Can communication be a form of violence? According to communication expert Marshall Rosenberg, it can if you consider "violence" to include attempts at cutting others down to size and/or coercing them into doing what we want. Tony discusses "Nonviolent Communication," and the importance of separating an observation from a judgment, something narcissists or highly emotionally immature people struggle to do to manage their own anxiety.

Tony references Pamela Hobart's review of Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

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Hey, everybody. Welcome to Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast, and also host of the very soon to be released Magnetic Marriage podcast, which is going to be a subscription based podcast. The cost per year is going to be far, far less than one session of therapy, but this is real couples, real coaching/therapy. And I have about 15 to 20 episodes in the can. 

And we are going to come out with one every week and you're going to hear me coach and do therapy with real life couples. And if you want to know more about that, just go to and sign up for the newsletter. And you will be the first to know when it is going to launch. It looks like it's probably going to be around the first week of December, and I am going to run a special or two between now and then. So go to and sign up for my newsletter and you'll be one of the first to know more about that. I'm very excited about it because I feel like, especially my Waking Up to Narcissism audiences, a lot of people have not been in a position to get their spouse, or their partner, to go to counseling. Or they've possibly had bad experiences in counseling. So this is really like being able to just watch what, I feel like, a productive couple session can look like, and we've been able to cover everything from emotional immaturity to navigating a faith journey or a faith deconstruction, to parenting, to just arguing, ineffective communication, blended families, and everything that you can imagine up to this point. So I can't wait, if you can tell by my voice, for people to find this podcast and hopefully it will help in their relationships. And speaking of relationships, you can also go to And I am leaving the $19 workshop up there, which does a lot of what I just like to say, we don't know that we don't know about how to have a good relationship and how to communicate effectively. I lay out my four pillars in more detail, as well as a lot of the other challenges that I see as a couples therapist. So that's $19 money back guarantee. But let's get to the topic today. And this one has been a bit of a therapeutic whirlwind for me. 

I had heard about a concept called “nonviolent communication” a few years ago from a listener. And I had Googled the concept a little bit. Not enough to really understand what the concept was about. And at one point I even had an audible book of the day or deal of the day come up that was about a review of a book about nonviolent communication. That was a little over an hour. 

And I listened and I really appreciated that. But for some reason it didn't really click until a couple of weeks ago when someone was talking about the concepts around nonviolent communication in my office. And it really got me thinking, and I did a little bit of a deep dive on the author or the person who came up with the concepts around nonviolent communication. Marshall Rosenberg. And now it's one of those things where I just feel like it's another puzzle piece that helps make sense of things that really don't make sense. So, let me take you on my train of thought here. First let's talk about what nonviolent communication is. And the best place to talk about this, I found, was a four minute book review on a site called And the person who wrote the article is Pamela Hobart. And it is, “nonviolent communication summary”. So Pamela gives a one sentence summary, “Nonviolent communication explains how focusing on people's underlying needs and making observations instead of judgments can revolutionize the way you interact with anybody.” 

She says, “even your worst enemies.” And I think one of the reasons I shied away from digging deeper in the past, into the topic in general non-violent communication, Pamela sums it up perfectly. She said, “Free speech advocates commonly argue that speech is the opposite of violence. Words can offend us, but they don't actually do harm.” So she said, “From this point of view, nonviolent communication is practically an oxymoron.” And I think that maybe in my subconscious, I felt the same. But communications expert Marshall Rosenberg begs to differ. Now, according to him, and I think you'll see where this really starts to fit into the things we talk about on waking up the narcissism, whether we're talking about full blown narcissistic personality disorder, or extreme emotional immaturity, Marshall Rosenberg says, “Most people's default manner of speaking to others is highly violent. That is if you consider violence to include attempts at cutting others down to size. And coercing them into doing what we want.” Now, I did an episode about this a couple of weeks ago, over on the Virtual Couch

And I really feel like it helps in the context of if you are someone who is self-aware. I think that we will often recognize after you hear what I'm going to talk about next, our role in certain things. And I think the difference in somebody that has narcissistic traits, tendencies, personality disorder, or extreme emotional immaturity is, they're not the one that is listening to this podcast most likely, or if they are, they may be listening with their elbow, meaning, okay, I'm poking my partner saying, yeah, you really need to listen to this. And I feel like most of the people that I think are tuning in are people that are wanting to figure out things, figure out, okay, what is off in my relationship? And again, is it me? And am I the narcissist, which I will maintain if you are listening to this and asking the question. No. Because you have enough self-awareness and curiosity and concern to ask that question and to go seeking help. 

Now, if you are handed this podcast and you're listening and at first you thought, how dare somebody send me this podcast? They think I'm a narcissist? But then slowly but surely over time, you've started to recognize, oh my goodness. I do a lot of these things. Maybe I'm just on that emotionally immature spectrum. Then you are waking up to perhaps your own narcissism or your own emotional immaturity, which is absolutely what I have done, which is why I titled the podcast “Waking Up to Narcissism”. Yet I digress. In this book review, Pamela says, “Whether or not most ordinary speakers are constantly committing literal acts of violence or not, most of us can see the potential benefit of learning to communicate more effectively.” And Marshall Rosenberg's book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life provides one provocative lens for seeing what's morally and pragmatically wrong with many of the things that we tend to say in our everyday lives. Nonviolent communication, then digs a little bit deeper into what we could say instead. Now, the reason that I read that paragraph is because that leads nicely into the first lesson that Pamela pulled out of the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. And this has been the game changer over the last couple of weeks. 

“Separating observation from judgment is the first step toward reducing needless conflict.” So if you are on your journey of self-improvement, separating observation from judgment can be a really powerful tool. Now, the example I gave on the Virtual Couch podcast is if you say to yourself about, let's just say your son, you have a son and your son's struggling in school. If you say well, he doesn't do his homework or he fails that test because he's lazy. So, what do we do? There's an observation that he doesn't do his homework, and then we immediately fill in the gap with a judgment. Now that judgment, I believe strongly, is there to ease or manage our own anxiety. Now, let me tell you where I'm going with this. 

So if he doesn't do his homework and we just throw that judgment in there, that it's because he's lazy. Oh, look what we get to not do. We don't have to take ownership or accountability of, well, what if it's because I did not spend much time, even when he has asked me for help with his homework. 

Because, I mean, if it's like me, I couldn't do my kids' math homework after they hit about fifth grade, I'm a therapist. I took one math class in college. That's not my strong suit. And so if I feel emotionally insecure, if I feel immature or insecure about my ability to help my kid, then am I saying, oh, accountability, my bad. I have no idea what that math problem is. Or instead if I just say, oh, I'm too busy. I don't have time to help you with your homework. 

So then down the road, if he is not doing well in math and I say, yeah, it's because he's lazy. He doesn't do his homework. What do I not have to deal with is, oh, I probably could have spent more time. Or that means that I might've had to get off of candy crush on my phone and actually learn sixth grade math, which would probably not have been as difficult as I would have thought it would have been. 

But if you're really talking about emotional immaturity or narcissism, and as I'm talking this through well, but I also don't want to feel uncomfortable. So I'm just going to say, yeah, I don't have time champ. And so now it results in if he's not doing his homework again, I just say, well, it's because he's lazy. So I don't have to deal with my own potential role in how I could have helped. I don't have to deal with the fact that I may have just passed on some good old genetic genes and DNA that the boy is not very good, maybe he has some nice stunted neuro-transmitters and a heavy dose of ADHD. Like his dad, and so therefore that isn't his strong suit. So I don't want to deal with that either. I would rather throw that judgment card in there and say well, it’s because he's lazy. Or, I deal so much with people that are struggling with faith, faith journeys, faith transitions, faith deconstructions, all of these formerly known as a faith crisis. And so let's just say, if you are in a religion, in a church and a faith community and someone leaves, it's much easier to say well yeah, they left because they wanted to sin. 

So, what am I doing there? The observation truly is that they left. My judgment comes in to say, well it's because they want to sin because, why? And this is where I feel like this is so applicable on this podcast. Waking up to narcissism. Let's take that one in particular. And even if you're not a religious person or in a faith community, I think that you'll see where I'm going here. 

So if I can just throw that judgment out, it will manage my anxiety. It's obvious they left because they want to go do bad. Because, when we're being incredibly emotionally immature or narcissistic in our thoughts, then we maintain this all or nothing attitude, this black or white thinking. So if they left and it's because, well, they didn't like going to my church. 

Then in our mind, we're subconsciously or just reactively what feels like to be me is, well, then what if I'm wrong? What if they're right? What if they can be happy? And they can be happy outside of my faith community. Well, it's not black or white. It's not all or nothing. So emotional maturity is me being able to say, well, they left because maybe it didn't work for them or better yet they left, period. Now I can ask them with curiosity. Hey, tell me about your journey. Tell me more about that. How are you doing now? 

So when we separate observation and judgment, now we're going to give that person an opportunity to really communicate effectively. And it's not about easing or managing my anxiety. It's about the other person's experience. So if I'm again throwing these judgements in there, what else am I not having to deal with? 

The fact that, what if my particular faith community is judgemental? And so someone left because they didn't feel like they fit in, and they maybe are different from me. And so then again, I go back to this all or nothing, black or white thinking where I need to throw a judgment in there, because what if I am not truly aware of what it's like to be somebody else and what their experience is in the faith community? So again, I have to put this judgment in there. Well no, it's probably because they want to go sin. It's probably because they want to go do all of these crazy behaviors. It can't be because they have a different experience. 

And their different experience might be okay. Because that doesn't invalidate my experience in this example with my faith community. What if we both can have good experiences, one within the faith community and one outside of the faith community. That would be absolutely okay. Nonviolent communication, I think now we can start to see where that concept of violence comes in. Because if I am immediately throwing that judgment on there, now if I'm going to have that conversation with that person, I've already judged the fact that they left the faith community because they want to sin. 

So now if I'm saying, hey, how are things going? And if they're saying, oh, it's great. I'm doing well. Then I'm already looking through this lens of, sure you are. I've already made the judgment. I know why you left. You left because you want to go and shoot heroin between your toes. I mean, it's not because you wanted to have a different experience. So if you're telling me it's okay, sure it’s okay. 

And boy, talk about then a violent communication tactic. Because I'm already putting that person on the defensive and now it's up to them to prove to me that I am wrong when I'm already thinking I'm right. So there is a no win situation there. So that person is absolutely going to feel unheard. 

And they're going to feel like you know, you don't even really want to know about why I left the faith community. You've already got your judgment and we can see that on your face. Or I feel that energy. So one of the beautiful things I’ve noticed, the more I learn about this concept of nonviolent communication, is separating observation from judgment. That is going to lead us to curiosity. And curiosity is our best chance at actually having a true connection, a connected conversation where we can both have our own experiences and someone else's experience doesn't invalidate my experience. 

So one of the things that also had me looking more into nonviolent communication was something that someone shared with me from a book called The Yamas and the Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by a woman named Deborah Adele. Now, how does that fit in? Deborah Adele is not quoting Marshall Rosenberg's nonviolent communication book, but listen to this page. And I think this fits so nicely into what we've already talked about so far. 

She says, “Thinking that we know what is better for others becomes a subtle way that we do violence. When we take it upon ourselves to ‘help the other’, we whittle away at their sense of autonomy. Non-violence assets to trust the other's ability to find the answer that they are seeking. It asks us to have faith in the other, not feel sorry for them. Non-violence asks us to trust the other's journey and love and support others to their highest image of themselves. Not our highest image of them. It asks that we stop managing ourselves, our experience, others and others' experiences of us. Leave the other person free of our needs, free to be themselves, and free to see us as they choose.” 

Now on the Virtual Couch, I just blasted right past that. I thought it fit in nicely with the episode. And I was talking more about the concepts around healthy ego and finding what really matters to you versus pathological defensive ego or narcissism. But why I think this is more applicable on Waking Up to Narcissism, and I want to do a little bit of a deep dive here, is I want you to listen. If you can, if right now you're thinking, okay, but I'm then doing violence to my children or but I'm the one, me, I am the problem. 

I want you to take a breath. Square up those shoulders, in through the nose, out through the mouth. And I'm encouraging you to put your pathologically kind shield down. And now lean into the concepts of what this is like in your relationship, because we could do an entirely different episode on yeah, we're probably by definition doing a little bit more of that violent communication with our children, because I'm going to maintain that our job as a parent starts as we are a coach when they are young. I heard this a long time ago. And so we are calling a lot of the plays. We're doing a lot of the guidance when they're young. And then as they get older, we move into more of a managerial role. If you're familiar with that sports analogy, we're no longer the coach on the field, but we're the general manager. So we can get some funding together. We can raise money from the boosters. We can maybe work a couple of trades. 

We can even have you maybe move to a different location and I can help with that. But ultimately you're the one that is playing, talking about my kid. So what I'm really talking about with that quote is what is happening to you. So if your partner is thinking that they know what is better for you, that is a subtle way that they do violence. When that person takes it upon themselves to help you, they whittle away at your sense of autonomy. And I can't even keep track of the amount of emails that come in now of people saying that they have lost their sense of self. That they've whittled it, this sense of autonomy is absolutely it's not been whittled away, it's been chopped away with an ax. 

