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Have you ever received accusations from a narcissist or emotionally immature person, left bewildered by claims about your words or actions? Have you ever been blamed for instructing your father on roofing specifics when you know nothing about roofs, even though your spouse is a roofer? In this episode, Tony delves into real-life stories from his exclusive women's Facebook group, examining instances where the narcissist or emotionally immature person is clueless about the extent of their gaslighting. These individuals share experiences of being accused of actions or words they genuinely couldn’t have come up with. Alongside these stories, Tony explores the concept of betrayal trauma and introduces listeners to the "attachment injury apology." Tune in to understand, unravel, and ultimately untangle the complex world of emotional manipulation.

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

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

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

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

Tony gives a "state of the union" address on working with people struggling with turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. He then interviews Chandler Rogers, CEO of Relay, an app that helps people stay connected and accountable on their recovery journey. Relay makes it easy to connect with a shame-free support group, an essential tool helping access recovery tools. 

Chandler personally overcame a struggle with compulsive pornography use and then used his experience to give back to others by creating a group-based recovery app called Relay for people seeking freedom from unwanted sexual behavior. He built what he wished he had during his healing journey - tools to manage recovery goals, an SOS button to reach out when feeling triggered, and a system for accountability with peers, all in a private safe space.

Learn more about Relay and try a recovery group for free today: https://bit.ly/virtualcouch-relay

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

Inside ACT for Anxiety Disorder Course is Open! Visit https://praxiscet.com/virtualcouch Inside ACT for Anxiety Disorders, Dr. Michael Twohig will teach you the industry-standard treatment anxiety-treatment experts use worldwide. Through 6 modules of clear instruction and clinical demonstrations, you will learn how to create opportunities for clients to practice psychological flexibility in the presence of anxiety. 

After completing the course material, you'll have a new, highly effective anxiety treatment tool that can be used with every anxiety-related disorder, from OCD to panic disorder to generalized anxiety disorder.

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

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

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

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

Chandler Rogers Relay Transcript

Tony: Chandler Rogers, welcome to the Virtual Couch. How are you doing?

Chandler: Great. Happy to be here. Thanks, Tony.

Tony: Yeah, and Chandler and I were talking off the air. That's the official term, right? Like what the kids call it. And I, and the platform I'm using right now, which I'm not talking about openly just yet, because I had one bad experience, but other than that it's been amazing and Chandler has been a part of one experience where it didn't go so well. So, there's a part of me that is gun shy. We're gonna probably spin some gold and then the file's gonna be corrupt. 

Chandler: Let's pray for some good luck today.

Tony: There you go. Let's just go for it. So Chandler, I think it's kind of funny, the way that you and I met was through the co-founder of the company that you work with named, Jace. And then Jace, talking about the way back machine, I think is like a nephew or something. To some friends of mine from high school, and I'm a very old man. So when they reached out to me and said, hey, we want to put you in contact with our nephew, honestly, I'm so used to people saying, because he needs therapy, right? And so then I half read the message and I think that's why I didn't get back quick because you know, I thought, oh, bless his heart, I don't know if I can help, but man, once I started reading why we're talking, it's kinda exciting. So maybe, why don't you tell my listeners, why are we talking, what are you guys, what are you doing?

Chandler: Yeah, so, you know, struggling with pornography was something that was always kind of a theme for me growing up, and one of the big lessons that is key to my story is realizing that not only was I not alone, but it is so much more effective to work through this not alone, to band together with other people who are in the same boat and to find a strong support system. We can talk, you know, more about this later in the episode, but Jace and I served, you know, in the same mission together for the LDS church. We went to New York City, we were out there and actually a big part of what we spent time doing those two years was helping a lot of people overcoming various addictions. And so it resonated with me a lot with my personal story and he and I came back to school and we were both in a coding class together, and I basically pitched him on the idea, like, let's build an app. And everyone was building kind of these random things that like no one was gonna use whatever people were building. It was just a project. But I was like, hey, what if we build something that actually could be meaningful? 

And then built something actually totally not related to addiction. So we were like, maybe it would be, maybe it'd be cool to have an app that makes it easier for long distance family members. So kids that have gone off to college or moved outta the house, or even extended family, like grandparents. What if there's a platform better than other social media that was tailored towards families, helping them stay connected. And I think it was an interesting idea, but just didn't really get any, you know, traction to it, but I continued to think about some of the pain points and things that I had experienced and talked to a lot of friends who had experienced with overcoming pornography and continued to come back to a few themes. And we just realized we wanted to try to help make a difference, particularly in making it easier for people to find a good support system. That's what we ended up doing. 

Tony: How long does it take to, this is kind of cool, how long did it take to build?

Chandler: Yeah. So we were total noobs at the beginning. We had no idea what we were doing. We were not like these engineering wizards going into this. Okay, I won't say we're engineering wizards now, you know, hopefully the users on the app don't know that, but no, it probably took us six months to get the first version out there, so it wasn't terribly long. But we learned a ton along the way. Tons of fun from a learning perspective, but meaningful at the same time because we were trying to actually get something that worked and actually worked really well into people's hands. 

Tony: So was this the classic, this was the project that you were doing for school and then you end up getting a bad grade, but go on to make millions of dollars? I mean, are you starting with that? 

Chandler: Well, the end of the story still has yet to be written. So millions of dollars, definitely not, you know, haven't paid ourselves anything from it yet, but, it quickly transitioned from just a project to, we were graduating and we had other job offers, like Jace was gonna go to Apple and do much cooler things there, probably. But, you know, we had started to actually see some really good signs of traction. And we had launched the app like six months before we graduated, and I think we had five or 600 paying users on the product that were interacting in these small, tight-knit teams. And they were getting, you know, results.Like we weren't necessarily, you know, nailing every aspect of it. And the way we look at it is like, we wanna continue to improve this thing for years, so it's not done, but we were really excited about what we were seeing so far, and we realized that we care a lot about helping people more than going and, you know, working for big tech companies. And so we decided this is what we wanna do. And so we didn't show up to our other jobs and instead we're doing this now full-time. 

Tony: Okay. And so then the, and it's funny, full transparency, I didn't read the material initially and then I had a client where he was looking for something from an accountability standpoint, and then I was trying to sound really cool and I said, oh, I think I've got like a really cool, brand new thing that nobody knows about. And then I, and then when I started reading about it, then I really did feel like I could see how interesting or important this could be in the world of addiction, because the connection is so important. And I feel like I've facilitated 12 step groups forever. You know, I've worked with, I don't know, I think 1500 plus individuals trying to overcome pornography or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. And I feel like there's that part where the one-on-one concept of an accountability partner sounds great, but then I find that, man, it's one of those things where it sounds good until it doesn't, until they can't get ahold of somebody until they feel like the person's gonna, you know, they're just checking a box until they feel like they're bothering somebody. Or, I mean, so is that kind of some of the things that you guys ran into? Or why you created it?

Chandler: I remember from my story growing up, like I, you know, for many years thought, you know, let's try to do this on my own. Right? And so this is even a step before what you're talking about and quickly realize, I think that it just, A, sucks to try to get through this alone, it's really miserable. And then B, I just realized that it wasn't very effective. Like they, there's a, I think things about trying to work through a personal challenge like this and, and even other, you know, challenges not pornography, I think human beings I don't believe are designed to just navigate these personal trials alone.I think even like between us and God, like from a faith perspective, I think God wants us to leverage each other and work together. We're placed on this world together for a reason, I believe, but yeah, I think, you know, when I started adding just my bishop, my church leader as my one accountability person, just my therapist at another point in time, or just my wife, you know, in our marriage. None of those setups worked very well, and all of them actually were really tough for me personally because I had an existing relationship with them. So for me, the shame factor was magnified. Because I was like, yeah, it was, it was either kind of checking the box or there was a little bit of extra barrier to be honest, just because I hated letting them down and I felt like I was letting myself down when I let them down. 

Because I think what I struggle with internally really with this challenge growing up was like, from the outside, people saw Chandler Rogers as this kid who was like doing well in a lot of things and did well at school and sports and like, and career stuff, right? And, at least I thought like no one would know the side of me and think that I'm the same person. So I struggle with this concept of self-worth, but I think a lot of people can struggle with this and still be a good person, still be a good follower of God, husband, like whatever it is, career professional. And, I think I had this light bulb moment as I realized I needed to expand my support system. Like at the same time I realized that it's not how many days in a row that I haven't looked at pornography that defines how solid of a person I am. We're all struggling with really difficult things and it's okay to be working through compulsive behavior and it's okay to need a wider support system to help them through it.

Tony: So tell me about how, I mean, I really am curious, I was joking with you beforehand of okay, I really wanna hear your story, I won't get into the nitty gritty of the product, but I really like this a lot because I do feel like, I always talk about, you know, you got your trigger. And with porn, I think it's more, it's typically, I call it crimes of opportunity. Somebody's bored or they just can, and so then, you know, you have the thought I could do this, and then the action, and I always say it's putting distance between thought and action. So I feel like that's where this could really come in handy of just to try to make a connection period that it isn't, hey, I'm struggling or, so what does it look like? What do you do? What's your group look like? How do you reach out to people within the app?

Chandler: Yeah, totally. So when I come into the app, the first thing that it will help me do is get matched with four to eight other people that are in the same boat as me working through the same thing in a way that's not scary and awkward. So it's not me having to go to my roommates or my buddies from work and having to open up. But these are people who are actively working towards the same goal. So I go through a little questionnaire and it helps first, find a team for me. Or if I'm already with an existing group, we have a lot of people in the app that are meeting, you know, Wednesday nights and they're using the app with their existing group because they realize, and this was my experience with the 12 step group or other programs that our group based the other six days of the week, we largely did not leverage that group and it was super dumb on us.

Tony: No, I think, and I think this would be amazing because the group, I do have my Path Back men's group is just growing and I feel like we all dig each other so much, but then people talk about, they look forward to yeah, the one hour on Wednesday and then there's this just, exactly.

Chandler: Yeah. It's like unsurprisingly, you know, WhatsApp and GroupMe weren't built to help recovery groups stay connected and accountable in an effective way. You know, they're good chat, you know, messaging platforms, but so, so this theme of like, what, what really is, it's more than a group chat. There is the group chat component, but once I'm in the group, we actually, on the connection component, we try to help make it easier for you to stay connected with your, whether it's like more than just that Wednesday night group or if it's a group that you're, you know, not meeting with live, we just help facilitate connections. So for example, we have some guided conversation prompts that will get auto generated or, or we'll help people select meaningful conversation prompts that we've worked with other clinicians to help, you know, generate different ways in which we can help people go deeper and form connection that's not just based around guys talking about how are you doing with porn today, but actually like what we were talking about, like, more substance than that. And also focusing on, you know, higher up the chain, I think on what's helpful. 

But then what's really helpful, I think a lot of people have found about the app is this red flag feature. So a lot of people, I remember we'd come to group and we'd be like, hey, I had a setback or relapse this week. The guys are like, why didn't you reach out in the group chat? And I'm like, I have no idea. And so we tested this out early on and we didn't actually think this would be the thing people loved about the app, but it's really simple. It's literally just this button that's a flag that you press with one tap instead of having to type out a message and say, hey, I'm not doing well, or I'm feeling tempted right now. It can send a notification and it just lets the group, it doesn't even have to be like that you're tempted right now, we're trying to help train the emotional awareness piece like you were talking about, like I'm feeling bored. And I'm feeling stressed or anxious or whatever it is. That'd be a red flag. And then what's really cool is people want to respond to the red flags. So people I think are just as excited about how do I give support through Relay and not just get support. And I think that's helped a lot of people too, as we're trying to reduce the friction so that, you know, I can turn outwards a little easier than having to, you know, go through my phone and text people and ask how they're doing. There's a little bit more visibility in the app there. And so there are kind of like these daily check-ins too that I can schedule and customize that are more emotional oriented to help me understand that I am feeling bored in the first place so that I can raise the red flag and even if I don't raise that red flag, we have kind of some transparency and we're still maintaining user privacy and making it so it is, it is your personal journey, but for example, let's say, Tony, that I log this morning that I'm feeling stressed or tired cause I didn't get good sleep and you're in my group, you could actually come in and see, even if I didn't throw that red flag, that I was feeling stressed and tired and you could reach out to me and be there for me.

Tony: So could you even say, hey, what's the, what's up with the sleep? I mean, is it literally like, you can see, it looks like Chandler slept three and a half hours? 

Chandler: Not that level of detail. Just like it's kinda logging, I'm feeling tired, I'm feeling bored. And usually, that's sparking conversations like, hey man, you've been putting that you've been feeling bored every day for the last few days you know, do you, do you have anything meaningful going on with work right now? Getting engaged in these different areas of your life. It's helping draw that awareness for people. The other component, kind of on the flip side of the coin is maybe you already have some things that you are trying to work on. So I am trying to spend, you know, time journaling every day to help me, you know, be more aware or I'm trying to exercise to be engaged in that area, my physical health, users can track that in the app. It's not just logging your sobriety with pornography, it's tracking those types of things. And then we're helping also surface that as a group so they can hold each other accountable on those types of things. And I can say, hey man, like how's your exercise going? I know you've been wanting to get more engaged in that area. 

Tony: So okay, I'm thinking through this from the therapist lens of, we need, you know, I tell people all the time, all right, we need to go from not needing external validation to validating yourself internally, but then the reality is we still want, we sometimes want the attaboys, the kudos, and I feel like this is the challenge when somebody's accountability partner is their spouse or their bishop or somebody like that of where, I don't know it, sometimes it can almost seem pretty clingy or needy to then say, hey, I'm, you know, I'm exercising, you know, and I know that if the spouse is having a struggle or if they feel like if I don't give him praise and then he acts out, then he's gonna turn it on me, or, so I like this concept of we got a group of people and maybe it's a little easier to say to a group of guys, hey, I need some, I need some attaboys today. Because I feel like if you got a bunch of guys that want the words of affirmation as a way to connect that they're probably more willing to give it in other than a spouse that's saying, okay, if I don't respond or I respond the wrong way, for some reason, you know, maybe in the past it's been turned around and put on that spouse because you know, I think I see that all as a therapist.

Chandler: It can be super hard. I think, you know, tons of therapists that I've talked to have all sorts of thoughts about why the spouse is kind of the primary accountability is hard for both people. And so I think spouses actually have loved Relay, maybe even more than the dudes themselves, because they're like, okay, because I remember my wife asking me early on, she was like, so you've been open and like went to groups and stuff. She's like, you have all these people in your phone as contacts that you could be working more proactively with staying accountable to just connecting with more. But it sounds like I'm like your only accountability partner. Like I was being open with her, you know, what she wanted. And we talked about what was gonna work for us, but she kind of nudged me and she was like, why are you not like, I need it to not just be me essentially. And I think that's been really helpful for a lot of spouses.

Tony: It's funny too, part of when I started my group and no, I mean, 12 step groups work for so many people. They've been around for such a long time. But the part with the no crosstalk, and I understand that that's protecting people from the, you know, the grizzled sea captain in the corner that's saying, you don't get a kid, you know, or that kind of thing. But I feel like I kind of want some crosstalk from time to time with people. What's working for you? What's not working for you? And I even feel like in my, in my men's group, I've got some stuff I want to share. We've got some questions or prompts. And so I even feel like at times there's not enough of that, tell me about a victory or tell me what's working for you. So I'd imagine this would probably give a way to facilitate more of that too. 

Chandler: Yeah. Maybe we're a little rebellious, it is more of the latter and not kind of the traditional avoiding crosstalk. But I mean, those are things that for me personally and as I've talked to tons of other guys, I think they feel kind of energized having that. And I don't think it's absolutely, it's not a silver bullet, right? Like it's not, you know, it's not something someone's gonna say as a brilliant idea of what's working for them. That's probably gonna change the game for me, but I think having that environment can be really helpful. 

Tony: No, I like what you're saying because I do, one of my go-to lines is when somebody comes in and they've worked with other people in the past and I will often just say, hey, are you expecting that I've got some magic pill or secret phrase that once you learn and this thing's gonna be easier. And I've been talking a lot lately too, Chandler, about, I feel like it's, I've been calling it an individualized customized treatment program for each individual because I feel like my path back program is gold and if people adhere to it, then it's gonna change their whole life. But, I know that everybody's got their own stuff they bring to the table. And so anyway, I'm now, I feel like I'm now singing your praises, I just like that idea of a connection with a small group or even a larger group of people. I like the idea of hitting a red flag instead of even saying I'm struggling. And then I like the idea that you can have a variety of ways to respond because I like, and so I'll have clients from time to time. I'll say, you can text me, I might end up just sending you a meme or something. And I dunno, so can you guys do that within the app? 

Chandler: That’s been one of our most requested features, Tony. I didn't realize that the memes were gonna be a huge part of it, but they were like, hey, we need to send these gifs, however you pronounce it, right? We're working on that right now actually.

Tony: Okay, so then do you guys have, and not that you have to have data or results or it shows that it helps you know this much more, or do you have that kind of data behind this as well? 

Chandler: One of the things that we've actually been tracking that we are interested in is people's perception of how they feel like things are trending because we can't see and they're logging, you know, if they are logging it, there's sobriety data, right? Like how are the results going from an outcome perspective? And then we can see, which I think is even a little more interesting, how are people doing at those input type goals and systems and habits? Like I'm tracking my exercise, my sleep, my journal, spiritual habits, whatever it is, but we're asking people in a weekly reflection how they feel about the level of connection with their group because really one of the main outcomes we want is to help people feel more connected. And then we're asking them how they feel, do they feel like things are getting better, staying the same or getting worse? And 79% of our users report feeling like things are getting better within the first month of using the app. So that's kinda the main, you know, data we've found so far. And it's still early. Like we launched this thing a year ago but we're really excited and one of the things that I believe in to keep improving the results there is I want our users to talk to me. And so I make my phone number and my email very available because I just want to understand what people find really effective in the app and what they wish was different. And that's how people are like, yeah, I wanna send memes. And we're like, okay, we can go add that. 

