Tony shares the 4th installment in the "Death By a Thousand Cuts" series. He gives examples of how being in a relationship with a narcissist or extremely emotionally immature person can feel like "death by a thousand cuts." All of the examples used in this episode come directly from his private women’s Facebook group for women in relationships with narcissistic or emotionally immature people in their lives, whether it is their spouse, parent, adult child, friend, boss, or religious institution. If you are interested in joining one of Tony’s groups for people in relationships with narcissists, please reach out to him through his website

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

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

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

59 Transcript

Hey, everybody. Welcome to Waking Up to Narcissism episode 59. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And soon, many other podcasts, Murder On the Couch, cue ominous music, is a podcast that I'm doing with my daughter Sydney, and she is a huge, true crime fan. And I am going to throw my therapist's spin on some cases. We've already got a few episodes recorded, and I just, I cannot wait for you to see this. My daughter Sydney is hilarious and adorable and the energy that I think we have back and forth is so much fun. And if you look in the show notes of today's episode, there's going to be a link to a YouTube clip of the podcast. So stay tuned. One is coming soon and Waking Up to Narcissism, I always feel like I want to say the musical, but that is not a thing. But Waking Up to Narcissism the premium question and answer trailer is up on apple podcast. And the subscription, the ability to subscribe is, I want to say, it's there now because these podcasts are evergreen. 

And hopefully that will be figured out by the time this one even makes it to the air. But I know that there've been people that have heard the trailer and then have contacted me and said, there's no way to subscribe. And bless your heart for wanting to subscribe. It will be a small monthly fee and the proceeds will go to a non-profit that is designed to help people with the things that they need that are in emotionally unhealthy relationships, whether it's therapy or legal costs. So there's a lot of fun and exciting, fun, the wrong word when I'm talking about people that are in these emotionally unhealthy relationships, I'm grateful to be able to do the work that I do and that podcast is only there because I think that my assistant Naomi and I have a hundred or so questions already that have come in about narcissism and emotional maturity. And so I really want to start answering those and then the ability to help fund this nonprofit is going to be incredible. Really just go to and sign up for my newsletter. And that will, that will get you where you need to go, because we're going to have a lot of information there. 

And I can't help but say this, if you are somebody who is on TikToK, find Virtual Couch on TikToK. One of my daughters is putting out a lot of the content that I've created, and that has been fun to watch the reaction there. So, that is where I definitely feel like an old man but it is fun to see the feedback. So find Virtual Couch on TikToK or at Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram. So let's get to today's episode. We're going to talk about, this is the fourth installment of the death by a thousand cuts concept. And these are the episodes that I feel like resonate the most, where people start to realize that they are not crazy or all of these small things that happen in their relationships. And again, it can be the male or the female. I want to acknowledge that, and it can be in a relationship with the spouse or an adult, parent, or child or entity or boss, friends, you name it. If that is an emotionally unhealthy relationship, sometimes when you want to express why you don't want to continue in a relationship, people will say, well, why? And when you tell them things that just don't seem as significant as you feel that they should be in order for you to have space or set boundaries or leave a relationship, it can feel pretty maddening. So it is this concept of as if you were dying by a thousand cuts. And just for fun, I did go and look up where the death by a thousand cuts comes from and it was a, it appears, and here I say this, and I am going to tell you that I Googled it. 

So, I'm not really exactly sure how correct or accurate this is, but, it's on Wikipedia. And so that means it's correct. Right? Death by a thousand cuts is a form of torture and execution originating from Imperial China. And where people literally would be given tiny little cuts, and there's a belief that it could take hours and hours. You have to lose, I think 40% of your blood to eventually die. So that took a turn, but the concept is that these little hurts in our relationship, or little wounds that eventually become too much, the way these, these little events, these negative events slowly, but surely, in these unnoticed increments, then grow into these big gaping wounds that then you do feel like you have lost yourself. There has been a death of the relationship or a death of self. And so I reached out to my private women's Facebook group and said, hey, it's time for a fourth episode of death by a thousand cuts. And so the group has grown significantly. And so there were enough responses within about a 12 hour period that we could do episodes four, five, and six right now. And so I'm sure that this will be a continuing series. 

So let me just, I'm going to read a lot of the examples, everybody that is sharing the examples has given me permission, and then I'm sure that I will go off on some tangents and riffs about my thoughts on the reading between the lines of some of these examples. So one person just in essence started off best by saying, “This is the hard part of paper cuts or the one-offs don't seem so bad”. And she said, “I mentioned to somebody at her church that her daughter isn't living with or speaking to her dad, and then that person at church said, ‘well, has the dad done something egregious?’” And she said, “‘No, he hasn't.’ But that's the thing. Nobody gets that there can still be abuse that isn't physical or sexual.” She said, “Even sometimes I forget why she's mad at him because there really isn't one big thing.” All that being said, she did share some examples. So her teenage daughter, this is a talking in regard to her teenage daughter, her ex or the teenage daughter's father, he told her that he took down pictures of her in his house because he doesn't like being reminded of her. So right out of the gate, talk about emotional immaturity. And these narcissistic traits or tendencies all the way up to the narcissistic personality disorder. But that an adult human being can tell their teenage daughter that they are taking down all the pictures in the home, because he doesn't want to be reminded of her because she is not doing what he wants her to do and then assuming that father thinks that for some reason that is going to then cause the daughter, the teenage daughter, oh, I could just go on with this to then go, oh my gosh. I am not showing up the way that my dad would like for me to show up. It is on the father in that situation to recognize that my daughter does not feel safe or comfortable with me. So that is a me thing. So I need to go in with curiosity and empathy and patience and long suffering and kindness and charity and on and on and on, and then nurture and develop that relationship with that daughter. Here's the problem. If we are in that situation where that is happening, then I realized that train left that station a long time ago. 

So I want you to know the reason I like starting with this as an example is that this episode really is more for the person that is trying to make sense of the nonsense or who is trying to say, okay, but what was I not nice enough to, did I not tell my daughter that she needs to go and be with him more because that's no, that's not your job as the buffer. Because if anything, that is you being, you know, and I get it. Wanting to be protective because you don't want to see your daughter hurt, but then all that is setting up is that the narcissistic ex-husband in this scenario gets to continue to say, well, I don't have a relationship because you didn't tell her to come talk to me. And sometimes the pathologically kind person will think I haven't been, you know, so he's got a point and I want her to say, wait a minute. He just did it again. Now he can blame it on me. He takes no accountability. So other things that this particular person shared, she said, that her narcissistic ex told his brother. So the narcissistic ex's brother, not to support his daughter's tennis fundraiser because she's not living with him. So let's now get the entire family now to go against the teenage daughter. And what emotional immaturity that is. He also told her that he wasn't going to take her to a family party because she, the teenage daughter had set a boundary of meeting him and he wanted to meet alone to talk. And she said that she would go if a friend could come. So she did not feel safe. And so he said, okay, well then if you don't feel safe, then I will not let you bring a friend. And now you can't, in essence, you can't have the pony, you can't go to Disneyland. You can't go to the family party, so I will punish you. And then you will see, and then you'll come around and the, you will do things my way, which is going to be a theme of some of the things that we're talking about today. 

Okay for this next one, we're going to be talking about the body keeps the score or the complex post-traumatic stress disorder. And I'm so grateful this was someone that is new in the group. And so I think it took a lot for her to share. She said, “I would say my death by a thousand cuts would be how he has traumatized my nervous system. Not only does this come into play when I'm around him, but it is now also bled into my entire life. At home I'm so jumpy, even when there isn't an altercation. He has to know what I'm doing at all times.” She said, “Not only that I have to have an explanation ready to go when he questions, even the smallest of things, I feel that there are things that people in a normal relationship take for granted. When they really just don't even think twice about it.” And well, I'll read her entire and then I'll go back and make some comments. She said, “I get nervous when I get in the shower. When I pick up my phone, if I have a smile on my face that doesn't pertain to him. If I'm doing anything out of what he perceives is my normal routine. If I walk outside to take the trash out. If I take our baby on a walk around the block, if I have my headphones on, if I'm writing in my journal, there are so many things that I have to second guess before doing them. Anticipating his accusation based questions I find even away from home or when he's working, I still get jumpy about these things, partly because it has happened over and over and over, but also because even when I'm away from him, he's checking up on me. I could answer the phone as soon as he calls and be doing something as simple as watching TV, but it still warrants the questioning. ‘Are you sure that's what you're doing? Well, what else have you been doing? What have you been doing the last hour? Who'd you talk to today? And what were you talking about? What are your plans? What are you about to do? Why did you take a shower that early?’” She said, “It's amazing how this has become my life. And I didn't realize how draining it's been. His actions have transformed me into this person that he sees as acceptable doing as much as I can to avoid questioning. This usually involves keeping myself busy with chores and cleaning up, for example, because then I usually don't get all the other questions. I even feel the need to go into detail about exactly what I've cleaned or the errands I ran, because if not, then he doesn't believe that that's taken the time that it has.” She said, “I feel as if I'm doing something wrong. If my daily routine isn't circled around things that need to be done. The moment I take time for myself,” she said, “heaven forbid do nothing and relax, it's absolutely questioned.” She said, “It's just a very stressful state to be in.” And she said she doesn't mind me sharing. So the reason I appreciate this is I think that this is an extreme example of just feeling like she is walking on eggshells. 

