"Regret is a common feeling that has both negative and positive effects," Sian Ferguson from the article "How to Move Past Regret." https://psychcentral.com/blog/a-powerful-exercise-for-moving-past-regret Tony talks about regret and rumination's roles in keeping people stuck in a trauma bond with a narcissist. 

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. 


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

Virtual Couch favorite and Tony's daughter, McKinley "Mackie" Overbay, joins the podcast to talk about some big changes happening in her life and how she has been able to do difficult, scary things despite having "all of the emotions." You can follow Mackie on Instagram @beautybymackie and mention the Virtual Couch Podcast for $10 off any service with Mackie. 

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel to see 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

New Mackie/Tony Transcript

Mackie: I'm sweaty already. 

Tony: Nervous and sweaty. And what's the Eminem lines? What? You only get one shot. Don't you know that one? You're nervous and sweaty. Mom, spaghetti. What about mom's spaghetti? Mom's spaghetti. But at some point he looks calm and ready. Doesn't he throw up mom's spaghetti at some time?

Mackie: Yeah, that's what it is. There's vomit on his sweater already. 

Tony: Okay. Do you feel like throwing up mom’s spaghetti? 

Mackie: No, I didn't have any spaghetti.

Tony: But you're just a little nervous sometimes. But you know what? That is okay to have emotions, speaking of that McKinley Overbay, welcome to the Virtual Couch.

Mackie: Thank you, Tony. 

Tony: This is so funny. When you guys call me my name, can I just tell you that? 

Mackie: I think it's so funny and so I do it every chance I can.

Tony: Thank you. Does it sound different if I call you McKinley versus Mackie? 

Mackie: Yeah, my brain kind of shuts off.

Tony: Well, same when you call me Tony. Okay. McKinley, are you ready for your record fifth time on the Virtual Couch? Hey, so to sound a little bit dramatic though, I think I had almost called this an emergency podcast recording, but that does sound too dramatic. But you are doing some life things, big, changing things, is that correct? Do you not like the phrase, I used to think this was hilarious, but now I think it was years and years ago, because somebody last week mentioned that they didn't like this phrase at all, but adulting. Are you tired of that one?

Mackie: Not tired of it. It is kind of silly, but it's also, how else do you describe it? 

Tony: Okay. Because I think this is the point. An adulting moment is that, don't you think? 

Mackie: Yeah. Yeah. I don't think there's any other way to describe it. 

Tony: Okay. Because Mackie, what are you doing?

Mackie: Adulting, being a full grown adult.

Tony: By opening your own salon. Your own suite. Okay, well, we'll get to that too. And so the dramatic part, and I tried to tamper that down a bit, was, I was gonna say the last time we recorded, you were venturing out and going and doing hard things. You graduated cosmetology school and that's a whole amazing episode in itself because we talked about how you had felt, even though we were the most supportive parents in the entire world, oh yeah. Ok. I dunno how I like that. But that you even felt like you still needed to do some college and we were saying, hey, go find your passion and then you graduate cosmetology school. You move out to Utah from Idaho and you go to work with somebody that had a pretty established salon and that was scary. And you had all the fears of what if you don't know what you're doing and what if nobody shows up, and what if you don't make any money? And all of those things. And now what are the new fears in starting your own suite or your own salon? 

Mackie: I mean, it kind of goes back to a lot of the same things. Which is funny, but in a different way. Because like, I’m still scared that I won't have clients or I won't be successful or, blah, blah, blah. But I have a little bit more experience now, and I know a little bit more and I know what I'm doing now. So that's good. 

Tony: I love that. That's why I think it is fascinating that you have similar thoughts. But they are, they're similar, yet different, because this last, I guess it's been about a year and a half where you've been working at Ivory, you've been working with and I only know, I always joke about knowing her Instagram name first and foremost, which was Meg Brown Balayage. But that isn't, I don't think Balayage is an official part of her name, is that right?

Mackie: Not that I'm aware of.

Tony: Okay. But you had an amazing experience there. Maybe talk about the last year and a half. What's that been like? 

Mackie: It's been, I mean, it's been great. It was definitely scary and I was pushed outta my comfort zone a lot. Then the last little bit, I feel like I was at the point where everything was good and I was comfortable, and I was just ready for the next thing, the next scary thing. 

Tony: Well, and Meg's been good about saying that, and I love this because I have an intern and the things where if you're doing it right, you want your intern to launch and grow and be successful. And so this was always the plan I would imagine. 

Mackie: Yeah. Ivory was supposed to be a stepping stone into my career. And so then I just recently then took that career leap. Yeah, that spooky leap. 

Tony: Very spooky, very scary. Hey, tell me if this even applies, but I often say “you don't know what you don't know”. Because you, how could you have known, what in hindsight, looking back over the last year and a half, are there things that you didn't even know, that you didn't know, that you learned that would be helpful to share with somebody else, or that are just some interesting things that you didn't anticipate about working with Meg and working in the industry in general?

Mackie: Yeah. I mean, I'm sure there are a million, but like, yeah, on the spot, nothing super specific comes to mind. But in general, that concept that you don't know what you don't know, I think it, I was just thrown into that so heavily because I realized going into this industry and everything, I knew nothing at the beginning, I knew nothing and I seriously said like the first week I was working with Meg full-time in an actual salon, I learned more than I had the last year and a half of being in school. Like just being thrown into the real experience and actually doing it. And so I feel like it is just one of those scary things where, and I was, I would imagine this applies to other careers too, where it's like you just have to do it. Even though it's scary and knowing that as you keep going, you'll continue to learn more and you'll become more comfortable and you can lean into it and it'll be a good thing. But I definitely, yeah, I didn't know anything about the industry, and I think that's normal for certain things. The best way to learn is to just do it.

Tony: It really is. Because even as you're about to go into this new experience, and maybe I'm jumping too far ahead and we can go back, but all the things you had to learn with setting up your business and insurance and business expenses, a business name, all those things, you've just had to figure it out.

Mackie: Lots of things that, again, I just didn't know and there's still, I literally saw a TikTok today of someone who had just opened up a suite like I did, and she was like, okay, number one thing you have to do, get an accountant right off the bat. And I was just sitting there going, I don't have one. And then immediately going into panic mode, adding that to my list and being like, okay, there's another thing I have to pay for and another thing I have to deal with and so it is just that, yeah, just trying to figure out all the things and learning without becoming discouraged and getting too afraid or giving up, you know, which is scary, but again, all those are, the best way to do it.

Tony: I think anticipating now or having the emotional maturity to know that, how could I have known that? And so don't beat myself up about it, and then just be open to whatever that new experience is. 

Mackie: Just add it to the list and be like, I've done all these other things. I can do that one too. But yeah, lots of scary business things and I'm just like a silly little girl and I don't, I don't know anything. 

Tony: But yet, you do Mackie. 

Mackie: But I'm learning.

Tony: Hey I love the story too where you, when you told Meg that you were ready to venture out on your own, because I think this so well illustrates how we can have all these emotions and feelings, even to the point of letting those feelings out, if you know what I'm saying, and then still be able to go through with a scary thing. So tell us that story, 

Mackie: That's such a fun story. No, it's funny, I just, I was a little anxious and I was a little nervous to talk to my boss and so I went to work that morning and I just threw up a little bit because I was scared. Just quick, you know, whatever. No big deal. Did that, went back, gave my boss a quick call. I was like, you know, I think I need to talk to you before something worse happens. So that was, yeah, that was intense. But you know what? I did it and it was okay, and I only threw up the one.

Tony: Which is amazing. Yeah. And, when your mother, we will call her Wendy now that we're using all the formal names, when she was telling me the story about it, I think that day I had said, hey did you hear from Mac? Did she end up telling Megan? And Wendy said, yeah, she did. And she was so nervous she threw up. And I, it's funny because immediately I'm already thinking, oh man. And then that means she didn't tell her and I feel so bad, I think I'm probably pulling up my phone to send you a text. Or, hey, how are you? And then she said, and then she told her and Meg was amazing and it was awesome. And that happened.

Mackie: Nothing to be afraid of. But I think that's a whole thing in itself about life right there.

Tony: It really is. 

Mackie: You just kinda have to do the things and it usually ends up okay. 

Tony: And I love that because I feel like that's been a process for you to acknowledge that, okay, here's the anxiety and I can feel it and I can get frustrated with it. But then it seems like very much very often you then still follow through with whatever you feel like you need to. Has that been a hard thing?

Mackie: Yeah. It's a hard thing and it's something that I deal with every single day, like with my anxiety. That just, every time I have to do anything really, it's like I feel that anxiety and I panic and I think I'm gonna die, or, something horrible is gonna happen. It's gonna be the end of the world. And then so far up to this point, which is something you like to rub in my face all the time, nothing bad has happened. I always say with my anxiety, I say things like, I think I'm gonna throw up or I'm gonna pass out. And you always go, okay, but have you ever? 

Tony: I say it really nice though, right? 

Mackie: Yeah. You really do. You say it's so nice. No, but you really because I'll say, I think I'm gonna pass out. And then you go, have you ever passed out from your anxiety? And then I go, no, and then you just roast me.

Tony: Okay. Very well. Okay. This is funny though. I think that you were telling me maybe it was a psychiatrist or something at one point that had even talked about, okay, in heaven forbid, if you do pass out your body is basically saying, hey, I can't, you're freaking me out, so I just need to breathe, so I'm gonna tap you out for a little while so I can just be on my own.

Mackie: It's one of the most comforting things I think with anxiety. For anyone out there that's super anxious, worst case you pass out, your body does a quick little reset and people even say passing out's kind of euphoric and you just kind of, you know, whatever. And then you come too and you're breathing normal again and everything's fine. 

Tony: Okay. Here's the one that I sound, here's where I probably don't sound as sensitive, Mackie. I think when you'll say things like, I don't feel like I can breathe. I think sometimes I think I'm hilarious when I say, hey, you've been good at it your whole life. I'm telling you right now.

Mackie: You say that to me all the time and I feel like I'm dying in those moments. And then you say that to me and I'm so mad. But you're right.

Tony: Oh, that makes me laugh so much. Now, I'm, now I feel like I'm almost trying to pull things out of you, but I think when we were talking about this just offhand one time, there was also a concept that you had mentioned that had to do with a particular time frame of seconds that were not 15 seconds, but? 

Mackie: Not 25 seconds.

Tony: That's it. No, but 20 seconds. Yes, Mackie. Oh, what was that about? Tell me what you were telling me about the 20 second thing. Because this one, I really have thought about this a lot. 

Mackie: Yeah. This is one thing that's always stuck with me also in terms of anxiety, but I think when we were initially talking about it, it was in terms of when I decided to sign for my suite and go through with it and just decide to quit my job and do this big scary thing is like I do this thing and it's, it's, you looked it up. It's from a, a dumb movie or something, 

Tony: Hey, this is the best. Wait real quick, this story. So it's 20 seconds of insane courage. And then Alex, I was talking to her about it and she said that, yes, she didn't even, I think, realize it was from a movie. I found the movie, it's, “We Bought a Zoo”.

Mackie: I didn't know that either. 

Tony: Yeah, but she said apparently it was Alex and her friends. Well, and it was this legendary or urban legend example of some people that were spying on a kid that had went up to a doorstep situation to kiss a girl. And apparently he didn't kiss her. But then walking away, he just said something like, 20 seconds of insane courage, you know? And then that was then made fun of, I think, for a while. But yeah, it's from the movie. “We Bought a Zoo”. And I don't really know the context there, but tell me what it means to you. 

Mackie: I just think I do this in terms, whether it's job interviews or dates or making big scary decisions, or like whatever it is, it's just the concept that you can do, I mean, you can do anything for 20 seconds, like anything in the whole world you can do for 20 seconds and you'll be just fine. But also just the fact of like those big decisions and those, the big scary part, like the, at the height of my anxious moments, usually if I can just get through the initial whatever it is, I end up being fine. Usually it's more 10, 15 minutes realistically. But it's just the concept that, like for example, if I'm going on a date, it's just getting out the door. Because it's the, when I'm in my apartment, I'm freaking out and I'm like, I can't breathe. And I'm like, I can't go. I'm gonna die, like all this stuff. But then I get out the door, I realize, oh, you're okay. Like you're actually fine. And then the date's usually fine and it's whatever. So it's just that concept of you just you just have to kind of shut your brain off, just for a second, do the thing and then feel the other things later. But in a nice, positive way. Because I feel like it can kind of sound dumb because in terms of, I'm like, yeah, I signed this year lease for my suite and I just shut my brain off to do it. That makes it sound kind of dumb. But if you look at it in a different way, then it's like, okay, instead of leaning into the fears and the anxiety of taking the leap to do this big, scary independent career thing, it's like I didn’t even let myself even think about the scary things. And I had done research prior, I had, you know, crunched the numbers and done it's, you know, yeah. Knew it was a, it would be a good thing. I knew what my budget was, I knew all the good things, but then in that moment just had to say, okay, we're not even gonna think about failing or any of the potential scary things and just going to say, yeah, I'll do it. I'll sign it. Give me the paper. And then you just sign it. And then after. I like called Wendy and I was like, I was like, was that stupid? 

Tony: At that point you want, all you want is validation at that point, right? So at that point it's like, it is not stupid, it’s wonderful. 

Mackie: You don't tell me stupid. But no, and then she reassured me like, no, you knew your numbers, you knew what you could take. Like you knew what you were capable of signing for it. So everything's good and this is what you want and whatever. But all goes back to that, just sometimes you just have to be strong and courageous and have no anxiety for 20 seconds and then you can go back to feeling all your scary feelings. 

Tony: I love it. I can frame that from a psychology standpoint. You know, my favorite acceptance and commitment therapy, there's a researcher I had on Michael Twohig that said, “Happy healthy people spend 80% of their time doing things that are important, not things that are fun necessarily, but things that are important.” And then it was the unhealthy, unhappy people spend 80% of their time, in essence, trying to just seek joyous activities or avoid discomfort. And so, you did things that were important to you and then you can sit back and I say watch the “Yeah, Buts”. The yeah, but what if it doesn't work? And yeah, but it's scary and yeah, but I've never done it before. And all those may be true, but those are not productive thoughts when you're gathering up those 20 seconds of insane courage to do something that you already know matters to you. This is the direction I wanna go. 

Mackie: You know it's a good thing. And it's like you just, it just comes down to like, okay. 

Tony: Yeah, so like if I were to do 20 seconds, if I did 20 seconds of insane courage to eat a ghost pepper Mackie, because you know how my heat meter is, that would be the dumbest thing that I could ever do in my whole life. That or a warhead. 

Mackie: Exactly. So there are things I mean, you can add a million things you maybe shouldn't just, I don't know, get a tattoo in 20 seconds, or there's things that maybe think about it for at least, at least like 10 minutes.

Tony: Okay, is that what it is? 

Mackie: I don’t know the real rules, but you know, that's right. Not everything's gonna be 20 seconds. 

Tony: But as long as it says pa and not ma, or I love pa, then that's okay. 

Mackie: No, as long as you don't forget to think things through. Have plans a little bit, but just also don't let the whole point just, don't let the scary, anxious stuff take over.

Tony: I love it. You mentioned plans. Can we talk about this is one that I feel like will be, I'm so convinced that this, I know I am leading the witness, I am confirmation biasing, I am doing all these things. And so I want you to tell me “back off, old man”, or “it's not that easy”, or those sorts of things. And you may know where I'm going here next, but, so here's that part where, you know, plans, this wasn't your initial plan as a somewhere between 21 and 24 year old human being that you are right now. But I almost feel like who wants to go first? Do you wanna talk about what your plan was or do you want me to tell everybody why I was right? And then you agree with me? Which one? No, you tell me about where you kind of anticipated things at this point? 

Mackie: I really, and I mean, I can blame you and Wendy for part of this because you guys got married when you were 10, and like so did and so did all my friends and whatever.

Tony: Oh that's loud. Sorry for Alex editing the video, that probably just blew her eardrums out. Okay, we were not 10.

