Tony shares why values are so important, and how a thought truly is simply a thought...thoughts do not always lead to action. He also describes the most effective thing to do when you're feeling down, lonely, anxious, depressed, or any other feeling. You can find Russ Harris' values worksheet here https://psychwire.com/harris/resources

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[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to take, I don't know, 300, 400 of this morning's episode of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am very calm and being very present now as I have continued to ruin and take after take of simply trying to say hi, how are you doing? As I have been distracted or had a coughing fit or had to clear my throat or literally then forgot what to say. So this time I am determined to stay the course. So welcome aboard. Welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch. And today we're going to talk about values. I talk about values so much that if I look at there was my throat again, I swear to you, I could I could stop right now and start over again. But instead, watch this. I'm going to pause. Well, that was a good one. I just cleared my throat like nobody's business. But I talk often about values. And probably now the most consistent email I receive is can you give me a link to this values worksheet that I talk about often? That is by my favorite author, Ross Harris, who is author of The Happiness Trap and the Confidence Gap and Act, made simple all of these amazing acceptance and commitment therapy books. And I have a little copy and paste there. So if you if you want to, you can reach out contacted Tony Overbay dot com or go through the website and I'll send you a link.

[00:01:31] But you can also find the link on site Wired.com. You can find it in under additional resources. But I talk so often about values and the importance of finding your values, determining your values, that that really guides you in the direction that you need to be. That I really wanted to go through and take a look at what that looks like when you're trying to find or figure out what your values are because they're significant. Let me let me kind of go over that again. So when you find out or determine what your values are, those start to point you in a direction, a new direction of where you want to go with your behaviors, where you want to go with your thoughts, and even just trying to figure out what your values are or what's important to you is a pretty mind blowing experience. Here's why. It may sound like you already kind of know what matters to me, but do you when I have clients in my office one on one, one of the first things I like to do is go over this values checklist, because so often our values that we think are important to us are really things that are carried over from our parents or from our teachers at school or from a neighbor or from our siblings or from our religious community. And they're those things that we feel like we are supposed to care about are supposed to do.

[00:02:38] And what I think is fascinating, when you do a deep dove on your own personal values is that they're very unique and personable, personable, personal to you because of all of the experiences that you've gone through in life. And I've probably said this so many times that it gets old for somebody that's listening to a lot of my episodes. But let's just take a look at honesty. For example, if you grew up in a home where your parents, one or both were brutally honest to the point of where they said, you absolutely look horrific and what you're wearing, or today when you gave a talk in church, I can't even believe that I call you my kid, which those are very real examples that I hear on a fairly regular basis of people growing up saying, well, you know, at least I knew where they stood, that my parents were honest, but oftentimes it came with a cost of that person's self-esteem or their confidence. So if you grew up in a home where people had this brutal honesty, then you may not have a value of that absolute brutal honesty. You may have more of a value of compassion, or if you have a value of connection with others, then you may say, I think you look pretty good, or I think that not that talk was was great.

[00:03:47] I love this part where you said this one thing, this story that you told that was fantastic because it might not be in your nature. It may not be a value of yours to then tell somebody really what you think, what you think deep down in your soul about what they look like right now or what they're wearing. And I'm not saying there's any good or bad or any right or wrong value. That's the fascinating thing about values. They just are they're there because of all the experiences that you've gone through as a kid. You know, if somebody has some deep abandonment or attachment issues in their life, then they may really have this value of connection. They desperately want to connect with people, but they may not know how. So sometimes just identifying and accepting that you have this deep value of connection with others, that that becomes a really important direction to guide your life. So if you have this value of connection, but then you are afraid that you may not know what to say in a particular moment, then that I'm worried. I may not know what to say in a particular moment becomes this story that your brain is telling you and you then hook to this story. If used this story, you believe this story, even though it's just a story, it's just a thought in your head, and then that keeps you from trying to connect with others.

[00:04:56] So it's so important to determine what your values are. So in that scenario, let's say that you really have this deep core value of connection with others. But again, you're afraid you're afraid that you might say something silly, that you might stumble on your words, that they might not think that you're smart. And so let's say that you are. Going into a new environment, you were starting a new job or you're heading off to school and now you have this opportunity to talk to people or connect with people, that's at your core. That is your deepest desire and value in life is to connect with others. So you think I'm going to go talk to those people then? And that gives you a little bit of a bump of dopamine. You get pretty excited about it, but then just take a pause and watch all those stories that your brain tells you. Your brain starts to say, I don't. They're going to like you, you know, or you haven't had a lot of success with this in the past. So why is this going to be any different? So if you believe or buy into any of those stories, then guess what? You don't have to go try and connect with that person. And if we just take a step back again, your brain is kind of wired for survival and survival at a real primitive level.

[00:05:57] Your brain wants the path of least resistance. It knows what the current situation looks like. It knows what it looks like or feels like to say, I'll try to talk to somebody later. It knows what it feels like to say, I'll sit this one out. But what it is afraid of is this fear of if I go over there and make a fool out of myself, then things might actually be worse. And that's going to that's going to require a lot of emotional calories and energy. And I might not get a payoff for it. So your brain saying, hey, how about we sit this one out again? Is this concept of experiential avoidance? I'll find other things to do right now. You know, I'm going to I want to do my laundry. I'm going to I'm going to just watch a few more videos on YouTube or open up the Tick Tock app or something like that. And tomorrow tomorrow I'm going to connect with those people. I mean, how many times do you say that to yourself? That I'm to do it later or even in the grand scheme of things? I'm going to do it when the kids are out of the home. I'm going to do it when we're in a better financial situation. I'm going to do it when I have lost a little bit of weight or any of those type of things.

[00:06:56] So we're designed to just kick that can down the road to put things off. So as soon as we identify what our values are now, we start to take action toward our values or activities based on our values. And your brain is still going to try to talk you out of it. But at least now we have a direction to go and that's where we can really do some good work. So if I'm going to start moving toward a connection with somebody but my brain says you may not know what to say or they might not think that you are very smart at this point, then we're not even trying to argue that. We're saying, OK, all right. I appreciate your warning brain. You mean well, but that isn't a very workable or that isn't a very productive thought toward my Value-Based Goal of connection. That's why the identifying of values becomes so important. So I wanted to walk you through what that looks like when you pull up this values list. So this values list from the sites like Wired.com says, a quick look at your values. And right in front of me, I have the 60 value version. And the reason I picked that one, they have a 60 value version and a 40 value version. Alfonsin clients the 40 value version, but the 60 value version has a really nice explanation. At the top, it says, values are your heart's deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being.

[00:08:06] Values are not about what you want to get or achieve. They're about how you would want to behave or act on an ongoing basis, how you want to treat yourself or others or the world around you. And I feel like there's some real significance there. The significance in that values are not about how they're not what you want to get or achieve. They're about how you want to behave or act. And I was doing a little bit of a values exercise or values workshop that I found. And I found this through a training that I was doing. And I'll have a link to this, but I am drawing a blank. You can see me stumble here on trying to figure out or remember who the author was that provided this worksheet. And I will find that I feel so bad. But she said that values clarification worksheet. She said, before you begin to identify your values, remember that they're unique to each one of us and you get to choose them. And you may have learned your values, like we said earlier, from your family, your community culture, your country, your religious or spiritual traditions or your friends. However, you are not required to share values with them. And I think that's so important and is so is so simply and easily and wonderfully stated that just because your parents value something or your religious community values something, that doesn't mean that you have to value that thing.

[00:09:22] You value what you value again because of your experiences. And so when she says, however, you're not required to share values with them, values are typically going to elicit one or more of these following feelings, a sense of purpose or vitality or connection or contentment, fulfillment, warmth or meaning. And if you don't feel at least one of those things, it's most likely not a core value of yours. And she says, include all aspects of what's important to you, all shades of you, values that are similar and values that are in contrast to one another. And I think that's important. You can have a value of compassion, but you could also have a value of authenticity or you could have a value of justice, even though you also have a value of connection. And some of those can seem like they are conflicting values. And we'll talk about that here in a little bit. Values, and this is why I brought this up. She talks about values being like directions that they can't be achieved. So if you can get it or you can have it. And it's not likely a value, so if we're talking about money, if my if people want to say I have a value of getting rich, then that that really isn't a value.

[00:10:20] That might be a goal. That might be a direction to go, but it's not a core value if you can get it. If I become rich, you know, whatever that looks like, then it's not really a value I could have a value of being authentic, a value of cooperation, a value of courage, value of fairness, a value of fitness or flexibility. And we'll talk about those. But really ask, what about this particular value or what about this thing is important to me. And here was the part that I thought was so brilliant. She talked about no core values, that values don't necessarily exist in a hierarchy of most important to least important, that it really boils down to the context of the moment. And in that context or moment, that will really determine what value is the most workable for you to focus on or the most productive for you to focus on. And we'll talk about that will give some examples here. So I want to I want to challenge you if you right now have no idea what your values are. Of course, I would like for you to get this worksheet or that I'm talking about and have a link to it in the show notes so you can email me and I'll look for you even to start to think about what really matters most to you, what really gives you this sense of meaning or purpose or connection or fulfillment.

[00:11:26] And then watch your brain immediately say, but yeah, but here's why this wouldn't work for me or here's why. And those are all just your brain. Bless its little pink, squishy heart, trying to protect you or trying to just keep you safe or trying to make sure that you don't make a fool out of yourself or you don't embarrass yourself because the brain is again, this this just stay alive, don't get killed device. And I think it's so brilliant when you think about that concept of your brain. It really is working off of some faulty information, which sounds crazy because it's your brain. I have one. You have one. We all have one. But the brain is saying that if I can just work less, if I can just conserve my energy, then I've got a good shot of living forever because your brain wants to live forever. It's this organ that if it dies, it dies. I mean, we can talk about soul and we can talk about the afterlife. We can talk about all those things. But your poor brain is saying, I got one shot at this, you know, and then and then I am then I am done. So I want to hold on for dear life, literally. So what your brain is doing is that saying if we don't have to put ourselves out there too much, then we have a better chance at living.

[00:12:28] But again, that's a false premise. So and this goes into that whole concept of why we develop habits. If you think about tying your shoes, as soon as you learn to tie your shoe, you don't think about tying your shoes at all or you don't think about backing the car out of the driveway or you don't think about buttoning up a shirt. Those become habitual, those become habits, and they're put into a little part of your brain called the basal ganglia. It's the habit center of your brain. And if you were to look at how much electrical activity your brain uses when pulling from that habit center, it's it's minuit. It's infinitesimal. So in that scenario, your brain wants to do whatever it can to make something habitual, whether it's a thought or behavior, whatever that is, put it into that habit center. And then when your brain sees cues coming, then it says, load up this habit because this whole process is going to use less electrical activity and therefore we're going to be able to live forever. So let's try to get as many things as we can as habitual. And the way it's going to do that is even to to kind of trick you into these things of saying, hey, we'll do that thing later, because that thing sounds pretty scary. But for right now, let's just focus on something that we know. Let's focus on the known.

[00:13:34] We know tick tock. We know YouTube, we know sleeping. We know watching episodes of the office. So let's do that today. And then I promise you tomorrow we'll take a look at whatever that new thing is that you want to do. And then we believe our brain. We trust our brain and we say, OK, brain sounds like a good idea. That's right. We'll tackle that tomorrow or you're right. I think I do deserve a little bit of tick tock time right now and I'm going to spend some time there. So when you look at it that way, I think that will often help us understand that there's nothing wrong with us. This is just the way that we're presenting. This is a survival mechanism. This is how we're wired. This is our brain thing. And it's doing us a favor. It thinks it's doing us a solid. So let's get back to this quick look at your values. Oh, where I was going when I was talking about that is if you aren't sure what they are, I want you to get this worksheet out or when you start thinking about things that really matter to you or what really you feel a meaning or sense of purpose around and then watch your brain, bless his heart, try to talk you out of those things that. Well, yeah, but this doesn't really matter. Or you shouldn't think that even your own brain is going to shoot on you.

[00:14:37] Nobody likes to be shown on. And so as you develop these or even want to start testing to see if these things are your values or not, this is why I love this point that she said in this worksheet that there aren't there isn't really a hierarchy of values most important to least important. We just need to start doing. And we spend so much of our time thinking and we try to think, think, think, think our way through things. We try to think our way out of thinking problems. We ruminate, we fortuneteller, we worry. And all of that is a lot of thinking. And we get to the point where we feel like I just have to figure this out. But in reality, we spend far too much time in that. And not enough time and doing but here's the caveat to that is it really does help. I was going to say it matters. It matters. It really does help if you know what to do. So you can start thinking and get yourself anxious and you can practice mindfulness and you can bring yourself right back to the present moment. You can notice that you're thinking you can turn to your breath, you can get yourself right back into the moment. But now what? Because when you let your foot off the gas of trying to be present, you're still in that same situation often.

[00:15:43] And so your brain says, hey, how'd that work, champ? You know, it didn't. So let's get back to worrying. Let's get back to ruminating when in reality, if you can bring yourself back to the present moment and now take action on a value of value based goal or value based activity, you're starting to create this nice new neural pathway in your brain that when I start to worry, when I start to fear, when I start to doubt, when I start to get anxious, when I start to feel depressed, when I start to do any of those feelings or those those thoughts come into my mind that I'm going to notice them. I'm not going to judge I'm not going to try to push them away. I'm not going to try to change them magically. I'm going to recognize them. I'm going to acknowledge that thought. And then I'm going to just gently set the rope down to the tug of war with that thought of why am I thinking this? I shouldn't be thinking this. Don't think this thinks something else. Instead, all of those are just that's that's that same pattern that's kind of kept us stuck. Where we are. Where we're going to do is we're going to acknowledge the thought, recognize the thought, drop the rope of the tug of war with that thought and then gently move towards some value based action.

[00:16:45] Let me give you an example of this. This happened over the weekend. I was in Vegas, Las Vegas, with my wife and my oldest daughter, Alex, and my son in law, Mitch. And we were at the NBA Summer League games, which are so much fun. So you're in this arena and you're just watching game after game and it's these future NBA professionals. And so they're young and they're exciting. And you get to sit really close to the court and it's game after game after game. So if you're a basketball fanatic, which I am, it's just it's such a fun time, but we're all human. So after about the second or third game and you're sitting there and maybe you're your butt starts to fall asleep a little bit, you are starting to think, OK, I'm kind of getting a little tired of of eating the concessions from the the arena. And and so there was a moment that came over me where I just felt a little bit flat because I'm human, even though I love what I'm doing, I love the people around me. But I just noticed I was kind of feeling flat. So here's what that looks like. I notice that I'm feeling flat. And when did I notice that? I noticed that this is going to sound silly, but I noticed it when I noticed it. So I was sitting there and I was just not really communicating with those around me.

[00:17:52] And I was watching this game, but I really wasn't into the game. I wasn't participating actively watching the game. So I recognized it, noticed that that came to my attention. I didn't say, man, what's wrong with me? You know, you're here. You've got your family around you. This incredible you should be more excited about this. You should be more grateful because that's too often what we do. And that then starts to put a lot of pressure on us. It starts to lower our emotional baseline. It starts to raise our stress level. We start to think, I mean, I can't even come to Vegas on a vacation and be present. What is wrong with me? Nothing. You're human. We have a bunch of thoughts and emotions and feelings all throughout the day, all throughout the hour, even at times, all throughout the minute. So when I recognized that I was feeling a little bit flat, then I noticed it. I acknowledged it. Oh, I'm noticing that. I'm feeling a little bit flat. That's interesting. And so then I turned to a value of curiosity, a value of knowledge. These are two of my my main values, say one of the his core values, even though I just told you that this one author says there aren't any core values, but these are values that really are important to me, especially in that moment and in that context.

[00:18:58] So when I noticed that I am feeling flat, I acknowledged it. I didn't push it away. I made room for it. It's right there. It's right beside me. This feeling of being flat. I didn't judge it. I didn't try to say what's wrong with me? You shouldn't feel this way. You should think something different there. It's just a thought. So when I noticed that thought, I pulled out my phone and this this value of curiosity or knowledge kicks in and I love nothing more, then all of a sudden I start picking out players and I just start to Google them and I start to read about them and I start to learn about where they're from, how many years they played in college, how how tall they are, how many how many years have they been trying to make it into the NBA? I remember at one point I was pointing out something to my son in law where I noticed, OK, this particular guy, he missed a few games of his college career because he fled the scene of a of an accident. And I thought that's that's interesting that I'm clicking on the news article about it and I'm reading more about it. And it's just something that's fascinating. Or you or I see another player and he it was kind of funny. He had a very, very deep look, like a fake tan and some bleached hair.

[00:19:57] And we said, OK, let's find out that guy's story. Find out that he's a thirty year old from Russia who's tried to make it into the NBA several times. And so then that becomes a fascinating story. Then I Googled him. Last name's Tima. He was a 2014 Lithuanian dunk contest at. Champion, so how fun is that? Then he hits a couple of shots, the crowd gets excited and all of a sudden I feel like I have this this not a connection, but I, I just have this awareness or this knowledge more about this particular player. So I want to go back to that then. So when I'm noticing that I'm feeling flat, I don't judge it. I don't I don't try to change the thought. I don't try to push the thought away. And why is that significant? Because if I try to say why, why am I thinking this, then that's a negative. That's given some negative energy that's going to lower my emotional baseline. Why am I thinking it? I don't know. Because I'm thinking it. Because my brain said, here's a thought. Our brains do that constantly. Our brains do that all day long. Here is a thought that thought can lead to an emotion, but that does not have to lead to a behavior. And that's one of the things that I think is so amazing about acceptance and commitment therapy. Our brains, it's not this mechanistic model.

[00:21:01] We can't just simply change a thought and have it lead to a different emotion or different behavior. That's one of the things that we read often. I even have a chapter of a book called Act Made Simple, and it has a piece. This is by Russ Harris, where he says, Shattering the illusion that our thoughts control us. He said one of the key insights that we want our clients to get is that our thoughts do not control our actions, that thoughts have a lot of influence on our actions when we fuze with them, when we give them too much meaning, he said. They have less influence when we diffuse, he said. Once a client understands this, it enables us to do brief interventions like these. If a client says, I don't think I can do it, the therapist said, Can you have that thought and do it anyway? Or the client says, Well, I just know this is going to turn out badly. The therapist says, well, if that's what your mind's going to tell you, can you tell your mind? Can you let your mind tell you that and still go ahead and do whatever it is that you want to do? And so he gives a couple of examples. He said, if our thoughts and feelings actually controlled our actions, where would we be? He said, think of all those angry or resentful or vengeful thoughts and feelings that we've had just because we're human.

[00:22:05] When we thought negative things about people, he said, remember all those nasty things that you thought about saying or doing to people that you were angry with me, with a guy that cut you off somebody and that's rude in front of you in line. But imagine if those thoughts and feelings had control their actions. What if you really had gone and done all those things that you've thought where we all be of our thoughts and feelings control our actions. And he says, you know, wait for your client to answer. A lot of times they'll say in prison or in the hospital or dead. And so then you often as a therapist, want to bring up have you ever had thoughts and feelings that you didn't act on? For example, have you ever had the thought, I can't do this, but you want to and did it anyway? Right. Or do you have those thoughts about yelling at somebody or leaving your spouse or quitting your job or, you know, getting angry with your kids or calling in sick, but then you don't act on them? Do you ever feel angry but on the inside of you act calmly on the outside, or do we feel frightened but you act confidently? I mean, I had that example even just over the weekend when we were traveling and going to the airport. We run a little bit late later than I would like to.

[00:23:06] So in my mind, I saying, oh, my gosh, I'm going to miss the plane. I can't believe I to do this. I need to speed and all those are just thoughts. What did I do? Stayed present, stayed calm, had a great conversation with my wife on the way to the airport and we made it. I completely forgot about all those thoughts, those fears, those worries, that anger. So Russ Ariston says, Did you ever feel like running away from an awkward or stressful situation, but you stayed. So what does that show you? Do your thoughts and feelings truly control your actions, or do you have a choice on how you act? And I remember one of the first things I learned, and he touches on this when I was learning about act, is this it's called the I can't lift my arm metaphor. The therapist says, and I could do this for all of you right now. I would like you to silently repeat to yourself, I can't lift my arm and say it over and over in your head. And as you're saying it, lift up your arm. And if I'm if you're doing this in my office, usually I wait a little bit and there may be a slight pause for a second or two. And so then you do mention so you you can lift your arm up, even though your mind says you can say, did you notice how you hesitated, though? We are so used to believing whatever our minds tell us that for a second there we kind of maybe even actually believe it.

[00:24:12] But now repeat yourself. All right. I have to stand up and as you say it, stay seated. So your thoughts do not mechanically control your actions, your thoughts have they have influence on your actions? But I will. I love that concept of just because we think it doesn't mean that we have to do it. And and once we understand that concept, then oftentimes you say, well, what do we what do we do then? And this is where I love that we're going to find something that matters to us and we're going to start to take action and do it. And our brain will even say, what if that's not the right thing? And then that's. And now I hope that you have a context from what we were saying earlier that, oh, bless my brain's heart. Yeah, it might not be the right thing. Not even arguing if that's a true or false statement, is that a productive thought toward taking action on something that matters to me? So I really believe that when you start to figure out what matters to you and that can be fluid and what matters to you can change. And so the key is just to start taking action.

[00:25:10] And once you start taking action on something that matters to you, you'll see if that really matters to you. So go back to this example that I have of I love nothing more than just Googling things. I love information. I have such a value of curiosity that it can almost be overwhelming at times. I could be in a session with somebody and you add that value of curiosity to attention deficit disorder. That could be trouble. And I will tell clients often, OK, I love what you just said to me, but I'm dying to Google it right now and find out more about it. And I love that some of the clients that I work with are saying, oh, I'm thinking the same thing, so let's let's Google it. You know, they pull out their phone. I've got my iPad. We have this value of curiosity or value of knowledge. But if you are sitting there in an arena and you start to feel flat and then you say, oh, well, Tony has this value, curiosity or knowledge, I think I'll pull out my phone and see if that works for me. And if you just don't care, you don't have interest in that, then note it. There you go. You have some some data to work with. OK, maybe that's not my value. If you have a value of just connection with another human, then when you notice in a moment that you're feeling down or flat or blue and you have this value of just connecting with another individual, then turned to that individual and start asking them questions, they.

[00:26:20] Are you enjoying the game or what do you like about this in particular, or have you ever done this before? Did you ever think about playing basketball or what must it be like to be a basketball player and have access to this money? Or, you know, what would it look like to be seven feet tall and have to duck under doorways or so? But I'm asking those questions because I have this value of a connection. And then if you're hearing me say that and now you say, OK, I'm in a similar situation and I don't really want to Google anything on my phone or I start asking people questions, and that isn't very satisfying either. Maybe you really just have a value of a presence and you just want to be there. And so when you notice you're feeling blue now, pay particular attention to the sounds around. You hear the ball bouncing on the court, hear the shoes squeaking on the floor, hear the buzzer, hear the people buzzing around, listen for conversations around you, because that might be something that really matters to you. And the cool part about it is we are all different. We're all going to have different things that matter more to to you than they do to me and and you.

[00:27:19] It's your goal to start really figuring out what those values are so that when you are in your head, when you are anxious, when you are depressed, when you are flat, when you are feeling any of those feelings, instead of saying, what's wrong with me, nothing, you're human. Instead of saying, OK, I need to think something else, here comes psychological reactance. That instant negative reaction of of being told what to do if you tell your brain, do not think about being blue right now, I should be more happy. Your brain is going to say, oh, I'll be blue, I'll do whatever I want. It's that whole thought suppression, peace that don't think about chocolate ice cream right now. You all just thought about chocolate ice cream and don't don't put sprinkles on it, whatever you do. OK, there you go. Some sprinkles on your chocolate ice cream. Your brain is so wired for this reactance that it is going to do whatever you tell it not to do. So instead, we recognize a thought. I notice I'm feeling blue. OK, that's that's it. It's a thought. It's a feeling. You can label it. You can notice that I'm feeling blue and I can label that is OK thinking that's what I'm doing. I don't have to judge it. I don't have to push it away. I don't have to change it. I don't have to say it man.

