Let's break down what it means to be a helicopter parent along with why it happens aaaand the consequences involved. Don't worry, peeps- after it's said and done, we'll talk about how to repair things as well.
Buckle up. This may sting a bit.
The term "helicopter parenting" has been around for a while but if you haven't heard of it, you will have witnessed hovering parental effects. Before we get into it, don't you just love the name helicopter parent? It creates a visual in my head of watching the news while they're recording a car chase...from above. The birds-eye view lets us, as viewers, take in SO MUCH information! We can see where the suspect is, where they're going, what they're doing...it really doesn't seem fair because the helicopter view sees EVERYTHING. Doesn't seem fair, does it?
Anyone else feel like it's unfortunate for the person being helicopter recorded? Kind of like watching a wounded mouse being toyed with by a cat.
Regardless, it's all a great example to explain this new style of parenting. With hovering parents, the child is being 'too closely' monitored. And too much observation often leads to excessive intervention. Helicopter parents keep tabs on all sorts of the kids life. Nothing is safe for the kid to do alone, including school, playmates, what they play, who they play with, how they read, what they read, when they're reading, are they reading too much? Too little? Are they isolating? What are they watching on the television and the list goes on and on...and on. Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? Wait, it gets worse. The hovering parent will OFTEN continue the controlling behaviors after the child grows into adulthood. We're talking parental control/strong influence of where the kid goes to college, what they do for a living and who they end up marrying or living with or 'seeing' if you really want to get non-committal.
I've even heard of parents calling up employers asking why their kid didn't get hired for a job. Whoa. You get the point, though - helicopter parents SEE EVERYTHING. Just like the news helicopter.
You may be getting the idea that this behavior may not be healthy. Correct. Here's the thing though, parents are doing this with the best of intention! They're not waking up in the morning thinking, "what can I do to take away opportunities to grow for my child?" So, why are they (we, because I'm guilty, too) continuing to behave this way? Well, let's ask this - do you want to help the fragile little mouse that's being toyed with by the mean ole' pussy cat? Of COURSE you do and it's the same thing with helicopter parenting - it's uncomfortable seeing a child struggle. Ends up, hovering parents are merely trying to protect their offspring. Call it a protection reflex...which ends up doing the complete opposite in the long run.
"Oh Jed, it's not that bad," you might say. "Oh, it's that bad" will be my reply. Consequences are many with the biggest bummer being correlated to resilience. Kids don't got it. They're...squishy and why wouldn't they be? It makes sense because they've not had the chance to figure out things on their own. They've had a 'buffered' life and when 'actual' life happens (like it always will), their little mouse is unprepared. The child turned adolescent turned adult hasn't built the emotional muscle needed to walk through much, if any, conflict or struggle.
Other negative effects include:
More health problems
Higher levels of anxiety and depression
A RELIANCE on medication
Labile emotions (can't regulate their feelings)
And - they're entitled. They confuse privilege with confidence.
Does any of this sound familiar? Listen, I'm not trying to bum anyone out, here. Parent's are doing the best they can with the thinking they've got - I get it! Like mentioned already, I am not innocent of this behavior. Now though, we've got more awareness. Now we can start raising our little mouses differently...so they don't end up being played with and punked by life. Instead of our young leaders running away or freaking out with potential struggle, we can teach them to be strong. It's not too late.
Here's what we can do:
Let them mess up. When you see they're going to very likely fall down - Don't help. JUST WATCH or better yet - turn around and walk away (but not too far). They'll get hurt when they fall down and then they'll get back up. Then, the beautiful part - when they get back up, they'll brush themselves off and look for you - THAT'S when you can be there for them. They can cry and we get to say, "I know you can make it through this" or "you can do this" or "it's ok to feel sad - we all do at times. You are resilient and I believe you'll do the right thing." And in our heads we may even thing, "eventually" while we raise our eyes in exasperation because they've made this mistake before and why are they doing it again!? When this happens, step back - don't pick them up - they'll figure it out.
A good saying goes something like, "don't do anything for them that they can do for themselves." The parents responsibility is to prepare the mouse-child for life - unbuffered.
Comments are welcome...and am I the only one who's guilty of this?!
Thanks for reading. If you're in the mood, check out my YouTube channel and watch the short therapy video on Helicopter Parents. It can all be found at www.meaningtolive.com
Until next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Ever messed up? Of course you have – everyone has. Here’s the skinny about feeling guilty about something that’s happened in the past…actually, before we do that, let’s go over a couple of definitions that will help lay the foundation of this concept.