Mackie: Whatever you basically were, you might as well have been. You round it up, it's the same thing. But anyways, I just genuinely thought I'd be married by now, which I know is so young and I know it's kind of silly to be like, I am young and that's silly, but full, complete honesty. I really did think that I would, I would be one of those people that went off to college and in my first couple of semesters, meet somebody and then stop going to college and then just got to go be a mom. 

Tony: So get your MRS degree. Am I right? Lemme get that joke in there. That one used to make me laugh is that one's super offensive. 

Mackie: But no, I really did just, and I was like, I thought that was the dream and that was exactly what I wanted. And then all of a sudden I was 20 and I still wasn't married and then I was 21 and then I was 22, and now I'm 23 and I'm not even close. Not even, you know, not even, yeah. Nothing. Nothing coming up. So anyways, so I just thought I'd be married and get to be a mom because that is really what I want.

Tony: And you will be amazing. You'll be amazing at that.

Mackie: It'll be, it's slightly my calling in life to be a mom, I'd say. But sometimes life doesn't always go the way that you planned, well, it never does basically. Never you know, whatever. Yeah. All the things you plan. So that has not been the way that my life is gone, and I always just thought I'd be a mom and then I could do like hair or something with the beauty industry, like kind of on the side, like out of my house or something where it was just, I could choose a day or two here and there and do something that I knew I could be passionate about, but I never thought that I would have to, or I never saw myself being an entrepreneur, like a career woman or a boss lady, or, you know, anything like that. And I just didn't really have any interest in it. And I didn't, I just figured like, oh, I won't need to do that. It just won't be a thing. And then, naturally my life has not gone exactly how I planned it out in my head when I was like 14 or whatever. And I've had to then make this shift of still keeping my goals and my dreams, but then also healthily leaning into something that I know I'm passionate about. Which is all the hair stuff and the beauty industry. And I don't know, it's, yeah, it's been a weird thing, but it's been strange. The best thing that could happen, in a weird way, which is, this is kind of where it starts to become where you're right and whatever. 

Tony: Wait, wait, hold on, hold on. 

Mackie: No, I didn’t say anything.

Tony: I think I heard. I think it cut out. What'd you say? 

Mackie: No, nothing. 

Tony: Oh, I will, I will replay that clip over and over.

Mackie: Whatever. Whatever. But it is the thing that I've learned so much about myself and I've had this opportunity to learn more about who I am, who I want to be, what I want out of life, what I can offer to others, just so many things that I wouldn't have necessarily had the opportunity had my life gone the way that initially thought it would.

Tony: And can I go on a little soapbox rant here for a second? Because I feel like this is where, and it's so interesting because had you gotten married at 10 or 11, like your mother and I, which by the way, I think I was 19, almost 20, and she was 18, almost 19. So very much older than 10. But it was interesting because well, we thought we, you know, we thought we were so old and this is where anybody listening that is already married or young, of course, I'm not saying, wait, you need to break up right now. That's silly, right? Because for some people it works and it's great. But I do, I honestly, and I will speak about this with such passion, but I feel like as a marriage therapist, 1300 couples into this thing, that no one, no, absolutely no one knows what they don't know about relationships. They don't have the tools to communicate effectively. And I do, I call it the crapshoot theory. And your mom and I got lucky that we happen to just like a lot of the similar things and things seem fairly easy. And so then, you know, it isn't until later in your relationship where all of a sudden you start to deal with difficult things and you like each other so it's a little bit easier to work through. So it ends up being okay, but yeah, if there's a lot, yeah. But I'm convinced that, you know, it should be 25 or 30 or something and this is where I know it's gonna sound like I'm saying it just because you're my daughter, but I would say this to anybody, but when people are spending their 19, 20, 21 trying to figure out who they need to be in order to try to keep a relationship or get a relationship that they're not learning who they are.

And so, you have slowly but surely been finding out who you are as you learn to do the things that you like to do and you're really good at. Because I know we haven't even talked about all the opportunities you have to basically be a therapist in a chair. I wanna talk about that and we were talking about when we were kind of doing a little pre-interview, but the stuff where I want to ask you in a minute about why you like doing things like color and just getting to see the change in people. And there are so many things I had no idea that really was behind what you're doing. That I feel like that raises your emotional, emotional baseline really and so you are this different person now and I feel like you're putting yourself now, you're a stronger, more confident person that will now show up in a relationship versus trying to figure out who do I need to be?

Mackie: Well, I, no, I just think because it wasn't, it was something I knew I could be passionate about, but I don't even think I knew, like I didn't, I didn't know what I didn't know. And I didn't realize that that was even, I didn't know what that even meant because I'd hear people say, you gotta find something you're passionate about and whatever. And at the time I'm like, well, I like makeup. And so in my head I was like, I could be passionate about that. I could like it, but I didn't know what that would feel like and what that would look like and how incredible it is to actually be passionate about something and to yeah, get to do it every single day and live like that. And then, yeah, as I'm young and I'm learning and I'm growing and I'm finding out more about myself, it's like I'm able to do that through this thing that I'm passionate about, if that makes any sense. And it's just this kind of unreal experience when I step back and look at it because it is, this is my job. All these amazing things are happening, but it's my job. 

Tony: Tell me about, like, you were telling cool stories about when I was asking about what do you like about the things you do now? And of course I literally sometimes think back to when I used to get my haircut, which was literally 20 years ago and it's, you know, you're doing all kinds of color and extensions and you're spending hours with people, and so talk about that. What are you seeing and doing and what is that part where now you feel like, oh man, I love this. What all is that? 

Mackie: Yeah, I mean, there's, there's so much to it because I think initially it was just, I just didn't know what went into it. Like, you know, in school and everything. I was just like, okay, I don't really get what I'm doing here, but there's so many sides to doing hair that I don’t think people even realize, just from a technical standpoint, there's science to it, and there's like all this, color wheel and canceling things, and there's pH balances and there's like just all this stuff that you don't really think about that factors into it. So you're doing all this like science.

Tony: Because one could do damage, right? I mean, you could damage, do some damage. 

Mackie: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Like fry people's hair off. There's scary things that can happen. So it's like you're doing all this scientific, but then it's also this really artistic creative outlet and I've always been someone who's been fairly artistic throughout my life. That's always been kind of an outlet of mine. 

Tony: Well, can I pause right there, Mac? I don't like, I hate to feel like, I feel like I'm talking over you, but it's like that's the part I didn't even understand the depth of that because I mean, the things like the way you blend things and the looks and then the somebody's head shaped and all the stuff you were telling me about. And I go back to you know, you, you taught yourself music, you taught yourself piano and how to sing and you draw and I mean, poetry, all those things that you've just done that I never realized that creativity or that creative outlet could then be expressed in somebody's whole countenance and appearance. That blows my mind when you talk about that. 

Mackie: Right. And like, same with the makeup and all that. So it's this thing that I've always been low key really passionate about in my life. I've been able to make a career out of it because there is this artistic side and I do just get to zone out and do this thing that I love and I get to channel that creativity. Which is just so fun. But then I'm also doing this technical scientific stuff, which is also fun in a nerdy way. So that's cool. But then on top of all of, I guess two things, I get to make these connections with people that I don't think you, obviously there's a million careers that you get to make connections with people, but there's something different about this career that, and the connections that can be made because it is this kind of vulnerable one-on-one setting, which is kind of weird, but then it's casual. It's so casual and it's so, I mean, people open up and people are just themselves. And again, it's just vulnerable and it's, and so it's like I get to really connect with people in ways that I didn't think would ever happen. I never really thought going into it, like I didn't think about the conversations that I would have and the things I would learn about people or any of that stuff. It never crossed my mind. And then it's all day, every day I'm spending hours with individuals and I get to see them for exactly who they are, and I get to love them and I get to know them and I get to know all this stuff. And so that's a whole amazing thing in itself. So I listen a lot and there is an aspect of it that sometimes feels a little therapy-like, obviously an amateur and it's mediocre therapy that I'd be giving.

Tony: People just wanna be heard though, man, they wanna be heard and they're in this position of vulnerability. I'm not sitting there also holding someone's potential look in my hands as well as you are. So that’s powerful.

Mackie: And so it is just, there's this different side of it there that is just amazing though. And I think it's like you just become friends with everyone you get to interact with. And it's just a positive space. And I don't know, there's just something about it and about those connections that again, I just didn't think would be a part of this career. I thought I'd just be slapping color on people's hair and sending them on their way and like, yeah, none of this personal connection part. And then there's also just this, you get to see, I mean, there's always a big reveal at the end, right? 

Tony: And I never thought about this. What is that like? 

Mackie: Because like I put in hours of work and I've done all this science and art and all this stuff, and then I get to see it come to life. And then I also get to see people's reaction to my hard work, which is fun. It's always fun to feel validated about your own work. But it's also just this cool thing where I do get to see people's confidence shift, or I get to see people kind of feel like themselves again, or just all these little things. Maybe to someone, no offense with no hair, wouldn't really understand. 

Tony: I wish I had it, Mackie. I think that could be fun. A different look.

Mackie: Where it's like, because some people, their hair doesn't mean a whole lot to them, but other people it's, it's really important and it is this really special moment for them and it's their self-care time and it's their time that they get to just take for themselves. The thing I feel like I say the most is anytime anyone apologizes if they're busy or on their phone or I'm always like, it's your time. You do whatever you want. And if they wanna be silent the whole time, they get to be silent. If we just wanna turn up the music, we turn up the music if they wanna talk, like it's, yeah, it's whatever they need. And I get to be the person who advocates that. And I don't know, it's just really special, which I noticed. Some people, they're probably just like, it's just hair. Even people that get their hair done, to some of them, they're just like, it's hair, it's just an appointment, whatever. But there are those really just amazing moments within it and it is just something that I feel like I've got, I've come to be so much more passionate about than I even thought was possible.

Tony: Yeah. No, I love everything about you. No, that was so good, Mac. And I feel like if anybody is listening right now, maybe this is the sneak, sneak sneak preview too. We've been talking about even creating a tiny little workshop around the therapy of the hair chair and that sort of thing. And Mackie and I are at some point we're, we've got some we're laying out the bones of a little course that we wanna put together because I think about that, even what you were talking about there is even if somebody says, I want you, I want your people to be able to, even if they don't necessarily think it's exactly what they want, what an opportunity, because I think this is times where sometimes people don't even really know what they want or what they like, and they are almost probably saying, okay, make me beautiful and probably, I don't know, 90% of the time you do, and that other 10%, then what a time for them to say, okay, yeah, I really didn't even know. So what is it I like about this or don't like about this? And so, in the world of therapy, a lot of times when people say, I don't even know what I want to do, and that's even just a story their brain will hook them to, because in reality, then start doing. And now we'll figure out, okay, I like that. I don't like that. And I was thinking about that with hair. I mean, even if somebody is like, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go in and self care and I'm gonna do something with my hair. And then I want them to be able to be honest and say, okay, I like some of this. And maybe not all of this because at least now, now they're starting to think. So I think that's, I don't know if I'm even making sense there to a professional.

Mackie: No, you totally are. And yeah, I love my clients that will just be honest with me. You know, they can, and we can have those kinds of tough conversations, kind of a, I didn't like this, but I like this, or we want this and I didn't, you know, whatever. And it's like you do kind of have those conversations which are uncomfortable at times, but good for me in terms of I get to grow.

Tony: I love that, honestly. And this is where, I feel like it's almost like everybody now that the mental health stigma is lessening that your therapist becomes part of your, I don't know, your life and I wanna think your hairstylist or cosmetologist does as well. And that then because they get to know you so well, that then they can say, man, yeah, I don't know what it is about this one that I, I like this or not this or, and feel safe enough. I mean, then that's where I start getting all therapist about it, where you feel safe that you can be open and vulnerable with another human being, because that's where we're so afraid of contention that I think people won't even, won't even bring something up. They'll just go somewhere else. Well, it'll be better over here with somebody else, but in reality, tension is where it’s like, no, we can talk about it. Yeah, talk's, that's a big boy principle right there. That really is. So that's where I feel like, oh, Mackie, you just wait. You've got all the tools and we're gonna solve the world's problems. And I'll take the therapy angle. You got the hair angle, we'll meet in, somewhere in the middle. So with that said and I really appreciate that too, the science part, the creativity part, but you're also nervous and this is a brand new opportunity and so this is where it will sound like the world's biggest commercial and I kind of don't care because I want people to go and see you. So how do they find you at this point? Is that scary? Like how do you get the word out? What do you do? 

Mackie: Yeah. That it's all like social media these days, which I don't know how to do that. Yeah. But no, I just, I have an Instagram. It's Beauty by Mackie.And I'll link all these things under the booking. Or you can message me, whatever. But that's how to find me.

Tony: Okay. And then your place, and I like this too, tell me if this is too much, but you, this is the stuff I've been proud as a father to watch you create the environment that you want to create because you have a very specific, what, a vision of what your salon, your suite will feel like or be. What is that?  

Mackie: My favorite place in the whole world is my bed. That is just where I feel safest. It's whatever. Yes. I know. Crazy. So I just really want that to translate to my suite and my space, and I want it to just be cozy and safe. Like those are kinda my two initial words that I was like, okay, cozy and safe and just really like a safe haven. Like a little, what my bedroom feels like to me. I want that space, and I want it to be a space that clients coming in just to come into and put everything else aside and just get whatever they need out of it. Whether that's, again, sitting in silence and just having a minute to themselves, or talking about all the crazy things in the world, or talking about the heavy things or whatever. It's like I just, I want it to be cozy and safe, and I wanna be able to be whatever they need me to be in that moment to get them what they need and let it just be this good positive thing in their life. Even if it's just this one small thing, a couple hours every, however long I just, yeah. Cozy and safe.

Tony: I forgot also, you are doing different certifications and hollow needle piercing, which sounded scary. And I remember the first time that you called home after that and you said there was real blood involved and things like that, not in a scary way. 

Mackie: No, no. But there was blood. Yeah, so I did get certified in piercings and I plan on getting certified in other things I think later on. But it's just a, it's another fun little thing and it's fun for me to do cause it's like a weird little adrenaline rush to be the piercer. But then it's also, again, just this other, it's just another thing for people to come in and be like, oh, I wanna get a piercing and it's this fun thing for them. And it's like another way to express themselves or have a fun little thing that's just for them. And just another fun thing. 

Tony: When you were at home and maybe doing some of those things, very very safe and very clean, of course. But I loved nothing more than slow motion videoing the person's as the needle went through their ear. And every, I promise, every single time though it was there, the anticipation was so scary. But then it seems like the thing happened and that it was routinely met with a, oh, is that, was that it? And I think that was hilarious. I got to the point where I thought that was really funny to see. So I don't know. I can't imagine what that feels like for you. 

Mackie: It's funny, but that just went full circle back to what we were talking about at the beginning. Things seem really scary at first. And then you do it. And it's not that bad. 

Tony: I feel like that should be a mic drop moment and we just end. That's true. Interesting. Hey, so, but I do also okay. I just have to be very transparent and we had a, I thought, a hilarious conversation when we were talking before, and I was saying, okay, Mackie, you were as gracious to say that if somebody mentions the podcast, you're gonna do what? $10 off. Yeah. Which I think is great. And then I said Mac, oh I think the Virtual Couch wants to pay for the first person who comes and does like a full whatever they need to do, let the Virtual Couch pay for it. And, if I remember correctly, and I don't know if you start it with old man, when's, when's the last time you got your haircut? And I said 2003. And it was by George the barber and literally rest in peace. What a great guy he was. And he was kind and he would, he would move his scissors above my head. I know he wasn't cutting anything and kind of just move his hands through it a little bit. And I thought, oh, bless his heart, he's making me get my $12 worth. And so then I realized that's probably not what we're talking about here. 

Mackie: It has been 20 years since you got that haircut.

Tony: And it was a comb over haircut. Like, it wasn't a haircut, it was like a hair. I don't even know. I don't even, I can't even come up with something funny. Yeah, just a little messing around up there. A little bit silly. Yeah I don't, I know it can be a very expensive process, so then I, but I still told Mackie the first person who does a bigger thing there, I would love to take half of it as a Virtual Couch discount. Where are you located? 

Mackie: I'm located in Orem, Utah. That would help, Utah County for anyone. 

