A growing body of research now shows how long-term narcissistic abuse affects the hippocampus and the amygdala of the brain, areas that regulate memory and control emotion. And while someone may not be your classic, malicious or malignant narcissist (there are several sub-types of narcissism), even someone with narcissistic tendencies, traits, or "dustings" can do emotional and physical damage to those they interact with. Tony also gives his five tips for surviving narcissistic abuse. Tony refers to the article "Neuroscience: The shocking impact narcissistic abuse has on the brain," by Lachlan Brown from https://hackspirit.com/3859-2/
With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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=v95myQ
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[00:00:11] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 10 of
[00:00:13] Waking Up the Narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast, where I will throw a plug in will know today, this week, this week. Earlier this week, I did an episode on Seeking External Validation, which referred to my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode of Waking Up to Narcissism last week, and I really do feel like they they're starting to just vibe together at times. So if you haven't listened to the virtual couch, please go take a look at that.
[00:00:40] And here is where
[00:00:41] I will be is authentic and raw and vulnerable as I can. I am sitting here recording this intro, and I'm going to share an older episode of the virtual couch on complex post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and the effect that narcissistic abuse can have on the short term memory and the amygdala. Now, why might you ask I again, in the vein of full authenticity I have over the last two or three days at different times, been recording an episode on narcissistic family systems and scapegoat children and the golden child and putting all these pieces together. And I have part of one of the files. It's about twenty five minutes long that has no audio. So I have spent a couple of hours this morning, nice and early trying to figure out my issues, and then I submitted the file to the company that my record with. And it looks like there just might have been a glitch and the audio didn't record.
[00:01:37] So I have sat here for
[00:01:39] About five minutes just staring at my computer screen, but the show must go on. I want this consistency, so we're going to do this bonus episode, but I will if I have to rerecord the stuff about narcissistic family systems and scapegoat child and golden child, then I will do that and I will get that episode out to you next year. Next year I am. Let me bring myself back to present. Next week we'll get one that that one out to you next week. But in the interim, I would. I'm going to read a couple of emails because I just continue to get the emails. And if you are interested in more information on the women's group, the private women's group for people that are in relationships with narcissistic men or and that can be whether it's a spouse, whether it's a sibling, whether it's a boss, whether it's a feeling that way in a church leader, it really is a it's just a support group and it's just phenomenal. And a lot of the things that were part of this recording, this lost episode, this lost recording where I had posed some questions to the group and they had amazing things to say, and now I do not have access to that. So I will rerecord that if we need to. But there's just a few emails. I'm getting a few every day, which is still just so I'm so grateful for. But here's here's some of the ones that I think are just really interesting.
[00:02:48] I'll change some of the details, but someone sent one recently that said they listen to the episode about narcissistic awareness grief and then just finished a session with their therapist. And I love that people are bringing this into therapy. And she said, I have been so excited to bring her up to date on my recent AHA moments, and the session just flew by. And as a therapist man, I love those sessions. And she said, I now am just feeling so incredibly proud of myself and I love that she is saying this. Everything that I had described in that narcissistic awareness grief episode was, she said, it's exactly her own recent awakenings and that that she had heard put into words exactly what she was describing to her about her most recent breakthroughs. And so it's like a shot in the arm. It's so validating to realize that I've got this and I'm on the right path, and she shares some more stuff. And it's just it's really nice to hear people feel like they are. I love the way she's saying that, that it's realizing the awakening, it's validating that I'm on the right path. That doesn't mean that it is going to be a real smooth path, but you are on the right path and just know that that path is going to have bumps and and ruts and those things along the way. But you're on your way to a more, more sense of purpose finding out who you really are.
[00:03:52] And ultimately, that is what builds that confidence. And it raises the waters around you when you let your light so shine that others will then feel that that power, then Marianne Williamson poem that I love. Who are you to play small so that others around you will not feel insecure because your job is to be the best version of you? You can be for yourself, for your family, your kids, that sort of thing. So I was grateful for that. And then I also get emails that are, they're hard. They're sad. The person shared that they're their husband, their spouse had stopped speaking to them over the weekend, this past weekend because they are about to start a new job. And she has been staying home with the kids, and she's aware, she's aware that she probably won't get the payment that she deserves because she's been out of work. But it's the first offer she's got and she is taking action. And I love that because we too often just feel stuck and we feel like I don't know what to do. And we think and we think and we ruminate, but we need to start taking action. And maybe this job isn't the ideal job, but it's it's getting her on a path of self-confidence. But of course, even though her narcissistic tendency traits husband has been saying that he feels like she waste time when she's not working now, of course, he's saying that he's going to be wasting his time with this job, even though he, she says.
[00:05:09] All you do is waste his money, which I hate that phrase, I don't usually the word the hate. But I the wasting my money. If you're in a marriage, you're working with a deliberate, Dyadic collaborative process. It's our money. It's the family's money, but wasting his money. So now she goes to try to make money, and now it is going to be a waste of time. So I get the point that it's going to feel like you can't do anything right regardless. So I just love this person's email because it is. It is her saying, you know, the old darned, if I do, darned if I don't. But if I'm going to start doing and I'm going to do things that are going to start to raise my emotional baseline and help me now learn, maybe I like this job. Maybe I meet people here. Maybe I start to connect with others. Maybe I start to feel better about bringing in some whatever it is it is doing, instead of just continually thinking and ruminating because of the gaslighting or the nurses can make you feel so crazy. So an example there. There's another one. This is talking about therapy. Someone also sent me one Hi Tony, my therapist recommended your podcast and I've really appreciated it. So many things have rung true and help me feel seen, and it is truly difficult to be in a relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies.
[00:06:16] And then she goes on to share a lot of examples, and I just want her to know I. I've read them all, and there are so many here that are so, so good, but also break my heart where I wanted to read a little bit of one where she said that he will say often that he feels like he hasn't met. She doesn't meet his needs that are not being met physically and emotionally, and he doesn't feel like anything has changed that. He says he hasn't seen her making any progress. But I feel like that alone is coming from not a place of curiosity where he's saying, I haven't seen you make progress instead of saying, Tell me about you. You know, tell me what's going on. Tell me what you're working on. I'm looking at this with genuine curiosity because she shared that rewinding the week before, she had sent nice messages at work different, you know, saying that, Hey, I'm thinking about you messages that he did not respond to all day where I can imagine that he's saying, You don't think about me because I hear that one so often, not even to say that he's on his way home and she and her kind, probably pathological kindness as which I understand. But if I had a busy day, then it's not OK that my messages aren't over the top, or I'm sure that she's heard the if she's had a busy day, then he will most likely say, Well, you know, I still think of you when I'm having when you're having a busy day.
[00:07:24] So she said that she wrote notes, put them in his lunch, put them around different places so that letting him know that his work doesn't go unnoticed. And but he just keeps saying how he he thinks that that is whether it's too little, too late or not enough or. And so again, from that vein of just feeling like you, you're going crazy and that you're told you don't do enough of this, whatever this is, you don't you don't send me notes now the person sends notes, and now they're not acknowledged. And now if you say, Hey, what about those notes? Oh, well, now you know you only did it because I asked you to do it. So I get the crazy making. And so I just love when people are sending things and they're saying that they they are feeling more heard that they're feeling more understood. And so that is maybe the opening to say, continue to send those emails, those messages. But let's get now to this episode on complex post-traumatic stress disorder and a tiny bit of background on this as well. I held off on this one a long time because I worried that people would would feel like this is even more of the crazy making and the effect it can have.
[00:08:27] But then I realized after airing this episode and it's it was episode two hundred and something early to hundreds on the virtual couch. So it was well over a year ago. This one gets referred to a lot as one of the episodes where people started to say, I have to do something this. This is proof that this this emotional abuse or this the gaslighting, the not feeling understood or heard or feeling this crazy making can literally take a negative effect on the brain. And so there is nothing better than starting to take action so that you can put yourself in a better place because this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can affect you in ways that then you are more in your reactionary brain. So then when I get the people that are so nice and kind that are trying to make the best of things and make things work, and they respond to me and say, But he is right, you know, I do get angry. I do say mean things. But this is where I often say, Do you just get angry and say, mean things out in the wild? Or are you getting angry and saying mean things in more of a reaction to feeling like you are not being understood or there is no curiosity in the relationship, or that you're continually being told that your view of things is wrong, because then that's your human.
[00:09:32] You are being reactionary. And so the more you're going to learn about this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and the more you're going to learn about gaslighting and raising your emotional baseline and truly finding your sense of self and purpose, then the more confident you will be. And we've already identified that, unfortunately, the more confident you will be, the more that will now be viewed as most likely a threat to the person with the narcissistic tendencies because they view it in this black or white. If you have a different opinion, you are telling me mine's wrong, so then therefore I must I must defeat you. And that is not a mature adult relationship. So let's get to this episode on PTSD. Two seconds more of housekeeping if you are. And for therapy counseling, and you're not quite sure where to go and you don't really and I really feel like this is really applicable in that, yes, this is about to be a quick ad, but I think it's really applicable in this situation because I know a lot of people that are in these relationships with narcissistic traits or tendencies, people or full blown narcissistic personality disorder. I have women that won't participate in the group call because they, your husband will know and they can't have that happen. So if you go to Betterhelp.com Betterhelp.com virtual couch, then there is their therapy options there that are literally therapy, text therapy, messaging therapy, video chats.
[00:10:44] And so where early on in my own therapeutic career, I thought, Well, I don't know if that's very effective. Well, we got to meet people where they're at. So if you feel like you need help and you feel like you're not quite sure where to go or you don't want to go somewhere in person or out in public, then this might be a good option and go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you'll get 10 percent off your first months of counseling services, and they are licensed professional counselors and therapists. And during the assessment process, and it's all a form you fill out online, then I would be pretty open and honest in about worrying about emotional abuse or those sort of things so that they can put you with the right counselor. And the best part about this one is that if you do not have a fit with your counselor, it is very, very easy to lovingly break up with your counselor, your therapist on better help because you can just open up your online portal and say, I think I want another therapist, so go to Betterhelp.com slash virtual couch, get 10 percent off of your first month's services, and then let's get to this episode on complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Send me your messages. Go to Tony Orbcomm, send through the contact form, and next week we'll get back to that family systems and narcissistic family systems.
[00:11:49] Hey, coming up on today's episode of the virtual couch, we're going to get a little bit heavy. We're going to talk in the world of neuroscience and the shocking impact that narcissistic abuse can have on the brain, how it can actually impact your short term memory and also dig deep into your amygdala and cause your amygdala to flare up. That's that fight, flight or freeze response. And more importantly, we're going to talk about what you can do if you're in a situation where you may be experiencing narcissistic abuse that and so much more. Coming up on today's episode
[00:12:17] Of the virtual academy.
