You've been patient, you've praised, but at what point can you finally let someone know how you really feel? Tony talks about Gottman's "The Magic Relationship Ratio According to Science" of positive to negative interactions during conflict as well as Gottman's 4 Horseman principal (Criticism, Content, Defensiveness and Stonewalling) subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram

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[00:00:00] Ok, so let me take you back just a few nights ago, my wife and I are heading out to our car. We're going to go home for my son's high school basketball game. And we're about 30 minutes away and one of my daughter's calls and you can tell there is panic in her voice. Dad, Mom, something really bad happen. And if you ever experience this as a parent, you will know that your mind immediately goes to worst case scenario. Somebody is hurt, they're hurt bad or a million other things pop instantly in your head. And so we say, Meki, anybody hurt somebody, OK? And she says, no, no, no. And we have just a tiny bit. So we press on what is it? And my wife and I are still just staring at the phone. On another note, one of the kids these days moments apparently for many a phone call is a video call. How are you supposed to just talk if you can't see the person? But that is for another podcast on another day. But she finally says there's a snake in the pool and I'm freaked out. So I relax a little bit, sit back in my seat and I start driving home. And I know that my wife will now be the manager of emotions for the next 30 minutes. My daughter had a cousin over and we both families just got these new puppies. They were playing in the backyard when they spotted this slithering snake just swimming in the pool. And so for the next 30 minutes, we went through the rounds of empathy, how hard that must be and positive comments.

[00:01:11] I'm really proud of the way that you're handling this and trying to provide a little bit of a riverbank to her rushing waters of emotions. You know, you're fine. The snake won't jump out of the pool. Just hang tight to which she Googled. Snakes can jump out of pools. And apparently we were right. They can't or in theory, they can't. And in a simple exchange, I really did start thinking of the power of using positive language, of compliments of strength building statements. But how at some point you almost feel like you have done your time in this land of positivity, in this land of empathy and you're fighting back. You just need to calm down. Everything will be fine, too, which for the record and I think you know where I'm going with this, nobody stops instantly and says, well, whoa, wait a minute, what's this idea you're suggesting? It had not even dawned on me to what was it again, calm down. You know, I mean, I like emotionally regulating and feeling like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. But this whole calm down thing, I think you might be on to something. I don't have to try that out. No, they don't say that. And really what happens is people are in their amygdala, their fight or flight response, especially when you see this creepy snake swimming in the pool. So that logical brain is gone. And so they are not going to wade into the pool, grab the snake by the bare hands and put it back in the field where he belongs.

[00:02:26] But, yeah, that didn't happen. And as most of us know, telling someone to calm down doesn't calm them down or telling somebody to relax or don't worry about it, rarely elicit some sort of Zen like immediate meditative state from the person that was just told to relax. But we did get home and I grabbed a pool net and far more easily than I anticipated. I was able to scoop the snake up, put them in a box and carry them to a nearby field where he slithered back to his family and no doubt hearing something akin to what were you thinking, going to swim in those people's pool from his house. But where is that line between empathy, empathy, empathy, and then more of a firm response? You know, how does one stand their ground or speak their truth without the conversation immediately going south? Well, today, we're going to talk about some research out of the Gottman Institute, one of the world's most renowned sources of marriage research, headed by the legendary therapist and researchers, doctors John and Julie Gottman. And we're going to discuss the often quoted statistic that every couple needs at least five positive comments for every one negative comment. So is that is that actually true or is this a pop psychology myth that is misquoted? So we're going to cover that and so much more coming up on today's episode, The Virtual Couch.

[00:03:52] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:03:58] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and sixty four, The Virtual Couch. And, you know, I'm going to be experimenting a bit with the openings over the coming weeks. I think it's time to freshen things up. Time for a change. And I'll share more about that in the next week or two. But I do have a couple of new podcasts coming out. And one has to do with the work that I've done around women in relationships with men, with narcissistic tendencies or behaviors or patterns or even full blown narcissistic personality disorder. And that one is called waking up the narcissism, and it is coming soon. So look for that. If you follow my virtual couch Instagram account or follow me on Facebook, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist or virtual couch there, then you'll you'll hear more about that as it is ready to launch and then I'll share more about the second one in the coming weeks. But so while I am still your host, Tony Overbay, and I'm indeed a licensed marriage and family therapist and all those things, if you want to know more about the work that I do with recovery or parenting or couples or faith journeys, then just head over to Tony Overbay dot com or find again that virtual couch count on Instagram or the accounts on Facebook. So let's get to today's topic. I am going to be referring to an article directly off of the Gottman Institute website called The Magic Relationship Ratio, According to Science by Kyle Benson.

[00:05:08] So where Kyle starts is he says, whether it's about not having enough sex or the dirty laundry or spending too much money, the idea of conflict is inevitable in every marriage. And I will be, of course, interjecting my own opinions throughout this podcast. And so one of the things that I've been pretty fascinated by over the last few months in preparing my magnetic marriage course, along with my buddy Preston Buckmeier, is this concept of that conflict. And so as Kyle talks about, yeah, conflict is inevitable, but I do feel that we are so afraid of contention that we avoid this concept of tension altogether. And so too often when we are afraid of tension because we are worried it will turn to contention or we're afraid of tension because we don't necessarily have the framework or the tools to discuss difficult concepts, then this is where we just proverbially kick the can down the road. We're going to deal with situations that maybe don't go as well as we want them to. Well, we'll do it later. We'll deal with that next week or next time. Or you don't want to rock the boat when the waters are calm, which I understand. But unfortunately, that just keeps people in this proverbial pattern of unproductive conversations. So back to the article. To understand the difference between happy and unhappy couples, Dr. Gottman and Robert Levinson began doing longitudinal studies of couples back in the nineteen seventies, and they asked couples to solve a conflict in their relationship in 15 minutes.

[00:06:30] And then they sat back and they watched. And so after reviewing tapes and following up with these couples some nine years later, they were able to predict which couples would stay together and which would divorce with over 90 percent accuracy. And they brought that into their their couples were moving forward. And their discovery was actually pretty simple. The difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. And that sentence right there kind of gives the keys to the flux, the mysteries here, the difference with the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. And there's a specific ratio that makes love less. They said that according to their research, the magic ratio is five to one, meaning that for every negative interaction notice I didn't say comment, but for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five or more positive interactions. So when the masters of marriage are talking about something important, Dr. Gottman said, they may be arguing, but they are also laughing, teasing and there are signs of affection because they have made emotional connections. But on the other hand, he said that "unhappy couples tend to engage in fewer positive interactions to compensate for their escalating negativity". So if the positive to negative ratio during conflict again is positive to negative ratio during conflict is one to one or less, then that is unhealthy and indicates a couple that may be teetering on the edge of divorce.

[00:07:57] So positive and negative interactions, not comments, but we're talking about interactions. And I remember going to a training. This is early in my therapy career when I still didn't even think I would be doing much couples work. And the trainer, in essence, said that she had seen couples almost hold up a hand when arguing and say, OK, OK, OK. So she's nice to animals. She's pretty. She has nice hair. Brush your teeth at least two minutes each time. How many is that for? OK, she doesn't hold her fork like a caveman when she eats. So that five. OK, good. But when she comes under her breath all day it drives me insane. So that's somebody that is obviously taking things very literal. Think of the commercials and Captain Obvious, but maybe change that last part to Captain Literal. And that is truly not what is meant by this five to one ratio. So are you a Captain Literal and your relationships? Well, you asked me what I thought, so I told you. Are you that guy or girl or do things like tact and compassion? Come into the picture. So in the scenario I mentioned, where the husband is counting off the positive, I guess, ish things or words. Is he truly wanting to build a bridge of empathy so that his wife is leaning in, ready to hear his concerns? Or is she already preparing for criticism because she knows it's coming, even if he's counting off these five positive comments? So first, let's let's dig a little deeper into what Gottman says is a negative interaction, because remember, we're talking about a five to one ratio of positive to negative interactions during conflict, which is a lot different than just coming up with five nice things to say before you unload something negative.

[00:09:37] So back to the article. Bensen says that examples of negative interactions include another predictor of divorce and first up, or what he calls these four horsemen. And I've done a episode on this long ago, but this is a fascinating concept by Gottman. And before I learned the skills of emotionally focused therapy of F.T., which went on to help me create this magnetic marriage course. I learned so much about Gottman. And that was that was really helpful in my own relationship and also when I would get couples in my office early on in my career. So Gottmans four Horsman, are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. And before I even dig a little bit more into those, I really do believe with everything in my bones that that my four pillars of a connected conversation are absolutely necessary to provide a framework for healthy, connected conversations. And by a super, super quick review, the four pillars. It's the foundation, in my opinion, and they are they are a difficult thing to master because they aren't natural.

[00:10:36] They don't flow from us because we have tried to have conversations and they have not gone well in our relationships. So we get defensive and we are starting sometimes from within our bunker. And so the first pillar is assuming good intentions. This is the one wakes up and thinks, how can I hurt my spouse or my partner? So if somebody is withdrawn instead of their spouse, let's just use the scenario right now where let's say that the wife is withdrawn, that if the husband says, OK, what am I supposed to do with that? That is that is violating pillar one of assuming good intentions. If she's withdrawn, I want him to say and she doesn't wake up and say, I don't want to withdraw, that will get him. No, if she's withdrawn, then I want that to help him start to literally lean in with empathy. So pillar one, assuming good intentions. No. Two, you can't send that message if you're wrong or I don't believe you, even if you don't believe them or you think that they are wrong. Because if the goal is to have a connected conversation and that's what I'm proposing, that the goal is to be heard, not to resolve, then we want to keep the conversation going so that you can feel heard and you can get to your thoughts. So examples of sending the message of your wrong, there's some easy ones by literally telling someone, I don't believe you or you're wrong, but this is where it becomes pretty fascinating of even if you are doing the eye roll or the deep sigh or you start checking your phone or those sort of things, or in a conversation that can even put out this vibe of I don't believe you are, I don't think you're wrong with this whole thing.

[00:12:06] So I'm going to show you by disengaging in the conversation. And there's also the kind of a fascinating one where when somebody says, I don't know if I can give this talk on Sunday and we say, no, you can do hard things. I know you can. That one sounds awesome. And we may even mean that. But it still skips a really important part of empathy where we're telling the person, no, no, that's ridiculous. You're wrong. You can do it. I know you can without saying, hey, tell me why you're feeling that way. Which leads to pillar three, asking questions before making comments. Even if you feel like after you hear your spouse say something that you you have some struggles with or it stings a little bit, or there is that tension when they express themselves instead of saying, OK, well, let me just tell you my side really quick and then you're welcome to open up. No, start by asking questions before making comments. And then pillar four is stay present, lean in, don't go into victim mode. You know, you can have you can do all three of the first pillars extremely well if your wife says, hey, I feel like you have been a little bit more disengaged in the relationship.

[00:13:08] No one assuming good intentions. She's not saying that to hurt me. She's saying it because she wants to be heard. And we're too I can't say that's ridiculous, even if I have been practicing on a daily basis to get home sooner or to be more engaged, because obviously, if she is saying, I feel like you have not been home on time or you feel more disengaged, then I want to know why. Why does she feel that way? So then that leads to pillar three. I'm going to ask hey, tell me more about that. Helped me see my blind spots. I wasn't aware that you felt that way. That would be difficult. That would be hard. And then for is then staying present, not going into the bunker, not going into victim mode. The guy in that point can't say, OK, well, I guess it really doesn't matter what I'm doing. Apparently, I don't want to hear because you can do those first three correctly. And then if you violate pillar four now you're basically saying, hey, I'm going to go into my bunker and I would like for you to come rescue me, please. So I. Feel like those are still so important, even as we get to this concept of Gottman's four pillars are four pillars, my four pillars, Gutman's Four Horsemen.

[00:14:05] So let's let's kind of talk more about those. So the first horseman that Gottmann says that is part of these negative interactions is criticism. So criticizing your partner is absolutely different than offering a critique or, or even voicing a complaint. Those latter two are about specific issues where Gottman says the former is an ad hominem attack. So it's an attack on your partner at the core of their character. And in fact, you're dismantling their whole being when you criticize. And I know that sounds heavy, but I really appreciate the way he says that because I often feel like what is the goal in a conversation? I will watch those when people don't adhere to these my four pillars, I feel like, what is your goal? Is it to and I will often say break down the other person's world or reality? But of course, Gottman says it's so much better. Are you trying to dismantle their whole being when you criticize? And so Gottman says the important thing is to learn the difference between expressing a complaint and criticizing a complaint might be an example. I was scared when you were running late and you didn't call me. I thought we'd agreed that we would do that for each other versus a criticism is you never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. I don't believe that you are forgetful. I think you're selfish. You don't think of others. You never think of me. And if you find that you and your partner are critical of each other, don't assume that the relationship is doomed to fail.

[00:15:24] Gottman says the problem with criticism is that when it becomes pervasive, it paves the way for other far deadlier horsemen to follow. And that's why, again, I feel like if we don't have the structure or the framework to be able to even communicate, then things these these horsemen do kind of line up, which leads to a second horseman of contempt. So when we communicate in this state, we are truly mean. Gottman says that we treat others with disrespect when contempt comes into play. This is where people mock with sarcasm or ridicule. Call them names, mimic, use body language such as eye rolling or scoffing. And I will tell you right now, there is there's truly no place in a relationship for any of these things because the target of contempt is is made to feel despised or worthless, like their opinion doesn't even matter. And contempt can go far, far beyond criticism. Gottman said that while criticism attacks your partner's character, contempt assumes a position of moral superiority over him. And he gives an example in this article of saying, You're tired. Cry me a river. I've been with the kids all day running around like mad to keep this house going. And all you do when you come home from work is flopped down on the sofa like a child and play those video games. I don't have time to deal with another kid.

[00:16:33] Could you be any more pathetic? You know, you can you can feel where that can cut. And research even shows that couples that are contemptuous. This is so fascinating. If they're contemptuous of each other, they're more likely to suffer from infectious illness, colds, the flu, etc. than others because it weakens your immune system. Contempt is fueled by long simmering negative thoughts about a partner which come to a head when the perpetrator attacks the accused from a position of relative superiority. And most importantly, Gottman says his contempt is the single greatest predictor of divorce. It absolutely, absolutely must be eliminated. And here's where I'll throw in a couple of my favorite psychological principles. The expectation effect in confirmation bias with the expectation effect. That really is what are what are you looking for in your spouse? The expectation effect is this phenomenon where perception and behavior changes as a result of personal expectations or the expectations of others. So the expectation effect demonstrates that our expectations on items, things people can greatly influence our perceptions and even influence our behavior. For example, if you tell a bunch of people that some new product is going to change their lives, then a significant number of people will find their lives changed. The belief is simply the device that can help create change. I remember hearing early on in my therapy career that there was a statistic that said that even just setting up a couple's therapy appointment had an effect.

[00:17:56] That was it was significant. I want to say that twenty or thirty year might have even been higher. Percentage of couples felt a dose of hope just from setting up the appointment. And that, I feel like, is that expectation effect. So once a person believes that something's going to happen, that belief alone creates possibility. Now, unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on the ability to accurately measure something success because we typically get this bump of happiness or euphoria or with the expectation. And then if once you have this expectation, then you aren't nurturing that expectation or doing work behind that expectation, then there's also some data that can show that you return back to baseline. I found a pretty interesting graph that says the expectation of I can absolutely influence perception of behavior, but the changes can be temporary, I believe, if you don't work with that expectation. So if you have an expectation that your spouse is is kind, is nice, is trying their best, then you are going to look for those areas that prove that fact to you. And you're going to act if. Based on that expectation, but if you don't continue to nurture that expectation or start to find a way or a framework to be able to have conversations and use this this time where you have this hire or this better, more positive expectation of your spouse or yourself or your kid, then over time that you'll go back to baseline because our brains want to go back the path of least resistance.

[00:19:22] So you have to nurture even the expectation effect. And I talk about this often, but the very quick example on a podcast I did on expectation effect was done with laboratory mice where there was a group of people. They were divided into two and there was a group of mice. They were divided into two. Half the group were given a group of mice, the one one group of mice. And they were told by the people running the test that these mice were maze bright mice, that they were they were born and bred, genetically altered to be able to get through mazes quickly. And the other group were given just the other group of mice and they were set, they said, and these are just mice, good luck. And so both of the groups of people then spent a few days training the mice to get through a maze. And not surprisingly, the expectation of the group that were given the maze bright rats, those rats or mice actually made it through the maze over twice as fast as the what they deemed maze dull rats. Now, that's when they said, surprise, these rats are all the same. But it shows you how significant the expectation effect is that the researchers are the trainers, the people that had the maze, bright rest. All they were told was that these rats are gifted. They can get through mazes faster than the people training

[00:20:37] The rats had the expectation that these were made by rats and therefore I don't know what they did. They tried harder. They they they spoke more positively. But that is so fascinating. And so I often say, are you treating your spouse as a maze, right? Spouse or a maze dull spouse, or are you treating your kid as maze bright kid or a maze dull kid? Are you looking at yourself as a bright person or maze dull person? And that that is the expectation effect. And then the other part that I love talking about is confirmation bias. And that is what are you looking for? And I remember I was sharing a one of these magnetic marriage coaching calls that the first I bought a Mini Cooper long ago. And, you know, when you when you drive it off the lot, you are then all of a sudden just blown away by the number of Mini Coopers on the road where all these things come from. But that is confirmation bias that we really do look for what we look for. So if we have this expectation effect of our spouse being positive of their amazing, great spouse and then we have a confirmation bias of looking for the good, then that is going to drive us to have better behavior. And that will be the opposite of this contempt. Or Gutman's second horseman, the third horseman that he talks about is defensiveness.

[00:21:47] And this is typically a response to criticism. And I feel like we can all safely say that we've been on the defensive. And Gottman says this horseman is nearly omnipresent when our relationships are on the rocks, when we feel unjustly accused, we often fish for excuses or we play the innocent victim so that her partner will back off. And this truly is a childhood coping mechanism. It makes sense. When we were kids, we didn't we wouldn't own up to anything because we're little kids. We're still coming from this place of abandonment equals death. If I admit to something and I get in trouble, these guys might boot me out of the clan. We know now that that's not the case, but that's where we're coming from when we're often in that position as a child and we bring that off into our adulthood as often just not taking ownership of things, not taking accountability. Now is Gottman says. Unfortunately, the strategy is almost never successful. The strategy of defensiveness are excuses. Just tell our partner that we won't take their concerns seriously and that we won't take responsibility for our mistakes. So we gave the example a question. Hey, did you call Betty and Ralph a little know that we're not coming tonight like you had mentioned you would do this morning and the defensive responses? I was too busy. So, matter of fact, you know just how busy my schedule was. Why don't you just do it? So this partner not only responds defensively, but then they reverse blame in an attempt to make the other partner the other partner's fault.

[00:23:01] So instead of non defensive response, can express acceptance of responsibility, admission of fault or understanding that your partner's perspective. And I did an episode at one point on the just accountability. And one of my friends sent me a text and they showed me a little board they have at their home and said, try this instead. My bad. I think that's what I said. But so and that's all we're asking at times. Sometimes it feels so scary to say, oh, man, I totally forgot. But that is that is the easiest way to diffuse something, is to take ownership of it, to literally say, yeah, my bad. So although it is perfectly understandable to defend yourself, especially if you're stressed out or you feel attacked, this approach does not have the desired effect of connection. Defensiveness only escalates the conflict, especially the critical spouse doesn't back down or they apologize. This is because defensiveness is really as common says it's a way of blaming your partner and it won't allow for healthy conflict management and the fourth horseman that he talks about. Stonewalling, which is usually in response to contempt stonewalling, occurs when the listener withdraws from the interaction, you know, they shut down, they simply stop responding to their partner and then rather confront it rather than confronting the issues with their partner. People who stonewall can make these evasive maneuvers, such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, engaging in obsessive or distracting behaviors, a.k.a.

[00:24:17] turning to their phone. The phone has become one of the great facilitators of stonewalling. And trust me, I use my phone every day. I use it often. As a matter of fact, I'm paying attention to the screen time app and trying to really, on a weekly basis, make a conscious effort to get my own screen time down. But man, the phone can just all of a sudden be one of the greatest objects used for stonewalling. So if you feel like you are stonewalling during a conflict, stop the discussion and ask your partner to take a break. You can say it's perfectly fine to say, right. I'm feeling a little bit too emotional or flooded to keep talking about this. Can we take a little break? And but one of the keys is promising that we'll come back to this because it's easier to work through when people have gotten out of that amygdala, that fight or flight response. And the four horsemen. So as well as feelings of loneliness or isolation, those are additional negative interactions. So Kyle Benson says that while anger is certainly a negative interaction and a natural reaction during conflict, that anger isn't necessarily damaging to a marriage. Dr. Gottman explains that anger only has negative effects in marriage if it's expressed along with criticism or contempt or if it's defensive, you know, it is OK for you to say, man, I'm really frustrated or but especially staying that I feel statements.

[00:25:36] It's not that you make me mad because but hey, I'm really frustrated because I felt like we had an agreement or I'm really sad or I'm really hurt or I worry that or this, you know, I feel like. And so negative interactions during the conflict include also being emotionally dismissive or critical or becoming defensive in body language such as eye rolling can be a very, very powerful negative interaction. Or we've probably seen if our partner has given a sigh or they've turned away from us. And it is so important to remember that negativity holds a great deal of emotional power, which is why he goes on to say it takes five positive interactions to overcome any one negative interaction. So five positive interactions to compensate for an eye roll or a sigh or any of those four horsemen and these negative interactions do happy. I mean, they happen in healthy marriages, too, but they're quickly repaired and replaced with validation and empathy. And I will add ownership and accountability. So the five positive interactions, Gottman says that couples who flourish engage in conflict differently than those who eventually break up. He said not only do masters of marriage start conflicts more gently, and I love referring to that as a softer, you know, soft entry point. But they also make repairs in both minor and major ways that highlight the positivity in their relationship.