Tony: I noticed on the website too, Johann Hari, I dig, yeah, that, so that Ted talk, I mean the connection's the opposite of addiction. So is that a lot of what this, the whole concept is based off of? 

Chandler: Yeah. And it, I would say too, like that that talk was one of the things that really connected the dots for me. And he really just talks about a few studies that they'd done. Even with substance abuse, so not just pornography addiction, they found that connection.

Tony: The rat amusement park, isn't it? Do you know that one off the top of your head, Chandler? I was just telling this in one of the groups. 

Chandler: I’ll try to summarize this so I may butcher it. 

Tony: I literally just had somebody text it to me a couple days ago, so no, let's talk about this before we wrap up.

Chandler: So I believe what happened, they had these rats in a cage, right? And I can't remember what the substance was. It was essentially they laced the water with…

Tony: They said it was cocaine, I believe it was. Is that what it was? 

Chandler: Yeah, that sounds right. So they laced the water with cocaine and of course, essentially they found the rats wanted the cocaine water but the thing was that these rats were alone. They were individually contained like in their own cages. And then they set up the second test essentially with the rats together. So they had companionship, they had other rats with them. And what they found is actually that they stopped choosing the cocaine water and then said they essentially were choosing socialization and connection. And they reviewed the study multiple times and concluded there was something about connection that helped. I don't know if it is, you know, scientifically rewiring or just helping the healing process of overcoming compulsive behavior, and so that, you know, whether or not that's kind of a, I don't know, like a really clear cut principle or how that actually applies or what exactly that means for it to work. I don't know. But generally I think about the principle connection, helping and actually being central to the healing process. Not just trying to figure out, how do I stop a behavior? How do I get more meaningfully connected in my life and in my relationships and I think even connected with the things that I'm doing in a good way. Like you were talking about, whether it's my work or my family or other things.

Tony: Well, I was gonna say before, and that was before we jumped on, I told Chandler, and I think most of the people that listen to my podcast, if I tell them I don't do enough, I don't talk enough about this, but, yeah, I say that turning to porn is a coping mechanism when you don't feel connected in your marriage or your parenting, your health, your faith or your career in a nutshell. And I pulled up this study and I do, I love it. He says, Rat Park. They don't drink the drugged water. It was everything the rat could want food and other rats to befriend and colored things, shiny things. And then both water bottles are there, one with water and one with the drugged water, and they don't drink the drugged water.They hardly used it. None of them overdosed and so he talked about how addiction is largely an adaptation to your environment. And so I just, I think that's so fascinating because I often say even when people accept the fact that they can maybe drink the water or they can turn to porn, they would rather make a connection or do something that is of value because then they feel a greater sense of purpose. I like that a lot. Okay. So where do people find you? Where do we go? 

Chandler: It's join relay.app.

Tony: Join relay.app. So, okay. Chandler, anything else that you want to share? I mean, I just, first of all, can I ask you, can you tell if you or Jace are the better coder? I mean, is that, is that a thing?

Chandler: Well, I'll give that title to Jace for sure. He has a lot more of it these days than I do. I've, you know, I stepped away from doing that a ton. Jace is great.

Tony: I was gonna say real quick, I just remembered, any on the streets of New York stories? I mean, did you guys have to get scrappy or throw it down at all, or did you get really good at, I dunno, what'd you see there?

Chandler: Man. I love New York. We didn't see too many sketchy things. I don't have that many funny stories. Some kind of wild things that just, you'd expect to see, you know, people peeing in random places and stuff like that. But Jace and I, I remember, we had a really fun day together out in the Hamptons, like the end of Long Island. So it's not probably what you're thinking of with like the city. We did both spend some time there, but yeah, I remember even when I met Jace that like, I don't know, we just clicked really well together and we were both just really passionate about trying to help the people out there, and I think we, we were both Spanish speaking, and so we saw a lot of people who were very isolated. So it again ties back to this theme of connection. We're trying to work through all sorts of personal challenges and just like realized how important, I guess that theme was as we were out there in New York together. So, no, no crazy stories. I kind of wanted more, I remember leaving being like, I hope, like I get shot at, but I live like that would be cool.

Tony: And do you miss any of the food?  

Chandler: Yeah. I was telling my wife I'd love to move back there for the food.

Tony: What do you miss in particular? What was your favorite food? 

Chandler: I mean, the Dominican food is really good. Just all, all of that, all of their types of food is really good. I also love Pupusa from El Salvador. It's hard to describe. They're like these little tortillas, filled with beans and meat and cheese, but it's a little thicker, like, okay. Anyways, it's super good. You're in California, right? You should go, they definitely have them there.

Tony: Oh, I'm sure they do. Okay. No, that sounds good, alright, Chandler Rogers, thank you for coming on the Virtual Couch, I look forward to seeing you maybe in the app and we can share a meme or two. 

Chandler: For sure. Let's do it. Thanks, Tony. 

Tony: Okay. All right. Thanks Chandler. 

Tony tackles the 5 types of narcissism in part 1 of 2. He references the article "5 Types of Narcissism and How to Spot Each," Medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO written By Courtney Telloian — Updated on September 15, 2021http://psychcentral.com/health/types-of-narcissism

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

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

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

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

People in relationships with narcissists, or extremely emotionally immature people, are often convinced, coerced, or controlled into believing that certain universal rules or commandments must be followed to continue in the relationship. In healthy relationships, both people are free to express how they do things and their likes and dislikes. Then if a change is necessary, it comes from mutually respectful conversations. Tony turned to the private women’s Facebook group to receive dozens of rules and commandments that many people kept to keep the peace in the home or because, over time, they believed that these were “universal truths.” It can take time to unlearn many of these rules, and they can even affect future relationships. Tony shares many rules and how to avoid them playing a negative role in relationships.

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

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

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

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

Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 66 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast. As well as a few others, Murder On the Couch, true crime meets therapy. Which maybe by the time you hear this, it is being queued up and ready to be released. And the best way to find out what is coming next is please sign up for my newsletter. If you go to the show notes, there's a link tree link that will say link dot tree, something like that slash virtual couch and sign up for the newsletter. And you can also send me questions. I've been told that there might be a little bit of a challenge with the contact form, but if so, just send me an email at contactth@tonyoverbay.com. And I want to know your questions. I want your stories. I want some poetry. We're going to talk about that today. And, I also want to encourage you to look in the show notes as well and find the Waking Up to Narcissism premium question and answer podcast. It's 4.99 a month. And those proceeds do go to help people that are dealing with emotionally immature/narcissistic relationships, everything from paying for some therapy courses, programs, hopefully if the funds can grow to be able to help people with everything from legal expenses and moving costs. Because, a lot of times, financial abuse is one of the things that keeps people in unhealthy relationships and it is an absolute form of control. And that's some of the things that just, it breaks my heart. 

So today we're going to talk about the difference between rules and cuts. And, at the time of this recording, I still, for the life of me, want to find some sort of creative title. So if you are listening to this, you have already seen what the title of the episode will be. And you will know if I finally just said, forget it, rules versus cuts. Or if I came up with some clever something around commandments of narcissism or something to that effect, but when we're talking about rules versus cuts and, you'll get some examples of that. A lot of examples of that today from the private women's Facebook group. But there's a poem that I want to read first. And there's a thread in the group that is, it's amazing. It's beautiful. Where a lot of people will share poetry. So I just asked if maybe we could put everything in one place. And so I really feel like this poem. It just encapsulates and captures what those cuts do or what those are like. And then I think that will then help us frame what the rules feel like when you are in these narcissistic or emotionally immature relationships, especially when you wake up to the fact that it's okay for you to have your own opinion. 

And a little foreshadowing, things like a toothpaste tube do not always have to have a flip top, that it can have a turning top as well. And that does not make you a horrible human being if you like one versus the other. So, let me start with this poem and let me get a joke out of the way first, because I think this is, it's a beautiful poem. I think it's touching, people in the group talked about how it really brought a lot of big emotions out. But I was talking with someone else about poetry and the narcissist in their life. And they just, we were making a light-hearted comment about the fact that this person never appreciated the client that was in my office as poetry, because it didn't rhyme. And poetry is okay to not rhyme. So this does not rhyme , and it is powerful, nonetheless. So, let me read this, author unknown, because I want to keep that, keep that confidential. But there are a lot of poems in the group that I want to read over the coming weeks. So we'll do that as well. 

So it says, “I'm lost in your fears. They twist and turn, winding this way in that, then back again, an infinite circle, the lies slide like vines over the forest floor. I trip over the rocks of blame that you throw at my feet. I get peaks of sunlight, but catch only glimpses. The thick branches and leaves shroud the light and crowd the path. I find myself crouching lower and lower, taking up less space to make room for your ego. The night is drawing, but now I see the stars. They are my hopes and dreams. It surprised me when I learned the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. And the more I love, the less I fear. I no longer hack away desperately at your fears. I trace them. And I see them for what they are. Fear of showing yourself, because who you are might not be good enough. Fear of owning your choices, because if you do, you'd have to accept the consequences. Fear of taking off your mask because being vulnerable can leave you open for hurt. Fear of being wrong, because being right gives you a false sense of worth. The more I love and respect myself, the more clearly I see you. Your fears are not for me to hack away. I loosen my grip and climb. My view of this forest path has changed. Where it leads, I do not know. I look around and notice the air is thin up here and I'm afraid of heights, but here my wings can grow. And the light of truth heals me.”

It's beautiful. It really is. And talks about just what it feels like to trip over someone else's ego and to find yourself being small. And I just, I love that analogy of climbing up to the top of the trees and sure, it's going to be scary and you're afraid of heights, but ultimately that is the place where you'll grow. So I'm just really, I appreciate people that have creative talents like that. I feel like that poem, it says more in about two minutes then I'm going to try to communicate to you in the next 30 or 40 minutes with just trying to make sense of things that really just don't make sense. So on that note, there was a post that I thought was a short post that then just ended up bringing so much, so much content. In the group, one of the members said, even though I've been out for almost two years, I find it amazing how many rules I still catch myself following. Tony talks about death by a thousand cuts, but I feel like I've had to live by a thousand rules. I can see it's going to take a long time to figure out what are truly my own choices instead of old programming. And then she said, anybody else struggle with this? Which I can guess everybody that is in this situation, struggles with this. And a couple of people commented and said, they've been out for a year and it's amazing how far they've come, but how many rules they still think about. 

And somebody said, and not feel anxious while you're doing a specific task. And the person commenting there said that they were still in the relationship. So they don't really, they weren't necessarily thinking in terms of looking at the rules that they were now trying to. I don't know, un-attach from. So someone else just said that there are so many rules and that were introduced so passive aggressively, that it's hard to even remember. She said, when we started following the rules and she said she had been separated for almost two years and she was currently going through a divorce. But she said she was getting better at catching them now and slowly working to undo each rule one by one. But that can be really exhausting. And she says, I just asked myself, how do I want to handle this? What works for me? And do I really care about this? And someone else chimed in and said that sometimes they feel like they need to ask for their spouse's input on things if they're not intelligent enough to decide for themselves, and I almost feel like that's where I want to jump in and say, you're an adult. You've been getting along well up to this point in your life. And so it's okay for you to like the things you like and do things the way that you would like to do them. And what can sound so probably off-putting to the pathologically kind person it feels like, well, but then I'm just saying that well, we're going to do it my way. And there's really, there's middle ground. I don't want to just immediately go to this concept of compromise because I think that's where our brain wants to try to make sense of what that would look like. And sometimes we feel like, okay, well, I know what compromise is going to look like. He's going to get his way. So I might as well just acquiesce and give in. 

And it's not that bad anyway. But it's okay to have a conversation around well, we'll get there with some of these examples, but honest to goodness toothpaste lids, there were, you're going to hear some really interesting ones today where the more emotionally immature or narcissistic person just says, this is how it works. And then everybody knows it is not an answer because I will give this example until the cows come home. I still remember someone talking about the concept of common sense. And then I bring up the example of in some countries where a baby sneezes and a parent immediately puts their mouth around that nose and sucks up and spits out. And that's common sense to that person and then to somebody else that might be the most disgusting thing they've ever heard of. And why don't they use a tissue? Yet then for another person using a tissue just seems crazy because why am I wasting tissue paper and I'm going to get it all in my face. And I'm going to walk around. So let's just look at the way that people do things and why they like doing them the way they do. And if we start from there, now we're going to actually have adult mature conversations. Love or control. Not both in an adult relationship. So to the original poster, I had said once again, you're creating content for me and for the world. And I had just said that to anybody seeing this post, let's talk about rules. And I just said, can you share the rules that you heard? And I feel like, okay, we've got death by a thousand cuts, but I don't know, control by a thousand rules, but I really feel like this is something that will resonate. 

So the first person that chimed in with a lot of rules, she said, here are a few rules off the top of my head. Protein is the cornerstone of every meal and must be present. So you can see already where we're going to go, that this is something that is being preached and told. And while there may be some truth in some of the rules, we're open to interpretation. Or, and I know my wife and I talk about this so often that let's just take this one, for example, protein as the staple of every meal. And then it's, who's to say that in a few years, we will find out that the nation is over protein. So being able to make an informed decision is wonderful and being able to also have your choice in that decision is a powerful thing as well. So back to her rules, she said, here are the rules that she had heard. Again, protein, the cornerstone of every meal must be present. If meat wasn't highly visible, it was a constant barrage of complaints and questions. Is there meat in this? Where's the meat? I can't taste the meat. Now someone that is on a plant based diet, then if they are hearing that, sometimes the word meat can literally give a visceral reaction. But then to the person who is saying where's the meat, then they are going to say that the person on a plant-based diet doesn't know what they're talking about. So we can have different opinions. And here's the one I've alluded to two times already. All toothpastes must have a screw on cap instead of a flip cap, regardless of brand. Rationalized by flip caps are messier. If I did happen to buy a flip cap then I would hear comments about it almost daily until it was gone. And I understand that unfortunately, that's the relationship that some people are in, where they feel like, you know, it's not a big deal. I'll get the screw cap. Or whatever that looks like, 

But we're back to that death by a thousand cuts vibe or control by a thousand rules. She said next, we don't waste food in this house. There's the rule. If I needed to throw away rotted expired or moldy food, I had to justify and defend it. So much so that I struggled to throw anything away. She said he would also go through the trash to make sure I wasn't throwing things away without him knowing. So apparently it was very important for him to be the throwaway police or the wasted food police, or fill in the blank, which if we go back to control, I think that's pretty obvious that that's what we're hearing. She said, if I didn't wear a certain color nail polish or I didn't wear a certain nail polish color for over 10 years, because he doesn't like that color. But she said no rhyme or reason. He was also very rigid about my hair length, our kids' hair length. I had to tell him after the fact, if I was getting even a single trim on my hair. Otherwise, I had to promise not to cut too much because the kids needed to have certain lengths of hair. She said the bed must be made at all times unless being slept in, of course. And so if some of you were saying, okay, well, see, you know, it sounds reasonable, but then she goes on to say, this was hard to navigate because even washing the sheets was difficult because if he came home to no sheets on the bed, because they were being washed, he would panic. And I would hear about it for the rest of the night. 

Another common one. If dad is working, then everybody is working. She said, this is present both in my childhood home and my home with my husband. If dad was doing chores, then everyone else had better be doing chores. But she said, the thing is the distribution of work was already highly imbalanced. The rest of us did chores on a regular basis, while dad did them when and if convenient and only sporadically. So when it came to making plans for the holidays, his family came first because he had very close siblings and siblings cannot be apart. Or she said another one. The kids had to read for 30 minutes every night. And again, here's where I think that there's a tie in with death by a thousand cuts. And along with these rules, because somebody will say, well, it doesn't sound so bad. But she said this one was clever because it was hidden behind sound guidance for raising kids. Reading is good. But he would only allow them to read his books. She said the kids were little. At some point in kindergarten or first grade, they were expected to read Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. So she said her kids grew to really hate it. And it was a, like she said, world war three, to get him to compromise because it was all about control. And I think one of the unfortunate things is that this is a point where I would, I would be curious to know what their relationship is with reading at this point in their lives. She said I had to be ready for physical intimacy at his request. It wasn't always granted, but it was an expectation met with pouting in the silent treatment if I said no. She said the kids were only allowed to have dessert on Tuesdays and Fridays. And I hear versions of this one often, and I think it's so interesting. So, let me, let me dig a little deeper here. So again, kids were only allowed to have dessert on Tuesdays and Fridays, but she said it was so rigid in his mind that if someone's birthday was on a day of the week, that was not on treat day, then it was a battle to get them to be flexible on having birthday cake. And she said the same goes for any holidays, if he did compromise, it became about a trade. And this is where I wanted to get into this fine. He said, I'll allow birthday cake on Wednesday. But that means no dessert for the rest of the week. And she said, I had to fight that battle many times. 

So you're here, I imagine a lot of the people that are listening to this content have similar experiences. And if you're someone listening to it and these are the rules that you give someone. And if you're saying well, right, but now is the time, welcome to the world of self confrontation. So if you are saying, everybody knows, but this is the best way. Then I'm grateful that you have found the best way for you. And if you think to yourself, will it just make sense to you or everybody knows? Well, I think I could probably question, I don't know if I was, I was asked, so I know that it's probably not everybody. I know I'm being a little facetious, but I want the people hearing this, that if you're one who has been living by these thousand or 2000 rules, To know that I just, even, this is where I just want to bring that awareness that that's not healthy in a relationship. That relationships are built upon. Tell me more, curiosity. What's your experience? What matters to you? And then eventually we work toward a compromise and I stumble over the word compromise so often because there are so many steps of communication that need to be had before we get the compromise. I understand compromise in a business setting is this art of war negotiation compromise. And, in that point, I think often if people are being real with themselves in a business setting that the compromises that they win, if they get more out of the deal. But I know there's also this belief that they, every, both people want to walk away and feel like they win. And I think there's psychology around that too. Maybe we have to confabulate a narrative that says, oh yeah, this is exactly what I wanted. But in adult human relationships, I'm you know, I'm feeling like I want to say I will grant the concept of compromise and negotiation. 