[00:28:27] OK, whenever I feel blue then I need to think, OK, no, you're happy to be here because you can do that and you can drill that drill into your head as many times as you want. And then if you then notice you are feeling blue and then think, OK, I need to be grateful, I'm here. But if that doesn't shift your energy, then guess what? Now you get to do. I can't even do the tool you need to say to yourself, I can't even do the tool right. What's wrong with me? Nothing. You are human. We're using the wrong tool. We're using this tool of trying to figure things out. We're using this tool of trying to think our way out of a thinking problem when the real tool to use is noticing the thought and noticing the feeling, noticing the emotion. There it is. And then just gently move away from it and take action, take action on something that matters to you. And if you realize, OK, I thought that I really cared about friendliness, you know, that's one of the values on this worksheet, friendliness to be friendly, companionable or agreeable towards others. But if you found that man, I really find that I'm not as friendly as I once thought I was. There is nothing wrong with you. Noticed, there are a lot of values. We all have a different connection to these values based on all the experiences that we've been through.

[00:29:32] If you have been continually burned and trying to be friendly to people throughout your lives or if you grew up with parents that said do not talk to strangers, whatever you do, don't do it. It's scary. It's a scary world, then that value of friendliness may not be intrinsic. It may not be something that is deeply rooted within your core. And that's OK. I have on this list there's one fairness and justice, to be fair. And just to myself or others. I love when you get to process this values list with other people because that's one where it is. OK, if you don't feel this deep compassion of fairness or equality, it's hard to say that out loud because we feel like we're doing something wrong. But if you have more of a feeling of empathy or compassion, then you may not feel like that is not fair and it needs to be fair, whatever that is. If you're if you're one who sits back and says, well, I mean, it's OK, I a lot of things aren't fair, I accept that, then that's OK. That's how you feel. And if you also feel like, OK, it's not fair, I got to do something about it, even though it's not about me. That is one of your values. That's OK. I have a tremendous value of humor. I love being funny.

[00:30:40] I love cracking jokes. I love trying to see the humor in a situation. And I talked about this on a podcast a few weeks ago, but I was working with a client who has a value of humor. But they realize that in their profession and in their home right now, they they aren't able to exercise that value of humor. They're worried their brain has them hooked on this thought that if they are funny in their job, that people won't take them as seriously and therefore people will not respect them and won't want to come see them. And that's a hard place to be, because if at your core you are stuffing down your your humor and your fun and this value of humor as part of your connection, then be funny, because that is how you are going to be more of yourself and for being more of yourself. Your emotional baseline is going to raise and you're going to present as more competent. And if you present as more confident people around, you are going to feel that energy and you are going to be around people that want to be with you and you are going to want to be with those people. If somebody says I can't go to you as a professional because you are too humorous, then that's OK. Bless their heart. This is where that concept of differentiation comes into play, where differentiation again is where one person ends and the other person begins.

[00:31:52] We are all different, unique individuals. And so when we recognize that we can be interdependent, not codependent, we can we can realize that my best self is to be me. Even if there are people that disagree or even if there are people that are going to invalidate my experience. I mean, I've heard often and this is funny, I remember early on when I started putting out my podcast and somebody would hear it and they would come to me as a client and I had more than one person say, and I didn't know if I could deal with your energy. And I remember a couple of times feeling like, oh, I should not be as energetic. And I thought, oh, no, that's who I am. And then I would often say, OK, I appreciate you sharing that. And if you feel you can't deal with my energy, then no problem. I understand. And let me try to get your referral, because I want you to find a connection with a therapist that you can connect with. And I might not be everybody's cup of tea. I really might. And guess what? That's OK. And in that vein, how often do we spend our lives really trying to figure out who do I need to be and these particular situations to be liked and how difficult is that? But if we're finding our values with this whole episode is about today, we find out really what matters to us and then we act on those values and we take action and we start to move toward those values instead of worrying about what really other people are thinking while we take action on our values or we notice that we're worrying about what other people are thinking and we think our brain for that worry and we drop the rope of that tug of war of trying to really determine, oh, man, should I think should I be this way, should I not be this way? And we start taking action on our values.

[00:33:21] We are going to start to thrive. And that is a whole different relationship with yourself and with others that I worry that people don't even know what that's like. And I recognize now when people are coming into my office and I'm drilling them with this, you know, learn your values, take action on your values, invite your thoughts and emotions to come along, that to me, it just makes so much sense because it makes sense because that's what I've been doing for so long. But to somebody new there, they're still worried about how they say something or what they say or what have they say, the wrong thing. And man, bless your heart, that is a hard place to be because that that alone takes up a lot of emotional energy and calories.

[00:33:59] And too often I feel like that's why your brain says I'll do it tomorrow, because it's scary and it's new. But ironically, when you get to that point where you are living more of an authentic life based on your values and your learning, that the more you turn toward those things that matter to you, the more confident that you become and the more confident you become, the more you're running in circles with people and ideas and things that matter to you, then it's a lot easier to sit with that and validation. If somebody is going to tell me that they disagree with one of my podcasts or one of my. He's one of those things, no problem. I'm grateful that they that they're thinking about whatever the topic is that I'm talking about. That's wonderful. Thank you. But if they're saying I think you are wrong, then, OK, that's great. Like, tell me more. But at the end of the day, I'm the only one driving my ship. And so in that scenario, I can take the information and I can do with it whatever it really whatever I want to do with that. And if I want to take a look at it and say, man, maybe, maybe they've got a good point, I think I'll take a look at that. That's awesome. But I don't have to feel like I should change what I'm saying. I shouldn't say these things because what if what if that makes me look bad? No, this is how I present.

[00:35:09] So I know I don't want this to go too long. I didn't get into a lot of the other. I didn't get into a lot of values. Maybe we'll carry this to a part two. Or maybe you've got enough information now that if you go get that values worksheet, that you'll see some of these other values, you know, a value of engagement to be fully engaged in what I'm doing, a value of fitness. I love this one. I do push ups now between every set that I can throughout the day. And because I have a value of fitness, you know, instead of saying I got to do two hundred pushups a day, I have a value of fitness in the vehicle that I use is push ups during the day. So then some days I might do 100, some days I might do 400. It doesn't it just I take action on my value or their values of, like I say, kindness. There's a value of order to be orderly and organized. I do not possess that value. And that's OK. When people have a value of order to be orderly and organized, that they may they may want to have a more clean work environment or more clean home. And if their spouse doesn't share that value, that's OK. But if it matters to you, take action on it.

[00:36:12] If you have a value of responsibility to be responsible and accountable for my actions, a value of supportiveness, to be supportive and helpful to others, I mean, there's so many of these values. None are wrong. None are right. They just are. And as you find out, the ones that matter to you and take action on them, it is going to raise your emotional baseline and you are going to start to have this energy in this connection with yourself, with your universe, with God, with other people. And that is going to then rub off, you know, that is going to let your light so shine again. Back to this Marianne Williamson poem. Who are you to to to shrink so that you will not so that others won't feel uncomfortable around you. You know, we're all children of God and we're meant to to shine so that then those around us will be lifted. And so find out what matters to you and take action and repeat that process. And on the road to taking action, remember, you are at point A or C or F or G, and we don't know what point Z looks like yet to get dizzy. He had to go from H to I and I to J and JDK, and that's a fantastic and an amazing experience to go along that journey and figure yourself out, even at the cost of feeling a bit invalidated by those around you.

[00:37:24] Bless their heart, they mean well, even when they're saying things that feel like they don't meanwell. But you are the ultimate ultimately the captain of your own ship and the one who is in charge of your life. And as you find out what matters to you and take action, I promise you that you will start to just radiate or eliminate this energy in this, you know, raising the waters around you. And I have said so many cliches right now. So I will end by saying find that values worksheet, reach out to me, I'll put the link in the show notes or go to Wired.com and find out in the additional resources, the values worksheet. I am so grateful for every one of you that that listens where the downloads are millions and millions of downloads. That blows my mind every time across every country and every land. And it just it just makes me giddy. The feedback that I see, the emails that people send are phenomenal. I'm trying my best to get back to them. And I just think you spread the word share this episode. If if you really felt something here, if it mattered to you, follow me on Instagram, trying to do a few more quotes there. My magnetic marriage course, the next round is coming soon and it is amazing. And there are so many good things to come. And I'm grateful for each one of you. And taking us out, as per usual, is the wonderful, the talented Aurora Florence with her song.

[00:38:35] It's wonderful. Have a great day. Investor emotions flying past our heads and

[00:38:47] Out the other and the pressures of the daily grind it would have. Must have placed in rubber ghost voting past midnight, and they push aside things that matter most to. Sales of discount price opportunity, the chance to

[00:39:50] Take use that word.

[00:39:55] It's always on the back burner until the can afford to. I always pushed

[00:40:02] For the shot of. My. So. Face.

[00:40:43] Develop this stuff, don't explode and allow the.

In English, we use the word love to describe a variety of emotional states. Are we talking about passionate love, intimate love, committed love, unconditional love or do you tell somebody that you love them simply as a term of endearment? Some people grew up hearing “I love you” on a daily basis in their family, while others are still waiting for the day that their parent may finally utter those three simple words that they have been craving since childhood. Tony talks about Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, and how not only our interpretation of the word, or concept of love, as well as how we put “love” into action can go a long way in describing our relationships...from where they are now, to what you may long for. (Tony refers to the article https://www.elitesingles.com/mag/relationship-advice/consummate-love throughout the episode).

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

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

[00:00:00] So I've shared on many, many occasions that I spent 10 years in the computer industry before I went back to school and got my master's in counseling, which started me on the journey to where I am today. And while I can't even imagine what would have happened if I hadn't changed careers almost 20 years ago now I'll admit that they were some fun times in the computer industry. Sometimes I feel like I make it sound like it was all horrible, but I got to travel and I traveled a ton. I traveled the world literally. I know I went to Japan over 30 times and I went all throughout Europe and China and Russia and back and forth across the United States more than I would even care to count. And there were some good stories that went along with that, too. I had an experience once in the world renowned Japanese fish market where the sushi was so incredibly fresh that once, while I wasn't really paying much attention as it was being handed to me, I was handed a piece that when I brought it up to my mouth, part of it, and I don't know if it was the tail or something moved, smacked my hand and I a screamed and then I b threw it across the room, which was much to the delight of my host, Mr.

[00:01:02] Yoshida san, and the dozens and dozens of guests in the restaurant. Or there was a time where I was staying in a hotel in Southern California and committedly, clad only in my underwear bottoms. I looked out of my room through the little people, only to see that I was lacking my my USA Today newspaper. And at the time that was a big deal. But the room across from me had one and I had to go to the bathroom. So I decided quite impulsively to just run across the hallway. I was going to borrow my neighbors and I'm pretty sure that my plan was that I would return that newspaper across the hall when I was done taking care of business. So as I made my way across the hallway, it really did hit me just as I heard my door slam closed that I forgot the key. So I hung out in the hallway for about ten minutes or so, probably longer in my underwear bottoms, waiting for somebody to come up and unlock my room. And yes, it was that time of the morning where plenty of people were walking up and down the hallway. And to say it was awkward was quite, quite an understatement. But today's episode and if you've read in the title, it's about love. So how does that come up? It brings another story to mind.

[00:02:04] We had a small tech support team for the software company that I worked for. And in our early days, we were all in the same open room. And one day our newbie tech support guy, Jason, nice guy, was on the phone. He was doing tech support. And my buddy Jim, who is one of the funniest guys I know to this day, and he actually hosts his own podcast called The Sad Dads Club. Jim and I were talking to each other and I don't remember what we were talking about. And Jason, who is just nearby, wraps up a call and he just tells the customer something. Thanks for calling and goodbye. And I wish I knew for sure if it was Jim or if it was me who initiated this first. One of us said to Jason, Hey, just tell that guy that you love him. And right on cue, the other one of us said, I was seriously going to say that. I was going to say the same thing. And Jason just immediately said, no, I didn't. There's no way I did. And Jim and I went all in and we had Jason convinced that he had told this customer that he loved them and that it must be because he says it so reflexively to his wife. And we even had to the point where Jason was picking up the phone and he was going to call the customer and apologize, which we thought, OK, that's that's maybe going a little too far, to which we were then saying, hey, Jason, you can slow your roll there, buddy.

[00:03:08] We can work that into our marketing. How much we literally love our customers to the point where after each and every phone call, we can tell a customer that we really do love you. And we eventually let Jason off the hook. But we went on to play that scenario out with literally each and every new tech support person that we employed for years. And every time it was just as funny. But what's so wrong with telling somebody that you love them? The concept, the idea, the definition, the meaning of love is something that gets brought up on a daily basis. In my office and in preparation for this episode, I did. I kept track. I kept a little tab open on my iPad as I took notes just over the past week. And here are some of the things that I heard that had to do with love. The and I hear this one fairly often. I like him, but I'm not really I'm no longer in love with him or another one where the person was saying, my dad's literally never said he loved me.

[00:03:58] So I have stop saying it to him because it makes me feel horrible putting it out there, not hearing it back or one where it's a new relationship. And my client was saying you were both dancing around it. Who is going to say that they love the other person first and one dad? He said, I refuse not to tell my sons that I love them because my dad never told me that he loved me. But each and every time it still just feels so forced or so awkward. And there was another spouse talking about the grief of losing their partner. And one of these moments where it just is, you just feel so much in the moment. They said I'd give anything to be able to tell my spouse how much I really love them now that they're gone in particular. So love, I have wanted to do an episode on the concept from a psychological angle for a long time. And today we're going to take a look at Robert Sternberg's triangular theory of love. Sounds a little nerdy, but I promise you this one is going to deliver. It's a wonderful way to give words and meaning to the various types of love that we experience in our lives. So. We going to cover that and so much more on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:05:18] Come on in, take a seat on.

[00:05:25] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and seventy seven of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified mind blabbered coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, which is a very incredible strength based. Hold the shame, become the person that you always wanted to be program to help you put pornography in your rearview mirror once and for all of you. Turn to that as a coping mechanism. Again, incredibly strength based. We're doing things here that that help people that change lives and make people feel better about themselves and and get them more engaged in their parenting and their fatherhood and their faith and their in their health and their career, all those things. So if you're interested, go take a look at Pathbackrecovery.com and you can download a short ebook that describes five myths that people fall prey to and trying to put pornography in the rearview mirror once and for all. Again, that's Pathbackrecovery.com. And head over to to Tony Overbay, dot com magnetic because the magnetic marriage the next round is coming up soon. It's coming up a couple, two, three weeks into August. And so I would love to get you on the wait list and I'll let you know more about that as it as it comes up. Go to Instagram and just follow a virtual couch there. That's where you start to find a whole lot more about all kinds of fun things that are going on.

[00:06:32] And I got a lot of positive feedback. I posted on my Instagram stories of my time in Utah filming the episode of Family Rules last week. And everything about that experience was top notch. It was incredible. It was wonderful. What a what a professional production and amazing people and a huge crew behind the scenes and all of those sort of things. And so I'm going to I'm going to put together a post about that, too, because I took a lot of pictures and video, everything from get my covid test to my hair and makeup person, which is hilarious when you're bald guy. But boy, they make you feel special to just all the things that went on behind the scenes of the family rules. And it was so much fun. So I'll talk more about that on Instagram. And let's let's get to this episode today, because love before using this Sternbergh model is my guy. I had a lot of notes and one of the directions that I was going to go was breaking down. The Greek versions are the definitions of love. So if you're not familiar with where we're going to go with this today, is there are a lot of times where people talk about that they love somebody. And what does that mean? And when you're talking about love, especially when I'm working with couples, there can be two different versions of love. People could have grown up with a concept of romantic love or people could have grown up with more of a concept of this sexual passion or playful love or this unconditional love.

[00:07:49] But we and those of us who speak English, we have one word. It is love. And that's so it just can mean so many different things. So when you're talking about even trying to get a couple on the same page and they'll even say, Don't you love me anymore? It can be. Well, I do, but it's a different version or type of love than maybe you you think that it is. And sometimes when people feel hurt, especially, they're saying, well, love is love and it's because that's their version of love. So this Greek version, for example, and I'll just tell you a little bit about this and we'll get on to Sternberg's theory here. But in Greek love, there's Eros, which is the sexual passion. So a lot of times we feel like that is the someone needs to feel this eros in order to have a this deep, passionate connection with somebody. There's a filia, which is deep friendship and fun fact. Philadelphia, that's where the derivative of that word. There's there's saludos or playful love. And so you can have just this kind of like playful banter with someone. And it would be this Lutece type of love. There's a gap, which is this love for everyone, and that can be this almost unconditional love, love of mankind, love of the universe, love of all.

[00:08:57] There's pragma, which is longstanding love and pragma can be one of these things where people have just been together for so long that they just feel this pragma. And you guess what's one of the words that comes from that pragmatic. And then there's Felicia, which is love of the self. So that can be self love and which can be a part of self care and all those wonderful things. Renowned psychologist Robert Sternberg first put forward his what he calls this triangular theory of love in nineteen eighty five. And this is based off of a lot of research that he did at Yale University. And his theory, what it's doing is it seeks to define these different elements of our relationships are interpersonal relationships and to show how these different elements of a relationship can combine to form seven variations or seven types of what we call love. And so his theory is pretty straightforward when you look at it from the start, because it starts with three main components that he says lie at the heart of most all human relationships. And those three components are passion, commitment and intimacy. Now, if you take those individually, what Sternberg said is these components form the three simplest forms of love, passion. And we'll get a little bit more into this here as we go along. But passion alone, if you only have passion, the passionate kind of love that may bring forth infatuation.

[00:10:16] And Sternberg says if you only have intimacy, intimacy alone equates to liking. And then if you only have commitment, commit. That alone by itself can mean empty love, and so you can see we could go a lot of directions right there, that some relationships, if they only have infatuation, then that is going to fit. This passion is going to bring only infatuation. Intimacy is a lot of times where one person feels like we are we are sharing the most intimate details. And so if one person is getting their cup filled, just being able to express themselves and share, they may feel like that intimate connection or that intimate love alone is enough. But if someone else is coming from this place where they want that passion, then you can start to see how we're even speaking different languages of the word love and then commitment alone, as according to Sternbergh, can feel like empty love. So sometimes we that we just have this commitment to each other. Is that part where we feel like we're roommates or it's this just we're in it for the long haul. So where this really becomes fascinating is the triangular part of the theory, because that comes from the fact that you can combine any two of these components to then form a more complex type of love and then each combination forms. It forms a different side of this triangle, this love triangle. So when you have a relationship that combines, for example, passion and intimacy, then you get romantic love or intimacy.

[00:11:39] Plus commitment can give you what he calls companionate love while fatuous love is born, where commitment meets passion. And he said, and then there's consummate love, which is the combination of all three components. And it's often seen as this this perfect or ideal form of love. Because when you mix this fire of the comfort of intimacy and the security of commitment, then you have this healthy, happy, long lasting, romantic, love filled relationship. And it's so important to note that this triangle does not have to be this. I was never good at geometry. Does it have to be this equilateral shape? Because usually these components present themselves in different times, different seasons, in different levels. Again, it isn't all sides don't have to be equal. But what you're really trying to focus on are what really matters is that each relationship has some of all three of these components. And and I'll try to put this up on the website when I when I released this part of the episode. But again, consummate love is where passion and intimacy and commitment all meet. So let's go in detail here of these seven types of love, according to Sternbergh. So in this triangular theory of love, it says that you can it can take a number of these forms and each one of them are made up of one or more of the love components. So what it terms like romantic love or companionate love or consummate love actually mean.

[00:13:01] So here's those seven types. The first one we'll talk about infatuation, which is passion. So passion is a love component that so many of us are familiar with. This is the one you see in movies and TV shows. It's responsible for. When I just feel something, I just feel this connection with somebody. That's where your heart rate elevate. So you feel like with kittens in your stomach or your stomach turns over or that feeling of love at first sight. And so, of course, if it is just passion alone, then there's there's really not that deeper connection that comes with something like intimacy or the steadfastness that comes with commitment. So what you end up with, if you are only if you are only looking at this passion, if that is all we're talking about, then the best description for passion on its own is infatuation. So a lot of times I have people come up to me and they say that they don't feel that passion for someone or they don't feel like that they're their heart beating wildly or the flip flop in the stomach. And I love letting people know that I feel like maybe movies, TV shows, those things. I've almost done us a disservice because I feel like not as many people as we think immediately feel this passion, this passion for someone else as far as love goes. So passion or again, this infatuation.

[00:14:14] So the second type of love is what he calls it is intimacy. So next up, unlike passion, intimacy can be a solely platonic feeling. It's that sense of familiarity. It's that sense of friendship that comes when you meet someone and you really get along with them, somebody that you really feel immediately you can be your true self with. You can talk about things for four days and you don't run out of things to talk about. And it is an amazing it is a wonderful component to have in romantic relationships. But if it is the only thing that a relationship is based on, if it's on its own without passion or without commitment, then it's more likely to result in a friendship. Or as the triangular theory of love puts it, Aliki again. Right now, we've already had a we've had this concept of passion, which passion on its own is infatuation. Then we've got intimacy and intimacy on its own is more of a liking. And then the third component is commitment and we have commitment. So the active steps taken to preserve a relationship, the commitment is this essential part of any lasting love. But when you have commitment in on its own and it's missing. Are devoid of intimacy and passion, then it's a part of that it can feel more like love is a duty than a romantic choice. And oftentimes when a long term relationship has lost all passion and intimacy, then it will hover in what Sternberg says is this empty love stage, oftentimes before ending.

[00:15:42] But as Sternberg points out, love can begin here, too. If you think of things like an arranged marriage, for instance, the commitment often comes first. And I have worked with clients where they have settled into this commitment or this empty love and then from their rebuilt that basis of intimacy, which then can oftentimes eventually lead to passion. So Sternberg says, as passion and intimacy and commitment are the simplest components of the triangular theory of love, relationships again that only have one of these three points tend to be more. He calls them basic as well. But where the the beauty comes is when you combine these components, it gets more complicated, but it also gets more interesting. And I'll just make a quick note right now. One of the most downloaded episodes I've done on the virtual couch over the last four to five years has been this almost like this latter concept of intimacy. And it was something that I learned when I was doing betrayal trauma training under Dr. Kevin Skinner, that he had a part, I think it was in one of his CDs. I mean, it goes back a long time and this data around these levels of intimacy. And in that one, he talks about the the concept of there's this psychological intimacy that underlies all things, this honesty, loyalty, trust and commitment. But then right above that, when we meet somebody, we really want to start with verbal intimacy.

[00:17:03] And so being able to just talk and communicate with somebody and when that feels easy or when it feels like that part is complete, then oftentimes we move up into this emotional intimacy and we can share and be more open with somebody above that. He said it was cognitive and intellectual intimacy where I often say at that level somebody can be a PhD and somebody can have a GED, but it's OK because they have a verbal connection and emotional connection. So then from a cognitive and intellectual standpoint, they can still approach each other with curiosity because they're building this foundation above that spiritual intimacy. And on the top of that ladder, if you can imagine, that is the physical intimacy and it's this byproduct of these lower levels or not. Are these these these levels of intimacy that then build upon each other? So I know that a lot of the clients that I talk with and a lot of people that listen to my podcast are familiar with that concept. So I feel like if you're coming at this triangular theory of love, a lot of this will will make sense or fit into that model as well. So let's talk about then when you start to combine commitment, intimacy and passion. And again, those are the parts of the that triangle. Those are the corners. And a fat infatuation on its own or passion on its own can lead to more infatuation and intimacy on its own, Sternberg said, leads to more of a concept of liking and commitment on its own can lead to more of this concept of what he calls an empty love.

[00:18:26] So let's talk about he calls it fatuous love, which is commitment plus passion. So when you combine the fire of passionate infatuation and then the bonds of commitment but don't intimately like who the other person is, he said, you get this fatuous love world. He talks about whirlwind celebrity marriages or the cliched quickie Vegas wedding can often be described as fatuous love and it can be ardent and committed connection. But it's built without a lot of substance behind it. So it's like we are committed and we are passionate, but we don't really feel a connection. We don't really feel a liking, so to speak. So the lack of intimacy means that when passion mellows, then such relationships are often difficult to sustain because when that that fiery passion comes down, but we feel like we have this commitment only then we're lacking this intimacy or this deeper connection. He says it also, depending on the level of commitment involved, it can really be tricky to dissolve a relationship like this as well. So that's fatuous love, which is commitment plus passion. Next up, we have romantic love, which is passion plus intimacy. So in romantic love, the intimacy component brings this meeting of the minds. And while the passionate component means that there's this physical attraction as well.