[00:26:57] And so he lists these interactions that he says stable couples use regularly to maintain positivity and closeness. Be interested when your partner complains about something. Do you listen? Are you curious about why he or she is so mad? So displaying interest includes asking open ended questions, as well as more subtle signals such as nods, making on eye contact, timely. Has that show that you are listening? I still remember when I used to travel to Japan on business, when I was in the computer software industry and just watching the interactions with my my business partner and some of the people we would meet with. And there was this constant back and forth of just hi. Hi. You know, and I remember asking Yoshida Sun, Hey, why do you keep telling the person hi? And I think I was being a little bit jokey with that. But he said it's just a way of acknowledging and it's almost the. Uh huh. I hear you tell me more, you know, the height, height, and it shows how closely that you're listening, expressing affection. Do you hold hands with your partner? Do offer a romantic kiss. You embrace your partner when you see them or at the end of the day. So expressions of affection often happen in small ways, both within and outside of conflict. Within conflict, displays of physical and verbal affection will reduce stress. Now, I am not saying that if you are somebody that has been emotionally or physically abused, that this means now apparently I have to hold hands, lean in, give them a hug or kiss.

[00:28:11] But if you're having a difficult conversation and your partner takes your hand and says, man, this is hard to talk about, but I really love you and I know that we're going be able to figure this out together, you are likely going to feel better because their display of affection is bound to reduce tension and bring you closer together. I did an entire episode long ago on oxytocin. It's also called the cuddle hormone. And when there is that connection, even just that, putting one's hand on one's arm or shoulder or knee, that you really do reduce tension or stress. And again, I will I will put an asterisks there unless there has been long standing period of emotional or physical abuse or conflict. But that oxytocin really does reduce or lower the cortisol or the fight or flight risk. And it's pretty fascinating, Sue Johnson has some studies that are, I think, in her book Love Sense as well, and hold me tight and I'm going to butcher this, but it was something to the effect of a woman going in to get, I want to say, a shot or something like that for something. And if she's just by herself, they can measure cortisol level is high. If her husband is in the other room, then the cortisol levels lower. And if her husband is in or maybe it's in the room with her.

[00:29:21] But then if the husband's in the room and they're holding hands, then her cortisol levels are significantly lower. So that is that oxytocin. So another one is to demonstrate that they matter. You know, our motto, Cottman says from making marriage last is that small is small things often that the small acts that demonstrate you care are powerful and ways to enhance the positivity in your marriage. So bringing up something that is important to your partner, even when you disagree, demonstrates that you're putting their interests on par with yours and it shows your partner that you care about them. Culbertson goes on to say, how you treat each other outside of conflict influences how well you're able to handle the inevitable disagreements. For example, if your partner is having a bad day and you stop, you pick up dinner on the way home, you're showing them that you're thinking about them. And those small gestures accumulate over time and will provide a buffer of positivity in your marriage so that when you do enter conflict, it will be easier to engage in a positive interaction and ones that typically outweigh the negative. And I see this often. I mean, I know as myself as an anxious attachment or words of affirmation guy or that I really do love when I get a text from my wife that just says, Hey, I'm thinking about you and I love sending those those texts throughout the day to my kids, to my wife, maybe to somebody that I'm thinking about.

[00:30:35] And so, you know, we want to know that we're seen. My friend Julie Lee, her book I see you. I think about that often as that we want to know that I see you, that you matter to me. And so I feel like it goes a long way to be able to let somebody know that you are thinking about them. I had a beautiful and I'm going to save some additional details of this for a future podcast that a beautiful interaction with a couple in my office very, very recently where there had been some trauma. And but this couple is working really, really hard on their magnetic marriage four pillars of a connected conversation in session, their E.F.T. skills. And and I always say that the way to make sure that, you know, this, whatever this was, won't happen again in the future is to be able to bring up things even when waters are calm, even things that seem small. And this was again, I love this example. The example was the wife said that she was used to after they had been through some pretty rough patches, the husband sitting by her and that she had noticed that it's been a year or so into their their recovery, their work. They're they're really working hard. They're doing amazing. And but the wife mentioned that, hey, I don't even feel like I want to bring this up because I feel like it's petty or small.

[00:31:48] But I notice that it isn't is intentional about sitting by me at around the kids or just whenever we're together. And so she said, but again, I don't I feel like this isn't a big deal. And I said, man, this is the beautiful part where this is a big deal because we want to talk about these small interactions. We don't have to just have these high you know, these these we don't have to put the four pillars in place only on high charged topics like sex and politics and religion and finances and parenting like that. We don't have to do them on just those. Let's do it right here. So we had an amazing session where she was able to say, hey, I'm noticing that you haven't been as intentional of sitting by me. And so dropping those into the four pillars saying to the guy, all right, assuming good intentions, she's not saying that to hurt you and you can't say that's ridiculous or she's wrong, even if you felt like you. That is. But but he didn't. And then he was right there in Pillar three to ask questions before making comments. He said, oh, man, you know, like, when have you seen this? Or tell me when you've noticed this? And she she said, oh, it's been this this often or I've noticed in these times. And then he didn't go into you know, he didn't break pillar four and then not lean in.

[00:32:58] He didn't go run to his bunker and say, OK, fine, let me go get some needle and thread. I'll sew myself to your side and we'll never be apart. You know, he didn't go into victim mode. He just said, I really appreciate you sharing that with me. And I think I have kind of noticed that a little bit. And and he sat there with a little bit of that tension, you know, and because it can be uncomfortable if his answer might be I yeah, I did. I maybe I noticed that or I can understand how hard that would be. And I didn't mean it. And I can do better about that. And that's a perfectly wonderful, fair, beautiful interaction of where both partners felt heard. And so now I guarantee you he's going to be more intentional about it and she's going to feel like he really listen to me or he cares. Intentional appreciation, Gottman says how you think about your partner again influences how you treat them. I think this goes back to that expectancy effect that I talked about by focusing on the positives of your marriage, such as the good moments from your past and your partners, admirable traits, you put positive energy into your relationship, now negativity is bound into your thoughts, especially during conflict, but intentionally focusing on the positive will counterbalance any of the moments when you struggle to find something good about your partner.

[00:34:12] And he says, now turn your thoughts in action. Every time you express a positive thinking, give your partner a verbal compliment, no matter how small, and you're strengthening your marriage. And I would go on to say I almost did an episode on gratitude today because I wanted to go back and revisit the science of gratitude. But I feel like it is absolutely imperative, necessary, and it will help your marriage if you keep a gratitude journal of your spouse, even if it's one thing a day of something unique or different that you value or view or appreciate or are grateful for about your spouse, what does that do? You're looking for those things you can put in this gratitude journal. And even in times where you feel like things maybe aren't as strong, you can go back and say, OK, here's these things I so admire about my spouse. So that is something I am going to absolutely do. And I would I would love it if people did that same thing. And then empathize and apologize, Culbertson says empathy is one of the deepest forms of human connection when you empathize with your spouse. You show that you understand and you feel what you do your best to fill your partner's feelings. Even if you expressed sympathy nonverbally through the facial expressions or physical gestures, saying things like, it makes sense to me that you feel that way. We'll help your partner see that you are on their team.

[00:35:22] Empathy is a profound connecting skill that all romantic partners can and should improve. And there's no limit to the amount of empathy that you can express. And I would add, and I talked about this in a and a magnetic marriage group called last night, it is OK for a partner to express that they struggle with empathy. That is, again, one of the most touching, beautiful moments I see in my office is when somebody says, OK, I've got to be honest, I struggle with this. It's hard for me not to go right to my needs. You know, I struggle keeping pillar three of questions before comments. And so being that emotionally vulnerable is what can help build connection. And if your partner is upset with something you did or said, maybe start with an apology. If you can find a momentary conflict to say, man, I am so sorry I hurt your feelings, that really does. It makes me feel sad that you can provide a positive and empathetic interaction that can reinforce that bond. And then one of the key things that Gottman talks about is accept your partner's perspective and approach that drastically improves conflict is understanding that each of your perspectives are valid even when they are opposed to each other. I won't even go down my acceptance and commitment therapy path here, but each one of you is the very only version of you, period, end of story. And we're going to have different thoughts and feelings and emotions because we're different human beings.

[00:36:30] So while you may not agree with your partner's perspective, letting them know that their perspective, that you can understand where they're coming from and that would make more sense when you hear them out, will show them that you respect them. And one of the best ways to do this is to summarize your spouse's experience. Even if you disagree, it's like, tell me more about that. What's that like for you? How long have you felt that way? How have I shown up in that situation? Because remember that this is so key and I run into this all the time. Validation doesn't mean agreement, but it does signal respect. Because just because you say, man, I can understand that would be difficult doesn't mean you're saying you're right. I'm a horrible piece of garbage, but it does show respect. And I love that Gottman puts in here make jokes, playful, teasing, silliness and finding moments to laugh together can ease tension in a heated conflict. Now, it doesn't always go well, but I feel like it is definitely one of the greatest diffusion techniques is to to even self-deprecating humor or making humor. Most couples have inside jokes they only share with each other. And this highlights the exclusivity that a couple has. But but again Benson adds, however, a word of caution. Remember to to find a way to joke around that maintains respect and appreciation for your spouse and that serves to bring you both closer together.

[00:37:39] And I think in this offensive where I've had a couple of times where someone's left my room, they've been really, really upset. And one of the times when I was a brand new therapist, a guy got up, stormed out of the room, and as he tried to slam the door, he hit the back of his own foot. You know, and I remember it was such a tense moment. And then I just looked over at the wife and I felt like, I don't know what to say here, but I managed I default to humor all the time. And I just looked at and I said, I don't think that went the way he thought it would. I don't think that went as well as he thought it would go. And she kind of chuckled. And it really did ease the mood a little bit. And when he finally did come back into counseling, we were able to joke about that and still do at times to this day. So Gottman says or Kyle Vincent, who works for Gartmann, says, test your ratio. Is your relationship unbalanced? Observe how you and your partner interact for every negative interaction that happens. Are there more positive interactions, not just comments, but interactions, if not take it upon yourself to create more positive interactions, your relationship, and also try and notice the small moments of positivity, positivity that currently exists there and the the things that maybe you've been missing.

[00:38:39] And then I love I was going on my roll about journals and he even says keep a journal for a week that notes positive interactions, however small your marriage is. Dr. Gutman's research has revealed the more positive actions and feelings you can create in your marriage, the happier and more stable your marriage will be. So I hope that you can now take a look and and as as my my friend, my cohort in the magnetic marriage course, Preston Buckmeier often says, I hope that you aren't necessarily listening to this episode with your elbow. Like, man, I really hope my spouse will hear this. But what are how are you showing up? Are you creating those positive interactions or are you engaged in any of those four horsemen that Gottman describes? And if so, hey, welcome to the World of Awareness. It's it's empowering. It doesn't mean that you'll be all better and doing things completely different by tomorrow, but it definitely means that you're on your way. So I appreciate you joining me. I'd love for you to take a look at your own relationship and feel free to send me any comments that you have. Questions at and questions I want to get back to. Doing a couple of episodes every every once in a while on answering some questions. They get so many and they're wonderful questions. So have an amazing week and I will see you next time on the.

Empathy has become a big buzzword over the past few years, and, chances are you’ve wondered if your spouse, your kids, or your boss lacks empathy altogether? Or are you the one you’re worried about? In this special bonus episode, Tony combines a 2-part episode on empathy from 2018 into one and covers 10 evidence-based methods for teaching, modeling, and nurturing empathy.

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----- TRANSCRIPT -----

EP 258 BONUS Empathy -2021-04-09
[00:00:08] A bonus episode of The Virtual Couch, I am your host, as per usual, Tony Overbay, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I am going to try to make this one of the world's quickest beginnings, because I have a two part bonus episode that I have combined into one where we are going to talk about empathy. No doubt it's a it's been a big buzzword over the past few years. Chances are you've wondered if your spouse or kids or maybe your boss or your extended family lack empathy altogether. Or are you the one you're worried about? Have you have you had people say to you, I don't feel like you're very empathetic? And do you know what the difference is between empathy and sympathy? Because there's a big difference. I'm telling you. Now, if that if you had any of those thoughts or questions, then you've come to the right place, because in in this two part episode, I'm looking at three components of empathy. What really breaks down the definition of empathy? And I'm going to cover 10 evidence based methods for teaching, modeling and nurturing empathy. So we're going to do that and and plenty more coming up on the virtual couch. But I will I will promise to make this the quickest intro possible and just say that if you've been listening to the podcast the last few weeks, you'll know that my magnetic marriage course is about to launch round two and the first round was just incredibly wonderful and powerful. So please head over to Tony Overbay, dotcom slash magnetic and sign out the sign out, sign up, sign up.

[00:01:31] Don't sign out. And you'll find out more about when the launch of the second round is because it's coming up in a week or two. And I, of course, would always encourage anyone to head over to a virtual couch on Instagram or Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook, as well as check out My online community for helping people overcome turning to pornography as a coping mechanism is growing and growing. And one of the largest components of that is a Wednesday evening call Zoome call. That has just been incredible, especially over the last few weeks. And if you take the path back, course, you get access to this online community, the call. And if you're interested in even just taking a peek, shoot me an email, go to Tony Overbay Dotcom and you can send me an email saying you'd like to find out more about even the group calls and and talk about group calls. I mentioned this on several podcasts, but I also have a community and online community for women that are dealing with are going through relationships, breakups, divorces, are involved in relationships with emotionally abusive men or maybe people that they feel that there is a component of narcissism in there. And if that is the case, email me as well and I can give you more information about that. All right, let's get to it. Today's two parts actually in one bonus episode on components of empathy and 10 evidence based methods for teaching, modeling and nurturing empathy.

[00:03:04] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:03:11] And I've got a two part episode today, and I promise that it will not go too long because I didn't even print up the second half of my notes because I have so much good stuff to get to. If you already read in the title, we're talking about empathy today and empathy. What is it? It is a buzzword, a hot topic in my work. I am asked time and time again in emails and sessions and honestly by people I meet who will listen to a podcast or two, or when someone finds out what I do for a living, they the topic is so hot right now that the the question is often can you teach empathy or how can my spouse or my child or my teen learn to be more empathetic? So let me just be bold. Whether I'm working with a teenager or an adult, I see this in all areas. It's kind of this it's phrasing about this. Can you just help them understand why I need them to do this thing or why I need them to change? And again, here's a very bold, overarching, generalized statement. So I know that there are exceptions, but for the most part, parents, spouses, teachers, what I hear them all saying, in essence, is, can you help me tell that person, the person in my life, that they need to do what I say because they know better than them.

[00:04:17] So here's the deal. You might you might not, in my humble opinion, maybe it's somewhere in between, because the one thing that is lacking in true empathy or understanding, it is truly it's understanding what's going on in the mind of and the life of your spouse, your teen, your child. And until you have a better idea, until you can truly relate better to them. And it's more than just kind of putting yourself in their shoes, which we're going to get to today. But until you can truly relate to them, better understand where they're coming from and why convincing them to do what you want them to do is going to be an uphill battle. And it's not always the best thing. And you don't even realize is that once you truly do understand where they're coming from. And trust me, if you just said in your mind, OK, but I do know what they need to do because I already know where they're coming from are you know what they're going to say? You don't whenever those assumptions are made. And I hear that's one of the common themes, whether I'm doing couples work, whether I'm doing individual work. It's just that, you know, I mean, I know he already knows that, you know, they'll say that or so whenever you're making an assumption and I won't even go into the whole what happens if you're making an assumption and assume and all that kind of stuff.

[00:05:18] But if you're making an assumption, there is a lot of things there that you do not know. OK, so back to the days, I guess, and going to be a two parter. Didn't even print the notes for the last thing I want to cover today, because I know it will be long, so I want to go into teaching it. But the evidence base tips for fostering empathy in children. And the article that I kind of pulled this from and I'll link to this on the show notes it's from parenting science, dotcom. It's it's from a Gwinn Dwar PhD and it is about teaching empathy. She says it might sound strange if you think of empathy as an innate fixed trait, a talent that some people are born with and others lack, because I think a lot of us do feel that way of that. Either someone has empathy or they don't. But empathy is not an all or nothing proposition. It isn't something that unfolds automatically in every situation, and it isn't even a single ability or skill. And I am going to go into so much data research here that Gwinn Duaa. So a lot of the things that I'm going to pull from or from this parenting science article, but she has it so well researched, so well noted. So I'm going to throw out some a lot of when I when I refer to a study, if you don't mind, I'll just throw the last names out and then the year of the study.

[00:06:25] And if you go follow the links on the notes to this parenting science article, then she has all of these references there, too. But so here's where I want to work from. It's the CD. And Coull in 2014 argue that the word empathy has become a catch all term for three discrete, distinct processes. And this is why I like this empathy. They have it boiled down to three things. One is emotional sharing, which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress and another individual so emotional sharing. So one component of empathy is, you know, almost when you hear about the concept of someone being an empath, where they experience the feelings of distress by watching someone else experience distress as well, there's empathetic concern, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable, so empathetic, concerned. So it's like, I want to do something. I want, you know, when people feel like I see people in need, I want to do something. There's feeling what they feel. There's feeling like I want to do something when I see someone who is feeling a certain way. And then here's the one that I think we typically think of when we think of empathy, it's perspective taking the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or feeling.

[00:07:35] So I think we often think in terms of empathy, we forget those first two, the emotional sharing and the empathetic concern, and we just jump right to the perspective, taking the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine that that's what they are thinking. So when we speak about somebody being very empathetic, we're probably guilty as as as Gwen Dwar says, of mixing up all three of these. So in some individuals are going to score high and all of these areas and others might not really have any of these skills across the board. And we talked about some of those in some of the the Christina Hendricks episode on. Narcissism and personality disorders are the gaslighting and but it's common for people to experience a little bit of these three areas of empathy in varying degrees, and they can even change over time. For instance, says that many young children show high levels of emotional sharing and they demonstrate strong but limited evidence of empathetic concern. But then they'll struggle with perspective taking. You know, it's hard to kind of my wife and I right now at our church volunteer in the nursery. And so it's hard to kind of show perspective taking to someone who is very small and tiny when you're saying, hey, how do you think that made them feel when you took their toy? You know, that kid doesn't care.

[00:08:43] He's got the toy right. So it's hard for him to kind of understand that perspective thinking now as as kids get older, their perspective taking skills improve. But it's primarily when we provide them with opportunities to practice so they'll learn social norms about when and how to show empathetic concern. You know, they'll understand that when someone is suffering or someone is sad, the social norms almost teach you how to show that empathetic concern of that man. I feel bad because that person is feeling bad. They also will learn about their own emotional responses. So so these experiences can lead to enhanced empathy or the reverse. Children may learn to show more responsiveness in caring or less. So it really depends on the content of their lessons. Here's what to wear where Gwinn said that Gwen, as if I know her Ph.D.. I want to call her doctor door. So Doctor said where they taught empathy, that empathy often requires an open mind and an effort to learn how differently others experience that the world did. They learn to shut out unpleasant feelings by retreating from people in distress. This is a big one. We're going to talk about this one here in a minute. Or do they learn how to control their personal reactions so they can respond with sympathy and help? Did they learn practical, concrete actions to take when someone is in trouble? So what do you do when you see someone who is suffering or someone who is sad? I mean, were they taught by a parent or a caretaker that, hey, don't look over there, that person's really sad.

[00:10:01] We just need to keep moving or where they learned, you know, where they just kind of learn to, hey, what do you think that person's going through? Or they learn to even just take over and talk to the person, go give the person a hug, give the person a sandwich, whatever they were taught. And we start to see how that comes into play with teaching empathy. So did they learn practical, concrete actions to take when somebody is in trouble? Did they learn that empathy is to be reserved for a select few or for individuals from every walk of life? Right. Is this one of those things of where if you're in a area that you're not very comfortable with and you see someone who is suffering or someone who is sad, or you learn that, hey, we don't really know everything that's going on here, so keep it moving. So empathy isn't something that you either have or it's not something that you lack and isn't something that develops automatically without input from the environment. So she says there are different facets and degrees of empathy and the way we socialize our children matter.

[00:10:47] So I'm going to hit five out of these. She has ten tips to teaching empathy. And again, there's some amazing studies that we're going to cover today. So she says teaching empathy. Tip number one, provide children with the support they need to develop strong self-regulation skills. What does that mean? Feeling someone else's pain is unpleasant. So it shouldn't surprise us if a child's first impulse is to shrink away. When they say see, when they see someone in pain, they're going to pull away, they're going to come to their caretaker. So children are more likely to overcome this impulse when they feel secure and have strong self-regulation skills. So, for instance, when children have a secure attachment, when they have these attachment relationships with their caregivers, they know they can count on their caregiver for emotional and physical support and so that these children are more likely to sympathize and offer help to people in distress. So what does that look like when your child sees someone else who is suffering and they come to you? If you are there for them, if you put the you know, if you give them the hey, don't worry about it. Don't don't worry about that person, then what is that teaching that's kind of teaching them to not feel that emotional connection towards someone who is is suffering or struggling. In addition, children who are better at regulating their negative emotions tend to show greater empathetic concern for others.

[00:11:55] That's from a study by Last Name song in twenty seventeen. So therefore, we can foster empathy by being what Dr. Dwar says, emotion coaches. What that means is acknowledging rather than dismissing our child's negative feelings. And let me just jump up here and say that what I'm saying, child, in this situation, it can be your your child, your teen, it can be your spouse. I mean, and this is that that no fixing in judgment statement. This is that more. Tell me more about what's going on for you kind of statement that I've covered in other podcasts. So not to dismiss negative feelings, engage in conversation about the causes and effects of emotions. It also means helping kids find constructive ways to handle their bad moods. Not any of the hey, don't worry about that. That's not your problem, because what does that say? That says I see your emotion, I see your response, and I don't want to hear about it because it's not valid emotion. Coach, remember that you can be that be there. Don't dismiss, acknowledge the negative feelings and engage in conversation about the causes and effects of emotions. Tell me what's going on in your life, child, the teen spouse. So while emotion Koshy emotion coaching is help kids of all ages, there's a study by Johnson et al. So that means Johnson and pals. Twenty seventeen.

