Therapy, Narcissistic Leaders, and Healthy Ego - Kurt Francom Interviews Tony Overbay on Leading Saints

Posted by tonyoverbay

Tony Overbay, LMFT, was interviewed by Kurt Francom, executive director of and the Leading Saints podcast host. They covered the topics of therapy, treating people struggling with turning to pornography as an unhealthy coping mechanism with love, not shame, working with people navigating faith journeys, and the difference between healthy ego and narcissism and what that looks like in church leadership positions. This episode is also available on the LeadingSaints podcast in 2 parts. Part 1 and part 2

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

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

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

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


[00:00:38] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 338 of the Virtual Couch Podcast. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, also host of Waking Up to Narcissism, the podcast. I highly recommend you go check that one out and I am just going to really quickly jump right to a few items of business and I am going to use less words per business item than ever so we can get to today's content because today [00:01:00] is an amazing episode. First up, Tony, over Macomb Workshop $19. Learn what you didn't even know that you didn't know about your relationship after that we're let's go let's talk It's my online pornography recovery program that is changing lives, literally. And I mentioned a little bit of that in today's episode, but go to You can find out more about that program or also email me at info at Tony over or reach out through my contact form on my website at Tony over Macomb. If you are interested in being an anonymous couple, being coached by me using my four pillars of a connected conversation, and watch how having that framework to communicate can be a game changer in your relationship. So let me know if you and your spouse are interested. Again, it's completely anonymous and it will be part of the Magnetic Marriage podcast, which is coming very, very soon. And one more thing and then we're going to get to the content. Dear friend of mine, Rachael Nielsen.

[00:01:55] She's host of the three and 30 Takeaways for Mom's podcast, which is an amazing podcast and [00:02:00] which I was on early on before there were I think there had been one other guy that had been on there because it was all about moms. But she had me come on and how to communicate more effectively with teenagers. I talked about how to show up better in your relationship, all of those things on her three and 30 podcast for Moms. So I highly recommend you go find those episodes. But she has a really amazing time sensitive offer this week. So after you hear this, if you are a mom who sometimes feels burned out or lost or unseen, then pause the podcast and go sign up for a free class by Rachel. And she's amazing at the way she teach, but it's a free class. One is today, Monday, September 12th. There's another one, Thursday, September 15th, and then another one is next Tuesday, September 20th. So go to three and 30 podcast free class. I'll have the link in the show notes, but that is the number three. Then the word in I in, then the number 33 zero and then the word podcast. So three in 30 podcast free class. [00:03:00] And again I'll have that my show notes, but take advantage of that. She's an amazing teacher and she really knows how to speak to moms. And especially if you are feeling unseen or burned out, I highly recommend that you go take her free course, her free class.

[00:03:15] So today it's a bonus episode. It's a special episode. I think Kurt used the word simulcast when he was talking about it over on his podcast, Leading Saints, and meaning that it was just released on the Leading Saints podcast a couple of days ago. And you'll hear that in the intro. You'll hear that Kurt has done over 400 podcasts for Leading Saints. They have over 10 million downloads, and I have been on I think this will be my fourth appearance on Leading Saints, and Kurt really does, and I'm so grateful for this, but he has me come on and talk about difficult topics because I appreciate that. I enjoy that. And I'm on his mental health board, which he created a few years ago, and I'm honored to be on that mental health board. So he's trying to create a place to train and create better religious leaders. So that [00:04:00] is the context. But I promise you that you do not have to be a member of any church or have any religious affiliation or be in a leadership position at all to get something out of today's conversation. Because after about well, we talk a little bit about my origin story and I share some things that I hadn't shared before, but that was a lot of fun. And after about 20 or 30 minutes, we really dig deep into the concepts of ego, healthy ego, healthy ego versus narcissism.

[00:04:26] And I talk a lot about emotional immaturity. I talk about imposter syndrome. I talk about how do we show up and be authentic and doing so, showing up in a better way to connect with those around us, whether we're in a religious leadership position or whether it's with our spouse or whether it's with our kids or just whoever we interact with. Because I think these principles of emotional maturity and accountability and differentiation and breaking out of a codependent or enmeshed relationship are so important. And so they run the gamut of whether you are in a religious context or [00:05:00] just a human context. You're I guarantee you're running into these these struggles on a day to day basis. So I think that we this conversation can really help. Kurt is an amazing interviewer, and I really feel like he gave me the freedom to take the conversation in a whole lot of different directions. So this one does go a little bit long, but it is that good kind of long. I don't know if you have those podcasts that you really like and where you're OC seeing it longer than an hour or so, especially if you like the topics. But I really feel like this is one of those, so I hope you will enjoy this and I welcome any feedback. And so let me get to my interview. Me being interviewed on Kurt's Leading Saints podcast.

[00:05:36] You're about to hear a conversation with Tony Overbay, a phenomenal marriage and family therapist out in California. And we actually had Tony Overbay come out to Utah a few months ago and do a three, four hour presentation. That was phenomenal. So if you listen to this episode and you like what you hear, you can go to Leading Saints August 14 that will give you access to our full core leader library [00:06:00] for 14 days. That will give you plenty of time to go through the additional content that Tony Overbay has created in our leading live content, and it is worth a listen and it's all video and whatnot, and he always makes it fun. So if you want to hear more of Tony, go to Leading Saints dot org slash 14 and you'll also get our full library of content, all of our virtual summits on helping individuals overcome pornography, helping individuals with faith crises, all of it. It's a phenomenal library that you must experience for at least 14 days. So go to Leading Saints. August 14. All right, let's go around the room, do some introductions. I'll start. So my name is Kurt Franken. I am the executive director of Leading STS, which is a 500 1c3 nonprofit organization. And we are dedicated have a mission here to help Latter Day Saints be better prepared to lead. Now, me personally, I live in Stansbury Park, Utah, which is in Tulsa County. I grew up in West Valley City [00:07:00] and have been running Leading Saints really since 2010 when it started out as a hobby blog. 2014 is when the podcast started and now we are over 10 million downloads and we're glad that you are now one of those downloads.

[00:07:14] Let's jump in. Everyone, this is Kurt Franken with the Leading Saints podcast. And well, you might also be listening to this on the Virtual Couch podcast, because this is a simulcast. Simulcast, simulcast. That's right. So Tony Overbay came to Salt Lake. We met up and I just said, Tony, we could probably think of a phenomenal outline of what we could talk about, but let's definitely not do that, because what typically happens when Tony and I get together is we have an outline and then we completely stray from that outline. So we met up and I didn't even let him do the small talk. We just I sat him down and said, Here's your mic, let's go. And away we went. And there's so much to listen for in this conversation. We talk about what is it like for an individual [00:08:00] to walk into a therapist's office as opposed to walking into a bishop's office? And what should we look for in those interactions of when we go to a leader or a therapist and getting help overcoming a problem? And how does that differ and what can we learn from that? How do we diffuse the shame of it? And when Sin's involved and what not and phenomenal discussion, then we jump into his experience talking about narcissism on the waking up the narcissist. Is that the name of the podcast? Tony I don't know. We'll link to it in the show notes, but this is a little bit different of an episode where, like I say, we didn't have necessarily a set outline, but we sit down together as friends and as people very passionate about therapy and leadership and helping people find joy and happiness and redemption in life.

[00:08:44] And we start talking about it. So I love to hear your feedback. We sometimes stray a little bit or go down some wormholes that, but we always bring it back. So I'd love your feedback. If you like these, Kurt and Tony get together and geek out about therapy related topics. Let us know. We'd love to get your feedback or [00:09:00] maybe you hate it. This is a long episode, so we're probably going to split it up in a couple parts maybe. And if you don't like it, like let us know we'd love the feedback. Or maybe every six months or so and Tony comes to town, we get together and we do this again because there's always something fascinating to talk about and learn from. So here is, well, my conversation with Tony Overbay, the host of the Virtual Couch podcast, talking to me, Kurt Frank Am, the host of the Leading Saints podcast. Let's go. We are in Sandy, Utah. Yes, Salt Lake City. And Tony, you're in town. We thought, well, let's just get in a room, get some mikes and start talking. And you literally walked in here 3 minutes ago. I put a mike in front of me and said, Oh, I see what you're doing. Court Because I actually I don't know if you know Gwendolyn. Kandi Oh, I do. Yeah. She's fantastic. I was.

[00:09:54] On her. The middle. Oh, you were? Yeah. And I did an Instagram live, and I need to get her. She's going [00:10:00] to come do an episode of mine.

[00:10:01] So I went to her house and to record she wrote a new book and we talked for 90 almost to 2 hours before we hit record. And I was like, Man, we've talked about such good stuff, so I'm not going to fall into that trap. I'm just going to hit it. And we can if you want to talk about your mom for a bit, we can do that and then edit it out.

[00:10:18] I'll do it later. The last time that I recorded with you, if you remember, we were at your house, in your studio, and we went for over an hour, hour and a half about a topic that I thought we were going to talk about. And then we went a completely different direction. Do you remember that? Yeah.

[00:10:30] So that's why we learned. Let's not even plan. Yeah, so. Exactly. So this is going to be a little bit different of an episode and we may publish it on a virtual couch. I would like to do that. Yeah. And it's definitely going on leading saints.

[00:10:40] So first feel.

[00:10:41] Pressure. Well, you start like, who are you for? The people listening don't know you.

[00:10:47] It's fair point. I am Toni Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. I actually grew up here in Sandy, Utah, and I moved away. I was just putting the pieces of that together in 1992. Wow. Or 93 and moved to California. [00:11:00] And so every time I come back, I still feel like it's the same place, but it's definitely much different. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm a marriage and family therapist and I spent ten years in with in a computer software career that I didn't realize how little I enjoyed it until I got out of it, which is a big part of even the therapy, the counseling I do, because I love helping people really find something that matters to them. I mean.

[00:11:26] Isn't that true? Like, yes, if there's anybody out there who just thinks maybe they don't enjoy their job, like it probably means you definitely.

[00:11:31] Need you don't. And then I know we've talked about this. I think I see like I want to take credit of all of your growth as well. Yes. But acceptance and commitment therapy, the model of therapy, I use that concept of experiential avoidance. So we'll do anything other than the thing we need to do if we really don't like the thing we do. So I spent ten years in a career experientially avoiding everything.

[00:11:51] And did you just wake up one day? I'm just going to start the classes to be a therapist. Or like, what was the like moment where he's embarrassing?

[00:11:59] I don't honestly. [00:12:00] I realize now and this will probably play into some of things we'll talk about today around emotional maturity and emotional immaturity. And I didn't know what I didn't know and taking ownership of things. Oh, now I just felt that we're going to go some fun places today. Kurt So the real reason is, yeah, I was pretty miserable in my computer software career, and so the big escape to me every day was to leave my office and go to lunch. And so I would go to lunch and then I would get it and I would go to this Denny's parking lot that was a couple of miles away from my office. And I would just eat lunch and listen to talk radio. And there was a Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Oh, yeah, right. Dr. Laura.

[00:12:39] So I'm still on the radio?

[00:12:40] I don't think so. Yeah.

[00:12:41] Oh, boy. I mean, has the radio still exist?

[00:12:43] No. And that's the thing.

[00:12:45] She probably has a podcast.

[00:12:46] There you go. Yeah. And so I would listen to Dr. Laura all the time, and I was so fascinated by everyone's stories and just the things that she would say. And I had taken some psychology classes in college at the University of Utah. And these [00:13:00] are the things that I think are so fascinating is I think I had thrown out there to someone I don't remember who where I thought, oh, I think I would like to to major in psychology. And I don't remember who it was, but they just said, oh, there's not there's not a lot you can do with that. And I remember thinking, Oh, okay, not a lot I can do with that. Guess I won't do that. And so then I get a degree in mass communications and then here we go. Fast forward ten years later and I'm sitting at a Denny's parking lot eating taco tree's super nachos for about the 40th day in a row, listening to Dr. Laura.

[00:13:30] That's a red flag, is that, I think super nachos.

[00:13:32] If they're made, I still eat those.

[00:13:34] To this day for life.

[00:13:35] Change. I still eat those to this day. And I just remember thinking, man, I just really like people's stories. And I had also I love biographies. I love biographies. I would there was a magazine at the time called Biography. Right. And when I would travel, I traveled a lot in the computer software industry. I covered the world. I went to Japan, I think 30 times in Russia and China and all over throughout Europe peddling my goods. And so I [00:14:00] would enjoy the trips, just not the work itself, but I would get magazines at the time. And I remember I would read every biography magazine and I was just fascinated by people in the way that they work and the way that they tick. And then I think that a lot of people that become therapists have the same story of where they say and everybody would just open up to me. And so I don't know what that vibe is.

[00:14:20] But you felt that I.

[00:14:21] Did, and I would go on these trade shows, and I remember people that were helping set up our trade show booth or other things would just all of a sudden I'm hearing about their troubles with their girlfriend or their, you know, and I remember very succinctly or specifically a lot of those different situations or. Spending time going out and having to go to dinner with some guy in Germany trying to pitch my software. And before you know it, we're opening up about the struggles of being a father or a husband. And so then I just kept thinking, man, between Dr. Laura, the not enjoying my job biographies connecting with people. I just thought I got to do something around this. And I a big part of that that I left out was I had been writing a [00:15:00] humor column in my local newspaper for about six, seven years at that point. And I had had my first couple of kids, and so I was writing a ton of things around being a dad. And so then I also wanted to write a book about being a dad. And so now I realize the thing I use as an excuse to want to go back to grad school and get a master's in counseling was I told myself that I wanted to write a book, but nobody would listen to me unless I had letters behind my name. So I might as well go back and get a man counseling so that I can then write this dad book, which I never ended up doing anything with.

[00:15:29] Well, hey, I still have a still young to.

[00:15:31] Well, my youngest, though is now graduated.

[00:15:34] From high school. So you figured it out. You graduated from Dad Hood? That's right. That's a good point. Yeah.

[00:15:39] So then it was yeah, it was the slow go back to school, one class a week, a couple of years into it. Then all of a sudden you have to start seeing clients. And then I would pretend and say, Oh, I guess I'll just do this. I might as well finish this program out. And then once you graduate, then you have to get 3000 hours toward your licensing.

[00:15:58] So you might as well do that. Yeah.

[00:15:59] And so then [00:16:00] I saw I work part time for the church, you know, I'll throw him a bone, Kurt, you know. And so then that went for years and just loved every bit of the counseling, which actually then made going back to my day to day job and computers and that sort of thing. Even worse, it made it just miserable. And so then, then just ventured out and started working in private practice. And now it's the greatest thing I've ever done. And I just love everything about it. And I just eat, drink and sleep, just mental health.

[00:16:28] And you do. You're fun to geek out with as far as that.

[00:16:32] And that's why I think that's.

[00:16:32] What we're doing.

[00:16:33] Today. Exactly. And when you had mentioned that that was the goal was because I kept hearing, you know, said, Curt, what are we going to talk about? Like, what should I start preparing? And and Curt just said, Hey, yeah, that'll be fun. And I'm thinking, Hey, Curt's going a little senile because I'm literally asking him, Can you give me something to.

