In adult relationships, you can have control or love, but not both. In today’s episode, Tony takes a look at the concept of control. While control may be biologically hardwired for survival, it doesn’t mean that it is best when dealing with human emotion.
In Tony’s example of how a conductor controls an orchestra, he refers to the article “What does a maestro do,” from https://www.jacksonsymphony.org/what-does-a-maestro-do/ and he briefly mentions the article “Born for Control” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944661/ as well as “Why Controlling Others Creates Conflict” https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_losing_control_make_you_happier
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
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[00:00:00] So do you know the difference between a maestro and a conductor, according to the website Jackson Symphony.org, they are one in the same. Ultimately, each language has a different term. So in Italian, you may have a maestro and in English you are more likely to find a conductor. So a conductor leading an orchestra. So what does a conductor or a maestro do? Well, it's a good question. Dr. Matthew Albin, who is the music director for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, shares the following. Approximately one year before the orchestra performs a concert. I select the music and often I use a theme to help provide unity to soloist perform with the orchestra. And two months before the concert, I begin to study. I sing the music I played on the piano, and sometimes I listen to recordings. I try to develop an interpretation. The composer notates many things in the score, but there are so many other choices that he needs to make. So, for example, if both the trumpet and the violins have the melody, he may ask the violins to listen back to the trumpet because he wants that sound to be the dominant voice. And sometimes he says he makes additional markings in the music ahead of time so that we can say valuable rehearsal time. And then many people are astonished to learn that the orchestra only rehearses during the three nights before the concert for approximately two and a half hours.
[00:01:14] But during the rehearsal and the performance, he says that he is trying to use his gestures and his facial expressions so that the music sounds like the interpretation that he has developed in advance. Sometimes, he says, he stops and he makes verbal suggestions and it's essential to note where the conductor stands. He says he stands out in front of the orchestra in the center because it's the best place to listen. And as he is listening, he may look at one section or person so that the rest of the orchestra knows that they are important. Almost, he says, like a spotlight. And then as he listens, he might need to anticipate spontaneous corrections. So no doubt he is sure to make those corrections in order to maintain control of his orchestra. And there is the word of the day control. So in a situation like an orchestra control and the need and the ability to get a group or even an individual to do what the conductor desires can absolutely lead to beautiful music, a symphony that originally began inside of that conductor's head. Maybe that has been music that's been brewing within him for years, if not decades before, is now being played out for dozens or hundreds or thousands or depending on the audience over over the interweb, even millions of fans to hear.
[00:02:24] So in this scenario, control is absolutely necessary in order to get the most out of this orchestra. But what about in our relationships? What role does control play? Is it a good thing or is it a bad thing? Is there a time for control or are we even aware of our desire for control? And what does that desire for control speak to? Is it coming from a good place, from our own insecurities or or what do we do when we feel this desire or this pull to control? Sometimes we might even realize it in the very moment that we're having a conversation. But is it too late to pull back and give up control? Well, today on the virtual couch, we are going to talk about control. We're going to explore the concepts of control and relationships and how giving up control might actually be the thing that can save relationships on the brink of despair or save our own mental health. That's that's for sure. So we're going to talk about that and so much more coming up on today's episode, The Virtual Couch.
[00:03:34] Come on in, take a seat on.
[00:03:41] Hey, everybody, before we get to today's topic, let me quickly throw in a plug for the good folks at Betterhelp.com. If you or anybody that you love, know is ready to do something about their mental health. If you've been listening to my podcast or other mental health related podcast, reading, self-help books, whatever it takes to get you to decide once and for all, it is time to do something about your mental health, but you're not exactly sure where to go or where to find a licensed therapist or a counselor who can help you. Why not give Betterhelp.com a chance? First, just go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you will get 10 percent off your first month services and take charge of your mental health, whether you're struggling with anything anxiety, depression, OCD, grief and loss, maybe just a phase of life issue, or if you just want something to somebody to talk to as you kind of process difficult things from your past or something you're even dealing with right now or fears about the future, head over to Betterhelp.com, slash virtual couch and get 10 percent off the services that now over a million people have turned to to kick start their journey to well-being. Again, that is Betterhelp.com virtual couch for 10 percent off your first month, services will be put in touch with a licensed mental health professional in your state who can communicate via email or text or telehealth, you name it.
[00:04:50] And if you don't like the fit of your counselor, your therapist breaking up, not so hard to do because you can simply do so through your online portal and you can try a different counselor because the fit between you and your therapist or counselor is absolutely necessary in order for you to get the best help that you can. So go check it out today. Betterhelp.com virtual couch for 10 percent off your first month of services. Do it. Go check it out right now. Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode two hundred and seventy four, The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. Certified Mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner, creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is just picking up momentum via doing all kinds of good things. Go to Pathbackrecovery.com if you want to learn anything more about the Pathbackrecovery.com program. And one of the greatest things about that is these weekly group calls that we're doing that are just just building a nice community of strength based, hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be kind of person. So a pathbackrecovery.com and a couple of very, very quick things. And I'm very excited to get to today's topic of control, but we just wrapped up, Preston Pugmire and I just wrapped up the second round of the magnetic marriage course. So round three is going to be starting up in mid-August.