[00:13:07] It says, younger children who struggle with negative. May benefit the most. In addition, there's evidence that young children develop better perspective taking skills when we talk to them about mental states like beliefs, desires and goals. So if you have a toddler, it isn't too early to start thinking about your role as one of these emotion coaches. And one experiment is kind of this where stuff gets really interesting. Loopt and in 2016, parents were encouraged to increase their coaching efforts and when so, they produced immediate positive effects. Preschoolers showed improvements in their ability to handle frustration. So and that in that scenario, they were encouraged to just talk more about what's going on with the child. Even a toddler not told the don't worry about it. Hey, stop crying. Or even just the good old distraction model. No, they kind of doubled down on. Hey, tell me what's going on there for you. What do you what do you see? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? OK, I love this second one. Teaching empathy, tip number two, CS everyday opportunities to model and induce sympathetic feelings for other people. If you observe someone in distress, real life TV a book Dr. Dwyer says talk to your child about how that person must feel, not even about what's going on for you, about how that person must feel. There's a study by Pizarro and Solovki in 2002 that says even a very brief conversation can have an effect.

[00:14:21] For example, in an experiment on Dutch schoolchildren ages eight to 13 years old, gelee Sariska and her colleagues presented kids with some hypothetical scenarios about school. Here's what they said. They said that your classmates turned to stay late and clean up the classroom, but she wants to go home as soon as possible because her mother is quite ill. So she asks you, would you help her? So would you do it? Would you help her? In one scenario, the students were told to imagine that the girl was one of their friends. In another scenario, they were told the girl was not one of their friends and that distinction mattered. Children expressed less willingness to help when the girl was not depicted as a friend. But here's where things got kind of interesting. The results changed when researchers added an extra step to the procedure. Instead of immediately asking children if they would help, the experimenters first ask them to think about the girl and rate how sad or upset she was likely to be again in the scenario that she had to stay late to clean up. But she needed in her core she wanted to get home because her mom was quite ill. So even just to go over that information again, that extra step of how do you think the girl would rate her on how sad or upset she was likely to be after rating emotions, then the children showed no bias in favor of the friend.

[00:15:28] They were equally likely to say they would help the girl, whether she was a friend or not. So that extra reminder was enough to change the children's judgments. So I think the significance there is that we're normally or we're initially going to say, well, what's what's in it for me? Almost as that person, my friend, is that person, not my friend. But then once we even take the time to just say, hey, that girl, how sad do you think that she is right now for what she's going through and in children then when they recognize me, I bet she's kind of sad, then they're more likely to help. So in the grand scheme of things, what does that teaching is teaching someone to step back and kind of assess the situation and a little bit of it's throwing out some of that perspective, taking to see what must that be like. Right. There's some emotional sharing there when when they see or experience the feelings of distress by observing distress in another individual. And then there's that pathetic concern, which is that motivation to care for somebody who is vulnerable in distress. And then finally, that perspective taking. So in that study, you almost see, instead of someone who has a little bit of the emotional sharing where they see that someone's going through a hard time, but they lack that that necessarily that empathetic concern or perspective taking.

[00:16:35] So teaching empathy, tip number three, helping kids discover what they have in common with other people. I found this one fascinating to adults tend to feel greater empathy for an individual when they perceive the individual to be similar to them. They also find it easier to empathize with someone who is familiar. So research suggests that children also have similar biases. And if you step back and think about this as an adult, a lot of times this is the thing where if you if someone is going through something hard at your work and your work tends to rally and saying you want I like to think in that term of community or tribe, someone in your church, someone in your work, someone in your neighborhood, when you feel that they are similar to them, you find it easier to empathize. So as a result, one of the best ways to encourage empathy is to make children conscious of what they have in common with others. And this one goes into the concept of getting out and meeting people from different backgrounds and learning about what life is like in different places. So conversations are helpful. But this is what is this is what's fascinating. It's worth. Remember that kids are heavily influenced. And this is a doctor said by what we actually do unless by what we say.

[00:17:33] And how many times do we are we aware of that when someone is saying, here's what you need to do, but then you don't see them back that up? Right. A lot of us tend to go with that word of a hypocrite. So, you know, it's more of and as a parent, I think oftentimes we want to make sure that we're modeling that behavior, that we want our kids to do it. If we're saying you need to be kind as we are being mean to other people and any kind of goes back to that classic, someone is yelling at their kid, don't you yell, you know, it's what's the what are you modeling? So decades of research indicate that one of the biggest predictors of racial prejudice, for example, and a failure to empathize with members of other groups is having little or no contact with. Who aren't like you and studies also suggest that schools boost empathy in students when they foster multiculturalism in an inclusive, warm attitude, that it fosters cultural diversity. A couple of studies, Lee and Chang in this two thousand nine, 2011. This enhanced empathy is linked with increased happiness and scholastic achievement. So there there is enough research to back up the fact that when kids are exposed to more multicultural, different environments, different places, then that leads to increased happiness and scholastic achievement, because they do start to see how they can connect with others and what they do have more in common, not more of an isolation view, which then leads to maybe a less a lack of empathy, teaching empathy, tip number for foster cognitive empathy through literature and roleplaying y feeling someone else's pain isn't the entire story.

[00:18:58] So when we hear the word empathy, a lot of people do focus on that concept of emotional sharing. Again, that's which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing stress in another individual. But that comes with a cost. As we as noted kind of in that introduction, emotion sharing can make us want to back away, especially when we encounter someone in pain or distress. And even if we resist this impulse to back away, our own emotions can distract us from accurately judging what a victim really needs. So just having this this affective empathy isn't enough to be good helpers. We also need to have cognitive empathy, the ability to take another person's perspective, that perspective taking and imagine what actions might make that person feel better. The process is more dispassionate and cerebral and less stressful and often leads to more accurate judgments. So let's get to a study first in brain scan studies, individuals who score high in this cognitive empathy tend to experience less stress reactivity when they witness distress and others, and they're actually better at responding in helpful ways now. So how do we foster this? Cognitive empathy? Fictional stories and real life narratives offer excellent opportunities for teaching empathy and sharpening a child's perspective, taking skills.

[00:20:08] So what a character think. What do they believe, where they want, how they feel, and how do we do it? When we actively discuss these questions, kids can learn a lot about the way other people's minds work. That's according to a study by Dun Dun in early 2000 2001. And one experimental study, though, here. Here we go. One hundred and ten school age kids were enrolled in a reading program. Now some students were randomly assigned to engage in conversations about the emotional content of the stories they read. Others were asked only to produce drawings about the stories. So after two months, the kids in the conversation group, the ones that were talking about the emotional content of the stories, showed greater advances in emotion, comprehension, theory of mind and empathy. And the positive outcomes remain stable for six months or more. That's according to a study or NOGI in 2014. Other research suggests that role playing is useful. And man, I am a terrible role player in grad school. We often in role playing and even in my office at times I will try some role playing and I will say that it works a lot of times where I might say, OK, let's kind of put you through the paces in this. How would you communicate with your spouse or your kid, that sort of thing.

[00:21:15] But in an elaborate role playing trial, researchers asked young, healthy medical students to simulate the difficulties of old age. For example, students were goggles covered with transparent tape to simulate the effects of cataracts, and they were heavy rubber gloves to experience poor motor control. After the experiment, the student showed greater empathy toward the elderly. That's according to a study by Vaki and 2006. OK, let's cover one more today. Teaching empathy. Tip number five fostering cognitive empathy through compassion training. sounds exciting, right? Literature and role playing can provide children with insights into other minds and other perspectives. But what about those feelings of personal distress? When we kind of feel it in our bones, when we feel bad, when we feel sad for somebody else, how do we how do we keep that type of empathy from overwhelming us? Research suggests that certain meditation practices, mindfulness, mindfulness meditation and compassion meditation may be helpful. And this brought up something for me as a therapist. There are often times where I deal with heavy things, whether I'm dealing with divorce, whether I'm dealing with suicide. And there's just a lot of things that sometimes I think when people say, man, that must be hard or do you take that home with you? And every now and again, when I step back and think, man, I really don't do much, I'll even think, what's wrong with me? You know, am I am I robot? Am I a psychopath? What's going on here? But but, you know, sometimes I just feel so blessed or fortunate with the training or maybe some of the things that have kind of led me to the point of where I am today, that I didn't even necessarily realize that in all of this mindfulness meditation that I learned early in my practice that that is kind of been helpful along the way.

[00:22:50] And I'll kind of get to that a little bit more for examples and studies of compassion training. Let me talk about that participants. What they do is they visualize their own past suffering and they relate it to feelings of warmth and care. So what that can mean at times, and it really is that kind of concept of gratitude we talked about a little bit before Thanksgiving, but. In a little bit of a different way, so sometimes there really is that just when you're kind of overwhelmed, when you have these feelings of personal distress, when you've kind of heard what's going on with someone else, that at times it's important to kind of sit back and just be grateful for what you do have and trying to. And that's why I think it's really important to and I've been doing this more of trying to keep a little bit of a keep some thoughts down every night of what I am truly grateful for that when you can kind of start from that place, what you're grateful for.

[00:23:40] And then at that point, you can even look at some of your own and what they're talking about. This Klimek study from 12 14, then visualize some of your own past sufferings, but then relate it to feelings of warmth and care. What I believe is that then when you kind of relate it to OK, but here are some things that are good. Here are some things that I'm grateful for. And they say that to maintain this focus, sometimes people repeat phrases like, may I be sheltered by compassion or may I be safe or may I be free from the suffering? I think if you are a spiritual person, this is where prayer comes into play. And I'm a big proponent of prayer where at this point then, you know, you can you truly are grateful and thankful for even the challenges that you have and just being grateful to be watched over, guided that sort of thing and feel like that kind of fits into this fits into this compassion, compassion training. So a little bit more here, though. Participants then repeat this exercise, but with other individuals as the targets for compassion. So can I have compassion on others? May I be able to help others? May be a tool in in the hands of healing others.

[00:24:42] They start to imagine a close loved one and then maybe they extend their compassionate wishes to a series of others. A neutral person, a difficult person, humanity in general. Again, if you are maybe more of a spiritual person, you can even see you maybe see some of those things in there where it really is starting to pray for others, even a difficult person, humanity in general, that it does kind of get you out of your own world, your own head, and kind of it just nurtures that compassion. So for adults, a single day of training has been enough to yield differences in brain activity and behavior. A study done by Lederberg in 2011 showed that compared with individuals who received some type of memory training, individuals training and compassion were more likely to help a stranger during the course of a game. So I love that. So even just kind of nurturing this compassion, this prayer, this compassion training that that even doing that will will actually help you develop this empathy. So also, compared with participants trained in effective empathy, they showed less activity. And parts of the brain associated with second hand pain and distress have brain regions linked with reward. Love and affiliation remained active. So the more of this compassion training, that one does less activity in the parts of second hand pain and distress. Now, I think that's key. We're not trying to remove the the empathy piece, but that part that makes people feel bad and causes them to withdraw.

[00:26:01] So I think here's where the here's where this kind of makes more sense. Similar techniques have been used successfully for adolescents and they can be adapted for younger individuals, for preschoolers. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison developed and tested a 12 week classroom program called the Kindness Curriculum. The twenty fifteen, I believe, was the study. Among other things, it features group lessons and attention to emotions in the self and others, practical brainstorming sessions for helping others in exercises and showing gratitude. A randomized controlled study found the program to be effective for teaching empathy and preschool social skills. The researchers responsible for the kind of curriculum they are making that available to the public for free. So if you Google that or try to have a link for that, you can find out what that 12 week curriculum was. But I think the key there is that what what people are doing is as where they as they are able to kind of be more sit there with their emotions and then be able to turn those outward or turn those toward things that they are grateful for or having compassion toward others, then you're able to kind of sit there a little bit more with those feelings and emotions so that when you are presented with these situations of distress from another, instead of withdrawing, you lean in a little bit more.

[00:27:07] You maybe have a little bit more of that empathy. So what did we learn today? Learned that empathy is in fact extremely important. We've learned that there are three different components to empathy, emotional sharing, which again, that occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress in another individual empathetic concern, which is a second component of empathy, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable and distressed. And the final one is perspective taking, which is the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or feeling to me. I think that's the one that most people think of when they think of when they typically think of empathy. So while empathy has become more of a catch, all that that it is not only it does there are different components, empathy, but that also we can do something about empathy. So I covered five of these these tips today and I'm going to cover more in the future. But just a quick summary of the five. Number one, provide children with the support they need to develop strong self-regulation skills. This is that concept that while feeling someone's pain can be unpleasant, we really need to be more emotion coaches and acknowledging rather than dismissing someone's negative feelings, again, I don't think that just applies to children, but teens and even their spouses as well.

[00:28:17] Empathy, tip number two, sees everyday opportunities to model and induce sympathetic feelings for other people. And this is that one that had the Dutch school age children that had you think more a little bit about what the girl was going through, who needed to stay late at school. And once you kind of understood or rated her about how sad she was, then people were willing to help, whether it was their friend or not, teaching empathy. Tip number three was helping people discover what they have in common with other people kind of stepping outside of your comfort zone a little bit. Number four is fostering cognitive empathy through literature and role playing fictional stories. Real life narratives are excellent opportunities for teaching empathy and sharpening a child's perspective, taking skills. What are the characters think, what they believe, what they want, how they feel. And this was that study that had people in a reading program and some were assigned to randomly engage in conversations about the emotional content. Others just drew pictures about the stories. And after two months, the kids in the conversation group showed greater advances in emotion, comprehension, theory of mind, empathy and the positive outcomes remain stable for quite some time. And teaching of the tip number five, compassion training. So whether that is a mindfulness meditation, compassion, meditation, whether it's prayer, whatever that is, that you can continue to foster that concept of empathy.

[00:29:31] Hey, I hope you're enjoying this bonus episode on teaching your kids empathy and never in the history of podcasts. If I had a better, more natural place to insert an ad than between the first five, teaching your kids empathy concepts and the next five, they're coming up. So let me talk about class virtual couch. Of course, you can fast forward through this, if you would, like. I often do on the ads myself. I can't I can't lie. But if you are looking at getting therapy for yourself, if you're trying to encourage a loved one, someone in your family to get therapy, if they're afraid to go into the therapist's office, let me recommend virtual couch. First of all, you get 10 percent off your first month services. They do have a sliding scale. They have scholarships. They have the ability to connect with a therapist within 24 to 48 hours, which is pretty phenomenal in this day and age. And as a therapist myself, of course, I recommend that everybody give therapy a try because we're all hanging on to things that would be helpful to process or the things in our life that we maybe thought we would achieve by now or things we desperately want to achieve so that we won't live a life full of regrets.

[00:30:30] So if you are noticing that your anxiety or your depression is becoming a bit more after what we've had in the last year, the political elections, the the uncertainty of when the world will go back to quote, normal, that was with air quotes then the longer it's left untreated, the worse at times things can get, because when you just leave them kicking around in your head, they don't typically end up in. And they lived happily ever after, after, happily ever after. You know, I was going with that. So you do yourself those around you, your spouse, your kids, you owe it to you to give therapy to try. So if you're nervous about finding the right fit or bumping into somebody in a therapy waiting room, then go to a virtual couch dot. No, no, no. Go to virtual couch and take a look at the world of online therapy. Try what now? Over a million people have done and go today such a virtual couch with the help that you need or maybe didn't even know that you truly needed. What are you waiting for? All right. Let's get back to this episode on empathy, teaching kids empathy, how to model empathy, all things empathy. Coming up. Part two right now.

[00:31:30] So great feedback from part one. So I wanted to get to this part two ASAP and initially plan and wait in a couple of weeks, but I just got a lot of good feedback from it. So let me answer the most asked question that I received over the past week. Here it is. Is it true that women are more empathetic than men? And I really I had to do a little bit of digging here because I would have just reactively said yes. But here's what I discovered. The question, what about sex, male or female or females more empathetic. So folk wisdom argues that women are more empathetic than men and studies generally confirm. And this is what I thought was interesting, that females report more feelings of empathy. But that might be explained by, you know, you could call it cultural training or in societies where men are expected to be the strong, silent type rub a little dirt in it. The Lone Ranger, John Wayne, stoic, that sort of thing. You know, they are they're reluctant to acknowledge their feelings with regard to empathy. So this notion is supported by recent neurological research and a study that presented adults with emotional imagery, including pictures of people in pain when reported feeling more empathy. But the activity in their brains, that's what I thought was fascinating, as measured by an EEG related to it, did not reveal evidence of differences in cognitive empathy. That was from a study by growing in 2012.

[00:32:41] Another study presented kids ranging from ages four to seventeen with animated clips depicting people getting hurt again. The females reported more feelings of empathy. But when researchers looked at physiological signs like pupil dilation and cerebral blood flow, there were no differences between boys and girls. That's from one by a researcher named Michala Julka in 2013. So I think it's kind of it's a little bit too much of a generalization to just say that that girls are. More empathetic than males, and in fact, it kind of digs a little bit deeper to just that social stigma that we put out there that boys are not supposed to show for show their feelings or that men are not supposed to. So there are plenty of the one of the articles I've said. They're plenty called women the world, plenty of warm men. If boys do demonstrate less empathy or empathetic concern for others, this is actually a reason to help them develop their communication skills, not to give up. So it really does say something about helping men and boys be OK with expressing emotion and expressing empathy. So there you go, that if you go look at pupil dilation, cerebral blood flow and even the electrical activity of the brain, men are empathetic. Sorry, guys can out of you. They're a little bit right. I also ran to when I was studying, when I was looking up that I found a pretty interesting article that said, are we morally stupid, morally precocious or something in between? First of all, I is funny with my kids in the home.

[00:34:05] Stupid was a bad word. It was the S word. So that even feels funny to say. But the author, George Eliot, muses that we're all born morally stupid, unable to see others except through the lens of our own interest and standards, which is part of that concept we were talking about last week of empathy, early psychological theories of moral and cognitive development. Dawson's claim, according to Jean PJI children are supremely self-interested or egocentric until about seven years old, and moral rules are slowly acquired through interactions with peers. And I want to do it. I want to do a whole podcast on this next guy, Lawrence Kohlberg, who believe that moral development proceeded through six stages. And the stages are fascinating. But I'm just going to cover a little bit in briefly hear from the young child's focus on the avoidance of punishment, which was kind of one of those early stages to the idealized adult's adherence to universal principles. And the article that I found here is said, Yet two year old Jeremy's animated concern for the welfare of a stranger seems to contradict these claims that we are all inherently morally stupid creatures. So you can see a very young child show that they have a moral compass. So in the 21st century, as it turns out, we don't need to speculate on these matters.

[00:35:11] Scientific studies have provided a startling view of the infant mind. So are we born morally as the article articles that stupid or the picture that is emerging that is far more complex and nuanced than even Eliot or P.J. or Kollberg or any of these psychologists dreamed? Here's the experiment in one series of experiments. Six month old infants. This is this blows my mind. We're shown video clips of a red disc straining to roll up the hill, a yellow square RAICES into view and pushes the circle up the hill. Here comes a blue triangle, it appears, and tries to push the circle back down to the bottom of the hill. The infants are then presented with a tray containing two toys, a yellow square or a blue triangle. Guess which ones the infants overwhelmingly chose to play with. Overwhelmingly a yellow square, the yellow square that had tried to help the red disc up the hill and not the blue triangle that tried to push the circle back down the hill. So six months old kind of blows me away, right? That that there's a little bit of a moral compass there. So kind of fascinating. OK, so back to the topic today, teaching empathy, evidence based tips for fostering empathy in children. And I'm going over again this study by Gwen Duaa, Ph.D.. And just really quickly, I wanted to kind of just jump over those.

[00:36:28] We talked about three different parts of empathy. And this is I guess this is one of those times to say if you have a listen to part one, I would strongly encourage you to do so before you go to part two. But you can jump right in here and hopefully this one will still make sense. But empathy isn't an all or nothing proposition. And there's a researcher's gene density. And Jason Carroll in 2014 did argue that the word empathy has become a catchall for three distinct processes. One is called emotional sharing, which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress in another individual emotional sharing. So the concept of being an empathy, where you're feeling other people's pain, perhaps empathetic concern, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable or distressed. When you see somebody in need, you just want to do whatever you can to take care of them. And then here's the one that we often think of perspective taking or the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or feeling. So when we talk in terms of everyday somebody being empathetic, I think that we are we are typically talking about this perspective taking. But in in reality, we've got those three components, emotional sharing, empathetic concern and perspective taking. OK, so let's get back to the tips of how to teach empathy, teaching empathy.

[00:37:40] Tip number six, help young children improve their face reading skills so it's hard to show empathy if you can't read face as well. So some children, preschoolers in particular, are at a disadvantage because they truly do misinterpret facial expressions. If you show them photographs of people modeling different emotions, whether it's happy or sad or angry or fear, surprise those sort of things that kids often misidentify what they see. And those difficulties can cause social problems. That's according to a study by Parker in 2013. So what do we do about this? There are evidence based tips on how to help children decipher nonverbal cues of emotion. So some of these are you can be a caregiver who talks insightful, gives insightful talk and conversations around emotion. Study suggests that children develop better. They call them, quote, mind reading skills, and we expose them to accurate, sensitive talk about thoughts and feelings. So you want to be able to to point out, if you see someone sad of identifying that, that would say that person sad. If someone is happy, you're identifying that that person is happy, what's that person going through? So it really is pointing out emotions. So you are helping the your child identify. Correct facial cues. Number two, this is pretty important to ask kids to consider the overall situation in context and then use that information to make sense of facial expressions. So we really shouldn't expect kids, especially little kids, to rely on facial cues alone so young kids can use their understanding of a situation to help them make sense of facial expressions.

[00:39:02] For example, they see somebody drop their ice cream, which is extremely sad that they can imagine how they would feel if this happened to them as well. Have you ever done that? If you ever kind of said, man, if you drop your ice cream buddy, how would you feel? It would seem to give you a sad right. And then his facial expressions are going to change as well. And it's just a matter of bringing awareness to a that's that that's what people look like when they're sad. So then you're kind of feeling you're joining that person in that situation. Talk with children not only about facial expressions, but also about other forms of body language. By the way, this is the third evidence based tip on how we help kids read faces, which is part of this, the piece on empathy, the number six tip talk with children, not only about facial expressions, but also about other forms of body language. So children are sensitive to much more than a person's facial expression. They also notice tone of voice. Boy, do they rate body posture gestures. When you're reading a story together or observing someone in real life help kids make connections between different kinds of nonverbal cues. And I think that's a fun one, too.