So at that point, I feel like the concepts around violent communication become even more powerful or clear because if you are constantly having to defend yourself or try to figure out the other person, and meanwhile being told that most everything that you do is not the right thing to do, which leaves you feeling like you're not enough, then you are operating from such a deep hole that you can't get out of that you don't even have a moment to try to find your sense of self. And so absolutely your autonomy has just been destroyed. So that is because you have been communicated to violently. Because everything you've had to say, I know that's an all or nothing statement, most everything that you've had to say then has come from a place of defense. And then when you are trying to defend, and the other person has been making judgements to manage their anxiety. Let's go back to their own childhood abandonment and trauma wounds. And again, narcissism. If we really take a step back, one of the definitions I think is so good is from Eleanor Greenberg from her Psychology Today article, “The Truth About Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. “Narcissistic personality disorder is the name for a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem, the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation, and low empathy.” So now go back to when you are communicating with your narcissistic partner or a narcissistic adult parent or narcissistic older child or narcissistic leader or boss or entity of any kind. And they are coming at every situation that they're looking at.  And they’re coming in there with unstable self-esteem and the inability to regulate that self-esteem without external validation and lower empathy, then they are throwing huge judgements on with their observation of you. They already know why you're doing the things that you're doing because that helps them try to make sense of their own life. 

And they lack that true sense of self or a sense of purpose. So then what that sense of self or purpose becomes is all about managing their anxiety through judgment statements. So everything that they see, they know they understand, this is why you're doing that. And that's why, at the core gaslighting is, then if you try to defend yourself because you have to defend yourself because they've already thrown you into this quagmire of judgment with whatever you're doing. Now as you try to defend yourself, you're actually giving them more fire, more juice, more power, because it can't be that way. This is that concept of confabulation. They're creating a narrative in real time so anything that you say, then that goes against the judgment statement that they've already crafted in their mind is invalidating their experience and causing them to have more stress and anxiety, and they need to manage that anxiety, not with curiosity, not with self confrontation, not with accountability, but with control. So now I have to think of you in this negative light, says the narcissist or the emotionally immature person, or else it's going to cause me a lot of anxiety and it's going to cause me to have to take a look inward and own my own crap. And I'm not willing to do that. 

So I have now judged what you are doing. And as a matter of fact, it has to be that way. So now if you try to argue against me, I get to even say, you don't even understand yourself. I do. Which is why arguing with someone that truly is on that highly emotionally immature scale or narcissistic personality disorder scale is going to actually leave you feeling worse. Which brings us into the next part of today's podcast on Marshall Rosenberg's site, it's the NVC, it's nonviolent communication. Okay on, you can find a lot of resources and he has a lot of free resources and there is an email that is on there that I found when I was searching for some resources on nonviolent communication and narcissism. So I'm going to claim the, hey, it's on the internet. And so I'm going to read it. So giving full attribution, this is at And then it says “non-violent communication and narcissist”, and it's a PDF email. I don't know any other context. And I really tried to find it. But it's by a gentleman named Tim Buckley and it looks like it's an email that they received that Tim must have written or sent. And I'm going to go through this because I think that he does such a nice, amazing job at laying out what nonviolent communication would look like for the person, the pathologically kind person attempting to communicate with a narcissist. So Tim says, “Covid didn't create narcissism, but the isolation created by the pandemic may have increased the challenges we face trying to meet the needs of a shared reality and meaningful connection with others.” He said, “Recently, a friend asked whether there is an antidote to ‘dealing with a narcissist’. He said that providing empathy for that person had become emotionally taxing. And that more empathy seemed only to encourage the other person to go on and on. Inviting more empathy and thus creating compassion fatigue for me.” Boy, we could do a whole episode on that paragraph. “Compassion fatigue”. And this person who was saying, hey, I listened and I gave empathy and all that did was cause the person to want to go on and on and more and more until I felt this compassion fatigue. 

So Tim said, “Before I answered his email, I did a bit of research.” So this first one is just kind of fun. There's a couple of things here. He said, “Narcissist was a mythical Greek character developed as a morality lesson. The young man was classically beautiful and he fell deeply in love with his reflection in a pool. Obvious to us, and eventually to him, the relationship was not destined for satisfaction. Narcissist became sad, then despairing that his love could not be reciprocated.” Boy that resonates. “So he ultimately killed himself and after his death, the flower of great beauty was born bearing his name.” So there's the history or the mythology around narcissism. Then he says, “A foundational premise of nonviolent communication is that moral judgements proceed all acts of violence.” So what we've been talking about here, that a moral judgment on an observation is kind of hardwired, until we're aware and we try not to. So again, he says, “A foundational premise of nonviolent communication is that moral judgments precede all acts of violence. Narcissism, nonviolent communication founder Marshall Rosenberg would say, is a diagnosis.” So the thought, and again stick with me here because I, again, I know I'm dealing with the pathologically kind audience for the most part. And so I worry you'll hear this next sentence and then say, oh my gosh, I need to stop doing this. But, hang on.

So he says, “Marshall Rosenberg would say that narcissism is a diagnosis. So the thought he's a narcissist creates separation between me, the judge, and you, the object. As soon as those thoughts enter our minds, that he's a narcissist, so whether they are good and bad right and wrong,” now he says, “we're knocking at moral judgments front door.”

So instead of labeling the other person as a narcissist, Tim Buckley is saying that this is what he understands about nonviolent communication, that it is possible with practice to refrain from knocking on that door altogether. So that door of judgment, instead as nonviolent communication teaches us, he says, “Form an observation. So every time I spoke to my brother-in-law last weekend, he talked about his accomplishments and didn't ask me once about what I think, how I am, or what I've been doing.” So I really do like the premise where Tim is setting this up. So from a nonviolent communication standpoint, and that's why I tried to spend the first half of this email on, when you are being communicated at violently, you're already in a one, two or I won't say a three down position. And you are trying to defend yourself like crazy. And you're trying to defend something that if we really step back, I don't need to defend. That's the other person's judgment on their observation of me. 

And now we can realize that and that judgment is there to manage their anxiety. So if I'm dealing with a narcissist or someone that's extremely emotionally immature, they are not looking at me with curiosity. They're looking to validate their judgment of me because that will ease their anxiety and make them feel better about themselves. And that is the air that they breathe. 

So back Tim Buckley saying, “Instead of labeling the other person as a narcissist, then it's possible with practice to refrain from knocking on that door of judgment altogether. So form an observation. Again, every time I spoke to my brother-in-law last weekend, he talked about his accomplishment and didn't ask me once about what I think, how I am, or what I've been doing.” So that's the observation. And it can be really hard to separate that judgment for ourselves, especially if we have been in a pattern of narcissistic or emotional abuse, especially in conversation for a long period of time, because like we've talked about the body keeps the score. My visceral reaction is going to lead the way my emotions are going to travel faster than my logic. 

So that's why I want to set the table and say, this is great, what we're talking about, from an awareness standpoint. But I know that for the population that I'm talking to right now for most, your body is already heading toward fight or flight, even when you get around the person. So, what he says then is the observation is that my brother-in-law only talked about his accomplishments. Didn't ask me once about what I was thinking, how I'm doing or what I've been doing. And I feel like most people listening can probably resonate with that. That is the observation. Then he says self empathy, identifying the feelings I have about that. Well, I felt irritated. I felt hopeless. I felt unseen. I felt unheard. I felt unloved. 

So self empathy, identify the needs not met. Well, I would like a real conversation. I would like to be heard. I would like to be acknowledged. I would like to know that I matter. So then here's the part where I feel like, I don't know where I'm at yet, as far as nonviolent communication, when communicating with the narcissist, because in nonviolent communication, he says, then request at this point.

So the request, you now have a choice. You can interrupt your brother-in-law and lay out your observations, your feelings, and needs. So this is what I love. If you are in an emotionally healthy relationship, then separating your observation from your emotion will then allow you to give them space and have more curiosity to have a truly connected conversation. And then, at that point, then you can even start to express your needs. I would love a connection. I would love to be heard and understood. 

But, I feel like if you're, if you see where I'm going with this, if you're in a relationship with a narcissist, then that is adorable to think that I'm going to express that. And they're going to say, oh my gosh, am I doing that? I did not know that. Which boy, quick plug, please, if you don't go follow me on Instagram @ virtual couch. 

I have an amazing social media team that is now starting to put a lot of content out there. And I've been recording reels, and I feel like an old man, reels as the kids say, but, I just always wanted to do something with, in my mind when I have a narcissist, maybe in my office, I maybe will ask a question and then, you know, I've identified my ADHD on numerous occasions and my secondary emotion of humor, which leads the way. So my internal dialogue often is jokes. I can't help it. 

So oftentimes when I set the table for an emotionally immature narcissistic person, during a conversation to really show up with empathy or curiosity. And then oftentimes I think, oh, here's something that a narcissist will never say. Things like, oh, I hadn't thought of that or my bad, or, tell me more about how you feel. So go follow me on Instagram or Facebook at Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist, or on Instagram @ virtual couch. 

And we're starting to get more and more of that content, reels and trying to, you know, use some humor there as well about a situation that maybe isn't feeling as humorous. So if we identify those needs not met, I'd like a real conversation to be heard and acknowledged. Two, the request. You have a choice, you can interrupt your brother-in-law and lay out your observations, your feelings and your needs. 

Or you could decide to empathize with them so that you meet other important needs of yours, like kindness, consideration, respect, and empathy. But in this email, and I think this is where I think this is so applicable. Tim says, “But as in my friend's case, the unmet needs continue to come up and the choice to listen empathetically to his brother-in-law became emotionally burdensome. So then what? So Rosenberg teaches us to notice the moment we're no longer enjoying the choice we made.” I know that sounds simple, but I love the simplicity. So notice the moment that we're no longer enjoying the choice we made, the choice that I've made to continue to listen to the narcissistic person who never reciprocates in the conversation. 

So at some point I noticed I'm no longer enjoying this. And he said, “And then make another choice to better meet our own need. When we can no longer be present to the other in a state of empathy, it's important to say what has become more important. Not doing so can rapidly give rise to thoughts, like he's a narcissist or he's so self-centered.”  So, Tim said, “Here's how that might sound.” So he says, “Me. ‘Excuse me a minute, Rob, I'd like to check with you on something. I've been listening to you for a while and asking questions about what you've been saying. I wonder if you can say how my listening and my questions have landed for you. Has it been pleasurable for you to have me be present with what's going on for you.’ and Rob,” who I think in this scenario is the emotionally immature or narcissistic person, “says, ‘Yeah, thanks. I really have enjoyed talking with you and it's rare to have somebody express interest in what's going on for me.’” Now let's pause. This is why I feel like, if you are the pathologically kind person and you are continuing to talk to the narcissist and they continually tell them about all their amazing accomplishments over and over again, and they don't ask you anything about you. 

When you leave that conversation, they say, man, this was great. I mean, I feel like we have a real connection. Because you just listened and validated. So, this Rob in this scenario says, yeah, I enjoyed talking with you. It's rare to have somebody express interest in what's going on for me. Expressing interest to the narcissist can simply be saying, oh man, really. What was that like? Oh, okay. Instead of trying to combat or leave the conversation. Because again, that narcissist is a very emotionally insecure person at their core. So then in this scenario, the person speaking says, “‘Okay, I'm glad you're saying you long to be heard. And that doesn't happen as much as you would like. So when that happens, like with me just now, do you get the sense that you are appreciated and respected?’ To which then Rob says, ‘Yes, very much.’” So then the person says, “‘I understand, and I feel the same way. So this last year being isolated because of COVID has been hard for me and I long for the same things that you spoke about. So would you be willing to listen to me for a while so that I can be heard and appreciated for what's going on for me?’, Rob says, ‘sure.’” So then he says, “Before I get more than a couple of sentences into my list of things, however, Rob cuts in and begins to talk about himself. Often something we say stimulates a thought in the other and rather than hanging onto the thought. They interrupt with oh yeah, that happened to me too. And then they continue to dominate the conversation.” 

And in my imagination, probably also one-upping the conversation. So then he says, “Me internally, oh boy, here we go. Again, me internally, self empathy, I'm irritated because he said he would listen. And now it appears that he's not interested. I'd really like to keep my relationship with him solid. So I want to be understood for this point. I think I'm going to say something now.” 

So, you know where this is going, right. “Me. ‘Rob’, I say, interrupting him. ‘I noticed this, now that you jumped in, when I was talking about my life and just after you said you were willing to listen to me, like I listened to you.’ Rob says, ‘Oh yeah, but I was just, I was just saying, I was just saying how I'm having some of those same issues.’ 

And then me, I say, ‘Well, yeah, I get that. And I want to make sure that you're still okay with your agreement to listen to me. So it's important for me to finish what's on my mind, you know, it helps me get grounded in my need for respect to mattering.’” Okay. And I would imagine Rob, at this point, it looks like you just took his puppy and you just popped the tires of his bike. Okay. 

