Alexa (Overbay) Lovell survived a near-fatal accident a little over one year ago. She dives into the details of what the past year has been like, including recovery setbacks, unrealistic expectations, continued frustrations, the reality of potential addiction to pain medications, what the future looks like regarding having children, and much more. 

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Tony explores why where the need for external validation comes from. Why do we care what others think? And why the need for external validation is the opposite thing to do for self-confidence and to feel connected to others.

With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. 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, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, 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 And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

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

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

[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety four. The virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I'm ready. I'm ready to get started. Let's dove right in today. It is story time. A couple of weeks ago, I had finished up a pretty heavy day at work. And honestly, don't get me wrong, I love everything about my job. I really do. But I guess it's what I hear from Dennis, from time to time that I've worked with. People don't go to the dentist because everything is going great. Even if you are just going for cleaning. There's this underlying fear of what if I have a cavity or what if they say I'm not flossing enough or my gums bleed, or they know that I don't floss on a regular basis? Am I supposed to swallow the water along with the cleaning stuff? And does this, Dr. Retford actually want me to answer him about who my favorite Marvel character is and why? Why is he asking me this while he's two knuckles deep into the left side of my mouth? But my point is people come to therapy to talk about problems. And again, I love it, but it's kind of just what it is. But by the time I leave my office, at times there can feel a little bit of emotional exhaustion. So on this particular time, I left and I just wanted to get home and I wanted to go on a run and my wife was busy.

[00:01:29] A lot of times she'll either run with me or she will jump on the bike and ride alongside with me almost looks like a scene from Rocky, and she's I'm running, she's writing, and we just process the day. I want to hear all about what she's been up to, and she'll ask me questions about what's going on with me. But on this particular time, she was busy. So I'm going to go on a run and I love to listen to audio books and the height of my ultrarunning career. I would just get up earlier and earlier, just especially when I was into a good book. I remember the book Unbreakable, which was about the Oh my gosh, I'm Louie Zamperini, and he was a World War Two, I believe veteran shot down in the middle of the ocean. I remember being so into that book that I just wanted to get up earlier and earlier, and I remember running the back side of the town that I live, and I was so into the book and I look up and I almost ran right into a skunk. It was really early in the morning, and I remember I screamed like a young child and I jumped out into the road and I remember thinking, I am so grateful that it was 4:00 in the morning because I didn't know anything.

[00:02:30] I didn't know where traffic was. I didn't know if a car was coming and if that would have been middle of the day and heavy traffic. I would have jumped right out in the middle of the car because I was so into this book and then I got scared by the skunk. But I but I digress. So I was running and I was listening to this audio book, and it's a good audio book. And I love it, but not this night. I just couldn't focus. I couldn't just stay with the story, so I switched to music. And then that just felt like so much noise. So I turned off my music, my audio books, and I just ran to my breathing and my footsteps and. And it's funny when I say this now, this isn't the point where I say something about mindfulness and running to my breath. And no, I was just in my head. I was running a really. I was running angry. I was disappointed that I couldn't even listen to music or a book, and I finished my run. And it turns out as I look down on my data, my watch, my app that it was the fastest run I've done in a couple of years since a meniscus tear that I suffered and have been struggling through for a little while. So I walk into the house and my wife asked me, how was my run? And I tell her it was great.

[00:03:32] And I noticed I was so aware of the fact that I wanted to tell her it was my fastest and that I couldn't listen to anything. But I also caught myself thinking a lot about the need for external validation versus validating oneself. And I hope you hang with me through this episode because we're going to talk about a lot of things that have to do with validation because I can imagine some might hear this and say, Well, of course you want to tell her it was your fastest run, and that was all the things going on in your head. But hear me out. So at what point again, I was thinking about external validation. So did I. What did I did? I want her to validate me and tell me how amazing I was versus self validation. I felt really good about this time that I had. And then at what point is the sharing of data? Simply a shared experience? And I am a huge fan of shared experiences. We don't do those enough. So I waited a couple of days and then I shared all of this with her, the things I'm sharing with you. And she said, of course, she would have loved to have heard about my time, my speed or not wanting to listen to a book or a music, which I appreciate it. I appreciated her saying that, but I shared with her that I had a little bit of an epiphany that I want to tell her my time, especially right then because I wanted her to validate me that I want her to say, Oh my gosh, my hero.

[00:04:43] There is no other soon to be fifty two year old man who could have possibly run that fast a mere two years after tearing a meniscus. Or did I really just simply want to share my experience with her? But the truth is, I am the only one who can truly know that, but I recognized that it was most likely the former. I truly probably did want to her to say my hero because I realized that there are a lot of things that she could have said that would not have left me feeling validated. And here's the key validated in the way that I wanted to be validated. Which is entirely unfair of me to put that type of expectation onto my wonderful wife because I can't honestly say in that moment that I knew exactly what type of validation I wanted. And so if she would have said that time is good, right, I would have said, really? Is that a question? I could only imagine that? Or if she would have said, how much faster is that than your previous time, then? I think I maybe wouldn't have been as excited because according to my Strava app, it was literally only a couple of seconds faster.

[00:05:40] I was looking for validation in the way that I wanted validation. So why on earth wouldn't I or couldn't I validate myself? I was happy with my accomplishment. I was happy with my time. I went through a period after running about 150 or so marathons and ultra marathons over 20 years that I wondered after this meniscus tear if I would ever be able to run more than a couple of miles again. Honestly, I tore it playing basketball. I didn't talk about it. I put on a ton of weight. I don't know if I've ever talked about it. I recorded a few episodes what I felt like immediately after going to a doctor. At one point I had put on a fair amount of weight. We're talking like twenty twenty five pounds and I was sitting there after an MRI and he's telling me your meniscus is shot and it looks like shredded chicken or something. I still remember that my wife was in the room and I was the guy saying I felt like Uncle Rico and Napoleon Dynamite, saying when I was in high school, I could throw a football over that mountain over there. I was saying, Oh man, I've run over a dozen races of over 100 miles in well over 100 marathons, and I felt like he was just looking at me thinking, Cool story, bro. You're twenty five pounds overweight.

[00:06:41] You've got a torn meniscus that isn't doing much for you right now, is it? So there were so many things that that I feel like I was seeking validation that I wasn't even aware of at that time. I'm going back to this experience just a few days ago, and so I never thought that I might even be back in the position where I was throwing down a decent time at five miles. So I was excited. So that evening that I ran, I did validate myself. And with this new awareness, I can imagine that I would have I could have then moved into wanting a shared experience, even in that moment. Hey, check this out. I had my best time yet. I was running a little bit angry and I couldn't listen to music. So you see, when we're able to self validate or avoid what one wise person once told me was called compliment fishing. I love that term, because how often are we just fishing for compliments instead of because our spouse doesn't really know? Where am I supposed to say, what's the compliment that you're looking for if you tell me? But then if we say, then it doesn't feel sincere. It's not sincere. Anyway, if I'm if I'm fishing for the compliment or if I'm seeking this external validation that I'm not even really aware of exactly how I'm wanting to be validated. But so if we can avoid that compliment fishing or that just seeking external validation just for the sake of seeking it, then we're able to remain more autonomous and independent.

[00:07:55] We're able to take a look at ourselves and then from this differentiated state and again, remember, differentiation is where one person ends and the other begins. And this is that fascinating goal of relationships. We are codependent and enmeshed more or less in our factory settings. And so when we start to be autonomous and interdependent and in differentiated that at first it can feel a little bit scary. It's like we're putting ourselves out on our own. And if we're coming from this enmeshment in a relationship, whether it's to our spouse or our kids or our church leaders or our employee or boss, that it's going all of a sudden feel like we're standing up for ourselves. And that's almost what we fear. We almost fear that we are kind of being a jerk. No, this is how I feel now. Instead of just saying, Hey, check it out, this is what I'm thinking. This is what I'm feeling. This is what I'm noticing, because when we get to this differentiated state, then we can share with our spouse with fascination or curiosity the contents of our mind. So at that point, there isn't anything that they could say that would be. And I'm going to air quote wrong, because how on earth would they or should they know what I'm expecting them to say? Instead of viewing things of you, you said the wrong thing.

[00:09:06] It's you said a thing. Now let's check it out. Where does that come from? Tell me more about that. And I realize it really does lead perfectly into my four pillars of a connected conversation. If she were to say, Is that time good and I am coming from this differentiated place, then I get to slide right into my pillar one assuming good intentions, she wasn't trying to hurt me with what she said. She wasn't trying to put me down with her comment that there is a reason why she's saying what she's saying or asking what she's asking, which then I get to move into my second pillar. I can't tell her she's wrong or put across the message that I don't believe her. That's ridiculous. Even if in certain situations I didn't believe her, I didn't really feel like that was the right thing, because that would just be my opinion. So even if she and I have had many, many conversations around time running times and how important I feel that certain mile times are, even if we had a poster on the wall that said, when Tony runs this fast in the future, then we will all celebrate because we know that that is a great time telling her that really, you don't know that that's a good time.

[00:10:03] That's ridiculous. You absolutely, absolutely know what a good time is, is not going to drive a connected conversation, if anything. Now we get to get out in the weeds and we're arguing about things that have no bearing. On the relationship, and then pillar three is questions before for me to say, Oh, hey, tell me what you think when you're thinking of a good running time, because now I want to, I want to understand her. I want to hear her. The goal of my four pillars of a connected conversation is to be heard. To be heard is to be healed. So if she were to say something like, I know we've talked about it, but I wasn't sure if you were saying this was a great time for you post meniscus or from before you were hurt. So I was just asking. And then Pillar four is staying present. Don't go into victim mode. What if I would have said, OK, I gotcha. I guess the conversations that we've had around running times of war did not stick. So therefore that means that I don't mean very much to you, and I shouldn't have even shared this with you because when we go into that victim mentality, when we retreat back into our bunker, we're asking our spouse to come rescue us then. And I wasn't even planning on talking about the four pillars, so I'll just leave that there. But from my waking up the Narcissism podcast last week, which again, if you haven't checked that out, please do and subscribe and rate and all that stuff.

[00:11:08] The feedback is just it's phenomenal. I sound a little bit in my ego there, but I've been humbled by the feedback to that podcast and the support there. But from the episode last week, there was a really fascinating quote by Dr. Eleanor Greenberg, and she was talking about traits of narcissistic personality disorder. So please understand, right? This second that as I am about to quote what she wrote, that I am not saying that, you know, listening to this right now is the narcissist. But if you listen to any of the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast or if you've heard me talk about abandonment and attachment, many of my previous virtual couch episodes just know that every little kid could be viewed as an egocentric, tiny narcissist in training because of their narcissistic traits. Because as a little kid, the world truly does revolve around you because you're coming from this place, that abandonment truly does equal death. You must get your needs met. The world does revolve around you. So if people are not meeting your needs, then therefore it could lead to abandonment. And abandonment is death. So you must get those needs met. So you must seek that external validation to know that I'm OK because if I'm not OK, these people might leave. And if they leave, I die.

[00:12:12] So coming in that context, and actually, I just did an episode on context last week, but in context, then she says that narcissism. So I'll say narcissistic traits or tendencies are a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem and the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation. And then she also added that I think this is the part with coming from little kids low, lower empathy. So then as we get older, the goal is to move from self-centered to self-confident. So then if you follow that, that train of train of thought or this logic when she's talking about series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation. So childhood family situation, meaning that we're trying to navigate the intricacies of childhood to get our needs met so that we won't be abandoned? And then she says that that left the person with unstable self-esteem. Ok, hey, welcome to childhood, you know, or adolescence or teenagers, or that this unstable self-esteem. I love that the way she phrases that and then the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation, which means that we feel confident when others say that we're confident we feel bad when others say that we're bad. So it would make sense then that if these are these traits or tendencies in childhood, that we would want to mature or grow out of them that then look at the opposites of these things.

[00:13:34] So then unstable self-esteem. We need to step into our self-confidence again, not self-centeredness, but self-confidence, and then learn to regulate our self-esteem without external validation, which means validating ourselves internally. The key to that is finding things that really matter, things that that you can take pride in things that you find a passion with. And she went on to talk about two just fascinating concepts. One is called whole object relations and saying that people that struggle with narcissistic traits, tendencies, personality disorder. So then I would say again, every little kid. So we want to mature into these, into these concepts. She talked about whole object relations. This is the capacity to see oneself and others in a stable and integrated way that acknowledges both the person's good and bad qualities. We all have them. We all have good and bad qualities. Can you look at somebody and see not just the bad, but the good? But then here was the even bigger one. She talked about object constancy, and I really recommend you go. Listen to this episode on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. I think I titled it something to do with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but object constancy is amazing. This is the ability to maintain a positive emotional connection to somebody that you like, even if for a while you are angry or hurt or frustrated or disappointed by his or her behavior.

[00:14:45] So how as a mature adult and human being, if someone suggests something different, if they say no to you, if they have a different opinion, it's this struggle with object constancy that comes into play. So if someone says, I don't like what you're doing, then all of a sudden, if we cannot maintain this object constancy, then that means that we just flip a switch and we go from hot to cold. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll, I was for which one is bad. Which one is good, but can we maintain whole object relations that people can have their own opinions and just because they express an opinion doesn't mean that it is criticism? I talked to a couple of weeks ago ago about when we feel criticized. We again, our childhood programing says that we're so afraid of going into this shame spiral. And so if somebody says, Oh, I would have done something different and I talked, I gave a think I gave an example about something I was talking about with my wife. It's hard to not feel like someone else's opinion is criticism, so you have to mature. Look at it in a very mature way to say, Oh, that's their opinion. I want to know more because I'm confident in the things that I am expressing, or if I'm not, then I am open as a differentiated individual to hear other people's opinions.

[00:15:59] But that doesn't mean that my value or my self-esteem is based on other people's opinions, or that doesn't mean that I'm wrong to have another opinion. So when we feel criticized, we're so afraid of going into the shame, spiral or shame cycle that we do anything to protect our fragile egos, including getting defensive or when people will gaslight or when people get angry or they withdraw. So I really feel like the last few weeks I've the theme I think I'm trying to go here is that we need to step into our calm, confident energy, recognize that we are an individual, that we are the product of all of our again abandonment and nature nurture DNA. All of our experiences make us who we are, whether if we're talking in a religious context, you're a child of God, the only version of you, and you have your own talents and abilities. And the quicker you can find them, then the more you are going to feel confident and step into the self confidence. But even when you do now, all of a sudden, as you are differentiated and interdependent and you're the only version of you, then you are going to start feeling more invalidation because you are no longer absolutely seeking the external validation to tell you you're OK. But it's still in our DNA. It's in our programing to say, What do you think about what I'm saying or doing? And if somebody says I don't like it, then we need to get to this place to say, Oh, I appreciate your opinion.

[00:17:16] Tell me more. Not OK, well, I guess I'm a bad person or I need to change the way I think, feel or the things that I do. Elinor Greenberg said that without whole object relations and without this object constancy, that people with these narcissistic traits or tendencies, that sort of thing can only see themselves in other people. And one of two ways either they are special and unique and omnipotent and perfect and entitled, which she called high status, or they're defective or worthless, or she said, garbage, low status. So this means that the person struggling with these narcissistic issues or immature, I'll just say immature view of self or others cannot hold on to his or her good opinion and good feelings about somebody once they notice the flaw and someone else. Again, that's the immature way to show up. So then all of a sudden the other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal to being devalued as nothing special. But here was the big paragraph. So we are trying to grow into our mature, confident selves as adults and narcissists often seesaw and again narcissistic traits tendencies. The things we bring forth from childhood often seesaw back and forth between these two.

[00:18:17] So when we are feeling when someone is feeling good about you or more accurately, you are making them feel good about themselves. So when they are seeking external validation and you say the right things, then they see you as special because that makes them feel special. They aren't internally validating themselves. They are basing all of their worth on the opinions of others. But then what if the person doesn't say the right thing now? They feel criticized and they go into this defense mode so you can see we're just setting each other up for for failure instead of just saying, here's how I feel, how do you feel? And I'm telling you it could be that simple. It really could. So back to this object constancy, she says that when they are feeling good about you or more accurately, you're making them feel good about themselves. They see a special, then you do something they don't like, such as say no to one of their requests and suddenly you are now all bad or you are worthless. And then later on, you might do something that makes them feel good about themselves again, and they're back to seeing you as special. So my point in mentioning that is that this drive for external validation is the immature way to view oneself or others that as we can learn to be happy with our own times back to this running example and then share an experience and know that you're the person you're sharing the experience with can absolutely have a different opinion.

[00:19:37] Because if we are wanting them to tell us the things that we want to hear and we aren't even 100 percent sure what we want to hear, we're asking that person to validate a version of ourselves that we're not even sure of. So I will speak to that more here in a little bit. I've got a I've got a couple of notes on my outline, but let me get back to back on track. So again, left, I don't know, unchecked when we are seeking external validation, we want somebody else to help us feel good about ourselves, and that is not a good way to show up in a relationship. Back to my running example. I want my wife then to validate me. And not only that, I want her to validate a version of me that I'm not even in. Fairly certain of myself, so it's a safe bet that she is at a significant disadvantage of getting that right because if she's trying to read the room, read me and say the right thing to validate me. I hope you can see then that is far too many variables. But if I am validating myself, if I feel good about the time that I just clocked on the road, then I don't need her to validate me. So if I share an experience with her, then what I really want to do is share the experience and whatever she says is what she says.

[00:20:41] So then I can approach what she says with curiosity. If I'm my own person. And let me just add when it comes to connection polarity attraction, and I talk a ton about this in my magnetic marriage course. But the way to build that connection or that polarity in a relationship, that passion, that chemistry is not by seeking external validation, is by showing up with this calm, confident energy. And then and curiosity and genuinely wanting to know your partner, genuinely wanting to know their opinion, not who you think they are or who you think they should be, but get to know who they are. Because if they have a different opinion than you, even on your running time, then do not shut down. You do not say, Well, I guess you don't even care about me. No, you say, Hey, tell me what your thoughts are and then be prepared. Nay relish in the fact that she has another opinion because that is going to spark conversation. I was talking with someone yesterday and they put it so well I had to stop and type this out on some notes. He said Our mind doesn't realize that when we exit adolescence, that we exit this parental worldview that we have, that we have our parents there, that they have always swooped in and validated, you know, whether it's good or bad.

[00:21:50] But they have given us this attention, a.k.a. validation that we have thought helps us understand who we are, how we show up or where we fit into the world. He was saying, You pick up language and behaviors from your mom or dad, so at some point it truly is time to fly from the nest. You have your opinions, other people have theirs. And I'm telling you if we were all secure in our knowledge that we are literally all different, then we could celebrate it. If we can embrace that somebody is different than us, then it doesn't mean that something is wrong with us. It means that we are all human. There were just a bunch of people going around doing people things, and my goodness, this would be an exciting world. It would be more of this world full of depth and color and flavor. If we all could just step into ourselves and learn what makes us tick and we could share that experience with somebody and they could say, Tell me more and what do you think about that? And now we're collaborate. We're having this Dyadic collaborative process. We're processing emotion in concert with another human being. I was I was doing a little bit of research on this external validation, and I have to be so honest that I am going to. I'm going to quote someone, and I lost the source of who this who was saying this.

[00:22:55] So just know that some of the things that I'm going to talk about for the next probably five minutes or so as we wrap things up are going to leave it there. I will try to find this and put it in, the show notes. But the author was saying, What does an unhealthy reliance on external validation look like? They said not being able to confront people or disagree. Changing your thoughts and beliefs because someone else either approves or disapproves, and ascribing your self-worth to the approval of others are all examples of a reliance on external validation. If our and this is from Dr. Rita Stein, Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University. If our life plans are even just short term goals are guided by external criteria without a true understanding of what it is that we actually want or what fulfills and satisfies us, then we end up at a minimum disconcerted and unhappy and at a worse with a midlife crisis and severely depressed. And so this is where I found this this article. I talk about abandonment attachment. I think that they did a really nice job of just summing it up much more condensed than I do. But they just said, Where does this come from? When you're a small child whose whole existence and well-being depends on others, then rejection actually equals existential death. And since we are constantly hurt and validated and rejected and many overt and highly subtle ways as children, then a lot of us grow up into wounded and self selfless adults whose self-perception is skewed or blurry.

[00:24:11] So if we never explore or even recognize this phenomenon, this is seeking external validation or who we are as a person, then we, this author, said we are doomed to be dependent on other people's opinions and judgments and perceptions of us, which can make us so vulnerable to being manipulated and potentially being manipulative ourselves because we are manipulating others to get that external validation instead of learning to validate ourselves. So the author said for many, it means that they are defined by others. For example, if others think you're great, you must be great. If someone thinks you're bad, then you must be bad. And this goes back into that whole object relations that I was talking about earlier. We are all both good and bad. We were all just a product of the things that we have been through in our lives, and I would even check that and say we are all just having experiences. I won't even put it into the good bad category because those are all based in context of how someone was raised as someone's family situation, their need again, their nature, their nurture. And if they perceive you as flawed, accurately or inaccurately inaccurately, then you may. They have a tendency to feel horrified.

[00:25:16] The author said here such a person has two problems one, they constantly need other people's approval and validation to feel that they are a good person, to feel pleasant emotions or to even feel alive and to they feel shame or guilt or anger or loneliness or anxiety or confusion or other painful emotions when someone disapproves of and invalidates them, which then often leads to dysfunctional behavior to manage all of it. Now we're into the world of unhealthy coping mechanisms because somebody hurt our feelings because somebody disagrees with our point of view. And those are, and this is the part that I just, boy, it is fascinating. It's sad, but that we then move into adulthood with a lot of these childhood coping mechanisms and attachment wounds and abandonment fears without even knowing them. They're so deeply embedded in our subconscious that we, when someone invalidates us, then we will turn to unhealthy coping coping mechanisms. And it's a way that our own brain, our own body, is saying, I am hurting. I want to be understood. I want to be valued. I want to be cared about. But we're doing this now in this echo chamber of addiction or turning to our phones too often or food or bingeing on shows or pornography or drugs and alcohol and spending. And all of these things that then we do in secret because we feel so bad about the way that we're showing up in public.

[00:26:31] And why are we feeling bad about the way we're showing up in public because we are basing our self-esteem and our confidence on how people then react to us? But instead, we need to just show up. This is who we are. We're going to figure things out. We're navigating our life and it's going to get bumpy and messy. But as we start to do more and find more of a purpose and turn toward things that matter value based goals and take action on those and be aware of this, wow, it looks like I'm seeking external value. We're going to start to find ourselves. We're going to start to raise our emotional baselines and really step into the person that we need to be. And if our partner isn't up for that, then is that a mature relationship? Because you can't keep doing the things that you're doing if it is causing you to feel less than or not letting your light so shine so that others around you will not feel less than we are all put on this earth to shine, to do good things, to be the best version of ourselves, we can be because that lifts up people around us. It lifts ourselves up. So this is one of those situations where I feel we just get it all backwards, where people are just so again afraid of saying the things that they really think or feel or being the person they want to be.

[00:27:43] But yet that is exactly the thing to do to then raise your self-confidence and raise those others around you. And if they don't, if they don't step up as well, if they don't show up with curiosity, then is that a healthy relationship? And I'm talking about friends. I'm talking about spouses, relationships, jobs, churches, all of those things, because that is not the way to build one's self-esteem, self-confidence. The author then said that she said they'd give a few simplified examples. She said, If somebody likes your post on Facebook and everything is well and good, but if they don't, you start to feel terribly anxious or empty or invisible. And I was thinking about some funny things about this. I hear so often how many times do you come upon a post and nobody has liked it yet, and you want to like it, but you don't wanna be the first person to like it because you don't want it to look like you are just scrolling on Instagram or Facebook all day. If that post was just a minute before, instead of just being in the moment having your experience, I don't have to explain to anybody that I just got on Instagram and I was the first one to like a post. Who cares? But I hear people talk often about when I got there. I don't want be the first one because I don't want somebody to think that, well, that's all you do is to sit there liking people's posts.

[00:28:49] Or I talk often about YouTube versus podcasts. Boy, talk about invalidation. I will release this podcast today and it will get tens of thousands of downloads and I will feel very. I did not do video on this one today, but I will if I release the audio on YouTube and I have people that say that's the only way that they listen to podcasts. But if I put that out, it'll get one hundred views or listens. You know, kids these days, the teenagers that I still work with from time to time will pull up my YouTube channel and see, I don't know, a thousand followers and a bunch of videos, and none of them have a lot of views or likes, and they'll say, Oh, I thought your podcast was really popular, and then I find myself wanting to defend my fragile ego and say, Well, let me show you the download numbers on the podcast app. It's millions there are now. Do you think I'm impressive? So in reality, I enjoy putting out podcasts, people listen to them, and even if they didn't, I enjoy putting out podcasts. So even when we're trying to be aware and differentiate it and not seek external validation, our brain still goes there. So another example of this seeking external validation, and if somebody agrees with you, then you must be right and you feel confidence and joy.