[00:19:40] So he says as glorious as this combination is, you have this lack of commitment, which means that romantic love is very much focused on the now rather than the future. So it means it's often even seen in the giddy early phases of romance or that time when you're learning all about each other. That's that intimacy that we're connecting. But we still have that passion as well, where we just have this strong desire for each other. And so at that moment, we're learning all about each other, loving what you discover. But he said before your lives and loyalties are fully merged. So then with the addition of commitment which can come with the children or jobs or mortgages or that sort of thing, he said that this can blossom into what he calls consummate love. So without it, it's more likely to. Be the stuff of he calls it Tim, Tim, Tim, tempestuous romance novels, so we have passion and we have intimacy and it equals romantic love, but we don't have that commitment piece. So next up, he calls companionate love, which is intimacy plus commitment. So he says that the other end of the drama scale, the romantic love, is this concept called companionate love. So when combined commitment and intimacy make these powerful emotional bonds, meaning that the companionate connection is stronger than a simple friendship. Or again, you've got intimacy, you can connect with each other and you've got commitment.

[00:20:58] We are in this for the long haul, but we lack that passion. So he is. Sternbergh says the lack of passion means that this is often quite a chaste, comfortable arrangement. Some people call this roommate syndrome. This is the sort of thing that might happen after years of familiarity. And according to Sternbergh Sternberg, this isn't the death knell for love. In fact, he says this mellow phase is a common part of the relationship progression. And kind of just talking about this on the fly. I feel like a lot of the couples that are coming to my magnetic marriage course have this version of love, this companionate love, where there's some intimacy, where they've connected on a lot of things. They have a lot of memories. They have a lot of shared experiences. And they have this commitment, whether it's because of their religious beliefs or whether it's because of their own views on divorce, that they have this companionate love, intimacy plus commitment, but they are lacking the passion. Sternbergh Vince says that the six types of love that we just went over can be seen at the heart of many different types of relationships, from platonic friendships to whirlwind love affairs. And there's nothing inherently wrong with any of these set ups, of course. But the true fact is that most relationships will pass through one or more of these phases as time goes by. And so it can be possible to be very happy within one of these phases.

[00:22:13] Or it can also be where one can feel like things feel stagnant or they feel stuck. So the triangular theory of love, so that there is one thing that these types can't be and that is ideal, true love, because ideal, true love requires the presence of all three of these components. So what's the goal of the triangular theory of love? Again, this consummate love, which is the passion plus the intimacy, plus the commitment. Sternberg said that when passion, intimacy and commitment are all present in a relationship and the result is consummate love, and these three components don't have to be present in equal measure. This was that part where all sides of the triangle are not equal. But the ideal form of love needs to at least have an element of each one of these things in them, the excitement of passion. Think about that. Do you have the excitement of passion in your relationship? Do you feel like you can be spontaneous? And even if you are not someone who is a spontaneous person, sometimes that spontaneity can bring this passion? Or do you have curiosity in your relationship? So often I feel like that is missing or because people have fallen into such patterns where they feel like if they even express curiosity, they're met with or why do you care or what's your angle? If a partner says, hey, I noticed that you have been reading a lot of articles about something we'll talk about.

[00:23:31] Lately, there's been a lot about noticing that you're reading a lot about something political or something about the economy. Tell me more about that. And if their spouse meets that with OK, I don't get it. What's your point? Why do you care those kind of things? And I get it because a lot of times people don't necessarily feel safe in opening up about things that they appreciate or enjoy or they're curious about because of previous experiences that they've had where their spouses maybe not been the most welcoming with with information or questions. So you can see that if there isn't that curiosity, that oftentimes then that is where people can't even communicate with each other. Had the excitement of passion, the comfort of intimacy and the team spirit of commitment are all needed to get to this ideal of a consummate version of love. So how do you know if you're in consummate love? Then if it's been years and you really can't see yourselves happier with other partners, if you're still enjoying sex or physical affection with each other, and if you're still both putting in the time to communicate and commit to each other, then chances are you've reached some some form of this consummate stage and it may not last forever. Sternberg said one of the caveats of the triangular theory of love is that relationships can move from one point to another over time, but it's something that can be worked toward or you can work to recover it.

[00:24:48] And Sternberg says it is absolutely worth working for. That consummate love is a special type of bliss. It's the kind of connection that these couples continue to adore each other long into their relationship, long into their partnership. And as Sternbergh said, who wouldn't want that? So back to here's what I tell myself. I always seem to be as authentic and open as possible. I know I was starting to talk about people that are coming to the magnetic marriage course that I lost track of my thought. So I feel like what I see a lot of times are people that are coming to the course and they they typically have something like intimacy. They can open up a little bit and they have commitment, but maybe they've lacked the passion or they have the passion and they have the commitment, but they lack the intimacy or they lack that ability to communicate or recognize each other's differences. If you've been following a lot of the episodes I've been doing as of late, there's a lot of buildup toward this concept of I want you to be able to communicate effectively. That's why I have these four pillars of a connected conversation. And I want you to recognize that you're two different, unique individuals, each of you bringing your own experiences into a relationship and that the goal is to be differentiated where one person ends, the other begins. And too often we are so codependent and enmeshed that when we even start to express some of our independence, it brings anxiety from our spouse, from our partner.

[00:26:08] And so oftentimes they will say things that will feel invalidating. They'll say things like, I didn't know you thought that man was, what do you do next? Then all of a sudden leave the relationship. And so oftentimes that's what keeps people feeling more this codependent, enmeshed relationship. But the goal is to become interdependent, not codependent, interdependent, differentiated people. Each one of you bringing your own experiences to the relationship. And when you have that type of a relationship, then naturally you have this curiosity because you're two different individuals going through life together. And that is the best way to manage thoughts, emotions, feelings, as Sue Johnson, founder of VDT, says were designed to deal with with emotion in concert with another human being. But we can't do that. This is me saying this now. You can't do that if you are trying to control how the other person expresses themselves or if you don't feel like you can even express yourself without being met with with any type of fixing or judgment statements. Now, it's natural for us to respond that way. It takes actual work and effort to be able to develop the tools, to be able to stay present, to say tell me more, to not react to something that someone else says. I have so many of these experiences that I've been writing down lately, experiences that have been happening with that.

[00:27:25] I've been noting with my wife and I and I'll tell you about one that that happened. We were on a trip watching our son play basketball. He's a real wonderful basketball player. And this summer was before his senior year. So we we're out there doing the the tournaments and he's being recruited and scouted, that sort of thing. So we are actually in Alabama a couple of weeks ago for a tournament and we're staying at a hotel and it's in Alabama. It's muggy, it's hot. And we brought our dog. That's a whole I need a whole episode on that. We aren't people that typically bring a dog. We have this five month old puppy. It's a Yorkie Maltese poodle, Yorkie multiple. It's the funnest puppy in the world. Again, I have some I put some things, I think, on Instagram about it. Her name is Olive and she's amazing. And we didn't want to board her, so we brought her on the plane. She was an amazing companion. I can't lie. But, man, you got to walk her all the time. She gets feisty in the hotel room. So we go out on this walk. And where we were at in Alabama, it's a hot Alabama night. It's muggy, there's humidity. The bugs are so loud. We even recorded just how loud the bugs were. And we're just we're just out on this walk. We're walking alone. And there's not a sidewalk outside of our hotel, but there's this grass median in between the two lanes of the road.

[00:28:36] So in order to get walk away from our hotel, we're on a grass median. And my wife says very clearly, and I don't like walking on this grass median. And I said, I hear you. This is it is awkward. It's it's not very comfortable because the cars are buzzing by. It's late at night. So we made it eventually down to some sort of strip mall. We walked around it. And so now we're going to head back and I'm aware of this grass median in front of us. And so I know that there's a looks like there's some parking lots we can go through these business complexes to our right. So without expressing anything, I press the button and we cross the street and we go through these parking lots. So we walk through the parking lots. We're having a wonderful time, all of us being funny. We're talking about all kinds of things. I love just being places with my wife. And we have this curiosity and we're just talking. Tell me more. What's this like for you? I don't even know the topics we were talking about. And we get to a stretch where there was only a little bit left to go back to our hotel. And the only way there is to walk across one of these grass medians again. So I say, hey, are you OK walking on the median? And she doesn't say anything.

[00:29:38] We cross the street, we're walking on the median. And then as we're we're walking off of this grass median into our hotel parking lot, she says and I love this. I love this about my wife. She says, hey, how do you start a conversation again if there's something that you are really curious about that your partner did that you're struggling with? And I immediately knew, oh, my gosh, I did something bad. My anxious attachment just goes on high alert. And I think I just want to say whatever it is, I didn't mean to do it. Don't worry about it. And it's OK. Everything's fine. But I had to lean in and I and I said, OK, let's let's jump into these four pillars of a connected conversation. I said, you have to assume good intentions that you're the person. So in this case, me wasn't doing something to hurt you. And so I said one of the best ways is to say, hey, tell me more about and then ask the question about what it is that you find interesting, that you think that they maybe did, that you can't believe they did. And so she just said, hey, tell me about walking across the aisle, walking on this median when I shared with you that I didn't want to walk on the median. And I just I was so grateful in that moment that she was willing to express herself, that she was willing to be that.

[00:30:44] And invulnerable. And so then I said, OK, Wendy, we are going to jump into the four pillars of a connected conversation, and I make jokes often that it must be annoying to be married to a therapist. Maybe there's some good in it at times. But I said, all right. So in this one, I said, you have to assume good intentions. And I said, this is so funny that you're we're talking about me. So you have to assume that I didn't wake up in the morning and I thought, oh, boy, if Wendy lets me know that she hates walking on a grass median at any point during the day, what I'm going to do is I'm going to wait for my opportunity and then I'm going to we're going to walk on that grass median. So the so the assumption of good intentions, pillar one allows us to stay present and lean into the to continue the conversation. I said pillar two is you can't put off the message that I don't believe you are. You're wrong. So then question, you know, pillar three is questions before comments saying tell me more about and then pillar four is her staying present. So she can't just say if I express myself, she can't just say, oh, it doesn't really matter. I guess it doesn't matter that I don't like walking on medians or anything because you're going to do whatever you want. So when she had said, all right, tell me more about walking on in the media, and even though I had said don't walk in the median, then I said, man, I am so grateful that you brought this up, because I would rather have this conversation, of course, than have you just feel like I was some complete jerk and that I ignored your feelings.

[00:31:58] That would be that would be so hard. And I said, so I did hear you. And I was so grateful you you had shared with me. You didn't like walking in this meeting. So when we turned around and we were heading back up the hill and I was aware we were about to walk on the median, I said that's when I made the pivot. And I just thought, oh, let's walk through the these parking lots to see if we can make our way back to the hotel. And I was so grateful because she said, OK, yeah, I didn't know that that was this conscious choice you had made because I had expressed that I didn't want to walk on the median. So thank you that I can appreciate that. And she said, but then tell me about when you said, well, you're going to have to walk on the median now. Right. And this is where the gold happened, because in my mind, I really wanted to just say I didn't say that, but I can't put out the message that she's wrong. So if that's what she heard, if she really believes that I said like, OK, well, now you need to walk on the median and that I said it like that.

[00:32:51] Oh, my gosh, what a jerk. I would sound like such a jerk. And so then I had empathy for I said, I'm so grateful you shared that, because if you feel like that's the way I said it or that's the vibe I said it, then that would that would you. I can't imagine how invalidated you must feel. So thank you so much for sharing that. And so then I validated her. I assume the good intentions and what she said, I didn't tell her, that's B.S. you're wrong. And then I ask questions. What was that like for you? And then I didn't go into my bunker. I didn't say, well, I guess it doesn't matter what I say. So I heard her. She felt heard. And then with that information, I was able to stay present and say, OK, again, I so appreciate you sharing that. I feel, ah, I thought I said that. Hey, are you ready to walk on the media now? But again, if you heard, if you felt like it was this negative I don't care about you vibe then that would make so much sense. But in my mind I said, hey, are you ready now. Is it OK if we walk on the media because the media and the grass median is the only way to get back to our hotel through this little stretch other than just walking in the middle of the street or walking over on the side in the trees, bugs and pine cones.

[00:33:53] And I was so grateful, proud of my wife because she said and I appreciate that because she said, I felt like you didn't hear me. I felt like when you walked on the median, I wasn't even thinking about the fact that there wasn't another way to go. So I was so locked into the fact that I felt like so and validated that I wasn't looking at what the the entire experience was about. And so in that scenario, she said, yeah, no, I appreciate that. And I told her that. I said because when I felt like the way I said it was that if she said, hey, you don't remember, I don't want to walk on the median, then I was going to I was perfectly willing to say, all right, let's walk in the road. Let's just be really aware of cars or. All right, let's go check the I'll turn my light of my phone on and let's see if we can walk on over in the little woods or that sort of thing. But I can understand, if she felt like I was not hearing her and invalidating her, how hard that would be. So we ended that conversation. And it can sound so simple, right? It can sound so simple that she could have ignored the whole thing and felt like I was a big jerk and that it doesn't matter what she says or when she brought that up, I could have easily gotten the defendant gone into defense mode and said, oh, I guess it doesn't matter that I that I that I did hear you and that we went this different direction.

[00:35:01] No, we stayed present and we had a connected conversation by using these four pillars of a connected conversation. And so from that point, then we felt more connected at that point. Now we've got the intimacy, which is the connection. I feel like we've got commitment that we are going to continue to try to put things through this framework, this four pillars of a connected conversation framework. And then the hopes, of course, is that that is going to lead to passion. And so that, as Sternberg refers to it, is this concept of consummate love. So I appreciate you spending the time with me today to go through Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love, because it really is fascinating at this these corners we have. But we have passion, we have intimacy and we have commitment and so passion alone. He says his infatuation, intimacy alone is liking, enjoying a platonic feeling and commitment alone can feel like this empty love commitment alone can feel like we're just in this long term relationship, roommates, that sort of thing. And then there's these other versions where you've got passion plus commitment is fatuous love where it can be this cliched quickie Vegas wedding, you got passion.

[00:36:08] Plus intimacy can be this romantic love where in that scenario is glorious, as he says the combination might be. The lack of commitment means that the romantic love is so focused on the right now rather than the future. And so it can be it's almost again this giddy early phase of romance when you're learning about each other. But then when things happen in the relationship, then oftentimes without that commitment, the relationship can struggle. And finally, there's that intimacy plus commitment which he calls companionate love, where you can you can open up and connect with each other. And you have this commitment, but it lacks the passion. So it can just feel very comfortable, very stale. It might happen after years of familiarity. Our goal, consummate love, passion plus intimacy plus commitment. And I truly believe that one of the ways to achieve that is to be able to communicate effectively. And I was not going to make this a magnetic marriage ad of sorts. But if you don't feel like you have the ability to communicate, then I would say that's one of the first things that you can work on in order to start to develop any of these areas that you might feel is a deficiency, whether it's in the passion, the intimacy or the commitment to get to that version of love, this consummate love. So perfect plug and go to Tony Overbay, dot com slash magnetic or so shoot me an email through the contact form and we'll get you on that list of the next round of the magnetic marriage.

[00:37:24] But I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have additional questions, comments, concerns, feel free to comment on Instagram and when this post goes up or shoot me an email and I might cover that in a future question and answer episode. So, hey, everybody, I appreciate all of you, right? I do. I literally do. I love all the people. When I was walking the campus of BYU, I got stopped a couple of times. That's always fun. People that are familiar with the virtual couch and it just has I do I feel such a feeling of of this love, which is probably the the liking. The intimacy is platonic feeling familiarity and friendship that comes with somebody that I feel like we we have this shared passion where we're like minded, that sort of thing. Here's to the goal of getting to this companionate love with your partner and recognizing these other parts of love within your relationships with others. All right. I hope you have an amazing week taking us away as per usual hole. And she didn't come back. I ran into Aurora, Florence last weekend and going to have her back on. And we've got some parenting to talk about. She's got some great takes on parenting that I can't wait to get to. But taking us away is a reference with her song, It's Wonderful

What impedes progress more...physical clutter or emotional clutter? Or is the answer “C, all of the above?” Tony interviews Anna, a professional home organizer and the owner of NEAT Method in Boise, ID. They talk about how organization can be one of the best remedies for your mental health, as well as a smart personal investment to raise your emotional baseline. You can learn more about NEAT Method at http://neathmethod.com and follow Anna on Instagram @boiseneat https://www.instagram.com/boiseneat/Head to http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic and get on the waitlist today to be the first to know when the next Magnetic Marriage Cohort begins!Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

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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Ep252 Organization PreAuphonic.mp3
[00:00:00] So clutter, I think it's pretty safe to say that most of us have a little bit of it here, a little bit of it there, and in fact, many of us have more than just a little. In a survey conducted by the National Association for Professional Organizers, they discovered that over a third of all readers were overwhelmed by their clutter and don't even know where to begin cleaning. And less than 10 percent say their homes are clutter free. And we're talking physical clutter. We're not even addressing mental clutter because trust me, there definitely is a correlation. So clutter can be a complete energy vampire can suck the life out of us, but can also drain us of our time. How often do people spend more time than they like trying to find something, their keys, their wallet? And this is an absolutely true story. This morning I wanted to wear a new shirt that I had bought and I couldn't find it amidst the clutter of clothes that I need to get rid of in my closet. And I'm sure it was only a few minutes spent trying to find it. But during those few minutes, I could feel my stress level rising because I needed to get to my office and record this very podcast.

[00:01:01] And as I near my drop dead time of needing to get this episode recorded before my first client arrives, I find myself wondering if I did in fact have an organizational system in my closet, would have been able to find my shirt a little bit quicker when my stress level will be a tiny bit lower. But I've made it to my office a little bit sooner. And what I've been able to spend a little more time on this intro making the entire podcast episode just a little bit better. So coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we're going to talk with Anna. She is a professional organizer. And while I absolutely love love recording this podcast, learning and sharing about all things mental health related, I think you're about to hear me get all up in my insecure feelings during this episode as clutter definitely affects me. And and I if it affects you, too, or if it affects anybody that, you know, it's time to get real, time to take a little bit of accountability to your own relationship with physical and mental clutter. So prepare to spend a little time feeling a bit uncomfortable. But you're going to learn a ton on today's episode of.

[00:02:11] So two hundred and fifty two of the virtual couch, I'm your host, Tony Over became a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mine blabbered coach, writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from harmful effects of turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based home. The shame become the person you always wanted to be way. Then head over to Pathbackrecovery.com. And there you'll find a short ebook that describes five myths that people often succumb to turn to when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all.

[00:02:46] And we have a weekly group call. So please, if you are interested, contact me at Contact@tonyoverbay.com and you can find out more about participating in a group called to get a feel for what the whole path back community or Path Back Forum is like. And please follow me on Instagram, a virtual couch or on Facebook at 20 Overbay Licensed Marriage and family therapist and go sign up for my magnetic marriage course that I'm doing along with Preston Buckmeier. Once again, I record this podcast on Tuesday mornings. On Monday nights we have a group call and the next cohort of the magnetic marriage course is coming soon. So get on that wait list. Go to Tony Overbay Dotcom right there on the front page. You'll find a way to sign up and find out more information. Get on the wait list. It's been incredible. I'll just leave it at that. It has truly been incredible. So today, I want to get right to the episode. I gave a little bit of the intro about where we're talking clutter. We're talking organization. We have a professional organizer on the podcast today, and her name is Anna and she is a professional home organizer and owner of the Neat Method in Boise, Idaho. And Neat Method was founded in 2010 in San Francisco. And it's the largest luxury home organizing company with over 70 franchises of professional organizers across the US and Canada. And the Neat Method provides organization systems to create smart appointed and joy field living spaces. And they also have some products that they've launched recently.

[00:04:06] But Anna lives in Boise. She's the mother to an amazing crew of kids for in fact. And Anna says they keep her busy and laughing, slightly high strung and also happy. But she truly does. And you're going to you're going to feel this with Anna. This is Anna's jam, her vibe. You can tell that she's good at what she does. She's passionate about it, but she believes that organization is truly one of the best remedies for your mental health and it is truly a smart personal investment. And when she was sending over some answers to some questions, bless her heart, she said second only to working with me, if someone has the opportunity to or listening to the podcast. So thank you, Anna. So we're going to talk a lot about emotional clutter. We're going to talk about physical clutter. And I have an aha moment and epiphany. About halfway through that, I'll kind of leave leave you to find and you can find her. The website is Neat Method Dotcom and her Instagram is at Boysie Neat. Voysey and her even her Instagram account is very, very organized and we even talk about that as well. So I feel like you're going to learn a lot today. And there is a video of today's episode up on the virtual couch YouTube channel. And so if you're interested, you can go check it out there. So without any further ado, let's get to today's episode with Anna, professional organizer. We're going to talk about mental and physical clutter.

[00:05:40] Come on, take a seat, Carl.

[00:05:46] So admittedly, Anna, you were I didn't even think about my background.

[00:05:50] Is that a little bit distracting for, you know, what would you do, though? What would you do different right now?

[00:05:56] Ok, so you have clients coming in, right? You want to keep you want to keep some of that going on. But that bookshelf really needs a little straightening up over that.

[00:06:04] Ok, I know it's funny. When you just started saying that, I felt my anxiety rise because I felt like all I mean, jumping right in to thank you for joining me on the virtual couch.

[00:06:16] And you are a professional organizer, which is why I am finding my anxiety rise because I am not a very organized person. And I said no, I want to ask you tell me about your background and that sort of thing. But do most of the people you meet with, are they pretty uncomfortable to have someone come in and organize them?

[00:06:34] It's really vulnerable to say, hey, come in and look at this map of an area in my life that I can't seem to manage and similar to the work that you do, although I get to see it out in the open, people are really nervous about sharing those pieces. But it's funny because when I walk in, I don't see it as a mess. I see it as a problem to work through and be solved. So I come at it with different eyes than what they're stuck seeing when they're in their space.

[00:07:04] Ok, I love that. And it's the first time I've spoken with a professional organizer, so I'm very excited to hear that because I feel like, yeah, there's going to be some similarities there with your what I do when people say, I know you're going to think this is weird or you're going to be disappointed in me, I just feel like that isn't the way it works. So I love hearing that. That's how you come into a situation.

[00:07:22] Yeah, they in fact, it's a really hard thing for clients to make that initial contact to say, hey, I need some help. And it's usually my clients are usually high functioning people who are really capable of a lot of things. It just have an area that causes stress or chaos or is confusing or clutter ridden, and they just need someone else to come in and help them get a handle on it. Sometimes just setting the appointment gets them the motivation to get going. And I love it when a client only needs me once when I only have to carry one space. It's great because then that means it's gotten them to a place where they can manage the other spaces in their life a little bit better.

[00:07:58] Ok, so what's really funny, as I was about to make this comment of man, we are so similar and I didn't even know it. So a lot of times there's some cool data that says when people set up an appointment with a therapist, oftentimes they do feel a little bit better because they're taking action. But then unfortunately, I can't do it in one time. I was with you there for a minute.

[00:08:15] Yeah. Where we can come in and line up out of the space in one session. Yeah, OK.

[00:08:21] I am so not going as probably a good interviewer would, but now I just have all these questions. So do you. How often do you go and help someone organize a space and then I don't know, a year or two years later are back in the same spot. Is that very often?

[00:08:34] Not very often. So we do lectures about six months or a year after. But typically what we're doing is we're going to the next space in their house to organize that space because we set up a system that that works. It's not just rearranging the clutter, it's clearing out stuff. It's putting in systems. And that helps people maintain the order and then they want to do it to the whole house.

[00:08:57] Ok, I realize now how little I know. And I was so excited. I think I reached out through Instagram. You got an amazing Instagram account, which and it's so organized, which is ironic now that I'm figuring that part out. But I didn't even know what I didn't know. So I didn't even think about in terms of systems and that sort of thing. So I'm getting so far ahead of myself. And tell me how you got into this, the work of professional organizing.