But I feel like this covers most, most of the people that I work with to some point. And it's even just those, oh, who were you talking to? Now in a healthy relationship, that's an opportunity for connection. Who are you talking to? But you have to feel like it. I mean, I just, I just say here's who I was talking to. And here's the crazy story we talked about, or I just say I was talking to this person and then the emotionally healthy partner says, I don't know, anything fun to talk about there? And if you say no, not really. Okay. But the control is who are you talking to? Well, why, what were you talking about really? That you said that. I mean, I, I don't know why you would've said that. I don't say those things or I kind of feel like that's the wrong thing to tell that person and you start realizing, love or control? And in those scenarios, love is, well, you're going to do whatever you're going to do. And I love you and you are the person who you are, and I love you. Not, well why did you do that? And I I don't really like when you do that. Or I don't think you should have done that. That is control. And when that just starts to bleed into everything that this person feels that they feel so controlled. And if you were listening to that, and particularly looking at the thing where she says, I'm nervous when I get in the shower, I'm nervous, you know, or even at what time did I shower? I mean, I have people that if they, if they even take care of themselves for the day, then the narcissistic spouse says, oh, why are you, why'd you get dressed up? Who are you going to see? You know, and then if you say, no, nobody, I just thought I would do this. Then that's not being believed. It goes back to that nonviolent communication concept, where the person makes an observation and a judgment. 

So observation and judgment. If your spouse looks nice today, if your observation is well, they must be going to see somebody or they must be cheating on me, and now you have to defend yourself. Then that is a really difficult place to come from. Because at that point, that is what leads to somebody just not even wanting to take care of themselves because they don't want to have to deal with the potential questioning. Or they just feel like if they take care of themselves and now they're questioned about it, they just go flat. And then they feel as if they are now handing that narcissist the confirmation that they were looking for. Okay. Well, I guess if you're not, if you're not telling me where you're going, I'm sure you're doing something bad. So those, all of these, just, she said anticipating his accusation based questions. So anything, you know, what have you been up to? What have you been up to? It can be an amazing question when it is a bid for connection, but what have you been up to is a horrible question when it is one that is fishing for, well if you start talking, then I'm sure I can find something that I don't like that you've done. Then I can now take the one up position. I can put you in the one down position. And I can maintain my narcissistic supply. So that one really does break my heart. And when she talks about the end, she said, if I feel like I'm doing something wrong, if my daily routine isn't circled around things that have to be done, the moment I take time for myself or do nothing and relax, it's questioned. Because my number one rule in interacting with the emotionally mature narcissist in your life is raise your emotional baseline. And that is self care and self care is not selfish, and boy, she nails it though, because you need to relax, you need to be able to have downtime. You need to be able to meditate. You need to be able to do things that bring you peace and joy that are things that matter to you to be able to calm the central nervous system. And then to allow you to have that confidence so that you can show up in a way that you can deal with all of the things that are happening around you in life. Because if you are constantly just in this state of, I got to just keep doing, I got to keep doing, I'm going to be questioned, you can feel your own heart rate elevate and your anxiety spike, and your cortisol starts flooding through your brain you are in fight or flight mode. And it's quoted in The Body Keeps the Score, “the neurons that fire together, wire together”. So over time, what it feels like to be you is somebody that is just on high alert, ready to go into fight or flight at any moment. 

So it takes time to get out of that situation to be able to start to slowly but surely lower your heart rate. So you can raise your emotional baseline so you can show up in a way that will be the very best version of you. This one's short and sweet, but very fascinating. Someone said “He got so mad at me when I told him I was flying to visit my mom, he was upset that I spent the money on the flight. Then I told them that my mom bought the tickets. They flew off the handle because he said that he was the provider of the family. And now the mother's going to think that he can't provide. Then in the next breath, he said that well, as a matter of fact, you should have got a job to pay for the flight yourself if you want to do things like this, then you need to get a job.” She said, “Meanwhile, he literally made me go on a work trip with him that will cost us at least double, if not triple the cost of the flight to my mom's house, which by the way, my mom was willing to pay for.” She said he's a walking contradiction. This one, every one of these breaks my heart. That's why we have these. That's why we're having this episode today. Another person said, “How about this under death by a thousand cuts, but also in the world of betrayal trauma. She said, “When we were married, I was suspecting that he was having an affair, but could never prove it. He denied always anytime I brought it up. One day I found a poem written by him on his phone about a beautiful brunette. I asked him about this. And he quickly told me that I was the brunette. It's just that I dye my hair blonde and I had been for a long time.” So she said, “I believed him like every wife is supposed to do with their husbands. But after time, he continued to ask me, ‘Why don't you ever leave your hair its natural color?’” And I can say right now you can see that now he's trying to build that case that no, no, he really was her. So she said, “I can remember him calling me a brunette in front of our friends while winking at me. And that was something that he never did before.” And that's one of those concepts that I just, I cannot describe enough of when, when someone is not doing something naturally organically. That it's more obvious than they think. So if he has never called you, why aren't you a brunette? Oh, my little brunette over there, wink, wink in front of friends. And that has never happened until he was caught with the poem about the brunette. Even he doesn't realize, oh, that's, that's not the way this normally works. And this is where I talk about if you want to watch this stuff in action, just go on YouTube and find a channel that has interrogation videos. I watched another one this morning. I'm just mesmerized by them because you watch a person who thinks that they have created a narrative of how a quote normal person would have behaved in a situation. But now they're being interrogated by people that know exactly what to look for. And I feel like at times as a marriage therapist, you're almost like a marriage interrogator. And why I love my four pillars of a connected conversation as you are giving this framework in essence, so that you can see who doesn't know how to use a framework, who doesn't play in the sandbox, who weaponizes the tool. And who takes this lifeline, this evidence-based lifeline. And finally feels like they learned how to communicate. And now the couple is excited and they grow closer together versus the, when you are, you know, when somebody, all of a sudden tells you, they know exactly where they were seven months ago on a Tuesday night, because that's when they did the in the Terry Haitian videos, that's when they murdered someone. 

So then they say, if somebody says, hey, where were you on January 15th, you know, six months ago? And they say, I don't know, how about January 13th? Oh, the 13th. Oh yeah. I remember it was a Monday night. I was watching Monday night football, the Cards playing the Packers. A matter of fact, I remember having a thing of Fritos and bean dip somewhere around the third quarter, but at that point I remember I left the bean dip open cause I had to go to the bathroom and I worried, oh my gosh, will the bean dip get hard? And that would be bad, wait I can just stir it up. And so, and which no one does that has that, why, why did he remember that night? Oh, because he had murdered someone and so he'd rehearsed the narrative over and over. So I know that I went on a tangent there a little bit, but that is the, oh no, I always call you my little brunette and wink at you around our friends every single time since being caught, writing a poem about the affair partner, that's a brunette that I've lied about. So, of course she says it turns out the girl that he was cheating on with me was a brunette. And she said, I still react whenever I see a beautiful brunette or even the word, “brunette”. 

She said one day while we were married, she said I had a painting done of his hometown and a place in particular, in the hometown. She said we'd moved down to her hometown. And she said, I just thought I wanted to bring a piece of his hometown down to us. I was grateful that we were in my hometown. And I assume that that was maybe hard for him and he missed his hometown. So she said I had a giant painting completed. And I commissioned an artist and I was so excited to give it to him for his birthday. I gave it to him, the kids were there. And he looked and he said, “What is this? You actually think this looks nice? I hope you didn't pay much for this. It looks like a little kid painted it. Like where do you even find this artist?” She said, “I was devastated. I was so proud of this painting and this gift idea.” She said I still have the painting and I can't decide what to do with it. These comments he made on them went on for weeks and weeks and weeks. And this woman said in particular, feel free to share. She said I'll probably post more because I have so many of these examples now that I'm aware. I feel like this is one where, if you desire love and a connection with your spouse, this is where I really do feel like it is absolutely a good thing to take any gift and say, thank you. It really is. Because when somebody throws out really, you think this is good, this is crap. And I know people could argue, well, he's just being honest. No, he's being a jerk. I mean, that, that one. Again, what is the point of that? Even if you don't like it, then that's something that, that other person that you care about. That's their emotional bid. That, with that painting, is their heart. 

And so what a gift for somebody to hand me their heart and say, hey, I thought about you this much. Because then at that point, if I'm struggling with, I don't like it. Honestly, it's a me issue. And as you can see in this example, yeah, it's a big old him issue. Now, if he was emotionally mature, and he did say I so appreciate that. And if she, you know, she's catching the vibe and saying, I feel like there's a little something off. Oh, I mean, and I know I'm, I'm painting this amazing version of this story where there will be a pot of gold at the end. But, an emotionally healthy version would be okay. He still is so grateful and so much. And if she says, boy, you seem a little off and then they have an emotionally mature conversation, it might be because, he says, my hometown is not a place of happy memories. And that's why we moved to your hometown, but I'm so grateful that you thought of it that way. And because now, we have some good old self confrontation. We're having a shared experience, and now we can process emotion together with another human being. And how beautiful is that? So none of that is happening with the interaction that I just shared. Next, one woman just shared a lot of just the little bullet points, but I so appreciated this because these are some of the ones that came up in earlier episodes as well, that I continue to get emails about driving very very slow when I was late. Or even just if I made sure and said, we got to get somewhere on time. And she didn't write this, but I could add because I get this one on a regular basis, or of course, when he needs to get there, now here comes control. There's going to be anger and rudeness and loud voices. Because we will go or I will leave you. But if you want to go and you want to get there on time, then all of a sudden, now he is suddenly captivated by getting a toothpick and cleaning things out of the grout on a kitchen counter, which is a very real story that I heard a few years ago. 

