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

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

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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

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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony shares the foundational principles of Dr. Sue Johnson's Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT/EFCT) from her book "Hold Me Tight." Tony referenced a review from Dan's blog "A Laughing Soul" (https://alaughingsoul.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/hold-me-tight-seven-conversations-for-a-lifetime-of-love/). Tony shares how his "4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation" a key component to his Magnetic Marriage course (http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic) can significantly help implement the tools of EFT in your marital and personal relationships. The next round of the Magnetic Marriage Course is launching soon! Go sign up now to find out details about the launch.

From A Laughing Soul blog: What Is Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT)? The message of EFT is simple: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection.

EFT focuses on creating and strengthening this emotional bond by identifying and transforming the key moments that foster a loving, adult relationship. • EFT has an astounding 70 – 75% success rate and results have been shown to last, even in the face of significant stress. • EFT is recognized by the American Psychological Association as empirically proven. HOLD ME TIGHT presents a streamlined version of EFT. It walks the reader through seven conversations that capture the defining moments in a love relationship and instructs how to shape these moments to create a secure and lasting bond. Case histories and exercises in each conversation bring the lessons of EFT to life.Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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

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

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

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

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

----- TRANSCRIPT -----

[00:00:01] So would you be surprised if I were to tell you that distress in a relationship adversely affects our immune and our hormonal systems, even to the ability to heal ourselves? In one fascinating experiment, psychologist Janice Quico Glaser of Ohio State University had newlywed's fight and then took blood samples over the next several hours. And she found that the more belligerent and contemptuous the partners were, the higher level of stress hormone and the more depressed the immune system. And these effects persisted for up to 24 hours after this fight. After this conflict, and in an even more astounding study called, Glazer used a vacuum pump to produce small blisters on the hands of women volunteers and then had them fight with their husbands. And the nastier the fight, the longer it took for the women's skin to heal. So coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, I'm going to dig into my my old favorite emotionally focused therapy. It's a method developed by Sue Johnson, and it is one of the only empirically based methods recognized by the American Psychological Association. As is empirically proven in the world of couples therapy, F.T.

[00:01:12] emotionally focused therapy for couples has an astounding 70 to 75 percent success rate, and results have even been shown to last, even in the face of significant stress. So the message of VDT is pretty simple. Forget about learning how to argue better or analyzing early childhood or making these grand romantic gestures or even experimenting with things like new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that we are emotionally attached to and dependent now dependent in a healthy kind of way on your partner, much the same way that a child is dependent on a parent for the nurturing, soothing and protection. But what F.T. focuses on is creating and strengthening this emotional bond by identifying and transforming key moments that foster these adult loving relationships. So we're going to learn about that and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch. Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 254 of The Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back.

[00:02:10] The Path Back is an online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. And if you if you haven't checked out the path back, please head to Pathbackrecovery.com or you can go to Tony Overbay dot com. There's a link there to courses, programs, and you'll find a link to the path back. The reason why I get so excited about this, I've completely revamped the path back. There's an online forum that's pretty amazing. And we have these group calls every Wednesday night that are getting larger and larger. And it is this this group of strength based overcome pornography, become the person you always want to be kind of way calls. And they are just they're kind of becoming the highlight of my week. So if you are interested in participating in one of these calls, want to kind of kick the tires on the program, reach out to me through Tony Overbay Dotcom, and I can give you more information on that. Or you go to Pathbackrecovery.com and there you can find an ebook that describes myths that people often fall prey to when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's Pathbackrecovery.com and I. And today today we're going to talk about emotionally focused therapy, F.T., which is something that I am passionate about. And the reason I'm a geek out a little bit on the concepts of F.T. in general is if you have been listening to the virtual couch for a while, you will have heard me talk incessantly about my magnetic marriage program.

[00:03:28] And that is because we have finished my buddy Preston Buckmeier and I have finished our first round of the magnetic marriage course. And I will I you'll hear so much about it in the coming weeks. There's gonna be some testimonials, some interviews with people that were actually in the first round of the course, but will be opening up that cart around the mid to end of April. And Preston and I are going to start a a podcast series beginning next week that is going to take you through some of the finer principles of the magnetic marriage course in hopes that you will go to Tony Overbay, dotcom, magnetic and just just plug your name in there, find out more about when this card is going to open. And we'll try to make it a little special for people that show up there early or the people that are in line waiting in line early. So, again, go to Tony Overbay, Dotcom's magnetic and you can be one of the first ones to learn more about the magnetic marriage and the magnetic marriage course is where if you've heard over the last I don't know, it's been excuse me a couple of months, but talking about the four pillars of a connected conversation, and I make no secret of those, are based on the principles of emotionally focused therapy.

[00:04:29] So I've been talking so much about four pillars of a connected conversation and this magnetic marriage course. And I've been given examples and the feedback has been phenomenal. But I thought before I jump into this podcast series with Preston, before we jump into another magnetic marriage round, so to speak, I wanted to just do one big geeky episode on F.T. Again, emotionally focused therapy, because everything from this magnetic marriage course is based off of this empirically proven, evidence based couples model, emotionally focused therapy. And as I have said on numerous occasions, whether it's on my show or when I'm being interviewed on someone else's podcast, I would not be doing couples therapy had I not stumbled upon F.T. emotionally focused therapy. Because when you come out of the when you come out of grad school, you've learned some reflective listening skills. You've learned some more skills of when you have a couple in your office where you're maybe saying, all right, reflect back what you heard. Sally, you know, would be Sally and reflect back what what Jim has said. And she'll say, well, I'm hearing him say that he thinks that I'm lazy or I'm hearing him say that he thinks that I am not appreciative. And then you say, OK, Jim, is that what you're conveying? Jim will say, yeah, this is how I'm feeling. And then you'll have them reflect back to one another. And then the therapist kind of and I'm oversimplifying this, trust me, I understand kind of sits back and says, all right, well, now that you've you've heard each other, how how do you feel about that? And it just doesn't feel very satisfying.

[00:05:49] And quite frankly, when you don't have a couples modality to work from, doing couples therapy can be extremely uncomfortable and it can be scary. But when you have a method, a framework like emotionally focused therapy, which has led to an even greater framework in my magnetic marriage course and the skills and tools you learn in this magnetic marriage course, couples therapy is actually a very, very satisfying, exciting thing to do is a therapist. And as I mentioned now, in any given week, I can see anywhere between 10 to 20 couples and I'm still seeing individuals in that sort of thing. So I found a great summary of emotionally focused therapy. And I want to give credit always where credit's due. And what's fascinating about where I found this is there's a blog. This is a good old fashioned WordPress blog called A Laughing Soul. And when you dig a little bit deeper into who the laughing soul is, it's a guy named Dan. It appears that Dan is not necessarily a psychologist. And this blog post was from years ago. But he interviewed he reviewed the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, which is one of the best books to get. If you are really just wanting to learn about the concepts, the conversations around emotionally focused therapy, and that will give you a nice framework.

[00:06:57] It doesn't. Replace good therapy, or if I'm being completely bowled, what the magnetic marriage course has done is taken these principles of emotion, emotionally focused therapy, and we've we've added a whole lot more to that and made it more of a tangible here's how you put this into action kind of a program. But I still love so much of talking about the principles of emotionally focused therapy, because a lot of times I feel like when I have couples in my office that they don't even know that there is a framework around there. They don't even know that there is a framework that could help them now implementing the framework. Completely different thing and reading the book. Hold Me Tight is a great start. And I realize now I'm starting to sound like quite a big sales pitch. But and I'm OK with that because the magnetic marriage course, as I often say on a lot of the interviews I've been doing, we've cracked the code or figured things out of how to then implement emotionally focused therapy to have these difficult conversations so that you will then come out of a conversation feeling very connected. But I digressed quite a bit in this blog and I'll throw a link to it. Dan, who writes for this laughing soul, has broken down the book, Hold Me Tight beautifully.

[00:08:01] So I'm going to use that as a little bit of a basis or a framework of what I'm going to talk about today, because I want to go through EFT, as I mentioned in the opening of this episode, that it has an astounding 70 to 75 percent success rate and the results have been shown to last even in the face of significant stress. And I have seen that even where I have couples come into my office and I'm and you know what? They're couples where they learn to communicate more effectively and still may find out that they don't feel their marriage is necessarily viable. But even the skills around emotionally focused therapy helped them become incredibly good parents. While I do feel like it can literally save a marriage, I feel like there is nothing wrong or there's nothing negative about learning more about emotionally focused therapy. Even if you feel like you're the only person in the relationship that is putting forth effort, the effort principles are amazing in a relationship, but in not just a marital relationship, but also in the relationship with your kids or coworkers is just people out and about. As a matter of fact, very true story. I had someone in my office yesterday and they listen to the podcast. They'll know this is a good keeping it confidential, of course, but they will, I think, appreciate this. But they were talking about once the principles of emotionally focused therapy really solidified with them, that now they said it's you can't unring that bell.

[00:09:16] You can't undo now hearing things from an emotionally focused therapy standpoint and F.T. standpoint. And it does almost become frustrating to watch or communicate with other people who aren't working from the same emotionally focused place. And we'll talk more about that here in a bit. Hold me tight. This book by Sue Johnson is it's a streamlined version of emotionally focused therapy, which is why, again, I thought would be really fascinating to put this out here and then walk into this podcast series over the next few weeks that Preston and I are going to do about the magnetic marriage course, because I think that you'll hear some fundamental needs that we have as individuals and why we couple why we marry. And then Preston and I, over the next few weeks, we'll be talking about how to make that happen more effectively and more efficiently, using a lot of the things that we put forth in this magnetic marriage course. So it's a streamlined version of what it the book called Hold me Tight, walks the Reader through these conversations that capture these defining moments in a love relationship. And it really does instruct them on how to take these moments and create the secure, lasting bond. And here's a couple of quotes, some excerpts from the book, Hold Me Tight. Asou Johnson says that love is in actuality the pinnacle of evolution, the most compelling survival mechanism of the human species.

[00:10:29] And she says not because it induces us to mate and reproduce. We do manage to mate without love. People do that all the time. But because love drives us to bond emotionally with a precious few others who offer us a safe haven from the storms of life, which that's where Sue Johnson in a follow up book called Love Sense, and it's my favorite quote of all time, says that we are designed to deal with conflict and emotion. Are we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. So we are designed not to just figure it out on our own, but to process things in a healthy way with someone else. So we have these precious few others that offer us a safe haven from the storms of life. She says that love is our bulwark designed to provide emotional protection so we can cope with the ups and downs of existence. So she also goes on to say this drive to emotionally attached to find someone who we can turn to and say literally hold me tight, is wired into our genes and our bodies. And it's this basic need in life that that's part of life and health and happiness. And it's as normal as the drives of food or shelter or sex that we need emotional attachments with a few irreplaceable others to be physically and mentally healthy to survive.

[00:11:39] And E40 is based off of attachment theory. And we're talking and we go all the way back to the psychologist Bowlby, who in 1944 published the very first paper on family therapy. It was called, funny If you think about this, the family therapy paper is called 44 Juvenile Thieves, in which Bowlby noted that, quote, behind the mask. Of indifference is bottomless misery, and behind apparent callousness is despair. So Bobby's young charges were frozen in the attitude of I will never be hurt again and paralyzed in this desperation and rage. So along with his studies and observations, Bobby was impressed by Darwin's ideas of how natural selection favors responses that help for survival. So we, in essence, present ourselves in a way that we feel we have to do to survive, even if that includes shutting down. If we feel like we are emotionally not safe in a relationship, then we're not going to continue to put ourselves out there. We're not going to continue to be emotionally vulnerable if we feel like it is only going to get us hurt. So it's it's this way that we have adapted to survive, even if that adaptation is a negative one, even if the adaptation is for us to pull away from someone. And that's where the first principle of the my four pillars of a connected conversation is this kind of assuming of good intentions or giving someone the benefit of the doubt, which means simply that if someone is withdrawing or pulling away, that is their adaptation of how they feel.

[00:13:02] This is the only way I can survive. This is the only way I can get my needs met is if I withdraw, which is it's kind of a fascinating concept. We came to the conclusion that keeping precious others close is a brilliant survival technique that is wired in by evolution. So I mean, that is where we are trying to find someone that we can count on that that is wired in because we need this love to survive. But we're also intensely afraid of being hurt. So you can see the paradox there. So along with his these studies, the Bobby went on to say that the majority of children are upset when their mothers walk out, that they will rock themselves, cry, throw toys. But some do prove to be more emotionally resilient and they can tend to calm themselves more quickly and effectively. They reconnect more easily with their mothers when they return, and they can resume playing while checking in to make sure that their moms are still around. And we've probably seen that. I volunteered with my wife in a nursery and church for a number a couple of years, and it was pretty fascinating calling as a therapist, I have to admit, because you got to watch the almost this healthier, secure, attached kids that would play and kind of would check in on to see if their parent is still around.

[00:14:12] You would also see the one that would not leave their parent's lap and then you would also see the ones that would basically want to effectively give their parent the hey, how about you hit the bricks? Now, I got some play to do, you know, that kind of a vibe. So you get to see a little bit of all of it. But, you know, you've got these people that are still kind of checking to see if their mom's around or they seem confident that their mothers will be there if they need them. There's there's the key. And the less resilient youngsters are anxious or they're aggressive or detached and they're more distant even on their mothers return. And the kids who can calm themselves usually have wormer or maybe more responsive mothers, while the moms of the angry kids are a little more unpredictable in their behavior. And then the moms of detached kids seem to be a little more cold or dismissive. And these are observations of Bowlby, not me, in the nursery and in these simple studies of disconnection and reconnection, Bulbasaur love in action. And so we begin to what he would say, code its patterns. And so he discovered that these isolated infants were so hungry for connection that when given the choice between a, quote, mother made out of wire who dispensed food and a soft cloth mother without food, they would choose this squashy rag mother almost every time.

[00:15:16] And generally, Harlow's experiments showed the toxicity of early isolation, which shows this why it's so important that we have this early attachment. And and he did this with primates. So physically healthy infant primates who were separated from their mothers during the first year of life grew into socially crippled adult primates as the way that he put it. Some of these monkeys have failed to develop the ability to solve problems or understand social cues of others. They became more depressed, self-destructive and and oftentimes unable to mate. And I don't want anyone that has had these these lack of secure attachments in that first year of life to feel like, oh, my gosh, I'm doomed. This was just some of what Bobby recognized with primates. Now, primates also don't have the ability to verbally communicate and they don't have as large of social circles or connections. The since that time, people have gone on to to challenge and want to say debunk some of Bobby's theories. But the concept of this early attachment, though, that's where the where F.T. takes off. That's where it gets its genesis. So the overall conclusion was that he said a sense of secure connection between romantic partners are actually now working into Sue Johnson, that a sense of secure connection between romantic partners is the key and positive loving relationships and this huge source of strength for people that are in those relationships. So among the more significant findings from emotionally focused therapy as that, when we feel generally secure, that is we are comfortable with closeness or confident about being able to depend on loved ones.

[00:16:37] The better we are seeking support, the better we are giving it. And then those who felt like their needs are are being met or that their needs were accepted by their partners, were more confident about solving problems on their own, and we're more likely to successfully achieve their own goals. And this is where the emotionally focused therapy or EFT principles are huge. I feel like when it comes to even things like parenting. So my wife and I talk about this a lot, especially the last several months, so if you have a an example of a parent who really feels like they need this tough love approach where they don't want to, they don't want to, they don't want to feel like they're enabling their kid to to have too much at their hands or in their disposal and worried that they will create this dependent codependency that a lot of times those parents are saying that, OK, if I don't push my kid out of the nest, then for some reason, then they will eventually they will stay in the nest for the rest of their lives and they won't be these independent, healthy adults. Where what what Sue Johnson or what Bowlby or what some of these attachment theory therapists posit is that actually that secure attachment is being able to have this.

[00:17:44] Hey, I've got your back. I'm here for you. If you need me in so much that you can go out and try things in the world. And even if you fail, you can come back and you're not going to get a I told you so or you're not coming back here anymore, that it's almost that fear that if we allow our kids that much rope that they are going to not be successful when what attachment theory says is OK, that's actually almost the complete opposite. The complete opposite is true, that in allowing our kids to go and fail and come back and know that we're going to be there to say, hey, tell me more about that. What was your experience like that they are going to have a secure attachment which is going to allow them to actually thrive instead of thinking that, OK, if we allow them to come back, then they're going to just stay here forever and and never be a productive member of society. So we've kind of got that wrong from an attachment standpoint. What I opened the podcast with today was the study by Janice Kikka Glaser of Ohio State, and that one was just fascinating. So just to go back to what that what that study was, is that distress in a relationship adversely affects the human, the immune and hormonal systems, even our ability to heal. So in this experiment, she had newlywed's fight and then took blood samples over the next several hours and found that the more belligerent and contemptuous the partners were, the higher level of stress hormones and the more depressed the immune system was.

[00:19:07] And so these effects persisted for up to 24 hours. So the immune system was depressed and those stress hormones were still elevated for up to 24 hours. So when people feel like, OK, you know, just give me a few minutes and I can get over it, if they don't have a secure attachment, that can take a long time to have those chemicals completely leave the body and for people to feel a little bit more in control or calm. Now, that isn't what I'm not saying that then everyone needs 24 hours of a cooling off period. In actuality, the more that you get these principles of emotionally focused therapy down. And this is where I will go back to a sales pitch of the magnetic marriage course. When you're able to implement what what I call these four pillars of a connected conversation, then you know that you are going to be able to get back to a conversation sooner because you have this framework that's going to allow you to have a productive conversation. And maybe this is a great time to talk about those four pillars. But this is where if I know if I see that my spouse has been withdrawn and that they just haven't, I feel like they haven't really been there for me over the last week month, however long it is.

[00:20:10] When I the reason I love these four pillars is that four pillars of a connected conversation is that pillar one is to assume the assume good intentions. That can be really difficult when you feel like the person is doing something to harm you. But if this person is withdrawn, I have to assume that they are not waking up in the morning and thinking, I know what, I'll do all this withdraw. That's that's how you know, that's how I'll show my spouse is that I will withdraw from them. I will become emotionally distant. So I have to assume, OK, they're they're not doing that to hurt me. And so if I approach them and I say, hey, I'm noticing that you are, you seem a little bit withdrawn. This is where I feel like anyone can jump into these four pillars of a connected conversation and become either the speaker or the listener. So let's jump in and say that let's say that I am having a conversation with my wife and I say to her, hey, I feel like you. I notice that you've been withdrawn. So at this point, if someone is following these four pillars of a connected conversation, part of my magnetic marriage course now my wife is the listener has to assume the good intentions that I didn't think, OK, I know what I'll do.

[00:21:07] I'll come throw this accusation at her and and that'll really get her goat. That'll make her frustrated or mad. So she has to assume those good intentions that when I bring something up, I had noticed that you're withdrawn, that I'm not trying to hurt her. And the second pillar is I can't I can't put off this message that I don't believe you or you're wrong, because at any point if we jump off into any one of these, we violate one of these pillars. Then the conversation is going to it's going to devolve. And at this point, if we walk into a conversation, assuming bad intentions or assuming that our partner does want to hurt us, then we're already going to be defensive. We're not going to be leaning in. We're not going be very empathetic. So back to the scenario. My wife would then have to say, OK, I have to assume that he's not trying to hurt me. And then the second pillar is, I can't just say I don't I don't buy that. That's a load of garbage. I can't say that you're wrong. And so that would lead to pillar three, which I say is questions before comments instead of her. Saying, OK, you're absolutely like, this is ridiculous, and I can't believe you're saying that, but OK, go ahead. Tell me what you're noticing. You can see where that would shut down a conversation. So Pillar three is asking questions before making comments, asking questions of saying, OK, I may not feel like I'm withdrawn, but tell me more.

[00:22:14] What are you noticing? Help me find my blind spots. How long have you been noticing this and what does that look like to you? And then pillar four is that she couldn't go jump into her bunker. She would have to stay present. She would have to then not say, OK, fine, I guess I'll just not do anything that I want to do. And I will be at your beck and call so you won't feel like I have abandoned you. So you can see how any one of those four pillars, if we are not sticking to those, then the conversation will tend to devolve. And so I say often that if you go back and look at conversations that didn't go well in your relationship and your marriage, that you will find one or more of those pillars that has been that is that we've broken, I guess. So then if my wife has been this listener and I feel heard now because she didn't assume that I was trying to hurt her, she didn't tell me I was wrong. She asked questions and she didn't go into a bunker. Now I become the listener. The rules apply to me now as well. So now with that information, I want her to be able to say I appreciate that. That would be difficult. If if you really do feel like I've been withdrawn, then I can understand that that would be frustrating or hard or that would feel lonely or isolating.

[00:23:15] But then if she gets to share the same thing, if she just says simply, I I didn't realize I was doing that, then I have to do the same thing. Can't I can't assume that bad intentions and I can't say seriously, like you don't notice this. It's that pillar two. I can't say you're wrong. I can ask questions of OK, you know, if you don't feel like you've been withdrawn, then I can understand why this is a bit of a surprise to you and then I can ask the questions. Hey, so I noticed that you've that you really haven't been communicating more recently. So tell me more. Have you noticed that? Or and because then those questions, if she's going to stay in this, I feel the world of these I feel statements, maybe it is OK. I didn't realize that. But now that I feel heard or now that I feel safe, maybe she's going to share with me that, yeah, maybe I do feel like I've had a lot on my mind. And I was even aware that that you felt like I had been withdrawing. And then I can't then go into my bunker pillar for I can't then say, you know, I shouldn't even brought it up. It's no big deal. I definitely digressed. I went a little bit of a tangent there, but I feel like this is where the being able to communicate about things effectively is what can help us get out of that.

[00:24:16] It takes 24 hours for this stress hormone to leave our body kind of a state, because that really is worst case scenario in the study that we're talking about, where people felt like they got their dander up. They felt like there was this disconnect. There was a fight in the relationship. And this is saying that they don't have those tools to be able to come back and communicate. And that's why often when people do have distress in a relationship, then they after a day or two and nobody's really processed anything, nobody's really communicated or made sense of what even happened to cause this disruption or this argument. And all of a sudden the waters are calm. Then people typically put their toe back into the waters of the relationship. And then if it seems OK, then they just go about their business and maybe we're OK. Right. And that's where I feel as a marriage therapist. I hear this so often where people don't resolve things, but then when things are seen, seem to go better and they don't have the tools or the framework to even go back and communicate about what that rift was about in the first place, then how often they feel like things are OK now. Now it's a Saturday and we're out doing some things.