[00:09:19] So it started with a friend of mine. She was actually remodeling her kitchen and we were like, let's just container store the heck out of this space and just make it beautiful. And so we were working on that space and then we just started following accounts that we liked and just were fascinated. So after we did her kitchen space, we showed all of our friends and they wanted us to come do some of their spaces. They're like, I have a linen closet you can use or why don't you come work on my basement? So it just started as like a side hustle project. I remember taking my little my youngest daughter to some of my projects, and they would she would play with my friends kids while we organize their spaces. But then I started getting clients that were friends of friends of friends that I actually didn't have a connection to. And so I started building that way. And I had my own home organizing company for about two years. It was home aligned and I just got neat method market in Boise, Idaho. So now I'm part of that franchise in that brand.

[00:10:21] Wow. OK, so is it something then? Do you feel like it's a special person or type of person that enjoys organizing? Is that something you've always enjoyed?

[00:10:30] Yes, yes, for sure. I've always loved to organize and been an organized person and people ask me that all the time. They say you must be really organized. That's just what I'm used to, so I don't know the comparison of force on operating organized, but it is a skill. It is a skill and I've refined mine as I've worked like we have experiences. But some people it it's really tied to anxiety and stress. And it just is a really hard hurdle to get over, which is why I love I love doing what I do. I have a job because it can help people who can't do it themselves.

[00:11:05] I love that. And I am a big fan of acceptance. And I was just done an interview a couple of days ago and I was expressing that. I tried to do my own books for a while and I even went to a quick books conference in San Francisco that I paid for. And I was about an hour into it and I realized this is I will never do this. This is this isn't a strength. And I remember I called my wife and I think she came down to the city and we had a fun weekend. But I remember at that moment feeling like it's OK to accept that there are certain things that I will not be good at. I hadn't thought about this. I will stop saying I haven't thought about this because I really didn't realize all the things I didn't know about clutter and a professional organizer. But so if somebody is hearing this and they they just can't wrap their head around organizing and declaring, that's OK, that might not be their jam or that might not be something that speaks to them.

[00:11:50] Is that true?

[00:11:53] I feel like a lot of the people that I work with are really high functioning people, they excel at lots of things in their life. And so some of it is a matter of time. Some of it is a matter of not knowing where to start. I specialize in this, so I've seen hundreds of pantries. I know what works really well and a pantry to get it organized and they're just starting from scratch or ideas. And to be honest, when we organize a space, it takes us a handful of hours. Sometimes people want and hour quick fix to get it all organized and look good. And I'm like, no, we go in, we clear out the whole thing, wipe it all down, set it all up, and then put all your food or your clothes back in the space with a system. And that's a lot more investment than just an hour of your time.

[00:12:37] So do you find that there are times where people just don't necessarily value what you do so they want you to come in, but then if you're going to say this is going to take a few hours, it might cost some money where they feel like we'll know, take an hour and straighten up. Do you ever get that?

[00:12:50] Yes. If you're asking do people say no when they see how much it's going to cost? Yeah, that entails. And that's part of the process where we understand where people are at the work that we do. Really, it's a physical transformation of a space. But to be honest, so many of the women that I work with and occasionally the men, it's an emotional, joyful gift when they have a space that's organized and provides function that the way that they want it to. And it's funny because you can't put price tags on those types of things. I get clients who text me months later and they're like, I just love my pantry or my closet still in great shape. And it we carry a lot of baggage emotionally with our stuff anyways, that having someone come in and help you work through that or clear it out and put things together, it's really emotional work just as much as it is physical work for what we do know.

[00:13:44] And so I love that and no one will know when I recorded this. So I will say that I maybe had someone earlier today and this was literally what we were talking about is they've been hanging on to a an emotionally abusive exes or soon to be exes stuff in their home for a long time. I try to come up with every way I can to say, what would that look like to have this out? What would it take to get you to move these things? And so do you. I think what you find yourself in those kind of situations where it's maybe someone that's really this is a it's a really major event for them to get rid of some of these things.

[00:14:14] Yeah, we have we have lots of clients who go through a lot of things. Divorce, deaths, even moves can be really emotional, letting go of pieces or memories or when your kids grow up of things that you just you're attached to things in lots more ways than we know. And it means something different to them than it does to me. And I am fine to let them hold on to things that they want to. But when I know it's impeding their ability to succeed, I do my best to try and help them get to that place. Some clients are ready and some aren't.

[00:14:47] So OK, can you what do you think of any examples or what might that look like? I'm really fascinated by that because I feel like anybody that's listening to my podcast doesn't know a lot of the the things I talk about. But I work with a lot of people that are in relationships with narcissistic people or emotionally abusive people. And so I often find that they just hang on to things for so long. And whether it's having real difficulty of saying that that represents the relationship being over or that they are now going to move on, or I think you're right, there's so many different things that that those things mean. Yeah. What does that look like or what's an example?

[00:15:21] You can think of where you've had to process that. So when we get like in the kitchen, if we get expired goods and it's someone who's holding on to it because they're like, well, what if covid-19 happens and we have to keep all this food that we've had for 20 years and we just have to we just have to either make the cut with them or we just clear out that stuff and show them the pile of things that are expired and say, guess what, this is all the stuff you're holding on to that actually isn't going to serve a purpose for you. And look at how much more cleaner and organized and and easy it is to use the space when it's organized and that clutter is not left. And you don't get to do that emotionally quite as much. Right, because you don't get to pull out all the stuff and say, look at this weight that you're holding on to and carrying and shuffling around day after day to get to the stuff that you actually want to use and the things you actually want to do in your life. And then they start to realize that they don't need it and they can move on from it. And sometimes it takes someone like us getting in there to clear it out for them to help them on that step. It can be hard.

[00:16:28] Are you are you met with a fair amount of resistance at times or by the time people bring you in, or do you feel like they're more ready than not that they're more than usually with a little bit more ready by the time they get a phone call and reach out to us, they're like, OK, can you be here tomorrow and let's get started, OK?

[00:16:44] Do people cancel? Do you feel like people get anxious or nervous and cancel last minute? Do you run into that very often?

[00:16:48] Everybody always says, I'm so embarrassed and I'm really sorry. When I'm coming to their space, because they're nervous to show it to me and I'm like on my Instagram feed, you'll see beautiful pictures of beautiful spaces. But we also make sure you realize that we live in the spaces that we organize too. And it's fine if it doesn't look like that all the time. That's a set up system, but that's not how it's going to be maintained all the time. But people are always like, I'm embarrassed or I'm nervous or don't judge me because it's really vulnerable. They're like, hey, here's the worst part of my life that I can't manage, that I don't want anyone else to see.

[00:17:28] Yeah, OK. I appreciate that. And quick side note question. Do you find that people do try to clean, though, before you come? I feel like I hear that always.

[00:17:37] I in fact, I have a one liner that says don't be the people who clean before the cleaners come, because we want to see we want to see the mess in in its real state of existence, because if it's a really far extreme mess, then we need to know that. So we need to know at what level we can push your standard to keep it organized for you.

[00:17:56] I love that. I do. I feel like that's the equivalent of somebody they're just going to floss right before they go to the dentist.

[00:18:01] Right? Right. Like I'm good now.

[00:18:04] Yeah. So you can see through that to on the record and a professional organizer can see through that. You know, somebody is doing a little a little bit of moving things around.

[00:18:11] So talk about the talk about emotional clutter and we're talking a little bit about that or talking around it. But what really is it? I don't know. I didn't even know the right questions to ask. And I'm so just fascinated by this process now. And I almost feel like this needs to be as a therapist and especially working with somebody who has anxiety or depression or working through a divorce or relationship

[00:18:29] Issues that almost like this needs to be a checklist item because it can be I feel like we accumulate a lot, and especially in today's day and age where you can get anything Amazon Prime to you within two days, we just accumulate. And it's very rare, unless it's something like a big life event that you actually have to process through your physical things in your home. So we're talking like when you're moving or if there's a big transition, a new baby or someone leaving, then that's a time when you're actually processing through the things in your life. But we get so weighed down by stuff and we're bringing new stuff in all the time and then not processing or getting rid of the old stuff. And we carry a lot of baggage with that. It's it can be emotionally taxing to have a house full of stuff that is disorganized. You your cortisol levels go higher, you feel it, you in your home, your kids respond to it as so many other effects than just cleaning it out. And it's not just necessarily a clean space, it's an actual organized space that's useful and put a pin in that.

[00:19:38] I want to talk about the maybe the difference of clean versus organized. That one just hit me and then maybe right before that to so many therapy concepts that are coming out that I wasn't aware of. So I find that a lot of people will turn to buying, especially with how easy it is with an Amazon to get literally that little bump of dopamine or excitement of when they make the purchase and then when the thing arrives and this is going to make them happy and then that's that temporary happiness. But I hadn't thought about that then. That must also feel like there's more things now. There's more things in the pile or in the home, which so it almost might have this net effect of being negative.

[00:20:11] Yeah, it can just be like a drug where it's like you get that high, but then when you're shuffling through it to move it somewhere else in your house, it goes back down. Yeah.

[00:20:20] Wow. OK, that that one is deep, but there's a book, Atomic Habits. It talks about the dopamine spike is in the anticipation. So I feel like that is the shopping, that is the anticipation of the person bringing the the boxes. And then once we open them, I wonder and feel like a lot of people often say, OK, now I need something else or what's next or. Yeah. So is there a difference, would you say, between cleaning and organizing or was that the question I ask now?

[00:20:44] Ok, yeah, there is. And I think people can maintain a clean home, but it might not be an organized space. And I also equate organization to usefulness of the things that you have. Oftentimes when people are passing away or having to go through their parents stuff after a death in the family, you just have all this stuff, years of accumulation of stuff. And they might have lived in a clean home, but it wasn't organized in that they were using the things that they had. It brought them enjoyment. It was useful in their life on a regular basis or on occasion. But otherwise you just accumulate and accumulate and then it it's not organized in the way that you use it or and it's not organized in the way that it's placed in your home. So it can just be chaotic.

[00:21:29] Ok, no, I appreciate that. And I find myself it's funny. I want to ask for tips or tricks or suggestions that you might have. And then I really invited myself in the moment thinking, well, wait, and I just want to give away all of our secrets. But do you have and I even have a speed round in my head now of different rooms or things that you would suggest, or do you have recommendations that you give people just in general on ways to organize or to to get rid of the emotional clutter or.

[00:21:53] Physical clutter. Yeah, there are lots of cysts, there are lots of systems that you can do seasonally, making sure you go through things is a good way. People are always excited about the beginning of the new year and spring cleaning kind of cleansing. But the problem is they do that and then they bring in a whole bunch more stuff because then they think that they have less things. And we already live in big homes and have big spaces and there's no need for us to fill them all in every nook and cranny. I'm actually a lot more minimalistic than people might think, but it's because I've seen the weight that things have on people and it can be a huge burden. For sure, making sure you do a cleaning out of your things. You've had a sweater for 20 years and you've let it sit there for 19. It's probably OK if you say goodbye to that sweater and just allow actually the negative space to be there. You don't have to refill it with something else. You can allow that space just to be opened up.

[00:22:53] Ok, no, I love that. I heard I've heard things in the past about where. Yeah. If you turn a hanger one way and it's been a year later and it's still that way, are those things valid or is it one of these if it works for you, great situation.

[00:23:05] It's one of those things that I say to people who you walk by the grocery store aisle and you see the workout magazines and it's do this and for twenty five days and lose twenty five pounds. And they come out with some new thing every single month to put on that magazine, to advertise to you, to try and entice you. And it comes down to things like your own habits and commitment to establishing that. One thing that's good about a home organizer when they come into a space is they set up the whole system for you for that space. So then you can just start living and operating in it, which is a really good way to to set a clear slate of that space. But it's it takes a lot of work. We come in. I have a whole career based off of organizing people's faces because because.

[00:23:51] Oh, I know this is a little bit dirty pool, but before you find out what I was going to say next, a quick word from our sponsor. OK, so I'll make this very quick. This is a very true story. So the good news is that people are starting to talk more about their mental health. And I feel like the stigma around going to see a counselor, a therapist is starting to disappear more than ever. So there's the good news. The bad news is that it can be really hard to find a counselor. I have an intern starting soon, and I already worry that I'm going to have his schedule filled. And there are people that I give referrals to because I get a lot of referrals during the week and now even they are full. So if you are trying to find a good therapist, a good counselor right now, I know it can be hard. And that is why I do recommend turning to the world of online counseling, and that is betterhelp.com. And if you go to Betterhelp.com/virtual couch, you're going to get 10 percent off your first month's charges fees. And with Betterhelp.com you can find a therapist. They will match you up with a licensed therapist, a licensed counselor in your area, in your state.

[00:24:53] And you can find somebody that specializes in anxiety or depression or working through family issues. You can get male, you can get female. And there's a very, very streamlined assessment process to get you in touch with somebody. You can be talking to somebody and as little as 48 hours. So go do what almost a million people have done now over the United States and abroad and turn to Betterhelp.com/virtual couch and find somebody that can help you. They have sliding scales. They have some scholarship opportunities available. The bottom line is there is a way to find help. Even if you feel like you don't know where to turn, go to Betterhelp.com/virtual couch, find a therapist, get help today because it's been a crazy year. I mean, that goes without saying 2020, twenty twenty one. We're we're kind of starting off with that. There's a lot of unknown there as well. So you owe it to yourself, your family, everyone to work on you, to get yourself in a good place. Raise that emotional baseline, turn to Betterhelp.com virtual couch. Ten percent off your first month's expenses cost. What are you waiting for? Go do it today. OK, let's get back to my interview with Anna.

[00:25:58] But it's it takes a lot of work. We come in. I have a whole career based off of organizing people's spaces because they do it all the time and it's not maintainable for them or they fall short. Oh yeah. The clutter comes back. And so we implement things that are really helpful to make sure that you can stay organized and you can live the life you want to and not be bogged down by searching for things or clearing out the clutter to get to do the things you really want to do.

[00:26:25] I love it.

[00:26:25] I feel like I can say this and I can I don't know, maybe you would not, because I'm going to say it and it's going to maybe sound a little bit judging, which I try not to be. But I love that because I feel like when people will argue with me, but when I'm trying to teach a communication method or a parenting model, but they're here to see me because they're struggling in their communication or their parenting. That's where I want to say that there's a system, there's a framework, there's a plan, and you can argue with me. And that's where. How adorable. Or bless your heart, I'll still take the money that you're willing to give me to then argue with me, if you would like, but I know that the system works. I really do. I know this framework works.

[00:26:59] So, I mean, this again, is it a similar situation where if somebody is hiring you, you know what you're doing, you can deliver results.

[00:27:05] And so it's a little bit of hey, why don't you let me let me do what you're paying me for when I've had plenty of type A clients you follow behind me and they're rearranging the stuff as I'm going through. And it's fine. It's their space and they're going to live in it. But I really like setting up the framework and showing them that it's not just the way that it looks in a picture for my job. It's actually a system that's in place that will give you all of these amazing payoffs. And I try and guide them along with clients that you work with, too. There's some that I go back every two months and we're doing a new space or we're kind of refreshing it again. And there's some I see one time and then all of a sudden it sets them on a path that they feel capable of organizing other areas of their life there.

[00:27:52] That really is. There are a lot of parallels because there are people that I will introduce a framework or a book or a concept.

[00:27:57] And yeah, then they go and they just they digest it, they live it and it changes their life. And others, I feel like, yeah, it's going to be a little bit slow of a process.

[00:28:05] Ok, this is a selfish question, but I will my wife, if she's not around because she doesn't enjoy this, but I will watch Hoarders on TV. I am fascinated by that show. Do you ever run into that kind of a client?

[00:28:18] You would be fascinated with that because there's definitely a psychological. Yes, that and people think that all the time going in with hoarders. And I'm not specialized to work with hoarders. I do work with people who have a lot of clutter on occasion. But like I said, most of my clientele are people who just are regular functioning people and they just want to have less stress and less stuff occupying their mind and their homes. And so we're organizing them. But hoarders is a whole other dynamic. But some of the things are the same along the lines of the psychology behind it, of why they're buying things, why they're holding on to it. And you have to explore all those options before you just start dumping things because it's an emotional attachment. It just really is, man.

[00:29:08] All right. I feel like we should collab right, as the kids say. OK, now I just have some just again, random questions, if that's OK. OK, I find that in our own home, let's say hypothetically and then what people will tell me often is let's take teenagers, for example, where a parent will do all they can to clean and organize the kids space in hopes that then now that they will see this clean, nice space and it will make them feel better and then they will keep it clean and organized. And I find it that typically isn't the case with teenagers. But is that in theory, first of all, you have kids. Do you have that same kind of a thing happening?

[00:29:41] In fact, I probably would not want to go show you my daughter's room right now. Here's the thing. People are people, right? We can't have an expectation that a child that's 3 years old or a teenager that's 13 is going to keep their room Pinterest worthy 24/7. And that's not even the purpose of organization. It's not so that it looks pristine and not lived in. It's so that it functions better and doesn't cause you stress. That's the purpose of it. And it's funny to me that people are thinking then, OK, then your house has to look pristine all the time. That's not the point. And with kids, it's setting up a system for them to learn how to care for things. And so if they're not using things, then it's just junk in their room. Then it's time to let go of it and to move on. And if it is stuff that they like and they value, they need to take care of it and they need to figure out a system that works for them. We're still trying to figure out the whole laundry thing with my two teenage boys. How do you know?

[00:30:40] It's funny, I, I just look at the clock, so I'm like, OK, it only took thirty minutes till it just clicked that now I feel like I just I heard the concept of system versus Pinterest worthy clean. So that is that the part that is people don't necessarily understand. So the system is OK, talk about system.

[00:30:57] I think we just have this expectation that we get something to a state of arrival and then it's going to stay there forever and it it won't. The purpose of having an organization is so that when you're using it, it's doing the function that it needs to. So your closet is housing your clothes. That's what it's supposed to do. It's not supposed to look pristine all the time, but it is supposed to house your clothes. And if you have a spot where you put all of your shoes, then it's easier to put them back in the spot where all your shoes are versus just tossing them anywhere. If there's no purpose to where you're putting things, then there's no order when you need to figure out where they are. But when you put purpose or and systems in place, it streamlines everything. It's the same reason that anybody who does computer programing puts all those systems in place so that there's smooth sailing through it. It's the same sort of thing.

[00:31:48] Ok, I may edit that part out because my wife does listen to my podcast. I'm. A little bit afraid of, because that does sound like what she says about my closet and shoes and all that stuff, I can find them if I need to in the pile they are in. And you run into that and people that, I guess, is that the people are those people even going to call you if they're saying, no, I like the way it is and and I know where everything is and I can find it eventually, I guess those people aren't necessarily going to call you.

[00:32:11] Sometimes their spouse calls me. Oh, OK. That might be you're talking about collaboration. I might be referral. Exactly. My clients to you after I come in and do their closets. I cannot tell you how many times I've had discussions with wives about their husbands not wanting to change their hangers. OK, so there's these new hangers out. You wouldn't know because it's not your their velvet hangers and they're all the rage. So women want them on their so that their shirts and sweaters don't slip off and so they hold well and everything, but men hate them because they just want to yank their shirts. Oh yes. That was my first thought. It was, that would be a pain. Totally. So I go into a closets and I organize the women's side all the way down and we just leave the husbands side all right there. All the time because they're like, no, you're not touching my clothes. Do not switch hangers. I don't know why it needs to look pretty. I just need it to hold my shirt. So it's hilarious because I had that conversation consistently with my clients.

[00:33:14] I love that. I love everything about that. I even remember. So I get some things dry cleaned, shirts for work. And then at one point I thought, man, isn't it cool how many wire hangers I have? Almost like it was a collection. And my my wife said, why don't you throw them away? And I don't even know you could or recycle them or whatever.

[00:33:30] And I just thought it was pretty cool. And I did find myself thinking and what am I going to do? And I have just tons of these.

[00:33:34] So what can I make with this or something that I'm not I would just love to get in that closet.

[00:33:38] I know, you know, I've got all kinds of things going through my head that I would be very embarrassed about, so I'd have to clean it first Anna, that's what I have to do. Is there is there any room that you feel like is harder to than organize? I love the fact that the system thing just made sense, because now I feel like that doesn't even that question is invalid because you could put a system in place in a garage or a bathroom or pantry or laundry, anything.

[00:34:01] Yeah, you can play rooms can be kind of hard because toys are transitioning. Kids are interested in different things. So sometimes that's one that's a little bit hard because you have to continue adjusting things as kids get older and bigger and garages are really big projects. But man, they're really fun to do because a nice organized garage just sets the tone when you pull in your house and you're just like, man, I love this garage. It's just it sets the tone for sure.

[00:34:28] Ok, I just I'm going to say this out loud and everything else, but my wonderful helper, Crystal, when she hears this podcast, please do a pull quote from Anna about the garage being, like, so fun or amazing or whatever, because I feel like, again, I have marriage therapy sessions about garages. So that might be a unique industry for you, Playrooms. So now I feel like we should do a part B where we just talk about differences and men and women, the hangers or this is where I find that a lot of guys feel like, well, the house is going to get messed up the next day anyway, so why clean it at night, and I had a very, very wonderful conversation with my wife twenty years ago where she let me know that at the end of the day, if the house is neat and tidy, then she feels like she can.

[00:35:10] I know she feels like the day is done and she can go to bed. Do you run into that very often?

[00:35:15] Yeah. It's interesting. Women have a different tie to their homes, OK? Men tend to have and it is connected to their ability to function and think and be intimate and take care of their kids and feel successful. And so when they feel like they can't get ahead of it or on top of it or get it under control, it occupies so much of their mental space and emotional abilities. And so there's a huge difference between how a space even feels to a man versus a woman. They can be sitting in the exact same on the exact same couch. Yeah, she will be looking around at all the things that she needs to do. And he's just watching the show because he's going to sit down and watch the show. And it's it's not anything that's better or worse. It's just differences. But there is definitely an emotional tie to the space that we have. And I'm sure so many of us have learned that with covid and being in our homes a lot more, that we are affected by our space and whether or not we feel peace in it or comfort in it or enjoyment that that has an effect on if we're able to accomplish the things that we want to do.

[00:36:25] I love it. I do. And man, I feel like now I could go into my four pillars of a connected conversation or I remember having the conversation with my wife and I wanted to say that, but that's ridiculous. It's a long time ago. Or just to say you shouldn't worry about that, or don't you realize that tomorrow the kids are going to mess it up anyway instead of hearing and I love what you just said. Hey, what's that like for you or what is what does this represent to you? Because I realized after that conversation then I really just didn't have I didn't really have a strong opinion, so why would I try to insert my my my opinion into this thing that means a lot more to my wife than than it means to me? I love that. Yeah. OK, do we do anything that that we miss? I was going to be OK with this. I want to read a couple of things from your Instagram account, because your Instagram account is pretty amazing, OK?

[00:37:09] And because there's there's some things that are just very deep here.

[00:37:14] Ok, there's one that I thought was really interesting. It's I should have had these already up and I can edit some of this out as well. OK, you've got we've talked a little about this, but being organized will increase your ability to be productive. Do you think that the Emotional Clutter Piece. Organization is a practice, not a project.

[00:37:29] I feel like there's some depth there. What does that mean?

[00:37:31] There is so I think people say this word, I'm getting organized as I started this project, like I'm going to do this thing. But there are so many more ties to being organized and you practice this level of organization of putting things in its place. There's an attachment to our things that we should have. And in today's day and age where we can get whatever we want and discard whatever we want on whatever whim, we don't tend to have any sort of reverence or care for things unless they really mean a lot to us. And so I think that sometimes people just get distracted by their stuff and they don't realize that how you take care of your things is actually a practice of who you are and what you value and that those things are important. You can't just go to yoga once and expect to be able to to master it. And that's the same thing with organization. You we come in and organize a space, but you're going to be the one who has to practice that organization over and over. And you don't just come to a space and then you're done. You still have to maintain all of the fundamentals that you need to of cleaning things up the night before and of putting things back where they belong. There's a lot of steps that that keep you on that on that path.