[00:06:03] So if you are interested, go to Tony Overbay.com magnetic and sign up right now to find out more about how you can be a part of round three. Or you can send me an email through the contact form at Tony Overbay.com. And I'll make sure that you're on that list, because I have to tell you, I really wasn't trying to plug this. I'm going to actually be interviewing a lot of the couples that were from round two of the course and have a bonus episode where we're going to talk about what the course was actually like and hear from real people, not just Preston and I trying to plug the course, even though we would we could plug it all day. We are very passionate about it because it's literally changing lives, helping couples communicate. And in each round, I feel like we've been able to really help marriages stay together, get back together, get even better. Go check that out, TonyOverbay.com slash magnetic. And I have actually had some phenomenal feedback from an episode a couple of episodes ago with my new associate, Nate Christiansen. We talked about attachment styles. We talked about addiction. And Man, Nate knows his stuff and he's open for business. You see clients you can reach out through my contact form again if you want to get in touch with Nate. But we mentioned on there that he has a podcast coming up and he's recorded his first episode.
[00:07:12] We're waiting for some behind the scenes stuff to take place. And he will be the first new show on the Virtual Couch podcast network. His his podcast that he's doing with his wife, Marla is called Working Change. And so just follow me on Instagram, @virtual couch or Facebook, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. And you will get word of when that first episode of Working Change drops. And it's really, really good. And Nate's going to he's going to just be quite a addition to the mental health podcast space. And I'm excited to talk more about that as he gets more episodes out there. And then stay tuned. I will be able to talk about this more later. But I got the go ahead. I'll be filming an episode of on Season three of the TV show Family Rules with Brook Walter. And we're going to be talking about blended families and how to parent in a blended family. And I'm really excited. Surprise. I'm excited to be on that show and to talk more about that. And that'll be coming up. More a film. And later this month, I'm not sure when the episode will actually drop. OK, today's topic control, I have been mulling this one over for many, many moons, and I just kind of want to go off script here a little bit and just talk about why this has been so important.
[00:08:23] So when I am sitting there in a couples therapist scenario and I watch couples try so beautifully, so desperately, so awkwardly to communicate so often, I find that the issue of control is one of the things that is just screaming at me and control, meaning that we want to be able to go to our partner with anything we are designed as Sue Johnson says. As I quote, So often we're designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being, but too often because of the our own things, our own baggage that we bring into our relationship or into a marriage, we get uncomfortable when there is any kind of tension in our conversation or there's if somebody brings up a topic and we find ourselves maybe even subconsciously making it about us. And so when our spouse maybe mentioned something about they really feel like they would love to hear more from, let's just say it's a wife saying, I would love to hear more from my husband throughout the day. And so the husband immediately takes that as a criticism or he feels invalidated or he feels like she must not care about any of the things I do, which is absolutely not the case. We just want to be able to have a conversation. So if she says, man, I just I would love I would love to hear from you more throughout the day. I would love just a little bit of more of that connection.
[00:09:39] If he immediately feels that as an attack or as criticism, too often I'll watch scenarios where then that husband will then say, OK, I'm not even going to have this conversation until you acknowledge the wonderful things that I do. And so you can see that both people are coming from this place of just wanting to be heard and wanted to be validated. But to me now and again, I know I say this no often, but it's well over a thousand couples that I've worked with now that I already know that that is part of the problem, that trying to control how the conversation occurs or trying to control how the other person presents data so that I won't feel uncomfortable is it's really difficult. I want to say it's unfair because both people then are starting to put all of these conditions around how we're even going to have a conversation. And when we're doing that, we're not going to be able to keep all of those rules straight, because no doubt there's a lot of ambiguity there. There might be one time where a spouse is feeling really generous or feeling really happy. And it doesn't matter what his wife says to him, he's no thank you. I appreciate you saying that. But there might be other times where he may have had a rough day. Any of these trigger things? There's an acronym, Hault Hungry.
[00:10:44] You may be hungry, angry, lonely, tired. And then if she presents some data to him, all of a sudden he's like, I can't believe you're saying that, but it sounds like you don't even care about me. So it's no doubt that when I get people in my office that they often feel like they can't really express themselves because they're not really sure which version of their spouse they're going to get. And there's a couple of versions of this. One of those as many of you listen to the virtual couch. No, I deal a lot with personality disorders. There's one scenario where somebody is putting something out there and it's going to be turned around on them and they're going to be they're going to be Gaslit. They're going to be made to feel like they're crazy if they say something. That's a completely different scenario. What we're talking about today is when somebody is trying to be vulnerable, trying to be open, and when that is met, sometimes with a warm response, sometimes with a I can't believe you just said that, that it's no wonder that when it feels like there are these controls set on communication where we get to the point where we don't even want to communicate at all. And so now we only communicate about surface things at best. And now we see that there's this wedge in a relationship. And too often when there's that wedge in a relationship, we want to be heard.