[00:25:18] I want to bring up anything that's going to make things go south. So when they don't have those tools to be able to communicate even about things that have happened in the past, then we typically just tend to just move forward. And then over time, then that's what starts to really drive a wedge in the relationship. So back to some of this data, simply holding the hand of a loving partner can affect this profoundly and it can literally calm these jittery neurons in the brain. So contact with a loving partner can literally act as a buffer against shock and stress and pain. And the quote in this article now is saying, love is not the icing on the cake in life, but it is a basic primary need, like oxygen or water. And once we understand and accept this, we can more easily get into the heart of relationship problems. And I talked again about this study at Ohio State. But the more belligerent, contemptuous these partners were, the higher level, the stress hormone and the immune system. And again, I just shared that that state in the immune system for up to 24 hours. But in an even more astounding study that I mentioned in the intro as well is that Glaser used a vacuum pump to produce small blisters on the hands of women volunteers and then had them fight with their husbands. And the nastier the fight, the longer it took for the women's skin to heal.

[00:26:30] So that cortisol, that stress hormone that is elevated when we do not feel connected with a partner, that it literally suppresses our immune system. So that says something about how desperately we are to connect with someone that it can even affect our health. So when marriages fail, that it's not that increasing conflict is necessarily the cause, it's that this decreasing affection or this emotional responsiveness can offer. And be the culprit, so the lack of emotional response rather than the level of conflict is typically the better indicator of how solid a marriage will be several years into the marriage. So the demise of most marriages starts with this growing absence of a response to intimate interactions. So the conflict typically comes later. But the more that we aren't showing up or being there for our partner, then the more that that void starts to grow and then the more that we feel like our partner is not there for us. I think one of the things that's pretty fascinating to notice is that both people are often having that similar situation where they both feel like the other person is not there from them. So in the book, Sue Johnson says, as lovers, we we we poised delicately on this tightrope when the winds of doubt and fear begin blowing. She said, if we panic and clutch at each other or abruptly turn away and head for cover, the rope sways more and more and our balance becomes even more precarious.

[00:27:55] To stay on the rope, we have to shift with each other's moves, respond to each other's emotions, and as we connect, we balance each other. And we are more in this emotional equal equilibrium. Isolation and the potential loss of a loving connection is coded by the human brain into this primal panic response. And that is a significant bit of data. The need for safe, emotional connection to a few loved ones is wired in by, we believe, millions of years of evolution. So distressed partners may use different words, but they're always asking these same basic questions. Are you there for me? Do I matter for you where you come when I need you? Will you come when I call? And so there's some fascinating data that I have talked about in some previous episodes that show this this neural overlap of emotional and physical pain of why you can feel a physical pain, physical response, a physical pain response to emotional struggle or emotional strife. And so that is where it taps into this primal panic of this feeling, isolated or alone. So this longing for this emotional connection to those nearest to us is the emotional priority, and it even overshadows the drive for food or sex. And that's why when people really feel emotionally disconnected or they're going through some really, really heavy relationship related issues, what happens? Oftentimes they don't eat for days.

[00:29:15] I mean, so it literally overshadows this drive for food. And the drama of love is all about this hunger for this safe emotional connection. And survival becomes this. It's imperative that we experience this connection with another human being or these this close group of human beings. So a loving connection is the only safety that nature really ever affords us. So what Sue Johnson has or she refers to are these demon dialogs that they are these desperate attachment cries. And so most of the blaming and these demon dialogs is it's a cry that is a protest against disconnection. And it can only be quieted by someone moving closer emotionally closer to hold and reassure their partner. But we get into these patterns where it is scary to put yourself in a position of vulnerability to to lean in to someone that is so emotionally frustrated or emotionally flooded that they may often not say the kindest things which that is why as much as I love the book, hold me tight. I love her follow up book, Love Sense that the magnetic marriage course. And we provide a lot of these tools that allow people to to be able to or have the tools to reconnect even when things are hard or when things have been difficult. Sue Johnson has an acronym that's are A.R.E. and the A is accessibility. Can I reach you the hours responsiveness? Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally and IA's engagement? Do I know you will value me and stay close? And so I wanted to talk a little bit and we'll start to wrap this up.

[00:30:53] But in the book Hold Me Tight, she talks about these seven transforming conversations. And I honestly, I promise you, I did not realize that this would become more of almost like this commercial or advertisement for my magnetic marriage course. But I have realized in being able to do and I have I have easily worked with over a thousand couples now over the last 15 years. And so I, I feel like there is a way to have those conversations using hold me tight and using the the principles of emotionally focused therapy. But it can be really difficult and it can be sometimes emotionally overwhelming or emotionally exhausting. And so I want you to know that even as you hear, if you go buy the book, hold me tight. If you take a marriage course, if you listen to a podcast I've done on four pillars of a connected conversation, I understand that you may walk away from even this podcast today and feel like there's some hope that there is a there's a thing there's a thing we can do and there's a framework that can be had that will help us communicate more effectively. And there absolutely is. And I want that to give people hope, but also know that you are trying to.

[00:31:57] Sometimes reverse years, if not decades, of not being able to communicate effectively by reading a book or by hearing a podcast, and it can take a lot more effort than that. But just know that that is a normal part of the process to find out some data, discover something new, something that that gives you a little bit of hope. And then as you start to explore what this is that you're hearing emotionally focused therapy or my magnetic marriage course, that your brain is still wired to go back to the path of least resistance, which is to protect itself and get in the bunker and be want this emotional connection, but also not know how to get the emotional connection. So all of that is so normal. So Sue Johnson has things broken down into these seven transforming conversations. She says, recognizing demon dialogs. In this first conversation, couples identify the negative and destructive remarks in order to get on the root of the problem and figure out what each other is really trying to say. She often talks about that or what I'm dealing with couples in my office. It's the, hey, how do we get here? And some of these demon dialogs fall into some pretty, pretty regular patterns. The tit for tat, the. You did this. Oh, yeah. Well, you did this. There's another one where it's the withdraw and the pursuer, where oftentimes the more that one person pursues, the other person withdraws and that gets into attachment styles.

[00:33:09] I did an episode of my podcast a few months ago with Jennifer Finlayless and five talking about anxious and avoidant attachment, and that was big. I put a lot of effort and into that that podcast episode because I really feel like that was where I was really starting to understand these attachment styles and how I find it. In most marriages, people fall into this pattern of one being more of this anxious attachment. That's me and my relationship, where if I walk in the room and my wife isn't jumping up and down and waving pompoms, I say, Is everything OK? Yeah, that's my own attachment. And then if 10 minutes later she's still kind of just doing her thing, then I'll say, hey, did I do anything, you know? And the more that I push with my anxious attachment, the more that can because of what I what I love. One of my favorite things is the concept of reactance, psychological reactance. This instant negative reaction of basically being told what to do. As the more I'm saying, hey, did I do anything. Are you cool? Will you tell me if I did anything? Is it almost drives that avoidant attachment? In this case, it would be my my wife where the more I'm fine, I promise you I am good to the point of where you almost feel that that wedge that can be driven in between there because most of us fall into this anxious attachment, avoid attachment pattern.

[00:34:16] So the second conversation that she talks about is finding the raw spots. And this this is some difficult work, but it's very powerful. And that is here. Each partner learns to look beyond the immediate impulse of reactions and figure out what the raw spots are. They're being hit. And this is where I find that doing couples therapy and this is, again, probably the 500 plug of this episode of my four pillars of a connected conversation. And the magnetic marriage course is we may now feel like, oh, OK, I get attachment theory. That makes a little more sense. It's nice to know there's a way to be able to communicate and that having all this data you're learning today and then we feel like let's jump right to the rough spots. And in my MagneGas marriage course, I identified these levels of charged topics and I've got four different levels of charged topics. The highest charged topics are often things like it's sex, it's parenting, it's finances, it's religion, it's politics. And so often, even when we get a shiny new tool or toy like emotionally focused therapy or my magnetic marriage course, we want to say, OK, let's jump right to these things that are really bothering us and it can be difficult. So you have to practice more of a connection with the lower charged topics because those same principles will go with you as you talk about these higher charge topics.

[00:35:29] But finding these raw spots, because I find that so often is the case where a couple comes in and they're going to break down the week and they're going to talk about how we really got into it on Wednesday and they'll look at each other and think, OK, what? I came here with the I remember what we were fighting about, but but we were really charged. And it's because it's not about the the particular topic per say. And when we touched on a raw spot, then we jump down into our bunkers and we're using these demon dialogs. We're throwing out the tit for tat or the PSU withdrawal or the freeze and flee. We just hunker down and wait till everything's over. We freeze and we run away. And then we hope that everything's OK. So we've been able to find those rough spots and communicate about them. Is one of these other transforming conversations is what Sue Johnson talks about in the book Hold Me Tight. Revisiting a Rocky Moment. This can be so powerful. This conversation provides a platform for deescalating conflict and repairing rifts in a relationship that build emotional safety. So this is where we don't talk about things, as I was mentioning earlier. And then we we go about our relationship. And then when things really start to get rough or you feel disconnected from your partner, now we bring back things from years ago and then the personal, oh, here we go again.

[00:36:35] You're bringing up the wedding. Are you bringing up the move or you're bringing up the vacation? Are you bringing up the family reunion? And obviously what that says is that we never process that. So we need a way to go back and revisit one of these rocky moments. And with these my four pillars, you can actually go apply those to a an old wound or an old conversation. They're there literally was. An example not too long ago of a couple that had had a rift at a family reunion a few years ago and we went back and we've applied these four pillars onto this rift, onto this family reunion situation that had happened years ago. And what that looked like in broad strokes was a husband that had really put himself out there to make it to a family reunion, but had also had to give up some things at work that were pretty important and also had a pretty big financial ramification. But I've been hearing that if he did not show up at this family reunion, that his wife really felt like he was not there for her, that she didn't matter to him. And so neither one of them communicated this effectively. And here we were years later. And we're in my office talking about this. And when we went back and applied these four pillars back to revisiting a rocky moment, what we realized was, as is typically the case, there was a lack of communication.

[00:37:46] And so people didn't even know what was going on and the other person's world. So the wife had really said, I really need you here. I'm taking the kids. And it's a lot of work. And my family is not the nicest people in the world. And this is a reunion. And everyone else is coming with their their spouses and they're going to look like everybody's living happily ever after and you will not be there. And so the husband at that point is shut down. And he went and then here we were talking years later where he he had been working on some project at work and had tried to communicate to his boss and to things did not go as well. And he ended up losing a particular position which had a financial implication. And so then he had been carrying this resentment for two or three years. Now, who was right? I don't know. It's not my job at have that power to say I, I now deem you is the correct one to one of the spouses. But one of the brilliant things about emotionally focused therapy and my magnetic marriage course and hold me tight is the goal is to be heard. It's not necessarily to resolve, which can be a very difficult concept to wrap our heads around. So in this situation, it would have been nice just for the two of them to be able to communicate because they're both, in essence, saying the same thing.

[00:38:47] Are you there for me? Do you appreciate me? Can I count on you? Do you have my back? And I believe truly, had they both been able to process that and in real time, back when the event occurred, when this family reunion was happening, that it might look something like this. So let's say that the husband is going to now assume the role of listener and the wife is going to be the speaker. The wife is going to communicate to him that, hey, I am really it's hard for me. I'm frustrated because I feel like you are not making this family reunion a priority. So he has to then pillar one have to assume good intentions. She's not saying this to hurt me. And this is a way that she feels that she needs to express herself to get her needs met, goes back to that attachment stuff that I mentioned earlier. So if she is expressing that, then he can't say that's absolutely ridiculous. He can't Pillar 2, I can put out that message that you are wrong. And three, I need to ask some questions. And that's where had they had those tools at that time or been working with the therapist at the time that was skilled in EFT, then it might have looked something more like her being able to express that.

[00:39:47] I feel alone. I feel like I'm being I feel like comparisons. I'm watching everybody else around me. I feel like all of their marriages are perfect. I feel like I'm being judged all of these things. And for him to then stay in there, ask those questions and then not jump into his bunker pillar four, stay present, he can't say, fine, I'll just go. But to say, man, I appreciate you sharing that. And then for him to then be able to say, all right, I can understand now, thank you for sharing that, that would be really difficult. And then I would work with him to now be the speaker and to stay in the good old I feel statements. I appreciate that, man. I feel like I've put in a lot of work in a particular project. And I worry that if I am not showing up that this might be detrimental to my career and our financial future. And we want we have all these hopes and dreams of kids through college and vacations. And and I just I'm worried that if I don't show up in this particular situation at work, that that could impact us negatively. So if I am working now with him being that speaker, her now, assuming he's not saying those things to hurt her and not saying that, that's ridiculous, you work super hard and no one would ever think that she can't say, hey, you're wrong. And then she's asking more questions and then she can't go into her bunker and say, okay, fine, you don't have to come.

[00:40:57] It doesn't matter. I'll just do everything on my own. But when people feel heard, that's when we're more we're more able to work toward a resolution or even some sort of compromise where in that situation maybe there is the ability for him to be there a little bit and to her understand that, well, you know, I really want him to feel like he can provide and succeed at work and him saying, I really want to be there for her, because that would be really difficult if she's feeling judged or if she's feeling like she's less than. And so in that scenario, we then I always joke that the fight becomes turning toward each other. You know, the fight becomes more of once we feel heard. And and I'm not saying this is the way it works out every time, but then that fight becomes more of something like than him saying, but you know what? I hear you and I want to be there for you and I'll do whatever it takes to her saying, no, no, I appreciate your sacrifice and I'll be OK just knowing that you're there for me. Maybe we communicate more effectively while I'm gone or he's able to come for a couple of nights or whatever that looks like. But we're going to get to that resolution more when we are able to recognize these raw spots of I feel like you aren't there for me.

[00:41:57] And then revisiting a rocky moment and being able to apply these these principles even to things that have happened in the past. So the fourth transforming conversation from Hold Me Tight is literally the words hold me tight. Sue Johnson said the heart of the program. This conversation moves partners into being more accessible, more emotionally responsive and deeply engaged with each other. The fifth conversation she talks about is forgiving injuries. This one's powerful. This one I do a lot of work with in the world of the concept of betrayal. And when one person has betrayed the other person, when there's been infidelity, when there's been addiction that's been exposed or or those those types of things, that injuries may be forgiven, but they don't they don't disappear. So instead, they need to become integrated into a couple's conversation as demonstrations of renewal and connection and knowing how to find and offer forgiveness empowers couples to strengthen their bond. I've never done an episode on what's called an attachment injury apology, but I need to do that at some point. An attachment injury. Apologies when someone is triggered. Oftentimes when I have a couple in my office and there has been some sort of betrayal, then when the person the betrayed is triggered and they're going to be triggered by a lot of things, they're going to be triggered by memories, sounds, music, smells, locations, you name it, that they'll often feel triggered and then they will immediately start to shut down and their partner may not even be aware of what's going on.

[00:43:16] So what hold me tight and E.F.T. and my magnetic marriage course is amazing for as being able to work on how to forgive injuries, how to forgive betrayal. And the key and this is, again, one of those things that can seem scary and it can maybe even seem counterintuitive at the time. But this concept of an attachment injury apology, I have given the example often of where let's say that there's been infidelity and it has happened around a particular you know, let me just like to stay away from being too insensitive. Let's say that the wife has blond hair and the husband had was was unfaithful with someone with dark hair and maybe a completely different body type or size. And so then they're at a store and then here comes someone that maybe fits more of what the what the affair partner looked like. And then nothing is said. But this uncomfortable silence spreads into the room and the couple is now standing there, even in a supermarket. And it just you can just feel the energy. Leave the room. What an attachment injury apology about is being the wife, being able to say, man, you know, that that's really hard for me when I see someone that walks by that that kind of looks similar to your affair partner and instead of the husband saying, OK, I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that, but forgiving injury and attachment injury, apologies for him being able to know what to say in those situations and be able to say, I appreciate you sharing that with me and I am so sorry I put you in a spot where we can be out and about and someone walks by that has long dark hair and now your mind immediately goes to this betrayal.

[00:44:40] But I'm here for you. I want you to know I'm here for you. We're working on this. I'm committed to you. And that goes back to these principles of EDT. Are you there for me? Can I count on you? Do I matter to you? And so being able to have this ability to forgive injuries is one of these key conversations that is is part of this emotionally focused therapy model to more. One is bonding through sex and touch. Here, couples find how to emotionally how emotional connection creates great sex and good sex creates a deeper emotional connection. And but that has to be done through a tell me more connected conversation style, not just a world of expectations and things that expectations and assumptions. Sexual intimacy is not a place for expectations and assumptions. It's more of a place where people need to be able to communicate effectively, because even when it comes to situations around intimacy, we all have our own experiences going in and that's a very vulnerable place.

[00:45:33] So we need to have these tools and skills to be able to communicate even about things of a sexual nature or of an intimate nature. And the last key conversation from the book Hold Me Tight Keeping Your Love Alive. This last conversation is built on the understanding that love is a continual process of losing and finding emotional connection. And I love how Sue Johnson says that, that we continue to lose and find emotional connection because we're all dealing with a lot of stuff. We are, on a day to day basis. And so it's normal for even the most emotionally healthy couple to lose, lose sight of each other from time to time. But now we have these tools of learning how to reconnect. That example I gave earlier about, hey, I feel like you've been a little bit emotionally distant then. We now have these tools to be able to communicate effectively and to be able to reconnect. She said that this this keeping your love alive conversation ask couples to be deliberate and mindful about maintaining a connection. So this goes back to the the blog. What Dan has put as lessons learned, he says from all couples therapist. He says, Our need for others to come close when we call to offer us a safe haven is absolute. The second one, emotional starvation is a reality. Feeling emotionally deserted or rejected or abandoned sparks physical and emotional pain and panic.

[00:46:47] This third point is that there are very few ways to cope with our pain when our primary needs for connection are not met. And I believe that is so true when our primary needs for. Are not met, then our emotional pain can can move into the area of the brain that is right there with physical pain, so when we feel emotionally alone, it can feel like a physical manifestation of pain. The fourth one, emotional balance, calm and vibrant joy are rewards of love. And and I love this comment. Sentimental infatuation is the booby prize. So saying that we often chase this sentimental infatuation. But what we really are desperate for is an emotional balance or this calm and vibrant joy that those are the true rewards of love. Next, there is no perfect performance in love or sex. Obsession with performance is a dead end, and it is being emotionally present that that is the key emotional presence is really what matters in a relationship. Six and relationships. There's no simple cause and effect, no straight lines, only circles that partners create together. And we pull each other into these loops and spirals of connection and disconnection. The next one, emotion tells us exactly what we need if we can listen to it and use it as a guide. And I love that concept of our emotion or our emotional response is there as a way to get our needs met.

[00:48:02] This is an episode on stress and anxiety not too long ago. And what I talked about extensively in that episode was that even anxiety is our body trying to say, hey, you need to watch out. You need to be aware. I need to warn you of impending danger. So even the concepts of anxiety is our brain trying to say, hey, I'm looking out for you. It just might have it might be anticipating a few too many events that will most likely never happen. But the concept is that our body is literally trying to do us a favor by either telling us that we're need to be weary or afraid of a situation, or it's also doing the same thing where it's our emotion is telling us what we need. If we can listen to it, use it as a guide. Our emotions are telling us I need you right now to our partner. I need this emotional connection. Are you there for me? The next one that that he writes are we all hit the panic button at times and we may lose our balance and slip into anxious, controlling or numbing and avoiding modes. But the secret is not to stay in these positions. It's too hard for you or your lover to meet you there. And this is the part where if our way to get our needs met is to withdraw and bless our heart, if that's where we're at right now, that's a pattern that we've created, that being able to have the tools to come out of your bunker and express your needs is ultimately being it's using your your put your big boy pants on and showing up with your adult coping mechanisms and adult coping skills.

[00:49:27] I've done so much in the last few episodes around attachment and abandonment issues, and that withdrawal is truly our childhood abandonment or attachment wounds manifesting into adulthood. You know, it really is that ability when we are when we are withdrawn, we are we're kind of saying, OK, if I withdraw, then people will come find me. But then that's a bit of a rigged system because we're also putting ourselves at danger of if people don't then find me when I am withdrawn, then that means something is wrong with me. So those are those childhood coping mechanisms coming into adulthood. We need to get to a point where we can then put ourselves out there because we want what is best for us. We are in charge of our own ship, so to speak. And so we need to have the tools and the voice to be able to put ourselves out there and say, hey, I need you right now. And that's OK. Key moments of bonding are when one person reaches for another and the other responds and it does. It's difficult. It can be it takes courage and it is emotionally vulnerable to put yourself out there at the risk of your partner not responding.

[00:50:28] But I will tell you, the alternative is not going to be the way to a true emotional connection. That's where we're talking about if your go to move is to sit in your bunker and wait and hope that somebody comes to rescue, then that is going to lead to a lack of satisfaction in the marriage. So having the tools, the skills, this is a general plug. My magnetic marriage course or program of being able to put yourself out there is absolutely key. I've got a few more here and I'm realizing as the world's worst promoter, let me quickly toss in an ad right now for Betterhelp.com. And the reason why I feel like it would be appropriate right now is if this is emotionally focused couples therapy. And if you are finding that right now, you're saying I want to do these things, but I have a lot of my own stuff I got to deal with, then I highly recommend at times you may need to go take care of some of your own insecurities or vulnerabilities to be able to show up in a couples situation. If your spouse is not interested in couples therapy right now, maybe the best thing that you can do is go raise your own emotional base line through some individual counseling. And that can be really difficult, because I will tell you as a therapist who has a very, very long waiting list and I'm grateful for it and all those wonderful things, now that we are breaking the stigma around mental health and we're just coming off of one of the craziest years in the history of the universe, there are a lot of people right now that are trying to find help.

[00:51:53] And so if you are unable to find a therapist, a counselor in your area, then really go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you can do now what well over a million people are doing. You can find help and even up to 24 to 48 hours and it can be done through tella therapy. And we're talking on the phone, the computer, there's even text therapy. Betterhelp.com has a pretty fascinating article on its website that I've sent to a few people of where people are literally able to text each other and the way here's what I mean to sound like my first get off my lawn, old man moment. The way kids text these days tell you what you know, they can literally have conversation, they have conversations, these kids on their phones with their fingers. And so you can have this this experience as well through Betterhelp.com. So go to Betterhelp.com, slash virtual couch. You get ten percent off your first months, these first months costs. And they have a really impressive onboarding system assessment tool where you fill out a series of questions and you can find someone that specializes in some of the things that you may be struggling with, whether it's anxiety, depression, OCD and and you owe it yourself.