[00:12:28] Thank you for joining me on episode two hundred and twenty one 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 ultra marathon runner and creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people like you reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all and trust me, it can be done and a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way. Then head over to Pathbackrecovery.com. And there you can download a short e-book that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's pathbackrecovery.com, and welcome to the podcast. I am again going on YouTube so you can find the virtual couch channel on YouTube, and you can find me at all the places that people can find people at the virtual couch on Instagram or at Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook. And I'm just glad you're here, and I am going to get to the topic today. But speaking of pornography addiction, who was? I was in the intro. I just was going to share a little bit of a moment that I had over the weekend. I thought it was pretty fascinating. I was asked to go on a national radio show was the Walter Stirling show, and it's carried nationwide, even in my local market of Sacramento and KFBK, and I was prepared for this.
[00:13:48] I knew a little bit about Walter Stirling, so I came into my office and the topic was pornography and the pandemic. Was there a rise in use pornography use? And I had a very spirited conversation with Walter. He was very respectful and I really enjoy any time that I can talk about something because I'm just going to share what I know. I'm going to share my truths. And a lot of times I've been on those kind of program situations, and I think that people maybe think I'm going to get a little bit more defensive or that I might be a little bit kooky or nutty. And I don't know. Maybe that's all relative. Anyway, maybe I am. But it was a really fun experience, and here's why I wanted to talk about it because I experienced this situation and I did record it, and I think it might be fun to share the track at some point. But he was saying that he disagreed that he didn't think that pornography addiction was real, that there was anything wrong with turning to pornography for a stress relief. That sort of thing. And here was the thing. The first thing that I tried to establish was, if that's where he's coming from, then that's great.
[00:14:46] My job is not to try to convince somebody who is not interested in moving away from pornography or lessening pornography in their life. And at this point now I've got about 15 years, and when I was promoting my book, he's a porn addict. Now, what an expert and a former addict to answer your questions, which I played the role of the expert that is a best seller on Amazon. Yes, I am self-promoting, but I'm very proud of that book with coauthor Josh Shea. I had added up at the time about twelve or thirteen hundred people that I've been able to help individually. Not just that's not including the online pornography program, the path back. And those are people that came to me and said I would like to view pornography less. So when people are coming to me, then absolutely, I can work with that. Any string pulled the shame. Become the person you always wanted to be way as I talk about in the intro. But when somebody comes to me and says, I don't think it's a problem and I don't think I should quit, then all I can say is, OK, all right. And I even introduced on his radio show one of my favorite phrases psychological reactants, which is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. And so I let them know that, Hey, Walter, I can't tell you to stop if that's not something that you want to stop.
[00:15:50] And so I don't know if he was interested in me being more combative, but I had a nice exchange. I talked to him about how when it's used as a coping mechanism, that people are choosing pixels over people and that when people are even if a couple is looking at pornography together, if that's something that they want to do, then great. I believe that there is more of an opportunity for connection between the two of them without having to turn to a third party of sorts in that scenario. And then I barely was able to touch on the fact that pornography, addiction or pornography and even pornography addiction is not something that is a diagnosable addiction. There is compulsive sexual behavior, impulse control disorder. So I 100 percent understand that what I'm trying to do is help people move away from that. If that is something that they would like to move away from because it's a time it sucks up. The time sucks. The life out of people, warps their sexuality can make them feel like if they aren't looking at an image of someone perfect who is always, you know, the image always wants them, that that's their version of reality when it comes to intimacy. And so if someone is coming to me saying I would like to do that less, please, then we we look at their areas of their life. Are they feeling satisfied in their parenting? Are they feeling satisfied in their marriage or in their health, or in their career or in their faith? And so as we shore up those areas using my favorite modality, acceptance and commitment therapy kind of dial in their values, get them working towards something that they really believe in and parenting through the nurtured heart approach and feeling like they really have a parenting model and dialing into their couple's relationship with emotionally focused therapy.
[00:17:22] When you get all those things working together, there is less of a siren song of pornography of. Food of online gambling of any of those coping mechanisms, so I just wanted to share that it was a really fun experience. It's funny. I walk home, not walk home, I drive home, I walk in through the garage and my wife was kind and she listened to it on the local radio station and had filmed it through it up to a family chat that we have. But I love the fact that one of my daughters comes in and she's like, Hey, what were you doing tonight? I was like, I was on a national radio show. I was like, Oh, OK, I hand over to my friend's house. But I just think, like every dad's doing on a Sunday evening, jumping on a national radio show and talking about pornography, compulsive sexual behavior with someone who was trying to, I think initially maybe attack them and then coming out of that and feeling like it was OK.
[00:18:06] So anyway, that made for a fun weekend. I did enjoy that and I will put up more about that. I think I've asked Walter if I can use that clip for a future episode or that sort of thing. There is a bunch of intro in the YouTube video. I'm going to say that you can now start the real topic of narcissistic abuse and its effects on the brain at whatever this minute mark is. So thank you for hanging in there. So today I'm going to turn to an article and I'm going to do a lot of riffing, as the kids say today, because I'm going to talk a lot about narcissistic abuse. And the reason why number one is that this is an area of my practice that I do a lot of work with. I think I've shared in previous episodes where I talk about narcissism or I talk about gaslighting, any of those things that I've actually had an opportunity to testify in some court cases on narcissistic abuse or narcissism in general personality disorders. And it wasn't something that I necessarily anticipated. And I think initially when I started working with more men, that the percentage of men that suffer with narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder or traits of narcissism is much higher than that with women. So I started working a lot with men who had narcissistic personality disorder are again traits of and then working with them in their marriages.
[00:19:22] And oftentimes that led to marriage therapy and then at some point often is the case. The narcissist is not a huge fan of counseling because they, for the most part, think they're doing everything pretty darn well. And you end up working with the spouse and helping them work through dealing in a relationship where there is narcissistic personality disorder, narcissistic traits. So the title of the article that I'm referring to today is one from it's called Hack Spirit, but it's called neuroscience the shocking impact that narcissistic abuse has on the brain. And it's by a writer named Lachlan Brown. And this is from a couple of years ago, and I've been sitting on this one for a while and and there's a couple of different reasons why maybe I'll get to them in a little while, but I want to give a little bit of a background. Someone says narcissistic abuse is one of the worst types of psychological abuse that one person can do to another. But unfortunately, many people are stuck in these types of relationships, and I have done a couple of episodes on a concept called trauma bonding, and we're going to circle back around to that in this episode as well, because that trauma bond is what keeps people stuck in relationships with narcissistic individuals. And man, there's so many things I want to say in this episode, so I hope that I can bring this all together.
[00:20:31] But one of those is if you are listening to this and someone has forwarded this to you and said, Hey, I think you're a narcissist, will you just do me a favor and just sit back, relax and just listen and just take this in and try to not be so responsive? Try to not be so reactive? Because here's what happens. Often I've done a couple of episodes on gaslighting, for example. Gaslighting is that that concept where when someone is saying, Hey, I think that you have not been very nice lately, let's say the wife says that to the husband and then the husband says, Seriously, you think that I haven't been nice? Have you looked in the mirror? I can't believe you're saying this matter of fact. The fact that you are saying this to me makes me realize how mean you are. And that's so by the end, the wife is thinking, Oh my gosh, am I am? I mean, am I the one? I can't? Wow. I shouldn't have even brought that up. I guess I really am mean, and it can just be this crazy making behavior. And please go look at some of the episodes I've done on gaslighting, if that's the case. But so what has happened often is I will work with the wife who will hear that episode one of these episodes on gaslighting or one of the episodes like I'm going to do today, and they'll send it to their spouse that they worry me suffer from some narcissistic tendencies.
[00:21:44] Or I like to call Dustin's of narcissism, and then the person will hear that. And then they'll say, Yeah, you know what? She does gaslight me. And honestly, it was one of the most interesting kind of profound experiences I had where when I did an episode on gaslighting and there was one of the women that I was working with, two of the women I was working with happened to on that same day, send the episode to their spouse. And within two hours, I got texts back in. Both of the spouses said the same thing that the wives sent the episodes about gaslighting to the narcissistic husbands, and they both responded with, Thank you for sending that to me. Now I know what you're doing to me. You are gaslighting me, and I used to try to come up with something clever of a way to ensure assure the wife that that is not the case. And here's one of. The things that came up with that, I feel, is one of the best descriptions, if you take the wife out of that narcissistic relationship and put her in a new relationship, she will then be viewed as simply kind if you take that narcissistic person and put them in a different relationship. They are going to continue to have their own sets of rules when it comes to finances.
[00:22:48] They're going to continue to gaslight, they're going to continue to not apologize. They're going to continue to not own up to their behaviors. So oftentimes I almost will. I do. I say, Hey, that's one of those signs that you are being reactionary. I can remember one of the first women that ever came into my office, and she said, No, I do. I do. I get so angry with my husband. I do yell at him and I often say, OK, were you a yeller to begin with? And she says, No, I wasn't. So you are yelling in reaction. You are yelling to not feeling heard. You're yelling to not being validated, you're yelling to being made to feel crazy. If you take you into and put you in a relationship with someone who says, Hey, tell me more about that. Oh my gosh, I can understand that. I didn't realize that's what I was doing. Would you just yell at them randomly? No, you wouldn't. But take your spouse and put them in a different relationship? And most likely, the person that they would be in that relationship with is going to eventually start yelling because they feel crazy, because that person, that narcissistic person is not owning up to their part of the relationship. And one of the key things here is remembering that narcissism is a personality disorder.
[00:23:52] There are certain things that are we call them personality disorders. And one of the key components of a personality disorder is that person is stuck in their ego. They cannot step outside of their ego and see things from another's point of view, so they don't believe that they're doing anything contrary to what is right, which is why things like gaslighting just flow. And again, as narcissism nature is it nurture? There is belief that it is a little bit of both, and it typically comes from childhood trauma or abandonment, where then a a kid, every kid is designed to go from self-centered kids or self-centered. That's what we do when we're kids. We don't know how to fend for ourselves, so it's just everything is about me. Give me that. That is mine. What about me? And then when there is not secure attachments with caregivers or when there is abuse or there is abandonment, or if the kid's parents are narcissists, so that's model behavior, then they never make that jump from self-centered to self-confident, so they move forward as a self-centered individual into adulthood. So that is why it can feel like you're arguing at times with a 10 to 12 year old boy when you're arguing with someone that suffers with narcissistic personality disorder or traits of narcissism. And again, narcissism is not just this always this grandiose, malicious look at me in the mirror. There are various subtypes of narcissism, and I've done an episode or two on that as well.