And he says, “Perhaps the speaker now is thinking Rob may be better able to stay focused on listening. If so, I would certainly end our conversation with a sincere thanks for his willingness to be present and attentive. And to say that his doing so met my need for mutual respect. 

However, perhaps he's unable or unwilling to abide with that agreement. So if Rob continues to interrupt and bring the subject back to himself, then I might end the conversation this way.” He says, “‘ Rob. I'm interrupting again, only to say that I'm tired and I want to talk to other people right now. I'm disappointed that my need to be heard, like I wanted, wasn't met. 

And I noticed I was getting fidgety and frustrated when you continued to talk about yourself, my relationship with you is important. And I'd like to talk to you about this some more at some point.’ Me, now internally formulating a request, I'm hesitant to ask him if he'd be willing to tell me what he heard me say fearing that he would be defensive and would eat up another five minutes about himself.” And that is absolutely the case. So that's why I, again, I love this concept of nonviolent communication, but more from just a standpoint of awareness, as you are waking up to the narcissism around you, I think it's important to recognize when someone is communicating at you violently, because they have put a judgment onto an observation about you to manage their anxiety or their experience. They can't make room that you also have an experience. So then you are being violently communicated with, and you have to defend yourself. Now in nonviolent communication, as the listener you're now encouraged to separate your judgment, he's a narcissist, from the actual observation, he will not stop talking about himself. He doesn't ask me about anything. And, he just will continue on and on and on. And the observation, he will also tell me I'm wrong. He will also cut me off. So those are all observations. So the judgment is that he's a narcissist. I appreciate where this is going, because then, what nonviolent communication says is once I recognize that now I have to acknowledge the fact that this is not helpful, it's not reciprocal. It's not something that I am interested in continuing with. 

The part that I struggle with that I think there maybe needs to be a whole other branch of in this world of nonviolent communication with narcissists, is that just becomes more data for me. It's more research. It's more of what will eventually play into the rule outs of whether or not this is a healthy relationship. 

Because then if I express exactly the way that Tim wrote in this email that, hey, I have been listening and I would also like to be listened to. Then I feel like we're going to watch the narcissist, then take great offense because, go back to some of the stuff that I've talked about in earlier episodes. Narcissism comes from a place of severe childhood wounding, abandonment, neglect, emotional abuse, or lack of validation. So when you disagree with the narcissist, it can literally be just saying, hey, you had said you were going to do this a minute ago and you didn't.

When you do that, and I go back to the article by Eleanor Greenberg, she talks about “whole object relations, the capacity to see oneself and others in stable and integrated ways and acknowledge both a person's good and bad qualities and object constancy, the ability to maintain a positive, emotional connection to somebody that you like while you're angry, hurt, frustrated, or disappointed by her behavior.” So without these things, without whole object relations and without object constancy, people on the narcissistic spectrum can only see themselves and other people in one of two ways. And this is, we were alluding to this earlier, all or nothing, black or white. They see the people as special, unique, omnipotent, perfect, and entitled to what she calls “high status”. “Or they're defective, worthless, garbage, low status. This means that the person struggling with narcissistic issues cannot hold onto his or her good opinion and good feelings about someone once he or she notices the other person has a flaw.” The other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal, which is where I think in this example of the email Tim's reading is where the person is just listening to the narcissist. So at that point, now the narcissist feels like this is good. We've got a good thing happening here. We're vibing. We're having conversations. Not reciprocal conversations, not back and forth conversations, not empathetic conversations, but this person is listening to me and they are nodding their head and they are smiling and they're not leaving. They're not running away. 

This is good. We got a thing. But then if they notice that the other person has a flaw, the person goes from being special and put on a pedestal to being devalued as nothing special. Now, what can that flaw be? Eleanor says, “Narcissists often seesaw back and forth between these things, whole object relations and object constancy. So when they're feeling good about you or more accurately”, and here we go, “you are making them feel good about themselves, then they see you as special.” We're vibing. We got a good thing going on, I feel like we have a connection. Then you do something that they do not like, such as say no to a request. Or dare I make a request myself. I would love a mutually reciprocal conversation. Suddenly you are now all bad and worthless. 

Now later you might do something that makes them feel good again. And they're back to seeing you as special. But when you say no to a request or when you make your own request, here's where the narcissist, their core, their core is shame. Because shame happens in our childhood, shame is a default mechanism. Unfortunately. 

Unfortunately, this goes to our abandonment and our attachment issues. And I know this is a. silly example, but,  if I'm six years old and I want a pony for my birthday and we live in an apartment. I'm six years old, I don't even know what that means to live in an apartment. I just want to pony. 

And the whole world is all, I see things through my lens and I lack empathy. Again, I'm six. So I want a pony, so my parents don't have a pony in the kitchen on my birthday, they don't like me. It's not that we're in an apartment that we can't afford a pony. I don't know what that is, you know, but as if I'm six, I wanted a pony. You did not deliver the pony. 

It can't be because of anything else. Because I don't even know what that means. Anything else? It means that something must be wrong with me. You don't care about me. And so shame, guilt, guilt says you did something bad. Shame says you are bad. So shame is where we default to, especially when we had an unhealthy childhood. 

Or, we did not have a secure attachment in childhood, so then we were continually trying to seek this validation. We wanted external validation and if we didn't get it, it must be because something is wrong with us. We are damaged. We are bad. So when you go back into the scenario of saying no to the narcissist request or expressing your own, then they immediately default to criticism and shame. So therefore, if you are saying, hey, I would like something else in our relationship. Or if I disagree with you, then they immediately think I'm a bad husband and a bad father. Now I will lash out and defend my fragile ego, whole object relations. I will go whole object relations on you. 

And in that scenario, you are now all bad. I am taking my ball and I'm leaving. That's it. We're done, game over. Now five minutes later, Mr. And Mrs. pathologically kind person comes back and says, hey, I'm sorry. Are we cool? Well now they're saying yeah, actually. Yeah, we're good. 

And I call that the, do you want to go ride bikes? So the narcissist can have defended their fragile ego, through shutdown, through anger, through gaslighting, through, I mean, tirades, calling you the most horrific names, but then five minutes later, do you want to go ride bikes? Hey, what are we doing for dinner? 

And literally he just called me, you know, think of your worst name that you'd never want to hear. So that can be so difficult because that emotional seesaw back and forth to somebody that does have empathy and does have concern, it can break your heart and it can break your will and it can break your spirit. It can put you in this defensive place where again, I'm being attacked. It's violent communication. 

So, let me finish up with this email because I really, I hope you can see why I appreciate this email so much. Back to the dialogue. So the person, I believe it's Tim then says, “If he is internally formulating his request,” and he says, I'm hesitant to ask him if he'd be willing to tell me what he heard me say, fearing he'd be defensive and would eat up another five minutes about himself. But then here we go. Tim says, “Request. ‘So would you be willing to exchange emails now and then make an arrangement to talk by phone next week?’ And then Rob says, ‘Yeah, but I wish you weren't so sensitive about being heard. It's kind of needy, you know.’

Me. ‘Okay. I think I understand what you're saying and Rob and I hope we can discuss that more when we talk next week. Okay?’ Rob, ‘Uh, yeah, sure.’” And so then Tim goes on to say, before he makes the phone call, he would do a preparatory check-in with himself. “What's my motivation for connection, connecting with Rob? What would I like in the outcome? Empathy for Rob? What needs is he trying to meet in his behavior with me in dominating the conversation? But more importantly, empathy for myself. What needs am I hoping to meet in a relationship with Rob? Is that even realistic? Is it possible?” Because if Rob isn't interested or available, or I would then add in there or capable, and bless his heart, for that kind of a relationship, then I need to get those needs met elsewhere. I don't need to keep continuing to beat my head against the wall to say, can you love me now? Instead, because that will cause me to feel unloved or unlovable or broken or what's wrong with me. And I will go to my own shame cave. 

Because here's the deal. Nothing is wrong with you. It is absolutely human and normal and okay to want a mutually reciprocal relationship where we both feel heard and understood and seen. And so that's why I feel like this concept of nonviolent communication, I hope it starts to resonate and it starts to make sense. And it's just yet another piece of a puzzle. 

That ,yeah, you can take this tool and use it beautifully. Your son doesn't do his homework instead of me saying he's probably lazy. It's like, oh man, observation. And the judgment I'm going to put on there is going to now put him in a defensive stance. Hey champ, tell me more about what's going on with your homework. 

And I can listen and I can be there and I can start to change the way I communicate with others. If someone is communicating with you and they're letting you know what they know about you as if they know you better. Violence, how dare they? . It's ridiculous. And that isn't something that you need to try to figure out a way to get them to understand that it's ridiculous, because if you are two adult human beings that have been in a relationship for quite a while now, then that may be the air that they breathe and it's because of their own experiences that they've had. So that's where again, I'm saying, oh, it gives me great empathy for that person, because I want people to wake up to their own narcissism and their own narcissistic traits and tendencies and their emotional immaturity. 

Because let me just end by painting a picture that I understand doesn't even make sense for so many people, because I don't think many people, if any, had a really healthy relationship modeled in their childhood, just because our parents didn't know what they didn't know. So we're really slowly starting to change a dynamic, which is all the more important that we need to do what's best for ourselves, so we can show up better for our kids so we can continue to help change the dynamics or what it feels like to be in a relationship. 

That it doesn't mean I have to continually try to figure out how we can get this person to want to know me and to want to be with me. I need to just be and do and be the best version of myself and that's okay. And the more I do that, if I watch my partner beside me, make judgements about it. Oh, you think you are, or I liked you better when. Then that is them trying to manage their own insecurities, their own anxiety. And that is emotionally stunting and it's emotionally unhealthy and it's emotionally abusive. 

Because the things that we all don't know that we don't know, is that part of the maturation process of growing up and getting into relationships is an amazing opportunity to now recognize that even if we met and we were emotionally immature, that as we grow together and as we go through experiences together, and as we have kids together, and as we go through financial setbacks and losses, and celebrations, deaths, moves, and all of these changes, of course we're going to have different experiences. So instead of me trying to manage my partner's experience so that it will make me feel more in control, I need to start to learn how to sit with some discomfort. I need to learn how to live in a world that has some tension and not be so afraid it's going to grow to contention, because tension is where some real growth occurs. Now, if it's continually going to contention, you need to start making a plan to get out because that is going to cause you a tremendous amount of emotional abuse and damage.

And eventually your blood pressure is going to rise. You're gonna blow out your adrenal system. You're going to stop producing cortisol. You're going to get a flat affect. Your body is going to have a conversion disorder. Suddenly, you’re going to have back pain or you're going to have irritable bowel syndrome. Or you’re going to have Crohn's disease or, you know, all these things that your body's going to say, I don't know what else to do to get your attention, but every time you go back in there trying to make sense of this thing, that makes absolutely no sense, it makes you worse and your brain is saying, this is not the way to live. And I'm a brain, I want to live forever. So I would really rather you not do this. 

If you need help, you're on the right path and it is a path of awakening and growth. And unfortunately it has a slow moving ship. I know it is. You go from, I don't know what I don't know. To now, I'm learning about things I can do, but unfortunately it's still gonna be really hard to do them and know that that is normal. 

And that's a really tough place to be for a while, but know that you're in the right place. And then slowly. So you go from, I didn't know what I didn't know to now, I know, and I'm starting to understand more, but I'm still unable to do. To now, I know, I understand quite a bit more and I'm starting to do, and unfortunately, I'm going to get more pushback. 

Because I'm now starting to change the dynamic of the relationship, which is going to cause my emotionally mature partner to have more anxiety, more stress. And they want to manage that by controlling you and your narrative to make them feel better about themselves. So that's a difficult place to be as well, but eventually you start to learn, oh my gosh, I am okay. I am lovable. I am of worth, I have unique gifts and talents and abilities. And the more I step into those, then either that person that I'm in the relationship with can then say, oh my gosh, this is amazing and incredible, or I need to just know that this is amazing and incredible. And if they don't want to participate anymore in the relationship, then that's not on me because I am now becoming the best version of me, which is going to help change the world. And it's going to help change the dynamic of what the future of my kids' lives will be in the relationships that they see. 

And over time, what it feels like to be you is this incredible dynamic, interdependent differentiated person with a unique set of gifts and talents and skills. And all of a sudden, you radiate, you don't waste emotional calories trying to figure out how can I get this person to love me? You love yourself. And it is not from an arrogant standpoint. It is a healthy ego because you've done the work and that light will shine and it will lift others around you. 

And if there are others that feel insecure because of that light shining, I wanted to say screw them, but then that didn't really play into the whole motivational speech there that I was saying. But in essence, that's kind of where I'm going. No, bless their heart because that's no longer your burden. Thanks for joining me today. If you like what you hear, feel free to pass this along to somebody that you think might be in need. 

And if you're still listening, first of all, thank you. And if you do, I don't like making these pleas, I feel a little bit needy or that sort of thing, but the more that you do review the podcast wherever you listen to it, or the more that you rate it, it really does start to get into the algorithm, I guess, as the kids say, and with this one in particular, I love doing podcasts. I love when the Virtual Couch is growing and people share it. 