[00:52:56] Please go find help either through somebody in your area or if you can't, they are real licensed professional counselors and therapists that are at Betterhelp.com virtual couch. OK, so let me get back to there's a few more of these. The tenth thing that Dan shares on his blog is forgiving injuries is essential and only happens when partners can make sense of their own hurt and know that their lover connects and feels that hurt with them. So this is where we're designed to deal with emotion. In concert with another human being, a lasting passion is entirely possible and love. The erratic heat of infatuation is just a prelude. But in attuned, loving bond is the symphony. How beautiful is that quote? Neglect will actually will absolutely kill love. Love needs attention. Feel like this is where love needs watering. You must nurture love knowing your attachment needs and responding to those of your lover can make the bond last truly until death do us part or throughout the eternities and beyond and all the cliches. About love, when people feel love, they're freer or more alive or more powerful or absolutely true, they are more true than we could ever imagine, that all you need is love. Love is the answer. All of those cliches, when you have this type of a relationship, when you have one that is founded on these principles around emotionally focused therapy.

[00:54:06] And we're seeing this, the Preston and I, with this first round of the magnetic marriage course, the feedback again, it's been pretty phenomenal of people now realizing that there is a different way to communicate, that there is a way to stay connected, even if they've been married for a very long time and felt like that fire, that flame was was dead. And this is one of those things that I don't know why it took me a long time to see this, but I'm in my office, I'm doing couples therapy. I've got this model, this emotionally focused therapy model that I'm using as a therapist again, which is now having me love couples therapy. And it hit me a few years ago that I'm talking to people that don't know what I'm talking about. They they basically have come in to learn how to listen and fight better, or they come in to have Mirrool to hear who is said what. And then I get to tell them who is right and who is wrong. And so I really feel like that, you know, it dawned on me that people don't know that there is a different way to communicate if they didn't see that model with from their parents or if they have not had that in their relationship, which I think is why every time I put out a podcast on emotionally focused therapy or my magnetic marriage or course, or these four pillars of a connected conversation, the downloads are thousands of downloads more because people hear this and say, wait a minute, there's a there's a way that this could happen, but it is not easy and it does take work.

[00:55:25] And you can read a book like Hold Me Tight or you can read her next book, Love Sense, and you can go see a couples therapist, but you need to find one that really knows what they're talking about. Or again, what a what a plug for TonyOverbay.com/magnetic. And we put these tools in place in my magnetic marriage course. So all the cliches there. True. So the conclusion the simple truth is that we feel securely connected if we feel the secure connection with our partner, we feel, if we feel emotionally attached, that we are better able to manage the the unpredictable nature of life and whether it is personal, whether it's professional, whether it's in our relationship as a couple, whether it's in our jobs, whether it's with our kids, that we're more resilient and we're able to manage the ups and downs of life more and we're less prone to develop these mental health concerns, if we can stay in tune with our person, our partner, if we can stay attached, securely attached to the person that is there for us, that we need to be able to feel like that person is there for us, that that we matter, that they have our back, that that they will show up when we call for them.

[00:56:28] So that is my hope to you. I appreciate you letting me take you on this emotionally focused therapy journey. And I will I will have some bonus episodes coming up. I'm going to do a little bit more with some parenting. I'm going to have a bonus episode in a week or two. It's a replay of my first episode that I did with Jennifer Finlaysonfife are actually the second one where I talk about high desire, low desire partners in a relationship. We're going to talk about how to teach kids empathy. We're going try to put a lot of content out in the next few weeks, especially leading up to the next round of this magnetic marriage course, which has been a game changer. So thank you so much for joining me today. Don't forget to go to Betterhelp.com. That would be great. If you're still listening and you happen to I'm going to put this up on my YouTube channel and close to a thousand subscribers. It would be wonderful to kick over that mark because then YouTube gives you different tools to work with. So if you are YouTube person and you go over, find the virtual couch channel on YouTube and give it a subscribe, that would be great. And I will leave us with, as per usual, the wonderful the talented Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

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

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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

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

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

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

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[00:11:50] Is that true?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[00:26:25] I love it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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

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

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

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

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

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[00:00:00] So I'm pretty sure that I want to get a motorcycle, and I know for some people that might not be a big deal and you may, in fact, already have a motorcycle or you grew up with a family members riding motorcycles, or you may even have had some bad experiences with motorcycles in your life. You may have been involved in a crash or or, heaven forbid, even lost a loved one to a motorcycle accident. Or you might be somebody who hears me say, I want to get a motorcycle and you say it's your life. Knock yourself out, do what you want to do, or you might be somebody who when you heard me say that I wanted to get a motorcycle, that your first response was, well, I know you don't really want one. You're smarter than that. Or you have kids and they'll think that you have a they'll say, well, do you have a life? Don't you think about her or do you think she'd appreciate it if you get in a crash? But here's the thing. I really can't pin down exactly why I want one and just kind of want one. But I don't want a really big truck and I don't want a classic car to fix up. And I really don't want to shoot an automatic weapon. And I don't want to spend a week camping in the great outdoors. But I do want a new Mini Cooper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you want to know what's worse than divorce? How about running a daycare with someone you used to date and calling that a marriage? Do you feel like you and your spouse are more ROOMMATES instead of lovers! Have you ever thought: "Is the spark fading?", "It's getting harder to talk to them...", or "All we do is talk about the kids, schedules, and chores (daycare stuff)?" If so, it's time to take your marriage from mediocre to magnetic! Tony Overbay welcomes Magnetic Marriage co-creator Preston Pugmire (http://prestonpugmire.com) to the Virtual Couch. Preston is an award-winning inspirational speaker, podcaster, and Life Coach. Preston has presented in front of over 1300 audiences and his podcast, Next Level Life, debuted at #1 in the world on iTunes in the personal development category. Like peanut butter and chocolate, like cookies and milk, bacon and eggs, the list goes on, Tony, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and Preston, a successful life coach, bring the perfect mix of psychology, and motivation to the world of marriage communication to provide students of the Magnetic Marriage course with specific tools to help their marriages go from mediocre, to magnetic.

To take advantage of the special limited time offer Tony and Preston share at the end of the episode, or to find out more about the Magnetic Marriage course in general, head immediately to http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic and sign up today to learn how to make your marriage the envy of all of those around.

Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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

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

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

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

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

EP 245 Marriage with Preston Pugmire-2021-01-26
[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and forty five of the virtual couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified mine will have a coach. All of those things that I talk about in previous episodes are still there. They're still in effect. But let's get right to today's episode. And yes, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook and all the places and subscribe and like and share and review and do all the things that would be amazing. But today's episode is a little bit different, which is why I want to get right to it. If you've been listening to any of my episodes over the last few months, you have no doubt heard me talk a ton about my upcoming magnetic marriage course that I put together with my friend and accomplished podcast for himself in a very well known, successful, positive, upbeat life coach named Preston Puglia. He is host of The Next Level Life podcast. And this is the first time that Preston and I have recorded a podcast together. But we have spent hundreds. And that is that is no exaggeration, hundreds of hours together over the past several months, creating the magnetic marriage course.

[00:01:00] And this is my first foray into creating a major course. I have the free parenting course that I firmly stand behind. But admittedly, I went into that the first weekend that the pandemic shut the world down. I just want to give people some hope with regard to parenting. I knew that they were going to be shut in with all of their kids for I mean, now we're going to probably hit a year before we know it. But it's informational, the solid, but it's non-magnetic marriage course, I will tell you that. And I could not have done this course without precedent. He helps people create courses, but a lot, of course, of successful courses. And he went all in on this course, not just helping me create the course, but Preston and I created this course. And there is honestly the perfect mix of what I feel is is my therapist clinical. A thousand couples later in the chair, experience with Prestons, get stuff done. You need structure, you need homework, accountability, how to create courses, how to run successful courses, all of that. So I wanted to create something like this literally years ago and I had tried to do so, but I know that it would not be a fraction of what this course offers had I tried to do this on my own.

[00:02:08] And I should just stop here right now and go right to the interview because we cover so much about what the course will do for your marriage. But let me just say that the timing of this episode is not purely by chance. The course is getting ready to launch soon. And at the end of the episode, there are some very exciting, very specific details that you will want to pay attention to and take action on. And I'm going to leave it there. But taking action on them. So I would I would listen to this episode. And then if you if you like what you hear, which I feel like you will, then there's there are some things to do to take action. So the video this episode is available on the virtual couch YouTube channel, and you'll find a link to the in the show notes. And I truly would appreciate you liking and subscribing on that YouTube channel for sure. But without any further ado, let me get to this interview with Preston Buckmeier, host of The Next Level Life podcast, cocreator of The Magnetic Marriage Course.

[00:03:12] Come on now, we're both just laughing hilariously because this has been a long time in the making. Preston Hagmaier, welcome to the virtual couch. Oh, man, thank you so much. Feels good to be here. I've been waiting for this moment for so long. I thought about you often so much that I just assume all of my listeners already know who you are, because I've been talking about the magnetic marriage course for months now because as you well know, I feel like we we have I don't know, we solved some riddles and puzzles here. We do. We cracked the code.

[00:03:42] Man let's get into it. We have. We have. And I want to tell you, I even asked Preston if he's going to be OK if I throw the video of this as well up on my virtual couch YouTube channel. But I want you just to go go there just to gaze at how amazing Prestons video setup is, because he has taught me much, literally. And I want to give you credit for this, Preston, even the background now. I have a couch. I have a plant. Thanks to Preston. I have a wall. I don't know if I can remember this. It says something cool under flat matte finish with cool undertones.

[00:04:13] So it's great, great information for somebody who cannot see us right now.

[00:04:19] That's OK. There's my way of saying, oh, wow, he has a YouTube channel. I'll go sign up so then I can be a YouTube star. And then finally the teenagers will take me seriously who don't listen to a podcast so.

[00:04:28] Well, teenagers are not the target demographic for this episode, talking about couples who are married and how good this guy is. Yeah. So I'm excited to be here. It's like the thing that I want to share with people is there's hope, like for reals. This is the thing that is so amazing about Tony Overbay. Like I heard his podcast, I didn't know him from Adam and I heard his podcast and he was talking about these amazing principles. And I was like, I got to get more of this. And so I messaged him and became a client of his like a year ago and started out as a client. And he was telling me stuff about my marriage. With what it's called a F.T., which is just a modality, the blah, blah, stuff like that, but bottom line is I was like, I want to have a more connected, thriving, passionate, like, emotionally exciting marriage. And this is how I feel. I feel like divorce is not the worst option. I feel like being married in a situation where you feel like you're just roommates and running a daycare with somebody you used to date. I think that that is the worst case scenario where you just kind of like not just tolerating each other, but just like living together is like, OK, we're friends and we're doing this and it's great and stuff. And occasionally we'll have sex. But like, it's not there's no like drawing connection and passion in the actual relationship. And that's the thing that shifts it from a friendship to a marriage.

[00:06:11] And I feel like people are just waiting well to get better at some point, better when the kids are a little older and I'll get a cool car or maybe after I run this marathon or maybe the right, just kick the can down the road for me.

[00:06:25] I would think that, like, OK, maybe it'll get better when I start exercising and I look better or when I make more money or when love it or a lot of it was when she changes her attitude or when she finally goes, when she finally goes to this seminar, takes this course with me or like and I've said stuff, I've said all this to her and I feel really foolish about it now.

[00:06:45] But I was in a real space of blaming her. And we weren't we didn't have a terrible marriage. We just had a regular one. And it was great and it was fine. And but it wasn't what either of us really wanted, because, like I said, you're not in that relationship just to be friends and just to run the household together.

[00:07:07] I love that you shared that. I appreciate your vulnerability there that. Yeah. When you reached out, it was funny because I had this experience where I was on the podcast with Jennifer Finless and five, and she said, what did I tell you this before? And you said, wait, that was pressed. Buckmeier and I first of all, how dare you on my podcast talk about this person, Pugliesi immediately Googled you. So I was aware of Presson. So when he reached out, I like this guy admits some of your podcasts as well. And what I really loved and I know we can go back to some of the things that you were sharing earlier, too, but I felt like I could put out all this F.T. material and I would get a tremendous amount of feedback and I could do it in my office with clients. And the feedback would be, man, that that sounds so good. That feels right now. What and then I would say, well, you just start you start doing it, you start practicing it. And then what was that like for you? Would have you'd be like, OK, that makes so much sense. Now what do I do? And I'm like, I know, right? Like, you start doing it and then tell me how goes what. Well I have for you.

[00:08:02] Well, for me it was frustrating because I couldn't figure out how to implement it. I was like, okay, I'm talking to him and was good and stuff. And then I was like, oh yeah, I understand it. And then when it comes time to actually. Implement in my house, it's like I feel like I'm a little bit lost with this and so I felt a little bit foolish and so I was like, bro, we got to help me, help you, help me. Kind of like what? I would like to create a specific like literals script. Like I want to script. What do I say? What do I not say? How do I say it? What are some things that I can specifically do? Because until you are an expert and you have a lot of practice, it's you need to be able to have a specific kind of recipe, so to speak. If you're an experienced baker, then you can just pull the stuff out of the cupboards and just to make something amazing. But if it's if you're relatively new at it, you're constantly going back to the recipe book and checking it and hope this comes before this this amount of this. And you're looking at the book and it doesn't make you stupid.

[00:09:10] It makes you actually smart because it's what I love about it. Oh, well, I you say that in this way.

[00:09:14] I thought again, the way the how the fate's aligned and that whole Jennifer mentioning your name, me googling you, you're looking at me, me knowing that you have a podcast that you create courses. You've done this before. I honestly because I've had people push back before and say, tell me what to do, give me a worksheet or whatever. And there really aren't any out there for F.T. which we found out.

[00:09:35] I mean. Oh, and so I really felt like I honestly, I'm so used to people saying that me to say, look and remember these cheesy phrases, trust the process, Presson and it's about flow and you just have to put it into action, says the person who and I remember when we were in your office, we were doing the recording. And you remember when I said, person, all it takes is fifteen years of being a therapist practicing this and seven years of mindfulness and it flows. And you stopped and you went and you wrote it down. And I need to find that picture. You're like, oh, is that all it takes. Oh ok. OK, so yeah, I don't need a worksheet, I don't need a script.

[00:10:08] Right. I don't need to work. All I need is fifteen years of experience and a degree in psychology. That's right.

[00:10:14] That's all I need. So that's how I appreciated what you brought to the table. And I remember the first time you said, hey, just do me a favor and write it out for me. And man, I almost feel like I should share that Google document at some point because it was a it was a train wreck. And I was nervous about it because I don't think I confess this to you first. And this is why our course is so amazing, is that I thought, man, I've got all this knowledge. But Preston, he's going to get it done. And I know if I shared that with you, but I thought if I don't do this right now, then Preston is going to create his own course and he doesn't know F.T. And I can help. And he's cool and I better do this. And I create this just crud document. And there was the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.

[00:10:54] I agree, man. So this is why it works really well, because there's some things that people are doing with well-intentioned but incorrectly, incorrectly. And as a result, they are not getting the results that they want, which is a thriving, connected, passionate marriage where they feel like excited and. When you when you don't know exactly how to do this, you can end up trying things the wrong way and then just kind of given up. And so the things that people are doing wrong are like the number one thing that people are doing wrong is waiting for their spouse to change. Yeah. So right now, if you're listening to this and you're like, dude, I want to if you have ever thought if she would do this better or if he would do this differently, we would be doing better as a couple. Yeah. Right there. It's such a seductive thought. It really is. We can get lured into this energy of the other person needs to do something in order for this to change. But I'll tell you this, even if it's true. Because it might be even if it's true, it is not the answer to your problems, that's a hard pill to swallow.

[00:12:14] It is. And I remember even when we sat down, I think we were recording one of the first modules. And you I don't remember how you phrased it, but it was I don't even take this course with you. Say Elbow.

[00:12:24] What was it? It's called Don't Listen with your elbows. So think about it. This is obviously a pre covid reference, but you've all been there, right? You're like sitting in an audience with somebody listening to somebody talk. So pretend that you're there with your spouse and you're listening to some cancer. Tony Prestons, somebody else up on the stage revealing the secrets of the universe as it relates to a relationship. And you hear something and you're like, oh, my gosh, that is perfect for them to implement. That is perfect for them to do. And so you just kind of nudge them with your elbow. You're like, hey, hey, hey, hey, did you hear that? Hey, hey, hey, dude, check that out.

[00:13:02] That was a really good and it comes off as hidden agendas man, which is one of the other things that we're going to talk about. But like when you listen with your elbows to life or to any feedback or to anything and you say, I'm going to wait for them to change, because when they change, I'll be happier. And what you have done is you have immediately sealed your fate. Because very rarely are they going to have the flash of light that you want them to have while you're sitting there with the energy of you needed to change. You need a change. You need a change. You need change.

[00:13:41] That's just what I love. And death now in the court.

[00:13:44] And what you've helped, I feel like help me with is I would have that phrase of, OK, you both go running into your bunkers. Now, one of you needs to come out first. And I feel like what we're doing now in this course is saying, OK, and literally here is how you come out of the bunker first. Here's the things that you say. And that is the part where I did I pushed against that press then, you know, I did because I felt like it needs to just be flow. It needs to just work. And that's what I feel like. That's part of this. We've cracked the code. We've solved the riddle.

[00:14:11] Yeah, well, this thing is I would ask you how and what we've done is through months and months and months of work and back and forth and two full weekends together, you and I have come up with specific steps like this is how you get back on track. These are the things to do. These are the things to say. These are the things to not say. Here's what you can lean into energetically. Here's what you can lean into physically. Here's what you can lean into verbally. And I used to just say, OK, cool, that's a great principle.

[00:14:46] How and with the magnetic marriage course, I feel like we've created a system of there. It's a two part system and there are subsections of each part, but there's connected conversation scripts and then energetic, like energetic alignment. And we'll talk about that in just a moment, what those mean. But when you can get those two pieces of the puzzle really together, just like a magnet, you create the attraction and then it is drawn together. If you want to be in a relationship with somebody where both of you, not just one of you, is really drawn to the other person, emotionally, energetically, spiritually, physically, if you want to be really drawn to them and them drawn to you, then these are the things that you get to do and say and not do and not say. And it is a it is a formula. And it's something that we have outlined over the last year. And I've worked with several clients in my coaching groups. And then you work with several clients in your office as a therapist, and we come at it from a coaching perspective and then in clinical scientific based therapy perspective and the two, just when they marry themselves together so well, those to apply to.

[00:16:06] And that's what I did. And I that's again, had it not been I know it's going to sound a tiny bit at times like a love fest, but that was the part where if it hadn't have been Preston and we did, we never we were so respectful and wonderfully lovely, lovable what we were having these conversations. But I felt I would say to Preston president, OK, I trust you. I want you to just push hard against these things that I think make perfect sense or are reasons why I feel like we wouldn't need to have this script or module or whatever and man and we had to give and take there. And you're absolutely right. I would sometimes text you after we get out of a session and say I was a bit more prescriptive or I gave this exercise or and it works. It works so well. And so I really do appreciate now that mix of coaching and then the the therapy. I really feel like that's something that is not out there. It really isn't.

[00:16:55] And it works so well because what I did is you would present a principle and I would. Yeah, but it to death I would be neba from a space of love like it was something where it was, it was like the scientific process. OK, let's explore this. It's kind of like I in it to if somebody creates a security system for their building and then they hire somebody to break into that building and then the person finds, they find a weakness in the security system on purpose, in a controlled environment so that they can bulk up and that's that section and make the security system more robust.

[00:17:33] And then they hire them to try to break in again. And then they find another way. And after five ways of breaking in, then they get to the point where I can't break in anymore. And I know the system really well. So what we have done is I. Yeah, but yeah but yeah but and with my marketing my and my coaching mind and in your therapy mind and your like, your clinical experience and all those things, we created a system that really is the most robust version of the quote unquote security system of the marriage.

[00:18:03] And so it really is amazing. It is an even we were talking about script, even if you feel like I shouldn't need a script, OK, we'll note that.

[00:18:14] But here is the script and it works. And I feel like there are a lot of those when we shouldn't need a script or or he shouldn't be to have to be told what to say or. You know what? We're we're kind of. And with those, how have those gotten us so far where those gotten you and I love that we would have those moments right where it would be. OK, I will note that this may be difficult. This will note that this might be unfair. So, anyway, back to the script right back.

[00:18:39] So I would say stuff that Tony, I'll tell you about this. And there were times when he just said that, OK, what do you want, Preston? Because the thing that you are doing right now isn't giving you the results that you want in your life. So you can keep doing that.

[00:18:57] Yeah, I tried to get a tiny bit frustrated and it grew into a tremendous amount of love or be like and I hear you and we'll note that and but you know, this I this I know this works. This formula, this script, this where I would do the whole thousand couples later, blah, blah, blah. But how did that feel when you hear that it didn't feel like, oh OK, then all my problems are solved.

[00:19:23] No, what what it took from me is to finally really trust. And so after there came a time where I I stopped pushing and pushing and. Yeah, but yeah, but because I was like, oh, oh, I don't need to do that anymore because we actually figured this, that this out. And sometimes the answer is, well you get to do it for the next three to six months. Yeah. And it's not going to work immediately. Nothing is. So if you do these things one like one time, if you have a very connected conversation using the script, if you do that one time and your marriage doesn't immediately turn around, that's the equivalent of lifting weights one time and getting frustrated that you don't have a six pack or you haven't lost ten pounds like on day one. And so just when we say trust a process like it is a process and it doesn't happen overnight. But I'll tell you what doesn't work is the things that you're currently doing. So, yeah, you got to do this to try something different. So the first people are going, yeah, you know, you go, I was going do the same thing.

[00:20:37] First thing people are doing, you go.

[00:20:38] First thing people are doing wrong is they're waiting for their spouse to change. So the antidote to that is that you get to actually lead and it doesn't matter if you're the husband or the wife. It takes one of you to actually lead and you have to come out of the gate or come out of your bunker, so to speak, to come out of your bunker with accountability. That's hard and straight up. It is vulnerable and it is hard, but it is the way to take control of your own emotions. That accountability module. You go on, go, go, go. If you want to. If you want to have control over your own emotions, then we teach the four steps of accountability inside the magnetic marriage course and we teach the we teach you specifically how to reframe the story that is running on loop inside your head, reframe that story in a way that is useful to you and actually gets you to where you want to go.

[00:21:41] Because if you basically if you are sitting there blaming and blaming and blaming somebody else and you're sitting there being in victimhood, energy, it's like dropping an anchor in in the ocean and then turning the motor on on your boat. And it's going in a circle around the anchor and then getting frustrated that you're not making it to shore.

[00:22:03] Yeah, you're like and I was going to say.

