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.
We live in a world where every-day life consists of transferring money. We know where we're sending our funds and have expectations associated with the transfer. Transference in Psychology is kind of the same and kind of different. The transfer happens alright, but the problem stems from our unawareness around when it happens and the direction is flows. We give out emotions without recognizing where it's really intended to go. Huge problem, right? Can you imagine if your bank account could just start sending out Benjamins to who knows where at any point of the day? Talk about ANXIETY! Stresses me out just thinking about it.
Well, we do that exact thing in the form of emotional transference every - single - day. Freud (AKA 'the Father of Modern Psychology') came up with this concept and, although it pains me to say it because I'm not the biggest Freud fan - it's valid. We absolutely give out emotions unwittingly to people. "The classic use of the term transference comes from psychoanalysis and includes: “the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.” We all do this all the time. A boss at work reminds you of your cranky grandmother, so you cower accordingly. The guy next to you on the train reminds you of your college friend Stan so you crack a joke that Stan would appreciate, to the train-stranger's bewilderment."
Did you catch the Freud scent? It's in the whole, "especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood". But does it have to be from Childhood? I don't think so. Does it stem from a place of unawareness - yes. The important piece to gain out of this new insight you're gaining is that now you can start connecting you're feeling a certain 'vibe' towards someone else as a potential unwarranted transfer or emotions. Now you're more prepared not to give out your emotional funds in ignorance. Don't forget, 'Transference' isn't just negative emotions! They can be positive emotions too. Do you like them more than you should? Do you absolutely not trust them for some reason? Do you feel intimidated or insecure around a certain person or crowd? These can all be the result, or a reflection of a past experience with a completely different person.
My favorite part of the term 'transference' is putting in the 'counter'. Counter-transference takes place when insight is beginning and we're able to start identifying potential transference issues that are taking place. Kind of like you're able to finally monitor your bank for emotional transfers. Think of it as 'countering' a move in chess. Transference makes a move and you counter the move with awareness. Begin taking the 'transference' out of your unconsciousness and start countering the transference by asking yourself, "who does this person remind me of?" Or, "what does this situation remind me of?" Just start being curious as to why you're feeling or having more than rational emotions towards things.
See more on this by visiting my youtube 'meaning to live therapy tips' channel.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and schedule an appointment to learn more about how Transference may be effecting your life.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC