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Today we dig more into the age-old question, "Should I stay or should I go?" And if I'm staying, what are some strategies to help maintain one's sanity? Tony unpacks a poignant email from a listener, shedding light on the subtle nuances of gaslighting - a common manipulation tactic used by narcissists. Through this exploration, you'll learn to identify these underhanded strategies, empowering you to take a step back and view the situation through an informed lens.

Tony also shares a captivating story about letting go of the need for validation from a narcissistic partner. He emphasizes the importance of reclaiming personal power, urging listeners to prioritize their emotional well-being and regain self-confidence. This tale exemplifies the journey to self-discovery and showcases the strength of spirit it takes to break free from these relationships.

Use the following code to purchase the 2023 Sex Summit for only $35 featuring Tony's presentation: Relationship Tools You Don't Know You Need - Tips and Tools Born From 15 Years of Practice w/1500 Couples. https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONY23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony reads an email from a listener who shares their “waking up” experience and how difficult it can be to break free from a “trauma bond” and stay strong when the narcissist/emotionally immature partner pushes all the buttons to get you back. He also discusses the origins of “pathological kindness” and shares more from Ross Rosenberg’s book, “The Human Magnetic Syndrome.” https://amzn.to/3iRBsvA Tony shares a theory of how the narcissist and the kind person meet based on the article “Discovery: Kindness Gene So Powerful It Can Be Detected by Strangers in 20 Seconds,” https://charterforcompassion.org/discovering-kindness/discovery-kindness-gene-so-powerful-it-can-be-detected-by-strangers-in-20-seconds

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

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

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

Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 57 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And soon, a brand new podcast called Murder on the Couch. I know, true crime. There's a lot of them, but this is one that I'm doing with my wonderful, amazing daughter, Sydney, who is a true crime aficionado. And we talk about this stuff often, whenever she's in town, we talk about cases, true crime podcasts. And then I can't help myself, I like to throw a little bit of a therapy or psychology spin.  So at one point we decided let's just record some things. So if you go, I'll put it in the show notes, but if you go to the Virtual Couch YouTube channel, there's about a minute and a half sneak preview clip that I think that you will really enjoy, and that is going to be coming out pretty soon. 

And thank you so much for all the feedback from episode 56 with Ashley Boyson. That episode, it just kind of went insane, but I know that she has a tremendous following, but even more so than just having a following, she has that because she is a powerful, powerful person. And just the mix that the feedback I've got has been really cool because it's people that are saying, here's somebody that has been through just one of the most horrific things that you could even imagine. Literally, the thing that true crime shows are made of. But she made no secret about how difficult things were, how she didn't know what she didn't know, how there was a process of waking up to the narcissism in the relationship of her husband that had been murdered and then also experiencing narcissism and the next relationship. And now she's in a really good place and she's doing big things with her life and helping people and being there for her kids. And so it just shows you that life will continue to move on, and this entire waking up to, whether it's the again, narcissism in a relationship with your spouse or with a parent or an in-law, an employer, any of that, that it's just a process that takes time. It's going to take a little bit longer than you probably would like for it to take and wherever you are, that's right where you're at and that's the place you need to be. Because if you're even listening to this, that means that at some point you weren't aware of what narcissism or emotional immaturity even was. And now you're aware and you're thinking about it more and you're listening to things and reading things. 

And now you have a nice little confirmation bias. We're talking about the good kind. We're talking about the kind, when you buy a cool new car and then you see them everywhere and you feel pretty validated, I'm thinking, okay, that must be a good car. So now you're starting to recognize the emotional immaturity in the relationships around you and maybe not feeling as crazy. And again, it takes a little bit longer. A lot longer than we would like for it to start to really gel and feel like, okay, I think I'm going to be okay. So right now, if you're listening and you still feel like this whole thing is overwhelming, then you're a human being and you're going through a process and I will say this until the cows come home, wherever that phrase came from. But you did not know what you did not know. And now, you know. And you're starting to learn the tools, but guess what? You're probably not implementing the tools, and that's no shame or guilt intended again, it's because it's part of the process of being a human being, our brains like to go down the path of least resistance. And this is all new and scary. 

So you go from, I didn't know what I didn't know, to I know, now I’m kind of not doing, and that's a pretty scary place to be because it can feel sometimes like, I wish I didn't know. But you do. And, you know, and eventually you're going to start doing more of the things that will help you raise that emotional baseline. Get that PhD in gaslighting, get out of those unproductive conversations, set healthy boundaries, and know that a boundary is a challenge to the emotionally immature or narcissist. And then, that last little lever is going to fall into place where you'll recognize that there is nothing that I can do, me, that I can do to cause them to have the aha moment or the epiphany. That needs to come from them. And so often, the more that I try to give them that aha moment or that epiphany, I'm an essence just saying, hey, I found a new page in this playbook of the buttons you can press later on. But, I'm going to hand it to you anyway, because I think maybe this one might be different. And that is the tale of the pathologically kind. 

And that's maybe a little bit of a plug too, if you are someone that is in a relationship with the narcissistic, fill in the blank, fill in the blank does not mean “a hole”, fill in the blank can be a spouse, you know, again, an in law, an entity, an employer, a friend. And you just feel like you are made to feel insane. Reach out because I've got a private women's Facebook group now that is just amazing. I've got enough men now that are in these relationships as well, that I think we're ready to fire that group up in an even more interesting population. 

And I'm grateful for this or the people that are saying, I think I might be the narcissist and not the one where you're the person saying, okay. I feel crazy in the relationship. And now am I the narcissist? Because I'm hearing all these things or if you are the person who is starting to say, oh, I am extremely emotionally immature, manipulative, I gaslight and I can't help myself. And my spouse probably is going through all of these things, then reach out, let me know, because we're putting a lot of groups together, which is actually a plug for next week, so that would be the week of January 20 something, then the Waking Up to Narcissism premium podcast question and answer podcast episode will be released and there is going to be, in essence, a trailer or a zero episode. And I'm going to explain a lot more about what that project is about. It is going to be a premium paid subscription-based podcast that will be nothing but questions and answers. And that's because of the questions that are coming in from this podcast. I think now we're up to maybe a hundred pages of single-spaced Google document questions. And I know that there's just not enough resources out there. And when people are in that “I'm starting to learn” phase, they really are just taking in so much data and have so many questions. And, if you can't find the right place to ask those questions, and if you are trying to work with a therapist who maybe doesn't really understand emotional immaturity personality disorders, it can be maddening. So I want to answer those questions and then the money from that premium podcast proceeds will go to fund the nonprofit that is going to be there to help people in these narcissistic or emotionally abusive relationships. So look for that. One of the quickest ways to know when that's going to be available is sign up for my newsletter at tonyoverbay.com or also you can follow me on social media, TonyOverbay underscore LMFT on Instagram is probably the easiest way. So, let me read the question. And then I want to talk about an article that I found that is so, so fascinating.

So the person says, “Hi, Tony. I just listened to my first Waking Up to Narcissism podcast last night. And I can't believe how accurate, absolutely spooky,” which I love that word spooky, “it was to hear your words. I recently became aware or more fully aware of what my husband is. So many of the tools for communicating and interacting with him I'd already come to understand and employ, but it was striking to hear them out loud from somebody else. I never knew before now what to label him and his behaviors. And I always felt like this was something unique to him or us. And that no one would ever understand or be able to help. And more than that, that it was all just me that I was overreacting or making anything a bigger deal than it really was. That if I just went along, agreed and complied with everything he wanted, everything will be fine. That we'd be able to make a nice home and raise our kids to be happy, healthy, and ready to take on their own life and embrace their path enthusiastically and well-balanced. So wrong. I feel I'm so overwhelmed with the amount of damage that's been done as a result of this 25 plus year engagement and marriage with a narcissist or an emotionally immature husband. Despite so many attempts to leave and repeated returns to this marriage, I was never able to fully disengage and I kept getting sucked back in his capacity to find and exploit vulnerability, fear and doubt has no end.  I've been away from him and our home for the last six months. And now I never would have thought this, but I'm happy in the moment, day to day. I feel so much lighter, not being around him and subjected to his non-stop toxicity. And so now I'm looking for tools I need now that I'm in this space. Separated physically and living a life apart from him to stay apart. Try not to be drawn back into his conspiracies, his attempts to instill fear, doubt, or the syrupy pleading about how wonderful we are together and how foolish it is to throw away all of these years and how we're soulmates. And especially since our repeated history has been that I always do return. I want to, and I'm determined to break this cycle. I don't have any more time to waste on this relationship. So how do I maintain this long term? What resources or support is there for people like me that have sustained so many years of emotional abuse, gaslighting, mental abuse, and all the damage as a result. I would like my amygdala to return to normal, please. I appreciate the opportunity to reach out. And thankful to have happened upon your show.”

So much gold here. And I think these are, this is the framework of most of the emails that I get is someone that is finally recognized. And this person, she says so much, there's so much in just a couple of these sentences in particular. Where she talks about being sucked back in and his capacity to find an exploit, vulnerability, fear, and doubt has no end. And I've been going pretty big on this, I think the last few months. And that is the concept that as someone starts to wake up to that emotional immaturity or narcissism in the relationship and they start to recognize they have a voice that their opinions matter. And, and I don't, I'm going to say that I, you know, this might sound negative, but I'm kind of wanting to just normalize this process. That it's a real difficult thing to start to recognize this and not start to express yourself and start to try and do that fifth rule of interacting with the narcissist that I talk often about, still wanting to just try to give them that “aha” moment, but just the oh, an aggressive “aha” moment that they will understand now that it is okay for you to have your own opinion. 

And that is okay for you to speak up and you are going to start doing that more. And unfortunately that isn't what is going to change that other person. As a matter of fact, you're handing them this data in real time of what other buttons to push and those buttons come reflexively from the narcissist or the emotionally immature. So when you say I finally am going to speak my voice, you can watch as a variety of responses that I could probably put on this wheel of narcissism could ensue. Finally, I've been begging you to say something our whole life. I ask your opinion all the time. You never give it or it could even be an oh, okay, so now you've got everything figured out. You're the smart one now, I guess I'm the dumb one. You know, or okay, well, yeah, you go and do whatever the heck it is you want to do and see how you like it there, because I'm going to tell your parents, I'm going to tell the courts or everybody that you're crazy. And you remember that one time that you didn't help the kids with their homework. And I'm going to show that you're an unfit mother. And so the emotional immature narcissist at that point is it's not like there's going to be anything different where that “aha” moment is still going to come. So unfortunately, when you get more angry and frustrated and fired up, then that is now just aggressively, just throwing these buttons over to your partner where maybe you used to hand them the buttons kind of kindly. Hey, you could talk a little nicer to the kids like that, and that's like a kind handing over of the button. And now you're just chucking those buttons at him as hard as you can. So yeah, they might hurt a little bit, but man, he's going to throw them right back at you and throw them back probably even harder. 

And so I think this is one of the most difficult things is that the whole body keeps the score trauma vibe. When you finally feel like, I just can't take it anymore. And now I've been given a voice and I hear about other people that have a similar problem. And that my relationship isn't the only one. And that holy cow, I did not even know what I didn't know. I mean, even as I'm saying it right now, I feel like, you know, my own heart rate is elevating. And so that's that part where I like what she said at the end, I would like to be able to get my amygdala back to normal. So I feel like the unfortunate part is when somebody gets angry and frustrated, then their fight or flight response kicks in. We talk so often about the flight. You know, or even the fon where somebody just shuts down. But when you start to realize, oh my gosh, I did not have to be dealing with this my whole life, then that fight response kicks in. And unfortunately, when your heart rate elevates and you go into that fight or flight response, and it's that fight one in particular, then that is also triggering the person that you are now in conflict with. 

And now their amygdala is right there, hijacked as well. But unfortunately now you're dealing with the emotional immaturity of a 10 year old boy who is now just going to throw out all kinds of things to try to hurt you at that moment. And it can be very, very bad. A thing is very bad accusations and words. So just know that unfortunately that's part of this process. So when you then are able to step back from that moment, that's the part where you’ve got to give yourself grace. You know, take a breather. And that's why I appreciate this person saying they did have to get away from this person to even start to feel like they were okay. And so when she said, when I left home, now I'm so happy in the moment, day to day, I feel so much lighter not being around him. And that goes back to that visceral or gut reaction that your emotions travel two and a half times faster than your logic. When data comes in through your eyes or your ears, it's converted these little electrical signals that go right to that amygdala and it says, okay, is this safe? And if you do not feel safe, then your brain is going to say, well, we don't even need those frontal lobes. We don't need logic or reason right now. We need adrenaline. We need cortisol. We need to shut down that logical part of the brain. Because there's no negotiating with a saber tooth tiger. 

And now it is on. And so that is going to happen the more that you're around somebody that has been emotionally, physically, sexually, verbally, spiritually, financially abusive. So part of that waking up process is going to be this frustration. So if at any point when you recognize, oh, my amygdala is on its way to getting hijacked right now. I'm noticing people getting out of their seats on my amygdala plane and they look a little sketchy. They’re probably hijackers. At that point, we need to land that plane. You need to get out of the room and you will hear things on your way out of, okay. Fine, run. Leave. What about me? I mean, the buttons. That doesn't mean the buttons are not gonna be pushed. Again, if you're setting a boundary that whenever things are starting to go south, I'm going to exit the conversation. I'm going to exit the situation. I then know that that boundary now became a challenge. Oh, sure you will. Like you always do your runaway, this, the shows I'm going to tell everybody about this. All the buttons will just keep being pressed even on your way out. So back to when some determined to break this cycle, hey, you are, you know, you are because you're figuring it out. You're writing into a podcast, you're listening to a podcast, you're getting out of the environment. So your amygdala will calm down. I don't have any more time to waste on the relationship. 

I can appreciate that. But how do I maintain this long term? I go back to the first rule of those five rules I like to talk about, and this is raising that emotional baseline. This is you time. This is self care, it is not a selfish time. So I want to talk about this big, big soapbox of mine is how we handle our thoughts. And so I feel like there's three things that I think that we just don't quite do correctly or we could do better with our thoughts. So the first thing is that when we are left to just ruminate and contemplate and try to figure out and try to make sense, that's not the most productive thing to do right now. Not, not at all as a matter of fact. Because right now, what you need to do is do things because the more that you try to just sit and figure out and stew and ruminate, then the more that you are going to start to feel that guilt, that shame that maybe it was me. Maybe I did something wrong. Okay. I understand. Now maybe I can go back in. 

And Michael Twohig is a world-renowned acceptance and commitment therapy researcher that was on the Virtual Couch a few weeks ago. He had some amazing quotes. And one of those was he talked about healthy, happy people spend 80% of their time doing things that are important. And he made a point to say, it's not just doing things that are fun, but doing things that are important. So doing things that are important is not ruminating, doing things that are important are doing things. Things that are of value to you, things that will, at some point, even a healthy distraction, it will occupy your time. Because again, sitting in that discomfort of the relationship and the potential breaking of a relationship. Then that's where you're going to start to feel all those emotions and you're going to want to alleviate that feeling of discomfort by wanting to go and make peace with the emotionally immature person.

Now Michael Twohig also said that unhealthy, unhappy people spend 80% of their time in essence chasing pleasure or fun. And then I have since added to his quote. So, I'm hoping that he would be fine with this. But I have since added to his quote that then, yeah, 80% are unhappy, unhealthy people spend 80% of their time seeking this pleasure, but also trying to avoid discomfort or pain. And when we're trying to get rid of that, then it becomes even more prevalent and just upfront. So with that said, I feel like it is so important to just go and do, do things, do things that matter, do things that are important. Because that is going to keep you out of the rumination phase. And really at that point early on, you're trying to make sense of things that just don't make sense.But back to the concepts around things, I think we can do better when it comes to our thoughts. First thing that I think we do that is unproductive is we say, what's wrong with me? Why am I even thinking about this? Why am I doing this? Why am I going through this? Why is this so difficult? Why, why, why?

And let's start with, nothing's wrong with you. You're a human and you think and feel and behave the way you do because you're, you. Again, you are the product of your nature, your nurture, your birth order, your DNA, abandonment, rejection hopes, fears, dreams. That is what makes you, you. So guess what comes along with that? Your thoughts, your feelings and your emotions. Nothing's wrong with you. You're not broken. You're a human being. So when we say, what's wrong with me? Nothing. Part two is I need to stop thinking about this. I need to stop thinking about him. I need to stop thinking about how I can fix this, but then that's also saying I need to stop thinking about the plaid elephant wearing a tan, cowboy hat. So right now I'd imagine we all just thought of a plaid elephant wearing a tan cowboy hat and even tried to do one that I can't even quite muster up the image, but I sure did. So when you tell yourself, don't think of something, your brain's like, I will continue to think it. Psychological reactants, that instant negative reaction to being told what to do. It is built in, it’s innate, it's a survival mechanism. So instead of, what's wrong with me? Nothing. I need to stop thinking that. Now I just need to notice that I'm thinking that. 

