men that I do work with, when you really start to do a bit of an assessment around the type of pornography, the viewing, that then they almost get emotional or there's a soft side of them says, man, I just know I'm watching. I'm look at it. It's really about the connection or about the desire or about the. And so to them, I think that speaks to what you're saying, where they're feeling like this is all I need. If I just had this, I'd be fine.

[00:30:08] Well, and there's a whole nother set of issues behind if I just had this line, because every time people get what they want and they discover that they're not,

[00:30:16] If I only had a six pack, I had the cool car, if I had the hair plugs, that was great.

[00:30:21] Well, that's the beauty of the human condition, which is we're never really satisfied unless we train ourselves to be satisfied. Which takes a lot of work. Yeah. And so for me, this was all fascinating. And the reason, again, going back to the reason why this all started was was the reason I was able to finally kick this was I met my now wife and she was so open and she was understanding and she was nonjudgmental. And it got to me to a place where all of a sudden I didn't need this other stuff anymore because I had a real person. There was a woman whose paper I quoted a few times. Her name was Annabel who Ugalde and her dissertation in two thousand nineteen, I think it was was on what she called competing attachments. And Sue Johnson, who pioneered EFT, was a big part of her putting together. And what she what she described is in life, we have a lot of different things. We attach to we attach to people, we attach to addictions. We attach to hobbies. We might attach to video. I mean, we're attaching to all sorts of things. And what her whole premise was, is, are we giving the time to the most important attachments? Are we willing to acknowledge what attachments mean the most to us and then give them the appropriate time? Because we might say my most important attachment is my wife and then go spend five hours playing video games? Yes, well, that's you're saying one thing, but you're doing another. What can we do to bring awareness to what you're saying is your actual value and then get you to that place where you're actually behaving that way?

[00:31:54] When I really like about that is you're almost then asking your spouse to validate a version of you that you believe is accurate, right? That they don't. And I've got to quote by this is by they would start from passionate marriage, I would say, and invariably poorly differentiated people hold on to a part of themselves that constructed the distorted self portrait. So they demand that their partner understand them, in part because they really don't understand themselves and they feel understood, except that invalidated when their partner sees them the way they picture themselves. And then he says their partners refusal to see them the way that they want to be seen is upsetting. But the problem isn't a failure to communicate. Their spouse can't understand them the way they demand because they view their own behavior and the details of their life differently than their partner does. And then that discrepancy challenges there an accurate picture of themselves, which they have a difficulty maintaining to begin with. And Alison, I think that can lead to that feeling of not feeling attached.

[00:32:43] Right. And I love that because that also goes back again to that piece, though little mentioned is a big part of your path back program, which is increasing self awareness. Yeah. Like you're saying, or you believe one thing about yourself, but are you actually doing the things to support that belief? Yeah. And so my paper really ended in the admission that the person some people would call it the resolute spouse, the person that has been faithful and has done everything that they could do to support the marriage. Obviously no one's perfect, but tried to be there. Then discovers this betrayal and they have their own now damage their own attachment damage. Now what you have is somebody who was probably already damaged within their attachment, more than likely because of childhood experiences. Now you have someone that's damaged in their primary relationship because of that person and like you mentioned before, with who's going to come out of the foxhole first. Yeah, now we have this game of chicken where it's like who's in my in my thought process being the former addict, like, you're the one that's you caused the problem.

[00:33:46] You're right. But at the same time, you still have other damage. That's not your spouse's fault. And I don't know who you want to blame that on. Maybe your parents fault, maybe your own fault, maybe there's enough blame to go around for everybody here. But the spouse is left picking up the pieces. And how fair is that? You can imagine how that person feels like I didn't create this mess, but I'm now in the middle of it. So that's ultimately why I I felt like this was an interesting path to go down, because I wanted to try and see if someone's like, you know what, I didn't create this mess, but I want to try and do what I can to fix this. How can we do that? And attachment made the most sense working on attachment for me when people have damage in their relationship due to compulsive sexual behavior, I'm a big believer that they really need some kind of couples instruction or therapy because they have to relearn some of these attachment styles or reestablish that secure attachment that's so important to overall healthy living.

[00:34:46] And I wonder, tell me if you had this experience in grad school of when you would say, here's my treatment plan for there are some fictitious person or a couple that it was like, OK, each one of the individuals needs therapy, they need couples therapy, they need the therapy with their animal, they need therapy, and then they get in the real world. That's why that's expensive and time consuming. Yes, but to your point, which I really like, is as a couples therapist and as someone who works with individuals struggling with compulsive behaviors, man, in a perfect world, you really do need both because you have to figure out your own attachment wounds to be able to show up and then not to have those often play out in a couple's therapy setting. Now, I feel like a good couples therapist can be very aware of that. And that's why, again, I feel like a framework is so important. But I really like what you said about the person who lets the betrayer will say in the scenario that then the betrayed all of a sudden does say, wait, I this isn't about me. Even if there is there was some attachment wound issues they weren't even aware of, because then I feel like sometimes the betrayer will say, well, technically there's a little bit that I think it is, but they're not if they say that at that point is not going to go well.

[00:35:51] Right. So I feel like that's some of the things that need to be navigated in a couples therapy setting. But that was the where I was going. So I got a little distracted there. But so that's the point where I feel like at times I love what you said about the guy coming out of his foxhole. The anxious attachment person in the betrayed wants to say, hey, I need you to feel how bad this hurts for me. And so you got the anxious attachment person saying, OK, I'm going to try this because I did it. You're right. And I want to repair this attachment because I'm an anxious attachment to begin with. But now when they just start feeling that anger is what you just said right there, not now their own attachment wounds, where now they just want to go disappear again, which now you've got the person with the void, an attachment. It's all fine. Leave. Oh, man. What do you do?

[00:36:36] So obviously there's no one answer that works for.

[00:36:39] I was I was kind of going through that. You're like always looking at me, mouth ametov like crosses next to me. Right. Because I feel like I do know I really feel like it is what I love about so funny. A shameless plug of my magnetic marriage course because it's it's going so well because you have to have a framework in the goal at first is to be heard. Yeah. It's not to resolve. And I feel like that is so hard because people want to just let me get really angry at you and you take it and then you apologize and then they almost feel like then we'll be OK. But now all of a sudden with this kind of awareness, now there's these triggers that pop up and now people want to go back and say, well, wait a minute, you said this. And now I feel like I have to go back and look at our entire marriage and have to go make sense of everything. And the anxious attachment is saying, OK, I need to answer all these questions. I need to make sense of things. But they're there. I think this is an answer. And then. Well, that that doesn't go along with what you said before. And now you just you're in the weeds with even more trauma. Right?

[00:37:32] Right. I guess if someone was like, what's the cheapest way you could, you could do this. If you had to do therapy with somebody, I'd say probably the couples should get therapy. Absolutely. There's support groups for both the both partners that could could go, too. And that's probably reasonable for some people in a perfect world. Like you say, everybody get therapy,

[00:37:53] Get lots of therapy. Cost is no option. Time is open. Yeah, yeah. But I feel like we're making fun of that. But I feel like it's almost like saying we acknowledge the fact that I hope that people that are hearing this probably found themselves in some portion of whether it's what their attachment style was or when they do try to show up to say, OK, I want to work on this. And and then when they're met with. The anger, which is I understand, but then they're going to want to go back into the foxhole and say, you know what, I'll come out when you're when you can be more calm. It's like you want me to be calm. You should've never done this thing right. And that's what I feel like. And you need

[00:38:28] Structure. Yeah. And that comes from the training that you get with the professional because they're going to tell you you can be angry all you want. If you show him that anger, you're more likely, it's more likely that he will go and do that again. Now, that's not your fault. He is responsible for his actions. Yes, but what is it? What is the goal? And I think, again, we're getting back to. Making a value based goals and then deciding what actions will get us to that point.