But this Waking Up to Narcissism one is one that people are just finding because they start to Google things. And so I feel like I recognize even more so I think that algorithm is important because there are going to be people that are going to be down. And the first thing they're going to do is start searching. 

And so they need to start finding tools and resources. So if you could rate and review and all those things, it will help get this podcast out into the algorithm and then we can help more people. Have a great week. And I will see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism

Each of us is a unique mixture of life experiences, and we bring all of those experiences into our conversations with others. In today's episode, Tony explores the role of context in conversations. Tony shares an example of how one word can dramatically change the meaning of an entire paragraph from the book "On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You Are Not," by Dr. Robert Burton and he shares cultural differences from the article "15 Fascinating Cultural Difference Around the World," from

Tony also uses his 4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation to show the importance of curiosity and context in conversations.


Go to right now to sign up for Tony's free marriage workshop held Wednesday, November 3rd at 6 PM PT!

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[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety three of the virtual couch, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified my blabber coach, writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the path back in online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. Go to if you want to learn more about that. There's some group calls that keep gaining steam and the program itself. We've got a nice group of people and people are just changing their lives. They're becoming the people that they always want to be. So that's and a huge thing. And I will go so big on this because I got this episode out on a Monday morning instead of the usual Tuesday morning. Because on Wednesday of this week, Wednesday, the I am stalling as I look at a calendar Wednesday, the third at six p.m. Pacific time. My my good friend Preston Pug Maya and I, Preston is the one who helped me create the magnetic marriage course. We are going to do a marriage magnetic marriage workshop again. That's at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time. So go to Tony over magnetic and you will find out more information on how you sign up to attend this free event. And it is a free marriage workshop and we are going to cover so many things about how to make your marriage more magnetic. And there's a little video on there on that that page that you'll get to that.

[00:01:24] I highly encourage you to just take a quick look at because the more that we talk about the magnetic marriage course, the more people that have gone through the course. I am telling you you don't have the tools by nature, and that is meant by no no disrespect. There's nothing wrong with you, but you really don't have the tools. We don't come from the factory with these tools of to be heard is to be healed and these four pillars of a connected conversation that we teach in the program. And there is just so much more. And so people typically have to get to a pretty bad spot before they go looking for tools on how to repair their marriage. And I am telling you, these are the tools that if you can embrace them now that I believe you can really help prevent a lot of the where people start to feel disconnected or they that wedge grows between them, go to Tony over magnetic and you can watch a little video and you can sign up to participate or to watch the marriage workshop, which is this Wednesday at six p.m. So I hope that I will see you there on the live stream that we're going to be doing, and I can't wait. So let's get to today's topic today. I'm talking about context, and I thought about so many different things I wanted to to share with regard to context.

[00:02:35] But I've been speaking a lot lately. I talked about this event in Utah that I spoke at. I came home from the event and then I did a couple of there called fire sides in my area. Then I did a lesson today for a couple of church congregations that got together, and all of these are on mental health. But there are so many common factors that are occurring of that lead people to not feel heard or to not feel seen or to not feel understood. And so these four pillars of a connected conversation that we teach in the marriage course, their gold, they really do. They can help in so many different situations. But I find that we just often don't understand the context of someone else's life or their experience, even if we share the same home with them. If we share the same bed with them, we still don't understand truly the context of where their brain is in any given moment and the situations that they have been through that lead them to express things the way that they express them. And so when we are not looking at a relationship out of curiosity, we are missing this incredible opportunity to really connect with our spouse. And I think a lot of times we don't understand the context that somebody is bringing in to any given moment. So I'll give you a really silly example. I'm doing this on video right now and I have a beard.

[00:03:47] It's the longest beard I think I've ever had. It is, I know, the longest period I've ever had in my entire life. And someone was asking me about why the beard and there are so many thoughts here that are going to sound silly but silly, because out of context, they just sound like some ridiculous reasons that somebody spouting off when in reality, I wanted to grow facial hair. But there are a lot of context clues that lead up to that. Let me take you through a few of them. Cue the violins, but I have never had a lot of hair. I went bald in 19 or 20. That's a rough go when you are 19 or 20 year old guy. I was trying to play baseball. I was in a fraternity, I was at Kansas State University and this was a long time ago. I'm almost fifty two and there wasn't a lot of information. I couldn't just go Google premature, balding or hair loss or that sort of thing. And of course, I would look at my family and there was not a lot of hair in my family on the men's side. So I should have had a little clue there. But I thought, you know, because I've been wearing too many baseball hats, is that the reason why? So fast forward, and in two thousand three, I finally shaved my head and that was a little earlier than people were shaving their head.

[00:04:50] So I got a lot of comments about that. A lot of people assumed that I was ill. I remember having a package going to a FedEx location around Christmas once and a lady looked at me and went, Oh. And she said you can go ahead, and I felt great. But I think that she thought, Oh, I must have lost my hair and chemotherapy or something like that, so fast forward, I moved through my life. I'm bald, and any time I even thought about having facial hair, I always thought, and this is just my take. But when someone is bald and they have facial hair, I always think, how do you, where do you know to cut off the line there by the sideburns? And here I never even tried that. So then three years ago, I finally succumbed to glasses. I can't hold things out long enough to see them my short. I need reading glasses. But then just being in the office and looking at my iPad and looking up at the client and then looking down at my iPad again, apparently I was doing some damage to my eye. So I have these office lenses, so we got some readers and then they help people that are a little bit further away become more clear. And so I finally have glasses and I think, Oh my gosh, that is the line of demarcation where you can grow your facial hair up too.

[00:05:53] So I start growing out the facial hair, then I realize I feel pretty good at the age of 50, when I turn 50 and my beard has some gray and white and red and brown and all kinds of all the colors like Skittles is what my beard is. And then I think, man, I never thought I would feel this good at 50. So there's a part of me that thinks I kind of enjoy looking a bit older. And so there's so many things in context. And yet I still will find myself in the presence of people who will say, Oh, I think someone that's not clean shaven, and then they fill in the blank about what their judgmental statement is. So context can mean so many different things. Not that someone needs to defend themselves of why they grow facial hair. That's a whole other conversation. But it's interesting just to one of the ways to really lead with curiosity is to want to know the context that somebody has grown up in or the context of why they're behaving the way that they are behaving. And in reading the book on being certain by Robert Burton, M.D., the subtitle of that is believing you were right, even when you're not. There's an exercise that he does in there that is talking about this, about the feeling of knowing, but it is an amazing exercise that has to do with context. And so I've shared this when I've spoken a couple of times.

[00:07:02] And so I wanted to fit this into a podcast. So quite frankly, this is a podcast built around this exercise. And then I have some really neat things that talk about fascinating cultural differences. And do you look at different cultural differences with curiosity or do you look at them with judgment? Do you say, Well, that's ridiculous. Those people shouldn't do that. They should do things the way that we do them or the way that I do them? Or do you look at that and say, Hey, I want to know more about that, because if you can do that with a different culture, why can't we do that with our spouse? Or why can't we do that with our kids? I went and played golf with my son yesterday. My wife is out of town. It was just my son and I, and we had some of the funnest conversations around some things that I won't even talk about on the podcast because it'll sound like I'm sure there would be people saying, Well, why would you even talk about that with them that might encourage him to do this or this? But it was. We talk nonstop through nine holes of golf and on the way up there and back because I just wanted to know more about his experience and in hearing him and not telling him, Wow, man, I can't believe you did that or can't believe you said that he's just so much more open to to talk.

[00:08:03] And then, quite frankly, this is where I feel like we have things backwards in so many different things that the more that he feels heard and the more that I can understand his experience, especially in the context of today's youth and friends and social media and high school and all of these different variables that, yeah, I had my experiences 30 something years ago. So now I want to know. I want to know what the context is that he's he's working with right now. There was some of you may have heard about this because we thought it was just a local event, but there was a message about a potential school violence last week, and it turned out to be more of a national, more of a national story. But it was really interesting just to hear him talk about what that's like these days growing up and how often you do hear in social media or people having videos or sending pictures or Snapchat or these sort of things of people that are threatening violence or that sort of thing. When I was in high school, we didn't hear about that at all. And so what is it like to grow up that becomes more of a regular thing? So just understanding the context of where someone's coming at and what their experience is can lead to so much curiosity and can just build a much better relationship.

[00:09:13] So here's let me take you through this exercise, and I really think that this is going to be you'll enjoy this. I can't lie. So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm going to read a. This is from the book on being certain, and I'm going to I'm going to read a little bit here that's going to lead up to the exercise. So, Dr. Burton says to begin our discussion on the feeling of knowing, he said, read the following excerpt at normal speed, don't skim or give up halfway through or skip to the explanation because this experience can't be duplicated once you know the explanation. So take a moment to ask yourself how you feel about this paragraph that I'm about to read. After reading the clarify, and then I will give you a clarifying word, and then I'm going to read the paragraph again. And as I do so, I want you to pay attention to the shifts in your mental state and your feeling about the paragraph. And I really feel like this is something that when. You hear this. I would love for you to share it with your kids or share it with your spouse, or because this can only be done one time, it can only be duplicated once. So let me read this paragraph and I'm going to read it straight through, and I just want you to just check in and see how you feel about this paragraph. Here goes newspaper is better than a magazine.

[00:10:16] A seashore is better than the street. At first, it's better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times, take some skill, but it's easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it and want successful complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast, and too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs a lot of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful and Iraq will serve as an anchor. And if things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance. So when you heard that paragraph and I just did this when I spoke at an event this morning, do is it comprehensible or is it meaningless? And thankfully, whenever I spoke about this, no one has known where I was going with this, and so it feels pretty meaningless and incomprehensible. And so Dr. Burton says, feel your mind sort through potential explanations. Now here's the fun part. He says, now watch what happens with the presentation of a single word. Some talk about context. Let me give you one word and see how things change. And then I'll go a little bit more about that. But the single word is quite. Kite, kite, so now as I reread this paragraph, feel the prior discomfort of something amiss is going to shift to this pleasant sense of rightness. Everything fits, every sentence works and has meaning every one of them.

[00:11:38] And let me do that then. So let me start here. So remember, the context is a kite. A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is better place than the street. At first, it's better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it's easy to learn even young children can enjoy it. One. Successful complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs a lot of room, and if there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. Iraq will serve as an anchor, and if things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance. So how did that discomfort shift once you had the context of what that paragraph was about? Dr. Burton says everything fits. Every sentence has meaning. When you heard that, he said, it is impossible to regain the sense of not understanding, he said in an instant without due conscious deliberation. The paragraph has been irreversibly infused with a feeling of knowing, and so I'm doing a little bit of a stretch here, but I feel like that same. We owe that same concept to the people in our lives, to the conversations in our lives. Do we understand the context in which they are providing? If I just start talking about things and if my wife hears them as nonsense, does she truly understand what the context is that I'm delivering information? And if not, then there comes curiosity, and curiosity is where a connection really occurs.

[00:13:02] And needless to say, this is where then I just move right in to my four pillars of a connected conversation. That first pillar truly being that to the assumption of good intentions that nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, here's how I'm going to hurt my spouse or my partner or my mom or my dad, or I'm not. And I certainly don't want to put myself out there, and my goal today is to feel dumb. That's not it either, or as president, I've been talking about. Even more so lately is if you have a hard time with that, assuming good intentions, then you can dig a little bit deeper and just really understand that there's a reason why somebody is expressing themselves the way they are. So picture and I know that this isn't going to happen exactly. But if someone is expressing to you what sounds somewhat meaningless information, then do you have the context? Do you have that keyword of tight? Are they talking about something? And they are talking about something because they grew up on the West Coast and they're talking about something to do with the beach, and you have never literally been to the beach. Are people talking about going to Disneyland? I didn't go to Disneyland until I was with my wife after we were married, and I never even realized a lot of the context of things that I was missing when people would make cultural jokes or references around Mickey Mouse or Disneyland or that sort of thing.

[00:14:11] It's a small world. After any of those things, I realized I didn't have the context. I didn't have that one key word kite that would make sense of a lot of the things that people were talking about. So where I want to go next to those four pillars of a connected conversation, if you really look at how that works, then when I'm talking about context is I want you to approach your relationships with this curiosity and it can be hard. I talked last week in an episode of my Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, which I think this concept is so deep when we are having conversations with people and we feel like we're being criticized. And the criticism can come in so many different ways. We may feel criticized when that person absolutely does not mean anything to be critical. So when somebody says, Hey, I don't think you should say that to our son, then it's hard for the person not to start to feel, get their feelings going and feel like, Oh man, I think that they're criticizing me instead of looking at that with curiosity. Looking at that in context, what's the context that my spouse is expressing of why they feel I shouldn't say something in particular to my son a real experience? And if you haven't heard that episode, I was talking about this quote.