And then the other portion of that, that I think that we don't quite do as productive as we can, as we think is well, okay, instead of thinking about all the bad things or instead of trying to think about how it could work, I'm going to think about all the horrible things that he's done. But even then we're still paying way too much emotional, we're burning emotional calories, and spending this extra energy on still thinking about him. We have to think about the positive, but then think about the negative. So instead, this is just a moment to say, man, check that out. Look at what I'm thinking right now. Thinking about, I'm telling myself the old, “I can figure it out” story. I'm telling myself the old, “if I would have only done this” story, that's adorable. Thank you brain. That's what you've been doing. I appreciate it. Hasn't really worked very well. So now I'm going to go do. And then your brains going to say, oh, what are you going to do? You don't even know what to do. And there we go again. You know, oh, it's the old, “I'm not even sure what to do” story. So right now I'm going to do anything. I am going to walk outside and interact with the world. Life. I'm going to watch a show that I've heard about. I'm going to play a game. I mean, those don't sound like the most productive things in the world, but they are far more productive than trying to figure out how can I go back into the relationship and make it different when I've been trying that for two decades? 

Okay. I want to shift gears a little bit because I found an article that I stumbled upon. And I know I use the phrase pathologically kind often, and I believe it was a couple of episodes ago where I was going through the five rules of interacting with a narcissist. And I might've answered that question about where did that pathologically kind concept come from, and it comes from Ross Rosenberg's work and the human magnet syndrome, but it turns out he didn't actually say pathologically kind, he was talking about that the kind people that are assuming the best or are thinking the best in others. And as a matter of fact, let me pull up human magnet syndrome. And I love Ross's work and he's been a guest on the podcast and here is what he says. So the human magnet syndrome thesis. He said, “Due to unconscious trauma based psychological forces, co-dependence and pathological narcissists are almost always attracted to each other. The resulting relationship is mostly breakup resistant and narcissists benefit the most from this situation.” And here's what I appreciate is he takes on the term codependency. He says, “Codependency is both a relationship and an individual condition that can only be resolved by the codependent. Many codependents are attracted to and maintain long term breakup resistant relationships with pathological narcissists.” And here's where I think I got the pathological kindness, this next concept that he talks about. He said, “Most codependents are selfless and deferential to the needs and desires of others over themselves. They are pathologically caring, responsible and sacrificing people whose altruism and good deeds are rarely reciprocated.” 

So I love the concept. Even when we talk about confabulated memory, look at me. Confabulating that story right there. After reading that, and I had read it many times, then I jump on when I do an episode about pathological loneliness and I find his, the more about the human magnet syndrome and what Ross talks about as self-love deficit disorder, which is one of the things that he's bringing into the zeitgeists to address the almost formerly known as codependency. And so he talks about pathologically caring and then I moved forward from there calling the people pathologically kind, and I think it really does still fit. So he said that they are pathologically caring, responsible, and sacrificing people whose altruism and good deeds are rarely reciprocated. So he says, “While some codependents are resigned to their seemingly permanent relationship role, others actively, albeit unsuccessfully, attempt to change it. These people have become preoccupied with opportunities to avoid change and or control their narcissistic partners. And despite the inequities in their relationships and the consequence suffering, they do not end their partnerships.” So he said codependency is not just limited to romantic couplings as it manifests itself in varying degrees and most other significant relationships. 

And so what I appreciate about that is that fits right into my number five rule, the nothing you will say or do will cause them to have the aha moment or the epiphany. And so I feel like that's where he talks about these in his view of codependency. Or these pathologically caring, or I call them now pathologically kind people. That they are almost what he says, resigned to the seemingly permanent relationship role, others actively albeit unsuccessfully attempting to change it. But the people become preoccupied where I would say you're spending a lot of emotional energy and burning a lot of emotional calories, which literally will leave people feeling absolutely exhausted and sometimes unable to show up as the best version of themselves with their kids or in their workplace or with their friends, because they are preoccupied with opportunities to avoid change and/or control their narcissistic partners. And again, he says, despite that inequity, because they can never cause that other person to have the aha moment. Then it leads to this consequence suffering, but they are not the ones to end the partnerships. And as a matter of fact, when you have that pathological narcissist, incredibly, emotionally immature person, when you provide them more data in your attempt to try and solve or fix the relationship in general, then that will come back to bite you. 

I was talking with someone recently and they said that they, in a moment of just tenderness, it was a guy who said he reached out to his partner and said, hey, I realized that I wasn't the best person years ago. I didn't give you the attention or the love that you really desired and this is somebody who I think has continually gone back and tried to give that other person the aha moment. And then sure enough, this person said that it wasn't very long before that was then used against them. So now every time that, the all every time there's an all or nothing statement, but often now when they argue, then his spouse will bring up the, okay, see, you've already admitted that you weren't that great of a person or you didn't give me what I need. So now you must be doing that again. So here in a moment of tenderness where this person offered up this, you know, the guy itself confronted and he had really realized that he had, he played a role in this. That when he presented that to his partner, now it continually gets used against them. So that's the concept around that human magnet syndrome, the pathologically kind. And that is what has led to me wanting to break down this article because I think that this thing is just so fascinating because of that topic of kindness.

And kindness is a good thing. One of the women's group calls a couple of weeks ago I really tried to go into some depth about it's a form of betrayal when someone that takes that gift that you have, and then turns it around against you and then makes you feel like the gift of kindness or compassion is actually a negative thing because in a healthy, emotionally mature relationship, that kindness can be an amazing thing. Now, the kindness of trying to control or change others can be something that we could take a look at, but just a value of kindness or compassion, that is a beautiful, amazing thing. And will lead people to do really good things. But I think the part that, in this scenario pathologically kind, Ross talks about the codependent person. That kindness is putting the needs of others far ahead of the needs of themselves. And that's where I feel like when people are in healthy relationships, what happens over time is that kindness becomes nurtured and the person starts to feel like that really is one of their super powers. And they don't do that at the cost of their own self-esteem or their own self image, they raise their emotional baseline up so they can be the best version of themselves. And then use that kindness for good, not to try to explain or try to convince. And so, I'm going to read an article off of a website called charterforcompassion.org. 

And just listen to this title alone, “Discovery: ‘Kindness’ Gene So Powerful It Can Be Detected by Strangers in 20 Seconds.” And this is some of that stuff that I really feel like three, four years ago, I would've looked at as, man, is that a little bit woowoo? Or now that we actually are finding the psychology and the science, the backup, the woowoo around energy and vibes and all of these things. I mean, whether it's mirror neurons or pheromones or whatever that looks like, but now, let's talk about your alleles and your DNA. So this is by Tima Vlasto, again, the article is titled “Discovery: ‘Kindness’ Gene So Powerful It Can Be Detected by Strangers in 20 Seconds.” Tima writes that man or woman across the bar, somebody you can trust or empathetic enough to spill out your story of pain and suffering to. “Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have found compelling evidence that healthy humans are hardwired to recognize empathetic strangers who can help them within 20 seconds. So if we go back to Ross's human magnet syndrome hypothesis, that the pathologically caring, pathologically kind person, if they are the ones that are putting out this kindness, energy vibe. And we're going to see if it's literally in their DNA. That then somebody can be hardwired to recognize that empathetic person within 20 seconds. So then is that where the human magnet begins to form. So there's a quote we've known that genotype can influence personality, but we'd only ever studied what goes on inside a person. 

Things like behavioral scales and heart rate measurements, says Rodrigues Saturn PhD, A senior author of the study and an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon state university in Corvallis. This is the first time anyone has observed how different genotypes manifest themselves and behaviors. That complete strangers can pick up on. So over the past five to seven years, researchers have been exploring how genetics affect emotions, says Alexander Cogan, lead author of the study, and a postdoctoral student at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. What we're learning is that to a certain extent, we have a genetic basis that supports a lot of the processes that make us nice. So you could have kindness and niceness, literally in your DNA in particular, researchers have focused on a hormone called oxytocin. I've done an episode on the Virtual Couch. It's called the cuddle hormone, the feel good drug, that brings us together. So oxytocin has been linked to emotions like love and trust, and it's found in a variety of animals. “Higher levels of oxytocin have been linked to higher levels of trustworthiness, empathy, and willingness to sacrifice,” Cogan said. Widely known as the cuddle or love hormone. Oxytocin is secreted into the bloodstream and the brain. Where it promotes social interaction, bonding, and romantic love among other functions. 

So in this UC Berkeley study, 24 couples provided their DNA and then researchers documented the couples while they discussed the times when they had suffered and video recorded the partner who was listening. So later a separate group of 116 observers viewed the 22nd video clips of the listeners. And it says then we asked to rate which seemed the most trustworthy kind and compassionate based on their facial expressions and body language. None of the viewers knew the video subjects and they watched the clips with the sound off. So they had no knowledge of the situation being discussed. They were then asked to rate how kind, caring, and trustworthy the listening partner seemed based only on visual cues. So the listeners who got the highest ratings for empathy, it turned out and here's where it gets kind of spooky, possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene known as the GG genotype. So, the article says all humans inherit a variation of this gene or an allele from each parent. So the UC Berkeley study looked at the three combinations of gene variations of the oxytocin receptor. The most empathetic, able to get an accurate read on other's emotions had two copies of this G allele. So in contrast, members of the AA and AG allele groups were found to be less capable of putting themselves in the shoes of others. And more likely to get stressed out in difficult situations. So, I mean, I'm not a genetics expert or aficionado, but here is where if you have these two G alleles and getting each one of those from a parent, then you will literally have a greater capacity to put yourself in the shoes of others. And it looks like that is something that then can be outwardly, I don't know if it's manifested, or if people just pick up on that. So, Cogan said people can't see genes, so there has to be something going on that is signaling these genetic differences to strangers. 

He said, “What we found is that people who had two copies of the G version displayed more trustworthy behaviors, more head nods, more eye contact, more smiling, more open body posture. And it was these behaviors that signaled kindness to the strangers.” So I wonder then if this empathetic two GG alleles in their genetic makeup person. As they head nod, make more eye contact, more smiling, more open body posture, now meet up with the pathological narcissist or the incredibly, emotionally immature person who desperately subconsciously from childhood wanted that validation. And wanted to know that they matter. And if we look at deep attachment theory, if somebody didn't have a secure attachment with a parent, then they just need to know that they exist in the way that they know that they exist is to absolutely, I want to say ensnare or entrap someone, so that they will always have this person. They're there, period. Not saying a loving, mutually beneficial reciprocal relationship, but let's say, this is my hypothesis, that pathological narcissist meets this double G allele, oxytocin, super power, empathetic kind person who all of a sudden is putting out this vibe or energy to the person who desperately at their core just desires connection, but doesn't know how to do it accurately or correctly. They only know how to do that in a controlling way. Not taking ownership of things. 

And then you've got the person continuing to head nod, make eye contact, smile, and open body posture. And it just seems like you can almost see the pieces starting to fit together of what creates this human magnet syndrome. So Cogan pointed out that having the AA or AG instead of the GG genotype does not mark a person as unsympathetic. So this isn't an all or nothing kind of concept. And he says, although scientists used to refer to the gene A variant as a risk variant because it increases risk of autism and social dysfunction. Many experts now think of the variation as just that variation that may along with other forces play out in personalities. Rodrigues, Saturn said it's important to understand that some people are naturally more held back or may be overcome by their own personal stresses and have a hard time relating to others. She says, “These are people who just may need to be coaxed out of their shells a little, it may not be that we need to fix people who exhibit less social traits, but that we recognize that they are overcoming a genetically influenced trait and they may need more understanding and encouragement.” 

And this is where that just fine line or there's so much gray area where, when I like to say that, okay, let's start with almost the hypothesis with the assumption that we really, none of us have the right tools to communicate effectively. And so then it's a matter of, we go through things and then we have to find tools. We have to get help. But then that process now finding the right tool. And then implementing the tool. And now you've got two people in the relationship. So as one person changes the dynamic, the relationship, it really is up to them now to self confront and really say, okay, now I get it. It's my opportunity for me to be a better person to show up differently in this relationship and not try to fix the other person. But at that point then is the other person going to recognize they too don't know what they don't know. And is that going to be an opportunity to self confront. So I feel like that can start to sound a little bit overwhelming, but if we start knowing what we didn't know, then now we can have this opportunity to change. So Cogan said that many factors ultimately influenced kindness and cooperation. He said, “The oxytocin receptor gene is one of those factors, but there are many other forces in play, both genetic and non-genetics.” Here we go into nature or nurture. Cogan said, “How all these pieces fit together to create the coherent whole of an individual who is, or is not, kind is still a great mystery that we're only beginning to scratch.” 

So I want to be very clear that I just found this fascinating in all of these, or I'm just throwing out some hypotheses, but when you combine this kindness, this kindness gene. And then you look at pathological narcissism and you look at pathological caring and kindness as Ross Rosenberg has talked about. I just feel like, okay. The picture is starting to become a little more clear, but then I find myself being guilty of what I say so often of, you know, sometimes we try to make sense of things that don't make sense. So it's nice to bring awareness, kind of a check this out. I wonder if it may be that helps us move forward as individuals on starting to recognize, okay. If I have two of these GG alleles and I have this superpower gift of empathy and my oxytocin is flowing, then that means I'm actually, I'm okay. And if the other person in the relationship is not someone who is able to recognize, appreciate, or support the emotionally kind person, then that doesn't mean that you can go against your genetic code, your DNA. If anything, man, what an opportunity to lean into that. So in an emotionally mature relationship, I would hope that the partner of somebody that is kind and compassionate can start to really recognize that as, that is them. What an amazing gift and opportunity it is to be in a relationship with somebody who is pathologically kind, who has these double GG alleles sitting in their DNA that makes that oxytocin flow. And if somebody, then let's say the more emotionally immature person can recognize, man, you know, I'm the one that is dealing with my discomfort in an unhealthy way. And I can recognize that my partner is my partner and what a gift. And then hopefully that will allow them to start to do their own work and self confront. And the two of you maybe can meet in both emotionally mature and healthy ways. And I find that even right now, as I'm saying that, what a mix. I'm sure the people that are hearing this, because there are people that still just desperately want to believe that this can be their situation, their relationship, and that's where I want to say this entire podcast is designed to meet you where you're at, but ultimately know that you are okay, that you are enough. That it's okay for you to have your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And the more we start learning about the brain, DNA, alleles that are sitting on chromosomes, that it really is who you are. And so someone telling you not to be who you are is not a helpful, productive thought or exercise. 

And the more that you are trying to defend who you are, or the more that you are shrinking so that others around you won't feel uncomfortable, then that is going against your very nature. You know, the very core of who you are all the way down to your chromosomal level. So, hopefully this is something that can help you feel a little bit more of acceptance of what a gift. And if someone is trying to say, I don't like that gift, well, bless their heart. They don't really know what that gift is like. And unfortunately they may spend so much time trying to control your gift, your thoughts, your experience, that they too are missing out on a whole important part of life, which is trying to figure out who they are, but that's not on you. 

So, I would love to know your thoughts. If you have additional questions, comments, anything like that, feel free to send them to me. Through the website, tonyoverbay.com, or send them to me at contact@tonyoverbay.com. Or you can interact with the post or the story that will go up about this on Instagram or on Facebook. And, I just appreciate you being here. And just know that man, you really, as cliche as that sounds, you're good. You're enough. I see you. And, wherever you're at is where you are right now. And that's okay. Check that out. You're not doing anything wrong. You're just starting to figure things out. And it can feel uncomfortable. A lot of the times we don't like discomfort. Sometimes being able to sit with a little bit of discomfort, you find out that, hey, I survived and I'm okay. And that'll start to give you a little bit of momentum. So work on that emotional baseline. Self care is not selfish. That's the first step. After recognizing that, okay, this is a thing, something's happening here. So get yourself in a place where you can do even more work to better yourself. To put yourself in a better position. And then either that person that you're in a relationship with is maybe going to say, all right, man, I don't want to miss out on that, but in reality, you're going to discover that, oh, I'm okay. I'm a pretty amazing person. And that's what's going to lift those around you as well as yourself. So, thanks again for joining me. We'll see you next week on Waking Up to Narcissism.