[00:16:48] With all of it?

[00:16:49] All of it. And then we start Marco Polo, like the kids do, which was a lot of fun.

[00:16:52] Yeah, we're hip now.

[00:16:53] Yeah. And then I thought, Oh, well, Curt maybe just isn't like listening to my entire rant or ramble about. So anyway, about [00:17:00] the topic. And then you.

[00:17:01] Finally. Yeah, yeah. You just didn't listen to my reply. No. Until 10 minutes ago. So, so this is what I love. And by the way, if people are listening via virtual couch, I'm Frank. I'm. Oh, yeah, Kurt.

[00:17:13] Pretend that I wasn't just only thinking about myself and maybe we can edit it there.

[00:17:16] Kurt, lead into our narcissistic discussion point. So Leading Saints is a nonprofit organization. We're dedicated to helping Latter Day Saints be better prepared to lead. And that's why I love talking with you therapist type, because I just love to hear it. And let's start here is like, Oh, well, let me put a plug in. We had you come out like, oh, let's talk about this, this last month. I know I've been dragging my feet to get it all edited and whatnot. It's out there. We're going to put an awesome link in the show notes so people can watch it for free. I think we went after editing everything out. We were there for 4 hours.

[00:17:51] So you think it came to be for free for. And I actually ended up going about four and a half.

[00:17:55] Okay. So maybe it's closer to four.

[00:17:56] Yeah, but then I did see I watched a little bit of it. I have a hard time watching [00:18:00] myself, but I really did need to see if you made me sound at least somewhat. Oh, yeah. And you did? Yeah, we did a great job. So I feel like I'm excited for people to see that.

[00:18:09] So if you like this episode of, you should listen to other episodes of Tony and The Virtual Couch, but also we'll put a link to check out this. I call it Leading Saints Live, where we bring in a guest like you and we just say we're cutting the leash. Run with it, Tony. And you did that. And we were in this cool old church that had no bathroom and no air conditioning.

[00:18:29] And at one point the door was open on the side. Remember, there were people that were walking by with their horses. Yes. Yes. And I just thought again, I thought Kurt staged this.

[00:18:36] I forget the name. It's a oh anyways. Yeah, we'll put it in the show notes but so I just lived like meeting up with a therapist from time to time and just saying like, I don't like what problems are walking in your office. Like there's always like you talk to any bishop, it's like, oh man, the porn thing is just out of control. Or the faith crisis, the faith journey thing, right? So like in the last three months, if you were to like knelt down to [00:19:00] a few topics, what are you seeing like there?

[00:19:02] Sure. So it's interesting because I started out as I guess somewhat of what we call the a pornography expert. And I have a book that was a best seller in sexual health and recovery called He's a Porn Addict. Now, what an expert and a former addict. Answer your questions. And I only mentioned that because it's interesting that I had done almost a decade's worth of working with guys that struggled with turning to porn as a as a coping mechanism for so long that then I felt like, okay, I got my reps, my 10000 hours in. And then at that point, though, I didn't necessarily want to be viewed as the porn expert. And so. Then I give that real quickly to say that in the pornography world, which I feel so blessed to be able to help people, I've got an online program called The Path Back, and I've got this men's group that is just thriving. And one of the members of the men's group just released a book about his overcoming addiction. And a lot of it is based off of just the interactions within our group and my program. And so I'm just I mean, it's [00:20:00] called Conquering Your Addictions, this amazing guy named L.T.. But it's been it's just been so wonderful to see that. But again, the reason I'm using that is setting this up is in working with people that are struggling with porn. You start out when you don't know what you don't know and you're going down that same path of, hey, seeing him do some push ups, how about you just don't look at it. You know those gyms?

[00:20:20] Yeah, I did that as the bishop. Right. Here's one. Like your.

[00:20:23] Vagina. Well, and as in fact, what I was so grateful for is that was, I think the first episode that I ever did with you was taking shame out of the bishop's office. And that one I will link to. And I still feel like that was I was so grateful to be able to do that and I got so much feedback about that. But when I was helping people turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism, I identify that there were these five voids. I felt like, really? So we would almost don't talk about the porn because they know that they don't want to look at porn anymore. That's the whole thing. And so that's why I say telling them like, you know, this isn't great, right? I was really bad. They totally get that right.

[00:20:56] Sex trafficking industry is closely connected. You know that [00:21:00] like as if these yeah. These heavy perspectives will sort of be like, wake them up, right?

[00:21:05] Right. But that's that's.

[00:21:06] Not what's.

[00:21:06] Happening. And that's what even drives the behavior more into the shadows, which is only makes it worse. So then these five voids, I really felt like if people didn't feel connected in their marriage or as a parent, in their faith, their health or their career, so then I said, okay, I need to start looking at ways to help people in those areas. And it's almost like, yeah, we'll get back to the porn, don't worry.

[00:21:26] And yeah, so let's pause right there because I think like with the benefit of hindsight, like if I was to be a bishop again and somebody walked in with a porn issue, like I would like literally not talk about porn at all or behaviors or like I wouldn't ask them the second, third time, fourth time back, like how many slip ups? Like I wouldn't even go there. I would just say, like, what's going on with your life? Tell me about your childhood. You know, like what? Tell me what your friends like. What are tough times like? Do you like your job? Right? Like, totally. And from a spiritual I don't want to step in the role of that therapist, obviously connecting to somebody there, but stepping in that role [00:22:00] of like I'm going to help this person uncover their peer identity. Yeah, because that's where the connection points really attached to.

[00:22:07] They do. Yeah. Yeah. It's so good. And I love that you bring that up because I know so many people that just become a bishop or just get into a position of leadership in the church, just eat up Leading Saints podcasts. And so I know there are going to be people here that are going to hear this. And I can say from now, 15 years of experience, I think 15, 1600 individuals working that I saved with confidence, shame has helped in zero of their recovery, absolutely zero. So people beating themselves up is that is the adversary that is the brain still wanting to come up with a creative way to still get its dopamine rush at some point. And so that's where I love what you're saying. It's we'll deal with the porn, we'll talk about that. But if we can start to find connection and I really feel like the vibe of a therapist or a bishop or any leader is I would love for somebody to really look at that. They have this opportunity to say, Oh, I love you, I care about you, even if you are turning into unhealthy [00:23:00] coping mechanisms. And I understand that a spouse that feels betrayed can be really hard because they feel like that is okay. But I don't want this in the relationship, and that's where I feel like a bishop, a therapist. Somebody gets to say, Oh, absolutely, and I don't want you to have that in the relationship either, but I really need to help this person do this for them. And so that then they realize that they are loved, you know, they are lovable.

[00:23:23] Yeah. So I want to come back to this connection point. I'm just like going back into that question of like, what are you seeing? Like, like, okay, let's say you have a new person show up on your you don't know who they are just to name on your schedule. Yeah. What's the chances of, of them walking in and it being a porn issue.

[00:23:37] Not, not a lot. Yeah. Not a lot. It really isn't because so I feel like that where I feel like I'm seeing more and more I'm doing a whole lot with couples and I think a lot of that is because when I put out material and I talk about my four pillars of a connected conversation, which we can talk about, I really feel like that is it is gold. I feel like the four pillars are of God. I feel like, you know, having this way to communicate effectively with [00:24:00] your spouse that uncovers so many things in a relationship, including challenges with people's faith. And and I feel like I can go so many different directions right now, but so people coming in, I get I get a lot of people that are reaching out that are struggling with their faith, faith journey. And then I'm.

[00:24:17] Being in California. What percentage of what's the chance of that new client being a latter day saint?

[00:24:23] Oh, so that's a great. So I still probably see 60 to 70% of my clientele or. Yes, they are. And it's interesting when I honestly, this is kind of fun to talk about. But when somebody comes into my office and. Don't have any affiliation with the church whatsoever, and they don't know me as having any affiliation with the church. And yet I still will end up talking about foul or stages of faith, or I'll end up talking about, you know, I feel like the time passed a while ago where people now pornography is not just viewed as oh you religious nutjobs are the only ones you think it's bad because we've got all the data now that it does warp one's sexuality or I feel like there's [00:25:00] a missed opportunity for connection in a relationship. I know that we're going to go on tangents, Kurt, but I still remember so clearly. It was shortly into the pandemic and I was asked to go on a national radio show, and I do this too often where I just don't do enough research and I just say, sure, if I can fit it in my schedule.

[00:25:16] And then it's in 3 minutes. Well, this.

[00:25:18] Was actually, though it was I had plenty of runway on this one, but this is one where I didn't look at what the host was talking about and they just said they want me to talk about porn in the pandemic and as it gotten worse. And so I thought, oh, yeah, I could do this with no problem. So I jump on there and the guy immediately has I mean, he's got a national following and he just says, well, there's no problem with porn. And my wife and I watch porn and that sort of thing, you know, and I love that. I mean, again, I feel confident in the things I know and the things I can talk about. And I just said, Hey, well, then I would not be seeing you in my office. So what else you want to talk about? You know, and and by the time we were done, you know, I was saying, okay, well, I believe it's an unhealthy coping mechanism, but if you feel like that is an integral part of your relationship, then I said the only thing I would challenge is I would love to ask [00:26:00] your wife if she feels like that's a connection point for her as well, or does she feel like that's something that she has to to tolerate in order to feel a connection? And then I said and then I lay out my four pillars and I just say, so I feel like, man, what would that look like if you actually instead of needing to have this shared experience around watching other people become intimate, felt like you could be open and vulnerable and intimate with your spouse and be as present as you could possibly be. And then I feel like he said, Well, I do have a problem eating. I think he said Brownies. And I said, okay, I can talk to you about that. And then by the end he's saying a friend of the show, Tony, right? Yeah. He's like, I don't know about that.

[00:26:36] So I'm curious like with we'll come back to connection, but what is like when a new client comes in? Do you have like a go to question that you ask everybody like as they plant themselves in that couch? Or is there like a rapport building moment?

[00:26:50] Okay, sorry is great question too. So man, here's where I'm going and we'll get to this to I'm going to stand in my healthy ego. Kurt This is going to sound.

[00:26:57] Like.

[00:26:57] Man, where I used to say I used to say this is my narcissistic [00:27:00] trader tendency. That's why I say we're going to get to this. But in the healthy ego, I'm super blessed, fortunate and cannot believe I'm in a spot now where I probably get 10 to 15 referrals a week. And so I pick and choose who I want to work with. And I've got a really I mean, I've kind of got a long waitlist and I'm booked out for a long time. So I know when you kind of say and tell me about these new clients, in my mind, I'm like, every now and again I do get one curve. And then at that point it's somebody that I've kind of vetted and I feel it's funny because a lot of them will say, Hey, I've listened to a lot of your podcast, or it's people that have taken my marriage course or my recovery course or my parenting course or they've read my book. And that's where I'm saying I'm going to say healthy ego. I'm not trying to say so. I know that they adore me, Kurt, but I feel like, okay, here's somebody that says, All right, I like I really feel a connection with you.

[00:27:46] I like where you're going with things. So I speak kind of fluent you. And so I would love to kind of bounce some things off of you. I would love to talk more or learn more. And so those are the people I really like and I do a lot of speaking. And I did like a mixed faith marriage [00:28:00] fireside not long ago. And so then I had a couple of people reach out and say, All right, man, you made it sound like this is something that can be done. So if you happen to have space or availability, I would love to work with you. So somebody like that. Oh my gosh, I will for almost to a fault, I will make time, you know, and that's why I know when we joke about it and I'll tell you how many clients I'm seeing or what time and how morning I'm seeing them. Yeah. Or whatever. It's because when I get somebody in that spot, I just want to help so bad. I really do. So I'm not trying to dodge your question, but that's helpful. Yeah. So I'm kind of picking and choosing, so I'm really working mainly.

[00:28:32] So let me ask you from this angle, like when that person walks in, you've vetted them to some degree, maybe like you've talked to them on a few phone calls. Like what does that vetting like?

[00:28:40] They've sent me a couple of emails and then I have them fill out a questionnaire in the paperwork and then I'll read the questionnaire and then I'll have an idea of where they're coming from.

[00:28:48] Gotcha. So what does that person thinking is that they're in a tough marriage or they're struggling with pornography or a faith journey and they're just like, I need to tell him there's this problem with my faith. So what should I do? Like, where are they at when [00:29:00] they first sit down on appointment one?

[00:29:02] That's okay. I really do like this and I feel like now I'm going to do the thing where you're going to think, I'm just telling you every question is a great question. I can't wait till you ask a curt. I'm going to say.

[00:29:09] I think every time somebody says that when I interview people, there is a it's probably a good question. It's either a good question or a bad question, and they don't know how to answer it. So they need their brain needs to kill time, so their brain kicks out. Oh, that's a really good question.

[00:29:22] That's true. I know. I think that is obviously true. But this is where, again, I will stand on my healthy ego and say, now I am aware that that is something I have done in the past. So now I would either say, oh, let me take a minute or I'm going to tell you it's a decent question, but I love it. I. You talk about this stuff all day? When I was teaching seminary, I remember doing the thing where I would say, sometimes somebody would answer something. I would say, Oh, okay, you know, that's a good point. And then my class, I only taught seniors for seven years or so, and by the few months end they would say, Oh, you mean I'm wrong? You know, it's like, really? Is it that obvious?

[00:29:53] You know, cover for.

[00:29:54] Yeah, it's a cover. So and here's our first ad moment. I can't remember what the question was.

[00:29:59] So like [00:30:00] the person coming in, sitting on the couch, where are they at? Because this is the thing is I remember from just insert my bishop perspective here when someone would come in like new appointment I haven't met them like okay they've it's either they've got something really heavy to share or it's an ecclesiastical endorsement. And so they come in there, see.

[00:30:19] Those coming.

[00:30:20] How can I, how can I help? And they're like, Oh, I'm just going to BYU, Idaho next fall. And I'm like, Oh, okay, yeah, let's get the paperwork going, you know? But anyways.

[00:30:28] No, I like it. So, so.

[00:30:29] I, so I would often ask like I would just I wanted to get to the point because I know there's just like it's a miracle they're showing up at the bishops office. And so I would just say, how can I help you?

[00:30:38] Okay, so this is really good. That's where I was. I was like, it actually is a decent question, Kurt. I'll give you that. I'll give you that. I know that. I'll give you that. Right. So by the time that someone is sitting across from me, man, this sounds egotistical, but it is absolutely true, is they've resonated with something they've said, okay, I haven't heard someone talk about being able to navigate a faith journey [00:31:00] and then stay connected with my spouse or to my faith community. Until I heard you speak at this fireside or I heard this episode of your podcast, or a lot of the couples I see are coming in saying, okay, I hear you lay out this framework of a way to communicate. And I have never had that in my entire marriage. And I think that I don't know if I can stay in my marriage, but I want to make sure that I've done everything I can do. So I think this framework would be worth looking into. So right now, between faith and hearing people, I think because I really like talking about faith journeys of the people's faith crisis, valor, stages of faith, all those things. I love talking about that. So I feel like when I talk about it, I really, I really believe what I'm preaching. And then the couples I think I've seen, I don't know, 12, 1300 couples at this point as well. And I feel like I feel very confident that when we can settle into this framework of communication that we are going to learn. Is this just a matter of two people that are in relationships that don't know what they don't know about communication or about taking ownership or accountability of things? Or is it [00:32:00] a lot of times someone finds out that, okay, I have lost my sense of self in this relationship and now that there's this framework, my spouse can't even use a framework from this professional to try to even communicate.