[00:39:54] I don't know if you're a I remember when I was reading stories to my kids, can't wait till I can do this with my grandkids, by the way. But really getting animated with the stories. I mean, you do you use up your body language, your facial expressions, tone of voice, and that's a good time to kind of really work that out. So if you're ever in there reading stories, your kids, you feel silly about it. Don't that's that's part of what you're teaching them. You're teaching them how to learn other forms of body language, which is ultimately teaching them empathy. And the fourth tip it gave here for extra practice, try playing emotion identification game. So this is interesting. Researchers have developed training programs that ask kids to practice categorizing the emotions depicted by facial expressions. For example, in one study, researchers gave typically developing elementary school students training in the identification and self production of visual cues. So after only six half hour sessions, children improve their ability to read emotions compared with those who did not have any practice. So how do we do that at home? There are some people that suggest things like emotion cards. You can also go through a magazine. Actually, the kids, not magazines, are these days. You can go through a magazine and you can point out facial expressions, that sort of thing. I remember a book that I used to read to my kids when they were younger, and it really was simply one of those, you know, is this person happy? Is this person said Sassen.

[00:41:00] Crying's this person excited. And it's funny. Those kind of books make more sense now. I think I like them at the time because, you know, it's just fun to hear your little kid maybe mispronounce some different, you know, and is it a boy or girl, you know, or that is that they have light hair, dark hair just to get there when they talk. But so those are ways that you can help your kids identify facial cues. And that is important, right? Teaching empathy, tip number seven. And along those lines show kids how to make a face while they try to imagine how somebody else feels. So suppose I tell you to make a sad face, go and do it right now with your feet on the treadmill, people are going to be a little bit concerned. But if you're driving along or just listening at home, if you make a sad face, just play-acting not really experiment show that simply going through the motions of making a facial expression can make us experience the associated emotion. So while researchers have asked people to imitate certain facial expressions, they have detected changes in brain activity, their characteristic of the corresponding emotion. So people also experience emotion, appropriate changes in heart rate, skin conductance and body temperature. That's from DeSean Jackson in 2004.

[00:42:01] So it actually seems likely that we can boost our empathetic powers by imitating the facial expressions of people that we want to empathize with. And I really feel like, you know, empathy comes in so many different forms or levels or different people or again, have kind of more of this in their factory settings than others. And you can almost watch some people when they are watching movie, their face gets sad or when they're observing someone, you know, watching somebody at church the other day when is giving a talk and somebody near to me. I mean, they just were so emotional as they watch the person up in the pulpit speaking. And you could tell that that person was just taking on those emotions. So, you know, kind of showing kids how to make a face while trying to imagine how somebody else feels that actually making the face again, happy, sad, excited changes some of the things that are going on in your brain to kind of mimic that as well. Teaching empathy, tip number eight, help children develop a sense of morality depends on internal self-control. And this what blows my mind kind of not on rewards or punishments. So kids are capable of being spontaneously helpful and sympathetic. But experimental studies have shown that kids can become less likely to help others if they're given material rewards for doing so. So kind of wild, right? So what the research goes on to say is that when you know that kids in essence want to help and when they know that they are only helping for a reward, that typically they aren't as likely to go back and help a second time.

[00:43:24] And and I know that they're you know, so then the question becomes, is it worth it to bribe or incentivize my kid to help? You know, that's where I go back to. It's almost that concept of harm reduction that I work with in the world of addiction and harm reduction. Just in a quick nutshell is if you have somebody doing a extremely, extremely bad behavior, whether it's some sort of addictive behavior. And I'll give you a really quick example. Right. So back to this concept of working with the concept of pornography addiction. Right. So if you're kind of looking for the triggers, if one of the triggers is complete boredom or sometimes I call it crime of opportunity, let's say for a teenage boy. And so that teenage boy is home alone and there's that trigger. And then there's the thought where he's going to go, start looking at pornography, that sort of thing. And then there's the action. The harm reduction model would say, OK, you know, in a perfect world, he's going to run out of the house. He's going to call a friend, he's going to do that, or you exercise mindfulness techniques, those kinds of things. But but you know what the harm reduction concept says is that or if he's going to play video games for an hour instead of looking at pornography, which is going to, you know, have a far more kind of consequences of negative consequences of working one's sexuality or, you know, kind of blasting out as dopamine receptor.

[00:44:32] So he's gonna want to go to more and more, you know, hardcore, those kind of things. Then playing video games is a considered harm reduction. So every now and again, I'll have a mom maybe text me later on after I've seen a teenager. So you really tell him that playing video games is not a bad thing. And it's like, well, you know, if the if his alternative is that he's he is being very open and honest about that, he is going to look at pornography for an hour then. Yeah. So and the harm reduction model, that's the way that works. So so this is that concept of reward and punishment. If you are incentivizing someone by paying them and they weren't going to do it at all, then, hey, I want them to help because they might get something out of helping. So incentivizing someone to help is not a negative thing with this study is talking about though, is that in you know, in the grand scheme of things, in the perfect world, hitting someone to be able to help because of their own internal reward system or their internal self-control, that that that is ultimately going to be more beneficial than paying somebody off.

[00:45:30] So, again, for instance, kids are more likely to internalize moral principles when their parents talk to them about how wrongdoing affects other people, which is inducing empathy. That's from Hofman Insult saying that was back in the 60s. So there's a link to an article. There's an article on parental style that kind of this parental pressure as a whole article that talked about the research that goes behind incentivizing versus not incentivizing. So I'll throw that on there, too. But, you know, in a pregnant I keep seeing the word in a perfect world, in a world, in a perfect world. But being able to have someone understand that you helping them is going to help that person live a better life or put themselves in a better position. I think I think in terms of a lot of service projects in the last couple of decades, I guess especially some with the kids when we do hygiene kits or you do and things like that for victims of floods or natural disasters. And when you're just getting in there and you're just you know, you get this assembly line go on and you've got all these donations from volunteers and you're putting these kids together and sending out to Third World countries or even people in your own backyard and you've got your kids is doing that because it feels good.

[00:46:30] And then and then kind of nurturing that rather than saying, hey, if you come to this, I'll give you 20 bucks. I think that's kind of where that's that's applying to. All right. Teaching empathy, tip number nine, educating kids about the failures of the imagination. I love this one. Let me kind of set this one up first. Recently, my wife and I attended a football game. It was at a local high school here, Oakmont High School in Roseville, California. My daughter was cheerleading. And so we were going to the football game to to watch her. So Summer's in California can be really hot. The evenings can be just perfect. They really can. But this was an unseasonably cold evening. Now I am bulb 20 different meanings in the opening of my podcast that talked about being an ultra runner. For some reason, many of the ultramarathons I do and our jackets as prizes, I have so many jackets. It's incredible. They should be donating some of those. I have more than pairs of gloves. Then I probably realize again, because of running early, running in the cold, that sort of thing. So I pretty much have the strict I don't like to be cold, so I'm not going to be cold policy. But we were not prepared for this particular night. I think all the other Friday nights leading up to this, it had been just unseasonably warm. And I'm even bringing a jacket.

[00:47:36] I'm in and I'm holding on to my jacket the entire time. But this particular night, I think it was back in September or maybe October, we were we were freezing cold and haven't even mentioned this. Part of this is a California thing or high school kids these days. But at the same game, we were so cold that we were going to walk to the car to get warm during halftime. And I'm talking I can see my car from the fence at this high school. And so just walk up. There's a couple of parents that are manning the gate and I say, hey, doing a stamp or anything on her hand because we're going around the car and just kind of warm up. And they said, oh, no, you don't need a stamp, there's no reentry. And they just did it so kindly. The. I said, I don't know what you mean, and they just said, well, once you go out, you come back in. And I was like, Well, my car's right there, we're freezing. I don't have a jacket. So I'm just going to go out out my car, come back in here. And the woman is so kind who said, yeah, you can't do that. And I thought at the time, 48 year old man, you know, I think I can just kind of trust that I'll go out there and sit in my car, warm up and come back.

[00:48:33] But we were told, no, you can't do it. So anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. But my point being, have you ever failed to prepare adequately for an outing because you didn't imagine how cold or how hungry or thirsty or tired you were going to be? This this is this is kind of fun. This is what researchers call the hot, cold empathy gap. And it appears to be a very universal problem. So when people are comfortable or calm or confident or satiated with their appetites, they forget what it's like to be in the grip of what the researchers call a hot state. They forget how desperate certain physical conditions are, like hunger or thirst or sleeplessness or pain can make one feel. And they underestimate the power of these emotional states. So this is kind of that concept of, you know, when you're sick, you often forget, you know, sometimes a year people say, I don't even remember what it was like to feel better. When I feel better, I am going to never take this for for granted again. I will appreciate every moment that I feel better. But so it's kind of that same same thing where when you are freezing cold, when I was freezing cold at that football game, it's like I can't even remember what it's like to be warm. I can't wait for it to be warm. Now, how does this apply in teaching empathy? The high caliber? The gap leads to mistakes in judgment and failures of empathy.

[00:49:45] So, you know, because it's like you see somebody in there freezing and that sort of thing. And if you're sitting there wearing your jacket, your meaning, your scarf, you're kind of thinking, jeez, you know what's wrong with them? You know, they're just a little cold. But if you think back to those times when you were that cold, that gives you that gives you more empathy, kind of understanding that hot, cold empathy. Yeah. So, for instance, we're talking with our children about something that's painful that they've experienced. You know, we can offer them examples of other people who have been through something similar. The I the idea is absolutely not to dismiss their feelings, but rather to acknowledge those feelings and help the child feel more connected with others. The key do a little bit empathy. Work yourself their first, ask them, you know, tell me more about how you were feeling at that time. What was it like? I mean, so if you're seeing somebody that's freezing cold, then that's the time. Hey there, champ. Do you remember a time when you were freezing or you remember that time that we were wherever we were out under the stars or we can't be forgot your jacket, how cold that was. You know, you were what you were doing. Remember how you or your teeth were chattering. And when they do, it's like, man, what do you guys feel like? And I'm telling you, sometimes that's when your own kids are going to say, I'm going to go get my jacket, you know, and that's that's a parenting win, right? Boy, this one popped in my head.

[00:50:49] Maybe this is a little too much information talking about that hot, cold empathy year long, long ago that was in a double decker bus in England, speaking my software days. And I don't think I've ever had to use the restroom so bad in my entire life. Again, I'm an adult. I'm a grown man. And I was to the point where it was so bad that I was kind of like, you know what, I'm sure grown men of you of wet themselves in the past as when the time where I was thinking, I probably I'm going to want to edit this. Right. But I'm not going to edit it. But I was like, they get oh my gosh, this is like insane. I mean, I am I am I am dying here. You know what happens if the bladder explodes? I mean, does my medical insurance carry over in England? I was going through all of this. And then finally we stop. And I remember it was near Harrods, a very big department store in England. And I just I get off the double decker bus. I don't think I was supposed to at that point, but I just thought, I don't care.

[00:51:40] I'll get a taxi, I'll do something, and I end up going to the restroom. And and I just remember to this day of how how bad that hurt. So so my whole point being, man, what you know, what do I do now? If we're going on a road trip, if my kids even so much as just a hint that they have to go to the restroom and my mind goes right back to that Herod's experience, I am not about to be that dad. That's like, you know, we're driving to Utah from California and you get one stop, kids. It's like, oh, no, we'll stop one hundred times if we have to get to the point now where my kids even, you know, I think they just assume they're like, Dad, do you have to go to the restroom? Like, I know what that means. I say, yep, absolutely. We'll find the next one, because that's that empathy, you know, that cold empathy gap. I can I can put myself back in that situation. And the last thing I want is one of my kids to just be dying for hours and have me just sitting up there, you know, listening to the radio or something like that and not stopping to go to the bathroom where they want to stuff the bathroom so so we can teach kids about the existence of the empathy. Yep. I love that concept and the ways that it can bias our judgment.

[00:52:44] So before we decide that somebody is being unreasonable, we should ask ourselves, have we forgotten what it's like to be in a situation? Have we forgotten what it's like to be completely starving or absolutely tired or to have to go to the bathroom so bad that you were willing to put yourself on the upstairs floor of a double decker bus driving around in England? So again, so that one of my kids has to go, we are pulling over and we are going because of that that hot, cold and bitter. Yep. I understand that. All right, let's talk about the tenth tip on teaching empathy, talk with your children about the mechanisms of moral disengagement. I thought this was kind of an interesting concept. In fact, I am going to pause here. I'm going to sneeze again. We'll be right back. We'll be right back after these. Said now the sneeze doesn't. It's gone. It's gone. There's a little bit of a sneeze, so you're going to put your podcast. So let's go back to TED, talk with children about the mechanisms of moral disengagement, the rationalizations that people use to justify callous or cruel acts. This one is deep. If you've taken any psychology class in high school, college, most likely you've heard of this research. Research has demonstrated that average, well-adjusted people can be persuaded to harm others or even torture them as long as they're provided with the right rationale.

[00:53:48] In a famous series of experiments developed by Stanley Milgram of Yale University, subjects were told that they were participating in a, quote, learning experiment that required them to administer painful electric shocks to another person. This back in nineteen sixty three. The experiment was a fake. It was a ruse that was made convincing with plausible props and an actor who pretended to be in pain. After the study, participants pressed the button. But the participants were fooled and urged on by an authoritative man in a white lab coat. They dutifully administered shocks to the screaming victim. And in fact, I think this stuff's on YouTube. I remember watching this and I've seen it a couple of times, but almost sixty five percent of the participants continued to press the button even after the victim had appeared to fall unconscious. So if you haven't seen the study, it's just it's mind blowing. So somebody here, someone in another room and the person the that is in there doing the study, the participant presses a button and then it gives the person an electric shock. And there's an authoritative figure saying, all right, go ahead and go and press it again. So sixty five percent of the participants continue to even press the button after the victim appeared to fall unconscious. The people were not psychopaths. They were ordinary people that were exposed to social pressure from a plausible authority figure. We throw a lab coat on the guy and said people are willing to kind of do things that are outside of their comfort zone.

[00:55:04] So with the right rationalizations, otherwise decent people get disengaged from their moral responses. And it's not just an adult phenomenon. There are some studies that show that kids can do it, too. So if we're really serious about teaching empathy, I think it's important. I'm not saying you take your five year old and show them that experiment, but I remember that one did that one that one set there are sunk in with me for a while where I thought you just being I love the fact that just being aware that that kind of a study exists is enough to kind of change the dynamic, meaning that I you know, I would like to think that I would have been one of those thirty five percent of the people that would not have pressed the button. But now, knowing that that that is where people can get to, if they do feel this authoritative figure is asking them to do something that is against their moral compass, that, that they will say no. And this goes back to, you know, I guess this is a nice way to maybe wrap this one up today, but really goes back to just being more authentic, which which is that there's a big soapboxes, feeling authentic. So feeling OK with what you feel is OK. So if you are one who does not want to put someone through screaming in another room as you press a button, that is that researchers telling you to do so, that you're going to not do it, that that you are going to step back and just say, OK, now that's not what I'm going to do.

[00:56:22] And if somebody saying, do you know that I'm telling you to or that you're really letting me down or whatever, it's like, I don't care. I'm being authentic. This is not who I am. I'm not someone who is going to inflict pain or torture or someone else. So and I think that's kind of the big takeaway from that teaching empathy. Tip number 10, which is from that Milgram study from the nineteen sixties. So so there you have it. If you go back to the first episode now this one, you got ten tips on teaching empathy. So I'm going to try to do this thing again that I really get some nice feedback from last time. Let's go over these. So what are the what are the tips? No one was are teaching empathy. Tip number six. And so number six from today. The first five were in episode one where it was it was help you help young children improve their face reading skills. So it really is learning how to read visual cues. So and that really does go back to talking about emotions, talks about body language.

[00:57:14] It talks about playing emotional ID games, talks about really amping up your storytelling while you're doing that, teaching kids how to make a face while they imagine how somebody else feels. Remember that when and it is that thing. I think you do hear some of the research. It shows when you smile, you know what happens in the brain lights up and that sort of thing. Same thing with friends, same thing with making a sad face that that it really does change. It detects changes in brain activity there, characteristic of those corresponding emotions. Number eight had to do with helping children to develop a sense of morality that depends on internal self-control, not rewards are punishments. I skipped an entire paragraph that I that I had highlighted here in my notes. It was talking about other research showing that kids are more likely to develop an internal sense of right and wrong if their parents use inductive discipline, an approach that emphasizes rational explanations and moral consequences, not arbitrary rules and heavy handed punishments. So this is the I was going all the way into that. The stuff about. A punishment, but for instance, kids are more likely to internalize moral principles when their parents talk to them about how wrongdoing affects other people, inducing those feelings of empathy, not just again, I like the I miss that whole concept of not just arbitrary rules and heavy handed punishments. When I have teenagers in my office, for example, I know that they're not perfect.

[00:58:25] I absolutely know that. I think I've said before that parents and teenagers to me and say fix them when in reality what we're really looking for is more modeling behavior by the parents. And a big component of that is not just these arbitrary rules that often teenagers tell me that, you know, they know that things are going to be taken away from them anyway. And they the their phone or driving privileges or whatever it is, is going to be taken away. And then it's going to be just held as some just arbitrary rule. They may get it back. They may not get it back. They'll get it back when they're, quote, doing better or when they finally are being nice. And those are arbitrary rules. So those arbitrary rules don't leave a lot of hope from the person being punished. I can I can tell you that from working with hundreds and hundreds of teenagers. So, you know, when you can kind of come up with those and say, I love that hard approach, when everybody's kind of sitting down together, when the waters are calm, you're coming up with some consequences that everyone's on board with. And there's a there's a time frame to them. They know exactly why they're getting the punishment or the consequence, and they know that there will be an end to it. And that way, you as a parent are not punished, but you actually are just enforcing something that has been agreed upon by everybody else.

[00:59:31] If you want more information on that, go go look up the podcast I've done on the nurturant approach and then teaching empathy. Tip number nine was educating kids about failures of the imagination. That is that hot, cold empathy gap. So, you know, we don't always prepare perfectly. And it's kind of good to put yourself back in those situations where you maybe were cold or hungry or tired or those sort of things as well. And number ten is it was that one about moral disengagement, that rationalizations that people make that keep them from being apathetic. All right. Hey, thank you so much for taking the time to learn these additional concepts of teaching empathy. And I know a lot of them were about teaching empathy to kids, but a lot of this, too, can be used with teenagers and spouses or I hope that it brings awareness to you as well, especially like that one that really rang true to me. Was that called cold empathy gap? Because we've all been in those situations where we have not been prepared and then we do just feel distress. And so then when we see someone else who is not prepared in a different situation, I'm sure is easy to kind of go into our own moral high horse or judgment. And there are times where we have been that person. So hopefully that will express some empathy as well.

[01:00:37] Ok, there you have it. All things you ever wanted to know about empathy, teaching, empathy, model empathy. I hope that those are some things that you can put into daily practice, because truly, empathy is one of those concepts that we we need to teach more, which we taught the class on empathy in school because it can be vulnerable, it can be scary, but it truly is one of the key fundamental principles of human connection, of human interaction. So make sure you go stop by Tony Overbay, dot com slash magnetic if you're interested in learning more about the upcoming release of round two of the magnetic marriage course. And I would also love it if you if you like this episode, feel free to share it or read it or review it anywhere where you get your podcasts. And I would, of course, love to to talk with you on Instagram, a virtual couch. Feel free to stop by there, send me a message, questions, that sort of thing as well. So have an amazing, wonderful day week. And taking us out, as usual, is the wonderful and talented Aurora Florence with one of my favorite songs of all time, not just

[01:01:36] Because it's at the end of my podcast, but it's wonderful.

Are you in need of a parenting upgrade? Even from the most well-intentioned parents, our kids can still walk away from key parenting moments feeling shame, feeling alone, and often, even as we’re trying to teach life lessons, we more often than not end up not only missing an opportunity to show our kids that we’re truly there for them, but we miss key chances to model empathy, ownership of our own behavior and even deeper concepts of compassion, and standing confidently on their own two feet. In today’s episode we attack parenting more from a “what not to do” by referencing Christine Hammond’s article “Shame Based Parenting, A Narcissists Specialty” Tony also breaks down the differences of sympathy, empathy, pity and compassion by discussing Dr. Neel Burton’s article “Sympathy vs. Empathy”
Sign up at to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
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Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to 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.
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 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 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 and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t

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

[00:00:00] In 1909, psychologist Edward Tichnor translated the German word inFulham, which meant feeling into into English empathy, and little did Tichnor know that at that time. Maybe some one hundred and twelve years later, this little seven letter word would cause friends to get angry against friends. Nations would divide because of a lack of it. In my profession, marriages fail because one partner speaks it even in their very bones, while the other person literally doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. They aren't being mean. They're just telling it like it is, or the other person is just being too sensitive. And what happens when this word empathy is never modeled from childhood? Because one or both parents never had it modeled for them? Do they even understand the gravity of this simple word, empathy? So coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, I'm going to talk about what a lack of empathy in parenting looks like, what it sounds like, and why, if you lack it, it is time that you learn it. Today, we're going to delve into the world of shame based parenting, and that may have been the way that you were raised, but might have in the way you were parented. But that doesn't mean that you have to continue the pattern, the data is in. It's pretty darn conclusive. As a matter of fact, the building inner wealth, not reacting to the negative.

[00:01:09] Building this wealth within your child doesn't mean that you have to learn the latest slang and shop at some trendy stores at the same stores as your kid as the mall. Although don't get me wrong, especially fathers out there, your wardrobe might indeed need a bit of sprucing up. I know mine. Mine certainly does. No positive parenting building in wealth. Rewarding and energizing success means moving from being the punisher to the guide. Gone are the days of your child wondering which version of dad or mom is going to walk in that door. Because from the view of the child, that is a lot of stress. That's a lot of mental energy and calories to burn. That's a lot of cortisol flowing through the body, stress levels going high, waiting to jump in to fight flight or freeze. It's a lot of teetering on the edge. And so it's no wonder our kids seem to often to be blown about by the winds of whomever will give them attention. And that role needs to be you parents. And it's time to get rid of the excuses. So buckle up and prepare yourselves for what could be a bit of a bumpy ride. If you identify with any of these upcoming parenting models or techniques, it's time for a change. And I know you have it in you, but it's going to take humility and honesty and letting go of some of the control that you may still be hanging onto from your own childhood experiences.