Congratulations Gaslighting! You have been chosen as Merriam Webster's "Word of the Year" for 2022 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_Merriam-Webster%27s_Words_of_the_Year. Tony talks about all things gaslighting, from the various types, where it comes from, and what to do when you feel like you're being gaslit. Tony also references the following articles: "What are the long-term effects of gaslighting," https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/long-term-effects-of-gaslighting as well as "Gaslighting: Merriam Webster's 2022 Word of the Year, Here's its Definition," https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2022/11/29/gaslighting-merriam-websters-2022-word-of-the-year-heres-its-definition/?sh=6b8e49873959

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today we tackle why good people look for reasons their narcissist is acting off rather than accepting the situation for what it may be. Plus, Tony describes four types of gaslighting. Please submit your questions as well as your gaslighting examples through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com

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

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode four of Waking Up the Narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. And let's dove right in. I would love to encourage you to continue to send your examples questions. Anything that is on your mind through the contact form at Tonyoverbay.com have been compiling all of that on one Google document. And I have to tell you, I think we're up to about 13 or 14 pages single space. So that is to say that the feedback has been overwhelming, and I wanted to highlight just a few things with regard to feedback, just because I want you to know that there is comfort in numbers. I know that that doesn't bring resolution. But the what I'm hearing is just hear some examples. Just I've listened to the podcast several times with tears running down my face. Thanks for spreading awareness to so many people trapped, abused, confused and secure and uncertain. What's real? Listening to your podcast was shocking. I could have sat in your office chair in my life that became the foundation of your podcast or someone saying, I just listen to the first episode. It's absolutely mind blowing. This is my life. I've been married for this many years with my spouse. We have kids together. Everything you said in the first episode is my life. It's scary. I'm looking forward to listening, but but also scared and and I imagine that I can understand that that's going to be the feeling a lot I had someone else talking about.

[00:01:19] They were in the midst of grieving this idealized relationship with their parents and now recognizing the narcissism. And just this person in particular said they never paused a podcast to look up. The author tracked down the contact info and contact them just to say thank you. So I'm just grateful that people are finding a little bit of comfort and just knowing that they're not alone. Another another one says, Oh gosh, episode two had me, especially when you were talking about the emails you were talking about. They said, this person said that they've been going to couples therapy. It's just gone really bad. They feel broken. At this moment. Their spouse feels like they're being selfish and that he's been stonewalling them between sessions. And so it's just so I'm so grateful that people are finding comfort and understanding that it really just is not them. They're not alone. And there's also, if I do just a search for the word crazy in the emails, that's there's it's used often someone saying here, they say that there are times that their spouse and them, they feel like they're just roommates, then they would love for their relationship to be better. And in this particular instance, this this person who submitted the email said that talking about their husband, he literally said, I'm sorry you feel that way, but then walk away. And she said, if I don't ask questions in a certain way, then he won't answer me and it'll either be quiet or he'll say that I don't understand what you're saying and the latter one, because then if she clarifies better what she means.

[00:02:47] But now, if it's in a judgmental way, then he says that she's phrasing the question wrong and then he'll rarely talk to her. But here was one of the big keys is that she said she can count on her hand how many times that he has inquired about her personally. But then what breaks my heart is this next line and again, the word crazy. I can find that in the emails that people are sending me, she says, Am I crazy? I feel crazy. Sometimes rarely is is anything his fault, and he almost always has to be right. However, with that said, I still feel like most of the hard parts of our relationship are my fault. Why can't I be OK with the way things are? And she said, I just it's I don't like when he put such a negative light because he really is a good person. I know I'm not perfect, and that's the part that again just breaks my heart and I wanted to address that. There's a quote from an article that I included. There's a virtual couch episode on this, and it was one about psychopaths versus sociopaths. And so it's a little bit of a hidden gem at the end of that one, and it's from an article called Narcissist or Sociopath.

[00:03:45] The similarities, the differences in the signs. This is back from Twenty Sixteen, a Psychology Today article, but this quote has just stuck with me for so long, and they talk about it. The narcissist or the sociopath are both extremely good, or they have a sixth sense for spotting the right people to manipulate. And I do believe it's a subconscious thing. It's not as if they are out there just wanting to prey on someone. It's just that's the person that they find is the person that will engage with them, the person who will fall victim to the love bombing. But here's what this this article says it says narcissists and sociopaths are extremely good at sniffing out trusting vulnerable people who tend to see the good in others. Thus, they can be very difficult for nice people to spot until the offender has wreaked tremendous and undeniable havoc. And relatedly, because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code such as that lying and harming others is wrong. Even an otherwise savvy person can work hard to find the good reason why somebody is acting off, rather than identifying problem personalities and behaviors for what they are. And I'll go on about that in a little bit. But boy, I tried to read that as slow as I can, just because there's so much there. That nice people, it's very difficult for a nice person who's willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt to then call someone out on their gaslighting or the inconsistencies of their story, even if they are very confident that what they're seeing is a lie.

[00:05:16] And so the next part of that quote, relatedly, because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code and that one in itself, we tend to think that people see life through the same lens that we do. And I was speaking at an event a few nights ago and and I'll just tell a quick story. There were a few years ago I used to run around a track in my local town for 24 hours to raise money for schools and for kids and those sort of things. And the first year that I was running this race, I had never ran the race before, and it was an all new experience or it wasn't a race, but it was running around the track for 24 hours. And so I didn't exactly. I had a million bananas and gels and hydration, and every time I run around the track, I'm saying to my wife, How am I doing? And she's saying, You know, you're doing great, you're doing better than you think. And I ended up having some, some struggles, some challenges, some issues ended up making it through. We raised a lot of money for the community.

[00:06:08] I think that first year ran about 111 miles. And afterward I was I was sharing notes with my wife and I kind of just said, Hey, when you would tell me you're doing awesome or you're doing better than you think. How did you know that? And and I loved it because she just said something to the effect this was years ago, but something like, well, it was the first time we're doing it. I mean, you're doing it, you were doing it as well as you could do it. And I think about that often of you're going through this life for the first time, you're going through that marriage or that awareness or awakening to narcissism for the first time. And so how would you not think that other people are ascribing to the same beliefs or that that we all see things through a similar lens? That's normal, that's human. There's nothing wrong with you for thinking that we're all kind of seeing things similar in that same vein. And this presentation earlier this week, I also talked about how what's fascinating is that you can have two people stand side by side and have them see the same thing. So you've got the same input, but then have them literally in that very moment, write down what they saw. And it's going to be two completely different outputs. And so it can be that simple that we're we're just experiencing things for the first time it at any given moment.

[00:07:23] And then we're also then bringing in that input and then our output is going to be different. So everyone is going to be different. But this is where I want to tell you the narcissist, the sociopath, the psychopath. They're they're coming from a completely different place, and it sounds like I'm being mean or judgmental. But part of the reason I was excited to do this podcast is I just need to at this point say that's it's we just need to accept that because again, as I covered in earlier episodes, this comes from some deep childhood wounding. We got some nature and some nurture going on. And so when somebody is worked from a, you know, when they've started operating from a mindset of that, they can literally never be wrong or that will be abandonment and abandonment equals death, then, especially when you're going through that in your youth, where again, every kid is already a little egotistical, narcissistic being just because they're a kid. But then with the right modeling, with the right people, parenting them well with people that they in their in their immediate sphere of influence are taking ownership of their behaviors or actions or apologizing for things. So if you see that behavior and you have that secure attachment with your parents, with your, with your friends, with those around you, you're going to grow from self-centered to self-confident. But if you are self-centered to begin with, which again, we all are as little kids because the world revolves around us, because that's just the way that that life works.

[00:08:52] But if you don't have that modeling, if you don't have that example, if the people in your life have haven't taken ownership for their behaviors or they are a bit absentee or so many other factors, then that person goes from self-centered to self-centered. So that's where it can feel like you're arguing at times with a with a 10 year old boy or a 10 year old girl, so to speak. And the reason I go into that is because now fast forward 20, 30, 40 years where that person has been on that pathway. You've been on a completely different one and you're now let's say that you're on the West Coast and you're describing the beach in the ocean, and there's somewhere in the middle of Kansas talking about a cornfield. And so you're you're even talking about two completely different things. The the problem I don't want to frame is a problem, but the problem is you get to realize, Oh my gosh, they're talking about Kansas and they're saying, I don't even know what you're talking about. Like, that's ridiculous. You know, all I see in front of me is cornfields and wheat. And so and they'll convince you of that to the point where all of a sudden you're sitting there looking out at the ocean and you're thinking, Hey, my, is this even real? You know, or because they're pretty convincing.

[00:10:01] So when you look at it that way, I go back to this quote because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code, such as that lying and harming others is wrong, then a otherwise savvy person is working hard to find the good reason why somebody is acting off rather than identifying the problem personalities and behaviors for what they are. And I remember the first time I read that quote, even in this episode, I just moved past that that lying and harming others is wrong, but it's real. I mean, I have worked with clients who have been sat across from their spouse in a court case and watched their spouse, their narcissistic spouse, lie to the judge, lie to the jury. I've been in court cases where I have testified on behalf of a client in a getting out of a relationship with with the narcissistic person and and that that narcissist has is just openly lied in court. But it's because they're just not going to ever be wrong because being wrong is abandonment and abandonment equals death. And the hard part is that they typically surrounded themselves with people that eventually just give in or acquiesce or just say, OK, I guess that's the way it is that then they're assuming that the judge is going to do that. Their attorneys are going to do that.

[00:11:14] There's there's fascinating data that shows how often that a narcissist even going through, let's say, a legal proceeding changes their attorney. Why? Because they know more than their attorney. So when their attorney doesn't agree to do what they tell them to do, then they say, OK, well, you don't get it, you're fired. And then they eventually find, I mean, I'm over generalizing, trust me, because I'm sick. Then they eventually find an attorney who says, OK, hey, it's your money. I'll say what you want me to say. So and then what does that do? It just becomes more of this echo chamber of they get that validation. And so the next part of this quote is pretty interesting, too. So then feelings of anger, distrust, distrust or fear about what we quote know about a loved one is going to cause us great distress, otherwise known as cognitive dissonance. So as a result, then most of us wind up resolving this cognitive dissonance by reinterpreting the facts that feel at odds with what we need and want to believe about somebody. So what does that mean? So we've already talked about how nice people are are in these relationships. We talked about that last episode. I think this human Magna syndrome, the pathologically kind, meet the pathological narcissist, and that does create this unfortunate, you know, this trauma bond, this human magnet syndrome. And now the nice person believes that that person that they're married to must be operating at least from a similar moral code.

[00:12:39] So then, even if they watch their spouse lie, then they think there's got to be a reason. Maybe he's just tired. Maybe he's just stressed. Maybe it is because I'm not doing what he wants me to do, but that's not the case. You know, so now all of a sudden, the nice person is working hard to find the good reason why somebody acting off rather than recognizing this pattern or this problem personality or the behavior for what it is. So now now they feel anger or they don't trust them or they fear what the person across from them is saying or doing. And that causes distress. It causes us to feel this cognitive dissonance. I don't like what I'm feeling and what I'm seeing because it's different than what I want to believe. And so our brain needs to make sense of things. So then at that point, we are going to resolve that cognitive dissonance by reinterpreting the facts that feel at odds with what we need, what we need and we want to believe about somebody. We're going to start creating a narrative that it must be all these other external factors. You know, again, maybe stressed or hungry or tired or, you know, we're not having enough sex or whatever it is. And then what does that do? Now, all of a sudden, now I can even internalize it because I'm the nice person.

[00:13:48] So now I can say, Man, it must be me, it really must be me. But but then when we talked about this on this, this women's group last night, what an amazing call. And a lot of people have reached out and have asked about joining this, this group, and please feel free to reach out and contact me. And it was such a powerful call, though there were a lot of new people on there, but then people then start to do the again, the what's wrong with me story. And then we had a big part of the call last night where, you know, it's natural or normal. Then to start thinking, OK, I just need to. I just need to try. I just need to to try to do more. And so if he's saying that, I need to. I don't know if I need to be more physically attentive, if I need to do whatever, and then they do. Well, guess what? Yeah, now it's something else. Well, now you never ask me how I'm doing, or now you just expect this of me. So then the nice person will. Then they'll then, you know, mold themselves into this whatever that the narcissist wants them to be. But then surprisingly, now it's something else. And that even goes on after separation or even after divorce, where now the nice person will go back and think, Oh my gosh, if I would have just done more of this other thing that he said, then maybe the relationship would have worked.

[00:14:56] And bless your heart, but that's where I say. That game is never ending, because if you and here's the kind of the cool, deep psychology around that is that to the person that is never willing to take ownership or nothing is ever their fault. And again, I'm talking about a default from childhood experiences. So if that is the case, then it's they've spent their lives saying, it's not me, it's you. If you'll just do this or this or this, then everything will be better. But when you do that, then it's something else, because if they can continue to point the blame outward or external, then and I think you can maybe see where I'm going, then who does not have to take accountability or ownership of their actions, them? So and I've had some fascinating examples of this in cases where I once had a client that came to me for it and I'll say, quote, quote, pornography addiction. But then when they came in, they were they were having some acting out behaviors every few months, I mean, months. So definitely didn't fall into the category of addiction. That's for sure. And so it was relatively easy to, to quote, cure this person. And at one point, their spouse came to me and said, Oh my gosh, you, you've worked a miracle with him. You know, I've got I've got my husband back.

[00:16:09] And so then it was time for them. They said, OK, they're going to start to do their work. But when they started to do their work, it was difficult and it was scary. And so they they withdrew from the therapy with their therapist. And at that point? Now what happened? Now they they said, OK, no, now he's doing these other things. And I was working with him at that time, this person and we did everything we could to have him, you know, he still was not acting out. There was no relapse. He would be more attentive. He was trying to do more of one one person. Couples therapy is what I was calling it. But it was never enough until then. Finally, some heavy accusations were logged against this person and because ultimately, the person with the narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic traits when it got to the point where they didn't have anything else they could blame externally. And then they they tried to do a little bit of a deep dove on themselves, and it got uncomfortable and scary. Then it was almost like this reflexive action to then point it right back at the person, someone else to project onto someone else because then again, I don't, it's not about them. And so you can start to see the pathology around that and where that can lead. I'm going to wrap this up pretty quick here, but I wanted to really quickly touch on.

[00:17:24] I got so many emails talking about gaslighting because it's interesting. You know, people ask, does the does the narcissist know they're gaslighting? You know, is there? Hey, all of a sudden they realize, Wait, I'm gaslighting too. And so I did an episode long ago on types of gaslighting, so I was going to go through those really quick. This is from an article from I think it's from called the Good Men Project, and it talks about four levels of gaslighting. I think this is this interesting, and I'm going to be honest on my virtual couch podcast, I'm talking about more general mental health issues. And so I think in that scenario, I'm trying to just put it out there to the universe, you know? And I think sometimes that can be used against the kind person. What I mean by that is that this podcast is called Waking Up the Narcissism. So I'm talking to the people that are are waking up to narcissism. It's rare that the narcissist because again, they don't know their narcissist. If you're asking yourself, Am I the narcissist? Most of the, I mean, number one rule is no, you're not, because you're asking yourself, because that means you have some awareness that you're aware of of you have a sense of self. You know, you're willing, you're trying desperately to own it. Isn't that fascinating? So you're saying, Wait, maybe I'm going to ask this because I could do that.

[00:18:33] I could apologize. I could take ownership of this. And then maybe everything will be better. But no, you're you're acting the way you're doing, you're acting the way you're acting in reaction to not feeling heard, not feeling understood from the gaslighting. And I will say this every episode I can. But if you put yourself in another relationship where you feel heard and seen and understood and you're not continually fixed or judged, would you thrive or would you still just walk in and start yelling at your husband? I don't think so. Or or wife, you know, depending on the situation. So that was a big, long ramble. I was about to say, where was I going with that? But I remember gaslighting as I am going to go through these four different types of gaslighting. I want to I want you to listen to this with the this is the if I am doing it, it's most likely one of these more. I'll just call it innocent types or there's a reason behind it. It's not done to confuse or push away the blame. It's done because you don't feel heard. So first type unconscious gaslighting, the person is totally unaware that they're engaging in it. In fact, they perceive that they're being very reasonable in their interactions because they don't have any clue about the impact of what they were doing, and they might even lack the capacity or the willingness to question their own viewpoint and consideration of another's viewpoint.

[00:19:42] Here's what this can look like the I don't get it, the I don't get it act. So in the example they give is over the course of a week, this person said I had explained and explained the company's vision to my colleague so many times. They said I teach English as a second language for a living, so I'm intimately familiar with how to break down concepts. And reword definitions and give examples. And this was a totally different issue, and my colleague continued to claim confusion over and over again. So when somebody says that they're confused and they make no effort to dove into why, they're confused and they continually put the onus on you to explain it, it not only becomes tedious, but it has you starting to question what you're saying. So this person said they began to wonder, You know, how is that I'm not getting through or how is it that he's not understanding the ideas that I'm explaining? And then it hit me he didn't want to understand, but likely didn't even know that. So someone who truly wants to understand, they make efforts in that direction. And this is where I say boy, instead of judgment again, try curiosity. And and and I do a lot of couples work my magnetic marriage couples course, and this is not trying to plug this, but is starting up in a few weeks.

