The 4 subconscious ways we form relationships.
Ever wondered if how you were raised affects relationships in your adult life? Probably not. I know I didn't. Luckily, some bloke back in the 60's with the name of John Bowlby was more aware than myself. He studied how the ability to form strong relationships as an adult stemmed from what the adult learned in his childhood from his or her caregiver (one of the parents). John also coined the term "Attachment Theory" which is the Subconscious way we form attachments. There are 4 different attachment types: Anxious, Avoidant, Fearful, and Secure. Read on for information that will change - your - life.
1. Anxious – this type typically stems from the early loss of a caretaker. A caregiver dies or parents get divorced or one of them goes to jail, that kind of thing. Through this early and significant ‘trauma’ the anxious type learns to fear NOT HAVING a connection. And the underdeveloped brain of a child will irrationally believe that they themselves were the real cause of the loss – because they weren’t good enough. Characteristics of this type? They’re people-pleasers. They jump around from relationship to relationship. One of the main ways they keep people from leaving them is by threatening self-harm – or seemingly putting their well-being in the other persons control. Anxious types can look a bit obsessive as they can be relentless in their pursuit to attain and/or keep the relationship. Common phrases to their significant other will sound like, “I can’t live without you” (The Chicago song just came to my brain), or “I feel like I can breath when you’re with me.” SUPER ROMANTIC and SUPER UNHEALTHY. The anxious person has such a low self-esteem that they often don’t see the bad things about the other person. They’re so needy and desperate to be in a relationship that they will transform their OWN characteristics or likes in order to be what they think the other person is wanting. Because of all this invested time and energy, the Anxious Type will be clingy which turns to suspicion which leads to the most problematic (and we’ve hit on quite a few problems!) issue. They have difficulty trusting. Even when they find someone that commits to them, they won’t ‘really’ believe or trust their partner because, who would ‘really’ want to be with them? This behavior ends up driving the other person away and the avoidant type proves that he OR she is correct; that important people in their lives will abandon them. Connection is the most valuable thing in life and it’s also never permanent.
2. Avoidant – This type usually stems from growing up in an environment where parent(s) were physically there but emotionally were absent. They learned that any attempt to connect would result in feeling pain. The result? This person ends up feeling extreme discomfort with even the possibility for emotional connection. To avoid this, they use many strategies – humor being at the top of the list. Ever known anyone to crack jokes or throw out sarcasm at completely inappropriate times? Well, now you know that they do it because they’re trying to avoid connecting emotionally with you. Humor also gives others the illusion that the avoidant person has things under control or don’t have any sad emotions which also gives the impression that they are fine. Sarcasm or jokes at an emotional time is a huge sign that you’re dealing with an avoidant type. Also, look for the avoidance of eye contact during moments where there is a likelihood of connecting emotionally. In relationships this type invests a lot of energy initially. They also utilize the shaming of others who display emotion in an effort to escape their own sensitive feelings and retreat back to a safer place emotionally. Expect a resistance to hugs or kisses initially… and even with a good amount of time. One can also expect the avoidant type to creatively show their desire for the connection WITHOUT them physically being there. Big flowers (delivered). Exciting and fun texts (delivered). Gifts (you’ll find them when he or she’s not around), acts of service (delivered), etc. The avoidant adult will be great at dating but as the relationship moves through the different phases and as time goes by, they will likely start to ‘drop the ball’ or flat out run for the hills because of their subconscious need to avoid deep and meaningful connection. They will also GHOST a promising relationship leaving the other person mystified and confused.
3. Fearful – Probably the rarest of types. This person generally has a background of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Often the child growing up in this environment will feel like they have nobody to protect them or confide in or trust. As a kid, any time they tried to be vulnerable or have an emotional connection, they experienced rejection and/or pain. Wanting acceptance from mother and never being good enough. Wanting love from the father and repeatedly being hit. Being molested or sexually assaulted equates to not feeling protected or safe. Add in the fun occurrence that the child tells the parent and the parent doesn't do anything about it and you've got the perfect storm for developing this type of attachment. Naturally, these types of experiences create a strong relational defense system as adults. In fact, when an adult “Fearful Type” gets close to being vulnerable in a relationship they will subconsciously exhibit many different types of defenses to get away from connection. They are unpredictable and they’ll self-sabotage the things they want the most. The fearful type exhibit avoidance initially in relationships and then go to anxious characteristics when things start becoming serious. Next comes anger and sometimes violence (Fear). And that ball can jump real quick from anxious to anger as they try to keep themselves safe. The fearful type will both crave and be extremely uncomfortable with the connection which allows them to lash out behaviorally much like a cornered badger. Other characteristics of the fearful type include the inability to have a long-term stable relationship. Behaviorally they seem more and more unstable as time and connection with their significant other in the relationship increases.
4. Secure – The most boring type meaning, they're much less exciting than the other three. This attachment type stems from a childhood that was safe emotionally and physically (for the most part). The environment was safe emotionally (ok to talk about feelings or saying/hearing “I love you”) and physically (holding, hugging, kisses). The “Secure” type can feel the other emotions of anxiousness, avoidance and fear BUT they trust in their ability to get through whatever comes which enables feeling secure. They’re happy alone. They’ve learned that some people can be trusted with their emotions which is important because with this foundation, they can focus on finding and keeping quality (safe) relationships in their lives while leaving the bad ones (unsafe/dangerous) in the dust. This is quite a difference from the other types of attachment which either avoid, are anxious about or straight up fear connection and relationships. Also, unlike the others, this attachment type can be be genuine with others. This allows them to experience emotional moments and deep connection which opens the door to true intimacy. Another healthy attribute is that they can have disagreements in a calm manner. While the other types will use behaviors and/or mind-games to control the outcome, the secure individual is able to go with the flow.. They may ‘prefer’ things to go a certain way but they aren't devastated if things don’t. They can face rejection and abandonment as an adult without the need to try and repair the relationship or run back in order to fix things. Feeling secure has the end-result of them believing they will be fine no matter how things play out. Not needy; only secure.
Remember, this is all being played out on an unconscious level meaning, people are not aware that it's going on. Think of wearing glasses -you're seeing/perceiving things through a lens that has been modified and after a while, seeing the world through your glasses becomes your norm. That's the best way I've been able to turn this into an analogy for my clients. Understanding that people behave the way they do for a specific reason and purpose (sometimes unconscious) helps give us a different perspective - insight and awareness helps with understanding and empathy.
Thanks for taking the time to read and if you have any other thoughts or would like to work through your own ill-made prescription lens, please feel free to reach out and contact me through the website at www.meaningtolive.com. Also, be sure to check out and subscribe to the "Jed Says" YouTube channel.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
This is a fun one and it happens more than you realize.
Character Assassination is used harm someone else’s reputation. It’s a manipulative form of triangulation – in other words, the target RARELY knows what's going on. Why do people do this? There are a couple of main reasons that I’ve witnessed.
The first reason correlates to the sneaky way you dismiss information that you don't like or agree with. Have you ever received information about yourself that you don’t like? Of course you have! Well, when we hear something that we don't like (even - especially when it has a bit of truth to it), we will use a lot of tricky thinking to DEVALUE the person saying it. Because, if the source isn't credible, the information isn't credible.
Enter Character Assassination
I have a confrontive/caring style of therapy. There have been times when clients are not aware of the negative effects their behaviors have and when the awareness happens, their defenses naturally rise - and their sneaky little brains use character assassination to 'dismiss' the information they've been given...all in an effort to avoid negative emotions involved with taking accountability.
"Don't talk to him, he's not our type"
Is the prase of a snake, a hiss
And if you heed this lowly cry
A friend you'll likely miss
Jed Thorpe 1996 (for the rest of the poem, check out the Jan 19th, 2019 blog titled, "Your World".)
The other way it’s used is even more juvenile. Character Assassination is also used by people who are jealous or intimidated by another person. Think of stepping on others just to elevate yourself. This is actually a passive-aggressive (covert) form of bullying. The biggest one I hear is making negative jokes at someones expense - and while that someone is not in the room. Another is mimicking to ridicule or deliberately causing embarrassment/insecurity towards the target.
Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.
Did you know that there’s actually a LAW about it? The ‘Character Assassination Law’ refers to slandering or vicious personal verbal attacks on a person with the intention of destroying or damaging that persons reputation or confidence.
Once the assassination happens, negative effects are difficult to reverse or even make right. Think of going to the top of a mountain with a feather pillow – and tearing the poor pillow up. The feathers will go all over the place and it would be impossible to pick them all up. Reversal is impossible. Making right is possible to a certain extent and involves the one doing the assassinating to disclose their own behaviors and take accountability.
How have you been effected and then recovered from something like this?
Thanks for reading and I’ll likely do a Jed Says YouTube on this topic. Check it out and be sure to subscribe to my ‘Jed Says’ channel at www.meaningtolive.com
Till Next Time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Here’s a quick one and once you’ve really HEARD it, you won’t be the same.
I'm talking about your ‘but’.
Ready? Here we go. Anytime someone uses the word ‘but’, you can just erase the message that came before it. In other words, everything said before 'but' doesn't count. And here's why - the word "but" is used right before the justifying what people really want to believe/convey.
I want to see a therapist but it's just too expensive.