[00:25:15] So there's a little bit of just an overview or a background. And one of the things that I find interesting is that when I started working with more people that struggle with their in relationships with narcissists, and you'll see this as we read through this article today that a lot of people, when they find out that they are being gaslit or they realize, Oh my gosh, he has never owned up to anything or he completely lacks empathy and we can switch it around he or she. But I'm going to say he for the most part today at that point, if you Google, that you are going to see that the everything on the internet says Run immediately be done and go. And I completely understand that if somebody has worked with hundreds now of couples where there is a narcissist involved, it's really difficult. And so I made a decision long ago that I wanted to. And this is what a therapist is supposed to do. Meet the client where they're at. That client is going to read that article on the internet that says Run, and it's not like they're going to immediately say, Oh my gosh, I don't even think about that. I'm going to pack my bags. I'm going to get out of here. No, they're typically going to go through a process of, first of all, it's it's not that bad or he's he's a good guy or he's nice.
[00:26:22] So I think I can make this work. I think I'll tell him that that he's a narcissist. Maybe that'll work, which I always say one of the first rules of Narcissist Club is you don't tell the narcissist, Hey, think you're a narcissist? Because they're not? That's part of the problem. They're not going to say, Oh my gosh, tell me more about that. I didn't even realize that. So I'm going to get into more of that. In fact, let me just give an overview right now. Quick drink. I have five things that I do talk about when I'm working with someone that is in a relationship with someone who may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder are traits of narcissism. The first thing I asked my client to do is raise their emotional baseline. And by that, I mean self-care. They need to put themselves in a position where they can make good decisions and when they are continually being beaten down emotionally. If they are physically drained, if they're not getting sleep that they need, if they don't feel like they have any emotional support they bear, they're being gaslit. A lot of times with narcissists, they sequester, which means that they make it not very exciting or difficult to reach out to family or friends, any of those things that lowers their emotional baseline. They don't feel good about themselves, and that does not put someone in a position to make the best decisions for their life or their family moving forward.
[00:27:31] Number one, I say, raise your emotional baseline. Number two, I say, get a PhD in gaslighting now, not literally a PhD, but learn all you can about gaslighting, because that is one of the key components to recognize when you are being gaslit, because that is when you can realize I'm not crazy. I really do understand and I have so many examples that I've worked with, and I think I gave one not too long ago. That was literally one where it was a guy that had spent a decade enjoying peanut M&Ms in front of his wife. And then at one point she gets some peanut M&Ms. And I don't know what the narcissistic trigger was that day. But he says, Why did you give me these? And she says, because you love them. And he said, I've never enjoyed these. I can't believe that you got me peanut M&Ms. And she's going back to basically literally conversations on how the peanut M&M is the finest of all the M&Ms and how anyone that doesn't enjoy these must be crazy. And how sometimes if you leave them out on the dash, they melt just a little bit and they're perfect and they're wonderful. And she has all of this data and he's saying, I never said that and I and really, you don't even know me.
[00:28:33] If you think that I enjoy peanut M&Ms, I mean gaslighting getting your PhD and gaslighting and understanding in that moment. I don't know why he's doing this, but I know he likes peanut Eminem. So that's the bottom line. So getting the PhD in gaslighting. Another one is learning how to disengage from unproductive conversations, which kind of follows that once I understand gaslighting. I'm not going to continue to participate because the narcissist is not going to own their own crap. They're not going to own their own part of the conversation. The fourth one is setting boundaries. A boundary might be, Hey, when you started swearing at me, I'm going to walk out the door and being able to commit to that because that's when the gas line, oh, fine, walk away. You never want to deal with things, but that's a boundary. But the fifth one, which is the most difficult one, and this goes back to an article that actually a client had sent me years ago from a blog. I think it's called Ask Men. It's by this, this researcher, PhD candidate. I'll have to put that a link to that somewhere in the show notes. But it talked about narcissistic, emotional trauma and abuse. But that fifth thing that I like to share is you have to realize that there is nothing that you will say or do that will cause the aha moment for the narcissist to go, Oh my gosh, I finally get it.
[00:29:42] And that one is hard. I've been doing this a long time, and when I share that with people, that one can feel a little bit hopeless. I understand, but I can also think of people I work with on a daily basis, who once they know that they'll identify these situations where they were saying, and then I found myself thinking, if I say it this way, if I'm really nice, if I withdraw, if I get angry, there's some way that I will be able to express myself. But then he will finally go, Oh my gosh, I get it. So those are those five things that I typically say to keep an eye out for. But again, I know that it's not just as easy as understanding, Oh my gosh, I think he might be a narcissist. I have been gaslit my entire life. And once you hear this more about the narcissistic, long term narcissistic effects on the brain that it's not so easy just to say, pack up the bags, kids, we're heading out. So I get that. So back to this, whether it's a child and an emotionally abusive parent or an adult with a narcissistic partner, the effect is the same narcissistic abuse can leave much more than emotional damage. So according to recent studies, and this is from around twenty seventeen, is when the first of these studies came out.
[00:30:45] Neuroscientists have discovered that long term narcissistic abuse can lead to actual physical brain damage. And so there's a pretty fascinating some picture, some functional MRIs that if you go look up an article on this that it will show the effects of long term narcissistic abuse. So we know now that constant emotional trauma over a long period of time can cause PTSD like symptoms. I did an episode on PTSD complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is what long term emotional abuse can lead to. But we also know that in the world of betrayal, trauma, when someone finds out about a significant event or betrayal that also can have these similar effects of PTSD, where there can be triggers that can cause someone to go into fight or flight mode where their amygdala, which is what? What supplies the cortisol, the stress hormone, the adrenaline that will then overcome the prefrontal cortex or the part of the brain that makes logical sense the amygdala fires. It was in the fight or flight mode, the prefrontal cortex, the decision making part of the brain says we're not needed here. We're about to go into battle with the saber tooth tiger. We're going to shut down. So then the person becomes just pretty used to when they get triggered and it can be the gaslighting, it can be just not being heard. It can be emotional withdraw, but then their brain is triggered and they go into this fight or flight response and that prefrontal cortex shuts down.
[00:32:05] So this neural pathway is created where long term narcissistic abuse can cause that amygdala to fire, just to fire and go from zero to 60 and have someone just feel like just panic or anxiety or that fight or flight or freeze. Lachlan goes on to say, this is why anyone in a destructive relationship with a partner who cares little for the emotional well-being of their family should leave immediately, especially when children are involved. See, there's that component there that when someone reads that, I think it doesn't often feel for the person who is in that narcissistic relationship or trauma bond. They may read that, and it's OK. Maybe some of these things are true, but how easy is it to just leave immediately? And I understand that it's difficult. Seek help. Go meet with somebody who understands personality disorders, he says. However, some people don't take this warning too seriously because of it. It's emotional basis, which is very well said. What many people fail to realize is that emotional and psychological distress is only one side of the coin that victims of long term narcissistic abuse experience. There is also this physical aspect of brain. It's in essence brain damage. So when suffering consistent emotional abuse victims experiencing and here's where it really starts to make sense. A shrinking of the hippocampus and a swelling of the amygdala, and both of those can lead to long term effects.
[00:33:24] It's important to know what is the hippocampus. The hippocampus is crucial in learning and developing memory, especially the hippocampus is a big part of short term memory, and the amygdala is where, again, fight or flight response. It's where negative emotions reside, which cause the fight or flight response. So the amygdala is the home of shame and fear and envy and guilt, and all of those emotions that cause one to go into fight flight or freeze mode. So think about that. It affects the shrinking of the hippocampus, which is memory and the enlarging of the amygdala, which is where these negative emotions reside. I like that he goes into the hippocampus Greek for the word seahorse. It's part of the brain that's hidden inside of each temporal lobe, and it's shaped distinctly like two seahorses, the hippocampus. They look like the little highways I've heard them described as it looks like a kind of like a green bean shell or that sort of thing. But I can see I could see Seahorse a little bit of a boring seahorse. Maybe not the seahorse that was the most popular on campus, but a seahorse nonetheless. And so one of the most important functions in the hippocampus is for short term memory, which is the first step to learning. So information is first stored in short term memory before it can be converted into permanent memory. So without short term memory, it can be very difficult to learn.
[00:34:41] So damage to the hippocampus is a lot more disturbing than scientists initially thought. In a study from Stanford University and the University of New Orleans, they found that there was a strict correlation between high levels of cortisol. Again, that's the hormone caused by stress and a decreased volume in the hippocampus. So when the brain is so active in fight flight or freeze mode, when that amygdala is enlarged or enraged, then the hippocampus the part of the brain for memory is taken a backseat. So the more stress that people become, the smaller the hippocampus became, which is just another reason why learning how to be mindful meditative can be such a powerful thing. So now understanding the amygdala, let's talk about that. So the amygdala often people recall or refer to it as the reptilian brain. The Neanderthal brain. And that's because it controls our primal emotions functions, including fear and hate and lust, as well as your heart rate and breathing. So those are very important things, right in the amygdala. So when triggered, the amygdala is where the fight or flight response is made, and so narcissists keep their victims in a state where their amygdala is constantly on alert. So when they walk into the room and they constantly are, I don't know, is he in a good mood or is he in a bad mood? Or is he going to talk about, Hey, today, let's go on an expensive vacation? Or is it going to be tomorrow where he says, I don't know, we're going be able to make it this month.
[00:36:01] Checking accounts kind of low, that sort of thing. And then then the next day, he wants to go out and and make giant purchases. And then it just keeps you in this walking on eggshells mode. Then that is when you can be in this constant state of alert or just fear worry. So then over time, now what this data shows is that victims fall into this permanent state of anxiety or fear. And then the amygdala reacts to the very slightest signs of abuse. The narcissists can even just utter something that is pretty basic or but not, you know, banal. And then the person in is with this trigger response is going to all of a sudden have their fight or flight response kick in. And then they feel like, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. So long after the victim is escaped, the relationship, according to Lachlan in this article, they will continue to live with PTSD like symptoms, including increased phobias or panic attacks due to this enlarged amygdala that has become used to living in a state of fear. This is what causes part of that trauma bond, and so that is to protect themselves from their reality. They often use defense mechanisms that make it easier to cope, such as projection.
[00:37:08] So victims often convince themselves that they're narcissistic. Abuser has positive traits and intentions, such as compassion or understanding, when in reality that might not be the case and that is part of the trauma bond. Let me flip over to I've got a tab up here from talking about healing a broken heart a few episodes ago and the amazing Ted talk by Guy Winch. In that episode, I worked in some trauma bonding information as well. Here were some of those things in his book Betrayal Bonds, Patrick Carnes, who is just a well-known researcher, talked about things to consider if you are in a tree or in a trauma bond. If you have some of these things that there's a constant pattern of nonperformance, yet you continue to believe promises to the contrary that you continue to believe that narcissistic abuser is going to do the things that they say that they're going to do. And instead of when pushed, then, you know, blame you for something not happening or others seem disturbed by something that's happened to you or was said to you. But you're not, you know where others are saying, Man, how do you let him treat you that way? Or I wouldn't do that if you constantly run into that kind of data or you feel stuck because the other person keeps doing destructive things, but you believe there's really nothing you can do about it, you try to change the person into becoming less destructive, but trying to get them to stop an addiction or try to convince them to become a non abuser.