[00:38:55] I really again, I appreciate that. And I'm having a bit of the ha moment where my wife will say that often of when something is clean and organized, then let's keep it that way and a little bit every day and all those things. And I hear them, but I don't think I've ever viewed it as a practice to do. I do meditation practice. I do. I practice with exercise, I practice with whatever. But yeah, not making that a priority. OK, there's a concept of you say edit it down, it's code word for a house diet.

[00:39:19] I've never heard of the concept of the house diet like that because people don't ever clear out their house thinking that maybe their house doesn't want to hold all this stuff that no one cares about and the same sort of thing. Any time someone's trying to increase their physical capacities, you start to realize how much more capable you are, the stronger that you get and whether that's losing weight or building muscles or just for your mental health. Whenever you're exercising those things, you start feeling better, you start having more energy, you start having better mental capacity. The same thing happens in your house when you get rid of that clutter, that's just weighing it down. The stuff that's just sitting around, you start to feel better, too, and it functions better. So it's, hey, give your house a break and let it have a cleansing.

[00:40:09] That's very funny. That really is a nice detox for the home. And I think that speaks right to there's another one that you have on there. That is when you're in the mess, it's hard to see outside of it. I feel like there's so many that's a therapeutic principle as well.

[00:40:21] So is. And like I said, when I come into a space, I do not see what my client is seeing. I don't see the overwhelm and the complications and the chaos. I see a space that needs to be cleaned out and organized, and that's what I do. And so I feel capable of being able to do that for them. But when they're in it, it just feels overwhelming. And like most things, when you're in it, in the thick of it, you can't you can't see outside of it. And here's a little plug for some mental health, too. Sometimes people will be like, oh, my friend will just come over and help me and I can get it organized or oh, I'll just take a few minutes. But like I say, it's a practice because it it actually is an investment. And some people might shy away from the price of home organizing or the amount of product that we would want to buy. But it's an investment that actually has a payoff that's emotional for you and elevates your life, and I think that people who want to have that in their life are willing to pay a price for it, that that they find actually the payoff is bigger than what the the dollar amount is.

[00:41:32] Maybe you have time for one more. OK, this one that I'd never thought of this before. Picture your dream home. I bet it's not filled with clutter. Never thought no one. I think we all like to daydream or think of what things could be like. But it's not. It's not filled with clutter. I don't know.

[00:41:45] Thoughts know and sometimes people just fill their house, just has things in it that they just don't even want or need. And that's another example of of male versus female. Sometimes if the husbands in their perching things, he's just throw it away or get rid of it. Or maybe it's the wife who's just throw it away or get rid of it, clear it all out. And it it can just be consuming to have so much stuff in your life. And that's why I say the things that you want and the things you want to achieve. You don't throw all the extra bucks and all the extra paperwork and all that stuff's not laying around. It's all put away nice and organized. And so to be able to have that, you've got to work for it.

[00:42:26] Ok, I love it. I said one more. But then as I continue to scroll through, there's there's one that's once you need less, you'll have more. There's you have a lot of good stuff on here. Don't confuse busy with being productive. I had someone yesterday talking about they just feel like they can just make their day busy. A lot of busy work, but it isn't very productive, which I feel like speaks back to the system. Anna this was there was a lot more I got. I knew I was going to get a lot out of this because I really do believe that mental health is just what accelerated when there is less clutter. I know that is the case. And but I realize all of the kind of the tie ins here of you are a home therapist of sorts or a purging therapist or that sort of thing.

[00:43:02] Yeah, it does feel like it. It does feel like it. That's why I say a lot of what we do is a physical outcome, but it's emotional work.

[00:43:11] Yeah, I love it. OK, where can people find you. I've talked about your Instagram account a bunch. I'll have that in the show notes but yeah.

[00:43:17] Where do people find you so neatmethod.com and then our Instagram is BOISE neat and we love to post inspiring words and pictures just to inspire people to elevate their living spaces and their frame of reference.

[00:43:32] Perfect. Hey, I appreciate you taking the time and I feel like there will probably be a part too, because in my mind is still racing.

[00:43:40] Thanks so much, Anna. Thank you.

Do you ever find yourself caught up in emotions so fast that you feel like you can’t think logically? Well, the good news is, you’re human! For most of us, we formed much of our internal compass from our family, including both positive and negative traits. One of the keys to living a happier, more purpose-driven life is the ability to separate our feelings from our thoughts and then move toward things that truly matter to YOU! This process is called “differentiation.” Undifferentiated people struggle to separate feelings and thoughts. Still, they often have trouble separating their thoughts and feelings from others as well, and they look to others to define how they think about situations that they find themselves in. So one of the most important things we can do as adults is self-differentiate, or learn, “to have different opinions and values than your family members but be able to stay emotionally connected to them. It means being able to calmly reflect on a conflicted interaction afterward, realizing your own role in it, and then choosing a different response for the future.”

Tony references Karen Koenig’s article “What is self-differentiation and why is it so important?” https://www.karenrkoenig.com/blog/what-is-self-differentiation-and-why-is-it-so-important and he also found information on Dr. Murray Bowen from The Family Systems website https://www.thefsi.com.au/

And Tony mentions two podcasts interviews where he was the guest, first was on Parenting in the Middle, by Kristen Goodman https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/parenting-in-the-middle/id1551041369?i=1000510695615 and The Jones Table hosted by Chelsea Jones https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-jones-table/id1524546561?i=1000510124657Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

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] So I'm pretty sure that I want to get a motorcycle, and I know for some people that might not be a big deal and you may, in fact, already have a motorcycle or you grew up with a family members riding motorcycles, or you may even have had some bad experiences with motorcycles in your life. You may have been involved in a crash or or, heaven forbid, even lost a loved one to a motorcycle accident. Or you might be somebody who hears me say, I want to get a motorcycle and you say it's your life. Knock yourself out, do what you want to do, or you might be somebody who when you heard me say that I wanted to get a motorcycle, that your first response was, well, I know you don't really want one. You're smarter than that. Or you have kids and they'll think that you have a they'll say, well, do you have a life? Don't you think about her or do you think she'd appreciate it if you get in a crash? But here's the thing. I really can't pin down exactly why I want one and just kind of want one. But I don't want a really big truck and I don't want a classic car to fix up. And I really don't want to shoot an automatic weapon. And I don't want to spend a week camping in the great outdoors. But I do want a new Mini Cooper.

[00:01:01] I drive one now and I love how zippi it is and how easy it is to park. And I don't want to shoot an automatic weapon, not as a political statement. I just really don't want to. And I actually don't mind camping when I have lots of blankets and electricity and lots of food and my tent. But I would prefer a hotel with a view of the ocean, going out to eat for every meal instead of making my own meals. So teach their own right. But how often do you find yourself wanting to tell people your opinion or why they shouldn't want a motorcycle or why they should want to camp or why they need to try shooting an automatic weapon? So sometimes it comes from a really good place and it might be because you really like something so much that you want everybody else to experience what you've experienced. But on other occasions, are you telling somebody that they shouldn't get a motorcycle because, well, you didn't have a motorcycle? Or is it simply an impulse that you just respond, you tell somebody what how you feel or what they need to do just because that's kind of what you do. You just respond. Know, I used to work out early in the morning at a local gym. This is a couple of years ago, pre pandemic. It was open in twenty four hours a day.

[00:02:04] And one of my workout buddies who would also be there at three three thirty four in the morning, was a friend named Stacey, and she was a few years older than me and her husband was there at the gym as well. And he like to do cardio consistently on one particular type of machine and his wife like to do various machines. So when I found myself on a particular piece of exercise equipment called the Cybex, I remember to this day if there was a spot open next to me, Stacy would come work out and we'd chat the entire time and it would make the workout go quickly. And Stacey was upbeat. She was positive. People turned to her for help on numerous occasions. That was kind of what she was known for. And but I just enjoyed talking to her. So on many occasions I would start telling her a story and she would say, well, did you try this? Or she would say, you know, you just need to tell them that they need to do. And you could fill in the blank there. And I would smile, maybe give a little laugh. And she would, too. And she would say, you know, you weren't actually looking for help on that, were you? Or we keep talking and I know so I know for a fact that she meant so.

[00:03:02] Well, I didn't mind for a second when she would start telling me how to handle things or that I truly wasn't looking for help and handling things, that I was simply telling a story to the prompt of her saying, so what's new with you? But I've had other people in my life, however, who are quick to tell me why I shouldn't do something or they would tell me exactly what to do again when there wasn't any part of me that was actually going to them to look for advice or certainly not correction often talked about psychological reactance, that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. And they also have been saying, as long as I can remember, that nobody likes to be should on. So when you put those two factors in place, you can see how difficult it can be to start to feel like you can't open up to somebody if they are going to be one of those who's going to tell you what you need to do psychological reactions or tell you what you should do. Also, psychological reactions and nobody likes to be should on. So for many of us, as we get older, we start to get a little more crotchety. And I didn't know if that was a real word, but then auto correct actually corrected the way that I spelled it. And I don't know if that's anything that resonates with you as well, but I often get feedback from listeners who will either love when I say I'm pulling an old man moment and tell these younger kids to stay off my lawn or they are younger listeners who truly don't understand what I'm really meaning to say when I say that phrase.

[00:04:19] But what it means is that for many of us, quote older folks, and if you are if you're not watching this on YouTube, I did some air quotes there. Then we slowly start to disengage from friends and relatives and even our own immediate family when we feel like all we ever hear is what we are doing isn't enough or what we're doing is wrong because that becomes becomes emotionally and mentally exhausting. Unless you can realize and as simple as what I'm about to say, sounds what I'm going to say next. Sounds so simple, but I know that it is absolutely one of the most difficult yet key things that we need to do to find emotional maturity, happiness with ourselves and in our relationships. So unless you can realize that ultimately this is your life, you can like and enjoy what you like and enjoy. And as adults, you don't even have to justify or defend yourself. You can just be. So the concept that I'm talking about today is called differentiation, differentiation of self. And it is yet another quote, air quotes again, game changer when it comes to really being who you are, trying to figure out who you are in determining how you show up in your relationships. And that's relationships at work or in your family and especially with your spouse. So today we're going to be breaking down the concepts of self differentiation.

[00:05:36] That and plenty more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:05:44] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 251 of the virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified might have a coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and the Path Back is revamped pathbackrecovery.com. And this is for people who are trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. As far as turning to that as a coping mechanism. And I have amazing group calls on Wednesday nights. So head over to Pathbackrecovery.com there you can find out more information. There's also an e-book. You can download that talks about five mistakes that people often make when trying to, or five myths that we encounter when trying to put pornography in the rearview mirror once and for all as a coping mechanism. Again, that's Pathbackrecovery.com. And honestly, email me at contact@tonyoverbay.com and maybe we can get you connected with the group. Calls us to take a look and see what those group calls are all about, because they are amazing. They're phenomenal, they're positive. They're uplifting. So, again, that's pathbackrecovery.com. And I can honestly say that the majority of emails I'm getting right now are in regard to when is the next magnetic marriage cohort, when when will it begin? And I don't know for sure, but I know this sounds like the the old lead magnets, but head over to tonyoverbay.com and sign up to learn more.

[00:06:54] You'll be the first to know. I'm trying to ramp up my emails to subscribers to let them know when the when when things are coming. There's some really cool things that are coming up. If you go on the homepage, you'll see a place right there that says sign up to find out more. And you can also go to tonyoverbay.com/Magnetic. And there's a page there where you can sign up as well and just wanted to share. I had a couple of amazing podcast recordings last week where I was the guest that aired and a couple more that I think are coming out this week. I've been doing a lot of interviews lately and I enjoy that so much, but I'll include the links in the show notes. But I was interviewed by Kristin Goodman on her brand new podcast called Parenting in the Middle. And our episode is called Connection Overcontrol. And we were we were vibin. I loved that interview. And I think you will, too. And I will again include the links. But just look for parenting the middle wherever you find podcast. I think I'm episode number five maybe. And I was on another podcast called The Jones Table with Chelsea Jones. And we did not plan on talking about what we ended up talking about, which was attachment styles. But we talked about all things attachment styles and marriage.

[00:07:58] And then that too was another fun conversation. And I'll include those links as well. We could have gone on for hours, but some other ones coming up coming up very, very soon. And as I and I know I keep mentioning or I try to mention my YouTube channel before, but if you happen to be somebody who who watches things on YouTube and you feel so inclined, then please feel free to look up the virtual couch on YouTube. I got I have the link to the channel in the show notes as well, and hit the subscribe button. I've never been one to try to drive the the ratings and reviews and subscriptions. But don't get me wrong, I truly do love reading the reviews and the ratings and subscriptions really do make a difference with not only the way algorithms work on who sees the podcasts or the videos or that sort of thing. But there's just odd things that you learn when you hit certain numbers. It's as if the more tools open up to you. And so I'm close to that when it comes to subscriptions on YouTube. So I could use some help with that. So if you happen to be a YouTuber go find to find the virtual captioning subscribe, that would be great. But let's get back to the topic today, which is self differentiation. And while you may not hear this term used on a daily basis, I have noticed more and more people putting it out there on social media and in a couple of Facebook groups that I belong to.

[00:09:07] And it's an essential piece of my magnetic marriage program. And so I found a blog by a fellow therapist named Karen Koenig, and I include the link there to and Karen does some phenomenal work in the field of compulsive, emotional and restrictive eating. She's been in that space for over 30 years. But this is where I really like having an article to kind of work from or a blog post or that sort of thing from a colleague or from some nice research article. But it's because this is somebody who specializes in what I'm going to talk a little bit about today and something that I'm familiar with. But when you can refer to somebody who really knows the subject matter in far greater detail than I do, I think that that is a kind of a fun base to operate from. So Karen shares the following about this concept of self differentiation. She she also says self different self differentiation is a word you probably don't hear in everyday usage, but it's a crucial process to living. And that's why I let you know that she does some stuff with restrictive eating. So it's a crucial process and living and eating well.

[00:10:08] She says it's happening when you hear people speaking their minds with thoughtful conviction, even though others might disapprove. It's lacking when someone spends their life rebelling against the views and values of, let's say, one's parents and clinging to their opposite, which this is where I talk so much about this concept of psychological reactance where that good old cliche of you can cut off your nose to spite your face of where even if this isn't something that is helpful for you, if someone is telling you that you need to do this, whatever it is, that oftentimes we push back and we say, I'm not going to do any of whatever you just said, even if it's. Something that's good for me, so part of this concept of learning, what self differentiation means, what it's about, will help one recognize when there is this psychological reactions and then saying, OK, I might be being told that this is what I need to do or this is what I should do, but this is my my journey. And ultimately, if that's what I want to do or what I feel that is best for me, then I'll do it. And I really don't care as much if somebody then says, I told you so or finally you're listening to me, and then they assume that you will do everything that they tell you to do from this day forward. Some of that good old all or nothing thinking. But she said it's lacking again.

[00:11:21] It's lacking when someone spends their life rebelling against the views and values of their parents and clinging to the opposite. It's missing when someone stifles their feelings and thoughts in fear of hurting others or being rejected or shamed by them. And then she asks, do you get the picture? So with all the work I do with acceptance and commitment therapy, that the only version of you is you based on all of the things you bring to the table from the make up your nature and nurture, part of me feels like I don't want to go into that because I do this and I will get people that I can see them mouthing along at times as I go nature, nurture, birth, order, DNA, abandonment, rejection. But all that stuff is so real. That's what makes you you the only version of you. But so with all of the talk about acceptance and commitment therapy, then I hope that you can start to really get that picture that we often do feel like we don't want to. We feel a certain way, but we don't want to necessarily go along with what someone's telling us to do because that reactance. But we also just desperately want to find our independence while still being a part of the group, because we don't want to get booted out of the group. So there's the acceptance and commitment therapy stuff I love. And with all the talk that I love to talk about of what abandonment and attachment issues look like in adulthood, then and you can go to any of my last few episodes of the last one that I did on anxiety, I went really deep on this.

[00:12:39] But at some point I feel like I'm laying out what those abandonment and attachment issues look like in adulthood. So I'm laying out in detail what what I'm talking about that in a nutshell, abandonment issues in adulthood assume that if people aren't responding to me, if they aren't meeting my needs, if they aren't curious about me, if they don't care about me, then something is wrong with me that I must be broken, then I must be unlovable. And that is simply not true. That's your childhood defense and coping mechanisms that we have brought into adulthood. And on the attachment side of things, attachment wounds are this deep seated fear that if I don't present myself in the right way, if I don't exactly figure out how to express my needs in a way that people that I'm speaking to, even right there in the moment, will understand that they may disappear and that I won't be accepted and that I won't be part of the larger group and I will be abandoned. And my internal factory setting from babyhood programing tells me that if I am abandoned, well, abandonment equals death. So I better express myself in a way that I will be heard or understood whether that means through anger or drama or even if I have subconsciously have to deny any wrongdoing, also known as gaslighting, a childhood defense mechanism that people bring into adulthood because they are unable to differentiate from self.

[00:13:53] So but people thinking that I must do this at any cost because abandonment equates to death. So what is differentiation? It's learning that you are the adult now. And whether or not you're in a marriage or you're talking with a boss at work or about demanding adult parents. At the end of the day, when push comes to shove and all those types of clichés, you are ultimately captain of your own ship and you can be you without being a jerk, without being mean. This is where a few episodes ago I talked so much about this passivity that we have this all or nothing, black or white, thinking that either we have to be completely passive and go along with everything, or we feel like we have to ramp up and become a jerk. And there's a fine line before that being a jerk, that is this calm, confident energy. So you and so we don't I mean, because I know we don't want to be mean, but you must intentionally work toward what I do like to refer to as this calm, connected confidence that if somebody is saying, do you really know how that makes me feel? Or You really don't believe that, do you? You don't really want the motorcycle, do you? And instead of retracting on what we believe is the true US, we stand in a calm, confident energy and say, but this is how I feel, or this is actually what I really do believe.

[00:15:02] And I need to start being true to myself, because if I'm not being true to myself, we can jump back into acceptance and commitment therapy world. I am not being true to myself if I am living what is called a socially compliant goal, if I'm doing something because this is what I simply believe I should do or that I'm supposed to do, or I'll let other people down, then I am. I am. My motivation is. Dr Steven Hayes, founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, says my motivation is weak and ineffective because it goes against my own sense of unfolding, my sense of self, who I am at my core, if it's going against my values that are are there because I am the only unique version of me that has ever walked the face of the earth, and that is called a socially compliant goal. And what that often leads to my friends. Is a term called experiential avoidance, also known as kicking the can down the road, if I'm really not invested in something that I am thinking I'm supposed to do. How easy is it then to just watch one more show on Netflix or play a couple more games on my phone or do it later or do it tomorrow? If I'm not really connected to what I am doing in my life, then it is so easy to just put things off and put things off until all of a sudden we're putting things off until the kids are out of the house, until we retire and you're missing out on a lot of life.

[00:16:16] I mean, we can the more you can self differentiate, the more you can figure out who you are and how to show up and what your values are and what your goals are. The more you can do that now, the more rich and just incredible life you can live today. So back to Karen's article. Back to the differentiation of self, so she she shares that this concept was initially developed or discovered by Dr. Murray Bone, and he developed the self differentiation theory, which applies to human development and family dynamics and bowins. Theory has two major parts. One is the differentiation of self is the ability to separate feelings and thoughts. Again, is that the differentiation of self is the ability to separate feelings and thoughts. Undifferentiated people cannot separate feelings and thoughts. And when asked to think they are often flooded with feelings and they have difficulty thinking logically and basing their responses on thinking logically. So they are flooded with feelings, flooded with emotions, and then that hijacks their rational thought process of their brain. And so they just act on impulse so often to Karen says further, they have difficulty separating their own from others feelings.

[00:17:29] So they look to family to define how they think about issues, how they feel about people and how they interpret their experiences. So here's where you can start to see that it takes work to differentiate to to differentiate from your family of origin or to differentiate from your community or to differentiate from your spouse. Because from our factory settings, we look we've always looked to other people on how we think about issues or how we feel about people or how we interpret our own experiences. The old what do you think I should do when somebody says, I think you should do this? What's the what's our typical response? Yeah, but I don't know. Because in your mind, you're thinking because I really need to figure this one out on my own. I mean, that's why what I love about being a therapist is when you really have this this good rapport built with the client, you're right there on their journey, walking right beside them. And then as you are coming up on things in their life, you're saying what are what do we do? And so often they want to say, well, what do you think I should do? And I say, oh, no, no, no, that's not what you're paying me for. The easy for me to tell you what I think you should do based on my experiences.

[00:18:36] But I pretty much guarantee that at some point you're going to say either, well, this isn't working for me or or if things don't work, you get to say, well, the therapist told me to do it. I find this so often when I'm working with couples and they're talking about very difficult subjects like divorce, where you often get the what do you think I should do? And I remember even early on in my career, if there were times where I felt like, well, if you're if you really want my opinion from all the data I've seen and I feel like that, that, you know, you should stay, but then the person says, OK, but then I really don't know what their experience is like. And if they're being emotionally abused, spiritually abused, financially abused, any of these things, then I can't believe that that's not my job. And you have to meet somebody where they're at. Or if you tell them, OK, I think that divorce kind of seems inevitable. People get divorced. There's the data on divorce. You can have a it's better to be out of that emotionally abusive relationship for you, for your kids. But then if they really aren't buying into that themselves, if they don't go through the process of rule outs, of getting to the place where they feel like this, I can't do this anymore, then oftentimes you'll hear, well, I mean, I didn't want to, but my therapist told me to do it.

[00:19:42] And that's where I say, whoa, don't hand that power over to somebody else, whether it's your spouse, whether it's your parents, whether it's your boss at work, whether it's a therapist. But learn how to differentiate from from self. Learn how to realize that this is my journey and I have my own experiences and I'm welcome input. I of course, I can welcome feedback, but ultimately it's up to me to decide what direction I want to go. And this is where I think it's so important to know that. And going in that direction does not mean that that is my path for the rest of all eternity. You know, this is where I like to say we often want our brain just once this all or nothing, black or white, thinking. It wants patterns and it wants to just know it wants to know the end. It wants to know the end of the story. We're condition that way because of the way that we we read stories, the way that we watch movies. We know that there's an end. And we want to know right now how many times do you or have you ever flipped to the end of the book to want to know the end of the story or how many times? If you're like me? I think this is a component of my ADHD, but where I'll get about two thirds of the way through the book and once I see OK, I think I know where it's going.

[00:20:44] I'm kind of kind of done with it because I know the end, but we don't know the end. We our lives are made up of just all of these various experiences that could change at any moment. That is one of the things that is so fascinating is once we have this acceptance that life is difficult, then we aren't trying to prove to others that this isn't fair. My life's more difficult than your life. And the acceptance is like, OK, maybe it is, but what are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it today? So differentiating yourself is really a process of freeing yourself from your family's processes to define you. So Karen shared in her blog this means being able to have different opinions and values than your family members with being able to stay emotionally connected to them. And that takes work, especially when you're the rest of your family is not doing the same thing, which is often the case. So let me read that one again. This means being able to have different opinions and values than your family members, but being able to stay emotionally connected to them. It means being able to calmly reflect on a conflicted interaction afterward, realizing your own role in it. And that's where it's taking ownership is so important and then choosing a different response for the future.

[00:21:54] That's from from BO and family therapy right there. So thank you, Karen. And I will include a link to her article there, which I think is just a pretty amazing, actually. She has a couple other things here. Let me let me finish up this article. She goes on to say that self-defense. Self-defense. Easy for me to say. Self differentiation involves being able to process and identify your own thoughts and feelings and distinguish them from others. It's a process of not losing connection to self while holding a deep connection to others, including those who you love, whose views may differ from yours. She said if you grew up in a family in which everyone maintains attachment or only as very brief disconnects of attachment in spite of having different thoughts and feelings, then it's a little bit easier to self differentiate. But the alternative to that which I feel like most of us grew up with, if there was a what she calls a parental dictum that was more of my way or the highway or let's all get on the same page to show each other that we love each other. And self differentiation is very difficult if we've all kind of had a shared experience or we have these shared unified family goals and values, which again, all come from a very good place, we need some sort of direction or guidance, I feel like, to aim the our ship. But then ultimately at some point, then, I don't know, we jump out, then a little dinghy and now we're captains of our own ship.