[00:02:14] So we are going to talk about that and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch. And today's episode of The Virtual Couch is brought to you by and sure 2020, it may finally be in our rearview mirrors 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 and get 10 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 counselors, licensed professional therapists. You get the same professionalism and quality you would expect from an office counselor, but with the ability to communicate when and how you want. So again, that's What are you waiting for, 10 percent off your first month services.

[00:03:13] Go give it a shot today. All right, hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 243 of the virtual couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. I'm a certified monville, have coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four and creator of The Path Back, which is an online pornography recovery program that is helping people put pornography as a coping mechanism in the rearview mirror once and for all. It's done in a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always want it to be kind of way. So if you're interested in taking a look at the path back, please head over to And there you can download a short ebook that describes five myths that people fall prey to when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, And go to There's a link to everything there. You can go check out things on the virtual couch where I have some wonderful people creating some amazing graphics. And I'm so grateful for for the team that is putting those things together and try to be more engaging. Got some fun Instagram stories coming up. And also, you're going to hear a lot of promotion around the magnetic marriage course. That is coming up soon. But I want to I want to get right past that. You can go find all that stuff. I want to get right to the content today. And as you can tell by the intro I want to talk about, I'm going to talk a little bit about empathy, which is one of my favorite subjects.

[00:04:23] But we're going to really get specifically into some examples of what shame based parenting is. And that is going to be based on a pretty amazing article off of Psych Central by a two time virtual couch podcast guest Christine Hammon, who works primarily in the world of narcissism. And so if you are hearing more and more about narcissism lately, I am, too. Sometimes I feel like that is that is what the world is kind of attuned to. And I know that that term may at times feel like it is overused. But there are a lot of characteristics. I think that one of the questions I get asked the most is somebody isn't grandiose. They don't think of themselves often when they when they're looking at someone in their family and they think when they hear narcissism, they think that they're just gazing into a mirror all of the time. And while that is one type of narcissist, there are some subtypes that are not as well known. There's a vulnerable narcissist, an inverted narcissist, covert and overt narcissist, sematic narcissist, a cerebral narcissist. So we've got all these subtypes, but some of the characteristics or qualities are very much the same. And that is this concept of kind of not kind of not owning up to your actions, not apologizing. Some of the phrase, my bad does not happen.

[00:05:35] I was talking with someone yesterday in my office who said, why is it so difficult for people to apologize and for people to just say, and I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do that or I'm sorry that I'm sorry that that happened. I'm sorry that I wasn't thinking about that. And that caused you some grief. But for some reason, that is really difficult for so many people to do is apologize. And we'll get to that a little bit later. So before I even get to the shame based parenting, I wanted to just touch on an article. This is where I got that 1909 psychologist Edward Tichnor information from and that is it's purely titled Empathy versus Sympathy from Psychology Today. And it's by Neil Burton, who's an MD. He is a psychiatrist, philosopher and writer who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. So he goes on to talk about that Edward Tightener story, which is really the the the dawn of the word empathy. And empathy, as Neil refers to, can be defined as a person's ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person, a fictional character assassination being. And it involves first seeing someone else's situation from their perspective, and second, sharing their emotions, including, if any, of their distress. And so I go big on this concept. I am such a huge fan of empathy and trying to learn more and more about empathy. And there's a huge difference of empathy versus sympathy. And what I love about this article that Neil shares is we're often talking about empathy and he says it's often confused with pity, sympathy and compassion.

[00:07:00] So I want to break down those and then I want to get into this shame based parenting article by Christine Hamman. So empathy, he says, is often confused again with pity, sympathy and compassion, which are each reactions to the plight of others. Pity is a feeling of discomfort at the distress of one or more sentient beings and often has paternalistic or condescending overtones. And I really love the way that he framed that. So pity more has these paternalistic or condescending overtones. So implicit in this notion of pity, he says, is that the object does not deserve its plight or moreover, is unable to prevent or reverse or overturn it. So pity is less engaged than something like empathy or sympathy or compassion. So pity, as is Neil, refers as amounting to little more than a conscious acknowledgment that someone is going through something. And it really is more of this. I feel like this looking down upon or condescending view. I pity this person. So sympathy is this comes from the words fellow feeling or community of feeling. So sympathy is a rare feeling of care and concern for somebody, often somebody close, which is accompanied by a wish to see them better off or happier. So compared to pity, Neil says that sympathy implies a greater sense of shared similarities together. With a more profound personal engagement, however, sympathy, unlike empathy, does not involve shared perspective or shared emotions, and I love how this is one of my favorite things about this article.

[00:08:27] He calls out that while the facial expressions of sympathy do convey caring and concern, they don't necessarily convey a shared distress. So sympathy and empathy often lead to each other, but not always. For instance, it's possible to sympathize with things such as, he says, hedgehog's and lady birds, but not, strictly speaking, to empathize with them. And conversely, psychopaths with absolutely no sympathy for their victims can nonetheless make use of empathy to ensnare or torture them. They can they can play upon these these tools of empathy to get someone to fall prey to them. Sympathy should also be distinguished from benevolence, which is a much more detached and impartial attitude. And compassion or suffering alongside someone is more engaged with simple empathy and associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of its object. While empathy is I share your emotions with compassion, I not only share your emotions, but I also elevate them into a universal and transcending experience. He goes on to say that compassion, which builds upon empathy, is one of the main motivators of altruism. So one of the examples I give often whenever I get a chance to speak, I talk about this simple version of empathy versus empathy that I learned long ago, and that is you are walking down a road and there let's just say you look down and there is someone that is stuck in this deep pit and we're not talking to allegorical or metaphorical pit of despair, but I'm talking about a literal pit several feet down in the ground.

[00:09:46] Sympathy is looking upon him and really feeling sad for their situation and saying, I am so sorry you're in there. That breaks my heart. But I kind of got to go. I got some things to do. Where in empathy looks more like I see this person in this pit and I jump down in there with them and I say, oh my gosh, like, tell me what you're feeling or what's this like for you? Have you been in a pit before? Are you afraid of the dirt? You know, is it is it cold down here? You know, what are you tell me about this. What are what are you experiencing here? Give me the best opportunity that I can have to just feel and join you with these emotions so that you can have this shared experience that we are in this together and that I will do my best to understand what you're going through. And one of the key notes here with empathy, while again and this is where I was headed a minute ago, and yet I digress. But with empathy, that is the ultimate goal. I want to try and understand the plight of others. And I want to, if I can, as as Neil Burton talked about, I want to also get to this level of compassion.

[00:10:45] I want empathy with compassion, which is my ultimate goal. But in reality, can you truly have pure empathy for somebody and bless their hearts for trying? But the answer is no. Why? Because no one has actually been through that situation that that person is going through. Even if we're in that pit with that person, I'm in that pit with my own personal experiences. So in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy, we often talk about you are the only version of you with all of your nature and nurture, birth, order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, fear, hope, loss, grief, dreams. So therefore, even in that very pit, if I am in that pit with you, we are still having different experiences based on all the things we bring into that pit. I was speaking one time and I was grateful that the person participating or that I was able to lovingly pick on was a good sport. But I was talking with a lot of people that were in these leadership positions for a particular church training that I was asked to do. And it was people that were trying to reach out and help people within their congregation. And there was a person that raised his hand and he said, you know, what do you do? Because it can be really frustrating when you were trying to help someone and you know exactly what they're going through. But they they don't believe you or they don't want to take your advice.

[00:11:58] This was an older man, I'd say older than me, probably mid 50s. And so I took a took a chance and I said, tell me a little bit more about your situation. And you talked about having this opportunity to interact with this single mom of three young children. And he said, I know what she's going through. I've been there. I've had three young children before, and you can see where I'm going. Bless his heart, he wanted to say, I empathize. I know what you're going through. But in reality, was that more of sympathy? I mean, in a paternalistic way, it was that almost even more of pity. I think it was more in the vein of sympathy, but I said so, and again, thankfully, he was a good sport. But I said, so what was that like when you were a young single mom of three young children? And of course, people chuckled and he said, point well made. But so even when we're trying our best to have empathy, it still isn't the exact experience of that person's going through. So why am I setting the table with this as we're going to get to parenting? Because we want to say, look, champ, I've been there before. I've been 13. Now granted, in my situation, it was thirty seven years ago. Things are a little bit different. I had three channels of TV. We would ride a bike if I had to call somebody had to make sure that I can try to stretch the cord out of the room so my parents wouldn't hear.

[00:13:10] And so I don't know what it's like to be a 13 year old boy today. I have no idea what it's like, so from an empathetic standpoint, my job would be to say tell me what it's like being a 13 year old boy right now. What is that like with technology in your hand? What's that like when people don't even necessarily want to hang out as much as they want to just share Memes on their phones? And as much as I might want to say that I know what you're going through, I just this sets the stage for what we're talking about today. I really don't know what they're going through. They're 13. And if you listen to the last episode I did on how to parent today's teens, then I hope, matter of fact, stop right now and go back and listen, because I lay out some pretty crazy data that talks about exactly how quickly generations are changing along with technology. And we if you're anything over about thirty five, we're kind of being left in the dark a bit. That is not to sound doom and gloom or ominous, but to say it, we're in a better position now to say, tell me more about that. What's that like? That our own parents were our own parents really did, for the most part, basically know what we were going through with, you know, again, I like they always say that they're talking about records and we were talking about CDs.

[00:14:21] So those are still in the same ballpark. Now, I want to talk about CDs and we're now talking about streaming video and audio and having everything at your fingertips. No. One, if I tell my kids a story about buying a CD the day it comes out, and I think they will just find this fascinating and amazing, they don't and bless their hearts, they don't even have a concept of what I'm talking about. When my parents would talk about going and buying the new record, when it came out, I knew what that feeling was. But then I could sound a little bit cooler because we had CDs, we had this new technology. And yet then when I would go play a record at times on the record player downstairs and I was going to jump rope working out and I would hear the sound of the record, the needle along the vinyl, that that was amazing and that was incredible. Now, there's none of that. It is I want it right now. And as a matter of fact, I can have it. So I'm not trying to go into the kids these days already. But empathy versus sympathy, I feel like that. That's why I wanted to set the table with that. Let me go on and talk about. So he talked about compassion being more of a suffering alongside someone, again, more engaged than simple empathy.

[00:15:23] And it's associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of an object. So with empathy, again, this is this author of this article. His name's Neil with Empathy says I share your emotions with as we just went over trying your best to share those emotions and then compassion. I not only share your emotions, but also elevate them to a universal and transcending experience. Compassion, which builds on empathy is again a main motivator to altruism. So let's get into and again, that was from Neil Burton. And I'm grateful for that article. I have the link to that in the show notes. So let's get to this article about shame based parenting. It's from two time virtual couch guest Christine Hamman, who I interviewed about not only narcissism, but also borderline personality disorder. And I can put those links in the show notes as well. But Christine knows her stuff. And one of the reasons why I wanted to do this article is after I do this episode was after I released the episode last week about here's a guide to parenting teenagers these days. I got a lot of good feedback, but I also do a fair amount of work and bringing awareness to the concept of things like gaslighting or the concept of narcissistic personality traits or narcissistic personality disorder. When people feel like they are being made crazy making, when they feel like their reality is being questioned constantly or when their spouse is someone who they can.

[00:16:44] And if you are not in this situation, this is going to sound like a fairy tale. But I work regularly with people that say I literally have never heard my spouse apologize about anything or if it is an apology, it's an apology that goes something like this, I guess. I'm sorry, but you took it the wrong way. You made me do it anyway. Now that I think about it, I'm kind of angry. And I can't believe that you did the thing that you did that now makes me feel like I have to apologize. So even in that apology, there's gaslighting, gaslighting throughout the apology. So there are people that are in those type of situations. And then the feedback that I got from my my episode last week was a whole lot about those kind of parents, you know, those shame based parents who don't take ownership of what they've possibly done in a situation and how that works or what that looks like when they are interacting with their kids. When you when you are a parent and you're not modeling the I'm sorry are when you're not modeling my bad, how can we expect our kids to then have those traits or qualities at that moment or even moving forward? And I did a podcast not too long ago on the concept of accountability. Let me grab a drink. And in that podcast, it was fun, I had almost an aha moment while I was recording it, because in this accountability podcast I was reading an article at the time and the article gave an example of a mother showing up to pick up their daughter from high school.

[00:18:14] And the mother was two hours late. And if you are a parent and you have high school kids and there's probably I know I can think of times where I have been pretty late picking up one of my kids and they gave the example of the kid coming in the car. And the kid is frustrated. They've been sitting outside and they've been embarrassed and they feel like, you know, what's wrong with me? They feel like their parent has abandoned them. They haven't been able to get a hold of their parent, whatever the situation may be, as they watch their friends leave, as they try to feign confidence when there's really embarrassment there. But they get into the car and they say, I can't believe, where were you? Like, I can't believe you were so late. And the first response by the parent is, you don't talk to me like that. And so there's a lot to be said right there. So there is a lack of apology or lack of taking ownership. And then there is a I'm going to I'm going to diffuse or I'm going to, in essence, gaslight with anger. I'm going to I'm going to meet your anger with even more anger. And now I'm going to make you feel bad about it. I'm going to say you have no idea what my day was like.

[00:19:11] You know, when a parent says that, so when you have those kind of situations modeled and then we expect our kids to then own up to their mistakes, they are being trained to not own up to their mistakes, to kind of dig into their bunker. And this, too, shall pass weather the storm. You know, this is either that fight flight or freeze they're picking on either fight or sometimes it's freeze. They're not going to say a word. And then finally, you're done where as a parent in that same situation, if you if they come into that car and you say, I am so sorry, I'm running late, I should have prepared should have planned ahead, I should have reached out to somebody else. Talk about a way to diffuse and no, you are not a weak parent. Your kid isn't now going to walk all over you and say, holy cow, I can't count on you for anything. No, you're modeling empathy. You're showing them I care about you and I am sorry. So sometimes that simple concept of saying my bad I should have planned a little bit more ahead is going to show that kid a more of a solid example of what it means to be an adult or what it means to be responsible or take ownership for their own actions than anything else. You as the parent have that opportunity and that ability to model that type of parenting. So let's get to this shame based parenting.

[00:20:26] Christine Hammond shares a story of it's a pretty harrowing tale about some narcissistic abuse that happens to a young man, but it sets the stage for all this kind of jump to the end.

[00:20:41] But she's talking about the situation with the young man and she says his narcissistic father's early conditioning had unknowingly caused his shaming obsession. This is not an uncommon narcissistic behavior, but why does a narcissist do this?

[00:20:54] So usually when there's shame based parenting, if this is coming from a a narcissistic parent or a parent with narcissistic personality traits or tendencies, usually they harbor a deep rooted insecurity, which is masked by the narcissism that they can't tolerate exposing even in the slightest. So go back to that example where I'm saying, hey, own up to your mistakes and it's OK. As a matter of fact, you're doing your kids a favor by modeling that empathetic behavior. But I feel like this is where that narcissistic tendency or behavior can't tolerate exposing themselves even in the slightest. So in order to self protect, this leads a narcissistic, manipulative, manipulative shame others to maintain their superior status and to deflect any vulnerability. A narcissist is unwilling to feel their own shame and fear. So instead they divert it by purposely causing others to feel that same way. So in the case of this example, Christine Hammon said this. This person's father was targeting him to reinforce the father's own confidence. So to put an end to behavior like that, it's necessary to be aware, aware of the ways that a narcissistic parent shames their child. So if you are engaged in any of these parenting situations or techniques, I am not diagnosing you as a narcissist. In fact, I can't I can't do that professionally. And and this is the thing where I feel like the concept of narcissism gets thrown around in a very heavy way of you are a narcissist. But man, I will own up to having narcissistic traits or tendencies. I love to say to my wife, destines of narcissism. I recently had Jennifer Finless and Fife on my podcast. It was amazing episode. And we talked about anxious and attachment styles within a relationship.

[00:22:28] And then I also we answered a question by someone that listens to both of our podcast. And the question had to do with Jennifer saying, show up big in your marriage. If you're going to do it, go all in. But then this person learning a lot from the podcast that I do about narcissistic behavior and about gaslighting and about feeling like this. There's this crazy making. And the person said, hey, can the two of you talk about what that looks like together? And I love the fact that Jennifer really validated a lot of the things that I've said in the sense that in a sense, we. We all have these narcissistic traits or tendencies, and that's why I like to look at this on a spectrum.

[00:23:01] As a matter of fact, I was listening to an audio book not long ago and I was on a run and the author had this concept that he shared that I had to try and speak a text to myself through Siri in my headphones, which was more difficult than I thought because of my laborious breathing. But the concept that I shared in this text to myself was that gaslighting. It comes from a childhood defense mechanism. So if you think about that, that's kind of mind blowing. I processed it with a couple of clients the next day. And if you look at a 9 or 10 year old kid, maybe that's the sweet spot. They have a hard time owning up to any of their behavior. They may freeze by shutting down, crying or getting anger angry. They may have take flight literally run away or they may fight. And they're telling you, I didn't do that, you know, and they will sit there and on America's Funniest Home Videos, it's the cutest thing in the world where you have some kid with chocolate over their face and you're asking little kid, did you eat the bar of chocolate? And they're saying, no. I mean, that's that's this extent of not owning up to their behavior. So gaslighting is this childhood protection. It's this childhood defense mechanism. Unfortunately, that concept carries often into adulthood to the point where then people cannot say, yeah, the chocolate.

[00:24:14] Instead, it's like, are you kidding me? And any chocolate, they get chocolate over their face. So that's where and oftentimes when you are engaged in someone that is gaslighting, you are making you feel crazy when you know they have chocolate on their face that you feel like I feel like I'm arguing with a ten year old kid. And it's because that gaslighting principle comes forth as a childhood defense mechanism. I've talked about this in two of I swear, my last three or four podcast episodes. So please go back and listen. I know Episode 240 is one where I talked about it in more depth. But this author, Robert Glover, who laid out the childhood abandonment and attachment wounds in a way that just has made so much sense, I swear it has made its way into every therapy session since that time that I that I have with my clients where he talked about if we're talking about childhood development cycles, if you look at maybe five years and under when the the I like to say the wiring is being laid under the cement foundation of the brain, so to speak, that that model of attachment looks like this. You are a pink, squishy baby and you are your biggest fear is abandonment.

[00:25:18] If your needs aren't being met, as far as you know, it means death. Abandonment equals death. And you go from this point where you cry and when you cry, you get picked up and held. You get fed, you get your diaper changed to then slowly but surely being abandoned, as in all of us get abandoned, abandoned there means. No snacks before dinner. No, we're not going to Disneyland. You can't stay up past your bedtime. So is this ego centered kid, which is not a judgmental statement. It's just the thing. Then the more that things are not happening that you want to happen and you're looking at it from your five year old brain, not your 50 year old brain, not your 30 year old brain, but your 5 year old brain, you're thinking, what is going on? I just get all my needs met. I am the center of the universe. Do they not know? So that starts to lead to two things. One, good old toxic shame that this must be about me. This must be the people must not like me. And this is where you see the child children of divorce, for example, when they're younger, you know, you can tell them, hey, this isn't about you, champ. But at the time, they can really struggle with that and they can really feel like, wow, this, you know, if I would have done things different.

[00:26:22] I mean, we do that in all kinds of things, you know, that that principle of hindsight can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes we can look back in hindsight and say, oh, that makes sense. I was a kid at that time. My parents are going through their own struggles, so that wasn't on me. But then there are other times where we look back in hindsight and think, wow, I made that all about me, but but bless my heart, that's all I knew at the time. So that those those abandonment attachment principles move forward in that toxic shame. But then it also then leads to us trying to figure out how to get our needs met because all of a sudden we weren't getting our needs met. So this is where we start taking on who do I need to be? How do I need to show up in a particular situation? Almost like what mask do I need to wear in order to be accepted or loved so that I won't be abandoned, so my family won't leave me and my community won't leave me, my church won't leave me, my wife won't leave me. And all of those go against really figuring out who you are as a person.

[00:27:17] So this is getting me away from this shame based parenting. So let me let me kind of talk about this a little bit. Christine Hammond lays out these examples of this shame based parenting. The first one she talks about is historical revisionism. She says a narcissist will retell their child's story with shaming commentary favoring the parents purpose. This is frequently done in front of others as a way of discounting any success that the child might have accomplished. The narcissist will state that they are trying to keep their child humble for their own benefit, though in reality they're causing humiliation. And now those witnesses to the storytelling view the child in a light that is filtered by the parent giving the parent complete control over the situation. This one I've heard so many examples of this one.

[00:27:57] Where the narcissistic parent will remind the child of their absolute dependency on the parent, you know, the stories will be about childhood bike ride. So, you know, the child might remember, it is a thrilling day where they just finally figured out how to ride a bike. But the historical revisionist, narcissistic parent will retell the story as, no, you were you that wasn't that wasn't how it was. I mean, I'm glad you created this memory for yourself. But I was I was the one telling you, you got to figure this out. You got to hang in there. You know, if it hadn't been for me, you would never be riding a bike and you cried and you didn't want to do it anymore. And I kept telling you, you know, this is something you got to do. And so you can see that the the narcissistic or the insecure parent has a hard time even giving that five year old or six year old kid trying to figure out how to ride their bikes credit. So in a historical revisionist setting, does that build the child's inner wealth? No, it makes the child feel crazy. It makes the person is there remembering this story about their learning how to ride a bike.

[00:28:55] All of a sudden they think, wait a minute, I thought I had a whole different version of that. But I mean, this my my parent, I mean, that that must be the truth. And I think that's one of the hardest things about this shame based parenting model, is that it is there because of the parent's own insecurities. And so what is the harm in letting that child, no one probably have their correct memory of it? Is their memory of that was this glorious day where I finally learned how to ride a bike to then only be told that if it hadn't been for me, confidence breaking. That's the second one she talks about. She says a narcissistic parent uses private, detailed information to expose their child at the worst possible time. This is done to reduce the child while elevating the narcissist. The narcissist might even do this just before a major life event as a way of undermining any confidence their child might have obtained. And by breaking this the assertiveness, the child might have momentarily held the narcissist now back at the helm and once again capable of commanding the space.