This one. They all again, they break my heart, taunting me with grocery money, holding it out and pulling it back. Hiding my bank card if I left it out to teach me a lesson, that one hiding my “fill in the blank”, hiding my shoes, hiding my purse, hiding my coat, hiding my keys. And that one, I hear over and over again to teach me a lesson. So if anyone is more on the emotionally immature side and listening at this point, if somebody leaves something out, try this one, hey, you forgot your keys, and I am putting a dramatic pause in here. Because that is an opportunity for the other person to say, thank you. I really appreciate that. And then, or sometimes you might say, I think you forgot your keys and they may say, oh, I have another set. And then you say, oh, okay. And you leave together. It's an amazing experience. I sound like I'm being facetious and there's a little bit of that, but, if I have to teach my spouse a lesson, I am a jerk. This is plain and simple. If I see an opportunity where I can be of service and help to my spouse so that she will not feel less than, or feel dumb, what an opportunity, what a joy. She also shared refusing to be a boy scout dad until it was time for the Pinewood Derby when then he showed up looking like an involved dad. I can do episodes completely on, I don't know how many times I've had this conversation with people, and what's funny is I didn't grow up a scout. My son gave it a shot. And when it was Pinewood Derby time, I actually had post-traumatic stress disorder as a kid doing my own Pinewood Derby car and taking dead last. 

So at that moment, it was funny because I just thought how many of these things are happening at Pinewood Derby day? Are there the insecure dads like myself that don't know how to build things or are there the kids that all they want to do is win because their dad is going to get mad at them if they don't win, because I've processed plenty of those sessions as well. Or in walks dad of the year who, especially lately I've had a couple of examples of people that go and buy their Pinewood Derby car kit off of eBay or online, which, oh, if I would've had that opportunity when I was younger, but I digress. But those times, none of those are somebody showing up organically. Another woman said, how about the inability to resist interrupting with what he would have said or done when somebody is trying to concentrate or somebody is trying to study, or him coming in with stupid jokes or making noise, anything for attention. Now here is where I can go back to my waking up to narcissism, my own narcissism, my own emotional immaturity. That one resonates because if I can make a funny face or a goofy noise, or if I can tell somebody a funny joke when they are busy, I realized that is something that the emotionally immature does often, and that is something I have noticed myself still at times, wanting to all of a sudden remember. So I remember something from earlier in the day and I want to show someone a video or picture while they're doing something completely different. And so while I absolutely believe in spontaneity, there's a, I feel like there is now a difference between being spontaneous and then just saying, hey, we haven't had any attention on me and a little bit, so can we do that? Can I show you something or can I make a funny face? And then you'll like it. I'm watching, I’m really obsessed a little bit with the show Sister Wives. And there are multiple occasions where the husband, Cody, will just all of a sudden take center stage. And there's been, I think, one or two weddings where, you know, he makes sure and does that and at the last minute, and it's just one of those things where it's like, hey, nobody's looking at me. Look, I just did a thing. I know it's their wedding, but look at me. She said also a time that we met downtown, my car got towed because I misunderstood a parking sign and he just drove off and he left me just walking along the city that I was unfamiliar with that we had just moved to and eventually came back to me. And I would add in here and with the hopes that I had learned my lesson. Or chronically getting terse and grumpy on the kids' birthdays and sucking the oxygen out of the celebrations. This one becomes one of those that just becomes so consistent of the emotional immature or narcissist. And I appreciate that “sucking the oxygen out of celebrations”. And I think in one of the earlier episodes I talked about a woman who, even in every one of their births and then she'd had a few kids, there was an event and one of the times the guy missed the actual birth because Carl's Jr. I think had two sausage and egg biscuits for $5. So what are you going to do right? Or times where then just things were made about him. And it was almost as if subconsciously if there was something that was going to absolutely be about somebody else, she said you could count on that sabotage is going to occur. And it would, it would happen in all kinds of things, not having things ready to go for a party showing up late, leaving late, just, there were so many different things that were just so consistent on celebrations. 

Or she said we're giving the dead or indifferent effect on conversations to get me to be quiet or get to the point more quickly. And I feel like that's one that is so difficult for the narcissist or the emotionally immature, if it doesn't pertain to them or they don't feel like it matters, then it's hard for them to not show that on their face and they shut down. I remember having a conversation with someone at one point that I was fairly certain was narcissistic and I couldn't help myself, but I just mentioned, hey, you know, I feel like you're not really very interested and that's okay. I think I'll just, I'm going to take off. And then all of a sudden they said, no, no, I am. I am. And then they just looked directly at me. And then as I'm talking, they nodded their head about three times more than is normal. And then started saying. Oh, well, wow. Oh boy. Okay. And I thought, oh, that's actually not the way a real conversation occurs. So while I could appreciate the effort, it was just really interesting at that moment where they went from, I could tell that they had a flat affect, but then they wanted to pretend that they were very interested. Let's get through a couple more. Okay. This one. I think this one's really, really difficult. And I actually have had multiple conversations around this. So this, and thank you to this woman for expressing this. She said, “I had a breast augmentation surgery after my last baby turned one. My husband was fully supportive of it. But wanted me to go quite big.” She, and again, I feel like I just wanted to tell this woman, so far, I've had several of these conversations. She said, “I had saved money for it myself while working,” at her job while pregnant. She said, “I wanted to go a natural looking normal size just to feel like me again, my husband insisted on coming to the two pre op appointments and he was pushing for the much bigger sizes on me. The nurse practitioner kept reiterating that those sizes were way too big for my body size. So we finally agreed on a size, the day of surgery. I ended up telling the surgeon to go 15 CC smaller than what I told my husband prior.” And she said the 15 CCS is like, if you are somewhat a religious person, the sacrament cup that you drink water or the grape juice out of, she said, “I texted my husband just to let them know that the surgery went well. And the size that I ended up going with. His response was so cruel and hurtful saying that I was a deceitful liar. He can't believe that I would do that. And it's going to look awful and disgusting on me.” She said, “I then stayed at my mom's house that weekend to recover and he didn't text or call once. When I came back home after two days, he moved out of our bedroom and continued to call me a liar and tell me I had a botched boob job. And I wasted my money because they looked terrible and he continued to say that narrative for the next six months. He never once in the days or weeks following ever asked how I was feeling. The surgeon told me that there is literally no noticeable difference in 15 cc's bigger. So those are the things that just break my heart, any opportunity that the person has for control, because first of all, the answer is whatever size you would like. Period. So then for him going in to try to talk her into what she needed to do with her body, it just becomes beyond frustrating. And so then even if she decides, okay, I'm not going to go with that size, then nothing more for a husband than, okay. Thanks for letting me know. 

So I think that people hearing this, it won't necessarily just be about the breast augmentation surgery. It will be about coming home from the hospital after birth, you know, it can be, I've had an example of a guy who got an ACL surgery and his wife not showing up for him post-op. But it will be that concept of where, if that person, if the narcissist in the relationship has a medical procedure, the pathological kind person will do anything and everything they can to take care of that person. But then if the pathologically kind person is taken care of or has something go on, then that really is an inconvenience for the narcissist and they still have work to do they still have things to do and so what were you expecting and just that inconsistency or the consistency of the invalidation speaks volumes. Let's get to a couple more and then we'll wrap things up today. Another interesting antidote that someone shared to me, she said that on her wedding day, so given a little bit of context, she was talking about the wedding day being a difficult moment or being a difficult day as it would come up each year as the relationship continued to get worse. And then at one point when they had separated, now, this brings us up to where she's telling the story. She says another interesting anecdote is that on our wedding day, a year later, this was just this past year. She said, I tried to forget all about the day. She said I was also gray rocking and not giving him much attention at all those days. And for those who are unfamiliar with gray, rocking and gray rocking is one of  the many techniques that people use to protect themselves from abuse, I'm reading from It involves becoming as uninteresting as possible to the abusive person. This may require a person to hide their feelings, avoid revealing personal information and minimizing contact. And sometimes people use the gray rock method when interacting with people they believe have narcissistic personality disorder or traits and tendencies. 