[00:38:23] But you may try to continually talk them into being nice to the kids that seems so basic, or you keep having these repetitive, damaging fights with the person that nobody wins because he's never going to own his part of the fight or part of the situation. Or you seem unable to detach from somebody, even though you can't trust them or at times you really don't even like them. Or when you try to leave this person and you find yourself missing them to the point of longing that's so awful that you believe it's going to destroy you. And Patrick Carnes talked about unusual, unusually trauma. Bonds occur in relationships involving inconsistent reinforcement, such as those with in addictions or alcoholics or domestic violence situations. Dysfunctional marriages can also cause trauma bonds because there's always a time when things seem to be, quote normal. Other types of relationships involving trauma bonds can be in religious organizations kidnapings hostage situations, all of those things. But the environment necessary to create a trauma bond involves intensity, complexity, inconsistency and a promise. So victims stay in these trauma bonded relationships because they're holding on to that elusive promise or hope. And that is, there's always manipulation involved. Victims are prey to manipulation because they are willing to tolerate anything for the payoff, which is that elusive promise and the ever present hope for fulfillment.
[00:39:37] Some deeply personal need within the victim. So oftentimes in a traumatic relationship, they're looking right at it, but they can't see it. And then only spending time away from the unhealthy attachment can the person often see the the destruction that it's caused? So that was a little bit more about trauma bonding. And so that came from the concept of projection where victims will convince themselves they're narcissistic. Abuser has these positive traits. Another one of the defense mechanisms that the people that are in relationships with narcissistic abusers will do is compartmentalize victims focus on the positive parts of the relationship separating from them, from the abusive parts and thus ignoring them. And I will talk about this for the rest of my career. But remembering literally the first time first person where they owned up to one thing in a couples therapy situation, and then the wife and I hung on to that one thing for quite some time. It was like he told the truth this one time and then all of these other times that was not the case. And I remember just having this aha moment of thinking, Wait a minute, the relationship is supposed to be, we're telling the truth all the time. And then once in a while, there might be this, well, I wasn't completely honest because I worried that might hurt you or those sort of things, someone that's actually owning that part of it, compartmentalization.
[00:40:52] So that's what that one was or denial victim and victims end up believing that their situation is not as bad as they feel and that it's easier to live with rather than to confront it. And this is a great big dose of what's called experiential avoidance kicking that can down the road. I'll deal with this and I'll deal with it later. I'll deal with it when summer arrives, I'll deal with it. When the kids are back in school, I'll deal with it. When the kids are out of the house, I'll deal with it later. And then a damaged hippocampus, which now we're learning that is crippling most everything that we know. So back to this article. The researcher or the writer Lachlan says the hippocampus is perhaps the most crucial part of the brain when it comes to knowledge and function. Everything that we do or understand, read and learn rests solely on the hippocampus functioning properly. And so this is because the hippocampus is involved in the formation of new memories, and it's also associated with learning and emotions. But the hippocampus, when it is, it's damaged when the. Body releases the cortisol hormone, the stress hormone during these times of stress and then cortisol effectively attacks neurons in the hippocampus, causing it to literally shrink. So the amygdala is then stimulated by the cortisol, which turns our thoughts and neural activity from increasing our mental acuity to worries and stress.
[00:42:01] And so when these distressing emotions are pushed to the extreme, then our brain activity is pushed beyond its zones of effectiveness. And so what I appreciate is that there's along with this as you can rebuild your hippocampus and calm your amygdala. So there is always a way back to a functioning normal brain through certain methods like EMDR. I've done an episode or two on that or mindfulness or a combination yoga, talk therapy, EMDR mindfulness. All of these things have shown promise in growing the hippocampus in just a few sessions. The data that he shares here is that it can regrow up the six percent of the hippocampus in just a few sessions. Emdr can also calm the amygdala at the same time, allowing your brain to react more rationally to situations. I've had some clients that have gone and done EMDR for everything from narcissistic abuse to PTSD, first responders, car crash victims where it has allowed them to have a little bit more indifference when engaging in these powerful memories that have really taken a toll in the past. But again, he wraps up this article by saying the first step is ultimately the most important one getting out of the destructive and abusive relationship before progress can be made. And I agree. I do understand that and I and if that is possible, if someone believes that they are being very much emotionally abused in a narcissistic, abusive relationship, then that is that that is the best thing you can do is to get out of that relationship so you can start to feel like yourself.
[00:43:27] You can start to feel whole. But again, I want to let you know that I understand how difficult that is because I have worked with hundreds of people that have tried to get out of relationships with narcissists. And it is. It can be a lengthy process. It can. And so the first thing you can do is seek help. And I know that is a process in and of itself because oftentimes the narcissistic abuser does not want you to go get help. And so if you need to hear it's going to sound like a total plug, but Betterhelp.com virtual couch, they even have text therapy, email therapy. If you don't feel like you can meet with somebody through Zoom or in person or anything like that is a great place to start and gather data. Get information. Oh, there was I was going to read there's a book called The Human Magnus Syndrome, and this is about the human magnet, why it can be so difficult to get out of relationships with narcissists. And there are two things that I thought were so fascinating. I'm going to wrap this up. The author, I think it's Ross Rosenberg. And but talking about this, this human magnet, this trauma bond, he uses the phrase codependency when he's talking about the victim of narcissistic abuse.
[00:44:34] And I know that can sometimes offend people. They want to say, I'm not codependent, so just bear with me here. But he says codependency is both a relationship and an individual condition that can be only resolved by the codependent. It's fascinating, right? Many co-dependence are attracted to and maintain long term breakup resistant relationships with pathological narcissists. Most co-dependence are selfless and deferential to the needs and desires of others over themselves. They are pathologically caring. Now, I've never heard pathological use with caring, but as I have read this with several clients that are in relationships with narcissistic men or vice versa, that speaks to them, they are pathologically kind and caring people. So if that was in a a healthy relationship, that would be a strength and a gift. But he goes on to say they are pathologically caring, responsible and sacrificing people whose altruism and good deeds are rarely reciprocated. Well, some co-dependence are resigned to their seemingly permanent relationship role. There is actively, albeit unsuccessfully, attempt to change it, and these people become preoccupied with opportunities to avoid change or control their narcissistic partners. Despite the inequities in their relationships and the constant suffering they do not in their partnerships and codependency is not just limited to romantic couplings as it manifests itself in varying degrees and most other significant relationships. Three more paragraphs out of this book, then, will be done.
[00:45:56] Pathological narcissism, he says although pathological narcissism is not a new term, I use it in this book to represent a person with one of four disorders. Pathological narcissists are people who fit the diagnostic criteria for either narcissistic, borderline or antisocial, which is sociopathic personality disorders and or active addicts. Despite the many differences between these four disorders, they all share core, narcissistic personality thinking in emotional and interpersonal characteristics. Here's the key to varying degrees all pathological narcissists are selfish, self consumed, demanding, entitled, and controlling. They are exploited people who rarely or selectively reciprocate any form of generosity. Pathological narcissists are only empathetic or sensitive to others. When doing so results in a tangible reward for themselves and. Or when it makes them feel valued or important or appreciated, and this is what I really appreciate about the author in this book, he says, because narcissists are deeply impacted by their personal shame and loneliness, but consciously unaware of it. They do not in their relationships. Positive treatment results are rare for narcissistic rare, although active addicts are included as one of the four pathological narcissism disorders. Their narcissism may only be addiction specific. In other words, when sober and in recovery, their true personality type will surface. This can be any possibility reflected on the continuum of pathological selflessness to pathologically selfish personality types, so I highly recommend that book the human magnet syndrome. But so that's that's all I have for you today.
[00:47:24] If you feel that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship that may be doing a number on your amygdala and growing, your are doing a number on your hippocampus and growing your amygdala. The first step is I'm just thankful that you're listening to the podcast. Share this one with someone that you feel like might need this type of help and reach out and get some help. Talk through this with somebody because I know that it is very difficult to just immediately hear something like this and say, Oh my gosh. Pack my bags. I'm done. I get it. I do. I've worked with so many people that this is a process and that is normal. So I want to meet you right there where you're at. Thanks for joining me today. If you have questions specific about narcissistic abuse or emotional abuse, if you have examples of gaslighting, whenever I do an episode like this, I almost feel like making this call out. Send them to me email@example.com and and a lot of times I'll read those in a future episode and those help people understand that they're not crazy or they're not alone. All right. Hey, thanks for joining me today, and I wish you the best. I hope you will get lucky. Get lucky, get help if help is what you need. And I'll truly I'll see you next time on the. Stressed emotions flying. So heading out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful.
[00:48:36] And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating
[00:48:40] Past the midnight
[00:48:41] Hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. He.
Tony talks about the mental health and life lessons learned on a recent trip to Disneyland, including the brain’s fascination with anticipation vs. reward, the psychological importance of nostalgia, the “Coolidge Effect,”; how to “let go and play” (http://playtheory.org). Plus, Tony shares the application of his “4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation” with his wife during a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. Tony also discusses mindfulness tips, how “kindness wins,” and the link between ADHD and “hangry.”
Head to tonyoverbay.com/magnetic to be the first to know the start date of Tony's next round of his "Magnetic Marriage" course.
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.
Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
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[00:00:00] Today, we are going to talk about Disneyland, so even if you're not a Disneyland fan, I hope that you will sit back and enjoy a therapist take on the Magic Kingdom.
[00:00:26] Come on, take a seat.
[00:00:32] So a few weeks ago with my wife, my daughter MacKinley, my niece Taylor, we headed to Disneyland down in Southern California and a true confession. I did not go to Disneyland as a kid. And I don't want you to get out the violins or the sad music. But my first trip was with Wendy a couple of years after we were married, and she would go often as a kid. So she was so excited to share the magic of Disneyland with me. And it was wonderful. And we were married in the year nineteen ninety so long ago. So I have to believe that we went somewhere in that early to mid 90s. And so for anybody keeping score, California Adventure, the other theme park that is across the the, the little pathway there to Disneyland was first opened in 2001. So our first trip was classic Disneyland. I did a quick Google search and the rides consisted of the classics. There was, of course, a small world which literally did break down on us halfway through. And that song to this day still brings back memories as a nice way to put it. Of that first trip, there was Pirates of the Caribbean that was pre the addition of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow talking to you right before you made that ascent back to sea level, as well as so many other rides that were based off of the classic movies like Peter Pan and Cinderella and Dumbo and you name it.