[00:29:50] I have heard some horrific versions of this for things right before a wedding day, right before a birth of a child where this narcissistic parent can talk about. Man, you know, I hope you don't have a meltdown like you did before prom or I hope that you don't end up having cold feet like you did when you were thinking about getting married before. And and I mean, I hope you can start to recognize if you are the parent hearing this and this is hard to hear or you feel like, well, yeah, but I'm just being honest. No, you're you're elevating yourself to the role of hero. You know, we want you to stop being the hero, stop being the guru and move to the role of guide. That's where things become very empowering. As a parent, your job is to be there alongside your kid and to be able to help guide them from a situation. I remember in grad school, one of the first experiential exercises that I ever did with my sensei, Darlene Davis, as she had, she stood on one side of the room and then she had somebody else on the other side. There were desks and that sort of thing to to maneuver. And she said, OK, now move left, move right, come over here, do this, do that. And the person made their way across the room. But when they got across the room, what did they learned? They were able to praise their guru and say thank you for guiding me across the room. But she said and we were talking at that time about what the role of a therapist was, but that role of a therapist is to go over there and stand right beside the the person and look ahead and say, all right, the field is full of desks and all kinds of debris.

[00:31:14] What do you want to do? I'm right here beside you. Let's do this. And the person says, I think I want to try to climb over a desk. All right, let's talk about it. You know, tell me more. What do you have any fears around this? What are your previous experiences with desks? Was your family killed in a landslide of desks from a desk making factory? Then I can understand this this intensity or this anxiety or or you want to go under the desk around the desk. Do let me help you lift the desk and not just say, OK, pick up the desk now. Go over it, lift your foot. You know, our job is to be right there beside our kid and not in the shame base. You couldn't have done it without me. You know, get rid of that. That's from that's from your own childhood. That's your own stuff. Go work with your therapist on that. But your job is to say you've got this, you can do this. I'm going to build this inner wealth and confidence in you so that you can do more, not so that you will always need me and you must always rely on me, because that is not going to get anyone anywhere that is not going to build this inner wealth. It's not going to build confidence. And all it's going to cause is this unnecessary reliance and and your child's own insecurities as they move forward.

[00:32:18] So that all came off of confidence. Breaking, exaggerating, faults is a third one within a narcissistic mine. No one is perfect except for them who she says that one good narcissist are very good at identifying the faults of their children and even better at passive aggressively commenting on them. This is a way of putting their child in their place. So when confronted, they often say I was only joking or simply claim that their child can't take a joke. Writing it off is something that the child could not maturely handle, only highlights the dominating qualities of the parent ooh man. I love a good joke more than anything, and I remember early on recognizing that, but not at the fault of others. Not not to bring. Not the. To make someone feel worse or not to to bully someone, not to destroy their self-confidence, a joke is great. Nothing diffuses a situation more than humor. Nothing lighten the mood more than humor. Nothing. Nothing unifies more than humor. But humor is not there at the expense to be used at the expense of others. So exaggerating false can can again have this narcissistic parent just taking credit for everything or really breaking down that kid's reality, you know, talking about. Oh, no, no. You you know, you had no sense of humor when you were in high school. I mean, all your friends used to look over at me as the parent.

[00:33:33] Think she's does he think that's funny, you know, exaggerating these faults? And then if if the if the teenager then looks over at the parents really like that, I don't appreciate you saying that. They're like, I'm kidding. You need to learn how to take a joke. So exaggerating faults, not building in her wealth. The victim card. Oh, man. This one. This one. I got actually one of the amazing, wonderful email from someone that was listening to a particular episode where I was I think I was laying out the four pillars of a connected conversation, which are the big part of my marriage course. Number one, you've got to assume good intentions. Nobody wakes up and thinks I want to hurt my partner. Number two, you can't say you're wrong because once you tell somebody, if somebody opens up to you and you say you're wrong, I don't even believe that. What are they supposed to do with that? That's already devolved the conversation. Three, is ask questions before making comments. That is imperative, because the more questions you ask, the more you're going to learn and find out that you may not even be correct about your assumptions. But the fourth one, one of the biggest parts of these four pillars of a connected conversation is staying present, leaning in, being in that conversation, because the opposite of that is playing the role of victim of all of a sudden, if you've just heard, hey, like pillar one, if somebody says, I really feel like you haven't been there for me, number one, they didn't wake up and say, I know what I'll do.

[00:34:52] I'll wait till about two thirty in the afternoon. I'll drop this bombshell on them. And that's really mess him up. No, if somebody comes to you and says, I really feel like you haven't been there for me, assuming good intentions. Pillar one, pillar two. I can't say that's that's a bunch of garbage. I totally been there for you because then what do they do? OK, I'm sorry. I'm wrong. No, No. Two is I can't tell them the wrong number. Three, let me ask questions and not say, OK, I can't believe you're saying this, but but now tell me what you have to say. No questions before comments. Hey, tell me, help me see my blindspots. I wasn't aware of this. Tell me tell me what you mean by that. Tell me what you're seeing in my behavior. You can even do all three of those amazing pillars and then get to the fourth pillar of a connected conversation and then pull this victim card and all of a sudden say, well, I guess I'm a crummy parent or OK, you got me.

[00:35:35] I'm the world's worst, worse father and husband. So when when a narcissist goes to the victim card, what they all of a sudden did is, you know, I call them these narcissistic outs or when they can hang in there for so long, when they pull the victim card, now they want the person to go into rescue mode. They want the person that they just lit up to, then say, now you're a great you're a great parent. You're doing awesome. I shouldn't have brought it up or no, you're a great provider, husband. I shouldn't have said anything. You are there for me. I'm obviously confused, but all that does is this build up this this this wall where then you can't go and open up to if you're whether it's your kid trying to open up to you as a parent or whether it's a spouse that you can't go to your other spouse when you know where you feel like that other person is going to pull this victim card. So narcissists are amazingly talented, exasperating their child, and then using the poor reaction as justification for identifying themselves as the victim. You know, you don't understand what this is like. You don't understand the struggles I have. You don't understand how hard it is for me to go about my day.

[00:36:36] All of these are the victim card. So then you as the person that's trying to have a conversation or communication or relationship with that person, what do you even do? You are trying to dance on eggshells to this point where I don't feel like I can say a word, you know, if I want to talk about something that's gone on in my day. But I know that this is either going to be I'm either going to be Gaslit, I'm going to be told that it's not that way. I'm going to be told that. Oh, you don't even know. It's much worse for me, are you know, every single thing is going to be this this eventually lead to this victim role. Then you are eventually not even going to want to engage at all. So regardless, again, of how aggressively the narcissist inside of the child, an angry reaction to the provocation is viewed as shameful. So the child is conditioned to feel responsible, most often allows the narcissist to play the victim card and therefore they surrender control to them. There's another concept that Christine talks about called blame shifting. This one is fascinating, too. Whenever something goes wrong, the narcissist shifts all the blame to the child. So the child may only have made a minor mistake. But then that enables the narcissist to dump more than their fair share of responsibility onto him.

[00:37:42] This way, the narcissist takes advantage of the child's vulnerability. They escape accountability and they leave the child there to face the consequences. So the blame shifting is it's fascinating to watch. And again, I hear these examples constantly is this is a large. Portion of people that I'm working with are either people that are in relationships with narcissists or people that have broken out of some narcissistic trauma bond or people that are processing childhood wounding from maybe narcissistic parents. But the when when something does go wrong, that this is this is that part where the narcissist can't say, man, that's my bad, that that wasn't that wasn't cool. I shouldn't handle it that way. You know, it is shifting blame to the child. So then the the the blame shifting looks like this where then the narcissist says it goes back to this. I can't believe that you said that. Like you're not even willing to listen to me. I was just trying to help you. I was just trying to to to share something with you that that would help, you know, you're not even giving me a chance. And so that is that blame shifting now all of a sudden it's on it's on the child who was just trying to express themselves or talk about their experience.

[00:38:50] This one I don't see as often. But, man, when I do see it, I it just sounds maddening. And Christine calls it baby talk. She said in any narcissistic parent child relationship, the narcissist wants to be seen as the adult, regardless of how much their child might have aged.

[00:39:04] So to achieve this, they belittle and condescending ways, such as literally talking down to the child, calling their adult child immature, saying their adult child needs to grow up. The implication is that the narcissist is more mature and has developed beyond the level of a child. This is a tactic used by the parent to maintain superiority despite the status that their child has obtained. So when I do hear this, I've heard it often in relationships where it's the narcissistic spouse, maybe the narcissistic male to the to the wife, where they've said things like, I mean, I can do I can't even do the baby talk stuff. But where if the wife has been very frustrated and said, you know, you were never there for me, you never care for me. And then one that I heard recently was where the husband drops into the kitchen, do it where he's like you, never there for me, you know, kind of goes into this baby talk, making fun of the person literally, you know, using voices to make fun of another adult human being. Offensive play the narcissist will use personal attacks to put the child on the defense. Often the child will get so caught up in defending their name or their character that they miss the next attack. Look how defensive you are. You must have done something wrong. The narcissist will counter. Christine said this is a checkmate position because the child has nowhere to go.

[00:40:17] Defending themselves further only plays into the trap and attempting to avoid confrontation allows for proof of the narcissist argument. Boy, this part is frustrating. Cornering your opponent, the narcissist can ensure the outcome resolves in their favor. So this is one that I see more than more more than I care to. And when I talk about the five things that I encourage for people to break free from narcissistic relationships, one is the get your self care up, raise your emotional baseline. I've got multiple episodes on the concept of the emotional baseline, but it's about self care. It's about putting yourself in a position so that you can take on the world in a sense, and that does involve you. Taking care of yourself in self care is not selfish. Self care is absolutely necessary for putting you in a position to succeed. So no one is is raise your emotional baseline. Number two is get your Ph.D. in gaslighting. Know that when you are speaking a truth and all of a sudden you're being told one of these these shame based parenting tactics to then question your version of reality, a version that you are very confident of. They know that that is gaslighting. And I don't I don't have to question my own version of reality, which leads to number three, disengage from unproductive conversations. By now, you have a pretty good idea of where conversations are going when you're interacting with the narcissistic parent or a narcissistic spouse for that, for example, as well.

[00:41:42] And so the third one disengage from productive conversations, which leads to number four, learning how to set boundaries, learning how that if I can't even have a conversation, then the boundary is I'm not going to go try to have a conversation. I have too many good things in my life to focus on, to then put myself in a position where I am just going to be made to feel like a complete buffoon. I'm going to be told that I'm doing things wrong. I'm not going to feel like my opinions matter. So there we only we only have one time in this life. So it is it is to be used creating amazing and positive strength based experiences of building situations of success with your spouse and your family. So putting yourself in a position to then take upon this attack is something that can again be emotionally draining and it causes a ripple effect. You know, when you are stressed or don't want to even have to interact or engaged and then you go and interact, you're engaged and then are met with these these shame based parenting techniques, then you can see that this just becomes a giant energy drain. You may very well want to, and most likely because of your own childhood experiences, want that approval of that spouse, of that parent.

[00:42:51] But then if the if you've tried and tried and the effort to have that relationship be a positive, a fruitful one, one where you can feel validated and know that you're OK at some point, it's almost as if something had one client one time say, man, at some point something broke and they just said, I just realized I can't keep doing that. And then they said that their spouse actually responded to and said, OK, something didn't break, something healed where you felt like, OK, that's OK, you're a good person and you don't have to continue to put yourself in that position to be hurt in that way. Bless the narcissist heart. You really have tried your entire life to to repair, rebuild or or nurture that relationship. But at some point it has just taken its toll. So, you know, sometimes and I heard this one literally and literally twice last week and with different people where they talked about this moment where something broke. And then I was now able to, thanks to the comments of this other person, say or did something heal at that point? And sometimes with that healing, the person, you know, you can return to that relationship. But now with you've with different expectations, you know, if you want to return at all. It isn't that now I'm going to try to get in there and engage and make a point.

[00:44:08] Oh, my goodness. That leads to the fifth thing of when I'm talking about understanding or getting out of these relationships with the narcissist or a narcissistic trauma bond. So we've got the raise your emotional baseline self care we've got number two is get your Ph.D. in gaslighting. Number three is to disengage from productive conversations. Number four is to set boundaries. So you get out of these unproductive conversations by setting a boundary when the gaslighting occurs, when you're being told that you are a complete buffoon or an idiot, when it becomes incredibly emotional. And I'm not talking about positive emotion, but a emotion of being gaslight or told that you're wrong, that then you say, OK, hey, I think I'm going to take off now. And then the fifth one is recognize this one sounds it sounds dramatic. It sounds mean, but recognize that there is nothing that you can say or do that will cause them to have that aha moment or that epiphany that then all of a sudden magically changes their entire view of what the the parent child relationship is like or what the husband wife relationship is like because the nice kind person is going is trying to do that for years, decades where they're trying to if I say it this way, if I'm nice, if I engage, if I withdraw, if I get angry, if I get sad, if I get funny, if I say it in a haiku, if I sing it in a song, maybe now the person will say, oh my gosh, you're right.

[00:45:28] I didn't realize that that's what I was doing. But unfortunately, that's not the way it works. You know, I've talked about this in so many different episodes, but if you look at narcissism in general, it is this concept that every child and I've been talking about this a lot lately with these attachment and abandonment principles of of childhood. But every child, again, comes into the world as this egocentric, self-centered, little pink, squishy baby. No, no shame. No judgment. That's the way it is. And then with that secure attachment, with that that positive parenting, with that building inner wealth, then the child can move from self-centered to self-confident. But the problem is when that hasn't been modeled, when that the parent themselves can't own up to their own struggles or challenges, or when they are using the shame based parenting techniques, then that child often never goes from self-centered to self-confident because they stay in that gaslighting as a defense mechanism mode. They stay in that toxic shame of if if man, if my parent was telling me that I wasn't the person that I really thought I was, then I must not really know who I am, that I must be broken, that something I must be unlovable.

[00:46:39] Something must be wrong with me. That's that toxic shame. And the unfortunate part is you can't really do the work on figuring that out until you're out of that relationship or until you're out of that. Sometimes that that trauma bond or that feeling like you are not enough. So when you get outside of that now, you can look back on that and say, wow, that I'm OK. I have my own thoughts, feelings, emotions. I got my own strengths. And so when my own parent is trying to tell me that that's not my reality, that now I can recognize me and bless their heart, but that's that's their issue, because I have figured out who I am. You know, I have so many people that this is what I love about acceptance and commitment therapy, where they start to realize their own values, their own strengths, their own gifts. And they start to hear as soon as they even say, man, I do like this thing. Whatever this value is, I do want to be authentic. They hear this this, you know, sound in the back of their head. At times it says, oh, but do you though it could be pretty embarrassing, you know, are you sure that's how you feel? And that is part of this myth, OK, or am I good enough? Siren song that creeps back in from maybe this narcissistic, shame based parenting model.

[00:47:52] So what have we learned today? Oh, I missed one more. Oh, gosh, I missed two more talking above, I'll make these quick, instead of talking down toward the child, as is described in baby talk, the narcissist will instead talk over the child's knowledge level, even if the child is more intelligent than our sister talks in circles with an air of authority to force the child into an inferior position. This one is amazing. I have seen this one. I have seen this one in my office. I've seen this one out in the wild where someone will they will know their stuff. They will they will be an award winning psychologist. They will be an author. They will be a scientist. They will be a philosopher. They will be chemical engineer. I've seen so many of these. And then when they are expressing something that they know, they are told that that is that is not really the way it is, that that might be what it looks like in your office or that might be what it looks like to you. But, you know, the narcissist still has to force the child into an inferior position. So they will do physical posturing at times, even looking down on the other person or an embellishment of details to disguise the real point of shaming. the child, no matter their ability, still finds themselves unable to fend off the narcissist attacks. And in turn, the parent can often or always orchestrate a way to win. And then the the last one is comparing accomplishments. It doesn't matter what the child has accomplished, the narcissist will claim to have done it first or better or more efficiently. By outperforming the child, the narcissist can minimize the child's accomplishments in comparison to their own. This produces the I can never be good enough feeling in the child and solidifies the parent's authority and experience over them. And what can be really difficult about this one,

[00:49:20] I've seen this one far too often as well, is that the more that this happens again, this is that fifth rule that I talk about in trying to to break free from maybe this narcissistic enmeshment or trauma bond where the person you're constantly trying to say or think or find or do the thing that will cause that narcissist, whether it's the narcissistic spouse or the narcissistic parent, to have that aha moment or that epiphany. So the more that they tell you that that they were better than you were at that age, the more you try to come up with other examples of, OK, but what about this? And then it's, you know, again, it's this. Oh no, no, I, I actually taught you that or I was way better than that at you. I remember hearing a client once tell me that their their mom had insisted that she could run faster and jump higher than this client could at that point in their high school career. And at that point, this high school person was a very accomplished track star, multiple sport athlete, and just in this phenomenal shape. And he was telling me that he was out outside one time playing basketball.

[00:50:20] And I believe he was trying to show his parent first time he dunked a basketball and the mom, who is much smaller and and said, yeah, I could do that. And he was saying he said he told me, well, you could dunk a basketball. Like, there's only, you know, go look up on SportsCenter in the top ten dunk highlights of in the women's pro game, you know. Ah, there. That's only been in recent years. But you were dunking back in the sixties in high school Girls basketball? was like, yeah, yeah. I mean, I can get up over the rim and remember this person just thought, wow, I can't even win. You know, I can't even I can't even get in this moment. That is an amazing feat that you're doing, son. It was no, I think I was probably a little bit better than that than you were. So just to hear those things, it's fascinating. It really is. And so the one of the hard things, again, is that this is one of those things that at the time that does start to lead to this. What is wrong with me?

[00:51:12] Well, you know, as the kid and if you are engaged in any of these shame based parenting techniques, I would love for this to be a wake up call. There is nothing about this episode that I want someone to hear and think, how dare he say that I need to do these things differently? No, I want to say you don't know until you know. So now you know, and now that, you know, you can do something about it. And if you need help doing something about it, find somebody that can help you. One of the things that I think is the most amazing, incredible, vulnerable things that I get to work with is let's just take this example of where there's a parent that has all of a sudden said, wow, I realize maybe I haven't been doing this the way that I thought was the right way to do it. And that's what I love to say.

[00:51:53] Hey, you were you were trying your best based on the situations that you had. You didn't even have the knowledge that you needed to have. But there is knowledge out there and it starts with seek first to understand before being understood, ask questions before comments. And and that is the beginning. The road, it causes a tremendous amount of humility. I've had amazing examples. I was talking to a client last week who said that they had an opportunity to interact with one of their parents over the holiday break. And their their father said that, you know, he said that he recognized now a lot of the things that he had done, again, from a bless his heart standpoint, but that he wasn't very supportive. And in his the person in my office has said that it was one of the most tender and touching moments they had. And then they had a whole bunch of conversations about different things that they remember growing up in their childhood. So it's never too late. It really isn't. It's never too late to make changes to start to to nurture that inner wealth, whether it's with your young kids. If you're a young parent hearing this now, go take my free parenting course parenting positively in the not so positive of times, it's based on the nurtured heart approach, and that is an amazing evidence based model of parenting that takes you from being the Punisher to being the one that instills this inner wealth and confidence. And it does not mean that your kid gets to walk all over you or get away with everything. It's the opposite. It is not. It is so empowering to absolutely not engage with the negative and then and then reward and acknowledge the the good. And and it's not just some simple good job, champ. It's a hey, I love the way that you're playing with your sister because it shows me that you are a caring, kind person. And then there are there are limits there. There are there are consequences to actions.

[00:53:33] But there are things that you've come up with as a family. So no longer are you the Punisher. You're the one now that gets to say, oh, man, buddy, that's so I'm so sad that you now have this consequence that that you that you came up with when you broke this this rule that we had in the home. But I can't wait until you serve your punishment or do your time. That sounds pretty dramatic because then we can get out here and play and then I can build more inner wealth. So, hey, thanks for taking the time today. I hope that there were some things that you learned maybe about your own parenting or some things that you learned about your own childhood that you will be able to now say, all right, this is one of these hindsight principles that I'm OK and that these things that maybe happened when I was growing up, that that I am OK, that I can heal, that I can start to turn toward the things that I know are deep within me, that the strengths that I have, the values that I have and I can stand, the more I start to turn toward living a value based life and turning toward these value based activities. The more of this inner wealth I'll build within myself, the more my own emotional baseline will raise and the more I will put myself in a position to to raise the waters for everybody. And and because the days of trying to put someone down to elevate yourself, those need to be gone. We need to get to this point where we take this personal responsibility that's personal accountability, own up to our our roles and relationships. "My bad" is perfectly OK to say it's not weak. It's actually powerful. And that is going to lead you into this position where you can change lives and first of all, starts with your own. So thanks again for taking the time to listen. And I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

Today Tony shares some mind-blowing data about “kids these days” gathered from a couple of consulting jobs with extremely large companies who are losing young, new hires at an alarming rate compared to just a few years ago. He talks about how attachment and abandonment issues from early childhood manifest in our teenage years, and then he gives several tips on how to connect, and communicate better with your teenagers. Tony references episode 240, “I See You 2021” and episode 237, “Here’s How You TRULY Connect” (using the 4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation) and if you would like to see Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope rap the entire DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince song mentioned in the intro to this episode, you can find that here
-Sign up at to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!-This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. 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 you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.-Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at 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 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. 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 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 And visit 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 and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t

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

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

[00:00:00] So one of my favorite phrases to use to sort of catch my wife up with why I'm about to spew out some sort of obscure reference is, hey, let me take you on my train of thought. And in this particular instance, we are going to jump on board a few steps back. So if you're like what I can only assume are millions of people around the globe, if not more, the end of 2020 not only brought a sort of welcome relief to an overall pretty crummy year with the hopes and dreams that twenty, twenty one will be more of a, you know, a return to normalcy. But then the ball dropping on Times Square also signaled another significant for many very a sad event. That was that the TV show The Office had been taken off of Netflix. And I swear I saw more social media posts about this than I did. Vaccines and politics and resolutions combined is the end of the year grew closer and closer. My wife and I have only recently started re watching the office, and I think more or less is something to have on wall decorating for Christmas or wrapping presents or playing a ton of board games, which we're finding ourselves more apt to do. The older we get and the more we realize that more games maybe offers an easy avenue to have our older kids hang out with us.