But it needs to be from a very healthy place of tell me more, what's your experience? Because we'll often find that people don't really care about certain things. Or we'll find that people had completely different experiences growing up, which led to completely different experiences or expectations as an adult. And so we want to have a tool to communicate about these things before we try to work out what that's gonna look like for our family, because inevitably the more alpha, the more dominant, the more direct, the more intense that person is going to most likely get their needs met. And then feel like, okay, good. We agree because the kinder person, the more emotionally sensitive or pathologically kind or highly sensitive person is going to find themselves over and over again, just acquiescing for the sake of, it's not worth the fight. But meanwhile, the message to the person that continually seems to get their way is that I'm right. But it's really, I am too controlling to really hear and understand my partner. Another person said that when I was married, I was told that we had to have sex at least every 48 hours to keep him satisfied. So he wouldn't look for other avenues of relief. She said, I followed this for the first few years of our marriage. It didn't work. I had to learn that this was his issue and not mine to fix. 

And, you know, at times I don't know why, but I feel like, I mean, I'm a marriage and family therapist. I've seen well over a thousand couples and a sex therapist talked about this all the time, but then I don't talk a lot about it on the podcast. And I think I confessed it on one of the podcasts that for some reason, I still imagine that a mom is playing this while the kids are in the van. And all of a sudden I'm talking about it trying to do these code words around intimacy. When in reality, this is one that I think is very, very poignant and timely. And I hear on a regular basis, that is not what I hear in emotionally healthy relationships. And that is the fact that from a guy saying to his wife, what am I supposed to do? Do you know how bad it hurts down there? If I don't have a release every 48 hours or 72 hours. And then a guy will then be in actual visceral pain. Oh my gosh, you have to relieve me. And, and I worry. And I feel confident that that is just really an unhealthy way. For somebody to get rid of their discomfort, the discomfort is that they would like to have sex. They would like friction on their genitalia, quite frankly. I feel like that is not saying I desire a deep connection. I desire an emotional connection. We are not working up the ladders of intimacy. There is not verbal intimacy. We could talk, we just have this deep connection, which leads to emotional intimacy. Now I feel like we can open up and talk about anything, which above that is cognitive and intellectual intimacy. This is where I like to say that one person can have their PhD and the other, their GED, but we're so connected verbally and emotionally that we're even having conversations about things that, we absolutely know that the other person doesn't know, but there's so much curiosity there because there's mutual respect. 

And up above that one is a spiritual intimacy. So at that point, if we're connected verbally and emotionally cognitive intellectually, then we can be in two completely different places from a spiritual place as well, because we respect each other and we are, of course we have different opinions. And how fascinating it is that I can have this opportunity to connect with another human being that has such different experiences, but we care about each other. And that is what leads to physical intimacy. It's a by-product of those other levels of intimacy. So if a person is saying my nether regions are in pain, please relieve them for me by friction on my genitalia, we're kind of missing the boat, but then other times I want you to desire me and I want you to praise me. And that is just, it's just not a setup for any type of real consistency with a connection in the relationship. So, she goes on to say other ones. She says, as a child, I was not allowed to pursue new interests. If I didn't show an aptitude for those interests. She said, for example, I really wanted to play soccer, but I wasn't athletic. So my dad only let me pursue art activities because I was creatively inclined. But she said for many years, I believe that exercise just wasn't for me, because I wasn't athletic enough. Now, right there, you can probably see where this is going. So I would imagine that the dad in this scenario, he maybe didn't like seeing his kid out there not being the best, because that would reflect on the dad that is making it about him. But if the kid wants to play sports and wants to play soccer, then that sounds like a great idea. And let them be the ones that are going to go and explore that and not live with this life of regret because they were unable to do the things that they wanted to do, that they saw their friends doing as well because then how does that carry over into adulthood? Like she said for many years, I believe that exercise just wasn't for me, because I wasn't athletic enough. She said, I even tried to go out for track and my dad, who happened to be a long distance runner, made me run a mile with him, she said, when I had never run a mile before. And then he told me, see, you can't do it. So you probably wouldn't be very good or successful in track or cross country. 

I know. I've paused dramatically. I think I need a sound effect of a record scratch at some point in every episode. Because, so long distance running, father says, come with me child and run a mile for the first time. Number one, look how easy it was for me. Number two, I beat you. Number three, I was probably even faster than you were at your age. Number four, see, this isn't something for you. And it's insane. It really, it really is. So then she said that she felt like she internalized that if I couldn't do something well or perfect, I should not pursue it at all. She said I had to learn that mistakes and failing or just learning opportunities and not character flaws. So if you are a parent that is not wanting your kid to do something, I would love for a quick self check-in. Now there are real things like financial burdens and issues. And I would say that if you're in a position where finances are an issue, then I would also look for other ways there oftentimes that clubs and teams will have scholarship opportunities, or there's the rec programs. And so I feel like there's often a way to have someone be able to at least somewhat explore the opportunities that they would like to. But I do know that there are financial burdens. But if you don't want to take them because you are worried that they will not be good. Now that's a you thing. If you were telling yourself, but I don't want them to do it because I don't want them to get picked on or bullied because kids are mean. Which I understand, but I will just say, go ahead and set a few bucks aside each month for therapy someday for the kid, then to say I was never even given a chance for the kids to bully me. I was never even given him the opportunity to see if it was something that I liked.

And I feel like that's one that I hear often. She said from a religious community that she said she's no longer a part of. And she said, and from her spouse, when she was newly married, there was an expectation to be the ideal, what she referred to as a Proverbs 31 wife, she was said I was expected to take on all the home duties, the laundry, the cooking, the meal, planning, the grocery, shopping, the cleaning, the organizing. Along with finances, bill paying, taxes, budgeting, because she said I was quote better at it. When in reality, she said, my spouse didn't know how to do it. And she also worked a full-time job where she commuted quite a bit each day while her spouse was finishing school. He would say they are far more important than sharing the duties. So at that point she had already graduated with a degree and she set a precedent for the rest of our marriage in which I was expected to carry a lot of the household duties on my own. She said when we started having children this included taking care of them and all that entailed. She said her opinion really wasn't asked after that point. She said he had to have the clothes he needed each day. I needed to have dinner on the table when he wanted. And she said, I thought it was being a good wife. I was actually being used and abused while my spouse had a lot less stress than I had. And she said, this made me susceptible to depression. She had sleep issues and reactive abuse. She said, I internalized that his life, activities and choices were the most important in our home. And she said and sent him the message that it was okay to ignore my needs. And she said I've had to learn to recognize what my responsibilities truly are and ask for help when I need it. And let go of the things that aren't that important. 

And let me just take a moment here. When she said I internalized that his life, activities and choices were the most important in our home. And I sent the message that it was okay to ignore my own needs. This is one of the things that if you are struggling with, if I stay in an unhealthy relationship for the kids and I understand that there is so much unknown out there, but I worry. As a therapist, as a podcaster, as somebody that works with this population. So often that I worry that this is the message that's being sent to the kids. That, that if the, let's say in this scenario and I’m working with men that are in incredibly unhealthy relationships with narcissistic and emotionally immature and abusive women. Which is a whole, again, I know I did an episode about it a few weeks ago, but it's a whole different ball game and it is really scary because the man often is not being given any benefit of a doubt. But in this scenario, if you are buffering and trying to manage your husband's relationship to protect the kids. Because you're worried that divorce will be bad for the kids. It's just, these are the things that I worry about. Again, a kid gets their external validation from their parents. And so if the validation that they are going to have, if the validation that they are going to get is going to, in essence, be trying to learn how to navigate the emotions of a large adult human being that is their parent, that they are seeking to go to for guidance and for support and for safety. Then that's what it feels like to be them. They are going to be someone that is learning how to read the room and put their needs second, and try to go small when the other person goes big. But if you are developing a secure attachment with your kid, which means that they're the ones that are actually going through and experiencing life, and you are there to say, tell me about it. How was it? What was that like? Do you want to keep doing that? Or what else are you thinking? 

Instead of, I don't like that. I don't think you should do that. I can't believe you're asking me that. Do you know how that affects me? There's a lot of I’s and me’s. They're not the cool kind that worry or I wonder, or I would like to know. So that message is being sent. Again, that breaks my heart. The message we're sending is that someone else's life, their activities and choices are far more important than mine. And instead it is not unhealthy. It is not narcissistic or egotistical to be able to have your thoughts, your needs and your wants, and be able to express them. But to someone that's safe because that's where it becomes a whole different experience. She said I've been ashamed for spending too much money. And she said, I've had to account for whatever I buy when we have financial discussions, but I'm not supposed to ask anything about my spouse's purchase. She said, even though we have Amazon packages coming to our home almost daily. She said we have separate checking accounts, but he makes more money than I do. And it's always questioning what I spend my money on, but it's not forthcoming on how he spends his money. She said I've learned not to ask about financial matters unless he is in the right mood. And I'm prepared to share my list of purchases. But still working on this one, reset has been asking for financial information for months, and I've decided that I need to budget my own money appropriately for now. And again, it is well within your right to have the financial information. It is well within your right to have a mutually reciprocal relationship where both of you are able to express concerns about money and purchases and be accountable for it. And it's uncomfortable. And that's again, where I go back to a narcissist or an emotionally immature person who is so prone to just dismiss and just run away from discomfort at all costs. So they don't want to have to admit that. Yeah, you're right. Sometimes I'm a little bit controlling about money and other times I just spend. I'm impulsive. Because that would be scary to say that, and it might be uncomfortable, but, but that's what adult mature human beings do in their conversations. 

They say, check this out. I impulsively bought something again today. Because if the other spouse is going to say. Oh man. Tell me what that's like. I know I've been there before, you know, I worry because I feel like we struggle with the budget, but maybe we can get on the same page. Can we hold ourselves? Can we work on this together? Can we deal with emotion in concert with each other, with another human being? Because that is where growth occurs, not in hiding, not in playing small. There is no growth in trying to manage someone else's emotions. Or just trying to continually rid myself of discomfort by giving in to the needs of others. The growth comes from feeling safe and secure as I express things that I'm going through for the first time in my life and having somebody there empathetically, caring, and saying, tell me more and what's that like for you? Because then I get to say, man, let me see what that is like for me. Let me do a little self confrontation, check this out. Here's how I'm feeling now. And I never realized what your experience was. And I'm not saying then the unicorn comes out and they point their horn behind a tree. And there's a pot of gold. It isn't that, you know, fictitious. To them, these types of conversations and relationships do exist in the world so if that is not what you are having you deserve to have better relationships and better conversations. So here is where I almost just went with commandments. So, the word commandments may still be used. You may have read that in the title. This person said you can use all of the following. So she said, you shall, shall never stop at target because they disallowed salvation army bell ringers at Christmas. You shall always buy American made. He checked my clothing for tags for years. Shall never put any type of flavored coffee in the coffee maker, shall always wash all new clothing and bedding before use. Shall never ask for things. This almost always was guaranteed by you. You would not get them. Shall not complain because doing so indicates that you're not grateful. Again, these are, this is an adult human being in a marriage where the other adult human being is saying that this is how you must be. And, and this is what, how our, our relationship needs to be framed. Just let that sink in. Because that is not a way to build connections. But she has plenty more. 

You shall not open the sunroof if he is in the car, you shall always check all of his pockets before washing his clothes because he could have forgotten something. You shall watch the salt. He monitored that like crazy. You shall get out of his chair. Particularly the kids when he would walk up to the chair and stand there and wait, you shall not open the bedroom window at night. You shall never tell anyone how many animals that we have, you shall not expect anything from him. He may or may not do what he said he would do. It depended on if he wanted to do that in the end. And you shall not question. Servers shall never be tipped. TV or music shall be played at his preferred volume. If it was too loud for his liking, then he would turn it off. And if you wanted it louder and he did not, that was incorrect. And if he wanted it down, you get the point. So she said, is that enough? She said, oh my goodness, what a miserable situation. So then someone else had chimed in and said, okay, maybe the title is going to be the false commandments of narcissism. So I think that that does speak to this quite well. Another person chimed in and said the one that I still catch myself abiding by is how to load the dishwasher. And I've already commented on this. I think in previous episodes, maybe even in the death by a thousand cuts. But she said, it's funny how the rules were always for things that he felt were primarily my responsibility, because of course he knew better how I should do everything. And to that one I did, I did say, I have literally, and probably shared with other people that I could do an entire episode on narcissism and dishwashers. She's in a new relationship and she said when her new partner was over, he was helping her with the dishes, and she says, because that's the thing that happens in healthy relationships without the expectation of sex later, by the way. 

He asked how I like things put in the dishwasher and she said, I sat there dumbfounded and I thought what's the angle. And then I told him about my ex's rules with the dishwasher, somebody else then just also chimed in and said that they also said, man, the dishwasher, why is this a thing? This is definitely how the rules played out in their home as well. And then other people chimed in and said, what is it about the dishwasher? And so I think that that is one of those things that it just it's, because it's a simple thing that then someone can criticize someone else about when, in reality, you can load or unload the dishwasher, to be honest, however, you would like now, are there more efficient ways? First of all, let's define efficiency. But even if that's the case, is your goal to get into a relationship so that you can finally have your way and let somebody know how much better your way of loading or unloading the dishwasher is because if that is your goal for the relationship, then I would love for you to be able to make that a clear maybe from the outset. Or from the onset of the relationship that, if somebody says, hey, what are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to get out of this? Do we wanna have kids? We want to be able to save together. Do we want to retire? I'm going to go on vacations. And if he says I would rather have somebody say at the beginning, to be quite honest, I've got this whole idea around how a dishwasher should be loaded or unloaded. And so that's really, my goal is to find someone that is doing it wrong so that then I can correct them. And then they will then applaud me. And then I will feel like my life is complete, which I don't think is going to be the case.

Someone else said that a memory was sparked. She said another rule of the household that they were not allowed to use their dishwasher at all. Even though it was brand new, we had to hand wash everything. If we dared use the dishwasher, then there was a litany of complaints. The dishwashers are a waste of time. My family had to wash our dishes. So your family should too. I'll drink from this cup, but I'll bet it's dirty because you use the dishwasher because the dishwasher actually doesn't do a good job. Or the dishwasher is too noisy. It is confusing. She said which it wasn't and I could go on and then more people chimed in about the dishwasher. Someone else has commented and said the rules are so many, so unpredictable, it felt like yet he would rail. On work or outside sources that would have a preference, not a policy that he would never follow those preferences himself. She said the rules happen to be on the things that I did and not him. The kids couldn't have donuts for breakfast, because donuts aren't breakfast. But then on the days that he would go out or maybe a Saturday morning and he would go out and run errands, then he would get them donuts and other pastries. But that was different because it was the weekend and he didn't have a chance to interact with them often. The kid should exercise a certain amount of time every day, but he would not put any effort into it. It was just a directive to me and I also happen to be working full time. She said he had preferences on everything that he passive aggressively let known. 

And she said, then I would hear about if I didn't follow the dog food, for example, needed to be left in the dog food bag and sealed until I scooped out the food at the time that the dog was going to eat, even though digging my hand in the bag would scratch my hand, whatever that would look like when I scoop the food, she said he left for quite a while, an extended amount of time for work. And she said, I started to feel rebellious and I started to break the rules. She said it and it still made me feel so anxious. She said therapy helped her realize how silly it all was from the outside. And that's the vibe that I would love for you to get from this episode of how silly it is from the outside, that I am an adult with a mind and opinion. I can make decisions and calls on my own, even without consulting my spouse's opinion. And she said, I have no idea when I started to follow his rules and I still catch myself following them without realizing it. I'm taking it day by day. She said, I don't have to give them a full report of every bite that the kids have eaten today. Because when I do then that's, I'm open for criticism. I can buy and use a dog food bin since I'm the only one who feeds the dog. And I prefer it that way. She said I can let the kids brush their teeth and the downstairs bathroom on occasion. Even if a kid tells me that dad wouldn't let me do that. I can even give my kids mac and cheese for a second day in a row. If that's how life is rolling that day and the kids can even have a cinnamon roll for breakfast. Even when it's not a weekend and it's not something that he does. Somebody else commented that it's the directives, the rules that are expected to be enforced, just not by the person giving the rules. 

Just a few more. There's another person that I just, I really appreciate this tape. She said, this is why I'm even struggling to figure out how to have a healthy relationship with her new husband. And she's in a very healthy, happy relationship now. She said there are all these unwritten laws in my head about how marriage works based on my old neural pathways that were created from a 20 year relationship with a narcissistic ex, she said, it seemed as if there was some sort of invisible exchange system that in order to ask a favor of him, I had to do something for him. If I wanted to have a girl's night out, he needed a week away on a hunting trip. If I asked him to help with some of the household duties, then I had to go out and do a big chunk of the yard work. If I wanted to spend money on something for myself, then he got to buy a new gun or something. And she said she has just a million more examples of this. And she said, I don't think I ever would have noticed how this is not a great foundation for a relationship, and how I did not feel like there was unconditional love. She said my husband now calls me out on it all the time, and calls me out, let me say in a good way. She said that he points out that there are just times in life when he is more available and will step up in times when I am more available and then I can do more. And it's not an exchange system. That love should not be conditional and full of unwritten laws and expectations of reciprocation all the time and I couldn't agree more. 

Other people chimed in and talked about how relatable that was, the silent what's in it for me attitude is so real. And then I just wanted to, I chimed in on this one and said, it's something that shows up unconsciously in new relationships. Because at that time, when I was reading through this thread for the first time, I had a session with somebody pretty recently. That was just, they were worried about what they didn't know that they didn't know about relationships. Entering a new one. And the fact that they just felt so anxious about. What are the things I don't know about a relationship? And when you're in a healthy relationship, of course you don't know what you don't know, but you're going to discover together, which then the relationship is filled with curiosity, which is amazing. She was very nice and chimed back in and said, it's interesting navigating a new, healthy relationship with past unhealthy survival tendencies. And I really appreciated that phrase that she used. She said, my eyes are wide open as I've learned a lot in this past year. And she said she hopes that she can use this understanding to reach out and help even more people navigate this unknown. And I thought this was a really good take too, another person chimed in and said that they also felt that they were living from these, these rules. And she said, I found myself guilting out whenever the narcissist, her narcissistic ex-husband, has the kids and has an appointment falls on his mornings or when he has the kids and that responsibility falls on him. She said, even if I tend to everything else on their schedules, she said, the one I'm feeling guilty about now is to drop off our son at a therapist, then wait for 30 minutes with wifi, comfy sofas, good free coffee, during a time that he has a break in his work schedule. 