[00:01:43] But this time around, we were pros. We had been dozens and dozens of times with our kids. And despite living in Northern California for a few years, we held season passes and we had made the drive down south whenever we had a free weekend and loaded up the kids and we were going to create good memories. Doggone on it. But this was one of the first times where I felt like there was absolutely zero kid related responsibilities here. McKinley as my kid. But she was I don't know, she's twenty twenty one, twenty two somewhere in that range and we could just go and be present. And in doing so, honestly, my therapist brain was on high alert of all the various correlations to the entire mental health world, the mental health process. So today, welcome to episode two hundred and seventy six. We're going to talk about those those things that the therapist picks up on while in Disneyland. So. Two hundred and seventy six episodes. Welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch. I am your host. Tony Over became a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mind will have a coach and writer and a speaker and a husband father for all those wonderful things. And I still would encourage you to go to Pathbackrecovery.com if you if you want to learn any any everything you want to know about putting pornography as a coping mechanism in the rearview mirror.
[00:02:54] And it can be done in a very strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be kind of way. But man episode two hundred and seventy six. I have to do a quick side note. I was at an event this weekend and I ran into someone, a woman named Robin Kopa. Robin had been a guest on my podcast, I think on Episode nineteen and it was so just fun to see her there. And we reminisced a little bit. Of course, I had my blockade of people. I had my handlers, my bodyguards. Now now that I have two hundred and seventy six episodes and as I had one of my assistants communicate with her, I wouldn't ever communicate directly with me. Man, OK, I'm trying to be funny right now, but I think what if somebody really does? Believe me, I had this whole bit in my head about, you know, that I was there with my with my hair plugs and my gold teeth and my all those things. I really wasn't that way. Was so good to see Robin. But she may just ask some questions about how the podcast is grown. And I do remember sitting with her literally on my couch on Episode nineteen to talk about parenting and recognizing in that moment, I wasn't really sure how to do an interview with two people in the same room and see if you could hear us.
[00:03:57] And I think if you go back on and listen to that episode, you don't really hear us very well. So it was so neat to just kind of reminisce with Robin about those early days of the podcast. And I'm so grateful for people who do listen to the episodes. And before we get to the topic today, of course, magnetic marriage course, I know I talk about it often, but it's because it's a phenomenal opportunity to teach you and a spouse new communication skills and ways to be more connected. And we'll give some examples even today of using the four pillars of a connected conversation, even when I was with my wife at Disneyland. But the next round of the magnetic marriage course is coming up. And you can go to Tony Overbay.com magnetic to find out more or just drop me an email through the website, through Tony Overbay.com and let me know if you're interested and I'll make sure that you are one of the first to know when the next round starts. And this is kind of fun. I'm heading to Utah later this week to film an episode of Family Rules with Brooke Walker. And I'll be talking about parenting. So if you don't follow me on Instagram, please do a virtual couch. And I'm going to try to film a lot of the behind the scenes stuff and I will keep you posted when that episode will air.
[00:05:02] I know it's for their season three and I'm not sure when season three debuts. So that's going to be fun. But let's get to the things that I learned at Disneyland. So I first want to start with this concept of anticipation and anticipation and the way that the the neuro neurotransmitter, the way that dopamine works in our brain. So do you have things in your life that you antispam? And I'm talking even if it's on a daily basis or if you anticipate date nights with a spouse or do you have small vacations and a weekend getaways, or do you have one big vacation that you're looking forward to that might even be months out? Or I remember when I used to do a lot of racing, ultra running, I, I typically had a race once a month. I would do 12 to 15 events a year. And I realized later that that was a way for me to always have something on the calendar, something to train toward, something to really look forward to. And a lot of that is we now have some pretty cool science around anticipation and dopamine in the way dopamine works with the reward center. So the person who put this best is James Clear. And in his fantastic book, Atomic Cabot's, he's talking about cravings. But the science is, I think, similar spot on. And I will relate this to Disneyland. He said. The cravings are the most underrated component of the habit loop because they have only recently been better understood.
[00:06:21] The strength and influence of cravings can best be demonstrated with a quick explanation of neurobiology. So he says that dopamine and I think we hear so much about the dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter in our reward experiencing pathway, and it was designed to evolutionarily encourage positive behaviors that help in survival. So that was the initial. That's why we have dopamine to encourage positive things to encourage. So dopamine plays into that reward center and we want to reward ourselves when we do good things. So that kind of makes sense. But he said only recently was it discovered that the largest dopamine spike in the brain occurs in anticipation of the reward, not actually while experiencing the reward. So put that in the context of when you are anticipating the reward, anticipating date night, anticipating going on vacation, anticipating the next race, anticipating whatever that you are anticipating, but that will actually spike or flood dopamine and dopamine is this chemical that not only is this feel good chemical, but it's also somebody like me with ADHD. When you take a medication, a stimulant, it is helping flood your brain with the dopamine that it's missing so that dopamine also helps you stay hyper focused and fixated on something. So it had been a while since we had been to Disneyland. So the anticipation factor really was on full alert. And we got there and we immediately made this beeline to California adventure.
[00:07:43] That was the tickets that we happen to have these parkop or tickets. We had to start in one park and then at one o'clock the floodgates would open and we could go back and forth these Park Hopper tickets. So we went to California Adventure. And my favorite ride is the one formerly known as Tower of Terror. But now it was Guardians of the Galaxy. So that was something that I had not experienced. And I again, I love everything about the ride that was Tower of Terror. So now I had this Guardians of the Galaxy experience to look forward to in a ride that I already knew the basics of. I was going to be going up in a tower and I was going to be drop in and lift it up and dropped repeatedly. And I love that. I love that feeling in my stomach. And so and I really enjoyed the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. So the anticipation was on high alert. So just waiting in line. My dopamine was flowing. I was like a little kid. I was so excited. I was locked in. And that ride did not disappoint for even a single second. It really didn't. And the lines were really short. We timed it just right as the world was kind of reopening post pandemic and we immediately went back and did it again. And that was the first time where I realized that the dopamine was definitely higher flowing and that anticipation of the unknown.
[00:08:58] And then we we experienced the ride, which was amazing and fantastic. But I could notice that even when we were in line again for that second ride, that it wasn't that now we were bored out of our gourds and we didn't want to do it anymore. But it definitely wasn't that same excitement. But here was what I thought was so amazing. And I was so aware of this for the rest of the trip that the dish every time we went in this, I feel like this further back, the clear's research. You have these opportunities in Disneyland to get your picture taken, which when I was a dad of younger kids, I found pretty annoying because then the kids always wanted the pictures and the pictures were very expensive. And then I would feel like a bad dad because I couldn't afford all the pictures, which, by the way, now I feel like my ATV is flown. But it was so fascinating to look at all these other angles of Disneyland. They had a then opportunity where you could buy all the pictures and one day for I think it was twenty dollars. And so I bought my wife, my daughter and my niece to tears and talking about what I've learned about the role of an actuary, because I've had clients now that have become actuaries for insurance companies or one that did for a large I think it was an online gambling establishment.
[00:10:09] But what an actuary does is they figure out the math, something I'm not very good at, but they figure out that math of what makes more sense to charge individually for the pictures or if you will, you get more money if you to say, OK, we can do fourteen ninety five a picture or we can say. Nineteen ninety nine, and then you get all the pictures you want in the day, so they had this photo pass nineteen ninety nine. So obviously the people at Disneyland are they're smart. They want to make a profit. So that must have been the financially better decision. And I was in so then we were going to get pictures taken all over the park and, and every ride so in every single ride. So yes we would then start to feel again. It wasn't that we were bored or were flat as we were waiting to go on the ride again. But I found myself and I'll give you a splash mountain as an example. The first time down that death defying drop when we're almost fallen out of the log, the pretend log to get the best picture we can as we're were plummeting to our death. That was exciting. So then the next time we go in, as we're waiting in line and even as we're just meandering on this water ride, this log flume, it did feel a little bit like I could almost fall asleep.
[00:11:19] But then when it was almost picture time, I remember at one point I was literally OK, guys, is go time because we will go over what picture are we going to do? I think we had a really funny one where, I don't know, my daughter Maggie holds her phone and it looks like we're taking a selfie. We're on this just steep decline and we're all kind of piling out to the left or the right posing for this photo. So that was a really fascinating experience to just see that, OK, that initial ride was amazing. But then we took an OK picture and then we proceeded to ride it several more times. This ride Splash Mountain over the next seventy two hours, always with the goal of taking a better, funnier picture so that dopamine would be obey until you got right up to the drop. And then it was go time and it was picture time and the excitement was solid. And so I found that same experience the first time we went on the ride of Indiana Jones. It was amazing. And we held on for Dear Life and we had fun. And then we went again with wondering what it would feel like if we just didn't ever hold on to anything with our hands at all. And that was thrilling and it was exciting every moment that dopamine was just flowing and we were thrown around like rag dolls, which was new and it was novel and it was exciting because our brains, they do want more and more and more.
[00:12:29] And not that I would anticipate that you were guessing that I would probably talk about anything to do with pornography and to talk about Disneyland, which there's I'm not putting a correlation there together. But I did think this was a fascinating time to talk about this concept called the Coolidge Effect. And so I did an episode on this a long time ago. But it's, again, talking about dopamine and tolerance. So our brain again, I just made the comment that our brain wants more and more. It wants new, it wants novel, and it wants exciting. And there was an article a few years ago by a Harvard scientist, Kevin Magennis, and he talked about the role of dopamine. And I thought he said that this is really fascinating to me. He shared that scientists have discovered and hang with me here. But if you place a male rat in a cage with a receptive female, they will mate. But once done, the male rat will not mate more times. Even if the female is still receptive, he loses all sexual interest. But if right after he finishes with the first female, you put a second receptor female in, he'll immediately begin and then a third and so on until he nearly dies.
[00:13:30] And that same effect has been found in every animal studied. And this is called the Coolidge effect. And there's a funny story of why it's called the Coolidge effect. And I'll let you go find the podcast I did on the Coolidge effect to hear more about that story. But so Kevin Margera said this explains why men use pornography, pornography as power comes from the way it tricks the man's lower brain. One of the drawbacks of this region is that it can't tell the difference between an image and reality. So pornography will often offer a man an unlimited number of seemingly willing females. And every time he sees the new partner with every click, it gives off a sex drive against. That means the lower brain, the Neanderthal part of the brain actually will eventually come to prefer pornography to the real partner. And so he says, think of the difference between playing chess and playing the latest video game. Even though chess isn't physical, it can't compete with the intensity of the video game in the brain over time. Prefers the video game and the reason it does is because of this chemical dopamine. So then what he talks about is that dopamine is also we talk about this. It's hyperfocus drug. It's also this drug of desire. And so when you see something desirable ah, as as James Claire talks about an atomic habits are when you find something desirable, when you anticipate something desirable, then the brain pours out dopamine.