[00:20:44] And so I teach what I just love these four pillars of a connected conversation. But the goal is to be heard, to be heard is to be healed. And so oftentimes, you know when if I don't understand you, but I desperately want to and I'm curious and I just I'm struggling to understand you, then there are ways to frame that communication. My four pillars of assuming good intentions can't put out the message You're wrong questions before comments and then don't go into your bunker. Stay present. I've done a lot of those episodes on the virtual couch, but there is a framework to make that happen. But if someone truly does not want to understand, then they're not going to put in that effort, and that can be so frustrating. They also give this example, it says, coexisting in a parallel universe along with ignoring my words. My colleague addressed issues that he claimed I had raised. He said it's as though I had mentioned ice cream, and his response was well, when we talked about cheesecake. And he said, as you could imagine, this was so baffling. You know, what was he addressing or who was he addressing? Was even addressing me if he had added words and like, you know, this raised a different issue for me. This other issue, he said, then I would have understood. But instead he would say things like, you know, your point about X again.

[00:21:49] So if he's saying, you know what you were saying about cheesecake and you're and you're like, I never said cheesecake. But when they said that when they referred back to their messages to see if they had talked about cheesecake and it had never been raised, they began to wonder if we were just existing in this strange and parallel universe with alternate forms of ourselves. And he said, I truly believe, however, that he thought I had raised those points about cheesecake, which all the more baffling. The second type of gaslighting is an awareness that something's off. And in this case, the author said that they believe the Gaslighter senses that something isn't working, but they're still not aware of what that impact is on the gas lady. So likely the gas lighters had previous experiences similar to this one, and they've come to the feel this uneasiness around the interaction. But they still just kind of keep moving on ahead, because why would they change the approach? If you really do think that you're right to engage as you've been doing and still don't fully understand why people aren't interested in engaging? So here's what that can look like. They call it the flood of words. So one person said that they would send a short message to their colleague, only to receive a deluge in response. So one sentence would receive a multi paragraph response. And it was overwhelming, and it had the effect of totally wiping out anything that they had said.

[00:22:55] And so, he says, I understand some people are verbose while others are more succinct. This woman, though, said she was married to a man who is verbose, so she's well versed in this flood of words. And at the same time, she said she would continually wonder, Where does this come from? You know, what was I even asking? I wasn't asking that and so on. And she said I felt that my reality was quivering. How did what I wrote necessitate a response that not only didn't acknowledge my words, but it included a conversation I had never started and I was massively overwhelmed in quantity. And furthermore, the flood of words did not seem to be my colleague's attempt to understand me or have an interchange. Instead, he created a wall of explanation from his point of view or an endless tide of justification to push back and obliterate what he had likely perceived as a challenge. And I have to tell you, when I look at my own destinies of narcissism and I'm not kidding around, I mean, that's part of why I'm just so fascinated by this work. And I mean, I'm good with that flood of words, and I type fast. And I know that there have been times where I'd probably overwhelm my wife, where I wasn't even aware that I was just jumping into the world of justification and probably not even answering the question.

[00:23:57] So that's one to really, you know, to be aware of. The third is intentional, and here's where things start to get a little bit interesting, more of a more aware of an impact, but no intent to seriously harm. So this is a person who has more awareness than the gas is in situations one and two. They know what they're doing is harmful, but they would never describe themselves as gaslighting, because that's that's left for the malevolent, malevolent individuals, right? They're not trying to hurt somebody or drive them crazy, but they are into power struggles and they're so into winning. And here's what that can look like stonewalling. Refusing to answer what's said Oh my gosh, this one's common. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, I would imagine that you will ask a question. They won't answer that one. Then they'll answer, Ask a question of you. You're the nice person. You respond, assuming that, then they'll respond back to your question and they don't. And then if you say, did you see my text, then you're not going to get it. Yeah, you know what? I didn't really have a good answer. You're going to get. No, I never saw it. But then why did you respond to the other one? You know, again, they're not going to take ownership, which is so frustrating. Or they're going to then say, yeah, I saw your text. I don't know how I'm supposed to answer that.

[00:25:02] That's ridiculous. So stonewalling, refusing to answer what's been said in this article. The person said, In fact, my colleague not only did that, he simply acted as though what I had said never existed. Messages would be exchanged. And if I was left wondering if he'd actually read my words, have my message gone through? I was certain I had. But why was he so oblivious to what I had said? How come every word made little to no impact is that my words disappeared into the ether, never to be acknowledged again. When I'm working with people and we're starting to talk about boundaries, especially when we end up getting into separation or divorce. Boy, this one comes out even more. You know, when we're talking about, Hey, how about that child support or you want to split 50 50 on this dental bill? No response, you know, but when then they say, I need to drop the kids off early? You know, then. And then again, the kind person is responding. So in that one, and it can feel like you're being so mean or rude, which is hard for the nice person. But I often say, here's where the boundary is that I'm going to copy and paste the message until you answer it. And then finally, you will get the answer. But the nice person again, trying to give that that nurses the benefit of the doubt is often thinking, Oh, maybe, maybe I ask the question wrong.

[00:26:08] Maybe that was rude of me. Maybe he didn't see it. But know start to trust your gut and start to start to listen to yourself. You listen to your instincts a little bit more. Also, in that intentional, more aware of an impact version of gaslighting, it's called whiplash communication. So he says the final straw came in one of our last communications, and it's when communication went from I'm upset to you don't have to respond to I'm betrayed and you said you would, but it goes all the way to you don't have to. And by the end of the message, this person was left wondering if they should even respond. Had they done something wrong, had they inadvertently impacted this person in a negative way, but they didn't need to say anything. So on the one hand, they say, I think the gaslighter in this situation is likely confused by what they're feeling. And on the other hand, it's not their first rodeo. They've done this before knowing that others end up hurt or angry or unsettled by their actions. So sometimes when the gas lady doesn't understand, the Gaslighter simply tells them, You just don't get it. You know what? Don't even worry about it. You don't have to respond. And in this person's case, they said it was true. The paradoxical pieces didn't make sense when you put everything into a cohesive whole, meaning that the I don't know how many times we process this with someone in session yesterday where you know, they they were just saying, You know what, I don't even want to continue to have this conversation.

[00:27:19] It's obvious that you don't understand me, you don't hear me. And so don't even I don't even want you to respond. So what are they trying to do? They're still trying to control the situation by telling you, you're the one that doesn't get it, even though you're actually the one that gets it. And they just are having a hard time taking ownership or or giving an answer that doesn't paint them in a bad light. The last one is is a bad one, the malicious with intent to desired, with desire to harm textbook gaslighting. Stephanie Psaki's has an article where she outlines the warning signs, blatant lies, denial, manipulation and wearing the gaslighting down, mismatching actions and words lining others against you. Weaponizing confusion, projecting all of those gathering the army. This one I talked about a little bit before the most malicious piece that they, this person experience with their colleague. He had other people look at the project and informed me that they thought that it was fine. So he said he had to step away if he was going to get the if the other person, if the narcissist was going to gather the masses against this person and continue to prove their point against mine, that actually the company's point, where were they to go with it? Nowhere.

[00:28:24] One person against an army is useless, and it certainly had them questioning what they were proposing. And that one's the one where and I can give so many examples of and I didn't even recognize this was a trait of narcissism until I was well into my practice where it would just be those situations that just just felt odd. They hit different, as the kids say. So all of a sudden I would have, let's say, a wife on my couch. And then the husband said, You know, I was talking with your with your brother and my my my sister in law. And, you know, my sister and even my physician, I was talking with him and we all kind of think you're depressed, like it was a real conversation. And and the the narcissist, the Gaslighter thinks that they've gathered this army. So now that they can, it's even more reason to prove that their their spouse is crazy. But in reality, it's like, really you, you talk to all those people. And that one became one of the easiest ones to work with. To set a boundary with is then I would often say, You know what that sounds like? That's really hard for the, you know, your wife there to hear that you would talk to all these other people. So maybe what we should do is, let's see. Let's put a group text together, and let's just address that with everybody.

[00:29:29] You know, I'm more than happy to get everybody on the same page. And what would happen? I mean, and I don't like using all or nothing statements, but I will say always, always the gas lady, the narcissist or the gaslighter. The narcissist would say, No, you know, I don't want to bring them into it. You know what? That's I don't want to do that. And I would see that in my session. So often I would get a text from one person and they would say, Hey, get, I'm going with the wife is the the husband is the narcissist in this scenario, the one I'm thinking of in particular. Where the wife says, Hey, did you really say that this was probably more of my fault, but that that you were afraid to tell me directly? I'm like, No, no, no, we're putting a stop to this right now. So then whenever we'd have the next session, it's like, Hey, can you just sound like there's some confusion there? So can you just send me the group text if you, you know, if the husband in the scenario feels inclined to share something that he feels that I said about the wife in a session. First of all, it's kind of not the way it works. And so let's just do a group text and then surprisingly, things that I were that I was saying about the the the victim, the spouse here, they disappeared because now the narcissist knew that they couldn't do that anymore.

[00:30:42] That was a good example of setting a nice, healthy boundary. But but gaslighting is it's so much more prevalent than what we think it is. And this article kind of sums up by saying, you know, sometimes it occurs as these microaggressions from people who don't even know they're doing it. I would imagine most people are guilty of this. I've been guilty of that. Sometimes we know something's off, but we and we still pursue a little line of inquiry and then things end up taking a turn for the worse and we can start. We just left feeling like our reality is just starting to quiver. They say in this article like like a minor earthquake. And she said until in her own case, it wasn't until somebody else pointed it out that they began to see it. And with that new perspective, they were able to get a huge sigh of relief and understand, you know, they said the furniture of my home had never been rearranged. Somebody was just trying to make me feel like it had been. And this is where I have so, so many examples of this. I honestly have. I think it's 40 50 pages over the years of gasoline and examples. And in this podcast, I want to start to get to those so people will understand that they're not crazy. So if you are talking about, you know, if you're aware you're the nice, kind person that's waking up to narcissism and you're telling, you know, you're saying, OK, but no.

[00:31:47] Sometimes I do feel like maybe I'm doing the gaslighting. Know what you're trying to do is make sense of things and even explain yourself or point out these errors of what you're seeing in front of you. And then when it's turned back around on you and you are the one feeling crazy, it can feel like, well, I guess I'm trying to convince him that he's wrong. And maybe I'm not. No, you. We got to get you back to trust in your gut and and being able to get above that, that gaslighting the anxiety that comes with that. You know, I go back to the episode that I talked about the things you can do in these interactions. You got to raise your emotional baseline that self-care can get your PhD in gaslighting. You need to understand when it's happening and then be able to step back and just look at it. Talk about this on an episode. I think maybe last time to about those popcorn moments, you be able to sit back and watch the show and not get emotionally invested or involved when you know, Oh, this is gaslighting. Yeah, I never said that. Or no, he actually did do that. And so I'm not going to engage. And that's when you're going to start to watch the person go through a variety of emotions because they're trying to find that right button to push, to get you to then engage.

[00:32:51] So then it will not be about them. It will now be about the argument or the confusion, or it's about you and your reaction. It's not so covered a lot of ground. We're going to do probably a Q&A next week because I have so many cues, so I need to give some A's. So if you have some more cues, send them in through the contact form on Tony or ORBCOMM. Please keep, you know, sharing your examples in your AHA moments and your awareness because it's helping so many people as you do that. And I can't lie. I'm so grateful for the reviews. I actually just read through them last night to my wife, I was almost I was getting a little bit teary eyed because there's so many nice things said there. And and I hate being that guy that's saying so like, you subscribe all that stuff. But it really, I've been shocked at the download numbers and the amount of ground this podcast is covering because people need all the tools. I have zero scarcity mindset when it comes to this podcast. I want you to get all the podcasts, all the information, all the YouTube videos, because it takes all that to help you. I'm going to be cheesy now to help you wake up to narcissism. All right. Have an amazing weekend, and we'll talk to you next week.

The phrase "gaslighting" is making the rounds lately, and with the increased awareness around the term, many people are accusing their spouses, parents, and co-workers of gaslighting them in all areas of life. A lot of times, the accuser is correct, by definition, meaning yes, the person they are accusing may be trying to convince them that what they are saying isn't true, but is gaslighting always intentional? Can gaslighting come from a place of simply being misunderstood or is it always calculated and malicious? In today's episode I cover an article on The Good Men Project's website called: 4 Levels of Gaslighting: From Unconscious to Malicious by Paget Norton, and I also give more listener examples of gaslighting.

Go to tonyoverbay.com/magnetic today to learn more about Tony's next round of the Magnetic Marriage course!

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

[00:00:15] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:00:23] Well, let me start today's podcast by saying you're welcome, because I'm about to hand you a gift, you will be able to share what I'm about to tell you with anybody today. And I'm going to guess that they will not have heard of what you're going to share. So I had a client in my office. It was a few days ago, and we were talking about the fact that I've done a lot episodes of the podcast now. And I was thinking about it. And I'm almost to the four year anniversary of the podcast. And on one of the very early episodes, I was talking with a guest and we were talking about when clients come in the office and they just assume that, you know, everything about every psychological principle known to man. And this particular client said, well, I'm sure you're familiar with lycanthropy. And I said, I'm really not. And he said, really? Like lycanthropy, clinical lycanthropy. Maybe that maybe that rings a bell. And that was years ago. And I still remember feeling a little bit anxious, thinking, oh, my gosh, did I miss something? It's clinical lycanthropy. This really simple concept that I should have learned, not even in grad school, but in psychology. What one does every student learn early on about clinical lycanthropy? And this was a time that I fell asleep early in class. You know, my bad therapist, because I can't pull this one right out of my head. And so then I said I had to stand there, my confidence, and say I really don't know about clinical lycanthropy.

[00:01:39] And he continued to go on and on about how, wow, boy, if you've been doing this for a long time, I would have assumed you knew this. And it turns out, let me define clinical lycanthropy. Clinical lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the infected person can transform into, has transformed into, or is an animal. And its name is associated with the mythical condition of lycanthropy or a supernatural affliction in which humans are said to physically shape shift into wolves. Now, surprisingly, it is purported to be a very rare disorder. But the point of starting today's episode with this is this particular client who I love and I still see from time to time today is someone who just assumed that I knew all of these things is to the point where then they insisted that I must know what clinical lycanthropy was. And I remember at that point kind of recognizing in a moment and I didn't express this to the client, but I thought, you know, I feel like I'm being Guesclin a little bit here because I feel like my version of reality is is a question. And even to the point where I was starting to think I probably should know about clinical lycanthropy, but in reality, I don't. And that's kind of the end of the story. So it had me reflecting a lot on the concept of gaslighting.

[00:02:55] I know that can be a dramatic example of this concept that it gets talked about often. But then I had another experience where I, I don't have an opportunity to see new clients. Very often my practice is full and I'm grateful for that, all those wonderful things. But I'm talking to somebody new and they are in a relationship or they've been in a long term relationship with someone with very strong narcissistic traits, potentially narcissistic personality disorder. And and so I just say, as they're relating a lot of stories where the story goes from the person expressing themselves saying, hey, you know, I'm noticing this in our relationship. Let's just say hypothetically that the person saying, you know, I would really love to have people over. And I know that this is something that you aren't interested in because they had a long track record or history of this person bringing up. I would love to have people over and their spouse saying, you know, I'm not up for it. You know, I don't like that. I can't believe you're even asking me about that. But in this particular situation, the person express themselves and their spouse responded with, what do you mean? I don't want to have people over. I've always wanted to have people over. I'm one of the most outgoing people that you'll ever meet. So the fact that you're saying that you don't think that I want to have people over is is insane.

[00:04:10] Don't you even know who I am? And this person's thinking? No, in reality, I don't think that you know who I am because this is who I am at my core. And I have been begging for years, if not decades, to do more entertaining, to have more people over. But by the end of this conversation, their spouse had left them feeling like, am I am I crazy? Do I not say that I would like to have people over often? Or are they actually the one that does want people over is am I living in some sort of delusionary world? And so I said, well, you're aware you're familiar with the term gaslighting. Right? And this person just looked and said, I I don't know that term. And I felt like I was all of a sudden the person talking about clinical lycanthropy. I felt like, you don't know, gaslighting it really. I mean, you're with all the talk about it these days and the fact that you're in this relationship, you must know gaslighting. And then I realized, holy cow, Tony, you're gaslighting somebody about gaslighting, which I think is what the kids call meta. But so it it left me thinking about doing a new episode on gaslighting. But then I went into the archives virtual couch archives and I looked at. Some of the episodes that I've done on gaslighting in the past and I found one that talked about is gaslighting intentional? And we go over four different types of gaslighting.