Tony: I love the concepts around trivia. And so the first Virtual Couch client to go to Mackie and then get something done, then we wanna document that on social media and that will forever be in the archives. So somebody there can reach out to you as well. And then it has to be somebody that you've never seen and they want, they, they've reached out cause they heard you on the podcast. I think that sounds fun too. Yeah. Okay. I'm impressed. I really am not just as your father but also as the fact that, holy cow, for some of the things that you've come on in the past and we talked about depression, we talked about some anxiety, we talked about fear and scary things and a lot of people, when I go look at those episodes, and I'm not just saying this because you're here and you're my daughter but I mean, I think I was sharing them with you. I mean, a couple, one or two of them are definitely in the top 20 of all time downloads, one's in the top 10, and that people really have resonated with your honesty and your vulnerability. And so here you are doing scary things and doing things that you didn't anticipate doing at this point in your life. And you're being so honest about not saying, oh yeah, anxiety gone, done. Don't even see it around anymore. Potentially even worse. 

Mackie: No, it’s terrible.

Tony: But then still be able to do these things. 

Mackie: You do it scared. Do it scared and that's okay. 

Tony: Proud, proud of you. Love you. What an impressive human being. This is exciting stuff. Thank you. So, I can't wait. We'll have you back on in a little while and just see how things are going. Sounds good. 

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Tony Overbay, LMFT, welcomes Nate Christensen, APCC, back to the Virtual Couch for his 6th appearance. Tony and Nate discuss David Robson’s book “The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your Word,” https://amzn.to/3vbtTCl 

Robson calls our brains “prediction machines” and says, “It turns out our brains constantly anticipate what will happen next, and this script is incredibly powerful. This does not mean, as some self-help exponents suggest, anything bad is the fault of the individual or that we can just ask the universe for whatever outcome we want; however, there appears to be some benefit in reframing experiences when our beliefs may not be helping us.” Tony and Nate give several examples from the book on the power of mindset, both positive and negative, and then give some tips on how to set yourself up best to take advantage of the power of the brain. 

Nate Christensen hosts a podcast called “Working Change” along with his wife Marla, and you can contact Nate through Tony’s website using the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com

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

Expectation Effect with Nate- Transcript

Tony: Nate Christensen. Welcome to the Virtual Couch. And what is now an unprecedented sixth, or seventh time, I believe. And the fans go crazy when they see that Nate's on the podcast because we're going to talk about smart things and I'm going to step back and I'm going to let you do a lot of the driving. So I'm excited about that too. But to begin with, have you ever thought you knew a quote so well, and then it turns out it isn't from who you said it was?

Nate: Probably not. And the reason, 

Tony: I love it. Right. Stepping into your healthy ego. Here we go. Yeah. 

Nate: Well, so I love quotes and some things just really stick, but I never remember who says them.

Tony: Oh, okay. So it's, but you don't necessarily misattribute them. 

Nate: I'm sure that I have done that. Yeah, because, and I think sometimes I actually attribute them to myself. 

Tony: That's even better. Yeah. Yeah. There's one that I don't, we have so much to get to today. One of my best examples of this, I used to say the “seek first to understand before being understood” quote and I assumed it was from the Bible and then I confabulated my memory so many times that I was assuming, well, if it's the Bible it's got to be the New Testament. If it's the New Testament, it's probably Paul. And at one point I even remember saying to a couple, well, as Paul said, and I'm probably assuming to the Corinthians, seek first to understand before being understood, only to find a quick Google search that it was Steven Covey.

So today we're gonna talk about a quote that I have, I could not remember, and I want to attribute it to yoda. And it turns out that it is actually Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.” 

Nate: Love that quote. Okay. I mean, it’s a little cliche, right? Because maybe there are certain things that we can't accomplish. But there's probably plenty of things we could, but if we just don't believe we can, we don't do it. 

Tony: So, that is a segue to today. So today we are talking about a book called The Expectation Effect by David Robson. So do you want to do a little introduction on where and, and I do, I want you to go wherever you want to go. You drive. I've got some notes prepared as well. I listened to the book on audiobook, and it's been in my head ever since. So, but I would love to hear, where are we going today, Nate? 

Nate: Well, I think we'll just kind of meander along. I think we both have our notes and an outline, and we'll see where it goes. It's like two dudes with ADHD and a book. 

Tony: Need you more? And as I literally went for my squishy brain to squeeze and I dropped it behind my desk. So I feel like now I'm distracted, but it's okay. I'm going to leave it there. I'm going to be very mindful. 

Nate: Okay, I like it. So the expectation effect, actually, the author never explicitly defines. So I was looking last night all over the place and I was like, where's the definition? And doesn't actually totally define it. He uses some studies to kind of define it early in the book. And there was one study that I thought was interesting, that we could kind of throw out there from the beginning. It was from Crum and Langer in 2007 and they approached seven hotels and they basically had 88 employees in housekeeping. And they cleaned something in the neighborhood of like 15 rooms a day. And then they divided them up and then they asked each group, how much do you exercise? And they got everybody's answers. And then they said, don't do anything different over the next four weeks we're going to come back and talk to you, and I guess another important piece to this is, they measured everybody's height and weight and BMI and all that stuff. So then they took this one group though and they primed them. And that's a word we'll use a couple times. So priming is the process of giving information that would kind of get the brain to think a particular way. And what they did with this group is they talked to them about how research indicates that certain tasks like vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom actually increases heart rate and is akin to exercise, like taking a walk or something like that and that was all they did. So then they come back in four weeks and they ask them again, how much they exercise and they found the group that they primed reported a higher level of exercise and they didn't do anything different but they were viewing their work as exercise where they hadn't before. And, they started poking and prodding the participants and discovered those that came to believe through the priming that their work was exercise, actually lost weight and lost BMI and said they generally felt healthier. No explanation. They checked with the managers, hey, are these people working overtime? Is anything unusual? Has anything changed? No change. It's just, their mind started to believe that they were healthier and exercised and whatever set of cascading decisions that followed caused them to lose weight and feel better.

Tony: And I love what you talk about there, the cascading, whatever happened next. Because what I appreciated is, he makes a really big point that this is, and I love what he says. The author himself tells you many times that you need to be careful how you read the book and that it is absolutely not some version of The Secret, which was a book I remember early in my therapy career that came out, and he even said it sold 35 or 40 million copies. And, it was this, it was like the law of attraction or if you think it, it will become, and I had people that would literally tell me, and they were, they were people I'd been working with for a while that said, and it was this time of year holidays, one person said, I went to the mall and I determined I would get a front row parking spot. And he put that out to the universe, and it happened. And so I wanted to say, okay, that one, how about a little bit of chance, a little bit of luck, and he said, no, it's because I put it out there. And so I love the fact that, David Robinson says, that every single one of these examples we give, and there's some pretty crazy ones, that he can find the data to back it up. Whether it is, then that expectation leads to this effect and this effect, and this effect, but that power of the mind is pretty impressive. 

Nate: It is, it's really impressive. And, my own experience having been diagnosed in my early twenties with depression and anxiety and struggling with that, and then my own expectations about what I could do and what I couldn't do, and being told by medical doctors that I just had a chemical imbalance, and there really wasn't probably much I could do, just take these pills, which was, I mean, I know that that was where science was at that moment. But was probably the worst thing for me because I had no incentive to try to do things differently, make lifestyle changes, which I have since done. And I, after 20 years of medication, no longer need it because, well maybe life implodes on me and I might find myself in a difficult situation and go back to the doctor and I need some.

Tony: Hey, so I'll mark the time at this one. This is at the whatever minute mark. Right? 

Nate: No, no. I think that's an important thing to recognize that I still have my limitations and I still do have my mental propensities but when I'm living life in a way that's known to be healthy, I feel better. And I don't feel that I need those other things.

Tony: And then it has that, like you said earlier, that cascading effect which I feel like is such a good principle. Do we start going down some of the studies or do you have some other things to kind of set the table? 

Nate: Yeah. So I think maybe the best thing to set the table would be understanding what is the basis. Like, so what, what is this expectation effect built on, why does this exist? And the author talks early on about an idea concept called “the prediction machine”.  

Tony: This is one of those where I feel like if you hear this in listening, right now, just starting to be aware that this is what the brain is starts to make sense. 

Nate: Yeah, yeah, and so the prediction machine or the brain, and as you talk about our brain is a don't get killed device. And the way that it does that is by creating stories. And the stories that it creates are around the ideas of what the world is like, who we are in the world, who the people are around us, and what matters and what doesn't matter, it's why you can at least, you know, here in the US you know, you have people, with political belief systems that are polar opposites that they feel like both feel equally strongly about, it's just the way that we view the world and ultimately, these belief systems can ultimately determine what we believe is possible. And so that's where the expectation effect essentially comes from. Our brain's desire to make sense of everything and then to build on that because that will tell us what we're capable of, what other people are capable of and, you know, hence our expectations.

Tony: So then I know he talks about,  and I'm looking at our notes here too, well, I love, first let me just hit the, when the brain tries to make sense of the world, create stories and belief systems, Michael Twohig that was on a few weeks ago, talked about that concept of where we make stories and then we just believe that's the way the world works. And then if we aren't actively trying to look outside of ourselves or do our own work, then we just over 20, 30 years, well, that's just the way it works. And so then if anybody even tries to question, well, why do we do things? Or, why don't you do something different? Then it seems like we get offended because, well, because this is what I do. This is the way it works.

Nate: Right, and you have the idea of cognitive dissonance. So yeah, so cognitive dissonance is when someone, when you have a belief system and someone gives you information that actually challenges that belief system, it can really be shaky for people. Now this goes back to a book that I love that I mentioned a lot, which is Buddha's Brain. Which one of the things I took from it is to stop trying to make sense of everything. Just let things be and I love it.

Tony: Which sounds so counterintuitive. And it's funny, that's where I was going too. The Buddha’s Brain talks about that, the book On Being Certain in essence says, well, I think I've created that, how adorable part. But just, we spend so much time and I feel like wasting emotional calories and energy, trying to make sense of things that happened. And then it's almost as if we're seeking this, well, if I can make sense of it, then what? Then I will be better. Then I can move on from it. But then we actually get caught up in trying to make sense of things. Which is so mind blowing. I did an episode a couple weeks ago on limiting beliefs. And I thought that was a really interesting concept because I haven't really explored what that is for quite a while. But just really quick, I love that this one article I found said that these, underlying, or these self-limiting beliefs are particularly vulnerable because they're shaped during our early development from the messages that we receive from our parents and caregivers about our self-worth, the potential, the deservingness of unconditional love. And because these self-limiting beliefs are kind of there before we even knew that we were choosing, or thinking or that then they tend to constitute these global judgements about who we are and what we're capable of achieving, and then they trickle down into all these different aspects of our life.

So I feel like even right now, if somebody finds themselves saying, well, yeah, but, I mean, really challenge the yeah, buts, because those yeah buts come from the programming that we got in our childhood.

Nate: And that dovetails really nicely. I'm going to jump ahead a little bit based on where I had this in our outline, but I think it really ties in nicely with a study in the chapter called “Untapped Genius” where Robson starts off talking about a study in San Francisco in 19, I think it was 1964, and the researchers identified a bunch of children that were ready to bloom elementary, I think they were all elementary school kids. And then, they identified these children to the teachers and told the teachers, these kids are ready to explode academically and take a big step intellectually. And so the teachers were primed to expect these students to do well. And at the end of the year, they went through and got a bunch of IQ scores and found that these students had done about double, like twice as well as their peers. The non-identified students, I guess the students that were not ready to bloom and of course, as you can imagine, because researchers like to pull their little pranks, the students that were identified as ready to bloom were all random.

Tony: Oh, okay. I did not see that coming.

Nate: That's funny, and the interesting thing was when they talked to the teachers, the teacher said, the teacher's own belief system was, they didn't work more with these kids.

Tony: I remember when you were talking about this, and that was what I was blown away by. Because even if you look at that, it's almost like the teacher said, well, they're good. They're ready to bloom. 

Nate: I mean, imagine if there's a student that comes to you and your belief system is, they're ready, they're ready for this, and they're like, I don't understand this, how much time are you going to spend with them? Are you going to say, you know what, you're smart. I know you can figure this out. You'll figure it out. And then they just do that.

Tony: It almost shows you when you have those students that supposedly are, they're bored because they are so smart. I mean, I wonder if that would make some sense. Here I am trying to make sense of who knows, but, where if that person isn't challenged, and maybe one of the reasons they're not challenged is because the teacher does know they're smart, and so says, well, you just sit back. I'm trying to teach these other kids because you should get it.

Nate: Yeah. There's other studies in that particular chapter where research indicates that teachers are inherent for whatever reason, again, based on our belief systems because we're trying to make sense of the world. You know, teachers that are aware that certain students are poor are more likely to view those students as not good students that they'll struggle, and the author brings up the possibility that maybe these people are just meeting the expectations of those around them. Again, going back to what you said about what we experienced in childhood.

Tony: Right. And it's funny, I was in the airport yesterday and just walking around and you do, you just make these inherent observations and judgements that just go hand in hand. And somebody just because maybe of the way they look or present or it's the brain just continually making predictions. If this person's safe, this person's not. I could probably have a conversation with this person, maybe this person I couldn't. And I feel like we don't even recognize that we're doing that constantly.

Nate: Yeah. There's evidence that this is going outside of the book. There's evidence that a lot of these things are just inherently built into us. There was a study that I was, I was listening to a presentation and the, the presenter was talking about this study that they were showing a bunch of pictures and then looking at what was going on in the brain, and what they found is me as a white man, if you show me a picture of someone non-white, my amygdala , just lights up a little bit. So I immediately feel a little bit weird. It's possibly the in-group, out-group bias. But, but, there's, I have no control over that. Right. It just happens, which is fascinating in and of itself. Like why would the brain associate that with potential danger? I don’t know.

Tony: Well, and then, and then what I like about that example is then the book On Being Certain in essence says at that moment not to try to make sense of, but then say, oh, I'm noticing that and now is when you can take action on something of, okay, now I can address this bias, or that sort of thing. But I feel like so much of our experience in life but this is how I feel so I need to then, I need to figure it out and then I'm not doing the work and I don't want to be uncomfortable because if I have to then self confront, then that might be uncomfortable. And I might realize that I might not have a very open mind about a situation and that's the part that I don't know if you, and as a therapist, that's the part that I don't want to say is frustrating, but boy, sometimes I just want people to be able to fast track their way to accountability and then this self confrontation and know that it's okay. It's actually, we all need to recognize the areas where we don't, we didn't know what we didn't know. 

Nate: Yeah, and that certainly is a challenge in therapy, and I think that it might go back at least partially to how entrenched are people in their belief systems. Like my experience, I don't know if you, if you see this, when people come in and they have a certain amount of openness to not only what I'm saying, but to the possibility that maybe there's things that they don't understand, or whatever, I feel like those clients tend to do better. What do you think?

Tony: Oh, yeah, I'll sometimes jokingly say that if somebody comes in and they're willing to be pretty open or take ownership of their behavior or they even recognize that, okay, I obviously don't know what I don't know, or I continue to repeat the same pattern over and over again, that then I love to make the joke of, okay, you just saved yourself four to six sessions of therapy, so that's a money saver which is a good thing. Should we talk about some more of the, I think this had so many good examples that I think are pretty mind blowing. Okay there's, and I think everybody's heard about the placebo effect. I want to also talk about the nocebo effect because that was fascinating. Do you want to talk about that?  

Nate: Okay. Well, do you want me to talk about placebo or nocebo?. Yeah. Give both. Okay. Okay. So the placebo effect is the belief that something positive will happen because you do this thing and the example that they brought up, which I thought was just incredible in the book was an experiment where, again, you know, as you can imagine, experimenters are playing their little tricks and trying to see what happens, they gave a bunch of quote unquote painkillers to people to kind of see what happens. And of course, half the people actually took painkillers and half the people took sugar pills. And what they discovered was the people that took sugar pills that believed they were taking painkillers, their bodies actually released endorphins, which is insane. I don't even know, I don't even know how, so for anybody that's not sure what an endorphin is, that's the body's natural painkillers. So it's endogenous morphine essentially. I mean, your body released painkillers, like the body's natural painkillers when you popped what you thought as a Tylenol or an ibuprofen or something. That is amazing. 