[00:11:47] We want to be validated. We want to have a connection. So too often people now find that connection, whether it's at the gym or they find that connection at work or they find that connection online or somewhere because we want a connection. And so the person we want that connection with is the person that we stood across the altar from or said, I do or but too often we just don't have the tools to be able to communicate. I find that to be often an issue of control, but people don't even recognize that this is a control issue. So I want to talk about that today. I did a little bit of digging. First, I wanted to find the data of why why do we desire control so much? And in an article I found that was a National Mental Health Institute. I believe they started it with a Dr. Seuss quote, which I thought was cute, says, you have brains in your head shoes. And let's try that again. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. And that was the setup to this abstract from this article about control. It says, Belief in one's ability to exert control over the environment and to produce desired results is essential for an individual's well-being. So first, let's start there. We're programed for control or wanting to exert control, because at the end of the day, we ultimately are only in charge of our own feelings.
[00:13:01] Our own thoughts are on emotions. So, of course, when we're coming from abandonment, when we're coming from attachment wounds, as a kid, we the older we get, we really think if we can just control environment then will be safe, then we'll be happy, but it's that control that is what puts these walls up or causes us to go into the world in a defensive in a defensive pose. Again, belief in one's ability to exert control over the environment to produce desired results is essential for an individual's well-being. It has been repeatedly argued that the perception of control is not only desirable, but it's likely to be a psychological and biological necessity. And in this article, they review the literature supporting the claim and present evidence on a biological basis for the need of control, but also for choice. That is the means by which we exercise control over the environment. So what I want to talk about in depth today, though, is that while we may have this biological or psychological need or desire for control, that that is what actually gets in the way of our especially our adult relationships. I want you to ask yourself this question. What does it feel like to be under someone else's control? And especially when it comes to marriage being overly controlled leads us often to feel like we are less than are we feel like we are.
[00:14:16] And we don't have a say in our own in our own lives or in the things that we want to do. And people often get worn down to the point where they feel like it doesn't really even matter if I do bring something up and you can see how that can create an unhealthy dynamic in a relationship if somebody feels overly control, that the things that they're going to say are going to be overly questioned or shot down, then often they're just already bypassing the desire to even express themselves. And so that only further validates the person who is holding all of the control. They often feel like, well, if you would if you would have wanted to do something, you would have said something about it. But when that spouse who tries to communicate their needs or their desires, their wishes, if they are now told, OK, wait, you need to tell me that when you're more calm or you need to not tell me that right when I walk in the door or you need to tell me that with a much lower tone or a softer tone, it just starts to be a little bit maddening when you see the amount of control that someone is trying to put on someone else's experience or someone else's way they communicate. And I'm just going to be bold. That's not that is so not healthy in a relationship.
[00:15:21] We need to be able to go to our spouse and be able to communicate whatever is on our mind to share our train of thought. And there's a framework to do so. And this is my magnetic marriage course that is emotionally focused therapy. And I feel like that's the problem. So many people don't know that there is a framework or they don't hold to the framework in order to be heard. And I did an episode a couple of weeks ago on differentiation and that one's kind of blown up. I'm not going to lie and I'm grateful for it because differentiation is is the key one of these keys in the universe. It's where one person ends and the other begins. And so as you begin to differentiate, as you begin to become independent and in your relationships, you begin to be interdependent, we want that to be a positive thing. When we come into relationships, we're going to naturally default to a little bit of codependency because that's our attachment wounds from from childhood or abandonment wounds. So when we first start to couple or when we start to date or we get married, we're still afraid to really let that person know who we are at our core. We're afraid that if we really get that vulnerable, that that person is going to run away. If we feel like a man, if they find out that this is how I really feel about something, they are they're going to run screaming and then I'll be abandoned.
[00:16:31] And abandonment from childhood wounding equals death. So oftentimes when we even just put a toe in the water, a vulnerability or share how we really feel about something, something political, something religious, something different parenting style that we would like, or if we even start to express ourselves in certain situations, and if our spouse all of a sudden says, whoa, I didn't know that or wait. But do you know how that affects? How often do we jump back into this enmeshment? How often do we just go, oh, no, no, no? Yeah, I don't know. You're right. I don't really think that and that is the opposite of differentiation. That is this kind of codependent or enmeshment. So you can see that when we are trying to become differentiated, it's going to come with a nice dose of invalidation. And that's the part where oftentimes control rears its ugly head, where when somebody says something that they finally get up the courage to say, hey, here's how I feel about something, that if their spouse now says, I don't want to hear that I did a lot with people like with things like faith crisis or people just really wanting to express themselves. They've been on some mental journey for quite a while and they finally open up and share something with their spouse. If their spouse says, I don't want to hear that or you need to go figure that out on your own before you come and talk about this, then we are the games kind of rigt, because at that point, we aren't really even sure how to express ourselves.