[00:05:27] And it turns out it's one of the most downloaded episodes in the four years and three, four million downloads of the Virtual Couch podcast. So I wanted to bring it back up and I've done a little bit of editing on it. So it should be a little bit more clean, a little more time. But today we're going to talk about what gaslighting is. Is gaslighting a conscious thing? Does the guest later know that they're gaslighting, which maybe you can even see from this opening that not all the time? And then more importantly, what are these four types of gaslighting? And here's the goal is after doing this episode, I remember going to a cabin with my in-laws. My daughter, my oldest daughter got married and the concept of gaslighting was brought up. And we referred to some of the things that I talk about on today's episode. And from that point on, it was kind of a fun weekend where people were saying, OK, I think that might be gaslighting or, oh, did it feel like I was gaslighting you? And so I feel like with that awareness that it was then it was kind of brought this this feeling of curiosity to the table. And everybody I felt like in this entire cabin over this vacation was so much more aware of. Wow, OK, I realize I am I probably am making you feel crazy when I just say something as simple as, oh, I thought you knew that already or I thought you heard me say that earlier.

[00:06:43] I can't believe you didn't hear me say that because I felt like I said it really loud. And so there's so many ways that we probably do put off this vibe, this energy or this message of, hey, you're crazy, you're wrong. You must believe this thing. I can't believe you don't believe this thing. I can't believe you don't know this thing such as clinical lycanthropy. So I want to sit back, relax. And by the end of this episode, I think you're going to have a greater understanding of what gaslighting is. And I feel like there's going to be two or possibly three big takeaways today. One is just knowing what it is, what it looks like. But I hope that when you are aware of it, that the first thing you can do is hold yourself accountable and recognize if you are doing that. And one of the things I love doing is saying out loud to my wife, whoa, I feel like what I'm saying right now, may I might be putting across this gaslighting type of vibe. Am I making you feel crazy right now? So I feel like that's one just bringing that awareness to it. One of the second things to do is recognize when it's happening to you and even if it's happening and the person isn't meaning it maliciously, but whether they mean it maliciously or not, stand in your calm, confident, energetic self.

[00:07:49] And if there's something that you know and you express it and then someone is starting to make you feel a little bit crazy around something, you're very confident and then just stand in that confident energy. You know, I'm working on. I've got a new podcast. It's about the launch and it's called Waking Up to Narcissism. There'll be some more information coming up on that. And I was working on the intro of the trailer, a lot of these fun things. And I was going back and writing a document about these five rules. I have of sorts of when working with or interacting with someone that is narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic personality disorder. And I'll go into so much more detail about this on that podcast. And I've got a book coming up soon, too. But I have these five rules. No. One is to raise your emotional baseline. I talk about that often emotional baseline that's self care. Get yourself in a position because you have to to feel like you have your wits about you. Quite frankly, my second rule is get your Ph.D. and yes, lady. So I feel like today's episode becomes one of those that is very necessary in order to get this advanced degree and gaslighting to know that you are not crazy or insane and just for fun. The other three things I talk about are then disengage from unproductive conversations.

[00:08:56] When you really recognize what gaslighting is, you, you'll realize that this isn't doing me much good to stay in this conversation where someone is just trying to turn things around on me. Number four is to set healthy boundaries and that can be a real challenge. But sometimes breaking a boundary down at its simplest concept is that, OK, if this person is going to say this, then here's my boundary. I'm going to either leave the conversation, I'm not going to respond to the conversation or I'm going to respond with a certain thing. I was writing a little bit of an article about this yesterday, and an example I gave was in co parenting with a narcissistic parent, finances men finances get brought up all the time, even though there's this agreement from the court. But the narcissistic parent often still tries to push the rules because money just means the world to them. It's their it's their emotional currency. It it's their sense of value. So even when there's a a settlement amount in this scenario, the narcissistic parent, he continues to just try to get more money out of the the wife or have her take less money or, you know, it's just it's just interesting to watch. But so setting a boundary is that any time that he brings up money instead of her trying to then defend herself or refer back to, you know, hey, we've already agreed on this or that sort of thing, she has a copy and paste line that comes back that says, as a reminder, any time that you are bringing up money, I.

[00:10:19] I'm not going to respond other than this, and we need to talk about this with our attorneys, and the more that she continues to respond or hold that boundary, though, he's finally starting to maybe not be as aggressive about trying to change the the relationship that they have around parenting and finances with the kids. But then the fifth rule of interacting in a relationship with a narcissist is the realize that they're you'll never say or do the thing that will cause that aha moment or the epiphany for that narcissist so that then they'll finally say, oh my gosh, I get it, you're right. I'll change all my thoughts and behaviors and actions and emotions. So those are the few things. But I mention that because the gaslighting is a really key piece of that. When I say get your Ph.D. in gaslighting, I want you to leave this episode today feeling pretty confident that you know what it is. You can recognize that you maybe recognize when you're doing it yourself, but more importantly, when you see it happening, know that you are not crazy. This is called gaslighting. And you can remove yourself from that conversation or that situation and at any point to to keep your sanity. So without any further ado, let's jump right into this episode on gaslighting for types of gaslighting. Does the gaslight or no. They gaslight

[00:11:28] Everything you always want to know

[00:11:29] About gaslighted. So much so

[00:11:43] I'm going to talk a little bit more about gaslighting, and I have to admit this is something I get a lot of e-mails about and you start to notice if you really look at the data, the analytics behind the podcast, if I mentioned gaslighting, if I mention something to do with narcissism or something to do with maybe couples counseling,

[00:11:57] Those episodes, I get a lot more downloads than any other.

[00:12:00] So I know that this is a topic that is being discussed often and people want to know more about it. And I also get emails of people that give me gaslighting. Examples, though, still come in almost daily and I think I'm up to about 50 50 or so pages, single spaced of examples that people have sent in. It breaks my heart, but also a lot of the emails that accompany these examples say that until the listener heard a gaslighting episode of the podcast that they weren't aware that there was a name to what they felt like their spouse did, or they just felt like they were the ones going crazy. So I'm grateful that people at least are having some awareness around something that is not necessary, that it's not it's not productive, it's not helpful. It doesn't help a relationship thrive. And so if you do feel like you are a victim of gaslighting or if you feel like you're somebody who you're recognizing me and I do that. I do, yes. Then get help. Read more about it. Go see a professional. This podcast is in no way a replacement for professional therapy, but hopefully it's going to bring some awareness and lead people to therapy. But before I get a little bit further into the episode today, I had talked the last time the episode I released earlier this week, it was part one of what I want to do, a two part series talking about pornography and just saying, hey, this is what it would look like if you're sitting on a couch across from me.

[00:13:08] And here's the approach I'd like to take. I just always thankful for the wonderful feedback. I really do appreciate that. And I alluded to recording on a new program and I didn't really say much about it. And I just wanted to talk for two seconds about that because I'm actually going to have a couple of people from the company on the podcast and the not too distant future, because it's just it's a it's a nice story. And it's one of those stories where sounds like people, various backgrounds and different companies following a passion, following their dreams, putting out a program. And so I read this thing called Pod News. Every day comes in about 4:00 in the morning. And I like to get to my office really early. That's when I feel like I can do some writing or recording, that sort of thing before clients come in. And I'm reading the pod news and there's a link to this. It says A new company called Octopus Acebes and said that octopus is has this new technology, this new recording technology and the recording technology is it just helps you put together an entire podcast with the intros and with the music. And then not only that, but these are all former audio engineers that have pretty pretty impressive resumes, careers. And so then they take care of all of that, the leveling of sounds and just making things sound nice and crisp. And even so, it's this professional recording sound. And it's also put together in this program where you just click a button and you record and it has cool music and that sort of thing.

[00:14:25] So so I can talk about impulsive. I just clicked on it and and I just recorded that episode. And so after I recorded it, I felt like that was that was fun. It was exciting. You go to this part of the page where you just click build the episode and an error message came up. So I panicked. I really did. And I realized that I had from the time I clicked on the pod news link to the point where I had recorded an episode was probably less than forty five minutes and the episode was about forty one minutes long. So I really didn't know what I was doing. And so I immediately sent an email to their support and I heard back within I think it was a few minutes and they were just, hey, thanks so much. And here's what we found. And so then it was over Memorial Day weekend and they just went back and forth with me and they identified some issues. They were grateful that I had jumped on really quick to try the program. I think it's still in beta. And and just by the time I'm sitting there in a hotel room on Monday morning on Memorial Day, I'm still trading emails and they're there. They've got it fixed. They've got the episode completed. I uploaded it. And I just really it's fun to work with. I'm a fan of new technology. I spent ten years in software before I became a therapist.

[00:15:32] I talk about that on some of the episodes. And so I know I enjoy that. It was fun. But when I put the episode together and then all of a sudden we get this error message. So there was this part of me that thought, oh my gosh, I, I didn't record a up. Sometimes when I record interviews, I'll record, I'll have a recording one on my phone just as a backup. When note to myself, I am not doing that right now and I'm recording again through August which is exciting. But so I just thought that was a fun experience, interacting with a company that is exciting and eager. And so they put the episode together and I just I'm using it again today and I think it's going to be a lot of fun moving forward. So if you are looking to record podcasts, the check them out. OK, post.com, I don't get anything from HSBC, Dotcom, and it's just this all in one recording platform, which is pretty impressive. All right, let's get to it before I even go more about the gaslighting, I think I talked about something that I'm noticing. So here's here's the scenario is that I often have people say to me, hey, did you really tell my teenager this or did you really tell my spouse this? And and I have to tell you, I my goal is a therapist. And I'm not saying that maybe I was perfect at this from the very beginning, but, boy, you just

[00:16:38] Got to be honest and you have to be authentic and all of those kind of things.

[00:16:40] And part of the reason I love having a podcast is I can tell somebody here's this model that I feel is effective in marriage, communication, emotionally focused therapy, F.T. And sometimes when I'm telling somebody when they hear for the first time that, you know, you're putting out this emotional bid, you're being vulnerable. And if your spouse is not having empathy for what you're putting out there, then, of course, you're going to eventually have these walls built up or you're going to get angry or you're going to withdraw. And I know that at times people feel like I'm just saying what they want to hear, especially for the fact that they're paying me. So I love having a hundred and something podcasts up there where I can say, hey, here's half a dozen episodes on F.T.. And so I promise you, I'm not just blowing smoke. This is this is a real thing or the acceptance and commitment therapy stuff or that's a big reason. I want to record that episode about the pornography addiction earlier this week, because I want people to know that, no, I'm a strength based guy. I'm telling you, shame does not work in this situation and we've got to keep trying. And so I know those can sound cliched, but I want people to know that I'm being as honest and open, sincere, that sort of thing. So the same thing applies when I'm working in couples therapy, because at times you'll have one individual in and then you'll get the spouse in the next time.

[00:17:49] And so here's the here's the setup. In the past, I would hear, hey, my spouse said that you told them that they're doing nothing wrong. Is that true? And it's like, no, first of all, I'm not going to tell. So you're doing something wrong, going to lead them down that path to recognize the things that they're doing that don't go that are there may be counter to the their goals, but am I going to tell somebody, look, I me. Are you doing the wrong thing? Kind of not not my style. But here's what I've always thought in the past or another good example is when I will have a mom reach out to me. I may be seeing a teenage boy for pornography addiction. And she says, Do you really tell him to play video games, turn to video games? And I was like, well, yes. So you're thinking, I'm just telling him, hey, champ wants you to play more video games. But when it's you're trying to break somebody away from watching hardcore pornographic videos in the world of harm reduction. Yeah. Let's see. Let's turn to a video game instead, because we have to start working towards something more strength based or positive, and that is not viewing pornography. So so I know there's various ways where my words are used against me. And typically I will tell someone that does ask me, did you really say whatever they're going to say is that a couple of things are at work.

[00:18:53] One is that you have to factor in that when someone hears something, especially in therapy, they are going to hear it through their own filter. They're going to hear the things that they want to hear. They're going to take away from the words that I say or an article that they read or a podcast that they listen to, the things that they really feel apply to them or the human nature. They're going to they're going to typically hear the things that they want to hear. Then you've got to then they're going to talk to their spouse. So they're going to talk to their parents or they're going to talk to their whoever whoever is in their life. And they're going to now conscious or subconscious filter that once again an hour into that good old game of telephone. So now it's going to be well, Tony said this and a lot of times I'll even tell my clients, hey, if you if you're in a in a job and you really know what you need to do, but you're afraid to tell your partner that this is what you need to do and that scenario, sure. You can you can blame it on me. If I'm if I tell a guy who's trying to overcome pornography addiction that he needs to I don't know these to do some meditation or if he needs to, to get a daily routine together.

[00:19:53] And if for some reason he's saying, I can't tell my wife that she'll think it's an excuse, then it's like I blame it on me, you know, that's fine. So in those scenarios, I think it's a little bit different. But what I will often hear, did you really tell my husband that I'm the one that's crazy or that sort of thing or that, again, that he's not doing anything that's bad and those are just times where it's like, well, no, no, I didn't say that. So here's the here's my big epiphany. This week is the whole a model. What I what I preach, I model the methods that I use. And in the emotionally focused therapy world, it is all about when somebody is talking, when somebody is putting out what we call an emotional bid, when they're trying to open up, when they're trying to be vulnerable, when they're trying to make sense of where they're at in their life. The job of, I feel the therapist or in a healthy relationship, the job of the partner is to have empathy. It's to tell me more about that. What is that like for you? When do you think this is the first time that that came up? That must be difficult. Give me examples. And sometimes when someone is being heard for the first time maybe, or when they are having given the safe place to really explore their emotions and where things came from and and start talking about things that they've maybe suppressed for a long time that feels good and it feels validating.

[00:21:06] And so what I have started to notice is that I've had a few examples lately where someone then goes home after I have just felt so connected to a client in a session and just validated the heck out of them and really made sense because for the first time they've said, man, this happened when I was a kid. This happened when I was in elementary school. Here's what happened in middle school. Here's when I tried to put myself out there in high school. Here's the way my parents reacted. And so, man, makes sense why now? Here's what I'm doing or here's why I did the things that I did. And so when I'm when I'm validating somebody and just say I'm that I hear you like that, that's incredible to put that together that it feels like. We're making progress a lot of times I now recognize that that person leaves the office and says Tony agrees, Tony thinks I'm right, when in reality that just was empathy, that was validation. Maybe that was something that they haven't had before. So or there are times where I will have somebody just look at a case in couples counseling. I often say I'm a bit of a one trick pony.

[00:22:00] I know emotionally focused therapy. I know that model. I know that when somebody is putting out the emotional bid, here comes the empathy. So when someone is sitting in front of me and they are telling me repeatedly over and over that they feel like they've done everything that they can do, then I have to validate that. I'm telling them. Well, I don't think so. I know a lot of people say, well, you just need to be real with somebody. But that's saying you just need to force your agenda on them, which is not helpful. It's not productive. So when I'm telling somebody, man, it sounds like if you feel like you've done all you can do, then, yeah. Sounds like you may feel like there's not a lot of hope left. But then I feel like then what the person misses is what comes next. I will have that empathy or validation. But then oftentimes I'll say, but let's let's throw that through the model. So I'm hearing you. You feel like you've done everything you can, but when your partner is saying, I don't I still don't think this is going to work, just humor me. What's the example of it? It's then it's tell me more. Tell me why you don't feel this is going to work. And and and I feel like that's the part that often after somebody feels validated, they feel heard and then they feel like basically I'm telling them, you're right, I agree with you.

[00:23:01] Let's get the pitchforks and go Yinnar, that at that point, I don't feel like they're hearing the next part where it's the OK, but let's get back to the work we're doing. What would that look like in the Nifty World? And so so that's just been a little bit of an epiphany that I've had. And and so even just the last two or three weeks, I've been doing this for a long time. So I love the fact that in this field you can continue to grow. But in the last couple of weeks when somebody is now, I can tell they're feeling validated literally just the last few days even I've said, hey, so I want you to know, like I this is empathy. This is this is what we're trying to model in your relationship. And and I do hear you. And I can I can only imagine how hard that would be. But now let me make sure that I'm throwing the here's the F.T. example back into the frame. And so but anyway, I just wanted to share that because I feel like sometimes when when we don't feel validated ever, or very often that when we do get that validation, I think at times that's what we want to go complete cliche and what sometimes drives someone into the arms or into the lives of someone else other than their partner.