[00:14:42] And so it says dopamine fixes our attention on that desirable object so gives you this power of concentration. So he says that when somebody clicks and sees this new pornographic image, the lower brain thinks that it's the real thing. So now all of a sudden, his brain says we must win over that willing female. So the first exposure to a new female who wasn't a potential mate wasn't something that happened to a lot of our ancestors, maybe only once in their lives that know it's this their brain was designed to find there are potential mate and pour out this dopamine winner over to a nice little dance, ruffle some feathers, whatever they do in the animal kingdom. And then we we get our mate and then we are good. So we're continually just gaming this. Permit system. And so when you look at it in terms of something like roller coasters or that sort of thing, it's pretty harmless. That can be really fun. But when it comes to someone that is searching out pornography as a coping mechanism, he said that if a person keeps up the dopamine screen by overstimulating himself with porn, then his brain will start to turn the volume way down. And the brain synapses don't like being overstimulated with dopamine. So they respond by down regulating some of the dopamine receptors, which means that those dopamine receptors, they withdraw. And and so then they they destroy that receptor within the neuron.
[00:15:58] So down regulation is how the brain then turns down that dopamine volume. And then once the dopamine binge is gone, it's left feeling this vacuum of silence so it feels depleted. So he says that's why pornography can cause this vicious cycle, that when someone who is prone to addiction, abuse, pornography, then they get overstimulated by dopamine. Their brain will destroy some of those dopamine receptors and that makes them feel depleted. So they go back to pornography. But now having fewer dopamine receptors, they will need to game the dopamine system. They start to find that they have to use pornography for longer or longer periods of time to have the same effect. And they may even have to start looking at more crazy, wilder things to try to get that same dopamine stimulation. So I've got a whole episode on that. And the good news is you can reveal those dopamine neural receptors by becoming able to turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism. But anyway, I digress. And I really didn't plan on going into that much detail. But I think that's such fascinating science, especially as we learn more about the role of dopamine. So dopamine in the anticipation of a roller coaster is fascinating. So I was the next thing that I learned in Disneyland, and this was so exciting. And I want to give a huge shout out to a podcast called The Happiness Playbook.
[00:17:18] My buddy Neal Hooper hosted and one of my good friends, Larry Florence, is the one who started it. And she runs an incredible nonprofit theater group in my area called Takeno Troupe. And they, Larry, came up a long time ago with something called Play Theory. And you can go to play theory big. And I would highly, highly recommend you go check out Play the and the Happiness Playbook podcast. But they have these four principles of play theory. And the second one is called Let Go and Play. And I had a daughter, my daughter, daughter and my daughter Sydney was in the Takeno Troop Theater Group years ago and was in a few plays. And I remember being introduced to this concept of play theory and I fell in love right away. And the second principle of play theory, and I don't think I've ever shared this, Larry, but I remember that so well that let go and play. And so I thought about that often while we were at Disneyland. I think about it often in a lot of things I do, especially when I'm out in public or I'm with my family or kids or somewhere we're just trying to be in the moment. But so let go and play on play theory dog. They say leave the ego at the door, have fun, leave your comfort zone. And with the phrase the kids, I'll send it, go all in.
[00:18:28] And nowhere do I do this more than on rides and being at Disneyland now, again, trying to be as present as possible, having just gone through this, what, year, year and a half of quarantine and committing man, I thought I did mindfulness before, but just having daily mindfulness practice over and over, it's now been years and years. But I had to double and triple down on my mindfulness practice over the last year and a half just to be able to stay present and stay afloat at times, emotionally, mentally. And so what what that looks like is let's scream, let's have an amazing time. And there were so many times where on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or on the water right in California Adventure or on Space Mountain, where and my wife is just all in with me that when we are on that ride, I let it go. I scream like a little kid. I throw my arms up in the air. I have the most fun and I want that to be infectious. I remember getting on the water right again. It's this eight people in this rounded tube and you're going to get soap. This is a California adventure and and just prepare to be soaked. And that's part of the fun. But we had four of us and four strangers that walked in, two groups of two and immediately and maybe some of you aren't going to like being on a ride with me, but I'm asking them, is this your first time on the ride? Are you excited? Are you worried about getting wet? And already these people that are kind of feeling like they were just going to kind of keep to themselves or starting to share with us a little bit more and then the anticipation, the dopamine starts flowing.
[00:19:56] And we are just in that moment and we are having an amazing time. And if somebody gets wet, we're screaming and oh, my gosh, and no, no. And try to move away from the water. And we just had the best time we let go and play. And how often can you check your ego at the door and let go and play? It's one of the most powerful things to show your kids. It's one of the most things that will cause you to feel the most alive if you're out there in public and you're so worried about what other people think about you, which let me tell you is. Normal, I feel like that is most people's default setting, and I know that it didn't help growing up a lot when I would tell my kids when they say, dad, that's embarrassing. And I would say, OK, well, if I see all these people tomorrow, then I'll apologize then. And I used to think I was pretty witty about that. But really, all you can do is be present for yourself, even in the with the fear of invalidation, that if somebody else saying, oh, jeez, you're embarrassing me, man, I am so sorry that that you are embarrassed, but I am going to go all in so that let go and play at Disneyland was one of the most amazing things that you could possibly do, because, you know, you only have one chance to make the most of every single moment of your life.
[00:21:01] So live it. And what I love about the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy is even then our brain will say, well, man, I haven't made the most of my life or maybe I haven't been as present or I haven't been able to let go and play. And that's OK. We'll note that, you know, your brain is constantly trying to orient itself by ruminating about the past. I wish I would have done more of this. I wish I would have known this earlier. I wish I would have been able to do these different things. And it's perfectly normal and human. And when you notice that you're having those thoughts or ruminations or looking back at the past, then just just note it just like me. Yeah, I wish I wish I did. I wish I would have had my ADHD diagnosis 15 years earlier. I would have been a whole lot more productive. OK, I'll note that. Or we then go when we fortuneteller, we get our crystal ball out. We say, and what if I'm what if I'm not present? What if I'm not able to accomplish the things that I really want to, then we'll just kind of acknowledge that then that would be hard.
[00:21:54] And I hope that's not the case. But I'm going to drop the rope of the tug of war on the past and the future and just worry about right now and not even worry. I'm going to be present. That is one of the best things that you can do. And I was going to save the best for last of the things that I learned at Disneyland. But I know how podcasts are consumed. I know that sometimes we do have the best of intentions and we get distracted and we don't come back to a podcast. So I'm going to be vulnerable and to be human, I'm going to be raw, to be authentic. And all the therapist words. And I want to talk about exchange that I had with my wife. And I got her clearance to share everything about this exchange, because if you are if you are in a relationship, if you're a couple, you are interacting with your with older parents or siblings or your kids or people in the workplace think you get the point if you are a human being. And I think there's some gold to be mined in this conversation. So I jotted down some notes. So forgive me if you're watching this on the YouTube channel and be reading a little bit here.
[00:22:54] So I really do enjoy a good nap. I feel like I don't I try to get the most out of every minute of every day. So when it is time downtime, my brain tends to say we're just going to shut off right now. So and there's something oddly satisfying to me about almost this repetition, repetitive tasks in order for me to provide an even better napping experience. It's almost as if my brain knows what's coming so I can actually relax some kind of setting the stage here that there are places that I nap Disneyland that are amazing, I can nap through now. It's a small world and it's just such a pleasant, pleasant nap with the repetitive nature of the song going on. Or I can nap like a champ in Pirates of the Caribbean. And the quick side note, when I was going to school, I started my college experience in Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. I was trying to play baseball there and we would leave. I was in this fraternity and we would walk the campus. And in the winter it was brutally cold. And at that time I also had a horrific comb over. I was losing my hair like nobody's business. I hadn't dealt with that yet, so man. And it would just cold and windy. And so I would if I could get into a building and then try to go take care of my flap of hair on the top of my head and be somewhat presentable.
[00:24:05] I wasn't going to go back out again. So even when I had gaps in the day hours, at times between classes, I would stay in a particular building. And there was one where I found this giant lecture hall and there was this two hour lecture, three days a week. I have no idea what the subject matter was, but I would just go in there and I would just settle down and I would take the greatest nap in the history of all naps three days a week, almost my entire freshman year. And it was this amazing experience because of just the repetitive nature of the droning of the professor. And it was just amazing. But anyway, Pirates', it can be my naptime. So we're on the right and here's where this is not going to be my best self, but again, I got to own this. So Wendy and I are in a row of seats by ourselves. I think we're in the second row. I believe my daughter, my daughter MacKinley and my niece Taylor in the front row and my wife just happens to be on her phone. We're starting to just float at the beginning. If you're familiar with the Pirates of the Caribbean, ride the restaurant, the Blue Bayou is to our right. And so we're not yet kind of engaging in the ride.
[00:25:02] And I don't I don't know what my wife is looking at. She's she's on her phone. And I just impulsively make this comment and I just say, hey, are you present? Make sure you present. And the second it came out of my mouth, I wish I could have taken it back. And I immediately apologized. And I I knew it wasn't necessarily the time, but I did not want to ruin that ride for her by what I had said. And so we worked through the four pillars of a connected conversation right there before we started getting into the the real meat of the ride. And so stay with me here, because there's some concepts of the magnetic marriage course I'm going to bring into here these four pillars of a connected conversation. And it was amazing. So either one of us could really jump into the framework if both of us were aware or both of us were committed to using these four pillars of a connected conversation. But even if one of us wasn't aware of the four pillars, you can you can still get to this framework. And let me explain. So I see her on her phone. So at that point, when I finally notice that I am being a complete weenie turd, you fill in the blank and that that was something that I wish I had not said then I can pillar no one, assume good intentions. So by that I mean that if I'm seeing her on her phone and it bothers me for some reason, we'll get to that, that then I can assume that she's not trying to do that to hurt me.
[00:26:22] And I know that can sound odd or maybe out of context, but stick with me here. So pillar number one, which is a game changer. I heard it two or three times yesterday in sessions of people talking about that. One is so it helps people stay more present. So assuming good intentions, she wasn't on her phone to try to hurt me. She didn't wake up in the morning and say, wait a second, the lights go down. I'm on Blue Bayou. I'm getting on that phone. I'm going to annoy the heck out of Tony. That's what I'm going to do. I mean, there's no chance that wasn't what was happening to number two. I can't say she's wrong or project the message that I don't believe her or that I think that she's wrong. And what that would mean in this context is that I can't then put off the vibe that that what she is doing is wrong, even if even if honestly, I feel like it is the third pillar is ask questions before making comments. And so, you know, I feel like you can you can assume the good intentions and you can not put off a message if I don't believe someone. But then if you just say, all right, but let me just kind of tell you my thoughts and then and then I want to hear what you have to say.
