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Tony discusses the differences between false memories and confabulation. He then reads a message from the "women in relationships with narcissistic 'fill in the blank'" Facebook group that leads to a breakdown of "Switzerland Friends," as well as how we deal with discomfort, as well as how "family systems theory" could provide an answer to the difficulty the "pathologically kind" person has in stepping out of their role in the various "families" they are in.

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

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

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

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

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

61 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 61 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast, as well as the soon to be released Murder On the Couch, a true crime meets therapy podcast and Waking Up to Narcissism the Question and Answer premium podcast, and you'll find a link to all of those in the show notes of today's episode, or you can go to Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram. Or Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook. And you can find more information there, or just go to tonyoverbay.com and sign up for the newsletter. That really is coming soon. And there will be a lot of information in the newsletter. Let's get to today's, actually before we get to today's topic, I had a quick story that I wanted to talk about. And it has to do with something that I refer to often that I get questions about, because I think the genesis of the term confabulation is something that was many, many episodes ago. And I know a lot of people are, most people are not going back and starting at episode one. 

So when I talk about confabulated memory, I recognize that I'm taking a little bit of license with that as well, what confabulation is, if we just purely go with a definition and here I'm looking at the national library of medicine, “confabulation is a neuro psychiatric disorder where in a patient generates a false memory without the intention of deceit.” The patient believes this statement to be truthful. Hence the descriptive term, honest lying. The hypothesis is that the patient generates information as a compensatory mechanism to fill holes in one's memory. And you can see then how that, when we talk about that in the case of someone with narcissism or extreme, extreme, emotional immaturity, the confabulated memory comes from a place of it can't be what you think that I did, because that might mean that I did something wrong or I did something bad so they can fabricate a memory in real time and then just believe with every fiber of their being that that is what happened. And if you go all the way back to childhood and look at that concept of gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, then it can make sense that if I was going to get in trouble as a kid, that I could, I could literally get physically beat. I could get emotionally starved. Or anything like that. Then, as a child, you will do anything to avoid that. So I definitely do not want to get in trouble. So, therefore I didn't do it. And as a matter of fact, I can't just get away with, I didn't do it. I didn't do it. My brother did it or the dog did it. And then over time that just becomes the air that emotionally immature or narcissists believe. 

And so then it did not happen the way that you think that it happened. And it's believed with such veracity that then even trying to argue with somebody who has this confabulated memory, they now can absolutely validate the fact to themselves that you do not know what you're talking about. You must be crazy because it definitely didn't happen that way, because that would mean that I'm wrong and that I could have done something wrong. But if we, if we go a little bit, a softer example is if we're looking in the realm of just overall psychology is that when the person has these gaps in their memory, and maybe they're asked to remember described details of a past event. And rather than just saying, I'm not sure. I don't know. The person's mind does fill in missing details with confabulated memories of the event. And now let me add one more piece to the puzzle. There is often a question when you start talking about confabulation, that comes, that is, what is the difference between a false memory and confabulation? And I really appreciate this is where the nuance, the subtlety comes in, that memory errors are often looked at in a couple of categories. There's the air from omission. Or errors from commission. So emissions are forgetting errors and then commissions are in essence, false memories. So confabulation is a kind of commission error that occurs when somebody then fills in the gaps of their memory with stories. So that's what I think is pretty interesting. So with the narcissist or emotionally immature, you can see where that angle of, well, of course I know, and this is what happened. It's really hard for them to say, I don't know. Because if you are truly emotionally immature and narcissistic, then I feel like I have to weigh in and I'm probably right. So it probably happened this way. And so therefore I will congratulate this story or this narrative. 