And according to medicalnewstoday, however, a relationship can be harmful regardless of whether a person has a personality disorder and whether the abuse is intentional. And they've been going to say it's unclear whether the gray rock method reliably works, that may have risks as long as the person is in contact with the perpetrator. And I would say that the gray rock method is similar to my popcorn moments. You're just sitting back and watching the show. But she said that she had been gray rocking him and not giving me much attention. She said he knew I was feeling bad about some other things. I believe they might've had some co-parenting challenges or issues. So she said, “At one point he called me,” and again, this was on the day, the wedding day, but while they've been separated, she said, “I didn't respond.” And then he texted me an emoji flower and she said, I didn't respond. A few days later, we were talking and he blamed me for being distant and neglectful. And she said it turned out the flower emoji was sent to me on our wedding day. And I hadn't even registered because I wouldn't even have imagined that he cared. So he had sent this wedding, this flower emoji back when they were actually married. He then said I wanted to come over on our wedding day. I thought it would have been nice to bring you some flowers, just to have a glass of wine. And she says I was shocked and I told him I wouldn't have been able to do that, I don't think. And because of what has happened in our past, on wedding days, she said, I couldn't have done that. But then here's the part that I really appreciate about this story. She said later I processed and I thought if he actually had wanted to do that, then why didn't he text me exactly what he wanted to do? Why didn't even mention our wedding day and his message, it was a flower emoji. And I told him I was having a bad time over some other stuff. So I thought it was about that. And I love that she went on to say, she's having many revelations like that. When you realize how a normal human being operates. And if they want to share a thought or a story, then they share a thought or a story. So they don't just send some coded message out and then see if the person takes the bait. Because now he can say, oh, I had perfectly good intentions if you want to reach back out to me, we would have had an amazing experience. I would have been incredibly, emotionally mature. We could have talked about the kids and co-parenting. And you would have seen that I have changed. But instead he, I believe, and I don't know him, but confabulated a good narrative that well, how can I, how can I make her feel bad? Oh, I'll tell, I'll tell you what. Oh, yeah, that, that's what I meant with that flower emoji. And she said, as I write this, I have so many revelations and she said she's going to talk to her therapist about it. And I love that. She said that with her therapist, they're having amazing conversations where she said, I talked to my narcissistic ex as if he's in the other chair. And then I take his perspective and I change chairs and talk as if I was him. She said, it's really helping her process and seeing the craziness of the conversations and the dynamics. And I love that, I have not done, they call that a little bit of an empty chair technique, and I have not done that myself in my practice, but I know that that is a, it can be a very powerful technique. I think often, even in the way that I do this, I love having somebody talk through. And then what did he say or what did she say? And so when the person, the pathologically kind person in my office the same, but maybe I took things wrong. And, but then when they start talking through, they know what that conversation would sound like. So I love what she's saying. And then when they say it out loud, which is the key, then you can typically get to the point where, okay. This is where again, I have overlooked a lot of these. I turned some red flags, yellow, I guess, as a better way to put that. 

Another person shared. And she said, one thing that I noticed the other day is how my emotionally immature husband seems to see everything as a slight against them and can play the victim in such odd ways. This is a fabulous story. I'm going to change a little bit of the details. But she said she went with their son to a music class. And he usually isn't able to go and the son is under the age of three. And when the son's at music class, he mostly just runs around because it's encouraged because he's under three and he comes up every once in a while and he will hug his mom. So with both of the people being there, he just went over and would hug one of them and then run off again. But she said it was split pretty evenly. However, almost every single time that he would hug the wife, then the husband would comment something like, oh, okay. Mom's your favorite? I'm just second fiddle, but I'm okay with that. All while smiling, looking around at everybody else for approval. She said it took me a while to figure out why it bothered me so much because if he really didn't care, he wouldn't feel the need to comment every time that that happened. And how will that make the son feel when he's old enough to understand that showing affection toward the wife, his mom, is going to hurt dad's feelings? And the way that he's expressing his hurt while pretending that he's not hurt at all can be crazy-making. And that point alone. Is showing how that's going to be modeled. So you better choose dad or dad is going to be upset. And so the kid is going to freeze and they're going to start now in their own caretaking role and having to try to manage the emotions of let's just say that even sees that mom's hurt later, emotionally down or withdrawn and he wants to go rescue because now he's programmed to rescue. And then, but then he sees dad walk in the room and all of a sudden he's got a decision to make. I know dad will get mad. And mom, I don't know, she's the one that usually buffers. And you can just see that now we're teaching our kids to caretake and to put their needs aside and to try to manage the room. And then to try to calm everyone's anxiety. So we're creating, in essence, a highly sensitive person who will then look for someone that they may need to caretake and that can be really difficult to watch as that child grows up. 

Another person that simply said when she's crying or frustrated and she said, “I need you. I would just love for you just to be nice.” And then her husband shouting, “I was nice to you all morning. Doesn't that count for anything?” We'll wrap this up with another person who shared, “When my sister passed away, who was my best friend, we were at the grave side and it was a very sudden death and I was barely able to function and he was just hugging and talking to everybody.” And she said, “I was standing there basically by myself and finally had to say, ‘Can I get a hug from you?’” And she said that was one of her aha moments because of his, even his reaction to her request or ask where she realized he doesn't really care about me. Now again, here's what I want to share. That one, as we wrap things up, as somebody simply hearing this example, especially maybe someone that we've referred to in the past as a Switzerland friend, meaning that they are one who just immediately, and I understand this goes to, well, there's two sides to every story. Maybe he was going through a lot himself, maybe that he was close to her as well. And he knew that the two of you would be able to reconnect later. So they may say that this person that is sharing this example is being a bit more dramatic. But here's where I want to say that with that person who left the last comment, I know far more to that story, and I know that this person was often told by their husband that she was the problem. There was one time that I think this is just such a phenomenal example that I would see over and over again in my practice when working with the narcissistic or emotionally immature. 

One time he had mentioned that even his doctor agreed that his wife at that time needed to be on medication and needed professional help. So let's just pause. Let's break this one down for a second and go back to that example that I gave about watching the interrogation videos. And the person who is being interrogated thinks that they are saying things that make absolute perfect sense. Saying things that will prove their point, their manipulative point. That all of these people agree with them, that their wife is crazy. And therefore she is the problem. She needs to do something, not him, but her. He has to have that external validation because he's making things up. But he's unwilling to self confront. And so he's literally creating that narrative on the fly and believing it in real time, which makes the gaslighting just flow out of them like water. Because in that scenario, I did, I specifically said, well we should probably get on a call with that doctor, because if the doctor was able to make a diagnosis off of the husband's description of his wife during his appointment, I might add, because how many times have you been to the doctor and they just had some time to kill, and you go through all the things that you were there to talk to the doctor about, and then you say, hey doc, let me tell you a couple of things about my wife, who you don't know by the way. And then can you give me your professional opinion, one that ends with, I might add any medical diagnosis that you are so sure of that she needs medical intervention. I mean, it's insanity. 

And in that situation, admittedly that was one of the times where I suggested that we just get on a phone call with the doctor again. And shockingly, he said that he knew that doctor was busy. And he didn't want to bother her, but apparently she wasn't too busy to take the extra time out of his appointment to make a formal diagnosis, including psychopharmacological intervention on the day of his employment. So this person had other examples that were similar of it's triangulation one. He said he had been telling his sister about all of his then wife's problems. And he also brought that out in therapy. And at that point, and again, look at what that person is saying. They're looking over at me thinking, oh man. No, that this is so normal. When people come in and then tell me and even though we're here to talk about the way to communicate as a couple, but yeah, let's put the evidence-based models that I've worked with over a thousand couples on that route out emotional immaturity or personality disorders. I'm going to put those on hold because apparently you've talked to your sister and she also agrees that your wife is crazy. So a great time to bring that up and then I will agree with you. We can all tell her that she's crazy. She'll say I did not even know I was crazy. And then that will make perfect sense. Because that's the way therapy works. I mean, just if you look at it that way, it just, it's so insane. The wife at the time, at that point, she was onto it and she just said, oh, I would love to hear her opinion. Why don't we just shoot her a text right now? And shockingly, he had, again, he did not think that that was a good idea. So a death by a thousand cuts is filled with these just tiny cuts, these tiny interactions. I admitted, I mentioned Sister Wives earlier. I'm recording part of this episode, on a second day as evidenced by if you're watching this on YouTube, my change of attire. But in the episode that we were watching last night, the husband was talking about divorce with one of his wives. And as I was watching, I believe I was viewing a classic narcissistic move. I'm not diagnosing anyone mind you. That is not my place since I'm not working with anyone on the show. Not that I wouldn't love to, but I believe that I was witnessing some extreme emotional immaturity when Cody shared that if he and his wife, Christine were going to divorce, that they needed to present this co-parenting agreement or else the state would immediately take the kids. They would become wards of the state. And I bring this example simply because when I've worked with people going through divorce, for example, typically the more emotionally immature person has all kinds of thoughts, facts, ideas on what that divorce process entails despite the fact that they may have never met with an attorney or been divorced before. But they absolutely know what is going to happen. And that once again, represents a bigger picture of the person simply spouting out words in one moment, confabulating a story that fits their narrative. Even in that moment that he knew more than she did that he was smarter and she was not as smart. And she didn't even know what she was getting into, but he did. One day I would love to do a complete deep dive on a reaction to that entire series of that show. 

But I do have enough material now for additional thousand cuts episodes. But I would love to hear more. And I feel like every time that I have shared one of these episodes, the three previous ones, this is where I get a number of emails of people saying, okay, this, this is my life. And so many people feel like, well, isn't everybody going through that kind of insanity? And they're not. Relationships aren't perfect by any means, but when this is the air that you breathe in your relationship of just feeling like there's this complete insanity and these small things happen over and over again, and the gaslighting and when you cannot even have your own thoughts or feelings or opinions, and you hold back because you aren't even sure if you should even bring something up because it usually doesn't go well. And you're trying to figure out when is the best time to finally bring up something that I just have to say, because it's affecting the kids, it's affecting my mental health or it's something that we need to talk about. But when we do, then things just go bad. That is not normal. And that's what I would love for you to start to just even think about looking for help, whether it's a professional help or turning to people that are non Switzerland friends, just to start to feel like you you are not crazy because you're not you're being, there's a good chance you're being emotionally manipulated or abused. And this is just part of the process, the process of awakening. And waking up to that narcissism or if you are listening to this and I, again, I'm so open about that this was all created initially, because of understanding my own emotional immaturity, narcissistic traits and tendencies. And it can be really difficult to sit with that and to self confront. But that is the beginning of healing of your own as well. So I just appreciate you taking the time. I would love to hear more stories. I would love to hear your examples of death by a thousand cuts. 