[00:01:08] So on one particular occasion, when one of my daughters was lamenting the upcoming loss of the office was was imminent, I said, well, where's it going? We need to buy DVDs or something like that. And her first response, at least to me, was almost an audible gasp of stained DVDs. OK, old man, to which I wanted to say, well, I can't find the old VCR because I'm guessing the VHS cassettes would actually be a little bit cheaper. And sidenote, did you know that it's almost impossible to find a VHS player these days? And if you share this fun fact with anybody under 40, the first reply is going to be something like, well, why would you want one? Not even a oh, that's interesting. So a quick Google search showed me that the office could now be found on the streaming service called Peacock, and I could have it for something like five dollars a month. And I feel like somewhere along the lines of subscribing to Disney Plus and the Peacock, all of these new streaming services. And if you add in your Netflix, Hulu, maybe Amazon Prime video, a little YouTube TV, and now we've kind of defeated the whole point of getting rid of cable. But I digress. So with a few clicks, we now had the office at our fingertips, along with too many other options to count, which and this is a podcast for another day, literally gives me personally there's going to be some name for it, but a form of anxiety of not knowing what to even begin to watch because there are so many options.

[00:02:26] And what if I start watching something and it's no good, but it takes a few episodes to get into? And I could have been watching any number of a few thousand other shows, so I want to get it right. I want to start and know that I'm about to watch a good show right from the start. But in purchasing the peacock streaming service, I was then met with all of the seasons of another show that I remember from back in the day, one that I in particular liked Parks and Rec. And one of the benefits of a growing older and to realizing how aid works is I had the benefit of remembering very little of watching Parks and Rec the first go around, so I thought I would start it over. Enter season two, Episode one, Ron Swanson walks into the office of Leslie Knope and says, OK, here's the situation. And it's a line that whenever I hear and if you're looking for it, you're aware, trust me, you'll hear it more than you think all over the place. But it can only be met in my head. And I wonder how many of you are thinking this right now by the words to a D.J.

[00:03:21] Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince song where you start in with my parents went away for weeks vacation and they left the keys to the brand new Porsche with their minds. Well, no, of course not. Unless he finishes the entire rap with the classic line. Wait for it. Well, parents are the same no matter time nor place. So to all you kids all across the land, take it from me. Parents just don't understand. On today's episode, parents, your kids once no doubt you felt the truth in these lyrics, but now you are the parent. So now are you the same as your parents? Are you uttering the same phrases no matter the time some 20 plus years later or place to the kids all across the land? Can they truly take it from me? And I think they can. As a father of four, as a marriage and family therapist now for over 15 years, is it true that parents just don't understand? Well, coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we're going to talk about why you may not truly understand, understand what your kids are going through these days and what are some ways to begin to understand them. Better yet, ways to set yourself up to, at the very least, allow understanding to take place. And I'm going to give you some tips.

[00:04:26] Having now met with hundreds and hundreds of teenage boys and girls over the years on how to have a better relationship with your teens. So that and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch. And today's episode is sponsored by the fine therapist, The Yes, 20/20 may finally be in our rearview mirrors, but for so many people, there's a lot of catching up to do, a lot of processing necessary, a lot of motivation needed. So I feel like you owe it to yourself, your family. I don't know. Today we're going to talk about your teenagers, your pets, your future spouse, future children, future you. Whatever you need to tap into to get help, do it over a million people have already done is a and virtual couch to get 10 percent off your first month's service. Just answer a few questions. You find yourself a therapist that fits your needs and preferences, whether you're looking for help in dealing with depression or anxiety, relationships, trauma, grief, OCD and more with counselors. And we're talking licensed professional counselors in your area. You do get the same professionalism and quality that you would expect from an in-house counselor, but with the ability to communicate when and how you want. So again, that's virtual couch and you will get 10 percent off your first month's services. So let's get to the episode.

[00:05:47] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 242 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 for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, which is that Path Back 2.0 featuring weekly calls. The group calls have been phenomenal. So every every Wednesday evening I get together with a bunch of people that have taken the Bapak course or taking the path back course, and we are talking about how to put pornography in the rearview mirror, get away from it as a coping mechanism, all strength based, live your best life kind of things.

[00:06:20] And the group is continue to grow. And we're even talking about all kinds of things, ways to just become a better person.

[00:06:25] So and speaking of groups, and I will be very brief, if you happen to be a woman who believes you may be in a relationship with someone who struggles with narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic traits and you're not sure where to go, what to do next, how to get support, just go through my website, Tony Overbay dot com and drop me a note. I have a I have a group of women who are currently either in relationships of those sorts or have been through a relationship like that. And there's just a lot of strength there in that group. So, again, just reach out and contact me. And while you're there at Tony Overbay dot com, or if you head over there, you can sign up to find out more information about my magnetic marriage course, which is getting very close to launching. And it is going to help you communicate more effectively, better have a better marriage. It really is incredible. I cannot wait. I've been working on this for a long time with my buddy Preston Buckmeier, and we are getting the final edits and workbooks and all those things done. So go ahead, sign up. You'll find out more as soon as that becomes available. And you can find me on Instagram, a virtual couch. Let's get to today's episode. We're talking about something that I'm very, very excited about, and it is parenting. Why am I so excited about parenting? I am a parent.

[00:07:30] I have four kids. The youngest is soon to be seventeen, which is just it's a trip. I'm an old person now and I never I don't know. I always wanted to be a dad. I always want to be a husband. I wanted to be the world's greatest father and husband. And it has absolutely been a wonderful journey and. Right it no, it's not even close to done yet, but I have just learned so much over the years. I'm going to share a little bit today about a parenting technique that I absolutely love. That was a game changer for me many, many years ago. But I'm also just going to share a lot about some some data that I've learned through some trainings, gathered through doing some consulting and spending thousands of hours in the chair talking with teenagers and also just practicing, practicing, practicing on my own teenagers. And just I want to share everything I can about what I feel is the best way to more effectively communicate with your teenagers these days. And if you have little kids, hopefully this will set the stage for creating an environment where you will be able to have a really productive, positive, connected relationship with your teens. So so let me start by saying I remember a training long ago where there was a pediatric psychiatrist. So this is somebody that worked with children from childhood on into adolescence and early teens to young young adult age.

[00:08:46] And at that training, she talked about when a 15 year old is rebelling, that in one sense, as frustrating as it can be. And I love that she put it this way, she said that's their job. Their job is to push back because eventually they're going to be doing this on their own, this whole life thing, not completely on their own, but we want to be there for them. And and what we're going to talk about more today, I think, will put us in a better position to do that. But I just know, bless their hearts, they're trying to figure things out just like you were when you were their age as well, which can be one of the frustrating things, because we want to say time and time again, hey, I've been there and I know what you're going through, but and we'll get to this. But, you know, no one knows exactly what an individual is going through because that individual, that teenager that you interact with right now on a daily basis is their own unique set of circumstances and their own set of beliefs and their own set of experiences. So they think and feel and behave differently than anyone else around them. Of course, there's going to be some similarities, but they are the only version of them that has all of their life experiences. And that is why they think and feel and believe the way they do. So even though I preach empathy on a daily basis and I believe in it, I'm a huge fan. But if we're being very honest, it's impossible to have this perfect empathy for somebody.

[00:10:07] Again, even if you have been a teenager and you have had the loss of friends or if you haven't been sure what to do or if you moved halfway through your high school year or any of those situations that maybe your teen is going through when you did it, there was a whole different set of circumstances for you, just as there are for them.

[00:10:24] So back to this training. So I am asked to join a group of other professionals. I was the only mental health expert there, but we were taking a look at this company, this very, very large, successful company, and they had thousands of new hires every year. And age wise, we're talking twenty five and under. So these are truly kids these days. The younger generation in all of us that were in this room, we met for several days, we were all kind of in our think maybe the youngest was mid to late 30s and it was all the way up through mid 50s, maybe in early 60s in there. And the problem that we were dealing with was this company is investing a lot of money into the training of these new hires, just as they have been doing for decades. This company's been around for a very long time, but they are now seeing that employee, the employee decided that they may want to entertain other offers from other companies in the area. And they happen to be in an area where there are a lot of other companies with very enticing offers. But now these employees want to leave after I think the data was saying 11 months where in the past they would stay four or five years. So the company is now investing all of this money and time and effort and energy into training only to then watch the employee leave.

[00:11:34] So give them credit that they were bringing in a bunch of consultants and mental health expert and myself and others to try and figure out how do we retain these employees. And let me do a little bit more table setting now. This was something that I was kind of bringing into the mix, and that was this concept of how different kids are, how different youth are these days. And the company showed some data that was really fascinating. And let me just take you back in time. Before I became a therapist, I was in the computer software industry and in that software industry. And again, this was a very long time ago. There was this rule of thumb. I think there's even some name for it where technology doubled I think it was about every two years. And what that meant was every two years or so, hard drive would get twice as big or a computer microprocessor would get twice as fast. Well, now and I know I've been out of that world for a very long time, but the data that was being presented kind of showed that even the rate of technology. So the rate of technology, when I was in the technology industry, things are doubling every couple of years.

[00:12:34] And now there was this they showed this curve where now technology was doubling every few months. And then this was the part that just was mind blowing, was they laid this other graph on top of this technology, this technology graph, and showed that the generations of young people were also evolving or changing right along with that technology graph. So then this is where I start kind of putting some of the information together that I would notice in my office where when I was growing up, if, let's say my dad was talking about records hypothetically, then I'm talking about CDs, but I know what he means when he's talking about records. I've had some experience with records and he doesn't necessarily want to know as much about CDs because he's always enjoyed records. Records are safe to him. He knows records well, that sort of thing. And so but we spoke the same language. So the gap wasn't very far off between generations. And I feel like I noticed a shift many years ago, probably more than I than I realize where if a teenager was kind of being expected to do something from a parent, that they may come into my office and say, I don't want to do it, I'm not going to do it.

[00:13:53] I can't believe they asked me to do it. But then they eventually did it. They eventually went to a school that their parents suggested even went to start exploring majors that their parents thought would be a good idea. They would still keep up on different chores, tasks, that sort of thing. I work with a lot of people in the LDS faith, and it was guys or teenagers, girls and boys that would say I don't really want to go on a mission, but then they eventually, OK, I'm going to go on a mission. So they were still doing this thing where they would they would openly rebel, but then they just I feel like they were still just that close enough of a connection or a generational gap where they were still going to eventually do kind of what they thought their parents wanted them to do.

[00:14:35] And now and this is the shift I noticed that once I saw that the generations are changing along with this technology, that the current generation, especially these last five to ten years of youth, are so far over from where I am.

[00:14:51] So now if I'm talking about CDs, my kid is talking about streaming everything and instant access to everything and growing up with a phone from the time they're young and all of those things.

[00:15:03] So so they don't even care anymore. Again, bless their hearts about me talking about my CDs or me talking about what it was like to not have a phone where I feel like that must be fascinating to them because I enjoyed hearing those those kind of conversations from my parents again, because I really understood more or less that experience that they were talking about. Not exactly, but I could I was aware I was closer to those experiences than what my kids are to me now. And I just felt like that was it really set the stage of understanding how different the generations are, how different kids are these days. And so I just feel like if you're an older person like me, I think that one hopefully.

[00:15:47] They have just sunk in because all of a sudden, you know, your parent is on one side of the room and you're not that far off, but now it feels like you as the parent is on one side of the room and now you're your kid is so far into a different, different place and they have such different experiences. So here it is, kind of my first round of saying, oh, kids these days. And so I feel like if I was talking about waiting till next week to watch a new episode of Family Ties or cheers or Friends, now kids watch everything immediately. Everything's released all at once. If I was talking about when I was younger, if a if a fast food restaurant opened up, then we needed to go check it out.

[00:16:28] Now there's food delivery services, Doordash, and these things are just in in their in their bones, in their brain. So everything has become more instantaneous and immediate. And again, here's where I think right now. If you're hearing this and you're an older parent, you might be saying, that's right. That's the problem. Titelman kids these days, you know, get off my lawn, all those kind of things. But here's where I feel like things get real. I think it's important to note, especially right now, if you are having all of this time with your kids, with the pandemic and things haven't necessarily gone back to kids out of the home as much. Remember, we're not now just talking about the difference between records and CDs. We're the ones talking about CDs and they're talking about streaming data. We're talking about anything I want, again, that they can have at their fingertips. So when we as parents want to sit and lecture and tell our kids, you know, when I was a kid, we went outside when I was a kid, my app was called the outdoors when I was a kid. Television was called books. All these famous lines that we love the uphill in the snow both ways on Broken Glass, you name it. When we had a similar experience to my parents and we were willing to listen, our kids now hear this and they truly don't understand. They don't have an understanding and bless their hearts, their I believe because of this generational gap now, it's not even that they have a desire to know. And I'm not saying that from a can you believe it? These kids, they're so rude, but their experience is just so different.

[00:17:50] And the more we try to get them to understand, the more that they feel this disconnect. I remember sitting in a church congregation a few years ago and the ecclesiastical leader was standing at the pulpit and he was saying, you know, he held up a very old flip phone out of his pocket. He said, look, this is what I carry. So, you know, if you're if you're a youth and you're trying to get a hold of me, I don't do social media. I don't do I don't do Text, give me a call. You know, I want to hear your voice. And I could tell that he was kind of coming from this place where he was feeling like this was a very important moment. And he was very passionate. And I felt like the older people in the room, including myself at the time, were like, yeah, you know, kids give him a call. And I feel like if you looked around at the teenagers who were literally staring at their phone at that time, they were not saying, oh, my gosh, I think I would give them a call. I think they were more saying, I don't know what the word. I mean, I know that I've heard the phone makes these calls I've heard of, but I'm not sure how you do that.

[00:18:42] And so I'm not just saying that you need to sit there as a parent and just bulldog your way through and they need to hear you and they need to understand. But I hope that we can start to look at it, have a little bit of a different view of what parenting looks like. A different paradigm shift for parenting or parenting model.

[00:18:58] So right now, instead of trying to feel like we need to tell our kids what they need to do and what they need to know that we need to make a shift, the paradigm shift is, hey, let me learn a little bit more about your experience. And I'm not saying it's going to be comfortable. I'm also going to say that it is going to take time and it is going to be frustrating. And for you to have more of a tell me what your day is like, tell me what your friends like. Tell me what you know. What was that like when your friend said this thing or tell me about your friends situations with parents, their parents, or tell me why you enjoy the music you do or tell me why. You know, we want to be able to create this environment where where they feel safe and opening up to us and they don't feel like everything that we're about to say is going to be a life lesson, or if they even just want to share something excited that they're going to be met with. You know, when I was a kid, this is what I would do in that situation or oh, I would be careful.

[00:19:57] I wouldn't do that: because every time now that they come to us and we come back with this sort of vibe or energy, then it's just putting this message into our kids heads that if they come and talk to us about anything, we're going to turn it into either a life lesson, a lecture, an interrogation.

[00:20:13] And so that is definitely not something that they are going to want to do very often. And again, if right now you're saying I don't want to do this, I don't want to give in, I don't want to show them that I approve of all these things, then bless your heart. I can understand you can absolutely say that you don't agree with what I'm talking about and you are welcome to to just find another podcast that maybe feels more in line with what you think kids need to understand, because I want you to know that I have clients say this all the time that, well, they just need to understand that that's not OK or they need to understand that they're on their phone too much or those sort of things. And while these. Things I still believe are true by just telling a kid, get off your phone, I didn't use my phone growing up, we need to understand that. Hey, tell me what your relationship is like with your phone. Tell me what it's like to you. Do you communicate with your friends and how do you do that? Are you doing it through text? Are you going through Snapchat or are you doing it through direct message on Instagram, face time? Do you ever make phone calls? You know, what is that like? Because it is so much different now. I had a teenager in my office not too long ago, and every time I think that I'm starting to figure this thing out, I'll just get this new data.

[00:21:19] And the person said that when because I was kind of making a little bit of the joke about seeing a bunch of teenage boys at my home and they're all together. They're watching a sporting event, but they're all on their phone. And I want to make the joke of, boy, you guys are really having fun hanging out. And so but I have this teenage girl in my office not long after who said that when you are getting to meet a new friend, then you're more likely to talk to them. But then when you feel comfortable with a friend, that the way it works in a sense these days is that people are on their phones and then they are sharing they are sharing things that somebody else is saying they're sharing memes, they're sharing videos, they're sharing clips off of YouTube, Instagram, you name it.

[00:22:01] And so it's more of this shared experience as a friendship where when we were young, I mean, we had to go and create our own shared experience. And I hope you see where I'm going here is I still, as I say that to you right now, I want to say, hey, guys, it's you're going to build a much stronger bond if you put your phones down and talk and go go do things. And even if that might be the case. But their experience from growing up in this day and age with phones, technology, peer pressure, social pressure, the idea of social currency is that that is not their experience. And so they are going to feel like if they do that, then their friends are not going to be there for them. They're going to be viewed as outcast or weird.

[00:22:44] I remember having a teenage boy not very long ago at all whose parents had told him to let their teacher, let his teacher know that he wanted handouts or he wanted to be able to. He needed to be able to take a test, not on an electronic device, because the parents wanted to make a stand. And the kid, because he felt like he had to at least go through the motions or the steps, approached his teacher. And while his teacher was empathetic, there literally wasn't the way to complete the project without technology. And so then when the parent said, well, that's ridiculous and we want to take this up to the school and the school board, who do you think was in the middle of that? The teenager. And it wasn't like his friends were saying, man, that's so cool. You know, I love that you're making this point to to try to do something the old fashioned way.

[00:23:31] No, he was he was kind of made fun of for that. And that that just kind of broke my heart. So let me go back to these examples of I'm going to go a little bit hypothetical here, because I have a couple of different companies and situations that I worked with with this younger generation of employee. So this whole situation is similar, I feel like, across companies. So let's just say that there's a company A and Company A is the company that says we're losing employees. 25 and under we're losing a lot of them. And they and these employees are going to Company B or C or D. And here's the problem. Company B, C and D are saying, and this is literally true. Hey, if you want to come to work in your pajamas, come to work in your pajamas. If you want to work on the top of a tree and you can get a good satellite or Wi-Fi signal, then go work on the top of the tree. And if you get here and you like the project that you're in, but then all of a sudden you think, I don't know, I think I might want to do a different project. Well, then go check it out. So Company A is hearing this and this is how their their employees are getting poached, so to speak. And company A is sitting in this meeting and they're saying that's ridiculous. We shouldn't even have to do that. And here's the part where I'm not even arguing if you should or shouldn't have to do it.

[00:24:39] The problem that we're working with right now, and I feel like this is the problem that we're having with our teenagers right now, is that, you know, we're not even arguing if they should or shouldn't be on their phone. Is that a productive thought to building the relationship? So, again, the problem that we're working with right now in this situation was they were losing these employees, that they were investing in a year's worth of time and energy and money into only to go over to their competitor. And we kind of put this back onto our kids. It's like, well, I shouldn't have to spend time learning about the social media or that sort of thing. And again, I'm not even here to argue true or false statement, but is it a productive statement if your goal is getting closer to your kids, if your goal is to stay? Absolutely. You know, in the name of justice and to get your experiences out there, then I guess that's a different experience. If your goal is to build a relationship with your kids, then then we need to kind of refocus what those efforts look like so that you can, again, understand where I'm headed with that. So if Company A then says, all right, well, let's look at some data, let's just say it again. Hypothetically speaking, the company had a deadline where you signed up for your medical insurance, your medical plan. And even five years ago, seven years ago, ten years ago, this company had the data. That showed that the new hires that came to Company A.

[00:25:50] these employees that they were signing up and over 90 something percent rate they would sign up by, let's just say there was a November 1st deadline to sign up for health care. So new employees a few years ago, 97 percent of them would sign up for health care by the deadline. So the latest data that they brought into the room showed that it was something more like 50 or 60 percent of people were now signing up for health care by that deadline. The then the deadline hit and then, let's say the day after the deadline, one of these people that doesn't have health care because they didn't sign up for it breaks their leg. And the company says, hey, I'm sorry you missed the deadline, but a lot of these employees that didn't sign up are saying, I don't understand, where's my health care? And again, this could make you feel frustrated. This is where I feel like a lot of people in my own head say, well, that's entitlement, that they need to learn a lesson. And you may be on the verge of turning this episode off because they know it's going to feel a little bit like, well, they shouldn't get away with it. There was a deadline that said November 1st. And again, maybe they shouldn't. But in this meeting, the one that I'm talking about in this hypothetical situation, let's just pretend that a very wise leader said, hey, why are we doing things the way that we're doing them? Why do we have this deadline of when they need to sign up for health care? And someone in the room said, let me go get the data.

[00:26:59] And they did. They went and talked to some VP of H.R. or something. That was a very big deal. And they came back and they said, well, it's because that's the way we've done it, a little bit easier on our accounting. We have to have a cutoff date at some point. So, quite frankly, it's it's quite easier on us. And then this person, the wise person in charge said, OK, well, let's do it a different way. And I was in there, I was in the room and people in the room all of a sudden you get a lot of rustling in the room and people saying, well, we shouldn't have to do that and we shouldn't, then we shouldn't do this. And they need to understand. And then it was someone, again, very wise who said, hey, we're not debating if we should or shouldn't. We're here to solve a problem. We're here to figure out how to connect more with these employees so that they'll stay and we won't lose them to all of our competitors and we will not be out of jobs. And I feel like that's the same thing that we're dealing with now with our kids. So I hope you can see the parallel that if our experience is so much different now than it was with our parents and our kids, experience now is experientially exponentially much, much more different than what our experience was then. We now have this opportunity to bridge the gap, to learn a new way to parent, to learn a new way to communicate with our kids that's going to have them feel more connected and feel more loved.

[00:28:09] So I feel like it's kind of time to take more of a look at what are the reasons why we say you shouldn't do this or you can't do this. Because, again, when we were kids, we kind of understood where our parents were coming from. So they might have said, here's what you need to do. And we're saying, I really don't want to do that. By the end of the day, we're going to say, I don't know, maybe that's the best thing to do. And unfortunately, we're in a little bit of a situation now where we may say, this is what I want you to do and our kid doesn't even really understand. And there might even be some deeper chasms or we may not be as close as we would like to be with our kids because of this this changing or evolution of generations that we weren't even aware of till you maybe just heard it right now. So then how many times as a parent then refer to all you need to do it because I said and when we were younger, again, maybe that made a little more sense. But if you step back and take a look right now as parents, we're in a lot of pushback all over the place for this. And we want to blame social media and we want to blame entitlement.