Shame and Guilt feels heavy. Often, my clients bring up past mistakes with huge feelings of remorse that they’ve carried for a long time. To begin the process of working through it, we need to know the difference between shame and guilt. Easy stuff here – Shame sounds like, “I am bad” while guilt is “I did something bad”. Told you it was easy. Now lets get to the fun stuff.
First off, isn’t it fascinating that humans can carry this heavy feeling for SO LONG? When this topic comes up in session I’ll hear something like, “Jed, it makes sense because I did things that had bad consequences so I need to feel this way.” From there we try to get an idea of how long they need to feel horrible and basically the conclusion ends with the understanding that it basically doesn’t end until they die. Sometimes people carry shame for decades.
I would laugh but it is just SO SAD! Thank goodness therapy exists because here’s the deal if this so happens to be you. You are making the judgment and are feeling bad ‘now’ from a completely different perspective than where you were when you did the messed up thing in the first place.
It’s an odd concept, I know – it’s also a true concept. Let’s explain it a little more.
Here’s how it makes sense. Your awareness and insight has grown from then to now so naturally it’s easier to see what you could have done better. This connects with the whole “hindsight is 20/20” saying. What is so fascinating is that it goes against nature to torture ourselves with these self deprecating statements that we tell ourselves after we mess up. I call this “shoulding on ourselves.” Go ahead and say that 5 times fast. It’s funny and it helps to remember how messy this can get.
Fortunately, we can clean this up with a new belief system. Ready?
"You did the best you could with the thinking you had." People initially balk at this thought, however it is completely valid. Think about it. Long term angst via shame or guilt makes as much sense as beating yourself up for NOT hitting the mega-millions lucky number power play jackpot. Sure, you gave it the best you had and used all the appropriate lucky numbers or birthdays, etc. but you messed up the winning numbers! So, go ahead and flog yourself for the next long while and while you’re at it, you may as well feel bad for crapping your pants when you were a baby. You did that crap for years! Don’t mind that you were a new human and your body hadn’t developed enough to appropriately discard your stinky excrement.
Yes, they are odd analogies and yes, they work.
Don’t fight losing this negative emotion. When you look back on life, you’re looking back from a completely different perspective than when you were making there and making the messed up decisions. Allowing this concept into our belief systems will help you understand that it makes no sense to grind our noses into some crap narrative. You were there, it happened, you did your best with the thinking you had and now your thinking is better because your awareness is higher.
Whatever happened in your life happened FOR you because it helped shape who you are and who you are is right where you need to be. This is the truth for everything.
Life didn’t happen ‘to’ you or ‘to’ your kids or ‘to’ your grandmammy. It happened ‘for’ you and ‘for’ them. Every conflict or struggle has helped you to become stronger. Any other way to perceive ‘bad things’ is a victim-stance and you are definitely not a victim.
This was a bit of a philosophical article…that happens sometimes. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to like, comment and share it if you think it’ll help someone.
Till next time – awareness up,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Welcome to another Meaning to Live awareness article. You’re going to LOVE today’s topic.
Check it out, way back in the 1940’s, it was thought that running a mile couldn’t be done in less than 4 minutes. Belief systems are HUGELY influential. Turns out, our minds give us more hurdles (pun intended) than anything else in life. Here’s the story:
Roger Bannister came from a very ordinary background but had very un-ordinary dreams. He wanted to be a Doctor and knew that his family wouldn’t be able to afford him the education required. Attending University in Great Britain was a privilege for kids with more...financial fluency. See, the Bannister family was 'working class' so, clever Roger figured he’d need a scholarship if he had a shot.
Turns out, he was a pretty talented runner and was able to get in to Oxford University as a track athlete. **Seriously, there are just so many puns available here…on the right ‘track’. He ‘stepped’ up his game. He ‘ran’ into problems. So – many.** Ok, back on ‘course’. Roger became so good at running that he actually made it into the 1948 Olympics which, he ‘passed up’. I don’t know why but coming from my own 'working class' family, can easily see it having to do with confidence. "Who am I think I am – going to the Olympics. Pshaw." Or, I’m just a kid from Washington, Utah! Who do I think I am, trying to help the world become happier with a YouTube channel?" Or, "who am I to open a mental health clinic?" You know, the kind of thinking where we don’t go after something because way down, we don’t think we can do it. Sorry everyone, I keep ‘running’ off on tangents! Keep on 'pace', Jed!...admittedly, that was a little weak. So, Roger didn’t attend the 1948 Olympics but he did muster up the confidence to race when the Olympics came again in 1952 and with great expectations, the whole country of Britain watched.