People like President Trump but that's just because the economy is good.
I know I shouldn't have given 100 bucks to my daughter who uses drugs but I don't want her kids to go hungry!
The word "but" is used right before justifying what people really want to convey/believe.
Ever been fired? It may sound something like this; “The company has really appreciated your efforts over the last decade…but with the economy downturn, we’re going to have to let you go.” See how what came before 'but' wasn't really the message they were aiming for?
Ever been through a divorce? Maybe you’ve heard something like this from a family member or friend: “I don’t want to sound like the jerk…but it's been over a year and you need to move on.” They really just wanted to tell you to move on.
And I could go on and on! How about this one: “I may have lied to you…but I didn’t think you could handle the truth.” “Hope for the best…but expect the worst.” The last one you've heard and there are more common phrases JUST LIKE THAT and you'v never noticed how bad they actually are - until today. See, your life is changed forever all because of awareness.
Wait, there's more! People even do it to themselves! “I’m pretty smart…but there are a lot of people who are smarter.” "Yea, I got a raise...but it wasn't as much as I wanted." Or, "I wanted to learn guitar...but never got around to it." You know you've either said this out loud to someone about yourself OR you've said it silently in your head.
RIGHT?! It’s just – not a good word at all. AND DON’T BE FOOLED WITH THE DISGUISED BUT! These words sound well and fine ‘but’ are just as nasty.
What do you do now that you know what ‘but’ is a bad 3-letter word? Answer: Use the GOOD 3-letter word, “AND”. The word 'and' connects the message rather than splitting things up! Using it will not only help your communication but you’ll also be speaking more honestly. Win-win. Yes, I recognize that I used the word 'but'...this implies that there are good ways to utilize the verbage as well. Win-win-win.
Anything said before “but” doesn’t count.
Anything said after “but” word is a justification of what people really want to convey or believe.
Thanks for reading. Now try and listen for this tricky trap in your daily communications! What 'big but phrases' have been laid out for you?! Leave them in the comments area if any come to mind.
If you’d like to learn more goodness, check out my blog and/or subscribe to the “Jed Says” YouTube channel found at www.meaningtolive.com.
Till next time!
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
The term “sobriety isn’t the opposite of addiction – connection is the opposite of addiction” is becoming more and more prevalent. And you can thank this to a pretty awful experiment on rats or rather, how a pretty awful experiment on rats has been debunked.
In the 1960’s a Behavioral Psychologist at Harvard University came up with an experiment on rats – “The Skinner Box” – You’ve heard of this – rats in a cage with 2 bottles. 1 water, 1 heroin/cocaine and they pushed the drug laced water repeatedly until they died – REFUSING the ordinary water (life)
Remember the black and white commercial of a Rat banging repeatedly on a lever?!
“Rat Park” comes from psychologist Bruce Alexander (1970’s) who conducted a similar experiment as the Skinner Box experiment but gave the critters a park to live in rather than an isolated cage with nothing to do and nobody to do anything with. Rat park consisted of spin-wheels, tunnels, food/water, sex and friends (rats are social creatures…like humans). EVEN after exposure/addiction to drugs, every rat chose against the drug laced water. No deaths. Side note – they did occasionally drink the drug water (female rats mostly) but didn’t take in access and avoided completely if the behavior had negative effects on their life.
What’s the difference? Connection. Connection, connection, connection.
An example of this with humans can be observed with the returning soldiers from the Vietnam war. Statistics report up to 20% of our soldiers being on heroin…I think they called it “skag” back then. The country was dreading their return and how it would effect the nation but lo and behold, the soldiers stopped using shortly after coming home. How did they do it? Some articles point to the heroin in Vietnam being better vs. the US version not being as good (pure). Others say that it was harder to find or that you had to inject it to get the same effect (vs. smoking it back in the war) so it wasn’t as socially acceptable.
I say it was because they were reunited with connection. Isn't it amazing how impacting ‘meaning and purpose’ can be to life.
What does disconnect look like? In most cases, it’s not difficult to uncover (trauma, molestation, abandonment/rejection, alcoholic/high caregiver, etc.) but in other cases it’s less obvious and looks a lot like ‘contingent acceptance’. In every client I work with, there’s a blaring belief of “I’m not enough”.
The most frightening aspect of this research is the fact that it’s largely ignored. For some insane reason (I’m guessing financial), our culture is rejecting the idea that we have the answer to ‘stop the epidemic’ and are refusing to pick it up! Instead, we throw legalities at it (further disconnecting ‘addicts’ - looking at you 'criminals'). Instead we throw labels at it (I’m looking at you ‘diseased’) while throwing away any chance at being fully ‘recoverED’ - even the notion that it's something that can be cured offends some people. Instead we try to cover it up with ‘medication assisted treatment’ (looking at you Suboxone...Vivitrol shot – you’re in the clear BECAUSE YOU DON’T CAUSE PHYSICAL DEPENDENCE LIKE OPIOIDS…and suboxone).
As a society, our culture is becoming more disconnected, anxious and depressed – I’m looking at you social media. You are a wolf in sheeps clothing feigning to be a ‘friend’ but lacking in all connection that an actual friend displays. You’re a big tease, promising fulfillment and leaving all who look at you feeling more alone.
It’s no wonder drug use in skyrocketing.
Will I be killed for updating this post? Probably not soon - that'd be too obvious. Harassment will come first.
If you don’t know already, there are quite a few people walking about that don’t feel much guilt or shame. WELCOME to the world of the sociopath. Sociopathy falls under the umbrella of "antisocial personality disorder" or APD and makes up an astonishing 4% of the population (16% if looking at CEO's and Supervisors). In other words, 1 out of 25 people are unable to feel guilt or shame. Brrr - did you just get a chill? The other 96% of the population have a normal range of empathy and emotion so are able to connect with one another on an emotional level. To the sociopath, this ‘connecting’ idea is as foreign as your idea of you being blind (I’m assuming you’re not blind if you’re reading this). You don’t really understand what it's like to be 'blind' even though we could probably fake it if we had to. It's the same with humans with APD (sociopaths or psychopaths) they don't understand what 'feeling' is like...but can sure fake it when they want to.
AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...probably a sociopath. In other words, they've learned to fake it - emotions, that is. Like the magnificent coyote thrives in their ever shrinking natural habitat, the sociopath learns to adapt behaviorally. Just like you would figure out a way to blend into a heavy metal concert by going in bouncing your head up and down to the beat (and occasionally joining a mosh-pit or punching the dude beside you), sociopaths mimic the behaviors of other people in order to blend in.
Oh! And this is important. The difference between sociopaths and psychopaths is merely the sociopaths ability to feel a wee little thread of feeling. Sociopaths can connect a little bit, with family (kids, spouse, parents, siblings) – a little bit. Psychopaths have no feeling of shame or guilt – none – zero – nada. Every psychopath is a sociopath but not the other way around.
Isn’t that fascinating?! Seriously, this should be taught in school. Why? Well, imagine if all you did was play chess. Chess, chess, chess to the point that you’re a master chess player. All of your life, you’ve learned different ways to excel in the game. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone standing on the side reaches over to the opponents black piece and jumps over your castle, taking your queen. “You can’t jump over people in this game”, you say but they CAN because they are allowed (by their lack of conscious) to play the game with a different set of rules. It sure would be good to know that 4% of the world plays by a different set of life (chess) rules, wouldn’t it?
Now that you know that the player is out there, you’d probably be interested in knowing how to spot him or her (yes, women aren’t immune and shame on you for assuming they were). And that’s the issue…they're extremely difficult to spot. Luckily, some Sociopaths have offered insight into their world to the point that we now have more intel. This understanding began with people who were incarcerated (only 20%). Recently, (with the help of online anonymity) higher functioning…those who were smarter and less likely to get caught for their crimes, have opened up about their alternate lives along with the behaviors that come along with a muted sense of right vs wrong.
Curious about someone you know and feel like answering 13 questions? https://www.psychopathfree.com/test/1
Look For these 15 signs:
1. RARELY flustered or at a loss for words; This is a skill that has been honed over years of practicing the art of lying. Even when caught 'red handed' this population will have excuses, reasons and justification that flows easily from their tiny lips. All of this adds up to you believing what they tell you because you think to yourself, "someone lying wouldn't be able to come up with a reason that fast."
2. They're not dumb: This is a characteristic that allows them to adapt and manipulate others. There are, of course, less intelligent sociopaths out there and the higher IQ ones are likely annoyed that they are giving them a bad name by the sociopathic blunderers. A sociopath might say, “a good sociopath doesn’t go to jail, let alone stay in jail.”
3. Lack of empathy: Asking a sociopath questions related to feelings are akin to a asking a therapist questions about calculus. It’s pretty fuzy and in both cases and in brain scans, the same area of the brain will light up in confusion. Go ahead and laugh, it’s funny. They're especially ignorant in their younger years but they learn the right things to say as they get older (have had more time to study you).
4. Secretive: Sociopaths don’t share intimate details unless it’s to manipulate in their behalf. They tell half-truths and the half they tell you will prop up their image. Or, they will utilize 'triangulation' as well, splitting people against the other, making themselves look better while you're non the wiser. They are masters of character assassination. Gossip is their friend and they'll always use it to prop themselves up in your eyes.