[00:15:17] I had been talking with Gail and Condi on her talk show, and it had gone really well. I was talking about narcissistic traits or tendencies, and then I laid out that that quote that oftentimes people that have narcissistic traits or tendencies, which can be all of us. Because, man, I would love for you to go listen to that episode because I talk a lot about how moving from childhood, we all have these egotistical narcissistic traits or tendencies where we do feel like everything revolves around us, and we don't really have a lot of empathy for the plight of our caregivers because we're we're little kids and the world really does revolve around us. And so there's so much there to talk about. But when we move forward into adulthood, our hope is that we will grow from self-centered to self confident to go from that immature way to express ourselves and relate to other people to a more mature way. And that mature way is to listen with curiosity and empathy and to say, tell me more not to feel like we have to control every situation or put someone down or have our way be the only way that is an immature way to communicate. So these four pillars and thinking about the context of which someone else is expressing. Is it's just a way to connect and it's a way to connect, it is not our factory settings.

[00:16:29] We have to be intentional about staying in a conversation and being present and asking more questions and then not turning to this feeling of criticism so that then we shut down and then we do anything we can to defend our fragile ego. So pillar one, that assumption of good intentions, or there's a reason why somebody is saying or doing the things they're doing. I think that it just moves right in here. If somebody is again expressing themselves in a way that you don't think is meaningful, then go dig for that tight explanation. Go find the context which they're expressing themselves. Pillar two is you can't say you are wrong or I don't believe you, even if you think they may be wrong or you may not believe them because the goal is to keep the conversation going. The goal is to be heard, to be heard is to be healed. To be healed is to hear someone. So knowing the context of the way they're expressing themselves can be so key to understand what their experience was like growing up. One of the things I was speaking at recently was that it was to a large congregation of people that are very active in their faith. I didn't grow up with a lot of religion in my life, but would have adopted a lot of religious principles later in life. And so I oftentimes don't have that background of spiritual, scriptural knowledge, and I used to feel really bad about that.

[00:17:46] But now I understand that is just the context in which I grew up. That's my schema as a whole. Other psychological thing that's pretty fascinating or all of the things that I bring to that moment then make me the person that I am. Pillar three is the questions before comments, which I think is so important you can assume good intentions that someone's not trying to hurt you when they say a bunch of things that sound maybe meaningless. Even if you feel like they are wrong about what they're saying, you telling them they're wrong. We'll shut that conversation down. And Pillar three is then questions questions for comments. Instead of saying I get through both the first two pillars instead of violating Pillar three and saying, OK, I have no idea what you're talking about, let me just tell you what it sounds like you're talking about, but now go ahead and tell me what you're talking about, because that's going to shut the conversation down or pillar four is to not go into your bunker. It's to stay present and just stay in that conversation and say, I really do want to know. I'm maybe struggling to really understand the context, but I'm here and I care about you, and let's stay in this conversation until we both feel like we have some understanding or we both feel heard.

[00:18:47] So let me jump into some. There's some really fascinating found an article. It is. It's about different cultural differences. It's called fifteen fascinating cultural differences around the world, and this is from it's from Chef Tariq, who is a resource of Middle Eastern recipes. So I really do feel like I went digging around his website and there really are some phenomenal recipes. But I'm not much of a cook, but some of the things sound amazing. But he has 15 different cultural differences that I think really are, and I think you'll see where I'm going with this before I get to the 15. He has some general do's and don'ts, he said. Make sure you tip in the United States, but don't be insulting and do it in Japan. And before I became a therapist, I went to Japan for about a decade, three or four times a year, and that is absolutely true. At least in the time frame that I was going, you don't tip in Japan, and I used to feel I would say to my my friend Yoshida San, Well, yeah, but I'm an American, so why don't I tip? They'll think that's really cool, but not understanding the context that you do not tip that that is not something that is cool. They will not view that as, Oh my gosh, this guy is amazing. It's a man. You don't respect our culture, so not tipping. And here's another one that's very true. Slurp away while eating in Japan, but don't you dare in the United States without coming across as very rude.

[00:19:58] This is a very true story. The first time I ever went to Japan and I had this new suit I was wearing and we went to a ramen place, a noodle place. Again, the most true of all true stories, and I pick up my bowl of noodles to slurp them like I had been trained to do, and I literally dumped them right into my lap and they were so hot and it was this really cool new suit I had. And then I had to go to the bathroom and I had to take my pants off and I had to wash out the the pants. And then it was a I didn't even know at the time, but it was a family restroom. And so a woman walks in and I'm sitting there my underwear, trying to wash my pants out and so I can just speak from experience that that slurping away is encouraged. But make sure you hang onto your bowl. That would be what I would do. He also says Don't mix up Aussies and Kiwis in New Zealand. Do not blow your nose in public in Turkey or Japan. Another one in Japan. My my, my business partner Yoshida San, would cover his mouth when he would speak on the phone, cover his mouth when he would use a toothpick. And so when you think about that, it just looks like we are just these people that are just out there, bold and loud by just talking on our phone, picking their teeth and blowing our nose, apparently.

[00:21:01] He said, I wouldn't jump the queue or the line in the UK, and I know that one as well. Don't stand in a queue in the Middle East. Don't stare at people in Germany, he said. The best thing to do when traveling for international business or for fun is to read up on new countries that you're visiting and that is so true. So while we're here and we're talking about context, here's some just fun things that are, he says, cross-cultural understanding is paramount. If you want to get along with other people from other places, let people feed you in Ethiopia, he said. If you find yourself in Ethiopia dining with locals, you may be in for a surprise. If someone reaches for your mouth with some food, be sure to eat it. Otherwise, you might be seen as rude. This is because one way of showing affection in Ethiopia is to feed the people that you're eating with. So if they are reaching out with their hands, putting food into your mouth, feel honored. And how fun is that to know that there are these just such different things that are happening in other cultures? So if there isn't a need for context, I feel like this is so relevant. Make sure to get naked in Iceland, he said.

[00:21:59] Icelandic people are very relaxed about nudity, and in fact, women have the right to be topless in public if they want without fearing any kind of backlash. However, he said when it comes to swimming pools, Icelandic people are very uptight about hygiene and the naked body. So when going to the pool, you must take a clean bathing suit with you and not wear it under your clothes. Once in the changing room, you'll get completely naked and take a shower while being watched by the shower guard. And this is to be sure that you wash your intimate private areas along with other areas before being allowed to leave the shower area. Only then can you put your suit on and enter the pool to enjoy swimming, soaking and relaxing. So that's a lot of rules you would know, and this did remind me I used to go to the onsen the Japanese hot springs when I would travel. And I remember one time, Boy, you had to get right there and buck naked. And that wasn't something I was used to and just walking around. And I just remember at one point they had a hot the hot springs and a cold pool. And I did not know that going from open vascular place into a very cold pool that I all everything in my whole body, my capillaries, my arteries than just seized up. And so I remember sitting down into that pool and already being very aware of my nakedness and then feeling like I literally was having a heart attack and that I was going to die in this cold pool in Japan.

[00:23:14] But then it turns out that I was not supposed to go immediately from that hot to cold, and eventually then everything seemed to be OK when meeting people in Japan, he says. Tell them your age now. I did not run into this one, but he says it's very common and not considered rude to ask a person's age in Japan when you meet them for the first time. The Japanese language is rich and complex, and it's the language has different words depending on the age or status of the person you're talking to. And I do remember that you can say orgasm us is a good morning in Japan, and there's you throw a little more flavor into it if the person you're speaking to is older. Number four, he says, do all the talking with your mouth in Turkey. Hand gestures and signals are always better to use in your home country where you understand what they mean. And I realized that I speak with my hands a lot. I really do. But he said, for example, in Turkey, allowing your thumb to protrude between your first and second finger in a fist, which is I'm doing right now, is extremely rude. And he said, also don't make an OK gesture unless you mean to call someone, he says an A-hole and a very derogatory way.

[00:24:17] So giving someone the OK, not OK. In in Turkey number five, he says giving gifts in China can get you into trouble in certain. Gifts in China can cause great offense, such as giving cut flowers, which is only done at funerals, giving a clock as seen as bad luck since. The words giving a clock sound just like the words attending a funeral, a gift of shoes would be interpreted as giving a gift of evil again because the word for shoe and evil are very similar and nothing with the number four is that is associated with death. The word for sounds like the word death handkerchiefs are a symbol of saying goodbye forever, so those don't go over well, either. And he says, finally, don't give a sharp object as that insinuates you want to cut off the relationship. He says you should be safe with a gift of fruit or tea or even alcohol. Number six, don't touch anyone's head and Malaysia, especially babies, which is really hard to do because they're so cute and they smell good. But babies don't touch the head of an adult, either, you said, just better to hold back on that impulse. And also Malaysia, it's rude to to point where directions are normally given with an open hand. Cultural differences are not. It sounds like Chef Tariq is saying it's better not to make hand signals when in a foreign country. The number seven, he says, use both hands in South Korea using both hands when handing things to other people.

[00:25:26] Whether your business card or especially money number eight, keep your feet on the ground in the Middle East. Apparently, it's considered very rude to show people the soles of your feet or even point them in their direction and be very careful when you sit with your legs crossed. Just a few more here. Keep a knife and fork in your hands and chili. He said. It's very rude and chilly to eat anything with your hands. Even when eating french fries always have a knife and a fork at the ready. And 10 No. 10 don't make a toast with your wine in Georgia, not the state Georgia, but the country. Georgians make toast with wine, vodka or beer if they wish someone bad luck. Many cultural differences exist around the consumption of alcohol, so it's good to be well versed, and, he said. However, 10 to 15 toast a night in small glasses with other alcoholic beverages that must be downed is in one. It's completely normal. Number 11 This is fascinating because I'm a fan of showing up on time, if not a little bit early. But he says don't show up on time for dinner in Tanzania. So it is considered rude to turn up for dinner on time in Tanzania, where you are expected to be 15 minutes late at the very least. And when you do show up, do not give any hints that you smell the food as that is very rude.

[00:26:29] So imagine then just someone like myself showing up and on time a little bit early and then saying This stuff smells amazing, and all of a sudden you're drummed out of the country. Number 12 Never put a fork in your mouth. In Thailand, a fork in Thailand is used to shovel the food onto your spoon only and not for eating with. So that is the job of your spoon. This one's interesting. Pucker up your lips and Nicaragua number 13. Knowing about some cultural differences will keep you safer in Nicaragua. Pointing with fingers is not done. Instead, people use their lips for this job. They pucker their lips and gesture in a certain direction, usually to point out something happening nearby. Number 14 Go hang out in the cemetery in Denmark. When many people around the world want to hang out, relax and maybe have a picnic, they usually head for a park. But not so in Denmark, where they head to the cemetery for little rest and relaxation. The cemeteries there are very well manicured and host a lot of people, especially during nice weather, and this is a pun warning coming, chef Tarek says. A cultural difference or a custom that we can live with on account of the graveyard. And then 15, this one actually sounds kind of fun. Throw a tomato at someone in Spain. La Martina is a festival in Spain that is all about throwing tomatoes at each other.

[00:27:35] It all started in nineteen forty five when a parade careened out of control, overturning a fruit and vegetable stand, and people began throwing tomatoes at one another out of frustration. And after a couple of years, the authorities tried to ban the practice. But they said, if we can't ban this and so a festival was born. So throwing usually lasts an hour and there are some rules to adhere to. No tearing or throwing T-shirts. No hard objects or bottles squash the tomato a bit before throwing it so as not to hurt anyone and stop when you hear the signal. And once done, the fire department hoses down the main square, revealing a very clean ground due to the citric acid and the tomatoes. So something makes me wonder if that was a wise plan to actually clear or to clean an entire block or that sort of thing. So I hope you can see why I enjoy those. It's fun to learn different things about different cultures, but I've talked often about the idea. I mean, today we're talking about context and we're talking about, do you bring that same curiosity about that? You would, in a culture are saying, Oh, wow, I didn't know that into your own relationships or in your relationships. You say, Well, that's ridiculous. Or you might have even been saying these things are ridiculous here, as would some people in other countries think some of the traditions that we do are ridiculous as well.

[00:28:47] I'm literally recording this on Halloween. My family's out of town and handed out some candy, then ran over to record a quick podcast. And I remember talking with someone else in Japan who had talked about the Halloween holiday didn't make a lot of sense. And I've heard comedians joke about this often, and my wife and I have talked about this from time to time. But it is pretty fascinating that you tell people to your kids, don't go up to strangers, don't take candy from strangers. Except for this one day when they're dressed up in these really scary masks. So I can only imagine what that must be like to a country that doesn't have Halloween, where they must feel like it literally doesn't make sense. So we dress up. Some people are dressed up as Super Mario, but then others are these demonic things from. But then we're all getting along and we're all handing out candy and putting it in pillowcases. And then every now and again, you'll watch a horror movie like Halloween, where now someone with a mask is actually a bad guy. So it is really interesting when you take that in context and then really take a look at we have our own things that I'm sure are pretty crazy, that other countries would think that that's they don't understand why we do them. So the goal the challenge this week, I think, is to really start to just have that word curiosity in your mind.