Tony: Can I tell you, a client of mine actually sent me a funny video. There's a comedian, I think his name's Pete Holmes and my client was saying that I always talk about, oh, the brain bless its heart. It means, well. And this comedian said the brain's kind of a jerk because it has access to all those chemicals. But it's saying, no. Do you know what you need to do to use them? Go run. So, but when, and it could literally conjure that up. And I remember in my psycho-pharmacology class in grad school that the instructor did an amazing job of just describing an orange. To the point where it made us pretty much all salivate. And then he was just saying, power the brain. Yeah. It's amazing. It is. So that placebo, and I remember there's a book called You Are The Placebo. And this is where I, boy, now that I understand the way our memory works, that it probably wasn't even in that book. It was probably just in some random article that I googled at the time when I did a podcast about it. But, there was even some stuff, and I don't think they could get away with this today, but it was where half the people were given ACL surgeries and then another half were put under, and then they created the scars and the knee and then they followed up. And the people that didn't get the surgery but were told they did, and that they came through it well, showed stability in their ACL. Like, that is crazy. It is, yeah, it is. That is really fascinating. So what's nocebo then?

Nate: So the nocebo effect is essentially where the patient or client or whomever has a negative belief system built around whatever is going to happen. And they had a really just, again, fascinating studies and stories in this book. 

Tony: This one's almost scary now that I remember what this one was. I can literally remember where I was running at the time and I was thinking about, oh my gosh. It made me immediately think of how many things do I worry about? Because what can happen, Nate? What's the story? 

Nate: Yeah. Okay, in the 1970s was a man in Tennessee that was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I don't know my cancers very well, so I don't know if it's really serious or relatively minor. So they operated and the surgery was successful. However, further scans showed that the cancer had spread to his liver, and the doctors told him that he was going to be lucky to make it to Christmas that year, and he actually beat the odds. He survived until January. So during the autopsy they took a look at his liver. Turns out, the cancer or the tumor is not only small, but operable. And could not have killed him, they have no idea how he died, and so basically the assumption kind of became, he just believed that he was going to die and died.

Tony: You know, the reason I remember this one so well is it kind of freaked me out a little bit. And I went on a deep dive on Google and I don't even know how many websites I clicked links to, but I found some, somebody that even hypothesized that the, some chemical that the body excretes at very low levels is non-toxic and it helps clear the bloodstream of blood clots. And I mean, but then again, I don't even think this is a real thing. But this was somebody trying to make sense of it. And then they were saying, so this guy then must have just activated this part of his brain that just dumped this toxic chemical into his bloodstream. Which I mean, but then I even realized, oh, that was somebody trying to make sense of this, because it's mind blowing. I think that you could just think your way through to this point where now you know, thank goodness he made it till what, January, but instead of Christmas. So he beat the odds. But he didn't really need to die at all. 

Nate: No. Yeah. It's fascinating. I have a non-human example. My stepson was watching my brother's house and they have a bunch of animals and a couple of hunting dogs. And these dogs are, they're not aggressive to people, but they're like chasing animals all over the place. So my brother and his family got a couple of sheep, like rams, and they're really wild and they took off and they didn't mean for that to happen, but they just left. So anyway, my stepson calls me and he's like, I don't know what's going on. The dogs are attacking an animal and he's freaking out and then they stop and the animal's dead. And so my wife and I run over to figure it out, and I call my brother and I send him a picture and he is like, oh, that's one of the sheep that we had actually bought. And I guess it came back, but the dogs were out and they attacked it. So we're looking at the sheep, and it does have injuries, but there's no obvious like, it's not its throat like it didn't get it, didn't look like the dogs had gotten it anywhere in a place that would've killed it. And so I just was like, this thing was just so terrified. I asked my brother about that and he was kind of thinking the same thing, like it just scared it to death to the point that it died. 

Tony: Wow. Yeah, it's really interesting. Honestly, I was waiting for you to say, and then it looked around, no dogs around, and it popped up and ran away. I was ready for a happy version.

Nate: It was a sad ending. Sad for the ram.

Tony: Okay I want to make sure, because I know we're going to run out of time because this is very, very easy to talk about. But let's talk about how I can live forever, because that's my hope. So the things around aging, I think there's some stuff around aging.

Nate: Yeah so the last chapter is about aging and it's really interesting, so researchers basically got a bunch of retirees, and I think they were early retirees, so maybe in their sixties, and they went through and I don't remember if they gave them a bunch of words or they asked them to describe what getting older is like, and, and then they divided them based on their responses. So you had some people that saw getting older as painful, right. As difficult, things like that. You had other people that saw it as, you know, they associate it with wisdom, freedom, and opportunities to do new things. So they divided these people and what they found is, the people that had a positive view of getting older lived on average, seven and a half years long.

Tony: That is a long time. That was exciting to me. 

Nate: You’re like, I’m going to live until 90 now.

Tony: Or 110.

Nate: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don't know if I want to live that long, which I don’t know what that means.

Tony: There’s so much fun stuff to do though, Nate, right? Okay. Go lay on the couch right now and tell me more about that. I was in Salt Lake over the weekend. I flew back there to help my daughter get a car, and our salesperson was Fred, he was amazing. He was 81 and I immediately exclaimed when he told me this. Fred, you look amazing. I want to be you when I'm 81. And he already had a career retired, was bored and was just doing this kind of as a hobby, but then just sharp as a tack. And we talked about all kinds of things, not just car things, but life things. And I just, I was thinking about our interview, I was thinking about this book and I was just thinking about the fact that, you know, his implicit memory or what it feels like to be Fred is just somebody that is constantly moving, challenging, thinking, doing, learning. And so he looked the part and then also was incredibly just. And then I know that I want to be that 80 year old that's still, I don't know, running races or that sort of thing. But then I think it's funny because I also look at, though, I'm also afraid of things like Alzheimer's or that sort of thing. So then this book caused me such cognitive dissonance because in one sense I think, okay, I am convinced I'm going to live forever and be able to exercise as long as I don't go crazy. And so which one's going to win? I need you to tell me, Nate. 

Nate: Your expectations are going to win. 

Tony: But I expect them both.

Nate: If you go back to Buddha's brain. The negative is like Velcro. 

Tony: Yep. And the positive like Teflon. And, I am turning my, I'm putting a bunch of sock fuzz in the Velcro of my negativity and therefore the negative things are starting to slide right past. So were there other examples of things that you thought were pretty interesting?

Nate: Yeah you know, I think for me the one that, I mean, it hit me like quite, quite heavily was around stress and anxiety. 

Tony: Talk about this. So, did it just say, knock it off? 

Nate: It was really fascinating. So they looked at some kind of societal changes that started happening around the early 1900s and maybe it was late 1800s. And so there was kind of this social movement to de-stress your life. And it was like people could do these things to kind of live a stress-free life. And there seemed to be this shift in society where it started to view stress and anxiety from more of a negative perspective. And the reason why that's interesting is because, again, going back to the science of what they found, what happens when you stop looking at stress and anxiety as a negative, in this particular instance, what the researchers found is they got a bunch of students together taking the GRE. So you take the GRE to get into graduate school. And then they primed half of them going back to that priming word. So they gave them a blurb previous to taking this exam and then the other half, they just had them take the exam. So listen to this blurb that they gave to people. I wrote it down exactly because I wanted to do it. Hopefully it'll pick me up because my head is turned a little bit. 

So, the blurb reads, “People think that feeling anxious while taking a standardized test will make them do poorly on the test. However, recent research suggests that arousal doesn't hurt performance on these tests and can even help performance. People who feel anxious during a test might actually do better. This means that you shouldn't feel concerned, if you do feel anxious while taking today's GRE test. If you find yourself feeling anxious, simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.”

So, that's the only difference between these two groups. The group that got that did 10% better. Like, put yourself back in school and every time you take a test, for 15 seconds or whatever it was, you read that and every test you do 10% better.

Tony: Well, because, I mean boy, you're getting ready for the big licensing exams and those sorts of things. And I can't even tell you that stress and people would continually, I mean, if you fail it, you think, what if I was one or two off? I mean, so in that scenario, boy, 10% out of a four hour test of 200 questions, that's a lot of questions you could get, right. That's 20 questions. 20 questions from what you just read. And what is that saying though? That 's saying, oh, it's normal and I'm okay. Right. Yeah. Which I love because in the world of ACT, which, you know, I go on and on about is this acceptance that of course I feel this way. I'm a human being. That's part of the human experience. So, now what? Now I will bring it along with me while I do things of value. 

Nate: Yeah. And I love that approach because for me, the reason my anxiety was so bad, or at least again, the story that I'm creating. The reason my anxiety was so bad is because I was trying to run from it. Every time I felt elevated, I just saw like there was a problem. And I'm like, oh, there's a problem. I need to find the problem. So I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, which essentially, the emotion comes, going back to Buddha's Brain, right? The emotion hits first, then it's the brain's decision. What am I going to do with this? My brain decided I needed to make sense of it, which again, is why I love Buddha's Brain. It was like, that was where you went wrong. And guess what? In life, you will always be able to find problems. Always. If you are looking for problems, you're going to find them. Absolutely. And the way to handle that is like, everything is fine. It's okay. It's not a problem. It's like that blurb they gave. This might help you.

Tony: That's a nice reframing too. Another one of the things that Mike Twohig talked about is he said, one of the lines I say is, “I think healthy, happy people are probably spending 80% of their day doing things that are important.” He said, “I didn't say fun, but I said important. And then people who are maybe less healthy are probably spending 80% of their day working hard to feel good.” And I think we could add in there and avoid discomfort and move away from anxiety, and beat themselves up about what's wrong with me because I feel depressed and then people feel like but I need to figure it out. And so then that's what they've been trying to do for 20 or 30 years. And then that's what it feels like to be them and then that's the stuff that breaks my heart is then somebody can even hear what we're talking about now and their brain's going to just slap them up and down with the “yeah, butts”. Well yeah, but you don't understand my situation and we don't, so tell me more. And now let's normalize, and then now bring that along with you while you do things of value. 

Nate: Right, and this is a long process by the way.

Tony: I don’t know if we've talked about this yet. I've been saying this on podcasts, the Buddha Brain, there's a couple other things that I've read that have really led me to believe that that implicit memory or the gradual shift of your inner landscape is, you know, and he says it's based off of the residue of your life experiences. All of that is a, it's a long process and, but long processes don't sell books, and they don't sell courses and programs. So we're conditioned to try to tell people that, no you can do this. You can turn things around right away. And I almost feel like that's doing a disservice because then people feel like, oh, what's wrong with me if I haven't changed in 21 days or six months, or that sort of thing. And people will say, well, how long is it going to take? And I feel so dismissive of saying, well, as long as it takes. But that doesn't sound very hopeful. 

Nate: No, it doesn't. And it's interesting you brought that up when I was 35. I will be 45 next year. When I was 35, for New Years, there was some chaos going on in my life and I was like, I've gotta do some things differently. So for my New Year's resolution, I was like, I'm going to think more positively and I'm not going to change this resolution until I get it. Okay. I feel like I'm just starting to get it. It's taken me almost 10 years. Now, I'm not saying that that's normal for everybody, right? But that's what it was for me.  

Tony: But I think that's a pretty normal process, although that might make people not very excited to hear this. When I was working with a guy that does a lot of work with, a lot of research around pornography recovery and not turning to pornography as an unhealthy coping mechanism, he used to say that you can kind of count on a three to five year process. And we've talked about this, I've been pretty intentional about not necessarily laying that out there at the beginning cause I think people feel like then that sounds overwhelming. But then the reality is within the first year, there is so much of just trying to make sense of things. And then it's almost like this comes with a little existential crisis of, oh man, what if nothing really does make sense or I can't make sense of things, or things aren't the way that I thought they would be or were, and then once you get through that though, now I feel like there's this world of just acceptance and now start to just do and be. And, but then you've got the whole need for validation. And that's another podcast. Willpower, talk about that because I feel like this is, not that I'm trying to debunk positive psychology but I feel like what I love about ACT or this expectation effect is so much of just, it isn't that you aren't to think positive. I feel like having the right positive messages are really helpful. Not the ones of, you know, I'm a handsome man that everybody finds attractive. I'm sorry, that's not been the case for me. So that's gonna be something my brain will say. Really? You're buying that? But I can make changes. I am capable, I am lovable. Those sort of things. But talk about willpower. 

Nate: This is a really interesting one. So willpower in the way that it's specifically looked at in the book, has probably more to do with what we might associate with focus. Which, you know, you and I, we have our own expectations. 

Tony: I’ve heard of this focus. Sounds cute

Nate: Yeah. We have our own expectations around focus because of ADHD or how it manifests for people. So when I was reading this, I was like, oh, that's very interesting. And I was having my own kind of ego defenses coming up because, well see  and one of the things about this book that I think I should probably caution people if they really like some of this stuff and then go get it. I think you have, the best way to commit this is open to the fact that we might be kind of hosing ourselves. It's kind of some victim blaming here.

Tony: Well that's funny and you're speaking this much better than I am because that's where I'm trying to say, oh, how about a little existential crisis that comes when we start to realize. I think at some point people feel like, whoa, I could have done this different a long time ago. And that's where just prepare for some radical acceptance. We didn't know what we didn't know. Now we know it. So that's cool. 

Nate: Yeah. Yeah. So the willpower is again, a really interesting concept. So what do they do for this? They get a bunch of people, as they always do. They divide them up in two groups, and then they kind of see the differences. And so the way that they divided these groups were based on tests that they gave them and it was like, how do you feel about accomplishing things? So one group feels, you know, I think most people feel good about accomplishing things, but again, turning to focus. One group, when they felt like they accomplished something, they felt like they exerted a lot of energy and felt kind of drained. The other group said that they felt energized. So then after they divided everybody, they then gave everyone a pretest. It's meant to kind of drain some focus. And then they gave them an actual task that could be scored. It was something that had to do with colors and letters. And then the test was, scored and as you can probably imagine, those that believed that completing tasks depleted energy and focus scored much worse than those that believed completing tasks energized them. 

Tony: That's so funny because sometimes I mean, I have people that say by the end of the day, I'm shot, and then the next person can walk in and right behind him and say, and you know, by the end of the day, I'm really getting rolling.

Nate: Yeah and I've kind of wondered a little bit, I'm more introverted, so I've been like can introverts and extroversion have something to do with that? Because there you know, again, is this my brain being like, oh, I don't know if I want to, am I setting myself up for having to make the decision? Well, I guess you're just gonna have to work harder because you have more time.

Tony: I was gonna say, is this a self confrontation moment? Right? Although, I will tell you one of the podcasts I did on, are you a morning lark or a night owl? There was a database of chess people where they get all that data from. Do you know of this? It was so fascinating. So in essence, and I don't know chess well enough to know that apparently there are just some moves that you make every time when you see a certain setup. And so then you could time how quickly people made these moves, and it's all part of some international chess database that tracks all of this data. So then researchers go mine that data often. And one of them was saying, okay, this move is the move that is made. So if you look at the people that are in theory, what champion level chess players, they make it much quicker in the morning than they do in the late afternoon. Or they make it much quicker in the evening. And so there was literally this data that showed you're either this morning lark or this night owl, but not in between. And so then I thought, okay, where does the expectation effect come into play there? Because, and it probably does because by that time, I know I'm a morning person, and so I have told myself that by the nighttime I'm pretty shut down. But then I've got clients that come in often and say, if I could just wake up at one o'clock every afternoon, I'm rolling by midnight. and I think yeah, but you could be more efficient if you were doing it at a different time, says me because I wanna make sure that my way is the right way. Did we leave any of these out? I know there was some stuff around food that I thought was interesting that I also wanted to ignore. Because apparently I don't need to impulsively eat yummy, tasty food all the time. 

Nate: Yeah. So this, this one was fascinating also. I mean, they're all just so interesting. So researchers, they got some people together and they were looking at how the brain breaks down belief systems regarding food, and so they had participants again broken up into two groups, your control in your experimental group. And they are each given these shakes. And so one shake was labeled “decadence you deserve”. And then there was a little bit more of a blurb. It was like, you know, whole milk, like rich, rich and creamy, all the buzzwords that go with that. And then one was called a shake for guilt-free satisfaction. No added sugar and this and that.