So here's where I now want to enter the pathologically kind person who is still trying desperately to figure out, wait a minute. Am I the narcissist? Because I confabulate. I do. And so that must mean that I'm a narcissist. And this is where I feel like the concept of confabulation is often just associated with this intense negative, you know, from the medical definition. To then the clinical psychology definition. And then we start getting into the concepts around just forgetting something versus creating a narrative. And so then does everybody that fills in the gaps with what they think happened then? Are they therefore a narcissist or emotionally immature? And this is where I feel like no, this happens and it's one of the main things of why when I lay out my four pillars of a connected conversation that after assuming good intentions or knowing, there's a reason why somebody does what they do and says what they say, shows up the way they show up, that my pillar two is I can't say, are you kidding me? That didn't happen. That isn't the way it happened. I don't believe you, even if you believe that that is not what happened and you don't believe the person. This is where I feel like confabulation as just part of the human experience needs to be discussed more.

Here's the story. This is the lead in to tell you this story. Earlier in the week I had someone come in and well, before they came in, they shot me a text and said, I'm going to be five minutes late. And I thought, oh, okay. That's kind of funny. This person will send me that kind of a text from time to time. They're not always late. But then when they do, they typically arrive a couple of minutes before whatever time that they say that they will be. So if they say I'm going to be 10 minutes late, they're there in seven, five minutes late, they're there in three. And then I will say, hey, you got here early, late. And the person will let me know that they've sped or something like that and hilarity ensues, and then the session begins. So it's a normal situation where the person says, hey, I'm gonna be five minutes late. I say, no problem. See you when you get here. They show up and I'm just working on some things at my desk. And then I say, hey, you're a minute late because they got there six minutes after, so I was being hilarious. Of course. And then this person said, oh no, I'm actually four minutes early. And I said, no, you said five, you were gonna be five minutes late. They said, no, I'm gonna be 10 minutes late. And then we both went to the proof. We pulled out our phones and this person literally texted, hey, I'm going to be a few minutes late. And I said, see you when you get here. So right in that moment, I thought that was such a good, simple example of where confabulation can occur just to regular human beings on a normal basis where there isn't something just incredibly important at stake. Because if you would have put me in, having me take a polygraph at that moment, I knew I was convinced. I absolutely could see it in my head as if I had photographic memory, which I do not, that it said five. He said five minutes late. And then this person was also convinced. Absolutely. Without a doubt he said 10 minutes late. So I really feel like that's such a good example of how I have this narrative that was already sitting in my mind about this person when he texts that he's normally early. And so if he says five, it's going to be three. 

And so I believe that that plays a role in the concepts around confabulation. So if you're having a discussion with somebody, that's why I feel it's important if they said, no, you were, when we had that conversation, I remember very well, you were in the kitchen and because you were sitting by the table and then if you remember that, I really think we were in the living room and I was standing by the TV. That part of my four pillars, the reason why I say, okay, I don't, that's fine. If one of you remembers one way and the other remembers that the other way. Then okay, man, I appreciate that. So now let's get into more of the content of the conversation because I feel like so often now the argument goes off into the weeds and trying to prove that I am right. That we were in the kitchen and the other person saying, no, you're wrong. We were in the family room. And when somebody, typically this is where the more pathologically kind person is going to at some point say, you know what? It doesn't matter. And this person is going to stay on this until I finally agree. So then I say, no. Okay, fine. I'm probably wrong, yeah, we were probably in the kitchen, but just the mental calories spent on arguing a tit for tat back and forth fact that was most likely confabulated to begin with is where I feel like that is what can just zap the life out of somebody that's trying to stay present in a conversation. 

And then the person that just hung on to I am right. Then that person ends that conversation feeling like I am right. They know I was right. And once again, I had to just keep hammering them until they remembered that I am right. And I feel like that can just be so damaging and destructive in a relationship. So I just thought that was a really interesting experience. Just as simple as a text, five minutes late, 10 minutes late. And in reality it was a few minutes late, but I often get people that are still trying to convince themselves that they must be the narcissist, even though they're the ones that have now sought out the podcast, the YouTube videos, they've emailed and they're the ones that are just, they're the ones doing the work to try to figure out, what is going on in the relationship, which again, if that is who you are, and you're asking that question of, am I the narcissist? You are not. You are a human being who is experiencing some events that have caused you to go on a journey to try and figure out what is going on in this relationship and in me. And so what an opportunity to start down this journey and get to this ultimate destination of just awareness and understanding that you are okay. You are lovable, you are enough, you are figuring things out. You're willing to do the work. And so on. 