5. Charming: This is a skill they develop to attract people into their game so they can excel in life. You'll shake their hand and match their smile and then you'll walk away thinking, "what a great lady" ('or guy' depending on the sociopaths gender). They are clever and funny, always seeming to have the right thing to say. Fun part is - they've said the same lines over and over to hundreds of other people. They fine tune their lines over time figuring out what works and what doesn't work...old sociopaths are the best at it.
6. Sexually deviant: Since they lack guilt, remorse, and (much) emotional attachment, sociopaths tend to have affairs along with having questionable sexual activity (some studies have shown a higher level of testosterone in both male and female sociopaths). Beauty part is - they're so good at lying and avoiding (bad) exposure that the affairs are rarely proved although often suspected. If their secrets do come to light and they are confronted, the sociopath will eventually 'win' when it comes to convincing others that they're not to blame...they may even go as far as to say that they are a good person and they could have done a lot worse - so you should probably thank them.
Fun fact: Sociopaths (male and female) are reported as having higher levels of testosterone which correlates directly to deviant desires (along with aggression and criminality). Remember, the main reason they don't take away your life is because of potential negative consequences. On this tangent, I imagine that the military with the most sociopaths will have an advantage in war - not only would they be immune to feeling bad/nightmares/PTSD, they would also be able to think clearly and calmly in high stress situations because...they lack the emotion of fear. Sometimes my mind wanders but the notion feels valid, nonetheless.
7. Master Manipulators/lying - a lot: Psychological triangulation and splitting are sharp tools utilized by sociopaths. Lies of all shapes come easy to the sociopath…they can even FEEL genuine and look you straight in the eyes while telling you whatever they think you need to hear that will help them win the game. They could rob your house and then convince you that you owe them 8,000 dollars for helping you identify how someone could rob your house.
8. Sensitive to criticism: Here’s a fun one – somehow the sociopath needs admiration of others. It may be that 'looking good' or their ‘image’ is the most important aspect of their lives. They'll lie as easily as they breath in an effort to continue being seen as honorable, creditable, respectable, saintly even.
9. Calculated and patient: A good sociopath is in no hurry and will play the ‘long-con’ like a professional in order to get what they want which may even be to take away what someone else has...depending on their mood at the time - or how many side cons they have going on at the time.
10. Criminal behavior: This is just a gimme in the sociopath world. Why NOT be a criminal as long as you don’t get caught. White collar crime, here they come! Of course, it's not just one type of crime but I imagine that most sociopaths would have less boredom and more esteem when focusing on financially motivated crimes committed by businesses. It's easy to be dishonest if you don't have a conscious.
11. Narcissism: The sociopath will have a STRONG love of self along with a really grandiose image…they think they’re the cat’s meow. Some say that this stems from an overcompensation of having low self-esteem during childhood. Others say that their self awesomeness image stems from a deep seated anger developed at an early age from rejection. Don't feel sad for them, though - remember - your pity is their best tool against you.
12. Entitlement: The sociopath will believe that others owe them. You OWE them. And they’ll carry on and on about the debt, or title, or praise, etc. until they get it with complete belief that they are entitled to it (whatever it may be). Having no guilt or shame could easily come across as confidence which would be a powerful way to get something even when you haven't earned it.
13. Bored: A sociopath gets bored with a life of no/very little emotion (think of eating the same meal everyday for the rest of your life - bleh!). Because of this, they seek out risk – they exhibit high adrenaline behaviors. This tendency plays part in many aspects of their lives including criminality, immorality, fighting, entering conflict easily (legal battles, etc), drug use, etc and can also play out in constant high adrenaline activities.
14. Selfish. Not a team player: Because sociopaths don’t connect, they often will burn relationships readily including partnerships. This antisocial characteristic is a direct result of not being able to connect and doesn’t mesh well with typical workplace environments as a 'worker bee'. Often, you’ll either see sociopaths who are in high levels of management (where they don't have to take orders), have their own businesses (where they very typically engage in fraudulent activities) or have no employment at all (live off of others, inheritance, etc.), criminality, etc.
15. Victim: Sociopaths utilize pity to manipulate you.. If you know someone who never does anything wrong – or who throws accountability out the window – has an excuse for everything – doesn’t do what they say they’ll do – etc. Remember, when you hear something and can insert the 2 words, "poor me" after it, you're listening to a victim. Of course, they're not really the victim - but it's a powerful way to manipulate. Maybe the most powerful and they'll use it relentlessly.
Side note: Victim stance is the #1 thinking error I come across in therapy so not all people who utilize VS are sociopaths.
16. Staring: Sociopaths will stare at you. Creepy, right? Some call it a 'predator stare' because they look at you like you're an object - something to use - much like a predator would. This behavior has been reported as "tantalizing" when the person being stared at is the identified sexual target. Others can sense the danger behind it. As humans, 'staring someone down' indicates a challenge especially if you are the leader of the group. When a sociopath stares at you, humans tend to feel it; it's meant to be an intimidation. This often leads to others having an almost subconscious 'curiosity' for the sociopath which positions the predator well for whatever game they're after. In the animal world, it's a sign of danger. Trust your inner animal.
For fun, try catching the eye of someone across the room and after they notice you, don't look away. It's an odd thing - unless you're a cat. Those things will stare anything down because they are generally evil...laugh, this is meant to bring up your awareness, not to scare the crap out of you. Cats though...
Isn't this fascinating?! Kind of freaky, yes but awareness is necessary in order to climb out of chaos. The sociopath feeds off of chaos. Why? because confusion is a handy tool for manipulating (sensing a theme here?...). For socio and psychopaths, chess pieces don't have specific rules on the way they move. For this shameless population, chess pieces can be moved anywhere they want, in order to get what they want. They'll use pawns to move like a queen. Kings to move like a queen and if that doesn't work, they'll blow up your house and blame it on someone else. Remember, they aren’t playing by the same set of ‘consciousness’ rules as the rest of the 96%.
Eventually, after a few years (or many years, God help them) people around the sociopath gain awareness and are able to see the truth and when that happens, the sociopath simply move on to the next ignorant group that may not be so insightful in order to start another game. Or, if they're particularly invested in the place, will hunker down and play nice in hopes that time will forgive them in the eyes of the ones they've wronged. After all, humans have a very short memory and are easily distracted.
Once upon a time, I was in a game with a sociopath. Of course, I didn’t know it and for YEARS I was lost in their game. Years. Ignorance was not bliss. Words won't describe how that time of life felt but I can easily recall the powerful moment of realizing that someone had toyed around with my life and the life of my family (kids included) for a long, long time – why did they do it? Did they simply want what I had? Was it to distract themselves with some form of amusement? Or, was it just because they wanted to see if they could? I don't know. However, I do know that the experience almost broke up a family. Almost - but not quite.
Some people have a belief that what doesn't kill them makes them weaker. I've of the opposite opinion and, looking back, I’m thankful that it happened. I learned a lot about sociopaths and psychopaths but more important, I learned a most significant truth about myself - I discovered that my perceived value and identity - my whole foundation of happiness, even my ultimate goal of having an ETERNAL FAMILY could be stolen away...and I - would - survive.
From that experience came a level of independence that I didn't even know was missing. I experienced true freedom as everything I placed value in vanished, leaving me with nothing but myself to live for. The result; I can do a lot more now. I'm no longer SO AFRAID of losing external parts of what I value which results in living confidently. So, in that regard, thank you Mr. sociopath or psychopath or whatever you are - come think of it, I'm hoping they don't demand payment for wrecking my life investment. Haha, get it? Let me explain; because sociopaths are entitled and lack the ability to empathize with emotional pain, they'll believe that the end result: my awareness and new-found inner strength - was all because of them! Naturally, they'll take credit for me being innately resilient and could argue that I owe THEM. And if I don't pay a lump sum, they'll get to play victim! Brilliant! A win-win for them.
Sincerely though, I imagine a sociopath would be quite pleased to know depth of the chaos and destruction they cause in other peoples lives – they're are fond of thinking they're on someone’s mind. It strokes their ego in the best way. What they are not fond of is…negative exposure. NEGATIVE EXPOSURE. Bad publicity. UNFAVORABLE PERCEPTION - they definitely don't want to be known as the town JERK.
Having a good reputation is the ultimate goal for a psychopaths life-game.
For more info and if you want to take a look at the thoughts of an anonymous, well-known (yes, those two are dichotomous) and very intelligent sociopath, check out their website www.sociopathworld.com Spoiler alert – the sociopath and founder of the website is active LDS (or ‘Mormon’) paying a full 10% of their income to the religion and teaching in Sunday School. See?! It’s fascinating! Especially since I'm also active in the LDS religion and, come to think of it, at it's core the religion teaches compassion and forgiveness - the perfect environment for any psychopath.
Now the question you have to ask yourself is, if you've ever known a sociopath (and you definitely have), how much of your chess game being messed with?
Thanks for reading and make sure to check out and subscribe to "The Jed Said” YouTube channel found on youtube.com/meaningtolive
Till next time - awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Do you have a good therapist? Read on and find out.