[00:22:06] No, I apologize for some of that, I don't remember when we did that accountability module, you said, hey, I want you to come up with something real and let's do it live. And the thing that we processed for me, I, I was holding on to a lot of emotion. I've never talked about it on a podcast. I just it was something I've been carrying with me for a long time. And I was I again, I don't know if I shared this much with you. I was very skeptical that it was going to be and I'm not trying to make it sound like it was the easiest thing in the world, but it was shockingly easy when you laid out I remember this, the two sides of this board, I won't give away more, but the way that we laid out the energy that I was putting out and who I really wanted to be and how that story fit into each one of those sides of this board, I'm probably not making any sense.

[00:22:50] But trust me, I feel like that module alone for me personally was a game changer.

[00:22:56] Thank you. It was for me as well when I had my mentor teach it to me. So what are you talking about? There's two sides of the board and there's basically there's a victimhood energy. I'm not talking about being like an actual victim, like victimhood, energy versus conscious creative energy, where you're actually moving forward and allowing yourself to take control of your own situation and focusing on what you can control and. Bottom line is. We will teach you how to reframe any story in your entire life that you could tell inside your head or to your friends or to your therapist any story that you could tell the ends with. Can you believe it or I don't know what to do or anything like that. You can reframe any story with these four very, very specific and simple steps so that you can take control of your emotions and create. The emotional situation with another person that you want to have, and I I use it every single day, every single day in my work and with my parenting, with my spouse, with my friends, with my finances, like every single day. The four steps of accountability. It's absolutely a game changer. Yeah.

[00:24:13] So the second thing that people do that we were really noticing is that they really they didn't rely on this concept of just simply reflective listening. I feel like that is something that every as a therapist and grad school, you learn that I feel like most just self-help books is preach. This is a good time to talk, I'm sure. And now one of the people displaced as well may be saying, I really think that you're mean and that you never listen to me and you don't appreciate me. And then the wife is OK. Reflective listening. I'm hearing that you think I mean, I'm hearing that you think I don't support you and then they're saying, OK, that's well done. So that sounds like you heard him. And then you have the other side do that. And then it's like the therapist or the book or the whatever sits back and says, hey, now you've heard each other, now work it out. And I feel like that is this underlying model and method that is in so many communication or marriage seminars. And that's the thing that I was shocked even to see that there wasn't something that was as I just had the tools of no, you can't just listen to each other.

[00:25:16] You have to be able to express yourself. You have to be able to listen empathetically. You have to not be going to the. Yeah, but you can't go into victimhood. You can't just tell this person that is a bunch of crap. I don't believe you. And which is all the things that can come from just purely empathetic or reflective listening.

[00:25:34] You make that sound pretty. Presson So it's beautiful. Beautiful. So what happens is people that put their guards up and then they run everything through a filter. This is what I think that they're saying. And so if you say, oh, this is what I'm hearing you say and then you say it, it's an easy way to just regurgitate the actual words that they're saying without getting into the energy. I'm huge on the energy. Think about I mean, literally, my friends put up on her Instagram yesterday. It was so funny, her and her husband, it was called they did this thing called arguing with compliments. And it was meant to be a joke. But, dude, we should use it. We should use it. It's so good because it's it's them sitting there like the video and there's next to each other in the kitchen. And he turns to her and he goes, you know what?

[00:26:27] Oh, you're so good at being a mom. I can't believe it. And you're so sexy. And I oh, I'm so glad I married you. And she turns to him and she goes, are we are we doing this right now in front of the kids? Are you kidding me? Because when you come home and tell me that my hair looks good, it makes me want to kiss and I just can't believe it. And then I see you and I see your muscles and it just it turns me on and then I watch you with the kids and it just makes me so happy. And they're just arguing with compliments to be a joke.

[00:27:01] But it's the energy of things is so important. And you can sit there and you can be like, man, you know what, you really are the worst. Like, I just every time talk, I just feel like just a little bit of gagging in my throat. And I just I just really don't like looking at you and being around you.

[00:27:24] And so it's the tone of voice. It's the energy. It's not just the words. And when you combine the two and when they are in alignment, then it creates a situation where you can actually have a connection. So I talk about that just briefly to say what we've created is a script. It's a it's the connected conversation script. And in this, when you have the correct energy and correct motivations behind it, then you what I asked you, what do I say? And then you say here is exactly what you say, and it's like a template. You plug in the things that relate to you and then there's a speaker and then there's a listener and there's specific questions that you can ask.

[00:28:11] And when I've done this with my wife, oh my gosh, I've learned of been married to it for 12 years and I've learned so much about her and her motivations and her just the things that that drive her, the things that light her up, the things that shut her down in every aspect and her reasonings for things and just how she thinks like her world view when I've learned more about her world view, helps me understand her. And I really love her and appreciate more. And also, it allows me to show up in such a way where I know that I'm delighting her and I love to love to deliver because I really everybody wants to matter.

[00:28:47] Everybody everyone's the care. They want to be heard. They want to matter. And I had a I was. With a couple just just yesterday, and I get this one often where the person says, OK, but what if you already know all of those things and I think bless your heart, you don't. The reason that you think you do is because we don't without this script, we most likely probably shut that conversation down enough where the person giving the information at some point, it's like, yep, you got it all figured out, right?

[00:29:13] That's exactly how I feel. And so they don't feel safe enough to just open and share. And the script literally lays out how to do it, what to say. And it is a safe way to just tell me more. Tell me how long you've thought that way. Where does that come from? What's that like for you instead of the. No, I've heard that already. I already know. Well, how do you think that affects me? All those things are gone.

[00:29:34] They are. And one of the things is because we've created something called the four pillars, and they are foundational. The foundational principles that it's the pillars. Think about a pillar of that, like a platform is built on like that. It's everything relies on these four pillars. Maybe we should have led with this, but straight up these four pillars, when you use them and when you actually follow them, then it creates a situation where. You can't help but be more connected after the conversation is over. So when you ask the questions and when you answer the questions and you use these, we call them empathy statements and also land, when you don't use the landline statements, then what happens is you end up being connected. So the four pillars are we'll just go first.

[00:30:21] Let me tell you, this is where as we're going through and I think we were talking a little bit before on one of our calls a week or so ago and planning. So I did a quick version of, hey, here are these four pillars. I gave a couple of examples. And I think I was telling you, I don't think I've ever received more feedback from people that literally just saying give me a handout or something so I can fix my whole marriage. And that's the part where I say, bless your heart. I wish it was that easy. But the four pillars are an old principle. You do. And with these four pillars of it, we're going to talk about, we also within the course and I thought this was significant when I have people in my office and maybe it's that they're paying for it, I lay out these pillars in my office and and it feels right. And then they want to jump right up to the OK, we talk about sex, parenting, politics, finances and religion, please, because these are the and you realize, oh, we've got a lot of emotional baggage that we're carrying with us. We're going to lay out these pillars. But I want you to think in terms of because you're immediately going to say, OK, then we can finally have this conversation about whatever these highly charged topics and press. And I thought, well, OK, slow down. When we've got low charge, we've got four levels of these charged topics. And what's fascinating is you can do a warm up exercise in a therapy session where you say, hey, give me your thoughts about where you always wanted to retire. And all of a sudden somebody says the beach and the husband says, seriously, like you hate sand, you never even use sunscreen. And it's, oh, if we can't even have a conversation about this thing that is not for years, that is just just supposed to be kinda laid back on the grass and tell me more thing. And we certainly can't dove right into the highly charged topic. So lay out these four pillars and let's talk about this.

[00:31:56] The first one is assume good intentions.

[00:32:00] And it sounds cool. Like why say can you go through what these are like? Is as I was laying these out with you and I want to know what was their initial feedback or thoughts or reaction or that sort of thing.

[00:32:11] So assuming good intentions so that one of the things that's interesting is when I was in. Yeah, but mode, I would say what if they're what if they don't have good intentions and.

[00:32:27] That's.

[00:32:29] It's really an interesting place to be, because if you're operating from this, you're operating from this place of my spouse is trying to hurt me right then. Then you're that then that's maybe not this course. It's just not this course. So that's where you deserve to actually have a real assistance. What I mean is like just different assistance, as this course is for people who are ready to move forward or they're in a stagnant place or they're just like arguing like you're on the brink of divorce and you're at each other's throats as might not be the best way for you to start. Right. Like, go work with a professional.

[00:33:09] So let me tell you, this is what I love about this. And that's why I love the coaching piece and the therapy pieces, because I and I you are so right. If it's already so emotionally charged, we're talking about divorce. It can be really hard to get into this sympathetic mode of I have to assume these good intentions they are not trying to hurt me. And what that looks like is if your spouse is withdrawn, it's not that man. They wake up and say, oh, I don't hug, I know how to get at Preston and I'm going to I'm going to withdraw for a couple of days. That'll show him. No, it's if they're withdrawn, the assuming good intentions. It really the way you frame that is that man, I have to assume that they are so they are so hurt or are not feeling connected that they feel like by withdrawing. That's the really the only way that they feel like maybe that I'll see, recognize or notice. So even if somebody shows up in their angry then I feel like that's the one where I'll hear often. I'm supposed to assume that good intentions there and that's what we have to do. That is pillar one. So if somebody is like frustrated and they're saying, look, I'm tired of this and I just got to get something off my chest, you can assume good intentions a bit like, man, bless their heart, they don't know how else to share this message with me because we have been in the space that we haven't felt so connected. So I have to assume that this wasn't a wait till seven thirty at night when the kids are at bed and I'm just going to blast them. It's oh, she just feels like this is the only way she can be heard right now. So assuming good intentions, that's what it would look like.

[00:34:27] And I mean, in the magnetic marriage course, we talk about how to go and how to do these things. So I'm just going to give you the basics of them that, like number one assume intention. Number two, don't send the message of you're wrong. Now, the way that you send that message is when you immediately contradict somebody's statements or feelings. It might look like saying something like, well, that doesn't make sense or no, I'm not or I already know that. Or to answer that, that didn't happen. You can't do this again or something like that, or even it can come up in the positive way where somebody says, I feel nervous, like, no, no, man, you can do it.

[00:35:09] You can do hard things. Like you're immediately contradicting themselves. You're contradicting them. Excuse me. And so if you immediately send the message of you're wrong or I don't believe you, then it puts them on the defense. And so we teach you how to like even if you don't agree with them or even if you do have things that are contradictory, like feelings or statements, or even if the reality of the situation is contradictory to what they're currently saying, we teach you how to approach and navigate that so that it does not send the message of you're wrong.

[00:35:44] It actually allows them to see, like, something that could be helpful to them and it creates a connected energy instead of a confrontational energy.

[00:35:56] And I know we're going to get to this and we'll talk about this over and over. The four pillars are not pick and choose. And this is the importance of the framework. And this is why in the course, we we have every bit of this buttoned up from landmine statements. But these statements to and the reason I say that is quick example.

[00:36:11] I'm married 30 years. I'm a pro Preston. I'm a marriage therapist. Right. The all the stuff. And I'm on a run with my wife over the weekend and I could tell that she was maybe felt a little bit that I missed the ball and something and so say, hey, tell me about what you were going to do this thing. And I was like, oh, no, no, remember, I was going to do this. And she could have easily right then said, no, we talked about this and you're wrong. And so I would have been defensive. And she's like, oh, OK. All right. So if you don't remember this other conversation, I can totally understand why you went this other went and did this other thing. And then so right there she assumed good intentions. It turns out she knew she was right. She knew I was wrong, but she was like, I can understand that. And then it's OK. And I just remembered when we were walking by this one particular house and having this conversation about one of our kids in this event. And I was like, OK, yep, nope. I totally remember that. My bad and I know that sounds simplistic, but that's the importance of the framework that we're teaching because and that's why I feel like people will often say, OK, I'll do that for the most part. But if I know he's wrong, then sorry, I got to let him know. And it's no, trust this framework. And that's why we've laid the course out with so many things to build up to this. This will work. This is the way that you go every time.

[00:37:25] And that's where it comes down to. What do you want? You want to be right or do you want to be connected? and in a marriage, you get to choose? So here's the thing. Are you in a marriage? Cool. Do you want to stay in that marriage? Cool if you're not in a marriage. This isn't for you. If you don't want to stay in your marriage, this isn't for you. But if you are and you want to stay cool, you get to choose, do you want to be right all the time or do you want to be connected? And it is you just get to choose.

[00:37:59] And so what I love about that is it doesn't have to be. We're on the brink of divorce. This is where I truly believe at my core that these skills that we teach are not natural. They're not factory settings, because I could get out on how we come into relationships with abandonment and attachment, all that stuff. But we are already so protective and we're so ready to run back into that bunker and start hurling insults and that sort of thing because of this not going well. This is for this is this part where it will improve anyone's communication.

[00:38:28] I it really anyone. Anyone. And so when you utilize that second principle, the second pillar, you get to the third pillar, which is questions before comments. So it's very easy to just say what you think and tell your opinion. Here's the deal. Stephen Covey talks about seek first to understand, then seek to be understood. And so you just ask questions.

[00:38:53] Now, here's the deal. What questions do you ask? Empathetic questions. And we have a whole list of them that I kept asking. I kept on the list of things. I mean, the list of things to choose from because these things are not innate and they're not taught and they don't it's not a factory setting kind of deal. I'll tell you this right now, like when people don't have a really thriving, connected, passionate magnetic marriage, it's not your fault, honestly, like you haven't been taught how to do it. people, Marriages don't come with a handbook. And just like children don't come with a handbook. And if you think I should already know how to do this because I'm an adult now. No, no, no, no, no, nobody does. People confuse physical development and maturity with emotional development, emotional maturity, physical maturity happens to us. You don't have to do anything. You grow, you start getting hair, really all the things like that. And and you're like, oh, now I'm an adult. OK, that happens to you. Emotional growth and emotional maturity. It doesn't just happen. It's not a package deal. You have to seek it out. And I have spent years and years and ten thousand hours and thousands of dollars like really working on these things. And so have you Tony. And now we are creating a situation where other people can expedite that process and learn from the things that we have learned over the last years. You can take years with the knowledge and put it into six to eight weeks, like honestly, and then you get to learn how to implement it.

[00:40:31] But that's. Yeah, yeah. Because and say that pillar three, I think that when we were talking earlier, when I say that, somebody says, what if you already know everything about your spouse or you know what they're going to say.

[00:40:41] This is where things we're going to find out things you never knew before because if you've assumed the good intentions, you haven't said they're wrong. And now you start asking questions. That person feels safe. And when they feel safe, this is where they go. They get to go deep. They get to go. Well, actually, here's how I feel about this situation and this this example I gave earlier about where do you want to retire when we finally got that one in this CCS, we put it in this framework.

[00:41:03] The woman, yeah, she doesn't like sand and she gets sunburn. But the beach represented freedom. And in a childhood where there was a lot of challenge and struggle. And so I was like, why didn't you tell me that?

[00:41:12] And I wanted to say I did say because you already said that the thing about the sand and the sun. And so at some point somebody said, forget it. And so then if you don't have this framework, she's never going to feel heard about really what her deepest goals and desires and experiences are and what a gift that he got at that point.

[00:41:32] And they left that conversation feeling connected.

[00:41:36] Beautiful. Which brings us perfectly to the fourth pillar, which is stay present and lean in.

[00:41:41] Now, here's the thing. Leaning in is not intuitive, because leaning in includes the potential of getting hurt because it's vulnerable and our brain is not wired for growth and connection. Our brain is immediately out the gate, wired for survival, survival and protection just is and it is survival. You get to survive and you get to protect yourself when you wall yourself up and when you go into your bunker and you get defensive and you start blaming, that is survival. You are protecting yourself. You just are. Yeah. And that's why I say, what do you want? Do you want to be right, which is the protection or do you want to be connected? And I guarantee that when you do this. There will be times where it will not go super smoothly and where you might get a little bit hurt emotionally. OK, welcome to being in a marriage. I'm just saying, like you, if you want to actually create this thriving, passionate, connected, beautiful, exciting magnetic relationship that you deserve.

[00:42:55] It comes with a little bit of risk.

[00:42:57] And that's why we guide you through the process so that you can avoid all the things where you will get really, really hurt and you're going to fall and skin your knees, so to speak, because that's just part of the process of anything you've got to learn. And if you're willing to do that because you realize that there's amazing things on the other side, then, boy, this is for you.

[00:43:23] It really isn't that fourth that fourth pillar too. And I feel like this is one that honestly, even as we were starting to talk about these pillars, I admittedly felt like one, two and three were so important in this. Four was good until I realized here's how it manifests. And I feel like anyone listening to this, I've gotten so much feedback from this piller when what it can look like. Yeah, we say lean in. But what what the opposite of that looks like is something can still assume good intentions. They can not tell the person that wrong. They can ask the questions. And then when it gets uncomfortable, like Preston says, they go to the OK, I guess I'm just a crummy dad or I guess I'm just a bad husband. No, that is not leaning in. That's going into victimhood and that is wanting your partner to now rescue you. And so that's why and I remember, Preston, when when we were talking about this earlier, when we were where you were saying, OK, these aren't you can't say, OK, I'll do one and three. If you look at any conversation that devolves, I guarantee you that it will be because of one of these four pillars. And you must and we talk about this so much of how to stay in those four pillars and what to watch out for. And I feel people will really resonate with the man I do that or I didn't even know that was a bad thing.

[00:44:33] When me and my wife started implementing this, she in her infinite wisdom, dude she, We got into an argument even after we did one of these conversations. And then she came back to me the next day and she said, oh, my gosh, I was looking at this list. And I, I didn't do pillare No. Two. And that's where it went off the rails and it was a light bulb in my head was like, oh wow, she's so smart. And she figured out a piece of this where any time you have a difficult conversation or an argument or a confrontation or anything like that, or even if it's just a cold shoulder avoiding like it doesn't have to be explosive, which is like just cold, you can go back and go over the conversation in your head and you can say, oh, I didn't do pillar one or or I didn't do pillar four in this situation. And that's where it went off the rails straight up. You can always, always identify one of the pillars that didn't get adhered to. And that's four pieces. That's what four pillars take one of them out of the platform is going to fall, it just will. yeah. And so it ends up being really, really important to do those. And like said, we guide you through it. That's what the course is for. That's what this training, this marriage training experience is for so that you can have the third thing.

[00:45:58] I want you to really take the reins or consider again, my vulnerability was I felt like we hit the accountability. We got the conversation scripts. We got. We've got some personality things in there. We've got some ways to figure out your partner. We've got all that stuff. I loved all of that. And Preston would say, OK, I'm big energy guy. And that is kind of like this concept of masculine and feminine energy. It's not about gender. It's about this energy roles. And I don't know why, I had heard of that.

[00:46:25] And I think that with this kind of goes back to my own experiences in a session where I would feel like someone would come in and and say, oh, are you familiar with this? Or this would be some concept that I felt like someone had read just online. And I realize now I would feel this. No, no, I'm the therapist, you know that. I don't know all of those things. Let me tell you the things I know. And and so that was a challenge for me to really lean into this concept of energy. And now I can't tell you how much I use this. I use this literally every day in multiple sessions. And it's also really helped me in my own marriage, in my own the way I show up with my parenting. And I kind of want you to drive this one Preston because I just want to be very open and vulnerable. Say I'm a I'm a I'm a neophyte when it comes to this energy portion.

[00:47:09] However, you have implemented it and you have learned it and you have taught it like so, so well. So, yeah, it's it's relatively new to you, but you're a pro and you get this stuff. And I've seen you in our sessions when we've created the content and you've told me about the way that you've approached it with your clients and stuff like that. So stop selling yourself short. So check this out. You're very kind in in a relationship that is typical, where the man in the relationship has more of a core masculine energy and the woman has more of a core feminine energy. Now, that is not every relationship. I totally understand that. Bottom line is in a relationship, there are energies. It's like yin and yang. You can think about it in terms of that, because when I say masculine, feminine, I am not talking about male and female. I'm not talking about gender, even though that's how we often apply it in our brain. And so I'm just going to ask you to turn off that old filter of your brain, because what I'm talking about is. Creating two things that are in there, they are there in their opposites, I guess, so that they can attract think about it as a magnet like North and South and North Pole. And a magnet will attract, if you have to South's, then they're going to repel each other.

[00:48:36] And you can have really, really good friends that you both have to feminine energies or both have to masculine energies. That's awesome.

[00:48:46] That's not what we're talking about here, because the difference between a friendship and a marriage is a physical sexual relationship. That's one of the main differences. Right. So what we're doing is we're creating this piece of the relationship that that creates attraction. And so think about this. If I've lost you a little bit, think about this. If you are a woman in a relationship, what happens when you feel like you're not noticed or you feel like you're dismissed or if you feel like you're not understood or if you feel like you're not safe?

[00:49:25] And I'm not talking about necessarily physical safety, but if you feel like you're not safe to express your emotions or you're not, you don't feel secure even if he has a good job, like I just don't feel secure in our state of the world and of our brand and stuff like that. There's a lot of things happening outside of our control and I don't feel safe.

[00:49:44] What happens when you don't feel seen, don't feel acknowledged, don't feel understood and don't feel safe? My guess is that you shut down. And so what we've done in this course is we've outlined a very specific way for you to feel like you can create a situation where you feel seen, acknowledged, understood, safe and secure so that you can relax, so that you can enjoy the relationship and so that you can be radiant, you can just be radiant and you can trust your spouse and you can really, like, celebrate him.

[00:50:31] And really look to him as just your hero, honestly.

[00:50:37] And now, well, before you move on from that, because this was some stuff that I really enjoy and I've got some notes that I pulled up that I will bring up in session. Now, there's some real key things I think that you've but you've touched on to that that need to feel safe and secure according to them. And that's where I recognized and again, this is where these things can plug into that four pillars, connected conversation script to have this conversation so that then she feels heard to say, here is how I feel safe. And that the person the guy hearing it doesn't hear that is a you are a pile of garbage because you're not doing this because he wants to say, no, I am I am providing safety to you. Here's how. But it has to be according to them. And so that's the part where they need to be men and women.

[00:51:19] Yeah, men and women. Idea of what makes them feel safe and secure is just wildly different because we're different creatures.

[00:51:27] But you're totally right. And so I talk to the men for a second. Think about think about when you feel criticized.

[00:51:35] Think about when you feel picked, think about think about when your spouse feels like your energy is closed off and cold.

[00:51:44] And if you think about if you are in a situation where you feel like a little bit controlled or things are just like enforced and you feel like you don't have some freedom, OK? Well, we can teach you the things that you can do, think, feel, say all those things so that you can actually create a situation where your spouse wants to give you sincere praise. Where you're showing up in such a way where they feel safe to be open, vulnerable and playful with their energy. And where they allow you the opportunity, they allow you to operate with trust because you are showing up in such a way where you are trustworthy and it creates the situation, think about men right now. If you listen and think about what would it feel like to be able to get sincere praise? And to be able to have a spouse with open, vulnerable and playful with their energy that you can you can feel secure with.