[00:27:15] So if I would have gone in there and just blasted her, so to speak, and told her all the reasons why, I think that that was not the right way to be enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean. But now I want to hear what her experience was, and that is the wrong way to do it. And I know I can go worst case scenario here, but I talk about it often. But I've literally had experiences before where someone like in that situation, me, for example, if I would just say, you know, I really think you should be more present. And I feel like what you're doing is going to the glare of your phone is going to bother people or whatever. And then if she were to say, hey, you know, my mom just texted me and one of my one of my siblings is sick, then I'm going to feel like, oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. Do whatever you need to do. We need to have that attitude of you, do whatever you need to do because you're you you're a human. I think it was last week's episode I talked about the concept of control in a in an adult relationship, you can have control or you can have love, but I don't believe they can. Hopefully they're both evidently they both go together.
[00:28:08] So that questions before comments, you know, that's that I can say, hey, tell me more about what you're doing. And then my fourth pillar is to stay present. Don't go run into the bunker. You know, if I would have just even if I would have hung in the first three pillars, assume good intentions, not put off this vibe that she's wrong. And I would have asked questions, tell me more before making my own comments if they were even valid or necessary. But then the fourth pillar, if I would have said whatever doesn't matter, my opinion doesn't matter anyway. You're going to do whatever you're going to do. Then all of a sudden I've gone into victim mode and now I want her to come rescue me. I want her to say, no, no, no, I you're right. I shouldn't be doing that or that sort of thing. So you can see how unhealthy a conversation can be or how unproductive a conversation can be and all the various ways that it can venture off into this unproductive path or down this unproductive path. So in this scenario, I basically work through those pillars for her, so and then when when in that scenario, once I kind of felt like I had expressed myself or I felt heard and she didn't say, OK, you're being ridiculous or that sort of thing, then it was my turn to take accountability for what I had said.
[00:29:15] And that is where I realized it was more about me. And let me quickly circle back there is that she even said, OK, hey, all right, she's going to assume good intentions of me even saying that even though I was being a jerk, that assume good intentions. I wasn't trying to hurt her by saying, hey, pal, be more present. And then second pillar, she was so gracious and kind and didn't didn't say to me, you're ridiculous. Even though she probably felt like I was in pillar three. And she's asking me, hey, tell me tell me why that bothers you. Tell me more about that. And then her pillar for she stayed present. She didn't say, OK, I guess I won't do anything that I want to do because you don't want me to be on my phone. So we both felt heard. And when when we both felt hurt, when especially when I felt heard, man, it was my turn to take accountability and ownership for what I had said, because that was more about me. And here's the fascinating piece of this. This exchange is that had we been arguing or had she all of a sudden shut down or if I was going to force my I wanted her to understand that she needs to not be on the phone because of how I feel. Then all of a sudden, we're locked into what Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy, calls these demon dialogs.
[00:30:26] And then we get into the tit for tat or people do the freeze and flee or the the pursuit and withdrawal. There's these these dances that we get into. And what's so unproductive about those dances is she could have easily said, OK, well, you do this. And I said, OK, well, but you do this. And that's the tit for tat. And what are we not talking about when we're into these demon dialogs? We're not talking about the core issue or the core emotions or feelings that are underneath why we express ourselves the way we do. So she stayed present and and she heard me. So again, I felt hurt and I had to take ownership and accountability. Please do not skip this step of taking ownership of what what meaning you put to something. So I realize this is more about me. I realized it was about the times where I feel like she may spend more time looking at her phone. Then what, like looking at me and adoring me? I mean, it's not exactly that, but maybe not being as present with me, maybe when when we are together. And so this is such a common thing that couples are dealing with. So I was able to share that with her, that it was my anxious attachment style, it was my neede attachment style that was underneath my comment to her. It was my way of wanting to say, hey, don't you care about me? But boy, did I do it in the wrong way.
[00:31:39] So she stayed present. She heard me, she validated me. And then she dropped trou knowledge on me and saying that she appreciated me taking ownership of my comment and my feelings because her immediate thought when I had just blurted that out and boy, you could see how we could have got into a tit for tat really easily. And then I probably I maybe maybe I wouldn't have taken ownership of my role in that conversation. But she said that my proclamation going into the pirates of wanting to nap through the ride, I didn't really sound like I wanted to be very present. Right. But I didn't see that. So then once I felt heard, once I took ownership, that that, hey, you can be on your phone, you can do whatever you want to do. You are a differentiated, interdependent individual. And and I care about you regardless. I care about you. You don't have to be a certain way for me to love you, that you I want you to be you and I want us to be able to have these conversations out of curiosity and from a tell me more about that standpoint, because that's when we get to the good stuff. And this is that's why I wanted to go in so much detail about this little exchange. I just talk more about it than we did on the ride.
[00:32:43] But you can see how being able to have a framework to have the conversation that we left that conversation and we both felt heard we both felt like we took ownership or accountability of our part and we felt like we could we could we could understand the good intentions behind why I said this really silly thing and why she why she does the things that she does. She does them because that's who she is and she's human. She has her own experiences, as do as do I. And so we can have more productive conversations. We have this framework that isn't about tit for tat or back and forth or anyone trying to control the other ones, saying here's what you need to do on this ride, that kind of thing. So speaking of pirates, that also brought up a really fascinating thing to me, and that's this concept of nostalgia. So when I talked earlier in the episode, I mentioned that I did not go to Disneyland growing up. And so and I again, I'll own this, I think this is anything that can keep the gasp, the loud gasp sound effect. But I did grow up going to a couple of theme parks, Dollywood in Tennessee and I think a Six Flags in Texas when I visited my cousins one time. And so I knew roller coasters and those are exciting to me. So when I went to Disneyland for the first time as an adult, I was a little bit disappointed and I didn't think I thought it was full of all these amazing rides.
[00:34:07] I didn't realize it was more about nostalgia. So then I did a little bit of digging for this episode, and I found an excellent podcast called Speaking of Psychology. And there's a Dr. Christine, I think it's Vojtko talked about the role of nostalgia in psychology. It's in their episode ninety three. And does nostalgia have a psychological purpose? And she was asked by the interviewer, and if that's so good, the interviewer, the interviewer said your research has shown that nostalgia can be a stabilizing force and it can comfort us during times of change and transition. Can you explain that a bit more? And so Dr. Bochco said, yeah, change whether it's good change or negative change, we know it's stressful and change can be very difficult to grasp because in some sense, at a very deep level, change threatens us. And so it can be a little frightening because we're not one hundred percent sure that we can control our environment. So change can feel scary. So one of the most important aspects, she said, of being a healthy human is being able to have a sense that you're in control of things and our brain wants control. And that's why I talked about last week, that we can have control or love in adult relationships. I wasn't saying that control was why it's crazy.
[00:35:12] Somebody wants control and that's how we're wired, because we feel like if we don't have control that then we are going to die. I mean, to oversimplify it. So Dr. Bychkov said when things start to change either very substantially, such as major events in a person's life, getting married, getting a divorce, a new career, going back to school, graduating from school, it can often be comforting to have a nostalgic feeling for the past. That reminds us that although we don't know what the future is going to bring, we do know who we have been and who we really are at our core, and that is part of what nostalgia can do, she said. Nostalgia can be a very comforting emotion. It also brings back it stimulates memories of the times when we were accepted or loved unconditionally. You start to see the psychological component of nostalgia that oftentimes if someone goes back to this place in Disneyland and they wear their their favorite shirt and they put on their Disney ears and you see a lot of people with that and they're just all Disney, because Disney oftentimes represents a time where they felt like they had more control or they had more safety or there was more love. And so I can understand where that nostalgia comes because that is such a powerfully confronting phenomenon if we scratch that one. Right. I'm trying to read Dr. Bosco's quote and watch that one all together.
[00:36:24] But Dr. Bochco says that is such a powerfully comforting phenomenon, knowing that there was a time in life when we didn't have to earn our love or we did not or we didn't deserve it because we earned a certain amount of money or we were successful to a certain point, or that's what gave us our our value, she said. Our parents, for example, or siblings or friends, simply love this unconditionally. And that is a wonderfully comforting feeling when we're undergoing any kind of turmoil in our personal lives. So when you are going through these difficult experiences or going through change events in life, oftentimes our brain wants to go back to nostalgia. And so if you are a heavily nostalgic person, then I would imagine you've got some very, very comforting memories of your past. And then I talked a little bit last week about this concept called relational frame theory, where we will then take an emotion or a feeling and then we'll combine that with that in the same frame as a place maybe like Disneyland or a smell like homemade cookies or a sound where if we go in here, water the ocean, for example, to me, what a relational frame of comfort to go to the ocean and hear those waves on the beach to the point of where it's a happy place. And thankfully, my wife's as well. And so when we will often say that I would love to retire at the beach and then I have someone else say to me, oh, you don't want that because of the sand and the wind and the this and the that, that's where I love to bless their heart.
[00:37:47] That's not their experience, you know. But but that is one that I can put in this relational frame of goodness, so to speak, of that it does bring comfort and it helps me feel maybe more in control with my surroundings. Mindfulness, I put in my notes here, mindfulness coming out the wazoo, and it didn't auto correct Watsu, so I think I probably spelled that right, that would be a zero. So we drove through the night to get the Disneyland. We arrived at our hotel around 3:00 a.m. We pulled up. I was driving and I went to the front desk and you can literally see the lights on the front desk. It's open. It's all windows. But nobody was there. So the doors locked. This has ring a bell. I ring that bell and Man did I ring that bell about 15 minutes solid. I ring that bell. And it was one of those where you could see a room connected to the front desk. So I rang and rang. I found myself getting frustrated and I can only imagine that person was asleep in their room. But as much as I would start to notice my stress level or noticed myself getting frustrated, I didn't give in to it.
[00:38:49] I didn't react to it. I mean, I would notice it, acknowledge it. And then I would turn back to literally being very present and pushing the button, ringing the bell, smiling at my family as they looked out of the car, kind of like, what's up? And so I just noticed it. I didn't react to it. Mindfulness, remember, mindfulness is not trying to stop a thought. I want to say this every chance I get. People often say, I've tried mindfulness, but I can't I can't clear my mind. Well, nobody can. I mean, not that I'm aware of. So the mindfulness practice. Let me be let me just go over this. There any chance I get I use the app called Headspace. I don't get anything for that. In the app Headspace. The practice goes as follows. Typically, it's a guided meditation. There's a wonderful British guy named Andy who then says, all right, welcome back, sit in your chair and then start to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Man, I feel calm just even saying that. And I just sat up in my chair, but breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and that is starting to lower your heart rate because remember, the higher your heart rate is elevated, the more of the stress hormone cortisol starts to get secreted, created. And when your brain gets cortisol, it thinks something's about to go down.