[00:32:12] And so then I don't know if my relationship is viable, so I feel like I'm getting people coming in and that is what leads into the concept of narcissism or emotional immaturity. And I think I was sharing with you that the podcast I released a few months ago, waking up to narcissism, that being in 30 something episodes is almost equal to the virtual couch as far as downloads and actually had to just brought in an amazing assistant named Naomi who is handling all the emails I get because I get maybe and I'm not using narcissistic math here, but, you know, 5 to 10 emails a day that are book length of people saying, I've never felt so heard. I didn't know this was a thing. I feel like you were in my car and heard the argument we had or I feel like you've been bugging my home and it is just there heart wrenching. And so and then I started a private women's Facebook group for women that are in relationships with narcissistic fill in the blank [00:33:00] spouses, parents, entities. I mean, I feel like a lot of people feel like they have a relationship within an emotionally immature congregation or church leader job, any of those kind of situations. And so people feel really heard. And now I just had my first men's group call just yesterday.

[00:33:20] About.

[00:33:21] Guys that are saying, Hey, I actually feel like when I hear the way you you talk about it, I think I might that might be me. And I'm telling you, Kurt, that just lights me up in this. I have this meeting yesterday. I didn't know if I was going in as a lamb to the slaughter or if I was going. I didn't know what it was going to be looking like because a couple of people that had reached out to me had literally sent emails saying, so here you diagnose me as a narcissist and my wife thinks you you know, everything you say is the truth. I don't know who this person's wife is. I mean, they've been listening to a podcast and apparently now they're saying, well, Tony says that you're a narcissist. And he's like, well, let me go settle this guy's hash, you know, and I'm getting an email that says and then I and so [00:34:00] those I'll try to really get back to this one person. I said, hey, so first up, I don't know who you are. I don't know who your wife is. And I can't diagnose somebody unless I'm working with them.

[00:34:08] Even then, we could talk for days about I don't know if that's even very helpful. Yeah, but you know, but I hear you and I talk about the big piece of that Waking up the narcissism podcast is that came about because of the more that I started recognizing these patterns and relationships and my own narcissistic traits and tendencies in my own emotional immaturity and inability to sometimes even hear or stay present and understand where my wife is coming from in situations. Then I started saying, Man, I need to. Do more with this and even the name of the podcast. Waking up to narcissism is waking up to the narcissistic relationship in a marriage or like I say, in a parent child relationship or in relationship to a point or a faith experience or community or the bigger piece is waking up to my own narcissism. And so as I find more people that are reaching out and talking about how much that helps them. So kind of going back to your question that people [00:35:00] coming in in front of me are saying that they feel heard and understood.

[00:35:03] From something.

[00:35:04] A crisis from a faith journey from a couple's situation or from an emotional immaturity or narcissistic standpoint because that word is getting thrown around all over the place.

[00:35:11] And then we're going to talk about that for sure. So and that's interesting because I'm trying to put it up against like if we were to just in a in a laboratory, put up a therapist's office next to the bishop's office. Yeah, obviously, we know the bishop's office, not the therapist's office. They play different roles, whatever. But I'm just curious, like, how is it easier for people to walk into a therapist's office or easier for people to walk in a bishop office? And of course, the answer is, well, it depends on the therapist, the bishop, whatever. But I'm just also wondering, like how like because you say you get 10 to 15 referrals. Referrals a.

[00:35:46] Week.

[00:35:46] Yeah, there's bishops out there thinking, I guess my words doing pretty good because nobody's coming to see me. Or they came once and I guess I fixed them or they don't need my help anymore when in reality I don't like it. So like, how can we create that [00:36:00] resignation? And of course we can. No, my mind goes to the doctrine of repentance and grace. And if we can show love, like make sure that we can hear and talk here, but how can we help people resonate? So they walk in the bishops.

[00:36:11] So what? What? Because there is no video camera in here, which I can't believe you didn't get that in the contract that I sent over ahead of time. My, my, my water seems to be two degrees. Lawyers speak like. Exactly. But I just dramatically set up in my chair because as Curtis saying this, I feel I so appreciate this because when you said, I don't know, is it easier to go into the therapist's office, the bishop's office, I guess. And it's I guess the people that are coming into my office are there primarily because they don't feel safe enough or confident enough or like they can go into their bishop's office or they feel like I have gone into my bishop's office and that didn't go very well.

[00:36:44] So I'm going to try this.

[00:36:45] Yeah, yeah. So I get a lot of that. And so and this is the stuff where I feel like the reason I sat up dramatically is I sometimes think, okay, is this going to be controversial? But then I honestly realize that this is my opinion and I can't not think this. So [00:37:00] let me take you back in time, Kirk.

[00:37:01] Go ahead. Apostate.

[00:37:03] Right, exactly right. So I love my stake president is amazing. He's one of my best friends and I've grown up with him forever. And so I love the fact that he and I can just talk so openly about things. And so in 2019, the church had hired me to do a training for all the LDS Family Services therapists on navigating a faith crisis and a faith journey. And it was.

[00:37:23] You sent me the link. I packed in 3 hours.

[00:37:25] It was, yeah. And I loved it and I loved the opportunity and then that then they, I think they just recommended me as someone that could participate in the it's called Generations. It's the Utah Mental Health Conference that they hold every year. It's not a church thing. It's a mental health conference. And so I was going to be part of this panel that was I love this part because it sounds like I'm setting you up for a joke. But it was in the past, it's been a priest, a rabbi, and like an LDS person, they do not walk into a bar. But then because I don't know, because of the pandemic, whatever it looked like, they had said, hey, we've got a guy that could speak to this. And the conference title was [00:38:00] or the topic of the conversation is Faith, Crisis, Spiritual Health and a Mental Health Moving Forward or something. But then the priest and the rabbi apparently either they backed out or they weren't invited. And so then I had the whole I had the whole hour, hour and a half to present this. And so I went big on all this stuff. I enjoy acceptance and commitment therapy and external validation. But then I went big into fouler stages of faith and I talked about that a lot. And so then I took that and the training and then I shared that with my state president and I just said, President, I just feel kind of almost this calling or passionate if there's any way that I can help with anyone going through this. And I love that he talked to me about that.

[00:38:37] Of course, he's seeing a lot of that in the state, but it's one of those things where it's a crisis. Yeah, but it's hard to just go talk from the pulpit and say, Hey, let me talk about faith crisis. Because there's a lot of people that are like, Wait, what? I didn't know, should I be having one? Because I'm not. I mean, yeah, tell me more, you know. And so then he suggested I go and I and so I trained all the bishops in our stake with the for my four pillars of a connected conversation and then the Fowler stages [00:39:00] of faith. And the reason I'm giving you this whole big rundown is he had sent out the links to those trainings. And I know everybody's got a lot of time. They really do. They're crazy. They don't need so much. Yeah, so and I know he said it would be great if he could watch these things and be familiar with this before we talk. I knew that people weren't going to and so then we got in there and it was really interesting because some of the bishops were saying, okay, it's this really helped. And I can it helps me understand that everybody has their own perspective. And here's this way to communicate more effectively. And then there were others that were just saying, okay, well, but what if you're wrong? And, you know, and how do you just tell people that they're wrong? And I just felt like that in itself was you've got some bishops.

[00:39:36] Somebody's going to go into and they're going to just naturally say, hey, thank you for coming in. Tell me more. Because, you know, I am more familiar now. And here's where it looks like. I'm just saying, thankfully, I listened to Tony and now I know everything but these four pillars. So they are saying, okay, I have a framework to communicate that is going to allow the person coming in to feel heard and understood before I share my experience. And then the stages of faith is a way to kind of communicate this, [00:40:00] oh, and we may be in different places with our faith. So I feel like the people, the bishops, if they and again, bishops are so overworked and overwhelmed that I know that that isn't they can't just go watch and read and listen to everything. But then I felt like in that training there were some that were asking questions of, okay, man, that makes sense. And so, you know, how can I be more supportive or what are some good questions I can ask to start out with? And there was one bishop, bless his heart, who then said, okay, I hear you. But he said, It sounds like what you're saying to me is that I need to listen to somebody for an hour and I worry that's going to condone their bad behavior. And so I took that and I realized and I think I was probably a little bit dramatic or emotionally immature, salty. But yeah, because I think I think I did a big old like a big sigh or whatever.

[00:40:43] But I said, Man, thank you, Bishop. But I said, there are so many things there that I think are a challenge is I said, so the obviously listening to them for an hour is going to condone their bad behavior. You know, I said, man, I want to look at this, not saying that I'm looking at it like the savior, but I said is a therapist. It's just [00:41:00] behavior. So and this is where my first pillar is assuming good intentions or there's a reason why people do or say or show up the way they do, that nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I'm going to go ruin my life. Nobody does. I know they don't. So if they are doing something that is contrary to what they would like to be doing, or even what you feel like would be best for them in your role and your role as the steward or a leader, that then the first place to go with that is to assume good intentions or there's a reason why. And so I said, so I have a hard time seeing bad behavior. I see it is behavior. So if we're already saying, okay, fine, I'll listen. But then I feel like I just condoned their bad behavior. We're already off to a bad start because that person is going to feel that that vibe, that energy, that spirit in the room. And that's where I feel like now. And in that particular thing I said, you know, I said, this is why I feel like I never would have known any of this had I not changed careers, had I not become a therapist.

[00:41:53] Because now, sitting with so many people that have dealt with emotional abuse, physical abuse, they've been molested, sexual abuse, they've been they've been, you [00:42:00] know, beaten in childhood. They've had people die. They've seen horrific things and in their jobs or in whatever. And now we're going to let them know that this is how you're supposed to think, feel or act or behave. I mean, that person is trying to just get through life. And so I feel like so when you say is it easier to go to the therapist or the bishop, that's my long way of saying. I kind of think it might be if it's the bishop to say and thank you so much for being here period. Feeling, you know, tell me more. I mean, I don't feel like there's enough of that experience that. So then someone going in already feels like I know I have done wrong and I'm worried I'm going to say the wrong thing and I know I need to basically hear what I'm supposed to do. And so when I hear all of somebody presenting in my office that feeling, no wonder that they start to feel like what's wrong with me? And if the bishop seems pretty upset and if I I've tried those things before and I already know what he's going to say. So and if he's a representative of God, then I know God's got to be mad at me too. And so look at all that stuff that's leading up to.

[00:42:57] Having a domino.

[00:42:58] Effect. It's just like dominoes. [00:43:00]

[00:43:00] Or ripples out, right? Please join us for part two of this podcast. That concludes this episode of the Leading Saints podcast. We'd love to hear from you about your questions or thoughts or comments. You can either leave a comment on the post related to this episode at Leading Saints org or go to Leading Saints dot org slash contact and send us your perspective or questions. If there's other episodes or topics you'd like to hear on the Leading Saints podcast, go to Leading Saints dot org. Contact and share with us the information there. And we would love for you to share this with any individual you think this would apply to, especially maybe individuals in your ward council or other leaders that you may know who would really appreciate the perspectives that we discussed. Welcome to part two of this week's podcast. Again. [00:44:00] At the end of day, it depends. We don't know which is harder to walk into the therapist's office or the bishop's office. But if we want to be the bishop or the leader or the friend whose office or home or relationship is easiest to walk into, we have to assume best intentions. And that includes we got to overcome the reaction of being surprised, disgusted, angry, or. Do you have any idea what you've done or disappointed? Because everything. And this is why these are impossible callings, right? Everything you do, they will project on God because you represent Jesus Christ, right? Yes. And the we throw that phrase around, what does that actually mean? It could be debated. Right. But for somebody to even sit outside that office, walk in there and then be met with what they expect is you're going to be really angry. Frustrated. I'm angry at myself. Right. And then we project our feelings on them. Right. And so assuming best intentions, a lot of it is just. I'm [00:45:00] just going to listen. Yeah, right. And, and be in that place of suffering that they're in even. And I've heard this where some leaders or bishops are resistant to say, I'm so sorry because you did this to yourself.

[00:45:13] Well, that goes back to that, because if I do that, I'm condoning their behavior and they're going to just this feeling of condone go willy nilly and. Yeah, and no thank you for saying that. And I think about I can think of one person in particular that this guy I mean, talk about financial security check career or job he wants check the kids, the family, everything. But he was struggling with again. And even if you notice, I say turning to pornography as an unhealthy coping mechanism, because if you look at pornography addiction, it isn't even that's not in the diagnosis.

[00:45:39] That's the therapist. It's not a therapy thing.

[00:45:41] Right. So people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms that one gives you a dopamine rush and so your brain's going to keep going back for it anyway. That's a whole other thing. But this guy was we were making some significant progress. Then you would have a setback notice. I didn't say relapse because that has a lot of triggering vibes to it as well. Right. But he would have a setback and they would come in and he would have his head hung so low. [00:46:00] And I finally at some point had to say, hey, is that for me? Like, do you want me to like go, Oh, man, you look really sad. I said, I'll do it, but can we just get to the part where you're good? And then let's just and I say on my pornography recovery group program that happened, don't beat yourself up. Noted. And then let's let's try to avoid a bender let's review the game film and what am I pretending not to know? And now let's turn to all the healthy.

[00:46:22] Yeah, because there's this concept on both sides of the desk. Do it right where we put energy behind an event that happened. Right. And sin has happened. And this maybe ties into this cultural norm we have of like really propping up the concept of reverence. Like, I have to act a certain way in a church building, or I am being irreverent, therefore offending God. And so if sin is before me, I must scoff and dismiss and be frustrated.

[00:46:51] Right? Okay.

[00:46:52] So we put an energy behind it, whether it's the leader or the therapist could do this too, right. Or the individual. And we can just say [00:47:00] like, okay, it happened and where do we go from here?

[00:47:03] Right. Okay. So my emotion of humor is going nonstop, so I'm just going to lay that foundation out before my next comment. So there was I worked with a number of people from a particular stake in that state president. And I know I'm assuming good intentions, and I really do mean that because there's a reason why a leader says the things they do. They want to help, but they may not know what they don't know.

[00:47:24] Even when they say the stupidest thing they could ever say. They really are.

[00:47:27] Trying to tell you.

[00:47:28] Okay, you've got a.

[00:47:29] List and you have to and you have to give me the whole audio file. Now I want the world to hear this. You can edit this out of yours. I want to keep this in mind. All right. But I would hear at one point somebody came in and he said, yeah. And then my state president said, you know, I don't really like you, but I know somebody must, so you must be worth saving.