[00:17:48] So again, how does it feel if you're under the control of somebody else? Imagine being married to somebody that is overly controlling or worse yet and pulling from a little bit here and there. One of the articles I found is from a website called Greater Good. It's from the University of California, Berkeley, and it's talking about why losing control can actually make you happier. So I took a few excerpts from there. But in this article, it says, again, I'm an. Being married to somebody overly controlling or worse yet, imagine being someone else's slave, being controlled is no fun, and that is why we tend to rebel when we are feeling controlled. And I talk about this often. Psychologists call this quality reactance, which is the desire to do the opposite of the things that are prescribed to us by others. Again, nobody likes to be should on when you are told you should do this. It's our psychological reactance that pushes back and says, I will do the opposite even when we know it's what's what's good for us. Even if we're told, hey, you should brush your teeth every day or every morning or night, our brain is wired to say, I have to brush my teeth.
[00:18:42] I like furry teeth. And so that's part of the challenge that we have is when someone is being controlling, especially in a relationship and they are trying to tell you what you should do or what you're supposed to do. We already are built in with this reactance sorority pushing back. But then I talk about this often. You are the only version of you, so you are the one who knows exactly how you feel, think all the things that you've been through up to that point in your life. So even when someone in a relationship is saying you don't, you need to do or do you know what you don't understand, then I feel like already the conversation is heading down a path of unproductivity because we need to approach conversations with curiosity. We need to say, hey, tell me your thoughts about this or how do you feel about something that is more likely to get someone to really be able to open up and express themselves versus this feeling of control when somebody says, I'll tell you what you need to do or I'll tell you what you don't understand. So that is coming from this place of control. Go back to reactance, for example, when you are attempting to control your spouse's diet, what happens might be met with actually an increased consumption of unhealthy food just to spite you. And this is why and this is the key.
[00:19:47] If there's anything that I hope that you get from today's episode is this quote, This is why in adult relationships, in adult healthy relationships, you can either have control over someone else or you can have their love. You can't have both. And that is really the key. You can have control or you can have love, but not both. And because love is this fundamental thing, this fundamental need for us being overly controlling is not the key to happiness. It's not going to get you that connection that you so desire. You may feel as if you have a connection. And this is the part that I see in my office, that people don't even know what that connection looks like to truly be able to express themselves and feel heard and feel OK. Let me go back to an example that I give often. This example is one where someone comes into my office. And in the scenario, let's say that the wife has a large amount of anxiety. And so there are times where she may be overwhelmed or overcome with these anxious thoughts and feelings and she may not even be aware of it. So I'll get that couple that will come into my office and the husband will say, I don't know what to do with that when she's spinning or she's out of control or she's feeling this anxious. I'm not sure what to do. And so I told her she needs to figure that out before we can have a conversation.
[00:21:00] And that is and again, I can even say this from a bless his heart, because I can understand it's hard when you don't know what to do. But what I see in that scenario is somebody that's saying, hey, I need to be able to control how my wife is going to approach me for a conversation, even if it's something that she needs help with. And so when you are telling someone who has a tremendous amount of anxiety to get your anxiety in control before you come and communicate with me, that's actually going to cause more anxiety. It's just going to cause more of that anxiety. So back to the Sue Johnson quote, We're designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. So what does that look like? If I have a couple come into my office and she says, I just start to feel anxious or let's even go this route, if he's saying that's one of the challenges I have is is I worry that when she gets in one of these anxious moods that I'm not sure how to communicate with her. And so now I can drop this right into my four pillars of a connected conversation. Pillar one, if I'm talking to the wife in the scenario, assuming good intentions. So he did not wake up and think, I will get to that therapist's office and I will talk about her anxiety and I will show her and I will hurt her.
[00:22:04] No pillar one, assuming good intentions. Pillar two, I'm going to help her, not tell him he's wrong, even if she's not even aware of the anxiety. Then if you just say that's a bunch of garbage, that already shuts the conversation down. But if I can get him to stay or if I can get her to say, OK, assume good intentions, I'm not going to tell him he's wrong, even if I even if I'm not sure if I believe him, even if I'm not sure if this is something that I do that leads to pillar three questions before comments. So then it's OK. Tell me more about that. Help me see my blindspots. Help me understand how I present that. Looks like anxiety to you. And then pillar four, I wanted to be able to stay present, lean in. You can only do that if you feel safe, if you don't feel controlled. So in that pillar four lean in and not say OK, well I guess I'll just never, never express myself to you or I'll never be around you again. Because when you run back to your bunker, you're asking for your spouse to come and rescue you. In that scenario, she would be saying, OK, well, I guess it doesn't matter what's going on with me. That's where she's subconsciously or coming from a from an attachment wound where she's saying, OK, no, I want you to I want you to come rescue me.