She said here, the rule is everything to do with the children that does not involve a trampoline park or a swim park, is mine to do, not his. And I think that's one of the things that can be so difficult is you do want the best for your kids. And so if there is a chance that your ex and then we can stay in this scenario, whether it's the husband in the relationship with the immature woman, wife, or if it's the wife and the relationship with the immature husband, I feel like I could just continue to go on. There's so many. Let me just go through a speed round. Someone else said, I can't believe what a chord this struck, she said there were colors. He didn't like smells. He couldn't stand rules about candles, haircuts, clothing, perfume, purses, my jewelry, how to make the bed, how to fold the laundry, how to clean the lights, the thermostat, the air conditioner. Even how to sit on the furniture, how to arrive early, how long to stay, how I talked on the phone, what I said to the neighbors, the exhaust fan in the bathroom, the refrigerator, the car, she said so many issues around the car. There were rules about shopping for food, eating habits, rules for the curtains. No plants, no pets. And she said, and I felt like I was always in trouble if family or guests violated his rules, somehow it was my responsibility and I would pay the price after they were gone. She said, I swear, I could go on for a week and still be reciting the rules. I catch myself off these days, realizing. Did I get, she said, a lovely little, just a bit of pleasure. Every time I'm breaking one of his rules, the enormity of how bad it was, has never been a real eye-opener. She said, I think I'd become so programmed that it was second nature. But never again. And she said my house is now my rules and then other people chimed in. 

One saying I lived so many of these same rules and I was made to pay of guests, broke them. I needed to contemplate this better. Someone else then chimed in and said the smells. She said, ah, I can't use dry shampoo without him complaining about the smell. Candles, forget about it. Unless it's pine scented. If I wear perfume, he complains, I put makeup on, it’s who are you trying to impress? I don't care how you look because I'm doing it for myself, isn't enough. And I could go on. Another person said he didn't like certain restaurants because their sweet tea was awful, but made our kids order water everywhere, showers should last no more than eight minutes, but he never was able to provide the data of where the eight minutes came from. Picky eaters were not allowed, but he could declare boldly what foods he refused to eat such as oysters. The menu of dinners for the week couldn't have too much rice or pasta, but he was okay with potatoes. And she said she grew up in an area where rice and pasta were the staple, but then she also said, but that was part of what he despised of me being proud of my roots yet he was beyond proud of his. So basically anything that a double standard could be attached to, we'll go through a speed round and then we'll wrap this one up. Another person said, had to buy his favorite brands, or they were called poop brands. If we weren't 15 minutes early, we were late. If I didn't dry out chicken, he would complain that I was going to make everybody sick with salmonella. I couldn't turn the AC above 60 degrees for years, even though I have Raynaud's and my fingers will be numb, with a sweatshirt and pants. And then we would proceed to get mad that we wouldn't go to sleep naked because it was a freezing cold room. If I complained that meant I was ungrateful. I had to speak to them about feelings or important stuff at the exact right time. Not after work, not when he was hungry and not before bed. 

He made it clear that he liked all the girls' hair long. We couldn't cut it short. Also he didn't like it up. He didn't like it when I wore too much makeup or skinny jeans or capris. We wanted time to go to bed early with him, but he wouldn't help get the kids ready to bed for years. So when he finally did, he rushed them and made them upset before bed. We had rules on how many nights he would prefer I stay up late versus I go to bed with him. I was a night owl and he went to bed as the kids were going to bed. The dog was never allowed upstairs because of his allergies, but he was the one who insisted on getting the dog, even though he knew he was allergic. So many rules around air conditioning, haircuts and spending money, but she said there were also other rules like if you're tired, go to bed without reading or else he gets mad at you about it. Or if you say you're going to read, but you're on your phone and he gets mad about that. Or if you say you're tired, then don't go to bed. He gets mad at you. If you turn out the lights, but if you go to bed with the lights on, then he gets mad that you didn't wait up for him. Or he asks you a yes, no question, that feels like a loaded agenda. You have to guess the right answer. He gets mad. And if you try a clarifying question, he gets mad and barks, it's a yes or no question. Now I read those as quickly as I could, because that's the confusion. That even if you try to slow down and stop and make sense of these things, they're going to change. 

More people chimed in that you're so right, rules. Like when the movie is over, you have to stay in your seat and watch the credits until the credits are all the way done. Somebody else chimed in and said, yep. That's one for me too. And another person did say reading all of this made me realize something that my husband is hypervigilant about. Not appearing controlling that there are definitely examples of him having rules around kitchen cleaning, money, et cetera. But she said, here's what's funny or weird about it. He uses himself as the standard, which I should be measuring myself. He's under the impression that if he's doing or not doing something, I should be this way, he doesn't think he's being controlling. For example, she said he decided to stop buying his protein powder because of costs. And so now he's recently berated me about not using mine. He stopped buying his, so I should too. Same happens with cleaning the kitchen. Now that he's cleaning it more, everybody needs to be better about putting their dishes in the dishwasher right away. Even though he was never that diligent about the dishes when I was the one cleaning. Has controlled a super covert to me. And like others have said, uses a great deal of guilt. And even more so though, he puts rules on communication because that's less tangible than him controlling how much money I spend. I'm not allowed to make faces when I talk, no interrupting him. And as long rants don't be on my phone while he's talking, act very interested, but not too emotional. None of these rules apply to him. And if I break one, then he uses that as an excuse to turn into a raging teenager and say whatever harsh, cruel things he wants. 

And while I feel we could go on and maybe we'll save this for a part two, but I'll wrap it up with a comment that really did, I know I can, I use this phrase a lot, it breaks my heart. But one of the women in the group said, one thing that I really am having issues on learning in my brain, even though I'm still married, she said, is that my worth or worthiness of love directly correlates with my productivity. If I do enough, things are copacetic. If I'm not productive enough, I am met with anger, tantrums, name calling. She said my therapist is trying to really drill into me that my worth is not based on productivity. And I think that's one of the challenges here and people have chimed in and related as well. One of the people said I can really relate when my therapist sent me a copy of my treatment plan for therapy, the word busy-ness was highlighted and underlined. That we're so much more than that, but it's so hard to undo and we didn't become busy producers in a vacuum. It was an important protector at some point. And maybe still is. And I think that's one of the most, the largest challenges with this, the group of kind people that are in these relationships with emotionally immature or narcissistic people, whether again, male, female, whatever the dynamic is, that you're a kind person trying to make sense of things, trying to do enough. Because when you do, then that's some of the times where you are met with some bit of validation, but then when these rules, these rules just continue to change. And they aren't enough and they are crazy making because you are absolutely losing your sense of self. Then that can be this position where you just start to feel like I just can't make sense of anything because it's nonsense. 

So, if you have additional examples of these rules, send them to me at contact@tonyoverbay.com and we'll do additional episodes based off of this because I guarantee that there are going to be people that are going to just resonate with this concept of these rules, these, just double standard or passive aggressive, or do as I say, not as I do rules. And again, just know that if that's what you're dealing with in your relationship, it's not an emotionally mature, healthy relationship and it's okay for you to do things the way that you want to do them and especially to be able to have conversations about this. So I appreciate your time and I will see you next week on Waking Up to Narcissism.

Tony shares a question from his private Facebook group about gaslighting and “breaks down the game film” on why it is still difficult to change your patterns of communication with the narcissist even though you’re now aware of what you previously weren’t aware of. He shares some powerful responses to the question from members of the group who are on the healing side of their relationships. And finally, he gives perspective on what growth eventually looks like and how empowering that can be for you and your kids. 

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

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

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

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

Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 51 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, and host of the Virtual Couch podcast, which I encourage you to add to your list of podcasts to listen to as well. Today, though, we are going to jump right in because I just love this Facebook group, this private Facebook group for women who are in relationships with narcissistic fill in the blank; could be a spouse, could be a parent, an entity, a job, an adult child, you name it. And there is so much that just happens organically in this group. And so, I asked for permission to be able to read this example because I have so many thoughts and the things that the people shared in here are just phenomenal and this is the kind of support that is happening. So, I wasn't planning on plugging it, but if you are someone who is interested in joining the group, let me know. And my men's group is getting close. There's two types of guys I'm looking for, one, if you are starting to say, oh man, maybe I'm waking up to my own emotional immaturity or narcissistic traits and tendencies. Hallelujah. That is literally where I was years ago and why I started this podcast and what I think helps so much as a therapist. And if that is you then, reach out to me at contact@tonyoverbay.com. And my assistant Naomi is putting a list of people together. And I want to talk to you and we'll get a group going. And if you are someone that is a man who is in a relationship with the narcissistic, fill in the blank, entity of your life. Whether it's a spouse, whether it's a parent, you name it, then I'm getting more of you as well. And I see you, and I know that sometimes the emails I get will say, why do you only talk as if the men are narcissists? I'm not saying that. And again, we're all emotionally immature until we're not. 

And the pattern that we see so regularly is the male who is more of the emotionally immature. And there's quite a bit of data to back that up. But that doesn't mean that it isn't the other way around. And quite frankly, it can be really, really difficult when the man is the pathologically kind person and the relationship with the emotionally immature or narcissistic or borderline traded wife, because a lot of the stereotypes that go along with that is men are not, they don't often talk at all about being in those situations. And I have a handful of men that I'm working with right now that are in that situation and admittedly, people just really don't believe them at all. 

And so it can be incredibly isolating and lonely. So if you are a guy in that situation, reach out to me as well. And we're going to get there. We're going to put those groups together as well. But here's, and I've changed some of the details of this post that were in the group. But there's so much gold here, so I've changed the details. And then I'm really excited to get to the responses from the people in the group. 

So the person posted and they just said, “Is this gaslighting?” So they said, “My spouse tonight knew that I had been up for all hours of the evening, since I think about one or two in the morning and he woke me up because it was some bad weather and he needed help moving some cars around.” And, she said that she had already worked a very long 12 hour day, and they have a lot of kids and the kids were at home because it was a snow day. 

So she said, “While she was working, he had sent a text around dinnertime and said, ‘Hey, should I go get dog food since we're out?’” And she had already been up since one or two in the morning and had been working from home. And I'm sure dealing with kids who were home from school, who don't really respect that mom or dad is working from home. So much of that happened over the pandemic. 

So she just said, “I barely read the message and I just replied, ‘I'm almost done.’” And she said, “I just kind of assumed that if the dog needed food and he knows what time the store closes. And he's available that he would go get the food.” So she said she finished working, she came into the kitchen and he said, “Hey, do you want to go get the dog food now? Or do you want to wait until tomorrow morning?” 

And she said, “I'm pretty sure he knows that I work another long day tomorrow and I wouldn't have time either.” And she said, “I honestly assumed it was common sense for him to just go get it.” But she said he didn't. And I want you to know, I can jump in right now and say, okay, we've got a lot of assumptions happening and we'll get to that. But I will already say that if somebody doesn't just express, Hey, I'm busy. Can you go get it? There's a reason. I mean, there's my pillar. one of assuming good intentions, or there's a reason why people do or don't do or show up the way that they do. So I would imagine that she doesn't feel like she can necessarily point out details or say, hey, I'm busy, can you do that? Because I would imagine there's been a pattern in the past where that would be met with, oh, you think I'm not busy, but anyway, we'll get to that here in a little bit. 

So, she said, yeah, I assumed it was common sense, but he didn't, so she put her shoes on and she grabbed a couple of kids and thought it's a time to bond. And said, let's go and let's go get dog food. So on her way to go get the dog food, she gets a text and it says, “Are you upset with me?” And she said, “I probably shouldn't have responded at all.” And, I get that. But she just replied back and said, “‘I'm not upset. I just kind of wish you would have taken the initiative to get things done sometimes.’ I genuinely wasn't upset. But it would make me really happy if he would just do things that need to be done without me holding his hand.” 

And let me point out something that I think is pretty interesting is even just to do a little bit of self check-in right now of as you're listening to this, if you're listening to this and all you're thinking about is boy, she sounds like she's being pretty cold and mean, that is an observation of basically what you're hearing and then a judgment. 

And so now you're listening with, okay, well, there she goes again, being mean. So this is what I talked about a week or two ago on Marshall Rosenberg's concept of nonviolent communication, where we just naturally do that. We have an observation, or maybe we hear something and we immediately insert a judgment in. And in reality, that judgment is something that we're using to make sense of something, trying to make sense of something through our own lens, or maybe to manage our own anxiety. Because if that's, if I'm the guy, and I've done that then do I say, oh man, I have done that. Or am I listening to this saying, well, she shouldn't assume, she should just tell me. I mean, I probably would've been okay with that. 

So that's the concept. I just, I love being aware of this concept around nonviolent communication. So if you are observing or listening and already making that judgment, then what an opportunity to grow. So step back and just listen and try to separate yourself from your own ego, which can be a challenge, but what a good challenge to have. So she said again, I shouldn't have responded. And she said, I genuinely wasn't upset and it would have made me so much happier if you would just do things that need to be done without me holding his hand. So she said his response seemed very gas lit to me, and she asked the group, “What do you think?” Because here's what the response was. He texted and said, okay, are you mad? And she just said, I wish you would just take the initiative and do some things sometimes on your own. And he said, “It's always something with you. I do everything I can and it is never good enough. You're always coming down on me about something.I did X, Y, Z for you today, and this is the thanks I get? I don't know if I can take much more of this.” She said, “Am I crazy for expressing how I feel? I just wanted him to know that it would make me happy if he would go buy dog food when it was needed. And especially if he knew that I was working and he was the one that was kind of sitting there and texting about dog food.” So she said, “The last thing I said about it before he started the silent treatment was, ‘I remember when you told me to let you know if there's anything at all I need and you would help.’” 

And so that's what she actually did. So she just said, “That seems a little bit contradictory.” And even when I dig into his response, “I do everything I can for you. And it's never good enough. You are always coming down on me about something.” And I just want to point out as well, and I know this is something that can seem simple, but when I have a couple in my office, I talk so much about those “all or nothing” or “absolute” statements. And people often say, I know, I know I do it, but she knows, or he knows that that's not what I mean. 

But it doesn't really matter if he or she knows that we don't mean, okay, every single time or always, or never. Because I get to watch from my chair the shutdown, the facial expression, the tuning out when somebody says, you know, she's never thanked me for anything. And she doesn't lean in at that point and say, oh man, that'd be really hard if he feels like, I've never said, thank you. 

What her mind goes to is okay, I can think of how about last night when I said thanks for this, or how about three days ago? And so at that point, when someone does that, uses these all or nothing statements, I call these reactants. Again, reactants are that instant, negative reaction of being told what to do. And I feel like it's a similar vibe where in couples counseling or when I watch people interact with each other, when somebody even just says, well, you know, what you don't understand is then that person's already on defense. I'm being attacked while I'm sure I understand what you're about to say. Or if somebody says, “You never, or you always,” or even I watch it happen if somebody says, “in the last, I don't know, 15 times that we've done that, you haven't said thank you.” And so honestly, the person naturally is inclined to start looking through, okay, 15 times. 

Oh, I can think of four times ago where I didn't do that, so then we tune out. I would highly encourage anybody to use the good old, “I feel” statements. So instead of what you don't understand is, what I feel like is happening or what I worry about that we're missing here, or whenever you use those all or nothing statements, it's really simple to start to try to put into your speech patterns, you know, I feel like she doesn't apologize very often, or I feel like he hasn't said that in a while, but the reason why we go to these never, always, and we use those big statements is because they get a reaction. The unfortunate part is it gets a reaction. It doesn't get a true response. It gets a reaction. 

So even in the semantics of when we're texting, even texting in our own emotional immaturity, I just feel like one of the biggest things that you can start to do in waking up to your own narcissism or waking up to the narcissism in your relationships is just being aware and be aware of our speech patterns, the semantics, how we show up, and I think that's a real powerful way because a lot of times people say, all right, I'm starting to wake up to this, what do I do? 

And you go, this path of awakening, this path of enlightenment, you go from not knowing what you didn't know. And that is, you didn't know it. So boy, please give yourself some grace. And then the next step on this path of awakening, path of enlightenment, is, okay. Now I know, but I'm really not doing much about it. And that is one of the scariest places to be, because it feels like I kind of wish I wouldn't have known. And then you get to beat yourself up for not taking action. So in this scenario, a little bit of a lighter version of that, if I didn't even necessarily know the true effect that these all or nothing statements were having on my conversations with anybody. Now I know, but then I find myself still doing it. I still just said, okay, but you never did this. Or I always do this. So don't beat yourself up. Just look at that and go, oh man, there, I did it again. I mean, that's fascinating. So I'm going to get better at it. 

The third step on this path of awakening or enlightenment is now I know, and now I use the new tool, whatever it is, pretty often more often than not. So in that scenario now, I'm pretty confident that I find myself saying “I feel” a lot. I don't know. I feel like we're on a different page here or, okay, I appreciate you saying that, I felt like you had said this. We start using those, I feel statements and we get away from, you know, it's been a long time since, or I feel like you don't say that very often. And that's a lot easier for somebody to lean in and stay present when they're hearing the I feels or it's been a long time since, or I don't think that usually we, so I just think that's a really important piece to know. 

And then that last step, which is so cool on this path of awakening, path of enlightenment, again, we go from, I didn't know what I didn't know. Now I know, and I don't implement the tool that I've learned very often so I beat myself up. And please give yourself grace to now I know, and I'm getting pretty good with the tool. 