[00:38:54] and and maybe I know we're going to wrap up here, but maybe I'll throw a cliche or two out here. But they are so true is that I feel like it is really important to get some ground under your tires before you do make big decisions, especially when this happens, because it's exactly what you're talking about. Those attachment wounds come out and they come out strong. And so it's like this immediate. You betray me. Let me just go and make this incredibly difficult for you. So you'll just go and get the heck out. Yeah, right. And then to the anxious attachment at times it's look, I want to do this, but you need to be nice. But there so it gets so complicated. So I'm always a big fan of saying, all right, let's go get help, try to not make any big decisions until you can really get something, some help in place and know that. And I didn't. Do you have a Disney movie for what psychodynamic is? Because I would say I have no idea because I like to let it go. And that's really funny. It is. But I feel like it is. Once you get the tools, the structure, the framework in place, it's absolutely like you said, it's absolutely of course you're going to feel angry.

[00:39:57] If you didn't, that would be crazy. And of course, the person who did the betrayal is going to feel sad and going to feel hopeless and going to feel like abandonment and all those things. If you if you didn't, that would be crazy. Right. But then it's learning what to do with that, learning how to even invite those feelings to come along with you to therapy and then make room expansion, make room for them and then get into a good framework with the goal for a little while, being able to just to be able to express yourself and to be heard. And that is my podcast. I have to do this. But so then plug in the magnetic marriage course, because I've got these four pillars I really feel are gold. They're based off of EFT. The first one is to assume good intentions. It sounds overly simplistic, but if the partner has been betrayed, is saying, I am so angry, I don't know if I can stay in this relationship. That's a hard one to say. I have to assume good intentions, but I have to understand that right then that's the only way they feel like they can get some control back or they can feel heard.

[00:40:48] And that second pillar, you can't say you can't put the message you're wrong if that betrayer says, well, that's ridiculous. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that. No, that's how they feel. You can't put out that message. They're wrong. And then pillar three, ask questions before you make comments, before you say, well, look, I need you to calm down and then I'll be willing to listen. It's OK. Tell me. Tell me more. Tell me, tell me what you're feeling and help me see my blindspots. And then that pillar four is and then that person cannot go into their bunker. They can't assume good intentions, not say the other person's wrong, ask questions. But then the piller for is they can't say, OK, I guess I'll just I guess I'll never have an opinion again. I never have a voice because they're going into victim mode now, wanting that person to come rescue them. Well, get off my soapbox. I like the OK, but we have so much more to record. This feels so good. Yeah, there's a lot here. The boys are back. Yeah, right. Little sneak preview for anybody who's been here who is still listening. And I hope that lots of people are talking about like your podcast.

[00:41:43] Ok, yeah. So my wife is actually in a program to become a marriage and family therapist and I have just incredible respect for her, especially after what she helped me go through. And so our intention is to start a podcast and hopefully drop our first episode next week or maybe the week after. And that'll be something that'll apparently be

[00:42:04] On the virtual couch network versus podcast network. You you heard it here, folks, but that. Yeah, that one. I've got a new podcast about waking up the narcissism. I've got a podcast based off of the path back that's coming up that you're going to be a part of. Yeah, I don't know if I had mentioned that to you. You did, but and then if anybody did really feel like they are they like what they're hearing. And I don't mean that to sound like such a sales pitch, but man, I'm so excited to have Nate here and in his 40s, got some road under your tires, been through a lot of career changes, relationships, talking about addiction and has put this all together. Then your shingle is up, you're open for business, so reach out through me. And if I don't want to take you, then I'll send you over to Nate, OK? Thank you so much for coming on. Yeah. And just was it really does feel good to be back. And man, you sounded smart two years ago when we recorded, but I'm a little bit intimidated now.

[00:42:54] Oh stop. OK, I appreciate everything.

[00:42:56] All right. OK. Hey, we'll see you next time on the virtual couch

Relationship and sexuality expert Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-fife (http://finlayson-fife.com) returns for her 3rd time to the Virtual Couch! On today’s episode, Tony and Jennifer discuss the challenges that occur in relationships when one partner finds themselves often feeling like they are more invested. Tony shares his observations from over 1,000 couples that have come through his office, as well as his preparation for his upcoming Magnetic Marriage course, that couples often settle into two camps, one with more of an anxious, “needy” or “clingy” attachment style, the other a more avoidant, “arms-length” attachment style. So the more the anxious attachment presses to have their needs met, the more the avoidant attachment tends to pull away. They also answer an email from a fan of both Tony and Jennifer who asks how to show up “all in” to the marriage when one spouse may have narcissistic traits or tendencies?-Sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!-This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that 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 own 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
Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
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 also mentioned his appearances this week on two podcasts, The Betrayed, The Addicted and The Expert with hosts Ashlyn and Coby, and Virtual Couch former guest Brannon Patrick where we discuss narcissism in detail and the challenges people face in relationships with narcissistic individuals https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/podcast/episode/25d19bf1/is-narcissism-nature-or-nurture and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t https://www.buzzsprout.com/1072564/6209683-tony-overbay-pornography-and-recovery


[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, three time guest, an undisputed download leader, Dr. Jennifer Finless and five, Dr. Finless and five holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. She's a licensed professional clinical counselor and a relationship and sexuality expert. And we dig into a topic that I see on a regular basis in my office, one that I believe is present in so many marriages. What do you do when one partner finds themselves often feeling like they're more invested than the other? When it feels like the more one partner pushes, the more the other pulls away? Plus, we tackle an email from a listener of both Jennifer and my podcast who asks how to show up in your marriage as all in when your spouse shows narcissistic traits or tendencies. We will cover all of that and so much more on this episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:00:43] Ok, I neglected in the world's worst promotor. There are costs involved in putting the virtual couch podcast together, the videos, the hosting, all those things. So I do have some ads and I forget to put these in. I've gone months without talking about the ads that actually support this show. So I'll try to be brief. If you are thinking about the world of online counseling whatsoever and right now it's the global pandemic with the stigma of mental health or getting help for your mental health, even going down, which I'm so grateful for, it can be incredibly hard to get in to see a therapist, especially right now. So I highly recommend what over a million people have done and that's gone to better help Dotcom. And if you go to better help dotcom virtual account, you get 10 percent off your first month's appointments, first month's cost. That will put you in touch with a licensed professional therapist in your area that uses a variety of modalities, whether it's cognitive behavioral therapy or my favorite acceptance and commitment therapy, to talk about issues, whether it's anxiety, depression, OCD, parenting, marriage, anything that you need help with. And trust me, you owe it to yourself to take a look at the world of counseling and online counseling. The data is there. I fought it for years, but now I'm doing a lot of sessions myself through Zoome. They have emails, text therapy. They have an article in there about text therapy that is mind blowing.

[00:01:57] And I've even done that with a client or two that's been out of the country at times. And it's been really effective, assuming that you can type very fast, which I can do on my MacBook when I'm texting. But I digress. So go to better help dotcom slash virtual couch. You can get again ten months, ten months, ten percent off your first month's treatment. And if you don't like your therapist or feel like there's not a good fit, they make it so easy to change therapists because it's so important for you to find a good fit. And that is so important. And you can be talking with someone within 24 to 48 hours, which trust me right now is phenomenal in trying to get in to see a therapist. I haven't been able to take clients in a very long time. I know a lot of therapists are in a similar position. So this is a way and it is a licensed professional therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor, someone that is in your area that can help. So what are you waiting for? Go to better help dotcom virtual couch today and take a look into the world of online counseling, online therapy. You will not regret it. And they do have a sliding scale if finances are an issue and but go check it out right now. Virtual couch, better health outcomes, less virtual couch. You owe it to yourself. Go check it out today.