[00:23:08] And I want him to say no, no, no. You know what? Don't even worry about it, it's all me, because this is how we get into those patterns where we just don't end up not we end up not communicating about anything very effectively. So in that scenario, if she hangs in there, assumes good intentions, doesn't tell him he's wrong, ask questions before comments and stays present. Now he's going to feel heard. She's going to have a little more data. And so in the scenario, this is where I get to say, OK, we're designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human. So when you see her being anxious or feeling anxious, this is a safe time to say, hey, I'm wondering if you if you're feeling a little anxious, this might be one of those times where I was talking about in therapy. And so in that moment, if she can assume those good intentions, not say she's wrong, ask questions of comments and stay present. This is an area where, OK, maybe she wasn't even aware of that. Or if she's saying, OK, I get anxious and I especially get anxious when you tell me to work on my anxiety, same framework, have him assuming good intentions. She's not trying to hurt him. I'm trying to make him look bad in front of the therapist.
[00:24:05] The second pillar is I can't have him say that's ridiculous. You're wrong. Third one is ask questions again for him, ask questions before making comments. Hey, tell me what that looks like to you. Talking about to the wife. How do I how do I present if you are feeling anxious, what does that look like if she says I feel like you withdraw or feel like you aren't there for me and now we can have a connected conversation and it might feel a little bit like tension, but tension is where the growth is. So in that scenario, now, this couple is going to walk out of there and they're going to feel a connection. They're going to feel like they can turn to each other with anything. They don't have to feel like there's controls placed over how they communicate or when they communicate. And I know I've been doing this for a long time. I know that this is sometimes people say, well, that's not my job to tell her when I think she's being anxious. I don't want to be a mind reader. I don't want to be I'm sorry, but I don't buy into that. If you want to stay stuck in the way that you communicate now, you can go into it with that that kind of framework of that kind of an attitude. But if you want to have a connection, if you want to learn how to be vulnerable and be there for another person, you have to find this framework emotionally focused therapy, these four pillars of a connected conversation.
[00:25:10] And you have to trust the process and you have to hang in there. You can't put data out there sometimes, not really want to be there for you, just not when I don't feel like being so back to this concept of control again. How does it feel to be under somebody else's control? Back to this quote, we can have a in adult relationships. We can have either control over others or we can have their love. There are scenarios, sure, where control might be a good thing. The one that I laid out at the beginning of the podcast, an orchestra, a maestro, a conductor leading the orchestra. Or suppose you're a passenger in an airplane. In that case, it might feel good knowing that you can relax and sit back and enjoy the ride because the pilot of the aircraft, thanks to specialized training, adherence to a set of well-established rules, regulation will take you wherever you need to go. But relationships, again, are different. They are so much more complex. There are so many more variables that come into play. So each one of you in your relationship is coming to the table with your very own unique set of situations that have brought you to that very moment in life trying to deal with whatever the issue is. Both of you have your completely different experiences.
[00:26:13] You have your different perspectives. You have a different Enneagram, you're different love languages. You have your different everything is different that you're bringing to the table. So what a wonderful ability or opportunity or gift to be able to approach that with a sense of curiosity, not a sense of control. Instead of saying, I can't believe you said that to be able to say, hey, tell me more about that. What does that mean to you? We have different meanings to words. There are individual words that people have that that mean completely different things to two people. So we might be arguing about completely different sets of circumstances or situation. What's the word there was the real here. There was a session not too long ago and they were talking about, oh, the concept of a threat. So if somebody is saying, all right, I'm I'm threatening divorce. If somebody says, oh, you're threatening a threat, sounds like such a harsh, dramatic word to one person. The threat of divorce means I am divorcing you. And then the other person, when we really talked about what is the word threat mean to them, threat means that there is a storm threatening. So this is looming. This is there's a fear of this thing that might be coming versus somebody else. When they hear threat, they feel like there is an immediate threat. So those can be two completely different meanings of one word that can cause completely different experiences for a couple.
[00:27:33] And that's from a pretty high charge word. You can see that we can have different meanings to just very low charge words as well. So, again, this need to control will get in the way, especially in situations where we are trying to even communicate about what a word means. We need to approach that with curiosity to each other. And we need to understand that we all have our different experiences that we bring to that moment in our relationship. So even when you have a shared experience, you're still viewing it from your lens. You're each going to have two completely different views of going to the beach. A little sneak preview, but I'm putting together an episode that my wife is helping with behind the scenes of we just got back from Disneyland and it was fascinating. So I looked at it truly from a therapist lens this time, I don't know if it was because now we don't have little kids. So we were had more time to think about things instead of trying to figure out who was going to get pushed in a stroller or how many churros I needed to get all of that. I had very much down, get all the Churros. But in that scenario, I felt we were even looking at the fact that I didn't go to Disneyland growing up and my wife did all the time. So she had a sense of nostalgia.