So that's kind of cool. And when I don't use the tool, I'm pretty good at giving myself grace as well. And I can break down the game film and what am I missing? What am I pretending not to know? Maybe I was hungry or angry or lonely or tired. And then finally, this last step of awakening just becomes part of who you are and you find yourself saying, “I feel” all the time and you don't use the all or nothing statements, and then that becomes part of the interior landscape of what it feels like to be you. And that's a pretty amazing thing to feel. 

So for people that are starting to listen to this podcast, Waking Up to Narcissism, you're on that whole path of enlightenment, path of awakening. So I know that I'm digressing from the topic today, but I just think that's so important. So the person shared all of that “is this gaslighting?” and the first person who jumped in is someone I know well in the group. And it's so funny, I want to share my own observation and judgment again, not like I'm a zen guru who gets all the stuff right all the time. 

The first response to this person's post was someone that I know very well and this person is a very dynamic individual and she said, “Hey, can I share another perspective?”. And I have to tell you all of a sudden, my heart rate elevated, my anxiety started to peak and I thought, oh no, here's somebody that just poured their heart out, made this emotional bid to this group of hundreds of caring, thoughtful women. 

And she's saying, let me tell you what you should have done. And it wasn't that at all, there was my observation, and my judgment was quick to follow. But she said, “He was not stepping into his masculine leadership role, but expected you to take care of everything. He seems to be trying hard to do what he is told, told you to make you happy. But because he can't read your mind, he won't ever be able to do it right now.” Again, I'm starting to swing back into, ah, this isn't a, you know, that's a good point, but where are we going with this? But then she says, “He needs to step up into that leadership position and take responsibility.” 

And she said, “However, it's also important for you to help him know exactly what you're thinking rather than assuming he knows.” And she said, “Men can't read our minds as much as we would love for them to.” And so I just love the honesty, the vulnerability here, because she's saying all right, here's another perspective. She's saying, man, he was not taking ownership or accountability. He was not stepping up into that role of leadership in the home. But we were also making these assumptions now. That's why I go back to what I said earlier. I can understand why she made the assumptions. I mean number one, because she's a human being. That's what we do, especially when we've been in relationships for awhile. 

But number two, I would imagine part of the interior landscape of her mind or what it feels like to be her is that hasn't gone well when she's brought up little things. So she's made it a pattern to kind of assume because I would rather assume and hopefully get things right then ask and then be made to feel dumb. 

So then the person responding said, “Also to answer your question, oh yeah, he gas lit you, he did gas light you because I think he was frustrated thinking that you were upset and then he knew he fell short.” And she said, “Not condoning his behavior in any way, but unfortunately that is the emotional immature part of us humans.” 

There's so much good to unpack here, but I just want to read what the next comment was. First of all, somebody just said, “I absolutely agree with what that person had replied with”, but then the next person said, “Yeah, all that defensiveness seems like gaslighting to me, a hundred percent.” 

But she said, “Something else that stands out to me in this story, though, is the weird thing that I completely recognized for my own codependency.” She said that the phrase “Are you upset?” And I love this woman's vulnerability here. She said, “I guess it depends on how one defines upset, but in the past I felt like I couldn't admit to being upset or hurt or frustrated or angry because then his reaction would make me so dysregulated and uncomfortable.” 

And she said, “In an effort to manage his reactivity, I would lie about or minimize my anger because I need to have a tiny bit of control over the situation.” So she said, “What I'm learning to do,” and this is why I wanted to do this episode today, “what I'm learning to do, and working really hard on is standing in my own space in autonomy. So here, I'm thinking you might have been at least a little upset.” She said, “I know I would have been. And I wonder what would've happened if in response to his question that you had answered, ‘Yeah. I am a little upset because I thought you were going to take the initiative to get the dog food.’” And then she said, “I'm sure he'll proceed with the childishness and silent treatment, but at least you're not as tangled up in it because ultimately the way he responds to your legitimate feelings is not your responsibility. And you weren't wrong to have the feelings in the first place,” because she said, “you are a whole human who gets to feel things like anger with your human partner who functions like one of the children.” 

And I love, here's the pathologically kind of people in the group. She said, “And forgive me if this response was way off base, I just really read it and it was very familiar to my experience.” So bless her heart. It's an amazing response because I feel like this is when people are starting to wake up to this immaturity in their relationships, these narcissistic traits, tendencies, and behaviors. 

One of the most difficult things to do is to change your own deeply rutted neuropathways. Stand in your own confidence of being able to speak your own truth, and know that you are allowed to have your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions, even if it causes the other person to gaslight, even if it causes the other person to shut down, or to defend their fragile ego because that is the tension where there is opportunity for growth. You're not crazy. You're just a human being. So in the scenario and what I loved about the first response, where she said, “he's not stepping into his masculine leadership position.” 

And I haven't talked about this on the podcast and I've got some stuff planned for this down the road. But I want to dig in at some point really to the whole masculine, feminine, energies. It's about polarity and it's not about male, female, and that's why I've just sat back on this for a while. I talk about it often in my practice and on the group calls that we have in the Facebook group, because it's a big part of my marriage course, but the polarity masculine, feminine energy in Indian culture, I believe it’s Shiva and Shakti. And so it's not about male, female, but it's more about presence and radiance. It's about holding a firm boundary. It's about the riverbank to the flowing water, the picture frame to the art. 

So it's about when someone is in their unhealthy feminine energy, which is absolutely something I can find myself in. Then when somebody steps into this unhealthy masculine role, now we just have two unhealthy people that are communicating in an incredibly emotionally immature way, and that will be a big topic for a later day. 

But when somebody, and in this scenario he was actually acting from this immature, radiance.. And see, I hesitate to even say right now, unhealthy feminine energy, because it's not about male, female. And that's why I wish I could, I need to come up with better words, hotdogs and hamburgers. Although I don't know which one would be the masculine or feminine. My brain goes to jokes and that's not what we want to do here. So, when someone in this scenario says, are you mad at me? All of a sudden he wants her to manage his anxiety. So then if she then jumps in and I want to say, to the mix, the fray. And says, yeah, it is frustrating. Unfortunately at that moment, he is not ready for a connected conversation, for a four pillar, let's talk about this. We both have two opinions and let's get down to the bottom, and I'll take some ownership and accountability. And in that scenario he's in his emotional immature, dysregulated state. 

And so he feels bad because she left, she took a couple of the kids. He feels like I'm in trouble like a little kid. So then he, instead of a self confrontation taking ownership of saying, man, I can understand that I could have gone and got the dog food. Unfortunately, this is where the emotionally immature or narcissistic person, be it the male or the female, they have grown up with this pattern of not taking ownership of anything and not wanting to sit with discomfort. And so instead of being able to sit with that and then get into an empathetic mode step outside of their ego. They need you to quickly manage their anxiety, or manage their emotional state. 

Are you mad at me? If you say no, it's fine. Okay. Good. And unfortunately, when you're dealing with somebody that's incredibly emotionally immature, now they even get to say, okay, good because you seem like you were making a big deal out of something that wasn't a big deal. Because now unfortunately, the emotionally immature person, not only has to say, hey, can you manage my anxiety, but also can I just regain this one-up position and let you know that I still make more sense than you do? And I feel like that's part of what is just so maddening. So when this person who had just responded with this last comment said, I wonder what it would look like if you had shared your true thoughts and feelings, even if he gaslit and became emotionally dysregulated. I understand that is one of the hardest things to ask a pathologically kind person to do. Because that's what you've been doing for such a long time is keeping the peace and you know, the rules of the game, even if it's been subconscious of, is it worth the fight? I know my opinion is not going to matter. And so it's easier for me just to say no. Yeah. Yep. You're right now. I'm fine. You're good. My bad. Because we want to keep the peace. But what happens is we need to start being able to express ourselves because that is part of being in an adult human relationship. And if your partner is not willing to self-confront, not willing to seek help, then we really have to start taking a look at, is this a viable relationship? And that's really hard to say as a couples therapist, I got into this to save every single couple in the entire world. We would all live happily ever after. But you find out that there’s still this concept of, we all are so emotionally immature coming out of childhood and into our adolescent relationships and even into our marriages because we didn't know what we didn't know when we're trying to get the other person to like us. And we got our abandonment wounds and our attachment wounds. And then when we start having these different experiences in life, we need to be able to communicate because we're two different individuals, two different human beings. So it only makes sense that we would have different thoughts, different opinions, different views, and what an amazing opportunity to learn more about somebody that you care about. But it does seem paradoxical to the emotionally immature person. Because that fear of abandonment is so strong because it's there from childhood. It really is. 

The thought is, oh my gosh, if my wife has her own thoughts and opinions, or if she starts dressing differently, or she goes and starts making her own money, she's going to leave me. So I have to control the situation. And the way I control is to put her in a one down position. And it is not healthy. You're not going to be the best version of you. And it's not something to model for the kids. But I digress. So the next comment I love though, after this person said, forgive me if this response was off base, I just read this really familiar to my experience. So another person said, “That is literally the scripted response of any underdeveloped person that they have such fragile egos, that they cannot handle anything that even remotely resembles a critique or feedback.” And right there I just thought, man this group is getting strong. 

Because what I love talking about is that, unfortunately, the emotionally immature person takes any slight or even just a disagreement as criticism. Not just criticism, but in their mind, because this hearkens back to childhood, it goes back to shame. And remember, there's a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt: Okay, I did something bad. Shame: I am a bad person. 

And I think it's so important to recognize that most of us have a default to shame because as a child, if we didn't get the unicorn for our birthday, or we didn't get the candy every day for dinner, we didn't get to go to sleepovers every night, then we were still looking at that from this tiny little immature lens and we didn't have an understanding or empathy or regard for others. So the only reason that people are not meeting my needs anymore must be because I am a bad person. That I must be tragically flawed in some way, because I don't understand what anybody else's experiences are, so we have a default to shame, unfortunately, that I am not enough. I am bad. I am unlovable. And so the whole point of growing up and becoming more emotionally mature and getting into relationships with other people, is with the hope that then we can start to express ourselves and feel connected, feel loved, feel heard, feel understood. And then in that process of that, we learn to let go of that need for external validation. 

Which is where we are just so stuck in. It's not unusual for me to want somebody to tell me good job or that they like me. But we find out so much that it still doesn't quite scratch the itch. So we feel like we have to go find it from somebody else or something else. But the process of emotional maturity is being able to let go of that need for external validation and know that we're okay. And that we're enough. 

But when you haven't ever, and I'll use an all or nothing statement here, we haven't really ever felt that validation during childhood or from your spouse and there's the gaslighting, and then of course, we don't have a strong sense of self and that can be so difficult because then I know people then listen to podcasts like mine or others, or they read books and they hear okay, I just need to stand on my own two feet. And I just need to really raise my emotional baseline and I need to take ownership of things. And I need to do the things that I know that are important to me. 

But then when another person sees that as, oh my gosh, you're having your own thoughts and opinions. Therefore you are going to leave me. Then you are going to be gas lit. You are going to be controlled. It's coming from their subconscious, it's their confabulated memory.

But in this response, that's only two lines in, I appreciated this response that she gave, but so she just said, okay, that's literally the scripted response of any underdeveloped person. They have such fragile egos. They can't handle anything that even remotely resembles a critique or feedback. 

She said, “You should be able to say what you said and to be frustrated, you were not even harsh in how you set it at all. You're allowed to have opinions and thoughts. You said that you would like it if he took more initiative and that's all it takes for them to have they're ultra fragile egos pinged. They pretty much immediately flood. They go into self protection mode and you get the toddler response.” She said, “It sucks. It's obnoxious and it gets really old. Could you have said, yeah, you will get the dog food. Sure”. She said, “There's no justification for the level of immaturity of his response though. And your complaint is valid. Does the dog need food? Is she busy? Am I available to get dog food?” She said, “I think he's old enough not to need mommy to answer that question. After the fact, that developed person would say, ‘Are you going to get dog food? Sorry, I should have taken care of that earlier. I know you're really busy’ and an emotionally stunted person says, ‘are you mad at me?’” 

And I love where she said, “Note, it's not even about the dog food. It's, ‘I can't tolerate you being anything but thrilled with me because my ego is so, so delicate’. Followed by trying now to offload his discomfort onto you. And make you feel bad and responsible and make it miserable. So you are afraid to ever share a complaint again because he will flipping take it to a subtle divorce threat. ‘I can't take much more of this’.” This response was amazing in this group, what an amazing response. 

This woman said, “My husband talks like this all the time. If anything he does, if it's even blatantly not okay, is ever questioned. And over the years, it's escalated to where,” she said, “if I didn't validate everything he does, even if I don't agree with it then I'll get a whole plethora of dysfunctional coping strategies to try and control me. So I will manage his emotions for him.” She said, and this is hard, but beautiful and brilliant. She said, “He wants to be married to his mother who just pats him on the head and told him he was wonderful, no matter how not wonderful, what he did was. He can't tolerate me being my own person and not being enmeshed with him and in charge of regulating his emotions for him, by giving up my own identity to manage his emotions for him, my identity and my life's mission.” She said, “It's not just your average, I had a bad moment, emotional intelligence level response, you don't take a, I'm not mad. I just wished sometimes you would take a little more initiative to, I can't take much more of this.” She said, “That's an absolute victim statement, a very over the top dramatic one used to make you the bad guy and flip the script. So now it's about how terrible you treat him. For daring to not think everything he does is wonderful. And how dare you have a complaint or be annoyed at him,” or might I add, or have your own opinions or thoughts? She said, “if he did do things to help, and this is his reaction, then he's not doing those things because he's a big boy and they need to be done. He's doing them to earn approval, pad up his fragile ego and tell himself how wonderful he is and how he might be rewarded by you padding his ego. So if his ego isn't unquestionably padded, and he's not told how wonderful he is, you get the reverse attacking, defending, denying victim loaded drama.” And she said, “It's actually very manipulative to respond like he did. The next time, you'll be scared to say anything for fear of how over the top he will respond and boom, now he has you managing his fragile ego for him while you eat your needs and ability to have thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are valid too, which he doesn't really care what it creates in your world because that fragile ego takes up the whole of his concerns. As long as he can get you eating your world to manage his fragility, then mission accomplished.”

I feel like I could just end it there, but I want to talk a little bit about then. Yeah. What does that look like to show up and to stand in your calm, confident energy, even if the other person is prone to defend that fragile ego and take up all the emotion and energy in the room? So let's talk about that. 

So now I want to stitch together several pieces of the puzzle. If you are new to the podcast, Waking Up to Narcissism, then some of what I'm going to share may feel like a lot of cliches, a lot of jargon, buzzwords. You name it. And with that, I would love for you to shoot me an email with questions about anything that I'm about to share. 

Because I know that people don't necessarily start at episode one and jot down everything on their way to episode 51. But here's why I want to go down this path because when I started this podcast much of the work that I do is because when people do start to feel like they are involved with extremely emotionally immature or narcissistic people or people with narcissistic traits and tendencies, let's just kind of cut to the chase. I mean, that word narcissism is overused in our culture right now, I definitely can understand that. And I've actually been accused on a regular basis pretty much by the emotionally immature or the narcissistic people, I might add, that I am one of those that is contributing to the overuse. And part of my message, my very intentional message was early on in the podcast to identify that true narcissistic personality disorder is only diagnosed in a very small percentage of the population. 

But emotional immaturity, we are all emotionally immature in areas of our lives until we are willing to take a look inward, self confront, seek love and connection rather than control, learn to stand in our own healthy ego and healthy ego that's what's inside of us. It's built off of your lived experience. It allows you to truly find what matters to you. 

What do you feel a connection with? It's embracing your strengths, your God given talents and abilities that allow you to not only embrace your path, find your sense of purpose, let your light so shine that you can lift others so you don't require continuous validation from others, especially those who don't  respect you as a person, people are using you to manage their ego, but those who are not able to self confront, who can't take ownership of their role in situations, who continually take on a superiority or a victim position. Those are the emotionally immature or narcissistic people. 

And when you wake up to that in your relationship, most of the things that you will read or see will come and they'll say, you know what, don't even watch this any longer. Don't read any further. Just go no contact and leave. And while I may completely understand why that message, why that drum continues to be beat, I also understand that that message typically comes in hindsight by somebody who has already been on this long road, long road of self discovery. And so now they want to share their experience. They want you to avoid the path that you are about to embark on altogether. They want you to trust them. They want to save you a lot of heartache. They want you to save the fact that it is most likely going to get worse as you stand up for yourself before it gets better. And the better is hard. The middle is messy. The more you stand up for yourself, the more the buttons are going to be pushed. Things that you have said at your most vulnerable moments with this person that you have dreamed of sharing a life with, the things that you've said in those most vulnerable moments will be used against you, which at times will break you down. And no, it isn't fair. And how dare that other person use what you find so important against you? And as you stand up for yourself and as you express your opinions and have your own thoughts and feelings, which is 100% absolutely okay, and shouldn't even need to be questioned, you'll start to hear how difficult you’re being.

You will now hear that you think that you're so smart, you'll hear that you are now destroying the person that you now understand has been destroying you. And those buttons will activate parts of your fight or flight response in hopes that you will return back to that one down position that you will be there, then serve your partner in whatever way they want, whenever they want, to manage when they need you to manage their anxiety, even at the cost of your sense of self. But that message that you're going to see and hear will be there because people have already gone through it. They've gone through it and they don't want others to have to deal with all those difficult things that come. That they now wish that they hadn't gone through just to then know they wished that they knew then what they know now. But you didn't know what you didn't know, and you are going to have to go through it. And that's part of the process and it breaks my heart, but you're here on this path, on this journey. I know sitting from this therapist chair for almost two decades now and dealing with well over a thousand couples, that it is never that easy because there are so many variables. Because you are the only version of you and with your nature, nurture, birth order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, fears, hopes, dreams. And you also want the best for your relationship and your marriage. And I don't want to say that's part of the problem. It's a gift. It's a beautiful thing when you are in a healthy relationship. 