So let's get to the body of today's episode. We're going to go to the narcissistic women's Facebook group. Again, women who are in relationships with narcissistic fill in the blank whether it’s a spouse, a parent, an adult child, a boss, a coworker, an entity, a pet. That one kind of just came out. I've never really looked into the concepts around emotional immaturity or narcissism on a pet, but I guess a pet can be very anxious. Anyway, I do not want to go off on that tangent, so I'll change a few of the details just for the sake of confidentiality. And I will comment or I'll address some of the comments that people made to the post, which are just amazing. One of the things I find is so powerful, if you can find a group for whatever you may be struggling with or working through, when you can find a group of people that have been in similar situations, there's just definitely a, you don't know what you don't know component. And when people are just asking questions and offering suggestions, not saying, here's what you need to do, but here's what worked for me. It can just be incredibly empowering and it can really help people get out of their fight or flight part of their brain out of that amygdala hijack and really start looking at some alternative answers to maybe some of the things that they're dealing with. So I'll hit some of the answers too, because they're just, they're beautiful. They're brilliant. 

But the person had said that they're feeling crazy right now, they said they had a really tough week and they were talking with some friends who had been some of their closest friends and most trusted people. Especially since she had gone through the divorce with her narcissistic partner. And she said, she's tried to be careful not to share too much. She was worried that it would sound like she was bashing him because she's noticing more and more that these people are starting to become more of these Switzerland friends. And if you're not familiar, the Switzerland friend concept, someday I worry that I'm not going to be welcome into Switzerland, but Switzerland is an amazing place. And it has the vibe or the stereotype that there's neutrality there. And so a Switzerland friend would be one that is saying, hey, I really don't want to get in the middle of anything. And I'm sure you both played a role in this and there's good and bad in everyone. And while that is a very good answer, if you have been in this type of a relationship, that isn't the correct answer and so, this is where I know it can sound complicated if somebody is listening to this and they haven't experienced being in a relationship with someone who is emotionally immature, has these narcissistic traits and tendencies. 

And as a matter of fact, I found an article on goodpsychology.net. And it's an article about becoming a Switzerland friend when your friends divorce. And it is fascinating because if you read it from the lens of, hey, there's two sides to every story and you want to be there for both people and don't judge and don't diminish either friend's pain and don't act as the go-between and keep your agenda out of it. And don't trash the ex’s. And don't gossip and don't compare their new partners. It is all solid advice. But what I often say is there's an asterisk at some point. That says, except for personality disorders or emotional immaturity, narcissistic traits and tendencies. Because we're playing by a whole new set of rules that unfortunately only the people that have played that game know what the rules are. And it's really difficult to even get to the point where you have an awareness that there are different rules. So a Switzerland friend, I want you to know, is a very good thing in a lot of situations, but in this situation, it can feel like the person who gets out of this relationship with an emotionally immature person or a narcissist has been someone that their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions have been squelched and put down for the entire most, if not the entire relationship. So now when they are trying to open up to someone and that person is saying, yeah, but it feels like trauma, the complex post-traumatic stress disorder, the relationship trauma where once again, all of a sudden your body keeps the score. And that visceral, that gut reaction is going to just fire up and you are not going to feel very safe. 