And, and I want to say, men who were in relationships with emotionally immature women. I see you too. I do. I work with you. I am working with a few in my practice right now, and I know that you are experiencing a similar, but completely different level of your own feelings of internal guilt and shame. And it is hard to open up about your situation. But please send me your examples as well. I know the traits and tendencies know no gender, but the majority of emotionally mature narcissistic people that I see. And according to the data I've shared in previous episodes are men, but I have worked with truly hundreds of men over my career who are in similar situations. So I want your stories to, I do want to hear from you. So thanks for taking the time and feel free to share these episodes, especially these death by a thousand cuts episodes because I think these are the ones that really, really hit and people really understand these and they start to resonate and people start to wake up to their own narcissism or the emotional immaturity in their relationships. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism

How do you know what you don’t know? Tony shares an example of what it feels like to speak to a group of people when you seek validation versus speaking because you care deeply about the topic you are presenting. Often we hear people talk about being authentic, but what does that look like in real life, and what additional benefits come when you live and operate from a place of authenticity? Tony also discusses what it means to stand in your “healthy ego” vs. “pathological defensive narcissism,” and finally, he discusses Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life from a summary by Pamela Hobart

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 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 And visit 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


Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 345 of “The Virtual Couch”. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. Certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, and creator The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to the unhealthy coping mechanisms of pornography, go to and the rest you'll find out all the information you need there. It's an incredible program and I'm very excited about that. 

And the “Magnetic Marriage” paid subscription podcast that is going to cost less than less than even a half of one session with me. And you're going to get access to a year's worth of these coaching calls. It is going to launch in the first week of December. So please go to and go to my contact page. And reach out and say, I want to know when this launches or better yet sign up for my newsletter, go to and just find the little place there that says “sign up” because it is good. It is really good. We're going to try to get some samples out soon. So you'll get a feel for what that is going to sound like, but I have a lot of episodes recorded and even a couple of second episodes with people, follow up episodes, and it's phenomenal. It really is phenomenal. And I really cannot wait until you get to see what it looks like to be couples therapy or couples coached.

So sign up and find out about that right now. Let's start. Story time. So I have changed some of the finer details and timeframes to protect the innocent and that alone sounds very dramatic because I simply want to tell a story that will show probably more of my own emotional immaturity, as much as anything else. And this starts with a speaking opportunity I had with a group of youth just this past Sunday.

And, okay, so quick side note. If you are listening to this episode the first week of November in real time, I think I'm recording this on November 1st and you happen to be single and over 30 and live in the Phoenix or Gilbert or Queen Creek area of Arizona. I'm going to be speaking this Sunday, November 6th at the Casa Grande's state center in Casa Grande, Arizona, and the topic of my talk is nothing less than the secrets of life. Now I joke, but honestly, I feel like I'm putting together a big old package of what we really didn't know that we didn't know about life and relationships and how we show up. And that is going to include bonus content of what to do with that information, once you have the information of what you didn't know that you didn't know, and then how to slowly but surely change your inner landscape or what it truly feels like to be you.

So if you're in the area, it is free and I would love for you to stick around and say, hi afterward. All right. So this gig, this past weekend, I did not know the youth. I had not presented at this particular church congregation. And typically I'm asked to speak and standing in my healthy ego, we're going to talk about that a little bit more and a bit, I'm almost exclusively asked to speak these days by people who listen to the podcast or who've taken a course of mine or who have read my book. So a couple of weeks ago, a fellow therapist said that this particular congregation was looking for a speaker. And they couldn't do it. So they asked if I could step in and my family was for the most part, all out of town. So I said, no problem. I would love to. So I was contacted by somebody in leadership for this congregation and the person was incredibly nice. And they asked me if I could give them a call.

So they could see if I would be a good fit. Now, emotionally immature response. I am taking ownership of this. Emotionally immature. Response number oh, uh, wondering if I'm a great fit, we'll I am a great fit. All right. And I will send you, let me individually send you 450 links to podcast episodes and interviews. And did I mention that we are talking in an airport right now as I wait to board my plane back home from speaking to an entire state full of marriage and family therapists.

But yeah, let's jump on the horn and see if I have what you're looking for. And I thought, oh my goodness. Okay. That was incredibly emotionally immature. Thank goodness I did not say those things, but I thought, where did that come from? And it was my ego, that is on me. If this guy does not know me, then he does not know me. How dare he ask me if I'm a good fit to talk to, the future people of the world, the youth who attend his congregation. Oh, the horror. Instead I texted back and I said, yeah, no problem. And we ended up talking in that airport that day and he was incredibly nice and caring and we had a really good chat and he had asked if I had any examples of some of the talks I've done with youth. And I literally the week before, just on a digital virtual fireside talk to an amazing group of youth in Ririe, Idaho of all places. And I had the video to prove it. So I uploaded it to my YouTube channel. And I sent him the link and thought, okay, we're done with it. He'll see that. And he'll say, okay, this guy's fine. But he texted a few days before the event and then asked if we could go over the content.

So here's where things get interesting. And what is really framed where we're going to go today. I still wanted to essentially tell him to Google me. Which is, how immature is that?  So I noticed that thought and I did not express it. But he said that he would love for me to address the dangers of social media and how the youth need to curb the need for social media and that they're on their phones too much and could I make sure and let them know that, in not so many words.

And while I absolutely can see where he's coming from. And I agree with the message he is sharing with me. And the father in me thinks those things often, but that's not the message that I personally can deliver authentically. The, hey, how about you get off your phones and go outside? And because while I'm at it, I might as well tell them that it would be easier if they did what I asked them to do with their chores for the first time. And if they could not take food into their rooms for the thousandth time, and maybe I can even throw a bit of, hey and all your online friends aren't actually your age. They are men in their sixties in Velour sweatsuits, trying to lure you into their layer via two years of daily interactions playing call of duty with you.

But every, I feel like most, every youth under the age of 20 or 25 has grown up with an incredibly steady diet of being reminded that us older folks played outside and we didn't have phones. And I really don't know if I've ever met somebody under that age who has heard someone like me tell them that, and then have them say, man, you know what, tell me more about that old man, you know, I think I'm going to get rid of my phone. And I think I'm going to try to call my friends on a rotary phone. But what I can do is talk about how the brain is a don't get killed device. It is a comparison making machine. And how the need to fit in is so hardwired into us as a survival mechanism. So comparisons are natural.

But when we don't feel good about ourselves, we naturally want others to validate us. We want external validation. And we think that will happen through posts and likes. And I can ask the youth how they feel when they check their number of likes or posts. But if I'm being asked to tell kids to get off their phones, then oh, no, I won't be saying that.

But an interesting thing occurred. We traded some messages and I made myself available. He ended up having to go out of town and we didn't even have that conversation. But what that caused me to reflect on was, again, another experience just, it was a few years ago and I have been speaking to groups and youth groups and adults and training for literally about 25 years before I was a therapist. I spoke in the computer industry. And then before that I wrote a humor column in a newspaper. And so I would find myself in situations where I would speak often. And I thought about this and it was really fascinating to me.

That I would often say, okay, well, what would you like for me to say? What would you like for me to say to your crowd, your audience, your people. And I would be told what to say, and then I would do my best to say it. Now I am oversimplifying this, but I think you'll get the point because I would say what they wanted me to say. In essence, I was just the vessel, the delivery vessel.

And then I would want validation. I would say things like, oh, I hope that's what you wanted me to say. Or I hope that things came out the way you were hoping for. I hope that was okay. Did I do good? Or then I would find myself saying, man, not many of the people came up to me afterward and told me I did a good job. And then the ones that did say you did a good job. Well, what else were they supposed to say? They had to say that.

So there was no winning there because I was just repeating words that I wanted people to validate. And then if they validated me, I thought, well, of course they have to say that. And if they didn't validate me, I got to say, man, I must not have done well. And they must be really disappointed with me.

So, because at the core of that entire situation, is the fact that I was not speaking from a place of authenticity. From a place of real, like a passion or a connection. I was being told what to do and what to say by somebody else. Now, again, I'm not saying that that is one of the number one problems in society. No, I feel like that's what we do.

We do that until we don't do that, especially if we're in jobs that we don't necessarily feel connected to, or we don't feel confident in our marriages, we don't feel like we have tools or the opportunity to really speak what matters to us. Or it might be our church where we feel like, okay, if I express my opinion, that I'm going to be banned from the group. I'm going to be kicked out of the tribe. So if we're struggling with our faith or with any of these things, are we still just placing our happiness so often in the hands of others? Saying, well, what do you think about me or what I'm doing or what I just said? 

And if the other person invalidates us, then over time, what it feels like to be us is we don't express ourselves, because we feel like I can't even believe I'm thinking that, nobody else is talking about this, or when people do talk about the things that I probably want to talk about, then other people say bad things about them. So when we're still coming from this place of just desperately needing that external validation, we are not going to feel connected or happy or authentic, or any of those things.

But when you're coming from a place of authenticity, when you are talking about the things that you know and that you care about, and you don't have to be an expert, but it's things that you care about. It's the things that line up with your values. It's the things that you've always been interested in because they are the things that you are interested in. And you are the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. Your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, all those things, are absolutely valid because they're your thoughts and feelings and emotions. So, when you are really living from this place of authenticity, or in alignment with all the things that matter, you are far less likely to be swayed by or to feel bad about other people's opinions. 