Roger didn’t medal. In fact, he ran horribly which crushed him to the point that he almost decided to give up running altogether (who hasn't been there). Fortunately for this article, he flipped his victim stance around and looked into what he learned from the experience. This spurned him on to push his belief system limits and he decided to break the world record in the mile run. Because, why not? He already survived after 'dropping the ball' (wait, wrong sport) at the Olympics in front of the world.
Remember, the pro’s all said it was humanly impossible to run the mile in less than 4 minutes. Bannister wanted to prove them wrong and over the next few years he put what he’d learned to use.
He didn’t run more.
He didn’t train more.
He worked on believing more.
Roger broke the world record in 1954 while running in the wind on a wet course. Completely NOT ideal conditions.
It’s a great story, no doubt, but even greater is the fact that Bannisters record was broken a short 6 weeks after he set it! Wha?!!
The story continues...
Here’s what happened. When Roger broke the record he also broke the faulty belief system for the entire running population! And when other runners began to BELIEVE it could be done – other runners did it. Roger Bannister gave all of them the key by unlocking their minds. Turns out, our thinking is the only thing holding us back.
Now think about what this concept that Bannister taught us about the power of belief and ask yourself, “what does this mean for me”.
Maybe everyone has a unique story; even you.
Even though Roger Bannister died last year (2018), his impact continues on. Thank you, Sir.
Thanks for taking the time to read and until next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
There’s a pernicious belief out there that the easy life is a lazy life. If I were a victimy man, I’d blame this pervasive idea on the 80’s Rock Band, “Dire Straits” and there hit song, “Money for nothing”. This idea only got more traction with the birth of social media because, lets face it, people post highlights so of COURSE life must be better when we’re only having fun.
Is this true? Is life better when hard work is taken out of the equation?
Oddly enough and I’m sure you already know the answer; it’s not. What you don’t probably know is that I know this for a FACT. I’ve tried it.
Fortunately for you, I won’t go into the hours and hours spent binge watching TV or the even MORE hours in the fantasy world of online gaming. This life is directly correlated to one of the 7 deadly sins! Capital vice stuff! Pride, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, wrath and “Sloth” -- the last of which is the stopping of motion and an indifference to work; laziness, idleness
I lived like this for years and even managed to attract other sloths who used me for my car but I didn’t mind because they helped me feel safe and accepted in the low responsibility life we all shared. Now that I think about it, that car actually housed me for a time. Not much room in the 1989 Dodge Colt E but it served to keep me out of the rain. Don’t feel too bad for me though, I lived in Southern Utah and washing up in the morning was as easy as finding a pool to swim in. Showering off afterwards and getting back on the street was done in less than 2 minutes. I had the procedure DOWN and nobody was ever the wiser. Eating was a bit trickier.
Ever notice that we attract other people on our same level? Before I knew it, I was living in a drug house (the Yellow house for those of you that remember) where I didn’t have to pay rent and could eat anything I wanted...if I could find anything to eat. I was there for a long time, just doing time. No noticeable life progression and before I knew it, my birthday came and 2 years had passed. I wasn't a bad person for this part of my life and neither were the people I lived with. This is just where we were and how we lived at the time.
I tried to get the ‘money for nothing’ yet somehow this fantasy life PROMISED by dire straits had eluded me! In fact, looking back - I was actually IN dire straits.
Is life better when it’s easy?
Until that point in life, I’d skillfully chosen the easy way, and, although it was a learning experience, the path of least resistance never got me very far.
The brains a tricky little thing. It’s main job is to protect humans from feeling uncomfortable - which, in life’s case is doing something hard. It accomplishes this task by weaseling up thoughts that keep us away from even trying to do hard things in life. My were, “I’m never going to be able to do that”. Or, “what’s the point?” Or, “that’s going to take too long”. Or, I don’t care about that anyway.” The one that makes me laugh is when I (my brain) came up with, "I want a girl who loves me for ME, not for my body." Good one, lazy Jed. Of course, the truth would have sounded something like, "eating healthy and working out doesn't sound like much fun...in fact, it sounds pretty awful." The list goes on and on. Do not fall for this trick!