[00:29:50] But if they don't, you feel threatened and lonely and upset and self doubtful and socially anxious and so on. So then you may spend your entire life, and many do, chasing after acceptance and validation and feeling terrified of rejection. This author went on to say, And we're going to we're going to wrap things up here as a coping mechanism. Some individuals become people pleasers who are afraid to be their true selves or take care of themselves. A lot of them don't even know who they. Really are or what they actually feel or what they truly think or what they like, and the author says their mental boundaries are closely enmeshed with others because they were raised to take care of others and neglect themselves. I heard a quote once that said, if you have always put yourself others first, then you're showing them that you see yourself as second and others then have developed this different, these different tendencies that tend to fall on the other side of the spectrum, where then they will disregard others or their boundaries or their humanity and only care about themselves. And that's what people start to talk more about when they're using the terms narcissism or antisocial behavior. So whether it's people pleasing or narcissistic or antisocial behavior or something, the underlying or often ignored question really is why? Why would somebody want to put another person down? Why do other people feel the need to put others above themselves? People want to be nice or people want power, or because deep down, we're hurt, we're empty, we can be anxious or lonely, or we may feel ashamed or guilty.

[00:31:15] But all of these traits, all of these tendencies of whether we have to put ourselves in a position of one up or better than are those we feel that we have to acquiesce or just always go to what is best for others, that both of those sets of behaviors can be referred to as some type of lower self-esteem. And which is fascinating in this other article. This isn't the one I was talking about. Am I waking up the narcissism podcast? The author said. Although narcissism is often falsely perceived as high self-esteem, when actually it's the opposite, it's incredibly low, low self-esteem, self-esteem and fragility. But that deep early fear of rejection and abandonment can haunt us forever, and that urge for validation and acceptance and the fear of rejection is all. It's there, it's present. It's almost like this background buzz of the refrigerator in your home. And so in so many cases, that does become the core issue or problem is this constant fear of rejection or abandonment. And so then as you grow into a mature adult, a mature human being, that that is where we recognize that fear of abandonment or rejection.

[00:32:24] But then we realized that was OK to get us through adolescence. But now we can get our needs met by ourselves, and that doesn't mean that we don't want a relationship. It means that we show up in a relationship confident. So now we are this we edify each other. It's the one plus one is three kind of a vibe and then differentiation. And I've talked about it when done correctly is going to come with a heavy dose of invalidation. And again, here's where it gets interesting. So by default, in relationships, I feel like we do put our best foot forward and that's OK. But what do we fear? What if we say or do the wrong thing that our partner will leave and remember? Abandonment equals death? So we do. We continually play this game of tug of war with our emotions and behaviors. And what should I say or do? How should I act? And that is exhausting. Imagine what it would feel like to be able to just be and to just say and just do. And if the other person doesn't respond in a way that we had hoped they would, that's OK. They have their own experience as well. I spoke to somebody recently about their experience with a difficult college math class that they're taking. They're behind and they don't want to go to their professor for help because of the fear of invalidation.

[00:33:28] We were able to track back experiences and their in their childhood or in their high school years, where a professor did say, Oh, you should know that. And so this fear of invalidation, this person said that they were worried that the professor will say, Well, you should already know this material and the professor because the professor had already lectured on the project. And I said to this person that what's so fascinating about this example is because the professor was in that moment most likely feeling and validated as well. And he was taking this person's request for help as criticism that he was not a good teacher. And so he felt like the student was then invalidating him and that he must not have understood the principles of the lecture because the professor must have been bad. So we're all walking through these minefields of invalidation on a daily or hourly or minute by minute basis, continually worrying about whether or not somebody will accept our offering to this collective consciousness of society. I think I've gone on too long, but I hope that you can see the message today that I would love for you just to be more aware of. Am I seeking external validation because I want the person to say, you're the best? Or am I trying to share an experience? And that's where it starts, is with awareness of the trans theoretical model of change. What a nerdy psychological theory.

[00:34:37] But it's amazing says that we go from not knowing to knowing. And then, even now that we have this awareness or knowing that doesn't mean now that we're going to be perfect at having this awareness or putting new things into play, that it's going to now take some intentional work. Because when you are not actively working on yourself, your brain is going to go back to the default patterns the deeply dug in neural pathways, a.k.a. the path of least resistance. So when you are aware that you are seeking external validation in that moment, even it's OK to say, Hey, check this out. I realize I am wanting you to say that I am an amazing person and that's not fair to you because. Or one you might not think I'm very amazing with what I'm sharing right now, especially the way I'm showing up. But number two, I'm not even sure exactly what version of amazing person I want you to say that I am. So instead, I need to feel confident in the things that I'm saying are doing, or I need to be able to express them in a vein of curiosity and saying, No, I'm not asking you to respond a certain way. I just want to share this experience. I would love to get your thoughts or your opinions and tell me about your experience with whatever the topic is we're talking about. And let's look at this with curiosity, and let's do this with the goal is to be heard, not to resolve or not to check some box.

[00:35:46] It's really to be heard to have a connected conversation so that we can grow closer together and so that we can feel safe, that every time we do have something go through our head, we can go share that with somebody that we care about, that we feel this secure attachment to. And then we can just start doing and thinking and processing. And that's the way that we're going to start to get to more of a connection or a confident sense of self. So I will leave you there. Thank you so much for taking the time with me today. Hope you have an amazing week. I would love to get your comments, your thoughts, your feedback. Feel free to reach out through to me through Tony Overbay. And once again, I have left the ad till the very, very end. But if you go to virtual couch, you'll get 10 percent off your first month in the world of online counseling. Go do what over two million people have done. Now you can start seeing someone virtually text, email virtual sessions within a couple of days, which is pretty incredible right now. There's a real, real difficult time or shortage and good therapists out there. And but go try that virtual such virtual couch. Have an amazing weekend. I will see you next

[00:36:46] Time on the virtual couch.

[00:36:52] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful. And that's waste and rubber ghost are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. He. News of discount.

Each of us is a unique mixture of life experiences, and we bring all of those experiences into our conversations with others. In today's episode, Tony explores the role of context in conversations. Tony shares an example of how one word can dramatically change the meaning of an entire paragraph from the book "On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You Are Not," by Dr. Robert Burton and he shares cultural differences from the article "15 Fascinating Cultural Difference Around the World," from

Tony also uses his 4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation to show the importance of curiosity and context in conversations.


Go to right now to sign up for Tony's free marriage workshop held Wednesday, November 3rd at 6 PM PT!

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

[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety three of the virtual couch, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified my blabber coach, writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the path back in online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. Go to if you want to learn more about that. There's some group calls that keep gaining steam and the program itself. We've got a nice group of people and people are just changing their lives. They're becoming the people that they always want to be. So that's and a huge thing. And I will go so big on this because I got this episode out on a Monday morning instead of the usual Tuesday morning. Because on Wednesday of this week, Wednesday, the I am stalling as I look at a calendar Wednesday, the third at six p.m. Pacific time. My my good friend Preston Pug Maya and I, Preston is the one who helped me create the magnetic marriage course. We are going to do a marriage magnetic marriage workshop again. That's at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time. So go to Tony over magnetic and you will find out more information on how you sign up to attend this free event. And it is a free marriage workshop and we are going to cover so many things about how to make your marriage more magnetic. And there's a little video on there on that that page that you'll get to that.

[00:01:24] I highly encourage you to just take a quick look at because the more that we talk about the magnetic marriage course, the more people that have gone through the course. I am telling you you don't have the tools by nature, and that is meant by no no disrespect. There's nothing wrong with you, but you really don't have the tools. We don't come from the factory with these tools of to be heard is to be healed and these four pillars of a connected conversation that we teach in the program. And there is just so much more. And so people typically have to get to a pretty bad spot before they go looking for tools on how to repair their marriage. And I am telling you, these are the tools that if you can embrace them now that I believe you can really help prevent a lot of the where people start to feel disconnected or they that wedge grows between them, go to Tony over magnetic and you can watch a little video and you can sign up to participate or to watch the marriage workshop, which is this Wednesday at six p.m. So I hope that I will see you there on the live stream that we're going to be doing, and I can't wait. So let's get to today's topic today. I'm talking about context, and I thought about so many different things I wanted to to share with regard to context.

[00:02:35] But I've been speaking a lot lately. I talked about this event in Utah that I spoke at. I came home from the event and then I did a couple of there called fire sides in my area. Then I did a lesson today for a couple of church congregations that got together, and all of these are on mental health. But there are so many common factors that are occurring of that lead people to not feel heard or to not feel seen or to not feel understood. And so these four pillars of a connected conversation that we teach in the marriage course, their gold, they really do. They can help in so many different situations. But I find that we just often don't understand the context of someone else's life or their experience, even if we share the same home with them. If we share the same bed with them, we still don't understand truly the context of where their brain is in any given moment and the situations that they have been through that lead them to express things the way that they express them. And so when we are not looking at a relationship out of curiosity, we are missing this incredible opportunity to really connect with our spouse. And I think a lot of times we don't understand the context that somebody is bringing in to any given moment. So I'll give you a really silly example. I'm doing this on video right now and I have a beard.

[00:03:47] It's the longest beard I think I've ever had. It is, I know, the longest period I've ever had in my entire life. And someone was asking me about why the beard and there are so many thoughts here that are going to sound silly but silly, because out of context, they just sound like some ridiculous reasons that somebody spouting off when in reality, I wanted to grow facial hair. But there are a lot of context clues that lead up to that. Let me take you through a few of them. Cue the violins, but I have never had a lot of hair. I went bald in 19 or 20. That's a rough go when you are 19 or 20 year old guy. I was trying to play baseball. I was in a fraternity, I was at Kansas State University and this was a long time ago. I'm almost fifty two and there wasn't a lot of information. I couldn't just go Google premature, balding or hair loss or that sort of thing. And of course, I would look at my family and there was not a lot of hair in my family on the men's side. So I should have had a little clue there. But I thought, you know, because I've been wearing too many baseball hats, is that the reason why? So fast forward, and in two thousand three, I finally shaved my head and that was a little earlier than people were shaving their head.

[00:04:50] So I got a lot of comments about that. A lot of people assumed that I was ill. I remember having a package going to a FedEx location around Christmas once and a lady looked at me and went, Oh. And she said you can go ahead, and I felt great. But I think that she thought, Oh, I must have lost my hair and chemotherapy or something like that, so fast forward, I moved through my life. I'm bald, and any time I even thought about having facial hair, I always thought, and this is just my take. But when someone is bald and they have facial hair, I always think, how do you, where do you know to cut off the line there by the sideburns? And here I never even tried that. So then three years ago, I finally succumbed to glasses. I can't hold things out long enough to see them my short. I need reading glasses. But then just being in the office and looking at my iPad and looking up at the client and then looking down at my iPad again, apparently I was doing some damage to my eye. So I have these office lenses, so we got some readers and then they help people that are a little bit further away become more clear. And so I finally have glasses and I think, Oh my gosh, that is the line of demarcation where you can grow your facial hair up too.

[00:05:53] So I start growing out the facial hair, then I realize I feel pretty good at the age of 50, when I turn 50 and my beard has some gray and white and red and brown and all kinds of all the colors like Skittles is what my beard is. And then I think, man, I never thought I would feel this good at 50. So there's a part of me that thinks I kind of enjoy looking a bit older. And so there's so many things in context. And yet I still will find myself in the presence of people who will say, Oh, I think someone that's not clean shaven, and then they fill in the blank about what their judgmental statement is. So context can mean so many different things. Not that someone needs to defend themselves of why they grow facial hair. That's a whole other conversation. But it's interesting just to one of the ways to really lead with curiosity is to want to know the context that somebody has grown up in or the context of why they're behaving the way that they are behaving. And in reading the book on being certain by Robert Burton, M.D., the subtitle of that is believing you were right, even when you're not. There's an exercise that he does in there that is talking about this, about the feeling of knowing, but it is an amazing exercise that has to do with context. And so I've shared this when I've spoken a couple of times.

[00:07:02] And so I wanted to fit this into a podcast. So quite frankly, this is a podcast built around this exercise. And then I have some really neat things that talk about fascinating cultural differences. And do you look at different cultural differences with curiosity or do you look at them with judgment? Do you say, Well, that's ridiculous. Those people shouldn't do that. They should do things the way that we do them or the way that I do them? Or do you look at that and say, Hey, I want to know more about that, because if you can do that with a different culture, why can't we do that with our spouse? Or why can't we do that with our kids? I went and played golf with my son yesterday. My wife is out of town. It was just my son and I, and we had some of the funnest conversations around some things that I won't even talk about on the podcast because it'll sound like I'm sure there would be people saying, Well, why would you even talk about that with them that might encourage him to do this or this? But it was. We talk nonstop through nine holes of golf and on the way up there and back because I just wanted to know more about his experience and in hearing him and not telling him, Wow, man, I can't believe you did that or can't believe you said that he's just so much more open to to talk.

[00:08:03] And then, quite frankly, this is where I feel like we have things backwards in so many different things that the more that he feels heard and the more that I can understand his experience, especially in the context of today's youth and friends and social media and high school and all of these different variables that, yeah, I had my experiences 30 something years ago. So now I want to know. I want to know what the context is that he's he's working with right now. There was some of you may have heard about this because we thought it was just a local event, but there was a message about a potential school violence last week, and it turned out to be more of a national, more of a national story. But it was really interesting just to hear him talk about what that's like these days growing up and how often you do hear in social media or people having videos or sending pictures or Snapchat or these sort of things of people that are threatening violence or that sort of thing. When I was in high school, we didn't hear about that at all. And so what is it like to grow up that becomes more of a regular thing? So just understanding the context of where someone's coming at and what their experience is can lead to so much curiosity and can just build a much better relationship.

[00:09:13] So here's let me take you through this exercise, and I really think that this is going to be you'll enjoy this. I can't lie. So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm going to read a. This is from the book on being certain, and I'm going to I'm going to read a little bit here that's going to lead up to the exercise. So, Dr. Burton says to begin our discussion on the feeling of knowing, he said, read the following excerpt at normal speed, don't skim or give up halfway through or skip to the explanation because this experience can't be duplicated once you know the explanation. So take a moment to ask yourself how you feel about this paragraph that I'm about to read. After reading the clarify, and then I will give you a clarifying word, and then I'm going to read the paragraph again. And as I do so, I want you to pay attention to the shifts in your mental state and your feeling about the paragraph. And I really feel like this is something that when. You hear this. I would love for you to share it with your kids or share it with your spouse, or because this can only be done one time, it can only be duplicated once. So let me read this paragraph and I'm going to read it straight through, and I just want you to just check in and see how you feel about this paragraph. Here goes newspaper is better than a magazine.

[00:10:16] A seashore is better than the street. At first, it's better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times, take some skill, but it's easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it and want successful complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast, and too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs a lot of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful and Iraq will serve as an anchor. And if things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance. So when you heard that paragraph and I just did this when I spoke at an event this morning, do is it comprehensible or is it meaningless? And thankfully, whenever I spoke about this, no one has known where I was going with this, and so it feels pretty meaningless and incomprehensible. And so Dr. Burton says, feel your mind sort through potential explanations. Now here's the fun part. He says, now watch what happens with the presentation of a single word. Some talk about context. Let me give you one word and see how things change. And then I'll go a little bit more about that. But the single word is quite. Kite, kite, so now as I reread this paragraph, feel the prior discomfort of something amiss is going to shift to this pleasant sense of rightness. Everything fits, every sentence works and has meaning every one of them.

[00:11:38] And let me do that then. So let me start here. So remember, the context is a kite. A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is better place than the street. At first, it's better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it's easy to learn even young children can enjoy it. One. Successful complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs a lot of room, and if there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. Iraq will serve as an anchor, and if things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance. So how did that discomfort shift once you had the context of what that paragraph was about? Dr. Burton says everything fits. Every sentence has meaning. When you heard that, he said, it is impossible to regain the sense of not understanding, he said in an instant without due conscious deliberation. The paragraph has been irreversibly infused with a feeling of knowing, and so I'm doing a little bit of a stretch here, but I feel like that same. We owe that same concept to the people in our lives, to the conversations in our lives. Do we understand the context in which they are providing? If I just start talking about things and if my wife hears them as nonsense, does she truly understand what the context is that I'm delivering information? And if not, then there comes curiosity, and curiosity is where a connection really occurs.

[00:13:02] And needless to say, this is where then I just move right in to my four pillars of a connected conversation. That first pillar truly being that to the assumption of good intentions that nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, here's how I'm going to hurt my spouse or my partner or my mom or my dad, or I'm not. And I certainly don't want to put myself out there, and my goal today is to feel dumb. That's not it either, or as president, I've been talking about. Even more so lately is if you have a hard time with that, assuming good intentions, then you can dig a little bit deeper and just really understand that there's a reason why somebody is expressing themselves the way they are. So picture and I know that this isn't going to happen exactly. But if someone is expressing to you what sounds somewhat meaningless information, then do you have the context? Do you have that keyword of tight? Are they talking about something? And they are talking about something because they grew up on the West Coast and they're talking about something to do with the beach, and you have never literally been to the beach. Are people talking about going to Disneyland? I didn't go to Disneyland until I was with my wife after we were married, and I never even realized a lot of the context of things that I was missing when people would make cultural jokes or references around Mickey Mouse or Disneyland or that sort of thing.

[00:14:11] It's a small world. After any of those things, I realized I didn't have the context. I didn't have that one key word kite that would make sense of a lot of the things that people were talking about. So where I want to go next to those four pillars of a connected conversation, if you really look at how that works, then when I'm talking about context is I want you to approach your relationships with this curiosity and it can be hard. I talked last week in an episode of my Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, which I think this concept is so deep when we are having conversations with people and we feel like we're being criticized. And the criticism can come in so many different ways. We may feel criticized when that person absolutely does not mean anything to be critical. So when somebody says, Hey, I don't think you should say that to our son, then it's hard for the person not to start to feel, get their feelings going and feel like, Oh man, I think that they're criticizing me instead of looking at that with curiosity. Looking at that in context, what's the context that my spouse is expressing of why they feel I shouldn't say something in particular to my son a real experience? And if you haven't heard that episode, I was talking about this quote.

[00:15:17] I had been talking with Gail and Condi on her talk show, and it had gone really well. I was talking about narcissistic traits or tendencies, and then I laid out that that quote that oftentimes people that have narcissistic traits or tendencies, which can be all of us. Because, man, I would love for you to go listen to that episode because I talk a lot about how moving from childhood, we all have these egotistical narcissistic traits or tendencies where we do feel like everything revolves around us, and we don't really have a lot of empathy for the plight of our caregivers because we're we're little kids and the world really does revolve around us. And so there's so much there to talk about. But when we move forward into adulthood, our hope is that we will grow from self-centered to self confident to go from that immature way to express ourselves and relate to other people to a more mature way. And that mature way is to listen with curiosity and empathy and to say, tell me more not to feel like we have to control every situation or put someone down or have our way be the only way that is an immature way to communicate. So these four pillars and thinking about the context of which someone else is expressing. Is it's just a way to connect and it's a way to connect, it is not our factory settings.

[00:16:29] We have to be intentional about staying in a conversation and being present and asking more questions and then not turning to this feeling of criticism so that then we shut down and then we do anything we can to defend our fragile ego. So pillar one, that assumption of good intentions, or there's a reason why somebody is saying or doing the things they're doing. I think that it just moves right in here. If somebody is again expressing themselves in a way that you don't think is meaningful, then go dig for that tight explanation. Go find the context which they're expressing themselves. Pillar two is you can't say you are wrong or I don't believe you, even if you think they may be wrong or you may not believe them because the goal is to keep the conversation going. The goal is to be heard, to be heard is to be healed. To be healed is to hear someone. So knowing the context of the way they're expressing themselves can be so key to understand what their experience was like growing up. One of the things I was speaking at recently was that it was to a large congregation of people that are very active in their faith. I didn't grow up with a lot of religion in my life, but would have adopted a lot of religious principles later in life. And so I oftentimes don't have that background of spiritual, scriptural knowledge, and I used to feel really bad about that.

[00:17:46] But now I understand that is just the context in which I grew up. That's my schema as a whole. Other psychological thing that's pretty fascinating or all of the things that I bring to that moment then make me the person that I am. Pillar three is the questions before comments, which I think is so important you can assume good intentions that someone's not trying to hurt you when they say a bunch of things that sound maybe meaningless. Even if you feel like they are wrong about what they're saying, you telling them they're wrong. We'll shut that conversation down. And Pillar three is then questions questions for comments. Instead of saying I get through both the first two pillars instead of violating Pillar three and saying, OK, I have no idea what you're talking about, let me just tell you what it sounds like you're talking about, but now go ahead and tell me what you're talking about, because that's going to shut the conversation down or pillar four is to not go into your bunker. It's to stay present and just stay in that conversation and say, I really do want to know. I'm maybe struggling to really understand the context, but I'm here and I care about you, and let's stay in this conversation until we both feel like we have some understanding or we both feel heard.

[00:18:47] So let me jump into some. There's some really fascinating found an article. It is. It's about different cultural differences. It's called fifteen fascinating cultural differences around the world, and this is from it's from Chef Tariq, who is a resource of Middle Eastern recipes. So I really do feel like I went digging around his website and there really are some phenomenal recipes. But I'm not much of a cook, but some of the things sound amazing. But he has 15 different cultural differences that I think really are, and I think you'll see where I'm going with this before I get to the 15. He has some general do's and don'ts, he said. Make sure you tip in the United States, but don't be insulting and do it in Japan. And before I became a therapist, I went to Japan for about a decade, three or four times a year, and that is absolutely true. At least in the time frame that I was going, you don't tip in Japan, and I used to feel I would say to my my friend Yoshida San, Well, yeah, but I'm an American, so why don't I tip? They'll think that's really cool, but not understanding the context that you do not tip that that is not something that is cool. They will not view that as, Oh my gosh, this guy is amazing. It's a man. You don't respect our culture, so not tipping. And here's another one that's very true. Slurp away while eating in Japan, but don't you dare in the United States without coming across as very rude.

[00:19:58] This is a very true story. The first time I ever went to Japan and I had this new suit I was wearing and we went to a ramen place, a noodle place. Again, the most true of all true stories, and I pick up my bowl of noodles to slurp them like I had been trained to do, and I literally dumped them right into my lap and they were so hot and it was this really cool new suit I had. And then I had to go to the bathroom and I had to take my pants off and I had to wash out the the pants. And then it was a I didn't even know at the time, but it was a family restroom. And so a woman walks in and I'm sitting there my underwear, trying to wash my pants out and so I can just speak from experience that that slurping away is encouraged. But make sure you hang onto your bowl. That would be what I would do. He also says Don't mix up Aussies and Kiwis in New Zealand. Do not blow your nose in public in Turkey or Japan. Another one in Japan. My my, my business partner Yoshida San, would cover his mouth when he would speak on the phone, cover his mouth when he would use a toothpick. And so when you think about that, it just looks like we are just these people that are just out there, bold and loud by just talking on our phone, picking their teeth and blowing our nose, apparently.

[00:21:01] He said, I wouldn't jump the queue or the line in the UK, and I know that one as well. Don't stand in a queue in the Middle East. Don't stare at people in Germany, he said. The best thing to do when traveling for international business or for fun is to read up on new countries that you're visiting and that is so true. So while we're here and we're talking about context, here's some just fun things that are, he says, cross-cultural understanding is paramount. If you want to get along with other people from other places, let people feed you in Ethiopia, he said. If you find yourself in Ethiopia dining with locals, you may be in for a surprise. If someone reaches for your mouth with some food, be sure to eat it. Otherwise, you might be seen as rude. This is because one way of showing affection in Ethiopia is to feed the people that you're eating with. So if they are reaching out with their hands, putting food into your mouth, feel honored. And how fun is that to know that there are these just such different things that are happening in other cultures? So if there isn't a need for context, I feel like this is so relevant. Make sure to get naked in Iceland, he said.

[00:21:59] Icelandic people are very relaxed about nudity, and in fact, women have the right to be topless in public if they want without fearing any kind of backlash. However, he said when it comes to swimming pools, Icelandic people are very uptight about hygiene and the naked body. So when going to the pool, you must take a clean bathing suit with you and not wear it under your clothes. Once in the changing room, you'll get completely naked and take a shower while being watched by the shower guard. And this is to be sure that you wash your intimate private areas along with other areas before being allowed to leave the shower area. Only then can you put your suit on and enter the pool to enjoy swimming, soaking and relaxing. So that's a lot of rules you would know, and this did remind me I used to go to the onsen the Japanese hot springs when I would travel. And I remember one time, Boy, you had to get right there and buck naked. And that wasn't something I was used to and just walking around. And I just remember at one point they had a hot the hot springs and a cold pool. And I did not know that going from open vascular place into a very cold pool that I all everything in my whole body, my capillaries, my arteries than just seized up. And so I remember sitting down into that pool and already being very aware of my nakedness and then feeling like I literally was having a heart attack and that I was going to die in this cold pool in Japan.