I still have people say, oh, hey, I think something different. But when you're coming from a place of authenticity, really feeling like you're living your best life, then the answer to somebody saying I disagree is, oh, thank you. Tell me more about that. Not, oh yeah. Well, you don't know what you're talking about.

Earlier I had stated that I was going to stand in my healthy ego, so I really do. I jotted down a few notes. I think I want to go back and take a second and explain. Because I really feel like this concept cannot be shared enough. I say it so often that I assume that people know what I'm talking about, but here's what I mean when I'm talking about a healthy ego. So in the article, the truth about narcissistic personality disorder, we didn't know we were going down the narcissist path today, did we?

But in the article, “The Truth About Narcissistic Personality Disorder'' by Eleanor Greenberg from Psychology Today, she is addressing the question that I have been asked on several occasions and it's somewhere around the concept that a four time leading Virtual Couch guest, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife shared with me on one of her appearances where we were talking about narcissism and she said, “Well, you know, we're all a little bit narcissistic though. Aren't we?” And I remember at first I thought. She called me a narcissist. But are we? But I know, I know where she's coming from when she first shared that, I thought that that was pretty interesting. Then I went on my “Waking Up to Narcissism” podcast, I think it was 8, 9, 10 episodes in, to record an episode called Am I the Narcissist?

Where I shared, first of all, that, if you're asking yourself that, the answer is no. But I shared that the actual narcissistic personality disorder really only applies to somewhere around 2 to 3% of the population. But when we're talking about emotional immaturity, well, I think that we are all emotionally immature until we, I don't know until we become more emotionally mature and it's a process.

You are not aware of the things that you're unaware of. How often are we just wanting to control someone to manage our own anxiety? Or we want to feel like we are special, so that people need to do the things that we ask them to do. So, again, that's all coming from a place of emotional immaturity.

And the growth process from that takes awareness and takes being aware that that's even a thing. Am I being emotionally immature? Then it takes introspection. It takes self confrontation. And it takes being able and willing to self-sooth. Not to rely on others to manage your ego or manage your anxiety.

Or to continually validate you. So at the heart of a simple phrase, like, well, you know what I want you to do? As the assumption that you know, better than I do. And that I would do incredibly well to listen to you, to abide by what you are telling me to do all the while without the person first coming from a place of curiosity. First checking in and asking me about what my experience is. So in the earlier example, rather than starting with, hey, what are your thoughts about social media and what direction would you go with this topic? It was presented as, hey, here's what I need you to say.

And speaking to aren't, we all, a little narcissistic, Eleanor Greenberg shares the concepts of healthy and unhealthy narcissism. And because narcissism is an incredibly charged word, I made the decision in that episode, and have done so since, of replacing the word narcissism with the word ego. When talking about the healthy version.

So in this article, “The Truth About Narcissistic Personality Disorder”, Eleanor says “normal versus pathological narcissism”. She says, “unfortunately, in the English language, the word narcissism has come to mean two entirely different things. Depending on whether it's being used formally as a diagnosis, as in narcissistic personality disorder.

Or informally as a synonym for positive self regard”. So often, do we hear it used as a synonym for positive self regard?  I don't even know if that would be possible in this day and age with the way that the word narcissism is thrown around. And that is coming from a person who hosts a podcast, literally called waking up to narcissism.

So she said, “I am often asked, isn't a little bit of narcissism healthy and normal?” And so Eleanor says, “I would like to clarify that distinction.” So normal, healthy narcissism, and I am now taking ownership of Eleanor's words. They're wonderful. What you're about to hear, but I'm going to say normal, healthy ego.

So she says, “this is a realistic sense of positive self regard that is based on the person's actual accomplishments. It is relatively stable because the person has assimilated into their self image. The successes that came as a result of their actual hard work to overcome real life obstacles. Because it is based on real achievements, normal, healthy ego is relatively impervious to the minor slights and setbacks that we all experience as we go through life. Normal ego causes us to care about ourselves. Do things that are in our real self-interest and is associated with genuine self-respect. One can think of it as something that is inside of us.”

When you find those things that make you tick, those things that you are passionate about, now you can start to step into that healthy ego because it is going to be relatively stable because. This is because it's been assimilated into your self image by the successes that came as a result of your actual hard work.

So the more that I learn about mental health, the more that I talk about helping somebody navigate a faith journey, using the stages of faith. The more I use my four pillars to connect a couple and help them be able to communicate like they've never communicated before. And the more that I learn as the brain is a don't get killed device. And the reason that anxiety is there and how we all fear this abandonment, we have these attachment issues and these things that I just feel such a passion about. Then I'm going to stand in my healthy ego and I'm going to answer questions based on the things that I know, because I have gathered those things as a result of my actual hard work to overcome real life obstacles. Because those things are based on real achievements, my normal, healthy ego is relatively, not completely impervious, but relatively impervious to the slights and setbacks that we all experience as we go through life.

So, a normal healthy ego causes us to care about ourselves and do things that are in our real self-interest. Not being self-centered, but in our real self-interest and is associated with self-respect. So one can think of it as something that is inside of us. So when I say that I am standing in a place of my healthy ego, it is that  I'm about to communicate something that I feel confident about and that I feel passionate about.

Now I have come to learn the things that I have learned from things that I did not know. So one of the most amazing things I feel like when you really find you are working in a place of alignment with the things that matter to you is of course you don't have the full story. Of course you don't know everything that you don't know. So that gets exciting. So here's what I know now.

And I'm going to continue to explore. When I go back two or three years ago, I wasn't talking about differentiation. I was talking about my four pillars. But I wasn't talking about differentiation. I didn't have my big abandonment and attachment speech all down. I didn't really understand the concepts of external validation and boy coming up over the next two, three months, I've been learning more about just being able to hold this frame, this presence, to an unhealthy radiance. And I'll talk more about that in the coming episodes. But so that is a normal, healthy ego. Now let's talk about what Eleanor says is pathological defensive narcissism. So maybe we could call it, I've never actually done this, but pathological defensive ego, because again, the narcissism word is so triggering.

But she says, this is a defense against feelings of inferiority. This is why when you see somebody that is just throwing a fit, an adult tantrum, or they need control over everybody around them. That is a defense against feelings of inferiority. The person dawns a mask of arrogant superiority in an attempt to convince the world that he or she is special. Inside, the person feels very insecure about their actual self-worth.

And this facade of superiority is so thin that it's like a helium balloon. One small pinprick will deflate it. So this makes that person hyper sensitive to minor slights that somebody with a healthy ego would not even notice. Instead, somebody with this type of defensive ego or defensive narcissism is easily wounded.

I think the kids call it butt-hurt these days. Or probably a decade ago. But they frequently take any form of disagreement as a serious criticism. And then they are likely to lash out and devalue anybody who they think is disagreeing with them. They're constantly on guard trying to protect their status. So pathological narcissism or pathological defensive ego can be thought of as a protective armor that is on the outside of us.

Protecting people from really seeing inside and seeing who we are. When I was living my life in that computer industry, I absolutely was working out of a defensive, pathological, ego where I needed people to think that I was special because I felt so insecure. Because I was in this job that I did not feel a connection with. Yet, I was on the hook to provide a living for my family. And at that point it was my ever-growing family and trying to buy a house and living in California and my wife wanting to be a stay-at-home mom.

So I needed people to think that I was something special because my fear was that if they saw inside of me, then everything would crumble. Everything would fall apart. And then I would be a failure. But little did I know that I didn't even understand what a healthy ego could look like when one truly finds the things that matter to them.

And you find the things that matter to you, because again, you're the only version of you. So things are going to matter to you that may not matter to other people. So, why do I bring that up? Let me talk a little bit more about my days working in the computer software industry.

So I was in that industry for over 10 years and I did okay. I mean as a career, financially, that sort of thing. I spoke at conferences. I gave a lot of presentations. I spoke in Europe and Japan and Russia and China. And many places where I talked about the technology that we were selling. But honestly, I didn't know what I didn't know about speaking from a place of authenticity. So I learned about my product. We did device drivers. And if you're not familiar with device drivers, they are not exciting at all. So I had to be excited to talk about code that helped move data. Data on CD's, data across hard drives. And then we branched out a bit from there, but I was basically memorizing our feature set.

I was learning the selling points. And then if I was asked detailed questions, I would have a programmer with me, and then he would either baffle the crowd with insanely low level programming talk or worst case, we would just say that we couldn't answer that question because that would be sharing proprietary information.

So in essence, we had an out. So I was absolutely operating from a place by definition of pathological defensive narcissism or defensive ego.  I wanted people to think that I knew what I was talking about. And I absolutely was insecure about people thinking that I didn't know what I was talking about, which is so fascinating now, as I speak from the heart, I share what I'm passionate about, which gets me less in the mindset of, well, what do you think about what I said or how did I do? And you can see how it's borderline me sounding like a jerk is I think one of the biggest worries when you start acting in alignment with your values or your true sense of self. Or you find these passions. That then you, when you speak confidently, there's always that fear of, oh, am I being prideful? But if you are letting your light so shine, so that others around you will be lifted, then I feel like that is truly stepping into who you really are as a person. And maybe what your purpose is here upon the earth to, to spread light and knowledge, the things that you know, and truly understand, and not from a place of, so that people will like me, but from a place of, oh my gosh, this I am so grateful to know the things that I know, and I want to share those things. And then if people have a different opinion, then I can say, tell me more about that. We're differentiated. I want to hear more because obviously I don't know what I don't know. And what a chance to grow, but if I'm coming from a place of pathological defensive ego or defensive narcissism, then I'm going to lash back out and try to attack you about the things that you don't know, what you're talking about.