When you do hard things now, your life will be easier over time. The opposite is also true. When you choose to skate in the easy lane now, your life will become harder over time.
It’s your choice.
Till next time - awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
There seems to be a persistent belief that relationships are fair. What a set up!
Let's be honest instead of nice and just talk truth. Relationships won't always be fair. I know, I know, Walt Disney would tell us otherwise but Disney, Hollywood and rom com's are not accurate on this topic. Truth is, sometimes you'll be getting more benefits than the other person and other times they'll be getting more. Trouble comes when the expectation of 'fairness' isn't met and couples start tallying up a score-card to reflect who owes who what in the relationship. Psychology coined this fun behavior as, "scorekeeping".
We all have learned to keep score from an early age. Just this morning, my 8 year old casually set 18 quarters on my counter saying, "I don't need these anymore" (which is more gangsta than I care to admit). Come to discover, he's eyeing a new 1100.00 cell phone (in order to locate pokemon) and figured a little 'gift' couldn't hurt his cause. Another term for this concept is 'quid quo pro'. This is just a fancy term for "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." This mentality can destroy relationships because when expectations aren't met (which happen in every non movie relationship), humans end up focusing more on what they're NOT getting. In other words, their awareness around negative aspects of their partner go up. Way, way up. Simultaneously, their relational satisfaction goes down. Way, way down. Eventually this leads to the thought of, "I can do better than this" and kiss the relationship buh-bye if this thought takes root.
All of this starts with a little scorekeeping.
Gifts come in many forms. They can be physical gifts or behavioral gifts (service). When a gift is given with expectation, it's no longer a gift - it's a business transaction.
That's worth saying again. If a gift is given with strings attached (expectations), it's not a gift, it's a business transaction.
The key to lasting relationships is to figure out how to give to your partner because you love them and want to - not to get something in return. A little awareness in this area can go a long way not only in in creating relational peace; it will do wonders on your personal well-being, too.
Thank you for reading! If you think this information could help others, please share it, like it and comment. I'd love hearing your thoughts on this idea. Lastly, don't forget to subscribe to the Meaning to Live 'Jed Said' channel and visit the website for more therapy goodness.
Till next time - awareness UP.
There are a lot of beliefs about broken trust in a relationship. Warren Buffett says that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Another statement you’ve probably heard is “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.” Both of these statements have truth in it – but only to a point.
Working as a therapist, I’ve learned that there is a lot of gray area in pretty much everything. It’s also a fact that 'truth' can change...depending on how you look at. In other words, our perceptions can make or break a relationship.
Take the topic of trust, for example. What does “ruined” or “un-repairable” trust mean to a relationship? If you are to hang your hat on the above quotes, it’s easy to believe that the relationship is beyond repair or at a minimum is scared, ugly and not what it once was or could have been. To combat this rather hopeless belief system, let's talk about the art of repairing broken pottery...I know it sounds boring but stay with me.
'Kintsugi' is the Japanese art form of repairing pottery that began in the 14th century. Amazingly, a 600 year old pottery repair technique gives us a perfect example of how we can look at broken trust in relationships. See, with ‘Kintsugi’ a broken cup, bowl, glass or plate is carefully put back together. It's an odd concept, isn't it? Typically when something breaks, we would just throw it away and get another one but that isn't what kintsugi is about. In fact, they not only take the time to put the broken pottery back together, they use GOLD as GLUE. You heard me right, gold. The process is lengthy and takes a lot (LOT) of effort but don't be discouraged, the end result will be an even more beautiful and stronger cup, bowl, glass or plate than the original.
Shattered relationships, just like pottery, can be put back together. When betrayal (broken trust) is repaired correctly, the relationship is better for it. The couple isn’t scarred or permanently damaged. Feelings of shame or feelings of resentment dissolve as they identify and work through weak points in their ‘pottery bowl’. The relationship goes from broken to beautiful; fortified with love, understanding and commitment. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Instead of 'incident' being hidden away or stuffed down from view, the cracks and blemishes are strengthened and beautified resulting in a rare piece of art. The broken object is more enduring and valuable than it was prior to breaking. The same can go for a relationship.