[00:23:14] But then it turns out that I was not supposed to go immediately from that hot to cold, and eventually then everything seemed to be OK when meeting people in Japan, he says. Tell them your age now. I did not run into this one, but he says it's very common and not considered rude to ask a person's age in Japan when you meet them for the first time. The Japanese language is rich and complex, and it's the language has different words depending on the age or status of the person you're talking to. And I do remember that you can say orgasm us is a good morning in Japan, and there's you throw a little more flavor into it if the person you're speaking to is older. Number four, he says, do all the talking with your mouth in Turkey. Hand gestures and signals are always better to use in your home country where you understand what they mean. And I realized that I speak with my hands a lot. I really do. But he said, for example, in Turkey, allowing your thumb to protrude between your first and second finger in a fist, which is I'm doing right now, is extremely rude. And he said, also don't make an OK gesture unless you mean to call someone, he says an A-hole and a very derogatory way.

[00:24:17] So giving someone the OK, not OK. In in Turkey number five, he says giving gifts in China can get you into trouble in certain. Gifts in China can cause great offense, such as giving cut flowers, which is only done at funerals, giving a clock as seen as bad luck since. The words giving a clock sound just like the words attending a funeral, a gift of shoes would be interpreted as giving a gift of evil again because the word for shoe and evil are very similar and nothing with the number four is that is associated with death. The word for sounds like the word death handkerchiefs are a symbol of saying goodbye forever, so those don't go over well, either. And he says, finally, don't give a sharp object as that insinuates you want to cut off the relationship. He says you should be safe with a gift of fruit or tea or even alcohol. Number six, don't touch anyone's head and Malaysia, especially babies, which is really hard to do because they're so cute and they smell good. But babies don't touch the head of an adult, either, you said, just better to hold back on that impulse. And also Malaysia, it's rude to to point where directions are normally given with an open hand. Cultural differences are not. It sounds like Chef Tariq is saying it's better not to make hand signals when in a foreign country. The number seven, he says, use both hands in South Korea using both hands when handing things to other people.

[00:25:26] Whether your business card or especially money number eight, keep your feet on the ground in the Middle East. Apparently, it's considered very rude to show people the soles of your feet or even point them in their direction and be very careful when you sit with your legs crossed. Just a few more here. Keep a knife and fork in your hands and chili. He said. It's very rude and chilly to eat anything with your hands. Even when eating french fries always have a knife and a fork at the ready. And 10 No. 10 don't make a toast with your wine in Georgia, not the state Georgia, but the country. Georgians make toast with wine, vodka or beer if they wish someone bad luck. Many cultural differences exist around the consumption of alcohol, so it's good to be well versed, and, he said. However, 10 to 15 toast a night in small glasses with other alcoholic beverages that must be downed is in one. It's completely normal. Number 11 This is fascinating because I'm a fan of showing up on time, if not a little bit early. But he says don't show up on time for dinner in Tanzania. So it is considered rude to turn up for dinner on time in Tanzania, where you are expected to be 15 minutes late at the very least. And when you do show up, do not give any hints that you smell the food as that is very rude.

[00:26:29] So imagine then just someone like myself showing up and on time a little bit early and then saying This stuff smells amazing, and all of a sudden you're drummed out of the country. Number 12 Never put a fork in your mouth. In Thailand, a fork in Thailand is used to shovel the food onto your spoon only and not for eating with. So that is the job of your spoon. This one's interesting. Pucker up your lips and Nicaragua number 13. Knowing about some cultural differences will keep you safer in Nicaragua. Pointing with fingers is not done. Instead, people use their lips for this job. They pucker their lips and gesture in a certain direction, usually to point out something happening nearby. Number 14 Go hang out in the cemetery in Denmark. When many people around the world want to hang out, relax and maybe have a picnic, they usually head for a park. But not so in Denmark, where they head to the cemetery for little rest and relaxation. The cemeteries there are very well manicured and host a lot of people, especially during nice weather, and this is a pun warning coming, chef Tarek says. A cultural difference or a custom that we can live with on account of the graveyard. And then 15, this one actually sounds kind of fun. Throw a tomato at someone in Spain. La Martina is a festival in Spain that is all about throwing tomatoes at each other.

[00:27:35] It all started in nineteen forty five when a parade careened out of control, overturning a fruit and vegetable stand, and people began throwing tomatoes at one another out of frustration. And after a couple of years, the authorities tried to ban the practice. But they said, if we can't ban this and so a festival was born. So throwing usually lasts an hour and there are some rules to adhere to. No tearing or throwing T-shirts. No hard objects or bottles squash the tomato a bit before throwing it so as not to hurt anyone and stop when you hear the signal. And once done, the fire department hoses down the main square, revealing a very clean ground due to the citric acid and the tomatoes. So something makes me wonder if that was a wise plan to actually clear or to clean an entire block or that sort of thing. So I hope you can see why I enjoy those. It's fun to learn different things about different cultures, but I've talked often about the idea. I mean, today we're talking about context and we're talking about, do you bring that same curiosity about that? You would, in a culture are saying, Oh, wow, I didn't know that into your own relationships or in your relationships. You say, Well, that's ridiculous. Or you might have even been saying these things are ridiculous here, as would some people in other countries think some of the traditions that we do are ridiculous as well.

[00:28:47] I'm literally recording this on Halloween. My family's out of town and handed out some candy, then ran over to record a quick podcast. And I remember talking with someone else in Japan who had talked about the Halloween holiday didn't make a lot of sense. And I've heard comedians joke about this often, and my wife and I have talked about this from time to time. But it is pretty fascinating that you tell people to your kids, don't go up to strangers, don't take candy from strangers. Except for this one day when they're dressed up in these really scary masks. So I can only imagine what that must be like to a country that doesn't have Halloween, where they must feel like it literally doesn't make sense. So we dress up. Some people are dressed up as Super Mario, but then others are these demonic things from. But then we're all getting along and we're all handing out candy and putting it in pillowcases. And then every now and again, you'll watch a horror movie like Halloween, where now someone with a mask is actually a bad guy. So it is really interesting when you take that in context and then really take a look at we have our own things that I'm sure are pretty crazy, that other countries would think that that's they don't understand why we do them. So the goal the challenge this week, I think, is to really start to just have that word curiosity in your mind.

[00:29:54] And with curiosity does come questions. It comes tell me more. And I feel like you are going to have to watch and see. Check in with yourself on. If you do feel certain things as criticism and oftentimes when we feel criticism, then our brain immediately goes to protection mode. We are so worried that when somebody is saying something that is not the way that we view or think about something that for some reason they're putting us down in our brain is this don't get killed device. Our brain is this I must protect myself device. And so oftentimes when somebody does ask a question about why you do something the way you do or they tell you that they don't necessarily agree with what you are, what you agree with, that our heart rate will start to elevate a little bit. We'll start to go into this fight flight or freeze mode. And so that's why it is so imperative and important to be able to recognize that you are two different individuals to have in a conversation, each with your own experiences, each with your own context around the things that you're talking about. Fascinating, fascinating data. If you look at even looking at twin studies where two twins can go throughout life, literally sharing DNA and going through life together, and they can watch something happen, so the same input. But then if you ask them to write what happened to completely different outputs, so if you're looking at that from a context of with twins, then how on earth are any of us having the exact same experience? We aren't.

[00:31:12] We may be in the same place, but at any given moment, our brain is just a amalgamation of just a potpourri of experiences that lead up to how we think, feel or behave in any given moment. And it's we're in this over half an hour. I'm going to wrap this thing up, but I just feel like any chance I can get to express to anyone that you are not broken. You are you, you are the only version of you. So I really want people to not think what's wrong with me, but reframe things when you think things instead of saying, What's wrong with me for thinking this, say, check out what I'm thinking because you're doing this whole game of life for the first time ever and every moment that you are in, the moment that I'm recording this, the moment that you're listening to this, it's the first time you've ever brought yourself to this situation right now. And so the things that I'm expressing, the things that you're thinking while you're hearing are not meant to be done with what's wrong with me or why am I doing this? It's more of a Hey, check out what I'm saying. Check out what I'm thinking. That's fascinating. And then look at that with yourself, with curiosity.

[00:32:16] Look at Wow, why am I thinking that when I was laying out some of these cultural differences, some of them, you may have laughed, others you might have thought, Oh, that's ridiculous. Others you might have said, Wow, that makes a lot of sense. So look at that with curiosity. Take that that. Take this episode and I'll have the show notes. I'll have the link to the article that I referred to, and not even just to listen to what those cultural differences is are. But then ask your spouse, your partner, your kids, you're whoever. What do you think? Do you think that's funny? Could you see yourself doing that? Look at things with curiosity, not with judgment, because we need to stop. We would change this whole narrative of feeling offended when someone expresses their opinion, and we need to feel safe enough that we can go to the people that we care about and express ourselves in a way that in any way, because that's we desire connection. We desire to know that somebody is there, that we matter, that somebody cares about us. And the way we do that is human interaction. But we are not going to keep putting ourselves in a position to interact with other human beings if we are constantly being met with a feeling of judgment or shame or that sort of thing. So take this next week. Be a little more curious. Think of the context.

[00:33:27] What is the word that one word kite? What are you missing from this person's experience that they're sharing? And find out and then just learn more. Tell me more about that and maybe hold back on wanting to let somebody know why you think what they're saying is wrong or that you disagree. And I promise you that you are going to start to feel more of a connection and you are going to feel your yourself feel a little bit. I think we've all had these experiences before where you have had a negative interaction with somebody, and that does not feel good to carry that around with you. It breaks my heart a lot of times, my son, I'm wrapping this up. I promise my son and I were driving by some an older guy that was in this truck and he just looked angry and we were about to miss an exit. So I did get in pretty quick and he was so angry and there was no part of me that woke up that day and thought, Man, I cannot wait till about one thirty in the afternoon. I'm going to drive down the freeway and I'm going to. I hope I can hit it right where I'm going to try to get wait to the very last minute and then cut over and get on this exit. And I promise you, it really was safe. But he was so mad and I told my son that breaks my heart to think of what that.

[00:34:30] Son must feel like and how often they must feel that way, walking around life feeling. Why do people do what they do? Why can't they just do it this way instead of looking at life with curiosity? So there's my goal. There is my hope. There's your assignment for the week and do not forget. Go to Tony over Bacon Magnetic and sign up to to find out more about this workshop, which is Wednesday, the 4th. Oh, now I just panicked. Is it Wednesday the 4th? It is Wednesday the third Wednesday, November 3rd 6:00 p.m. Pacific and find out more about that. Boy, if anyone's still listening, I completely botched doing the ad again this week. Virtual Couch If you are interested in the world of online therapy, sliding scales a very easy process to get on board and find a therapist that can help you with so many different things. So you deserve to to take a look at your mental health. All right. Have an amazing week. If you are, I think any of you who have been joining me over on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, the Apple had there were some list that I saw where the growth of it, it's up four thousand percent a week with the people subscribing and listening. And so I could not be more thankful for the people that are supporting that podcast as well. So I have an amazing week and I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

Tony Overbay LMFT shares an example of gaslighting that led to setting a healthy boundary. Tony then tackles the topic of boundaries. What are healthy boundaries, and why are they so difficult to enforce? Tony refers to Kier Brady LMFT's article "5 Type of Boundaries For Your Relationship," as well as Dr. Robert Glover's information on boundaries from his book "No More Mr. Nice Guy."

Please find out more about Tony's Magnetic Marriage program by contacting him through or by visiting

With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. 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, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, 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 And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

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

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

[00:00:12] Hey, everybody, welcome to

[00:00:13] Waking up to narcissism episode eight. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mindful habit coach and a writer and a speaker and a husband and a father of four. And that is the you can tell I was doing that a little bit choppy. That's the way I start my virtual couch podcast. Just it's deeply rooted neural pathways that are going to that when I'm in front of this microphone. But welcome aboard. If you're new, I'm so grateful you're here. This podcast is just continuing to grow at an astronomical rate, and I'm not saying that to say How cool am I or is that? But it just shows the need. And so I see you, I hear you. I'm getting the emails on a daily basis, and I just want you to know I'm reading them all. It's it's hard to get back to people, but I am reading them and I have a sincere desire to just respond to everybody because people are sharing so many amazing things of feeling hurt or feeling understood for the first time. And there are so many questions coming in that working with some of the folks behind the scenes to see what the best way is to try to maybe put a second episode out and hopefully be a bonus episode, a Patreon episode or something to do some more of the questions and answers. Get more guests on because I don't know if I shared this early on, but I've started a nonprofit and that's attached to this women's group for that that I am a part of, or that I started this private women's group for women who have been through or in currently in relationships or even have narcissistic family members, bosses, that sort of thing and are just trying to learn how to maneuver and raise their emotional baseline, stay more present and the connection that these women have have. They've grown close, they share experiences and continually, and this is done in such a loving way. Let me know as a therapist, as someone that can help with the knowledge I have that nothing is the

[00:01:57] Substitute for

[00:01:58] People that are talking about this, that have gone through the experience themselves. So the nonprofit set aside there, when I say maybe a patron,

[00:02:05] I want you to know it's not so that I can almost 50 to. It's not so I can start my midlife crisis and get some gold chains and hair plugs in a sports car.

[00:02:13] But it would be more to hopefully help with this nonprofit, and the goal of the nonprofit is to possibly help people that need the legal fees that need relocation, costs that just need mental health support. And so I have rambled on far enough. Let's get to the episode today. I have a gaslighting example that is just it's incredible, and I think it touches on so many different things. And I want to talk today a little bit about boundaries because one of the things in the five things that I talk about to be able to maneuver, interact or start to gain some traction in your relationship, whoever the narcissist

[00:02:46] Or narcissistic

[00:02:47] Tendency person is in your life. And you know, I talk about five things. Number one is raise your emotional baseline, which is self-care. Self-care is absolutely not selfish, and putting your needs first is something that is really difficult for people who are the pathologically kind who often find themselves in the relationship with the pathological narcissist or the person

[00:03:06] Who is going

[00:03:07] To continually take advantage of someone. And so raising that emotional baseline is so important. Second, I say, get your PhD in gaslighting because I'm still I don't want to say amazed or because this is the work that I do. But people that haven't heard of the term gaslighting, you don't really know what gaslighting is about, which just is all the more reason why it's so important to to spread the podcast out or other podcasts that talk about things like gaslighting. Because when your words are turned against you and you walk away from a conversation feeling even worse, that is not a healthy relationship. Because if you get into my own narcissistic traits or tendencies here, but if you've listened to some of the virtual couch podcast episodes I do about my my marriage, my marriage course, my four pillars of a connected conversation that we really should be able to talk with our spouses or partners or colleagues or our kids about anything. Because you are your own autonomous individual, you're the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the Earth. So your opinions and your thoughts and your emotions, everything, they are valid. So when you are expressing those to someone and they are being turned around on you, that is not a healthy relationship. And whether, again, whether it's with a spouse or a sibling or a parent or a

[00:04:20] Church leader or a

[00:04:22] Boss or any of those things. So that second one is get your PhD and gaslighting. Then I talk about getting out of unproductive conversations. You're removing yourself from those situations. The fourth one is setting boundaries. And so we're going to talk today about boundaries because there's a lot of confusion on what a boundary is and what it even looks like to hold the boundary. And then the fifth thing I talk about is recognizing there isn't anything you're going to say or do that's going to cause that aha moment or that epiphany where the person that has been emotionally manipulative or

[00:04:48] Abusive or that they are

[00:04:49] Going to all of a sudden say, Oh my gosh, I did not understand what I was doing. I will never do it again. Because even if they say that, then often it's to get themselves out of that situation. Help you to feel better. And then until

[00:05:00] The pattern repeats itself at some point and I call that a

[00:05:02] Shelf life, let's get to the episode we are in the episode. Let's get to the example on gaslighting, because again, this one is I'm going to read it. I asked the person for permission. And I am changing some of the details, because because that's what we want to do to protect the confidentiality of the person, but it's so good. The person said nice things about the podcast and they said that they're the episodes of narcissism. A few years ago on Virtual Couch was what really did wake them up to their narcissism and their spouse and help them realize that they were not the problem that he was the one with the dysfunctional thinking. She said that at

[00:05:32] That time, the

[00:05:33] Virtual couch, they helped give her language to be able to describe something that for so long, she wasn't able to pinpoint. She gained also some knowledge from Christine Hammond, who I had on my podcast. She has a phenomenal podcast about understanding today's narcissist. And she said it truly was a hinge point in her marriage, not because it fixed the issue. And again, that's why I love about this. This email is so real. She said it didn't, but it allowed me to learn how not to engage in a way that would feed his narcissistic supply. She said she met with a therapist who also helped her implement some boundaries and learn to walk away during unproductive arguments and to avoid the trap of getting lured in. This is an ongoing practice that she's still not perfect at, and again, this is an ongoing practice, and we're going to talk more about that, especially when setting boundaries. We want to think that we set a boundary and then there we go where it's done, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. So it's an ongoing practice of doing this. She said she still finds herself taking the bait in an effort to defend her position on something, and before she knows it, she's on the roller coaster ride. But it always ends with her feeling frustrated and completely drained of energy by the time the conversation is over.

[00:06:32] She said My energy continues to be expended during the hours after the argument, when I ruminate and replay the conversation on loop in my brain and I stew over all of his attempts at gaslighting manipulation, she said. When will I learn just not to engage and to walk away, which she's on her way? The awareness is one of the biggest factors and again, ongoing practice. And I feel like what happens is, and this is part of us being human is that we do let our guard down the things that have worked for us and give us some hope. We then feel a sense of relief. And so sometimes we do let our foot off the gas. So we kind of our brains go right back to the path of least resistance. And so we fall back into some of the similar patterns and behaviors. And I want to talk about this too. I like to again, if you're new to the podcast that I really do enjoy humor, I am joking at times when I when I say I was about to say, I'm an expert in this field, I know what I'm talking about. I've got this podcast. I've been doing this forever. I've testified in court cases and yet then I can find myself in some of the narcissist in my own life of getting all of a sudden caught up.

[00:07:29] And then all of a sudden I am defending myself and I've got that psychological reactants, that instant negative reaction of being told what to do, even to the point where someone might say something that I somewhat agree with. But then I find myself just saying, I don't agree with that at all. As a matter of fact, I've never agreed with that in my entire life, and I'm sitting there thinking, OK, I'm almost a fifty two year old guy who's a theoretical expert in this field, and I just got lured in. I just got caught. And so it's just a process. And when you recognize that you have been caught up in that narcissistic hamster wheel just when you can, when you bring awareness to it, just gently step off. Don't beat yourself up. Don't tell yourself you don't do that. What's wrong with me? Story? Just I notice I'm noticing, and I need to remove myself from the situation and just regroup. Review the game film. See, maybe what we're what led to falling back into the pattern with the narcissist? Oftentimes, I use this acronym. It's called Halt Hungry, angry, lonely, tired. And oftentimes that acronym can describe a lot of what leads up to when we go back and we engage in something that we know isn't healthy for us. On my

[00:08:30] I've got a pornography recovery program called the Path

[00:08:32] Back and on there, I talk so often about the difference between compulsion and impulse. Compulsion is something that's premeditated, and somebody is fixated on getting their next fix, whether it's something like pornography or food or gaming or gambling or shopping or anything like that, that you can do some really good work and then address the compulsive nature. So we could even fit it into this situation of you can address this constant need or desire to prove yourself to the narcissist fix the narcissist buffer for the narcissist, explain to the narcissist. And so you can have that compulsive piece down where now you are more present in your day to day, but then you can hit with an impulse because you're human because you maybe are hungry or angry or lonely or tired. And so that will oftentimes lead to impulsive reactions, impulsive behaviors. I give an example. Oftentimes when I'm talking about compulsion versus impulse of I can really be working on trying to not eat junk food. As matter of fact, the timing of this is perfect. I'm recording this on Thursday, October 28th, and I think last year I gave an example of Reese's Pumpkins the the mixture of chocolate. The peanut butter is amazing. It really is. It's just the right amount if you get that thing just slightly chilled to. Holy cow, that's OK. I need to bring myself back to center. But last year I told myself I am going to try and not devour an insane amount of Reese's pumpkins leading up to the holidays.

[00:09:49] And even right now, I haven't done any. I forgot about them and now I'm going to be thinking about them. But it compulsively. I have been very aware this time last year that I was not going to continually think of. I need to get Reese's Pumpkins. Those would be nice to have. I'll put some in the refrigerator, I'll have some of my office. And so I had that dialed in and we were heading to my son's best. Well, tournament, he was playing a tournament, it was a Saturday. I had a really good workout that morning, but I had also seen a bunch of clients leading up to that week. I probably didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked, so I wake up on a Saturday. I get up early. I work out hard because I want to have my workout done before we go and watch my son play basketball. And I didn't. I didn't probably eat a good, healthy breakfast because I just didn't do it. So then I what am? I'm hungry, I'm tired. And so I walk into like a 7-Eleven and I'm going to get him some Gatorade and they're there on the counter. Reese's Pumpkins, what do I do? I impulsively grabbed two of them and I walk out with them, and then I brought them to my office

[00:10:47] At that time, and I think I ate one as soon as

[00:10:50] I could fit it into my mouth. I put the other one in my fridge at work, and then a couple of days later, I did the same thing within seconds. Now do I beat myself up about it? No, that that was. I fell into an impulse because of one of these triggers hungry, angry, lonely, tired. So if you find yourself falling to an impulse and then engaging with the narcissist in your life, then give yourself some grace. It's a process. It is an ongoing practice, as this is, this person said. So that is a really long lead up to say to the next part, she said. This leads me to my gaslighting example. A couple of years ago, when my therapist taught me the walk away strategy, I began to implement it during arguments where my husband was yelling or cussing or belittling me when I would tell him, Hey, that's not OK with me. We'll revisit this conversation when you can be calm and she would walk away. He started blocking exits with his body, and I have heard of this often. So often, she said. This happened several times. He would stand in front of the doorway, and when I would try to leave, he would say no and blockade the exit. She said she would try to squeeze through, but she's one hundred and twenty pounds and he's well over two hundred. So there wasn't really a way that he could.

[00:11:52] He would tell her that the conversation was not over and he would attempt to pull her back in. And she said she just learned to turn her back to him remain silent, no matter what. And he would continue to say things to try to get her to engage. He would tell me, Quit acting like a child or you're so immature. Why are you giving me the silent treatment? And eventually he would give up and leave enraged and oftentimes punching a hole in the wall or walking out and slamming the door. And she said he's had to replace doors because he slammed them so hard. I've talked with so many people that have holes in their walls where people have punched through in this narcissistic rage or anger. She said. Eventually, she got tired of him blocking her in and refused to engage in that argument. One day he was standing in front of the door with his arm across it so she couldn't leave, and she told him that if he didn't let her go, she would call the police because she was being held against her will. And he called her bluff and said, Go ahead, and he's in the medical field. So if he happened to lose his license to practice medicine, he said, that's all on you. And she said, Oh my gosh, you know,

[00:12:48] That's he's he's

[00:12:49] In this medical profession. She's a stay at home mom without a college degree. She can't support her family. So in her mind, she thought, Doug, Honey, he's right. She can't risk him losing his license because they have kids to feed. They have a family to support. And he'd also convinced her that it was her fault for not being willing to finish the conversation. But she backed down. She said she didn't call the police, and by doing that, he was able to continue to gaslight and manipulate her once again. So she said, fast forward a couple of years, she found herself in a similar situation and this was pretty recent, and he was not letting her leave during an argument. And this time she managed to make it past him. She quickly grabbed her keys, ran to the car which was parked in the garage, and she hit the button to open the garage door, ran to the car, turned on the engine. As soon as she threw it in reverse, there was her husband standing there. I can almost picture this like a scary movie where there he is right behind, she said. He'd already hit the button and the garage door was beginning to close before she could back out. So then he ran over and he pulled the little rope on the garage door to keep it from opening. She said she was trapped and she had no way to leave her car.

[00:13:47] He walked next to the door and tried to get in, but she had locked the doors, and she said she told him to hurry and open the garage door because the car was running, and she was worried that they might even be in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning or, you know, enclosed garage with the engine running, and that she hoped that would help them come to a senses and open the garage door and allow her to leave. But at that point, and she was so true in the way she put this, she said. At that point, it was a battle of control and he was not about to back down because to the narcissist, it is all about control. He told her, Oh yeah, that's pretty stupid. You might want to turn your engine off. But she said the message was clear that he wasn't going to let her leave, so she did turn her car off and she decided to use what little control that she did have. She said I told him he had three seconds to open the garage door or she was going to call the police. And he said, go ahead thinking that there was no way I would follow through with my threat like I have not done in times past. But she said this time she knew better. She said she knew that whatever the result was from the police being called was not on her, that it was on him due to his actions.