[00:52:46] And also. You feel like they trust you. And you're allowed to.

[00:52:54] Just operate free. It's just a really, really creates this open, open situation energetically. One of the things that I have really, really started to learn and implement in my own marriage and my coaching and you and yours is that this is the missing piece, when you take obviously accountability, you're taking control of your emotional situation, which we can show you how when you implement the CCS or the connected conversation script where you're using the four pillars to be able to unlock the connection energetically and emotionally and physically between you and your spouse so that you know them, you really understand them, and they know and understand you.

[00:53:42] And you're excited to actually have conversations, even if that conversation in the past would have been a third rail, no go. And then when you take that and you couple it with. This energetic piece of masculine and feminine, what is called polarity, polarity, is the state of being at two different poles. Think North South Pole on the globe. There are they are opposites, right, than the north in the South Pole on the globe create a magnetic field that allows things to be magnetically attracted to each other. So when you step into your core energy, we show you how, when you step into that, it creates a situation that allows your spouse to step into their core energy. And then you are like a north and South Pole of a magnet, and then you become magnetic and then you become attracted and you have a thriving passion, connected, exciting, fulfilling relationship. And these are the things that work. And we've seen them work in our own marriages and we've seen them work in so many other marriages. So if this is something that you want, then what we've done is we are actually releasing this course limited, like we're only opening it up to 10 couples right now. Later on, we're going to open it up to more. But right now, we're only opening it up to 10 couples. We're going to take you through a really it's like a Founders'. You get to be the founding member of this program, the STRAIN program, and we're offering it to people for a discounted price because it's just the first opening of it. And so you want to be one of these 10 people, ten couples. And first question that you're going to ask is, can I do it without my spouse?

[00:55:29] Yes, yes, yes, yes. If you feel pulled to do this, we will teach you we have a like a solo contract you can track, like, basically if you feel told to do this. I know from personal experience that you can change your marriage, by yourself. it sounds counterintuitive, I know, because you're like it takes two to tango. Yes, it does. However, you can create a situation where you do it by yourself and by do it by yourself. What I mean is shift your behavior, shift your paradigm, shift your energy. And that allows the situation to create an opportunity for the whole thing to shift. It really does work.

[00:56:14] So if this is what I love that you're saying that because that is something that I have and we talked about this earlier, we weren't even sure if we how we would implement this. And we put a lot of work and effort into that, because I do feel that there is a message kind of being touted out there by media, by psychologists. That is, you have to get yourself together in order to then show up in a marriage. And this is where this whole thing is based off of this concept. Again, we're designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. I feel like we bridge that gap of I can hold myself accountable, but then I can also use these skills, these everything from this confident energy, the way to have a connected conversation using the formula, even if there's only one person using the formula and that it will shift and change your marriage. And it's not in a I'm going to work on me and I don't care about you. And I feel like that's the message that's often out there, that if your spouse is not wanting a part of a program like this or they aren't wanting to work on self-improvement, that I know I share this with you so many times Preston where I think I just get so frustrated by that because I'll get that see that message out there. Look, you just got to do you and I hear you and I understand when people see that, but I feel like that is missing such a huge opportunity to. Yes. Accountability and figure yourself out. But then here's how you now show up so that you can still get this connection with you spouse.

[00:57:32] It's not either or. It's not either or. I just do it by myself or we do it like it's so it's a new way of looking at it, which I am working on myself and I'm choosing the version of me that is going to show up. And now I have a specific way to do that and achieving that. And I'm creating a situation where I'm standing up for things that I desire and and holding myself accountable, holding myself to a higher standard and saying, well, this is what I would like in return. But it's not from a hidden agenda perspective. There's no hidden agendas and you're not demanding.

[00:58:06] And so it creates an invitation. And rarely is that turned down. Because my guess is your spouse wants this, too, even if they don't understand what it is that they want.

[00:58:17] So this is the thing. If you want to be one of these foundational foundation sounding like 10 couples to be able to go through this course, this magnetic marriage course, then go to TonyOverbay.com/magnetic. Tony Overbay, magnetic, and there's a special rate for people who are founding members of this, we're going to open up the ten spots and we're so excited because when you invest in your relationship, think about think about this. What does your relationship look like one year from now if you don't do anything?

[00:58:57] Just think about that. Does it look the same? Does it look worse? If it looks the same.

[00:59:04] Are you OK with that? If you are, this is not for you. If you are not OK with it, this is for you.

[00:59:12] So here's what we want you to do. Go to TonyOverbay.com/magnetic. And enroll as one of the founding members of the magnetic merge course and we are going to take you through it has six lessons, 6 training experiences and you get to watch these videos. There is actually scripts and worksheets that we've created for you. There are the training videos. It's all held within a program. And then you get to work with us in a group setting every single week. We're going to come on and we're going to do live like coaching and Q&A videos with you so that you can have ways to implement these things in your specific experience. It's like your specific relationships and your specific marriages, because every marriage is kind of different. The principles work. They do. If you want to understand how to navigate these things with your spouse and say, well, this happens and then get specific coaching and therapy from Tony and I, then this is one of your best chances to do it. And you get it straight up. You get at a fraction of the price. It's about it because it's in a group setting. It gets a tenth of what it would look like to work with us one on one. And so this is going to be a way for you to create the relationship that you want.

[01:00:29] So make this happen. So right now, you are in one of three categories. You are a yes, in which case can go click, do it enroll right now. Or the second category is you are. I know. In which case don't do it. Like how does it feel to trust yourself and know that this isn't the timing for me is the, Most likely you're in a third category where you're saying yes, but. Yes, I want this, but, man, I don't know if he's going to do this or yes, but I don't know if we have the money for this right now. Yes, but there's a lot of things happening with the kids in sports right now, I don't have time. And so I'm going to tell you this, whatever comes after that. But for you. Yes, but then you have this excuse. If you're using an excuse for this, I guarantee you using that excuse for other areas of your life and you're not actually living life on your terms. So what I'm going to challenge you to do is to prove to yourself that you're no longer going to use that excuse.

[01:01:34] You're going to say, I'm done with that excuse, here is me showing that I am not going to use that excuse because I know that this is something that I want that I deserve in my life. And so you put that excuse, excuse aside, money, time blaming, things, and then you actually show up for yourself, show up for your marriage, show up for your relationship and invest, create this opportunity for you to make a change.

[01:02:02] Be done with that excuse. Go from the. Yes, but to a straight up Yes, because I'll tell you this. Things are not going to change on their own, that's not how life works and we want you to be able to have this in your life. That's why we created this, because it's changed my life. And so that's why I'm so excited about it and bold about telling people this is something that you deserve. And I'm so excited to be working with Tony and I'm so grateful for you, Tony, because you really have changed my life and you changed my marriage. And the things that we've done together have been so impactful. And I'm so excited to impact other people as well.

[01:02:45] So I got the chills. Whoo hoo hoo! Who's cutting onions in my office now? It's been the same. Like, say, no one else could have pushed me the way you did. And it has been an enjoyable push. And and so that's where Preston is really helping me, because there's that part of me that still has such a hard time. As much as I love doing podcasts and it may appear that I want to put myself out there, it's still really difficult for me. But I could not agree more with what Preston is saying, because this is why I got into this business. I did a whole career shift. I never wanted to work with couples until I found this model. And here we are, 15 years, a thousand plus couples later, thousands of hours in the office. And so there's no part of me that even worries that this might not work. I've said that to Preston so many times. And Preston is the one that's helped us put this in a tangible format. So I one hundred percent do feel like I'm giddy about I would I will still I will confess depressing. Sometimes I'm Googling things late at night.

[01:03:41] Somebody's got to have something out there like this. I mean, we can't but is not. And so I really am just I can't even wait. I can't. So we could go on and on with this. But yeah. TonyOverbay.com/magnetic. Preston Pugmire, holy cow. Chocolate peanut butter. They go together. So well here we are. I can't wait in the beginning of many things. Some day we're doing retreats. We got the tigers jump down on a stage. Preston will perform. He's a ten year traveling performance. Let's get all that stuff. And it starts right now.

[01:04:08] So yes, Preston, I can't wait to have you back on the couch. All right. Thanks a lot. We'll talk to you later, OK

How important is family birth order in creating your personality? Tony references the article “Birth Order Traits: Your Guide to Sibling Personality Differences” by Jocelyn Voo https://www.parents.com/baby/development/social/birth-order-and-personality/ and “62 Interesting Birth Order Facts” https://www.factretriever.com/birth-order-facts in this episode.
Sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.
Tony also mentioned his appearances this week on two podcasts, The Betrayed, The Addicted and The Expert with hosts Ashlyn and Coby, and Virtual Couch former guest Brannon Patrick where we discuss narcissism in detail and the challenges people face in relationships with narcissistic individuals https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/podcast/episode/25d19bf1/is-narcissism-nature-or-nurture and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t https://www.buzzsprout.com/1072564/6209683-tony-overbay-pornography-and-recovery
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=v95myQThis episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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

EP 244 Birth Order-2021-01-20
[00:00:00] I remember being a new father and my first born daughter, Alex, so I'd waited for four, seven years after we had been married, who's now 22, was around a year old, and she wasn't walking yet. And my wife, Wendy and I were beyond worried. We had friends whose son had started walking before he had 10 months old. And man, we heard about it, Alex said, tucked her foot under before standing up. I remember she didn't like tummy time at six months or something along that time frame, and she didn't like running under the parachute at Gymboree class. I can't exactly remember, but the implications were clear. What if Alex never learned how to walk? What if her delayed walking led to a lower IQ? Would we hold ourselves responsible if Alex didn't go on to become a Nobel Prize winning astronaut architect who volunteered her weekends building homes and third world countries? So fast forward about six years and my youngest son Jake was born. Pretty sure Jake learned how to walk at some point because he currently just a few days shy of 17, is a nationally ranked high school basketball player with some Division One college offers. And I don't know if he spent much time on his tummy or if he really even enjoyed parachute time at Gymboree class either.

[00:01:12] And I know it seems like a cliche to say that as you have more kids, you go from hyper vigilant parent to, hey, is anybody seen kid number seven? He or I think it might be she still lives in her home right now. There's somewhere between 15 and 18 somewhere around there. The days is a chit or cliff. The name starts with a C, right. But as often the case cliches are born out of some truth. So what is true when it comes to birth order when Jan Brady, perhaps the most famous middle child of all time, sadly but passionately exclaimed Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. It's all about Marcia, where she's simply jealous of her older sisters, bellbottoms and groovy threads. Or was there some true psychological scarring occurring in that split-Level home somewhere down in sunny Southern California? So on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we're going to be talking all about birth order. Where do you fall in your family? And from some quick interviews with my own kids, I think you're going to find more truth than you would have expected, at least in my home.

[00:02:10] That and plenty more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:02:23] Hey, welcome to episode two hundred and forty four, The Virtual Couch. I've got a fun one today. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mind will have a coach, a writer speaker, a husband, a father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, a pornography recovery program that's helping people stop themselves from turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. And I help people do it in a strength based hold machine, become the person you always wanted to be kind of way. If you are interested in taking a look at the program, just head over to Pathbackrecovery.com.

[00:02:53] You'll find a short ebook there that will help you identify five myths that people often make when they are trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. So again, go to Pathbackrecovery.com and there's a weekly group called there. There's a forum, all kinds of good things. And you can also find a link there from Tony Overbay Dotcom. And if you head over there, sign up to find out more about my magnetic marriage course. There's a big announcement that's coming up. It might be the end of this week or early next week that has to do with that magnetic marriage program. And as I was starting to record, I was I got caught up in reading an email that I got this morning. And I'm I'm kind of, I don't know, humbled, honored, very excited. But it appears I was nominated for a Family Is Award. And by going to that site and there's people there that I love, people that I've had on my podcast, Rachael Nielsen, Ralphie Jacobs, a lot of people that have won some awards in the past off of the site. But it apparently honors, they say, influencers who celebrate commitment, popularize parenting, bolster balance and validate values. And so I love it. I'm excited. I'll find out more about that. And I don't know if it's a voting thing or a posting thing, but I'm very, very much honored. And I think today's podcast will be one of those fun ones because we're going to talk about birth order.

[00:04:06] And that is something that when I go through my spiel of what goes into what makes you you and man, I've got it memorized in my head, I start off by saying it's your nature or nurture or your nature, your nurture, your birth order, your DNA, abandonment, rejection, hopes, dreams, fears, all those sort of things. So I got birth order right in there because I know that birth order affects our personality. But to what extent? And so I'm going to refer to an article today from parents that come let me double check that. Parents Dotcom. It's by Jocelin Vu and it says, Birth order traits, your guide to sibling personality differences. And I had a chance last night. I did it a little bit impulsively, and that was to reach out to all four of my kids and get their take on birth order and how they were affected or impacted or if they agreed with some of the things that we're going to read today or if they felt like it really wasn't applicable to them. And I heard all across the gamut. And then while I was talking with my oldest daughter, Alex, who I talked about here in the intro, her husband Mitch was there. And that was a lot of fun because my daughter Alex is the oldest and my son in law, Mitch is the youngest. And there were truly some aha moments that that we found out, even just in a short amount of time that we talked about how birth order may or may not affect one.

[00:05:26] So we're going to get to that article in just a minute or two. Before I do that, please head over to TonyOverbaycom, sign up to find out more about this magnetic marriage course and some other things coming up. And if if you're if you're open to it, up for it, do me a solid and head over to virtual couch on Instagram and and subscribe. I would be honored. I've got some amazing, amazing people that are handling some things, but not behind the scenes. Crystal who who's doing an amazing job, taking a lot of quotes from the various podcasts, and Arya, who is making some cool graphics and I mean business guy Neil, who's just helping organize a lot of things behind the scenes so we can create more content than I've. I've got a video coming up pretty soon there. I want to put on reels that is about how abandonment and abandonment and attachment affect us in our daily lives that I'm really excited to to post. So look for that coming up pretty soon, too. And if you're if you're open a wife, you're open to it. I would I would be very honored. I would appreciate it if you took the time to subscribe or wait to review or share any of the episodes that you you have enjoyed. So let us get to the article. So birth order, birth order traits, your guide to sibling personality differences.

[00:06:41] And Jocelyn starts off by saying that being the first or middle youngest are only child probably influences your behavior. And here's what you need to know about the link between birth order and personality traits. So Dr. Kevin Leman is a psychologist who has studied birth order since nineteen sixty seven. That was before I was born. And he wrote the book, The Birth Order Book, Why You Are the Way You Are. And that is one of the first books that I became aware of. And I true confession now that I have been doing this for a long time. Seventeen, eighteen years or so, man, do I see the impact that birth order has on individuals and the reason I am kind of. Framing this, I need to be very open and authentic, I remember being in grad school and I remember at that point anybody that is in grad school to be a therapist or getting a masters or a doctorate in psychology, I've had some similar discussions where all of a sudden you really do feel like you, you know, a lot more than you do. As a matter of fact, there's a fun thing that I've done episodes on in the past called the Dunning Kruger Effect, which says that, quite frankly, people that have a little bit of information like to think that they've got all of the information and they will wax on poetic and philosophic about all kinds of topics that they really aren't as informed in as they believe that they were.

[00:07:57] And I remember that was definitely how I was in grad school. If somebody came up and asked me my thoughts on something psychological as they found out that I was going back to school to become a therapist, I would just weigh in on whatever I thought was important or my understanding of something at the time. And I still remember to this day talking to someone where they said is true. What's the impact that birth order has? And I didn't know I don't really know enough about it. And I felt like, well, I don't think it impacted me very much. I was the youngest, but man, was I wrong. Birth order is is definitely something that impacts the way that we show up in a family. And one of the things that I want to start and frame this entire conversation with is that as you get awareness of something and again today, we're going to find out if you were the oldest or the youngest or somewhere in the middle or if you were an only child. We'll talk about that as well. But with awareness, I don't think Spider-Man said this, but what does he say? With power comes great responsibility. I was about to say with awareness, now comes knowledge. And with that knowledge, I think Schoolhouse Rock taught us that knowledge is power. And I have no idea where I'm going right now. But my point is that when you are aware, become aware of something that doesn't mean, again, acceptance of saying, wow, that is me, I'm the oldest.

[00:09:09] Those traits are true to me. Acceptance doesn't equate to apathy. Acceptance doesn't mean well, I guess now I know how I'm going to turn out the rest of my life. Oh no. With acceptance now, we're no longer fighting against the whatever we are accepting now with that acceptance, we aren't trying to poke holes or look for ways to try to see if if what we hear is true with acceptance now we can move forward. So I want you to keep that in mind as you hear a lot of things today that might line up with your experience in life or how you show up in relationships. Now, I want that to be a little bit of an aha aha moment. That is why I show up the way I do. So with that new knowledge. Now, if I want to, I can do something about it. And in a couple of podcasts, I have talked a lot about abandonment and attachment and I have talked about it so many times in session that I want to make this very brief and I will then I want this to kind of frame the conversation that we're going to have today. So abandonment and attachment. And so think of this as we set the stage and we talk about birth order. Today, everyone is born a little pink, squishy baby.

[00:10:12] And when we come out of the womb, we immediately are in attachment is such an attachment based creature because without attachment, without someone meeting our needs, we literally will die. So abandonment equals death. That is how the wiring starts moving forward in our little tiny brains. So if we cry or as we cry, we are then fed or we're held, we're comforted, we're soothed, our diapers are wiped. And so that that kind of sets the stage. So in our little baby brains, we're pouring this foundation of if we if we express ourselves, our needs will be met. And if our needs aren't met, we will die. So abandonment equals death and the baby starts off by recognizing or slowly moving into this. They are the center of the universe that the world must revolve around them, because, again, when they express their needs, everybody jumps. And from that point on, and none of this is said with judgment or shame. So here you have an ego centered, little squishy attachment based creature. And I kind of have been joking lately that now enter the ages of one, two, three into that phase two, I think of Eriksson's developmental cycle. And when you start to move forward, then welcome to the world of abandonment. It can sound dramatic, but as you move into two, three, four or five, six years old and so on, what abandonment looks like at that point is, hey, you can't stay up past your bedtime or no, you can't have candy before dinner or we're not going to go to Disneyland this week.

[00:11:47] And now you can't have everything that you see when you walk into the store or everything that you see an ad for on TV. So remember that if you are coming forward from the standpoint of when I express my needs, then they are meant to. All of a sudden I'm expressing a need. I need that toy. And now parents are saying now, not today, that they're all of a sudden it seems like you don't understand. Old old man, old woman. I'm expressing myself. This is where you then jump to my every every need. So from that moment and I think when I. What I'm talking about this, I've got my hands down low to the ground, and because I'm saying that a picture that this is the kid moving forward, that is all that they know. So two things occur at that point from an abandonment and an attachment standpoint. From an abandonment standpoint, again, remember, abandonment equates to death. Now, the person expressing that they desire a toy, they don't even know that if they don't get this toy, they think if I don't get this toy, I'm gonna die. I mean, that's that is what I need. And this is the sustenance of life is this toy that I just saw on on TV. And you are not meeting my need. So from an abandonment standpoint, then, as we go through life wondering why now are people not meeting my needs, this ego centered, attachment based kid who at that point in life, empathy does not come natural because you are still coming out of this.

[00:13:16] This life is about what I want and what I need. And so I don't have a true understanding of what my caregivers are going through. So there's where that lack of empathy as a small kid or adolescent toddler, teenager, any of those things, kind of the genesis of that is that they don't have that understanding of what someone else is going through. It's natural that they don't have that that understanding. And so they also don't have a way to self advocate or or truly understand how to get their needs met. So from an abandonment standpoint, that's where things eventually lead to this concept that experts call toxic shame, that that it must be something unlovable about me or else people would be just still meeting my needs. They would be responding to when I react. So I must be broken. I must be unlovable. There's something wrong with me when in fact it isn't something wrong with you. It is the reality of growing up in an imperfect world with imperfect parents and and imperfect situations that that concept, that life is it's chaotic. Life is is suffering. Life is struggle. Life isn't fair. But we sure don't understand that when we're young. I mean, as a matter of fact, we don't understand that as adults either to be to be quite honest, because that's a hard concept to understand.

[00:14:28] So there's your abandonment issues. So it's the if I would do something different, then I would get my needs met. So something must be wrong with me. Now to that I if I did something different, I would get my needs met. Now we're talking attachment issues. So you are trying to show up in a way that will get those needs met. If I am the perfectionist, if I make it things very easy, if I'm the peacemaker in my family, if I'm the star athlete, if I'm the humorous one, if I'm withdrawn, well, then my parents say, hey, what's wrong, buddy? If I'm really angry? Well, people say, fine, fine, you get what you want. So from that attachment standpoint, we're all starting to try to figure out how do we get those needs met? Because subconsciously or planted in our brains is that if we don't get our needs met, then that equates to abandonment and abandonment is death. Now, why do I lay all that out before we start talking birth order? Because now you can see that with all of that attachment abandonment going on now enter where do I fall in the family system? Because the where you fall in that family system is going to impact if you are getting those needs met rather naturally or if you really have to try to figure out the landscape and fight for those needs to be met.

[00:15:35] So let's let's jump right in and and talk about birth order. So I had started with Dr. Kevin Leman and his book, the birth order book, Why You Are the Way You Are. So psychologists like Lehman believe that the secret to sibling personality difference truly lies in birth order, whether you're the oldest, the middle, the youngest or an only child. It's how parents treat the child because of it. There is a family therapist named Mary Wallace, who for over 20 years has been studying birth order, and she's also the author of the book Birth Order Blues. She agrees. She says some of it has to do with the way that the parent relates to the child in this position. And some of it actually happens because of the spot of that position. Each position has its unique challenges, she explains. So let's jump in with the first born, first born personality trait.

[00:16:18] So simply by being a couple's first child, a first born will naturally be raised with a mixture of instinct and trial and error. And this is what often causes parents to become these by the book caregivers. And I remember my wife and I truly were this. I think we literally had a couple of very large, thick books that we were just pouring over in the days prior to our daughter, Alex's birth. So literal book by the book Caregivers who are extremely attentive and stringent with rules and somewhat overly neurotic about every little detail. So in turn, that may often cause the child to become a perfectionist because they are then always striving to please their parents. first borns, bask in their parent's presence, which may explain why they sometimes act like many adults.

[00:17:01] And I can think of so many examples of friends. Kids shout out to my my friend Mackell, who we used to joke about, is was a little adult that they would sit around and and want to participate in the conversations that all the adults were having. And it can seem so cute. It really can. And they are also diligent. They want to excel at everything they do as the leader.