Broken trust doesn’t have to “ruin” a relationship. A shattered heart isn’t easy to “repair” but it is absolutely possible. Just like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, repairing hearts takes time and effort – with the result being a piece of art that is admired by others but more importantly, means the world to you.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
You’ve heard it, your momma’s heard it, your grandmomma’s heard it…but is it actually true? And if it IS true, why does it happen? This will be the topic for todays article so buckle up.
This is a big topic but affairs may not be as ‘rampant’ as you might thing. Men are more likely to cheat (21% of males have had affairs) and women are slightly less at 15% average. Men win again! Animals. Ok, back on topic: lets answer the ‘why people cheat’ question before we answer if they’ll always be a cheater.
This is not a ‘one size fit’s all’ topic. The ‘cheater’ may have had cheating parents or they may be chronic liars. They may be narcissistic or have some type of attachment disorder – all mental health disorders aside, here are a few potential reasons of WHY people choose to have an affair.
Ok, the last one seriously borders on an attachment disorder but I really wanted to get to an even 10.
Looking at this list, you may be able to narrow it down even further. Often in couples sessions, we discuss the issue around ‘needing’ the other person to be ok. Now, look again at the list above; how many of the 10 things correlate to depending on the other person to be ok.
In every couples’ session the affair connects on 1 of 2 things – there’s something missing in the offender or there’s something missing in the relationship. It’s valid. Take reasons 1-3 and just add “I NEED more” at the end and you’ll discover that the issues stem from the person cheating, not the person being cheated on. Look again and you’ll be able to add “I need more” to reasons 5, 6, 7 and 9. That only leaves 4 (Resentment), 8 (Revenge) and 10 (Abandonment issues) to identify. Resentment and revenge dial into ‘victim stance’ and being afraid to get hurt or abandoned (IS EVERYONE) to the point that you’ll sabotage a relationship is really no. 7 so lets just take that one off altogether. Surprise surprise; turns out that a person who cheats likely does so because of their own personal issues - not the other way around. In other words, if you were cheated ‘on’, it’s not actually because you weren’t enough of something (sexy, loving, attentive, exciting, fun, smart, pretty, thoughtful, handsome, rich, etc.)
Now to address the main pop psychology message that ‘once a cheater always a cheater’. It is a myth and scientific research shows quite the opposite. People who cheat may never cheat again – in fact, many people only cheat one time. One and done. Repeat offenses happen when the root issue of infidelity isn’t addressed and worked through. Remember, the person who’s cheating is often going through their own kind of crisis - compassion is helpful.
Being rejected always feels harsh and most of the time, the person cheated ‘on’ leaves the experience feeling like it’s their fault. Like they weren’t enough for the other person which isn’t necessarily valid. However, if you’re cheated on often or more than once with the same person, you most definitely play a part in the pattern (which is something you get to figure out).
This can be a sensitive subject for many people. That said, a therapist can help immensely with the process.
Thanks for reading and as always, don’t forget to follow, like and share if you think this information was helpful. The website for all things therapy is www.meaningtolive.com
Till next time, awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
“Pop” psychology is short for a “popular” psychology take on any given subject. The dangers of this come from a lack of scientific backing and you’d be surprised what makes the list of MY personal top 3 “Pop” psychology facts that turned out to be myths. Which ones sound familiar?
#1. People only use 10% of their brains. MYTH! Turns out we use 100% of the brain every single day. This myth first began in the 1800’s and was reinforced in the 1900’s when scientists compared brain scans from a child prodigy to an average child. The prodigy has a more active brain, look! Fact is, the prodigy was able to utilize more parts of their brain at the same time. The average kid utilized the same amount of brain – just at different times.
#2. Opposites attract. This one shocked you, didn’t it? This is a huge ‘POP’ psychology MYTH. Scientific research actually finds that the more similarities two people have, the longer they will maintain a successful relationship. That’s right, the more you have in common, the better chances you have to stay together and the happier you’ll be – not the opposite.
#3. Smiling all by itself will make you happier. This one is very persistent in pop psychology – and guess what: MYTH! Turns out you cannot trick your emotions. ‘Fake’ smiling when you don’t feel happy can actually makes people feel worse. When you push down negative emotions, your stress level will rise and the unhappiness lasts LONGER. Whoops, curse you popular psychology!
I am on board with posture being connected to positive emotions.
There are many more MYTHS out there that have been passed on through the years – I think my next article will be on the popular psychology belief of, “once a cheater, always a cheater”.