[00:14:50] She proceeded to count to three and then she dialed nine one one, and as soon as the dispatcher, she had him on the phone. Then he opened the garage door and let her leave, and he called her crazy. He told her he was being ridiculous, that she was being ridiculous because he didn't even touch her. And so then she told the dispatcher what had happened and that she no longer needed the police to come. But she was told they still needed to come and assess to make sure that she was safe. When the police came, they spoke to her and her husband separately, and they told her that when he blocks her exit and doesn't allow her to leave, it's considered a form of abuse and that he could go to jail for that. And she told the officer that she wasn't interested in pressing charges, but asked him to please tell her husband what they told her and that that it was considered abuse. So the next day, her husband and her had a conversation about it. And of course, there was little to no acknowledgment on his part of anything, any wrongdoing, and she had told him that the officer had told her that was abusive. And he said, Oh, that's absolutely not what the officer told me. In fact, they said nothing like that, which, oh man, I see that one in my sessions, often where people will use me against the couple.

[00:15:51] And there's a quick remedy to that. But I know that this isn't necessarily something that she could have enacted. I don't know. Maybe she could have. But I will have. Let's say the wife will text me and say, Hey, when you met one on one with my husband, he said that you were pretty clear that I am the problem. And man, that is the air that the narcissist breeze is to then triangulate, put to put that person, put the spouse in the hot seat and say, No, everybody thinks that you're the crazy one. Everybody's telling me this, and oh my gosh, they hand me a gift at that point because when I say, All right, hey, let me group text you and your husband and just make sure we're on the same page, because I absolutely would not say that and did not say that. And you do that one time and then and then that does help or correct the behavior and which I think and I actually learned this from Christine Hammond, where that's in my fifth rule of working or trying to work with a narcissist. You're not trying to give them that aha moment where they go, Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. I can't believe I did that. But unfortunately, at some point that is setting a boundary because in that trains the narcissist to say, OK, when you do this, when you try and triangulate against me, then I will reach out to the person that you are pinning against me.

[00:16:54] And that takes some guts. But I start seeing that often when I get a new client. And let's say again, it's let's say it's the wife and the husband is the narcissist. I've had so many of these where the husband will then say in the room, even because he's trying to convince me I was talking to your to your cousin and your cousin was even wondering why you're not on medication or why you're not nicer. And you can just watch the air go out of the wind out of the sails of the woman in that situation who says, Whoa, my really. My cousin thinks that too. I thought I had a great relationship with my cousin, but in reality then I love when somebody can say, I had no idea. Let me reach out and ask my cousin more, because the Narcissus is going to say, Well, no, no, I don't want you to do that. I don't mean to involve them. That's on you. But no, that's the gaslighting. So at that point, let's text the cousin and the husband, and I don't care even the therapist and say, Hey, I understand that you think that I should be on antidepressants or that you think that? I mean, I would love to talk about that.

[00:17:46] And what do you think happens? The cousin says, I have no idea what you're talking about. She said what? I appreciated this and she said I was so proud of myself that day for sending the message to my husband that he can't continue to manipulate, control and gaslight me. And since that time, he has not tried to keep me from leaving when we get into an argument. And she said, I'm slowly learning I won't be able to reason with them. So why bother getting into the argument in the first place? Bless her heart. Holy cow. That is it right there? Is it fair? No, absolutely not fair. But is it productive? Yes. As you are waking up to the narcissist in your life, this is a great example of the slow process. But then the empowering feeling that that process can it isn't always satisfying because you aren't. You aren't going to feel heard or be able to resolve that in a mature way like you deserve. But once you can accept that fact, then no longer are you trying to seek out that mature connection or conversation if it is not possible. And that's where you do get to work on yourself, raise your emotional baseline, become the person that you want to be. And boy, we're going to talk about that. I've got another group call

[00:18:48] Coming up tonight, and

[00:18:50] We're going to talk about that there, where it is one of the one of the hardest things to see are the women or men or in relationships with narcissistic women when they do break free that they often have realize that they have just been whoever they have needed to be to appease him, to buffer between him and the kids. And so trying to find that identity is a real difficulty. So I'm not going to give more on that because I've got somebody that is just has such a wonderful way to put that. But that's going to lead us to talk about boundaries. Let's move into that part of today's episode. So one of the

[00:19:20] Articles that I found that I really enjoyed that goes over different types of boundaries is by marriage and family therapist out of Georgia, and her name is Kim Brady. So I have not reached out to cure, so I hope that she is OK with me sharing her. This article she wrote about five types of boundaries

[00:19:38] For your relationship,

[00:19:39] And I'll have a link to it in the show. But she

[00:19:41] She laid out very well

[00:19:43] The five different types of boundaries. One is physical boundaries, and she says those refer to your body privacy, your personal space. She gives the example of someone might they might enjoy public displays of affection, or they might be uncomfortable with it. If your partner kisses you in public and you're uncomfortable with it, that you need to let them know and you can see right here where things start to get interesting. If you have someone in your life who doesn't respect a boundary or tells you, OK, you're you're crazy, or will I like to be? Physical in public, and so you need to be OK with it, then you can see where people start to back the line up on their boundaries, and the more they do that, the more the person, especially someone with narcissistic tendencies, traits or a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder is going to continue to push those boundaries again. I think I said in an earlier episode that the boundary at some point to the narcissist or person with narcissistic tendencies is becomes somewhat of a challenge. So she says sharing your preferences and expectations might feel difficult, but not sharing them. Excuse me, can make you feel disrespected, and it might be easy to establish a boundary around your partner not slapping you, for example. Perhaps the boundary in consequence is quick to define in this case, if you slap me, I will leave. However, in other areas, it can be tricky, and she talks about how sharing your personal boundaries can improve your relationship, know what you are and what you are not comfortable with, and share this with your partner. And the key here is that in a healthy relationship, that one should be able to and I always say in the virtual couch, no one likes to be should on. You should do this,

[00:21:11] You should do that.

[00:21:12] But here's the healthy version of that that you should. You should be able to share your, your truths, your hopes, your dreams, your boundaries and have your partner view that with curiosity. Not well. You need to understand that I have my needs to that kind of that kind of a vibe. The second one she talks about is emotional boundaries. And she says in order to establish emotional boundaries, you need to be in touch with your feelings. And again, you can see where the difficulty can lie. When someone who is in a relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies and again, I'll stop laying out that whole, I think you know where I'm going with that. When I just say narcissist, someone that is on that entire spectrum of narcissistic traits and tendencies to full blown narcissistic personality disorder. She says healthy emotional boundaries require you to know where you end and where your partner begins. And if that phrase sounds familiar, that's I love talking about the concept of differentiation. That's our ultimate goal is to be differentiated. Differentiation is a healthy relationship with one with a partner and yourself. Differentiation is where one person ends and the other begins. And so instead of being enmeshed and codependent in a relationship, you want to get to interdependent and differentiated.

[00:22:19] Differentiated is how it's too autonomous individuals that can maintain a relationship without trying to break down the other person's view of the world or reality. And, quite frankly, not having to defend your own in a healthy way. You get to differentiation, and there is a lot of curiosity involved with differentiation, but I often say that when a couple gets different becomes differentiated. At first, there's going to be the strong desire to go right back to codependency or right back to enmeshment. So if somebody starts to say, Hey, here's my opinion that I have this different opinion. That's the person starting to grow. If that's you. If you've been in this relationship where you felt like you weren't allowed to have a different opinion, then you are not differentiated. So the more that you are standing up for yourself, not acquiescing, saying, Hey, no, actually, I like this, or actually, I would prefer you not do this. And we talked to one of the earlier episodes that that is where the narcissist will often say, Oh, well, you, you're being pretty mean right now are rude. Or Boy, look at your anger or you don't let things go.

[00:23:16] All those kind of things

[00:23:17] That a lot of that, that is when someone starts to differentiate. And again, differentiation is healthy. Differentiation starts to happen when people aren't afraid of the tension in a relationship. We're often so afraid that things will be contentious or that they will go to contentious, that we avoid tension altogether. She's saying if your partner is upset and you notice yourself sharing, this feeling boundary might be needed. Notice that when you feel guilty or ashamed or upset and undervalued, she said, boundaries might be needed when you notice these feelings coming up around certain issues or situations here says If you are upset and your partner tries to fix it, you could feel as if your partner isn't hearing you. Your partner might be trying to help you, but it just leaves you feeling more upset. And she said this is a place where a boundary might be helpful. You could say when I'm upset, I would like you to listen to me without trying. Or sometimes I just need to vent. Excuse me when you try to fix things, I don't feel heard. If I want your advice, I'll let you know. And you can see where that sounds like I'm being rude. If I want your advice, I'll let you know. But it's not said with that intention. It's the I just want to be heard and I love when my wife can say to me, I just need to. I just need to vent. And man, now I'm starting to creep over into so many of the virtual couch episodes. I do healthy relationships, my whole marriage course, my magnetic marriage course is about learning how to communicate more effectively, and I have these four pillars of a connected conversation that in a healthy relationship, these four pillars are gold.

[00:24:37] They are that to assume the good intentions that no one wakes up in the morning and thinks, How can I hurt my spouse? Or a deeper level of ad is that there's a reason why someone presents the way they do. The second pillar is that you can't put off the vibe or the energy that you that your partner is wrong or you don't believe them, even if you're pretty confident that they're wrong or you don't believe them. My third pillar is you ask questions before making comments in the fourth pillar. As you stay present, you don't retreat into your bunker or go into victim mode. A quick example of this is, let's say that you and we'll say. The woman in the relationship finally says in this vein of starting to be differentiated or wanting to set their boundaries says, I feel like you don't, you don't appreciate me, I feel like you don't even know me. And if the husband, then in that scenario, you know, responds with, Well, you don't even know who I am or I can't believe you even say that. Do you even have any idea who I am? And do you know all the things I do for you to know the things I buy for you? Do you know the do you know how good you have it? Then that is breaking multiple pillars.

[00:25:41] So what I mean by

[00:25:42] That is if I'm working with that couple in my office and if the wife excuse me, says, I don't think you even know me, I feel like you're, you're not there for me, then I do everything I can to stick to this for pillared framework. So the husband in that scenario has to assume good intentions that she did not wake up one day and say, I know what I'm going to do and I'll wait till about five 30. He walks in and I'm going to spring the old. I don't think you know me lying so that I can hurt him. No no one wakes up and thinks, How can I hurt someone in a healthy relationship so that pillar one, I have him listening and assuming those good intentions. The second pillar is then in that scenario, he cannot say, I don't believe you or you are wrong, because if so, then that's going to shut the conversation down immediately. The third pillar has questions before comments, and that scenario would have him then say, Tell me more. Help me find my blind spots. And none of that involves, let me fix it and or let me judge what you're saying.

[00:26:35] And then the fourth pillar that people spend, I do get a little gender stereotyped here that guys are pretty bad at four. I mean, we all find ourselves falling into patterns of violating one of these pillars if you really look at when conversations go south. But that fourth pillar is not to retreat into one's bunker or go into victim mode and victim. I'm not a big fan of that word, but I think you know where I'm going with that. But if somebody let's say that he says, OK, he's going to assume good intentions. She's not trying to hurt him. She can't say or he can't say, you're wrong. That's ridiculous. I don't believe you because that will shut the conversation down. He asked questions before making comments. So tell me more. Help me see my blind spots instead of just saying, OK, let me just tell you what's going on in my life. You don't think it's you don't think I'm stressed with trying to provide financially or

[00:27:18] Those sort of things, or

[00:27:20] If he makes it through all three of those pillars in a positive way. Breaking that fourth pillar could be saying, OK, I guess my opinion doesn't matter, and I'm just a paycheck because that he's wanting the wife then to say, No, I shouldn't have said anything. You're right. I'm sure I'm just overthinking things or that sort of thing. So then when she feels heard, not fixed or judged, but heard in a healthy relationship when someone is given that tool, my four pillars of a connected conversation, then he gets to say, OK, maybe in that third pillar when he asks questions, he she says, When you come home, you just you just don't say much. You just give me a little bit of a nod and you head right into right into the family room. And so then once he says, Man, I appreciate you sharing that I when I walk in, I felt like you were stressed with the kids, and I felt like I was just going to add to that stress. So I just retreat to another room and then try to come back when I think you must be ready. So in a healthy relationship. And that's one where that is, not just him being him gaslighting you, then that's one word now. Once you feel heard and then you become the listener, he becomes the speaker, then you will assume those good intentions as well, that he wasn't trying to hurt you with that behavior.

[00:28:28] And when he says that he really felt the stress in the home and he thought that he would just add to that, so he went to another room, then it's OK. I can. I appreciate that. I can understand that if that's where you are coming from. And again, I can't tell you you're wrong or I don't believe you. And then that would make a little more sense. And then so when the couple feels heard and understood the goal of my four pillars, it's a whole paradigm shift is not to resolve, but it's to be heard because again, in a healthy relationship, the more you can communicate in that way in that fashion, the more you can get toward differentiation and realize you're both having two different experiences and we just don't have the tools to communicate. But the difficult part about my four pillars is when, when that isn't an unhealthy relationship, it just becomes another tool to be weaponized. That was in two emotional boundaries. Three. She talks about sexual boundaries. These are important sexual boundaries. Refer to your expectations around physical intimacy. What is and isn't OK with your sexuality boundaries around frequency, sexual comments, unwanted sexual touch expectations around others, involvement in your sex life and what sexual acts are performed and are off limits should be discussed. Healthy sexual boundaries include mutual agreement, mutual consent and understanding of each other's sexual limits and desires. And I appreciate that.

[00:29:38] Kerr says that if you were sexually abused in the past and you were triggered during certain positions, the sexual boundaries needed and you might want to avoid sexual contact with your partner if you're reminded of a traumatizing experience. And this is where again, I say that in healthy relationships, one has these conversations and it doesn't go to all or nothing. It doesn't. My pillar for it doesn't mean that if the wife in the scenario says that when we have sex this way or the frequency or when I just feel like you just want, I'm just object. If I'm objectified, then my four pillars can. Lead to oh my gosh, I didn't know you felt that way. Tell me more Instead of, OK, what am I supposed to do? I have needs as well, no for intellectual boundaries. And this is why I liked this article that she wrote. We don't often talk about intellectual boundaries and electoral boundaries encompass ideas and beliefs. Boundaries around showing respect for different views and ideas can keep your feelings from being hurt. Talking down to someone or treating them as though they're not smart enough to understand what you're trying to say can damage your emotional intimacy. And if you feel as though you can't discuss certain topics with your partner because you believe they don't respect your opinion or put you down a boundary is needed because, she says. When you're afraid to share your views or opinions, because your partner's responses, you're going to leave feeling hurt or upset.

[00:30:45] If your partner calls you names when you have a different opinion or a political view, you could feel as though they don't value your thoughts or beliefs. And man, it's so wild to see such a vast difference of this in my office, and I know the people that are in these relationships with narcissistic people often feel like, no, this is normal. And that's where I just say my heart goes out to you because I have the pleasure, the fortune, the benefit of talk about with couples. I've worked with well over a thousand couples doing these four pillars of a connected conversation, and I often say for a good seventy five percent of the ones in my office, they get this new tool of a way to communicate. And then it was just they didn't know what they didn't know. And but with people with these narcissistic traits and tendencies, they get this new tool and then it just becomes another another tool in their arsenal to manipulate or to gain control. And that's where I then oftentimes will work hard to help the person that is that is being manipulated, gaslit or emotionally abused or intellectually abused to or financially abused or spiritually abused or sexually abused to to understand that OK by becoming differentiated and setting boundaries, it's OK that that's that's a healthy version of a relationship and with the intellectual boundaries.

[00:31:54] And this one just hit me. I do a tremendous amount of work with people with strong faith communities, and I do a lot with navigating faith journeys and faith crises. And because that is a big part where people start to have two completely different opinions and that's OK, even if they grow up with the same belief system. And and there's a whole bunch of work I do around this concept of Fowler stages of faith, I speak literally a worldwide to that. And so being able to approach even a faith journey with curiosity with a couple is a chance to grow where in controlling relationships, it's where one person starts to put the other person down because they're starting to have different opinions or beliefs. She also covers financial boundaries, and those are said they're all about money. And some of the narcissist money is such a fascinating thing because when they have not been modeled or tapped into emotions throughout their lives, I'm saying they don't know what they don't know. The financial thing is so big that finances become the only way to express, in their opinion, express love, maintain control, and so many things are about finances. Look at all the things I've done for you. Look at all the things I bought for you. Where do you think you'll be without me financially and where the oftentimes the opposite the partner in the relationship with the narcissist is saying, at this point, I don't care about finances.

[00:33:09] I just want to be heard. I just want a connection. I want to be valued emotionally. So she says financial boundaries are all about money boundaries around joint versus separate accounts, how much goes into savings, what purchases you want to make and how much discretionary funds you'll have. Each can keep you both on the same page where your finances are concerned. Having different rules and agendas related to where you spend and how you spend your money can cause a great deal of strain on your relationship. So if you feel that you are often fighting about money, boundaries are probably needed, and discussions about your financial goals up front can keep finances from becoming a point of contention. But I will tell you, even in healthy relationships, the financial conversations can be difficult because there is so much that goes into finances as far as even comparisons to other people. And boy, I'm going back to my. This really isn't a plug, although I can't lie. I'm about to start my next round of my magnetic marriage course. And so my partner who helped me create it, Preston Pug Maya and I were actually doing a webinar about this. I think it's next Wednesday, which is something November 3rd or 4th. I don't know the date at the top of my head, but if you're interested, you can just shoot me a note through the contact form at Tony Overbay dot com.

[00:34:16] I can give you a little more information, but where was it going with that? Oh, that this four pillars. Even I say that we often try to go immediately to these high charged topics, which is a sex, politics, religion, finances and parenting, and we don't even have the tools to be able to communicate effectively about lower charge topics. From where do you want to go to eat or what does retirement look like? Or What's your favorite movie or song? And I just want you to know when you're hearing this. I hope that this concept of boundaries resonates and that you it can even give you some excitement as much as it's probably going to have some fear about the importance of setting a boundary. But I do understand that oftentimes we don't even have the tools to have the conversations to set a boundary. And so I realize now I really sound like I'm plugging my magnetic marriage course. But even if you just go over to the virtual couch and just look for virtual couch and four pillars, if you google that or my name and four pillars, I've done a lot of episodes on these four pillars of a connected. Conversation, and that might be the thing that you need to be able to start to communicate about boundaries, let me and thank you to hear Brady and again, what a great article and I'll put a link there. And she says her mission is to help people transform their personal relationship challenges into life enhancing opportunities for growth.

[00:35:25] So I appreciate that. Article And last but not least, this is ironic is the there's a book called No More Mr. Nice Guy, which I really do enjoy by the title alone. It can sound like teaching the the person who is nice to not be. It's not that it's really helping people take a little bit more ownership and accountability. A lot of the concept of the nice guy is is in play as well in these relationships, where there are people with narcissistic traits and tendencies who get into relationships with people that are maybe more highly sensitive and helping someone get out of what they call this nice guy syndrome is not saying be a jerk, but sometimes it's just saying, Hey, take ownership of your own emotions and feelings and don't project those onto the other person. The reason why I say that is I'm going to read a little bit from the book by. It's by Robert Glover, and it is. It's called no more Mr. Nice Guy, but he just has a really nice section on boundaries. And so let me just read that. And instead of where he says, Nice guy, I'm going to say, I'm going to say person. He says we find this real quick. Ok, he says setting boundaries helps. And again, he says, Nice guys, I'm going to say people setting a nice setting, nice

[00:36:31] Guys setting boundaries helps people reclaim

[00:36:33] Their personal power. So he says the boundaries are essential for survival and running. Learning to set boundaries allows people to stop feeling like helpless victims and reclaim their personal power boundary. Setting is one of the most fundamental skills that he says that he teaches people. He says recovering nice guys. But I will say people that are trying to become more emotionally healthy. And he says he demonstrates the concept of boundaries. This is what I really was drawn to by this chapter that he has in his book. He said I demonstrate the concept of boundaries by laying a shoestring on the ground. And he says, I tell the person that I'm going to cross his boundary and push them backwards. Instead, I instruct the person to stop me when they begin to feel uncomfortable, and it's not unusual for the person to stand well back from the line, allowing me to violate that space several steps before they even begin to respond. And once, he says, once I start pushing, it's not uncommon for the person to let me push them back several steps before they do anything to stop me. And sometimes the person will let me push them all the way back to the wall. And he said, I use this exercise as a graphic demonstration of the need for boundaries in all areas of life that people are usually more comfortable backpedaling, giving in and keeping the peace. What does that one? Sound familiar? He says they believe that if they take one more step backward, the other person will quit pushing and everything will be smooth. And I just felt I felt like that example is so powerful, he says, that this is a great line. I like as well that in time, they also learned that boundary setting isn't about getting other people to be different. It's about getting themselves to be different if somebody is crossing their boundary.

[00:37:57] It isn't that.

[00:37:58] And he says it isn't the other person's problem. It's theirs. Now, I don't want that to sound like you are doing something wrong. I want you to say, Oh my gosh, that makes more sense, that I need to learn to set these healthier boundaries. And if my spouse will not respect boundaries, period, then is that a viable relationship? And he says, because of memory, fear that people often unconsciously reinforce the very behaviors that they find intolerable due to their childhood conditioning. And this is so deep. We'll end with this today, he said. Due to their childhood conditioning, they teach the people around them that they will accept having their boundaries violated. And as people start to take responsibility for how they let people treat them, their own behavior begins to change. And that's where you are waking up to narcissism, whether you are the narcissist to the person in the relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies or traits. So then as you stop reinforcing the things that you aren't willing to tolerate, the people around you are given an opportunity to behave differently. It gives the relationship a chance to survive and grow. But I will be very clear in saying it gives that relationship a chance to survive and grow. It doesn't mean that now that you start setting your boundaries, that then everything will be better, but it will start to feel empowering and that is my goal for you. And again, if you heard the last episode and you are the person saying, Wait a minute, can I be the narcissist?

[00:39:09] Then thank you for listening to this. And if you recognize, Wow, I do cross these boundaries that people said, especially my spouse, because I just I just feel like I be honest. Do you feel like but I know better, but they don't understand, then that's an absolute time to stop and

[00:39:24] Say, Wait a minute, I need

[00:39:26] To stop and respect that boundary. And when I do that, then that can help me get to curiosity.

[00:39:31] And then there are tools like my four pillars of a connected conversation that will allow people to try and at least have the conversations. And the conversation is about being heard. I say so often you can only have

[00:39:43] Love

[00:39:43] Or control in an adult relationship, not both. And love comes with a heavy dose of curiosity. All right.

[00:39:49] Hey, we cover a lot of ground today.

[00:39:51] I am literally wrapping up right now because it is four point forty nine a.m. and

[00:39:54] I happen to have a five a.m. client today. Thank you for

[00:39:56] All the work you're doing. Thank you for the feedback. Please keep sending me the questions, the comments. I read them, I read them all. I read actually almost running late with this podcast because I got some amazing emails last night and if you're interested in joining that group. For women who are in relationships with narcissistic people, it doesn't just have to be a spouse, it can be a

[00:40:14] Parent, a sibling, a coworker, a church leader or whatever it is, there is power in numbers.

[00:40:20] Shoot me an email through the contact form on Tony over bakam. And if you are interested in hearing a little bit more about the magnetic marriage course that my buddy Preston and I do, the timing is pretty good and you can shoot me an email through there too, and I can let you know more about what's coming up with that.

[00:40:34] So have an amazing day.

[00:40:35] I see you. I really do. I appreciate everything that you're doing and your change in the world when you're sending me your emails and quotes and comments and I read them, I'm telling you, I get to see the stats. And this podcast has found its way already to one hundred and something country, tens of thousands of downloads. And so I just I appreciate everything you're doing. All right. Have an amazing, wonderful day weekend, and we'll talk to you next week on waking up the narcissism.

Are compliments ever a bad thing? And how important is the delivery of a compliment? Are people genuinely going over your compliments with a spell checker and thesaurus taking offense to the improper use of has, have, or had? Today Tony tackles the topic of compliments and why it would do us all good to embrace both the giving and the receiving of compliments. Tony references the article "You Probably Don't Compliment Other People Often Enough" by Art Markman Ph.D. as well as "Scientific explanation to why people perform better after receiving a compliment," from

Please find out more about Tony's Magnetic Marriage program by contacting him through or by visiting

. With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. 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, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, 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 And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

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

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

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

[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and ninety one of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and all those wonderful things. And today we are going to talk about compliments, and I am going to give you very solid takeaways. Today, I learned quite a bit about compliments and why we give them and do we give them enough and what the best type of compliment is. So stick with me on this, but let me share what I think was a pretty funny time sink this morning while preparing to record this episode. I got into my office incredibly early. I'm very excited. I love podcast recording day and I am. I'm talking, I'm ready to hit the record button and I find myself wanting to talk about a particular compliment that my wife and I reference often. And we've been married thirty one years now, and it's something to the effect of if you say, Hey, what do you like about me or do you know what I like about you? And one of us just says the other person, Oh, because you like animals and old people and we laugh and we don't explore it much deeper because we've been saying it for so long. So I decided that I would find that quote and I would work that into the episode because that would be kind of fun and nostalgic. But 30 minutes later, I have absolutely nothing.