[00:28:34] I didn't. So when we would go on certain rides, there was a part of me that felt like, OK, this rides kind of silly, but to her it was magic. So we have such different experiences and perspectives going into these situations in our life. And I want you to know then it can feel so invalidating then when somebody is telling you what you were thinking or what you were feeling, because what they are saying is that they know you better than you know yourself, which simply isn't true. And this is why when you hear those phrases, what you don't understand is or, you know, what I think you're doing is and those things are going to cause that reactance we want to go into those things is tell me what you're feeling or tell me what this is like for you. And then we have to be able to sit and understand and hear their experience turn off your fixing in judgment brain and listen and be curious and move as far away from that need or desire for control as you possibly can. So when somebody is telling you about your experience, I believe that is a form of control. So think of how differently it feels when you are asked about your experience. How are you feeling right now? What is that like for you? How long have you felt this way? Take me on your train of thought, period.
[00:29:40] The end. No follow up to say that's ridiculous or seriously, that's what you think. Or I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with that information. Or how do you think that makes me feel? Because again, we all desire connection. We all want to be heard. We want validation. We're all trying to figure out how to navigate life based on our own experiences. So seeking advice, for example, that is wonderful. It's terrific. But it simply is that it's advice. Ultimately, you are the one that is control of your own destiny. So if you're surrounded by people in your life who are continually trying to tell you how you feel, tell you what to feel or control the way that you express yourself, I feel like it's time for a little bit of weighty introspection. Are these people or these groups or these organizations, are they edifying you? Are they making you feel better or are they making you into the best version of you? Or do you feel worse after an interaction? And if you're one of those right now, that saying, well, sometimes they need to hear the hard truth, they need to hear your hard truth, or would it be better to say, tell me about your experience? What would that be like? I wonder if this might be something that you would like to consider instead of what you just need to understand, because life is so so it's far too short to burn the emotional energy and emotional calories, trying to live up to others expectations based on their experiences.
[00:30:53] Ultimately, we need to find out your purpose, who you are, your divine path, what are your unique gifts and talents and abilities, what are your values unique to you? Because doing and finding out those things will put you on your path and doing so will put you in a better position to succeed as a parent or as a spouse or as a human being. And I feel like that's the part where when people don't know what, they don't know when people don't know what it truly feels like to be there with your spouse. I don't care where it is, even in Disneyland. And they're going to have their experience. And I'm having my experience. And instead of feeling like, well, what you just said makes me feel bad, instead, I'm going into that with curiosity. Hey, tell me what you're experiencing here. Tell me your thoughts. I want to hear more. I want to hear tell me take me on your train of thought and when you can do that and feel safe and feel secure and know that that's going to come with some invalidation. Sure. When somebody says, man, here's what I've always dreamed of or here's what I like. And if that's something that isn't what you've felt like yourself or if that's a slightly different message and they shared before, instead of saying seriously, like now you're telling me that, no, it needs to be.
[00:31:57] Man, I wonder why they didn't feel like they could tell me that earlier. So tell me more. I so often get people in my office that have been married, I don't know, ten, fifteen, twenty years. And they say this isn't the person that I married. And I so often want to say, OK, we are, we grow, we learn more about ourselves. We learn more about life from the experiences that we've been through. And so oftentimes when somebody all of a sudden feels, wait a minute, my spouse just came out of nowhere and now they're completely different, often that's because that's been bubbling up or simmering inside of them for so long where they felt like they couldn't express themselves so they couldn't grow or they couldn't take on new challenges. So they couldn't learn that. Now they really do are finding themselves and finding that they really care about something other than what they were told they were supposed to care about. And that is an amazing place to be and to be in a relationship where the two of you can grow that way. Yeah, it can be a little bit scary because of those old abandonment wounds. Oh, my gosh. If they are having their own experience, you know, what childhood abandonment looks like. Is me all of a sudden feeling like, oh, that must mean they must not like me.
[00:32:56] I must be unlovable? No, it means that they are developing and growing as a human being, which means that you can do the same and you can both do that in the context of a of a relationship. You can move from codependent enmeshment to interdependent and then learning to edify each other and again, I feel like if people don't know what that looks like and they feel like that isn't possible in their marriage, get help for real, get get help. You deserve to be happy. And I feel like it's when I talk about that, control is actually the opposite of what we need to thrive and grow in our relationships. This is what I'm talking about. It often feels so scary to, quote, let go of the control of maybe a spouse to be able to say, hey, I want you to find yourself. I want you to raise your emotional baseline so high that you feel like you are just on top of the world because I want to join you there, because in doing so and liberating someone else from there and helping them find out who they truly are, I want you to do the same thing. And when the two of you are doing that together, that is magical. That is the exact opposite. And then some of people that are continually trying to consciously or subconsciously put the other person down, they feel crummy if they feel pretty bad about themselves or they don't like their job or they feel like they're invalidated or they feel like nobody cares about them, then they feel like, well, so I don't want to see that my my spouse go out there and find themselves.