So part of that waking up to narcissism, may just be that maybe he or she, maybe they really aren't a narcissist. Maybe they are just more emotionally immature. And maybe if they will just listen to this podcast with me as well, maybe if they understand really what gaslighting is, maybe if they understand what their behavior is actually doing to me. Or maybe if I can point out an episode where I heard an example, an exact example of the way that they talk to me. And the way they talk to the kids and maybe just, maybe they'll hear that and they will go, oh, my gosh. You're right, that does sound like me. And I'm so sorry. And let's fix this. And that would be ideal. It really would. So I know that people really desperately want to at least see if that is a possibility. But instead, unfortunately, most of the time, so those are not all or nothing statements, you may hear, I'm not listening to that crap. That guy or that girl just wants your money for the podcast or the book. Or, okay fine, if you like this person so much, why don’t you go marry them, or you can move in with them. Or you might hear all right, no, you're right. I am actually the world's largest piece of crap. And you are a saint and just please tell me what can I do next to win back your favor? Or you might hear, okay yeah, you are absolutely right. You're so smart and fine, let's divorce. Then, guess what? I will tell the kids. I'll tell our church. I'll tell your parents. I'll tell everybody that this is 100% on you. But yeah, if that's what you want to do, no problem. So you're going through a process. You really are. And I have five things that I say often that I think will help you show up better in your relationship. Let's just start there because if we are all emotionally immature until we're not, then I know that you, especially you, the person that is still listening, the person that is desiring change in the relationship, the person that now is starting to be incredibly willing to self confront. You need to make sure that this just isn't one of those we didn't know what we didn't know situations. First, here's what I say, raise that emotional baseline. That is a term that I made up early in my practice, but now I believe it with every fiber of my bones or my DNA. I really believe it. Let's put it that way. Raise that emotional baseline. You must self care. Self care is not selfish and you need your baseline high enough that you can reach the tools necessary to show up as the best version of yourself. Second, get that PhD in gaslighting. You are not crazy. You're being made to feel crazy because you're arguing basically with at times a child in an adult's body. I didn't do it. You did. And you're dumb and mean, and I'm going to tell my mom. That conversation is going nowhere, which leads to number three. Get out of unproductive conversations, but know that exiting while it will help you eventually, but that is where the button pushing starts to come into play because that person needs you to come back and play your role of letting them gaslight you and letting them say you're crazy and letting them become the victim so that they now feel better about how they're showing up. And they don't have to self confront. So when you start to exit the relationship, the conversation, we start exit the conversation or the situation, get ready for that button pushing. And that's where I like and hate to say the fact that if you're doing number three, well, you're going to get those buttons pushed, which leads to the fourth thing to set healthy boundaries. I'm not going to continue this conversation when voices are raised or I'm going to go to bed. I'm not going to offer up my sense of self. My body, my sanity to manage another person's anxiety. That's a boundary. And again, A boundary to a narcissist is a challenge. It's a, oh really? This is what we're going to do. Well, let me push all these buttons and I will break that boundary. Thank you for this challenge, then that only makes me feel more strong, subconsciously says the narcissist. But then you know that's going to be more of that button pushing, which leads to the fifth and I would say most important thing. There is nothing that you will do or say that will cause them to have the aha moment or the epiphany. They have to have that moment. They have to do the work. It has to come from within them. And now you will start to then see, and you'll start to understand. And that every time you, every time, all or nothing statement, right? Most of the time, most every time that you try now to open up and explain and point out because maybe they'll see or they don't see. And then they attack you when you are trying to be open and vulnerable. When you have your aha moments and share with trusted people, now you'll start to understand that most every time you try and open up or explain or point out so that maybe they'll see, they don't see. They attack. And when you're trying to get them to have that moment, that moment has to come from within them. You have your aha moments, please have them, write them down, talk with a trusted friend, talk with a therapist that understands personality disorders. Your situation is different. It is. I often say yeah, here's the way that it takes two to tango and we're probably both 50/50 in this. But there's an asterisk for potential personality disorders. And you need to start from there because that's why so many of the things that you hear on episodes or podcasts like mine, or books about narcissism or emotional maturity or any of those resonate so deeply because it is so patternistic. 

That's why I get all the feedback that says, oh, it's like you're in my car or my home. It's because I hear these conversations almost on a daily basis in my office and they are very repetitive and very patternistic. So if people have not been through conversations or relationships with a narcissist or an extremely emotionally immature person, then they're going to say things that sound great in other relationships, but feel completely invalidating to yours. Like, well, have you thought about how your spouse may feel? Yeah, that's actually the problem. That's all I do is manage their fragile egos. And guess what? There's absolutely zero consistency there other than number one, they didn't do what I did. And number two, please refer back to number one. So what the stories from earlier today then represent is that awakening. And during that awakening, those that have been through it, probably heard some of what I shared earlier. Or what was shared by the women in the group in response to that initial message and thought, how about you don't say anything and you just leave, but it's not that easy. So, what do you do is part of what I like to call these narcissistic rule outs? You're probably going to go through a period where you realize that you actually are entitled to have your own experience, your own thoughts, your own feelings and you're allowed to express yourself, and a mature conversation would typically come next. One with curiosity, one with self confrontation, accountability, differentiation. One where you start to recognize, of course we have two different opinions. We're two different human beings from two different backgrounds. And once we can accept that, and we both can just become the best versions of ourselves, no, it does not mean that that person is going to leave. It means, oh, we're doing it right. We are both growing. And what an amazing opportunity to have two differentiated people that aren't always saying, am I okay? Am I okay? Am I okay? 

We're showing up. And then we're having these shared experiences and that is a connection. It is a real connection that we don't know until we actually have that connection with somebody. It's not this consistent seesaw of victimhood followed by an emotional attack. So, where does that lead next? 

Welcome to your popcorn moments. Eventually you get to this point of non-reaction. You sit back, you eat popcorn, and you watch the show. So I have many examples of people who get to that moment when they no longer engage. And what does that look like? They stay present and then are able to just be there, be present and not go into this fight or flight. And then they get to watch an intense movie. Usually an intense drama might be seen, one full of allegations. And gaslighting, and just to have a bite of popcorn, sit back because if you don't react, here comes act two. The comedy. You know, they were just kidding. Come on. Can you take a joke? A little more popcorn, and act three, drama. Drama, gnashing, crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. If you bought a ticket to the blockbuster version of this movie, meaning if you've been in a relationship for a long time, your movie may be a lot longer than three scenes. Trust me. 

And at that point, you are going to want to get the large popcorn because the medium was literally only a quarter more and get extra butter and watch and make sure that they put a layer in the middle, or when you pour that popcorn top out into one of those drink containers to hand to your son's girlfriend, then you're basically eating unbuttered popcorn. But, I mean, that's all hypothetical, but anyway, act four may be a horror movie. And forgive my levity for something that will sound unkind or uncaring, but the horror movie can be almost the worst version of the buttons being pushed because there might be threats of suicide when people no longer wanting to exist on this earth. And then make sure that you tell the kids that it was your fault and you hope you can live with yourself if you wake up tomorrow, and they're no longer here. And that part breaks my heart because I know that is such a button that can be pushed. It's hard to say it's just a button because I know that is scary. So that version is really, it is really scary. 

But those buttons will eventually be pushed, and maybe then you get to the final act of the play or the final scene of the movie, which will be the narcissistic dramatic exit. Forget it. They are done trying, you just don't understand. Or they're having the narcissistic rule out, a medical rule out chest, chest pain. I'm just getting dizzy. I think I'm going to faint or my chronic pain is flaring up. I just can't do this. And then you rinse and repeat and you learn more and you grow and you find yourself and your people and you don't engage and you do your work. And as you do those things, your baseline will be so high that sure we will say that I hope that they look over and see the person that you've become and say, oh man. What am I doing? I don't want to lose that person. And maybe, I don't know what I don't know. But by the time you get to that point, that's why this is your work. This is your work to do that by the time you get to that point, you'll know that you absolutely deserve love. You are lovable. How dare they betray you? How dare they take your vulnerable moments and use it as a source of supply to feed their fragile ego. And if they aren't willing to do their own work, well, your baseline is so high now, that my friends, that version of you is of worth, it is enough, doesn't need to change for anybody else. That version of you is attractive from inside out. And that strength is truly what will allow others around you to also be their best selves, including your kids. And now when people say, oh, I liked you the old way, or they feel threatened by your change, okay, I see those words coming out of their mouth. And those are adorable and they don't offend me. And they don't cause me to want to jump back into an unhealthy pattern and unhealthy relationship, let me end this by reading the Marianne Williamson poem that I think will just get you and take on so much more meaning. Based on what we just talked about. 

She says, “It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. So our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fears that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us. It's 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.”

In the context of what we just talked about today, I almost feel like, I don't know. I don't know her story. I don't know if that was escaping out of narcissistic abuse. But I hope you can see that then our greatest fear is that, and I finally feel like that resonates more. Our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We're familiar with the dark places. That's maybe where we've been operating for a long time, but that fear is of the light. A fear of stepping into the person that I need to be. Because I'm going to probably deal with a lot of invalidation, and that feels scary. But over time, when that starts to be what it feels like to be you, is that person, then that is liberating and it lifts others around you. And you don't need, you don't care about those emotionally immature people that are trying to take you down. Because, I mean, bless their heart. 

So thanks for joining me today, feel free to share this episode if you feel like it can help anybody. And I will see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism

Tony reads a message from a listener who asks, "why won't their therapist confront their narcissistic spouse?". He explains more of the origin story of narcissism and how the path of the narcissist leads them to a place where they can't possibly be the problem and why, if you confront the narcissist, it can make matters worse.

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

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

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

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

WUTN 50 Transcript

Today, I want to start with an email. 

It says, “Dear Tony, I have a personal counselor who recommended me to your waking up to narcissism podcast. She said all she could do was think of me as she's been listening to your podcast. I've been in my marriage for over 20 years, we have children and I've been dealing with this throughout my marriage. Obviously not everything in the podcast applies to us, but too much of it does. It's taken a toll on my mental and physical health and has killed my self esteem. I've been listening to your podcast nonstop because I had no idea what was happening to me had a name. And it has been so validating for me to know somebody understands my life. You put into words, my exact experiences, the thoughts, questioning myself and torments that floods my mind. You also accurately described how the treatment has made me react over the years and why I feel crazy. I have a family that I love, and I really want this man to love me. I want to be treated well, and I want my family to remain intact. However, no counselor that we have has ever addressed the issue. I've never felt that much gets resolved at all. And we haven't been able to receive the help that we need and that I need.”

 So she said that she's really writing in one last attempt to salvage the marriage because she feels like if those things could be addressed once and for all, then maybe she could find hope. And I receive a lot of emails with questions similar to this, and it is normal because as you start to wake up and understand that there are answers and see the similarities and patterns, it only makes sense. 

Why don't we tell my spouse because then they too will have this aha moment or this epiphany. And how frustrating that can be to finally feel like after all of these years that there's something that we can do. That we can put a name on this and here's a podcast and books and tools. So I need to let them know, right? 

And if you've also heard a lot of the episodes, one of the first things that I talk about is one thing that we don't do is go confront the narcissist or the incredibly emotionally immature person. 

The thing that you don't do is say, hey I think I know what we're dealing with. I think you may be a narcissist. And even though that feels like the exact thing that I want to do so that we can hurry up and get through this and have a better relationship, that's actually not the right thing to do. As a matter of fact, it can be counterintuitive. It can be the wrong thing to do. 

So, coming up on today's episode of waking up to narcissism, we're going to dig deep into why confronting the narcissist or the emotionally immature person may feel, again, like the answer. It may feel like it's perfectly normal, but how it actually feeds the problem and can make things worse. We'll talk about that and so much more coming up on today's episode of Waking Up to Narcissism.

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 50 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and also host of the Virtual Couch podcast, and a few more podcasts that are coming down the pipeline, which is exactly the reason that I would love to just simply encourage you. 

Go to my website, tonyoverbay.com, just sign up for the newsletter. That'll get you in the know of everything that you need to know. The newsletter is going to start to contain many big and wonderful things, including the first of which is you will find out about the launch of the Magnetic Marriage podcast. It is a subscription-based podcast, but it is full of real life couples, anonymous couples that have come forward and wanted help in their marriages. 

And the episodes are real and raw and full of emotion. And I lay out how to put the tools in a practice that people didn't even know that they didn't know and that they needed. And we talk about communication. We talk about infidelity, faith deconstructions, power struggles, parenting, all these things that couples are dealing with. 

And often if you've been one who has tried to get your spouse into counseling and it hasn't worked, or if you have been to counseling and you feel like that has been a dead end or hasn't worked, or might even have made things worse, then I really feel like this might be a nice way to see what counseling could actually look like and how it can help if it is possible to see that change in the relationship. And so it might be easier to put this podcast in front of a person who is, let's say counseling averse, than just to say, I think you need to go to counseling while you're not going to counseling. So that's coming very soon as matter of fact, there's probably going to be an announcement in the next week or so of the exact launch date and maybe a sale coming up soon. 

But just know that the price of this is going to be far less than one session with me, and it's going to be a subscription for an entire year of access to the podcast. So go to tonyoverbay.com, sign up to find more about that. You'll hear that through the newsletter. And I'm also revamping a parenting course that I have. 

So I think that'll be fun. And also I'm going to continue to leave out at tonyoverbay.com/workshop, a $19 couples communication workshop that will give you some more of the things to talk about in your relationship and hopefully will eventually lead to more communication, but I give some solid tools. They are real tools and tips. Again, $19 money back guarantee. 

And I would also love to encourage you to go follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I have some amazing people that are working behind the scenes now with social media and creating content. And just specific to this podcast, Waking Up to Narcissism, I started recording some clips that there are things that the narcissist would never say, and the clips are less than a minute. 

And I think there are three or four, maybe five of those out there now. And I think it's one of those things that I like using my true core value of humor. So these are not heavy tomes. I think we need humor to deal with some of the relationship issues that we have. We have something that we need to cope with and humor is often a wonderful way to cope. Let me just give you a small example. I think one of the first ones I did have, here we go. 

Things that a narcissist won't say. I've never thought of that. Or that's a great idea, or I don't know if I can do that or last but not least. You're right. So there's just some of the things you can find and very, last, very quickly, if you listen to episode 49 and your experience was that it was a repeat of episode 48, which was a wonderful interview with McKayla Renee Johnson, then please go back to episode 49, refresh your podcast player, whatever that looks like, I accidentally uploaded the very same file from 48 into 49. And within the first 24 hours is when there are a few thousand downloads and it was that repeat. So I got a lot of messages that said, did you mean to do that? 

And no, I did not. And I quickly posted to Facebook and my social media, my Instagram account that I owned up to that mistake and said, please go and relisten to 49 because 49, I really do feel I'm gonna stand in that healthy ego and say, I think it can really help. I dig deeper into Marshall Rosenberg's nonviolent communication in particular when talking or trying to communicate with a narcissist, an extremely emotionally immature person, and I titled that one “waving the white flag against violent communication” because I do think it's a little bit of a preview or a precursor to even more about what we'll talk about today, because it just shows that the more that you're making this observation, and then with an observation, we have these judgements that go right along. 

That maybe again, the pathologically kind person, that judgment, when you observe that the emotionally immature or narcissistic person in your life is doing a certain thing, maybe he just doesn't understand, or maybe she just doesn't really understand what I'm saying. So I'm going to keep trying to explain myself, but then unfortunately in this world of nonviolent communication, that person is not taking in the data. 

And the more you try to explain the more you try to show them your point of view, you're actually feeding them data that then they can use when they have a tirade or a tantrum, or they become incredibly emotionally immature or dysregulated, that sort of thing. If you have a chance, I would encourage you to go listen to episode 49. If you tried to listen to that and it wasn't, it was a repeat of 48. 

So let's start today. This is one of those things that I get so often is that question of, I know you said not to tell the narcissist that they are a narcissist, but I felt like I could. And this is where, when I talk about these five rules of interacting with someone with narcissistic traits or emotional immaturity, that number one, we want to raise that emotional baseline. We want you to do some self care and it doesn't mean you just have to go run a marathon, but it's even starting to dream and to hope and to think, and just to even think about what it would start to look like now that I'm recognizing that I've lost my sense of self, what do I really want to do? What do I feel like I've possibly missed out on. 

And not from a place of beating yourself up because, oh, what, I could've done all these things different, because again, you did not know what you did not know. And now you're starting to know. So what have you always wanted to do that you maybe haven't felt supported in, or maybe haven't even felt you could express. 

And even that is starting to shift this interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you. So raising that baseline is absolutely necessary to put you in a place to be able to interact more and whatever that looks like. But that interaction needs to come from as good of a version of you as we can get. And I want to say this very best version of you and you're going to get there because so many people are in this predicament or in these relationships really don't even recognize how much of their self that they've lost because they spent so much time, so much energy, so many emotional calories and effort on trying to manage a family, manage a situation, buffer for the kids, try to figure out why this didn't work, why he didn't say this or why she responded the way that she did. 

And maybe if I say it a little differently, maybe it will go differently. In an emotionally mature, healthy relationship, all of that time is just spent doing and being the best version of yourself, or learning more about the things that you care about and then being able to go to a partner and have a shared experience and not be made to feel crazy or put in this one down position. 

Mature conversations are about curiosity, but anyway, raise that emotional baseline and then get that PhD in gaslighting, understand that when you are very confident that you did express yourself or that he, or she said something, and you had heard that earlier and now you're being told that you did not, they did not absolutely say that. 

That's okay. If you recognize that, I feel like that's not the truth. But then not necessarily jumping back in and saying, but you did say that because that third part then is getting out of unproductive conversations because that's when the gaslighting occurs. And when it's really coming from a very emotionally immature place with your partner. Now all of a sudden you're in it. 

Someone the other day said that when they started falling into the feeling of gas lit and trying to explain their way out of things or trying to stand up for themselves in those situations that they felt like all of a sudden, now they're wrestling with a pig and that is not going to get anywhere. 

Which then leads to the fourth rule, which is learning to set healthy boundaries, but also understanding that when you set a boundary, that does not mean that the emotionally mature narcissistic person says, oh, a boundary. Okay. I will respect that. It's a boundary, it's not a kryptonite. It's actually a challenge. 