So she's talking about, she's noticing that these friends are becoming more and more Switzerland friends, but she said that she just had such an incredible experience that she wanted to share, and it was having to interact with this narcissistic ex partner. And, just being, in essence, forced to be around this person for a few days. And so she wanted to just share the things that are really interesting that she's noticed and that can be a real time for self-reflection. Because when you do find yourself outside of that unhealthy relationship and you can calm down your fight or flight response, then you can start to look at things with more curiosity and you can see how things were when you were in the context of where you were before. So you can, it's almost as if you're looking in on yourself and now you recognize, oh man, that's when I would try to manage my own anxiety by being a people pleaser or that's where, if I was trying to figure out the right thing to say to keep him calm. And so that can be a really interesting thing when you can step away from it enough to see that. 

So she said I wanted to share these things, I really did. And so I started to tell a little bit, I didn't want to bash him, but she said it ended up being an incredibly, very invalidating and very validating of him and his situation and feelings. And I appreciate this. She said, I noticed at first that it didn't seem to affect me as if now I was immune and I could see it as a popcorn moment, which is one of those situations where I'm just sitting back and I'm eating popcorn. I'm watching the show, I'm watching the show of, oh, they have been bamboozled by this person and now they too are buying into that narrative. And isn't that adorable? Because I did that for 20 years. And so that makes sense. I can understand, but having a popcorn moment, but then the more that the conversation went on and on then it just started to not feel like so much of a popcorn moment, but we slip right back into that deeply rutted neural pathway of what is wrong with me? Maybe it is me. Maybe I am the problem. She said she just started to feel crazier than ever. She said he left me, he cheated on me still. He is being validated by everyone. He talks to even her friends and her family. So she started saying, I start feeling like there must be something wrong with me for not seeing myself in this. And she said, if everybody thinks he's fine and I am crazy, then that must mean that I am having very irrational reactions. Right? And then she said, then I thought, man, I am so glad that I'm seeing an amazing therapist tomorrow, but then she said, but then I even noticed that being broken because I kept thinking, well, my therapist, she's paid to validate me. It's her job. So I'm sure she actually thinks I'm acting crazy too. And it's been just total crazy-making. So she said I've gone deep into this feeling of not being in touch with reality. And I feel now, like I'm starting to lose it again completely. And she said, any advice on how to get out of this state?

And I just wanted to address that. And I want to start with a concept that I did a Virtual Couch episode a week or two ago. And I just went off on a little bit of a tangent, an intentional tangent, around managing our emotions, managing our anxiety. Especially if once you become aware, this is one of these concepts that I just love, because when you become aware of this, what we're going to talk about next, you can't unsee it. So, what that looks like is how often do you feel, let's say that you are talking, let's just go with an easy one. Let's say you're talking with a teenager, I will say one of my teenage daughters and one of my teenage daughters is really anxious and upset and she doesn't feel like her friends are listening to her. And if I say, first of all, one of the worst things I can do is say, well, it's not that big of a deal. Or, you know, well, I'm sure that they have some problems that they're working through too, then that is going to feel completely invalidating. So in my four pillars of a connected conversation, pillar one, I'm assuming good intentions that my daughter is expressing herself the way she is, or there's a reason why, because she may already be in that amygdala hijack. So pillar one is, I'm assuming those good intentions are there's a reason why she's saying what she's saying. Which leads to pillar two where if I'm telling you it's not a big deal, or just look at it this way, that is an indirect way of saying, hey, you're wrong. Your feelings and your emotions, they're wrong. 

And so I need you to think in a different way. And here's where I want to jump into even more about today's topic. So part of why we like to tell people what to do or why we like to tell people that they're wrong, or why we like to tell people that you just need to look at it a different way, I believe if I am being selfish, self confronting, that that really is about me and my anxiety, my emotions. If my daughter is having a really difficult time and she's being emotionally expressive and she is just crying and sobbing and becoming inconsolable. That makes me feel uncomfortable. So what do I do with that discomfort? Then I want to tell her to calm down. I want to tell her it's not a big deal. I want to tell her, hey, they probably have a different side to this. So all of a sudden I've taken her pain and her emotions, what she's feeling, her reality, her experience. She knows those people better than I do, but I just made it about me. But without even really realizing that. Because I don't like the discomfort of seeing someone I care about upset. So I want to calm her anxiety down. I want to tell her to not worry about it as a way to calm my own feelings down. 