[00:03:11] Welcome to episode 235 of the virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful, have coach, writer, speaker, husband of 30 years, father of four, and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping hundreds of people overcome the negative effects of pornography in a strength based hold the shame that one's key become the person that you always wanted to be kind of way. The path back has been updated, so go check it out. pathbackrecovery.com. And there you will find a short ebook that describes the five myths that people often fall prey to when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. And trust me, it can absolutely be done. And I'm not arguing addiction versus nonfiction or impulse or compulsion. We cover all of those things on the path back and it is very straight faced. And I don't care if you tried overcoming it in the past one or 100 times. Come check out the path back and quickly, because I want to get to this interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlison-Fife and just do me a huge favor and go follow me on Instagram, a virtual couch and go to Tonyoverbay.com and sign up to find out more about upcoming programs, including my magnetic marriage program. That is all I'm asking. Sure. I would love it if you hit subscribe to everything virtual couch and go check out this interview on my YouTube channel and subscribe the yearly reviews, all that kind of stuff.

[00:04:28] But sign up at Tony Overbay Dotcom and you will learn more about the magnetic marriage course that's coming. It's good. I know that sounds confident, but I've worked with over a thousand couples now as a therapist and the program is built on the foundational principles of emotionally focused therapy, or EFT, which is the best evidence based model for improving marriages. OK, so I will leave it at that. On today's episode, Dr. Jennifer Finless-Fife, this is right from her website, is your relationship and sexuality coach. She teaches couples and individuals how to strengthen their relationships, overcome relational and sexual roadblocks, and increase their capacity for intimacy, love and sexual expression. She's a licensed clinical professional counselor in Illinois with a PhD in counseling psychology from Boston College. And this makes her third appearance on the virtual couch. And her first two appearances are definitely in the are two of my top five episodes of the two hundred and thirty five episodes that I have released. She knows her stuff. She is funny, witty, and I enjoy talking with her. And we cover a couple of topics today that I had been waiting to talk with her about for a very long time. And the first is a trend that I've noticed in my couples work over the years. But in particular, I've noticed it in putting together this magnetic marriage course with cocreator Preston Buckmeier.

[00:05:43] And I honestly have in my notes right now do not get into detail about this in the introduction because I want to so bad. I want to explain things even more to set up the interview, but I want to get to the interview. So what I'm going to do is I am going to do almost a Tony reacts to his interview with Dr. Finless-fife episodes soon because she shares a lot of amazing information that talks about this concept of this almost like polarity in her marriage or where we get there's an anxious attachment and avoid an attachment. Here I go. I'm starting to explain, but you'll see in the episode or you'll hear more about that. And I've jotted a lot of things down after the interview that I feel like use or deserve some follow up. So with that said, if you have thoughts or feelings or emotions about what you hear in this episode, then please email me at contact at TonyOverbaycom and I will address or answer those in my reaction episode. And then you'll see, I think, in the title of this as well. I haven't titled it yet, but we also tackle a question of everybody's favorite topic, it seems like these days, narcissism. And I'm really interested. I think you'll find her her take on narcissism pretty fascinating as well. OK, so let's get to my interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife.

[00:07:08] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:07:15] According which, by the way, I think the first time that we recorded, I made fort night jokes and I think how funny that is. Does your son still play out of curiosity?

[00:07:23] Actually, not really. He kind of changed, sort of sworn it off for a bit. So it's what you do now out of moderation. But what do they do now? I mean, mostly schoolwork. OK. So he still does some of it. But he's he's been much more like I just need to he plays ruinscapes sometimes. I know that one. Yeah.

[00:07:46] So do you mainly do you just see couples out of curiosity, do do individuals.

[00:07:50] I do both. But couples is sort of my primary modality. But I do definitely have people that come to me individually.

[00:08:00] But I find couples work to be harder, but in a lot of ways more effective because you're getting not just the person's self deluded view of themselves, but you have to see the person through another lens as well and how the system is working and how people are kind of constructing a self within a larger relational story.

[00:08:21] So this is it's brilliant, though, because you gave such an amazing answer. And I was I was setting up a bit. I mean, I was going to say, do you do did you ever work with teenagers when you were going to the ranks?

[00:08:33] Sometimes I did. I did.

[00:08:35] I worked at a family counseling center for a year when I was training. And then I did quite a bit of college counseling. So I kind of work with things to kind of young adults and things like that. But generally speaking, now, I really don't do that work. Every once in a while I'll work with a teenager. If I've been working with the parents and I know this stuff and I feel like I can efficiently kind of give some help to them in how to think about what's going on.

[00:09:03] But OK, yeah, but I just said, well, when you talk about Ruinscape, I think about I mean, I know far too much about games I never would have cared about from working with teenagers. And one time I made a joke about how much money I've made off of your stories about the film. Don't even know if that is. Dungeons and Dragons or. Yeah, yeah. And I would hear all about their characters and I would try to work that into therapy. And at times it was like, nope, that's just their Ork or their goblin. That's kind of what it was.

[00:09:29] Yeah. Yeah. I know a therapist who works that he even sometimes will play games with kids, you know, OK, he's really an adolescent boy therapist who really uses that modality. Actually, I don't I don't know how effective we could I don't know. Has worked out well, but. Yeah.

[00:09:43] Yeah. OK, so I had this I feel like I said I've got two things. I almost feel like there's two separate a part A and a part B of today's episode. And and so I really feel bad because I have this expert. You're my two highest downloads ever and you're the first person that's been on the virtual couch three times. So thank you. Yeah. I had to send you or something. So I feel like I need to lay out. And the reason I'm setting it up that way is I feel like I already owe you an apology for the two minutes. Excuse me. I'm going to ramble. Just set up the thing that I really desperately want. You are all your opinions on. Is that OK? Of course. OK, all right. So this is where I think I would share a little bit off of camera, off Mike, whatever they say these days. But when we last met, you were in Portugal and I think you had shared something that you for a brief moment said, Oh, I think I shared that with you. And it was with this Preston Buckmeier fellow. And so then I look him up because I'm thinking, all right. Well, yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then and then Preston and I end up talking. We connect at some point and we've created this marriage course, which is ironic, that will launch in January.

[00:10:42] And so I think I was saying that I don't know if you deserve some credit or some sort of a royalty. Right, exactly. But but so then while we were doing that, so I've taken every bit of I love emotionally focused therapy EFT, and I do that with couples and I see, I don't know, ten or fifteen couples a week. And I never liked doing couples therapy until I had that modality. And then it makes so much sense. And and so we we're we're basing this program off of the E F.T. model. But then we're also since it's a course or program, we threw a couple of things in there just to have things that say here's how different we are in our relationships. So we threw in a personality test or two. We threw in a attachment styles quiz. And so I started noticing that some patterns that built up and one was that there were when we were doing love languages. And this is why I love the Facebook live video you did where I didn't do a lot with love languages for a long time because it's maybe not it it's not there's not a lot of evidence base data around it, but it's very popular. And I know what's your people really liked it.

[00:11:47] It's very accessible. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so then people would bring that into the sessions and I, I would say, okay, that's great. But I didn't necessarily hang my hat on the love languages, but we do the love language quiz and then we do attachment styles quiz and we're coming up with primarily people that are anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. And I quickly identified myself as anxious attachment where if I walk in the room and my wife's not jump up and down, I say, Hey, are we OK? And she said. Yeah, and then if she's 10 minutes later, still not jumping up and down, I say I'd do anything. And I recognize that's the my anxious attachment style. And and I'm noticing that a lot of the guys that come in to couples counseling have that similar anxious attachment style. And then I notice that the more that we're doing the field work with the love languages that a lot of times partnered with, the anxious attachment style is the words of affirmation and physical touch as maybe these top two love languages. And then I'm noticing a lot and I don't all or nothing. Jennifer, I promise I was noticing and I want to say every time I see that. But then the opposite is there in a relationship with someone who tends to be more avoidant attachment and arms length, and then their love languages tend to be the quality time or acts of service.