It saddens me to say this but it’s true – there are a lot of sick therapists out there. Now, when I say ‘sick’, we’re not talking about physical ailments, anxiety, depression or about people who enjoy purposefully harming their clients (yes, they exist)…I’m talking about emotional health. I’ll never forget a conference I attended last year. As conferences go, this was much like the others and included down-times when we all had an opportunity to make connections. It was in once such moment when the other therapist mentioned how they believed that Therapists (themselves included) were in the field mainly because they felt broken somehow and thought that being a behavioral specialist would help them figure it out.
I believe they are partly right. Partly wrong as well. From what I’ve observed, there are some common reasons people become therapists. Let’s list them!
1. They are caregivers. The ‘health-field’ is full of these people and typically the behavior is a learned one (not a personality type – sorry!) growing from being raised in an environment of conditional acceptance. That, or they grew up in a home where caregiving behaviors were reinforced somehow; typically praise or acceptance or compliments…
To spot a caregiver turned Therapist – Listen for the phrase, “I’ve wanted to be a therapist for as long as I can remember.” That statement just screams, “I’ve found validation through taken care of unwell people for as long as I can remember!" If you don’t hear that, look for relentless coddling by the therapist. Side note: there are actually whole therapeutic models founded on not confronting, or JUST listening. In my opinion, this approach is great when the therapist needs to make his BMW payment. The last warning sign to look for is this - IF you start feeling like you ‘need’ the therapist to be ok: RUN. Not a good therapist. I remember hearing a co-worker once say, “the only reason I’m even here right now (meaning ‘alive’) is because of my therapist!”. Just not good. Another sentence I heard sounded something like this, “I can’t imagine NOT going to see my therapist. I’ve seen her for years.” Also, not good and a huge sign that your therapist is not as emotionally put together as you’d like to think.
2. They are traumatized. This professional has an intimate personal history in whatever specialty area they choose. And because of this deep scared knowledge of being raped, or living through the death of parents, or homosexuality, or an addiction, or (insert tragic past here) they gravitate towards the clientele struggling with the same thing. THIS PART IS NOT THE ISSUE and can be a great asset to connecting with others. But it’s HUGELY dangerous when they haven’t worked through their own stuff. If the therapist briefly discloses about themselves in order to connect with the client – that’s just fine. If a therapist uses his own life experience in order to explain a therapeutic concept – that’s also fine. But remember, this isn’t supposed to be about the therapist. It’s supposed to be about you, the client so the vulnerable info coming from the therapist needs to stay at a minimum.
To spot a trauma-based person turned Therapist – look for the conversation being more about themselves than you. “I remember when I was going through that, I’ll never forget when…..” Or if they go on AND ON about their own struggles or past trauma, it’s time for you to ABORT MISSION. Whenever a therapist starts talking more about themselves than you – you are now the one doing the therapy. And you should probably charge them. Not kidding.
There’s an epidemic of trauma-based therapists in the field of addiction. The issue being that people thing they NEED to be working in the field to maintain their sobriety. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for this place” or “that place saved my life and I owe them”. If a therapist says that – know that they haven’t worked through their own stuffs. If ANYONE says that, know that they haven’t worked through their own stuff. Whenever I have a client tell me that they want to work in a treatment center, I always say to them – “if you feel any different after entering the property than you do before you get there, you’re screwed.” Well that’s harsh! Why are they screwed Jed?! Let me tell you – because if that happens, they’re relying on something other than themselves to stay sober which never works for the long-term. Live on your own for a year and then work in the field and yes, I may be ranting a bit. Let’s get back on point.
3. They are in their second career. This happens for many of us and in my (probably) biased view – is the best category to be in. This type of therapist has an interest in people so they pursue a high level of education in order to be a licensed clinician. They aren’t working through trauma (otherwise known as charging money to other people while they through their own stuffs). They don’t have a ‘need’ to be caregiving in order to feel ok about themselves. They are just interested in people so they become a therapist. Believe me, if I could have made money playing video games or hiking around the mountains or looking for alligators with my best buddy, Jon – I would have. But there are just too MUCH BETTER gamers than myself and let’s face it, if treasure could be found wandering around the mountains or inside of alligators, everyone would be doing it. Miss you Jon. And I think it’s pretty lame of you to get on to the next adventure so ahead of me! Punk. Disregard the last 2 sentences - those were inside jokes meant for me.
Simmer down, readers – We’ll discuss how awesome it is when friends pass away in another post.
The gist of it comes down to this: I want you to be safe. I want to bring up your awareness. I want you to be independent. I want you to be aware. I want you to live and am hoping that if you know the red-flags of a bad therapist, you’ll have a better shot at working through whatever got you in therapy to begin with. The unexpected truth is that there are well meaning yet ignorant therapists out there who do more harm than good. They don’t know it but it’s the truth. Therapy is intended for you to grow. It’s meant to better your life. It's meant to help others.
A couple of last things: A therapist doesn’t have to HAVE a therapist in order to be a good therapist. Therapists are great but not intended to be a constant emotional crutch - even for another therapist. Also, if your therapist is your friend – they are not being effective. If a therapist is not confronting your shit – they are not being effective. If you aren’t uncomfortable with therapy – you are not in therapy. Being uncomfortable is when you grow the most and remember, your life isn’t getting any easier, you’re getting stronger. If you’re therapist is keeping you in therapy for years when your life is fine – you’re being used to fund the therapists car payment. A great way to keep that payment coming in - if you’re in the field of addiction - is by teaching your clients who are struggling with addiction that they have and will always have an incurable DISEASE - thus, they’ll always be in recovery.
Remember the story about the therapist at the conference? Well, She almost fell over when I didn’t agree with her statement about why people become therapists. Not all of us are troubled. In fact, I just had 3 come to mind so if you want a referral, I'm here to help.
Thanks for reading!
Jed Thorpe, CMHC.
SO OFTEN my clients come in with little to no awareness of how amazing, awesome, brilliant, resilient and awesome they are (yes, I said 'awesome' twice). And just as often, I go over what their value is and explain the rational and logic to support the discussion.
Who knew there were so many types of affairs?! Romantic, casual, emotional, cyber and even sanctioned 'hook ups' are all on the list but for now, let's focus on a general view of extra-marital activities. Why do people engage in hanky-panky? This is a complicated question which, by nature, would require a complicated answer. However, as nobody in their right mind wants to read about complicated things (although you likely would if you’ve read this far) we’ll keep it simple and focus on just one aspect. One.
A huge lie that our culture tells us
When we’ve been wrong we want the person who’s wronged us to apologize. And with that “sorry” we feel better about the situation and often ‘forgive’. But really, the resolution that we think happens only comes because we change our belief around the situation.
It has no effect on us other than changing the way we think about it.
Often, people are hurt by others and believe they need the other person to take accountability for the offense (whatever it may be). People go for YEARS being angry and holding grudges with the thought that they’ll feel better ‘or forgive’ the person once they hear an apology! They carry around the negative emotion for years! How exhausting…
And all because of a belief system.
Try this one belief system on for size. The truth is that they are the same person before and after the apology. The other person has no ability to ‘make’ them feel in any way – the person making them feel angry or resentful or sad (etc) is themselves. Their own thinking about the situation creates the emotion.
The truth is that you don’t need the other person to take responsibility to be ok or whole or complete or repaired or OK. You don’t need to be 'heard'. You don't even need the other person to understand where you’re coming from in order to be happy.
It's a nice thought - but it's not necessary.
"Letting it go" is a phrase that bugs me. It feels too 'magical' and unexplainable. And more often than not, when I hear someone say that they really are saying that they're "stuffing it down." Actually processing through being hurt emotionally (actually getting over something) is changing the way YOU THINK about it – it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the other person and EVERYTHING to do with you.
Isn’t it wonderful that you are in complete control of how you feel?
Isn’t it wonderful that you are stronger and have more power than you think you do?
Thinking causes feeling causes behaviors.
Have a great weekend.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
First off know this – Suicide will effect our lives so we may as well talk about it. Second off - the topic is to always be taken seriously. Now, let's continue in the blog-fun. I remember this topic as a kid being a bit 'taboo-ish'. People just didn't talk about it and if the subject was brought up, the message implied that people who committed suicide were weak AND that they were going to hell. Or in other words, it was viewed as a moral deficiency – like the person who died was selfish and/or inconsiderate...and would burn because of their ineptitude. Currently and thank goodness, it’s more understood as an action made to escape suffering – sadness, grief/depression…which is more accurate if you ask me. I also believe that anyone who goes through with killing themselves is not thinking rationally, clearly or logically. Any way you look at it, it's a pretty scary thing so it makes sense that, as a culture, we've gravitated towards protecting people from suicide by being aware of warning signs. The list may include the following:
"Human trafficking, modern-day slavery, has never been in greater number than it is today. " Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes at a panel discussing human trafficking
Right away let's get this out of the way - even if you don't know what Heroin or Pain Pill looks like, you need to read this post. At some point you or someone you know will be effected by drugs so may as well know a little about it. Information is power and chaos comes from a lack of awareness.
I should probably put that last sentence in a meme or something.
Ok, SUBOXONE! Let me give you a quick skinny from a Mental Health Therapist's point of view...by the way, I've been working in the field of addiction for years so this isn't coming from a completely ignorant point of view. I hear the word Suboxone 5 days a week.