And I think that is such a fascinating thing that when you, again, when you see that and learn that. That it just becomes prevalent. And you see that in so many different areas. I've got someone right now that I'm talking to that is having a struggle with their boss. And when they are talking with their boss, their boss doesn't want to take the time to listen to this person that I'm working with. And that can sound like, oh, it's just the way that businesses work. And they operate. But as we've broken down a little bit more of the game film of this person's workplace and the qualifications of their boss, it's pretty clear that their boss is there as more of a figurehead. And so this person knows the person I'm working with. They know what they're talking about, and when they try to express that to their boss, I believe their boss takes that as you're telling me I'm wrong and you're telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about. And quite frankly, I think the boss may not necessarily know exactly what they're talking about. So then that causes them anxiety. And instead of then saying, oh man, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know enough about this situation at work to yes, I would love your input. They feel like, oh my gosh, I'm the boss. And if I don't know, then I may get fired or that my boss, my boss might get upset with me. So it was a way to manage my anxiety. I am going to tell that person that is coming in and that they seem frustrated with me that I don't have time to talk with them, or I might even send them to do some busy work because that's a way to manage my own anxiety. 

So I just think that's such a fascinating concept. And when I look back at the concepts around Switzerland friends, you know, I feel like, of course there's things that are on the spectrum, or I don't know what everyone is going through, but I feel like so often a Switzerland friend, what they truly are experiencing is they’re having you come to them and explain things about their ex partner that you weren't aware of. And so I believe that there are certain times where the Switzerland friend is sitting there and now all of a sudden they're uncomfortable because they're starting to even realize, and maybe it's at a subconscious level, I had no idea. And if I had no idea that means if I would have had an idea, then I could have helped, helped my friend more. I could help them early on. So I feel like often even the Switzerland friend concept is just a way for that person, this Switzerland friend to say, hey, but it's probably not as bad as you think, or I think he's probably hurting too. But if we're being really honest, speaking to the Switzerland friends is just a way, even if it doesn't feel like this is what I'm doing consciously, could there be a chance that that's a way to manage your own anxiety? Because if you have to sit there in the trenches with your friend and say, oh my gosh, I had no idea, then all of a sudden now, you know, that person is going to feel heard and understood and I'm going to have to sit with some discomfort. And I think at the core of when we want to get rid of our own discomfort, our own anxiety, our own emotions and feelings, that's when we start telling others how they need to feel or think or what the situation probably was. 

That is really a place where it's, because I don't like sitting with discomfort. And if I look in the world, I do work a lot with addiction. And I really feel like at the core of addiction are people that feel discomfort. And they want to alleviate that discomfort by turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, whether it's pornography or gambling or alcohol or their phones, or you name it. That I just feel as a people, we don't do a good enough job. That sounds really judgmental. I feel like we can do a better job. That's reframed better. I think we can do a better job at learning how to sit with discomfort. Learning how to sit with uncomfortable emotions. And that is where the concepts around things like mindfulness come in. Can I sit and can I just acknowledge that I am noticing that I am feeling anxious, that I am noticing that I am feeling, I'm feeling sad for my friend. And so instead of me needing to alleviate my sadness or get rid of my anxiety by telling them that, hey, he's sad too. Or by saying you, you probably don't even know what he's going through or yeah, I'm sure that you played a role in this as well. That am I really saying that because it's coming from a place of, I don't want to sit with discomfort and at what layer, what level is that? That I don't want to sit with that discomfort. Is it because I don't know how to help this person, this friend of mine. Is it because I may actually be in a relationship that I don't feel is necessarily the best as well? On that note, I was talking with someone just a couple of days ago, not in a therapeutic setting, but I thought this was really fascinating. This person is starting to really figure out what they want to do with their life. And they're trying a lot of different things. And a friend of theirs had approached them and said, man, what's it like to really not feel like you're doing a lot with your life? And it really crushed this person that I was talking to. 