Tony: Boring, right? 

Nate: Right, right, right. So anyway, these people drink these shakes and then they do some blood work and they get in there and they're looking at ghrelin. So I don't know a lot about this hormone, this supplies a little bit less to therapy, so I'm more familiar with dopamine. But ghrelin apparently is a hormone that the body uses to encourage eating. So as ghrelin goes up, your body starts to fill the need to eat. Ghrelin goes down, you're satiated. Okay. So as you would expect, the people that drank the indulgent shake, their ghrelin levels were low. Or lower than the people that had the guilt-free satisfaction healthy shake. 

Tony: So the guilt-free satisfaction, the ghrelin levels were higher? So then that meant that they were hungry sooner. Even though, surprise, shakes were the same. 

Nate: Exactly. So the same amount of calories. I mean, there was nothing different in the shakes.

Tony: So people listening, every shake that you drink from this day forward is very satisfying. Absolutely. And, it is very indulgent. And because you deserve it. Because you're a very good person and you feel very full. 

Nate: Yeah. Do you, I don't know if you, it's so interesting. Did you catch the story about the man that had the damaged hippocampus? I mean, what in the world?

Tony: Yeah. It's funny, I just said that and then I immediately thought, I don't remember the exact story. Confabulation, sorry. So I'm like, I do, but tell it to me and then I'll tell you what I made up around it. 

Nate: So in this story, this guy, they had to do some kind of brain surgery and damaged his hippocampus, which is really around memory formation. And so, he could never remember the last time he ate. Do you remember this now? And so experiments around this guy were really interesting. So they'd sit him down at a table and then they'd give him a bunch of food and he'd eat it, and then they'd take it away. And he has no idea that he just ate. So they'd bring him another meal and he'd eat it and then they'd take it away and, but they kept asking him if he was hungry or not on like a scale of zero to a hundred, zero being not hungry at all. A hundred being starving. And he always answered 50. He didn't know if he was hungry or not hungry.

Tony: So he was playing it safe. I mean really. Right? Because he didn't, I mean I even thought about, I do remember that one cause I thought about even around the world of validation and he wants to just play it safe, like nah. Yeah I could eat but I'm pretty full. Almost like playing because that's probably, I don't want people to tell me I’m crazy or something's wrong with me. 

Nate: Yeah. So his memory around when he ate last and apparently even based on the shake thing, what you eat last totally can influence when you feel like you need to eat again. For a lot of people they feel like that's really biological and apparently studies are indicating that that's partly mental.

Tony: It’s funny and I love that we just had that exchange because I did, I confabulated the story and then I was thinking, I don't remember it completely. And then I remember the validation piece and I made so many jokes in my brain about what you could do with that guy, you know, when they're, you're bringing, no, you ate this already or you like this and you're giving him something he hates, or something like that. So, and that's, and that's even. Boy, talk about we're all having our own experiences and then even have to get to the fact where you can have expectations and are they positive, are they negative? And then it's based on what your cognitive bias is and what are the stories that you grew up with? And now as I'm saying it, it sounds like it's so overwhelming, but I'm saying, isn't that awesome Nate? 

Nate: It's awesome. It’s awesome that you can change that.

Tony: Yeah, exactly. Well, and that's on the self-limiting beliefs, I pulled up some stuff out of the ADHD 2.0 book again, and talked about the authors talking about the neuroplasticity of the brain, like drop. It's formed at 3 5, 12 25. Any. It's not. It's just, I think that part where we have to, we get so deeply dug into the things that we think are the way that things work. So you have to self confront and challenge yourself, but then we absolutely can make change, it just takes a little while. And it's even better when you're doing things that matter to you. So says acceptance and commitment therapy. Nate, what a blast. This is fun. We're still the world's worst salespeople, go listen to Nate on his podcast Working Change. I probably should have said that up front. Where else can people find you?

Nate: I don't have a website. I do have an email, if people want to reach out to me, Nate Christensen counseling and that's a mouthful. And if it's not, if it's not getting to me, email Tony and he can connect you to me. 

Tony: Yeah, exactly. Go through my website, or contact@tonyoverbay.com and I know at times, yeah, we all will have an opening or two in our schedule and sometimes I think people will assume that they could never get into somebody. But, I don't know. I think a lot of people resonate with the way that you communicate and yeah, Nate does a nice job working with clients as well. So if this is your approach, if you like the brain stuff, yeah maybe reach out to Nate, go check out his podcast. And there's a lot of good stuff over there too. So, Nate Christensen, till we have you on again. We'll see you next time on the Virtual Couch.

Susie Pettit is a Podcast Host (Love Your Life Show), the founder of Strength: Mind and Body, and a Mindfullness-Based Cognitive Life Coach. Susie has made a career helping women "live lives that feel as good on the inside as they look on the outside." But before finding her calling in helping others, she spent more than half her life living a life she did not love, as a people pleaser and a codependent perfectionist. Susie shares her story of growing up in a narcissistic home only to find herself in an emotionally, and financially abusive marriage, trying desperately to do whatever she could to keep peace in her home, her life, and in the lives of her children. Susie's story finds her hitting rock bottom, only to use her experiences to turn her into the "Midlife Warrior" she is today. You can find out more about Susie at http://smbwell.com/tony

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=bSWcEQTranscript


Tony: Okay, Susie Pettit, round two or three. What would we call this one? It's all been, let's call it two. 

Susie: It's on me. Ok. 

Tony: It's all part of one. You've been smiling the whole way. 

Susie: It’s all going exactly as planned.  

Tony: Absolutely. That's the case. So, welcome to the Virtual Couch, as well as probably the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast as well. So thanks for joining me. 

Susie: Great. Thank you for having me. It’s exciting.

Tony: Yeah. I loved being on your podcast, and I just felt like, boy, we, I don't know, that felt like 10 minutes and I felt like we could have talked all day, and I think at that point we said, okay, let's continue this over on mine. So, yeah. So here we are and I'm looking forward to this. I would love to maybe, if you're open to it, just tell my listeners who you are and a little bit about you because there's a couple of really fascinating things about where you are and more. So why don't you lay that story out. So Susie, take us on your train of thought. 

Susie: Okay. Well, my name is Susie Pettit and I am currently a 51 year old successful life coach for moms of teens, and I help women you know, really learn habits. I'm very into brain science and how our brain likes habits and ease and help women lay habits and create habits to live a life they love. Now the backstory of that is because I lived a life I did not love for many, many years. I grew up in a family. I was one of three daughters. I was the oldest and I grew up with a dad who, from my very earliest memories I remember him saying, you should have been a boy, and I wanted a boy. And even my third sister is named Jill, and he said, that's because I could never get my Bill. So I grew up in a very male dominated house. With a, you know, really we were tiptoeing around my dad the whole time. So that's where this might fit into your Waking Up to Narcissism podcast. 

Tony: And Susie, I feel like this is one of those situations where if somebody hasn't experienced that, I would imagine if somebody was saying, well, I'm sure that he was joking, you know, or I'm sure that he didn't really mean it, but I mean, that was your everyday experience. 

Susie: Well, and the tricky part is, is that when we're dealing with people who are narcissists or emotionally immature, they might say it in a joking way. Like, oh, I'm just joking, or, yeah. Or you know, one of the things, one of my memories, so, a lot of growing up with my dad was to be a woman, you needed to look a certain way. You needed to be a certain way or else, since you weren't a man and you're already starting back a step. Like if you weren't this perfect little image of a woman, then there you go. And, just thinking of jokes, one of the things my dad used to say is he used to be very controlling around food, and I can remember that when we were quote unquote allowed a treat, he would get two donuts and he would have one donut, and then the other donut, he would split in quarters. And he would give one to my mom and one quarter to me and my other two sisters and he would, you know, he would say like a moment on your lips, forever on your hips. And he'd just sort of be smiling in that like, you know, oh here you go. And here I am, I get to have the whole donut because I'm a man. So there's a lot of that joking. When people hear this for sure, you know, they may think, okay, well, you know, people have said this to me too, but the cumulative effect of years of this then led me into a marriage where I had a very similar relationship, where I was constantly looking for external approval and external approval and validation of is this okay? Can I, it's funny, I didn't even play on this today, Tony, but I'm wearing a button down shirt and my first husband said I could never wear button down shirts, that it was slutty and women don't wear those. And so I like now I wear button down shirts like all the time because I'm like, check me out. But it's, it is, I have come from a lot of programming and wounding. 

Tony: Yeah. So, that shirt example is such a good one as well, because in that moment, because that's how you grew up and that's what you were hearing in the marriage. I mean, did you question that at first or did you just feel like this is the way the world works? I do need to check in and see if this is okay?

Susie: Yeah. I think what I don't want to skip over is the massive toll that many of us have, whether we had an upbringing like mine or not, where I do believe my dad was doing the best he could but whether we had that upbringing or not, the toll that it takes in getting the message that we don't know what's right for us and we need to look externally from ourselves for what is right, and that is not just me being raised with a narcissistic father. That is a lot of people raised in this society, whether you're a boy or a girl. Just this idea, you know, when we're talking about emotions, like, oh no, you're not, like, don't be sad about that. Or it can be to lesser degrees. Mine is obviously at one end of the spectrum. But having grown up in that household where I was absolutely programmed to think that I did not know what was right for me. That a quarter of a donut was the best thing. And that I am lucky that my dad isn't mad at me, that I'm, you know, playing my music too loud or something. When I was with a husband who said these same things, I was like, okay, okay, let's get in line, Susie. And I very much was looking back at what I think many of us define as a people pleaser. When he told me, and maybe he just told me twice, like, don't wear a button down shirt. It's not like that was a conversation we had every moment of our 26 years together but that's all I needed because I was so in, you know, as we know from narcissism, I was so in this lack of self-confidence in my own self regard, that I was like, okay, so if I can get his vote of approval by not wearing a button down, there you go. And the button down shirt is just one example. I mean, there was, I was not allowed to talk to certain people, and I say this, and yet he wasn't holding me down, I could have gone out of the house and talked to someone or bought a self-help book, or it was just more the emotional turmoil and backlash from that.

Tony: Well, I feel like that, that part, again, if anybody hasn't been in that situation, it does sound so easy to say, were you being held down? But there was so much, I can only imagine there was so much more to that as well and I do feel like when you're talking about that need for external validation or the people pleasing, tell me if this resonates because I think a lot of times when people stay, and I guess I'm just jumping right into the deep end as well, but when people stay in relationships, let's say for example for the kids because we hear that so often, and I feel like it's hard to say this to somebody that's trying their best, and they might be in this rough relationship, but I feel like often they are in essence teaching their kids, hey, here's how we manage dad's emotions, or here's how we manage mom's emotions. Almost like, this is all I know and so I'm going to teach that to my kid. And then what does it do? Then that's what they feel like that is what you do in a relationship, rather than, oh, I'm allowed to have my own feelings and emotion. 

Susie: 100%. That's what I was taught as a kid. But it was, it was this, be careful. It was that walking on eggshells, you know? Oh, dad's had a tough day at work. So you know, when you get home on your best behavior, like I can influence his mood. I was taught very much that my behavior could be responsible for an adult's emotions, which we know it's their thoughts that are creating their feelings and yet, you know, I just tiptoed around so much. Don't play the music too loud, you know, and don't talk about your tough, so I was taught at a young age that my behavior could impact some, not even could, but like did, did impact some, you know, like he absolutely handed over his emotional control to me. And then when I moved into a more mature relationship, that absolutely was the case for me in marriage too. So your point to, you know, staying in this for the kids, what was another little factor in my life is that really was a turning point for me is I had a friend, a dear friend, who we were living sort of parallel lives. Like I had three kids, she had two kids. We would go to playgroups every week and we would complain about our husbands and our life and our you know, whatever. And then we'd get all our energy out and complain to each other, and then we'd go out in our lives, live the same life, like rinse, repeat, come back the next week. That woman was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and within several years passed, and it was a massive wake up call for me because she never got that chance to sort of look and be like, what kind of legacy am I leaving for my kids and for me that really was the moment where I feel like there was a part of me that just woke up, like, I came out of a trance. I speak of it in a recent podcast episode I just did where I felt like I woke up and saw this model that I was setting for my kids, which was very similar to the model that my family of origin that I had been raised in. And I actually, there was one day I was in a store called Marshalls, which I think people are familiar with. And there was a sign that said, “dysfunction stops here”. And I now have that in my house. And that is, I just drew a line in the sand. And I just, I knew from that moment forward, there was something that clicked in me that was you know, hold on. Like, yes, my kids matter so much to me and what am I modeling for them? And so that was a question I asked myself, is this a marriage that I would want for my three sons? And my answer was a big old, hell no. And so from that, I started to shift the marriage and I, you know, tried to do what I could do.

Tony: What'd you do? What do you remember about doing? Because I feel like you're so spot on. And I feel like the thing that's difficult in the women's Facebook group that I have or that sort of thing is, that I feel bad saying that when you start to stand up for yourself or know that it's okay for you to have thoughts, feelings, and emotions, that it's almost unfortunate that if you're doing it right, you're going to get more buttons pushed. So did that happen for you?

Susie: 100%. Yeah, 100% with everyone in my original circle, you know, like my mom, my dad, my sisters, my mother-in-law, like everyone who was, who mattered to me absolutely did turn on me. And it is something that I spoke about in that episode, it's SMBwell.com/230. But I speak of how you know, something I heard in that period of time when my friend passed and I was like, oh, something's gotta change, Susie. I heard about the idea of what happens to crabs in a bucket. Have you heard of this?

Tony: Oh, a little bit, but please talk to this. 

Susie: I love it, so when you have crabs in a bucket, so imagine I'm a crab in a bucket and my mom is a crab in them by my dad and my husband and my, we're all in that bucket and we're all sort of living maybe in a like, and we know maybe that our end is soon because we're in this bucket. Like, why are we in a bucket? So we're in the bucket and if one of those crabs tries to get out of that uncomfortable situation and crawls up the other crabs instead of helping it or maybe thinking it can get out and help, they try to pull that crab down and they'll pull it down. They will not give up until they have pulled that crab down and torn that crab to shreds. That's what crabs will do. And so for me, I just was like, I'm that crab in the bucket and I need to get out. And so when I saw my parents, my parents did many things. My parents were incredibly, and still are incredibly wealthy, and said that they would support my husband's legal team. My sister turned over emails that I had written to her at different times, before we sort of had texts. And I would say, I had such a bad parenting moment. God today was really hard. She turned those over to my husband's lawyers to use against me in court showing that I was an inept mother. You know, just the root. I had some premarital earnings that I was, we were married in 1996 before, you know, electronic files. And there was one piece of paper that showed that it was in my maiden name, not my married name. And I needed that paper to give me that earning. And my dad on a video with me and he was with my sister, shredded that document. So $480,000. $480,000. Went to my ex, not a penny of the like, it wasn't split then because of the state I was living in, in America, Virginia, still at the time that I was divorced in 2014, you are the property of your husband. He got every penny, which rendered me essentially bankrupt. And I had, you know, little money for a legal team knowing that my dad also had massive money for my husband's legal team. So I spent a year in the basement of our unfinished house, the marital house where my kids were still living. I told them I had a bad back. Mom's sleeping downstairs. Because if I had left, the state could say that I was abandoning my children and I would've given up rights to see my three darling boys. And if I left with them, which two of them were begging me to do, they would've said I kidnapped them and I could have ended up in prison. So, I mean, those crabs are for real, Tony.

Tony: They really are Susie and it's so crazy because I say, probably on every one of the Waking Up to Narcissism podcasts of that, and we can't try to make sense of the nonsense, but yet I find myself wanting to ask you, you know, boy, why, why did your dad do that?

Susie: Oh, I get it. So my in-laws were in on that too, which I get more details too in that podcast episode. But yeah, all of them, I, you know, I call them sort of the four headed dragon, like my mother-in-law, father-in-law, dad, and mom. If they believed that what I was doing was possible, which was saying that this marriage is not okay for me, like if you think of my mom living with my father for however many years they were married and then when I went to my parents and said, you know, I am thinking of ending this, and they said, oh hell no. They were like, you cannot. If I was showing them a different way of living, they would have to address it. Maybe that could have been possible for them. And that is not something, they would rather close it off and fight against me. I mean, my mother said it would be easier if I had died like my friend. I don't know what they like, it's an interesting thing. I can see where they are coming from. 