[00:13:01] So I've got that data. And then my favorite word from a year or two ago is psychological reactance. So that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. So all of a sudden I feel like that comes into the middle. And so the more that somebody with anxious attachment says you need to, I've made it easy. You need to have more sex with me and tell me I'm awesome. And then the more someone's telling someone that, the more their brain is pushing back, saying I to do any of that. Yeah. And so then I feel like this reactance is building this polarity in these attachment styles. And and and then just a quick side note. When I was sharing this with my wife, I was saying, OK, so she may present a bit more of that avoidant attachment. But then we quickly acknowledge that she has an anxious attachment style with my teenage kids. So and so then so then it's like, oh, this is on me. So then my my anxious attachment that says I do anything here and that kind of groups back in. And so then I felt like it. And this is the part where the more I was talking about it with Preston and we're putting this course together and we were just just kind of noting some data.

[00:13:59] It was almost the more that the guy, the guy and I'm going to gender stereotype here, because that's primarily what I was seeing, the guy with an anxious attachment, words of affirmation, physical touch, would then go over and try to do more of the acts of service quality time and then feel like that will get him his love. Yeah. Yeah. But then but then it started to feel like and then I started asking a lot of questions of clients that were in my office because I was starting to feel like I had confirmation bias like crazy where I'm seeing this with every couple that I'm working with. But then it was almost like the avoidant attachment female in this scenario is the more they're almost feeling like, well, I think we're pretty good because he's spending more time with me. And so the quality time and we are doing more things together. And so I really feel like we're good, except for these times where then he gets a little bit clingy or needy. And so I just started thinking about man that's really difficult. Then in this course, then it's fairly easy to say to the anxious attachment when you have to check yourself to say, are we good? That's my anxious attachment style.

[00:15:04] The next time I feel that I need to go pet the dog or play catch with the kids or do some push ups. And so then when I'm talking to the avoidant attachment, then what does that look like for them to, quote, do work? Is it the lean in a little more, lean into the relationship, be a little more vulnerable, but then as the more I'm asking clients in that situation, I promise I'm almost done that. That's the part where that I'm hearing more of. I hear you. But first of all, I feel like things are OK right now. And then part B, if I start to lean in more, then I worry that he will then not be as attentive or I worry that it won't be enough that then all of a sudden if I find I'll I'll have to be more intimate with them, that then it will be OK. Well, that's not enough. And there's more and more. And so I or I'll get consumed by this person. Totally. Yeah. And so there's a part of me that just want to say, hey, can you fix all that for me Jennifer? Good. They can talk. But tell me first of all, does that resonate or does OK.

[00:16:05] Well, yes, a few initial thoughts. One is in my in the relationship course that I do, I talk about this in a slightly different way from attachment theory, although. It is an expression of a way of attaching, you know, because human beings attach, that's a normal part of human experience.

[00:16:26] I talk about it as walled off versus.

[00:16:30] Oh, boundaryless, Yeah, so boundaryless or pursue it versus distancing, so distant thayn or boundaryless versus walled. The thing is, is that like you said with your wife, these aren't so much personality profiles, although it is true, some people may favor or tend to, in their intimate relationships, typically play out one version of this or the other. But what I think is a kind of truer statement is that these are both versions of immaturity.

[00:17:02] Ok, I like that. So these are bold versions of challenge of being able to self regulate and in particular self regulate when you're in relationship with someone that matters a lot to you. OK, one of the things that I talk about a lot is that when we're born, when we're young, we have a validation dependency. We have to kind of borrow a sense of who we are from the people around us because we can't psychologically self-sustained as human beings. So our physical autonomy is much faster than our psychological autonomy.

[00:17:45] Fundamentatally speaking, the way that this avoidant.

[00:17:53] Dependent. Oh, yeah, yeah, avoidant, anxious. Yeah, so that's the attachment styles is those are both expressions of dependency on another person to manage your sense of self. Now, the the anxious attachment. Well, that's very obvious. The boundaryless attachment that's obvious there.

[00:18:12] You're out trying to get other people to be able to validate you or tell you're OK.

[00:18:20] It's the kind of overtly needy position. Yeah. At least how I talk about it in my course. It can also be a kind of control. Like I'm trying to get you to tell me I'm OK, do the things that make me feel normal, want the things that I want, you know, help me feel like I'm sufficient. And so that's overtly dependent. But the walled position or the avoidant is also dependent because that person has a hard time regulating their sense of self when they're bumped up against another person's wants and desires. So they have to get away from others to manage their sense of self, which is also a needy position.

[00:19:02] Yeah, because what does that look like in a relationship? Yeah, right.

[00:19:06] So if you can't handle your sense of self. Yeah. When you can feel what your partner wants or you can feel their neediness or you can feel their dysregulation and so you're always trying to kind of get away that means you haven't yet learned how to stabilize yourself when you're with the other person. And if you really want an intimate relationship, you have to grow. Both people in this scenario have to grow in their ability to self regulate. Yeah. If they're going to be able to be with each other without using each other to manage their sense of self. That and so give me sense that prosumer distance or dynamic is a balanced system of two people who are dependent on each other for validation. Yeah, which is beautiful.

[00:19:50] And first of all, I'd even written this down in this Facebook Live that I was I was watching that you did. And I love you said intimacy is about knowing each other, not not just demanding validation. And marriage is going to challenge that issue every time, because I really do feel like the goal is just to be heard. The goal is awareness. It's not a solution per say. So then I like what you're saying. So anxious attachment it can. And I kind of said it lighthearted. It can go pet the dog or write the great American novel or that sort of thing. What is that? What does that avoidant attachment look like for them to show up and be present and.

[00:20:25] Yeah, yeah. So just to name the way I think about what you just said about the void in the anxious and I'll go to the avoidant right after. Yeah. The petting the dog, the it's it's exactly it's about I'm not going to go and make this person make me feel ok. I have my own responsibility to self regulate the calm myself down, to find my own value within myself. It can feel very lonely, very disorganised. Like if I don't go and get that reassurance, I'm going to die. I mean, I really can feel it. Yeah. The people like I need to know. I got to do the things I know how to do to kind of assure myself that on some level I matter to this person, even if the validation I get back is just some validation of control, that I can't get her to reassure me, even though she's annoyed or have sex with me, even though she's not that into it, that a typical thing to do to go just get that sense of that you're still have some control in this, even though what you get back, it's kind of cheap. It's not choice based and it feels yucky sometimes in a certain way. So that's your right. So that's what the avoidance person do is learn.

[00:21:32] Yeah, well, let me say real quick, because I love that what you just said there is I feel like I do run into people that say, but if that's that's my only option, I'll take it. And, you know, and I know that's not what they want because that creates this cycle of. Well, then now that is the only way. If I show up this way, that's the way I'll get that attention. And that is not I think it goes back to when you're on the second time where it was talking about high desire, low desire, and are they creating a a are they being desirable?

[00:21:57] Right. And if you're like if that's all I can get, I'll take it. I mean, that is a message of self disrespect to you, that I'll take crumbs.

[00:22:06] You know, that that I, I'm so unclear that I'm worthy of really being chosen and valued that I will take your pity. That's a measure of kind of how you see yourself and I and I so agree.

[00:22:22] Can I and this is why I was so excited to have you on to just talk through this. And I was hoping that it wouldn't necessarily be that it wouldn't be bad that I wasn't asking you this question after question. But I want your thoughts on I hear you. And sometimes I even say I know the I'll just call it the textbook answer that that is absolutely right. And when I'm working with guys i'll often say, I want help, you raise it. I call it your emotional baseline to the point where either is sometimes that might be the person. Your wife says, that's my guy. And if not that, you're there, you're that guy. And life is more fulfilling and satisfying and. This comes a lot from, you know, I still deal with a ton of people that are trying to not turn to pornography for a coping mechanism, so they're trying to fill these voids and they're killing it in their work and then their health and then their relationship, all that stuff. So I feel like that we can say that is the way to do it. And I feel like guys almost. Well, no, they do. They hear that and say, OK, so if I'm that guy, I will get more sex then, right? And I feel like, OK, are we still then missing the mark or the point or if that is the goal, sort of sort of in sort of not.