[00:23:18] Not very good with analogies, but we'll try to see if that one works. But the importance of differentiation, she said, is articulated by Lisa Firestone from this book called Differentiation Living Life on Your Own Terms. She said, although we are born genetically unique individuals, which goes right back to all of my act, stuff of nature, nurture, all that stuff, she said. We internalize our early environment so that when we grow up we are not really fully differentiated selves and many ways we are and just is so good. What she says. In many ways we are re-living rather than living, so reliving rather than living. So even though we're our own unique individuals, we have to make sense of something in this family system. And so then we are re-living rather than living. So then we again, our job is to intentionally and focus on becoming a self differentiated individual from our our family of origin, from our from our parents, from our spouses. And that is not a negative thing. And goes on and talks about this. And I almost feel like you could plug in. She's going to talk about dysregulated eating and think about any any whether it's a an addiction, whether it is some self-esteem issues or any of these things. I think you can plug in where she says when she talks about dysregulated eating.

[00:24:34] So Karen said dysregulated eaters often lack self differentiation. She said sometimes they're too nice or they go with the flow. They fear disapproval or they aim solely to please, which leaves them disconnected from self, she said. Other times they develop an identity by choosing whether it's consciously or unconsciously their feelings and thoughts precisely because they are different from their families. And moreover, she said, the dysregulated eaters often go along in some instances and then disagree and take arbitrary oppositional stances and others, especially with authority figures. Neither reaction is rooted in a deliberate exploration and critical thinking skills about what they think or feel. Reactions are based on fear of becoming totally detached from somebody. There's that abandonment, attachment, fear leading to doing what others want, or to becoming totally enmeshed with someone leaving the fighting to be viewed as oneself or as a separate individual. So she said not only do problems with the lack of self differentiation make healthy adult relationships impossible because they can cause tremendous inner turmoil, which in again her world often leads to comfort eating. But you may get furious because you might feel controlled by someone who wants you to do something that you don't wish to do but believe you're unsafe, expressing your feelings openly and again and in her world, and then use food to emotionally reregulate. Or you may silence yourself around others and feel inauthentic or unheard or invisible and with needs unmet in her world seeking food for solace, for how often do we seek other unhealthy coping mechanisms for solace when we feel like we are inauthentic, unheard or invisible, or we have these unmet needs? She says if you want to move toward differentiation, focus on being more authentic at the expense of approval and staying connected to others while disagreeing with them.

[00:26:17] And this is another area where something like therapy is tremendously helpful because this is a unique relationship, one where the underlying clinical goals is supporting you and developing a differentiated cell. So I did a little more digging on Boin and we'll kind of kind of start to wrap things up. An article that talked about how Boeing had noticed patterns of managing anxiety in families that were similar to the instinctive ways that other species deal with threats or to their herds or pack. So, again, he goes along with we get anxious because we are afraid of being kicked out of our herd or kicked out of our pack or our family. And so, Bonin saw our personal and relationship problems is coming from exaggerated responses to sensing a threat to the connection in the home or the connection in any group that we happen to be a part of. So, for example, if we are in a family dynamic and there's a disagreement that there can be such a what he calls an inflated pull for unity, that there isn't really much tolerance for a difference of opinion.

[00:27:18] So an upset child is responded to with such an intense effort to protect the child that he or she consequently has no room to develop their own capacity to soothe themselves. So you can see how even in the best of families and the best of parents, if they immediately want to go and rescue that child, then at times that can come at the consequence of not giving that child room to develop their own capacity to soothe themselves. And where then they find themselves constantly wondering what what is how do I feel about something? And turning to the parent, try to figure out what their thoughts or feelings are from the parent. And all of a sudden, especially with adult kids, where now they're looking toward their parent and their parent will say, well, hey, you're an adult now. You got to make these decisions where throughout their life they haven't really had a lot of practice making these decisions. So Bowen's concept of differentiation of self forms the basis of a system of understanding maturity. So I read a little bit more. And the concept here is of differentiation can be confusing. But simply put, it refers to the ability to think as an individual while staying connected to others. And so it describes this capacity that every person has of balancing their emotions and their intellect and then also take that and balance that with their need to be attached, with their need to be their separate selves.

[00:28:38] So think about that alone. We have this desperate need to feel attached and part of a group. But then we also have this greater need to be an individual and again, self differentiated. This is where I think ACT can be so powerful because act is what can help you find yourself as cliched as that sounds and then show up in a relationship. Bone was unusual and I love this part. When you dig a little bit on Dr. Murray Bone, he was unusual in the field of psychiatry because he described himself as needing to address the same self-management issues as those of the patients he was learning to deal with. Some of the most most of the feedback I get or when I open up about my own struggles with my ADHD diagnosis or some of my own issues with even when I've shared things about my relationship with my wife and I've had these ah-ha moments or these epiphanies or some of the challenges I've had as a parent. And I love that Dr. Bowen said that he just really didn't think that any human being was close to being completely differentiated. And he's reported my close colleagues to have said that only on his very best days might appear to be in the upper to moderate range of emotional maturity. And here's one of these fathers of modern psychology. But bowins theory doesn't really focus on mental illness, but on the challenges of being human and the relationships that affect us all and all of these various relationships we have, whether it's with family, colleagues, institutions, that sort of thing.

[00:30:00] So and it's not always an easy theory to grasp, but it does because it's focusing on more of this big picture pattern of a system. And this is from his family systems theory, rather than this narrower view of what causes difficulties for one particular individual. And so what happens is that we often then that we just try to view things through our own individual lens, but we forget that we're part of a bigger group or a bigger picture or a bigger family relationship, even if it's not your family of origin, if it's a family, a church family or a work family or a community family, I recently spoke to, Well, and the last thing I had on some notes here is I was looking at this, seeing this this whole system takes people beyond blame to seeing the relationship forces that set the people on their unique different paths. So this is a way of seeing our life challenges and in the lens of trying to avoid finding fault in others. And it really proves like this unique path to taking a look at things through our own lens as an adult, taking a look at things through our own experiences and not of how someone else makes us feel or how someone else reacted to things that we've shared.

[00:31:13] But more about our experience. And again, in a perfect world, if everyone oneself differentiated, then this concept of tell me more about that, what's that like for you? Flows naturally. A couple of things and I'll wrap things up. But I recently spoke to a group of couples who are in what they refer to as a mixed faith marriage. So. That is where one person is still in a faith community and one person might be having challenges or struggles with that faith community and looking at or already has transitioned out of that faith community. And this this this event was put on through a group created by Allen and Katie Mountain, who are hosts of an excellent podcast called Marriage on a Tightrope. If you're interested, that talk, although filmed it, was filmed looking up at me. So the camera does look like it adds many, many pounds. But it is on my YouTube channel, as I mentioned earlier.

[00:32:02] But in that talk, one of the most difficult applications of needing self differentiation, I think, is when couples do come together because they got together having this shared belief system. And then over the course of their marriage, they both are actually on their own unique spiritual journeys. But with these abandonment and attachment wounds from childhood to the forefront of their minds that scratch that, it can even be these subconscious wounds, then there's still an intense fear of sharing these different opinions to our spouses because of that fear of abandonment. But what I was trying to convey in this particular talk that I'm that I'm referencing, as was this ability to have the conversations that eventually lead to a more differentiated, interdependent, not codependent relationship, which is ultimately a good thing. It's using different muscles and you're going to be emotionally sore and mentally want to stop the training and go back to the couch, so to speak, and go back to the way that things were before. But eventually, with the correct training and the right training plan, the new way to communicate or communicating using my four pillars of a connected conversation, for example, then become the you know, eventually those become these new neural pathways of connection and that being able to communicate in an interdependent way, in a self differentiated way becomes the brain's new path of least resistance.

[00:33:13] And you're able to communicate more effectively and you get to feel more authentic. And it is scary because we initially feel like there will be this abandonment of, oh my gosh, if I start really expressing myself in a way that's full of I feel statements or if I want to know more about what my partner is going through, we have this fear of abandonment, but in reality it's a better way to communicate. And there's a quote I love by a philosopher named Terence McKenna who talks about jumping out into an abyss only to find out there's a featherbed. And oftentimes that is the feeling. Once a couple of works through the difficulties of self differentiation is that finding that the scary abyss is a wonderfully new comfortable feather bed and possibly with maybe a motorcycle waiting for you just outside the door. So thank you so much for joining me today. And I hope that you have picked up a little bit more around this concept of self differentiation. It's definitely a goal and it's definitely not the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance is to still try to figure out how do I belong or how do I show up in this group or this marriage so that everybody will like me.

[00:34:15] But in reality, how has that worked? Is that left you feeling oftentimes less than or unheard or unseen? Because if that's the case like it is for so many people, then I would highly recommend starting to explore more around this concept of self differentiation. I did a podcast a couple of weeks ago about an interdependent relationship versus a codependent relationship, and the feedback on that has been pretty phenomenal. And again, the scary piece of this is that I'm not saying that this isn't that you go do you and your partner does them. And then we show up and hopefully we like each other. We are designed, as Sue Johnson, founder of EFT, said, to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. It is a dyadic collaborative union so that when we show up as an interdependent, self differentiated person to our spouse now one plus one can equal three. That dyadic union looks like if someone is saying, man, I'm struggling with something, I'm struggling with my focus, I'm struggling with my attention, struggle with my parenting. And if we know that our partner is going to say, tell me more, what's that like for you? Tell me what that brings up for you instead of saying, well, you just need to do this or.

[00:35:16] Yeah, I know. I've been noticing that. And you've really let me down. You see the difference there. So when we can come to our partner as an individual, self differentiated individual in this dyadic collaborative union, that is why we that's why we couple that's why we're married, that and we can have babies and and have amazing experiences and and explore together and all those wonderful things. I mean, there's so much more I really don't mean to say that it's just there to have babies and families and that sort of thing, although they can be amazing. But we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. And the best way to do that is to show up as it yourself differentiated individual in an interdependent, not codependent relationship. And then that is full of tell me more. What's that like for you? I'm here for you. I care about you. I've got your back. I love you. So I will end there. Hopefully right now you can hear some music building that is the wonderful, the talented Aurora Florence with the amazing song that I love each and every time. It's wonderful.

[00:36:19] And because truly find that self differentiated, interdependent version of yourself and I'm telling you is the quickest way the things truly meaningful I will see you next time.

Well, life has truly handed you lemons, not just one or two, but a truck full of lemons has backed up to your driveway and not even rang your doorbell and asked you where to put them. No, the truck just dumped them all in the driveway, there’s no use complaining about them...what do you do with them? We’re making lemonade...a lot of lemonade, because you truly do have it in you to take a driveway full of lemons and make the most wonderful lemonade that the world has ever tasted. Today we discover the recipe, through acceptance, through owning your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, through learning how to communicate, to stepping out of a victim mindset, to learning how to self soothe all the way to self-confidence. Cliches be darned, on today’s episode Tony shows you how to not simply survive based on everything going on in the world, but to truly thrive. 
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


Holidays, vaccinations, sheltering in place, the brain's desire for patterns or order, we're a year into covid anxiety, communication, distance learning, people telling me that they always wanted to work from home until it was actually forced upon them with so much uncertainty in the world, in our lives, in our own heads. It is it is no wonder that anxiety, depression, marital discord, frustration and parenting are at an all time high. But I promise you, that doesn't simply mean that you are doomed, that there's nothing that you could do or that you have no control of your future or even your present. Oh, no, my podcast listening friend. Sometimes you do need a push to truly take action and as if 2020 wasn't a big enough push. I'm really not quite sure what would be. But if you haven't taken action already, if you're not even sure what to do next, you are in the right place. Cue the patriotic music. OK, I guess I still don't actually have the budget to license that long of a clip, but I am going to give you the secret to happiness. The recipe for making twenty twenty one your well making twenty twenty one a whole lot better than twenty twenty because do you want to simply survive or do you want to thrive. It's time to thrive my friends and I will tell you how. Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:01:23] Welcome to Episode 239 in the virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbey, I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, husband, father might well have a coach author. I forgot my own spiel, creator of The Path Back, which is an online pornography recovery program. It is changing lives. Truly go check out pathbackrecovery.com and at the very least go download the short e-book that is on that website that talks about five myths that people fall prey to when trying to stop numbing out or coping or turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. And they do that when they're not feeling connected to their spouse, their kids, their health, their faith, their career, their life, which is what we're going to talk about today. And please head over to TonyOverbay.com and sign up to find out more about my upcoming programs. There's a free parenting course on there and including I'm talking about it often now, but a very exciting release of my magnetic marriage course. And if you didn't listen to my episode a couple of weeks ago called How to Truly Connect, a.k.a. the consequences of Crummy Communication, please go back and give that one to listen.

[00:02:17] I lay out my four pillars of a connected conversation, which is a it's a concept that is the foundation to the upcoming magnetic marriage course. But honestly, even just hearing the four pillars can point a couple or a person in the right direction of setting the table to have better experiences when communicating with anybody. I have to tell you quickly that one of the pillars, the first pillar is accepting or understanding or trusting that nobody wakes up and thinks to themselves, how can I truly hurt my spouse today? And I just don't believe that they do. So if someone is withdrawn or if they are angry or if they're aloof, if you come into the situation with that first pillar, at the very least to assume good intentions, it's going to be more of an attitude of curiosity. And curiosity is one of the first steps, I believe, toward empathy. So the reason that I share this pillar, not only because I want you to go listen to that episode, because it truly is one of these game changing the thousands of downloads more than others. A lot of comments, good comments coming in through email.

[00:03:14] But yesterday, I went to tell a health video session with the client and the client has a good sense of humor. So a good, witty comment here and there, I believe can truly help somebody feel more comfortable in a session or in their life, which leads to more openness and sharing. Which side note, if you have a humorless marriage and you really feel like you are a naturally funny person, if you feel like outside of your marriage, people think that you're funny. If humor is truly a core value of yours, then living within a marriage where you feel like your humor is unappreciated or even discouraged. So that's an example of what is called a socially compliant goal. We're going to talk about those more today. But if you're suppressing your humorous side because you feel like you're supposed to or if you keep showing your humor side and it's not appreciated or if it's even judged or shamed, so you repress that side of you, then you're not going to be living your your best life. Your motivation is going to be weak. It's ineffective because you are going to have to show up and go kind of against your own will, your own process of unfolding or becoming.

[00:04:10] So again, we're going to get to more of that later on in this episode. What is the key? Be funny, not you want to be aggressively or a jerk about being funny, but I want to help you learn how to be yourself and kind of live your best you, and we're really going to dig so deep into that today. But OK, so I'm going over this first pillar of a connected conversation with this client and they say, so I'm giving my spouse the benefit of the doubt. I know that they aren't trying to hurt me. When they approached me about this particularly sensitive subject to which I float out a true Jim, I say, that's right. You believe that while they don't wake up and think, how can I hurt my partner, you're kind of more in this mindset of your spouse waits till at least mid-morning after a good snack to think about how they'll hurt you. Any kind of pauses. And he starts to reframe his comment. And I am expecting Rush's laughter. And if anything, there were an awkward pause moment. And he continues basically trying to say that what he just told me in a slightly different manner. So I say, oh, you must not have heard my joke. And I said and I repeated the joke. And this time he kind of laughed wasn't the Rorschach's laughter that I had anticipated. But he shared with me that I had broken up a couple of times.

[00:05:19] The Internet was bad when I was telling the joke. So the funny parts basically have been eaten by the Internet. So it made me sound kind of like a complete buffoon, not understanding my own pillar that he was trying to share, I'm sure trying to get approval. So I just jotted down a note on my iPad, freaking 2020 and the hiccups of distance therapy. And I only give you that as an example of the fact that I was dealing with something that I wasn't having to deal with a year ago. I mean, I've had sessions where the clients Internet is just bad. So we spend a few extra minutes here and there dealing with technology where that wouldn't have been the case previously, or we end up doing it like the Pioneers did on the phone. And so I'm blowing through another couch because I want to be respectful of anybody that is is still choosing to come into my office as I am deemed an essential worker and I have adequate space and wipes. So I continue to wipe down surfaces. And apparently the bleach and wipes was it initially meant they hit the couch a few times a day. But with every wipe or every missed joke, there's also an opportunity to practice acceptance. Yeah, this is what's happening. This is where we're at right now in life in the world. And is it fair? Is it unfair? Not even arguing that it doesn't feel very fair, but once we accept that, we can kind of move on from it or once we accept that, we kind of learn how to transcend it.

[00:06:30] And I feel like this is part of what's happening or as well as I'm I'm kind of learning gratitude and being grateful to be able to work to help people. And as cliched as this may sound, a daily practice of gratitude absolutely provides a bump to one's emotional baseline, because as crummy as things may be in certain areas of our lives, it often takes something major to happen in order to take action. I don't think anybody wanted 2020 to happen, but oftentimes it takes things like that to really push us to a place where we we need to do something different or we even think about doing something different. I mean, I've literally done a corporate training for a fortune, I don't know, Fortune 20 or 30 company where I had executives on my zoom screen. And this was pretty covid. And I'm talking about gratitude. I'm basically doing a personal podcast. And yet I personally didn't take up the practice of daily gratitude until I had noticed over the last few months that my own emotional baseline was starting to dip. So it took a hard time to drive me to a new behavior. And I get couples in my office on a daily basis that are frustrated or even individuals that are frustrated. They're even in my office.

[00:07:33] And usually back to this couples scenario, one of them is frustrated that it took them having to schedule an appointment with a therapist or having to threaten to leave or threatening the D word, the divorce word, having to say that they are essentially done with the marriage in order for the other person to take action. And I've said this often, and it's unfortunate that often it takes a dramatic or a significant event. You know, in that scenario, an affair, betrayal, a complete withdrawal of emotion, a lack of love or a lack of sex, or the newfound addiction of a partner to get people to a place where they believe that they need to work on things. But often it does. I mean, people tend to choose the path of least resistance it's built in. It's an innate survival skill. And let me kind of talk about that for a minute. Your brain thinks it has a finite amount of energy to work with. So it wants patterns. It wants repetitive behavior. It believes that if an action or even a thought process happens often enough, that we can file it away into this habit center of our brain. I mean, think of tying your shoes or brushing your teeth. And brain scans show that we truly don't require a lot of electrical activity when operating out of this habit center where when we are doing new things, we're requiring a fair amount of brain activity, electrical activity.

[00:08:41] So just think that our brain thinks that it is doing us a favor by trying to figure out efficiency. So, I mean, we're truly trying to simply be efficient, to live forever and as well as have a sense of purpose and make a difference. And all the while, we have this innate desire for connection, like a deep connection, and where do we find connection? With other people. So, I mean, you see, when we evolved, our brains evolved from a time when life was not so much about happiness, but it was more about survival. I mean, our brain was initially designed to be what is called a don't get killed device. So we were designed to look out for danger, to anticipate harmful, dangerous situations, because if we could avoid danger, then we would continue to live. But in quoting Dr. Russ Harris, who is author of a couple of my favorite books, The Confidence Gap, as well as The Happiness Trap, let me kind of share a little bit of what he said Dr. Harris has said about this this happiness and our brains. He said early on your goal was to eat and drink and find shelter and reproduce and protect your family so that you could survive. Again, your brain was more of a don't get killed device. But the better we became at anticipating and avoiding danger, the longer we lived in, the more kids we had. So each generation, the human mind became increasingly skilled at predicting and avoiding danger. So now our minds are constantly on the lookout. We're assessing and judging everything that we encounter. Is it good or bad or safe or dangerous or harmful or helpful.

[00:10:02] But now it's not as much as animals or packs of thieves that we have to worry about, but it's about losing our job or being rejected, getting a speeding ticket, embarrassing ourselves in public, getting a terminal disease and a million other common worries. So as a result, we spend so much time worrying about things that more often than not won't happen. And then we also have this inherent need to belong to a group. And early on, if you're Klann boot you out of your group, how long would it be before you were devoured by wolves? I mean, sometimes, literally. So how does the mind protect you from getting booted out by comparing you to other members of the group, the clan? Am I fit in?

[00:10:37] Am I doing the right thing? Am I contributing enough in my as good as others? Am I doing everything that I may do, anything that might give me rejected. So does that sound familiar? I mean, our modern day mines are continually, Dr. Harris says, warning us of rejection and comparing us to the rest of society. So no wonder then we spend so much time looking for ways to improve ourselves or putting ourselves down because we don't measure up, because early on we had this small group of people to compare ourselves to. And now we have here comes my sounding like the fifty one year old man that I am. And now we have this, the social media showing us people who appear to be smarter and happier and more successful. So we're not only comparing ourselves to them, but to a person that we ideally think we need or want to be.

[00:11:17] So sometimes it almost felt like what chance do we have? You know, I've had a couple of people talk to me even over the holiday. We're. Not quite to the break yet, but during the holidays that they have followed a bunch of people on Instagram or social media in order to win certain prizes or giveaways. And I'm not saying anything negative about social media influencers, but one person told me in particular that they they kind of couldn't wait till these contests were over because they found themselves just comparing just comparing to the person's house, the person's hair, the person's kids, the person's spouse. And and I kind of shared that, you know, that person is really putting out their their best self. So when we're when we're trying to compare ourselves to this person that we ideally think that we need to be, again, that is a tough place to put ourselves. And so where does that leave us? So let me set up one more very important premise along this path of learning to to thrive and not just to survive. Author Robert Glover lays out a very succinct set of concepts that I feel like I've circled around in many, many different podcast episodes. So let me quote him. He says that when children come into the world, they're totally helpless. I always say that they're squishy babies in need of help. So he says they're dependent on others to recognize and respond to their needs in a timely, judicious manner. So as a result of this dependency, every child's greatest fear is abandonment. So kind of goes along with what Dr. Harris is saying to children.

[00:12:40] Abandonment means death. So to go along with that, then children are ego centered and nothing judgemental or wrong about this. I mean, that's what they are. The world revolves around them because that's all they know and they want their needs met. It just is so. So this means that kids inherently believe that they are the center of the universe and that everything revolves around them because, again, they're little kids who don't know otherwise and they don't yet know how to self advocate or to get their needs met. And they don't have a clue about what others are going through, primarily their own caregivers. So Glover says that therefore they believe that they are the cause of everything that happens to them. He said that these two factors, their fear of abandonment and their ego centredness that create a very powerful dynamic for all kids. So whenever a kid experiences any kind of abandonment, he and I'm going to go with him. But it's he or she will always believe that they are the root cause of what's happened to them, because, again, they are egocentric. They are attachment base, their a needy creature. Again, zero shame or blame, it just is. So these abandonment experiences are going to happen. The baby's going to cry at times and nobody's going to come to the rescue or even a well-meaning parent might think, OK, I can't just go to the rescue every time I need to teach them how to be strong and resilient and survive. So, again, it's just this balance that no one is going to get it, quote, right or perfect. So there are going to be times where the baby is going to cry.

[00:14:03] Nobody comes to the rescue. There's so many times where the baby is hungry and or even the kids hungry and told to wait for dinner. I had a client the other day processing some childhood issues and it was so simplistic but so beautiful, where this is an adult who was on a road trip over Thanksgiving. They had to go to the bathroom and they were dying to go to the bathroom, but they wouldn't make their needs met. They didn't want to inconvenience anybody. They didn't want to put somebody else out. They are an adult. And when we dug deep, it didn't the well didn't have to go too deep to find that growing up. If they if anybody in the in the family had to go to the bathroom on a road trip, it was they were told to wait, hold it basically. Hey, I don't really care how uncomfortable you are. I'm the dad. And when we stop, we'll go to the bathroom. I mean, again, I have this I think my kids are lucky because my bladder is about the size of a thimble. So we stop all the time. But you know, that that concept of I mean, if you were a dad, you get little kids or a mom and you're on a road trip and have to go to the bathroom, stop, you're not creating some apathetic, needy monster, but you're helping them know that they they matter. I mean, they really do. So so in that scenario, this person realizes, oh, wow, I'm an adult, I can advocate for myself.