Please BE careful of what beliefs you pick up – at a minimum, follow my blog and have all life answers at your fingertips.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe, follow, like, share, comment, etc. etc.
Till next time – awareness up!
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Depression rates are rising in the U.S. and Utah is at the top 5! We could speculate about possible reasons to explain this (I think it’s in the water) BUT, I’d rather get some great information out there to help people feel better.
You don’t need to be a therapist to have awareness around the topic of depression. It seems like everyone either knows someone personally or has had their own experience with being sad for long periods of time. When working with people who are feeling depressed, I've noticed one thing they have in common; the inner bully.
There are a lot of phrases used to describe this thought pattern of negative self talk. My favorite is 'shoulding on yourself'. Others call it 'stinkin' thinkin' and don't pretend you don't have your own favorite way to punish yourself. The one I hear MYSELF say (in my head) is, “Jed – dumb!” Or, "nobody is going to listen to you so why even try". You have your own go-to’s as well…you’re probably thinking of them right now. Clients working through depression have some pretty mean inner bully narratives happening almost constantly. Instead of, “dummy”, theirs is meaner and says, “you’re a real loser" or "you’ll never amount to anything" or "see, I knew you’d screw this up." or "people only pretend to like you…” The list goes on and on. This 'inner bully' is loud and relentless. It spouts out blame and shames you for anything ‘you’ can think of. Who wouldn’t be depressed with this harassing, broken record going on in the background ALL OF THE TIME?!
Of course, I understand that there is a chemical component of this but I’m don’t prescribe medication – I’m more into analyzing thoughts and how they connect with feelings. Think – feel – behave.
Here are the top 3 behavioral changes to calm (and eventually extinguish) the inner voice that brings you down.
4. Service. When you think AND do for someone else, you’re less in your head about your own worries.
Your inside bully won’t stand a chance.
Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoyed. Please like, share and comment as this helps spread awareness. Seriously, it’s time for Utah to start losing at being depressed.
Till next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Are you too nice? News Flash: it’s not actually helping.
How can being too nice be a bad thing? Great question and lets talk about it. Imagine there’s a range of agreeableness and disagreeableness. On one side of the scale, the agreeable (nice) person has a lot of qualities that look like empathy, compassion and my favorite; compliant.
The most disagreeable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 The most agreeable
Where do you think you land on this scale? I’ve managed to get myself to around a 6 from an 8 and I’m working on getting even lower. Why? Because there are some negative consequences to being on the 10 side that I’m just not willing to dance with, anymore. Agreeable persons are often easily manipulated and pushed around. Why? Because they’re not that good at standing up for themselves! This is often reflected in how much we make in our jobs. If you very much dislike negotiating your salary, you may be an agreeable person – and you won’t be paid what you think you’re really worth. Another downside is that this type us 'agreeable' types KNOW deep down we're not being treated fairly. The years of swallowing the short end of the stick eventually leads to a lot of resentment. I'm not just talking about money, either; I'm talking about doing nice things, taking the fall for others, keeping your mouth shut when you know you're in the right in order to maintain compliance and/or 'be nice'. For you ‘agreeable’ types, have you ever thought, “I do so much for them – why aren’t they doing as much for me?” Think about it for a second…do you do more for other people than they do for you? If you’re agreeable you may have had others tell you something like, “it’s time to grow a backbone” or “stop being a doormat”. The more on the agreeable scale, the more people are likely to become the Gazelle’s (or prey) in life vs someone who’s less agreeable. There are a lot of gazelles in the wild – and they feed a lot of other animals. Do you really want to be a Gazelle?
If you’re more on the disagreeable side you are likely good at negotiating your salary (yay! You’ll make more money) but this goes beyond money – they also have better boundaries around how others treat them! They don’t get manipulated or walked on nearly as often because they have more practice saying 'no'. But Jed, I don’t want to be heartless! No worries - being disagreeable doesn’t mean you lack empathy or compassion. It means you’ve established boundaries around your compassion and empathy. Remember, though – this is a scale. I imagine that people that are a 1 out of 10 in disagreeableness, have much less feelings of compassion and empathy than someone that’s a 4 out of 10.
If you’re too far on the disagreeable scale, you’re likely to end up in prison. Sorry. It’s also one of the main attributes of being ‘anti-social’ which DOESN’T mean you don’t like being ‘social’ – it means that you are very selfish and use society for yourself with less consideration for other people’s feelings which is an ‘anti-social’ trait.