And it is, I guess another helpful story that I, I really like stories and I know that you do too. But one thing that has really helped me, and I don't know where I think I heard it from Tara Brock, so it might be a Buddhist story, but of a dog at a tree, and I think of my parents as a dog by this tree. And so you're walking through the forest and you see this dog by the tree and you go to pet the dog and the dog bites you and you're like, whoa, what's going on? And then you, when you back up, you see the dog is caught in this massive, extensive, awful trap. And there is nothing that you, as the person can do to get that dog out of the trap, like you cannot get it out. All I can do with my parents or that dog is decide whether I'm going to go back and keep getting my hand bit because and so it's that like the biting of the hand. So I heard that story first from Tara and that was so helpful. I thought, okay, my parents like they are not doing this to me. This is their wounding, their past, this harmful piece that's, you know, that is there. And that has brought me a lot of freedom. When I met with a coach, I was telling her my whole story and I was very much in the victim mindset and yeah, well, woe is me, look at all this and she just, she's like stop, Susie, stop. And I was like, whoop, I need to talk more about this. And I can still remember where I was sitting and the sunlight coming in, and she said, what if you had the exact parents you needed to have to become the woman you are today? And with that I was like, I'm the one, the dysfunction stops here. This is over. My boys are going to have a different future. We are not continuing this down the line. A lot of fear, a lot of terror . 

Tony: How many, how many years were you into the recovery or the separation when you had that moment? I'm curious. 

Susie: That was while I was still living in the house. So, I think to your point with the women in the Facebook group and people, when they're starting to see, yeah, you know, whether they're in that extreme narcissist relationship or whether they're listening on your other podcast, the Virtual Couch, and they're just sort of in an uncomfortable period. It's just, you just need to take that next right step. So for me, I didn't go from this, like all of these are sort of like little step posts to where I am now. I didn't go from that basement to living to right now I'm in Australia in a dream location with a man who's totally supportive and lets me wear anything I want. And eat as many donuts as I wanna eat. I didn't go from there to here, but it was more these little steps. You know, first I would, I talked my first husband into therapy, and then we got fired from that therapist when we moved to the next one. You know, and we just, so it's taking whatever step seems doable for you in the moment. Maybe it's just buying a self-help book. Maybe it's, I started, the reason why I podcast now is because I started with podcasts. That was something that my ex would not see me doing so I could do it. And it was sort of this, like, if he found out, he would've been raging mad, but I could do it in a safe way. So I always encourage people to just take that next step. Another big piece of that is your Facebook group to get that support because when you are doing things differently, like I was doing, you might be surrounded by crabs also. And, so saying like, anything, say it's not a massive marriage that you're trying to get out of, but just a boundary you're trying to set with, you know, your mother-in-law who's always dropping by unexpected and it's really infuriating. You know, so say you're trying to set that boundary like, hey mom, could you send me a text before you come over. You're going to feel physically uncomfortable if you've been raised in an environment where you need to.

Tony: Because you're, you're asking for your needs, right? And you want someone to say, okay, versus, I mean, even if they're not going to say, okay.

Susie: They’re not. You need podcasts like ours that are like, they're not going to say it. Like, you what, for 12 years, you've let your mother come by. You know, without any sort of, so why now would she be like, oh, okay, great idea. So, we need that sort of, the guidance of podcasts , and knowledge. But then we also need the support of a group to remind us you're not doing anything wrong. We want to have the like Tony or the Susie or the other women in there that are like, oh honey, I get it. That's hard. 

Tony: Well, and I appreciate you saying that too because I feel like it's when people get out and then they feel liberated and they want to share that story and I almost feel like you've got so many in that group. For example, there are people that are just starting to, I mean, they're still scared to even log into Facebook at this point and worried that somebody's going to see or read or whatever and I feel like that person can all of a sudden hear, man, now you know I got out and I did this, and now I'm in this happy relationship. And it can just feel overwhelming even to I don't know if I can get there, you know, it's so easy. 

Susie: Oh for sure. That's why it has to be that next little step. Like maybe it's just listening to a podcast or maybe it's, I would get a book from the library, but that was a little risky because then you could see it. So I actually just found, it’s so funny because I did move across, I moved internationally and so a lot of my stuff I had to get rid of. But I just found a book that I had had from back when I was married and it's, I can't get it now with my headphones, but I have duct tape over the cover of it, like white duct tape so that you can't see the type. I think it's, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, but you can't see it. So, just whatever, like I've been scared, whoever's been scared, but we need to take that little step that seems okay. 

Tony: Is that a library book, Susie? I mean, do you have a very late fee on that?

Susie: No, that's not a library book. But I'm sure, I mean, everything was controlled in my life. Finances, I'm sure it was a used book I got somewhere where I could sneak like maybe a dollar and change.

Tony: No, it's totally, but I like what you're saying that next little step because we did a group call a few weeks ago and I was talking about self-care and I realized even when people hear self-care, they think, okay, I need to go run a marathon. But it can be to dream. It can be to think. It can be to hope. I mean it can happen internally. 

Susie: Without anyone knowing. And so that's a very good point because a lot of what I do are habits and we're recording this around the new year when people, you know, maybe sedentary people are like, I'm gonna go to the gym every day. And I'm like, let's not go that big. That's like saying, you know, you haven't spoken up to your husband of 19 years, and you're like, let's go to therapy. Like, that's, that's too big a jump. So it's this, you know, when I'm working with people, I'm like, well, what's the minimum thing that you could do? Could you walk for one minute a day? One minute a day? And they're like, that's not big enough. But it's actually, it is. I actually have a client who last year said she was gonna walk for five minutes a day every day. She walked for five minutes, and then she added five minutes every month. So by the end of the year, how much is she walking? An hour a day. Yeah. And she's, but because she started small it is that, we have to start small. 

Tony: Yeah. And I love this. I really do. And I also like having people hear success stories and that and what was that like for your kids too? I'm curious when you got out of the relationship, what, I mean, what were those conversations like? You said that one of your sons wanted you to leave early on. Is that the case? 

Susie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think if I had looked back to me when I made the ultimate decision to leave and move forward with the divorce, because my self-confidence was so low that to say to do it for Susie was too far elite. But I saw myself doing it for my kids because my oldest son was entering preteen and teen years and there was a lot of conflict in parenting and how, you know, it sort of that my way is the right way authoritative. Which is why I now help parents of teens because we need to parent that age differently than we did the zero to 10 year olds. I mean, it is, my background is a master's of education. And it was interesting. I had a master's of education and then became the stay-at-home mom and then suddenly, you know, so there's this conflict in parenting. And that was the impetus for me to say, okay, enough. Like it stops here, and that started probably before my friend passed, that I would have the courage to speak up to my ex if it had things to do with parenting. Okay. And then, When that ball sort of started getting rolling, which it was not something that he was open to at all, but when that started to get rolling, it was continuing to return to my kids. Now, my kids now so much of my job is to recognize that they have a father and there is nothing I can do that can, like, I can't out mother their father, I can be the best mother I'm gonna be. And they are always going to have that father. And so I can help them, you know, we role play sort of how to speak up for yourself or how to say, okay, you know, I don't have that thought dad, or, but they're, I have three sons and they are still very much in the dance of figuring this out. They're 18, 20, and 24. I think I just did that wrong.

Tony: Well, and Susie, what I like, what I appreciate about that too is I think one of the things when I talk about co-parenting with a narcissist or an incredibly emotionally immature person, again, back to the, if somebody hasn't had that experience, it sounds like, this is not fair or you're throwing dad under the bus. But I love what you're saying about how we have to learn to validate the kids' emotions because I don't know if you made a lot of excuses for him, as you were growing up with the kids and I give this example often of somebody that the dad was really late to pick the daughter up from high school. The mom's sitting in the car and the dad's often, probably always late. And then this lady said that when her daughter got frustrated, you know, she said, I wanted to say, oh, I'm sure he cares, or I'm sure he's just running late. But she finally felt like, man, I'm not validating her experience. And said, man, what is that like? And it's frustrating. And then she shared, yeah, I get frustrated too. And it was a really powerful moment for her. And she said , she was coming in asking me did I do the wrong thing? You know, did I throw him under the bus? But I feel like we have to validate our kids' experience versus.

Susie: So that, I think it's very important. And I started to do that when I was still married to my first husband. If I look at what I used to do, I'd triangulate. So the kids would have, you know, maybe they'd wanna go to a skiing outing or something and they'd say I need to ask dad, but can you ask dad? Because they know that dad is probably, and so I would get involved in that triangle and I would ask dad and then, you know, and that what I have done is I've flattened that triangle because we know triangles are not great. So I started by, you know, like, you ask, you can do it. Let's role play. Let's think of how you can ask dad and then if dad said something like, no or yes, or you know what, no. Usually I would say, I'm really sorry. That's hard. There you go. I wouldn't, I would really try to step back from the advice. One of my favorite parenting tools I call sucks and handle, or stinks and handle. So it's like, all that stinks, how are you gonna handle it? And sometimes, the stink or the sucks part is where we are validating. And sometimes we need to stay there a little longer, so it's like, oh, I'm really sorry that he said no and I'm really sorry that that happened. How does that feel? Like, what are you thinking? And then maybe like a day passes, what are you gonna do about it? But that helps me stay away from throwing my ex under the bus. I used to throw him under the bus more when I was in the divorce and the contention because I was in a very angry place towards him. But I really was like, this is not fair to my kids, because this is the only dad they have. So they don't, they need to come to their awareness of who their dad is without me trying to sort of throw dirt on it.

Tony: And again, I appreciate your honesty because I feel like, you know, again you're bubbly, you're successful, you're in a happy relationship, you can feel that energy. And so I do feel like sometimes people think, oh man, well, when I try it's really difficult when I interact with the narcissist. 

Susie: Well, I'm glad that you said that because I do wanna say that co-parenting is, I don't co-parent with him. I parallel parent.

Tony: Parallel parent. Talk about that, Susie. I realize I mentioned that I think in one episode a while ago, and it was brought up in, actually in a session earlier today and I thought to myself, oh I need to talk about that more. So talk about parallel parenting. 

Susie: Because co-parenting, I wanted to do. Like the optimist in me and the self-help guru. I'm like, oh, this would be, and that possibly is the best path for children when they're not in a sort of contentious, or the relationship that me and my ex were in. But parallel parenting is absolutely, you are not co-anything. You are parallel. So the rules he has at his house are his rules. And mom has rules at my, you know, so like my kids plug their cell phones in downstairs, not in their room. Well dad lets us. I get it. Different rules, different houses, you know, and also we do not coordinate on discipline, because that was something that we couldn't absolutely coordinate on when we were in, you know, a marriage. So, it is like we don't do anything. And then I needed to have very strong boundaries with him so that he's not, he does not call. Unless, and I got very descriptive, unless there's a hospital involved. Like it's because an emergency wasn't enough. So an emergency could be like you didn't respond to the teachers. It's like that's not an emergency. So you can call me if there's a hospital involved and otherwise it is an email. There are no texts unless again, it's something urgent and needs a response within 24 days. I've gotten a little more lenient with that as we've moved out from, you know, the relationship, but that's also because I held that boundary strong and he got used to not being able to just ping me once.

Tony: Well talk about that too, Susie. So if you are saying, okay, only the phone call, if this under this scenario, then when he would text and what didn't fall under that, what would you do? Would you just ignore or would you respond back with that?

Susie: I needed to ignore, I put his text on silent because even the, as people you know in this sort of relationship will understand even seeing. It would trigger my nervous system. And so I needed to put it on silent, so I didn't even, like, somehow you could do it on our phones and I figured it out. And I'm not a tech guru, so it doesn't come up on the main, you know, you don't need the notification, what it looks like on the thing is like a number, I'll see number two and I'm like, oh, okay, that's him. And then I need to use my constraint and my willpower to, and I would set an internal boundary of saying in the early days, I would say, I'm only gonna check these at 4:00 PM or something. Actually for me it was more, I would only check these at 9:00 AM because 4:00 PM was right before the kids came home from school and I knew if I checked them I was probably gonna be in an agitated state. So I would wanna check them at 9:00 AM and have the whole day to manage whatever my emotions were gonna send my way and oftentimes I would really try not to reply or I would reply on email. Now email. I don't have any notifications. And then email. I have a podcast episode on my favorite narcissist tools. But, you know, one of them is, BIFF, brief, informative, formal, and firm. So when I'm writing an email, I'm trying to get out of my old pattern, which is to over explain. And so I'm just like firm, formal, informative it. There is none of that. Another tool that really helped me with him in terms of parenting and moving on was thinking of him. I would say to myself, I'm like, he's just another man, like to stop thinking of him as a father or like adding this sort of weight and expectation to how he should be acting or what he should be doing. Because whenever I was “shoulding” on him, I was getting into emotional drama. So like, he should be interested in that, you know, son B has a play tomorrow. It's like he's just another man. Like let's just, let's let him do him. Are you interested that son B has a play tomorrow? And let him act the way he's gonna act, which in my caring mind was like, oh, that's gonna harm my kids. But I'm like, but that is, he's the dad. In the same way my parents are the parents. I need to become the woman I am. He's the dad. My boys need to become the amazing human beings they're gonna become. And so they need that experience of maybe someone talking back to them or being more emotionally immature to learn tools so that they don't enter into, you know, a 26 year relationship with their own narcissist. 

Tony: Well, I like the way you put that because I feel like that is where then they can learn, and this is where I feel like , if it's unhealthy and emotionally abusive, and your scenario, you get out. Kids, any kid, doesn't matter how old, gets their sense of self from external validation. And that comes primarily, it can be from the parent. And if the parent is continually spending emotional calories and energy trying to manage the emotions of the narcissist, then they, that is how their, that the kids get validation by also managing, you know, the emotions of the narcissist and then when you're in your best version of you that's where I explain to parents. Now you get to validate them in an incredibly healthy way and be there for them. And tell me more. And it's not always trying to manage the emotions of the emotionally immature. Because that, and I've never thought of it until you just said it that way, because now maybe they learn, oh, I'm not gonna open up emotionally to somebody that's unsafe, or I'm gonna learn to have a surface relationship for somebody and we'll talk about sports and we'll talk about the weather, and if I want this relationship, then it may be based off of that. And then I can trust my own intuition on who I really can't open up with. 

Susie: Which is really hard. And yet, like my definition of suffering is resisting what is, like resisting reality. And so, for me, many years I suffered because I thought my dad should be a certain way. And should, I shouldn't say things that he says. But when I accepted that this is the man I have as my dad, I lost a lot of that suffering. So with my children, when I think of them, and I would say that my ex can be emotionally abusive. So when I think of them in that situation, my heart breaks. And I am like, I am not gonna be there to buffer or be that triangle anymore, and to hide from them what is with their father. Like they are now, you know, 18 and over, I do need to say that if the option had been there for me to get more custody, it would've been, but I had my father throw away, so I couldn't, you know, my hands were tied. So one thought that I had that may help your listeners that maybe are in a similar situation that you know, no matter what, like often we have some custody sharing. I would think that in the past I was married and the kids were in this environment a hundred percent of the time. And so then when we split, they're with me 50% of the time. And so then I like to think that at least 50% of the time, I am validating their emotions. I am pouring love on them. I am letting them know that no matter what they do, you know, all of that, and I'm doing that from a much less scared, more whole place, because I'm no longer in this environment and I can't control this, which is unfortunate. I mean, and that's where I need to get back to sort of my more universal belief that they have the exact, I am not God. I don't know why they're having this experience, but I need to believe that they are having this exact experience to become the amazing humans they're gonna become. And I do have the underlying belief that the universe supports me and my boys that things work out for us. I'm in frigging Australia living by the beach. Like I have so much evidence. My boys are thriving. You know, I mean, everyone has ups and downs. Sure. And yet I like to focus on the gain instead of the gap, like, yes, they still are around this man, I can't remove him as the father from their life. You know? And yet I have the gain that I have a new man in their life, you know, their stepfather, who can pour love on them. I have, I am showing a new model of marriage. I am showing a new model of validation and, and self-care.