What is Suboxone (often referred to as "Subs")? Great question - and easy to answer on the surface level which is where we're going to keep this blog. Subs are a combination of 2 other drugs combined; Bupenorphine and Nalexone. But before we get into that, let'd do some 'brain talk'. Amongst a few million other things to talk about, our brain has receptors in them. Receptors open and shut allowing for certain feelings to be felt. An "ANTAGONIST" is a chemical that opposes or shuts down a receptor in the brain. An "AGONIST" activates certain receptors in the brain.
Ugh, I know - brain talk is so boring. And this is why I didn't become a brain doctor. Alright, lets talk Buprenophine (often referred to as "bup" pronounced "bupe"). Bup is an opioid derivative (imitation) that’s 25-40 times more potent...and lasts way longer than morphine (also an opioid). BUP is a 'partial' opioid ‘agonist’. This means it ‘partially activates’ the opioid receptors in the brain. If full agonists are like wide open doors – bup is the opioid door only partially open. Same feel, just less…and it waaaay longer.
Next we have Naloxone. Now this stuff is legit. An Opioid ANTagonist It COMPLETELY BLOCKS the opioid receptors. Another term for this is“Narcan” – If you find someone that’s taken more opioids their body can tolerate you give them they go into OD (over-dose) which can cause death. Give them NARCAN and it immediately blocks the opioid receptors in the brain and saves people’s lives...and takes away the HIGH. Bye Bye, High.
Side note – you have to be clean at least 3 of days before taking subs – otherwise you get sick.
What is Suboxone? It's an actual opioid receptor blocker (antagonist) combined with a 'partial' opioid receptor activator (agonist). I know I know, why didn't I just say that in the beginning?
Other things to know about Suboxone - Sub withdrawals PEAK after 6-8 days and can last up to a month or longer! Remember, the BUP is longer lasting so it takes the brain longer to get rid of it vs a heroin detox taking around 4 days to peak and then you're back to life after 7 days. Because of the detox being so significantly LONGER you may be recommended to take a FULL YEAR in order to TAPER from subs by your doctor. AND just like HEROIN, the more you’re doing and the longer you’re on it, the longer it takes to withdraw. And not all dr's can prescribe Suboxone! I'm not positive on this but I think that to start off, a Dr. will only be able to have a very limited amount of clients on suboxone...10 or 15 maybe? Then the next year they can apply and have more allowed and then the next year the number can grow - not sure what it tops out at but when I worked at a suboxone clinic, the Dr. saw people all day long 2 times a week. 15 minute sessions. 250.00 per appointment.
Expect a few hours max to feel ‘normal’ when on subs. After that, you’ll get tired and groggy.
In a lot of ways, you are trading one chain for another chain. It isn’t being ‘clean’ – it’s doing a drug that’s more socially acceptable and less likely to kill you quickly. You can still Over Dose on SUBS.
I’m not here to debate medication use for opioid dependence - I’m here to be honest and reflect what I observe and here’s what I have observed while working in the addiction field for years – and by all means, I AM NOT GIVING MEDICATION ADVICE – just reflecting what I’ve observed like a good therapist.
And here's what I want to be the LOUDEST reflection for you - I’ve witnessed more people go into recovery and STAY in recovery without the use of subs than I have with the use of SUBS. The sub maintenance plan seems to come back more often for more rehab. No Sub Dr. will tell you that. Rather, they'll say that you're LESS likely to remain sober without subs. I've heard it. And it's not what I've seen.
Treat detox like a bandaid - RIP IT OFF! Have support and a good treatment team there to assist when you need but for the love, just get the withdrawals over with so you can start doing the tough stuff...like facing all those emotions you cover up with drugs.
Thanks for reading,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
In the life of blessedness self-reliance is of the utmost importance. If there is to be peace there must be strength; if there is to be security there must be stability; if there is to be lasting joy there must be no leaning on things, which at any moment may be snatched away forever.
A man or woman does not begin to truly live until he or she finds an immovable center within themselves on which to stand, by which to regulate their lives, and from which to draw their peace. If they trust to that which fluctuates, they also fluctuate; if they lean upon that which may be withdrawn they will fall and be bruised; if they look for satisfaction in perishable accumulations, they will starve for happiness in the midst of plenty.
Let a man or woman learn to stand alone, looking to no one for support; expecting no favors, craving no personal advantage; not begging nor complaining, not craving nor regretting, but relying upon the truth within them, deriving their satisfaction and comfort from integrity from their own heart.
As a child learns to walk in order to go about from place to place of itself strong and unaided, so should a man or woman learn to stand alone, to judge and think and act for themselves, and to choose, in the strength of their own mind, the pathway which they shall walk.
James Allen, Standing Alone, "Byways of Blessedness"
Anyone who knows my style of therapy or has ever been my client will recognize the message from James Allen (above) - You are enough. Your worth doesn't stem from anything external (not even family). It's absolutely possible to create happiness with just yourself. It's ok to want something - not need something in order to be ok.
These are not new messages.
As always, comments are welcome...and I don't know about you, but this was JUST what I needed to read today.
Live with meaning,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Valentines Day... it comes with some emotion even if you're not in a relationship. Why is this day a soft spot for Singles? Because it's a day celebrating 'love' so if you aren't in Love or don't have 'that special someone' you must not be accepted by the Holiday (that's the message, I get). This is kind of a big deal if you ask me! What other Holiday rejects a large portion of the population? None come to mind. To be honest, I would completely do away with this Heart Day nonsense if I had my way - do we really need a special day to celebrate love and BTW, if your partner only feels love from you one day a year; you're really in trouble. Unfortunately, I don't get my way on this and it's here so if you happen to be S.I.N.G.L.E., you're really going to dig the first way to keep a relationship strong...and the other 4 will come in handy, too.
1. Learn to be OK and/or complete – alone. It's natural to 'want' someone - human nature leads us to connect with others. It's not healthy to NEED another person in order to feel OK and/or complete. Personally, I blame 'Disney' or 'Hollywood' for that belief system. So, if you're reading this and are unable to think of a time (year or more) where you weren't in a relationship (emotionally or physically), you're likely in danger of being in the 'need' category.
2. Spend at least 90 minutes a week talking with them - directly - one on one. It's not much, if you think about it (there's 10,080 minutes in a week - surely you can give 90 to the one you profess to love). 90 minutes connecting with them on an emotional level - not making out or levi lovin' or sexin' it up - that's physical connection and that doesn't sustain connection. This 90 minutes can be done laying in bed after the work-day, on a bike ride, in the shower, eating dinner, etc. There are countless ways to create time and where you spend yours will reflect what you prioritize in your life as important. Get off the video games, fellas'. Clock off from the job, Ladies.
3. Have at LEAST 1 date a week - maybe 2. This one is easy when it's 'new love' (NRE Phase) but becomes tricky when the relationship matures into years. Life can have an unbalancing effect if you're not aware and consistent in re-balancing. Remembering what you prioritize with your time will be essential to maintaining a healthy and happy connection with your partner.
4. Beware of RESENTMENT (Ominous music here). If it is there, be curious as to where you are accountable for the behaviors you're upset with. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Resentment is an off-shoot of being a victim (which we all know isn't really possible) and leads to the famous "4 horsemen of the apocalypse" that John Gottman describes as Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. Any of those alone can be relationship killers which makes sense - in the Bible, the 4 horsemen equate to War, Famine and Death. Don't let any one of them get close.
5. Lastly, when you argue (and you will), make sure to make up afterwards. It's fine (and often WISE) to take a walk and cool down when conflict becomes heated. Often-times, reacting in anger causes more of an issue than the original argument! A good amount of time to 'cool down' is 90 minutes (that number sounds familiar). After that, return and communicate through the issue. When it goes longer than that, you may be toying with the 4th horseman - "Stonewalling". Most of the time after taking a break, people will feel more calm and rational - less impulsive. There's actually brain science to back up the 'right-left' action of walking. Science says that it will help your mind work through negative emotions/thinking errors so when I mention "take a walk", I'm being quite literal. Take a walk. Or a run. Or call me and we'll do some EMDR therapy.
Thanks for reading! I'll be sure to do a 'Jedsays' youtube on this goodness later today. Check that out at www.youtube.com/meaningtolive
Comments are welcome and if you can think of anyone that would benefit from this information - share it. Please for the love, share it. Couples counseling is expensive.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Ok, people. I've seen the light. And when I say that - I'm not talking about the glowing light from the cell phone. The cell reference is purposeful because that's what is on my mind right now. It's also literally in my peripheral because heaven knows we don't go far without our phones.
In FACT, I was about to go to lunch with Todd, a friend from work when I realized that my cellular life-line wasn't on my person. The knowledge was so uncomfortable that I chose to go back into the building and find it even when we were only going to be gone for 20 minutes. The even wilder part of this was I put that much importance in my phone DIRECTLY AFTER finding some 'time facts' online correlated to cell phone use. Want to know what I discovered?
It's great news, actually. You know how you spend 1/3rd of your life asleep? Well, last year you also spent an ENTIRE MONTH on your phone. And when I say "month", we're talking literal time spent - in other words, you don't get to factor in time eating or sleeping - it's 24 hours a day for an entire month spent on your cell phone.