[00:24:02] It's when it's because that the other person, the new person is validating this person in their relationship. So as a marriage therapist, that's all I can do to say, OK, let's let's try it and work on how that validation works within the relationship. Now, sometimes the person who lacks empathy or doesn't really understand what empathy really looks like, and I have empathy for them for not understanding empathy because that comes from something way back in their past as well. But but I just I thought that was interesting is something I'm going to keep an eye on. And if you feel like your if you start agreeing or validating your partner, here's an email that I got. I didn't even pull it up so this could paraphrase it. But this just came to me is I have a woman who is she been listen to all my podcast. And she said that she's she's trying to be more empathetic toward her husband. Now, her husband doesn't know he doesn't want to go to therapy, that sort of thing. But she said the more empathetic than I am toward him, she said, actually, I feel like the more angry he's getting or the more empowered he feels. And I think that this is part of that. So she's saying, I have to start putting these F.T. skills into play. But what's happening is the husband's insane in his mind. Finally, somebody gets she she understands that she's at fault.

[00:25:13] And and no, that's not the point. She's trying to have empathy and have more of an understanding of maybe what he's going through. So I just want to talk about that a little bit. OK, let's get to Gastly. I've got a few Gasolina examples. But one of the questions I get often in therapy, out of therapy, via email, out in the wild is the more that people are talking about gaslighting, the more that the question comes up of is it intentional? Is it always malicious? Because and this is this may I think about this often. And I think I shared either one of my podcasts or even I think it was the Julie Lee podcast where I see you podcast where I was a guest on hers. I've had her in mind as well. But she just started talking about gaslighting and and she's like me. And I think she said, I realize that that's something maybe I do from time to time. And I and I let her know. My wife straight up said a few weeks ago, she's like, I feel like your gaslighted me right now. And my first response want to be, are you kidding me? But then I realized, OK, you know what? By definition, she is correct. She's trying to explain something to me and I'm going right into that. No, no, that's that's not right. You're not really here and where I'm coming from or you're not understanding.

[00:26:15] And so I'm trying to basically tell her, hey, what you're saying is wrong and let me tell you why it's wrong. And and and I can't believe you think it's wrong. They even said that because I was getting so passionate about I feel like this is so clear and that you're not seeing this. And that was that was a humbling moment for me because I had to step back and go, wow, how often do I do that? And so so that's where I feel like gaslighting isn't always intentional and it's not always malicious. So I just wanted to find out. I was like to find a little. The data behind this and pretty, pretty neat website called the Goodman Project, so it's Good Men Project Dotcom and an author, and I'm probably going to butcher his name, Padget Norton, and says, is it intentional? The the gas lighting four levels of gas lighting? And again, is it intentional? So here's here's what Norton said. I'll do that. I remember when in school you would always say the person's last name, so I'm going to say that. So here's what Norton said. The following are four levels of gas, unconscious gas lighting to awareness that something is off three intentional. And I like the distinction made here. Intentional, more aware of an impact, but no intent to seriously harm, because I feel like that's maybe where where a lot of people end up and for is malicious intent with desire to harm.

[00:27:25] And I feel like that's that's what a lot of people just assume when they hear the phrase gaslighting that, oh, my gosh, my partner is doing this malicious intent with desire to harm form of gaslighting. So first, Norton talks about unconscious gaslighting. They say the person is totally aware, unaware there is a big difference. Right. Person is totally unaware that they are engaging and in fact, they perceive that they're being very reasonable in their intentions because they have no clue about the impact of what they're doing. They might even lack the capacity or willingness to question their own viewpoint in consideration of another's viewpoint. And and I feel like that's what I was doing when I had this awareness that I was complete unconscious gaslighting. And the author says here is what it can look like. The quote, I don't get it act over the course of a week. I said I explain and re-explain the company's vision to my colleague numerous times. I teach English as a second language for for a living. So I'm intimately familiar with how to break down concepts, reword definitions and give examples. This was a totally different issue. My colleague continued to claim confusion over and over again. When somebody says they're confused, it makes no effort to dove into why they're confused. They continually put the onus on you to explain. I love that concept. So when they're saying, look, I don't get it, they're just saying this is on you.

[00:28:28] And so the hard part is that when you're trying to explain, you're coming from all different angles to explain, then that's the part where I can just start to feel like there's this crazy making. So. So Norton said it not only becomes tedious, but it has you question what you're saying. So I said I began to wonder, why am I not getting through? How is it that he's not understanding these ideas that I'm explaining? Then it hit me. He actually didn't want to understand, but likely he didn't know that somebody who truly wants to understand makes efforts in that direction. I love that concept in general, not just in communication and in gas. I had a client earlier in the week that was talking about I'm struggling with some ADHD related things and just saying, there it is, it's my ADHD. And their their wife was was frustrated with that. And I understand it is a card carrying member of ADHD, substantive type, also known as attention deficit disorder. Add that a lot of times I can say, doggone it, what just happened is a little bit of maybe a function of my ADHD, but that doesn't mean period, end of story that there's a big difference of is somebody really trying to understand and then how do I improve or work with that? Or are they just saying there it is? So I think that somebody who truly wants to understand or change will continually make efforts in that direction.

[00:29:34] And then, Norton says, coexisting in a parallel universe. Along with ignoring my words, my colleague addressed issues he claimed I had raised. This is as though I had mentioned ice cream. And his response was, well, when you talked about cheesecake and I love that right. So as you can imagine, this was incredibly baffling. What was he addressing? Who is he addressing? Was he addressing me of bit out of the words like this raised a different issue for me X then I would have understood. Instead, he would say things like your point about X, but when I refer back to my messages to see if I discussed X, it hadn't been raised and I began to wonder if we were existing in a strange and parallel universe with alternate forms of ourselves. I love that because sometimes you do feel like I had a couple of instances with clients in particular. There was there was one where I really felt like a wife and a husband and I were all on the same page and a wife went right back to a behavior that I remember spending half an hour talking about in a session and then just just just blank stare at me and said, I know we never talked about that. And it was like, oh, maybe that was a parallel universe kind of thing. All right.

[00:30:30] So the second form of gaslighting, according to Norton from the Good Men Project, is awareness that something is off. In this case, they say, I believe the gas lighter senses that something isn't working, but still isn't aware of the impact of the gas light. Likely the gas slaters had previous experiences similar to this. One has come to feel an uneasiness around the interaction, but still firmly trudges on ahead. Why would you change in approach if you think that you're right to engage as if you've been doing right to me love? When you read on the fly, you don't really do so well. All right, let's try that again. Like with a gas lighter has had previous experiences similar to this one has come to feel an uneasiness around the interaction, but still firmly trudges on ahead. Why would you change in approach if you think you are right to engage as as you have been doing and still don't fully understand why people aren't interested in engaging? So here's what that would look like. Calls it the flood of words. I would send a short message to my colleague only to receive a deluge. In response, one sentence would receive a multiple paragraph response and it was overwhelming and had the effect of totally wiping out anything I had said. I understand some people are more verbose and I will take a pause here and say I'm a bit guilty of that. I got a text from a friend the other day who said, Hey, you win the The World's Longest Text Award.

[00:31:37] And it's kind of had then I felt bad and I. Explain that I'm texting on my MacBook Pro, and so I've got a full keyboard and I type like a 50 secretary, and so, yes, I do tend to get a bit verbose. So they said, OK, so somebody does that. So they say so I'm well versed in such a flood of words. At the same time, I would continually wonder, where did this come from? What was I asking? I wasn't asking that and so on. I felt my reality quivering. How how did what I wrote and Nessa's necessitate a response that not only didn't acknowledge my words included a conversation I had never started and was massively overwhelming in quantity. Furthermore, the flood of words did not seem to be my colleague's attempt to understand me or have an interchange. Instead, he created a wall of explanation from his own point of view and endless tide of justification to push back and obliterate what he likely perceived as a challenge the flood of words. So I really do appreciate that. Where I thought this was going the first time I read it was I had a couple of experiences this week where, you know, you ask a pretty simple question and in a text and you get back to something completely different or you ask two questions and you go back in answer to one cineaste, the other one, and then you still don't get an answer to that one.

[00:32:40] But this is more talking about. You're trying to make a point. Then you get back a complete just flood of words about something, something different. So that can be you're just aware that something's off. The third type of gas I and they talk about intentional. And here's where I really like this concept intentional. More aware of an impact, but no intent to seriously harm. OK, so that and I think that's the key is that no intent to seriously harm. So this is a person who has more awareness than the gas letters in the first and second examples, number one or number two, they know what they're doing is harmful, but they would never describe themselves as gastly there. That's for truly malevolent individuals. They're not trying to hurt someone or drive them crazy, but they are into power struggles and winning. I that's the key to this concept. Here's what it looks like. No one stonewalling, refusing to answer what's been said. In fact, my colleague not only did that, he simply acted as though what I said never existed. Messages would be exchanged and I was left wondering if he had actually read my words, had my message gone through. I was certain that it had. Why was he so oblivious to what I had said? How come every word made little to no impact? My words disappeared into ether, never to be acknowledged again.

[00:33:48] The second bore. So they're stonewalling. That's part of this third example. There's a and then they also talk about, I like this phrase, whiplash, communication. The final straw came when one of our last communications, that's when the communication went from I'm upset to you don't have to respond to I'm betrayed. And you said you would, too, but you don't have to. By the end of the message I was left wondering if I should respond, should not respond, had done something wrong, had inadvertently impacted him in a negative, but didn't need to say anything. Right. There's so many kind of mixed messages there. On the one hand, I think the gas later in the situation is likely confused by what they are feeling. And on the other hand, it's not their first rodeo. I love that they have. Sometimes I talk about if I jump back into the world of narcissism where gaslighting is an art form, there's there's steps that you go through when you're trying to help someone in a relationship with a narcissist. One of those is recognizing what guest learning how to disengage. You use that phrase often disengage. On a side note, you're helping somebody learn boundaries. You're helping them raise their emotional baseline. And you're really working on this concept that there is not going to be that aha moment. The thing you will say or the thing you will do or the the narcissist will go, oh my God, I'm wrong.

[00:34:47] But but this whiplashed communication makes me think of so with those skills at hand, oftentimes someone will stay in a an argument or a conversation with a narcissist where they are truly being gassed. Let anything they say is going to be no, no, you don't understand or it's like I never said that. And they're in this kind of conversation back. And I often say that you will eventually find what their exact phrase is for some for people with have got a few people. When one person was telling me about, you know, that they're they're narcissistic person in their life will all of a sudden kind of just talk about their oh, my gosh, my blood, my my blood pressure's dippin. And so that's that's their excuse. And so it's like I got to go sit down or somebody with chronic pain, my my my legs hurting or that sort of thing. But typically what it looks like is the you know what? This isn't even worth talking about. And that means, OK, I got to the end of the I got I made sense of something or it's that I can't believe we're having this conversation or a lot of times the person will just respond with anger or they'll just say, I can't believe you don't understand this or that sort of thing. So at that point, then the the nurses, the gas, later they've run out of there dodging and weaving and stonewalling and whiplash communication.

[00:35:53] And so they have to put it into it somehow or the other. So back to the Nortons part about this whiplash communication says on the one hand, I think the gas later in the situation is likely confused. Right. But then back to that. This isn't the first time at the rodeo they've done this before. They know that others end up hurt, angry and unsettled by their actions. Sometimes when the gas light doesn't understand the gas light or simply tells them, here we go, you don't get it. In my case, it was true. The paradoxical pieces didn't make sense as a cohesive whole. But here is the one that I think people often think is what all gas lighting is. So I'm glad for this article. And we were able to break down those those ones that maybe weren't malicious the fourth time. They say malicious intent with desire to harm. This is this is textbook gaslighting, is what Norton says. And he refers in Stephanie Circus's article. She outlines the warning signs, blatant lie. Denial, manipulation, wearing the gas lady down, mismatching actions and words, aligning others against you, weaponize in confusion, projecting, etc.. Holy cow, we could do episodes on each one of those concepts. Let me read those again. Here's the warning signs of malicious intent with desire to harm form of gaslighting, a.k.a.

[00:36:57] textbook gaslighting, blatant lies, denial, manipulation, wearing the gas lady down mismatching mismatching actions and words, aligning others against you. Weaponize and confusion. Projecting, projecting. It's like, what do you say about me? Oh yeah. Well, that's what you do. Or projecting what their insecurities are on the person that's you on the partner or the aligning others against you is fascinating. This is one of those where it just doesn't happen in the real world. So I would never say to my wife if I wanted to bring something up to my wife, I would never say, man, when I was talking to a lot of people, people, church and our neighbors, your your your family. And we all think that you really need to do this thing that I really want you to do that is just not normal. So it's it's amazing when I watch where people will, you know, often say, yes, I was talking to a couple of other people, too, and they all think that you're a little bit too sensitive and like, really and it's interesting when people finally recognize this as as part of gaslighting, this aligning others against you, you'll see people get a little empowered and to say, oh, OK, well, ah, they'll say, yeah, I was talking to my my sister and she agrees that you've really been this way for a long time. And the person will say, you know what, I feel so bad. Let's call your sister.

[00:38:06] Let's let's just clear this out. Well, no, no, no, I don't bother about it. It's so wild to watch that aligning against others. But so then we've got the blatant lies, the denial, the manipulation wearing down. So Norten talks about gathering the army. This was the most malicious piece I experienced with my colleague. He had other people look at his project and informed me that they thought it was fine. I had to step away if he was going to gather the masses against me and continue to prove his point against mine. Actually, the company's point, where was I to go with it? Nowhere. One person against an army is useless, and it certainly had him questioning what he was proposing, Norton said. Gas is much more prevalent than we think. Sometimes it occurs as micro aggressions from people who don't know they're doing it. I would imagine most people are guilty of this. Aimen. I agree microaggression. Some people don't even know they're doing it. Those come from insecurities. Those come from not knowing how to communicate or not having effective communication. Sometimes we know something's off, but we still pursue a line of inquiry. Then things take a turn for the worse and we can be left feeling like our reality is starting to quiver like a minor earthquake in. And then he said, the author says, In my case, it wasn't until somebody else pointed it out that I began to see it.

[00:39:04] With that new perspective, I was able to hit a huge sigh of relief and understand the furniture in my home had never been rearranged. Someone was just trying to make me believe that it had been. So I just I love that article and I'm going to put a link to that in the show notes as well. I think that there's an actually the Good Men project has a lot of good a lot of good articles from just taking a look there. So let me get to the example so this doesn't go on too long and have changed a couple of things. I'm not going to lie because you don't want this to be completely somebody. I mean, somebody people submit these all the time and a lot of people say, hey, you print this as is if you think it would help, because I know that my partner is never going to listen to a podcast. But I still I'm just letting you know, I respect people's privacy, confidentiality, even when they're sending me things. So but here, here's a few examples. Here's one. Very early in our marriage, he pulled me to the point that I wouldn't even drive in a car with him. It was it was always I was always either going too fast or I was going too slow. I parked too far away. I was too jerky in the way I drove. And then if I ever pointed out to him that he was going fast, well, that was different.

[00:39:58] We were in a hurry and we were in a hurry because I was the one that was late, apparently. And if I tried to point out that I was actually ready to go, then he's like, OK, well, you never let me know that I've asked you a million times. Let me know when you're ready. So the gas line just keeps on coming, keeps on coming. So then she said, I didn't understand it was different if he parked far away. It was because I made him because he knew I'd throw a fit if he tried to get closer, find a closer parking spot or waited. She said, I eventually just got to the point where I just hated getting in the car with him. But then even then he would say, why don't we ever go anywhere together? So what a prime example of gaslighting. The second one that I put down today is as I was thinking through the dozens and dozens examples of gaslighting, the first thing in my mind was any time I've been training for a race half marathon, a marathon, my husband worked at the time. But instead of being supportive, like I would hear some of my running partners husbands were, I was often told that I that I needed to make sure that my running didn't interfere with his, quote, real life and that he wished that he had the luxury of going on runs whenever he wanted.

[00:40:52] And then you put a side note. He always went to the gym on his way home from work, but he worked out that wasn't running. Whenever he said, I didn't want to go, I said I didn't want to go at four a.m., but I had to and I had to build in time just in case something happened. And I couldn't get back in time because I made that mistake. One time when we were in college, we had no kids. I pulled something, I'm assuming like a muscle or something, she said. I called him and I asked him if he'd just come get me. He asked if it was a bad can you walk? I said, yeah, I can walk barely. And she said at the time I felt like he was being empathetic or even sympathetic. And then you said you would actually be better. And he said, How far are you away? And I said, about a mile. It's like actually be better if you just maybe walked home, because if I don't get to school at least an hour before my class, I don't get good parking. So unbelievable. Right. And the hard part is it and she didn't even go on about this, but I had those type of sessions before where that's the part where something is just off when there is not even a healthy relationship, when we're trying to use the tools, the emotionally focused therapy tools, that's a that's an emotional bid.