And it really did break my heart because there was no curiosity. There was no, hey, what are you up to? What are you up to in your life? This person that had projected this, that was, I believe most likely already in a career or a situation or a relationship that they didn't really want to be in. But as a way for them to feel better about it, they felt like, okay, I can alleviate my pain or my discomfort by in essence, projecting this onto someone else. And if I can make them feel bad, it puts me in this one-up position. And I say all this stuff that so much of it happens at this subconscious level. And it's because I really feel like so many people aren't really willing to do that work, that self confrontation. Or the mindfulness practice or an ability to sit with that uncomfortable feeling or emotion and acknowledge it. And even thank my body for the feelings and the emotions I'm feeling. And this is because, you know, when we're young, it's so easy. Even the very best intention parent to tell a kid to, hey, don't worry about it, it's not a big deal, that's probably not what they meant. And so even when we mean that well, even in that parenting situation like that we may even say to ourselves, no I'm doing that because I really, I want to let them know that sometimes they don't need to worry about things, but what I'm saying is I'm telling them, hey, don't worry about your own feelings or emotions. And in essence, I don't really want to sit with this uncomfortable feeling of you expressing your emotions with me. How often do parents say things like, hey, you know, don't cry, buddy. Don't cry. It's not a big deal. It's okay. Everything's gonna be okay. And so we're just telling somebody, hey, get rid of those emotions as quick as you can, because I'm feeling really uncomfortable and you might embarrass me cause we're out in public. Nobody likes a kid crying at Chuck E Cheese. Although really there's like tons of kids crying at Chuck E Cheese because those giant animatronic mice. 

But anyway. But I really want to help people learn to sit with that discomfort. And notice where that's at in my body. And even be able to say, hey, I appreciate my body giving me these emotions because my emotions are there for a reason. A lot of times, you know, anxiety, there's a warning. Or anger is there as a way to make sure that we're not being tread upon or that there's not injustice. And so those feelings, those emotions really do need to be felt and heard and understood. And so even a Switzerland friend getting back to that can often just be someone that is an essence communicating, hey, I don't like feeling uncomfortable and having to take a side, then I worry that somebody else is going to find out. And then they're going to tell me, I can't believe you took a side. When in reality, if you know that your friend has gone through a lot, and you've been able to hear her and listen to her and you know that spouse and you've witnessed that behavior as well. That it really is okay to be yourself, to be true to yourself. And be able to express to your friend that man, I hear you. And I see you and I'm here for you. And I can't believe, like, tell me more. What is that like? What are those things that you're observing? And what's that like for you? That must be crazy. It was, I don't even have to express my opinion. Because so often that expression of opinion. I want somebody to come from a confident place. And express their opinion. But not if it's only about alleviating their anxiety. 

So I want to move on to another. And this is, these are today, what I'm talking about, in this article, this expert says this. I really feel like those concepts around alleviating anxiety, not sitting with discomfort or things that I feel confident of from the years of just helping people and spending time in the chair, getting the reps in, so to speak. But on that same note, there's another concept that I think is really interesting to explore. And someone in the group had responded and they were talking about doing some IFS or internal family systems work. And internal family systems is a really fascinating type of therapy. That I will, I would love to know more about, and an internal family system, it basically is taking a look at your whole person. Your personality is, there's almost these multiple sub personalities or families within each person's mental system. And in my recovery program, the path back, my online pornography recovery program. There's actually a module that I do in there where we address, we personify the sub personality. And the belief, just a real general overview of internal family systems. It really is fascinating that there were parts of your life where there had been trauma or abuse, that sort of thing. And then you almost break off this exiled emotion and then you have a protector there as well. And I think one of the easiest ways to the, one of the examples, I remember hearing at a training I went to once and again, I don't know enough about internal family systems and I would love to, because I think it sounds just fascinating. 