[00:47:45] And this leader said that.

[00:47:47] To a person sitting in front of me. And I thought honestly, I thought, I don't think he really said that, but I can't say that to the guy.

[00:47:53] I hear these stories and half of them, like, I don't know.

[00:47:56] So then three or four months I got another person in my office and [00:48:00] they were like and I was talking to my state president and he's like, I don't really like you. And I was like, What state are you? So, Oh, and then fast forward and it was like three or four other times, three other people. And so I knew that that was kind of this person's line. And I understood that he was trying to say, Wow, I'm not getting a vibe, but you are worth working on. As if that was going to make the guy go, Oh, okay, this guy doesn't like me, but he's willing to work with me. That must mean I'm of some sort of worth right. So the reason I say that is this when you're talking about this energy or this vibe, when I got to the point where when people the next second or third guy telling me the story, I would say, Oh, okay, where is that in the scriptures again? And then Jesus sayeth unto them, I don't really like you very much. You know, I don't, I don't think it's.

[00:48:43] Their third John. Fourth John.

[00:48:45] Yeah, I would say everything is in Corinthians. Paul must've said it right but, but the reason I use that and I know I'm using humor and all that stuff is like your concept about energy is so true. And that's where I feel like someone comes into me and they feel like they have to put off this vibe of, Hey, man, I'm sorry. [00:49:00] I was like, Okay, cool. So now what we want to do? You know, because I feel like that's yeah.

[00:49:04] Yeah. And that's an interesting concept. Again, walking into a therapist office or bishop office, regardless of what office it is, they're walking in there a certain type of energy and you have the power to diffuse it and be like, okay, that happened. But did you know I just love you? Like and I'll sit in this like if you need to come ten times more back to this office and just sit with me, like I'll be here, like set that appointment, I'm there. And then it's just like, oh, wait, I am acceptable. And, like, my needs do matter. And.

[00:49:29] And yeah, and I think I've said this to you before, but then I'll have a guy that will have some traction, some progress, and he comes in, he's like, Man, I wasn't doing I stopped using the tools and I had another setback. And they almost look at me like, So do you want to just go in and tell me like, Oh, I've never seen someone do that before. You must be really broken. So now just go and do and don't worry, you know, I cannot help you. And I feel like, well, no, that's not not a thing. And I feel like that's where people do think that. Yeah, but if I don't do everything perfect for the bishop, the therapist or whatever that is, and I must be this horrible [00:50:00] person. And so once I tell them that I didn't do this, then they're going to just say, okay, well, yeah, you actually are pretty broken. So, you know, it's pretty helpless. So yeah, then I can do here and I just feel like sometimes people are almost used to that vibe. And so I think as a bishop or as a therapist or as a parent, that one of the best things you can do is yeah, it's that and thanks so much for sharing that with me. I mean, that sounds really hard, but keeping that same energy of like so we're we got 45 minutes left in the session, so let's keep going.

[00:50:28] Yeah, tell me more.

[00:50:29] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So was I answering a question? I feel like because oh, it was the thing about the training and the bishop and that sort of thing. And so I think one of the challenges and I know that in working in the faith journey world, people often talk about the phrase leadership roulette. And I think that can be really difficult because I am on the worldwide training. I did. I mentioned that the irony of when you help people get from if if your listeners are familiar with valor, stages of faith and if you really look at that stage three is they kind [00:51:00] of talk about everything fits in in one nice tidy box from pre existence to eternity. Here's the way it works. And so then when people struggle and they have okay, I have tried more, I have prayed, I have read my scriptures or, you know, my my spouse has been faithful or my kid is come out as gay or I've experienced loss or I've had this chemical depression or so then I can't, I just don't fit in that box, you know, that stage three box. And then they enter that stage or stage four where then they feel like, okay, I'm angry about the stage three experience. And then this is where I introduce this concept of reactance, of the instant negative reaction of being told what to do. So the more that stage three people say, Well, you just need to not do that, you need to do this, that our own brains, like I will do the opposite of that. You know, there you say that. As a matter of fact, you guys are dumb. You know, it's that stage for stage three battle, I think is just so intense. So when I get somebody in my office, often they're in that stage four space. And so then the stage five vibe is that, hey, life's full of mystery and paradox, and I can return to my faith community. [00:52:00] But maybe without feeling stuck inside a theological box and recognizing that life is it is. There's a lot going on there, a lot of variables, that sort of.

[00:52:08] Thing. And I'll just insert here, if people aren't familiar with Fowler Stages of Faith, we'll put a link in the show notes of of some content we created around it. Because if there's a church leader listening out there who's dealt with people or anybody, really, he's dealt with people who are going through a faith crisis. If you don't have the framing, it's a Fowler's stages of faith. It's hard to you're just not going to get very far anyways.

[00:52:29] Oh, you know, it's good. And I would love for you if you can include I've got a couple of episodes. There was one I did and I wasn't talking even about. It was when Elder Holland had had had some remarks in pro bono, and I happened to release one that week where I think it was titled, If I want to know what to do with my life, just ask somebody else. And they always.

[00:52:47] Know what to do.

[00:52:48] Right? Well, it was and I and it was one of the I felt like one of the most authentic or powerful episodes that I had done, because I had just had this breakthrough experience with somebody I'd been working with for years who would struggle with scrupulously so OCD of religious thought. And [00:53:00] with that person, they had basically gone from this insane OCD of How do I talk to God? Because it obviously isn't working, because I'm still having negative thoughts, inappropriate thoughts, and to the point where this person at one point stopped working with me because they said that they had they felt like maybe I was the devil incarnate myself. And then he had to go from breaking down his How do I communicate with God to a pretty scary space for a while? Is there a God which is a pretty normal process when you're working with somebody, especially with scrupulously to then work through or stages of faith that kind of rebuild that, oh, I am okay. And because of my experiences, this is how I see God or how I know God. And then I was talking about and then when you get over to that place and now you've kind of become interdependent and differentiated from your sometimes your faith community, but then and you've dealt with the invalidation that comes along with that, but you've now found your voice and your God given talents and abilities. And, and now all of a sudden, I always say, you realize, [00:54:00] oh, God, was there the whole time. You know, it was. I was making a mess of this thing or and so in that scenario, anyway, I laid out these stages of faith and it came out the same week as Elder Holland had said some things, and I had some requests for interviews where people said, Obviously you were talking about Holland. It's like, No, I recorded.

[00:54:16] This weeks.

[00:54:17] Ago. Yeah, it's like, no, I wasn't. But I mean, that was one I feel very I like to send to people when they're curious about the stages of faith or that sort of thing. Okay, good. And so, but that stage five experience and I think where I was going with that is it's really difficult still to get somebody to that place where they can just be okay being themselves or that they recognize that they are lovable. And I feel like the when people get to that stage five as a leader or as a person, it is that true level of what's called differentiation, which is where one one person ends and the other begins. And when you become differentiated, then you realize, I don't have to break down someone else's view of of life and I don't really have to defend mine because if we're [00:55:00] showing up differentiated, you know that that is two of God's children that are communicating, that obviously have different experiences. We teach that since primary, you know, that I'm a child of God and I'm unique in my talents and abilities and gifts. And so then when we become differentiated and we realize my job is not to tell somebody else how to think, feel or behave, now we can start looking at things with curiosity, which then comes with more questions about, Well, tell me how you think, tell me how you feel, and tell me about your behavior.

[00:55:28] And now we're looking at it from curiosity. And when people feel safe enough to have that kind of interaction, when I talk about differentiation and my hand naturally goes to this place, like I'm holding up this platter of like, well, here's my experiences. So I don't know, what do you think about these? And if the person saying, I hadn't thought of that, I might want to take a little bit of that where I feel like it doesn't end up being this all or nothing experience of that's what I feel like with a leader and even a therapist at times where they'll even come in and say, Okay, so tell me what I'm supposed to do. Well, you need to read your scriptures and say your prayers. Need to go to the temple more and you spend more time with your family, double down.

[00:55:59] Instead of pulling out their [00:56:00] platter. They're like, Here, take it. Here's mine. This works for me. You take this home, this is my platter. Yeah. And this is the equation. Do it right and right.

[00:56:07] And I'm glad you said that way, because then it's basically then and I've had these leaders as well where the person then gets that and they don't feel heard, they don't feel understood. They do try to do all the checkboxes, but when they're doing them from an OC, I'll do these checkboxes. There's a couple of things I feel that are a challenge. That was a very nice way for me to say they're wrong, but a challenge with that is then if somebody really doesn't feel heard or understood or they don't even understand what they're struggling with or why, then they can do the checkboxes. Okay, I've been reading 15 minutes every day. I've said my prayers morning and night. I've paid my last offering, you know, I've done my calling better. I still want to look at porn, you know, so I must really be bad. And then they bring that because even.

[00:56:48] The bishop's bladder doesn't work.

[00:56:49] Exactly. So I must be really bad. And I bless the bishop's heart, say president or whatever. But then if they're saying, man, you did do those things, so you must not have done them like with enough righteousness [00:57:00] or right.

[00:57:01] Yeah, do a double. They're double time or whatever. Yeah.

[00:57:04] Yeah.

[00:57:05] So this is and this is again, this is why we jump into this. We could have never planned this discussion of like how to walk into a bishop's office. Right. But and there's other concept I want to talk about that, you know, going back to this concept of like they're bringing in some energy and it's usually a lot of energy filled with shame. And your job isn't to give them tasks or check on their behavior, but to diffuse that. And, you know, grace and love is typically what does that. But there's also this from I guess there's like when somebody needs like we have this cultural tradition, I did something bad that's pretty significant. I must go see my bishop or a youth is like, oh man, I've been looking at the porn and I know so see the bishop. But I don't want to see the bishop because I don't know if he's going to be mad. So I'm just going to put it off, right. And just this the stigma of like I must talk with the bishop about this and we have this tradition [00:58:00] of only the bishop, that part of the bishop's keys, priest keys, is that his ears are given the gift of hearing confessions and that if a counselor, a bishop or counselor is in a temple, recommend interview and suddenly this youth or somebody comes up with like, Oh, actually, I'm not worthy. There are some things I, I need to clear up. It's so easy for that counselor to be to say or maybe they even trained to say, Oh, no, no, no. Okay, stop talking. Yeah, you need to see the bishop. Yeah. And don't say another word when in reality you can approach that person as a fellow human being on this journey in mortality and say like, oh, wow, like, do you want to talk about it right now? Yes. And again, you don't need authority to listen to somebody's heart and what they struggle with right now.

[00:58:46] Got it. You've got the best quote so far. It's a good one.

[00:58:49] And because the moment you stop a discussion and say, no, you need to talk to somebody else, what you're saying is that something's wrong and it's in you and it needs to be fixed and you need to go see a really [00:59:00] big person to fix that.

[00:59:01] And I must. And not hear anything else. As a matter of fact, I am keeping a water bottle beside me so I can do a spit take now. Hold on. I just need to get a little bit of water. My mouth. What, are you kidding?

[00:59:10] Yeah, exactly. Let me lay this foundation a little bit further, that oftentimes I worry that people there's just this cultural stigma of, like, what I do when I do something bad is I go see the bishop, even when I'm not ready to talk about this with the bishop. But I'm supposed to do it, like to create space and say maybe if or maybe you have tried to see the bishop, it didn't go well. You felt out. You walked out with heavier shoulders and more shame. Bless his heart. Acting with best intentions? Yes. Maybe there's somebody else you could talk to with it a while. Either a therapist, a loved one, a friend? Yeah, an elders, quorum president, a relief society president. And this this is, I think, where we miss a big thing of like, if I was doing the bishop thing again under our current things of standards of delegating more to the president, I think there's ways to go about it so that the bishop [01:00:00] isn't meeting with Billy, you know, in Elders courtroom every week about his pawn struggles. Yeah, maybe it's that the conversation has started there and then with the permission of everybody involved and making sure that their safety, you bring in the elders sworn president or somebody else in the corpsman saying, why don't you talk to him for a few weeks, we'll meet in four weeks and see how it goes.

[01:00:20] That's what delegation looks like, right? So anyways, the point being is that sometimes when an individual walks into the bishop's office with an energy charged topic that needs to be diffused, if that interaction with the bishop isn't serving that to diffuse, that may be consider other people you talk to. And then at some point, again, I'm not saying yes, the bishop does have keys of repentance and whatnot and that process needs to take place. But it may happen at different points in that journey for different people. It could be at the very end where you're like, I'm in a very good place emotionally. I've handled these things. I haven't looked at porn for nine months. I think I'll go see the bishop now. Or it might be the person. Like I looked at porn last night. I need to go see the bishop now [01:01:00] and there could be help on either of those spectrums. Anyways, what comes to my.

[01:01:04] 900 things so I hope I can keep it's so good. And I would even insert the asking the person, Hey, who do you feel comfortable talking to? Because I feel like that great intimacy, because when I have people in my office, I want them to have a support network because oftentimes they will leave an office and say, I feel so hurt.

[01:01:23] And this is going back to I want to talk about connection.

[01:01:25] Like yeah.

[01:01:26] Like we say these terms like we need to stimulate more connection. But I think most leaders like what does that even look like? Right. So anyways, oh, so this question of men, I would use that every time. Like when you have a hard day, who do you generally talk to? Like, who do you feel like you can talk to?

[01:01:39] Yeah. And even if in right now, if it's like, well, I don't talk to anybody, then I do. I often talk about and this is an old act bit acceptance and commitment therapy bit when you're trying to get somebody to recognize their values. And if they say, I don't even know, then sometimes you say, okay, think of anybody that can be living. It can be dead, it can be a relative, it can be somebody, somebody in the news. It can be.

[01:01:57] Whoever. Who do you who do you.

[01:01:58] Really admire and what do you admire [01:02:00] about them? And people will pull these things. I mean, I had a lady the other day talk about she was talking about a current pop star, a female pop star. And I was saying, what what do you admire about her? And she said she speaks her truth. And so it was like this woman had this deep core value of wanting to be heard or speak her truth, but she was absolutely afraid to do so. So I bring that up by even if somebody says, I don't know, I don't talk to anybody, then it's like, Well, who do you admire? Who do you look up to in the word? Who do you who do you feel a connection or who do you hear? Give a sacrament talk and you think, Man, I like when this guy starts talking because they're real.

[01:02:30] I could get really real.

[01:02:31] Yeah, that's and that's I like that. That's they're real. And so so now I'm going to take a tiny and I'm so sorry, Kirk, but I'm going to take a little, little, tiny tangent that could go.

[01:02:42] Along a lot of places you don't have to any tensions.