[00:01:30] I googled it in so many different ways. I googled the actor who I thought said it. I thought it was John Cusack, and I looked for the movie and then all of his movies. And then I quoted specific things and sayings and old people and animals and what I like about you and I just got nowhere. But it led to so many different and I'm just being right off the cuff here in my mind, I thought it led to so many different rabbit trails, which again, now being completely honest. Then I had to Google, is it a rabbit trail or is it a rabbit hole? It has to be a rabbit hole. So I google that. And here's what I came up with is the saying rabbit hole or rabbit trail says used, especially in the phrase going down the rabbit hole or falling down the rabbit hole. A rabbit hole is a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully or troublingly surreal state or situation. So then I realize I'm not even using the phrase correctly to even find the movie quote that I wanted to use it for that I never found. But I will say that while on my Googling journey, at one point I thought that the quote I was looking for was from the movie Cocoon, and I am literally thinking right now I was about to say, Don't ask me why, but I think it's because the quote that I'm talking about had to do with older people and cocoon as a movie about older people.

[00:02:41] But anyway, it did lead me to find an amazing quote on, dare I admit, Pinterest? Pinterest is a social media thing that I still don't quite understand. I know there are boards and pictures, and sometimes when I Google things, it will take me to Pinterest and I go there and then I need to log into something. But my wonderful assistant, Crystal has connected me with a Pinterest account, which then I admittedly haven't done anything with. So at least this time it just came up, which was fun. But I was there. But here's the quote. The quote said people talk about caterpillars becoming butterflies as though they just go into a cocoon, slap on wings, and that they're good to go. But caterpillars have to dissolve into a disgusting pile of goo to become butterflies. So if you are a mess wrapped up in blankets right now, keep going. And it wasn't attributed to anybody in particular. I absolutely love that quote because I feel like how often are we all feeling a little bit like? We are a disgusting pile of goo wrapped up in blankets? And if so, carry on my friends, because someday there's going to be some wings and you're going to you're going to sprout. I wasn't going to talk about this at all. I was, but I was doing the Peloton over the weekend and it was just pouring rain where I met in Northern California.

[00:03:50] We're talking the reign of the centuries. It hasn't rained this much forever and we went from drought and fires to now rain and the fear of floods and mudslides. And I had someone in my office yesterday saying, Is this end of times? I mean, are you starting to see cats and dogs living together, things that are just signs of the apocalypse? And and I'll tell you the funniest thing. This is going to sound like a first world problem, but we happen to have this big palm tree in the front yard because we live in California and it tipped over a while ago. It tipped over with just a little bit of wind and some rain, and we just threw some really good palm tree soil in there and put some steaks and tied it up, not food steaks, but steaks in the ground. And it's now held in like a champ, and I feel like there's something to be said there. Sometimes we just need to get the right soil under our roots. I really do. I thought about that so much because it withstood the two days of just pouring rain and the ground being soft and moist and and it really hasn't been back in the ground. As long as I thought this was going to be years before it could really withstand the pressure of rain and wind and wet soil.

[00:04:53] But boy, you put the right roots in there, and it had me thinking about doing a whole seminar or webinar on the right roots of a marriage or the right roots of parenting, or the right roots of what you are trying to accomplish or achieve. And because I feel like I have those the parenting model, the nurtured heart approach, or the couple's model, which is the my my four pillars of a connected conversation based off of Sue Johnson's emotionally focused therapy. Or individual models of acceptance and commitment therapy and really starting to just become differentiated and say, Hey, bless the heart of those people who are trying to tell you what to do and think, but this is your journey and you are going to figure out who you are. So I feel like that all that screamed at me when I just looked at this palm tree standing in my front yard. So I hope that you will recognize that you all have this potential to be butterflies. Oh, where was I going with that? Riding the Peloton and there was a Peloton ride about mental health awareness and World Mental Health Day, and it was just amazing. And the instructor was talking about who they are now versus who they were quite a long time ago. And they were talking and not directly saying this, but talking about the fact that if they would have made some big decisions back when they weren't feeling so great about themselves, what a different path that would have led and how really being able to focus on their self care, their confidence, their self-worth put them in a position to then allow them to now go and meet people that they now are connected with or get jobs now that that they really feel a passion for.

[00:06:15] And so often I work with people that are feeling so down in the moment they feel hopeless, they feel stuck, which leads them to feeling like they don't want to do anything. But and it's so hard in that situation. That person can feel so, so stuck, and they can feel like they don't know what to do. And I realize that times I sound I can sound dismissive or invalidating when I say, Man, that's the time to just do. And if somebody says, do what? It's anything other than try to think your way out of that problem, go and do. Go and interact. Go walk, go talk. Go to the gym, go to the mall, go to church, go to a volunteer, go to a meet up group and then your brain is going to say, I don't want to, and I say, absolutely. I understand that you don't want to. And you can even invite your friend. I don't want to to come along with you while you do. And that's one of the best ways to to get yourself out of a rut.

[00:07:04] It may seem counterintuitive because we often feel like we have to think our way out of things. We often think that we have to say, OK, I need to wait until I feel better to then go and do something, even though I don't feel very good now. And the book I referenced so often Russ Harris is the confidence gap. I love that title now. I used to not be a fan of it, but the confidence gap. We tell ourselves that when I'm when I get the confidence, then I'll go and I'll do whatever the thing is. But in reality, I have to go and do the thing in order to build the confidence. And so when we can accept the fact that we're not feeling very good, maybe we're this goo of a future butterfly in a cocoon of blankets that when we accept the fact that, yeah, where I'm at and it makes sense why I feel the way I do, because I've gone through a whole bunch of stuff that I really would rather not have gone through. But then once we accept that, that doesn't mean that now that's our lot in life. But once we accept that now I do feel bad about this and I wish that things were better. Now it's time to take action and go and do do anything. And ideally you go do things that are core to your values or your sense of self or sense of purpose.

[00:08:05] But in reality, even somebody saying, well, don't even know what that is. That's that's another one of those ways that the brain kind of just lobbies for the path of least resistance or to not do things because it can say, Well, we don't even know what to do, and then we buy into that. We say, See, my brain doesn't even know what to do, but don't be held hostage by your brain, especially when things aren't going well in your life or you feel like they could be better. Your brain is trying to protect you. A lot of times your brain says, Let's sleep this one off. It should be better tomorrow, when in reality, that's part of the pattern that's gotten people in the place that they are. So thank your brain. It's in its pink, squishy heart, but maybe try something a little bit different. Invite it your brain to come along with you while you start to do. But I digress, and I think I talked about this on an episode recently where somebody wanted the feedback that I received said they love the show, but I ramble, and then I need to get to the point. At first, back in the day, I would have felt like, Oh man, I better get to the point. But hey, this is my point. My point is that the way we often do with life is we put our sights towards something and then other things come up and then we talk or we deal about those other things.

[00:09:06] So I loved the fact that the person took the time to rate and review my podcast and give me that compliment. I really do. Or even that criticism. They said nice things before that. I'm really grateful for that. But I will say that this is my point that that life does go tangential and it can go in a lot of different directions. And one of the things I love is just that concept of flow, which is what I'm doing right here. But let's get to the episode today. So we're talking about compliments, and there really, really is some interesting information. I'm going to start with a little bit of nerdy. This is from the National Institute of Physiological Sciences and then Re reprinted in Science Daily. And then we're going to go from a little bit nerdy to then a Psychology Today article that puts things together. And then I'll end with some thoughts, so this one might not be too long. So this science daily reported from this National Institute of Physiological Sciences the scientific explanation to why people perform better after receiving a compliment. Japanese scientists have found scientific proof that people doing exercises appear to perform better when another person compliments them. The research was carried out by a group led by the National Institute for Physiological Sciences Professor Nori Hiro Sato.

[00:10:13] And then. There is a lot of other people in there that I'm absolutely going to butcher names Sadako and a bunch of other people professors that did this research. So the team had previously discovered that the same area of the brain, the striatum is activated when a person is rewarded by a compliment or cash. And as a person that has a teenage son in my house right now, this caught my attention right away. A compliment or cash is in the same area of the brain, the reward center that they coincide. So their latest research could suggest that when the striatum is activated, it seems to encourage the person to perform better during exercises. And here's the research. Adults are recruited for a study that asks them to learn and perform a specific finger pattern, so pushing keys on a keyboard in a particular sequence as fast as possible for 30 seconds. And once participants had learned the finger exercise, they were separated into three groups. One group included an evaluator who would complement participants individually. Another group involved individuals who would watch another participant receive a compliment, and the third group involved individuals who evaluated their own performance on a graph period. So no evaluator, no one giving compliments, no one witnessing the giving of compliments. So when the participants were asked to repeat the finger exercise the next day, the group of participants who received direct compliments from an evaluator performed better than participants from the other groups.

[00:11:37] So it indicates that receiving a compliment after exercising stimulates the individual to perform better afterwards. It's almost like it's this cherry on top of the sun, or it's almost this part where you just lock in that performance or that task or the ability to do that task by the compliment is what it seems. So according to Professor Siddhartha to the brain, receiving a compliment is as much of a social reward as being rewarded money. Now again, insert joke there. Let me tell that to my teenage son, but I really. It didn't bring some awareness, though, that I feel like oftentimes people are only motivated by money. But I think this speaks to the fact that money seems like such a tangible thing that it does say, Hey, here's a well done, but to the area of the brain. The striatum receiving the compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. And Professor Serato said We've been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message praise to encourage improvement. So complimenting somebody could become an easy and effective strategy to use in a classroom or during rehabilitation. And so that that study led to another article. And this is an article from Psychology Today that I think will make this a little bit more tangible.

[00:12:52] This is by Art Marcum, PhD, and this is from Psychology Today and an article called You Probably Don't Compliment Other People often enough and research is. The subheadline says research suggests people don't realize how good compliments make others feel. The key points in this article, it says, are that people underestimate how good compliments will make others feel. People focus too much on phrasing the compliment in the right way. That part is fascinating to me, and maybe this is as somebody with admitted ADHD that I just impulsively can give a compliment. And I don't worry as much about phrasing the compliment correctly. But this makes a lot of sense as I find that a lot of times people say that they want to compliment somebody, but they're not sure what to say. And this just again speaks to how different we are in our own experiences, the way our brain processes data. Because when I hear people in my office say that sometimes in my brain, I think, Well, you're overthinking it, just say the compliment. But I know that it's not that easy for people that struggle with what to say. And then he also says that focusing on the sentiment of the compliment can make it more likely for people to give compliments. So Art said, think back to the last time that you got a compliment from somebody else. It probably felt pretty good.

[00:13:58] Even a stranger telling you that you're wearing a nice outfit can be a nice thing to hear, and then compliments from friends or colleagues or loved ones can be particularly nice to hear, and for that matter, it can feel good to compliment somebody else. But he said that most people don't compliment others as often as they should. A paper in the Twenty Twenty One issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explored why this happened, so they shared that in one set of experiments, participants were randomly assigned to either generate compliments or to receive compliments. So, for example, in one study, pairs of people walking together in a public park were stopped, and on average, they knew each other for at least around 10 years. One participant wrote out three compliments for the other person that were supposed to be nice things that they hadn't told that person before. Then the Compliment writer predicted how nice the other person would feel, receiving the compliment, and then they also focused on how awkward that person would feel. And in addition, they rated their compliments for how warm they were. That is how nice the sentiment was, as well as how well phrased they were. And then the recipient read the compliments, and then they rated how good they felt receiving them, how awkward they felt, and how warm and well phrased the. It's were, and the key finding was that participants underestimated how good the compliment would make the recipient feel, and they had a control condition showing that people do not underestimate how other people feel in general, which was fascinating.

[00:15:25] So it was specific to the effect of giving somebody this compliment. So reading that again. The key finding was that participants underestimated how good the compliment would make the recipient feel. So if the person giving the compliment wrote down on a piece of paper and they didn't have the exact date, but let's say that out of half out of one one out of 10, if they said, OK, the person, it'll probably mean something around a five or six to them. Well, the person receiving the actual compliment said, now that one, that one felt like an eight, even if it wasn't the most sincere compliment. So it shows that we crave this compliments. We crave hearing others say things that they appreciate about us and I have. I have deep thoughts on this, and it goes way back to the concepts I talk about, often on attachment where when we're born into the world, a baby doesn't even know that they exist. They don't even know they're an entity until they they interact with other human beings, till they're fed, till they're there, their diapers are cleaned or but then they have an interaction with others. And then we are programed from that point to know we exist or that we're alive. So sometimes I feel like we must go throughout our lives.

[00:16:25] Oftentimes, we're just in our own head, so even just receiving a compliment from somebody is almost this just the the subconscious? Just check in with somebody to say, Do I exist? Am I alive? And we want that attention. We want that. We want to know that we we exist, that we matter. And so far better to know that we matter from somebody that is giving us a compliment. Participants also overestimated how awkward the recipient would feel. So again, the first thing that they overestimated was are they underestimated how people would feel in general. So people like receiving the compliments, then they overestimated how awkward the recipient would feel. So the person giving the compliment and again, they don't give the scales on this. But let's say that same model, if they said, you know, I think that people are going to feel really awkward receiving the compliment. But the people receiving the compliment also said, no, I actually don't feel very awkward if it feels pretty good. The third part of that was participants also slightly underestimated how warm the recipients would find the compliment. So people, they really appreciated the compliment. It didn't make them feel as awkward as the person giving the compliment thought. And then the people receiving the compliment also found that they found it quite warm that of getting that compliment from the person giving the compliment. And then finally, participants strongly underestimated how well phrased recipients found the compliment to be.

[00:17:40] So again, they strongly underestimated how well phrased recipients found the compliment to be. So let's dove into what those findings mean. So participants were asked how often they complimented the person they had been walking with, and people systematically said that they give fewer compliments than they think that they should. So it speaks to the fact that we're pretty aware that it would probably be a better world if we were giving more compliments. And this set of findings was replicated several times. It wasn't just this one occasion. So the upshot is that people underestimate the positive impact that a that a compliment will have on others. And art goes on to say that in particular, recipients focus quite a bit on the sentiment expressed, and they're not that concerned with the way it's phrased. And I feel like this is something that in my office we'll talk about where if I if somebody is worried about the way they are going to phrase a text, I have people that will spend so long on text. And but then I will often say, how often do you receive a text? Where then you break down the grammar, or you can't believe that the person didn't capitalize something or didn't have the the correct apostrophe or question mark? And not often people aren't as concerned with the way that something is phrased. So if you're a person who finds yourself not expressing compliments or sharing things that you would like to share with somebody because you're worried about the way it's phrased, then please hear this that this these findings that were replicated several times that was one of the biggest pieces to this was participants strongly underestimated how well phrased recipients, how well phrased recipients found the compliments to be.

[00:19:11] So meaning that people don't necessarily care very much about how it's phrased. It's the sentiment and the fact that somebody is expressing a compliment that really matters. Another study demonstrated that this mis estimation of the impact of compliments affects whether people choose to give them. So in a final study, Art shared that individuals wrote out compliments for another person in their lives, and then participants were directed to focus either on the warmth of the compliment or again on how well phrased it was. And participants who focused on the warmth of the compliment rated themselves later as much more willing to deliver the compliment to the other person than those who focused on how well phrased it was. So it just backs up further that if you're over focusing on how you phrase a compliment, then it makes sense where you are not going to deliver those compliments. And meanwhile, now we've got this data that says, by the way, people love getting compliments and they like them more than we even think they do. So putting these findings together, it says that people miss a lot of opportunities to make other people feel good because they don't deliver the compliments they think of.

[00:20:12] And then he says, and this is such a good summary, a big reason why they don't give these compliments is because they underestimate how good those compliments will make the other person feel. And a big reason why they underestimate the impact of the compliments is because they focus more on executing the compliment and meaning and saying it the right way than on how good the compliment will make other people feel. So in conclusion, he says, if you have a chance to compliment somebody else in your life, you, you should probably do it. Let's talk about this. In conclusion, this is one of those. What do we learn today? Moments that, oh, maybe right now is a real quick. I didn't want to throw things up in the beginning, but my magnetic marriage course with Preston Pug Meyer, we've been saying this for a little while, but the next round is coming in early November. So contact me. You can go to Tony over Bacon and then shoot me an email through the contact form. If you want to find out more information, we're going to hold a webinar. I believe it's going to be next week at some point to just give more details and give a little bit of a preview for the course. This is round three. The first two rounds sold out pretty quickly and but you can just contact me and I'll make sure that you're on that list to find out more.

[00:21:14] And if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then I will try. And that's at virtual counter at Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist. Then I'm really going to try to do a better job, be more intentional about sharing when the webinar will hit and what that's going to be like. And then I continually forget to mention that is a wonderful sponsor of the virtual couch. And if you go to virtual account, you get 10 percent off your first month's services, and can get you speaking to a licensed professional counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist in your neck of the woods. But but doing so via tele therapy, via phone calls or video chats or texts, or there are so many ways to connect to a therapist, and it's well over a million people. I think it's up to one point five million people have taken advantage of better help services, so don't put that off. They now offer couples counseling as well. So go to virtual couch and you deserve to to address some of the mental health concerns. Because it's been a crazy two years, it really has. And as a therapist, I'm a big fan of people going to therapy period, but especially now give yourself a give yourself some grace, take a little bit of self-care and just go and find someone that you can talk to, whether through slash virtual couch, somebody in your area, whatever you need to do, so do that today.

[00:22:28] All right. In conclusion. Giving compliments It does so much not only for those who you give them to, but I believe it does a lot for the person given the compliment. Why? Because much like the science of gratitude, when people are keeping any type of a variation of a gratitude journal, they're looking outside of themselves and looking for things to be grateful for, which absolutely puts the mind in a state of a positive confirmation bias, meaning that you're looking for more things to be grateful for. So trust me, you are going to find more of what you're looking for. Be it negative or positive. And I know I know the brain and thoughts, and I know that it's more complicated and nuanced than that. But in general, the concept of confirmation bias is so real it is just so real. When I bought my current car, the one I'm driving right now. It was funny once I bought it, man, I see those cars everywhere. And when I started shaving my head long, long ago, all of a sudden, Oh man, there were far more people walking around with shaved heads. So my challenge to you would be to be a bit more intentional about giving compliments with maybe a couple of caveats.

[00:23:28] You cannot expect a compliment in return. You may find yourself expecting a compliment in return, but I would encourage you to give a compliment to make someone's day to help make them feel them feel more confident without expecting something in return. That is next level Zen Master kind of stuff. Give out goodness into the world. We were all doing a bit more of that without the expectation of reciprocity than the overall vibe in the world and the entire universe would amp up. It would be amazing, and I would also encourage you to look for something about the person, not simply their looks or their outward appearance or even their outward actions. The compliment, although trust me, that is a great place to start. But what do you admire about the character of someone else? And you got me thinking a lot. I was thinking about my wife and hands down is the kindest human being that I have ever been around. It's amazing to watch her kindness in action now. Can it be to her detriment? First of all, who am I to say that's her own personal experience? Do I feel like there are times that her altruism or her putting the needs of others ahead of her own may cause her more emotional stress or pain? Sure. But that's my opinion, and it's my experience, and ultimately, I want her to be not. Ultimately, I do want her to be the best version of her, not a version of her, that I would like for her to be, because that would be insanely selfish and self-centered of me.

[00:24:37] And it's exactly the opposite way to have a true connection in a relationship. So we are to you as well in your relationships, your two unique individuals coming together to try and battle the world together. And holy cow, we need to have somebody there with us if we can. The two heads are better than one. One plus one is three. Not not enmeshed, not codependent, but that's a podcast for another day. So if you've made it this far, I can just tell how much I really do appreciate you. And yes, I am complimenting you on this podcast that we are talking about compliments. I know, but it is absolutely sincere and genuine. I know that when I started this podcast five years ago. There were around six or seven hundred thousand podcasts and many that weren't being updated regularly. Now I did a quick Google search while I was Google searching everything else in the world and there are well over two million podcasts. So any minute you spend with me on the virtual couch or on my new podcast, waking up the narcissism is the ultimate compliment to me and and I thank you for that. All right. Taking us away, as per usual is the amazing, the wonderful,

[00:25:34] The talented folks with her song. It's one of the.

[00:25:41] Compressed emotions flying. Mr Out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful.

[00:25:53] And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating

[00:25:57] Past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. She's. Oh. News of discount price, a million, Opportunity's

[00:26:47] Budget is yours to take or lose, it's one.

[00:26:53] Funds are always on the back burner until the opportune time is pushed

[00:27:00] To go further, shut up. It goes. He seems to be in.

[00:27:41] But developed this does not explode, allow the gun.

Tony talks about gossip as a social skill. According to the article, "Psychologists say that gossiping is a social skill. Here's how to know if you're doing it right," there is a healthy, productive way to gossip. Gossip, according to research, may actually be one of the societal forces that bring us together and help maintain social order.

Go to to learn more about the next round of Tony's transformative marriage course "Magnetic Marriage." And please subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism," wherever you listen to podcasts.

#therapy #gossip #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

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

[00:00:15] Come on. Take a seat.

[00:00:22] Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode two hundred and ninety of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay, and this is I've lost track of the number of takes to open this episode because I have been trying to do a role, play a little bit of acting and trying to make it to sound so natural. So I decided instead, I will now tell you that. Buckle up. Here comes a really bad role play to get into today's episode. I now present to you the virtual couch actor's studio, which essentially is me trying to do a role play. But I refuse to start this one over. Here we go. And action. Hey, so you hear about Ted you or you didn't? Oh yeah, yeah. No, Ted got a tattoo. Yeah. What do you think about that? Oh, what kind? No. Yeah, no, that's cool, right? Yeah, no. I think it's cool, too. I think it was a logo of his favor of a baseball team. I mean, that's crazy, right? Baseball team on his arm. That's crazy, right? Oh, no, no. I didn't realize he was raised raised by his grandparents. Oh, so he and his grandpa used to go to those games a lot. Is that right? No, that makes sense. So that really must have been more about the relationship with his grandpa. Yeah, it's cool. Yeah, I get it. Did you see the car you just bought, though? Yeah, no, I know, right? Yeah.

[00:01:34] Who needs something that expense? I mean, come on, it's just transportation. Who cares if you don't, if you have to hold on to the steering wheel? I love taking control of my car. Yeah, no. Exactly. Ted Ted's insane about the car thing. The tattooed thing. No. Sure, I get it. I get it right. Ok. Oh, end scene. What you just witnessed there with some incredibly bad acting and role playing for the topic that we're talking about today, which is gossip, because I'm guessing that most of you listening have participated in a little gossip in your day. But depending on who you're gossiping with or two or what you are gossiping about, that is going to be an entirely different experience. And and I also guess that you have made that decision that that it's OK, even if sometimes you may learn that somebody else is gossiping and that is bad. So today we're going to talk a little bit about gossip as a social skill. Can it be a good thing? And if so, when I was reading a couple of things recently and I stumbled upon this idea, and it was just this vague idea of gossip as a way to to just check in with somebody. And I never thought about it that way. So if you are walking up to someone and you're saying, like in the incredibly horrible role playing here because there was a lot of talk right now about anything from tattoos to what shows you're watching to what politician you like.

[00:02:47] So if you're saying, Hey, how about how about that squid game this phenomenon on Netflix? And if somebody says, Oh, it's disgusting, and if you're like, Oh yeah, right, no, I know. Or if somebody says, Oh, I secretly like it and then you now feel like, Oh man, me too. So we can talk about this. The concept of gossip is so often just we're trying to check in and see, Hey, where are you at with something? And where this started coming up, especially the last few weeks. As I work with a lot of couples, I talk about that often and I work with couples that are struggling with everything. Infidelity or somebody that turns to pornography is a coping mechanism. And so when someone else is talking about maybe they're gossiping about one of these couples that's in my office, the couple will come in and let me know that they overheard somebody talking about their situation or somebody came up to them and said, Hey, people are saying this about, I've heard this about you, and it's this vibe where people are saying, Hey, did you hear about The Smiths or whoever? And if somebody says, Yeah, we just got to be there for them versus, yeah, boy, I would never do that. And you are almost just testing the water to see where other people are to see if you share a particular belief or value around whatever it is that The Smiths have done.

[00:03:56] Hey, so I'm doing a little bit of editing of the podcast. This is one of those situations where I just jumped in. The podcast has already been recorded, so I wanted to record something here where I'm talking about this fictional couple, The Smiths and the concept of gossip, because this is pretty fascinating to me. I'm talking about gossip in this context of we do this as a social creatures, and it's a way to try to test the waters to see if somebody agrees with us and we get into down later in this podcast, we're going to talk about productive ways to gossip. We're going to talk about ineffective ways to gossip. I'm going to tell you a bunch of research around gossip that's really, really interesting, but it hits me that they're going to people, be people listening to this that I am working with. Like this fictional couple named The Smiths, and it really is a fictional couple in the scenario. But I am working with people that have been going through a lot. Let's say that there's been infidelity and they're in a an incredible place now. It goes back to that betrayal trauma episode I did with Jeff Stewart, where we talked about rebuilding trust and that people often don't even know that they need new tools until they go through a pretty traumatic event.