[00:29:54] And with curiosity does come questions. It comes tell me more. And I feel like you are going to have to watch and see. Check in with yourself on. If you do feel certain things as criticism and oftentimes when we feel criticism, then our brain immediately goes to protection mode. We are so worried that when somebody is saying something that is not the way that we view or think about something that for some reason they're putting us down in our brain is this don't get killed device. Our brain is this I must protect myself device. And so oftentimes when somebody does ask a question about why you do something the way you do or they tell you that they don't necessarily agree with what you are, what you agree with, that our heart rate will start to elevate a little bit. We'll start to go into this fight flight or freeze mode. And so that's why it is so imperative and important to be able to recognize that you are two different individuals to have in a conversation, each with your own experiences, each with your own context around the things that you're talking about. Fascinating, fascinating data. If you look at even looking at twin studies where two twins can go throughout life, literally sharing DNA and going through life together, and they can watch something happen, so the same input. But then if you ask them to write what happened to completely different outputs, so if you're looking at that from a context of with twins, then how on earth are any of us having the exact same experience? We aren't.

[00:31:12] We may be in the same place, but at any given moment, our brain is just a amalgamation of just a potpourri of experiences that lead up to how we think, feel or behave in any given moment. And it's we're in this over half an hour. I'm going to wrap this thing up, but I just feel like any chance I can get to express to anyone that you are not broken. You are you, you are the only version of you. So I really want people to not think what's wrong with me, but reframe things when you think things instead of saying, What's wrong with me for thinking this, say, check out what I'm thinking because you're doing this whole game of life for the first time ever and every moment that you are in, the moment that I'm recording this, the moment that you're listening to this, it's the first time you've ever brought yourself to this situation right now. And so the things that I'm expressing, the things that you're thinking while you're hearing are not meant to be done with what's wrong with me or why am I doing this? It's more of a Hey, check out what I'm saying. Check out what I'm thinking. That's fascinating. And then look at that with yourself, with curiosity.

[00:32:16] Look at Wow, why am I thinking that when I was laying out some of these cultural differences, some of them, you may have laughed, others you might have thought, Oh, that's ridiculous. Others you might have said, Wow, that makes a lot of sense. So look at that with curiosity. Take that that. Take this episode and I'll have the show notes. I'll have the link to the article that I referred to, and not even just to listen to what those cultural differences is are. But then ask your spouse, your partner, your kids, you're whoever. What do you think? Do you think that's funny? Could you see yourself doing that? Look at things with curiosity, not with judgment, because we need to stop. We would change this whole narrative of feeling offended when someone expresses their opinion, and we need to feel safe enough that we can go to the people that we care about and express ourselves in a way that in any way, because that's we desire connection. We desire to know that somebody is there, that we matter, that somebody cares about us. And the way we do that is human interaction. But we are not going to keep putting ourselves in a position to interact with other human beings if we are constantly being met with a feeling of judgment or shame or that sort of thing. So take this next week. Be a little more curious. Think of the context.

[00:33:27] What is the word that one word kite? What are you missing from this person's experience that they're sharing? And find out and then just learn more. Tell me more about that and maybe hold back on wanting to let somebody know why you think what they're saying is wrong or that you disagree. And I promise you that you are going to start to feel more of a connection and you are going to feel your yourself feel a little bit. I think we've all had these experiences before where you have had a negative interaction with somebody, and that does not feel good to carry that around with you. It breaks my heart a lot of times, my son, I'm wrapping this up. I promise my son and I were driving by some an older guy that was in this truck and he just looked angry and we were about to miss an exit. So I did get in pretty quick and he was so angry and there was no part of me that woke up that day and thought, Man, I cannot wait till about one thirty in the afternoon. I'm going to drive down the freeway and I'm going to. I hope I can hit it right where I'm going to try to get wait to the very last minute and then cut over and get on this exit. And I promise you, it really was safe. But he was so mad and I told my son that breaks my heart to think of what that.

[00:34:30] Son must feel like and how often they must feel that way, walking around life feeling. Why do people do what they do? Why can't they just do it this way instead of looking at life with curiosity? So there's my goal. There is my hope. There's your assignment for the week and do not forget. Go to Tony over Bacon Magnetic and sign up to to find out more about this workshop, which is Wednesday, the 4th. Oh, now I just panicked. Is it Wednesday the 4th? It is Wednesday the third Wednesday, November 3rd 6:00 p.m. Pacific and find out more about that. Boy, if anyone's still listening, I completely botched doing the ad again this week. Virtual Couch If you are interested in the world of online therapy, sliding scales a very easy process to get on board and find a therapist that can help you with so many different things. So you deserve to to take a look at your mental health. All right. Have an amazing week. If you are, I think any of you who have been joining me over on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, the Apple had there were some list that I saw where the growth of it, it's up four thousand percent a week with the people subscribing and listening. And so I could not be more thankful for the people that are supporting that podcast as well. So I have an amazing week and I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

Tony describes in detail how his "4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation" works, including how to apply the 4 Pillars in any conversation where you feel stuck, unheard, unseen, or unloved. The 4 Pillars are: 1) Assuming good intentions, 2) Don't send the message of "you're wrong" or "I don't believe you," EVEN IF you think the other person is wrong, or you don't believe them, 3) Ask questions BEFORE making comments, and 4) Stay present, lean in, do all that you can to stay out of "victim mode." These 4 Pillars, along with the paradigm shift that the goal of a conversation is to be heard, not to resolve, will lead to more connected conversations.


Visit to learn more about Tony’s Magnetic Marriage program, or visit to take Tony’s free parenting course, or to learn more about his best-selling book; or only recovery program “The Path Back.” And please subscribe to “Waking Up to Narcissism,” Tony’s brand new podcast, which is part of The Virtual Couch podcast network.

EP 287 To Be Heard Is To Be Healed - Connecting the 4 Pillars of Communication

#communication #magneticmarriage #4pillarsofcommunication #4pillarsofaconnectedconversation #compassion #therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

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

[00:00:02] Hey, everybody, welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch, and that is my very smooth way of saying I forgot what no episode this is, but I think we're somewhere between two eighty five and two ninety. But I am glad you're here. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. A certified mine will have a coach and a writer and a speaker and a husband and a father of four, and all those things that I've gotten away from saying at the beginning of every episode because I just want to get to the content. I can't lie even to the point where this will seem like a setup, but I have completely spaced talking about my sponsor, BetterHelp for well over a month now. So if you are looking for help online therapy, then go to virtual couch and you'll get 10 percent off your first month's services. has an incredible assessment feature. You can be up and running with somebody within twenty four to forty eight hours and do it through email or online or all those wonderful things. So try virtual couch and there. I have meant to do that for so many times, but let's get to the material. I have so many things that I just think about when I'm just out and about. And over the weekend, I went on a quick road trip with my wife. We drove back to Utah just for a couple of days.

[00:01:07] We love doing a road trip together. We love listening to audiobooks and podcasts and solving all the world's problem. My wife would kill me if I ever told the content of this, but we have this running joke that one of these days I need to do a podcast and it is Tony and Wendy. Just show their ignorance about a variety of things. And if you just put the recorder on us while we're talking about a lot of things, so in politics, pop culture news, that sort of thing, we really realize at times that we are so compatible because we don't know as much as we think that we know. But I digress. So we're having this amazing time, but I had an opportunity to interact with quite a few people over the last forty eight hours. And when you're out and about and people know you're a therapist, you get asked a lot of questions, which I love. I absolutely love, which is why this is what I do for a living. When I was in the computer industry and somebody would ask me about hooking up their printer or something about a new computer, I would just feel I would just say, I don't know. Probably the people at Best Buy or something like that can help out. But when it comes to therapy, I'm really passionate about things, and so I work with a lot of couples. I have my magnetic marriage course, which has been delayed, but it's the next round is coming soon.

[00:02:14] So contact me if you want to find out more about that. But I work with so many couples that then it is difficult not to watch couples interact and not want to say, Hey, time out. Can I express what I think that he might be feeling? Or I think what she's trying to say is, which would be completely annoying. Nobody would ever want to have me at a party or just at any kind of an event. But I was I was having a conversation with somebody and they were talking about hearing the four pillars I do a lot of work with. I call them the four pillars of a connected conversation. And when people that I'm even working with will say, Hey, remind me of what the four pillars are, or where can I turn to the four pillars? I have a couple of podcasts where I talk about them briefly, but I realize that those even are often in the wedged in between other topics where then I'll say, Hey, this is a time where my four pillars of a connected conversation will really come into play because I feel like they are applicable not just in marriage, but it's the way that you communicate to your kids or to your employers or just anybody that you're trying to have a connected conversation with. And I really think that the way we communicate as human beings is not really that intuitive.

[00:03:20] We're playing this game constantly of just excuse me of trying to figure out, am I saying the right thing? Am I going to offend this person? Or am I going to leave myself looking? So we are just doing this dance constantly of what do you think? Should I say this? Or if somebody comes with a big, strong opinion, oftentimes we just find ourselves just, Oh yeah, yeah, that's a good point. And then we feel bad when we leave that conversation because we really didn't speak our minds or stand up for ourselves or that sort of thing. Because even as I say that phrase, we didn't stand up for ourselves. What does that bring to mind? I feel like that brings to mind this adversarial relationship that if we're going to speak, our mind has to be done with this just anger and I'm going to hold this boundary no matter what you say. But I feel like we just don't really know how to communicate effectively. And so we're constantly just trying to find this balance of wanting a connection with somebody and also then feeling like hurt or we've been misunderstood. Or then we also do this thing, I think subconsciously, where we may want to put down someone else's opinion or debunk their opinion. And we don't even realize sometimes that's what we do in order to make ourselves feel better about our own opinion.

[00:04:29] So there are so many variables at play that I really thought today I would just go through those four pillars of a connected conversation and go through them in a little bit more detail and hopefully give a couple of examples along the way as well so that you can see how these four pillars can work in any kind of a conversation that you want to have. And I mentioned on one podcast that I had an opportunity to train some amazing, wonderful ecclesiastical leaders a little over a month ago on these four pillars of a connected conversation because a lot of people in their congregations are going to. These faith journeys, they're starting to really question their faith or who they are or their connection with God or these kind of things. And so when they come in to speak to their ecclesiastical leaders, their ecclesiastical leaders trying their best often say things that then maybe offend the person coming in, or maybe cause that person to feel unseen or unheard or unloved. So I feel like the first thing that we need to recognize, whether we're an ecclesiastical leader, whether we're a spouse in a relationship or whether we are a parent of a of a child, a teenage child, a small child or an employer employee relationship is that we need to to shift our entire goal. And the goal is not to resolve anything in the moment. I think that's one of the first things that we do, and I'll just say wrong for the lack of a better word.

[00:05:46] But we need to shift that paradigm that the goal is to be heard. And I say this often and another experience I had over the weekend with someone saying that they hear the things I say, they get pumped. They might even listen to a podcast two or three times. But then as soon as they go back to their day to day life, it's as if they just feel the wind out of their sails there. And they just go. I know to be heard just to be healed, and there's these four pillars, but I just I don't know if I have the energy because we just get stuck in these patterns, these patterns of interactions with people or these patterns in our day to day lives. And it's so easy to just say, I'm going to work on whatever it is later, I'm going to work on it tomorrow or next week. So I understand that you're going to most likely hear this today and you're going to think, Man, this makes sense. I want to I want to implement this, and then you're going to try to put it into play or put it in action. And especially when you're the only one doing it, it can feel frustrating. And so often we go back to the what's the point? I'm just going to keep doing things the way I'm doing things because nobody is listening to me anyway.

[00:06:47] So I want you to keep in mind that I'm going to try to get you so excited about the four pillars right now. And when you then leave this podcast and you're thinking, I want to implement this and I'm not just doing this as a sales pitch, come take my magnetic marriage course where we dig deep into the four pillars which we do. But I want you to know that it's absolutely normal to hear something. Get excited. You literally get a little dopamine bump in your brain. But then as soon as you go back to the quote real world, then your body and brain are flooded with all kinds of triggers. And there's this amazing book the body keeps the score. That, in essence, is talking about that very thing. Your body keeps the score. Your body goes back to this place where when it feels you are pulling up into the driveway of home and it's the time, it's time for the kids to come home from school. Your body's already starting to prepare itself. Or, OK, here we go. Kids are going to. They're going to fight me on homework. They're going to not want to do their chores. I'm going to try to keep the house clean. All of those things, so your body loves patterns, whether they're good patterns or not. So good patterns. So they're already prepping you for whatever you're about to take on.

[00:07:47] So again, it's perfectly normal that if you read a book or you hear a podcast or you watch somebody on TV or any of those things and you get pumped and you're going to change your life, you're going to do something different. It is so normal to then go back to day to day life and then feel like, Oh, now I don't have the energy and I need to do this a different time and just know that's a step that's a step in the right direction. Just starting to have that awareness is a big part of the the process of moving forward. Because for how long did you maybe not even know that there was a different way to interact with people or that you didn't know there was another way to look at your thoughts or your feelings or your emotions? Maybe you didn't even know that that was normal or human. So that awareness is a huge step. I know it doesn't feel as satisfying as we want it to feel, but it's a really big step on starting to take action. Just know that your brain bless its little pink, squishy heart is going to say, OK, I'll give you that little dopamine bump. Yeah, that's exciting, but that's the unknown. That's scary, and I don't know what that's going to turn out like. So why don't we just go back to this same pattern that we've been doing for a while? And the irony of that is that the more you turn back to that same pattern, the more that becomes a deeply rooted pattern in your brain.