But someone had talked about being, in essence, perfectionist and they had a, I didn't even realize you could get above a 4.0 in school and they had a four point whatever, 5, 6, 7. And particularly they were incredibly intelligent in math and those stem subjects. And when we were talking about it, this person had identified that their father had told him that he thought that she was dumb was the word he used and stupid. And these words when she was little, a lot. And so that just crushed her but the way to survive is through her internal family system breaking off this exiled emotion of just sadness and grief and pain and fear. And there was a protector, there was a protector there. This person out of the sub personality is a protector that then was going to do anything within its power to never to make sure that we never were called stupid again. So I will work harder. I will do better. I will become the very best and smartest. Because that hurts so bad to be called stupid or dumb by a parent when this person was young. So the internal family systems model talks about these sub-personalities that have developed as protectors for these exiled emotions. So one of the theories that I am working with is you've got internal family systems and then you've got family systems theory. And so with family systems theory, that is, in essence, talking about, and I think this is a, I think you'll maybe see where I'm going to go with this too. It is family systems theory, I believe applies to friendships and entire family organizations, whether it's your nuclear family, mom, dad, and the kids, or a blended family, or if it's, even if you're just, your work family. But family systems theory, it's a theory of human behavior that defines the family unit as a complex social system. Where the members interact and influence each other's behavior. And so I really believe that when you look at things like Switzerland friends, I think that again, we were dealing with the discomfort and people managing their emotions and anxiety through other people. 

But then I also feel like if you're looking at the family systems theory and you look at your friendships as a family system, what role do you typically find yourself in? And I find that so many of the people that are pathologically kind people have these relationships with the emotionally immature narcissistic people in their lives. That they are often that scapegoat or there's a phrase that's been going around the world of things like Tik Tok of trauma dump, you know, trauma dumpster, or somebody that you are the person that people go to and dump their trauma because you'll listen and you're kind, and you'll say all the nice things. But then when it comes time for you to express yourself, then those people don't want to hear it. Why? It gives them anxiety. Because that's not the role that they play. They play that role where they say things to you. And you thank them for it. And you tell them they're handling it very well and you tell them they're amazing and wonderful, but now all of a sudden, if they are going through something, then those people that were the deliverers of the trauma in that family system, that was their role. So when somebody steps out of the family role that they have in this family systems theory, then it disrupts the entire family system. And this is where I believe that most of the people that are interacting in a lot of these family systems would be deemed a bit emotionally immature. 

So if all of a sudden, one of you is waking up to this emotional immaturity or narcissism in the family system or in a relationship that is within the family system and you start to speak your mind, then you are disrupting that whole complex social system and other people will now react to get you back in alignment with the role that you play. Because if you are not there to continue to take their trauma or tell them that they're okay. Then they all the sudden feel discomfort. They feel uncomfortable. And so in that scenario, they're going to say things like, well, I'm sure that you played a role in that too. And that will put you right back into that same role that you play in the family. There's these different concepts. And the family systems theory is just looking at the families, this whole complex, single system where every member's behavior impacts another member and you start dealing with in the world of family systems, theory, things like boundaries, equilibrium are things bi-directional, are they reciprocal? And then what are the patterns and what are the roles that people play and the functions. So, just a little bit more. And I think that I just wanted to kind of express this or get a little bit of this out there today, just to recognize that so often why we start to feel crazy when we get out of these emotionally immature relationships is number one, now all of a sudden it really has. It has disrupted the apple cart, so to speak, the family system. 