[00:34:13] And this is this oftentimes becomes about personal accountability. And are you doing the things that you need to and holding yourself accountable? Are you dealing with the uncomfortable things, whether it's at work or in your career, or do you feel like you maybe don't really know how to be the best parent you can be? Are you struggling with some sort of compulsive behavior, gaming, pornography, TV, food? Are you feeling so bad there that now you take that out, so to speak, on the person closest to you, the person that you you say you love your spouse? Is that fair? It's not. We need to deal with their own stuff. And one of the ways we do that is dealing with our own stuff in concert with another human, i.e. our spouse being able to share openly and vulnerably and then feel like we have a framework to have these difficult conversations. So I want to quote a little bit more of Sue Johnson and then we'll wrap things up here. This is from an episode I did a long time ago on emotionally focused couples therapy, which, again, is the foundational principles behind my entire magnetic marriage course. I'm just going to go, quote, mode here and we're going to do a little commentary on it, because Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy and author of Hold Me Tight, she wrote a follow up book called Love Sense, which is I think it's the science of Love or something like that's the subtitle where she quoted another psychologist.
[00:35:24] And here's what she said. Page sixty three. For those following along, the message touted by popular media and therapist has been that we are supposed to be in total control. So that word, of our emotions before we turn to others, love yourself first and then another will love you. But she says our new knowledge stands that message on its head for humans, says psychologist Ed Tronic of the University of Massachusetts. The maintenance of emotional balance is a dyadic collaborative process. What does that mean? In other words, we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another person, not by ourselves. It's important, she says, to emphasize that attunement is not a sign of a lack of love or a lack of commitment. It is inevitable and it's normal, and in fact, it is startlingly common. Back to Ed Tronic of Harvard Medical School, who has spent years absorbed in monitoring the interactions between mothers and children, finds that even happily bonded mothers and infants miss each other signals 70 percent of the time adults miss their partners cues. Most of the time, too, we all send unclear signals and misread cues.
[00:36:24] We become distracted. We suddenly shift our level of emotional intensity and oftentimes we leave our partner behind or we simply overload each other with too many signals and messages. But how true is that? Too many mixed signals and too many mixed messages, he says. Only in the movies. This one poignantly gaze predictably and follow another gaze. And then it leads to one small touch, and it always elicits an exquisitely timed gesture. In return says we're sorely mistaken if we believe that love is always about being in tune. So it's actually the opposite. It's about being out of out of alignment, but then having the tools to come back in tune. And each time we do that, we grow closer together. Each time we process a difficult conversation or we able to express ourselves and share difficult or wonderful emotion. But when we do that with another human being, that's actually an opportunity to grow. So I often say, especially in this magnetic marriage course or people that are in my office, is that when we don't even when we don't have the tools innate built in within us and we don't to communicate effectively and that we just don't. And I want that want people to accept that. Just yesterday, twice yesterday, I heard, why don't we teach this in school? These are these four pillars of a connected conversation or this emotionally focused therapy. Why doesn't this come natural or why isn't this easier for me? And the answer is because we're human beings and because, again, we're coming forth from childhood, from the womb of our mom.
[00:37:45] With this built in programing of abandonment equals death, pure and simple. And then we navigate our childhood, our teenage years, and then some of trying to show up in a way that will get our needs met so that people will like us, so that we won't be booted out of our tribe because they were booted out of our tribe or a group or our relationships are innate fear is that abandonment is going to eventually lead to death and isolation. So we say we show up, we do the things and hopes that will be accepted or loved by others. But in reality, in doing so, we're going against the very core of who we are. Each one of us is a very unique individual. So we need to learn to be differentiated. We need to learn to show up as the person we are, and we need to find out who that is. And the easiest way or the best way to do that, maybe not the easiest way is in concert with another human being to be able to explore. But when that is not safe, of course, we're going to revert back to those attachment wounds. We're going to try to say things so that maybe we won't take our spouse off, or if our spouse says something and invalidates us, we might retreat and pout and hopes that they'll see that they have hurt us and they will come rescue us.
[00:38:52] And all of this is the opposite of learning how to find oneself, learning how to have curiosity as our spouse finds themself. Sit with maybe a little bit of that tension and fear that it's going to turn to contention it doesn't have to. And then from that tension is where we grow in. The more comfortable you become with being able to express myself in a framework like these four pillars or F.T. and know that my spouse now has the tools to hear, to ask questions, to say tell me more, and then at that point to then be able to validate me to and then I will feel heard. Then I will actually lean in more. I want to know more about them. And where I'm going with this is that we are so often stuck in this just unproductive dialog and unproductive conversations, the tit for tat or the pursue withdrawal or the freeze and flee or any of these types of unhealthy dialog patterns that when we go to these places, the thing we're not doing is communicating effectively. And so I find that couples have honestly gone 10, 20, 30 years or more where they. Don't even really know who each other is because they can never fully express themselves, because they have these human.