An entire month - here's the breakdown...google was my source.
This statistic shows the average daily usage of social media worldwide. As of 2017, daily social media usage of global internet users amounted to 135 minutes per day, up from 126 daily minutes in the previous year.
Now before you're super impressed, know that this took me a few hours as math is something I haven't spent a lot of time mastering. ALSO, if I'm off - please let me know so I don't spread false nonesensical stuffs.
135 minutes a day come to 945 MINUTES a week.
945 minutes (1 week) multiplied by 4 is 3780 MINUTES (in a month)
3780 minutes (1 month) multiplied by 12 is 45,360 MINUTES (in a year)
AND there's only 43,800 minutes in a standard month so...yea.
Here's a shorter way to calculate for you smarties out there.
There's 52 weeks in a year. 52 multiplied by 945 comes to 49,140 MINUTES a year.
AND there's only 43,800 minutes in a standard month so...yea.
This hits home with me when it comes to me. Initially my brain wants to go to - HOLY CRAP! IF 'TIME EQUALS LOVE' WHO'S MOST IMPORTANT IN MY LIFE? And the uncomfortable truth is - North Americans are generally putting cell phones/social media over there own Kids, spouse, significant other, education, career, service, etc...all easy go to's. Is it any wonder the rates of depression and anxiety are at all time highs?
And I'm not even going into the chemical or developmental aspects of cell phones. That's a whole other topic entirely.
And now, the fun part - WHAT...WILL...I...DO...NOW?
Hope you enjoyed! If you have any further questions about stuff that'll make you happier - see my "JED SAYS" youtube channel.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC, TIME WASTER?
A lot of you may not remember Mr. Rogers. He was a little before my time, but I actually remember him. First impression wise, he appeared to be a sweater wearing dorky looking middle aged man who was in some weird on-going puppet-skit for kids. As a youngin', I would watch if something better wasn't on - like duck-tales or GI Joe or any cartoon really. Still, I must have watched a lot because I've memorized the 'it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood' jingle. The show obviously made an impression on me and I wasn't alone. The puppets and skits were also used to make an impression with North American culture.
Times were controversial back then. There was a lot going on including segregation of 'black and white' Americans, African Americans on TV with a recurring role, The space shuttle 'challenger' crashing, gun violence, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther Kind, Jr., Gay rights, Nuclear War, Divorce and Growing up. Mr. Rogers tackled them all and more with the help of his imagination and puppets. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Peabody Award and was in the Television Hall of Fame. How did a Presbyterian minister get to be a hero for children? How did an average guy with no real history in show business rank 35 in the top 50 of the greatest TV Stars of All time?
How did he do it? I'll tell you. He saw something that needed to be done and he focused his energy into doing something about it. From my perspective, he appears to be honest, genuine, loyal and courageous. Brave enough to tackle difficult and complex challenges in order to help people; particularly the children. He said what he wanted to say in a way that even simple minds could understand - if they wanted to. He possessed integrity and was the same person on and off the screen. From my research, many a reporter attempted to dig up 'dirt' but discovered that Mr. Rogers was the same guy everywhere he went. No hidden agenda's. No secret affairs. He was happy. Funny. People liked to be around him as he lived by the exact moral code that he preached.
Do you live by what you preach? Do I?
Last night...maybe a couple of night ago, my wife and I were in the middle of our usual evening banter when I threw in how I thought of myself as being similar to Mr. Rogers. Natalie laughed initially because Mr. Rogers appeared timid on screen. Passive even, whereas she's witnessed me as a bit confrontational and overly honest to people (if there is such a thing as 'overly honest') to the point that people have taken offense. I've been known to be straight forward and passionate both teaching and defending truths that I believe in and hold close to my heart. So, when it comes to being political with subtlety, I am quite different from Mr. Rogers. He was much better at that than I ever will be. He seemed to have much more patience and cleverness in that area than I. He was a master at using his influence for good in a way that people didn't even realize they were learning anything - they thought they were watching a kids program! I am working towards that but my interest in being subtle is just not there so I'll likely stick to the shotgun approach of honest reflection even when it has consequences that may potentially effect financial livelihood.
Some clients choose not to return to therapy because with awareness comes accountability. And taking accountability can be a very uncomfortable place. Especially when it comes to a behavior that may not be judged as being appropriate.
Being uncomfortable is...uncomfortable. And it's great. I had a wonderful experience a long ago in a galaxy far away that involved an accusation. I was accused of being a __________ friend (the exact term isn't even coming to mind right now...maybe by the end). Initially I didn't even understand the term as I've never heard it before. You may not have heard it either so another way to think of it is the more used term 'frenemy'. Or, someone who pretends to be your friend but then tries to cut you down at especially vulnerable moments in front of you or behind your back. It's especially confusing because you think this person is your friend so the behaviors are surprising and we don't want to believe that it's actually happening because...well, they're your friend.
The accusation was backed with an example of something that I said at a party during a white elephant gift exchange weeks prior. During the confrontation, I was very genuinely surprised. It came out of left field for me...still, I wanted to be open and take accountability where possible so I expressed my apologies saying that I sincerely didn't mean anything offensive and had no ill-feelings or wishes towards the person. And that was that. I had cleaned up something that appeared on my side of the street...but it wasn't cleaned on on their side which resulted in me being asked repeatedly to take accountability of being a 'frenemy' even a week after being accused. "I just want you to acknowledge it" they said, but I couldn't because it just wasn't accurate. Still, it felt good knowing that I wasn't hiding anything. It felt good being honest. My heart rate didn't rise. My emotions didn't escalate. I was being the same person in that room as I am outside of that room.
Has anyone felt this way? Pressured by someone else to take accountability for something that they didn't do? Feels like a manipulation to me. Like, if I did 'admit' to it, they would feel better about it somehow. And I still can't remember the exact term it's called so we'll stick with 'frenemy'. Wait...it's coming to me - "ambivalent"! Ambivalent Friend. That's the term. I had to youtube it and as I watched, I couldn't help but that the whole concept sounded 'victimy' and found myself wondering, "if I thought strongly that someone was trying to hurt me while pretending to be my friend, I don't think I'd continue in that relationship...so if someone CHOOSES to continue in that risky relationship - well, that sounds like that'd be on them - not the person they chose to be friends with."
Why would you choose to be close to someone that you know is trying to hurt you?
I am living the exact code that I preach. I. Am. Mr. Rogers. Except, I don't wear a sweater and rather than work with children, choose to focus on adults largely in the field of addiction, depression and anxiety (any negative emotions, really). Instead of puppets and catchy jingles, I use a blog and youtube....and therapy. Yes, I still need to work on the subtle piece...but for now will go with the famous words of Joe Rogan, "It's better to have honest conflict than dishonest harmony."
Till next time, live well.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC.
Wrote this poem in 1999. The cadence is different - quick...but it works. Enjoy!
Let me tell you of a fact
Of "oh, look there! The Acrobat"
They jump, glide and fly at will
They turn and spin, they're never still
But on and away, they're the baton that leads
And they're the joyful song
That makes me smile and gasp intake
With laughter, silence - no mistakes
For peril follows any move
That doesn't match the perfect groove
Just watch; the timing, movement, grace
The pressure shows not on their face
Or in their thoughts, not anywhere
Slow down your fears
Hush, hush - there, there.
Let not this show you view called life
Affect you so, or cause you strife
But always keep this thought in mind
"In time that fall will be behind"
Meander not for worries sake
Child, rush for life! On to the next take
Of one, two, three or however need be
Just don't stop moving, progressing, improving
On to the next leap, roll, feign can't you see
That all of us are Acrobats: We?
From the starting of time
That cannot be thought
Impressed with a spirit
ALL ACROBATS FOUGHT
For a scene in the circus
A roar from the crowd
We lived for the moment
For learning the nows and hows and wow
I wonder, could it be
That all of that cheering...is for me?
And though we fall and trip - a lot
The roar from before, it never stops
But urges me on and off of my seat
With a tuck and a leap, I'm THROUGH that feat.
And there's where we learn
And that's when we feel
The thought from inside
"Now child, don't be still"
Did you make it through the whole poem? I've no idea how it got that long. In any case, the poem reminds me of a few principles that I live by and teach today.
1. We are priceless. All of us. Not 'special' but 'unique'.
2. We are all the same. We're all 'acrobats'...sometimes we just forget.
3. With every 'fall' we learn and grow. We progress no matter what.
4. We are eternal. Limitless. Priceless.
5. Keep going. So you fell again - it happened. Get up and get moving.
It’s an odd concept. And it’s also true.
Initially, the thought of connecting to ‘pity’ being ‘powerful’ seems counter intuitive. “Pity is bad, Jed. Power is good!” Or, “No, no – Pity is something you DON’T want while it’s great to have POWER.” The 2 words just don’t seem to jive well…but they’re actually easily connected. And here’s how.
Power is – at the beginning, middle and end of the day, the ability to get what you want by getting others do what you want. Pity does the same thing just in a sneakier way. Think about it. As humans, the VERY large majority of us have a little thing that we’re born with; compassion. We innately want to help. We actually feel discomfort when we see someone in need which is why commercials show starving children in Africa when asking for money. The thought of children being neglected is uncomfortable so we give money. Your desire to make yourself more comfortable is reflexive; like when you hit the bottom of your knee and kick automatically...and this is where the power (or the ability to manipulate) comes to play.