[00:17:22] Pack firstborns often tend to be conscientious, reliable, structured, cautious, controlling and achievers and the first born strengths, they are accustomed to being the center of attention because they've had mom and dad to themselves for however long it can be years before siblings arrive. And and I mean, this is so true. And I hope that parents don't read or hear this with guilt and heaven forbid, some shame, just kind of some awareness. But many parents spend so much more time reading and explaining things.

[00:17:51] to first borns, the nightly routines are again, more almost like hypervigilant or neurotic or by the book. And I know so many, so many parents who the baby book of the first kid, the pictures of the first kid, the videos of the first kid, all the books that were read, all the time spent. It was so regimented and consistent that that it just again, it can it can just feel like this is how I'm going to be the rest of my entire life, says the parents. But it is not as easy when other kids come into the picture, says Frank Farley, a Ph.D., a psychologist at Temple University who studied personality and human development for decades. That undivided attention may have a lot to do with why firstborns tend to be overachievers. He explains that in addition to usually scoring higher on IQ tests and generally getting more education than their brothers and sisters, firstborns tend to outearn their siblings. And I have a fun facts of birth order article that that I found as well. 62 interesting birth order facts. And there was something on this list that says firstborns are more likely to make at least a hundred thousand dollars more annually than their siblings. And it's got some link to research.

[00:18:59] So that is a lot of money. More just from being first born, the first born challenges. Success can come with a price. Firstborns tend to be type A personalities who never cut themselves slack. Dr. Michelle Middelburg said that they often have an intense fear of failure, so nothing they accomplish feels good enough. And because of that, they they dread making a misstep. Oldest kids tend to stick to the straight and narrow path. They are typically inflexible, she says. They don't like change. They're hesitant to step out of their comfort zone. And in addition, because first borns are often given a lot of responsibility at home, whether it is helping with chores or watching over younger siblings, they can be quick to take charge and the tiny bit bossy when they do. And that burden can lead to excess stress for a child who already feels this pressure to be perfect. Now, here's where I think this is going to be fun. I will turn to my interview. I asked my daughter Alex what I did with each of my kids as I read over those. Here's the facts or the data about the birth order. And then here are the traits. And just I said, what do you what do you think about those?

[00:20:03] And Alex, she said she felt a tremendous amount of pressure to set a good example. And she said that she was very aware that the kids would look up to me. And she said I was aware that their opinion really mattered. And I know that they wanted me to be proud of them, which I loved that take that she said. I know they wanted me to be proud of them. And I can remember instances where she would she wouldn't say how she loved something that one of the kids would do or she was good about taking each of the kids out when she learned to drive.

[00:20:32] And they would have you know, we still get these memories that pop up in our and our group chats that are times where we have this little little old convertible and they would go and just get ice cream and they would have music blaring and they would have funny videos. And so I feel like each one of the kids has some of those experiences with Alex. And so but when we read the list of those characteristics, man, she said, I feel that she's like, that's kind of odd, this kind of creepy. I feel like you're reading your you know, your listing an awful lot of traits that I feel like she wasn't very didn't realize that maybe they were more of these traits of the oldest or the first born. She said she felt a lot of pressure to be perfect. And I thought this was interesting. And this might be because I was literally interviewing her and my wife Wendy was there beside me. But she said she said, but you guys were never strict. So she said, I'm not sure how that correlates. And Wendy and Alex related a story that she said Mom told me in first grade that my teacher, which we remember, Mrs. Maynard, she was amazing that my first grade teacher said that she really tries to be perfect. And Mrs. Maynard had said to Wendy, well, we'll see how that plays out when she's older. But she says that there again, there wasn't a part of her that felt that pressure from us as parents, which I think is kind of interesting. So maybe those of you who have younger kids and you worry that you're you're putting this pressure on, I felt like this is one of those fascinating things about birth order that they're the the child is going to feel that pressure.

[00:21:55] And I think that's significant. When I laid out the attachment and abandonment issues, the concepts early on in this podcast. Part of that is because the kid is going to view life through their lens. And so and they're not only viewing life through their lens, their abandonment, their their attachment issues or challenges, but this is that thing where I gave an example a few weeks ago where I was talking with a mom who had a it was like a nine year old and let's say a 15 year old that were wrestling for. Fine, and then the 15 year old gets hurt, so then the 9 year old thinks it's their fault and you as a parent can tell the 9 year old, hey, it's not your fault, but they're coming at it from their lens, their point of view, their perspective, and where in their mind, if they feel like it was their fault, you can say it wasn't your fault. But they're still feeling they get all the feels around.

[00:22:43] That was their fault. So I kind of feel like that speaks to what Alex is talking about, of feeling this pressure. You can tell her, hey, Alex, don't let the that pressure bother you or you can be whoever you want to be. Or a the kids are going to have their own opinions or any of those things. And she's still going to interpret things the way that she is. And I think a lot of that is where there's this importance of just understanding where birth order, what traits that can lead to is is really fascinating. So she said again, no, no part that felt pressure from us necessarily as parents. So she said she's not sure where that comes from. And she said, I always knew that you guys thought I was a good kid and you guys would say that a lot. But that also led to me feeling like I didn't want to let you down because we had a good relationship. And we we talked about this one story that I thought was was really funny. One time Alex jumped off of a bunk bed and landed on the computer screen of a laptop and had cracked the computer screen. And she didn't tell me about it for a couple of days. And we were talking about this again. She said she had never been in trouble, so she was scared. And even that alone. Right. The little perfectionist, the the she was just doing everything right. We were so hyper vigilant on on what we could do to help her. So she felt like she had never been in trouble. So she said she was kind of scared of what that would even be like. She said, I didn't even have a concept of what it would be like, but I was afraid of what it would be like. And and I remember when she told me and I asked her, what do you remember?

[00:24:09] My reaction was and it's like, I remember you, you said, oh, things happen. And I said, OK, because I remember I felt so bad because she didn't feel like she could come tell me and and she said so she was also said some interesting said I was consistently told that I was more mature than I was for my age. But she said that she also felt like she was very indecisive and she she believes she's maybe carried that through into into her own adulthood. She said, I didn't want failure or I didn't want anything to go wrong.

[00:24:36] What if something goes wrong now? She said it can be scary to make a decision. So I feel like her traits line up a lot with that oldest child birth order syndrome peace. And I think that what's fascinating about it again is and she might have just been saying nice things because I'm her dad and she knew I was going to talk about it on a podcast. But you as a parent can truly be doing everything that you can and feeling like you're doing things the best to the best of your ability. And trust me, I'm not saying that. And we did. We never made mistakes. Oh, man, we made mistakes. Boy, do parents make mistakes. That's part of being human. But you can you can, let's say for the most part, do your very best and and feel like you you gave it your all and your kid can still put a lot of pressure on themselves. So I thought that was really fascinating. So let's go to the the middle child personality traits. So back to the Jan Brady, the Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, always comparing to Marcia.

[00:25:33] So if a couple decides to have a second child, they may raise their second born with less of an iron fist due to their previous experiences. So they may also be less attentive since there are other children in their lives and therefore the middle child is often a people pleaser due to the lack of attention they get in comparison to older siblings. And then when younger siblings come, come on board.

[00:25:54] The middle child, says therapist Mary Wallace, often feels left out and a sense of, well, not the oldest. I'm not the youngest, who am I? And this sort of hierarchal floundering can lead middle children to make their mark among their peers, since parental attention is usually devoted to the beloved firstborn or the baby of the family. And what's more, Dr. Leaman says middle children are the toughest to pin down because they can play off of their older sibling. So in general, middle children tend to possess the following birth order personality traits. They can be people pleasers, somewhat rebellious, thrive on friendships, tend to have a larger social circle and often are peacemakers. So middle child strengths, middle borns are go with the flow types. Once the younger sibling arrives, they need to learn to constantly negotiate and compromise in order to fit in with everybody. So, not surprisingly, Dr. Sulloway notes, middle kids score higher in agreeableness than both their older and younger siblings. And because they receive less attention at home, oftentimes middle kids tend to forge stronger bonds with friends and often are less tethered to their family than their brothers or sisters. They they are usually, according to Dr. Linda Dunlap, professor of psychology at Marist College, they're usually the first of their siblings to take a trip with another family or maybe want to sleep at a friend's house. Now, the challenges of the middle child, middle kids once lived as the baby, the family until they were dethroned by a new sibling.

[00:27:16] So unfortunately, they are often acutely aware that they don't get as much parental attention as their, quote, trailblazing older siblings or the beloved youngest, and so they feel like their needs and wants are often ignored, so middle kids are in a different position in a family because they think that they may not be as valued, says Dr. Mettenberger. It's easy for them to be left out and get lost in the shuffle, and there's some validity to their complaint. There's a survey by the baby website.com, which is a British parenting resource that found that a third of parents with three children admit to giving their middle child far less attention than they give to the other two. So let's turn to my daughter, MacKinley, who is now 20 and my daughter Sydney, who is 18. So those they would fall in as the proverbial middle children at this point. And let me kind of tackle Sydney first. I thought it was really funny. Sydney had just come in from a run and and she just she said she really didn't feel like being the middle child had any effect on her life. She said she said not that kind of just felt like I was doing my own thing. And Sydney always was more or less doing her own thing. And my wife posited a theory that we had girl, girl, girl, boy.

[00:28:25] And so she said that she kind of felt like maybe Sydney took on traits of the youngest child because she was this youngest girl and then the next kid was boy. So it was completely a different experience for us and even for the older daughters. So she was just that was that was the interview with Syd said she didn't really feel like it impacted her. And she seems more or less like she's kind of she's Gruene. She's she's vibing, doing her own thing. So MacKinley, though, we had quite a talk with her and she's been on the virtual couch a couple of times as a couple episodes out there has been open about some anxiety, some depression struggles. And and so she's she's very, very open about her thoughts around these emotions. She said that a lot of those traits she said, I think a lot of it fits me. She said not everything, but a lot of what that I was reading. She said she didn't realize and this is what I thought was was kind of fun. She realized how many of those qualities may stem from birth order. She she said that she finds herself often a people pleaser. She remembers being a teacher's pet. She's also afraid to let people down. And she said she put a lot of effort into that aspect.

[00:29:32] She said if people ask her to do something, she just really feels like she doesn't want to let them down. In terms of family, though, that's where we felt like things are a little bit different, she said. In terms of family, you know, she said, you know, that you guys talking about Wendy and myself, you are the guys that I go to. You know, she's we she calls us are bffs her best friends forever. And so she said but she does realize she didn't necessarily turn to her siblings and she said she she would in those situations, she would turn to her other friends. She said she wasn't rebellious, but she said she did feel like if she wanted to do something, that she was going to do it. She said that she only snuck out once her senior year. And this is what's kind of fun. And I hope that this is the relationship that you are setting the table with, with your parenting. And this goes through an episode I did a couple of weeks ago about parenting today's teenagers. But she said I snuck out only once my senior year. I didn't know she had snuck out her senior year. She said that she was already 18.

[00:30:28] And and so she just said, you know, here's here was that experience. So she said, I wasn't really rebellious, but if I was going to do something, if I wanted to do something, I was going to do it. And Wendy said and I thought this was interesting, too, she said she was so aware of not wanting our kids to have that middle child syndrome that she said she tried super hard to not have that happen. And and there's a story that goes from back in the early days where I think it had to do with we live next door to my wife's sister and their six kids. And so the cousins were just we were back and forth at each other's houses forever. And so Macki, I think her and her niece or my niece, her cousin Taylor, either both felt that they were truly adopted or but Maggie said that for a while she truly believed that she was adopted. And when she was younger, she said that she was always trying to live up to expectations, though. And my wife pointed out it was pretty interesting. They both said, man, Mackey did all the things. She won all the awards, the sports awards, the academic awards.

[00:31:27] If she did something, she was going to be the best. And so we just asked her, did that come from feeling like you didn't live up to Alex's standard? And she said maybe a little bit, but that wasn't necessarily the case. She maybe felt like that came from a bit of an inner drive. And and if the other kids, though, are making decisions, Mackie often feels like she wouldn't insert herself. And I think that was where then she felt like she needed to turn to others to help make decisions, whether it was Wendy and I or her friends. Circle fun story, somewhat rebellious. I questioned. And she just she has a very confident streak and it has been there forever where if there is an authority figure, this isn't from like an oppositional defiant disorder kind of outburst. But she wants fairness. And she said adults are not allowed to just be rude because they're older and there is. A great story, and I jotted notes down and I should have written out the story because I'm sure I will butcher it, but there was a story where I think she was I want to say 10, 11, 12 years old.

[00:32:33] And we had a we had a basketball and it had her name on it. And one of the neighborhood kids, it was a kid somewhat around her age. They had lost their ball. So they grabbed Macky's Ball and and they took it inside. And so Macchi, I think with, she said later that she had her posse around her.

[00:32:53] I think she had siblings that maybe the cousins, some other kids in the neighborhood. So she got the ball, she found the ball. It was in the bushes. It was flat. It was a completely different color than her ball. And so it goes and knocks on the door. And she she has the ball. She and she said, hey, the ball that you guys have, that's my ball. C has my name on it and this is yours. And Wendy said at that point, I think when he was in the garage outside and she said, Oh, I remember I heard you say, here's your dumb ball. And Mackey threw the ball down on the ground. And that was not to the kid that was in front of the mom.

[00:33:24] So Mackey's always had a bit of this sense of justice or and maybe that was her rebellious nature. So that that's my interview with my middle kids. So one that said it didn't necessarily affect her. She didn't feel like those traits necessarily spoke to her. And then with Mackey, she didn't realize that a lot of those qualities do actually stem from birth order. So let's get to the youngest child. So my youngest child again, maybe we can say that I had two youngest children, a youngest daughter and youngest son. So my youngest son, Jake, who is now pushing 17, I think in just a few days and first boy that we had. But youngest children tend to be when I want to frame this one. So this is where my wife and I are both the youngest kids and my daughter Alex's husband, Mitch, is also the youngest child. So when I was going over this, the youngest child, this was with Wendy, Mitch and myself and Alex was listening as well.

[00:34:18] Youngest children tend to be the most free spirited due to their parents increasingly laissez faire attitude toward parenting the second or third or fourth or fifth time around. So the baby, the family tends to have the following birth order traits.

[00:34:29] And, oh, man, I hate to do this to you, but I am just now realizing that I am the world's worst promoter. So let me just let me just insert a quick ad for Betterhelp.com and then we are going to be quick, I promise. I think it's like a minute, maybe a little bit over a minute, and then we'll get to those traits of the youngest child. So I'll be right back.

[00:34:48] And today's episode of The Virtual Couch is brought to you by Betterhelp.com and sure 2020. It may finally be in our rearview mirrors, but for so many people, there is a lot of catching up to do a lot of processing necessary, a lot of motivation needed. So you owe it to yourself, your family, your kids that we're going to talk about today, your pets, your future spouse, your future children, future you, whatever it is you need to tap into to get help, do what over a million people have done already. Visit Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch and get ten percent off your first one service. Answer a few questions and you'll find a therapist that fits your need, fits your preferences, whether you're looking for help in dealing with depression or anxiety, relationships, trauma, grief, OCD and more, with betterhelp.com counselors, licensed professional therapists. Yet the same professionalism and quality you would expect from an in office counselor, but with the ability to communicate when and how you want. So again, that's Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch. What are you waiting for, 10 percent off your first month services.

[00:35:41] Go give it a shot today and we are back. OK, not sure if you fast forwarded through that. Sometimes I fast forward through commercials and I go a little bit too far and have to go back and find and then I feel like I should have just listened to the commercial anyway. But youngest children, here we go. They tend to have the following birth order traits, fun, loving, uncomplicated, manipulative, outgoing, attention seeker and self-centered. What a list. Right. And the best part about this is Mitch is listening and he just says, yep. And I think at the same time I said, yeah, that sounds like me, but these are so not my wife.

[00:36:15] So I feel like, you know, there's where birth order is not necessarily an exact science. So my wife, Wendy, had a completely different reaction to hearing those traits of the youngest so youngest child strengths. Last borns generally aren't the this was, I don't think, mitch either. One appreciated this last words, generally not the strongest or the smartest in the room. So they develop their own ways of winning attention, their natural Chalmers with an outgoing social personality. No surprise then that many famous actors and comedians are the baby of the family, or that they score higher in agreeableness on personality tests, then firstborns. According to Dr. Celebes, research youngest also make a play for the spotlight with their adventurousness. This is where Mitch started to chuckle a bit. Free spirited last borns are more open to unconventional experiences and taking physical risks than their siblings. Research has shown that they're more likely to play sports like football and soccer than their older siblings who preferred activities like track and tennis. My son in law, Mitch, I don't think I've ever met someone that is more of a daredevil we joked about I think Alex said, yeah, he was the last to read in his family, but he was the first to back flip into an open volcano on the island of Hawaii. And there are some man if. I had more time or if I would have thought about this ahead, I can link to a video of him doing the set back flip, but jumping off of bridges, doing all kinds of crazy things. He has this sense of adventure. And so I think Wendy had a theory.

[00:37:36] And let me say, I think I put it on my notes here that we pull up Mitch. So initially I couldn't couldn't read. So he had to backflip first into a volcano. He said my parents were as strict with Mitch. He felt liked, but all of his siblings think that Mitch was the most spoiled and but he said that they're all spoiled and they can't give him examples when they say that he was more spoiled. But, Mitch, that he feels like maybe they didn't necessarily support him with things, but they spoiled him with time. But Wendys theory was that if the kid the last born isn't getting in, I would go back to the abandonment attachment stuff that the parents already been through. Everything.

[00:38:15] First time, first time somebody read, first time somebody rode a bike, first time somebody is going to run to college, the first time somebody played a sport or any of those things. So maybe that is why the kid goes a little bit more to the adventurous zone I couldn't think of. I'm not a jump into volcanoes, but I don't know, maybe one hundred and fifty ultramarathons or so and some runs for 125 miles or around a track for 24 hours or, you know, through the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada is through the night or those sort of things that maybe that could be considered extreme or a tiny bit dangerous. So maybe that's where I was getting my, my, my thrill and my wife for the fact that she doesn't check off any most of those traits of the youngest.

[00:38:56] She has done the Ironman triathlon. She swam from Alcatraz to the shore eight different times. There's sharks in the water. I wouldn't I wouldn't even get in that bay. And she's done that race eight times. So maybe there is a little bit of her is. So I think that checks the adventurous box. So youngest there is the youngest, the youngest to make that play for the spotlight with their adventurousness. So youngest child challenges youngest are known often for that feeling of nothing that I do is important, according to Dr. Lehman. He notes that none of their accomplishments necessarily seem original. Their siblings have already learned to talk, read and write a bike. I think I just spoke to that. So parents react with less spontaneous joy at their accomplishments and may even wonder. I thought he would catch on faster. So from an awareness standpoint, maybe that's something for parents to check. I don't know. I don't have memories necessarily of a laissez faire reaction to my younger kids pulling things off for the first time. But I think that's a really good point or something to be aware of. If you have younger kids, last borns also learn to use their role as the baby to manipulate others in order to get their way. They are the least likely to be disciplined. Dr. Lehman notes. I think that's true. Parents often coddle the littlest when it comes to chores and rules, failing to hold them to the same standards as their siblings. So back to my interview with my kids and talking to Jake about that. Jake said that he really I love he just straight up said he said he felt like he really enjoyed being the youngest child. He said, because I felt like you guys already had the experience with the older kids. And Jake is definitely not afraid of the spotlight as he is.

[00:40:27] I mentioned in the opening a nationally ranked basketball player, taking big shots at the end of games and and has had some amazing experiences there where he just seems to be in that moment in the flow. Not afraid of the big moment, not afraid of stepping up. But he's had some experiences where he's stood up for friends and and has done some I feel like heroic things that other kids his age maybe wouldn't do because they would be afraid of the reaction of others or the reaction of parents. And Jake and I then had a great conversation about the concept of secure attachment.

[00:41:00] I've done nothing but try to give my kids a secure attachment, meaning that that check my own reaction. I want them to know they can come and tell me anything. I'm human. I mean, I may have a reaction, but I am going to seek first to understand before being understood. And so with that secure attachment, looks like to your teenager is they know that they can that you're going to listen. They know that you're going to give them the benefit of the doubt. They know that you're going to help them. You're going to be there to help them through situations. And I think that's one of those things as a parent, that it does feel like a bit of a gamble that if we are always there for them, that they'll never learn anything. And I feel like that is that is that is a trick of the brain that because, you know, sometimes it's that we worry that we won't do the right thing and we won't be there in the right way. But in being there for a kid, it doesn't teach them learned helplessness. I feel like it really in a secure, attached way can teach them that they can go forward with confidence because they know that if things don't go well, that you have their back as a parent.

[00:41:58] So that's more of what Jake's experience was. And then if you look at that, if my daughter, Sydney, was the youngest of the three daughters, so if she had some of that younger child piece as well, I think that then those traits do speak more to her because I feel like she was and is more free spirited and a little bit more risk averse. So she's willing to take risks in her life as well. There's one more categoryt. And that one is the only children personality traits. There's only a little bit of information here and and I wasn't an only child. I did have my brother passed away when I was in my early 20s. So, you know, I've lived the last 30 years or so as more or less an only child. But I think as an adult at that point, it's it's much different, but only child personality traits. Being an only child is a unique position without any siblings to compete with the only child monopolizes his parents attention and resources, not just for a short period of time like the firstborn, but forever. And in fact, this makes an only child something like a super first born. Only children have the privilege and the burden of having all their parents support. I love that there's that contrast of having all of their parents support and expectations on their shoulders. Thus, only children tend to be incredibly mature for their age. Perfectionist, conscientious, diligent and often first or only children are leaders. So let me just hit a couple of the 62 interesting birth order facts.

[00:43:16] I'll link to that because there are so many. But I think a lot of the things that we just talked about, the fun facts of birth order, and these are all backed up with the nice evidence based study and they have footnotes that talk about that. So there are some researchers say that the apparent disadvantages middle children endure can actually help them be more empathetic, independent and articulate. Because last borns view their older siblings is bigger, faster and smarter. They may attempt to differentiate themselves by being more rebellious, firstborns, as I mentioned, or more likely to make more annually financially than their siblings. And this was an interesting fact that I read the research on this one. When there is a five to six year gap between children, the next child starts, quote, new family and new birth order. So I thought that was really interesting as well. Sometimes extenuating circumstances tweak the natural birth order sequences so that then a later born child may act like the first born or a first born can seem to have characteristics that are inconsistent with the way firstborns are supposed to act. And sometimes that can be special needs children if they're born that way, or if there were some medical emergencies or those type of things that can shift that birth order as well. Second, children are the most known for going the opposite direction from the first born in the family.