[00:39:59] I was going to say unhealthy, but more human factory setting communication styles or communication patterns. You have to learn how to communicate effectively and as an adult and drop that rope with a tug of war for control so that you can find give it a couple more quotes and really want to wrap this up. Again, we are sorely mistaken if we believe that love is always about being in tune, but we need to have the tools to be able to get back in alignment with our spouse. And the more we're able to do that, then the more comfortable we will be turning to our partner and saying, are you there for me? Do you what? Do you love me? Can I count on you from Sue Johnson's book, Hold Me Tight. She says the drive to emotionally attached to find somebody who we can turn to and say hold me tight is wired into our genes and into our bodies. It is as basic to life, health and happiness as the drives of food, shelter or sex that we need emotional attachments with you, irreplaceable others to be physically and mentally healthy or to survive. And here's where you're not trained to sound controversial. But I know so often I have people say I know I have to get myself together first so that I can show up in a relationship. And I say, I will say this all the time. If that's where you're at in your relationship, then I understand.
[00:41:09] And yes, I work with people that they need to get their emotional baseline high so that they can show up and either learn how to effectively communicate or learn how to set healthy boundaries. So I understand. But if you are not at that point right now and you just feel like you and your spouse just see the tools and then you will be able to communicate more effectively, the tools are out there. This isn't a plug for my Magnetic marriage course, although I realize I'm doing that right the second. But there are tools out there. There are couples therapist out there find somebody that specializes in emotionally focused therapy, E.F.T. Google my name and E.F.T. or magnetic marriage or four pillars and find those tools and practice them. They take practice. And once you are committed to communicating in this new framework, trust the process and you will be surprised that you are typically closer than you think to being able to communicate more effectively. But you probably need a little bit of guidance or you need a lot of patience or both. The overall conclusion, she says, is that a sense of secure connection between romantic partners is key and positive loving relationships, and it's a huge source of strength for the individuals in those relationships. And she said among the more significant findings is that when we feel generally secure, that is we are comfortable with closeness and confident about depending on loved ones.
[00:42:18] We are better at seeking support and we're better at giving it. And boy, I haven't even touched on and maybe this is a topic for another day of how important that is to model to your kids. Are you modeling a healthy relationship or are you modeling the look? We stuck it out until you guys are out of the house. That that fascinating to me. The kids, can they see, especially as they grow into teenagers and into adulthood, they see that OK is the message I'm being taught to just hang in there, not communicate, and then at least we say we did it. Or is it about being emotionally vulnerable and open and seeking help? And boy, look at some of the other podcasts I've been recently. Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Are you willing to show your weakness and your vulnerability to your spouse or even to your kids to show that you're human? Or are you trying to set this bar high of saying that everything comes easy to me and I'm and I'm a natural at it, all of these things, because that's not the human experience. And and if that is happening in your relationship or your marriage and you just feel like you don't know how to communicate or express yourself effectively, or better yet, if you are one of the people that find yourself possibly controlling others and you weren't even aware of it or you're aware of it and you know it doesn't feel right, but then all of a sudden the conversation's done and then it seems to be OK a couple of days later.
[00:43:38] That doesn't mean that it's OK. It means that you are learning how to not deal with things somewhat effectively and over time that builds this wedge. And so when I get those couples in my office, thankfully, they come into my office. So I know they're out there everywhere. But when they do come into my office, then they really feel like I don't even really know who this person is. And this is the person that I was supposed to spend the rest of my golden years with, even the eternities with. And I don't even know who this person is. Don't don't put that off. You cannot kick that can down the road and then say we'll figure it out after the kids are out of the house. You're missing some incredible opportunities to learn how to communicate effectively, even with difficult situations, especially with parenting or especially with finances or the bumps and along the road of just marriage in general. And I feel like the people that don't know what these tools or skills are that are still operating from this place, if I need to control every interaction or every situation so that I won't feel uncomfortable or so I won't feel invalidated, or what if they have their own opinion? What if I what if they get this freedom and all of a sudden they they want do you want that relationship based off of control or do you want to be emotionally vulnerable? Learn who you are, learn how to differentiate yourself, deal with that invalidation, but then see that there's some real magic to be had where the tension comes, because that's what I get to see every day.
[00:44:52] It's the reason why I love the job. That I'm doing all right, I will wrap that up right now, taking us away, as per usual, is a wonderful, talented or Florence with her song. It's wonderful. And if you have questions or a document with a lot of questions about marriage, and I think it's time to do a marriage Q&A, so please send me some of your questions, send them to Contact@tonyoverbay.com and I will put those on a future episode and we'll do a little bit of marriage Q&A. But I really appreciate you being here. Spread the word. If there was something that you liked about today's episode, if you are still listening and you you are a YouTube person, go subscribe. I think I'm a few. Just a few short of a thousand or something. And I think you get a t shirt or something, get some new settings. I'd love to love to see you do that as well. Spread the word. And I appreciate your support
[00:45:34] And I will see you next time.