[00:39:59] So it starts to shut down the the the prefrontal cortex or the limbic system. It starts to shut down the part of your brain where you you have you have rational thought and it starts to fire up that Neanderthal brain, that amygdala. So as you get more elevated, as your heart rate raises, then you are actually going into more of this fight flight or free state. So one of the first things you're training your brain to do is to come back to calm and lower the heart rate, lower the cortisol so you can tap into that part of your brain that can think logically, which will allow you to be more present. And then you're in the Headspace app than Andy will often just go quiet. And that's the time where my brain starts to think and think and think often even thinking I don't have time to even do this mindfulness exercise. And then at some point he will say, OK, hey, gently acknowledge you're thinking and then come back to the breath. Think about breathing and just in through the nose, out through the mouth, or think about your do a body scan, feel your back against the chair, your your butt on the seat, your legs on the floor, your feet on the floor. And because what you're not doing when you're thinking or focusing on your breath or focusing on a body scan or listening to the sounds around you or the smells or whatever you can focus on.
[00:41:14] So again, your brain isn't clear, but you're not thinking about the thought. You're not ruminating about the negative thought. You're not worrying about the future that can cause anxiety. You're not giving in to the compulsion that follows the obsession with obsessive compulsive disorder. You are bringing yourself back to present over and over again. And yes, oftentimes you as soon as you come, you are not being present. Your brain immediately can go back to where it was, what it was thinking, what it was doing, and oftentimes will say, see, it didn't work, but that's the way our brain works. Your training the brain to be able to bring it back to the present moment. So I, I really feel like there were so many opportunities to be mindful. Mindfulness in long lines. I remember being at this place called the Pizza Press one night and I don't know if I've seen a line that long, but we were we were hungry. We were hangry and and we had already exhausted other options on where to eat, how quickly we could get back to a hotel and get food, lines everywhere. So that was one of the most mindfulness challenges I think I've taken on. And it worked. We made it through. We got the pizza, we ate. And it was it was amazing. adrenalin. When I'm at this when I'm waiting for this, reading this buzzer for 15 minutes, finally I hear somebody say out of nowhere, can I help you? And I jumped and there it was.
[00:42:37] And this one is a really funny thing that I've learned just from my office experience here is that after every session, I typically have to go to the bathroom and stay hydrated. There's probably too much information there. But then when I come back, I often say if my door open to my clients to come on in, I've got a little fridge that can grab a drink, that sort of thing. And so I will often not have heard them and feel like I'm only in the bathroom for a little short amount of time. So I come back in and I've got a client sitting on the couch, even though that's what I want them to do, that oftentimes I jump and it's one of the funniest things because now it's like, OK, I almost can wait for it. Give it about 20, 30 seconds and here comes the adrenaline and you can literally feel it through your you feel through your veins. And it's fascinating. Really quick side note. If you've ever done cryotherapy, which is that get into negative ninety in the negative two hundred degree temperatures, it's something that a lot of athletes do for recovery. I usually save the cryotherapy for any race over 50 miles, but when I do cryotherapy, it's it's a similar thing. So you will go in this negative 90 degree room and walk around a little bit and then from there enter a negative, sometimes one hundred eighty or two hundred degree room.
[00:43:44] And boy, you have to keep walking around and then you come out of that room, your core body temperature is just cold and all of your blood has gone to to save your your your life. It sits around your heart and it's really working to keep you alive. And then the experiences that I've been on, then they put you on an exercise bike and just have you barely start pedaling and then you feel it's so wild you feel the blood go from your heart, out through your body to your extremities. And part of that, the belief is that that will help clear out some of the lactic acid or some of the things that will make you sore as the days progressed. And I have found that I feel like I'm sore not as long. But my only point is that that is the feeling that you get if you really can if you get a good scare by your kids or anything like that. And if you can tap into that just being present in that moment, you can literally feel the adrenaline rush through your body. So one of the most fascinating things, I love it. So adrenaline, just a couple more things and then we'll wrap this one up. I also put a note that kindness wins, even though I was frustrated, especially in this experience with this person that wasn't there at 4:00 in the morning, even though I was frustrated, he apparently had walked down the street to get coffee, didn't leave a sign that said he would be right back.
[00:44:55] You know, none of those things. And I could have let him know all of those things. But I have a personal value of kindness or compassion or non confrontation. So that's what I turned toward. So now, if somebody has a core value of justice or order, meaning that they are an absolute rule follower, then perhaps it would have been more in line with their core values to let that person know that it would have been more helpful for future people. That might be showing up at 4:00 a.m. while he's getting coffee to know that. You'll be right back. So please leave a sign. But this is what's kind of fascinating. So check this out. If I was telling somebody that has this value of order or justice, if I were telling them, oh, you shouldn't have done that, you shouldn't have told them those things, then they're going to think, OK, cool story. But that's that that's who I am. Just like if I have this value of kindness or compassion and somebody is telling me and I'm just giving this example, but I think you can maybe see where I'm going. Think of all the times or somebody like you don't need to do you tell that person that they need to do whatever and it's something that you would never say or never do, then guess what? You don't have to do it.
[00:45:55] I mean, that is that's where I talk again about control. I remember having this experience well before my therapy days. I remember being on a business trip with someone and they were the ones saying, hey, you need to call that waiter over and you need to tell him that he needs to do this. And I remember having this moment where I thought, no, you can I mean, if that's what your experience would be. And this person that I used to travel with on occasion, they started to get frustrated with me because they now knew that I was going to say, oh, yeah, I don't care about that. Or but if you would like to, then that would be fine. So I think that taps into that. If you are trying if you were trying to do something that is not in line with your core values, it's kind of falls into the ranks of what we call an act socially compliant goal. And you're doing it because you think you should or you're supposed to or you have to, and your motivation is going to be weak and ineffective because it goes against your sense of self or who you are as a person. So but if I'm tapping into my Value-Based Goal, is it the right thing to do? Well, is there a right thing to do? And that's why I bring up this example of I kindness.
[00:46:54] For me, that's a value, compassion, connection, humor, those things. So if I'm tapping into those, then, man, he scared me. That was funny. I'm going to tell him that he's saying, I'm sorry that I was I wasn't here. And I'm saying, hey, no problem. Now, now we're here. Now we're now we're having an experience. Now we're having a connection. How's your night been? You know, what time do you start? How often do you take a walk? And are there people often in my scenario or is this completely unexpected? So kindness. So in that scenario, I felt so. Much better walking away from that situation, even though it was frustrating, waiting for 15 minutes, I threw just a few random sampler notes here that I'll maybe just blast through. And these if you have questions or thoughts or think that they would make a better podcast or another podcast, shoot me an email. But I saw somewhere I put on here turow's and being angry, ADHD and angry. And I just saw in in a brief mention on a video that angry or being angry and hungry was a very strong symptom of ADHD. And I thought that was kind of fascinating because my family will make fun of me constantly that I am the nicest guy in the world until we placed our order for food.
[00:48:06] And then I just I get hangry. And now that I'm aware of it, I notice I am angry. I comment on the fact I'm hungry. I jokingly say I am going to not keep talking about being hungry while I try to stay present. So I thought that was interesting that sure enough, when when man what. I would get angry. Hungry that it was it was hard to not start to become a little bit angry. Sunk cost. If you're familiar with that concept. That's the old I've invested two million bucks in this project that is losing money repeatedly. But I'm going to put another million in because while I've already put two million in, you know, it's a sunk cost. That's a big dramatic example from the business world that I had a client that I worked with at one point, that that was what we were processing in a session. But I also talked with a good friend of mine that I used to travel to Japan with. He was a financial guy, Scott, and he would often talk about the concept of sunk cost and how we can even apply that to you. Pay for a meal. But now you're full and we often think we don't want to waste. But you've already paid for the meal. So at that point, it doesn't necessarily do one any good to continue to pile that food away because it's already been purchased.
[00:49:16] Or I think about that. If you are about to go on a trip to Disneyland, this might be the or any theme park or any vacation. And if you have not already laid out a budget and if you don't already have a value of boundaries or order or rules or those sort of things, then I feel like there needs to be some acceptance that, look, when you pay money for admission to a park, then, boy, try your it can still feel very frustrated. Can't believe I paid a hundred and something dollars to get in here, you know, and now we have a line and now we have this normal thoughts or human. But boy, those are incredible opportunities to come back to the present moment and just be present. The money has been spent, the present the food has been purchased to be present. If the planning wasn't done in advance to have cheaper food or snacks or that sort of thing, then the complaining of it is in a productive, workable thought be present. So I thought that was kind of fascinating. Real quick smile at the parent who you notice that seems overwhelmed. And I remember being that parent and my wife and I were handing out smiles for free on this trip. And you start to really recognize that. I mean, I remember being there with the kids in the stroller and somebody drops an ice cream and that sort of thing.
[00:50:25] And so sometimes a smile is all that they need. I just put a note on here. You'll dry off eventually. You know, again, talk about being present. I feel like it was that acceptance doesn't mean apathy, principal, that once I accepted the fact that I was going to get soaked on the ride, then once I accepted it, then I wasn't trying to contort my body and pulling things in my back to the point of where and then being angry. If I got wet, it was like be present, accept the fact that on the water ride I most likely will get wet and then enjoy the heck out of it. I'm not going to Swan dove into the water, but when I got wet, I got wet. Because you're going to dry. You really are. You'll dry eventually. And I talked to I wrote a note here about an experience in a line where I turned toward my value of knowledge. I noticed that we were getting a little bit worn out and there was a little bit of silence between the four of us in line. And the other three people in line were probably fine with it. But my anxious attachment style, which I want to take ownership of, was constantly saying if everybody isn't talking, they must be mad at me. How fascinating is that? Right. I'm a therapist. I'm a pro.
[00:51:27] Fifty one years old and very secure in my and myself. But the brain is going to do whatever the heck it wants at times and that good old, deeply rooted and anxious attachment style from childhood is saying their silence. Are they thinking I should be carrying the conversation? So in those moments I turned, I noticed that my anxious attachment style was fired up. And so then I just noticed it, acknowledged it, didn't try to push it away, didn't try to change that thought, didn't try to say don't think those things noticed it, and then just dropped the rope of the tug of war with the anxious attachment and then just pivoted toward a value of knowledge. And so I found myself continually Googling a ride and then just talking about fun facts about the ride. And a lot of times that we would be engaged in a pretty fun conversation. So turn toward your values when you are noticing the anxiety, the depression, the overthinking. And and I already covered this one. But, man, just give yourself permission to scream. Go big. Be present, have an amazing time, and on that note, have an amazing week. I appreciate you sticking with me this long. Those are the things that this therapist learned from his trip to Disneyland. And I would love if you have additional thoughts or questions or your experiences, comment wherever you're seeing this on a podcast app or on YouTube channel or shoot me a tweet. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear your experiences and I'd love to talk about those at some point as well. All right, everybody, thanks for joining me.
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