[01:02:44] Here we go. So you talked about shame. And I was digging into this a few weeks ago, and I did an episode on the virtual couch where I said, Why do we beat ourselves up? Where do shame come from? And I knew that as a therapist, I knew to say, Well, it's from our childhood and it's a defense mechanism. Okay, what does that mean? So [01:03:00] I did a whole episode where I dug deep, and this goes into all of the amazing abandonment and attachment stuff that I talk about every chance I get. And you guys left it in my four hour presentation, which I was so grateful for. So abandonment and attachment starts from birth, from the womb. When a kid comes out, they cry and scream and they get their diaper changed and they are fed. So we are built to express ourselves and get our needs met, period. Like that is our job. When we come out of the chute, I don't get it that but the job is like we express ourselves, people meet our needs. But then the older we get, now we express ourselves. People don't meet our needs. So income's abandonment. So you've got attachment and abandonment. We all want this attachment to others because if you get super psychology, nerdy, deep, that a baby doesn't even know they exist or that they're an entity until they have an interaction with another thing. So that's well, even why they cry, that's why anything is like I'm crying, anything anybody hear?

[01:03:57] They're not saying I'm hungry. They're saying, Am I a thing? [01:04:00] They're like, Do I? Do I have purpose?

[01:04:02] How crazy is that? So then we start from this attachment base around life, and so we need another we want to know, do we matter? Do I exist? And so someone else in essence is like, Yeah, you're good, you know? So that's amazing principle. But then as we start becoming two, three, four years old now, I say now introduce the abandonment track. So now it's that I would like a pony for my birthday. And your parent says, No, we live in the suburbs and we've.

[01:04:29] Literally had this conversation.

[01:04:30] Okay, so and then but the kid is a kid. So they say, well, I mean, they don't think this, but they are programed to say, but I am emoting right now and you are not meeting my needs.

[01:04:40] I need a pony and you're not getting me.

[01:04:42] Yeah, I would like to eat candy corn for dinner. And you are saying no. So this is where we are going to. I know. I would say, Kurt, I don't care how long we take on this because this starts to get into the emotional immaturity.

[01:04:54] Narcissists start to get dark outside. Okay, we should wrap.

[01:04:56] It 5 hours away. Okay. So then this is where I say that the every [01:05:00] little kid, by definition, is a little narcissistic egomaniac because they only think of themselves. They're egocentric.

[01:05:05] My seven year old. This is interesting.

[01:05:08] That's funny. One day he'll be he'll say, and I heard my dad talk about me on a podcast and he'll be on a therapist.

[01:05:14] Oh, he's already got an appointment for you in 2034. Okay.

[01:05:17] All right. So then a little kid doesn't have a sense of what other people's experiences are. So if a kid doesn't get a new bike for Christmas, they just think, well, my parent must not like me. They don't think, Oh, we have eight kids. My dad just lost his job and finances like a kid doesn't care, so they emote and get their needs met. And then when we don't meet their needs now talk about abandonment. It's because they must be bad. So and this is where now you move into the way that we get our sense of self is we need external validation. So if our parent is happy as a kid, we're like, I must be good or parent is sad. Then we think, Oh, I must be bad, I must have done something. And this is why you can look at when people go through divorce often I can meet with somebody [01:06:00] now that's in their thirties and their parents got a divorce when they were 12 and they could even sit on the couch and say, No, I know it was the best thing because they're in better relationships now, they're healthier or whatever. And you can even say if you really dig deep and go back and think about that, did you ever feel like any of that was your fault? And almost to a T they can say, I mean, yeah, I kind of always felt like I don't know if I was better.

[01:06:21] I was nicer if I would have done more on the house or, you know, that maybe things would have turned out different. So we still have a core need to, to like make it about us, which is wild if you think about that. So then in this concept of abandonment and when I go back to shame, so shame comes in of saying if they didn't meet my needs and they didn't get me the pony, then it must have been me. Like I must be bad. So that's happening when you're in childhood and it's happening like subconscious. And so then it's almost like our default when we get older is that if someone didn't meet my needs or things didn't turn out the way that I needed, I wanted them to hear comes our brain says, Oh, [01:07:00] run the shame program like because it must be because I'm a bad person. If my spouse doesn't want as much of a connection, physical connection with me, then oh yeah, it's because I'm bad, because I've been asking. I mean, I asked for more and then they don't. So and when.

[01:07:14] You look at it on paper like that, like the fact that these events can suddenly be tied back to our identity, like nothing can should confirm to you more that there's an adversary that is after us and after our identity, like the fact that he can twist a divorce into. That's because you're bad. Likely that's what's happening. Yeah. Yeah.

[01:07:35] Or or that's why you go back to that concept of somebody that turns to any unhealthy coping mechanism, gambling, porn, work, their phone, whatever. And then they every time they do it and they say, okay, it's the last time I do it again. But then they don't do anything to understand why they do that. I don't they don't they.

[01:07:52] Haven't addressed the identity exactly the behavior. Yeah.

[01:07:55] So that's why I feel like then they get to say, man, I am a horrible person. And yeah, it's an adversary [01:08:00] because it's like that's a layup for him, right? Because we want to get to that place of being. I am okay and I am a child of God and I am trying my best and I am, I have and this is why I love acceptance and commitment therapy, because, again, why does it start with somebody saying, why do I have these thoughts? Why? Why do I keep doing this? It's like, oh, because I do. Because I'm the only version of me that's ever walked the face of the earth. So this is what I do when these things happen. When I hit 35, oh, I told this story while my son in law, Mitch, just graduated from Boise, Idaho. And I go up there with my daughter Maggie, and we my my daughter Alex, who got this really bad car crash. Right. Mitch is her husband. Alex is still recovering in Arizona at this time. So we all go out to see Mitch graduate and a news crew comes in and they're filming Mitch and they've got a camera on Alex back in Arizona. It's this beautiful human interest story. But meanwhile, my A.D.D., I impulsively booked a hotel like an hour away. So I've got my daughter Mackie staying with me and we're driving in and out, in and out. So then the last night I just say I don't care. [01:09:00]

[01:09:00] Not like money's no object, but I booked. Like in a Motel six or something in Rexburg because I just don't want to keep driving back and forth. So then we go there and then I leave my AirPods there when I check out. The reason I'm saying all of this is that then I get to the airport and I think, man, and I immediately want to beat myself up like I'm a horrible person. What is wrong with me? And then I had to use my own medicine here and I said, Oh, I'm a human being and I'm going about life. And so and then I said this on a podcast and I feel like, I don't know at first I think that people didn't understand where I was going, but I said so. So check this out. Every single time that my daughter gets in a horrific car crash and then her her husband, my son in law then graduates to BYU, Idaho, four months later. And we go to Rexburg and I book a hotel out of town and then book another hotel in town and then leave that hotel. I lose my AirPods every single time. See what I'm saying? So it's like that's where I go back to. Even when I go back to that thing about, oh, bad behavior and sin and all these things, it's like or that [01:10:00] happened. Yeah. And now what do we do?

[01:10:01] I'm having a human experience because I am human, which.

[01:10:05] I don't know how long we are into this, where it's like first plug for the Atonement. I'm a big fan. I really am. I gave a sacrament talk not long ago and I just said I gave this whole thing about external validation. And nobody knows the troubles. I've seen that that kind of that spiritual hymn. And and I said, I pulled a quote from Elder Bednar that was so beautiful where he just talks about, I skip right past the atonement, cover sin and that stuff. It's like it covers grief and loss and pain and sorrow and that Christ is I mean, he has perfect empathy, so I call it colonies the great empath. And so when I talk about people needing external validation, hey, am I okay? I mean, I feel like they're basically hand in their milk off to somebody who's like, Oh, I don't know what to say here, but I'm a bishop, so I'm going to say I don't think so. You know, I think you need do something else better or I hand it over to my spouse. I'm like, I don't know, do you think I'm okay? And if they're saying, I don't know if I say this right, well, they want to be physical with me, so. Yeah, no, I think you're okay. Yeah. Or if I say they're okay, then what does that mean? I'm not okay. So [01:11:00] we're handing our, like, this yoke off to people where then I feel like, meanwhile, the atonement is about all right. I know who is telling me I'm okay. It turns out. God. So he's like, Oh no, remember I created you? Like, Let's start with you're good and you have thoughts and feelings and emotions you have because you're a human being and you're trying your best man. See, that was a tangent, right? But that was we talked about shame, we talked about abandonment, attachment. And so that's where I feel like it's and we talked about identity and sense of self and I was trying to that was me trying to get back to where we started from. I don't remember.

[01:11:30] I went on my rant about seeing someone else, the energy behind like if the bishop can't diffuse it, yeah, you need someone to talk to. And then because that's shame, you walk in.

[01:11:40] Shame is not good.

[01:11:41] And we can transition. Why don't we? I want to jump into.

[01:11:45] Narcissism.

[01:11:46] Because so here's the thing. Like like you said, narcissism is this buzzword. It's in 2022, right? And again, you have you have the Virtual Couch podcast. And then this is a completely separate podcast called.

[01:11:57] Waking Up to Narcissist.

[01:11:59] Waking Up to Narcissism. Okay. [01:12:00] Now and I'm going to start it from a leadership context. There is this feeling of, you know, we throw this around like like we do OCD and, you know, like these are these are clinical terms now we're just using in everyday language, right? So just because somebody is rude doesn't necessarily mean that they're a narcissist, right? Or just because you have a difficult bishop to work with doesn't mean he's a prideful narcissist that didn't get hugged as a little boy or something. Right? Like, right. There's so much going on. But I get the emails from people that they think, Oh, Kurt, I'm so glad you're doing this podcast or this this effort with Leading Saints and oh, boy, if you could only meet my bishop or my relief site president or state president because they're a narcissist. Yeah. And again, I'm not fully me where we can start. What does that term even mean on a clinical level? But like and can we obviously it's a diagnosis, so maybe we should we should pump the brakes a little bit and try and diagnose [01:13:00] somebody with a clinical term when we're not even that's not our thing. So let's start there. Like with that background of of leadership and narcissism, like what is narcissism?

[01:13:09] So let me I'm going to say one quick thing and then I'm going to do I pulled up an article by a another therapist named Eleanor Greenberg that I just really like the way that she lays a few things out. So the first thing I want to say is that so yeah, this narcissism waking up the narcissism podcast, I was really intentional. Again, I was intentional about the name when I was talking about my own narcissistic traits and tendencies, I started laying that out a good 100 episodes into the virtual couch. Now I'm at 330 or however many episodes, and I would get plenty of people that would say, Do you really mean that? Or Are you just kind of joking? And I was saying, Oh, no. I mean, I really these are narcissistic traits or tendencies that I would have. And so whenever I do a podcast and I would bring up narcissism or gaslighting or these sort of things, I mean, you you see, when you do one that pulls a lot more downloads than anything else, right? Yeah. And this narcissism or my four pillars or parenting or faith crisis, those were by far [01:14:00] a lot more people paying attention.

[01:14:02] And so then I started just and then okay, then the more couples I'm seeing and the reason I'm seeing more couples is because of the thing I talked about with the pornography, where I'm realizing a lot of the guys don't have a good marriage or connection. So then I go find this evidence based model for marriages emotionally focused therapy started by Sue Johnson, this Canadian psychologist. It's amazing. And that's the basis of my four pillars of a connected conversation. So I find the emotionally focused therapy. I start working with more men in their marriages to help them turn away from unhealthy coping mechanisms. So then the more couples I start seeing, the more, let's say. And right now I probably see 20 couples a week. I've been doing that for a few years now, and so 15 of them maybe now it's probably ten, maybe it's 5050, but at first it may be 15 of them. You would lay out these new tools and it was clearly a people just don't know how to communicate because they don't know how to communicate because they didn't see it model. Then they're there and it's a.

[01:14:56] Skill set.

[01:14:56] Right? Such a skill set. It is not it's not.

[01:14:58] Like a normal. [01:15:00]

[01:15:00] No, it isn't inherent because oh because we're coming at it at things from a emotionally immature abandonment and attachment place. And so man, I feel like that is where I got off the tangent when I said I can't remember where we were going with and it was about abandonment, attachment. But I'm going to I'm going to pretend that we made it and we landed the plane over there. Okay, let's do it. But so then people don't know what they don't know. And so oh, no, I do need to finish the thought. So what it was is that it really is that if somebody doesn't yeah. If somebody doesn't meet my needs, then something's wrong with me. So we actually bring that, that abandonment principle into our adult relationships. So when we show up in adult relationships, we're still trying to figure out, how do I need to show up so that this person will love me? Because navigating if they don't love me, but the way I want them to love me, it's because it is me. I must be bad. That's the attachment piece. So I got to figure out a way to get this person to love me. So in our childhood, it's the do I become the star athlete? Do I become the star student? Because is that the way that my parents notice me? And then this is where I think this [01:16:00] I really feel like this part helps parents a lot because I think that we know the line where when a kid is acting out and they're being mean or they're withdrawing or they're I mean, anything, if they if they start cutting, if they start expressing suicidal ideation or we're thinking, why on earth do they do that? And it's because if that is the way they get noticed, if that's the way they know they exist, is because they only get that attention when they go down this path of negativity, then that becomes their the way that they are showing up from an attachment standpoint.

[01:16:33] At some point though, if they're expressing their selves of saying, you know, hey, here's, here's what I need from you, from a parent, from a in a or in a relationship, and that person doesn't respond. Now, we harken back to that, Oh, it's because it is me. I am unlovable, I am broken, or something's wrong with me. So that's what we bring into adult relationships. And so now we start trying to date somebody and we're both saying, Okay, well, what do you think it's like, Oh, I like this movie. And then the guy might say, Oh, I totally [01:17:00] do too. Now in his mind, he's thinking, okay, because if I, if she knows I hate those movies, she's gone. And then we even in our emotional immaturity, we start saying, I can probably get I can learn to love that movie. I mean, I know I do. I love that movie. Yeah, but then we don't realize we're showing up emotionally immature because then all of a sudden, if if she says, What do you love about that movie? You know, and it's like, man, what don't I love about that movie? Right. And so now we get into a little bit of gaslighting, right? Whereas like, I mean.

[01:17:25] Yeah, change the subject or.

[01:17:26] Change the subject, whatever it is. And that's where we're starting the, the bits of emotional immaturity start coming out. And that's where I feel like now we've got emotional immaturity, but those can also be viewed as narcissistic traits or tendencies of like you see, I feel like.

[01:17:41] You're so narcissism begins to come to the surface when an individual's needs have not been met in the past or they have a history of their needs not being met. And so they sort of put on a front of where they demand the needs to be met or they they contort or manipulate.

[01:17:57] They're going to get those needs met.

[01:17:58] Whatever it takes to get those needs met. [01:18:00]

[01:18:00] So because it's a deep child. So Eleanor Greenberg says it so well. She says, what is narcissistic personality disorder? She said it's the name of a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self esteem, the inability to regulate their self esteem without external validation and low empathy. So when you break down those three things, I think that.

[01:18:21] Okay, read that one more time.