And so there will be people, especially the emotionally immature person, the partner that's part of what the whole popcorn moment scenario is. They need to get you back in enmeshment and alignment so they can have a fix, they can have their drug of choice. And if not, then that's why they continue to push more and more buttons as you try to step away from this relationship. That the more you find your voice. And again, this is why I'd love to go so big on it isn't just finding my voice. It's starting to recognize I am a human being that has feelings and emotions. And those are absolutely 100% okay to have and express. And that if I express them and someone else gets angry or tells me that, I shouldn't say that. Or look at how that makes me feel. That is them feeling uncomfortable because you have an opinion and a behavior and a thought. And an emotion that is something that they do not want to deal with. And that's where you start to look at the selfishness of control. And somebody's trying to control someone else's opinion, thought, or emotion. That is selfish because it is saying the person that is trying to do the controlling is saying, I don't like how you are acting. It makes me uncomfortable. So please stop it. When in reality, the answer needs to be, hey, tell me what's going on. I'm noticing you seem frustrated, I'm noticing, and that's where we get into all these other things. I love talking about so much that let's tap into what matters to you. You know, you go through life and you start to go through different experiences. And now of course, you're going to have different opinions. You're two human beings that have 3 billion neurons that are just, you know, you're walking around this human suit that's interacting to things, you know, for the first time in that very moment of your life. Of course, you're going to have different thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And how cool is that? If you're two emotionally mature people, then you realize, wow, this is amazing. What do you think? I mean, this is, these are my thoughts. So anyway, there's so much there. 

But one of the things that can be a challenge, if you really look up the world of family systems theory, is that the couple of the criticisms there, one of the problems is that this kind of therapy family systems therapy, or it includes, failing to address these like neuro-biological things or mental health issues like personality disorders. So if you have severe emotional immaturity in the family system, then when you try to change up the family system, then that emotionally immature narcissistic person is going to lose their mind and trying to keep the family system intact because that's what they've set up to work for them to give them this again, this supply that they need for power and for validation. And that's the way that they feel like they are. That they matter is by having this control or power. So I'm going to leave it there. I'd promise that I would, well I mentioned that I would get to some of the comments that are in the group, but I realized this one is starting to go a little bit long and so I will wrap it up there and maybe we'll get a part two down the road or a bonus episode. 

But, even for the people that are in the group that commented on this post, the comments were amazing. And really there were people that were talking about doing everything from, some somatic work, to breath work, to being able to stay in the present moment. To be able to reach out to friends, to just be able to go back through the narrative and know that you've done a lot of work to get to that place that you are and then just being able to say, hey, check this out. Here's what I learned today. I learned that when I really want to open up about some situations, that seems pretty crazy with me interacting with my narcissistic ex. Then in those scenarios, I need to make sure that I'm not talking to a Switzerland friend and maybe that's where you need a support group or a good therapist that you can talk to because the more that you put yourself out there and if you're met with this invalidation or these yeah but it could have been, you know, what about him? That that isn't going to be those aren't the friendships that are going to be necessarily there, over the long haul. And this is where you have this opportunity now to trust your gut and to create friendships, not just with people that are filled with yes-men, but people that are willing to understand where you're coming from. And not just immediately need to quell their own anxiety by saying, well, it could have been this, or it could have been that, you know, it could be something that you're not aware of instead of starting with the, tell me more about that. So I really appreciate, as always, people that are here and listening, and I appreciate your feedback, your comments, please continue to send your stories and your questions. 

And I do, I read them. I see you. I hear you. If you're interested in joining a support group, I have the one with the women in the relationship with narcissistic fill in the blank entities. And I, after that last episode where I talked a lot about the men's experience, I've had more men reach out. So coming soon is going to be a men's group as well. And then I just, again, thank you for your support, the numbers continue to just grow and rise. And so I'm grateful that we're finding the people that are really looking to feel heard and understood. And it is, it is part of the process. How long does it take? It takes as long as it takes. And I know that's such a cheesy, horrible answer, but at some point it will change and things are gonna change for the better. And you are starting to understand and figure out that you are okay. And it's okay to have your own thoughts and feelings and emotions. You're not crazy at all. You've been made to think that, but you're not. And you're on that road to figuring that out. So send me your questions, I mean your stories, and we'll see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism

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