[00:44:28] And because first borns are often given more responsibility at home, the babysitting younger siblings helping with chores that they can be quick to take charge. And as I mentioned, a little bit firstborns tend to score higher on IQ tests and typically get more education than their brothers and sisters. So this is one that you can rub in. Again, a lot of first-born stuff. They can rub into the younger siblings. A 2007 study showed a correlation between IQ and birth order. The more siblings one has the lower one's IQ. And let's see, there's a couple of other things. Generally firstborns or only children are conscientious, well organized, serious, goal oriented, achieving people pleasers and believers in authority. Other traits include perfectionistic, reliable and self-reliant. And the qualities of the middle child are often mediator. Compromising diplomatic avoids conflict, independent, loyal to peers, many friends, a maverick and unspoiled, and approximately 1300 new blended families form every day in the US, and approximately 40 percent of all marriages represent a remarriage of one or both parties if the remarriage continues at this rate. Thirty five percent of all children born will live in a stepfamily by the time they reach 18, and approximately one in six children under the age of 18 is a step child.

[00:45:41] And research notes the middle children are the most secretive of all birth orders. And then qualities of the last born include manipulative, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious people, person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate and love surprises. And there's a lot of those traits that, as a last born, I can admittedly say, are quite correct. There's some really funny things here. A middle child who marries another middle child desires peace at any price, which can actually lead to avoidance. Having some of those avoidant attachments, their marriage may have a quiet surface with all kinds of storms brewing underneath. They're more likely to not communicate well because they feel it isn't worth the hassle to confront each other. So this marriage therapist says they need my upcoming magnetic marriage course. So go go check that out. One marriage counselor noted that for the first principle, not a rule, for riskier marriages to marry someone in your own birth order. In other words, the firstborn marrying a first born or middle child marrying a middle child. But I did find this one. I didn't tell my wife this one. She's still listening. I think she will get a chuckle. A couple consisting of two last borns is more likely to get into debt again. My wife and I are both last borns. If there is a generalization, one generalization someone can make about middle children is that they do feel squeezed or dominated or what has been known, as we mentioned, the middle child syndrome.

[00:47:01] And there I will do I'm ready to want to jump out of here. I don't want this to go on too long. But let's see, there is one. I'm just going on and on here. Twenty eight out of forty four US presidents or 64 percent have been firstborns. I see researchers distinguish actual birth order or abbo the. Numerical rank or order in which someone is born and psychological birth order or PEBO or self perceived perception in the family, actual and psychological birth order can vary for various reasons. And this is what I was mentioning earlier, including illness of a child, family size, degree of separation between siblings and so on. Firstborns tend to walk and talk earlier than later borns. And let's see, there was one to talk to. Here we go. Out of the 23 American astronauts and into outer space, 21 were first born and the other two were only children. And lets see, when a child is born with special needs, younger siblings may take on that first born role. And generally speaking, children are typically more affected, influenced the most by whoever is directly above them in the family. So I will tap out there.

[00:48:09] I hope that you found this fascinating. And again, with awareness, as Spider-Man did not say, comes great power. So with that awareness, this doesn't mean that there you go. You're lot in life. You are set to this forever. But I hope that if you put this through that abandonment attachment lens that I framed everything at the beginning with, to just know that we're all just a little pink, squishy attachment based creatures trying to get our needs met and trying to figure out how to do so. And birth order definitely affects how we are showing up and how we are trying to get those needs met. But you are now an adult.

[00:48:40] You have the power within you to be aware of what these tendencies may bring and then what you can do to overcome them if there are different traits that you wish to seek or different values that you seek to embrace. So thank you so much for taking the time to listen today and I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

Well, life has truly handed you lemons, not just one or two, but a truck full of lemons has backed up to your driveway and not even rang your doorbell and asked you where to put them. No, the truck just dumped them all in the driveway, there’s no use complaining about them...what do you do with them? We’re making lemonade...a lot of lemonade, because you truly do have it in you to take a driveway full of lemons and make the most wonderful lemonade that the world has ever tasted. Today we discover the recipe, through acceptance, through owning your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, through learning how to communicate, to stepping out of a victim mindset, to learning how to self soothe all the way to self-confidence. Cliches be darned, on today’s episode Tony shows you how to not simply survive based on everything going on in the world, but to truly thrive. 
Sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.
Tony also mentioned his appearances this week on two podcasts, The Betrayed, The Addicted and The Expert with hosts Ashlyn and Coby, and Virtual Couch former guest Brannon Patrick where we discuss narcissism in detail and the challenges people face in relationships with narcissistic individuals https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/podcast/episode/25d19bf1/is-narcissism-nature-or-nurture and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t https://www.buzzsprout.com/1072564/6209683-tony-overbay-pornography-and-recovery


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this special BONUS episode, and in preparation for the coming announcement of Tony's upcoming Magnetic Marriage communication course, he tackles the frequently referenced but rarely understood 5 Love Languages. Back in 1995, Ph.D. and Marriage Therapist Gary Chapman released a book called "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate." In the book, Chapman outlines five ways to express and experience love. These 5 love languages are: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch. For many couples, reading about, and discovering their partner's love language (and their own) is one of the first steps toward trying to repair a damaged relationship. For newlyweds, this can be a very important foundational principle for a healthy marriage. In this episode, Tony explores each one of the love languages as well as how understanding them can benefit you and your partner.


Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!


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


This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.


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


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


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

Bonus- 5 love languages-2020-10-02
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of the special bonus edition of The Virtual Couch, we're talking about love languages, the five languages of love. What are you, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service. And more importantly, do you know how that affects you as the way you receive love or how you share love or how you show love? And do you and your spouse have an agreement on what that looks like? That and so much more coming up on this bonus episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:00:38] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and twenty six, a special bonus episode of The Virtual Couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mine Vilaboa, Cowriter Sweetgrass and father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and Online Pornography Recovery Program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. If you or anybody that you know is trying to put pornography behind them once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based, hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be kind of way, then please head over to path back recovery dotcom. And there you will find a short ebook that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to remove pornography from their lives. Again, that's path back recovery dotcom. And please head over to virtual couch on Instagram, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook and Tony Overbay dot com and sign up to find out more about the magnetic marriage program that is about to be announced, launched, talked about. And if you want to improve the connection, the communication in your marriage or even just a relationship, then this is the course for you.

[00:01:47] So go to Tony Overbay, dot com, sign up, find out, be the first to know about when the magnetic marriage course is available. And actually, that has a little bit of why I wanted to record this bonus episode of the Five Love Languages. This is an episode I believe it was episode forty one or forty five or something like that initially. And that was probably two years ago or more. And this is one of those episodes that just continues to get downloaded. I know the Five Languages of Love, something that was introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman has been widely talked about and I feel like a lot of people are somewhat familiar with the five languages of love. But I feel like there is a lot of confusion around what you even do with that information is, you know, there are five languages of love and this is all talked about coming up here in the episode. But there's quality time, there's physical touch, there's acts of service, there's words of affirmation, there's gift giving.

[00:02:45] And so often we're able to identify our love language or maybe our top two love languages. And we definitely know one that we maybe don't necessarily connect with. And so we will present that to our spouse, handed to them on a silver platter and say, here are my love languages, and then we get frustrated. Why isn't this person doing everything that I've told them that I want from my love languages? And so I think there's a lot of confusion of what you do with the love language information. That's how you express love. That's how you receive love. How do we talk about love languages? How do we integrate those into our relationship? And just the little sneak preview, the the love language test. And we have a module where we kind of talk about some of these ideas around love languages coming up in this magnetic marriage course. So I just wanted to get the idea of love languages just fresh in people's minds. So I do highly recommend that you go look up Gary Chapman's Love Languages quiz. I recently took it once again and just have this have this data, this information fresh and listen to this episode, maybe listen to it with your spouse and just start getting the vibe going of what it's going to look like to have a magnetic marriage. And so much more information is coming up on that soon. So without any further ado, let's get to this special bonus episode of The Five Languages of Love.

[00:04:19] Come on, take a seat, Carl.

[00:04:25] So today I want to talk a little bit about the five love languages, what they are, the significance. And sometimes I do view this almost as like kind of the fundamentals of marriage therapy, that this is a nice place to build some connection. So the book and so the five love language was developed by a good marriage therapist, Gary Chapman. And the book came out in his first book, The Five Love Languages How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, came out in nineteen ninety five. And in the book has it's been around. So it's been around for a long time. And I was looking at some of the stats on the book. It's been on the New York Times bestseller list since August of 2009 and there was a revised edition. The Five Love Languages was released in January one of twenty fifteen and it's still remained on this New York Times bestseller list. So here's the cons of the book. Chapman claims that in his work in Working with Couples Marriage as a marriage therapist, he says that he he outlines five ways to express and experience love that Chapman calls the love languages. These are we're going to go into a little bit of detail in these. They are receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. And again, he drew these from his counseling practice. And I don't think it's bad to express that. The more digging I did, there's not necessarily as much evidence based around the five love languages.

[00:05:43] But I really find that couples connect with this concept. And in the primary, what Chapman suggests is that everyone has one primary and one secondary love language. And so these love languages are in essence, how you express love. And you may not even know that this is how you express love. If you find that you are someone who is overly complimentary, if you want to just I want to make somebody feel happy. I want to compliment them how they look, the things they do, the just the person that they are, then that's one in that column of perhaps words of affirmation, you providing these words of affirmation. These compliments are your love language. If you're somebody who says, man, I just I don't get enough hugs. If it's I love a back rub. If you're in a couples if a relationship where you feel like your partner doesn't care about you because maybe there's a lack of intimacy or you feel like you're the one that always needs to initiate intimacy, that's a pretty fair sign. That physical touch is one of your it might be your primary love language. If you are someone in a relationship and your spouse travels a lot and you're disappointed when they don't come back with a gift or what I see in my practice a lot is people that make a lot of I was just a big deal around anniversaries and man, they didn't go all out for my anniversary or this is all they got me for my birthday.

[00:07:02] So that person and it's funny is that be qualify. There's the qualifier in those statements a lot of times where people will say, I know it sounds like I'm materialistic or I know that this might not sound right, but I just I really like when someone gets me a gift. So if that's the case, gifts, gift giving would obviously be one of your or maybe your primary love language. And so let me jump in here and tell a little bit of a story, and then we're going to get to the rest of this. When I was first learning about the five love languages, again, I was a shiny new therapist. And and at that time I might see one or two couples a week. And when I would see them, I had learned nice reflective listening skills where somebody says they're frustrated, they're angry, and I'm having the their partner reflect those away. Now, what are they saying? What do you hear them saying? And then the couple with the other partner would say, OK, sure. I hear them say that they're angry or they're frustrated or they wonder why. And then they would say, I'm really mad at him and he does all these sort of things. And I would say, OK, to the guy, reflect back, what do you hear that your partner is saying? And then they reflect back. Oh, I know. I've heard it a million times.

[00:08:06] He thinks this or this. And then you sit back and go, OK, you've both hurt each other and go, let's fix this. And so now in this world of VFT that I'm so passionate about now we can say, OK, hey, we're listening to our partner and this is an emotional bid. We're going to turn off our fixing and judgment statements. We're going to go all in on empathy. We want to hear what our partner has to say. But so before I got to that, I'm a shiny new marriage therapist. I go to I think it was just a three hour training on this five love languages. And I go home. I'm going to practice these skills. So again, actually, it is I think it is important to go over all these words of affirmation. So that is those kudo's, those attaboys. We want to hear that somebody thinks we're doing a great job or that's the people who are guilty of and this is me. Let me be vulnerable here. If I my wife may do a hundred things a day to keep our kids in order, the house in order, the everything running smooth. And if I come home and I go out and clean the dog poop out of the backyard or straighten up around the house, I want to make sure, man, that boy cleaning that dog poop. But that was I think it was going to be that hard. But boy, I just finished that knows that I am seeking those words of affirmation, even though she's done a hundred things and hasn't had to lay them all out for me.

[00:09:16] I do a couple of things and I'm. And I would like some praise now, please, and the words of affirmation. It's that concept and it's funny because this one is that action doesn't necessarily speak louder than words. You want to hear that. You want to hear those words. You want to hear that people care about you. They love you. They notice you. They think that you are doing an amazing job, especially the words I love. You become very important people that will lead with this words of affirmation. Oftentimes they are the people that say, I told my spouse I loved her five times a day and she hasn't said it at all. Isn't that what's wrong with this? And words of affirmation is important to them. Quality time. This is the one where then nothing says I love you like full, undivided attention and not half paying attention on your phone. This is where putting something down, no distractions don't postpone dates. Being all in with your partner is this quality. Time is how they feel, love. And a lot of times that's this person who says, look, I just want to be able to just sit there with you and just focus on you and have deep quality conversations and and at times for another partner. If that's not there, that's not their love language. They can feel smothered or overwhelmed with that.

[00:10:23] But so that one's quality time receiving gifts. This one's fascinating to me. My wife and I, neither one are huge on the receiving gift. So a birthday can come and we we're telling each other how much we we love each other and maybe want to go out to dinner or something like that. And we want to spend that time together. But as far as the gift giving goes, it's not significant. It might be a little something, but it's one of those things where if I don't get a gift or if I and I believe it, why watch her listen to this now and say she's weeping in a corner of my eye. All I wanted were gifts. And Tony can't pick up on any of that. But this is the part where you're not getting those gifts, not giving those gifts, doesn't feel like something's left out. But, boy, this one, again, a significant gift. Giving is your love language. Then that's this concept where if you're not receiving gifts or if your gifts aren't met with oh, my gosh, thank you so much. This shows me you love me. Then you feel like that is your love being rejected. And I've got a good story for that here in a second to so acts of service. This is the concept of cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, doing those things. And a lot of times you hear from the wife saying he's he leaves all these projects undone or we've got I've got the honey do list that he isn't complete.

[00:11:30] And that's just so frustrating. So that might be a cue that her love language is acts of service. And then the last one is physical touch. Now, I think when we think about physical touch, a lot of times we immediately go to sex. But physical touch is much more than that. Physical touch, his hand holding back, rubbing arm around snuggling. And this one significant as well. Because, again, if you find yourself keeping score, I'm always the one that reaches out to hold her hand or I'm fine. I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to wait till she reaches out to hold my hand or I'm the one that's always put my arm around her or initiating the kiss or the hug or sex or that sort of thing. Then it's obvious that physical touch is one of your go to love languages and meanwhile, your partner, if that's not one of their primary or secondary love languages, they're going along just maybe oblivious that the significance of you not responding, are you not initiating. So in essence, you're setting them up for they're taking this test. They don't even know they're taking so. So, again, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. So this brings me to a couple of stories, some of my go to stories. Let me take you back then where I was starting here.

[00:12:34] I'm a shiny new marriage therapist. I'm going through these things a lot. And I've identified pretty clearly that I'm a physical touch guy. And again, it doesn't just have to mean sex or intimacy. It can be I'm a on my hand holder. I'm a walk in the door and give my wife a kiss. I love a hug. And so I would find at times that, yeah, I was the scorekeeper. I was the one I'm going to drive down the road. And she's not reaching her hand over here. And and so I'm setting her up for failure. She's not even aware that I'm processing anything is wrong in that moment. So I'm pretty dialed in. I physical touch and then I'm a words of affirmation guy there is that part of me that wants to hear you're the man. Thanks so much for all that you do. And so I've got this identified that I've got it figured out that my wife is an active service person. Long ago my wife identified that at the end of the day, she really loves the house to be clean, picked up, everything put away. And and I have to tell you that when we had four small children, there was this part of me that would come home from work and and the kids had toys out everywhere. We had a toy room in particular, and we could close the door on it. So in my mind, it's like it's close the door. It's going to we're going to repeat this whole thing tomorrow.

[00:13:44] But my wife wanted to make sure that the house was clean at the end of the night. And I used to try to make sense of that this long before my days of F.T. and hearing that is an emotional bid. And I was trying to convince her here I am fixing in judgment statements of why does it matter? Why don't why can't we just close the toy room door and then we start tomorrow and you open it up and then you're not going to drive yourself crazy at night because the kids are going to get everything out again. And man, she did such an amazing job letting me know that she couldn't really turn off her brain, go to sleep like the day was done until the house was in order was put together. And so at that moment, I knew that I. I love her enough that my job now becomes at the end of the evening, I'm going to help her. I'm going to I'm going to dust things and clean things and put pillows where they're supposed to go and dishes away and all that sort of thing. So I think I've got this thing figured out right. I think that the acts of services, my wife's primary love language, so I start running this little experiment is as I take this training, as I'm doing this as a marriage therapist and I think I've got hers figured out.

[00:14:42] I know what mine is, mine, the physical touch, probably number one. And then words of affirmation number two and have my wife figured out as acts of service. So I start going about the night and I'm going to I'm going into I'm all in I'm on the I'm giving the kids baths. I'm clean in the house. I'm brushing the dogs. I'm trying to do everything I can. And and probably along the way a man look at these kids and that bath wanting to get my own words of affirmation, goals or needs met. But so I try to do all I can. And then it's like kids are in bed, house is immaculate. And we we would go upstairs and we would sit there, watch TV, maybe have a little bit of a snack or something. And I'm kind of thinking, OK, all right, scratch that. Acts of service itch for her. And here comes maybe a back rub or maybe. All right, here we go. I've set the table. Now let's get the physical touch needs met. And we sit there, we watch TV and we maybe connect and talk and laugh. And just then she falls asleep and I think, OK, all right. Fair enough. I will try this again tomorrow. And I go through and the kids a bath and brush the dogs and get everything. Here we go. I have met her love language of acts of service and here comes the physical touch. Not necessarily so it was I don't remember how long it was where I said, hey, can I just point something out to my wife? And I let her know that I'm doing this training, this love language training.

[00:15:58] And I'm pretty sure that I've got my own identified as physical touch and words of affirmation. And I told her and I've got yours down to yours is obviously it's acts of service. And so I don't know if you're noticing that, as I do all of these acts of service that, yeah, maybe I'm thinking of now, I my love language will be met as well. And this physical touch. And she had the funniest look on her face where she was like active service. Yeah, that's nice, because I think if I had to pick out of any of those, it's quality time. And so then I had this big epiphany where not having given that a voice before and try and just make assumptions on my own that she was having her her love language meant so as we cleaned the house and then had this time together, then she was in heaven because we're now we're just hanging out. Kids are asleep, house is all put together and we're spending that quality time together where we are just talking about the day's events. Maybe we are giving each other a little foot massage and then she's just fallen asleep and pure bliss because she is in her happy place. Her love language is being met. That taught me a great lesson that day.

[00:17:01] That they're hers is more quality time. And this was we were married twenty seven years now and that is definitely the case. We love our weekly date nights and there's a plug there is a marriage therapist to make that a priority. But I know now that nothing shows connection there like that quality time. So I want to go over a few things. I have another story for another go to that I talk about often. So I go back to this of these early days of marriage therapy. And I was working with a couple and they were they were both on a second marriage and the guy had not necessarily been to counseling before. So I think he was a little bit skeptical to begin with. And if he only knew what was going through my head at that point as a new therapist. And so I'm now I'm all in on these love languages. I'm finding that the reflective listening is not as productive as I thought. I have no idea what he EFT is at this point. And so we're going to dial down and go deep on these five love languages we identify as I go over these. And this guy, he gets pretty emotional and he says that feels so good to have that validated because he said that his love language was gift giving. He had grown up with not a lot of money. And so gifts had been pretty significant when a when his dad could save up enough to give his mom a gift.

[00:18:07] It was a big deal. It didn't really matter what the gift was. So this guy had grown up in his first marriage. He had been a big gift giver. And admittedly, the gifts didn't necessarily go over well. And so he always felt empty when he would give these gifts. So now he's in this new marriage, this new relationship, and we're identifying this and he gets really emotional. It was a beautiful, honestly beautiful moment when I remember this so well. And I think, man, here's a guy that he is he's a bit older, a little more set in his ways. He just was validated that his gift giving means more than just here's a present, here's a gift. It means this is his expression or how he shows love and and we process this. And then his wife is more in charge of the finances in this relationship. And I think beautiful moment. So I look over and I say, OK, now can you see the significance? And he said he later he's one of these who loves to leave flowers around the house and and he just loves to bring things home from a trip. And then I think now she's going to be able to validate this is going to be the coolest moment as a marriage therapist up to this point. And then she just looks at him. Yeah, but he spends too much money. But and I've told him a million times, we've got a budget.

[00:19:12] If you're not following the budget, then you're and it was like this missed opportunity. And I just watched this guy just get deflated as we just validated his love language of gift giving, this is the way he says, I love you. And having his wife say, in essence, what he's hearing then is, yeah, I don't love you because you spend too much money. It's a little dramatic, but that's the concept behind how we express love and how we feel love give back to us. It turns out that the more we talked about with her, she was an attaboy. She was a words of affirmation person. And that one did go on to live happily ever after. But I remember that being a pretty key or pivotal moment when I saw. So I get to speak about this one often. There's there's I sometimes groups will come, asked me to just come speak lighthearted and maybe do some Q&A. And this is usually a nice place to start because and then that leads to a lot of questions. And I actually went on Gary Chapman's website and he has a lot of frequently asked questions about the love languages. So I want to cover a few of those. So he one of the number one frequently asked question on his website is, what if I can't discover my primary love language? And I have and I do. I have a lot of people here's where we can go deep dive that say, what if I just don't really have any of those? None of those really matter to me.

[00:20:23] And now is the time where, you know, that's not an answer that I can give in just the. Hey, does anybody have any questions at the end of a five love language presentation? That's when we need to get on the couch a little bit more, because my experience has been that the reason why someone may have had a love language or two early on, let's say it was words of affirmation, they needed these attaboys. And if their spouse just felt like that was ridiculous, if you have to ask for it, then I'm not going to tell you. Or if if a spouse is hardened and they look, I never had those grown ups, I don't see why I have to give those two these words of affirmation to you. Then over time, what's a partner going to do? They're going to that's them trying to be vulnerable. And over time, they're not going to continue to put their heart out there. They're going to tuck those feelings away. So same as if your of your love languages is gift giving and your gifts are repeatedly rejected at some point, then you are going to make it can just from a defense mechanism standpoint, you're going to start to to hide that love language. You're not going to you're going to put those buttons away because your spouse knows how to press them. Here's another gift. Spouse presses button: I don't want gift.