[00:05:01] And when they have gone through the traumatic event, they seek the new tools and they embrace the tools that they actually can use all of these things for their good, and they can now have a better way to communicate. But the context I'm the reason I'm bringing it up right now is then the people. Are still around them going to gossip, and oftentimes that will actually have a pretty negative effect, let's say again on this fictional couple name, The Smiths, who then will hear that other people are talking about them even though they are starting to grow closer together, they're starting to communicate more effectively. But they will feel like they can't just go and act quote normal around people because of the gossip that they hear that people are making up additional stories or choosing sides, and when in reality the Smith couple is communicating even better. So I think that's one of those things. To just bring a little bit of awareness to is we're going to talk so much about the different types of gossip and ways to gossip. But when people are gossiping because they are trying to test the waters and see what somebody else thinks, one of the the harmful parts of that is they aren't giving the couple or the person that people are gossiping about the benefit of the doubt.

[00:06:12] And it makes so much more sense when we talk a little bit later in this episode, just in the context of Are you gossiping because you are truly wanting to just bring some awareness to someone or you gossiping because you want to take this one up position or try to share with your spouse the passive aggressive way? That man, if you ever did what The Smiths did, then I for sure would never talk to you again. So the whole concept of gossip is just so interesting, which is why I wanted to record an episode on today. But as I was going back through the editing process, I really did think about the fact that I'm missing an opportunity to let people know that if you aren't aware of someone else's experience, sure you are going to. Oftentimes, gossip is more of that. Just checking in with your spouse or somebody around you to see where they fit or where they have opinions about a certain topic or situation. But I just want you to be aware that are you even aware of how what that situation even is? Are you hearing about the situation secondhand third-hand? Or if someone let's say that in the scenario where the Smiths appear to be doing pretty good, is that gossip then done in a way that says, Well, I'm sure they're not really doing good. I mean, I'm sure they're covering things up because that's that is not a healthy version of gossip.

[00:07:24] But if it's done in a Hey, did you hear about them? They seem to be doing OK. That's fascinating, and I have never thought about what I would do if I went through that scenario. It gives me more of a curious nature and makes me want to even go directly to The Smiths and say, Man, you guys seem like you're doing well. Tell me what's going on, tell me more about your experience and that scenario. We're going to talk more about how that would be more of a productive version of gossip. So let me get right back into this episode, but I just thought I was missing this opportunity. I was I was going back and doing a little bit of editing to say that this really still ends up being about about empathy and really not knowing someone else's experience. And so then when we are gossiping about that, is that a gossip out of curiosity, of wanting a way to talk about someone else's experience with somebody close to you, your spouse? Or is it a way to then say, Hey, let's put down this other couple because because we want to to make ourselves feel better? All right, so let's jump back into this episode and or whatever you feel about a particular show or getting a tattoo or anything that people are, often that's the way. Instead of them just saying, Hey, what do you think about that? Are you pro tattoo or do you have a tattoo? Would you like to get a tattoo if you ever thought about getting a tattoo? They'll say, Well, what do you think about that guy? Get a tattoo, and then they're waiting to see what the other person says to know if they feel doing air quotes here, safe to talk about their opinion.

[00:08:43] And while I understand that, I think the the sad part sad might be the wrong word is that I would love for us to get to a place in society where it's OK to share your own opinion because your own opinion comes from all of the things that you have been through in your life. That sounds dramatic at times, but you have a belief system that is formed by all of the the data that you bring to the table. And so you may have a particular idea about what something means, whether it's a tattoo or a type of show that somebody watches or a type of humor, but that that's who you are. It makes you, you. And so I would love to get to this place where talking about my four pillars constantly, that pillar one, that there's there's a reason why somebody is saying what they're saying or the assumption of good intentions. They're not trying to hurt you, that it would lead to more curiosity to say, Hey, what do you think about tattoos, for example? And I will be super honest right now, I don't have any, and I wrote an article.

[00:09:42] I used to write a humor column in my local paper for almost a decade, and I was at a pool one day, the community pool, and I wrote what I thought was a rather humorous piece on tattoos because I was just all of a sudden aware of so many different tattoos. And that was one of the first times I got some negative. Feedback is in the form of letters to the editor that people saying that, Hey, Tony went too far on this because this tattoo means this to me, this tattoo means something else to me. And I remember going on a run around that time with a good friend in the area. I called him Pastor Nathan. And I remember just testing the water. I. Look back on that, and I was saying, hey, I got a lot of flak about this article I wrote about tattoos, what do you think? And he had talked about his son battling cancer as a child and that he had a particular scripture verse on his leg. And if I'm remembering this correctly, and so it was a real significant and I did what I did horrible role play earlier. Then I was like, Oh no, that's cool. I get that where I realized going into the article and going into that conversation, even I was testing the water to see, Hey, what does everybody think about this? Because here's my here's my opinion at this time.

[00:10:46] And so I was doing this form of gossip just to check in and see what other people thought. So at this point, now I buoy people. If you if you couldn't guess by the podcast I do, or the type of therapy that I do is, ma'am, please, you are the only version of you that is going through life the way you are. And so the significance of the things that you do are significant to you. So who on earth am I to tell you? Well, I don't think you should do that with your body or with your your job or where you should live, or what kind of car you drive. How again, I often say how adorable that I think I am. This all powerful being that can then convince you of what you need to do with your life or your body or your situation. Boy, I am not that powerful and I nor would I want to be, but I would love to tell me more. I would love to be curious because I want to hear your story, and I would love to probably express some of the things in my story as well. I wasn't going in this direction, and we'll get to the article that we're talking about today.

[00:11:43] But I got to speak at this leading Saints live event Saturday in Wolfsburg. Utah was a phenomenal event, and I will talk about that more down the road because there were some hilarious things there, but I got the air, everything out for over four hours. The recording will be available at some point through leading Saints Live or leading Saints dot org, I believe, but it was fascinating to talk about this. Everybody is their own version of themselves and I was in this room full of people that were coming from all different places in their life and different religious experiences and different family experiences and different experiences with mental health and you name it. And I love preaching authenticity, but there were times where I even found myself ready to talk big about a particular subject and still found myself it almost fifty two years old. And as a quote professional, I'm a professional. I'm doing the air quotes, but I'm a pro. I should know how to do all of these things, and it's still you find yourself wanting to test the water about, Well, what do you guys think? So we really want to just get to this place where we can say, Hey, let me take you on my train of thought, or here's what I think, and particularly in our relationships, that we want to find ourselves in relationships with people that feel safe, that we can say.

[00:12:50] Let me take you on my train of thought. Let me explore something. I'm going to get to the article now, but I get reviews. When people put reviews up on Apple Podcasts or some of the other platforms, there's this service that will send you the review, and somebody just gave me a really nice review. I think it was. It was four stars, five stars, something. But they said, love the content. But he takes a long time to get to the point and I just bless that person's heart. I'm grateful that they said, love the content they took the time to review, but I thought it was funny of how do they know what my this entire journey of in a podcast episode is? My point, but let's get to this article, though. So the article then says psychologists say gossiping is a social skill, and here's how to know if you're doing it right. And this is from an article from their lifestyle section, and it's by a woman named Sarah Dagalo. So I'll probably just say, Sarah says, because I'm worried I've already butchered that last name. But she said the gossip is actually one of the societal forces that brings us together, and it helps maintain social order. And so I really do find this whole thing fascinating. So she started by saying, Hey, so your sister just gets a tattoo that's going to make your parents flip out or a coworker takes all the credit for a project that you both worked on and a meeting with your boss, or you find out that your friend's ex is cheating on his new partner.

[00:13:59] And these are all situations I probably dealt with in the last week or two and therapy. If you feel, if you if you think you'd feel the urge to share this type of news, if you heard it, you're probably right. She says that's because we're human beings and sharing information about one another is part of what we do. Explains Frank T. McAndrew, PhD, the Cornelia H. Dudley, professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He says quote, Everybody gossips. It's pretty generally accepted among social scientists, or at least those who accept the theory of evolution. That gossip is likely a relic of our evolutionary past. Mcandrews tells NBC News. Better, in order to survive and pass along your genes, it is pretty much always been necessary to know about the lives of those around you who had powerful friends who was sleeping with whom, who had limited resources, or who might stab you in the back when times get tough. And just to comment or react to this article, I thought that was a really good way to frame that, that so many things in our lives are survival instincts or survival mechanisms. I talk about speaking in Utah over the weekend.

[00:15:04] I came right back home and then spoke to a group Sunday night just talking about mental health in general, and I was talking about the concept of anxiety and anxiety. Is our brain trying to look out for us and thinks it's. Doing us a favor by putting us on high alert so that we will be aware that we may turn a corner and there may be a saber tooth tiger, although now it's not saber tooth tigers, but we may turn a corner and find someone who we may not be able to trust. Or we might see the world in a way that is scary. And so we're coming up. Our brain is coming up with all these thoughts around what if? What if I get terminal illness? What if I? What if I'm late to work tomorrow? What if I don't do well on my driver's test or any of those things? So our brains thinking it's doing us a favor. But in reality, we're thinking so much about things that may are most likely won't ever happen. So gossip has evolved from that same thing that if we needed to know who was had a plot to overthrow the king, then we might want to stay away from them. Because when the coup occurs, we want to be on the side of whoever we think that is the most likely to survive. But Sarah says that knowledge has helped people get ahead socially and people who are not interested in it, meaning gossip.

[00:16:15] At some points in the history, we're at a disadvantage. Mcandrew says that they were not good at attracting and keeping mates or maintaining alliances, the ones who weren't interested in the goings on of other people. They sort of got weeded out. So you take that. The urge to share this juicy piece of news when you hear it is part of who we are and it's a natural characteristic of this species that we've come. So I go back to this horrific example that I did at the beginning of this role play. And when we want to share information, oftentimes I feel like what we're doing is checking in to see if we are around people that we feel quote safe with. That might sound dramatic, but we want to know if I'm talking to somebody about infidelity. I want to know, Hey, are we on the same page with that? Or if that person says, Oh yeah, everybody is going to cheat at some point, then I feel like, Oh, I don't want to. I don't want to hang out with that person because I have a different opinion. So this gossip really is trying to figure out who who we feel safe with, or it's also a survival mechanism to try to understand the goings on of other people, maybe in your community or in your tribe, so to speak.

[00:17:20] So we tend to think of gossip as a negative behavior, and I have I've thought about that often. It's funny when I would talk about gossip in the terms of a couple's relationship. I would say often that if you are gossiping to have a shared experience, sometimes if people don't feel like they even know what to talk about and then they have a shared experience of talking about someone else, then if it is done so in a way of, Hey boy, what do you think about that? That's crazy. Then I feel like that could be a helpful thing. If it's done in the man, that person's a horrible person, then even if we're having a shared experience around that, I don't know if I necessarily like that energy. So again, Sarah says, we tend to think of gossip as a negative behavior when, for instance, we tattle on somebody or share information behind someone else's back that may show them in a bad light. But this researcher, McAndrew says, but it's really says by definition at least the definition of social scientists who study gossip. Use gossip is any talk about someone who isn't present, and it's usually about something that we can make a moral judgment about, meaning you tend to approve of the information or you disapprove of the information. So in one sense, we are sharing gossip in order to determine if we are on the same page morally and because if we are in a completely different space in regards to our morality, then we may not feel like that person is safe for us.

[00:18:37] Another version of gossip is that it can be entertaining, meaning it doesn't feel like work to do it, so you tend to want to share or hear the information, McAndrew explains. So it's not inherently bad, and it can play an important role in keeping our society connected. So he goes on to say gossiping isn't necessarily a bad thing. It depends on the context. So here's where the research comes in. In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Social, Psychological and Personality Science. Four hundred and sixty seven adults were electronic readers over the course of two to five days, which collected samples of their verbal conversations over that time period. I'm curious if you feel like you would be up for something like that, and this is one of those fascinating things about research and studies is that I do wonder if people that were wearing this electronic recorder over the course of two to five days would be less or more likely to gossip, depending on their attachment, style and a sense of how they get validation. Do they want to show the researchers that, oh no, I don't gossip and hoping that they will get some attaboys boys? Or if they're saying, Man, if I'm going to do this research, I'm going to, I'm going to go overboard.

[00:19:38] I'm going to gossip like nobody's business. So then they will say, Man, you're good at gossiping. So that's a whole other piece of data that we could look at down the road. But McKenna says the researchers listen to the sound files of the totality of those conversations and anything that they classified as gossip. And you talk about other people who weren't part of the conversation was coded as either positive, negative or neutral, according to a standardized scale. And again, I'm not trying to debunk research or that sort of thing because I think we need data to work with. But oftentimes you really can see where some holes and even the collection of data could be in that one sentence, we just talked about anything classified as gossip. Was quoted is either positive, negative or neutral, according to a standardized scale. It'll be fascinating to know what that standardized scale was and then the person who is listening depending on their own experiences. I wonder if there were things where they feel like this isn't really negative or this is more neutral where someone else might say, no, that's definitely negative and something else might feel positive. Anyway, I digress there a little bit. But he says it's just social information and we learn a lot about the social world around us when we gossip. So the data showed that nearly everybody in the study gossip, so only thirty four individuals out of the four hundred and sixty seven did not gossip at all, and most gossip was coded as neither positive or negative.

[00:20:55] The majority of gossip reported in the study. Seventy five percent of it was neutral. Now, if you are wondering if there is a great divide on men and women, women engaged in more neutral gossip than men. But the amount of negative and positive gossip shared among men and women was fairly consistent, and overall people who were more extroverted tended to gossip more than those who were introverted. So I'm guessing that's probably not a big surprise. But the data is limited and that it only looked at one group of individuals. But what was found in the sample backs up what McAndrew and others have found when they've studied gossip that it's about communicating information about the world we live in and most of us do it, explains lead study author Megan Robbins, who's an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside. She said It's just social information, and we learn a lot about the social world around us when we gossip. So back to this article. Sarah says what makes gossip good, bad or neutral is how we use that information. Mcandrews goes on to say it's not about the content of the news itself, it's how we use that information. He says that gossiping is a social skill.

[00:21:56] So what makes a good gossiper? We are going to talk about that right after this break. So vulnerability time, I am often asked, does my podcast make money? And the answer is it does at times. And one of the ways that it does is through advertisements and the one that helps the most people. I believe by far is when I talk about Yet I can go an entire month, as I just did without mentioning So if you are looking for counseling therapy, if you're looking for a licensed therapist in your area and are struggling with that, if or if you would even prefer telehealth if you want online therapy, if you want phone therapy, if you want video therapy, then reach out through virtual couch, you'll get 10 percent off your first month's treatments. Their intake process is incredible. They ask all the right questions and they get you to somebody that is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed professional that is in your that can meet you where you're at, that can talk about anxiety, depression. They can use a variety of different therapeutic techniques. But overall, go take care of your mental health. You, you are definitely worth it. So if you're struggling to find somebody that can help you or if you just feel like the world of online therapy might be the easiest approach, then go to virtual couch and get 10 percent off your first month's treatment.

[00:23:15] Again, that is virtual couch. They've helped over a million people and you could be talking to somebody in up to 48 hours. And last but not least, go to totally over magnetic and find out more about my upcoming magnetic marriage course. We're about to launch round three and it is a phenomenal course. I talk about it so much that I feel like I'll just leave it there. All right, let's get back to the article. Let's get back to this concept about gossip. So where we left off gossiping as a social skill, what makes a good gossiper a good gossiper is somebody who people trust with information, somebody who uses that information in a responsible way. When you find out the person that your friend has a crush on has a bad reputation for cheating, and you let your friend know not to hurt your friend, but as a warning. Or if you find out that somebody in your company is not a team player and you let other coworkers know so that they can try to avoid working with that colleague. That's where people feel in general that that can where gossip can be a good thing. And it's interesting because people may not even view that as gossip. They might view it as just sharing information. But I like that social psychologist definition of gossip, meaning that it is anything where you were talking about somebody who isn't present.

[00:24:22] But the key is that you're sharing information in an appropriate way that is helping others. Sarah goes on to say a bad gossip or, on the other hand, is somebody who shares information about others in order to get ahead or to get an advantage themselves, or just they share things just recklessly. Others don't tend to trust quote bad gossipers with information when they have it. If you can't, she says, if you can't keep your mouth shut that your friend's marriage is on the fritz, you let your entire circle of friends know about how another friend did poorly on an exam than in those scenarios. Are you speaking more about your ability to be trusted versus, Hey, I'm sharing this information because I'm worried or I'm just hoping to protect or look out for somebody. And science has shown that gossip can be a source for good, and it can actually help maintain social order. The research has shown that a lot of gossip has both positive effects and moral motivations, explains Rob Weiler, professor of sociology and director of the Polarization and. Social change laboratory at Stanford University, who studies the social forces that bring us together and drive us against one another, including gossip. So studies from his group have shown that the more generous and moral among us are most likely to pass along rumors about untrustworthy people, and they report doing so because they are concerned about helping others or the general good.

[00:25:35] They call this type of gossip pro-social gossip because it serves to warn others, which has the effect of lowering overall exploitation in groups, Wheeler says. A lot of gossip is driven by concern for others, and it has positive social effects, he says. Work from his group has also found that engaging in gossip can actually temper some of our frustrations and other negative emotions when we feel that we find out someone has behaved in a deviant way. So the example he gives as if a coworker unfairly gets a promotion, even though the friend that you meet for lunch after this happens has never met that coworker. You still tell that friend all the reasons your colleague didn't deserve the new position. And I think in my world that can be venting, that can be just getting something off your chest. And I think one of the keys there is when you find somebody that will just listen and say, Tell me more. That must be hard, but not say or try to fix or say, yeah, you need to realize or. But what you don't understand is because that that just builds up that psychological reactants or that instant negative reaction more. We're being told what to do, even if we're being told to get over it or not worry about it than our brain says.

[00:26:35] I will not stop worrying about it and I will not get over it. So just having somebody there that you can express things to somebody that you can get things out of your mind and just share your train of thought can be so powerful. And his team has also found that gossip is actually one of the forces that promotes cooperation among groups to experiments his team has done suggested the threat of being gossiped about deters untrustworthy behavior. Once people have been gossiped about for behaving in an untrustworthy way, they tend to reform their behavior, and gossip helps people know who to avoid and not trust. So together, the evidence suggests that gossip may play an important role in maintaining social order, Wheeler says. But spreading rumors about people who have quote Behave Badly allows our friends and our acquaintances to, in theory, know who to trust, and that threat of gossip can deter bad behavior in the first place. As people seek to avoid developing a bad reputation, yes, you can get better at gossiping for good. But here's how to make sure that your gossip going to responsible, trustworthy way. Think twice before you do it. Whether you're gossiping in a responsible way or not is all a matter of when you're doing it and with whom you're sharing the information, McAndrew says. Are you stabbing somebody in the back by telling that story? Is that news going to stop something bad from happening? The second one, I think, is so important.

[00:27:46] Don't gossip for personal gain. If you're doing it for your own personal gain, don't, Willer says it's probably not going to do anybody any favors. The form of gossip that we found beneficial is negative gossip about people who have behaved in an antisocial way, Wheeler says. And the third one is don't distort information, tell it like it is. Lead the exaggerations at the door. Wheeler says people often exaggerate what they pass on to make a better or more coherent story, or to justify why they're speaking about someone. And I think that part is so key that people are trying to justify why they're speaking about someone, he says. That's not a responsible way of sharing information. Gossip doesn't do a lot of good if it's informational content is unreliable. So if we go to the what have we learned today, there is a human need to share experiences and to share information. And if someone is not around that we are doing it, then technically that is by definition, by social psychologists definition. That is gossip. And there are situations where that has been something through the years that will is done to keep us safe. But I worry at times that it is just a way to then put you in a one up position over someone else without really knowing what the details or the facts are and somebody else's situation.

[00:28:54] So if and I think this is almost part of the thing I love talking about of acceptance, that if we accept the fact that we are people who gossip by nature, that acceptance doesn't mean apathy. It doesn't mean that, OK, well, know, hey, we all do it. So it doesn't matter what I say. I'm just I'm just gossiping. I'm just being human. No. If we accept the fact that we do gossip, then can we gossip responsibly? Can we gossip in a way that is saying, Hey, I'm just sharing this information as a way of warning or is a shared experience, but not as a way to then gang up on someone or to put someone in a one down position or to put yourself in a one up position? Because in that scenario, now we're digging into gossip as a way of wanting to be validated or wanting to get our needs met. When in reality, that whole concept of looking for external validation. Somebody to validate me to help me. Help me feel like I'm OK. And that stuff there. There we go. We're digging back into our childhood. We need to get to this place that we are mature adults, mature human beings that can take ownership of our own experiences or our own thoughts and emotions. And so we're quite welcome to share them with other people. But we need to make room for the fact that other people have different experiences as well.

[00:30:01] And when we hear of someone else's experience, even if it is not something that we have gone through, or if it even invalidates what our thoughts are about, something that's OK. And that's often that place where we need to learn to sit with a little bit of that discomfort not going to this place where we feel. We have to defend ourselves, or we have to break down the other person's what their reality is because that's the point where then we all start to go back into our bunkers and fire shots and we look for just those, only those who agree with us and we can find ourselves falling into this little echo chamber of, nope, I'm right, and I will only surround myself by the people who agree with me. Because man that that can be that can be a dangerous place to be. So take a look at the way that you communicate. And again, if we own up to the fact that we all gossip, can we do it in a more productive way, in a more in a way that psychologists say is a social skill and to know that there are ways to do that right and in ways that are not so helpful? All right. This is the part of the show where I'm rambling, so I hope that you all have an amazing week.

[00:30:59] Coming up now is the amazing the talented Aurora Florence with her song It's wonderful. We'll see you next time.

[00:31:06] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful. And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that

One of the most frustrating things after "Waking up to Narcissism" is trying to explain your relationship struggles to friends, co-workers, or family members who haven't experienced narcissistic forms of abuse (emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.). Many people in these situations find themselves almost wishing their emotional abuser would physically abuse them because "at least people would understand why I would leave." But the emotional wounds and scars run deep, and on most occasions, don't heal properly without a lot of work.

In today's episode, Tony describes his "Death by a thousand cuts" theory when talking about narcissistic patterns of abuse. A thousand paper cuts can still lead to someone "bleeding out," yet each individual paper cut appears insignificant on its own. Tony reads examples from his private women's group of examples of "Death by a thousand cuts." You can submit your questions, comments, or request to join the group through the contact form on

#narcissism #narcissist #therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

Tony tackles the intricacies of the narcissistic trauma bond. For many, the harder you try to find your voice or to separate yourself from the narcissists in your life, the more difficult it becomes, which only makes the bond more challenging to break. Tony references the article "Trauma Bonding - Why You Can't Stop Loving the Narcissist."

#therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

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

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode five of the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast, I'm your host, Tony Overbay, and I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and podcast host of the virtual couch. And I'm in private practice somewhere in Northern California, but I just want to jump in and I have so much content to cover today. I want to talk about a trauma bond, what a trauma bond is. And we're going to get to that. But I have some things I want to do up front. First, if anybody happens to be in the Salt Lake area and are interested, I'm going to be speaking at a leading Saints live event from one to five p.m. on October the 16th. And you can go to leading St. Paul Tony in Utah, or you can go find my Facebook page. Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist or the virtual couch account on Instagram, and I will post more about that. But that's that's going to be exciting. It's interesting because I have four hours to cover so much material, and the host, Kurt Frankel, has asked me to cover narcissism in ecclesiastical and ecclesiastical settings. So maybe in religious leadership. So that's going to be one of the many things I'm going to try to get to. I told him I'm going to try to solve all the world's problems there because I've got four hours to do so. That's October 16th, and I also wanted to just touch on a couple of the emails.

[00:01:23] Oh, and make mention of contact me. There are a lot of emails. I'm almost overwhelmed with the amount of emails, but I don't stop. I'm looking for more examples of gaslighting. You can ask questions. I want to get to question and answer episodes. And I know I keep saying this that coming up down the road. But I have a couple of authors, one of a new book on narcissism that it's going to come on. But the real thing I'm looking forward to, I'm still trying to figure out how to do this. Behind the scenes is bringing on people that are currently in relationships with have been through relationships with people that are struggling with narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic tendencies. And there's a lot more there if people are involved in divorces, if people are a lot of people get frustrated and angry and they want, they do want their story to be told. But then when they step back, they think, OK, if my kids hear this down the road or my community. So we're just working out some of the the finer points, but we're going to get real people, real examples, and I think that's going to be pretty fascinating. But for now, I have so many emails of examples of gaslighting, but not just people saying, Hey, here's some gaslighting, but most people are sending emails and they're asking questions like this, and this is the latest one that I received.