[00:23:22] Yes. Like I see people do this all the time in the nice way. Then I'll get my husband to feel good about me. And I'm like, well, not necessarily because you don't have control over that. But I think the something that Dr. David Shinada always would say is, you know, the more you need validation from others, the less likely you are to get it. And then, of course, the inverse is true, that the people that don't need it so much are more likely to get it. And like so many people that I given one of my classes is.

[00:23:56] Once when I don't know, this might be too long a story, if you want to know. OK, let's go. I'm excited, but, you know, I, I said to my husband one night, I'd really love to have sex tonight. She said, great. And and so we get into bed, I'm working and my brother calls me. We're just both kind of working in bed and my brother calls and his wife's out of town.

[00:24:21] And so he starts having a long conversation because my brother's bored about, you know, technical stuff that they both are interested in. And my brother in my husband's defense is very hard to get off the phone, really, genuinely. I love him to death.

[00:24:36] Hard to get a comment from this part of the story is that, you know, I keep waiting and waiting and I say to my husband, how much longer takes a few minutes. A few minutes. And I'm just getting put off, put off and put off and I. Didn't want to stay up all night, and he also wasn't really doing, and I knew he was interested in what he was talking about. Right. And so I have time to sit there and kind of work with myself, because the way I'm I'm feeling rejected, know the way I'm handling it in my head, is going into all of these what I call losing strategies to kind of put my sense of self back together.

[00:25:13] Like, you know, he's so lucky that he has a wife that wants to have sex and he still is like, so I'm doing all these things to prop myself up, to feel good about myself. I'm getting angry at him internally because he's talking on the phone as a way to push him down and say, what's the matter with you, him talk about computer systems and not be with me. And so I'm doing all these things as a way to manage my weak sense of self in that moment, the self that's trying to fend off the insults that I'm not it's not being reciprocated in kind in the way that I want.

[00:25:49] Right then. Yeah. So thankfully, he keeps talking. I have time to kind of self soothe and I'm calming myself down and saying, don't do all those mean things. First of all, he have the right to make his choice. He has a right to want to talk to my brother. He has a right to be stupid or you have the right to use the thing he wants to choose. And I don't want to be such a child. I would like to grow myself up a bit. So just make a decision. So at one point I stopped him and I just said, I can only wait five more minutes, but otherwise I think I'm going to go sleep in the guest room because I want to I want to go to bed. I'll be off. He doesn't do it. So finally, the five minute mark comes and I'm managing myself that wants to be mean, that wants to be snarky. And I say. I'm really disappointed. I really wanted to be with you tonight, but I'm going to go sleep in the guest room just so that I can get a good night's sleep and in part for me to feel in control of my life.

[00:26:54] I mean, like a certain amount, like I'm going to assert my choice. Yeah. So when I went into the guest room, I just worked on my part of me was going into victim. You know, I don't feel loved. I feel alone. I feel on all that's just kind of coming over me and wanting to guilt him into giving up, which isn't happening. And so I just was like, just calm myself down. And so the more I call myself down, which is like I know that I'm matter. I know that my husband loves me and he has a right to make his choices. And I'm disappointed and I am still OK. Now, that sounds so easy to say that, but I had to really work with myself to stay in a self-serving position, not try to go manage him in some way.

[00:27:40] Sure. And I know well, I know how to guilt him. I know how to get him to do it. And I always say, yeah, we all know. Right. So and I didn't let myself do it. And so I fell asleep.

[00:27:51] And and so the next morning, the thing is, it's really interesting cause I think my husband could feel that I was more self regulated myself.

[00:27:59] I wasn't mad that there wasn't rage coming out of the guest room. Yeah. And and so what's interesting is he just came in the next morning and he just said that was so dumb of me, I'm sorry. And I just said, well, let's just try again tonight. And all was good. Now, that's the point in me saying all this is that because I self regulated and I self controlled rather than husband controlled. Yeah, he if I had been mad, he would have done one of two things.

[00:28:29] He would have just left and gotten away from the anger or would have coddled me. Yeah. Both would make me feel terrible. OK, I like he's just trying to get away from me. Yeah.

[00:28:41] Or he's taking care of me because I'm being such a child inside. OK, yeah. While I may feel some sense of control, if he coddles me, I don't feel good about me or him. Kind of spineless of him and it's childish of me and it makes us both worse because I self regulated.

[00:29:00] He was free to come in and just say that was dumb, like, you know, and like and offer his kindness and his warmth and his affection and just for us to say, well, let's just try again. And yeah, he'll be so nice when my husband, my brother's wife comes back. OK, no, I so love that story.

[00:29:20] I do. And this is where I will say, OK, we can edit this next part out if we would like, because I really want to ask a question that and maybe it's the male therapist in me that works a lot with people that are struggling with, you know, pornography, addiction or those sort of things where.

[00:29:35] But I know that when you just said there that you said to your husband that night that you wanted to be intimate, you want to have sex with them, that I know that I work with a lot of men who say, man, I don't ever hear that and that they feel like that. That and that's why I love where you went with that story, where you talked about at the end, where there are times where people will then they will kind of pout or guilt their way into having sex. And then I feel like that just creates that kind of dynamic where then they feel that is the way they get that. And so then they try this. No, I'm going to self regulate. I'm going to be the man. I'm going to go take care of the kids. I'm going to I'm going to mindfulness. I'm going to work. I'm going to. And then it's almost as if it doesn't bring their wife quote around quickly. Yeah. It's almost like they go right back to this. OK, well, I.

[00:30:20] I'm going to pout. Right. So that's a different I mean, like, I don't want to suggest that that's a story about self regulation. And if I had gone into my strategies, that would point out the kind of thing that would make me feel even worse. OK, but if I also knew as I was self-regulating that I had a husband that loved me, the husband that chose me, I had a husband that sometimes disappoints me. That's true. I had a husband that sometimes doesn't do or want the things that make me that are what I want. Right. Yeah. So those things are all true. But I did not I was not trying to make sense of it in the context of feeling that I have a husband who doesn't choose me, who doesn't value me, who doesn't want a sexual relationship with me. That's a harder thing to settle down around. Right. And I'm not trying to suggest that that. If you do what I do, it'll all work out for you, because I think if you were in a marriage where there's a chronic lack of desire, you are up against a bigger challenge, which is figuring out why and what do I have to do with that? And I do concur with that. If you go and take the sex that you get after you pouted and punished the person enough you are you don't really want to be chosen, you just want to have sex. And you are telegraphing that, meaning that you are willing to take crumbs. And so that makes it easier for the lower desired person to not feel chosen. They feel like this is for me to prop this person up because he'll take. Yeah. Yeah. So it's but it's not what I'm trying to say is regulating yourself isn't so much about it's a guarantee the person will come towards you. It's about you getting stronger and having more self-respect and you're going to need it, especially if you're going to take on the issue of a sexless marriage.

[00:32:23] Ok, and I yeah. I appreciate you sharing it because again, I feel like this is where I know that is the right answer, because I know the opposite does not lead someone to feeling fulfilled or, you know, and that it kind of affects other areas of their life, which then maybe is where they turn to other things for coping or that sort of thing. But but I do feel like that people get into a pattern over the years, right. Where people can get into this kind of a pattern where and then they change the dynamic for a little while and feel like, well, that's not working.