Where are you on the scale? The great news is that – with awareness – you can change your number! If you’re too far on the agreeable side, it’s TIME TO STOP being a doormat. It’s time to grow a backbone by placing boundaries around your empathy and compassion for others. Remember, agreeableness is basically just compliance. It’s not actually ‘nice’. Showing true kindness sometimes means saying ‘no’ and putting yourself first.
If you like this, share it to your linked in, facebook, Instagram, tweeeeter (twitter), google plus, etc.
Till next time - Awareness up,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Have you ever known someone that knew everything or was never wrong? You’re not the only one. In my field, this often gets pinned on someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This behavior can be associated with male or female (men are better at it) and is so prevalent that Phil Collins wrote a song while he played in the band, “Genesis” called ‘that’s all’. It’s a whiny victim song about how he can’t leave even when he’s wrong about everything he thought was right – even down to the other person telling him “it’s black when he knows that it’s white! It’s always the same, it’s just a shame, that’s all.”
If you pay attention to the words in the music, you'll soon notice that this issue of people HAVING to be right pops up all over the place. The band “Disturbed” actually has a song called ‘Never Wrong’. “You’re never ever wrong, always something more to say, you’re never wrong.” Fortunately, the lead singer ‘David Draiman’ has more backbone than Cill Phollins and by the end of the song, finds resolution by saying, “I’m not willing to deal with someone who insists that they can never be wrong, So just keep on talking to the wall because I’m walking away.”
None of this victimy/whiny “I could leave but I won’t go”crap.
Ok! Back on topic - let’s find out what to look for in a potential ‘narcissist’.
In reality, narcissism is not as fun as it looks. They may seem to have things figured out, but that portrayed confidence is a just a mask to hide a well-established internalized belief that they are not good enough. The extreme avoidance of being vulnerable (trust issues) along with a deep-seated belief that they are not good enough result in a seemingly impenetrable defense around feeling negative emotions or being genuine. If the brains main job is to keep us from feeling bad – you’ve really got to give a hand to the narcissistic brain.
It’s EASY to condemn anyone who carries the above trait list. Hopefully, understanding more about this disorder will make way for more empathy.
Thanks for reading and remember, comments are welcome.
Till next time, awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Let’s talk about the very VERY old ritual of ‘the hand shake’. Back in the days of knights in shining armor, people shook hands to see if the other person was in possession of a weapon. Yup, shaking hands was a way to frisk someone. I guess that’s how dangerous meeting new people was back in the day! Today, shaking hands is used when greeting someone or even when your parting ways with someone you have a connection with.
This behavior might even be in our genetic coding – chimpanzees give each other fist bumps when they reunite as a show of respect (they also kiss and hug). Don’t try to fist bump, hug or kiss a chimpanzee because they can rip your arms off if they want to.
Ok, back on topic. Shaking hands is HUGE in our culture and can make or break life changing opportunities...so lets talk about how to do it right.
The biggest mistake I see others make happens with the initiation of the shake. People neglect to maintain EYE CONTACT. For the love, KEEP EYE CONTACT. I know, I know, it’s risky because you might completely miss hands but don’t fall for the temptation to look down. Keep eye contact. By doing this, you send the unspoken message of being secure – of being confident.
Next, tend to your grip. It needs to be firm. Not CRUSHING the other persons hand bones, but firm. Doing this sends the message that you are capable and can ‘hand’le yourself…pun intended. Should you choose to decimate the other persons hand, the message is that you’re a being aggressive or over-confident – cocky.
Third, if someone offering a handshake and you happen to be sitting down – STAND UP. For the love, stand up and THEN shake their hand. This signals that you respect them enough to out of your way (simply by standing up). It also sends the message that you’re not lazy and you think enough of yourself to rise to the occasion verses acknowledging someone who’s towering over you.
But Jed, what do I do if I don’t want to shake someone’s hand? Great question – shaking hands is a bid to connect. There’s even a ‘connection’ chemical called ‘oxytocin’ that is released in the brain when we have the physical contact/connection of shaking hands. That said, if you don’t respect the other person – or don’t want to connect with them – you don’t have to. Unless you want to check them for weapons.
As always, thanks for supporting this grass roots insight for the masses effort and if you found this to be good info – share it.