Tony: As a better version of you. Hey, Susie, can you tell the story about how you met your current husband because that's what I loved when I was on your episode. Is that one you tell out in the open? 

Susie: Yeah, it’s so fun. So speaking of habits, in 2015, for my birthday in October, I decided that I was gonna start meditating every day. I wanted to do it every day. I had heard from so many experts like you that like, okay, meditation's good. So I said I was gonna meditate for one minute a day. And that's what I committed to. I have, and now here it is, 2023 and I have been meditating every day. So that works, warriors. But so meditating one minute a day, and the app I chose to meditate on was Insight Timer. Which is a, they have a free edition and I got on the free edition. And so I would just meditate with that. So I would do my one minute a day, and then at times at night when I'm going through this turmoil of, you know, parallel parenting and all that, I would try a sleep meditation. And so one day in February I did a sleep meditation. I still remember it was Bethany Webster or something and I wrote a review on it that said like, great meditation. And then a couple days later, it was February, I looked at the review and there was a comment to my review on her review that said, Hey Susie, you know, if you liked this meditation, you might like this one. And it said, Paul from Wollongong. And I was like, okay. So I just replied back. Thanks, anyhow, we started a conversation, this Paul from Wollongong, who at the time I'm in Arlington, Virginia. I was like what kind of name did he make up? Like who is, I thought it was like some security measure. I'm like, yeah, you just make up like the name of a Paul from Wal, like, yes. Now, meanwhile my middle son is at the University of Wollongong, so it's so funny. Wollongong is a place, but, so we started going back and forth on the reviews, chatting, and then he, you know, and at some point I was, Hey, are you over the age of 18? We were like, let's move to WhatsApp. So I think that I possibly wanna go back, slide that meditation because I imagine we did wonders for her algorithm cause there were 40 different responses back and forth, but we just started talking on WhatsApp and sending videos and that was February 10th was when that first review was done. And then, I, you know, I really had changed the way I lived my life. That losing all that money again. Horrible. Yet also a really big wake up call for me, one of the best things that happened because I was such a saver and such a like, I must put this away for a rainy day and then it's gone and I'm like, okay, so what was that for? And so then I really thought, if that hadn't happened to me, I don't think there's any way I would've, which I did in June of 2016, chose to fly to Australia. I was like, well, what? See what's happened? Let's jump in with both feet. Like my word of the year for 2016 was joy. And I like to align my actions with joy. And so I just flew over and my friends were very concerned. They were like, Susie, he's gonna cut you into tiny pieces and send you back. I remember one of my best friends, I was in the airport getting ready to fly out of Dull International in Virginia and she said, well at least send me his address. And then I looked and I was, the only address I had, Tony was a PO Box, they do that a lot in Australia. But like, I don’t know, things work out for me. I am not a, this sounds like I'm an irresponsible woman. I'm very thorough and I, you know, I had been videoing and talking to him.

Tony: I would say right now, uh, Susie blinked twice if you're, if you're unsafe. Right. There we go. No, yeah, exactly. I'm safe. You're fine and that, no, I love that story because I will even have people that will say, I don't know how to meet somebody. I've tried the apps. I've tried whatever. And I even feel like I know that one is, I mean, I don't know if there's a lot of other people that met on the review page of Insight Timer, but I mean, just, just being and doing, just continuing to be and doing it.

Susie: I have a lot of people that I coach through divorce and with divorce and that's, so first of all, the thought that I can't find someone is a thought. And if we're thinking that thought, that's gonna create sort of our results. So let's think, I wonder how I can find it to just shift that thought around a little. I like thinking about dates and sometimes I have my clients make a chart of a hundred, and I'm like, so go on a hundred first dates, after you've done a hundred first dates, then maybe we can entertain that thought that you can't find anyone. But go and apps work. Everything works. Like Bumble works. Tinder, like all these things work. You can, like what we look for, we will find, we will find examples of like, look it, I've been on three dates and they haven't worked. That's focusing on the gap, focus on the gain. You can find, Susie met someone random. I need to add to that because it's so ironic. I had started dating again after my divorce and I had just broken up with someone who lived, I lived in Arlington and if anyone knows the Virginia area, he lived in Reston, which was like, 30 minutes away. And my excuse for breaking up with him is that he lived too far away. Then I go to the other side of the world.

Tony: That is funny though, because that, I mean the yeah, buts.

Susie: And that’s what I thought, like I thought, right. But it is, it's just examining our thoughts. I like having clients just do what they love. A lot of what you talk about, like turning back to yourself, learn about yourself, love yourself, go meditate. You might meet someone there. And again, with relationships, they're not here to complete us. They're not here to fill a gap like I was taught growing up that I am a woman, and being a girl is a subpar way of living. So you need a man to make you whole. We need to be whole. And then once we're whole, they augment us. They absolutely shine up. Like my husband helps me shine my light out now, but he doesn't make me, me. 

Tony: And I feel like that's the message that is so hard to convey to somebody early or young. And I feel like that's where most people just don't know what they don't know. And so when, when right, when they wake up to this emotional immaturity or narcissism, I mean that is that opportunity to then test and see, okay, maybe did we both not have the tools, but all you can be responsible for is in how you start to wake up to that and how you show up. And I appreciate the way you started this today by saying it will change the dynamic in a relationship. And then are we looking at crabs or, I don't know. Something that would help lift somebody outta of the bucket. 

Susie: And just like not spending too much time on regret. Like I couldn't absolutely sit here. One of my favorite exercises is like replaying my past and telling the doomsday and I could sit here and talk about like, why did I marry this man? Like what is going and how did this happen and what was, and sort of the self blame part. And I just think there is no point. And I like to retell my past and I had an amazing, you know, I had a father who supported travel and there's so many ways to tell our stories and to just make sure that the story you're telling is helpful for you. So when we look back and maybe we're waking up that we're in a narcissistic relationship. That is hard. That is awful. But we don't want to add to that, what I call it like, that sort of awfulness is clean pain. I say we often add in dirty pain. Let's not add the dirty pain that you should have known better. You shouldn't have, like you're exactly where you're meant to be. You're having the exact experience you're meant to have at the exact time you're meant to have it. 

Tony: I love it. Hey, where can people find you? So you've got a podcast and where else? 

Susie: Yeah, I have a podcast. I put together a page, smbwell.com/tony. Which will bring people to my podcast roadmap, which has really the foundations of a lot of the work that I do. Or just any platform, the Love Your Life show, Susie Pettit. 

Tony: No, I'll promote that. And because I mean, your energy's fantastic. And then, what I really appreciate about somebody that's been in your situation is I can say these things and I can be confident of the way to help people, but I really do feel like somebody that's lived it and come through it, that I just believe you can help people, I don't know, get through it however many percent faster because you really do know. 

Susie: I get it. And the parenting and just the nervous system response, I do get it. So also, connect with me on Instagram, SMB.Wellness because yeah, I answer my own DM’s and I know you're on there too, Tony and I love it. And I would love to support anyone. I love people. 

Tony: We're gonna have you back on, so thanks so much for coming on. All right, thanks Susie.

Susie: Okay. Take care. I love the work you're doing. 

Tony: Thanks so much. You too. All right. Bye. Bye-Bye.

Tony is the interviewee on Michaela Renee Johnson's "Be You Find Happy" podcast. From the show notes on Michaela's episode, "Ha, got your attention. If you're asking yourself that you're probably not, but you might be in a relationship with someone who is "less emotionally mature." It seems narcissism is on the rise but is it? More and more people are waking up to toxic relationships no doubt and leaving one of these relationships in the words of Doctor Ramani is like "hugging a porcupine, you've got to do it carefully."

In this episode, you'll get to meet Tony Overbay, a marriage and family therapist who helps couples and families who are Waking Up To Narcissism (podcast) and the Virtual Couch (podcast). You'll walk away with insights and tangible tips on how to move forward in this."

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


#1- “When a healthy, emotionally mature person like you in this scenario is now able to do, and be, and grow, and flourish, guess who now can also give their kid a secure attachment and external validation? It's the healthy parent.” -Tony

#2- “It's really interesting to see how people think they're doing something for the kids, or they think they're doing something for the right reasons. And maybe that's the necessary reason, but there's always another option.” -Michaela

#3- “I've come to realize when people do extract themselves out of these relationships, they flourish. You're talking about that loss of sense of self, and it's after you deal with the loss of time, right? Because that's a big thing. And sense of self, that's a big thing. Then you start to see them doing amazing things that were probably hopes and dreams that they'd had for years that they didn't allow themselves space to do at all. Or, they weren't allowed space because they were threatened or you know, et cetera.”  -Michaela

#4- “It's normal to find this codependency and this enmeshment. But then when we start going through life and we start having jobs, and kids, and opportunities, and loss, and growth, now all of a sudden, of course two people are going to start to have two different experiences. And so in an emotionally mature relationship, they're going to both be able to express them and explore those emotions. That is going to be where growth will occur.” -Tony

#5- “‘What is the intention?’ It's a question that I have to ask myself frequently while migrating through various different relationships because I feel like sometimes it's this interesting juxtaposition of trying to allow myself the freedom of expression and feeling that I'm having, and not gaslighting my own emotions.” -Michaela 

#6- “I spent 12 years of my life fixing myself to fit into a mold that was never good enough. That was my story. And I allowed it. Why? And then I think, okay, in what ways do I need to ‘unself’ help, but in what ways do I need to continue to self-help to grow from this experience?” -Michaela 

#7- “I feel like we can all take ownership of ways or places that we’re emotionally immature. And that's what I love about the highly sensitive person or the empath who finds themselves in this trauma bond or this, they call it,  human magnet syndrome with a narcissist or a severely emotionally immature person. The nice person almost inevitably thinks, wait a minute, am I the narcissist? My number one rule is no. Because you literally asked yourself the question which means you're not.” -Tony

Tony covers items 11 through 14 of his ever-growing list of “Everything I Know,” aka all of the things he’s learned from the therapist’s chair. In today’s episode he covers: If you’re going to say yes to someone, then say yes enthusiastically...don’t play the martyr, “well, I guess you can go with your friend, but I’m not happy about it!” Playing the martyr does nothing to improve the relationship, but it definitely pushes those around us away! Learn to “drop the rope of the tug-of-war with unproductive people, thoughts, and even stories that your own brain is telling you. One of the most powerful ways to disengage from unproductive thoughts, conversations, and people is to simply step back and say, “huh, I’ll have to give that some thought?” Wish others well, it’s that simple...while we mourn with those who mourn, we can also rejoice with those who are rejoicing! And finally, things aren’t typically as bad as you think...go to the party, drop something off at your neighbors...Tony goes in depth with his understanding of how the brain simply wants to relax and expend as little energy as possible in hopes of living forever...bless your brains little, pink, squishy heart!


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

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


This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by 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. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.


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


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


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

Below is the machine-generated transcript of this episode, please forgive any errors.

[00:00:05] Hey, everybody, thank you for joining me on Episode 219 of the Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all and trust me, it can be done in a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way, then please join me at Path Back Recovery Dotcom. 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 path back recovery. Dotcom and I am doing this kind of life one of the first times, again, trying to to record things, put things on my YouTube channel so you can go there and subscribe. And this was, I think, one of the first times that I've tried to have this music playing in the background. Usually that comes in post-production, as [00:01:00] they say. So head over to YouTube, look for the virtual couch. I'll have a link to that in the show, notes and subscribe. There would be grateful.

[00:01:07] And speaking of subscribing to things, you can go to a brand new release of my website, Tony Overbay.com, and you can sign up there to find out a lot more about a magnetic marriage program that is coming soon. And I really am excited about it. I'm proud of it. I really am. I think that Preston Pugmire, a friend of mine who is helping me develop this course, I heard somebody else saying this the other day and I feel like Doug on cliches, but we've cracked the code, you know, on how to communicate in a marriage. So, again, go to Tony Overbay.com. You can sign up to find out more there. That's coming very, very soon. And you can also follow me on Instagram at Virtual Couch, as well as on Facebook. Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. And let's get to today's show. I have been having a blast in covering these things that I know. And this somewhat manifesto came from a lot of different things. I just sat down one day and just blasted [00:02:00] out. I really thought there would just be a handful of things that I really wanted to talk about. And the more I put this time and energy and effort into this list, the more it grew and the more I realized, man, these are things that I'm very passionate about and that have come about in, you know, I don't know, fifteen, almost fifteen years of doing therapy. So today I'm covering something that I like them all. I really do. But today I want to start with and they have numbers on them, but they're in no particular order. Actually, I cut and pasted just to make sure that I covered some of the things I really wanted to cover today. So I was about to say No eighteen. But today we're covering 1815, seventeen, maybe a little twenty. And I am going to try to also keep this one nice and tight around thirty minutes. That's been kind of fun to do as well. So today's item, it doesn't matter to you.

[00:02:48] The next item on the list is if you're going to say yes, then say yes enthusiastically. Don't play the role of the martyr. And I really frame this primarily. This comes [00:03:00] from a parenting technique where I learned that with my wife and she and I have talked about this so many times that if we're going to say yes to one of our kids about something, then don't give it the I guess, you know, acting all disappointed and down, because what a mixed message that can send. But that sends this message of I'm going to let you do this, but I'm really disappointed in you. And just think about that. And I think about these things where I think this is why it must be a blast to be a grandparent, because I know I didn't handle this well when I was a young father. And so I think when I have a grandkid that this is almost like the redo. So and we try to do this much better now. But the example I could think of is, is let's say that you're going to have your own life when your kids spend the night at a I don't know, we live next door to our cousins forever. So if they were going to spend the night at their cousins and we were not sure on the fence or rather than just say, no, I don't think that's a good idea, or if we thought, yeah, I guess it's fine, that's the way we would deliver [00:04:00] this message of.

[00:04:00] Well, I guess I mean, yeah, sure. And then what does the kid do with that? Oftentimes are like, well, no, I mean, I don't have to. And you're like, no, no, no, it's fine. I said, yeah, I mean, go ahead. And I just think about those mixed messages. So if you know that you're going to say yes about something, if you're going to let your your kid borrow the car, you're going to let them go to great America for the weekend. You're going to let them go to the beach with the friend, then say, yeah, you bet. And I hope you have fun, because ultimately what we want is to create that relationship not just with our kids, with our spouses, with our friends, where they can come to us. Let's say that our kid gets I don't know, they get in trouble while they're down there. And instead of them feeling like, oh, jeez, I can't reach out and tell my parents that I got in trouble because they're going to say, I told you so. I really didn't think that you should go anyway. Well, if you didn't think they should go, then tell them, hey, I really don't think it's a good idea to go. So again, if you're going to say yes, then say yes and be enthusiastic about it.

[00:04:56] Be supportive about it. If you're saying if you're hesitating, I mean, it's OK [00:05:00] to say, you know, yeah, I think it's a great idea. I don't know if I have some. Reservations, but I can't quite put my finger on them. I mean, I think that's fair, too, but just try not to play that martyr role where I guess I guess you know, that whole thing. All right. This next one is one that I. I really. Am overusing this phrase, but I love it, I really do. So what I wrote was drop the rope of the tug of war with unproductive people, thoughts, stories that are brains telling us, because most of the time, the best thing that you can do when somebody is being negative around you or when somebody is what I like to say, shooting all over you. You should do this. You should do that because nobody likes to be should on. But when someone is doing that, one of the best things to do what this what this concept of dropping the rope of the tug of war means is if somebody is saying, you know, you should really think think about doing a podcast about a very intense political things. You know, in the past, what I would do is I found myself, you know, [00:06:00] that's really not my audience. And that's something that I don't really feel passionate about myself. And so because what does that do? You know, typically the person is like, well, I mean, you've got this got this this platform now.