[00:32:52] And and they don't really recognize it. They really have to unearth a pattern. And it's not it's only that they only control half of that pattern. Now, if you're dancing a dance and you dance it over and over and over and over and over again, like this pursuer, distance or dynamic that you're talking about is a dance that people know well and the person that's in pursuit is much more complicit in it than they will often recognize they married somebody who was more distanced. Right. You know, like my husband is more of the avoidance style. And so and so I but I dated guys that were the more pursuing energy. And I was like, you're great. But that's not my style. Yes. And so so that that's to say that people know how to dance those dances very comfortably and very well. And so when you start to break the pattern, what I was doing in that story is starting to break pattern in that in a way that I would typically not want to break pattern, right? Yes, yes. Breaking pattern then allows for a different choice, but it doesn't guarantee a different choice. It just means you not going to dance the old dance because you're not doing your dance steps. That part you have control over. Plus you're getting more able to handle whatever you need to handle. That's what I love. So you're right. Yeah. So I was more prepared for a husband who actually was coming and choosing me. And because I was self regulated, I could receive it and see it as good judgment that he was wanting to be with me the next time. But also, if you're in a sexless marriage and you need to address that, you need your wits about you, you need your strength about you, you can't be giving all of your value away to your partner. Yeah, because that's exactly what's keeping you in this pattern over and over again.

[00:34:38] So we can come back to the sexless marriage thing if you want to. But just to go to your earlier question about that. Oh, good.

[00:34:43] Yeah, good way to go back to now to avoidant detachment. Right.

[00:34:46] Ok, so the avoidant person wants to be in connection, but they don't want to have high exposure. They don't want to have they want to be wanted, but they don't want to want, generally speaking, OK, so they like to feel needed, they like to feel wanted, but they don't want to feel dependent even though there is a dependency, because if you need to be needed that is needy, yeah. You need to have somebody else be in pursuit or you need to have somebody else be seeking you out.

[00:35:21] That is a function of your weakness, not your strength, which it plays into even more of that polarity between the dynamic because the anxious attachment is constantly, ah, I feel like constantly saying I don't know if I'm doing enough or I don't know if I'm missing any cues or if I'm missing any signs. And but then if they push and push, they get that that bad, that push back. But are you kind of saying, though, that at the core, the avoidant attachment still has that same need, that desire for intimacy? They just want to not have to put themselves out there?

[00:35:52] Yeah, well, exactly. They want to be otherwise they wouldn't have gotten married. I mean, they want to be connection or like I work with clients where, you know, the pursuing husband gives up for real. Like he says, I'll take no for an answer. And then the avoidant one is like, wait, what? What do you mean I don't want. So they're like meaning they want to be wanted, but they don't want to stick their neck out and want. that's that's definitely what I was doing when I was dating my husband as I was on the avoidant side. So talk about your one or the other. Right.

[00:36:28] And so I wanted him to want me I wanted him to be in pursuit of me, but I didn't want to really validate that back. I remember once saying, you know, you really should date other women, I'm not prepared to do this, and then I happen to show up at an event with another guy and he was with someone else, which was exactly what I had said to do.

[00:36:48] I was on another date and flipping out inside. Let say I want you to just keep wanting me while I go date other people. So, yeah, that's fair.

[00:37:00] I guess so.

[00:37:03] So what do you what do you tell them that avoid in person as far as I'm in therapy, helping them to see the weakness in it, the neediness and the wife food husband starts to give up and she gets super panicked and was like, well, apparently you don't want sex off the table. Then you keep saying you'd be happy if you never had to have it again. But apparently you want to not have sex, perhaps, but you don't want him to not want you sexually.

[00:37:32] Yeah. Yeah. So it's like I want the validation of your desire, but I don't want the exposure of stepping towards you. So I Help people see the weakness in that, that it's, you know, that it's not kind, it's not fair. You know, one person comes to mind. I was asking her to think about if her son were to marry someone like her. And she was like, you know, she's a victim and she's always pretending like, you know, but then she puts up a wall and she could see how mean and immature it was.

[00:38:03] Right. In a way, yeah. So then it's like, well, if you want to be stronger, then you need to tolerate stepping towards your partner. Unless you want to say you don't want this marriage. If you don't want the marriage, fine. If you don't want a sexual relationship, then own it. Right. I'm not here to tell you you have to have it, but then take responsibility for your choice rather than always keeping that person in pursuit, which reassures you but stabilizes an immaturity in you.

[00:38:29] Ok, yeah. Yeah, he drives them absolutely crazy.

[00:38:33] Right, exactly. So you don't have to want you don't have to have a sexual relationship but own it. If not and if you do want one then step in and take responsibility. Like somebody who wants to create a sexual relationship that works for her or him, depending on whoever is in that position. Take a step towards you want to learn how to belong to yourself and let another person matter to you.

[00:38:56] So you know.

[00:38:57] Yeah. So that's what I'm helping them see the weakness in it and the dependency on it and hurtfulness in it, because that often then pressures them within themselves to step in and take more responsibility and stop. You know, they say they hate the neediness on the other side, but they're constantly co-creating that neediness.

[00:39:18] And you feel like when you can get them to start moving toward that in that direction, is it hard for that needy person to not just overwhelm them? Is that difficult?

[00:39:27] No, actually, what tends to happen is the needy person gets overwhelmed themselves because they think they want a partner that's going to meet them halfway. But they've actually preferred to look at their partners back than their front, that they they offer her the kind of pursuit, right?

[00:39:45] Yeah. to actual intimacy.

[00:39:47] Well, that's what we can do a whole episode on that, because I feel like I mean, do you run into people that it's the it's the old. Yeah. Once they get what they're looking for then it isn't is. Oh yeah.

[00:40:01] Ok, I've had people oh you know, too little too late and it's like, wait, yeah. Yeah.

[00:40:06] We're finally doing what they've been wanting and saying they want and really self confronting and really stepping in and then they just are like, you know, I just wondering if this is ever going to work, you know, and their own lack of development and their own fear of intimacy is all up for them to see, because if they hadn't had a fear of intimacy, they wouldn't have married somebody that was avoidant. They would have found someone that could really step in and know them and choose them.

[00:40:35] I find that a lot of times in that scenario to the person they've been so used to that narrative, that narrative is gone, then all of a sudden they have to kind of own up to some of their own insecurities of their own. I mean, really. Right. It's been a lot easier to blame the blame my spouse the whole time.

[00:40:51] Yeah, absolutely. That's what people do in marriage so easily. Yeah. Blame blaming their partner and otherwise they would just be an amazing partner if it weren't for their lives. And, you know, and that's just a way of not having to deal with who you are and the way you are part of your marital challenges. And so so, yeah, when those that are exposed, people are often shocked that they're at themselves.

[00:41:15] Ok, can I can I do a fun fact? And then maybe we because time is flying and then we get to that section B, would that be OK? OK, fun fact is, I like how you were saying that in your book, that you dated guys that were that they were the ones that were the anxious attachment. You were kind of like, whoa, at the beginning. Do you ever have people that say the if I only was in a relationship with my friends Spouse who always wants to have sex, and then that's all we would ever do, and I've heard many times that people are always going to settle into that pursuer withdrawal relationship. Is that true?

[00:41:46] Well, it's true if you're immature. I mean, I'm not.

[00:41:50] What I would say is that I certainly think my relationship kind of started out in that way with my husband. You know, when we were dating, I was definitely in the and he was in pursuit. And I was more in with drawl or of and I thankfully was you know, we dated for three years. I was twenty six when we started dating.

[00:42:13] I was just I had a very good therapist. It really helped me grow up a lot. And so when we got married it was really choose, choose. I mean it was genuinely because I even stepped in to choose and then he was like, I need to kind of step back a bit and make sure this is what I want.

[00:42:29] I mean, he wasn't being a little bit like pursuing you for a while. And I need to just kind of settle into the fact that you're saying, yes, once we got married, it really was choose choose. Now, I mean, in our relationship, there definitely been times when we're playing out different sides of that. When I see my husband's meaning, I'm more emotional. I'm more I'm more the one will be passionate about things. He's a little more even keel and scientists type mind and so. Yeah, but but that those dynamics can sort of play out. But I think the more we mature, the more it really just feels like she choose, choose and. No, no we don't like we know each other and we know how each other works. And so I think that those are always there, probably on some level.