Here’s something fun. I’m going to bring up someone who you really pity. Who do you think I'm talking about??? Right away, your mind goes to someone in DIRE circumstances. Someone who’s been oppressed. Someone who's been dealt a bad hand. Someone who needs help…would you be surprised that it's the United States of Americas President Trump?
President Trump is a master of using pity. A real artisan, if you ask me. Oh wait, let me preface this by saying that I’m not that political. The topic just doesn’t interest me and this is actually great for us both. Great for me because I get to view things in a non-bias way and great for you because you know that I don’t really care so this info will be more accurate. Now, where were we….Oh yes. We were just about to discuss how Pres. Trump has gained and kept so much POWER by way of PITY. Let me explain because this is actually pretty fun to talk about. I just love awareness.
Right off the bat, I think about the way he plays (manipulates) his audience via saying things to portray that he’s the underdog. Let me google this real quick and -- presto! Way back in 1999, he’s in an interview with Larry King and says, “I’ve often said, the rich people hate me, and the workers love me”. Now let’s jump to 2016 and he still is using the line, saying “You wanna know why they hate me – why they really hate me? I let all of you in on the game. That’s why they hate me!”
Do you feel the compassion? People HATE him…and he’s trying to help us! We need to help him because the poor guy needs us! He’s alone in this. What a brave person, to expose them for us.
Pity = manipulation = power.
It’s really the ultimate power if you think about it. Anyone can be turned with pity because of the innate sense of compassion we possess. One of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE pity/manipulation/power plays I’ve heard Pres. Trump verbalize was around the time of the “me too” movement. Remember that? You should, it’s still going on but just in case you’ve been in a man-cave for the last year. The “Me Too” movement is all about women being honest, brave and vulnerable about being sexually assaulted and harassed. I love it because it’s led to many men being held accountable for their deplorable/predatory and demeaning behaviors towards women. But wait, that’s not how everyone feels.
Ok, here’s just the best pity play that I may have ever heard in my life. It happened back in Oct. of 2018 and I actually heard the speech and for a split second I actually FELT the pity…for men. Right? Crazy, huh. Even with the decades of harassment going on against women, I felt pity for men as I heard this phrase come out of the Presidents mouth. “It’s a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.”
These poor men. They have been dealt a bad hand. It’s unfair. We need to help them.
Do you feel it? Do you feel the pull of compassion with this sentence? Do you see how powerful pity can be?
This is victim thinking and manipulation at it’s best. It’s powerful. It’s used to control you…even more impressive, the pity/victim tactic is sparking part of your core being in order to get what they want. Ugh, compassion! Why must you be there?! Well played, those of you who know this and do it anyway. Well played.
Wanna try this 'poor me' power play out for yourself? Don’t actually do this, but think about it. Next time you need something from someone, give them a good ole’ fashion sob (poor me) story…one where they HAVE to feel that reflex of compassion and see - what – you - can - get.
And now that you know, I wonder what you’ll do.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Maybe I’ll do a youtube on this. https://www.youtube.com/meaningtolive
Till next time, live well!
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Don't do anything for someone that they can do for themselves.
It's an interesting concept - this term "enabling". I see it over and over in my field of work which is addiction. And because of this continuous observation, it becomes all the more evident that this 'enabling' happens all over the place. I've done it with my own kids so know first-hand how easy it is. As my kiddos are below the ages of 12, my enabling looks kind of like this - "Kids, clean your rooms."...and after waiting an hour it's still not done and I do it myself. My actions of cleaning their rooms has done a few things besides save myself some time - some of which, you may not have thought of (ever).
Let's see how this whole cleaning up my kids room has benefited me.
My actions have first and foremost relieved my being uncomfortable with their rooms being unclean. I can't stand a messy room and am quite fond of organization (although you wouldn't believe that if you saw my house). Second, my actions have had the consequences of me feeling like quite the helper and I think to myself, "wow, what a good Dad you are." Third, I get to feel like I'm doing service; doing something nice for my offspring. "What a good PERSON I am - unselfishly serving my children. FOURTH, I get to hold this over their heads if need be. "Ok kids, I have cleaned your room so now you OWE ME a solid so quit fighting with each other and go to sleep." This benefit comes in quite handy if I'm a fan of the ever so effective GUILT TRIP. Fifth, I get to feel superior and look impressive to my wife and she'll think quite highly of me. It's great when people think highly of you, isn't it? I could go on but you get the point.
Now, let's talk about how this affects my children.
First and foremost, I have robbed them of feeling good about themselves. Yea, I stole it from them. It makes sense when you think about it - I asked them to do something and they didn't 'get' to do it so they never enjoyed to feel the sweet pleasure of accomplishment...a pleasure that I actually felt after cleaning the room. Second, they don't learn how to do uncomfortable things. Third, they learn that they don't 'get' to do uncomfortable things when they procrastinate long enough. Fourth, they don't 'get' to NOT accomplish the task and then be directed on how to do it right. Ok, that's a double negative so let me explain; when they say "Dad, I'm finished!" and I come down and find that there is still a lot of crap on the floor, they don't 'get' to feel that disappointment and frustration. Yes...they're supposed to feel those things. If they don't - or if they're handed things too easily in life - they never grow their own resilience and that will end up being a huge dilemma for them when (and if) they move out or start 'adulting'. Fifth, my enabling sends them the message that they're special. That the normal rules for society don't apply to them. They could very easily pick up behaviors of entitlement...or acting like brats (talking back, being sassy, being bully's, etc.) because they have learned FROM ME that the rules of society don't apply to them.
This - Is - Enabling. Don't do anything for someone that they can do for themselves - even when we think it's easier or takes less energy. If you do enable, you are robbing them of their independence which not only creates a human that isn't equipped for life - it also creates a human who will resent you in the end.
These are my thoughts on a Friday. Probably will do a Meaning To Live Life Hack on this. What do you think about this? Can you insert this into your own life?
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
First and foremost - any lack of honesty is a lie - a deceit. I believe that nothing bad can come from telling the truth/being honest. I need to preface that because when I discuss the types of liars, the last one to reference sounds like a monster but in reality, they're still humans. Just humans lacking conscious.
I'm going to create a glaze sentence and say that there may be 4 types of liars...yea, I did it. I'm adding another type on the fly (and I didn't even mention this in my youtube video!) and we'll call it the 'casual liar'. This is the guy that doesn't go about with the repeated habitual pattern of lying. I liken this one to my kids, who - ages 7 and 11 are realizing that if they spin the truth a bit, they get out of doing stuff they may not want to do. Is your room clean? "Why yes, it is. I'm going to my friends house now!". This type of liar seems like they're just trying to get out of menial truths - and they're likely attached to their favorite KIND of lie; the "white lie." I didn't name it - it's a horrible name but that topics for another discussion.
#1. Compulsive Liars – These people typically are NOT convincing and easy to spot.
*they ramble, confuse their stories, avoid eye contact, look nervous, etc.
#2. Pathological Liars – These people are actually semi-good liars because they
lie so much that they’re very skilled at it. They can look RIGHT at you while fibbing because they believe their intensity will convince you of the story. This type has been studied for a while and the textbooks tell us that they develop this behavior as a defense to cover up some trauma or avoid something severe in their lives. This type seems more reflexive in their lies (imagine kicking your leg after the doctor smacks the bottom of your knee with that hammer thing - reflex) and with the behavior/deceit stemming from something more than just wanting to deceive, it’s more innocent to me.
Next and the most dangerous
#3. Sociopath Liars – 4% of the population (4 out of 100)
These are the best liars…These are the ones that actually ‘feel’ like they’re
telling the truth. And they fool professionals regularly. Even me. Here’s the thing - They lack empathy so don’t feel shame or guilt or bad for their behaviors. Their actions are based on life being a game that they get to manipulate. "Jed, we ALL manipulate!" Yes, but our manipulations are done with rules in place. The sociopath has no guilt, no shame and no remorse so they're playing by a completely different set of rules. And even after they get caught, they'll just start the whole process of gaining your trust over again and the crazy thing is that people actually let them back in to their lives. Of course, they get burned again, too but that's all part of the game. If you've watched "The Walking Dead", there's a good example of a sociopath story being towards the end...the cheese maker had one locked up in a home-made cell.
I think of sociopaths as rattlesnakes. They are what they are and we can learn a lot from them. But I'm going to stay away from their circle of life as much as I can. Hmm, how cool would it be if the sociopath actually had a warning system in place like the rattlesnake? Maybe I should change my analogy to them being more like black-widows. I once had one of those crawling over my headboard of the bed with my whole family just inches below! I noticed it as I got up to get a drink - talk about crapping my pants...I didn't let on but while my heart was racing out of my chest, I grabbed a shoe and smashed the family killer before they knew what happened. Ok, that was a tangent....back to the subject.
“Martha Stout” Wrote - The Sociopath Next Door - and refers to a rule of 3's.
"One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility
may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake.
But three lies says you’re dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of
One doesn't have to be a sociopath to lie a lot - with enough practice, people can numb out their conscience and I wish I knew all of this when I was younger because DAAANG, with hindight being 20/20, the rule of 3's info definitely would have come in handy.