So when you set that boundary, unfortunately, while that is a good thing for you to do, you'll know that you're doing the right thing and setting that boundary if the boundary starts being pushed. And the way that boundary will be pushed is your buttons will be pushed and maybe even worse things will be said about you and I am so sorry, because that's not the way a relationship should go, but as you set the boundary, the boundary will get pushed. And then that leads to the fifth thing which is going to be such a big part of what we're talking about today. There's nothing that you will say or do that will cause them to have that aha moment, or the epiphany. That epiphany needs to come from them. That aha moment needs to come from them. And that comes from their work. Not you trying to convince them that they need to do the work. It has to happen internally to them. And I thought a lot about this as I was preparing for this episode, that the same thing that has happened to you and your own waking up to the narcissistic relationship or emotional immaturity, and the relationship that you find yourself in, that has been a process. 

Some might call it a slog. One of my friends read a book and it talked about being in the messy middle, and that might be where you're at right now, but you've had to come to that on your own. And I go back to the fact that I was very intentional in naming the podcast, waking up to narcissism, again. 

Waking up to the narcissism in the relationship that I have with my, fill in the blank, spouse, adult child, employer, religious institution, parent, whatever that is. It's waking up to that narcissism because it helps me understand that I'm not crazy. That it's okay to have my own thoughts and feelings and emotions. That I've lost myself, and I need to do something. So you have woken up to that. You have come to that conclusion through hard work. You've gathered a lot of data. And you've been on a journey and you found it and now you're here and you didn't know what you didn't know. But now, it's really hard to implement the tools and that's a tough place to be, but it's the right place to be. That's going to lead now to going from, I didn't know what I didn't know. To now I know, but it's hard to implement the tools. To now, I know what I need to do, and I'm getting better at implementing the tools. 

I start to get to this place where I implement the tools more than I don't. On one of these group calls that I do every other week with my women in narcissistic relations from my private Facebook group, we were talking about this just last night. And there was someone that jumped on there and they said, hey, I'm in that third stage of enlightenment, the one that we're talking about, where she didn't know what she didn't know. Now she knows, and she doesn't do a lot, and that was hard, but she said, I moved over into that, I know when I do more than I don't. And so it started to become easier to set the boundary. She started to be able to find herself and that is starting to feel more empowering. And then that last phase of the journey is just, this is what I do. I implement tools. I have a sense of self. I hold boundaries. I raised my baseline. I understand gaslighting. I naturally get out of unproductive conversations because they're a waste of emotional calories and time. 

And I am not responsible for making that other person understand or have that aha moment. So let's talk about that a little bit more. When I talk about that fifth rule, it's not just that you will never say anything that will cause them to have that aha moment or epiphany, but in reality, when someone is saying to their therapist or to a friend or to that parent, hey, maybe you can get through to them. That is now just saying that I now want this other person, so me as the therapist, I want you to cause him or her to have that aha moment or that epiphany. So I just wanted to start by framing it there. It makes perfect sense that if you would like to try to talk some sense into this person because of your journey and what you've learned, of course you want your partner, your spouse to have that same waking up moment because we can fix this. But look at that journey that you've been on, and there is a way to set the journey up as best as it can be to hopefully put that other person in the best position for them to hopefully self-reflect or self confront. But it isn't done by saying, look, somebody has to lay down the law. You tell them, or I will, somebody has to, because I'm tired of beating around the bush and all those things. And I've heard it many, many times. 

I've had one of my clients I adore the most, in the not too distant past, text me and say, look, are you going to tell this person that they're the narcissist?  Because if you don't, I am going to, or I will find somebody that will. And it was interesting. This person said you've been validating me, but when are you going to let my spouse know that this is not going to work? That they are the narcissist, because I will, I will find someone to do it because it has to be done. And I didn't, it broke my heart. I didn't even know where to start with that because it goes against every single thing that I lay out in podcasts, the things I say in sessions, my experience of working in this field for 17, 18 years. But then I know that it's in your relationship. It's difficult. And I hear you. 

And I understand just how desperate one can be for change. Especially when you get a little glimpse of this. There's a name for this. Here’s people talking about this, here's even people that are saying here's a way to maybe start to change. So we need to take a little bit of a step back. So I lay out those five things. 

But what we're going to do, we're going to dive back into the truth about narcissistic personality disorder from one of my favorite articles from Psychology Today by Eleanor Greenberg. So Eleanor lays out that, “Narcissistic personality disorder is the name of a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left a person with unstable self-esteem.” And let's remember that word, unstable the inability to regulate their self esteem without external validation. So, if they are already operating from a place of unstable self-esteem. And that self-esteem is regulated by external validation now for the narcissist. And I am just going to lay out, I'm going to use the word narcissist for probably the rest of this episode, but please know that when I say narcissist, I am talking about the narcissist and the spectrum of the emotionally immature person all the way up to someone that is becoming more emotionally mature, because it's going to save a lot of words and it's going to save some time. So to the narcissist, then that unstable self-esteem and then the inability to regulate that self-esteem without external validation that does not mean that they are looking for the external validation of, hey, am I okay? Because that's not what they learned. What they learned was I need to be okay. I have to be right, because I cannot, I cannot even risk invalidation. Because invalidation could cause me to get booted out of my family. Again, we're talking about the little kid brain here that if I get in trouble and I have not seen my parents model, take ownership or accountability. If I have not had a secure attachment with my parents, when I have sought one as a kid. That when I have sought external validation, soothing, comforting as a child, those moments that typically my parent has not been in a position to provide that. If anything I've been told, hey, don't worry about it. Don't cry about it. It's not a big deal. You need to take care of that yourself.  Calm down, come back in here when you're in a better mindset. So my need for soothing and external validation as a child then has not been met, but when the parent needs me to say, hey come give your mom a hug and tell me I'm a good mom or come here, son, let me just, I feel like I need to just pass along some words of wisdom here and here's all the things that I went through as a kid. And so I think you need to do the same thing. 

Then all of a sudden, I feel like, you're looking at me and that's what I have to do. You know what an anxiously attached person without a secure attachment to a parental figure. All of a sudden now the kid exits into this world of relationships with unstable self-esteem and the inability to regulate that self-esteem without external validation and not the cool kind, the kind where I, now I must admit I can never be wrong because if I was wrong as a kid, I heard about it. The only time that I got validated then as a kid was when I was amazing or when I was right or when I didn't say anything. 

And somebody else had to be wrong because why?  Because if my parents were also emotionally immature or had narcissistic traits or tendencies, then, if I did something wrong, they're not saying, hey, come over here, champ, tell me about it. They're saying really, you failed that class, you failed that test. I can't believe you did that. But then if I am the star athlete or if I get the good grades or if I can learn how to juggle or do a little song and dance routine, now that's my boy. Because that is a chip off the old block, then that's what I taught them. I didn't teach them all that stuff about not being good at school. 

Yeah, that's and again, in their eyes, that parent is going to say well that’s because they're lazy or because they're not trying hard enough or because the teacher isn't teaching them well. Again, in Marshall Rosenberg's concept of nonviolent communication, there is an observation. They didn't do their homework. And then the judgment, this is again from that emotionally immature narcissistic parent, because they're lazy. It cannot be because I did not spend enough time with my kid. It cannot be because they didn't help them understand math. Because I didn't understand math after fifth grade and I couldn't help my child because I didn't want to put in the time. 

It cannot be any of those things. I had to be because they're lazy. So look at that. I hope that I'm starting to lay this out in a way that makes sense. So that emotionally immature, narcissistic person, unstable self-esteem, they can't regulate that self-esteem without external validation. And that leads to lower empathy. 

So there's no empathy there. Probably not a lot of empathy modeled, not a lot of accountability modeled. Validation was given when you were doing amazing or awesome things or praising the parent. And if you hadn't trouble, it could not be your parents' fault. So now you, as the kid, are a bad person. 

And that is what leads to so many of us that have a core default setting of shame. That if my parents did not meet my needs, that I must have been bad. Not a, hey, I noticed that you did a bad thing. But that is what guilt is. Guilt is yeah, I feel bad about something. And then shame is no, you are bad at your core. You're bad. 

So that is this person that is now sitting there now, but they are in an adult human body and they have a very loud voice and they may be large and they may be strong and they may have money and they have some power and then the people around them say that they're awesome. Because so often to the narcissist or the emotionally immature person, they are not getting the validation that they need from home because the people at home that are closest to them see the hypocrisy and they call them out on things, but the people out in the community, the people in their church community, the people at work, they may just get to see all of the wonderful, amazing things this person does. And so they get that validation at work or in other situations. And then when they come home, now it's even worse because everybody else thinks I'm awesome. And my own family doesn't, and that means that my family must be wrong. And so now the family is not telling them all the time as they need this validation that they are amazing. Because the narcissist comes home, sometimes they want to be serious. And sometimes you guys aren't appreciating me. And other times I want you to tell me I'm awesome and amazing. And sometimes I want you to give me space and sometimes I can't believe you didn't say dad's home when I walk in the door. And when those things are going well for the narcissist, everybody in their life is incredible and wonderful because that's indicative of who they are. They surround themselves with these wonderful people. It's just that up and down. Rollercoaster of emotions. 

It is where they're trying to regulate their self-esteem with external validation. But again, not that good kind. So with that setup, Eleanor moves into these concepts of whole object relations and object constancy, “Things that a narcissist lacks, whole object relations is the capacity to see oneself. So the narcissist and others in a stable and integrated way that acknowledges both the person's good and bad qualities.” And that is so important. Because that emotional immaturity in general is one that sees in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. They lack whole object relations. So I'm probably going to start alluding to a lot of the things where let's just say now that therapeutic intervention where now I am supposed to lay down the law and finally tell this person that you sir, or madam, are a narcissist. Okay. Enter whole object relations. They lack it. So now if you're telling me that I am a narcissist, then I now will process that as I am all bad and you think that you are all good.

There is no capacity to see both good and bad qualities within the same situation or person. And they lack object constancy. That is the ability to maintain a positive, emotional connection to somebody that you like while you're angry, hurt, frustrated, disappointed by his or her behavior. So when you confront the narcissist and they lack whole object relations and object constancy, then they have this unstable self-esteem, the inability to regulate it without external validation and low empathy. So I hope that we're starting to paint a picture. 

So I'm going to give you some solutions because don't worry. Hang in there. We're going to get there. But without those whole object relations and object constancy, Eleanor Greenberg says people with narcissistic personality disorder only see themselves in others in one of two ways, either they are special, they are unique, omnipotent, perfect and entitled. So she calls that “high status.”

So when everyone's praising me, then everybody's good. Everybody's cool. My family is amazing. My spouse is incredible. My kids are the best. My job is awesome. My car is amazing. The clothes I wear are sweet. My shoes are the best. Everything's amazing. Everything is awesome. I think that's a song from a Lego movie. 

But if that is not the case, then they are defective and worthless and garbage and low status. And that means that the person is struggling with these narcissistic issues can not hold on to his or her good opinion and good feelings about someone once they notice that the other person has a flaw. And let's talk about a flaw. I mean the other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal. Eleanor says, “to being devalued as nothing special”. So again, I want you to think of these things and think of them in terms of during this confrontation or this intervention with the narcissist, so this person now has gone from high status, they are amazing to now you are saying that they are now low status and they are all bad. 

And that means that if they are, if you are telling them that they are all bad, then that means that you then think you are all good. So now they have to regain that power, that status. They have to regain that one-up position. So now I am going to do anything to let you understand how bad you are, because that will make me feel better. 

So she says that narcissists often seesaw back and forth between the two. So when they are feeling good about you or more accurately, you make them feel good about themselves, you are special. Now you do something that they do not like and that can be as simple as saying no, or even, hey, why did you do that? 

And then all the sudden it happens in an instant. Now you are all bad and worthless. So at that point, that is now where the emotionally immature narcissistic person will start to use all of those buttons that you've handed them in a moment of weakness and a moment of vulnerability in a moment of wanting to share in a moment of trying to give them that aha moment or that epiphany to want them to change. Because now when they think really that's how you think, that's what you think about me. You think that now I am all bad. Well, I'll tell you what. You're a horrible mom or your horrible dad, or you're a crummy provider. Or I was talking to other people and they all told me that they don't like you. 

You're horrible and all these different areas, you do everything wrong, everything. So there's no way to keep things in the gray. It's all or nothing, black or white, good or bad, but then 10 minutes later, all of a sudden, now they come out of the room. You're still upset because you've just been called horrific things and they say, hey, where do you want to go to dinner? And I do call that one the, hey, do you wanna go ride bikes? Because that's what the emotionally immature kids do. I remember I got in a kick fight with Jimmy Faulkner. I don't even know if he's still around, in sixth grade, and by the end of the school day, we were good. 

And we went and rode bikes. So Jimmy, if you're out there that was probably an emotionally immature response of mine and my bad. So then Eleanor goes on to something where I've talked about this in other episodes: normal, healthy ego versus narcissistic, pathological defensiveness. And this is where I take great liberty in the words that she is using. And I want to take ownership of that. 

But I change healthy narcissism to healthy ego. And that is where you are getting to. Again, because you're doing the work. We're getting you to a place of healthy ego. It's a realistic sense of positive self regard that’s based on the person's actual accomplishments. It's based on the work that you're doing now, the hours that you're putting in and digesting the data on this podcast and other podcasts and YouTube channels and reading books and interacting forums and raising your baseline and understanding, whoa, I can actually have my own, my own opinion. I can have my own thoughts around everything, parenting and knowledge. And so then I want to start doing more of that. And I want to start being, and doing and finding the things that matter and not necessarily going into needing my spouse's approval or validation. So as you develop a healthy ego, a healthy sense of self, it is relatively stable because that person has assimilated that into their self image. The successes that came as a result of their actual hard work to overcome real life obstacles. So you are putting in the hard work, my friend, if you are listening to this. So to overcome real life obstacles because that is based on real achievements. Eleanor Greenberg says that is normal, healthy, what she calls narcissism and I'm going to say ego, “it's relatively impervious to the minor slights and setbacks that we all experienced as we go through life, normal [ego] causes us to care about ourselves, do things that are in our genuine, real self-interest. And as associated with self-respect, one can think of it,” she says, “as something that is inside of us.” 

I like to share that I think that people that have changed the world had a healthy ego because it was based on real life experience. Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther king, people like that have healthy ego. So, what I am hoping is that by listening to this, when you are listening to these things that you're starting to develop this healthy ego based off of the hard work that you're doing. 

And what I worry about is that now, when we just want to lay it out there and tell the narcissist, and we want them to understand, and we want to self-confront and somebody needs to tell them that we're still, even in essence, looking for them to validate the work that we're doing. But they're coming at it from this lack of object constancy, whole object relations, emotional immaturity, black and white all or nothing thinking. 

And so at that point, you are throwing a lot of shade at them and their world. And they're saying, hey, now all of a sudden, and again, this is what they are hearing. It is not even what you were saying. You're saying I am right. You are wrong. I'm right. Therapist thinks they are right. You are wrong. So now the narcissist says I disagree. 

So what are the things I know that will get to you to now make me right and you wrong? And then I will take that one up position because pathological defensive narcissism, as Eleanor Greenberg lays out, is a defense against feelings of inferiority. And we'll get back to that. The childhood defense mechanisms, gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism. 

So pathologically, defensive narcissism. This is a defense against feelings of inferiority. So that person, the narcissist dons a mask of arrogant superiority in an attempt to convince the world that they are special, even in that moment, especially during confrontation. So now you're going to hear even more of how crazy this is that you don't even understand what you're talking about? 

So this is that attempt to convince the world, the therapist, you, anyone. That, no, they are special. But inside that person feels so insecure about their actual self that they will just lash out and they'll do anything to defend their fragile ego. They’ll hurt anybody. They'll say anything. Because at their core, they're afraid, they're scared, they're insecure. 

But that is so deep. It is buried so deep, that unfortunately, that is not your job to dig out. And as you start to find your own sense of self and they push more buttons. Yeah. That is the best case scenario of someone being able, potentially, possibly to self confront, but that's no longer, it's not your job. And that can feel like the wrong thing to do. But the right thing to do is to get yourself in the best position you can be in because it's not your responsibility to fix that other person. 

She goes on to say that that is their deep childhood abandonment wounds and fears. So she says, “This facade of superiority for the pathological defensive narcissist is so thin that it's like a helium balloon and one small pinprick will deflate it. And this makes that person hypersensitive to minor slights that somebody with a healthy [ego] wouldn't even notice.” 

So if somebody with a healthy, and in this place of differentiation, is told, hey, I feel like you exhibit some narcissistic traits or tendencies. Then that person, and I would love for them to say, okay, if I'm coming from a place of a healthy ego and I'm relatively impervious to these slights that are these jabs that I feel are thrown at me, but not from a, I think I'm better than everybody else, but to think that I'm willing to self confront and I'm willing to take a look inward because I'm aware of these things. I know the things that I know. And what comes along with that, obviously there are things that I don't know. So does that sound like a narcissist? No. They're putting up this image of arrogant superiority because they need you to know that they have everything figured out. 

I got another email recently from a person who had said that their spouse desperately needs to go to the doctor, but she says over and over again, well, you know that I know more than doctors do, right?

A little tangent here, but I think it's somewhat applicable. I'll give you an example of where my own emotional immaturity can come out and then where that need to self confront or take on these new tools that I learned comes into play. My wife and I are walking around a neighborhood over the weekend. It's a new one. It's a new neighborhood that's behind our neighborhood. 

And whoever developed, it made a little bit of a man-made lake. I don't really know if it's much of a lake, but it's an area that will hold a lot of water when there is a lot of rain. There have even been ducks on this thing, and there's a path, a paved path that goes around. But it's not around. It goes left and right. And there's a lot of foliage around that hasn't been knocked down. So my wife and I are walking our dogs and we're talking, and then I, if we go back to that concept of a violent non-violent communication, I violently communicated against the people that created that lake. Even though they have no idea because I just said, man, this is kind of dumb. Why didn't they do this differently? Why didn't they make the trail or why didn't they make the lake more shaped like a lake? And so there was my observation that it was a different shape that I felt, I felt like the shape was odd. So then I throw that judgment in there. That because it wasn't round, I made the judgment that this is dumb. They must be dumb. They don't know what they're doing. Says the person, me, that has never done any city planning, neighborhood planning, geological studies, environmental impact studies, paving, grading. I've never created an artificial lake. But I know what they did right there. Kind of dumb. So how emotionally immature is that? So I had to step back and I even had to say, okay, this is fascinating. I don't know a thing about what I'm talking about. 