[00:02:32] So it was actually last night and so I didn't actually get a chance to respond and say, Are you cool if I share some of this? So I'll change up some of the things. But I think this is one of the most interesting parts or points of the type of email I receive at the end, she says. I'm one of those people and I'm not sure if I have rose colored goggles on or if I'm the problem. I feel like for the most part, I'm a very secure and hardworking person. I've dealt with this for, say I'll say, over 20 years, and it's actually improved somewhat. I think that's kind of a key. We'll get to that today on this episode about trauma bonding. And she said, I always try to replace situations of what I think a normal marriage would look like or how a husband would and should react in similar situations. And she said, I feel I'm so far down this road that I have no idea. And she says just some key things here, she said. Also, my parents divorced when I was young and my mom didn't remarry until I moved out, so it's hard for me to go by example. And so I just want you to know person who emailed me and will read a little bit more from this to that. You're asking all the right questions. And one of the things that I think is significant is when she said that she didn't know what that would look like, that she's so far down this road that she has no idea.

[00:03:40] And that's a concept that I think is why I'm so drawn to this work and working with or helping people navigate those relationships with people that may have these personality disorders because you don't know what you don't know. And a lot of the people that find themselves in these relationships, and I covered this on a previous episode are the pathologically kind people. There are a lot of times highly sensitive people, people that have grown up and have maybe been in this type of a home as well. So they have already grown up trying to read the room and feel the energy or the empathy in the room and knowing how to show up so that they can keep the peace or be the peacekeepers. So then they may find themselves in these relationships. This is part of that human magnet syndrome with some of these people that are very strong willed, very domineering, there's a lot of possibly love bombing. At first, the person shows up as this amazing knight in shining armor that the this person wants to marry or wants to be a part of or in that relationship because they may have seen that modeled by their own parent, whether it's their mom or their dad, that just ultra confident person that they can feel like they are safe or secure.

[00:04:54] But then there are all these times where their parent most likely didn't take ownership of anything or. We didn't model the my bad or I'm sorry, but there was a lot of the ignoring culpability of situations or ignoring of taking responsibility and oftentimes pushing it off on kids or spouse or you guys, you guys are driving me crazy or you're making me feel like this is what I had to do. So oftentimes the children have grown up seeing a model of parents that don't take ownership or responsibility and that often do put off the the responsibility of their actions onto those in their family, whether it's their spouse or their kids. So I appreciate that this reader, this writer, said that she doesn't know if she really knows what a healthy relationship looks like. So when I'm trying to teach people about my four pillars of a connected conversation or to be heard is to be healed or any of these concepts, I realized over the years that a lot of times I met with a blank stare because it's as if I'm telling just this fairy tale. And then the people are waiting in my office for me to be done with my fairy tale story, so then they can get back to trying to tell me that their spouse is the crazy one. And wouldn't you agree? And can you just tell them to knock it off and get back to doing the things that that they used to do so that then the controlling person in the room can feel better? Ok, we're good again.

[00:06:16] And just like this email I started with today, not sure if I am if I have rose colored goggles on or if I'm the problem. And so you don't have rose colored goggles on or if you do their goggles of kindness and you're trying to do all you can to to help and to preserve a marriage, when in reality, the tool that we need to help with are those five things I talked about of some nice self-care raising your emotional baseline, getting your PhD and gaslighting, disengaging from productive conversations and setting boundaries and recognizing that there isn't anything that you will say or do that will cause that aha moment or that epiphany. But the more that you put these other things in place and then set these boundaries and then can stay present when your I just want to say for right now, when you're a narcissist and reacts and we talked about that, I think in episode two, when they start to say, Oh my gosh, you won't let things go or you're so angry, or they start pushing all the buttons to get you to react, and that's hard, and that's scary. But as you stay present with that, then that is what we'll start to shift the dynamic and the more clarity that you can have. That's where we need to be.

[00:07:16] If you are going to start to see some change in the relationship, I feel so bad. I'm twenty seven minutes in and I haven't talked about the trauma bond, but I am going to talk about the trauma bond. This is not going to be like that narcissistic apology where I just draw this out for a few days or a few episodes. So I'm going to go right to article and I'll send I'll put a link to this in, the show notes. It looks like it's from the UK, but it's the Broxton women's project because I've done a few episodes on trauma bonding or one episode on the virtual couch I've been interviewed about at a time or two, and I felt like this is a really good article. And so I'm going to do, I think, what the kids call reaction video these days because I'm gonna do a lot of reading, so I'm going to take no credit for the reading of this, but then I'll comment on it along the way. So trauma bonding, why you can't stop loving the narcissists? They say trauma bonding makes you psychologically addicted to your abuser. This explains why trying to stop contact and feel like you're coming off of a drug. And the article doesn't have a I'm just so I'm just going to say they it doesn't have a specific author's name, but they say that survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse often form trauma bonds, whereby they both become emotionally hooked into the relationship.

[00:08:22] This can make it extremely difficult for the survivor to unlock herself and escape from the abuse trauma. Bonding happens when an abuser provides the survivor with intermittent rewards and punishments. So in that scenario, a psychological conditioning develops. So the survivor becomes snared into the relationship, and they're just hopeful of the next reward or. And I think this is such a key point or a reprieve of the suffering. So when I'm working with people and they will often say, No, no, no, he's not that bad, there's good times that they find themselves craving those good times. So they are they become willing to deal with the bad times and they start to find any way that they can to try to get back to those good times. Basically, if you're looking at it from a concept of like addiction, they'll do anything to get that next fix, even lose their sense of self or buffer what he's saying from the kids, or make sure the kids are being calm or whatever that looks like in order to get that man. Hopefully, then he'll be nice. And there are so many times that I'm working with with someone in this scenario. And again, I'll just go with if I'm working with a woman in this situation where she'll say now was good week and I'll say, OK, why tell me why it was good? And I'm almost laughing of some of the people I've worked with.

[00:09:33] I know they know where I'm going with next. But was it that it was nice or that you had these connected conversations or that this person really said, Man, I don't know. You tell me who you are, how you know we need to connect? Or is it that there was an absence of being mean? And so if that's the case, life is not about or relationships are not about an absence of being mean. The norm is being nice and then having some incredible connected moments. It's not. Hoping that there isn't a blowup and trying to manage that situation, so then it is a good week, nobody freaked out. He didn't blow up on me. So these powerful emotional bonds, this is so wild, powerful emotional bonds develop that are extremely resistant to change. Trauma bonding involves cycles of abuse following an abusive incident or a series of incidents. Perpetrators will often offer a kind gesture to try and recover the situation, and a period of relative peace can follow before tensions start to rebuild, and the abuse inevitably starts again. So abuse that can be that can mean a lot of things can be a triggering word and with trauma bonding. We often talk about emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, financial abuse. So there are a lot of different types of abuse. So the spiritual abuse is one that I work with in my realm quite a bit where if somebody feels uncomfortable, then they will.

[00:10:50] If they feel really uncomfortable, sometimes they will just say that God told them to tell their spouse that they're doing something wrong. And that can be really that can that can be highly manipulative. It can. I have to tell you I was. There's a podcast called Hidden True Crime, talking about the Chad and Lori Daybell case, which I'm just fascinated by. And they were sharing at one point that that Chad Daybell's wife, Lori, who unfortunately rest in peace. She died along this process, and you can go check out the material on that case. It's it's so sad. But they were sharing that there was a time where she, Lori, really enjoyed playing a game on her phone and rather than Chad having the four pillars of a connected conversation and say, Hey, I'm noticing you're playing the game and tell me more about that. And are you? Are you feeling off or depressed or what do you like about the game on this podcast? They talked about that. He said that her grandmother had visited him and told him to tell her to not play the game. And I look at things like that as spiritual abuse of that abuse of power. And back to this article. Braxton Women's Project survivors will try their best not to anger their partner and to do everything expected of them that remember how loving their partner, Cannon was in the early days of their relationship or hoping for the return of that behavior.

[00:12:01] And they think they just need to work out what they are doing wrong to bring back the loving part of their relationship. And it won't occur to them that the loving gestures were always manipulative and never genuine, their partner being incapable of real love. Those are strong words, but I think they're very well said and I could do so many episodes or examples on that part. Where do everything expected of them, which that alone, that phrase expected of them? That's not a real relationship. You are a human being showing up in a relationship with your own unique gifts, talents and abilities just as your spouse is. So the unhealthy relationship is the what? What do I need to do for them? Not what can I do? What can he do? And as we do these things together, we edify each other. A one plus one is three type of energy. And then this part is hoping to return to that behavior. They think they need to work out what they're doing wrong to bring back that loving part of the relationship. And that part, I will see people when then the relationship, let's say it breaks apart or they're heading toward divorce, that the trauma bonded spouse will so often say, If I would have done more of this, even if they say, OK, see where things are now. If I would have treated his his my stepdaughter nicer, then things probably would have worked out better.

[00:13:13] And man, I just say, Boy, bless your heart for trying to find a way that you could have changed this dynamic. But had you then done everything quote, you were expected with this stepdaughter. Then there would have been something else, and that would have been something else. So it's this never ending just rabbit hole of things that you would not have been doing wrong because the whole point is the gaslighter, the narcissist. The manipulator is not willing to take ownership of their own things. So rather than just say, Oh my gosh, you're right, I'm not being very kind. I'm not being fair. I'm not taking accountability. They're able to say, Well, if you would have done this, the whole thing would have been different and you'll run into a consistent pattern of that. This article what I love about it, it just has these quotes throughout that are just so spot on. This says trauma bonding feels like you've broken me into pieces, but you're the only one who can fix me. That one's deep. This is the person that you can then come up with examples in your head of where you turn to them for for love or for connection. So then they are the ones that have broken you into pieces and then you want to go to them for for healing. So you do whatever you can to try to get that relationship back to a place so that you feel safer, that they will hear you.

[00:14:24] Trauma bonding has similarities with Stockholm Syndrome, where people have held captive, develop feelings of trust and affection toward their captors. Both Trauma Bonding and Stockholm Syndrome are survival strategies that developed to help survive and emotionally or physically dangerous situation, and women will hold on to toxic and abusive relationships and become more vulnerable to trauma bonding for a lot of reasons. And they go into a couple of those that I think are spot on and go a little bit toward the way the email that I started with today. Survivors who were raised in abusive households are more vulnerable to trauma bonding. And again, let's look at abuse that could be emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, financial abuse, any of the. An abusive relationship. An abusive relationship may seem more normal or acceptable to them, and this is one of the reasons why it's so important for parents to model healthy relationships to their children, which we're going to touch on that down the road when people do finally feel like this is not good for me. They will often say, I need to stay in the relationship for the kids, but we'll get to some data down the road that shows that if you are modeling an unhealthy relationship and that relationship is more likely to then move into the next generation, your kids. If your kids don't see you being able to have a voice or to do things that you love or to feel confident, then I believe that isn't what is best as a modeling form for the kids.

[00:15:42] Because then they grow up saying, I thought that was normal. I thought that was the way that relationships just worked. Women raised with abuse will also be likely to have lower self-esteem with less expectations of being treated respectfully, being in the abusive relationship will further damage self-esteem, sometimes to the point that the woman will believe she deserves the abuse she's being subjected to. The abuse becomes her norm. Despite it making her feel deeply and happy. She may stop aspiring to anything better and she doesn't feel worthy of love. And the longer the survivor remains with the narcissistic abuser, the more difficult it is to break the trauma bond. There is so much in that paragraph it's and I hate continuing to say we'll get to all these things down the road, but we could break that thing down. The five part series Trauma, Fear and Abandonment actually increase feelings of attachment. And this is this one is this is where people say, why? Why can't I leave even when I know what's going on? It's because of these all of these different factors that we're talking about today in the trauma bond. The nice person is wanting this approval, wanting to go to the very person that's hurt me to then try to make sense of everything.

[00:16:44] And so the more that one does this, then it will increase those feelings of attachment because you are so desperate to find those moments of connection, not knowing that that's not the norm or the real healthy way to be in a relationship in general. So again, trauma, fear and abandonment actually increase feelings of attachment. The more you have been hurt by him, the more intensely attached you will be. Trauma bonds are hard to break, but even harder to live with. Women and trauma bonds will tend to blame themselves for their partner's abusive behavior. She will agree with him when he tells her that she shouldn't cope with that. She couldn't cope without him, that she's not really good enough, that she's made him angry and that he wouldn't need to punish her if she tried harder. She'd also make excuses for his abuse. He had a difficult childhood. His mother didn't love him, so it's understandable why he gets angry. And she'll think that if she can stop being stupid or try harder or show more affection or intimacy or never doubt him, then things will be fine. But again, that's because anything that she is doing that he then takes as criticism, which ends up being most everything. Then he will do anything to defend that fragile ego, and that is then pointing the blame outward. And who is the number one target? It is the spouse. And if the spouse isn't around, it can be the children or it's going to be the idiots at church or the stupid neighbor, that guy on the road or whatever it is, never him.

[00:18:02] If she does manage to break free from the trauma bond, the abuser will commonly revert to the courtship phase to win her back, and she will be very vulnerable to his efforts. And think about now why as we lay it out this way, because that's what she wanted. She wants that guy who's nice and it was nice at the beginning and who she wants. He's had these dreams. I want to be able to grow old with him on the beach. I want this to be the way that our life is. Oh my gosh, now he's being nice. I think he gets it. And I hear that in my office so often and my job is to meet the client where they're at. I call them rule outs. So it's OK. No, I hear you. I will often say I want to share that. I worry that that he just found a new button to push and that this isn't who he is at his core. So then I call it a shelf life, so we'll see. Is it a week? Is it two weeks where then he just says, OK, we're good, right? And goes back to whatever he was doing before or then he says, OK, you didn't tell me that you were unhappy again. I thought everything was great.

[00:18:52] It's been a week. And so that what is he doing? Putting it on her, put it on her to you need to tell me this is on you now. Again, how crazy is that? How fascinating. So the more she reaches out to the abuser for love recognition and approval, the more the trauma bond is strengthened. This also means that she'll stay in the relationship when the abuse escalates, perpetuating the destructive cycle. Because he's the one abusing her and making her feel terrible. She will often see him as the only person able to validate her and make her feel OK again. Trauma bond this next quote Although the survivor might disclose the abuse, the trauma bond means she also may seek to receive comfort from the very person who abused her. And it's really difficult to watch that in a couple's therapist setting to see someone have that light bulb moment or that aha moment and then want, why want something different? But then he OK, he's going to be a little bit nicer. No, no, no. It's OK. I think it's OK, or they feel so. It's so scary because of what we talked about and one of those previous episodes of if all of a sudden she's like, No, I'm going to have a voice, I'm not going to just give in. Then it oftentimes, then that will amp up the the tension in the relationship. And so it can cause the the kind person to go back and say, No, you know what? I know I'm better equipped now.

[00:20:02] I think things are going to be different. And sometimes that can take honestly a year. So it really can take years for a person to then wake up to this narcissism and then know what to do with that. And I want to say, and I should do this more throughout the episodes. I do that if you are the partner because I've also had some really cool emails from the men in these relationships that are saying, OK, no, I listened and yeah, I hear you. I don't want to call it narcissism, either. Such labels with narcissism, but they say, OK, maybe at some pride, maybe it's my ego. But but it's still difficult or fine. I might have some of these tendencies, but now what do I do with them? And so I love that. I really do. But that doesn't mean that then the spouse who has been feeling unheard or unloved then just says, no, no, now's the time to do the work to find maybe a good individual. Therapist help you raise your emotional baseline or find a good couple's therapist who knows the concepts of something like emotionally focused therapy. What what I love, who can then help you give you a framework of how to communicate? I'm going to run through these real quick and then we're done. Escaping from a trauma bond is notoriously difficult. Professional help is often needed.

[00:21:06] The following steps can help liberate the survivor from this destructive relationship. If possible, this can be really difficult, but they stay physically separate from the abuser. It's essential, and although this can be difficult, it's invariably easier than emotional separation. And this is just the concept of where if over the years, that person, even though this trauma bond, even though there are times and you desperately want to love them or you try to love them, or you worry about what's wrong with you. But if they are the two of you together, if your cortisol levels are flowing high so that you are in your fight or flight response constantly, then they are triggered. You're triggered even just by being in the same room, then a physical separation can often be one of the best things. But then, boy, still, that's where I feel like you really do need professional help. That sounds like I'm saying, Boy, are you crazy? I'm not. But I'm saying then that physical separation can get you out of that fight or flight. But then unfortunately, now is where the logical brain will try to kick back in. But your pathological kindness will cause you to first go to the Oh my gosh, what did I just do? He must be feeling so hurt, and all of this is hard to say this next part at times. But bless your heart for thinking that you do understand how he feels. But that's actually the problem that has gotten you in.

[00:22:15] The situation that you're in is that you have been so worried about how he feels, what he must be going through that that is why you react the way you often do to the gaslighting or the emotional or spiritual or financial abuse. So this is a time for you to again raise your emotional baseline and show up as confident as you can be to be able to still express yourself because that's the relationship that you need and you deserve. The second thing they suggest is if you can cut off lines of communication as far as possible, and they say this can be made almost impossible if you share children, have a restricting communication to just email, for instance, or through a third party for child care. Related matters might be possible. And here's another one we'll talk about this down the road. I know how that can be really difficult, but a lot of times people, it's OK to set a boundary of I'm going to communicate through text or email because the phone calls can hearing the voice can immediately then cause that fight or flight response. And then you're prey to the gaslighting or the manipulation and at the end of that phone call. I wanted to say all these things, but I didn't, and I just ended up saying, OK, no, you're right, which is not where we want to go. The third one, and I really like this the way they put this, acknowledge you have a choice and can choose to leave the relationship because I I say so often acceptance does not mean empathy.

[00:23:28] If you accept the fact that you can leave, it doesn't mean an all or nothing thought of OK, but accepting the fact you can leave, then that allows you and they put this really well when choices acknowledge you can gain control and drive your destiny with less vulnerability to further abuse. So I always say that when you accept the fact that you could leave, then you're not continually looking for. Should I leave? Should I not leave? Wait, what if he just said that? Nice things I probably shouldn't, right? Or asking the people around you and dealing with the psychology of the peanut gallery because they don't really know what you're going through. So just accept the fact that no, what if I need to I can in that way, then you are able to be more present with your self care and in trying to figure out or communicate the best way to interact with with your the person with the narcissistic traits, self-reflection will enable you to understand how your character traits and vulnerabilities played a part in this codependent bond. Being abused is never your fault. Grateful that they said that. However, there may be aspects of your personality that made you more susceptible to this type of abuse, and that's where we talk about that kindness or that empathy or giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

[00:24:29] The quote that I almost misread that I talked about, I think in our last episode that I really think about often is it's in a podcast I did a long time ago on the virtual couch talking about narcissists or sociopaths and psychopaths. Oh my, altogether. But the quote says narcissists and sociopaths are extremely good. Sniffing out trusting vulnerable people who tend to see the good in others. So thus they can be very difficult for quote nice people to spot until the offender has reaped tremendous and undeniable havoc. Relatedly, because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code such as that lying and harming others is wrong. Even an otherwise savvy person can work hard to find a good reason why somebody is acting off, rather than identifying problem personalities and behaviors for what they are and feelings of anger and distrust or fear about what we quote know about a loved one will cause a lot of distress, otherwise known as cognitive dissonance. So as a result, most of us wind up resolving the cognitive dissonance by reinterpreting facts that feel at odds with what we need and what we want to believe about somebody so that I think that just becomes such an important part of the learning about your own character traits or what got you into this relationship. So that's that self-reflection, what worked out a few more of these that they list work out what hooked you into this abusive relationship? Was it a fantasy or illusion or a perfect future? Was that your partner convinced you that he'd meet some deep felt need? Were you hoping he would make up for something you felt you were lacking and learn about the character traits of narcissistic abusers is this will help you understand what happened to you so you're less susceptible to future abusive relationships? Again, we'll cover that one down the road.

[00:25:59] Your picker is not broken because you're starting to wake up to what's going on, so you will be in a much better place. And again, we'll cover a lot of that down the road, develop a support network of professionals, friends and trusted family who will actively, positively and compassionately support you to recover from the trauma bond. Domestic abuse is an isolating experience, but prioritizing social connections is vital for recovery. The narcissistic abuse or relationships? Often there's a phrase called sequestering, just like when you sequester a jury and they have no interactions with anyone else, the person will also be sequestered. You know, you better not talk about this with your sister or hope you're not airing our dirty laundry to anyone, but you need to. That is that is sequestering. That is part of it. Sounds harsh, but the emotional abuse, because you're human, you can you can communicate with who you need to communicate with, and that's part of being an adult.

[00:26:47] And so if you are being, I then again say you can have love or control in a relationship and not both in an adult relationship, but that's maybe a good time. I think I was going to mention this at the beginning. I didn't. But do please reach out to me through the Tony over the contact section, and we've figured out a really nice way to open up the support group that I have for women who are maybe in these relationships trying to navigate through these relationships or looking for support after post relationships with narcissistic individuals, make decisions that support your self care, be self compassionate, both physically and emotionally. Don't berate yourself or quote mistakes. See recovery work as part of progress, and it's part of your journey. Live in the present notice how you're feeling now if you're still in the relationship notice. How trapped you feel. Notice how scared and unloved you feel. Notice how you've compromised your self-worth in the relationship. Stop hoping for things to be better in the future. But notice how you're feeling now, except that sadness and realize that you it's OK to grieve the end of an intensive and abusive relationship. Don't expect to feel better right away or too soon, but have confidence that better times will come. And I think honestly, that's where something like a support group or working with a professional really helps. Write a list of what you'd refuse to tolerate in a relationship.

[00:27:57] For example, I will not be intimate with someone who calls me names or I refuse to be questioned every time I go out. All right. Well, where would I like? Or I will not have conversations with someone when I feel desperate or obsessive and then start planning your future free from your abusive partner. Make life affirming, positive choices for your future. I think we'll wrap it up right there, and I really just appreciate the support again of the podcast. Reach out if you are interested in joining that support group and please continue to send me your questions. And just again, I will stop right here because I could not be more grateful or just feel blessed for the people who are sending in emails just saying that they finally feel heard or understood. Because I really, I do. I hear you, I see you, and you are going to get through this whatever stage of this year, just start. Just start devouring this data again. There's no scarcity mindset from those of us that are in the helping profession that sometimes you need to hear a lot of things from a lot of people to really make sense of things. And so I hope that this is just one of those voices. So have an amazing day week and then say, I'll see you next time on the virtual couch, but you can go look at the virtual couch as well. But I'll talk to you next week. Ok, bye.

Despite what you hear from the self-help world change takes time, so it is important to give yourself a little more grace. If beating yourself up was the key to success, then we'd all already be perfect! Tony shares his secrets on how to become unstuck, and why we continually try to think our way out of thinking problems, and why our brain, bless its pink squishy heart, thinks it's doing us a solid by keeping us heading down the same deeply rutted neuropathways. Plus, learn the mysteries of "piloting the human meat suit." 


Visit to learn more about Tony’s Magnetic Marriage program, or visit to take Tony’s free parenting course, or to learn more about his best-selling book; or only recovery program “The Path Back.” And please subscribe to “Waking Up to Narcissism,” Tony’s brand new podcast, which is part of The Virtual Couch podcast network.

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Tony talks about why unfinished tasks take up so much emotional energy and why, even with this knowledge, it can be so challenging to begin even the most simple project. The Ziegarnik Effect is the tendency to remember unfinished tasks better than finished tasks. Tony "reacts to" Cynthia Vinney's article "The Ziegarnik Effect? Definitions and Examples" Understanding how The Ziegarnik Effect works can help you address procrastination, poor study habits, and more.


Sign up now to learn more about Tony's next round of his Magnetic Marriage course

Check out this episode (285) of the Virtual Couch where I discuss this topic at length.

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

[00:00:05] The. Come on in and take a seat.

[00:00:21] Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode two hundred and eighty five of the virtual couch, and I'm going to start with story time. Friday night, my wife and I had gone to a high school football game. My son's girlfriend is a cheerleader where we're watching the Friday Night Lights. It's starting to get crisp and cool. It was amazing, but we had we had not gone to dinner before. So afterward we head to dinner and we go to a Mexican restaurant and we haven't eaten a lot all day. So a bit impulsively we get the chips in queso because it's amazing and we drive away and we're in the midst of just talking. And I think I actually stopped a little short at a stoplight and my wife just checked to make sure that our food didn't spill everywhere. And she just mentions, Hey, they forgot the queso, which is the whole point of chips and queso chips are good, but cakes, those amazing. So we're a little ways away, and I just I just say, Hey, I'll go back. No problem. And so we go back and we had just been there. It was late. It was after 10 o'clock, the restaurant closes at 11. There had been no one else in the restaurant. It was one of those where you go up to the counter and you place your order. And I had made witty jokes and I thought I had really connected with the person helping because I felt like it was late at night and I wanted her to smile and have a great end to the evening.

[00:01:33] So I'm thinking, Oh, she'll remember, and she'll say, Hey, what's going on? And I walk in and absolute zero recollection. Not that I'm somebody that stands out in a crowd. Don't get me wrong, but my point being, I just left there and I had mentioned that, hey, we just left and unfortunately forgot the queso. And still, this just blank look on her face, which is fine. But the point of this story is that you do sometimes wonder how does somebody just not quite remember something that had just happened? And it had me think of this thing called the zeigen effect. And that's what we're going to talk about today. Sounds super nerdy and boring, but it's amazing. What the Zagorin effect is is that you once you complete a project, then it is out of your mind. So somebody that works in the food service industry, for example, when you have left and you have paid, you are done to them. They have had so many people come through that day that while you are still put in your order together before you've paid, while you're still in front of them, you're relevant and they're going to remember you and they're going to remember what you were trying to order or what they need to do for the most part. But when you leave, that task is completed and done.