[00:08:57] So every time that you think I want to do this thing different or you think, Man, that sounds good and I want to implement this, whatever this is. Give yourself a little bit of credit because you're also going to start creating this new neural pathway of, OK, that sounds good to me. I want to do that. And then your brain is going to say, Oh, yeah, yeah, we like that. And that's part of the process of starting to take on some new challenge. So let's go back to these four pillars of a connected conversation. This can occur with anything. So I had someone bring an example to me and I thought it was really fascinating. They were talking about there in a fairly new relationship. Things have been going pretty well. And now this person and I believe I don't have all the data, but I believe because they feel a connection, let's just say the let's say the woman. So they feel the connection with the woman. This guy now says, Man, I got to get my act together. So he's going to start doing things different. He's going to try to clean up his life a little bit. But the process of cleaning up his life a little bit is going to feel to the woman who now feels this connection like, wait a minute, where's this guy going? What's he doing? We've had this nice connection, but the problem is we don't know how to communicate.

[00:10:01] Something like that effectively, so that leaves the woman feeling sad, feeling like, oh my gosh, is this guy going to going to disappear now? And I don't know what the story the guy's brain is telling him. But if he's thinking, OK, I just got to figure stuff out because this is getting real, this relationship's getting real. So both people, in essence, want the same thing. They want a connection. They want a connected conversation. They want to connect their relationship. But now they're both going to go about it. I'm going to say again the wrong way. They're going to go both to go about it as being two humans that don't know what they don't know. So enter these four pillars of a connected conversation. Let me take this from either side, and I don't know all the details, but I feel like this is the beauty of these four pillars of a connected conversation that if the goal is simply to be heard, then you'll see how this works. What we typically want to do is just resolve something. We want somebody to know in that moment, this is how I feel and this is what I want you to do about it. And that other person may feel attacked or they may feel like, Oh my gosh, you don't understand what I'm trying to do.

[00:11:00] And so then they may withdraw as well. And so we just get in this pattern. My four pillars are based off of emotionally focused therapy, this amazing therapeutic model by Dr. Sue Johnson, and she just talks about that. We get in these patterns of these demon dialogs where somebody goes into tit for tat. And if somebody says, well, you just don't care about me, the other person will say, Well, really, I mean, I feel like you don't care about me or somebody will then pursue why? Why don't you want to hang out with me more? Why don't you want to spend more time with me? And oftentimes that can feel almost overwhelming or smothering to somebody. So then they will withdraw. So we've got this pursue and withdraw, or we've got this freeze and flee, where sometimes the more anxiously attached person is saying, Don't you understand, don't you see what this is doing to me? And the more that they put that on their spouse or their partner than the more that person just freezes because they don't know what to do, they're worried. If they say something, it could actually make things worse, even though the person that is talking to them is saying, Just tell me anything. But if that person says, I feel like you're smothering me a little bit, that's not going to go well, people, then the person that it was saying, just tell me something is all of a sudden you say, Are you serious smothering you? I love you.

[00:12:08] I want to be with you. I want to spend more time with you. So we just get in these patterns, these unhealthy patterns that we come to because we're human beings and we're trying to connect desperately with another person, but we're bringing all of our own stuff into that relationship or into that situation. So let me go back to this and we'll talk about a connected conversation using these four pillars. So the first pillar and I'm going to take this from the, let's just say, the woman side right now, and then we'll do it from the guy side as well, from the woman's side. My first pillar and and I want to spend a little time with this. My first pillar is assuming good intentions. That's the overview. But if you dig a little deeper, what that means is I really believe that no one wakes up in the morning and thinks, how can I hurt my spouse or how can I hurt my mom and dad? Or how can I hurt my employer? That even if it feels like that's what someone is doing, that if we want to keep the conversation going, if we want to get to a place where we feel heard, then we need to assume those good intentions that even if the person is angry or even if the person is withdrawn, that we have to understand that is the way that they feel they need to act in order to be heard or to get someone's time or to be understood or to be seen.

[00:13:22] And that is stuff that we're bringing into our relationships. That's not necessarily about the person in front of you. That's the way that they have felt like they have to interact in order to be heard or to get someone to really pay attention to them, even when it's manipulative, even when it's controlling. And I want to put asterisks here right now. One of the hardest things when I do a podcast like this or I go speak about these things is if you follow any of the work that I've done. I also work with personality disorders. I work with things like narcissistic tendencies, narcissistic personality disorder. And so I have a new podcast called Waking Up the Narcissism that has blown me away with the feedback and the amount of downloads with only four episodes. So I do often say I want to put a little asterisks that if you are working with someone with a personality disorder, that, yes, it's still the same. Four pillars apply. But the goal might not necessarily be in achieving a connected conversation, but it might be in order to for you to find a healthy framework in order for you to recognize that I'm not going to be heard.

[00:14:22] And I often say that I feel like these four pillars they apply in one of two ways. Either one is that it's just people not knowing what they don't know. And so when they're handed this new tool and they practice this new tool now, all of a sudden they really do start to connect with each other, or they're handed this new tool and they can't even play in that same framework. And at that point, then I feel like sometimes some really difficult things need to happen in a relationship where the person that has felt like they aren't heard or aren't seen or aren't understood, and they've tried this framework and it still isn't going well, then that might be time to really take a serious look at your relationship, because that relationship might not be the most mature relationship, but head over to waking up. The narcissism, the podcast, if you want to learn more about what I'm talking about there. But so today we're going to talk about just if it's people that just don't know what they don't know. So back to this situation. So that is assumption of good intentions. So if all of a sudden this person's put together three months of really a connected relationship with this woman and now they have just for the last week or two, they've been a little more distant immediately. That woman may want to say, Oh my gosh, I see where this is going, and I can't do this again, and I in their right.

[00:15:28] I mean, bless their heart. They I can understand why people get frustrated and why they say, Wait, wait, I just text me. Just let me know. Come on, why don't? Don't I deserve this? We've had such a good relationship, but with that assumption of good intentions, what that will do is it will keep us in the conversation. So then that will lead to pillar number two, that you can't put out that message that someone's wrong or that you don't believe them. And here's the key. Even if you do feel like they are wrong, or even if you are really struggling to believe them because the goal is to be heard and stay with me because I think this is so important. So let's say in this situation, we assume the good intentions that that person is not trying to hurt me. If I'm that that woman, even when they've withdrawn and they haven't been as responsive as they have been before. But if I assume good intentions, they're not trying to hurt me. That leads me to be a little bit more curious and have a little bit more empathy for whatever they are going through. So then if they just say I just I kind of forgot I lost track of time, or I just I worry that I'm not going to be able to be the person that you need me to be.

[00:16:27] Even if we feel like that's ridiculous because I saw you, I also saw you active on Instagram or on Facebook, so I know that you were really doing something else. You know, all that says to me is that you really don't care about me. But even if we have that information, the goal is to keep this conversation going to be heard. So we have to then assume those good intentions. And then even if we don't believe that that person, we don't believe what they're saying or what, we can't put that message out or this will shut the conversation down. So, OK, then I can understand that I feel like if that person really feels like they didn't have time or they felt like they lost track of time, then I can understand then that why they didn't reach out to me. Pillar three is questions before comments, and I think it's so important that you can nail down any of these pillars and you can see where conversations devolve in your own relationship. So let's just say that you had your four pillars in front of you and you said, OK, I'm going to assume good intentions. I'm going to assume that they're not trying to hurt me. Even if they are. I'm not going to say that's a load of garbage, even if I feel like it is. And so then three is I'm going to ask more questions before making comments because you could do the first to correct.

[00:17:30] But then if the third one, if you just say, OK, I appreciate that, but let me just let you know that I just sat up all night and I was stressed and worried. And I know if you were lying in a ditch somewhere or I felt like all of a sudden I didn't mean anything to you, but but OK, but let me hear what you have to say, and you can see how then that's going to cause that person that is on the receiving end of that to just feel maybe like, you know what? No, I'm obviously not enough for or I'm not going to be able to have this relationship. So. So I don't know if this is going to work. So you can see how any of these moments that conversation is all of a sudden going to go from connected to, it's going to devolve. It's going to we're going to get into our bunkers. I'm going to start just hurling insults, which leads to pillar four, which is a difficult one to it's to stay present. It's to not go into your bunker. And I'm not a fan of the word victim because I know that there are real victims. People go through things and they are victims. But if when purely in this context of talking about having a connected conversation that if they all of a sudden hang in there with those first three pillars, they assume good intentions.

[00:18:29] They don't tell the person they're wrong, even if they're pretty sure that that person is not being honest or they feel like they are wrong and they do ask questions before making comments, they say, Tell me more about your night. What was that like? Tell me where you were or what was going on. We can do all three of those well, but then oftentimes that fourth pillar, we just go run and dove back into our bunker and we just say, OK, well, you know, I guess my opinion doesn't matter. I guess I just need to sit around all night, wait for you and whatever you want to do because you see what we're doing there is that when we go into that, more of that victim mode or that withdraw or run back to our bunker, what we want to do is we want our partner to come rescue us. We want them to say, No, no, no, no, you're right. You're right. I'm sorry. I just need to do more of what you're asking me to do. Which would it be ideal? Maybe it would. But but we really don't want to get our relationship in this situation where we're almost requiring this person to react in the way that we want them to react. We want to be able to be heard. We want to be able to express ourselves.

[00:19:25] But then and this can be really uncomfortable at first, but then we want to just hear each other because then when we walk away from a conversation instead of thinking, I can't believe that person said that or next time, this is what I'm going to tell them. We walk away and say, OK, that must be hard for them. If they feel, if they feel like they are struggling with keeping track of time or if they feel like they want to be this new version of themselves. But they're really struggling with that because that lead me to maybe have more questions and more empathy of, Hey, I was thinking more about what you said last night and tell me more about this change you're trying to make. What's the hardest part of that? What are the challenges because we all want to be heard again, to be heard is to be healed now. We go back to this four pillar conversation. So if the woman in the scenario just now, she has hurt him and he feels heard now, we've got a pretty significant thing that can happen. So she didn't shut him down even if she wanted to, even if she could. And she could have probably pretty easily said, but you said you were going to call it seven 30 and now it's nine 30 and you never did. And you know what, how that makes me feel and all those sort of things.

[00:20:24] But then if I just if he feels heard now I get to go into if I'm playing the role of the woman, I get to go into the I feel I worry, I wonder statements. So then if it's if it's OK, I appreciate that. And that would be hard. If you feel like you're trying to make these changes or you feel like you're losing track of time or I just I just I feel like we've had such a great connection. And I just worry that if we aren't being able to communicate effectively that we're missing out on opportunity to connect or I just I worry that when I don't hear back from you, when you said you were going to reach out to me at some point, it's hard for me because let me take you on my train of thought. I worry that that means that you aren't necessarily as interested or I worry that I maybe have said something offensive, and I'm not even aware of it. Because if you put it in those, I feel I worry statements after you just heard that person. Now we're more likely to have a connected conversation now. If the woman in the scenario starts saying, OK, that's ridiculous. You know, you told me you would text me and then you never did. What am I supposed to do with that? Now we're putting that person on. The defense and income is one of my favorite concepts.

[00:21:26] Love, hate relationship with it. But psychological reactants of that instant negative reaction we have of being told what to do. And here's what that can look like in a relationship. If somebody says, Yeah, you always tell me seven thirty and then you never text me back that person hearing that is not going to think, Oh my gosh, I think they're right. They're going to think, Oh yeah, well, I can think of nine times that I texted you back. So when we throw out these, you need to understand or you don't get it, or I don't even think you care, or even though that's where we're coming from because we hurt and we want to be heard, we want them to understand this is hard. Now, if we say those things in that way of psychological reactants, I call them reactants hooks. If we use the always or the never, so you never you don't care. Or then that person isn't leaning in and saying, Tell me more. They're thinking, I don't care, Oh, I did this for you or we did this or and we just start to go into these. We go into our bunkers pretty naturally. So back to this woman, if she is then heard him, even if she or she had to assume the good intentions and she had to say, Man, even if I feel like he's I don't necessarily believe him or that's hard for me to understand.

[00:22:29] She doesn't just straight up say that she has the questions, then she doesn't go into a bunker and say, Well, I guess my opinion doesn't matter. He's still he's still present. He's still leaning in. And now she gets to say that I worries and I feels now in a perfect world. They both are adhering to the four pillars that would be ideal, but oftentimes this is a way to just change the dynamic. And this is one of those funny things. I'll go on a tiny tangent, but I just have this goal. This hope that I can teach these four pillars to people in premarital counseling or in parenting or that sort of thing. But there's this odd concept, and let me take you on my train of thought here. We don't know what we don't act like. This is like a big revelation. People are saying, OK, is that the big, exciting thing? But what I mean by that is that when couples come into my office, they come into my office because they feel like they need to go to counseling therapy, that sort of thing. They feel like they need help communicating. Why do they need help communicating? Because oftentimes some big event has happened. There might be infidelity, there might be exposure of addiction, or they may just feel like I don't know how else to be heard. And I don't know if this marriage is viable.