[01:18:22] Yeah. So it's a name for a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self esteem. So they have unstable self esteem because their childhood experience was one where they never felt secure in their relationship with their parent or they there might have been physical abuse or might have been emotional abuse. Their parent could have just not been there emotionally for them. So then instead of the kid just feeling like they are okay as they are, they have to. They feel like I need to. I have to. What do I got to do? I got to juggle. I have to be perfect. I have to do what I have to do to get my parent to love me or care about me or notice me. So if my parent is going through their own [01:19:00] stuff. If my parent is. Emotionally immature, narcissistic because they're my grandparents or, you know, their parents were never there for them then. They don't know what they don't know. And so then all of a sudden, you know, you enter an adult relationship and you think that the normal way that this is is that you don't take accountability or ownership for anything.

[01:19:19] I didn't do it. No, you said something else like I didn't know. I didn't mean that or I didn't do that because when you were a kid, if you were wrong or if you admitted you did something wrong, then you got in trouble. And if you get in trouble all of a sudden as a little kid, you can't count that your parents aren't going to just leave you or run away. Now that's your little kid brain. So that's where I talk about gaslighting comes as a childhood defense mechanism. It comes from this deep, deep wound of that. I cannot be wrong because if I was wrong as a kid, I heard about it. I literally got hit. I got abandoned. I got, you know, or all the attention was given to my brother, who he figured out the game earlier than I did. And he's like, I didn't do it, you know? And so it's kind of crazy. So [01:20:00] then if you go back to that childhood family situation, right? Unstable self esteem, the inability to regulate self esteem without external validation and lower empathy.

[01:20:07] So is there a healthy level of narcissism in all of us? Right, like because like, none of us is free of narcissism. But is that is that actually can be a benefit rather than so?

[01:20:20] That's a great question. And for real, it's a real great question. And that's why early in the episode when I said I'm going to step into my healthy ego, sometimes I forget that people don't listen to all zillion hours I've done on every one of my podcasts because that was a major shift. So about episode nine, ten or 11, somewhere in there on the waking up, the narcissism, I intentionally went pretty big and I said, Wait, am I? The narcissist is the name of the episode and it's so it's so much far too way downloaded, even more than than others, because people often say, okay, well, maybe I'm the narcissist because I don't admit things all the time or I don't want to be in trouble or, you know, that sort of thing. And I kind of have a go to thing where I say, if you're even asking yourself if you're a narcissist, you're not. I mean, so [01:21:00] that's a good start because on.

[01:21:01] That, even though we all have some level of narcissists, right, go with that.

[01:21:04] So this was very intentional. So and in that episode, I went down the diagnostic criteria of narcissistic personality disorder. I mean, and I don't even think we need to go into that now because here's the thing. Maybe one or 2% of the population is it would be diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder. But now if we start looking at this spectrum of emotional immaturity, now we're talking. So I re I started redefining, I would say, narcissistic traits and tendencies or emotional immaturity. And if we start looking at I mean, somebody would much rather be called emotionally immature than a narcissist, right? And when you start looking at emotional immaturity, then I feel like it's easier for us all to kind of take ownership or accountability of times when we are emotionally immature.

[01:21:43] So emotional immaturity is pretty much a synonymous with narcissism.

[01:21:47] Well, so narcissistic personality disorder is a thing in the narcissistic traits, tendencies and emotional immaturity. I feel like it's like now we're.

[01:21:55] Under the umbrella of.

[01:21:57] Yeah, not narcissistic personality disorder, but narcissistic [01:22:00] traits. Tendencies can fall into that emotional immaturity. So then so and again, I'm going to go back to because I think Eleanor Greenberg, she said this one thing in particular, and then I hijacked it and I don't know her, so I don't know if she thinks this is cool. I didn't even know about that. I've done this. But she says normal versus pathological narcissism. So she says, unfortunately, in the English language, the word narcissism has come to mean two entirely different things, depending on whether it's being used formally as a diagnosis, as a narcissistic personality disorder, or informally as a synonym. And it's interesting, she says, for positive self regard, because I feel like, oh, it's not used as a synonym for positive self regard in the zeitgeist in the last 5 to 10 years, you know, it's used as as a negative. You are a narcissist trait. But she said, I'm often asked, isn't a little bit of narcissism healthy and normal? And she said, I want to clarify that. So she talks about normal, healthy narcissism and here's where I'm going to take ownership of. I am taking her words and I now am in in replacing narcissism with ego. Let's talk about normal. [01:23:00]

[01:23:00] Healthy.

[01:23:00] Ego because ego is like where you operate from. Ego is your sense of self. We all are operating from within our ego. That is our experience.

[01:23:09] Even to the basic level of I'm hungry, I must feed myself because I deserve to be.

[01:23:14] Yeah, and you have to work hard to step outside of your ego and stepping out of your ego. I sometimes in my mind I look at it as if you're in a barrel. Your barrel is your ego. You have to step outside of your ego to even really try to understand, empathize or sympathize with another human being. Because if not, you're still taking in their experience through your your ego, your lens. That's your.

[01:23:36] Filter. It's your lens.

[01:23:37] Yeah, totally. So she says, okay. She says, normal, healthy narcissism. I now say, Thank you, Eleanor. I'll take it from here. And it's normal, healthy ego. So this is a realistic sense of positive self regard that is based on the person's actual accomplishments. It is relatively stable because the person is assimilated into their self image. The successes that came as a result of their actual hard work to overcome real life obstacles because it is based [01:24:00] on real achievements. Normal, healthy, she says narcissism. I say ego is relatively impervious to the minor slights and setbacks that we all experience as we go through life. Normal narcissism slash ego causes us to care about ourselves, do things that are in our real self interest and is associated with genuine self respect. One can think of it as something that is inside of us. So this is going to get really big when we start talking about emotional immaturity or narcissistic traits or tendencies and church leadership, I think, yeah. Yeah. So that concept.

[01:24:29] So like I've often thought about because as I've tried to understand this concept of narcissism and ego and is it just like this bloated ego and on a dangerous level or whatnot? But I've often thought like in sometimes in the tough moments where maybe the adversary is trying to come after my identity with shame and whatnot, of this feeling of like what gives me the right to think I can start a podcast and talk to church leaders about improving leadership like, you know, stay in your lane, buddy. You know, like you really don't know what you're talking about or what [01:25:00] makes me think I can actually sit down with Tony Overbay and have a logical conversation when I don't have a day of school in therapy type of thing, right? But the narcissist in me on a healthy level and the ego of the ego version, I can approach that and be like, Oh no, actually I'm got a lot of experience. I've done this a long time and I'll step into that arena any day and I'm very confident I'll handle myself and then it blesses other lives because I'm willing to do that rather than shrink in this.

[01:25:28] False humility, literally getting the chills. You know, this and this is where I feel like spirit chills. I don't know if they see it as kicked on, but but.

[01:25:34] I'm on track with that. Like how I where.

[01:25:36] I want you to I want you to be here first. So because this is why now. Oh, I'm so excited. Let me read her definition of pathological defense of narcissism then. And then I want to talk about let's talk about our older brother, Jesus.

[01:25:50] Okay.

[01:25:50] I'm a big fan. We do pathological defense of narcissism. So we just talked about healthy ego. So it's based off of real accomplishments. Right. And it's a sense of positive self regard. It's [01:26:00] something that's inside of us and it's impervious to slights and setbacks. So if you are working off of a healthy ego, and that's where I feel like if somebody says to me, Well, I think you're dumb when you talk about narcissism or emotional maturity and the sounds so negative. But when I say Bless Your Heart or OC, because I'm coming from a healthy ego of Oh, I spent my life now in essence understanding or learning about this, and it has helped me become a better person, understanding my narcissistic traits and tendencies. And now I'm stepping into my healthy ego. And when I talk about or stages of faith or I talk about how to overcome, I mean, people can tell me all the time that I'm I don't know that I need to be harsher on somebody when we're talking about pornography. And I don't care. I don't care what they say. Yeah, yeah. Because it's like, I know what I know and I'm aware and I'm and I'm open to admitting what I don't know. And that's me coming from a healthy ego of when I talk about over 1600 individuals using shame as a component of recovery. So when somebody says, but I don't know, I disagree, and I'm like.

[01:26:59] Bless your heart.

[01:26:59] Yeah, [01:27:00] that's the door.

[01:27:00] Like when you're on the phone with that bishop who says, Hey, when they come in, I need you to really get after about this pornography. It's got to stop, right? A different version of yourself. And in another alternative reality could be like, oh, boy, oh, yeah, I need this bishop to like me. Okay, yeah, I'll do that. You know, like, rather than, you know, I'm the therapist here. Yes.

[01:27:19] On one of your that first podcast we did. And I said that I don't feel like it's I don't like somebody not taking the sacrament. I don't personally. And so I feel like that they need and I said on that one, I think they need two cups of water and a bigger piece of bread. And I had a higher up leader person that I was talking with and a completely different scenario. And they said, Hey, I loved everything about that episode. I heard that a couple of they said a couple of years ago and they said, Were you talking metaphorically, though? I mean, and I said, Oh, no, if I was ever called to be something, I mean, yeah, here's the bigger bread for the people that are really struggling. And he said, I don't know if that's going to ever get you in a position of church leadership. Right. And I said, okay, I mean, that's the healthy ego part. It's like, well, I'm not going to if they're saying.

[01:27:59] Because I don't [01:28:00] need that position, I don't.

[01:28:01] Need no, because I don't need that validation. Because I don't need external validation because I am internally validated. So her pathological defense of narcissism, she says this is a defense against feelings of inferiority. So let's start thinking right now, if you are a bishop, bless your heart and you feel like I don't feel confident of what I'm doing right now. Right.

[01:28:19] Because that's very hard to walk around day to day or week to week in that position of like and it's maybe the what do they call it, the imposter imposter syndrome. Yeah. Yes.

[01:28:28] So that's where I want anyone hearing this that I'm saying I my heart goes out to you because, you know, you're I mean, one of my good friends that became a bishop is like, okay, you're, you're you're selling insurance in the day. And then all the sudden at night, you're a marriage therapist. Like, I can't imagine because.

[01:28:43] It took me.

[01:28:43] Years of therapy, school and practicing therapy and not liking couples counseling before I finally said, I.

[01:28:50] Think this is okay.

[01:28:51] So then it says, All right, pathological defense of narcissism. This is a defense against feelings of inferiority. The person dons a mask of arrogant superiority in an attempt to convince the world [01:29:00] that he or. She is special inside. The person feels very insecure about his or her actual self worth. This facade of superiority is so thin that it's like a helium balloon. One small pinprick will deflate it. This makes the person hypersensitive to minor slights that someone with healthy narcissism or healthy ego would not even notice. Instead, someone with this type of defensive narcissism is easily wounded, frequently takes any form of disagreement as serious criticism, and is likely to lash out and devalue anyone who they think is disagreeing with them. They are constantly on guard, trying to protect their status or I would say their ego. Pathological defensive narcissism can be thought of as a protective armor that is on the outside of us.

[01:29:36] So so let me just put a pin in that protecting status. When we when we look at the church leader dynamic with this.

[01:29:43] If they say, oh, I don't know, or I'm not really quite sure what to do.

[01:29:47] Or if someone says you're not doing a good job and I have a problem with you, they're saying you shouldn't have this status. That's what they're hearing. And actually, I'm going to go tell the state president or that you shouldn't like. That's how they're computing it.

[01:29:59] Right. And it's [01:30:00] funny, going back to Gwendolyn Condi, this is so funny now coming in a little bit, circle, full circle there. When I was on her, we did a I did her in the middle podcast and then she said she wanted to and we kept going and we did an Instagram live and she wanted me to cover like, what was it like mental health, depression? And there was another four pillars and then narcissism. And like they didn't all go together and we got about 10 minutes left and then she's like, okay, let's talk narcissism. And I kind of felt like, Oh, I don't think I can do it in yeah. And in preparation, I had found this other article that I really liked and it had this quote that talked about narcissism. And so I kind of feel like it goes along with this definition of the pathological defense of narcissism. But it said like narcissism or emotional immaturity is coming from a place of that. Any disagreement with somebody, it feels like criticism. And so then that person will lash out and do anything to defend their fragile ego. And so that night after the Galing Condi interview and after reading that quote, I was on a walk with my wife and we were walking [01:31:00] our dogs and I was talking about something with my son. And I said, Oh, I need to tell him. I need to tell Jake this. My wife just said, I don't know if I would. And I honestly, I remember I stopped over by the mailbox and I said, well, this is funny because I said I just said this quote on this game one episode earlier today where I said, the narcissist are emotionally immature person. When someone just goes as far as to disagree, they feel like they're being criticized. And I said, So if I pause right there, if I'm being honest, you just saying I wouldn't say that to Jake. I can honestly make a connection of me saying, wow, you think I'm a bad dad and a horrible husband? Like that's that's pretty lame of me.

[01:31:35] Just good self-awareness there, Tony.

[01:31:36] Oh, but then I said, so I am noticing that I want to lash out and defend my fragile ego. How, how about gaslighting? That would be a fun one. And I feel like in my more emotionally mature days, and this is where all I can do is take ownership of this. And I hope this resonates with people. And is is that I there have been times where I've said, okay, well, I was talking to some other people and they think I'm right, or I would even as a therapist say, Oh, I was just reading an article that said that what I'm doing is the right thing, that. [01:32:00]

[01:32:00] People that the research is.

[01:32:01] There. And honestly, here's the emotional maturity piece. Kurt, this is so crazy. And I feel like I feel like these are the stories I get people that are going back to why, what do I get when people are coming in on my couch? I'll share a story like this and then I'll have somebody reach out to me and say, Oh, when you gave that example, I do this where then? So right now I know I would have said in the past when I was more emotionally mature and not coming from a healthy ego that I know, I would have said that, oh, you know, I was reading a book like The Nurture Heart Approach, and it was talking about how you need to have this kind of conversation with your son. But I mean, if that's what you think I shouldn't, then I guess I won't write. I just broke my fourth pillar. I just became emotionally immature. I just gaslit all of those things because I felt like she was attacking me when in reality she has an opinion. I have an opinion. And you're just talking. So from an emotional, mature standpoint, you know, now if I get into my framework, my four pillars, pillar one, she's not trying to hurt me or there's a reason why she said that. My second pillar is I cannot put off the vibe, energy or even say, okay, that's ridiculous, or I don't believe you, [01:33:00] even if I feel like it is. And then my third pillar is like questions before comments.

[01:33:05] So then in that one, then after I work through this with her, I said, okay, well tell me, tell me more. Like Take me and your train of thought. Why do you feel like that wouldn't be something that would be a benefit to say to Jake? And she mentioned some things and I was so grateful that I asked before I commented because the things she said were she didn't know that I had already had a different conversation with him. So then I was able to stay present. My fourth pillar is not go into a victim mindset or mentality. I could have hurt her. I could have assumed good intentions. Not told her that's ridiculous, said tell me more. And I still could have said okay, whatever. I guess my opinion doesn't matter. I'm just a walking paycheck and I'll just keep, you know, because then I want her to come rescue me. So in that scenario, then I was like, Oh man, thank you so much for sharing that with me because that makes a lot of sense. I realize that you weren't aware that Jake and I already had this other conversation, and so I can understand why if you didn't know that, it probably felt like I was coming out of nowhere, you know? So isn't that crazy? That one moment being aware of what emotional immaturity looks like, protecting my fragile ego, what ways [01:34:00] I would do that? And all of that is an absolute just nightmare for communication or connection with another individual.