Because I'm so afraid that you will see through me and see that I'm not being my authentic self.

So again, this little side note here is that I didn't even realize again, that when you find your passion or when you find things you're truly interested in, you are more curious about those things. So then you live in a way where you read more about the things you care about. You talk more about them, you find yourself around more people who also care about those things that you care about.

And here then is the interesting bonus. Just standing in your healthy ego. That as you lean into the things that you actually do care about, the things that matter to you, I personally have found it far easier to acknowledge the things that I don't know. It seems so much easier when you have a healthier ego or a sense of self to simply say, oh, I don't know.

I brought on a social media team and I'm so excited about them and it's so easy to say, oh, I don't have a clue how any of that works. I even went back two or three years ago, and I thought, oh, I know what I want to do with my social media presence. While that really hasn't worked, has it? So in that scenario, I don't know what I don't know. So at times they'll say, well, are you okay if we do this? Or what do you think about this? And I say, oh, I have no idea.

But I know that that's what you guys do, and I know that that's what you know, and I'm excited. I'm excited about that. Being able to step into the things that you really care about and are acting in more alignment with really the, your passions have allowed me to give up on a lot of things that I used to pretend that I thought I needed to know. At one point I went to a quick book seminar because I thought, well, I better know how to do QuickBooks, but I made it through a few hours and then I was starting to nod off and I left and I think I called my wife and we ended up having a fantastic weekend because it was it was in a whole different city that was within driving distance of where we live. But, oh, I know nothing about that, but why should I, that's not something that is a passion of mine. And I'm grateful that there are people that like numbers and math and all of those kinds of things. So then that is not something that I feel is in alignment with my values or something that really speaks to me.

As well as I went on forever trying to do my own website on the various plug and play, build your own websites. But I don't know that stuff either. Not a big fan. So the more that you find the things that really matter to you, the easier it is to let go of that idea that you need to know everything, because that knowing everything is coming from a place, that I feel, of pathological defensive ego, where if people think that I don't know things, then they might not think I'm cool and they might not like me. And they might boot me out of the tribe and I'm going to be devoured by a saber tooth tiger and die.

So I have found myself, far far more often saying, oh, I don't know. Because I know the things that I do know. So let me give you a quick example. And pay attention to how often people around you are saying, well, you know what I think, I think that this person really does know, I think they know what they're doing and I think they just don't want to admit it. To which I used to say a lot of things like, yeah or maybe they're just forgetting, or maybe they think this, or maybe they think that, because I want the person I'm talking to to value my opinion.

But now, because I absolutely feel confident about the things that I do know, it is far easier to simply reply to the person and say, oh, yeah. I don't know. We'll probably have to ask that person. Let me give you a hypothetical example. This one came to mind. We're doing a little bit of traveling again, going to Arizona to speak over the weekend. So let's say that my wife asked me, oh, do you think that we'll be able to make the connecting flight in Vegas? The time between flights is only 55 minutes and I don't know how far away the next gate is. So I feel like in the past, I would definitely want to manage her anxiety. I would want to reassure her and I might say things like, yeah, I'm sure they wouldn't let us book a connecting flight if it was going to be that close, or I might say, yeah, that's not something you really need to worry about right now.

Or I might say, you know, we can change the second flight, if that will make you happy. And although that may be true, is she looking for me to fix it or does she simply want validation? Is she needing me to help manage her anxiety? So remember when we don't often feel good about anything and I'm talking about ourselves, or a situation like this one about whether or not we'll be able to make a connecting flight, that causes us to have anxiety. Anxiety comes from uncertainty. And if we aren't operating from a place of a healthier ego, then we are most likely looking for someone else to make us feel better or to manage our anxiety. We're looking for that external validation.

But we aren't exactly sure what it will take for us to feel better. So there is a good chance, actually, an almost certain chance that whatever I say in that scenario about the flights is not going to be exactly the right thing. And then again, in this situation, my wife will most likely then feel like I just don't understand her.

Because she may not be wanting me to fix it. She just wants for me to hear her, to validate her, to say, man, that sounds hard. Or if I don't hear, she might even go to the place of, you know, he must not care about me. So, coming from a healthy ego and feeling more authentic in life allows us to show up differently in those situations, it allows our partners to start operating more from a place of trust because we feel more confident in the things that we do feel confident in.

Because now we're doing things that we care about, that we feel connected to. So in those areas, we're going to speak from a place of confidence and healthy ego, not requiring or relying on external validation. So when you come to the table, feeling more confident and connected because you feel like you are living in alignment with your values and what matters to you, then you speak with authority and confidence of the things that you know and you believe, and therefore, of course, you say, I don't know, do the things that I'm not certain of or that I'm not connected to. And that doesn't make me less than, that doesn't mean that my wife is going to think that I am less than, as a matter of fact, it's quite the opposite.

I've had people literally say in my office that man, no I literally find it attractive if he says, yeah, I'm not really sure about that. But we can discover that together or let's find somebody who does know. Rather than the guy saying, don't worry about it. Right. Or you shouldn't worry about that or, well, I'm sure that this is the answer because that does not give us a sense of safety or certainty in our relationships.

It's the opposite. So I may frame the conversation differently, like in this scenario about the airport, I may say, you know, I really don't know how that works with gate changes or time between flights. But I wonder if there's a system that keeps track of that and hopes that people won't miss their flights or, let's Google that together. I don't know.  I'll ask Siri a question.

And now we're having a conversation based on curiosity. Off of, oh yeah, I don't know the things that I don't know, but I'm here with you. Let's go through this together. If there was something that I do know, you can be certain I'll share it. Oh, I know this thing. But on the flip side. Yeah, I don't know what I don't know because how could I? Because in that world of emotional immaturity or unhealthy ego, you hear a lot of things like, I'm sure the doctor's just going to tell me it's not a big deal. Okay. How do you? Or you find from a place of emotional immaturity, a conversation I heard recently where someone said, yeah you know, my spouse says that they're not going to go into the doctor because they know more than 90% of all doctors do. Says the person who's never been in medical school or never practiced medicine. Or here's one I hear, you're just going to tell me to start up a mindfulness practice, says the person who has never regularly meditated to the person, me in this scenario, who also spent an entire life well into my forties, also never meditating, until I did. And then I didn't again, and then I did regularly and many, many years later now I just can't believe that I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't know what that could feel like to have a built-in pause to allow you to then tap into that prefrontal cortex, those frontal lobes and access my tools instead of just sitting around in a fight or flight response all the time. And that has been because of a mindfulness practice. I didn't know what I didn't know. And so now when people are letting me know the reasons why that won't work they tell me that as they haven't tried that over a sustained period of time. Then that can be difficult because I know that they can feel like I am not hearing them. Yeah, no, I don't think that will work. I don't think that will work, says the person who hasn't tried it regularly to the person who did, and it has changed their life.

Let me change gears just a tiny bit. And I think that this will actually resonate or make more sense. It's along these lines because it goes along with needing somebody else to manage your anxiety or telling someone else what to do or how they're supposed to think or feel. Quite a while ago, I had someone reach out to me and they had asked me if I would take a look at a gentleman named Marshall Rosenberg's work around what's called nonviolent communication.

And I remember just not really understanding the term nonviolent communication. And just in that context, that just seemed like those words didn't necessarily go together. Because I think of violence as physical violence, that sort of thing. And I want to turn to a site called four minute books. And this is a summary of Marshall Rosenberg's book about nonviolent communication by Pamela Hobart.

So I, but I really feel like this is a really fascinating concept. And before I even read this, I also saw someone had shared with me and I thought this was just really, really interesting. They shared a quote and this is from a book called, The Yamas and Niyamas, which is about exploring the ethical practices of yoga, which is a really interesting principle or concept. If you really look into it.

And they had shared a page of a book that I thought was so well said, and this is around why I wanted to go down this path of nonviolent communication. In this chapter of this book, it says, “thinking that we know what is better for others becomes a subtle way we do violence. When we take it upon ourselves to ‘help the other’ we whittle away their sense of autonomy. Nonviolence asks us to trust the other's ability to find the answer that they are seeking. And asks us to have faith in the other, not feel sorry for them. Nonviolence asks us to trust the other's journey. And love and support others to their highest image of themselves. Not our highest image of them. It asks that we stop managing ourselves, our experience, others, and other’s experiences of us. Leave the other person free of our needs, free to be themselves, and free to see us as they choose.” So they go on to say, “the violence we do to others by thinking we know what is best for them is dramatically illustrated and they tell a story.” 

But nonviolent communication, and the reason I hope you can see why I think this fits, is maybe a nice way to end today's episode is the way to find that true sense of passion, sense of self to be able to actually act in alignment with the values that are important to you. And they're important to you because of all of the tiny little things that you've been through your entire life. The nature, the nurture, the birth order, the DNA, the abandonment, the rejection, the hopes, the dreams, the loss, the growth, the people that have moved, the people that have passed. All of those things that make you who you are, are the things that also guide your values. So when someone else is telling us what they think that we need to do, thinking that they know what is better for us.