[00:29:01] We want to blame a generation Z or millennials or we want to put labels on it and that sort of thing. And that's fine. But what are we going to do with it? Are we going to or are we going to hold the line and double down on rule based, restrictive, authoritative parenting and see where we get or and if that's your model, bless your heart. But if you looking for a new paradigm, a new way, then I think the information that I just shared will hopefully resonate. And and as Stephen Covey said, best seek first to understand before being understood.

[00:29:29] So I think a lot of times that is that is tip number one. Goal number one is to seek first to understand before being understood, take this data that I just presented to you that it is different. It's exponentially different now than the difference was between you and your parents. And I feel like if you go on a fact finding data combing in now with your kids, you're going to find a lot of things that you weren't aware of. You're going to find things that make you uncomfortable, and you're going to have these experiences where you and this is where I feel like the brain wants its path of least resistance. It's afraid of this unknown. And so your brain is going to hear some of these situations. And the path of least resistance is to go back to maybe it's an authoritative or shame based parenting model to just say, OK, I've heard enough, you need to not do that anymore or you just just give me your phone. I can't believe you just told me all that. And if and just that's where, you know, I need you to take go, then I need you to practice mindfulness. I need you to be present, breathe into the moment and through the nose. Out through the mouth. You know, stay very focused, keep that heart rate down and lowered in those situations so that you don't react out of some fight or flight response and that you start to create this new relationship with your kid to be able to hear them so that they feel like they can talk to you, so they feel like they can open up to you.

[00:30:43] I'm going to quote out of an episode I did not too long. Go, it's episode 240, which I forget the title, something about twenty twenty one, are you ready to thrive or survive? And the reason I'm going to quote that, because I've been quoting it a lot, I'm getting so much feedback from something I shared in there about abandonment and attachment issues. I quoted an author named Robert Glover and he lays out so succinctly these concepts.

[00:31:06] I feel like that I've circled around in so many podcasts where he said "when children come into the world, they are totally helpless. They are dependent on others to recognize and respond to their needs in a timely, judicious manner. And as a result of this dependency, every child's greatest fear is abandonment. So to children abandonment means death." And we're talking about setting the foundation of the wiring, the wiring under the foundation of the brains of our kids. So we really are. This is that part where we're talking about five, six years and under. And and I don't want you to hear this and think, oh, my gosh, my kids are older than five or six. They're screwed up. It's too late. It's not this. Just give us a little bit of information to work with or clarity. So, again, every child's greatest fear is abandonment, sort of go along with that. Children are ego centered. There's nothing judgmental or wrong about it. It just is the means that kids inherently believe that they're 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 know yet how to self advocate or get their needs met. And they don't have a clue about what others are going through. Primarily they're caregivers. So this author, Glover, says that therefore kids believe that they are the cause of everything that happens to them. He says that these two factors, their fear of abandonment and their ego centeredness, create a very powerful dynamic for all children, that whenever a child experiences any kind of abandonment, he will always believe that he is the root cause of what has happened to him.

[00:32:22] Because this is my point, my part to add in, he's an egocentric, attachment based, needy little cute baby. Again, no zero zero blame or shame, this is just the way it is. It's acceptance, just like we this is the way that our kids are presenting now. Acceptance. They've grown up with social media and cell phones. Noted, you know, it's no no blame, no shame. It just is so back to abandonment. Abandonment experiences are going to happen when a kid is young, they're going to cry and nobody is going to come to the rescue. People are going to be busy. They're going to be doing their own things. He's going to be hungry and told to wait for dinner. He's going to want to go to Disneyland. And his parents are going to say we can't afford it. He's going to want a particular present. And he is not going to be able to get that present because his parents maybe can't afford it or they don't think that's a good present to get, a parents to get angry because they're having their own issues and think that they're a crummy parent, and simply because their kid is reacting or the kid is human, or meanwhile the kid does something that embarrasses the parent out in public. And that parent is having their own experience of what if my friends think I'm a bad parent and they'll know no, no longer want me to be a part of the cool parents group.

[00:33:24] But then other abandonment experiences also might be and I think about this one, often a parent putting unrealistic expectations on a kid, even if they mean well, you know, I call it the old. You can do better than that champ theory or heaven forbid the parent does shame or hit emotionally abused, physically abuse, neglect again because of their own issues. And this can show up in so many different ways. A parent can be doing all they can, serving others and their community, their church. They can be working to provide a living. And even if they feel like they you know, they feel like, OK, this is what I have to do. I feel like the acceptance of this, knowing that this is what abandonment and attachment issues look like, how they present again, I'm not blaming parents. I'm not shaming parents. I think it's just important to understand that this is how that wiring gets set. And I want to give an example. I this is this one's kind of interesting. So check me out. I try to be as authentic in the moment and those sort of things, but I think I'm sharing this a little bit impulsively. And I don't want to I don't want shame or blame to come out of this at all of what I'm about to share.

[00:34:24] But I remember early in my high school experience, I was in an area I grew up in an area where there was a lot there were a lot of wealthy people. And at that time we weren't the most wealthy. And, you know, my dad worked hard. My mom was a stay at home mom, was able to show up at all events, that sort of thing. So but I didn't appreciate all of that for what it was at the time. So there was this time where it was school, school shopping, what needed to happen. And and my mom made me some shorts. You heard it right. Made them, that's a fabric, had a clever pattern of design and made these shorts. And the way the story kind of goes nowadays is that everybody loved the shorts. I loved the shorts. Everybody wanted their own pair of shorts. But boy, I don't remember it that way from when I was when I was a kid. And I thought about this from an attachment based when I when I went through all this data from Glover, it just it just memories, emotions, everything kind of flooded. And I really felt like this was a pretty, pretty big aha moment for me personally.

[00:35:21] So everything, I was an egocentric, attachment based, needy middle schooler, we'll put it that way. So I really did feel like the world revolved around me and I was just trying to get my needs met at any cost. So what do I view that as as I view that as I am I not of worth enough that my parents would buy me the fifty dollar pair of shorts? I think they were called Jerbo's at the time. And so, you know, I really did if, like, man, what's wrong with me? I mean, all the other kids parents are buying them these shorts. So I'm egocentric. I'm in my own head. I don't understand. I can't advocate for myself because I'm young. So I'm not going to I mean, I could throw a fit or that sort of thing, but it's not going to get me anywhere. And I had no idea of the plight of my caregivers that, you know, if let's say that if money was tight or you don't have that, if my brother was going to college at that point or are we maybe had to get a new car, I have no idea. That's the point. But I didn't understand or I wasn't I didn't have a concept of what others were going through, primarily my caregivers. So in that scenario, I then show up to school and, you know, I don't remember it is everybody thought those were the cool shorts and they wanted to pair. It was kind of like, you know, look at those, you know, and everybody else had their their new stuff on. So I did feel that was an abandonment episode. So I felt like, man, what's wrong with me? Why weren't they there for me? But I understand now that, OK, I was stuck in my own ego centered view of myself.

[00:36:48] I was young. The world revolved around me. So if my needs are being met, then it must have been something about me like I can't believe that my my needs weren't met. And I even realized that was that was early on.

[00:36:59] That was when I actually started to really use humor, being more of a maybe a people pleaser. And it's funny because then I realized that this is starting to set the track of what an attachment wound looks like, that if I can get people to laugh, then in my head, then they will like me. They will want to stay with me. They will want to hang out with me despite the fact that I feel like I am less than because I'm showing up with these other shorts on. So I just feel like that is part of this attachment wound or abandonment issues that that go forth and from childhood.

[00:37:30] And I had another epiphany pretty early on this week, or I think it was last week as I was sharing this concept with a client in my office and the client shared an experience where two of their kids have been wrestling and one of their older kids got hurt while wrestling had nothing to do with the younger kids wrestling acumen or prowess.

[00:37:49] But the older kid was in pain and in yelled in pain, and then the younger kid thought it was their fault. And so even when a very kind parent says, hey, hey, it's not your fault, you know, that was going to happen. You're in your older sibling will be fine. But based on this attachment and abandonment data, it just was fascinating to me that that kid, that younger kid is in this egocentric world revolves around me. How dare people not meet my needs kind of state? And so even if we tell them, hey, it's not your fault, you know, this was going to happen anyway, that doesn't mean that they go OK because they are living in that ego centered world. So they aren't even necessarily going to be able to process this this abandonment wound or attachment issue until they are older and then able to kind of take a look back and say, OK, that makes more sense now.

[00:38:38] So in this episode 240 than I go on to say so, because every child is born into an imperfect world with imperfect parents and imperfect families. And again, because I'm sorry, there are no perfect families and no perfect people, the same egocentric kid, even if they are beginning to move out of that egocentric view of themselves, they now carry with them into adulthood that they must have been the reason why so many of these painful events occurred in their life, which is untrue. It's incorrect. It's an inaccurate view of their life. They were kids that they were experiencing their childhood. So without this help or without awareness, without accepting this imperfect world or imperfect parents and the fact that they're trying to deal with emotions as a kid that we still can't figure out as adults without coming to therapy and doing the work, then of course, we're going to move forward into relationships, into adulthood.

[00:39:22] And what I'm talking about today into teenager hood, trying to figure out how to navigate relationships and present ourselves in a way that others will think are OK, that others will then care about us. So it's almost the anti, you know, being authentic formula because we carry these abandonment wounds of what's wrong with me. Why didn't why or why all my needs not being met? why do my friends not always want to hang out with me here.

[00:39:48] Why are they not there when I reach out to them? And so that is why they are now trying to interact with their own friends in this way of I need to figure out how to navigate in a way that these people will be there for me. And each one of those kids and each one of us is going through our own abandonment and and attachment experiences as we are trying to interact with everybody around us. You know, do I say the right thing when I say the right thing? Do I present this way?

[00:40:12] And you can see it in therapy in particular when you have somebody new that doesn't understand that their whole goal here is to be able to express themselves every bit of themselves when that door closes and the safety of this office where they still are sometimes early on in the process, kind of trying to gauge what my reaction is to something they share. So even when you're trying to work on attachment wounds or or abandonment issues, we still just have this hard time kind of getting out of our own head.

[00:40:39] So what that does abandonment experience is create what many experts refer to as toxic shame. There's something much be wrong with us inherently or our parents. What I've got is the shorts, you know, or they would have taken us to Disneyland or they would have got us the transformer.

[00:40:54] That something must be wrong with us or our parents would have met our needs or our friends would have met our needs that he wouldn't have our friends would have invited us to that sleepover and not forgot about us or our friends would have invited us to a party. Or when we see on social media that three of our friends went skiing and won and we didn't get the invite. You know, that that feels that feels wrong. That feels like abandonment. So we wish that our friends would have met our needs and that people would have cared about us more deeply or want to know us more, want to spend more time with us and marriages. You know that. Why doesn't my spouse want to know me more? Why aren't they more curious about my experience? But we have no way of understanding that our abandonment experiences are not caused by something about us, but they are caused by imperfect people who we are assuming will recognize know understand to meet our needs. So this author Glover defines toxic shame is the belief that one is inherently bad or defective or different or broken or unlovable. And it's not just a belief that one does bad things. It's this deeply held core belief from childhood what we laid out earlier that for some reason they are bad. So we then spend the rest of our lives trying to navigate this balance of trying to understand who we are, why we like and care about the things that we do while trying to see if figuring ourselves out is still going to allow us to be part of a group or a community or family or a marriage and and all the while continuing to try then to be somebody that we believe others think we should be or others will like. So when we are going in to talk to our own kids.

[00:42:16] The reason I went to all of that is that our own kids, I just you know, I want you to be aware that they are going through these abandonment and rejection episodes. But it's not like you can just lay out this what I just shared with you and say, hey, this is just a unrealized abandonment.

[00:42:32] And so don't worry about it, because the truth is they're worried about it, which is all the more important to all the more reason to be able to establish this relationship of when your kid does want to process something, that there is a good chance that they will come and talk to you about it. So tips and I just did the seek first understand before being understood. So listen, if you're curious about what's going on in your teenager's life, asking more direct questions might not be as effective as simply sitting back and listening. I've had one of my daughters on my podcast a couple of times, my daughter Mackie, to talk about some times where my whole goal was to just go lay on the floor and just ask questions. Tell me more about that. What's that like? You know, or I mean, with each one of my kids, I feel like there's these situations where I just I just want to ask questions and listen and maybe not the most direct questions, but like, tell me what it's like to what's your high school like right now? Or, you know, do you ever feel pressure from social media or what what are the biggest challenges that you find in trying to get homework done or those sort of things that the more likely you are going to hear more if you're if you're staying open and interested, but not seem like you're trying, not seem like you're setting up another life lesson.

[00:43:41] And I feel like that's that one is that one's tough to show trust. I mean, teens want to be taken seriously, especially by their parents, even if they're pushing you away, again. Go rewind and listen to that, the abandonment attachment stuff. So it's important to try to find ways that you can trust your teen if you can ask them for a favor that shows that you can count on them or you can rely on them. Volunteering at privilege shows that you think that they can handle it or letting your kid know that you have faith that they'll be able to do something, will boost their confidence and make them more likely to rise to the occasion. And if they don't get something done, if you ask your kid, hey, you know, is there any way you can go get the car detailed, here's some money to do it, and then they aren't able to at a pretty incredible experience with with my one of my daughters, who I was asking that very thing to kind of get a car cleaned up because it's a lot of reasons why we need to do that.

[00:44:31] But they they had told me when they were going to do it and then they called in a panic because they had gone to do it in a whole series of events that had unfolded that just were not going to allow them to be able to do it. And I could just sense their their worry that they were going to let me down. And it just I was like, man, thank you so much for putting that effort in. And I really appreciate it. And I know you're trying your best. Even if in my head I wanted to say, and I asked you this a week ago, you could have done it a lot earlier. That's not a productive thought. You know what I saw? I was I was grateful that they were doing it.

[00:45:01] And so I was trying to show that trust, boost that confidence, validate their feelings, that they were frustrated because some events that they had thought would would work had not worked and they were not going to be able to get this task done and giving praise. My whole parenting courses on the nurtured heart approach that nurtured heart approach is is game changing. And I really if you haven't taken my free parenting course, please go do so. I talk about this data that I talked about a little bit on this episode, and I get into the specifics of the nurtured heart approach. The nurture heart approach has these stands stand. One is you absolutely refuse to energize negativity and that becomes so empowering. I can't even describe how empowering that is to be able to have your kid, you know, try to push your buttons, get you to react and you kind of sit there. Then when they're done, it's like, hey, OK, hey for calming yourself down, like I'm really looking forward to to kind of hear more about what your experience is or that sort of thing, and there's even these levels of praise or acknowledgment that I love. There is a stand in the nurture heart approach, which is just it's just recognizing somebody is you know, my son comes down the stairs, hey, there's Jake or what's up, Jake? Because I feel like so many times teenagers just feel like they're they just start to blend into the woodwork and that they aren't even recognized or noticed.

[00:46:12] You know, there's another stand in the nurtured heart approach. And I wasn't doing a nurtured approach episode today. So I apologize. I really do feel like there are some episodes I've done where I go into more detail or if you go take the parenting course. But, you know, the first stand is absolutely refusing to energize any negativity. And the second one is, is just this relentless building of inner wealth and energizing positive behavior. And not by just saying good job. You know, that is the you want to say things like, I appreciate the way you did that, because it shows me that you're maturing or you're going to be a, you know, a great dad someday or so. It's really attaching something more than just good job. And and I feel like one that is is hard to do. It is really hard is to control your emotions. That's part of what I feel like is so powerful.

[00:46:54] of the hard approach is that firsthand of not energizing negative behavior because we're human, we're going to have emotional responses. But that is what our teens learn to do, is if we're asking them a tough question or if they have maybe not done something that they they are proud of or meant to do, if they can then say, I can't believe you're even having this conversation. Or, you know, I remember conversations around if you had let's say you have a curfew and teenager is late for curfew. And then there, you know, I don't even know why we have a curfew. That's ridiculous. And none of my friends have a curfew. And so if they can get you to take the bait and start arguing and get mad. Now, we're not even talking about the fact that, oh, they were late for curfew. So you don't energize the negative behavior. You learn to control your emotions. It's so easy for tempers to flare when you're teens being rude. I mean, it is when our heart rate elevates and our stress hormone cortisol starts flooding the body. That is a signal for your brain to go into fight or flight mode. When you're when your brain goes into fight or flight mode, the rational part of the prefrontal cortex shuts down light like a light switch is turned off in a in a building and you go into fight or flight mode.

[00:48:00] So it is important to literally sit there and breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, keep your heart rate as low as possible so that the cortisol does not spike. And this is why it is so important to have a daily mindfulness practice, because you are training your brain to be able to come back to this present centered, calm moment, even in times when someone is pushing your buttons and whenever you can do things together. And I think that's one of the things that if you're going to the store as much as that we want to, as a parent, go have our own time, go to the store. Hey, who can go to the store with me or ask a kid to go along with you? And it's and I and there's always I think there's a fear at times of where this almost parent's fear of abandonment or rejection, where they don't want to ask because they they don't want to be told "no", but so this is this is part of that paradigm shift. So doing things together, I have a rule in my family that I've had forever and I'm just grateful for it. And that is I don't care if I have already exercised or ran or if it's been a long day or haven't eaten or whatever.

[00:49:00] If you come home and your kid wants to go on a run or they want to talk or they want to go to the gym and put up some shots, you say yes, and you just do. And sometimes, you know, my immediate response wants to be I just saw thirteen clients and recorded a podcast and I've got a deadline and but you know what? OK, I'm not even sure if those are true or false statements.

[00:49:19] Are they productive thoughts to a goal of connecting with your teenager? So doing things together, there's one on here about list I written down about, you know, sitting down together as a family for meals. I feel like that's good. I feel like right now I'd be a little bit of a hypocrite if I was saying that one, because my my kids at home are almost 17 and almost 19. And so they're just going in a lot of different directions. So whenever we can, we try to do that. I think when kids are younger, that is so, such a wonderful time. That was a goal that I had had always growing up, was when I became a husband and a father to sit down for meal time. And my wife did an amazing job with that and then be observant. It's so normal for kids to go through different changes. But, you know, it really is important to just pay particular attention of energy level that decreases, appetite decreases. And take note, if your kid is stopping doing something that they used to do to make themselves happy. And again, what can be important is then that is even all the more reason to go and start asking questions and not necessarily these direct pointed questions.

[00:50:25] But, hey, tell me more about what's going on in your life, and this is why it's so important to set this stage of open communication early on so that all of a sudden, if you notice that your kid is is starting to withdraw, that it won't be this coming out of nowhere. Oh, now my now my parent pays attention. So just learning how to be more observant and maybe they need to go talk to a mental health Professional and I have to tell you, this was not going to be a part of this episode, and I think this episode is probably gone on longer than I had anticipated, but I have meaning to do an episode on therapy and teens for a long time. And I'll give you a sneak preview of what that would look like. I love doing therapy with teenagers. I do. I don't do a lot of it these days. I do so much of the couples and and kind of working with some addiction issues or women relationships with narcissistic men or those sort of things. But teenager therapy is is amazing.

[00:51:13] And the reason why is I only ran into it maybe literally one or two or three or four teenagers who have said, I want to go to therapy. More often than not, the parent sees this withdrawal or whatever and says you need to go talk to somebody about it. And I remember early on having teenagers come in and they do not want to be here at all.

[00:51:33] And I don't blame them. And I feel like, you know, I would always say this thing of just just get a teenager into my office. And because I just I know they don't want to be here and I let them know right away. Hey, I know you're maybe coming because you're being nice. You're being nice because your parents want you to come. And I don't have a magic pill or magic wand or anything that is going to all of a sudden make everything better. And as a matter of fact, you might not even think things are bad. So I'm if we've got this 50 minutes together, I just want to ask you questions and help me become a better father, help me become a better therapist, help me understand teenagers. And once you get a teenager talking, it is just amazing and fantastic. And there are so many times in the past where I would have a really good session with a teenager and they stand up to leave my office and you can almost watch them kind of then flatten their affect, kind of shut down, kind of get a little bit more hardened. And I'm to the point now where I'll joke and say, oh, yeah, you know, you don't want your parent to think that you actually like this. Right. And you usually get a chuckle out of that, too.

[00:52:30] But doing therapy with a teen is it is the long game. It is. It's really what I want you to do as a parent that all I'm doing is saying, hey, we're here, let's talk let me ask you questions. And if you want help at any point, at some point down the road, then hopefully you now know that I am a safe place and that therapy is not intimidating. And I'm not going to just tell you what you're supposed to be doing all the time. And that has worked. But it takes time. I feel like too often parents send their kids to therapy. Almost. Let me just say, OK, can you fix him or can you can you let him know that he needs to do this or this or this? And, you know, I now just nod to the parent, OK, Thank you and then but I'm going to get to know the teen because more often than not, bless the parents hearts, that's where the challenge really lies, is in a well-meaning parent who is now turning everything into a lecture or a life lesson when a teenager really just needs to communicate and be heard. So I'm going to wrap things up. I, I just talked a lot a little bit off the cuff.

[00:53:31] I had a few notes down here. So I hope that there was a semblance of this making sense. If you appreciate it, enjoyed the episode. You're always welcome to go rate or review and subscribe and all those wonderful things wherever you get your podcast and and send this one along, share it on social media, give me a shout out on Instagram or Facebook or any that kind of thing, because that really does mean a lot. And I here's my anxious attachment where I never wanted to be the one saying, you know, please, please go share this. But I'm finding more and more that the more some of these messages get out, the more it's just really help people change the way they parent, change the way they communicate and the relationships, their marriages. And I'm just so grateful to be to have this platform and to be able to share these things that I've seen and just, you know, years and years of therapy. And I'm so delighted that it can help. And if you want more help, you can go take my free parenting course. And if you're interested in communicating better with your spouse, I've got the magnetic marriage course coming up. And I'm mentioning that right now because I really feel like the same principles that that I teach in the magnetic marriage course will be effective in trying to communicate with your teens. If you haven't heard the episode I did on my four Pillars of Connected conversation a few weeks ago. Go listen to that now, after you heard this episode about communicating with your teenagers and implement those four pillars of a connected conversation. And I think that you'll see some pretty miraculous results. All right. Hey, have an amazing week. I hope your beginning of 2021 and starting off well, and you can send me questions, comments, thoughts, all those sort of things at And I will see you next time.

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