[01:34:06] I love talking about this concept of narcissism with these terms like ego and emotional and.

[01:34:10] Emotional.

[01:34:11] Maturity, things like that, because it's it's more palpable. Like, I can relate to that more so. Let's just bring in this caricature of the church leader who is a narcissist and maybe.

[01:34:21] Maybe we start with or is extremely emotional. Oh, okay. Sorry, I forgot to talk about our older brother. Jesus.

[01:34:26] Oh, yeah, yeah.

[01:34:27] So I think it was probably and actually, I know you've interviewed her and I really, I really love her Jodi more. Oh, yeah. So I was on her podcast like 30 episodes into mine and being on being on hers and her own mind really gave a huge boost at the time.

[01:34:42] She's like the Oprah of our community.

[01:34:44] And what was super funny about that is she was so nice and she she was thinking me because I'm a therapist and having a life coach on. And that was where I feel like, oh, I wasn't aware that I was supposed to be like, think I'm better than life.

[01:34:57] Coach or whatever, like the others.

[01:34:59] Yeah, right. So [01:35:00] I was like, Oh, but your information is really good. So I think we can be differentiated and we can like pull from each other. But in that interview I still remember this where that's just funny. I can talk about another concept of narcissism in a second that is mind blowing called confabulation, because I realize I'm about to possibly confabulation. So because I think that this was my interview with her, but there's a chance it wasn't. But I think it was because he had me talk about narcissism. And I said and I didn't I didn't go into all this stuff about ego because I didn't really have that understanding at that time. But I said that I did talk about ego and I said, you know, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, they had ego because if they didn't have an inflated sense of self or ego, then they never would have put themselves out there to change the world. So then when I came back to this definition of healthy ego versus pathological defense of narcissism, yeah, Jesus had a healthy ego because it was based off of literal, like amazing real life experiences. I mean, he well.

[01:35:51] He knew what he was talking about. And I would have framed it this way that like we often think about, we put like Jesus in the same category as like Harry Potter, like he just had magic and [01:36:00] like leprosy would disappear before their eyes. But now there's no, like, Harry Potter magic happening. What it is, is that Christ has a full, complete understanding of his identity or his healthy, healthy ego. Yeah, that's like the power of it.

[01:36:14] So then when you go back to why like what you said about the the imposter syndrome or kicking in or so the more I feel passionate and put out the content I do, I'm not going to put out content that I am just doing because it's the checkbox, right? So it's going to be coming from a place of healthy ego. Now along with healthy ego needs to be the concept that I also don't know what I don't know and I need to make room for that. So this concept, for example, of this concept of this thing called confabulation is a huge part of narcissism or emotional immaturity that I just became aware of about two months ago. And now I'm obsessed with it. And so what I love is that when the first person who said, Hey, have you heard of Confabulation? Here's an article to read. It was somebody in my women's narcissist Facebook group, private Facebook group. And I know that five years ago I might have said, Oh, yeah, I'm familiar with that [01:37:00] because of course I am, I'm the expert. But instead I was like, Oh my gosh, I've never heard of this. And then I made a post in there where I said, Where, where is this been? And in a quick nutshell, Kurt, what is wild is so looking at the way memory works and none of us have perfect memory. So memory is fragmented, but in just normal situations, our brain can't handle fragmented memory. So if I'm remembering a story or maybe the first time we met, I might say I remember you were wearing that that striped shirt and you're like, Oh, I don't own a striped shirt. I think I was wearing a polo shirt. I'm like, okay, anyway.

[01:37:29] Where were the striped shirt the fourth time we met?

[01:37:31] Exactly. So and that's normal. So with narcissism or severe emotional immaturity, this concept of confabulation is they have to fill in the gaps with not just this minutia or pedestrian information, but in the Oh, and remember how right I was and you were wrong. And it has to be this continually putting themselves in a one up position or and so that's why with somebody that's really emotionally immature, narcissistic, it's odd that sometimes they will have this just incredible memory of a situation that put them in the heroes role [01:38:00] or the victim state, and that you don't remember it that way because you're pretty confident that didn't happen that way, but they needed it to happen that way to fit their worldview.

[01:38:09] So and this is a human experience, right? Not just narcissism per se, but maybe it's inflated. But if I think back to my time, maybe those five years serving as bishop, my mind is going to go to those stories and instances where I was in the hero role. Right? Like I had this conversation, I could tell, then I said this, then she said this, and then the problems are solved. She came back to church. Right. We typically go there, our brain organizes it that way.

[01:38:32] Right. So and what's funny is I can remember one of the earlier couples that I had that where I first was really understanding narcissism. And the guy I remember the wife at some point said to me, so the stories he just told you about his high school, let's just pretend it was a high school sports career so that I'm not outing anyone, even though it was so long ago because it wasn't exactly that. But she said that was literally my experience. That was my he did not do those things. And she said, but we talked about the stories for so long [01:39:00] that. And this story started to slowly morph into they were his stories to the point where now he tells those as they were his stories. And when I interject, then he makes me feel like ridiculous about that, that that never happened. And then the scary part about confabulation is then to the emotionally immature narcissist, then that has to be the narrative. So then the brain quickly makes that the narrative because they've been confabulation since childhood, because it could not be that they are wrong. It had to be that you were you were wrong because.

[01:39:28] It's a protective mechanism. It's a.

[01:39:29] Protective mechanism. And so that's why when you are truly arguing with the true narcissist, where the gaslighting will make you feel crazy, and then ironically it makes them feel even more empowered because they really believe, I feel like, why do I not want to say that? But let's pretend that a famous athlete was got away with murder years ago.

[01:39:48] And now what just happened.

[01:39:50] Which has happened a few times. Let's just pretend that then you could go and do a functional brain scan or a polygraph on that person and they will pass it because to them they have [01:40:00] fabricated that. They did not do that.

[01:40:01] And they're really are looking for the real killer.

[01:40:04] And that's the crazy thing about confabulation is that we don't understand it. But to that person, they've been confabulation since childhood. So they could not have done that because they're this famed athlete.

[01:40:14] That we love. So bring it back to our leadership caricature. Yes. So so the leader, the narcissistic leader, what is happening there? But I hope.

[01:40:22] That people listening or what you can see right now, too, is if you go back to that pathological defensive narcissism concept versus healthy ego, is that if someone feels like they have to know, like they are required to be in this position of authority to be able to help others, but in their heart of hearts, they aren't really sure of what to do. And then somebody says, What do you do in this situation? So from a healthy ego, the answer can be, I don't know.

[01:40:47] Let's find out. Or Yeah.

[01:40:49] Absolutely. But from a pathological defense of narcissism, it can be, well, I think you should do this. And this is where I feel like sometimes I joke I joke with friends when I talk about because, you know, you're one of my favorite people. And [01:41:00] I think, man, if I ever get booted out, you know, I blew it off a bleeding saints. I'm going to miss Kurt. Right? So I don't want to say anything too controversial. Like, I'm kind of okay.

[01:41:09] All right.

[01:41:10] Because it's the part where I feel like it's the thing where if this is where I feel like we used to call it. Even when I worked for the church, the bull and the Holy Ghost Card are pulling the revelation card or pulling the I'm the Bishop card, in which I think here's the part that is sticky between a healthy ego and pathological defense of narcissism. And where does the spirit come into play? Because if a bishop really feels like, man, I don't know, but let me pray about it, or I really feel impressed that it might be a good idea for this. But I'm just look, I did the differentiation thing with my hand, right? But I'm just saying, this is what I think could help. But you have agency, you have your own experience and I'm just trying my best. Like I feel like that. Oh, I want to talk to that. Bishop Yeah. Because that's saying like I, I am in a position, I realize I am. I've been set apart. I've had some pretty amazing experiences. I have yet to talk to a bishop that hasn't had some like, wow. And this happened like, that's amazing. But in this situation, I wasn't really sure what to do, [01:42:00] you know? And so I feel like that's the thing where with healthy ego is coming from this place of based on real life experiences. Yeah, I've offered some advice, I've offered some suggestions and this is what worked for me. And I feel like I'm, I'm trying to pay attention to when, when is this real? Like, do I really feel like I know the difference between real revelation and versus a? I think this is probably a good idea. And can I be that vulnerable and offer that to somebody? Or do I am I coming from more of an emotionally immature, a.k.a narcissistic, you know, unhealthy ego position of saying, no, I think you need to do this and I'm the bishop. Yeah and.

[01:42:31] Yeah so.

[01:42:32] Yeah you know you make you pretty that okay.

[01:42:35] So I'm just thinking like when we have that bishop, we're just like, maybe the leader. The bishop's position's easy to pick on. Yeah, and they're difficult to work with, or they act like they know it all, or they don't want any feedback or they're abrasive or. And we think, I think this person is a narcissistic narcissist. Obviously, we don't we probably shouldn't just throw that around first, first of all. And then it.

[01:42:58] Never works, by the way, because people always say, when do [01:43:00] I tell them that the nurse is like the number one answer? Never.

[01:43:03] Yeah, yeah, that's great. But we can then reframe it like, oh, this person is these are very difficult interaction with them to deal with, but this is actually a protective mechanism for them. Bless their hearts. I don't know what they've done with Pillar one.

[01:43:16] That's why Pillar one for life.

[01:43:17] Yeah, right. Assume the best intentions.

[01:43:20] Trying their best. They're trying their best.

[01:43:22] And now we can reframe it. But at the end of the day, like, like you said, we can't sit in a point with the bishop, be like, Hey, I'm here, I'm here to let you know. I don't know if anybody's told you this, but you're a narcissist like that won't work, right? So what do we do with a narcissist? Do we wait it out? Is there something is there a different approach that we can do when we recognize these protective mechanisms they're using?

[01:43:42] Here's what's so hard about this. And I didn't even think that we were going down this dramatic. I didn't think we were going to talk about solutions. Kurt, you never do that. You always talk about solutions. I don't. Because what's so difficult here is the challenge is that now we go back to that, we are looking for external validation that we often I love [01:44:00] talking about. Accountability where when somebody will say to me, Well, what do you think I should do? And I used to tell them, and now I realize, Oh, no. Don't ask me. I mean, I can offer my opinion. I can share clinical data, I can offer my anecdotal experiences from 20 years of counseling. But if you're saying to me, should I divorce this person if I'm am I going to step into that trap? Because if I say I think you should now, if they're like, Well, he said, and now they almost don't have to take ownership of something themselves. So when we are looking for external validation to make ourselves whole or to feel right, that is a dangerous game. And I don't think we have an interview in a while. Right? So I had this experience. So I hurt my I did 20, 25 years of ultramarathon running 100, 150 races of marathons and a dozen of 100 miles or more. And I would do these fundraisers and I'd run around track for 24 hours. And that was my livelihood, not livelihood. That was my life, my identity. And then playing basketball, I tear my meniscus and a knee. And so then it's been a few years now and I haven't been able to do the ultrarunning thing, but [01:45:00] I'm just grateful I can put some miles on.

[01:45:01] And there was a time, it was a few months ago when I was really looking at the concepts of external validation, or that's how we gain our sense of self. And I realized I'd had a decent run, I'd come home from work and I was really not feeling it. And so I went on a run and it was one of those times where I couldn't listen to a podcast, I could listen to an audio book, I did want to listen to music, and that's very rare. And it wasn't the cool Disney moment where I got in touch with my breath and I felt the footsteps. It just kind of was a crummy run. But I finished it and I looked and the time was better than it had been since my meniscus injury. And so I was going inside and I realized, Oh, this is what external validation versus internal validation looks like. I knew my time and I thought, I feel good about that. Like I'm happy with that time because my experience was, Here's what I did for 25 years. Here's how I got external validation. Here was part of my sense of self. I didn't think I'd ever run like this again, so I was happy. But I was walking in and I knew my wife would say, How was your run? And I would. I [01:46:00] had better. My best time since the knee injury by it was like a few seconds a mile. So I realized if I told her, Oh, I ran faster than I ever have by a couple of seconds, now I'm putting the my happiness or into her hands.

[01:46:15] So she would've switched it, right.

[01:46:17] Yeah. So she said oh that's cool then I said that's all you know. So if I was looking for external validation to make me feel better, then now I get to say she didn't even care and something's wrong with me. Yeah. So we're coming at things from internal validation. I was really excited about what I had just done. So now I'm having a shared experience with my wife. Now if she says, How fast is your run? I'm not trying to read. Well, you didn't say the right thing to make me feel better. Like that's the thing with external validation. So to tie up so if I know I'm okay, then I go into a conversation and now if the person tells me that I don't think you're okay or I don't think that was very cool, then I can say, Oh yeah, I wasn't that wasn't what I was looking for. I just wanted to share an experience with you and I wanted to understand your experience. And that's where we can get [01:47:00] differentiation and what can I pull from this person? So the reason I go on that tangent is the difficult thing about going into a bishop's office is often we are looking for external validation, so we feel bad about what we've done. And so we're saying, Hey, I don't feel very good about what I've done. Can you make me feel better? And that's where I say that. When you look at it from that lens, I jokingly say like most things, maybe too many jokes.

[01:47:21] But I say, if you're looking for just external validation, when you're asking someone else their opinion, you got about a 5 to 10% chance they're going to say the right thing and make you go, Oh, okay, the rest of it, you're going to think, Oh, dang, they don't really like me. And I'm a big piece of garbage. Yeah. So if you come from it, from, okay, I this is where I want the I'm just a human being going through life, trying my best. But this thing happened, you know, that's why I still don't even like the word sin. I'm sorry. I don't. Right. This behavior happened. I don't like it. I would like to get rid of it. Please. I need help. I'm going to go into my bishop's office. But if I'm doing the. Hey, so I don't like the way I feel about this. What do you think? If he says, say a couple of prayers and you're good, then I get to [01:48:00] say, Hey, that worked. Like that was the thing I wanted to hear. So now I'm good. I don't have to do anything about it. I just got told I'm good, but if I'm going in there saying I'm okay, but I need help, so I'm not looking for external validation. I'm looking for a shared experience, I'm looking for connection. I'm looking for somebody that I feel like is been set apart and called, you know, maybe they got a little extra juice, you know, maybe they're focusing a little more on the scriptures.