[00:41:53] Like I've never heard you weren't there for me. I needed you. I pulled something. And I feel like you put the parking spot or even if it was OK, parked far away and walked the mile that I just had to walk with a with a pulled calf, for Pete's sake, to let me know that you care about me and then and you want the person to that's hearing that empathy and go, oh my gosh, yeah, I hear you, I was a jerk move. But instead I will often hear well OK. What about my emotional bit. If I don't get there early, I don't get the park and it's like, OK, technically true. But the whole point of this is that we're going to be vulnerable, open up, have empathy, shared truths, and then the theory there be are you there for me? Statement of innocence, pulling a calf muscle, walking a mile when the person could have swung by and got her is going to rule the day, so to speak. All right. Here's another one that will I know he will not actually do the dishes. One time I asked him just to put away the leftovers because I was so tired. After a long day, he said, you made the mess. You need to clean it up. Your hard day is nothing like my hard day. So she said.

[00:42:51] So it's always my job to clean the kitchen because I'm the one who cooks for the entire family and I quote, make the mess. Here's another one. And this one's pretty fascinating. This person said, my wife said her love language is words of affirmation, which makes sense when our counselor is confident that maybe she has some narcissistic tendencies. She won't go to counseling anymore because she thinks the counselors and does not know what what the counselor is doing, because the counselor, my wife's actions, not as much of the mine. Anyway, we discussed this and she said she really wanted me to compliment her in front of the kids as well. All right. No problem. I can do that. So she would make dinner something that I know she doesn't enjoy and I would make sure to compliment her for the dinner and think of her making it right. Assuming that he did well, he said I would compliment her on how the house looked. And after after she cleaned, I have a compliment her on her looks as she got ready for church at night while lying in bed, she would ask, Why don't you ever give me compliments and why you don't you tell the kids how amazing I am. So he says, I scratch my head and a reminder of all the times that I complimented her. And she says, Yeah, but you're only complimenting me for the things you like me to do.

[00:43:51] So this is again, I step back and scratch my head and I say, So you don't want me to thank you and compliment you for the things that I appreciate you doing her response. You're patronizing me. Me, really? You can't tell. I'm genuinely appreciative of what you do and what you're doing and that I am sincere. My gratitude her. Well, I know you're sincere, but you don't compliment me for the other things I do me. So you don't want me to compliment you on these things even though I am truly grateful for them. Her, I want you to compliment me on other things and say how amazing I am me. So you don't really want me to compliment you on the things that I'm really grateful for. But you want me to compliment you on other things that you know, I'm not really OK with and then say how amazing you are for doing those things that I'm not really comfortable with, that we really don't see eye to eye on her. Exactly. Now you get it. I said scenarios like this brain confusion leave me not wanting to give any compliments at all because they will now come across as patronizing unless I compliment her on the very things that took us to the counselor's office. She wants me to compliment those actions as if there's no compliment at all, unless it's for the very things that we have issues on. He's like maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense to me and I get that right.

[00:44:57] And that just brings up that whole concept of I'm sure that if I had him in an office, he would talk about just feeling like this concept of never quite feeling like anything's enough or right or feeling like he's walking on eggshells. I get to hear that phrase a lot. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells in a healthy relationship and in a relationship that's working on a secure connection and a relationship that's based on trying to work through these emotionally focused therapy models, being able to go to our partner with anything and knowing that our partner is a secure attachment is going to say, tell me these kind of things are the opposite. If somebody feels like they're walking on eggshells, that is the one 180 degree opposite experience of feeling like you can tell your partner anything. Instead, it's the I don't know how he's going to react. I just don't. And that's the part where man breaks my heart and just please, please seek help, go to a therapist, do all that you can, because that's not the way that life is supposed to be live. If you listen to the episode, I did it a week or so ago about do I really need my partner? Man, I've had so much feedback on that one, just about that whole concept of of what's attachment and how we're designed from the factory to to want to attach to others.

[00:45:58] And so when we have a secure attachment, you always talk about this to a couple of yesterday. And I hope that this makes sense and and they'll try to wrap things up. But when we're so worried about what we are going to say or what we don't want to say or if we're so worried about what's my partner's response going to be, sometimes I can't even imagine the amount of mental gymnastics and mental calories that are being burned in that kind of a relationship. And I was explaining, here's what the future looks like when you know that you can go to your partner with anything. Then those times where you are not where you're not in front of your partner and talk to your partner are not spent on man. Why did that not go well? Why did that conversation go south or. Oh, I can't talk about this or how should I. Those kind. If thoughts are gone, the new thoughts are now I'm thinking more about the things that my partner and I talked about because I can't wait to get back to him and talk to him about, hey, I was thinking more about what you said about this and and do you think this might have affected this part of your life or. I loved what you the questions you were asking me about the thing that I shared with you and I was thinking about that even more, and I want to talk about that more.

[00:47:00] And it just dawns on me at times where that is a completely different ballgame. That's a whole different relationship. Imagine that relationship. Imagine the freedom that your mind has to then contemplate and think about the mysteries of the world and know that you can go back to your partner and you've got this attachment and they're going to want to know more. And then every time you bring an emotional bit or an attachment back to your partner, it's an opportunity to not only connect and feel validated, but then also to hear what their thoughts are. And then now I know something more about my partner. We have secured our attachment even more. That is the way a relationship is supposed to operate. I will end with that one. I'd had one other note here actually in the guest say somebody had also said that if I bring something up from the past, he would always say, well, you should hang on to things. Yeah, because they're traumatic. And that's so I love when I get that's again, one of those kind of nice red flags when a new couple comes in and the guy will say, we're here, but I don't I don't want to go digging through the past. We're here. We want to make changes and let's just move forward. And that is red flag, ginormous red flags that it's like, I don't want to die.

[00:47:59] I don't want to hear anything that I may have done wrong. Let's just move for it. The whole emotionally focused therapy concept is we can go back and look at the game film and and say, hey, here's here's what that was like for me. Here's what I was feeling when you did this and having your partner say, I had no idea. I wish we had better ways to communicate around that back when we were going through that. But thanks for thanks for sharing that with me. That is a much more productive way than we're not talking about the past, are we? So, anyway, hey, thanks for for listening and feel free to continue to send in examples of the gaslighting if you feel like that is therapeutic. Still gathering those. Got a couple of things that I'm working on that some of those might and I want you to know this isn't just a me saying tell me stories. I get that all day as a therapist. The I cannot even express the types of emails, the amount of emails that I get now. I never anticipated that. I was telling somebody a couple of days ago that when I first started the podcast, I didn't know if anybody would listen. And I would say, hey, feel free to email me if you have any thoughts, questions, or just want to share what your thoughts are about a particular episode.

[00:48:59] And and I would think that be cool to get an email. And now I just I feel so bad because I can't I can't get to him. I can't respond to them all. And that part is hard because I know people are really pouring out a lot of things in those emails. And I know that it's therapeutic at times to just write things out and to send things and just know that I do. I feel like I do get a chance to read all of them. I just I respond to more. But my whole point with that is that when I do an episode like this one today and I give these gaslighting examples, I guarantee you somebody is going to hear this for the first time and I'm going to get the email and it's going to talk about, man. Thank you. I just thought I was crazy. I thought I thought that I just had to just just be quiet and just listen to whatever I'm being told that I'm wrong about. And over time, that just starts to really eat who a person really is. And if you've ever heard any of the well, the podcast they do on and, you know, individual therapy, this acceptance and commitment therapy model, or when I talk about addictions or whether it's food or pornography or screens or anything, that those all come from this void. When we don't feel connected in our marriage, we don't feel connected.

[00:50:00] As a parent, when you don't feel connected in our career or health or faith, any of those areas, our brain is like, man, I got you. I got to let's just go to something that's just going to feel good and numb out. And then over time, that just becomes a quick fix and immediate gratification. And and when you have a secure connection in your marriage, when you are both working on a a solid parenting foundation, when you're in a career you enjoy, when you're really, truly honest and explore and your faith when you're when you're really trying to make progress on health or food or those sort of things, not perfection, but progress. Life is is pretty darn good thing to be living. And so anyway, so when people send in examples and that sort of thing, they lead to episodes like this and then people hear them and then people become motivated and they try to get help and they change. So I'm grateful for all of you who listen, who spread the word about the virtual couch and who do send in comments. I grateful for that. I think at the beginning of the top, I forgot to say head over to Tony over Match.com and sign up their email list, because there really are some super cool things I never imagined that are coming up. And I would love to keep you informed on those. All right. Until next time I will talk to you on the virtual couch.

How can a couple rebuild trust in a marriage? Is gaslighting really as big of a problem as people make it out to be...come on, really? (See what I did there...I was gaslighting!!). And what if I honestly, truly, at my very core believe that I know my spouse better than they do...can I tell them what to do about it? And what is the difference between an impulse, and a compulsion and why is that extremely important when talking about any type of addictive behavior? These questions, and more, are addressed in this question and answer episode. If you have questions for a future episode of The Virtual Couch, please visit http://tonyoverbay.com and submit your question through the contact link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ep227 All The Questions POST Descript
Restoring Trust, Gaslighting, What if I DO Know Better? You Say Impulsion and I Say Compulsion? Your Questions, Tony's Answers!

[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, I'm going to answer all of your questions. We're going to cover topics like trust in marriage, gaslighting. What do I do if I truly believe that I know my spouse better than they do? What's the difference between an impulse and a compulsion? That and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:00:28] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 227 of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you are anybody that you know is struggling to put pornography behind you once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way, then head over the pathbackrecovery.com. And there you will find a short ebook that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's pathbackrecovery.com and I will try to make things very, very simple. Just go to TonyOverbay.com, sign up to find out all kinds of exciting things about marriage. My marriage course coming up, my magnetic marriage course and some things about faith, crisis and things about becoming a better parent and all of those things at TonyOverbay.com. And if you feel so inclined, head over to Instagram at Virtual Couch, have a couple of folks working behind the scenes that are doing incredible work and putting up more quotes and things from individual episodes. And so there's just a lot more there to take a look at.

[00:01:39] So that is all of the business. So let's get to today's topic. I've been promising a question and answer for many, many moons, and I continue to be grateful and overwhelmed by the amount of email and questions that I get. And I said in the past, I would like to do this more often, maybe once a month, once a quarter. And then I just have so many other topics that I want to get to that I continually push off the question and answer. But there are really good some good questions today. So I want to get right to it. And I guess I did say that I was done with the business, but I have to tell you that I have this new software program that's pretty incredible. And I am going to link to it in the show notes. It's a product called Descript and it truly is mind blowing. When I am done with this audio file of this episode today, I will upload this audio file into Descript. Within a few minutes, I will get a written transcription that is a machine generated transcription and I will select an option that says find filler words and my mind will be blown as it will show me about probably in a half an hour or 40 minute episode a hundred times when I say, as a matter of fact, that will I'll have to not edit out that. Oh, so you go in and you can just delete the word in the text, in the audio transcript, and then when you save the transcript at the end of your editing, then it spits out a new audio file that is now without the Uh's and the ahh's.

[00:03:06] And I also have noticed and I didn't realize I did this, I stutter a fair amount. I say a word and then I immediately say the word again. And the descript software takes that out as well. It will recognize where I say the same thing twice and I can simply hit delete. So I don't know how they do it. It's witchcraft, wizardry, magic, but it's incredible. And so if you have your own podcast or if you are recording something for a class, I don't know. There's got to be a lot of different things where you can use something like this. But go follow the link and just go explore and try this new software, because it's kind of incredible, mind blowing and makes me sound a lot smarter on a podcast episode. So I just wanted to get that out there. OK, let's go to the first question and maybe this will help if you want to send a question in and you're worried that I'm going to say your name or that sort of thing, I'm going to go full therapist confidentiality with the questions. So I'm not even going to say initials or so and so from wherever they are wrote. So first question, what do you do if you honestly do know more about your husband or wife than they know about themselves? How can you stop from saying, but you're wrong, you don't honestly think that.

[00:04:18] And so I really I'm so grateful for this question because this is I have so many thoughts about this as this is something that I see in therapy. Often I won't say on a daily basis, but pretty close where I have a couple in my office and they're learning the ability to open up and be vulnerable. And the spouse will turn to the other and honestly say they don't really think that. I know you don't think that, but do you? And I'm speaking to the spouse that says, I know my let's say, OK, I'm going to just try to make this less confusing. Let's say that the wife is the one in the scenario that says, no, I know my husband better than he knows himself. So now I will say again. But do you? Because remember, we all have our very own thoughts and feelings and emotions and behaviors, and they are all a product of our own personal private experiences. So the way we present ourselves to others often has more to say about our own insecurities than it does about the actual content of what we're saying. So I love the concept of authenticity. And yes, it is a buzz word and it's a word that if I never had become a therapist and someone said you need to Be more authentic. I would not understand what they were really talking about, but so the goal of authenticity, if I'm asking if I'm being asked what I think about politics or religion or morality, right now where you're at in your life, is that something that you feel like you can truly be open and have a discussion with the people that are close to you? Or do you worry that you'll be challenged or mocked or made to feel less than.

[00:05:53] And let me give an example. So just a week or so ago and I will change some of the details here, but I had a scenario play out in my office that I feel does play out often where in my office to learn again to be open and vulnerable. And this was in a couples therapy setting and a husband shares that he has a different opinion on something that has changed or has evolved for him over the last decade or so, which is the way that opinions and belief systems can work for some people where they evolve. And so often I have a couple come in and they say, hey, this isn't what I signed up for when we were married 10 or 15 years ago, we were on the same page. Now he's not on the same page or she's not on the same page. And I don't like that. I want them to get back on the same page. But what I want to do is create a place where we can explore why that person's opinions or belief system has evolved or changed, because the fact that we can't talk about it along the way is often then what leaves this feeling of being blindsided when a spouse opens up and says, I'm struggling with my faith, or here are some things that I would really like to do that I've never discussed with you.

[00:07:00] So let me go back to this example. So let's say that a husband is struggling with an addiction and he's been fighting a battle on the inside for a very long time. And he turns to this vice because he wants to numb out on occasion, numb out from his life because he hates his job. So he makes good money, but he literally gets anxiety. And a pit in his stomach daily is he goes to work. He talks about on a Sunday night. He just can't even about midday Sunday, he just starts to feel sick and he can't even enjoy his time with his family because all he thinks about is I do not want to go to work. So he opens up to his wife in the session and she says, bless her heart. She says that's ridiculous. You've always loved your job. You went to school for your job. You're one of your parents does the same job. You're good at your job. I feel like you're just making excuses for wanting to, OK, so I've already changed things up a bit. So let's change the vice as well so that you can really have this in context. So let's just say she says you're just looking for an excuse to drink. I know you better than that. I know you don't like drinking and I know you love your job.

[00:08:05] So look at that. And one less than a minute time frame where a person is really this husband really opened up and was vulnerable and turned to his spouse and held out his heart and said, hey, are you here for me? Can I count on you? Do you have my back? Do you want to know me? She says, I know you better than that. I don't believe you is what she was expressing. So that was a lot. But it turned out that he's never liked his job. And so when we dug deeper and I had suggested he take us on his train of thought that he had always been told by his parents that you will follow in the family business or footsteps. And this is the career and it provides this kind of living and this person was not not one who wanted to follow in this career footpath or footprint. And so here he was now in a marriage with kids and a mortgage and expectations, doing a job that he absolutely did not like and had never opened up about that. So his wife said, I know you better than that. I don't believe you. I think you just heard her saying all these things so you can drink. Let me go big. I don't believe that your spouse better than they do. I believe that the relationship has quite possibly evolved in a way where in this scenario, the man doesn't quite feel like he can truly express himself because he'll be shut down.

[00:09:27] And I could sit here and tell you a lot of examples of where, OK, it's the wife who feels that she doesn't feel loved or doesn't feel valued or doesn't feel cared about. And when she opens up about that, the husband's the one that says, I don't believe you, I don't buy it. You've got everything you've always wanted. You're you stay with the cat. You stay home with the kids. You've got a nice car. You've got a nice house. We've got a pool. And perhaps the wife has been realizing over the time where she has been at home with the kids, that was something that she had always been told that she would love and appreciate and enjoy. But what if at her core she's really struggling with that? So, again, when somebody says, I know you better than you know yourself, I would really step back and say, do you? And then let's just say for the sake of argument that you do. And I don't know how you could even qualify that, but let's say that you do the way to have a productive conversation with your spouse is not to say you're wrong. I know you better than you know yourself. It still is to say. Tell me more about that. In my magnetic marriage course with my buddy Preston Buckmeier, we've got these four pillars of a connected conversation that you are going to hear so much about, and I will talk about them so much in the coming weeks and months and in forever.

[00:10:42] But these four pillars of a connected conversation in a nutshell. The first one is don't assume bad intentions. When somebody wakes up in the morning, they don't plot and think, how can I hurt my partner?