I can understand or appreciate this concept of nonviolent communication because it is not allowing the trust, the other person's journey, love and support. It is supporting them and helping them view themselves as the highest image of themselves, not our highest image of them. In the world of parenting, I know it's a balance because we are the ones that are guiding our kids when they're young, but as they start to mature and grow and start to become them, then doesn't that phrase just fit so well. Nonviolent communication means allowing us to trust our children’s journey, and love and support them to their highest image of themselves, not our highest image of them. When we're trying to manage our highest images of them, I feel like what we're doing is we want them to manage our anxiety.

We are worried that we won't be viewed as a good parent. We're worried that someone will think that we didn't do our job, or we didn't do enough if our kid isn't living the life that we think that they should live. But in reality, we need to help them find the highest image of themselves. And so we need to stop managing our experience of others and let them start to figure out what matters to them. The sooner that we can help our kids do that and the sooner you do that, I promise you the better place that you're going to be operating from. And you are going to be able to do more good for yourself, for your family, for the world, not to sound overly dramatic but when you find what really matters and you act in alignment with the things that matter to you, you are going to be speaking from this place of healthy ego. And it is relatively impervious to the slights and setbacks that we all go through on a day-to-day basis. So I'm going to blast through this four minute books on nonviolent communication, and maybe we can tackle this in a completely separate episode.

So, Pamela Hobart. She's the one that wrote this summary. So she says, “Free speech advocates commonly argue that speech is the opposite of violence. Words can offend us, but they don't actually do harm. So from this point of view, nonviolent communication is practically an oxymoron.” Exactly what I was feeling. So thank you, Pamela.

But then she goes on to say “Communications expert Marshall Rosenberg, begs to differ. According to Marshall, most people's default manner of speaking to others is highly violent. Because he says that is if you consider violence to include attempts at cutting others down to size and coercing them into doing what we want. So that that would fit more in that concept of violence. So whether or not most ordinary speakers are constantly committing literal acts of violence or not, most of us can see the potential benefit in learning to communicate more effectively. Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life provides one provocative lens per seeing what's morally and pragmatically wrong with many of the things we tend to say in our everyday lives. Nonviolent communication also helps us to figure out what we can say instead.” So Pamela says, here are the three lessons that she's learned from the book, Nonviolent Communications, A Language of Life.

Number one is, “separating observation from judgment is the first step toward reducing needless conflict.” The second thing she says is “connecting actions and requests to people's specific needs points the way towards solutions to any problems.” And number three, she says “you can use nonviolent communication to improve how you talk with yourself too.”

She talks about these nonviolent communication touch points. Lesson one, and I think this one is so, so good. “Keep your observations and your judgments separate in order to keep others from feeling defensive.” She said, “often our brains leap to label somebody, ‘that student is lazy. My husband is careless,’ and so often our mouths rush to speak judgment too,” but she says, “does it really work to go around judging people? How do they tend to respond when you judge them? How do you respond when other people judge you? A person who's feeling judged typically goes on the defensive or just shuts down.” Again, I feel like that's the psychological reactance or that instant negative reaction of being told what to do, being judged. She said, “judging someone is about the worst thing you can do i f what you want is for them to listen to you or admittedly, if you would like to change something about their behavior.”

So I think I could kind of step away and take exception with me wanting to change something about their behavior, but, She makes a good point here. So, Rosenberg suggests a foundational habit for nonviolent communication that we learned to separate observations about what happened from our judgments about them and observation is objective, it's concrete and neutral.

Instead of a lazy student, learn to think that student did not complete their homework. Instead of a careless husband, think he left toothpaste in the sink. Because if you can start from a place of, he didn't complete his homework or he left toothpaste in the sink and we removed the judgment statement. Now we're going to go in there with curiosity. Perhaps he received a dollar every time he left his toothpaste in the sink as a kid. Because his dad worked for Colgate and the more toothpaste they could buy the more his yearly bonus would be. Oh, that was good. Made that one up on the spot. But instead, if we just say, we love this toothpaste in the sink, he must not care about me. He thinks that I'm the toothpaste cleaner.

So in order to separate judgment from what an observation is, then we can get to the conversation. So, she said, “straightforward observations leave much more space for potentially understanding the reasons why people did what they did, rather than making a lot of assumptions. Others' actions might provide a stimulus for us feeling the way we do, but they don't literally cause our emotions. We must distinguish between our own stuff and what happened in the world.” I had a couple recently where someone said, well you’re the one that makes me do this. That old chestnut. But in the world of nonviolent communication, if the person is staring at their phone, if they just say, okay I'm noticing that you're looking at your phone while we're talking.

That is a statement. That's an observation. But if they say you obviously don't care about me because you're staring at your phone, that's a judgment and that's going to put somebody on the defensive. So lesson two in this book, connecting actions and requests to people's specific needs can diffuse tension and point toward possible resolution.

She says, “Why are we so judgmental if it's not usually productive?” Rosenberg explains that analyses of others are actually expressions of our own needs and values. In other words, when a teacher labels a student lazy, perhaps she's stressed because she doesn't know how to motivate them. Or the wife of that careless husband values neatness much more than he does, but she doesn't see a way to resolve their preferences. So this is why I thought this would be a perfect cap to this episode where I was talking about managing someone else's anxiety. So if we aren't even looking at things as observations, if we're making judgments about them. Then when we make a judgment, we're typically judging that this is about me. That they must not care or the student isn't listening. So that must mean I'm a bad teacher or my husband must not care about me because he obviously leaves his toothpaste in the sink and he should know that I care that I really want everything neat and orderly. So, she said, “people's needs are more alike than different. We have physical needs as well as needs for autonomy, positive, emotional experiences, positive social experiences, spiritual experiences of some kind and the need to play. So the teacher who judges her student, maybe trying to fulfill her need to feel competent at her job. The wife who leaps to judgment of her husband needs to feel comfortable in her own home. So understanding others' frustrating behaviors as manifestations of their genuine needs helps the humanized conflict.” It goes back to my pillar one of my four pillars. Assuming good intentions or there's a reason why someone shows up or does the things they do.

She goes on to say, “people mostly aren't just wandering around trying to cause problems,” validation galore for my four pillars. “They're trying to take care of themselves and they deserve empathy. So if you first find a way to show others that you truly understand their needs, you're likely to receive a respectful response to your request of them whether it's exactly what you wanted or not.” And then lesson three from this book, “using non-violent communication on yourself can alleviate feelings of regret and anxiety. Since all people have needs and deserve empathy, that includes your past and current selves too. So perhaps you're harboring painful, longstanding regrets about something you did a long time ago. Can you find a way to empathize with who you were back then. Which needs were little you trying to get met, however, mistakenly. How were you trying to fulfill the things that mattered to you at that time when you made maybe it was a regrettable decision. Or maybe you're facing a difficult decision right now. And by setting aside what you think you ‘should do’ and focusing on the needs of people involved. You'll enable a comfortable resolution. So nonviolent communication even provides a better way of giving compliments after all even positive judgements are still judgments. And they remind people that you're critiquing them instead of just giving a conventional compliment, try explaining to somebody how something specific they did met one of your needs.”

I really appreciate you cleaning up the house because it really helped me come home and feel more calm in my home. So that was all about me and thanking them for what they do. These kinds of compliments are much clearer and more meaningful than hey, you finally cleaned up. I mean that one has judgment written all over it.

So she said, “a review and some of the ways of speaking endorsed and nonviolent communication,” she said,” do sound a little bit stilted.” But she said, “as she read it, she had a hard time imagining herself saying some of the things. However, the nonviolent communications core lesson seemed sound. It's really about people judging less and then being able to understand people's needs more.”

And given how many problems in life come from communication breakdowns. I really do feel like this is something that really resonates to me, or it really does fit. So I would highly recommend the book Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg. So in summary today boy, how important is it to really try to find what really matters to you so that you can act in alignment with your core values and some of the bonuses that come from that is, you really do know what you know. And people are going to start to be able to trust you more because when you are saying, I know this thing, it's coming from a healthy ego. It's coming from something that you actually do know, and you care about and matters to you. And then when you say I'm not sure, rather than them feeling like, oh my gosh, you must not care about me.

Then they know that you are just acting in alignment. And I feel like that is a calm, confident, energetic person. And those are the type of people that I really feel like we tend to be drawn to. Because it's a wonderful example of how to live your life. You're still going to have the ups and downs of regular day-to-day life. But when you are acting in alignment with your values and living in a way that feels authentic to you, then you are less needy and less in need of somebody to self-soothe you or to validate you. And we're so afraid of, I think at times, is that if I, then all of a sudden give up this control over somebody else to manage my anxiety, that things will be worse.

But this is part of that, we don't know what we don't know. Imagine a world where you're showing up in your relationship as confident. And it doesn't mean that your partner is going to leave you. It means, oh my gosh, of course we want to enjoy life together because we're both two autonomous amazing, wonderful people that have really found out who we are. And now we can go through life together with two completely different experiences. And the one plus one is three and what an amazing way to live. And I don't need my partner to manage my anxiety. And that is going to look so much different in your relationship. And it is going to cause a connection. The likes of which we really have never known. Because we didn't know what that looked like. All right. If you have comments, questions, feedback on this episode, feel free to send it to me through and as always I appreciate the support and I will see you next time on “The Virtual Couch”.  Taking us away, the wonderful, the talented, the now on TikTok, Aurora Florence with her song, “It's wonderful”.

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