[01:48:21] They've got a couple of ideas that I don't. So now I'd love I'd love their opinion. That would be really nice. I mean, I know it's more than that, but here I'm going with that. So I feel like and this goes back to I think this is one of the tangents that I missed earlier is I haven't talked about this out loud. I love this Kirk Franklin exclusive here. Oh, boy. Are you ready? Here we go. But I wonder at times, even the concepts of confession, because I'll have people that will go confess about again or setbacks with pornography, and then their bishop will tell them, Oh, don't forget, you're a really bad person. And then they're saying, Why do I keep doing this? You know, where they're saying, but I know I'm supposed to and I can't, and it makes me worse. And that means I'm a horrible person [01:49:00] and I'm. And they were like, whoa, slow your roll there, buddy. You know, you're good. What helps you and where do you feel? Closer to God? And so and I know that can feel like controversial, Tony, saying, don't talk to your bishop, you know, but I feel like, oh, if you know that you've now started to make progress and traction in your road to recovery of turning to pornography as an unhealthy coping mechanism, then is that something that you feel I must go and confess? Because am I just do I feel bad about it? So I'm just simply wanting that person to make me feel better? Or am I going at it and I'm saying, Hey, I'm struggling and I need all the tools I can so I'm coming to you, Bishop.

[01:49:35] And I'm saying I would love I mean, confession or I would love your thoughts. But then if it's something where, oh, I've done the old make me feel bad thing again. So I appreciate that. Now, if I'm talking about differentiation and I go back to that concept of I don't have to tell him he doesn't understand what he's talking about, and I don't have to defend myself and say, How dare you? You know, you don't know what you're talking about. You don't understand me. If I'm going in there like I'm a child of God, this is my journey. I do have my agency. [01:50:00] I have personal revelation. I'm starting to learn more about who I am as a child, that God, my own talents, my own abilities. Here's how I feel closer of a connection to God. Then if that bishop saying, Hey, don't forget, it's really bad and you should stop, then I can say, Oh, man, thank you, Bishop. I do appreciate that. But you know, I'm saying.

[01:50:16] Yeah, like that. That's from a place of a really healthy ego as well.

[01:50:19] Right, exactly. Yeah, exactly.

[01:50:20] Yeah. And you know, you talk about this dichotomy of internal validation, external validation, like and we're born with a sense of like, I need to I.

[01:50:29] Need external.

[01:50:30] Validation because we're like, I've just discovered I'm a thing like and I.

[01:50:34] Don't know what I need. I don't know who I am.

[01:50:35] So that validation helps remind us. Oh yeah. Remember, you're a thing like, oh yeah, I want because that helps me feel worth and purpose, right? And then, but if we keep in that lane going forward, it begins to grow wild.

[01:50:48] Exactly. And that's where I feel like, you know, and I say this I've been saying this a lot lately, especially in the marriage course and things where Sue Johnson from the founder of emotionally focused therapy says we're designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human. And so I feel like that [01:51:00] is about attachment, but it's also about becoming emotionally mature. So if I only come into a relationship with my experiences, which is all we come into, and now I am emotionally immature, I'm needing that external validation, you know, all those things that we do because we do them. This is why I say it isn't natural to become emotionally mature together, but we can. And that's the whole goal that we're I feel like, yeah, we're getting together so we can procreate and replenish the earth, you know, and be able to afford a minivan. Like I feel like that that's one of those things. Like really it's about I need to be able to express my experience because that's the only thing I know. And I need a safe person that I can understand their experience and that way from a differentiated place. I can take a little bit from them, they can take a little bit from me.

[01:51:41] And now we're going to grow. We're going to become differentiated, and now we can pass that on to our kid. And now our kid is going to be that much better than our situation. But now you can see where that emotional maturity of if I'm like an emotionally immature, narcissistic jerk to my own kid and I'm like, Yeah, I used to be faster than you were, son, you know? Okay, great, dad. Right. But now I've just created [01:52:00] this kid that feels like, Oh, man, I'm not good. Now I got to go turn down healthy coping mechanisms or I'm going to try to find somebody to validate me. You can see how that pattern just keeps continuing. And so we've got to break that cycle at some point, and that is doing the work to become more emotionally mature, needing that external validation, knowing that we're okay and having these shared experiences. And then we don't need to then tell our kids that we were the most. I could throw a football over that mountain to quote Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. Instead, it's like, man champ, how far can you throw the football? Yeah, yeah.

[01:52:28] Yeah. So what I'm learning, like going back to our character that we're hanging these principles on that caricature of the narcissistic church leader. Like, what do we do with that? What I'm learning here is that there's really not a lot we can do. And so that's maybe where healthy boundaries come in. You're just saying like, I like that. Okay, he's he's my bishop. Well, you know, she's my really steady president. I could move like that's that's a boundary I could set. Or I could maybe just come here and do my thing and connect with with God and Jesus in my way. And and if they ask me to serve, I can say no. You know, I'm like, actually, [01:53:00] I can't be on the ward council for that whatever reason. Right. And, you know, you don't want to necessarily completely lie per se, but saying I just don't think we'd work well together. And this is just a boundary.

[01:53:11] Yeah, that's healthy.

[01:53:12] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I don't think we work well with each other and maybe just pick somebody else. But I will not be available for when.

[01:53:19] It's funny when you're released. And what's funny about that is what did we grow up hearing all the time? You don't say no to a calling. I was five years in a bishopric. You were a bishop. I mean, I remember the first person that told me, no, thank you. And I thought, What? Yeah, I just called you like I wear the suit. I got the like, come on, here's the.

[01:53:33] Money Authority card.

[01:53:35] And they said, Oh, yeah, I would rather not do that. And now I look back on that person. I think, Oh, the more you get to know that person, they were really comfortable with themselves and they were one of those people that go back to that example of, If I were struggling, who would I want to go talk to? Yeah, I mean, I feel bad. Not my home teacher. I mean, the person that I would go talk to this person.

[01:53:54] But when I have these emails, exchanges with people are like, Oh, if you only met my bishop the Great, he's the king of narcissist or whatever. [01:54:00] Like I tried to remind them of that boundary concepts do you know? And this happened to me personally. I had this interaction and actually called my friend Steve. We're actually sitting in his office and he said, you know, you don't have to go talk to that person. It feels like you do because that's the the tradition you come from. You actually don't have to go there. And I was like, I just felt like this swell of empowerment, of like, oh, yeah, like I am a independent body that can set boundaries and to protect me and to be safe. Right. And so at the end of the day, like to deal with the narcissistic leader is you set boundaries and you don't need them to be in your life. But I need to get my Templar recommended from well, maybe you need to have some conversations with the stake president or with others. Or you could move like and some people do move, you know, and it's messy and it's not like not I need the three point plan about how this just gets resolved by next Sunday and there's not you just recognize it. And I think as you've articulated these concepts, it's helpful just to be like, Oh, now I have like a box to put him [01:55:00] in. He's not this raging psychopath.

[01:55:02] And so why so? And for so I'm being very sincere when I say I am so grateful that we are talking about this today. Like I feel like honestly this. I just am grateful for the platform that you put out there. I can get emotional because I just feel like this is the stuff that is just making people feel more and more of what's wrong with me and nothing is wrong with you as an individual. You're just trying to figure this out as everybody else is. And so even the people that are going to hear this and say, Oh my gosh, I can't believe Toni and Kurt are saying that you you are putting your bishop in a box or whatever. But man, I go so big again, atonement, one of my favorite things and it is my favorite thing. And then all these things will be for your good. And that is that concept, that scripture, that that is so true. So that then you this is your experience on Earth, your growing process. So if you are learning that, putting yourself in this position, looking for external validation and understanding this person in front of you is trying their best, but it doesn't make you feel closer to God.

[01:55:57] Then that's okay to then say I'm [01:56:00] going to not continue on this path. And I feel like a lot of the faith crisis, a lot of faith journey people I'm working with right now talk so much about that they don't feel good at church, that it's not a positive experience. And I feel like so much of that is because as they are having their own experiences, as they're having different beliefs, as they're experiencing things and interacting with people and and they're starting to feel like, oh, my gosh, this is I'm starting to separate from my culture. Yeah, that then they feel like what's wrong with me? And then they start to then hear more and more of the people that are saying, here's, here's how you should feel and here's what you should think. And that is where I feel like this same principle applies there. It's like, man, they're just trying their best. And ultimately I can be differentiated and say, Oh yeah, I disagree with that. I mean, I got I've been asked to give a couple of talks on things and I've just straight up said, Oh, no, I can't do that one.

[01:56:44] Like, I don't I don't vibe with that. I don't believe that. And it's so interesting to see somebody say, Well then, but I'm asking you to write. And it's like, Oh, yeah, no, I appreciate that. Like you, you are awesome. I know I can sound like we're being dismissive, but it's like, no, we're learning to step into [01:57:00] our healthy ego, become our best version of ourselves. And that's where I say, Man, if anything is going to let your light shine so that others around you will feel God or no God. It's learning that we're all children of God with their own different experiences and people are just trying their best. And I feel like that is the thing that the more that I'm dealing with people that are struggling with their faith or struggling with their marriage or struggling with who they are, turning to coping mechanisms, we've got to be able to step outside of our own ego and just look at, Oh, this is how I'm showing up in this experience based on all these things that have led me to that moment. That's interesting. Yeah, I'm still good, you know? Yeah, yeah. I don't know. What are you feeling, Kurt?

[01:57:32] Well, I'm feeling is we should wrap up, because if we don't, my wife will be mad and she won't offer me the external validation that I need.

[01:57:40] I know what you're saying. I feel invalidated now.

[01:57:42] And so I'm going to invalidate you so that I can get the validation. I know.

[01:57:46] But thank you. I mean.

[01:57:47] This was a great discussion.

[01:57:48] Oh, I'm so grateful to be able to.

[01:57:50] Told you we should never plan these things.

[01:57:51] No, we shouldn't. And it's interesting, even on that note, and then we will absolutely wrap it up. I had reached out and asked for some told some people that I was going to be talking about this topic. And so it was interesting because [01:58:00] I did receive I mean, I've got 30, maybe 20, 25 pages. I call it narcissistic math. That is funny. It's like, no, I don't need to bolster that up. I get a lot of feedback from people that did give me tons of those experiences of my narcissistic bishop or my narcissistic husband or my narcissistic wife or those sort of things. And the hard thing is that there are people listening to this that maybe aren't experiencing that, that are going to feel like, oh, okay, again, calm down, you guys. But the people that are experiencing it, I mean, I just want them to know, I hope that they feel heard and understood. And I know that it isn't as easy as what Kurt and I are even laying out, because a lot of the experiences I have are not they're not good. I mean, there are people that are feeling like they don't matter and they've lost their sense of self and they're the emotionally immature person in their life is the one getting rewarded is getting praise because, you know, some people can look and say that, boy, we run quite a guess. Some people say like it can be a bit of a breeding ground for the emotionally immature person to rise through the ranks because it's the person that is seeking the external validation, you know, that then makes. Those [01:59:00] people around them feel like they are validated.

[01:59:03] I feel like now I'm making no sense. But I but I feel like it can be a situation where people that seem like they are the least empathetic and the ones who are just saying this is what you need to do, oftentimes do rise into these positions of authority. And so I know that that can be that's something I hear often. And that's where people will feel like, well, then God must not care about me. And I feel like this is where I want to say, hey, that agency thing is is real. And so people are put on earth and they have the agency, and that's where I'm still going to double down on the Atonement at the end of the day. And I feel like, you know, my joke when I end almost everything I talk about some of this is how and right is that. I feel like the atonement as a therapist is just it's become so real because every single person I've dealt with in front of me is dealing with a lot of stuff. I mean, we are all dealing with a lot of things, so we are all trying our best and none of us really know what the other person's been going through and none of us know what other anybody else experiences because how would they? Because we're the only ones that know how we feel, think all those things that we do. And so that's where I feel like, okay, the atonement, it has [02:00:00] to be real because it's like we are all trying our best. None of us are going to get it exactly right. So thank goodness somebody else has said, I got you.

[02:00:06] And so then that's where I always say that I feel like I'm so confident of this here's healthy ego, even though I know that I don't know this. But when we when we reached the pearly gates and, you know, I feel like people often say, man, I'm going to be like, I want to hide my eyes and I'm Jesus can see right through me. And He's going to know all the things I've done. I feel like, Oh, no, none of that is the way it's going to happen. I feel like by the time you try to even look up, he's got you wrapped in an embrace and he's saying, Man, you did great. That whole agency thing sounded like a great idea in the pre existence. I really thought that was going to work a lot easier than it did than it was going to. But you did great. So I feel like everybody's got their agency, they're trying their best. And, you know, so the ultimate goal is to find your sense of self, who you are and know your child of God, know you are loved, you are lovable. And then the more you show up that way, confident, you're still going to get invalidated by people that are going through their own experience. But you're going to start to feel closer and closer to God, which is going to get to that place of where when somebody's been trying to tell [02:01:00] you what you're thinking, you're supposed to think, feel or do that, then you're going to be able to just absolutely have empathy and compassion for them and bless their heart.

[02:01:06] So I don't know. Amen, brother. And I want to quickly plug that. I've been going through your magnet. Magnet? Marriage course. Yeah. If people are looking for resource, they're Tony over

[02:01:17] I can find some good there.

[02:01:18] And this show notes are going to be full of links. And if we're missing a link, you email me and make sure obviously the path back for pornography back.

[02:01:25] Recovery yeah go to Tony dot com and click on my courses the pat back I don't give that enough I'm a horrible salesman because I don't want people to feel like I'm a salesman. But man, I really like that. Yeah, for real. But I feel like I need to step into my healthy ego and say, Oh, it's change in life.

[02:01:41] That's not right. And if people in the virtual couch world are listening and they are, they want to check out Leading Saints because.

[02:01:48] Amazing word search.

[02:01:49] For the podcast same place you're listen to this one and if you're not a latter day saint, you're probably not going to like it too much. But hey, come on over.

[02:01:56] I don't know about that. I did I did a bonus episode of that. You interviewed [02:02:00] me and it was talking about acceptance and commitment therapy and the gospel. And that's one I send out to a lot of people. All right. I feel like it's pretty. Yeah. Yeah.

[02:02:07] And I always I love act and the book why can't I remember the title? Confidence Gap. Confidence Gap. If you want to really dive in, good series like Introduction to it and I still refer back to that like every day and.

[02:02:19] These great you thank you for all the work you do. Oh it's go.

[02:02:22] On that feed that ego.

[02:02:24] No, it's great.

[02:02:26] All right, man. Well, I'd love to get feedback either from your audience or mine of, like, what did you think about this? Of me and Tony just sitting down. We'd just geek out about some concepts. And, yeah, we we wandered for a bit at times, but that's all right, you know.

[02:02:37] So did Jesus in the desert. And he made it back, I think. I didn't read all my.

[02:02:41] Scriptures, but I went on that. That concludes this episode, this conversation with Tony. I hope you enjoyed that. And we I'm going to encourage my team of editors that go through this and listen [02:03:00] to it and create the show notes to really dig in and get the good, solid list of show notes for everything we talked about, the links, the podcast, the trainings, the online courses, all that stuff. You can go to the show notes if we're missing one or if we mention something that you do not find in the show notes. Go to Leading Saints dot org. Contact and let me know and remember leading STS dot org slash 14 to get additional content by Tony Overbay in our core leader library three for 14 days is phenomenal. Go check it out. Leading STS dot org 14.

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