[00:21:28] You spend too much money. And at that point, we don't feel loved. We don't feel validated. We don't feel heard. And so we're going to tuck those away. So when I have somebody come up to me and say, hey, what if what if none of those if I really don't care about any of those, then I want to say, OK, let's give a little more work around that. Now, let's start working on some of these E F.T. skills of let's get your partner in here. Let's talk about emotional biz. Let's talk about what that's like for you to give a gift and have it rejected. And let's give it a voice. Maybe that your partner, once they understand the significance of gift giving for you, then they get to share their story of why they don't want that gift. And I've had some amazing examples here, that one in particular, where when a guy was then told that that his wife now viewed him rejecting her gifts as her not feeling love, this was another experience I never thought of in this one a long time. But he was pretty emotional because he said when she gives me gifts, he said, then I feel bad because I don't feel like I'm the provider that I should be. I feel like when she's giving me gifts, she's basically saying, hey, look, you never do this. And it's obviously because you don't make enough money. And the wife, which like I that I didn't that's not where I go with that.

[00:22:35] And it was a pretty beautiful moment there. So we got a nice combo of we've got the five love languages plus emotionally focused therapy, E F.T. And now at that point, we've acknowledged that when she wants to give a gift, that this is her saying, hey, not only this is my heart, but I'm showing you this is my love. And the guy now understanding this has nothing to do with him as a provider. This is him being able to say thank you. Thank you so much. And then he gets to give that a voice. I still worry that I'm not doing a good enough job providing. Now she can meet that emotional bid. And man, now, instead of being defensive, we've actually grown together. So what if I can't discover my primary love language? I like this. Gary Chapman says. First, observe how you often express love to others. If you're regularly doing acts of service for others, that's a good sign, that's your love language. If you're consistently verbally affirming people than words of affirmation is probably your love language. I remember feeling that way. So I love to sometimes if people don't get enough positive in their life and I'm not just giving out hollow praise, man, you wear the heck out of that blue shirt. But I do feel like if somebody is, people don't hear enough positives. And so I am one who likes to compliment others and acknowledge others. And so that's true. That is one of the first ways I recognize that words of affirmation are important to me.

[00:23:48] It's funny if you're a big on social media, this is a maybe a little bit of a joke that I just play out in my head a lot of times. I don't if you ever read those posts or somebody says, man, what a day I got up, I got myself out of bed, I put my clothes on, I walk down the hall, I, I made breakfast. I ate the breakfast. I put the breakfast away. I we just laid out some pretty regular normal things. But then people are responding with I don't know how you do it or man you get so much done. And it's I feel like at times that's the person who is starved for these words of effort. And they're looking for these kudo's, these attaboys. This brings up one of the biggest stories I'd love to tell. This is my talk about vulnerability. So now we've identified I'm a words of affirmation guy. I remember this as if it were yesterday, but I remember driving home from the airport once. Just my wife and I were in the car and I remember, you know, he should go away where I think we had been out of town. Maybe it was on a vacation. And now you're back to reality, right? Especially driving home from the airport. And I think I start just going through outloud all the things that are coming up that week. Maybe there are a couple of speaking assignments.

[00:24:47] It was a really heavy client week because I had taken a few days off before and if I'm not in the chair, I don't get paid. And there's some writing projects and a website revamp and all these things. And I'm just going over these and my wife is sitting there and nothing negative. But and that's the part where I get to use my good marriage therapist EFT skills, although I'm sure it is annoying at times to be married to a marriage therapist where I get to say, hey, you're not really saying anything when here is my train of thought, here's where I go. When you don't say anything. I've already worked this through to man this guy is never going to be able to get ahead. He's got too much going on. I'm worried that he's going to have a nervous breakdown, so I might as well go ahead and pull the ripcord. Now, get out of the relationship and remember that point. She's been married twenty years at this point, I think. And she looks over at me and says, are you serious? That's where your mind goes. And I'm like, yes, I but when I don't hear anything, I take it down this worst case scenario. And and she's us. I wasn't thinking any of that stuff because, like, I was just kind of thinking, man, I feel bad that this is where Tony goes in his mind. And I was kind of like, OK, I mean, even you could give me that feedback, OK? But I felt like you knew that I'm here for you.

[00:25:50] We had this amazing vacation. Oh, there we go. Quality time. So she's a man. My my quality time cup is filled. So thankfully, she's. Hey, what do you need in this scenario? What would help? And now I have developed what I now call my famous live living in a box under an overpass speech. I worked it through to I was like, OK. I think in my mind I'm going to this place of where I have all these things and it feels stressful. But part of me, I think, is wanting, first of all, the words of affirmation. I want to hear this. Hey, I'm so grateful for how hard you work for our family. And I am. Oh, I know. But I'm needy when I'm going like this. Emotional vulnerability, maybe. Yeah, that's me saying I want to hear that you're the man. And I was like, I think I want to go as far as to say and if I don't accomplish all of these things and we end up having to sell our house and we live in a box under an overpass, that you're right there with me in that box, I remember her looking like "how big is the box"? But I mean, that's a little bit of a stretch, but it's a big enough box maybe. OK, she's in. So so that is now turned into the every now and again, if I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and I can be nice and vulnerable and I know my love language is words of affirmation, I literally can text her now and say, hey, I'm going to need that box in an overpass speech when I get home and she goes, I'm on it.

[00:27:01] I can't wait. I can't wait till I get some crayons and decorate the heck out of the inside of this box with you. And we laugh. But I'm grateful that I can express that. Here's my need, this love language to feel this love through words of affirmation. So back to this. Gary Chapman says, What do you complain about the most often when you say to your spouse, I don't think that you'd ever touch me if I didn't initiate it, then revealing the physical touch is your love language. If your spouse goes on a business trip and you say, you know, bring me anything, then what? Gift giving. Right, then that's probably one of your main love languages. If you hear this statement or if you express this statement, we don't ever spend time together that indicates that the love language of quality time is important to you, but your complaints often reveal kind of those innermost desires. And happiness is a nice thing here. So we have difficulty remembering what you complain about. Most often I suggest you ask your spouse because chances are that they will know what do you request of your spouse most often if you're saying, well, give me a back rub or if you're then you're asking for physical touch.

[00:27:58] Right. Do you think we get a weekend away this month? That one's quality time. Would it be possible for you to mow the grass this afternoon expresses a desire for acts of service. And he goes on to say, your answer your own answer to these three questions will likely reveal your primary love language. Let me go through for the sake of time. Here are a couple more of these. Gary Chapman, one of the frequent ask questions is, does your love language change as you get older? He tends to think that your love language, for the most part stays the same. And I see that over the years as well. The hard part is what I kind of mentioned earlier. I do feel like people over time of this love language isn't met, doesn't even know that they're they're part of this I don't want to say game or whether they're in The Matrix or whatever you want to call it. If they don't know the significance of you giving a gift, are you seeking these words of affirmation? Or you wanting this physical touch? Then over time, as those needs aren't met, it's pretty natural for us to start to stuff those feelings away. So does our love language change as we get older? Chapman says no. And then in my experience, what does or can happen is those love languages change, but the change is them kind of being stuffed down.

[00:29:03] So we don't want to let that happen. Does the Five Love Languages Work concept work with children? Absolutely. I know that each one of my kids, I think they express love differently. I feel like they receive love differently. And then he goes on to talk about. That those love languages stay the same for the most part, when your children become teenagers as well. And this is a big one. What if the primary love language of your spouse is difficult for you? That's a great question, because a lot of people talk about if I didn't grow up in a touching family, that touchy feely family, then how do I become that person? And now number one. I think that's one that needs to be talked through. There's a plug for marriage therapy. I'm not going to lie, but I think being able to just communicate through that, if that's not your if that's not easy for you, if your spouse's love language is physical touch, there's a lot there's a lot there that we need to talk about. As a matter of fact, I've got a podcast episode coming up that I am taking copious notes on because it's one of these soapbox moments. I want to talk about you. If you go back to Episode twenty five, I talk about the nurtured heart approach for parenting. Episode twenty six, I talk about F.T. emotionally focused therapy for couples. There's another one I'm going to get to pretty quickly here. And it's talking about our relationship with physical touch, our relationship with sex. It's with objectification of women and men. And I think that one's going to be a pretty big deal.

[00:30:19] Physical touch could be a tough one. If that's not your go to and your spouse says, look, why don't you initiate sex more or why don't you reach out and hold my hand more? I know that there can be a lot underneath that we can at times. I've worked with enough spouses who feel like once I open that Pandora's box of, then I feel like I'm going. That's all I'm good for. Is this as a physical object. So we're going to talk about that in a future episode. But but what we can bring just bringing this awareness around these love languages, this concept, the good news is that they can all be learned. And even though we may have grown up only speaking one or two of these languages, they all can be learned. But they're going to need to be learned at a pace over time and in a safe way. So just having that awareness that, hey, physical touches might go to, maybe we can start with holding hands more. It doesn't have to mean that now. Every time I come in the door, got to do this giant bear hug or a koala bear.

[00:31:09] I was in an airport once where a friend was coming back from a long trip, long absence, and another friend jumped up and did the quick. I never heard the phrase koala bear, but jumped up in the arms and legs around the body and looked like they were hanging on like a koala bear. So that's where my mind went with that one. So if you're not a words of affirmation person, you discover that your spouse's love language is words of affirmation, honest to goodness. And this is a part where I say, hey, we got to do the work. Sometimes if you have to write statements down that your spouse wants to hear, then that's what we're gonna do.

[00:31:38] Over time, it becomes more of a learned behavior. And when you see your spouse respond, well, then that feels good. If you have to have that speech, that or text that I need that you're the man speech tonight. I need that box under the overpass speech. That's OK to say that's OK to be vulnerable. Once you're both on the same page, you understand the significance there. He did one of the questions was, are some of the love languages found more among women than others with men? And I do. I like this. Gary Chapman said, I've never done the research to discover the love languages are their gender slanted. He said it may be true that more men have physical touch and words of affirmation is their love language and more women have quality time and gifts. But he said, I don't know if that's true. In my experience, my practice and now are the hundreds and hundreds of couples I've worked with. That's the way I see it typically play out doesn't mean that it's bad if it's not that way, but where a lot of guys, it's physical touch and words of affirmation and a lot of the women I work with are quality time, maybe not even as much gifts, but for me, it's active service. I often find that gifts is a little bit further down the list. But if you are a gift, if that is important to you, that is OK. And I love hearing the stories around where that comes from.

[00:32:38] I think that's the rest of it more. How is the wife of the five love languages been so successful? I think that one's pretty key because it can be a fundamental connection for a couple that they haven't talked about before and it can help them feel like, wow, I see. I was when my spouse would say these things and compliment me, I always felt like they were just doing it because they felt they had to. But when you look at it from a that's him expressing love to me. And when I say you're saying that or no, I don't look pretty or whatever, that oftentimes we're rejecting their their attempt at showing us love through words of affirmation. So I think that's why the concept of the five love languages is a wonderful thing to explore. So I'm going to wrap things up right now, but I highly recommend the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. And he's done a few different variations of it, I think five love languages for teens and children. I think there might even be one that has to do with businesses. And again, this is all about awareness, right? That's something I talk about on a lot of the podcast. Being more open, being more self aware and aware of the feelings of others helps us understand how we can interact better with people. So I am I am grateful for the time that you spent with me today going over the five love languages.

[00:33:48] I highly recommend you get in the book and there are some online quizzes that are amazing. If you're not sure what they are, take one of these quizzes. If you come up with my love, languages are none of the above, then what we talked about a little earlier might be worth exploring. Why are those love languages harder for you to tap into? Were they there? If you're going to be honest with yourself? Were they there at some point, but then they were shut down by their spouse? If they are, go find help. Don't just think, OK, I got to stuff these feelings for the rest of my life. That is not a productive thought as a. Therapist to somebody who's passionate about this, you can repair your marriage. Absolutely. You can go find a therapist that's confident and comfortable with couples therapy and then get in there and find a safe environment to be able to express yourself and not have those things that you're going to talk about be shut down, be fixed or judged and get some awareness around there and then get some homework to do that will help you understand how you express love, how to feel love, how to be able to share your emotions and how to discover what's going on with your partner and why they maybe react the way they do.

[00:34:49] Ok. Hey, I hope you enjoyed this bonus episode that you're all ready to go with your love languages. You've taken the quiz. You've talked about it with your spouse. You're ready for a more magnetic marriage, more connected conversations. If so, don't forget to head over to Tony Overbay Dotcom and sign up right now to be one of the first ones to know about how to have a more magnetic marriage, to have more connected conversations. And I will now play us off with the wonderful, the talented, Aurora Florence with its wonderful.

This post contains a document that I originally wrote immediately after a couples therapy session where I felt like there was so much potential for good, productive, meaningful dialogue between a couple but they just didn’t understand the “rules” or see the benefits of the “framework” that EFT, or Emotionally Focused Therapy (for couples in this instance), could provide. And a quick heads up, you can find my podcast on EFT here, the video of this podcast here, and a talk I did on EFT at Summit Christian Church in Lincoln, CA recently here. I highly recommend listening/watching it after digesting this document. Even better, I would recommend purchasing the book Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson, which goes into much more detail than I do about EFT and its evidence-based principals that, in my experience alone, have helped hundreds of couples find an effective, safe, edifying way to improve their communication, and their marriages in general. 

I began sharing the document and while I received some positive feedback, I was horrified when I finally went back and reread it! So I went in and cleaned it up a bit more and since that time the document has been shared via my Google drive a few hundred times. With the launch of my website, I thought it might be beneficial to have out on the internets in general, so feel free to share if you feel like it can help someone that you know. On to the document!

OK, quick note, I’m beginning to share this document with more people simply to try and explain a bit of how an EFT (emotionally focused ‘couples’ therapy) or  “attachment theory” dialogue would play out. Remembering that the goal is to be able to share what is in your heart, in your soul, something that may just be floating around in your head, to be able to say something that you really want to talk about with your partner but you may be afraid to because he/she might get defensive. Or, in the past, maybe when you’ve tried to bring up a topic your partner has quickly shut you down, they’ve been defensive, or they withdraw, not really giving you a chance to express yourself. Our goal is to change the very paradigm of how you communicate. I know with every fiber of my being that the attachment theory, or EFT, model of communication works if done with patience, if each person goes in knowing that the goal is to “turn toward each other” (not away from) and NOT to hurt the other person. Our goal is to feel secure enough with our partner than we can express ANYTHING and our partner will want to know where that comes from, why we think the things we do? And underneath all conversations with our partners, we’re essentially asking them “are you there for me?” “Do you care about me?” “Can I count on you?” And “do you love me?” So when you’re telling somebody that they are crazy for thinking something they’ve shared, please keep in mind that in essence you’re sending the signal that you’re not somebody that they can turn to, which they may view as NOT being there, or loving them.

Here goes...each question, or statement spoken, is looked at as an “emotional bid.” It’s an opportunity for connection, it’s an opportunity for one partner to put a topic out on the table and really seek to understand what their partner thinks or feels about that topic, but in order to get there it first has to be said (kind of obvious, right?), holding things in leads to a lot of assumptions, and people going to “worst case scenarios” in their minds. We do a lot of assuming in our relationships, and I’ll spare you the “you know what happens when you assume, you make an”...well, I guess I sort of didn’t spare you that, but the point is valid. So we have to be able to express an emotional bid and know that even it if might be uncomfortable, our partner is going to listen and respond with EMPATHY and seek further understanding, no “fix it” or “judgement” statements (like, “I can’t believe you think that” or “why on earth would you even say that?” or “I would have done it this way!”) because those are ALL going to shut down communication. These are BIG WORDS used often in my practice, LEAD with empathy, watch out for “fixing” and “judgement” statements, or even looks. Again, we’re changing the paradigm, in attachment theory I believe that none of these things are productive, and therefore let’s get them out of our conversations! When I speak on EFT, I have this reflexive response where I hold my two hands together in front of me in a cupping shape, as if I’m about to drink water out of them, and I move my hands toward my client, or my audience. What I share is that we need to view emotional bids as our partner saying, “OK, here’s my heart, can I trust you with it?”

True story, I looked all through the Bible trying to find the verse that says, “seek first to understand, then be understood,” only to find that it’s actually by Stephen R. Covey...yeah, I probably went a few months saying with confidence, “it’s like the scripture that says” or “I belive the Apostle Paul said…” 🙂 UPDATE - a good friend of mine reminded me that the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, which is a wonderful prayer that another one of my clients uses as her daily meditation, has a beautiful line that says,,,OK, I didn’t see myself doing this, but here’s the prayer, it feel that it deserves to be read, regardless of one's faith-status, because it sounds to me like St. Francis was doing some attachment theory work well before his time but I was going to point out the line in particular that says “...let me seek NOT as much...to be understood as to understand.” Here it is in its entirety:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me bring love.

Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.

Where there is discord, let me bring union.

Where there is error, let me bring truth.

Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.

Where there is despair, let me bring hope.

Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.

Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

O Master, let me not seek as much

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love,

for it is in giving that one receives,

it is in self-forgetting that one finds,

it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,

it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

OK, I’ve already gone on long enough, here’s the original document that I wrote to a couple to try and model an attachment theory (EFT - Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy) conversation.

Let’s set the stage, I worked with a wonderful couple, they filed for divorce, and then I started working solely with the guy, the woman started working with another therapist in our office (Shauna), so at one point we all, former husband, wife, Shauna and myself, reunited (does anybody else immediately sing the rest of the line…and it feels so good after they read the word reunited? So sorry, back to the doc) to try and work through some topics that were a real challenge for the two of them to discuss during couples counseling. The goal was to be able to finally process some of these issues.


Hey guys, thanks for coming in tonight, Shauna and I were both really impressed by your willingness to be open, and to trust us when we tried to point out how conversations can spin up without you even noticing. With that said I wanted to try to put together a document that had some suggestions for moving forward with regard to communication using this new EFT “framework.” I’m blasting this out off the top of my head so I apologize in advance for the cliche and jargon that I’m sure will follow. I just had an idea to share this google doc with all of us, perhaps you can type up your own questions on here and Shauna or I can clarify in between sessions?

The goal is to “secure the attachment.” The more secure the attachment becomes the easier it will be to discuss potentially more intense topics. We first want to go after the “low hanging fruit” conversations before we get to what Sue Johnson calls the “raw spots,” (and I like to refer to the “greatest hits). So to begin, this means that when somebody expresses an emotion, a feeling, a perception, the goal of the other is NOT to explain it away, to defend why they feel that their partners view is incorrect, the goal at this time is to validate, and empathize, i.e. “I can understand why you would feel that way,” or “thank you for sharing that, I know that must have been hard.” Even better, and we’ll get there, is having your partner go into “full awareness mode,” which would lead to even more empathetic questions, like “so tell when how back you’ve felt this way?” Or “I had no idea, so tell me where you think that comes from?” I think you get the point, whenever a “...but, I thought” or “...but why didn’t you just” or “well that’s just silly, I have no idea why she would think that,” or any variation of that type of response is ready to come out, HOLD IT IN! Those are “fixing and judgement statements” and RIGHT NOW they aren’t going to be productive, they aren’t going to get us anywhere, they are simply going to shut down communication and cause you both to turn away from each other, to jump back down in your bunkers and assume battlestations hurling insults, or going into a “tit for tat” or “scorekeeping” mode. THAT IS NOT PRODUCTIVE AT ALL!  That is back in the realm of “if I argue enough, or present enough evidence or raise my voice or withdrawn enough THEN she’ll finally realize how wrong she is!!” And trust me, that will not work. If it works in the short term does it feel good? Do you feel more connected, or does the victor see their partner defeated, giving in and think “man, we’re so much closer now?” NO!! Remember, at the heart of each emotional bid is a real vulnerability, because you’re asking your partner through the things that you say: Are you there for me? Do you care about me? Can I count on you to listen and try and understand me? Do you love me?

With that said, as you get better at empathy and validation you will find yourself able to validate the other person’s comment, experience, and then share something like, “I can see why you thought that, I can’t lie, I recognized at times I was doing that, or I was saying those things just to try and get a reaction, and I’m sorry about that.” Or a variety of other equally vulnerable, real, raw responses. I’m a big fan of “thank you so much for sharing that with me, and yes, I wanted to ‘fix or judge’ but let me share with you where my mind went, or let me take you on my train of thought.” That can be incredibly powerful because then you share YOUR truth, it’s not an attack. That’s when I hear wonderful things like, “I truly didn’t have a clue you thought I was disrespecting you, in my mind I saw you shutting down and I purposely tried to do MORE around the house so you wouldn’t feel bad. But I can see how you might see that as me thinking that you were totally incapable.” Now there’s awareness!!! We gave these inner thoughts a voice and we have the tools to come out of that with MORE understanding and MORE love for our partner! Hopefully you can see a big difference of when to validate, empathize and put a period on it and when your own vulnerability can be expressed without it sounding like an attack.

Imagine a relationship where you truly feel safe in expressing any thought, or emotion because your partner will take that thought or emotion and immediately want to understand where it comes from because they care about you so much that they want to understand you, because they love you. And in turn, they learn what role their reactions have played in why you feel the way you do at that point in the relationship. When you are both good at this you turn “toward each other” instead of hunkering down in your respective bunkers just firing insults at each other, or being afraid to talk about anything other than surface things because you are afraid of getting into a fight or an argument. It really does work but you MUST work on responses to these emotional bids that your partner expresses. What you’re ultimately doing is not only learning how to express the feelings that you may have, or have had for years, rattling around in your head, growing in intensity based on incorrect assumptions, or fear of rejection, but you’re also allowing your partner to HAVE A VOICE to be able to speak to the things that you may be condemning them for that they aren’t even aware of!

A few other thoughts. BE PRESENT, enjoy the moments together, sharing experiences from work, stories about your children, just work on being present. Yet another plug for the headspace app, mindfulness, remember the concept, OF COURSE your mind will throw in some negative thoughts during those moments, you’ll have questions, you’ll want to express emotions, you’re human, you’ve had a past, but right now BE PRESENT, let those thoughts move through your brain, remember, a thought is a thought is a thought. We have thousands of them, we don’t have to react or hitch our wagon to any particular thought, especially those that aren’t very productive! So whether you have to focus on something in that moment, breathe through the moment (in through the nose, out through the mouth!) let those thoughts move through your head like cars on the road (with you sitting on the side of the road, watching the cars go by) and be present!! Hang on, I was putting my hair in a ponytail and looking for a robe right then, I was starting to go all zen on you! 🙂

I think that’s a good place to start. Hold Me Tight, THE EFT book for couples, which I highly recommend, by Sue Johnson, uses a nice analogy, when the attachment between two people IS NOT secure, arguments will feel like typhoons passing through when you’re standing on the beach, you will feel pummelled, knocked down, defeated. BUT when the attachment is secure, they will feel more like a breeze, yes, they are there, you feel them, but they won’t knock you over!

I feel like there should be some clever saying now to end this doc, but I’m only coming up with stay in school, or don’t do drugs, or remember who you are and what you stand for or something like that, which I don’t feel is very applicable, but good advice nonetheless 🙂

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