And I got very much in that present moment and I was very grateful to be there. But we're simply just walking along the path of a man-made lake and then taking him what a wonderful opportunity this is. That is being present and that is, I didn't know what I didn't know. About this concept of things like nonviolent communication or self confrontation. 

And so then having to apply those tools, but that wasn't something that my wife had to make a comment about because if she would have I worry that in the past, especially then I would have taken that as criticism and then had to lash out and defend my fragile ego. It's interesting when, let's say that as the emotionally immature person, if I'm putting out there that I think that this lake is dumb and those guys are dumb. It's funny because what do I really want my wife to say at that moment? That's my guy. That's my hero. That's this guy. I know he knows more about creating man made lakes than civil engineers. 

So truly how emotionally immature. So then here we go back to that pathological defensive narcissism. Then they, “that facade of superiority that is so thin, like a helium balloon that then one small pinprick will deflate it. So then this makes that person hypersensitive to the minor slights that somebody with a healthy ego wouldn't even notice. 

Instead somebody with this type of defensive narcissism is easily wounded, frequently takes any form of disagreement as serious criticism. And is likely to lash out and devalue anybody who they think disagrees with them.”

So I feel like that concept of pathological defensive, narcissism, emotional immaturity, fragile ego, I can't be wrong, let me tell you what you don't understand. Not saying hey, tell me more. Tell me more about the situation, I see that you guys are all trying to confront me. I can understand, this is something that seems very serious to you. Let me understand more. That is not what is going to happen, which is again why confrontation doesn't work. So let's really start to work into what then your role could be. And what can happen. I want to pull up an article that I've been working on as well. And this is talking about the narcissist or emotionally immature concept of confabulation. And this is from Sam Vaknin who has an article called Disassociation and Confabulation and Narcissistic Disorders”. And it was first published in March of 2020 in the Herald Scholarly Open Access Journal of Addiction and Addictive Disorders. So I took that and what I've done is I've adapted a lot of that language to fit in the concept of emotional immaturity. So where Sam uses the words, narcissists and psychopaths, then I've taken the liberty to add the narcissist or emotionally immature people. So the narcissist or emotionally immature people often disassociate or erase memories and our amnesia because of their contact with this? Again, we're still talking about the concept of what if the narcissist confronted? What if there's this intervention? Why doesn't the therapist just let them know? Why doesn't he just tell him? Why can't you just wake up to your own narcissism? 

Why does it not work when they just go in attack? Why don't we just go attack the narcissist to try to help them understand? Let's just talk. So more about confabulation. The narcissist and emotionally mature immature people do not experience reality directly. They experienced it through a distorted lens. So the narcissistic lens initially developed in childhood. 

As we talked about earlier, narcissism or emotional immaturity initially develops as a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem and the inability to regulate that self-esteem without external validation or they have lower empathy. 

So this lens, this narcissistic lens that requires them to get rid of any information. Again, get rid of any information that challenges their grandiose self perception. And getting rid of any information that goes against this narrative that they have constructed about themselves. 

And it's because that narrative is so necessary for them to be able to explicate, excuse, legitimize their what Vaknin then says they're antisocial, self-centered and exploited behaviors, choices, and idiosyncrasies. So if you are confronting that narcissist, and this is the thing that I think is so hard to understand to the non narcissist is that the confabulation engine in their brain is working at a phenomenal master level, instant pace. 

And I've talked about once, if you're aware of confabulation, I do believe that we can all confabulate to a point. Sometimes I notice I'll find myself shading a little bit of my own experience or memory of making things a little bit better, a little bit more grandiose, and it might be either to make myself feel better. 

Or sometimes it might be to make someone else feel better. When I first did an episode on confabulation, I just, I talked about an experience where my wife had been out of town for a few months, helping my daughter who had been in a near fatal car accident. And so my wife would feel like she wasn't doing everything she could do here at home. 

And that she wasn't showing up as much for our son who was a senior in high school. Who was a senior in high school who was living his very best life, who was playing basketball and golf and has an adorable girlfriend. And he has a. He was doing what seniors who have an amazing senior year can do. 

And that is not wanting to hang out with mom and dad. We would try as much as we could, but so she would feel bad. And so on a particular weekend where she was coming back and we were going to go spend some time with one of my other daughters. I know that my wife felt guilty. She felt bad. So she had just said, hey, did you tell Jake that we're going to be away for the weekend? And I know that she feels bad. So then I said, yeah, I told him. And he said, that's awesome. And I realized in that moment, what confabulation can look like. Just from simply a place of what I said to Jake was, hey we're going to be gone this weekend. And he said, okay. 

And so my confabulation was as a matter of fact, I think I even told her, yeah we talked about it. We had a really good talk and he said, that sounds great. And so that made my wife feel better. And then I'm sure in my own mind, well, it feels pretty good to say that we had a really good talk. When in reality, I said, hey bro, we're going to be gone. And he probably said, can you leave cash? 

So I think that was the extent of it. But I confabulated that story. So to make her feel better and probably to make me feel like a better dad and so you can even see these little dustings of confabulation that happened because, and after I learned about confabulation, I did a couple of episodes on the mechanisms of memory, because memory in general is flawed. And we, when we recall memory, we recall basically a scenario, a situation, an image, and then we fill in all the blanks. It's a very effective use of the neuro landscape. And we don't even recognize that we're doing it. So to the narcissist or the emotionally immature person, what they do is they recall a memory. And then instead of just filling in gaps of just minutia of, oh, I thought it was day or I thought it was night or that sort of thing. It was like, and remember I was right and you were wrong. And now the more that they bring that memory back up, then they add more of that shading to it. So the narcissist, if you talked to him one time and came back and talked to him about something a month later, I just had this experience with someone, myself personally. That story, that the narcissist became even more of a grandiose hero and everybody else around them was a complete buffoon. A month later, the story had confabulated and changed so much in just one month. I thought it was just amazing. 

And I only mentioned that because I am confident that the pathologically kind people listening will say, I think I could be the narcissist because I confabulate as well, but we all do to a point. But let's get back to this article that the narcissistic or emotionally immature version of confabulation back into that frame, that's an attempt to compensate for these yawning gaps in memory. So then the narcissist or emotionally immature people confabulate meaning that back then it says that they're creating these plausible plugins and scenarios of how things might, could, or should have plausibly occurred. But it's not the kind to make everybody else feel better. 

To outsiders, these fictional stop gaps appear as lies, but to the narcissist or emotionally mature person individually, then they fervently believe in their reality, they may not actually remember the details of what had happened, but it could not have happened in any other way than the way that they are creating that it needed to happen. 

In order for it to fit the narrative that they've created. So then it goes back to that if you are expressing a time where you feel like they were very angry on a vacation, that did not happen. As a matter of fact, that confabulated memory is now they're going to remember that as a matter of fact, you were actually the one that got angry on the vacation. I was the one that came to the rescue and you don't even remember. 

And the kids came up to me later and they told me what's up with mom. But none of it, that's their confabulated memory that they have to believe that, they had to think and believe that because it could not be the fact that they weren't a very nice person on a family vacation. I remember reading one of the most fascinating examples of this, and I've thought about this so often, was a therapist that I know and I respect and so I very much believe, wrote me after I did this episode of confabulation. 

And they said they had a situation where they met with this young couple early in their practice. And the young couple didn't have kids and that the husband had fathered a child out of wedlock many years before. And he said that just came up in the assessment, but it didn't seem to play much of a role in what they were coming in for at that point, they were coming in there because I think the, I forget what the case was, because you'll see why that I thought this was so fascinating here in a second. So he said that he just remembered that. And then he said fast forward about, I don't know, 10 years later. And he said that they came in again and there were some accusations of infidelity. So he pulled the couple together and he could tell that there was tension in the relationship. And he wondered now, I think he said they literally had four or five kids that had happened in a 10-year period. 

And so he's really trying to do the assessment. And he always wondered what happened to that child that the husband and father had out of wedlock. And so when he then met with the wife individually, he brought that up. And he just said, hey, what's the status with that child? And he said, he knew that it didn't quite fit into what they were bringing into the session. But honestly, sometimes as therapists, we're just curious. We want to know more. 

And the wife broke down. He said that she started crying and she said, thank you. He honestly doesn't even acknowledge that ever happened, that he had a child out of wedlock. 

And my friend, the therapist said that he was so confused that when he met individually with the husband, he brought it up and he said he just did it very confidently because he knew that was something that they had talked about this decade or more earlier. And he said the husband got irate immediately and said, what, what has she been telling you? She's got this idea in her head that I fathered a child out of wedlock. And the therapist said at that point, he decided not to go in and dig deeper, but he just did not know what to do with that. And then he even said that later during the counseling that she forwarded an email I think it was from the from her husband's uncle, somebody that he had been close with, and the uncle even said, yeah, we tried talking to him about a too and we just have given up on talking about it because he doesn't believe it happened. 

So everybody around this person knows that this event happened, that he had fathered a child out of wedlock, but then everybody, but the person who fathered the child out of wedlock. So this therapist was writing to me to say that once he heard me talk about confabulation, he said that he wondered now then if once this guy started having kids and interacting with kids and recognizing that kids are a lot of work and recognizing the importance of him showing up in his child's relationship in this child's life, that his brain could not deal with the fact that he had so dismissed this child, that he had fathered out of wedlock so long ago. And so he not only, he'd, confabulated the memory to this point where it did not exist. So when everybody around him is saying, don't you remember? 

Or shouldn't you reach out to, or have you heard from this person? That he thinks they are insane. And the reason I mentioned that when I talk about confabulation is it just had me thinking of what that must feel like to this person. And I thought, man, imagine if somebody came up to me and said hey, how's how's the kid? Do you have much interaction with the kid that you had with your high school girlfriend, Betty, I'm making that name up because I did not have a high school girlfriend named Betty. But whatever happened, whatever happened to that kid. And if I just said, I honestly don't know what you're talking about. I don't even know Betty and I certainly didn't have a child with her. 

And, imagine. What if you have confabulated that completely out of your memory? And then let's say that then somebody even shows you a picture of you and Betty, and there you are, and you're 18 and you actually still have hair and you look young and you're holding the kid, or maybe you're even like in the delivery room and it's an old Polaroid. 

That if you have literally confabulated this out of your memory, now you can, I feel like you can understand why gaslighting can be so powerful to the emotional immature narcissist, because it could not have happened that way. And so that does not exist. And so now they can make you feel insane, I have no idea how you photoshopped that picture. Or that did not happen. You guys are all insane to the point where you do start to say. Okay, wait, do I not remember that? Right? This is literally a picture, but he does not seem to have any memory or recollection of this. It's, if that brain has confabulated to the point that there is zero chance that something didn't happen, it cannot have happened. 

This is why I go so big on this example, I spent so much time on this because I go back to that concept of confronting the narcissist and I hope I've laid out so many things that are already an issue with the person then showing up in the room. But now most likely they have confabulated memory after memory after memory, because it can not be their fault. 

So now the fact that you're dealing with all of these other precursors we've talked about, and then we confront the narcissist and that actually isn't what happened, then they probably can't even fathom what you're talking about, and now you brought a therapist in to confront me or you're having someone else do that. 

And that just lets them even, they feel even more empowered that you are crazy. That you are just that they can't even believe that you are doing what you're doing. Because we go back to that they cannot be narcissist. They cannot be the person that's emotionally abusing their spouse or their family. 

They cannot be the person who doesn't take ownership or accountability, that thing you're telling them that they need to take ownership or accountability of. That can't be them. And it harkens all the way back to that gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism. 

And why did they need a defense mechanism? Because they had unstable self-esteem they needed external validation. And the only validation they got as a kid was when they were the star student, the wonderful athlete, the person who could do amazing things. They did not have a secure attachment and they were not provided a place to be able to process intense emotion. 

And let's face it, most of us don't want to sit with discomfort, but for the emotionally immature or narcissistic person, it's not even a possibility at this point for them to sit with discomfort, it has to be your fault. That's it, has to be. And, I deal with so many people that turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography or sexual compulsions, and there's a high comorbidity or there's an association with the extreme narcissistic personality or traits emotional immaturity. And then impulsive behaviors, and impulsive behaviors happen because we turned to coping mechanisms and we don't want to feel negative emotion. And then if you confront the person about their unhealthy coping mechanism, be it turning to porn or gambling or food or their phones, well, yeah, it's because of you, you're the one that makes them do that. And again, that is the extreme emotional immaturity. And somebody not taking ownership of that. No, they are doing that. So it cannot be them. They can't sit with discomfort. It is your fault. And that is what their implicit memory is built on or what it feels like to be them. So put all these pieces together. 

Vaknin then says, “These tenuous concocted fillers are the subject of frequent revision. That as the narcissist or emotionally immature individual, as their inner world and external circumstances are constantly evolving. So unlike somebody with self-awareness, they are constantly working from a place of such deep insecurity that it absolutely cannot be their fault because that would disrupt their intense internal narrative.” 

If they are wrong, you will never love them, all or nothing. Black or white. And they must control that narrative in order to control the relationship. So they will either coerce someone into loving them or control somebody into loving them. But they cannot risk having somebody else have any control in that relationship. 

Because if they lack control, then they feel like they will be taken advantage of, they feel like they will be destroyed. They feel like they will be abandoned and that they'll be seen through. So even though the right thing in that situation is to be open and to be emotionally vulnerable and it is not as scary as it feels, but it is to that narcissist. It is all or nothing. It is life or death. They can't even risk it. They can't risk it for a second. 

Because of this different version of reality they're going to feel like it is all their fault and they cannot even come close to dealing with that. They have not been doing that work in that growth that you have been, because now you're saying, hey, I'm open to it. I understand. I'm trying to do the self confrontation. Here's the things I didn't know, here's these labels and terms and podcasts, and I'm even learning that I'm emotionally immature. We all are. And even when we want to say that, you just want to share these things because you're a kind individual, you're a good human being. And that's part of the reason why I made the big shift to talk about emotional immaturity from narcissism early on, because it's on the spectrum. But it also doesn't mean that when somebody is told that you are emotionally immature, that they don't still revert to that all or nothing behavior. Unfortunately again, tell that to the narcissist, because all they are hearing is you think they are bad. What do you do? I feel like one of the best things that you can do is continue to rely on raising your baseline, getting your PhD in gaslighting, get out of those unproductive conversations, set healthy boundaries, and continue to go back to the fact that you cannot provide them with the aha moment or the epiphany. Whether it's from you, by way of a therapist, by way of a good friend, or somebody that's close to them, they are not doing that work. And the crazy part is, as you pull away, as you pull back from the relationship, you're going to feel like you're doing the wrong thing. But this is where it happens to be the right thing. And that doesn't mean. And even our own minds go to all or nothing or black or white. 

That when we feel like, well, if I have to pull away, then I have to be a jerk. No, you don't. You can still be your kind compassionate self, but you're not going to put up with the emotional maturity or the lack of accountability, or the gaslighting, and you're going to cause you're doing that work and when you step out of that role, that you have played as buffer or that role you have played as peacekeeper and you see other buttons be pushed, I hope that you can start to say, I am doing the right. I'm doing it right. Because the thing I've been doing, I've been doing over and over and over again, and it has not worked. 

It can be scary now to trust some process that feels completely foreign. But that's because you didn't know what you didn't know. Then you know it, and you don't do it very often, and it feels scary. And eventually you do it more often than not, and you start to see some growth and change, and then eventually it just becomes who you are as a person. 

And then by you stepping out of that role, that is going to change the dynamic of the relationship. And most likely the dynamic in your family, your family system, and that is the opportunity for others to step up or to self confront. And those around you, let's say your kids are those that are close to you, if they see you taking ownership and standing up for yourself and doing the work and not taking the bait and going back into these unhealthy unproductive conversations, a kid gets their sense of self through external validation. And so external validation. Meanwhile, they're watching, they're buffering, they're modeling. They're trying to read the room. They're trying to figure out are mom and dad okay? Why are they sad? I'm going to comfort one of them. I'm going to put my own emotions and feelings aside. But if they start to see you, mom or dad, start to do the things that you need to do to be the best version of yourself, then that also gives them the opportunity and it gives them the ability. It gives them permission to also start to do those same things. And that is how you change a dynamic in a family, in a family system, in a narcissistic family system. That's how you help that person, your kid, start to become the transformational figure that goes against the grain of the things that so many of us do, or we just follow the patterns that are taught to us as a kid. And then hopefully we do our own work as an adult. You're doing the work, you are, you're here, especially if you're still listening at this point. So I hope that gives a little more clarity of why we don't have that confrontation with the narcissist. . 

If you have experiences, examples that you would like to share, please, by all means email me. I would love to have those. I'll read some of those as a follow-up and if you have questions, send them. There's a really cool opportunity that might be coming up soon. A big cool partnership where it might be all about just taking an opportunity once a week to do a separate podcast and just answer a bunch of questions. So send them, send those questions, share this episode. If you think that it will help somebody else. 

I've been fascinated and just just, I love to hear that people have forwarded people episodes, and that's when the person has said, man, that is me. That is my situation. And I try not to be a big, hey, go review my stuff. But if you can rate and review and you happen to think that you have a positive review or rating of the podcast. 

It really does get it in the algorithm so that other people will find it. And if you have been helped by finding out more information and data, there are people out there, and maybe you are one of them that are just, it takes them a while, but then they just type in the word narcissist into their podcast player and they're going to find the things that are suggested in the algorithm. So I would be honored if you would take the time to review and rate it wherever you listen to podcasts. And that's going to help other people get to the podcast so thanks so much for joining me today and I will see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism.

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