As always, comments are welcome and if you want to see more, check out my youtube.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
What others think and how you feel
A link that should not be
That care of needing to belong
Is often vanity
"Who's watching now and what might they say?"
Why entertain this thought?
To live your life for anothers view
Is to live a life of not
"Don't talk to him, he's not our type"
Is the phrase of a snake, a hiss
And if you heed this lowly cry
A friend you'll likely miss
"Look at her, can you believe?"
Are words of judgment; fire
And by and by sometime one might
Be thinking - you're the liar
My friends friend had a friend that said
A story has more than one side
And when a book is read all the way through
The pages have nothing to hide
So live your life, be fair and kind
Watch what you think and do
Focus your energy to better yourself
Live this life for you
Originally written April 16th, 1996
How about, "Gotta FEEL Good!" Why do we put more energy into our physical appearance than our emotional wellness?
Ever notice how much advertisements focus on physical wellness? Diets, gyms, protein bars, healthy drinks of all shapes and forms, groceries, muscle milk and the list goes on and on. Why? Because they’re “the only body we have!” That’s one of my favorite phrases that comes out of the mouth of a client who is struggling with addiction. They come to a rehabilitation program and all of a sudden, focus all of their energies into building up their physical wellness when 2 weeks prior they had been almost dead from Heroin and Meth use (fill in the blank on whatever drug/alcohol it happens to be). There are a lot of therapy/external validation tangents I could go on but instead let me ask a question -
Do you think they stayed clean after leaving? You know the answer.
I wonder how much different this world would be if we put more importance/energy/time into our emotional health? How would life be different had we been taught at a young age the reasons why we felt sad, stressed and anxious. If you think about it, we understand at a YOUNG age that when we see blood, we tell someone and get help (clean it and cover it with a band aid). But what about when we get hurt emotionally? Yea, there’s really no teachings or emotional procedures taught to caregivers. Instead, we rely on what we learned from our own caregivers who – frankly, didn’t know anything. “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Sound familiar? I’m sure you can think of your own familiar phrases used by caregivers who were just clueless as to how to help or comfort emotional pain as our culture.
This is not a ‘blame’ blog. Rather, it’s intended to be an “explain” blog.
Here’s what I’d like to see.
In other words, it takes more strength and courage to talk about emotions than it does to act like you don’t have any.
As a culture, it'd be wise to start putting focus on emotional intelligence and health ABOVE our physical awesomeness (or lack thereof). Otherwise, we’re setting ourselves up for a really shallow and unfulfilling life. Maybe I shouldn't be saying this because if you think about it - I'm potentially blogging/youtubing/therapatizing my way out of a job.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
These are my thoughts on a Thursday.
Till Next time,
This is a great question! And, luckily for us, has a great answer from our psychological Grandfather - Freud. Freud of all people. Again, I'm forced to give credit to a model of therapy that I really don't give a lot of energy towards. STILL, I do believe we have blind spots and that correlates to our unconsciousness so there you have it - a connection between my CBT world and Freud.
Secondary gains are from Freud and they explain a lot about our behaviors. As humans, we are motivated to do certain behaviors. When we are sick, we're motivated to stay in bed. When we are angry, we're motivated to yell or scream or hit or whatever. Even 'addiction' has motivation underneath. Let's start there.
The behavior of doing drugs BEGINS with the need to cover up negative emotions (rejection, abandonment, trauma...) so in actuality, doing drugs gives the primary gain of covering up hurt. Now, the secondary gains are less obvious. Freud says they're in our unconscious but I like to think that it doesn't take much digging to figure them out. As I list a few off, pay attention to how you feel about them and whether they ring a bell or not. Here goes...
1. People expect less from someone doing drugs. This is largely because they've been trained to believe that stress or anxiety or some external force 'triggers' your use and they think they can actually help by lightening their life expectations of you.
2. People give you stuff. And by this, I mean they pay for your bills. Cell phone, insurance, food, housing...it all adds up to a pretty inexpensive way to exist.
3. You have a reason not to work full time...or part time if you play your cards right.
4. You get a LOT of attention. Good attention and bad attention - it's all attention. This comes to play especially when there are rejection issues going on. Sometimes, there's a jacked up belief system of 'contingent acceptance' going on and the pattern of drug use and seeing of the family still 'supports' them is acknowledged again and again.
Has your kid ever been sick at school. The behavior is to go home with the primary gain to become well again. Secondary gains may include:
1. kid learns they don't have to turn in homework that day...homework they may not have remembered.
2. They don't have to sit through classes and potentially do uncomfortable brain work.
3. Maybe when they went home, they were allowed to watch TV or play video games...or play with _________ (anything fun). If so, it's likely that they'll get 'sick' again and again - largely because they have a lot of secondary gains from the behavior.
Anger is another biggie. Let's go over this without the bullet points. The primary gain always involves manipulating control of some kind but the secondary gains are more subtle. Have you ever been around an 'angry person' and felt like you had to walk on eggshells? Having spoken to people with anger issues, when they're honest about it, this behavior from others gives them a sense of power and - they - like - it. Another secondary gain correlates to motivation - some people are actually MOTIVATED by being angry. They use the feeling to go out and exercise or even get out of bed and go to work. I once had a client who came to me for 'anger issues' but the more we peeled the anger onion, the more it became clear that he was quite fond of his angry feelings because in his own belief system, they assisted him in accomplishing a lot of life goals. After a few sessions I advised that if his goal wasn't to get rid of his anger, therapy was likely not going to help and we parted ways. The experience taught me something invaluable - and it goes a little something like this and you can quote me.
"If the secondary gain is too high, people won't change."
Back to Freud. And it's a question that I'm still batting around in my head - it looks something like this. If secondary gains are gains that are 'unconscious' - what happens when the awareness rises and the gains are understood? Do they become primary gains?
Thanks for reading and I hope you've checked out my 'meaning to live life hacks' youtube station!
Till next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
We live in a world that is largely manipulated via communication. Gossip, heresay, whispers, rumors and dirt have been around probably since humans first began talking. I bet if we thought about it hard enough, we could find an example with 'Adam and Eve' correlated to gossip. It's fun to think about, right?
The question isn't if people will talk about you behind your back, it's when. When it's negative communication, it'd be nice to know what course of action to talk, wouldn't it? A few things come to mind. The first is to do nothing at all. Hope in humanity would lead us to believe that if people really wanted to know the truth about you, they'd take the time to experience your behaviors first-hand. These people exist but the world isn't overly populated with them. Doing nothing at all does a couple of great things: it lets them know that you aren't really phased and they'll most likely move on to the next juicy story. Also we need to remember, the person that started the rumor lies...and it's pretty easy to lie. Confronting them just gives them more ammunition to continue their muddy version of you to others. This leads to the second gain received by doing nothing - by doing nothing, you're distancing yourself from them. The less they know about you, the safer you are from character assassination via gossip.
Another important aspect to gossip stems from awareness around the real issue. And here's the good news, it's not you - it's them. People who gossip do it to manipulate/control others. This stems from a lack in their character, not yours. It's easier to be less upset when we understand that the information is coming from a pretty shallow source rather.
What happens when our lives are legit disturbed by Gossip? It's easy to say that their opinion of you doesn't matter but the fact remains that gossip does effect life. Rumors, whispers (gossip) will effect connections of all types, relationships, job opportunities, status in school, status in work and even status in your community (*see political commercials for example). Gossip can damage peoples perceptions of themselves which leads to mental issues of anxiety, eating disorders and depression. In this day and age, gossip has the means of traveling more quickly and efficiently than ever thanks to cell phones and computers. Which is why this message is so important.
I give clients a choice in therapy - I can be nice, or I can be honest. If you're wanting 'honest', continue reading. If you want nice, stop now and smile to yourself knowing that you've gained insight on gossip.
Rumors can't be spread without you.
Here's what most people miss about 'gossip'. In general, people are content to listen and nod when they have the chance to hear dirt on someone else. We enable the rumor-mill by giving no real thought towards verifying anything. Ever wonder why you don't put a lot of energy into discovering the truth about it? Well, here's why; Negative Gossip is used by people to manipulate. That said, only specific people are given 'the dirt'. You are chosen very carefully. It's likely that if you're the one that's being given the 'dirt', you were targeted as someone likely to accept the information as valid...or true enough not to dig into it too far. This means, the person hearing the whispers (and just accepting them as valid enough) is reflecting the same integrity and character as the person that started the communication chain. Now that's good stuff.
Until next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
This poem written by me 20 years ago is a great indicator of where I used to live emotionally. Yikes!
Mood swings, they go up and down
And they flop all over like a roller coaster.
I want to throw up when I'm down in a slump,
It's alive with no sound on a merry-go-round.
But not quite so merry, it's all quite contrary,
To be stable I falter, like a teeter totter.
I'm a hang, I'm a noose,
On a train with no caboose.
When I'm down, I frown.
But when I'm up I take flight,
Like a bolt of streaking light I fly straight up through the night,
Can't bring me down or do me wrong 'cause I'm up where I belong.
Still, whilst in between the ups and lows,
I'm okay - but I always knows
That my future mood, just like the wind
Will blow, where it blows.