[00:23:29] So they come in when they come in. Guess what I get to do? I get to teach them these four pillars. And when things are rocky or things start to feel desperate, then people cling on to these things like a life raft because they didn't even realize what they were doing, and they didn't realize that there was another way to communicate. So all of a sudden they're saying, Please tell me more. And those episodes of podcasts, or even allude to four pillars of a connected conversation. Those are downloaded thousands of times more than others, or the two rounds of the magnetic marriage course. That Preston and I have done sold out just immediately, and the results have been amazing with the couples that we've talked with there because you don't know what you don't know. And then even when you start to learn new tools, just like I was talking about earlier, that doesn't mean that they're easy to implement. So you have to you have to go through something to then want to learn something new. And then when you start to learn something new, you feel like this makes sense. I want to do this. But then if you're not being very intentional about it, your brain goes right back into these old rutted neuro pathways or the path of least resistance. You're human. That's the way this works, so you have to be more intentional. That's why I literally have four pillars that I in the course that we have.

[00:24:33] I've got a worksheet that I want people to literally hold out, and they think to themselves, I don't hold a worksheet. However, a year old person in a relationship, but how's it working out for you? That's, you know, it just pulled the paper out in front of you. Go through the four pillars. Tell your spouse that I am. I am trying to learn something new, and I would really appreciate you to go on board with me on this journey because we need to change the dynamic. And what I think is really fascinating about this is if you're the spouse that is feeling unheard and you feel. Your let's just say in the scenario, let's say the husband feels like everything's great, you know, what's the big deal? Then forward this to them? Tell them to fast forward to whatever this point is right now and let me hey person listening to this? No, no. I'm going to please assume good intentions on my part. But if your spouse is coming to you and they're saying that I'm struggling, I don't know if this is working, whether a relationship is working or I don't feel like we're as connected as we can be. Even if you feel like it is, then this is an opportunity to connect with your spouse because you can have love or you can have control in a relationship. You can't have both.

[00:25:34] And so in this scenario, if you feel like things are OK, but your spouse is struggling, if they seem withdrawn, if they seem cut off, if they aren't wanting to be as intimate as you would like them to be if they aren't laughing at your jokes, if they aren't telling you you're the hero or when they do, you feel like it's transactional or it's forced, then guess what? There is a way to communicate better. It just flat out is I would encourage you to then use four pillars that I've been talking about earlier in this go back and rewind. Then you can hear these, but do assume good intentions. Your spouse isn't trying to hurt you if they say, I don't know how to communicate with you anymore, I feel like you're withdrawing that they aren't trying to hurt you. They don't know how else to be heard. And then the second pillar is you can't tell him you're wrong, even if you think they're wrong. Excuse me, even if you think they're wrong, you can't say that's ridiculous. You're wrong, because what does that do? Shuts them down? And then I want you to ask questions before making comments, Hey, tell me why you feel that help me find my blind spots and it's going to get it's going to feel tense and I say so often we are so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether. And I promise you, there's a way to use that tension to then have this growth.

[00:26:37] And this is the part that is just fascinating to me is that couples are just in this type of enmeshment or codependency that they aren't even aware of because it's just the way that they keep doing things. And they just keep doing things the way they're doing things, hoping it'll get better later, it'll get better when the kids are out of the house, so it'll get better when we get the new job, they'll get better when we buy another house, it'll get better when we retire. But it it doesn't get better just without doing anything. It takes intentional work. And even as I just celebrate my 31st wedding anniversary and I'm a marriage therapist, I developed these four pillars of a connected conversation and I've got millions of downloads on a podcast where I talk about these very things. And every time that I'm having these conversations with my wife, I will recognize opportunities where we, we missed. We miss communicated or that. So we need to go to these four pillars ourselves. And when we do, then we learn more about each other and we feel more connected. And so when you have this tool or this framework, then you actually get excited to talk to your spouse about something. Or if you say something and you watch them shut down instead of you just easing back out of the scene. Now it's like, Hey, I noticed that you.

[00:27:42] I noticed that you withdrew. Take me on your train of thought and you're going to use these four pillars because you know that they're going to lead to more of a connection. And there's a couple of other things I wanted to share, and I'm looking over at my notes here. But these four pillars we I would love for you to even just start to look at your own conversations and which one of the pillars do you feel like are the biggest challenge for you or which ones? Again, is it hard for you to just assume good intentions if your spouse is just saying things, saying things that offend you, or saying things that cause you to withdraw? Because I promise you that he or she is not waking up in the morning and thinking about four or five o'clock today, I'm going to go in there. I'm going to say this thing, and that'll really take him for a loop that if they're saying that thing, that that is that they're they may just be blindly unaware of how that affects you. And that doesn't mean that then something's wrong with you. It means that we aren't connecting. We aren't. We don't have the tools to communicate that Pillar two is don't send the message of your wrong or I don't believe you, even if you feel like they're wrong or you don't believe them. Why? Because we want to be able to stay in the conversation so that you can get to the part where you say, Man, I appreciate that I can understand or it helps me understand where you're coming from.

[00:28:48] And so here's what here's how I feel about that. Here's what that looks like for me. The third one asked questions before making comments. Don't let me go back to two, and I say this often. One of the most fascinating things about Pillar two as well is I give the example often of if you have a kid that comes to you and they say, I can't do this math class, I'm not smart. And you say, Hey, champ, you can do anything, you can do hard things. I didn't like my math class when I was a kid, but we're telling them, even though it sounds like we're trying to pump them up, we're telling them, Hey, you're wrong. So it does lead to if we don't put out that vibe or message of your wrong or I don't believe you, it gets us to that pillar. Three have to say, Tell me more. Tell me why you feel like you're struggling with math. And I give. I have so many just examples, but one of those was someone that had there's a number of dyslexia, so the parents didn't even know because the kid had never expressed himself. So once, he said, because I literally don't know if I see the numbers correctly, well, then you can't just positive vibe your way through that one so that this connected conversation formula was able to get that kid heard.

[00:29:43] And then they were able to get resources. And that's that's what I always want to say. And now he is, but I don't know, math well enough to say some real smart person. And that was Albert Einstein. That's not true because this was just a few years ago. And then that fourth pillar stay present. Lean in. Don't go into victim mode that you can hang in there for all three of the first pillars and then all of a sudden to say, Well, I guess my opinion doesn't matter. You know, you can do whatever you want to do because when we withdraw that way, we're wanting our spouse to come in and rescue us and we want to stay present. We want to stay in that conversation. I would highly encourage you to go find a couple of the episodes I've done on differentiation because this conversation formula, this connected conversation formula, what that does is it keeps us in a conversation so that we can learn more about our spouse and so we can be heard. Because here's that thing that's fascinating what differentiation really means. It's where one person ends and the other begins. So by nature, we are enmeshed and codependent because that's the way we come from the factory. We're afraid that if we are abandoned, that we will die.

[00:30:42] So we are trying to figure out how do I show up in my relationship so that my spouse will like me so that my kids will like me, so that my employers will like me, so that my church will like me? And so over time, what we realize is we're not being true to ourselves when we're trying to just show up and be whoever someone else wants us to be. We're seeking our validation externally where we really need to be able to build ourselves from within and have that confidence from within. But then what's fascinating is as we try to do that in our relationships, and especially when the other partner doesn't know that you're on this journey of self-discovery or that you're trying to better yourself so that you won't feel like you're dying in your relationship, that as we start to find ourselves, maybe we start to wear different jewelry, we start to dress a little bit differently. We start to express our opinions a little bit more. Our spouses all of a sudden are going to feel threatened because they're, Whoa, who is this person that they're thinking, This is crazy? Whoa. In essence, think about that. What they're almost saying is, wait a minute, you've got different opinions, you know, how dare you? What does that do to me? But that's the scary part where we can feel like, Oh, this is going to go bad. This person is going to leave me this person's.

[00:31:42] If I talk to him about it, this is going to go bad. But it's actually the opposite that as we watch our spouse develop. And come into more of their own and they get more confident and we're doing the same, we have this formula in a way to connect that this differentiation that we're two different people that were two different people that now are showing up in a relationship. And when we have this way to connect and have these conversations, then that builds some curiosity in the middle of the relationship. When you first start to differentiate, you are going to deal with invalidation. You're going to get a lot of Whoa, I don't know you like that or really you think that's a that's a nice thing or that's cool. And that's what leads us to keep jumping back into our old patterns. But we have to break that because that's what leads us to feel like we aren't heard. That's what leads us to feel like we are unloved or what's wrong with us. And that causes us to just kick that can down the road that we'll deal with it later. But you can see now that the longer you put that off, the bigger that gap divides. But the sooner that we can learn these tools and start to communicate that, yeah, we're going to feel a little bit of that invalidation. But as we learn to communicate with that, that's why I feel like these four pillars are gold.

[00:32:45] They really are. The more you learn to communicate and have a framework to communicate where the goal is to be heard, the more you're going to start to realize, Oh, we do have different opinions, but that doesn't mean that they're going to leave me. That means that I want to know more about how they feel and then and can end up asking me more about how I feel. And now we're going to have this curiosity in the middle, which is going to lead to this cool feeling of polarity and connection. And all of a sudden, we're going to think I kind of dig that person, not the Oh, are they going to leave me? But it's whoa, that's my person. Tell me more. And that takes a little bit of a ride into this feeling of insecurity. It's hard. It really is. But this is where there's author Terence McKenna, who said one time it's like jumping out into the abyss and finding out that on the other end, there's a feather bed because we're so afraid again. We're afraid of contention. We avoid tension altogether, but then when we get good at tension. Lo and behold, we we start to learn more about our partner and they start to have our back more and we start to feel more connected and more confident. It is amazing, and that's part of going back to that.

[00:33:40] We don't know what we don't know, which I just realized. I started this tangent 20 minutes ago, saying, I wish I could do this four pillars and get everyone to learn this in middle school or high school or before they get married. But they often feel like they're OK. They don't have to be. They don't have to be all nerdy about some framework and four pillars. It's really not that big of a deal, but it is. If this if this flowed from someone, if they pillared everything, then they really could find themselves more connected with all of those around them, and they could find a quicker way to get differentiated and find out that they really are their own unique individual person. And that just feels just thrilling. And then they can actually find the things they love to do and their passions and their hobbies and their spouse may be doing the same thing, but now there's curiosity and it's not a threat. And so now we can ask questions about what each other likes and we can go along and do those things because we want to be a part of this shared experience with our with our partner. So I hope I was able to hit my goal today of going over those four pillars just a little bit more detail. And if you disconnect it with you, feel free to share it with your spouse or share it with your work or whoever your ecclesiastical leader.

[00:34:46] But just know that to be heard is to be healed when you implement this framework. Then what happens is instead of again, I mentioned this earlier instead of walking away thinking, I can't believe they said that, or next time I'll say this or I'm so hurt. Then you walk away from a conversation even with more curiosity, and I cannot even explain that when that becomes the norm, that then you look forward to these conversations, even if they're difficult, because that there's exponential growth there when you walk away from a conversation, feeling curious and not feeling shut down. And boy, I just want everybody to be a little taste of that. If you could just take a little pill and it would allow you to see what this looks like six months down the road of practicing this. I guarantee you you would just drink this thing up like water. This new way to communicate because we just don't know until it does sound like this is a big giant plug for my next magnetic marriage course. If that's the case, feel free to contact me. That is fine. But even if not, I just want you to start knowing there's a different thing out there. There's a better way to communicate and you can you can research it and find it and practice it and whatever that feels like for you. I just want you to know there's a better way.

[00:35:47] And so that is my hope that you will feel heard right now that you'll feel like, man, this connects and that even if you don't take action on it right now, that's OK. You're a human. You're people doing people things. But the more that you start to recognize and even start to look at conversations or people around you when people learn these four pillars of a connected conversation. One of the funniest things is they start to say, and then we start seeing it everywhere, start recognizing people, not communicating very effectively. And I say, I know, right? It's like being a dentist. And all sudden, you see, everybody has bad teeth, but it's not from a Oh my gosh, how dare they have bad teeth? I've talked to several dentists, my dentist, the great guy who it's like, Oh no, I wish I could fix all their teeth. That's how I feel with conversations. Kind of go back to the beginning of this episode where I talk about when I'm communicating with people. I just wish I could just call a timeout and infuse them with four pillar verbiage, and it's just flowing running through their veins so that they can have this more of a connected conversation. Because if we all did that, oh my goodness, it would just be an amazing have an amazing love for you to start thinking in terms of these pillars and then taking us away, per usual, the wonderful, the amazing, the talented Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. All right, have a great day, everybody.

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