[00:02:41] And so there's so much fascinating psychology around this organic effect today, and we're going to talk about that how it fits into your mental health. Things like procrastination. Things like why we want to continually binge on Netflix or Hulu episodes one after the other, because there's this thing that's left undone or why we want to click on clickbait, even though we know it's clickbait. Because once we have something in our minds and that is not completed, our mind is just going to start turning and turning. And it really wants to do something about this unfinished task or this incomplete information. So we're going to talk about this Zigarnic effect, and I'm going to refer to an article from a website called Thought, and it's by someone named Cynthia Vinny. And I just am going to do quite a bit of reading, but I'm going to react, I guess, is what the kids say these days. It's funny in my day as an old man, it's commentary, but I love this concept of a React video. We teach a Sunday school class and we were even going to do this on Sunday where it show this video that that our church had put together. And I had asked kids, I said, Hey, how many of you guys watch YouTube channels where they react to fill in the blank? They react to video trailers, they react to video games, just this reaction, and almost all of them raise their hand.

[00:04:00] That is such a thing. And so I did realize in that moment I like to hear a commentary on things. But again, today we're talking reaction. So we're going to talk about this article, and Cynthia sets it up by saying, Have you ever found yourself thinking about a partially finished project for school? Or is it hard for you to work when you're trying to focus on other things? Or you maybe wondered what would happen next in your favorite TV show or film series? If so, you've experienced this Zagorink effect, which is the tendency to remember unfinished tasks better than finished tasks. And I have so many thoughts on this because again, truly, every individual listening to this podcast is a very unique individual that has all of their own processes and thoughts and abilities that come into any situation. And what I mean by that is if I take my wife and I, for example, I, she has to complete a task. She's just has an amazing ability to keep a to do list. I've heard of these to do lists. I've tried to keep them. I have sticky notes all over my desk right now. I've tried to do to do apps or back in the day there were day timers and planners and that sort of thing. But my wife is just so good at every day. You hear this little ding on her phone and she checks off these tasks that she's accomplished. Or if? We both been asked to speak somewhere again, let's go back to this church setting.

[00:05:17] I'm going to put this thing off until the last minute where she is going to not rest until that talk is completed because it's this unfinished task. So we're going to even talk about the differences in individuals and how that works as well. So the origins of the Zagorin took effect one day while sitting in a busy Viennese restaurant in the nineteen twenties. A Russian psychologist named Bloom as Organic noticed that the waiters could successfully remember the details of the orders for the tables that had yet to receive and pay for their food. But like my experience on Friday night, as soon as the food was delivered and the check was closed, the waiters memories of the order seemed to just disappear from their minds. So she went on to study this in a lot of different ways. There was a series of experiments to study this phenomenon, so she had asked participants, for example, at one setting to complete a series of somewhere between 18 and 20 to simple tasks, including things like making a clay figure, constructing a puzzle, completing a math problem, and already we frame this in the world of a reaction video or reacting to even this article. It's funny because when I thought about the concept of making a clay figure, for example, I have zero artistic talent, and that's not this humble brag. Oh, no, but let me show you all these amazing things that I've done artistically.

[00:06:30] I'm talking zero. So it's funny because I feel like if someone interrupted me and making this clay figure, I don't feel like I would. That would be this task left undone. I feel like it would be this big sense of relief. So even as I talk about the series of experiments, I know that your mileage may vary. But when people were interrupted and doing these tasks, half of the tasks were interrupted before the participant could complete them. And meanwhile, the participant was able to work on others until they were done so. Afterward, the participant was asked to tell the experimenter about the task that they worked on, and Zagorink wanted to know which tasks that the participants would recall first. And an initial group of participants recalled these interrupt. I will definitely be editing this out and initial group of participants recalled in it. Let's do take three, shall we? And initial group of participants recalled interrupted tasks 90 percent better than the task that they completed. And then a second group of participants recalled interrupted tasks over twice, as well as the completed tasks. So in a variation of that experiment, as well as the it found that adults once again experienced a 90 percent memory advantage, 14 interrupted for interrupted tasks. And furthermore, children remembered unfinished tasks over twice as often as they did completed tasks. And just hold on because we're going to talk about how you can even use that to your advantage when it comes to things like studying, preparing for tests or that sort of thing.

[00:07:58] So there was more research done that again Zagarnic lived in the twenties. In a study conducted in the nineteen sixties, a guy named John Baddeley, a memory researcher, asked participants to solve a series of anagrams within a specific amount of time. And once again, where I go with that is I don't know if I can solve an anagram, so it would most likely be a huge sense of relief to be interrupted in this process. But for the group that was studied, they were given the answers to the anagrams that they were unable to finish, and later participants were better able to recall the words of for the anagrams they failed to complete over those that they successfully finished. And then in nineteen eighty two, this study that was done by Kenneth McGraw and Jeremiah Fiala interrupted participants before they could complete a spatial reasoning task. And even after the experiment was over, this one again, I found fascinating. Eighty six percent of the people who were given absolutely no incentive for their participation decided to stick around and continue working on the task until they could finish it. Eighty six percent, that means 14 out of the hundred would just say thank you and leave and have a nice day, which I think that would be myself. And to be fair, there is evidence that's against this Sagana effect.

[00:09:11] Other studies that have failed to replicate this gigantic effect, and this is where I like where things get pretty interesting with this. So that evidence demonstrates that there's a number of factors that impact the effect of the Zagorin effect. And as the year ticket initially made room for this, in her original research, she suggested that things like the timing of the interruption. But here's the big one I think the motivation to successfully complete a task. She went on to talk about how fatigued an individual is or how difficult they believe. The task is that all of those will impact the person's recall for this unfinished task. So here's the big one for me. If somebody isn't really motivated to complete a task, they will be less likely to recall it regardless of whether or not they completed it. And I really feel like that goes into the that concept that I talk about any chance I can. This concept of a socially compliant goal where if you remember a socially compliant goal is something that you feel you have to do or else you are going to let someone down that someone could be someone close to you or it can even be yourself. If you have this, I should again. I would like it to be should on, but I should be able to do this or I should want to do this. Examples of that might be I was talking with someone not too long ago and they just talked about how they really don't care about cleaning their house, but they feel like they should.

[00:10:28] They know they should. People have told them they should, but they don't. So they spend an awful lot of time beating themselves up around why they don't want to clean their house, rather than just accepting the fact that they're not a big fan of cleaning their house almost once they accept that fact. And again, acceptance doesn't mean apathy. It doesn't mean that they will never clean their house ever again. But actually, by accepting that they don't really want to do that, that that's not something that is important to them. They're more likely to either start to do a little bit of cleaning because they're not beating themselves up about it. Or better yet, they may be able to now say, I think you need to hire somebody to clean my house and then not feel bad about that and then be able to say, Oh, no, I'm not a fan of cleaning my house, but it feels good to have someone do that and then it does make me feel better. The emotional clutter is not there, but nothing is wrong with me if I personally don't have that motivation to clean my house. I want to get to something that I haven't ever talked about. It's so funny I can hear my own ego where let me bestow upon you this knowledge that I have made up on the spot, and you will be very excited to hear this.

[00:11:32] I'm not saying that, but I've thought about this so much in this zigarnic effect plays in this a little bit. Let's talk about implications for everyday life and Cynthia Vinnie goes on and talks about how the knowledge of the Zagorink effect can be put into everyday life in several different ways. The first one she talks about is procrastination, and I have some good, deep thoughts on this. So if you are one who procrastinates, if you know somebody who procrastinates, then I would love to hear your thoughts on this. So Cynthia says that this effect is especially well-suited in helping overcome procrastination. She said that we often put off big tasks that seem overwhelming, which I know I do that so often. However, this is a gornick. Effect suggests that the key to overcoming procrastination is to simply get started, and the first step could be something small, seemingly insubstantial. And she says, in fact, it's probably best if it is something fairly easy. I remember doing an episode quite a while ago on procrastination, and if somebody is struggling to write a paper literally just sitting in front of your computer and typing your name, and Mrs. Johnson's class is oftentimes the ice breaker that one needs to just start moving. And what she went on to say is it's the key is that the task has been started but not completed because this will take up psychological energy that will lead us or will lead the task to intrude on our thoughts.

[00:12:48] And it's an uncomfortable feeling that will drive us to complete the task at which point we can let go and no longer keep the task at the forefront of our minds. And so what that so if you look at this zigarnic effect in general, what we're talking about is that the more that you have not completed the task, the more that it is on the forefront of your mind. And I feel like we probably most of us have this experience where once you get started, the task isn't as daunting as you felt like it was. But I think the key here is the emotional calories or the emotional energy that is taken up in just continually thinking about the project or thinking about completing the task is what this is a Zirganic effect is talking about because and I know this resonates with me so much of if I know that I have something that I have to do, I am continually thinking about it, thinking about it. And then it becomes pretty ominous and more larger and daunting. And so I feel like sometimes just knowledge or the awareness of something helps so much so knowing that this is the Zagarink effect that the more I think about it and the more emotional calories I'm burning and the more emotional energy that it's taking up in my brain will be satisfied once I complete the task.

[00:13:55] And when I start telling myself that I have to get in a better position, that I will be able to complete the task once I am well rested or once I have these other things out of the way that that is just my brain's way of coming up with a story because I feel uncomfortable. And that makes me feel better in that moment, because then for a brief moment, I have this anxiety around. I need to complete this task, but then my brain will say, Man, you need to do it, though, when you have more time or when you can really sit down and think about something and what we're doing that relieves that anxiety for a short moment. But then it just comes right back because of this zigarnic effect. Now here is the information that I have been thinking about so often and and I really feel like this has helped some of the clients I'm working with individually for procrastination. It has to do with a combination pack of procrastination and acceptance and commitment therapy. So here goes, and I just have to say I have a new desk. I have a new studio in my office and the desk is one where I can stand up and I've been waiting for this for so long. So if you've ever been inclined to subscribe, I would love for you to on my YouTube channel for the virtual couch, because right now I am staring just passionately into the camera because I can stand and I can use my hands and I'm about to get really excited.

[00:15:08] So here we go. So with procrastination, so I feel like so often, let's say that your deadline is Friday at six p.m. and you have to get something done because so often I'm working with college students where that is this deadline and they have to submit a paper, turn in a paper, upload a paper or whatever that looks like. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, they will say so often I just I got to get this done. I just need to sit down and get it done. So let's go. Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, they set aside this time and they sit down and they just need to study and they need to put their thoughts together. But when they sit down and they know that that deadline is pretty far away, it's on a Friday. They spend Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, just finding other things to do, this experiential avoidance of just kicking the can down the road so they sit down. But then they realize, OK, I should probably just answer some emails first or we going to play a couple of games. Or maybe I'm going to watch one episode of something or I'm going to just spend a little bit of time on YouTube, those stories that our brain tells us. But then that turns into a more than a couple of games, more than a little bit of time on YouTube or more than just answering email.

[00:16:16] Maybe now we're on social media. We've got that just scrolling zombie thing going on where it should scroll, scroll, scroll. We've tried the five four three two one countdown where, OK, I'm going to I'm going to quit the app when I get to one and we get the one and we're still scrolling. And then what happens at the end of that night? We often then beat ourselves up because we didn't get anything accomplished or we feel like, Man, what is wrong with me? I sat down to study, now I only have these other days left, and in the meantime, I missed out on maybe doing some things with my friends or some self-care or things that I really want to do because I really have to study. So then repeat that process and I could be dramatic and lay out every night, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. But when Friday comes and you've got the six o'clock deadline, about three o'clock, all of a sudden you become hyper fixated. And I've talked about this before. We know that part of that is your brain creates its own supply of the drug dopamine. Dopamine is the hyper focused drug, and so we're actually conditioning our brains to wait until we pour out that dopamine at the last minute. Then we become hyper focused and then we finish right at the deadline, and then we even tell ourselves this story that I work best under pressure.

[00:17:23] Well, that's because you've created this situation where you continually find yourself under pressure and have to complete that task. So it's just this, this feedback loop that we've created for ourselves. So here's my say. Here's my controversial theory that no one's ever heard of. Therefore, it would not be controversial, but I feel like acceptance comes into play if I know for a fact that I am not going to get started until Friday, and I have to be honest with myself. I go back to my accountability podcast with my buddy Preston Pug Meyer. What am I pretending not to know? I'm pretending not to know that. I'm probably not. No, not even probably. I'm not going to be working on this these next few days. But what happens is during those few days we sit down and we tell ourselves that we should be working on it. How about socially compliant goal, anybody? And we might even want to be working on it, but we have to accept the fact that that is not work for us. Up to this point. So acceptance doesn't mean apathy. If you accept the fact that you are going to wait until the last minute, it doesn't mean that, well, there we go. I guess I'm going to wait till the last minute, but I feel like sometimes we need to acknowledge or take ownership of the fact that that's how we work right now.

[00:18:26] So if I accept the fact that I will not be working on anything until the last minute, then what can I do with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday? I can now take control of my life, my situation, and I can do things that will help raise my emotional baseline where I can do self-care things. Self-care is not selfish. So let's take that Monday night alone. If I know for a fact, I will not be studying and I accept it and I take ownership of it. But now maybe I do go out and connect with someone, visit friends. If I go to the gym, if I exercise and I leave that the end of that evening and I feel like I accomplished some things. Then if that happens Tuesday, if that happens Wednesday, Thursday, then I have some nice anecdotal in my office data that says that someone is going to be more likely to start working on that project before that three hours before the deadline. Now it might be four hours before the deadline might be five hours before the deadline. But I found that when we give ourselves grace, when we give ourselves some acceptance that we are human beings and we don't want to do that paper, then oftentimes we then will find ourselves turning to do that paper sooner. And I feel like if you take that information combined with this Zagarnik effect and then we acknowledge the fact that I don't really want to do it on Monday or Tuesday.

[00:19:42] And so I'm going to do things that matter to me. I'm going to take action on my values, some value based goals or connections. I'm going to exercise. I'm going to connect with people. I'm going to maybe I maybe am going to clean my house if I like to do that, but I'm going to work on things that will help me feel better about myself and better about my situation. What am I doing? It's this I feel like it's this exponential effect where I'm not only not beating myself up because I didn't do something, but I'm doing things that provide me with a sense of purpose and a sense of well-being in that raises my emotional baseline and puts me in a better spot to now tackle those projects now I'm still accepting the fact that my brain is pretty wired right now to wait until the last minute. But with that acceptance, and as I've done, things that have helped me feel again a sense of purpose or better about myself, I'm going to turn to that project earlier. And now that I'm aware this is the zagarnic effect. And now I even feel like, OK, you know what? I'm still thinking about that project that I have to do, but I've accepted the fact that I'm not going to jump on this thing Monday, Tuesday, maybe even Wednesday. But I also am aware, but thank you, bloom as zagarnic that this unfinished task, as soon as I resolve it, that it's gone, it's gone from my mind.

[00:20:51] It feels good. It isn't taking up that emotional space or energy. Then I feel like you put those things together and you will be more likely to start that project earlier. So as the Zagarnick effect, Cynthia Vinnie also talked about improving study habits. I thought this one was really interesting. If only I would have had this back in high school or college. She said that the Zanik effect can also be useful for students who are studying for an exam. The effect tells us that breaking up study sessions can actually improve recall. Oh, that would have been nice to know. So instead of cramming for an exam all in one sitting, which I have been guilty of doing that throughout my life, breaks should be scheduled in which the student focuses on something else, because this will cause these thoughts about the information that must be remembered and that will enable the student to rehearse and consolidate it, leading to better recall when they take the exam. I remember studying for my licensing exams for therapy, and I had recorded the lectures that I bought this course to prepare me, and I had them as podcasts, in a sense. So I had these recordings. I listened to them. When I would run, I would go study on the weekends, and I did just break up things in so many tiny segments and chunks.

[00:21:58] And because if I just sat there and tried to study for long periods of time, quite frankly, at the time, I fell asleep or my mind would just wander. This is well before my ADHD diagnosis. But breaking things up in these smaller chunks, I think, is the key. And I was able to pass the the two exams on the first go, which is not always common in the world of licensing exams. So I was very grateful for that and it was something that I didn't even recognize. But when you put that in the context of this zagarnic effect, it makes so much sense. But here's what I really like. Excuse me, Cynthia and says the impact on mental health is the Gornick effect also points to reasons that people may experience mental health problems. For example, if an individual leaves important tasks incomplete the intrusive thoughts that can result can lead to stress or anxiety or difficulty sleeping or mental and emotional depletion, she said. On the other hand, the Zaguernic effect can improve mental health by providing a motivation needed to finish tasks, and completing a task can give an individual a sense of accomplishment and then promote the self esteem and self-confidence. And completing stressful tasks in particular can lead to a feeling of closure that can improve your psychological well-being. And I feel like that is all so true, and I'll have the link to this article in the show notes.

[00:23:10] But I do want to comment that this is where I will say again that your mileage may vary, that if you're already to this point where you find yourself going into this negative spiral or you beat yourself up often, then I understand that this can still, any task can still feel overwhelming or heavy. And I also absolutely understand that when people are just saying you just need to, you just need to break it into small chunks. You just need to use this zigarnic effect that oftentimes people can just feel that can add to this feeling of feeling overwhelmed. And so this is where I implore you. And if you are if I'm working with a client and they come into my office and one of the first things to do is they people just need to be heard. To be heard is to be healed, to be heard and not to be told what to do or to be heard and to not have things fixed is a incredibly underrated, understated psychological principle to have a safe place where somebody can just say, What is that like? Or tell me more about that or that really sounds hard that I just I tell you as a therapist who sits with people every day that that is such an important part of the human experience to have someone that you can just say, Can I just share something with you? Can I just vent? Can I just unload something? Can I get something off my chest and have somebody just say, Tell me all about it. What was that like? Then what did you do, boy? How does that? How do you feel when that happens and not just say, Oh boy, well, did you think about this or did you? Why didn't you do this? Or Here's what I do because I hammer home and every chance I get my four pillars of a connected conversation.

[00:24:42] But well before I had put those four pillars together, I used to just say that nobody likes to be should on. You should do this, but even more so people. I used to talk often about turning off your fixing and judgment brain that when somebody is coming to you and they are suggesting things that if we say, Oh, I would have done this, or why did you do this or that? The message we're telling them is my pillar to that, hey, you're wrong. What you did was wrong. I would have done it a different way. And people need to be heard to be healed and people need to be heard. And then if you feel like you want to give a. Ice, I'm a big fan of saying, man, I so appreciate that. Do you have anything else you want to share about? And hey, I'm just curious, are you? Would you? There's a part of me that wants to just say, Man, here's what I would do or can I go into fix it mode? Or can I maybe offer one suggestion? And that's often safer than somebody just saying what you need to do this, or why don't you do this? Or you should do this? And I think we all have friends that are that way, and I want my pillar one assuming good intentions that nobody wakes up and thinks, How can I hurt this person? When you when somebody comes to you or you, you go to somebody and you just feel like you need to pour their heart out, and all of a sudden they're saying, Wow, I had no idea you've been doing that or that you've been going through that, or you don't even know what to tell you that they're not trying to hurt you, but that oftentimes they don't really feel like they know what to say or what to do.

[00:25:58] So I really feel like when you talk about this, this whole Zagorink effect that it is all true that when you can complete some task, that it will alleviate that emotional or mental pressure that we feel, and that can be a very satisfying feeling. Or it can just be a feeling of I've moved past something that I was really struggling with. But again, oftentimes we feel overwhelmed and we don't even know where to start. So when somebody comes into my office and again, we want to be heard, but the next step is self-care.

[00:26:29] Self-care is not selfish. Raise your emotional baseline every bit that you can do to improve your emotional or physical or your wellbeing will bump up your baseline just a little bit. And the more you bump up that emotional baseline, the better position you're going to be to interact or make decisions of the things that are coming at you on a day to day basis. And this is where I talk about medication. Often I will say that when I started and it wasn't that I was anti medication, but I just thought, Oh, I'll help people if they feel like they don't want to be on medication. And I remember working with people early on and they were so low and they were so down that you would even you would hear them and you would even get them on board with tools that they felt like would work for them. But then they felt they couldn't do or use the tools, which then allowed them to say, What's wrong with me? I'm going to therapy. I can't even use the tools, and that's where nothing is wrong. You're a human being going through these experiences. And so oftentimes I felt like medication was just enough to bump up your emotional baseline to a point where then you could start to do the work. And once you start to do the work, whatever the work is, whether it works, mindfulness, whether it works, identifying your values and taking action on them, whether the work is when I work with people that are struggling with pornography, for example, is a coping mechanism.

[00:27:44] I identify these five voids. Oftentimes, the people that are in my office, they don't want to be turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms just like any of us don't want to with food or gambling or social media or pornography or, you know, compulsive sexual behavior or any of that. But there's so often this component of I call, I call them Void's, so they may not feel connected in their marriage. They may need help with marriage. They may not feel connected in their parenting. They may need a parenting. They may be struggling with their faith. I do so much with faith journeys and faith crisis and helping people really identify who they are and what matters to them. So that's a huge component or their health. People often felt like man, at this point in my life, I would have six pack abs and be, you know, running marathons every weekend. And if they're not, they often feel like what's wrong with me or their career. People feel stuck. And when you feel stuck in a position, then that can really, really make things difficult, especially if you are going into this environment every day that you don't feel a connection to. It will just zap you emotionally and then you're supposed to come home and then say, OK, I work to live now. I'm home now. Let me be excited.

[00:28:47] But when you've had that just energy drained from you all day, so often back to the kinds of the medication, sometimes a medication will help raise your emotional baseline to a point where now you can do the work. You are more engaged in your parenting or your marriage, or you're ready to work on your faith journey or those type of things, or maybe even start to look at a career change or new job. But when you feel overwhelmed and emotionally just depleted, those things seem so far out of reach. It's incredible. And then if somebody's even telling you, Well, here's what you should do, then we have all that psychological reactance built up that instant negative reaction to being told what to do where we're think to ourselves, You know what? I'm going to actually not do that. I'm going to go so far away from doing that. What people are telling me to do that even I'm aware that it's probably to my detriment, but that's when somebody feels a real, low emotional baseline how they may react. So medication may bump that baseline up enough to do the work. Now that will raise your baseline. Even more so if you want to look at getting off medication down the road. When you do, there might be a slight decrease in that emotional baseline. But you're in a position now where you have the tools and you know how to do the work to keep you in a better place.

[00:29:47] So I hope that you pulled something from the Zygienic effect today that if anything, you have a little bit of awareness. And I know that awareness doesn't solve all the world's problems, but it's a start. There's my nerdy trans theoretical model of change. I've done a podcast or two on that is that we go from. We didn't even know the old, we don't know what we don't know. And then we move into, Oh, now I know, but I'm still not really doing anything about it. Perfectly normal. Don't beat yourself up about it. Then we start to take action, and then it maybe doesn't go right all the time. And then we are brain still wants to beat ourselves up. See, that didn't work well. We're not arguing. If it worked or not, we're taking action. And eventually that becomes something that you do a little more regularly now. And the fascinating thing about this trans theoretical model of change is then there's a after you, you have this pre contemplation. I even know what what I didn't know then contemplation. Oh, now I know I might do it. Then you take some action, then you, then you're doing it, and then which is maintenance, then you have relapse. So oftentimes when we start really rolling with something new, then we feel like this is easy. I don't have to worry about it as much. And then we take our foot off the gas and we're not doing it anymore.

[00:30:52] All part of being human. And as soon as we recognize these things, then we can get back to the things that matter. We can take action on those things that give us the sense of purpose. And then the more we keep turning back to these things that matter, eventually our brain will finally say, fine, that's your new path of that's your new neural pathway. Go go ahead. I'll get you some other hell. Thank you so much for taking the time today. If you if you found anything helpful or important here, feel free to forward this podcast to something that you think it might help. And if you get a second, you can go check it out on YouTube and or subscribe rate through all those things that I think people say at this point. But I appreciate the feedback. I appreciate the support on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. I've got two episodes now and I can't even begin to tell you the numbers, the feedback, the emails have Blown Me Away. So I appreciate the support next round of the magnetic marriage courses in about two or three weeks. So you can go to Tony over magnetic and sign up to find out more. Or you can contact me with questions, podcasts, suggestions, anything through the contact form on And I just I appreciate everything that you do in supporting the podcast, and I'll see you next time

[00:31:55] On the virtual.

[00:32:02] Compressed emotions flying past our heads and out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful.

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[00:32:17] Past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful.

[00:32:36] She's. They. Well. And 12.

[00:33:02] Citing news of discount price, a million opportunities,

[00:33:08] The chance is yours to take or lose it would.

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[00:33:21] To go farther, shut up. It goes. And so of. Tickle my fancy. It.

[00:34:02] Developed systems don't explode, allow the gun.

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