[00:06:09] And I think you should really do this and this where I have learned that one of the best ways to interact with people like that is to say I. And so I have to give that a thought. If just drop the rope with the tug of war, you know, and I find that there are there have been a lot of people in my life that are giving me wonderful advice based on their experiences. So, you know, someone that maybe hasn't been a therapist, who doesn't run a podcast, who hasn't written a self-help book or these sort of things, that's telling me all the things that I should do and why I should do them. And I found myself burning a lot of mental calories and trying to, you know, tell the person why that's a bad idea or why they don't understand. When I realized that one of the most powerful ways to interact with someone who bless their heart means well with what they're sharing again [00:07:00] is to say, huh, that is that is not a bad idea. So I have I have a story. And this is one that long, long ago I had I had a business partner in a completely different industry that and I thought this would be interesting story to tell the person had we were we were meeting with a group of investors and we had we had put some money into this company as well.

[00:07:22] And it was a company that I really enjoyed I really thought would do extremely well. And I didn't know the industry. And so I learned so many lessons in that in that industry with this company. But my business partner one day said, are you willing to put your house on the line or are you willing to put your house back up if if we needed to to to secure more funding or that sort of thing. And this person was much older and kids out of the home and and I wasn't they had kids in the home. And this was I was still I think I was seeing clients part time. And I thought and I said I said, oh, no, no, that's that's a very scary thing. And I have my young kids and family to think of. And [00:08:00] this person said, really, like, I can't believe you wouldn't put your house on the line for this this opportunity that we have. You know, that that and I remember just we had just these arguments about about why that would have been important and those sort of things. And I remember I would just talk about burning mental calories. I remember waking up mornings to go on my runs and instead of being able to just settle into a nice audio book, which is one of the things I love to do or listen to a favorite podcast, I would just ruminate and just go over and over all the things that I need to tell this person to help them understand why that's not that, that that that isn't going to work for me.

[00:08:36] And then they need to understand what I'm going through and all of these things. And and then fast forward a little little while down the road. We're meeting with some investors. And I remember one of the investors, they ended up not investing in the company, but they said, are you guys willing to make a personal guarantee, let's say put your house on the line for for this company? And I always remember, oh, my gosh, here comes the moment of truth. I'm going to have to say I'm out. You know, I feel like a little shark, a shark tank moment [00:09:00] where it's like because of the necessity to put my house on the line. I'm sorry, but I'm out. But I remember my business partner. One of the first things he said was, oh, no, no, no, no, we wouldn't do that. You know, we have families to feed in this sort of thing. And I remember thinking, looking over at him kind of in the meeting and going, do you do you know how long I have just ruminated about all the things that I needed to tell you about why this is not a good idea and how many times that we've had these conversations that they just didn't go well.

[00:09:28] And and then we were actually on the same page. And I remember from that day moving forward, I remember when he would bring up some other things that I felt were just things that I didn't really agree with necessarily. I might go in there and state my opinion. But I remember one of the most powerful things I could do was drop the rope of the tug of war and that argument, that unproductive argument and just say, yeah, I have to give that a thought. And that was it. And I remember thinking, wow, that is some power to be able to just say, I don't know what to think about that or, oh, I could understand where you're coming from or [00:10:00] tell me more about that. But I don't know. I'll have to see how to get back to you on that and how often that is just diffused a situation where in the past there would have been a lot of back and forth. I think about that concept I think I shared in The Last Things I Know episode the besides about psychological reactance, which again is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do and how it is just so innate with us within us. It's such a reaction, a negative reaction.

[00:10:26] So when somebody says, well, you really need to do this, one of the first things we do is we go, no, I don't I really don't need to do that. And I feel like one of the best ways maybe to work with this psychological reactance is truly just to say I think of that some thought. Yeah, I don't know. I haven't really thought about that much. So, again, dropping the rope of the tug of war with unproductive people, thoughts, stories, our brains telling us even if our own brain is telling us these stories, you know, I love acceptance and commitment therapy. One of the challenges with acceptance and commitment therapy are not the challenges with the model, but the way our brain works is we'll get this nice little dopamine spike. You know, we'll get this. [00:11:00] I like given the example of you're sitting in a crowd, somebody tells a story about running a marathon, for example, and you go, all right, I want to run a marathon. And your brain literally squirts a little bit of dopamine to the feel good center. And you go, yeah, but then the brain goes, I don't know, man. It's kind of scary. You know, we might get hurt. We don't really have a training plan. We don't have a race in mind. And so even being able to drop the rope of the tug of war with your own brain and saying, yeah, we don't really have a we don't have a race plan right now.

[00:11:28] Good point. We'll get back to that. So I thought that was kind of fascinating. OK, the next the next thing that I know is wishing well upon others, even when you might not entirely mean it, even when it's a hard thing for you to do, to wish well upon someone else. And here's where I'm going with this one, is that we're all just trying our best. We're all on this big old blue earth and just trying our best. We're having all of these experiences and life. We're having ups and downs, victories and defeats. And I'm [00:12:00] sure that there are times where you have wanted to share things with those around you or those who you love. And when you share something, they've maybe acted pretty indifferent about it. And what does that feel like? It doesn't feel very good. Most of the time I would I would venture to guess or if somebody, you know, really just acts kind of blasé about something. So celebrate. One of my things that I love is to celebrate with those who choose to include you in their celebration. I think there's I think there's some scripture out there somewhere that says something about mourning with those who mourn and and it might even say celebrate or rejoice with those who rejoice. But if it doesn't, I think that that would be a wonderful thing where where this is the case, that I think it's important to rejoice with those who are rejoicing or to share in those moments or help people feel good about good things in their lives.

[00:12:48] Because, I mean, especially now, heaven knows, we all need things to celebrate. We want some victories, some some wins under our belt. And so creating a shared experience with somebody [00:13:00] who chooses to let you into their world. I mean, people are excited to share, so be excited with them. We've all been in those positions where we wanted people to be excited for us as well. So I remember one of the first times I was listening to a podcast and I was actually talking about mindfulness and meditation and that sort of thing. And one of the concepts that it threw out there was this just being grateful, you know, being grateful for the things that are happening in your world. And and it was a particularly warm day, which right now we're going through an insane heat wave. I think it was 111 yesterday, which probably people in other parts of the world, maybe even down in Arizona or something, or saying, you know, 111, that's a nice, cool day. But for where I am, that was very, very warm. But so I'm listening to this podcast. I'm walking around this this area, it was near an office that I used to work at, and it was a particularly warm day.

[00:13:47] And I was listening to this person talk about just being grateful, being grateful for the things that are happening around you. And I remember a breeze came out of nowhere at that moment and cooled the sweat on my forehead, my giant forehead. [00:14:00] And I just was so grateful for that breeze. And then one of the next concepts that talked about was truly wishing well for others. And I remember walking around a corner and there were some people that in this warm day were doing some landscaping. And I just, you know, I said hi, as I normally like to do, and and I just wish them well in my head. I just thought, man, I hope that they just make that place look like a million dollars, whatever their goal is in that landscaping. I hope that that's something that they can pull off. And it just felt good. It did so wishing well upon others. And that reminds me of a very, very quick story, not even a story. It's more of a concept. And that is I think we all know the one upas in our lives, you know, to always have something better to to add, you know, and sometimes that makes us feel a little bit dismissed. So that might just be my challenge. This is a this is not one of the things I know, although I probably could have worked it in there as well, is don't be the one up.

[00:14:52] Or if somebody comes to you and shares a success, that that isn't a challenge. You know, they didn't just throw the gauntlet down and say, top that old man or [00:15:00] old woman or young man or young woman, whatever the case may be, they you know, it's not that they said I just had a success in my life. See if you can top that one. And instead, you know, that's a moment to say, oh, my gosh, that's incredible. Or are you kidding me? Like what what went into that success? Or tell me more about that or how long I've been working toward whatever it is that you're sharing with me. But it's not a time to say, oh, yeah, my my uncles, brothers cousin actually did that better and faster. And there you go. Do something with that. I mean, that doesn't ever feel quite the quite good. That one doesn't quite land where we I think we want it to. All right. Let's get to the next one. This one is. Most things aren't as bad as you think they'll be, and I think that this is this one can be really this can be a game changer. And let me let me explain. So whether this is going to a I don't know what company Christmas party or stopping by a friend's house to drop something off to somebody in need.

[00:15:56] So many of us really just default [00:16:00] to this path of least resistance. And and I feel like often we're met with this. We can either stay at home and watch TV or we can go put ourselves out there with this potential that things might not be comfortable or I don't know, I sometimes really and I know I do this myself, so it's hard to even wrap my head around sometimes why I don't want to go and do certain things, because it really is just this concept of the path of least resistance, which led me to think about something that, again, another one of these game changers, so such a long series of events that led to me having an opportunity to work with some people that are so much smarter than me and me getting to be as part of, we'll call them treatment teams with some people who are are doing some pretty incredible things. And and I remember here was the way that there was a neurologist, the doctor, who laid something out to me that happened to work alongside when I was reading this book called The Power of Habit by [00:17:00] Charles Duhigg, which I have a podcast episode about long, long ago. But game changer for me here. Here's what the way here's the way this doctor described the way the brain works. He said that the brain and I'm putting in the bliss, it's squishy pink heart.

[00:17:16] Is this this device, this don't get killed device that thinks that it has a finite amount of energy. And I feel like that's a very important thing to kind of just sit with for a moment, that if the brain thinks that I have to conserve my electrical activity, then that that this is going to make a lot of sense where I go next with this. So it believes as this finite amount of electrical activity, which is why it's constantly trying to save itself from doing too much. And again, this is kind of as I learned this concept, I was also reading this book, The Power of Habit, where the author, Charles Duhigg talks about the basal ganglia. There's a fun thing to say. And the basal ganglia, as I understand, is this tiny walnut [00:18:00] sized part of the brain that sits on top of the brainstem that some people like to call the habit Seigner. And again, I'm going to continually probably say the way it was explained to me, because I am no neurologist. I am someone that is not steeped in the ways of neuroscience. But this made so much sense to me. So what what I was told is that the basal ganglia, if we look at that as the habit center of the brain, that when the brain gets used to some sort of activity or even a thought process, then when the brain says, OK, we're doing this, this is what we do.

[00:18:32] Let's look at like tying your shoes, for example, or backing out of the driveway. Then your brain takes that activity and it moves it into this basal ganglia, this habit center. And things that come from the basal ganglia require far less electrical activity. Then the processing, the ordinary processing power of just trying to think of things in the moment or on the fly. So if something becomes habitual, then your brain can file it away in this habit center. And then when [00:19:00] it goes to recall, it takes very little electrical activity. So your brain wants to create habits. It wants to put things in this basal ganglia for better or worse was the way this was described to me. So even things like addiction, I work with a lot of people that struggle with addiction and so addiction can truly become this this habitual pattern. So when I'm working with people that struggle with pornography addiction or compulsive sexual behavior, for example, that there's often there's a trigger and then there's a thought and then there's an action. So the trigger might truly be, I call them crimes of opportunity. It's boredom and opportunity. Someone is just sitting there and all of a sudden they're bored and nobody's home. So they think the brain says, oh, I know what we do now. We we look for pornography, you know where this is, where we act out.

[00:19:49] So the brain just thinks that it's doing this systematic pattern. And so if we kind of think of it that way, then the brain trying to just, you know, conserve energy, then [00:20:00] it's no wonder that we often go toward path of least resistance because it's our brains, again, bless its heart, it's our brains way of saying if I can get us to not do much, I think we have a better chance at living forever. And but we know that that is a blessed brain, our brains, heart moment, and that instead what we're doing is not living as rich and fulfilling of a life. So if we have an opportunity to go provide some service for someone and or we can sit there and watch another episode of something on Netflix, our brain already knows the Netflix version. It's like, no, we just kind of sit here this. Is what we do when we get home, we sit here and we watch one show after the other, and as a matter of fact, we've even got this this habitual pattern where we even think about getting up and doing something and then we don't. And then we're going to do it tomorrow. And we thought that so many times that our brain thinks, well, that's what we do. That's the file that away in the basal ganglia. And so what we need to do is that's where we need to think our brain. [00:21:00]

[00:21:00] Thank you, brain. That's a great idea. The next episode of whatever the series we're watching does sound quite intriguing, but I am going to diffuse from that thought and I'm going to go and do this service activity or I'm going to go have a human connection or a a connected experience with someone. And what we can actually do is over time, that can actually be the new neural pathway. That can be the part of what we file into this basal ganglia or our habit center. So I thought that was really fascinating, though, that the brain basically wants to try to chill and do little, if no new things because it thinks that's the way it's going to live forever. There was a psychologist named Reuben Gur, and this is one of the things whenever I go speak, I like to throw some fun facts about the differences between men and women. And I remember this one very well. I think he was University of Pennsylvania, but he said that a man's brain and resting state, it's only operating on, I believe, about 10 percent electrical activity. So when [00:22:00] you say to a guy, if if the spouse says to the man, hey, honey, what are you thinking? And he says nothing. He is literally almost thinking nothing. His brain is saying when we sit on the couch and stare at screen, we go dark.

[00:22:15] We don't think anything, you know, it is that is the habit part of the brain. That's that's what we've dug into the basal ganglia thabit center. Now, if he has been trained well, if he's one of my clients, he will then turn to her and say, what are you thinking? And then she'll maybe most likely say, I'm thinking about, you know, I didn't get this done. And the kids have this going on tomorrow. And I and I really need to look into this. And my my mom is telling me this and I need to take care of her and I need. And so he said in the same quote, resting state that the wife's brain is maybe more operating along the lines of it's operating at 70 percent electrical activity. So so that was one of those differences and possibly the way the brain of most men and women work. But I thought even more fascinating was that when [00:23:00] the guy's brain is in arresting state, that it's pretty much checked out. So so, you know, we have to do more to kind of even combat at times our brains natural inclination to just want to relax. And that does remind me there. I think it was in the book Power of Habit. It might have been just doing a little bit of research on this, but talking about basal ganglia, things like a squirrel and a fish, their entire brain is a basal ganglia that that all they are is just reactionary.

[00:23:30] So, you know, they form a habit of eluding predators and that's all that their brain knows how to do. So, all right. I believe that we have gone close to half an hour, if not even crossed the half an hour line. So I think I'm going to wrap it up. But what did we learn today? We learned that if you are going to say yes, then say yes enthusiastically. I do not play the role of the martyr. And we've learned how to drop the rope of the tug of war with unproductive thoughts or stories or even people where [00:24:00] they can tell us, hey, why don't you do this? And we can say, huh, that's a good idea. I'll have to think about that or I haven't thought of that before. Let me let me do a little more thinking on that and also the concept of just wishing well upon others, even if that can be difficult for you, that I guess it's don't try to pop anybody else's balloon or rain on their parade or any of those kind of examples. And last but not least, a lot of things aren't as bad as you think that they'll be. So go and do the things that maybe you haven't done, and I promise you that you're going to have a much better experience. OK, thank you so much for joining me.

[00:24:35] Playing us out, as per usual, is the wonderful, talented Aurora Florence with. It's wonderful. And I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

Tony covers 7 through 10 of his ever-growing list of “Everything I Know,” aka all of the things he’s learned from his therapist’s chair. In today’s episode he covers: Let’s assume that people don’t wake up and think “What can I do today to hurt my partner?” Working from that assumption, you’re in a much better position to see that person with empathy, instead of from the depths of your bunker. Also, “to be heard is to be healed,” we all want to know that we matter to someone, that they are there for us, that somebody has our backs. And finally, nobody likes to be “should on,” including our own brains (which is why telling yourself NOT to think about a pink elephant with wings…wearing a tutu causes you to do the exact opposite…you’re thinking about it right now aren’t you!?). Tony also tells the “story of two couples,” both come to therapy after traumatic events and one year later how different each couple looks based on the work that they did over the past year.


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. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!


This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by 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. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.


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


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


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

Tony covers items 1 through 6 of his ever-growing list of “Everything I Know,” aka all of the things he’s learned from his therapist’s chair. In today’s episode he covers: What if you’re NOT broken (ACT vs CBT), You’re the only version of YOU so far on the Earth (at least as far as you know), Why it is imperative to seek first to understand before being understood (and who said that Paul of New Testament times, or Stephen Covey?), Is “Pure Empathy” attainable? And why it is so important to own your own...stuff, life, shiz-am, truth, actions, or d) all of the above? 


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. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!


This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by 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. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.


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


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


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

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