[00:10:55] So if somebody puts out this, you know, if they put this out there to their spouse and say, I'm not enjoying my job or I don't feel as connected in our marriage or I feel like I'm a crummy parent or I'm struggling with my faith, that is an invitation for the spouse that is on the receiving end to say, tell me more, because again, they didn't wake up and think I can hurt my spouse if I say these things. I just would say, if you feel like you know your spouse better than they do, I would just question that. I would try to reframe that and say, do you or are they in a position where they don't truly feel like they can express themselves authentically, with or without the fear of being judged or fixed or just told that they're wrong? OK, next question. The question is, I feel like the term gaslighting is overused. And I know you used it on several of your podcast episodes. So do you think it is overused? And I think I understand where this person is going. And I hear you and I feel like it is being talked about more. But I believe that's because the more it's being talked about, the more that people recognize when they are falling victim to gaslighting. And if you're not familiar and it's funny, is someone who does this on a daily basis or as a therapist, I still am sometimes surprised when people don't haven't heard of the term or know this concept.

[00:12:18] But gaslighting is a form of control. And it comes from the 1938 play Gaslight, which was later made into a film starring Ingrid Bergman. And the victims of gaslighting often bring things up to a partner that they believe to be true, only to end a conversation with their partner, doubting their own memories, their perceptions and often their sanity. So victims of gaslighting often feel isolated. They feel controlled by their partners over time because their entire sense of self comes into question. So I have a couple of episodes on this, one of the different types of gaslighting and another one, I believe. Episode one twenty on gaslighting examples. And does someone who is gaslighting even know that they do it? And that is, I feel like the more important question, the million dollar question, does a gas later know they're doing it because there is manipulative gas lighting that comes oftentimes from someone who is struggling with, let's say, a narcissistic personality disorder where their entire sense of self is about manipulation so they won't own up to any of their own behaviors. So if you say, hey, I noticed that you forgot to pick up the kids at school this afternoon and that they ended up walking home, they're not going to say, I know my bad right. I totally spaced that off. It's going to be that you said that you were going to get them.

[00:13:36] And you know, the person that is questioning this, the spouse who said who is the one saying, hey, you you've had to pick up the kids. And this is a real example that happened. It was a couple of years ago. But and the other day the wife said, I pick up the kids every day. This is what I do. I am the I am the taxi. And on this particular day, my husband said he will pick the kids up because he had to work early work meeting that was going to allow him to get off early. So she said I he doesn't understand that this is everything that I do on a daily basis is make sure that my kids get from one place to the other. And so he forgot. He just simply forgot. And had he just said, man, oh my gosh, I forgot. I so not used to it or got caught up in other things, then she said that would have been OK. I'm bummed, but I appreciate you sharing that with me. Next time maybe I'll be able to, I'll remind you again or that sort of thing. But instead he immediately said I was supposed to pick the kids up. That's your job. And so then she said, OK, here's this conversation. We had this conversation where this is the one day where you're off a little bit early.

[00:14:39] And then he first says, I don't remember the conversation. And then without even without even batting an eye, then he then he shifted to me. And I I feel like you're basically saying that I don't care about the kids. And that really hurts because you know how hard I work in trying to provide for the kids. And now to be accused of not caring about the kids, that really hurts my feelings. And I even wonder if you even appreciate what I do on a day to day basis, because now that I think about it, you don't thank me very often. I think that you take all these things for granted. And by the end of the conversation, this wife was saying, man, I maybe I don't think I'm enough or maybe I do take him for granted. So then she's apologizing to him. So she was so far off the beaten path of he forgot to pick the kids up, which was a fact. But so that's the concept of gaslighting. So is gaslighting being talked about more? Probably. I think it is because the more that it's being talked about, the more that people are realizing that it might be happening in their relationship. And I will tell you, and I am not exaggerating dozens and dozens, if not hundreds or hundreds of emails that I received that that say I should have dug one up here so that I would have it in front of me. But that say thank you for your episode on gaslighting. I never knew that was a thing. I felt like I was going crazy.

[00:15:52] I've questioned my own sanity and that is not healthy in a relationship. It's not healthy in a marriage. It's not normal. I can promise you that there are better ways to communicate than to gaslight. And I think one of the hardest things for someone to do who is a compulsive or perennial guest later is to take ownership or accountability of their actions. And I need to do an entire episode on that concept alone where how much more powerful it is for somebody to say, oh, my gosh, I forgot. Those are I forgot or two of the words that I feel like I use probably on a daily basis, but not as an excuse, but as a way to feel empowered to say, yeah, I forgot I'm human and turn to my wife and at times say, hey, I know this isn't your job, but is there any chance that you wouldn't mind shoot me a reminder of this thing? And even sometimes just that premise alone then causes me to feel like, OK, no, I can do this. And then I write myself a note or I'm much more aware. And instead of if I felt like, oh, my gosh, if I tell her I forgot and she's going to just go crazy, she's going to get really angry with me, then that might lead to somebody that is never going to say, I forgot. They're going to say, you never told me that or I thought you were going to get it. Or I guess it was just a big misunderstanding instead of I forgot.

[00:17:12] That's that's as powerful as that. OK, next question. Is it ever possible to rebuild trust after a betrayal? This is a wonderful question. This is a deep question. And this is a question that I could do a completely separate episode on. And again, being completely authentic and vulnerable. I chose some of the questions I did today based on some of the things that I've been seeing pop up in therapy lately or maybe some of the things that I've heard or read lately. And there are a couple of things. So let me share a couple of experiences that I've had that are related to this question and then I'll wrap things up to answer this question. So I was listening to a podcast. There's one that I enjoy. It's called invisibility. And if you're not familiar with invisibility, it really is a fantastic podcast. And on Season six, Episode seven, it's called Trust Fall. It's from June of this year. So 20/20. And I think it was the last episode that they put out this season. They were talking about trust. OK, so I highly recommend that you go listen to that episode because there is so much more than what I'm about to share. But let me try to paint a little bit of a picture, give some context. So the interviewer and is interviewing an author and the interviewer has just asked the author about some research that he has done.

[00:18:29] And I believe it's in some rural mountain country. The author has just described this person that I believe runs a shop in this village, and the person seems to be very standoffish and a bit apprehensive. And I feel like he has just made the point that this shop owner has most likely been taken advantage of or people tried to steal or bargain or haggle. So he has put up this vibe that he's not as trustworthy when someone just comes in and they are nice or happy. And I don't know if you've ever had that experience where you feel like when someone comes in and they are overly joyous or overly nice or happy, your immediate thought is, all right, what's their angle? What are they up to? So I he had just laid this out as if the shop owner had this kind of bad attitude. And so the interviewer had said so some people might say, oh, he's in a bad mood that day. But what they don't do is speculate about why is he like this, what's going on inside of his head. And then the author said, and there's a complete absence of speculation about another person's interiority. And I love that concept of an interiority. What is that person thinking? What's going on inside of their mind? So the interviewer then says they have a fundamental assumption that you don't really know a person. And what that means is that if somebody betrays you, that it's not like such a shock.

[00:19:48] She says that's what she's saying the word. And I think that's why I had to call that out. She says like it doesn't surprise them that a person just does a thing that they didn't think the person was going to do. So it's this fundamental assumption that you really don't know a person. So then the author says when somebody here betrays our trust, what happens is we have an idea of who they are and they behave in a way that runs against that idea. So we say to them, I thought you were different. I thought you weren't like that. How could you do that to me when I had this idea of you and I love he says it's a tyrannical way to behave. He says, I have this idea of you. You have to conform to it or. Friendship is over, so the author or the interviewer then says so basically he's saying that we're stuck in this binary, we either totally trust someone or they betray us and then we're done with them. So this other way of thinking and he calls it mistrust with a capital M, and that's the name of his book that he wrote about. It's called Mistrust. It gives you this third option. And she says this is so hard to get your head around because it's basically like saying trust people less.

[00:20:56] And that's a more liberating world. But what the author then says is have more respect for the fact that you can't know them and that their behavior might sometimes betray or let you down. And so I feel like that's a starting point for how do we rebuild trust? One of the main parts that I deal with when somebody has been through a betrayal is having the couple come in and learn how to be open and honest, because it is oftentimes that fear of being honest that leads people to manipulative or addictive behaviors. And then they feel like they can never be completely open or honest with their spouse. And so we're rigging the game a bit because you are then going to, as this author says, inevitably you are going to break that your spouse's trust because they had an idea about you, they had an idea about how you should behave. And there are a couple of things at play here. Number one, you most likely didn't have a clear picture of how you were supposed to behave and no to the spouse who had this idea of how you should behave, hasn't made their expectations or shared their private experiences of why that is what they believe or why they feel that is how a spouse behaves or that sort of thing. So I hope that's making some sense. So here's another part. That is why I picked that question.

[00:22:21] Love him or hate him? There's a psychologist named Jordan Peterson that has some very interesting info out there on the Web about marriage and trust. And so here's what he said. He said, There is no marriage that successful without trust. He said you have to tell each other the truth. And I know that could sound easy. But then he says no. And he explains, telling the truth to somebody is no simple thing, because there's a bunch of things about all of us that we feel are terrible and weak and reprehensible and shameful. And all of those things have to be brought out into the open and dealt with. And that's why this concept of this true honesty can be so difficult, because we all have all of this baggage, all of our private experiences that we bring to the table in a relationship and we want to hide it. And so, as Peterson says, there is this natural tendency to avoid being open with somebody who can run away screaming when you reveal who you are. And Peterson said it's for this reasons that humans make marriage this inseparable bond. And stay with me on this quote that he says it's I really is. I think it's it's a positive quote. He said, it's as if we're saying I'm going to handcuff myself to you and you're going to handcuff yourself to me, and then we're going to tell each other the truth.

[00:23:28] And neither of us gets to run away. And once we know the truth, then we're either going to live together in mutual torment or we're going to try and deal with that truth and straighten ourselves out and straighten ourselves out jointly. And that's going to make us more powerful and more resilient and deeper and wiser as we progress together through life. So I love that, he says, straighten ourselves out jointly and as we progress together in life. And I feel like that's one of the most honest or insightful descriptions of marriage that I've heard in a long time. He's getting at the truth that every married person I feel like knows that their core, that marriage can be humbling, that when you get married, you are in essence, handing this person the power to destroy you, that it is this act is, as one person out on the interweb said, it's this act of mutual submission. So that leads me to my favorite modality, emotionally focused therapy. My entire magnetic marriage course is based on F.T. emotionally focused therapy. And the founder of VDT, Sue Johnson, says in her book Love Sense. Again, one of my favorite quotes, the message touted by popular media and therapists has been that we are supposed to be in total control of our emotions before we turn to others, love yourself first and then another will love you.

[00:24:40] But our new knowledge stands that message on its head for humans, which I believe all of us listening to this are, says psychologist Ed Tronic of the University of Massachusetts. The maintenance of emotional balance is a dyadic collaborative process. In other words, we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another person, not by ourselves. It is a give and take. It is in concert with Jordan, Peterson said. It's to be done jointly and again in emotion with another in concert. Let me scratch that. We are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another person, not by ourselves. We are actually these attachment based creatures. We are born little pink, squishy babies that rely upon someone for our sustenance, for our life to change our diapers. We are not the. Lions out in the wild who after a few hours can go and kill her own food or we can't. So that continues moving forward. So we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another person, not by ourselves.

[00:25:41] As I've been doing a little more writing about the magnetic marriage course that is soon to be released, I was doing a little more digging into emotionally focused therapy and love this one quote that I ran upon that it talks about emotionally focused therapy, uses scientifically validated theory of adult bonding to help couples understand not only their own emotion, but also how back and forth patterns of emotional reactions operate in and affect relationships. So again, we are meant to do this together. So coming back to the question, can trust be restored? Absolutely trust can be restored. But I think it's fair to say, let's talk about the definition of trust and let's make sure that we figure out a way to be completely open and honest and vulnerable in a relationship and in essence, when trust has been broken. And I'm not saying that people have to go and break trust in order to do this, go to a marriage therapist that you can go without even having a significant traumatic event. But when those things happen, that is an opportunity to redefine trust, to redefine the relationship, to be completely open and honest and just have this relationship that you didn't know existed or was a possibility.

[00:26:54] Ok, last question and then let's wrap this thing up the way I should have had it right in front of me. Here we go. I heard your episode on pornography addiction, or rather that technically there isn't such a thing as pornography addiction. And I really appreciated that. I am personally trying to stop, as you say, turning to pornography as a coping mechanism, because that is absolutely what it is. But you've mentioned that there is such a thing as impulse control disorder and compulsive sexual behavior. Can you define the difference between an impulse and a compulsive behavior? And I love this.

[00:27:26] I get asked this quite often. So here goes. So being impulsive is acting on one's instinct. So impulsive behaviors are thought to not be premeditated. And I have a very simple analogy that we could break down for an hour. So here we go. I am trying to eat better. It's the story of my life. So I am making better choices, all of that good stuff. But I did too impulsive things recently. One, I went inside of a gas station to buy some Gatorade for my son at a basketball tournament, and I absolutely impulsively purchased some Reese's pumpkins that were there in the counter because they were there and because the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate is darn near perfect. And I'm sure that is a fact that is supported by science somewhere. But in that moment, I acted on an impulse. It was not premeditated. I did not go in there and say, I am going to buy a Reese's pumpkin now. I could have turned to my breath. I could have felt the coldness of the Gatorade on my hand. I could have looked at the way that the attendants long beard went below his mask and all of those things. But I didn't. I impulsively purchased the Reese's and I own that.

[00:28:34] So then I brought it to my office and it sat here for about a week. And yesterday I was going to say hypothetically, but this is a true story. Yesterday I go to my mini fridge that is in my office because I like to keep water in there and I get out of water. And there it was. Oh, the temptress, the Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin. And I absolutely impulsively grabbed it. I had, quite frankly, forgotten that it was there and I devoured it. Within a minute of opening that refrigerator door, it was gone. So that was an impulse, now a compulsion. On the other hand, for example, let's say an individual who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, may wash their hands again and again. So that individual is constantly bothered that this is that they are preoccupied with wanting to wash their hands repeatedly. And the more that they think about wanting to wash their hands, then the more their anxiety spikes, which that's what becomes the obsession. And then the compulsion is the washing of one's hands. So it relieves that anxiety. But then even after washing, the need to wash does not completely subside. That relief is momentary. So then again, the individual feels the need to wash their hands again.

[00:29:45] And so the main characteristic of compulsive behavior, compulsive disorders, is that they are premeditated. So if you're talking about a compulsive sexual behavior, it's somebody that is constantly just thinking about acting out sexually, whether it is with their spouse, whether it is with pornography, whether it is with another individual. And they become it almost drives this anxiety and that becomes almost this obsession. And then the compulsion is there to relieve that anxiety. So when one does not deal with that compulsive behavior, then in essence, every time they turn to the compulsion, then they're feeding that behavior. They're further locking in that deep neural pathway. So the individual thinks about the action for a long period. Time and then they decided basically when to engage in the act and they don't necessarily make a big effort to rationalize that behavior so that and this and I think you can maybe recognize where the difference or why that's important, because I will often have people that have removed, let's say, the compulsive nature of acting out sexually with something like pornography. But then from time to time, they you know, and I hate the word fail or relapse or whatever the person wants to call it, they act out, but they do this almost impulsively.

[00:30:57] And that was not a premeditated behavior where in the past it most likely was. And so when you're working with an addiction therapist, that is progress because we've taken away the compulsive nature or we've been able to use mindfulness to reduce the compulsive nature or the premeditated behaviors.

[00:31:16] And then there still may be an occasional impulse. And that's where you can still use those techniques. But I feel like first we have to address the compulsion to then be able to get to that impulse and then work with that impulsive behavior. So there we go. Covered a lot of ground today. So I appreciate you staying with me. If you have additional questions. I really do enjoy doing the Q&A answer versions of the podcast. So send them to contact at Tony Overbay Dotcom. Or if you go on the Tony or dot com website, there's a place for contacting me. And you can send a question. You can send a show idea if you're interested in being a guest on the show, if you'd like to have me on your show, if you're interested in having me come speak to your group or that sort of thing, all that stuff you can do through the contact page at Tony Overbay Dotcom.

[00:32:00] So thank you so much for taking the time. I know that there are a lot of podcasts out there, over a million to be exact. And the more my downloads continue to go up, the more humbled I am. So if there were things you liked about this episode, please feel free to forward it, share it. And if you have a second and you're still with me and listening, if you if you've never reviewed or or rated the podcast where ever you get your podcast, then I would be I'd be forever grateful. And now taking us out, the wonderful the talented Aurora Florence with the song that I love. It's wonderful.

[00:32:36] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other and the pressures of the daily grind it wonderful. And last question, Robert Ghost last and they push aside things that matter most.

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