[00:43:18] But I think that's really a function of development. And the more immature, the more extreme those dynamics feel and the more they operate in extreme.

[00:43:26] Ok, no, I love that answer. OK, part B, I thought this was really fun because I got an email and it's from somebody that said I recently listened to a Jennifer Finlessson-Fife podcast replay and which she talked about fixing your relationship with a partnership mindset. She said, I'm quite certain I have a narcissistic spouse, covert, not super bad, but bad enough. And I'm wondering how to accomplish what she was talking about with that element thrown in. And she said that today I was listening to your podcast about and I had the idea that maybe she could team up, you could team up and do an episode to tell people how to do what she was talking about when a narcissist involved and then she talked about it. I'm only saying this not to praise me, but to say to how this how complex it gets. She said, I'd like to thank me for helping her realize what narcissism is. She struggled with her marital relationship for years, listening to the podcast has helped, because things she didn't know were happening gaslighting. And then she tells a story about she never realized that that was a thing and she's so crazy. So how do you. And I was just on and I know I listen to your appearances on the Betrayed Addicted and the expert podcast. And I love when you've been on there. I was just on there talking about narcissism because doing a lot of couples therapy and how things present differently. So how do you handle that, Jennifer? You run to that a lot.

[00:44:34] Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, if somebody has a narcissistic personality disorder, I mean, good luck. Right. Right.

[00:44:44] That's really somebody that's not going to self confront but narcissistic tendencies.

[00:44:53] Well, let me just start by saying we all have those. Yes. Yeah. Born with such a deep self reference that on some level that's part of what development is, is challenging your own narrowness and your own self delusions. Right. About who you are. And marriage is excellent for that, for kind of waking you up, who you really are, what your limitations are and how you can grow. But what I think this questioner is really pointing to, and I think it's an important point, is that.

[00:45:22] If she's saying you helped wake her up to gaslighting and she thinks her husband has a strong narcissistic tendencies, what she's saying is she's operating with somebody who doesn't self confront.

[00:45:33] Yeah, and that's very hard to work with, especially on your own, if you're vulnerable to being mind twisted, meaning if you're vulnerable, especially if you're a more sensitive woman. I don't know if she is or not. But if you're somebody who's very attuned to a lot of times people that very narcissistic. Yes. Are much more attuned to help other people feel about them. They're more self doubting often. And so when they get married and to somebody who who crushes them, makes them feel small, twists reality to kind of keep that more sensitive or self doubting partner on her heels.

[00:46:13] The kind of development you have to do to have any chance of the marriage meaningfully involved is almost almost it's almost impossible without serious help. And the help that you need is a marriage therapist, that or coach that can help to name and call out and confront the behavior of the narcissistic person. And the therapist has to be skilled enough that they know how to offer what's true to that person without blowing them out of the room. Yeah, and it helps the more self doubting person to kind of see what's real, but. It really is dependent upon whether or not that narcissistic person has enough courage to start dealing more honestly about who they are, where they are to function like this, which, you know, almost always they learned it at home, right? Yeah. And to be able to see who they are and to change it and.

[00:47:20] You know, I've worked with a lot of people who've turned it around, and it's meaning they have been willing to start seeing who they are, start naming it, being more honest, being more forthright, self confronting in front of their spouse. Right.

[00:47:35] And and so it can happen, but it takes.

[00:47:43] The courage to say what's true without being aggressive. Yeah, but most importantly, it takes somebody who wants to get out of the trap of their narcissism enough to start dealing with the narcissistic blow that seeing who they are is going to deliver to them.

[00:48:00] Absolutely. And I have to say this because I know people are going to listen to this and maybe don't even normally listen to me. And I have a I do a lot with this. And I always say that I you'll Google something about narcissism and it'll just say run. But I know that it's not that easy. And I know that people want to figure things out and they have kids and financial obligations and long term covenants and all kinds of things. And and so I always say that I try to help people raise their emotional baseline, get the self care. So they're in a good spot. And I say get your Ph.D. in gaslighting so that you do realize, OK, I'm not I'm not crazy and set boundaries and disengage from unproductive conversations and and then and then recognize that there really isn't anything that you'll say or do that will cause that absolute aha moment, if any, where that person will miraculously change and do a 180. And I feel like when people get that in place that then that is when they're in a best spot either. See that, wow, this isn't a really healthy relationship. If I if I'm not able to open up or in doing those things, setting those boundaries. And that's what I like, is that when the person may recognize their other partner, might recognize their their role and how they've been showing up or that sort of thing. And I know it's not just that easy. It takes a lot of time and time.

[00:49:12] But for the person. Exactly. For the person on the more the person that gets manipulated or whatever. Yes.

[00:49:18] It's like I think what the excuse me, what the more narcissistic partner is in fact doing and being able to see it, but really importantly, developing the capacity, the deeper capacity to self regulate even with a mind twisting partner who matters to you. OK, and that is heavy lifting. I mean, it is. It is. But it's so important because if you're going to extract yourself from that marriage or be in it in a more healthy way, meaning stand up to that behavior and challenge it and you need to develop that muscle. And so a lot of people that will marry the narcissistic person where they're weak is that they self doubt and they're looking for other people. They're in the anxious attachment position and they're looking for people to tell them that they're OK.

[00:50:04] And and so that is their vulnerability.

[00:50:09] So, you know, couples I work with where you really even the guy himself confronting, but the wife is often and you're still trying to get her sense of self through the guy. And she for her own sake, for the sake of the marriage, for the sake of intimacy, even being possible, has to learn how to hold on to her own dignity and sense of self. Right. Absent of the husband's validation, even if he's improving dramatically.

[00:50:35] And so that's often the focus gets so much on the narcissist and sometimes not enough on what is the psychological and emotional self-regulation tool that the that the partner of the narcissist needs to learn.

[00:50:49] Yeah, I love what you're saying because it's your turn into that person. If you look at the empty phrases of are you there for me? Can I count on you? Do you have my back? And and it's the person you're opening up and being vulnerable to to say my OK is the person that's doing the gaslighting in which that can be. I mean, I think that's a form of betrayal trauma of its own that that kind of that kind of way.

[00:51:10] And so that's why. Yeah, you can't you're the kind of approach that I do is not about getting your sustenance from the other person, getting it within your own ability to map what's real and what's true. It's getting it out of your own strength and not out of another person, especially another weak person. I was just working with a couple where she's made a lot of progress.

[00:51:36] But when he's in his worst self, he's kind of propping himself up and insulting her. And so aggressive mind sort of pushes him up. But he's just a big baby in that moment. But that doesn't have the right to say he's acting like a petulant child. Right. And she puts him up. And that's immature or regressive in her mind that he goes up when he goes into this.

[00:52:01] You know, cruel, petulant behavior, lots. They can't see through what they call that matte manhood or masculinity rather than childish.

[00:52:12] So you have to see it for what it is as a way of regulating your own mind. Don't make a child judge your sense of self because they'll judge it poorly.

[00:52:22] You have to unhook from that mind if you're going to have a sane and healthy mind.

[00:52:27] I love that because I heard it put one time that it was basically all kids are self centered and they move to self-confident when they have the right attachment, they have the right support system. So oftentimes they can have narcissists, those people that went from self-centered to self-centered. So it's basically it's and that's why I can feel like a 10 year old boy in narcissist failure to grow up.

[00:52:50] And yes, it's like you're still stuck. It's a five year old and a 50 year old body or whatever.

[00:52:56] So. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, exactly. So thank you for tackling that question because I feel like you handled that. When you run into that, what do you I mean, do you do you ever pull the partner aside? Do you ever say, hey, here's what I think that we might be looking at or what do you do in those?

[00:53:12] You know, I it to the couple. I know. I love that.

[00:53:16] That guy from the woman or whoever it is from the reality of what they're doing, I trust them enough in a sense to deal honestly with who they are.