[00:15:12] So that was kind of powerful. So, again, they are going to be hungry, told to wait for dinner. Are parents going to get angry because they have their own issues and they think that they are crummy parent because their kid is human, or meanwhile the kid does something that embarrasses the parent out in public and that parents having their own experience of, oh no, what, if my friends think I'm a bad parent, then they won't want me to be a part of their group. Right. Goes back to that what Dr. Harris was saying, where they're going to feel they worry they'll get booted out of the clan. So other abandonment experiences may be a parent putting unrealistic expectations on a kid, you know, expecting the kid to be perfect or trying to live their own lives through their kid. You know, they never had the opportunity to play sports. So their kid needs to not only play sports would be the best. And even if they the parent means well with the old hey, you can do better than that, champ.

[00:15:58] I mean, or heaven forbid the parent does Shame them or hit them or neglect them because again, of their own issues. So because every child is born into this imperfect world with with imperfect parents and imperfect families and because I'm sorry, but there are no perfect families. No, no perfect people that that that same egocentric kid, even if they begin to move out of that egocentric view of themselves, is. Carrying with them now into adulthood, that they must have been the reason for so many of these painful events in their lives, that they that they're unlovable, that why why didn't my parents listen to me? Why didn't they stop to go to the bathroom? Why didn't they hear me when I said that I didn't want to do a particular class or been through that sort of thing?

[00:16:42] And again, I know how how this is. This is such a fine line. I can't tell you I'm still of the mindset that I wish my parents would have made me take piano lessons or the piano lesson one alone is fascinating because I feel like, you know, I get people all the time saying my parents made me continue to play soccer and I hate soccer and I never want to play soccer. No offense to soccer people, but they would say, but I really wish they would have made me play the piano.

[00:17:07] So I get that there is no hard and fast rule of what this looks like for a parent, which is part of the whole reason why this can be complicated and why it's going to be important where where we're heading here in just a few minutes. So, again, they were we're going to feel like we must have been the reason for so many of these painful events in our lives. And that is untrue and incorrect and it's absolutely inaccurate and inaccurate view of their life or their childhood, but without help or without awareness, without accepting this imperfect world and imperfect parents and the fact that the parents themselves are trying to deal with emotions, that as a kid we can't figure out and even for the most part, again, without doing the work as adults, of course, we're going to come into relationships, into adulthood, still trying to figure out how to navigate relationships and how to present ourselves and how to be confident and and be our very best selves in a way that others will think are OK or that others will then care about us.

[00:18:03] And so these abandonment experiences create what many experts refer to as toxic shame, that something must be wrong with us inherently or our parents would have met our needs or our friends would have always been there for us or met our needs, or that people would care about us deeply or want to know more about us, or people wouldn't just try to fix us or judge us or people wouldn't want to just cut us off when we start trying to talk or the people who want to spend more time with us. So we have no way of understanding that our abandonment experiences are not caused by something about us, but they're caused by imperfect people who are supposed to, in our minds, recognize no and understand how to meet our needs. Back to the author, Glover. He defines toxic shame as the belief that one is inherently bad or defective or different or unlovable. And it's not just the belief that one does bad things, but it's a deeply held core belief that we are bad.

[00:18:59] So when we spend the rest of our lives trying to navigate this balance of trying to understand who we are or why we like and care about the things that we do all the while trying to see if our figuring ourselves out is going to allow us to still be a part of the group or the community or our marriage or our family all the while continuing to try then to be somebody that we believe others think that we should be or that others will like.

[00:19:23] And so this is where I go big with the you're OK. You're not broken.

[00:19:28] You need to get to a point of acceptance that you have the thoughts, the feelings and emotions that you have, because you are you you are human.

[00:19:36] You're the only person who has been through what you have been through. And I wasn't going to go into my go to here. But you're the only version of you from a nature nurture, birth, order, abandonment, rejection, DNA hopes, dreams, fears, losses.

[00:19:52] Your that's you're the only one that has that complicated, complex set of experiences that leads you to feel, think and behave the way you do. And an understanding that, again, you're not broken, you're human. And that leads to acceptance and with acceptance. I want all that negative energy to dissipate. I want you to begin to drop the rope of the tug of war against what you feel like you are supposed to feel or supposed to think. Acceptance does not mean apathy. Acceptance does not mean that you are resigned now to a life of mediocrity. Acceptance means that you're human, that you're OK, and you not only think, feel and behave what you do because you are you, but you now then also have the goals or the values that you have, not what your parents have, not what your spouse has, not what your community has. They're not what your church has or not the things that you think you're supposed to believe or feel or think you have values that you have and that needs to be void of that toxic shame. So in moving from just simply surviving to thriving, I want you to you're being you're done trying to just meekly please others and hopes that they will accept you or like you. It's time to step into your confident adult self. Others may say to you, I can't believe you really think that way.

[00:21:08] And instead of reverting to that, I don't know. I must have done something wrong or maybe I really don't think that way. Instead of putting out that vibe, you know, I hope that today you're going to understand that you're bringing you're bringing with you the negativity around a comment that somebody says to you that I can't believe you think that way, you're bringing that from childhood, that toxic shame. So there is power and saying, OK, you may not believe that I think that way, but I do. And you're not being a jerk. You're not being defensive. You're not being passive aggressive. You're stepping into your own person, your own sense of self. Your parents may say to you can't believe you're going to travel during a pandemic. Your spouse may say to you, I can't believe you honestly like that type of movie. Your boss might say, I didn't realize you had such strong opinions or your church may say, no, no, you don't really believe that or you don't want to go read that or you don't want to look into that. And instead of reverting back to the toxic shame based inner child self who doesn't want to disappoint others at the risk of them not liking you, there is so much power and saying, OK, I actually am going to go travel to see my family because I'm an adult.

[00:22:11] I make my own decisions. Or to your spouse. Oh no, I do like these types of movies or to your boss. I really do believe what I just said. I do have strong opinions and I believe what keeps us from doing this so often is this belief that will disappoint others or that will come across as a jerk or so many other thoughts. But when we are not living up to our and I'm talking our values, our desires, our beliefs, our desire for connection with family, our desire to be a better parent, our desire to to live according to our own values, our goal of being authentic and not having to back down from things that we feel important about if we're not doing those things our motivation is weak and ineffective and that we turn to coping mechanisms because then we feel less than then people want to come out to their phones or porn or alcohol or games or shopping, you name it, is as coping to numb out or to possibly get a quick bump of dopamine to carry them through the day to get to tomorrow or Monday or next month or next year. But that is just kicking the can down the road.

[00:23:16] My friends, the secret the key is to embrace who you are, accept it, own it, because once you accept it, you can transcend it. Once you accept that life is going to be a series of not only good experiences, but also not so good experiences. I say bad experiences, then you'll be more apt to lean into the bad because you know that you're going to be able to get through it and you're going to make the most of the good. You're going to be incredibly present in those good experiences. You're going to find more and more this good and just living a true, authentic life, pursuing a life full of meaningful relationships, not trying to figure out who you need to be in various situations so you won't offend others because that gets maddening.

[00:23:53] That's exhausting. But being open and authentic and sure, it's going to feel awkward when somebody questions your belief or your value, but stay in it, own it, get out of that victim mindset and you're going to get through that uncomfortable moment, confident and strong. No longer will you simply be surviving to get to another day. You're going to be thriving. And it's scary to drop that rope of tug of war trying to figure out if will I offend somebody that I say the right thing, that I you you're going to say the things that you feel passionate about or important about, and you're going to drop that energy when people say, I can't believe you said that, it's OK. Well, I did. And I don't mean that to come across as sounding negative or sound like a jerk or sounding defensive. It just that's how I feel. So you'll be thriving and you can't wait for another day because that's another day for you to fully embrace and engage in. And in those moments, your energy will shift from, I hope I don't offend anybody to standing up for something. And that power and that energy is what will not only lift yourself, but others. And remember, this is where one of my favorite quotes and the reason I enjoy even what's leading up to my magnetic marriage course is a communication style that allows for two people in a relationship to have their own thoughts, opinions and and feelings and know that we can learn how to express them without jumping back into our bunkers without feeling like a victim. Because here's the deal. We're bringing in all of this stuff from childhood into our marriages, into our relationships. And sometimes we don't even sometimes, most of the time we don't even really realize how it affects us and how then we just want to be heard in our relationships.

[00:25:32] The goal in a magnetic marriage is not to always resolve. It's to be heard. And the more we feel like we can be heard, the more we're going to turn to our partner to be able to share things, the more we're going be able to process human emotion. Sue Johnson, founder of VDT Emotionally Focused Therapy, says that we are we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being.

[00:25:52] That is that attachment basis. And I've had people recently, somebody reached out to me and they said, I don't I don't know if I agree with that. And and I said, OK, again, OK. I mean, I, I can try to convince you, but I got a thousand couples under my belt now where I know that when people stay in this vulnerable role but not a vulnerable role where than they are trying to navigate this, should I or shouldn't I say this in true magnetic marriage, connected conversation, script, fashion. When people realize that they it's OK for them to say, let me take you on my train of thought, here's where I'm coming from, and when the other person recognizes that pillar number one, that all right, my spouse is not trying to hurt me with what they're saying then that I go into pillar number two. I'm going to I can't tell they're wrong. That's their experience. I can't say I can't believe you don't I can't believe you're saying that. It's like, OK, but I am or I can't say you don't really believe that because they do. And and so that's my second pillar. Third pillar is ask questions before putting out comments. Too often we say, OK, I just don't want to hear you go into all that stuff about what you supposedly believe. But OK, now you can talk we're setting ourselves up for these just not positive, not productive conversations. Then pillar number four is when somebody hears something.

[00:27:10] If you are in a marriage and your spouse finally feels like, OK, I really got to say something. And we've got this conversation script set up, this magnetic marriage, four pillars, connected conversations, script set up where if your spouse comes to you and says, hey, I just got a I just got to tell you how I'm feeling, then, OK, they're not trying to hurt me. Pillar one, pillar two. And I'm not about to tell them they're wrong. This is a vulnerable moment. Even if I don't agree with them, even if I don't believe what they're saying. That's that's my stuff to kind of set aside while I then ask them questions, tell me more and then thank them for sharing and and then pillar four, don't go into the geez. Well, I guess I'm the world's worst husband. No, don't go into victim mode if you're the listener, stay present. And then when that conversation when that person feels heard, now you get to be the speaker, they get to be the listener. Our goal is to be heard, because we weren't heard as kids. We weren't. And and that's that could be from bad parenting. It can be from parents just trying their best and going through all of their own stuff. But we weren't. And so our desire going throughout life is to be heard, to be validated, to know that somebody cares for us, that we matter.

[00:28:19] And so this is where Sue Johnson talks about while this belief may be that I got to figure my own stuff out before I can then show up in a relationship, if you really have a a meaningful relationship, whether it's in your marriage or whether it's in your parent child relationship or relationships with your friends, that you are going to be able to be yourself. And somebody is not going to say, I can't believe you said that. You don't really believe that. Well, let me tell you what I think before you open up with all that garbage. And then and then you would let's say that you do get it out there and then the person says, OK, I guess I'm the world's worst friend. I mean, you can see how this I feel like these four pillars of a connected conversation that I that I mentioned in the earlier episode that I'm talking about right now that are fundamental basis of my magnetic marriage course, which I wasn't I'm going to talk about today are so imperative because you can see how when we bring these this childhood wounding into relationships and then we have to we feel like we have to try to navigate and say those things just the right way. And then we have other people and kind of inserting their opinions or letting us know or what they think they think that we're wrong. Then you can see how we just aren't feeling heard. We aren't feeling like we're our authentic selves. And then we're even showing up in our marriages, which are supposed to be our safe, secure place and feeling like we can't even be ourselves. No wonder that we turn to these unhealthy coping mechanisms or we feel like we're just checked out or we feel like, I guess we're stuck or we feel like this is I guess this is as good as it's going to get.

[00:29:35] So moving from just surviving to thriving is not a passive aggressive, negative or defensive nature. It's a stepping into your true self empowered. This is how I feel. And and I really believe, you know, when you it's that power, that energy. That's what will lift not only yourself, but others, because now you're standing up for something that you believe in and you're finally just embracing your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions. So I kind of feel like ending this episode and pulling it up right now with the Marianne Williamson poem, because, my goodness, I feel I feel inspired by this poem and kind of where we're at right now. The Marianne Williamson poem, Our deepest fear is not that we're inadequate. Our deepest fears that we are powerful beyond measure, because it's not our light, it's not our darkness that most frightens us. Let me read this the right way, because it is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be are a child of God and you're playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that's within us.

[00:30:54] It's not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. You are playing small, does not serve the world. It may serve the insecurities of some of those around you who want to hold you down so that they too can feel justified in not embracing their true senses of self. But it doesn't serve you, and it may be subconscious, but when I first heard this poem, I was moved. I was moved by the middle and the end, but I skipped right past the beginning. I thought that that was crazy, that I was afraid of being powerful beyond measure. But I get it now. That fear comes from that scared little kid who, of course, bless his little heart, who believed that because the people around him were human, that they weren't perfect. Therefore, they weren't always there for him, that something was wrong with him. But now he's an adult. He's an amazingly complicated, wonderful, imperfect adult. And in accepting that complicated, wonderful, imperfect self, he truly can and will transcend it. And in that process, some around him will find strength and they too, will find the strength to rise and others won't bless their hearts.

[00:32:06] They haven't yet figured it out yet. But in playing small, that's not only you who isn't living, but those around you won't even have an idea of what it looks like to live. So then someday, when they decide it's time to do something different with their lives now, they'll immediately think of you that, you know, there was always something different about you. Now they're going to learn. They're going to seek you out. They're going to want to find you and know what that is. What is it that that you have that puts out that different vibe? And I know what it is. You now know what it is. You've learned that life wasn't meant simply to survive, but it was meant to thrive. So if you have a second, please reach out to me and share with me stories of how you've turned from surviving to thriving. Or write to me right now with this episode brought up and you contact that Tony Overbay dot com or go through Tony dot com, the there's a contact me section of the website. But what this has brought up with you and what you can do to thrive, I mean, I know these things can sound so cliched, but let today truly be the first day the rest of your life.

[00:33:05] I'm grateful for you listening, for spreading the word, for helping me move to somebody who is thriving daily, somebody who for decades only survived. I survived the decade through a job that I really didn't care about, but I did. But no, I didn't care about it. And that is what has really led me to this place now where it's I it's I love what I do. They're ups and downs every day. But turning from just simply surviving to thriving has meant more than I ever, ever even knew. And I want that for you as well. So thanks for spending time with me. And I didn't do an ad in today's episode, but if you are seeking some help, I'll just make this short and sweet. Do me a favor and go sign up for better health outcomes. Virtual couch. Give the world of online counseling a try. It's it's worth taking a look at. And if you go through that link or you type in, better help dotcom virtual couch, you get ten percent off your first month's services and who knows, maybe that will throw enough my way that I can actually have that patriotic music clip in the beginning.

[00:34:08] Hey, thanks so much again for spending your time with me, and I'll see you next time on the virtual couch.

Is self-care self-ish? Or is self-care an absolute necessity in order to put yourself in a position to succeed in any, and we’re talking ANYTHING you want to accomplish in life? Today Tony talks about the “Emotional Baseline” a concept he developed over a decade ago that has helped thousands of people make positive strides toward accomplishing THEIR goals...not the goals placed on this by those in their lives who, bless their hearts, mean well.  Tony discusses the origin of the Emotional Baseline theory, what role it plays in overcoming depression, addiction, anxiety, and how to establish self-care strategies based specifically on YOUR life experiences.


Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to 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 http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ 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.


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 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.

Transcript of Episode:

EP 224 Emotional Baseline-2020-09-23
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we are talking about raising your emotional baseline. Just yesterday, I had a client in my office who said that self care just sounds selfish, but I'm going to lay out a pretty solid case today that raising your emotional baseline is a way to get your own head above water so that you're not only in a better position to take care of yourself, but then in turn to connect to others. That and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:00:39] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 224 of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified my Vltava coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based hold the shame, become the kind of person you always wanted to be way, then head over to path back recovery dotcom. There you'll find a short ebook that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's path back recovery dotcom. And welcome to today's episode. I am I am grateful to be here. I am very distracted because I am doing another recording for YouTube and the music is continuing to go on. And I believe it might be too loud, but I will try to take care of that in post-production and killing a little time because I'm looking at the music as it is about to go away altogether. Let me let me hit the business things first.

[00:01:41] Of course, you can find me at Virtual Couch on Instagram or at Tony Overmanning Licensed Marriage and family therapist on Facebook and a big push to go to Tony Overbay dot com and sign up to find out more information about upcoming programs. If you do follow me on social media, you saw that I was actually in Idaho last week and that was to film. I was filming my magnetic marriage course with my friend Preston Buckmeier. And we will be introducing, launching, giving you so much more information about that course in the coming days, weeks. So watch out for that. It really was an incredible experience. And I can't even describe I will describe in so much detail in the coming weeks. But I think on one of the Instagram live videos that Prestons wife Corinne had talked about, I said we've cracked the code and really on communicating better in your marriage. But I also believe it's going to be communicating better with your family in your life. And that program is coming very soon. And I believe that is all of the business that I want to take care of. So let's oh, let me tell you this, too. If you do want to watch the video on YouTube, I would love it if you would hit the subscribe button. I know I'm now that guy subscribe like all those kind of things, but we're getting close to the number of subscribers where then YouTube will put the video out there a little bit more.

[00:03:02] So I would love it if you just happen to be a YouTube person, YouTube viewer dinge. And then if you would just go to the virtual couch, you can even search for it in the YouTube search panel and just hit subscribe. That would be wonderful. And I am so grateful for any reviews that people head to Apple podcast or any other podcast app and have a moment and can hit a rating and maybe take a couple of seconds to write the reviews. That would mean the world to me. So I really appreciate you doing that. So I have some amazing people that are beginning to help me behind the scenes. And one of those is a wonderful friend named Crystal, and she is starting to put pull quotes out of the transcripts of podcasts. And on one of our conversations online through a couple of weeks ago, I just said, hey, any suggestions on podcast topics? And I was grateful. She had mentioned more on the emotional base line. And this is something that I used to talk about often on my podcast. And I realized I mentioned it on other episodes of other people's podcast when I've been interviewed. But my initial emotional baseline episode was, I believe, episode 12, which is now about three years ago. And I don't even know how this all works, but I believe some of those old episodes of the virtual couch are no longer available on things like Apple podcasts. So I wanted to do another episode on the virtual couch on the concept of the emotional baseline, because this was really a game changer for me.

[00:04:32] And it is something that I, I don't know a better way than to say I made this up. I think a better strength based way would be to say that I created this emotional baseline concept over a decade ago when I was still just a shiny brand new therapist. I was a couple of years into my internship and this concept has moved forward. As a matter of fact, this is the next book that I am being blessed, fortunate to work on. And so I just wanted to go over the concept of the emotional baseline. Again, it's a way to really give yourself or allow yourself self care, the the permission for self care. Because as I said in the intro, I hear often that people put themselves last or they feel like self care is selfish. I work with a lot of people that feel like if they do anything for themselves that's prideful or that they're not doing something right. And so I want to address that today. But so first, let's take a trip back in the time machine. And I want to talk about the genesis or the origin of the emotional baseline. So long ago, again, this was over ten years ago. I was working with a client that was a doctor, a physician. And he at that time was in a pretty difficult marriage, as a matter of fact, when I remember this, we would talk about all kinds of new skills, things he had never been to therapy before, and it was well before I realized how difficult or challenging it can be if someone is coming in to work on the relationship.

[00:05:57] But only one person is interested in working on the relationship. And I remember back in that time I thought, OK, is once I can talk to maybe his wife one time, then she will want to come in and we'll work on this together. And that was again early on in my therapy career. And I had reached out to his wife and I wish I could tell you that. Then all of the sudden she said, Oh my gosh, I want to come in and work on our relationship. And they did. And they lived happily ever after. But that was not the case. She literally I didn't know the term back in the day ghosted me and I never had a conversation with her. So I would continue to work with this individual and try to help him stay as present as he could be. So it could be there to be able to provide for his family. So he was serving in a position in his church at that time that was really important to him. And he also loved his work, absolutely loved his work. And one of the difficult things in his marriage was his spouse didn't want to talk about his work at all.

[00:06:54] So he would come home and he would want to share some of the details of the day. I remember we worked on things like him going home and, hey, how can I help? And him listening to his wife talk about her day, he doubled down on empathy. Tell me more about that again. How can I help? And he did a nice job reframing that, but it was never reciprocated. And he loved talking about medicine. And so I would just say, how are you doing? And sometimes he would start talking about medicine. And I would have to say, hey, that is so amazing, but let's get to the therapy piece. But what we agreed to over time was that the last five to ten minutes of every session, he wanted me to ask him questions and he wanted to just talk about medicine. And I look back on that and I don't know if it was just I was able to offer something to him in therapy, so he wanted to offer something back. I'm not really sure what that was really about for him, but I know that he was passionate about medicine. And at that time I was pretty heavy into my ultra running career. And I was learning a lot about how the body works and how a lot about hydration and nutrition and the balance of electrolytes and your potassium and your sodium and just learning how the body really works as a machine. And he was he had done a lot of his early work in sports medicine.

[00:08:10] So he was very knowledgeable in this area and he really enjoyed talking about it. And I learned so much. That was at a time where I was running twenty four hours around a track to raise money for schools. And I was doing some of these 100k, which 62 miles or hundred mile endurance races and really learning about how much your how many calories an hour at your stomach can handle to produce energy and how you didn't want to go into too big of a calorie deficit or your body would start to burn muscle or fat, which wasn't a very efficient fuel source. And it was just incredible. And he knew so much. But there was a day where I was driving into work in this to show you how long ago it was. I used to listen to a thing called the radio for any of the kids that are tuning in. It was in my car and you could turn these dials and it would the people would talk out of this box. And now I think it's all podcast and everything's in coming from my phone, that sort of thing. So I'm driving in and I realize I really hadn't thought enough about what I wanted to talk to him about or what I wanted to ask him, the questions I wanted to ask him. And he I think he was my first client of the day, an early client.

[00:09:15] And I, I hear and an ad for an antidepressant. And again, it was on the radio. So I don't know if it's thirty seconds or a minute, but they talk about the antidepressant. And then at the end, if you listen to any kind of ad or even seen it on TV for some sort of medication, they come on. And here's the part where they say the I don't know, they say the side effects of the antidepressants may cause dry mouth, nausea, headache, diarrhea, nervousness, restless agitation, anxiety, increased weight loss, weight gain, insomnia, everything. And then one of those side effects they talked about may cause suicidal ideation. And I just remember I can right now, I remember I was exactly the exit where I was getting off. There's a golf course in front of me. I'm about to turn left and go back over the freeway. And I just remember that moment where I thought antidepressant and suicidal ideation, something doesn't add up. And so I thought, OK, I will ask the doctor this question. I at the end, I just said, hey, I what is that about? How can suicidal ideation be a part of taking an antidepressant? And he was a really good storyteller. And so he sat back and he said, OK, let me tell you a little bit of a story. And so he said he grew up in a very cold state. So let's just say for the sake of argument, Wyoming. So still keeping some anonymity here. And he said, all right, I grew up in Wyoming. And he said that it can actually get too cold to snow.

[00:10:37] And I had never heard that I grew up. In Utah, it snowed a lot, but I don't remember it ever being too cold to snow, and he said, yeah, it's a state called Anhedonia. And at the time I wasn't really familiar with the term. And since I've become a little more familiar, it's interesting because Anhedonia is actually something that comes into the therapy world as well. In my line of work, you know, anheDonia is the inability to feel pleasure and it can be a symptom of depression. And there are two main types of Anhedonia. There are social and donia where you don't want to spend time with other people. And then there's a physical and a donia where you just don't enjoy physical sensations. Even a hug can leave you feeling empty. Your favorite foods taste bland, even your even sexual experiences can lose their appeal. So he's talking about anhedonia of weather. And so he says again, it's so cold, it can't even snow. And I have given this emotional baseline talk speech, you name it, so many times that even as I was going back to record this episode, I wanted to look up. And again, I couldn't remember if this was an actual fact or if this was just a nice story. That does make sense the more that he lays out this concept of emotions. So I did go to Weather.com and said that one of the questions people frequently ask about winter weather, can it ever be too cold to snow? And according to whether.come, they said, strictly speaking, the answer is no.

[00:11:56] Even during a cold spell in Antarctica, it's still possible to get snow. But they say what is true is that heavy snowfalls are much less likely to occur when the mercury drops well below freezing, especially below zero degrees Fahrenheit. And I love where they lay out what are the conditions needed for snow. You need cold temperature. The air near the ground needs to be below freezing or no more than a few degrees above. And then moisture, the air must have enough water vapor to generate precipitation and then rising air for the air to release its moisture in the form of rain or snow. It generally has to rise and cool. So weather.com says extremely cold weather obviously meets the first criteria, but the other two conditions become more difficult to achieve when the temperature drops and just gets into this concept of extremely cold Conditions are associated with air that are stable instead of rising, whereas warm air rises.

[00:12:42] So think of a hot air balloon. A cold air mass typically hugs the ground, so the lack of movement prevents it from releasing snow. And so a lot of meteorologists say that that's a bit of a misnomer to say that it's too cold to snow. But the more accurate expression would be that conditions are too stable for snow. So there you go. But anyway, back to the story. We're talking about this AnnaDonia that he talks about. So what he told me was he said, think of somebody with clinical depression and they are so depressed or so down that they just don't even want to get out of bed and they may not get out of bed for days. And he said, think of this as if you were just in bed. And every day somebody came and just pulled your lip and put an antidepressant and gave you some water. And it can take a few weeks for an antidepressant to truly kick in. And I even remember I still remember at the time one of the first clients I ever met with who told me about having a period like this that they had had for over six months, where they literally just remember staring at the clock and watching the second hand move. And that was his entire day. I remember him talking about people would come to visit and his wife just said that he didn't want to see anybody. And he talked about eventually getting out of this state or snapping out of it. But that's what we're talking about. So when somebody is in this state, he said, so you're pulling their lip out, you're putting the antidepressant in. And over the span of two, three, four weeks, when the antidepressant kicks in, it's as if the person lifts their head off the bed and then looks around and thinks, man, I am not in a good place, I'm not in a good state right now. And that's where they may even start to have these suicidal thoughts and just say, I don't know if I even want to do this. I don't know if things are worth living right now.

[00:14:21] And so he talked about how that is a key period to raise raise their mood or elevate their mood above or get through that to the point where, OK, life may not feel fantastic or great, but the I want to to kill myself is gone or it's muted or it's that thought. But then we can just put that thought aside and start working toward healthier activities, that sort of thing. So that's when I felt like I really did the Skies part, Rainbow Unicorn, Pot of Gold. And I had this epiphany that I now call the emotional baseline. So I saw things. I mean, I do this with my hands if you're watching this. But your emotional baseline, if things are going well in your life, if if you're feeling pretty content in your relationship, you enjoy your job, your kids are pretty good financially. Things are well, OK, your baseline of emotions is high. And so you are being met on a day to day basis with a variety of decisions, everything from what bills to pay, what events to go to, how to approach your boss at work. When your kids come to you, you're if you're emotional, baseline is high, you're maybe in a little bit better place to really be present and be there for them.

[00:15:32] But then I've worked with people who have maybe gone through a divorce. So they're in a difficult marriage or they are really struggling with an addiction or there's been a death in the family. They find out that there's been infidelity there. There's so many things that can lower one's emotional baseline. Someone gets sick, chronic illness, worldwide pandemic, that one sound familiar at all? But so their emotional baseline lowers and they still have all of the things, all of the things that are happening on a day to day basis that they have to deal with. They still have car repairs that happen. They still drop drop things when they get out of their car. They still have people that spill or ruin things or I'm trying to think of all the things over the last couple of weeks that I've had people talk about people throwing up in one's car, for example, and or people that break very valuable things, lose valuable things. And so these things happen in the lower your emotional baseline. And so when your baseline is low, you are in a not as good of a place to deal or handle with all of the things around you.

[00:16:35] And when your baselines low, it can often feel like everybody around you, they're they're almost talking down into you. If you are down in this pit of despair and I'm thinking almost literally of a pit that they're it's as if all they're saying is just, hey, come on up here, just get out of the pit. And you're thinking, you don't think I want to get out of the pit, but I can't even move. And so baseline of emotions are low. And so oftentimes things just seem so out of reach, are so insurmountable and that can just even cause one to feel lower and lower. So I was thinking about a story and I did share this way back in the day when when I did this initial episode, I remember when my son was in sixth grade. So now he's a junior in high school. So that was a long time ago. And he was playing some instrument. He was taken band.

[00:17:25] He was an honors program at the time. And at that time, the honors program everybody had to take band. And my son really did enjoy it. He's a very good athlete. But this wasn't something that he had planned on doing. And none of my girls had really done much. As far as with band, I think everybody had played an instrument. But on this particular night we had a band performance and it was heading into the Christmas season and and we were pretty excited to go watch Jake play an instrument and to set the stage. We at that time, boy, at that time, this isn't the case now. We were pretty good. Our kids are pretty small and we had healthy snack night where it was some fruit or yogurt or that sort of thing. And we had unhealthy snack night, which was all the other good things, cookies, cake, ice cream, that sort of thing. And so that night of this band performance was a night that was on the calendar. Technically, it was a healthy snack night. So we go out and we go to the performance. And we were watching my son and the band and the whole family's there. And it was just this blast and it was so much fun. And they were playing Christmas songs. And I still have video of this to this day. And we're watching the kids faces that they're making and they're getting excited and everybody is having an amazing time. You're just in the joy of the Christmas season. So we get done and I'm just riding high. My emotional baseline was through the roof. I'd most likely had a good day or a good few days at work. My relationships amazing. My kids were good. My girls were probably dressed up really cute and just being fun and everybody's there together.

[00:19:00] And so we went and we got ice cream with all kinds of toppings. And even though, remember, it was a healthy snack night, fast forward a couple of nights later and I think I probably maybe I'd seen a lot of clients that day and who knows what was going on, paying some bills, financial things. Who knows? I think we've had a little dogs at the time. Little dogs are notorious for not being very good at being housebroken. I don't know what was happening at the time, but a lot was going on. And so my son came to me and again, this was another healthy snack night. And it's like, Hey, Dad, can we get some ice cream? And I was like, Jake, it's a healthy snack night. Come on, we can't just do that stuff all the time. And and boy, I watch. I would do that so differently now. Thank you to the nurtured heart approach parenting. But I just remember just watching his face go and I thought, wow, look at that. So that was all on me when my emotional baseline was up and feeling good. Then everybody gets a pony and let's all get ice cream every night and everything is great. And then a few days later my emotional baseline is lower and now nobody gets a pony and you're not having ice cream. And just that vibe, that energy that I was putting out was just not good. And and so really, that's what we're going to go through, all kinds of those things like that. We're going to go through rough patches, rough periods, and our emotional baseline is going to be low over at times.

[00:20:28] And when our emotional baseline is low, we're going to respond differently. So when I start working with the client, whether it's for anxiety, whether it's for depression, even if it's couples therapy, I. Like to give this emotional baseline speech or concept because it is about self care and so an emotional baseline, what I love about it is all we're trying to do at times. If we don't feel like there's anything else that we have control over, then what is it that truly brings us joy? And and it really can be as simple as walking around the block. It can be about setting a timer and watching something that you enjoy intentionally. It can be about reading a book for fiction, for fun, for pleasure. And that leads me into one of my favorite stories about this as well. I was working with a guy a long time ago, and he had been through a very difficult divorce. He had been blindsided by some things that had led up to his divorce. And so he's working from home. Let's just say he's in the high tech industry, I think a computer programmer, that sort of thing. And he was really struggling. That was when I started to see him work with him. And so, you know, he was struggling to get projects done. He was just struggling for a lot of reasons. And so we identify these areas at first. And it's of course, you're going to feel this way.

[00:21:38] You're going through you just went through a divorce. This the circumstances around that were really bad, crazy, that sort of thing. And you're going to have all these feelings and emotions. And but now he has these work projects, these deadlines. I remember even had a dog that he needed to take out. He was starting to put on a little bit of weight and he just wasn't being very active. So his emotional baseline was just plummeting, which then just starts to pile on. So then he's feeling worse and worse. Now he feels like I have no control over anything. And I said, what do you like to do? And he said, I like to read. And I said, OK, when's the last time you read? And I thought this was even more fascinating. I remember this very well. He was a fairly religious person. And he said, when I started thinking about wanting to read, I really feel like the things I should read. And he listed off a lot of these very religious tomes, things like the Bible or books about Jesus and books from other religious leaders. And he felt like if I'm going to read, I must read these deep books about spirituality to get me out of this feeling bad feeling that I am. But he said if I'm going to if I start to read them, I'm really not into them.

[00:22:43] And I. Now, you don't realize this because his emotional baseline was so low. So he's really not into these books that he's trying to read. And what does that do? Makes him feel worse. So all of a sudden, this thing that was his passion reading is not as exciting for him anymore. So when we frame that in terms of this emotional baseline, then I said, OK, what do you really like to read? And it was still hard for him to say. I like to read John Grisham. I like to read legal thrillers. And I happen to very much love John Grisham books. And so I don't remember which one was out at the time, but I asked him if he had heard it or read of it, and he said, Oh, I see it at the bookstore all the time. And so I said, All right, here's what I want you to do. I want you when you leave today, every day for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever that is. I want you to go home and read a John Grisham book. And he's thinking, is that all? And I would say just yeah, let's let's start from there. And so he reports back a week later. Sure enough, we're talking about reading the book. And he was very enthusiastic. And then I said, what's this experience been like? And he said, I'm reading fifteen to twenty minutes.

[00:23:50] And he said every now and again I might push it to thirty, but as soon as I put the book down, I feel better, I feel a little bit better. And then that was enough momentum. His baseline was raised just enough that then he I remember yeah. He then he grabbed the leash, he walked his dog. So now he's getting a little bit of sunshine, fresh air, and then that led to being able to sit down at his desk and do a little bit of coding and doing a little bit of programming. And so he just started to look at things a lot differently. He began to really embrace walking. He enjoyed walking with his dog. And then and here's what I love about the concept of the emotional baseline. He went through a little bit of a period where then he would sit down to code and then he thought, OK, now I should be able to sit in code for hours. But he realized, OK, I can't do that. So if I have to get up and take another walk or if I do another 15 minute break and read more for pleasure, I will do that because the net result is this emotional baseline was higher. He was getting back to more work. And then the more that he did in the way of self care, the more he was able to turn back to the things that were really important to him.

[00:24:55] And I have to tell you, this is a happy lives happily ever after story. I did see him many years later. He was remarried. He was serving in a really neat position with his church. I remember I was speaking at some regional event and he came up and he was just beaming and and he just said that emotional baseline concept was what really started him on this path of self care, which put him in a better position to be available for others, his kids, his eventually his new spouse. So it was there that the dawn the genesis of the emotional baseline and I realized that this self care can lead to these bigger changes. And I see this in the world of motherhood. My wife is a stay at home mom. And I my I my heart goes out to the plight of the stay at home mother. I know. There are some people that they really enjoy that there's some people that don't necessarily feel like that is something that they they are as good at. And so it can be a real struggle. And that is a really tough position to try and put self care into the picture because their little kids are needy. That's the way they come. They are they come from the factories, a factory setting. And unfortunately, you can't switch that so they can be needy.

[00:26:01] And so one of the powerful things I love when working with a woman who's maybe a stay at home mom or actually one of my early podcasts was that Eric Strand's a stay at home dad. But it is you need to take that time for yourself. So if you do need to get a babysitter for a couple of hours a week or a little bit every other day so that you can get your own exercise in, or if you need to ask your spouse or let your spouse know that I need to be able to go to the gym, I need to be able to do some self care things, because that is going to allow me to do a better job of parenting because my emotional baseline is going to be higher. And and if my emotional baseline is higher, then I will be a better husband, a better father, a better wife, a better mother, a better employee, a better servant. And so any of these self care items may feel selfish. They might even feel like in the case of this person I mentioned earlier, they might feel like really 30 minutes of a fiction novel is going to help me. And absolutely it is, because what people are typically doing is they may be wasting an entire day because they feel so down and in comes the acceptance and commitment therapy principle of experiential avoidance, the I'll do it tomorrow.

[00:27:12] And so if we have had a pretty bad day where we haven't gotten any of these deep things that we need to get done, we will feel bad about ourselves and say, OK, let's do it tomorrow. But if we allow ourselves some self care, some things that we actually enjoy, or then we're going to at least be doing something, there will be movement and then you are more likely to then carry that momentum into something more productive. Now you do. I'm a big fan of being able to write down or be very aware of what would be productive. So if he came off of that John Grisham book and didn't have the leash ready or didn't have his the computer ready for him to program, it can be easy to come off of doing something for yourself and then settle back into a little bit of this state of Annedona. So it is being a bit more intentional, but I would much rather have somebody have a day of self care and then moving on to things more productive than to have someone just beat themselves up all day. There's actually some I was, again in Idaho over the weekend and I was filming and I went out to dinner with two of my daughters and watched my daughter, my oldest daughter's husband, and my next daughter Downs boyfriend.

[00:28:21] And we were having some really good conversations. And I was talking about and this is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. But I was talking about if you are a procrastinator and if you wait till the last minute to get things done, and that is just your pattern. And there's some pretty amazing data that kind of talks about if that's the way you do things right now, there's a good chance you've created a nice neural pathway of creating your own dopamine supply. And what I mean by that is you wait until the last minute, then your brain just floods you with dopamine. Is hyperfocus chemical? So then you are able to get things done, which then is this kind of loop. Now you've reinforced that procrastination works. So then when you try maybe the next assignment or to study for the next test and you try to study three or four days ahead, there is a good chance that you are going to say, OK, I really need to study. But then you find yourself distracted. You find yourself then starting to beat yourself up because you're not studying, you're not staying focused. You're going off on lots of little rabbit trails, maybe on YouTube and looking up Dogfail videos, or you start to sit down and do something in chemistry and then you have a thought pop up and then you're doing a Google search.

[00:29:32] And half an hour later, you've learned about I don't know if the Venus flytrap, where they do when they eat a fly, but that doesn't have anything to do with the homework or the assignment is in front of you. So we were talking about this concept of and I feel like this is a bit of an emotional baseline concept. The acceptance, if the acceptance is I am not being productive, then those two, three, four days leading up to the deadline of that project, in essence, you're going to create a bit of a negative effect to your overall emotional well-being, because every day that you are not as engaged, not getting things done again, you're beating yourself up. You're doing this experiential avoidance. You're saying I'll get to it tomorrow and then you wake up the next day and kind of feel like, man, I really better get on this today. So if you know that you are a procrastinator and you accept or embrace that you are a procrastinator, then those two or three days leading up to the deadline, if you are providing yourself with self care, if maybe you were going to make sure it's the self care, if you can exercise, hydration, eat a little bit better, get a little more sleep if you're doing those kind of. Things, those kind of self care activities and maybe reading something that you enjoy. There's a good chance that you are more willing or likely to spend a little bit of time on that homework leading up to the deadline.

[00:30:48] And then as the deadline grows closer, it's the acceptance of, OK, it's go time brain flood with dopamine and let's do this. So that whole concept of acceptance and emotional baseline will lead you to start to move that it's go time date forward. So let's say your deadline is Friday night at midnight and at Friday night at nine o'clock. You honestly know that's when I'm all of a sudden going to get I got to get this done. That's in your brains flooded with dopamine. But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you had tried to get the project done and you had sat there for three or four hours every night and just beat yourself up because you just couldn't muster the focus. So, again, productive self care on that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then just embracing that nine to 12. Let's get things done will lead to you starting to say, OK, I think I can probably get some things done beginning at 8:00 or I might be able to get some things done at 7:00, just a little bit better, a little bit more improvement. And then that those days leading up won't be this fear or dread. And so when you embrace this kind of a pattern, if this is your pattern, then you're more likely to start to move a little bit of that work in on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday when it is intermingled with self care.

[00:31:58] And that is because your emotional baseline will be raised. I also and I am letting you know, this is this is my theory. And I'm usually not a big fan of the gospel according to me, but I believe that this is a fairly solid principle. I'm going to share with you about the emotional baseline and medication. So a lot of times and I'll go back to the antidepressant example, when I became a new therapist and this is just my truth, when I went to grad school, I just thought I can be the therapist that says you don't need medication, you just need a positive attitude, which I now know is a pretty it is not a very effective thing to say to someone that's truly struggling with depression or anxiety. And I remember in a psychopharmacology class in grad school, just learning more about the what clinical depression can look like and what medications can do and even to increase serotonin levels and to and how people with ADHD have this dopamine deficiency. There was science coming out literally. I remember the class. OK, we'll see how that goes. My card was full on my camera, so that stopped. And now we've cut over to the high end 4K Logitech BREO webcam to record the rest of this for YouTube.

[00:33:12] So when I go in and edit that, we'll see what that camera angle difference looks like and what the quality looks like. But where was I. Oh yes, the emotional baseline. So where I'm in the psychopharmacology class and I really learn more about how medication works and I learned that it is a very effective treatment for a lot of people.

[00:33:32] And I'll even get to that more in a bit. But so here's my my thoughts on the emotional baseline of medication. Often when somebody's emotional baseline is low, I feel that they want to do the work. They want to turn to their values. They want to use mindfulness skills. They want to do all these things. But they just their baseline is so low, they feel they just can't muster up the strength or desire to really do the work that can help them. So I feel like a lot of times what meditation can do is it bumps up your emotional baseline high enough that then you can do the skills or use the tools that can help you.

[00:34:08] And so in doing so, you're then you raise your emotional baseline even higher. So let's say that baseline gets bumped up enough through nice antidepressant or antianxiety medication, or even I have clients right now that if they take something to relieve some of the OCD like symptoms and then they are in a better position to do the work, the mindfulness, the turning, the values that the self care, the productive self care, and then their baseline raises up high enough that if they decide at that point they no longer want to take medication, then we prepare them that your baseline may drop your emotional baseline may drop a little bit, but you still have this net increase over where it was. And now you really rely on those skills that you've been able to do thanks to the medication. And I really I put in my notes here, my Ritalin. So I have been very open a three part series on my podcast a year or two ago about what my add or ADHD inattentive type diagnosis has meant to me.

[00:35:04] And so taking my Ritalin has immediately raised my emotional baseline, flooded my brain with the dopamine that it so desperately craves because I have these stunted neurotransmitters from the factory. And so when that happens, it's this hyperfocus, it's this feeling of hope, as I've said. And when I got on my own medication, that's when I completed my podcast, the website, an online program, started writing a book. It was all of these things that were just every day where I felt like it was just I'm kicking the can down the road. I'm having this experiencial avoidance, so I really do. I believe that then that can the medication can raise one's baseline to put them in a position to be able to do the work they so desperately want or need to do in order to feel better. And I really feel like there is.

[00:35:51] There's a concept where people will do the work and raise their emotional baseline and at some point I call it this tipping point, there's a local sun splash. It's a water slide. And I remember being there with my kids. And you go under this one part of the at the water park and there's a giant bucket and it just slowly filling with water.

[00:36:11] And then you stand there with your kids. And when it gets to a tipping point, the bucket tips over and you get drenched. And sometimes I feel like I love this concept in my head of that tipping point, your emotional baseline, this raises and raises. And when it gets to a certain point, thank you. Self care, where I'm doing all of these things that I feel like are much more who I really am at my core, then this tipping point occurs and I just feel like that bucket of water tipping over is really your brain just flooding with all these wonderful, amazing feel good chemicals that say I can do this and that can lead to some very positive changes in your life. So I have my notes. In the original episode in Episode 12, I told a story that that was about my own emotional baseline moment, some of the things that I've done to raise my own emotional baseline. I did some volunteer counseling long ago with a very elderly woman who could not get out of her home. And I did some volunteer counseling from this wonderful elderly woman who could not get out of her home. And she told me that it would help a lot if if she could just cook me breakfast. And so I would go over to her house and she would make breakfast and we would talk this again long ago. And she was a very great cook. But as she got older, there were a couple of times where she would forget and she salted this food or not.

[00:37:27] And so she would salt it every time just to make sure. And there were times where I would go there in the salt was just so incredible of it was puckering my mouth. But man, just my feel good chemicals, the rays of my emotional baseline. And those mornings was just amazing because and those mornings, because I was about to eat all this greasy food, I at the time in the height of ultra running, I would make sure in that morning I needed to literally run at least a half marathons distance. So a good 13 miles so that I could then show up at this house and then eat this greasy food. And I just remember having this moment where I thought of emotional baseline where I was there. I was feeling so just happy, grateful to be there, grateful that I could serve. This woman is in this elderly old folks home and cooking me this breakfast that and it is as salty as anything I've ever tasted in my life. But just eating that salt and just being so present and thinking, man, if I was bummed right now, if I was thinking this food is just going to weigh me down, and if my life was not feeling very good and then I could just see that experience of being one where I'm like, I don't want to do this. This is horrible, but so emotional baseline high.

[00:38:35] It was a magical experience. There is. So I want to address and this is not something I talked about in my initial episode on emotional baseline, I was not in acceptance and commitment therapy therapist at the time. And so I really feel like acceptance and commitment therapy now plays a huge role. And the emotional baseline here's where I'm going with that, is that I go back to what someone wants to do for self care. So in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy, remember, you have the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions that you have because you are the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. So the thoughts, feelings and emotions you have are not because you're broken, it's because you are you. So therefore, with those thoughts, feelings and emotions come your own sets of values that are based on your nature and your nurture and your birth order and your DNA and your abandonment and your rejection and all those wonderful things that make you who you are, all those experiences that you've been through. So along with that, you are going to have specific things that you enjoy to do for self care. Some people might like to read, some people might like to write, some people might want to journal, some people might want to craft, exercise all of these things. So you will have your own version of what raises your emotional baseline. And if you say to somebody I just heard this podcast about raising my emotional baseline, I think I want to go get a trike, an adult tricycle and ride it.

[00:39:54] If somebody says to you and you don't want to do that, they don't know. They don't bless their heart. But that is not you are the one who knows what you I ideally would enjoy from a self care standpoint. There's a client that I just love to death who loves to fly and is learning to fly. But a lot of times puts herself in last and so is there trying to serve other people, but raising her emotional baseline, if that is to get out and fly, get out and fly, do whatever you can to do that. Put yourself first, because then you will be in a better position for yourself. And then if you are going to in a position where you need to do things for others, then that's where that would come into play. So I think a little bit of homework, a little bit of practice work to do is sit down for a moment and just jot down, write down in your phone, write down by hand, whatever works for you based on your experiences, what are things that you would like to do from a self care standpoint? And I want you to try to step outside of that what you feel is expected or what you feel you should be doing. Remember, nobody likes to be put on, even our own brains. And what is it that you want to do? And if you want if you ideally would love to put more time into writing, exercise, whatever that looks like, whatever will raise your emotional baseline.

[00:41:12] And this isn't something to say to somebody, hey, what do you think would raise my emotional baseline? Because guess what they might say, I think doing our laundry would do that, or I think cooking me an amazing chocolate pie. Would you cook that? You have the crust you might cook, but that would raise your emotional baseline. This isn't that isn't what this is a time for. It's a time for what would help you raise your emotional baseline. What is your best self care experience to put you in a better position to be a better you. And that is the goal of the emotional baseline. Raise your emotional baseline and improve your life. Raise your emotional baseline and that will put you in a better place to be. Fill in the blank to be a better you, a better husband, a better father, mother, any of those things that comes with self care. Putting yourself first is perfectly OK. It's acceptable. And if someone is telling you that is not something that you can do, bless their heart, but that is their own experience, you only have your experience. And so let's raise that baseline. Let's get that self care flowing through your veins. And I promise you, that will lead to a much more fulfilling and happy life.

[00:42:19] All right. May you go and raise your emotional baseline like never before, and I will see you next time.

[00:42:26] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind is wonderful. Must have placed in Robert Ghost voting past midnight and they push aside things that matter most to.

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