[00:53:26] It's also a way of role modeling for the person who tends to coddle the narcissist that.

[00:53:34] You can hold your own and talk straight to that person, and I'm not aggressive toward that for sure, to help them see what they're doing and why, you know, their marriage is on the brink of ending and also give them some compassion, because I know they didn't come by this on their own.

[00:53:52] Yeah, let's say that they do. Sometimes they don't they don't even know what they don't know. And I guess that's the thing that. Right.

[00:53:58] And so I like to keep them from in the dark. You know, you want to care about them enough to talk straight to them. And sometimes it's the people, you know, you're putting me in a dilemma. You know, I can either respect you or I can tell you what you want to hear. What do you want? Which do you want?

[00:54:16] Yeah, exactly. And people are like, I have the respect for this. Yeah, well, that's great. So thank you. I don't want to take too much of your time. I mean, I really feel like that was everything that I hoped it would be.

[00:54:29] The narcissism piece in particular. Thank you so much for addressing that. And then in that avoiding attachment, I hope that we kind of landed the plane there because I do feel like with the attach or the the anxious attachment that yeah, I'm not just saying everybody has to go get a dog so they can pet it or do the self care. But I really feel like I appreciate you addressing that. Sometimes I feel if I'm going to be super open and vulnerable with you, sometimes I feel in the office when that avoidant attachment person kind of even has that recognition that, wow, OK, I'm not showing up as I maybe could or that I don't have that relationship. Sometimes I feel like, you know, I don't know if you're a big fan of acceptance and commitment therapy, but I love act that says, OK, each one of us is the product. We're the only version of ourselves, you know, all of our nature and nurture and birth order and DNA and abandonment, rejection, all that. So we think and feel the way we do. So then when someone says you need to do this, then it's like it doesn't always have to feel that reactance there, too. Right.

[00:55:25] And so I feel like I shouldn't say I never say. But when I being the therapist, I don't ever say, you know, you need to do it. As soon as I get into the operational position of trying to get somebody to, I'm first of all doing exactly what the pursuer is doing in the wrong. Yes. That's terrible role model as a as a therapist or a coach. So, you know, that's why I'm like I would say, like, of course, you don't have to stay in this marriage. No, you don't have to have sex. No, you don't have to stop looking at porn. But clearly, you know, you have choices to make.

[00:55:59] But maybe just be honest about your choices so that you're getting it out of the you have to do A, B or C to be a good person, more like you have the ability to make your choices. Here's the consequences I see given those choices, you know, at this point.

[00:56:16] So I'm sort of handing it to them so they can make a real decision for themselves. But, you know, as soon as I think that if somebody's not willing to move, I start talking about that. I think you're making your choice. I'll say to the pursuing person, I think your partner is telling you what he or she is going to do and not do. I think they're showing you probably time you want to deal with that means who are you going to be in the face of what they're choosing or not choosing? Because it's easy to kind of imagine you're waiting around being patient for somebody when in fact, they're not going to do anything. But even naming that either dislodges it or it allows the other person to figure out what they're going to do, given the choices they don't have control over.

[00:57:00] And I love that. And I appreciate you talking about that, too, because I feel like the same is that I feel like when we have this maybe aha moment in a session, even the anxious partner says, OK, now can you tell her you tell her what she needs to do. And I love how you just said that. It's like, no, that again, that defeats the whole purpose. Yeah. So I hope everybody hearing this never, never a good idea to say you need to. I mean that is never quite goes. Yeah. Never quite goes.

[00:57:25] Well exactly. It's participating in the pursuer dynamic and you're pushing them into exactly the position that they like the most and is worse for them.

[00:57:35] Yeah. Perfect. Hey, we actually just bought one of your courses so I'm excited about that. Yeah. It was when there was like a part of it but yeah. So it was a flash sale on holiday and I was like I'm in so I can't wait. I'm excited about that. And then any anywhere else right now where any, any more courses really.

[00:57:55] So we can doing the art of loving course, which is a men's sexuality course and I've been doing it live like two groups of men live. And it's been super fun to teach actually.

[00:58:07] So we're going to actually do a promotion on that, I think on Thursday to sell that course for the live and the recorded course i'll have in starting in February. So. So anyway, so that's the men's section.

[00:58:24] So it's of course, for LDS men and deals with things like desire being the high desire person, low desire pornography, you know, basically, how do you love through your sexuality and how do you. To greater peace within your sexuality, because, know, my heart of desire, of course, has a lot to do with how women have been giving messages to sort of suppressed desire and to suppress a sense of self and be more in this kind of stoic that's not really probably fair to stoicism, but this kind of benign position relative to their sexuality. And so that's a challenge. That course is really looking at those messages and helping women to find a way to be in a deeper and higher integrity relationship to their desires and sexuality. But the thing I've really learned is how much men have often learned to that their sexuality is shameful or dangerous to be at arms length with. And that fear based reality makes it very hard to integrate sexuality, feel at peace with it as a man. And so then men will either suppress or they'll go indulgent. So porn is sort of an easier way to have your sexuality, but not have to really confront it in yourself and or bring it into an intimate relationship.

[00:59:32] And so it's often an expression of this kind of highjacked development.

[00:59:37] But anyway, so really about helping men to kind of reconsider how they've been in relationship to masculinity and sexuality and how to be in a higher integrity position within themselves so they're more able to really love and be loved through their sexuality.

[00:59:50] So I so appreciate that. I mean, so I mean, when I was selling my book a year or so ago, I counted it was about thirteen hundred guys at the time. Over 15 years I worked with and I would say that at the time over thirteen hundred and no shame being a component of any type of recovery.

[01:00:06] And, and I feel like that is that is still so hard to sell people on a street based hold the shame, you know, become the person you want to be way so many people go more to just kind of get rid of the sexuality or get even farther from it rather than know how am I in relationship to myself and my sexuality in a way that creates real goodness and joy in my life. And I even think of it as like to really be in an entirety based relationship to sexuality. And a partner is in and of itself like a spiritual enterprise. And I don't mean in the way that a lot of people think about it. I don't mean all cleaned up. I mean kind of earthy and real, but but very much like a kind of marital ritual that's about a real kind of union and communion that I think, you know, I think God wants us to have.

[01:00:56] So the more that we can learn what we need to learn to create that, the better off men and women are and families are. And so anyway. Well, that's why.

[01:01:06] So good. OK, I promise. Now I'll be I'll make it. But even when you say that, what I love about that is I love to say we developed these four pillars of this connected conversation. And the first one is really just to assume good intentions that someone doesn't wake up in the morning and think, how can I hurt my spouse? And so even if it's that they're with their withdrawn or if they're angry or if they if they aren't feeling like being intimate, that being able to just say, OK, I know that's not what their goal is, is to hurt me. But if that's how they're showing up, then I do. I want to know and I want to know why they feel that way. And I don't know right now.

[01:01:40] I just feel like that, yes, you need to understand, like what is going on. And a lot of times we're afraid to understand our partner, in part because we don't want to know them as much as we think it'll stretch us and challenge us. But also we see ourselves better if we know them better and we often don't want to know ourselves. So we're terrible at seeking to understand. We want to be understood.

[01:02:02] We want our view of reality to dominate, but to understand much harder as we do that also, we were doing a Christmas sale, that 20 percent off all my courses. So that's the other thing. Probably by the time this post that will be it'll be up and running. So, yeah. Hey, what kind of dog do you have? I hear dog barking. Well, this is I'm at my sister's house right now and that is her Havanese dog. But I have a golden retriever who is at the next house. I am in Vermont currently because at least until a few days ago, Covid's been the lowest in the country here for months and months. But it probably still is. But but it's getting worse here lately. But so we I'm on the property that I grew up on, and there's basically three houses here because different family members. So we're able to just be here with some family.

[01:02:51] But my golden is in the other house. OK, thanks. OK, thank you so much for your time. I could talk to you every day and I appreciate.

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