Till next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
We think – and then we feel – and then we behave.
A lot of people have a negative concept associated the following 3 things when really, you should start getting excited when they happen. Why? Because you’re about to experience a “breakthrough”. You’ll know when you’ve had it because it’ll come with a sudden discovery about yourself, or an improvement in your life – it’s a level up. When I think of breakthrough, I think of a bird hatching. It doesn’t always look dramatic or spectacular but it sure is cool to see the baby bird break through the barrier that was keeping it from progressing in life. Here’s my top 3 indicators that happen when you’re about to level up.
1.Resistance increases. It’ll feel like conflict and you’ll get it from parts of life that you’d never expect. People you thought would be urging you on begin to do the opposite. And this even can feel spiritual/supernatural. After my first experience being incarcerated at the young age of 18 (and still in high school – hey, I have a late birthday!), I vowed to change my criminal ways. Everyone in jail and in my social herd advised that I would be back…and it went even further. Criminal opportunities seemed to rain down and they weren’t the normal scores I was used to. They were the ‘this never happens, once in a lifetime, how did I get so lucky’ fortuitous opportunities. It was as if my decision to change my behaviors created resistance from the criminal aspect of the universe! I never did go back – the food was horrible and I wasn’t fond of the whole loss of freedom thing. Breakthrough!
2.Ridicule happens. Doing something different makes people uncomfortable. The mockery takes place in an effort to change your behaviors to something that they’re more comfortable with (in other words, they want you to give up). They’ll laugh and poke fun at you with their friends and maybe even your friends simply because they’re trying to feel better about themselves…in other words; them making fun of you has nothing to do with you other than you’re doing something awesome. It has everything to do with their own insecurities. I’ve been ridiculed very recently about my “Jed Said” YouTube channel. Honestly, I allowed my feelings to be hurt for a moment. Nobody likes being laughed at or mocked…until they remember that this happens before leveling up! I don’t think the ‘Breakthrough’ has occurred just yet but it’s coming as long as I don’t allow being ridiculed to change my course/behaviors.
3.Feeling Frustrated. This should have probably been #1 as it happens the most often. I became frustrated just the other day while perched precariously on top of a wooden log…that was on top of a filing cabinet. Well, my frustration began prior to that as I huddled in my office with a steady stream of frigid air pelting me from the vent above. This was not a single episode and today I was going to DO something about it! Problem is - no ladder and I’m only 5’10” (11” on a good day and don’t even get me started on not reaching 6ft). After setting my mind to solving this dilemma and setting up the comical file cabinet/log combination, I realized that I needed a third arm while trying to screw in the vent screws. I was becoming more and more frustrated as each attempt resulted in dropping a screw or not being able to reach the screwdriver or abandoning the whole attempt in order to regain my balance. After a time, the vent was back in it’s position but closed instead of pointed right at my desk. I had done it and survived! BREAKTHROUGH.
Leveling up or having a breakthrough happens a lot in life but ONLY after struggle and conflict. It’s not supposed to be easy. Now that you know this, your going to be excited when the above 3 things happen because you're on your way towards breakthrough!
We think - and then we feel - and then we behave.
Hope you enjoyed blog today and as always, feel free to share...but ONLY if you think it’d be helpful to mankind. Fly little bird!
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
We're gonna go metaphysics with this blog. The law of attraction concept felt like mental gymnastics to me, initially. What I focus on – increases? The abstract feel of this came when realizing that I’ve attracted negative aspects of life and made them bigger by focusing simply by placing my focus on them. A story given by a client, Allie gives a perfect example of how this works (I'm paraphrasing a bit, here).
Allison's Story -
“I was snowmobiling for the first time in my life and was terrified of running into a tree. Throughout the day I became more and more comfortable driving but the thought was always in my mind, ‘don’t run into a tree, don’t run into a tree.’ At one point, while riding in a wide-open area, I noticed a lone pine tree. I looked at it and thought, “don’t run into that.” My anxiety grew as I kept looking at it with the pine with the thought ever repeating itself, ‘stay away from that, don’t run into the tree….’ And I was headed right towards it. The crazy part is that I was actually GOING TO HIT the tree even while my thought was screaming at me to do the opposite! Thankfully, I didn’t hit the tree but that’s only because my husband noticed what was happening and began frantically waving his arms. He was to my left and when I noticed the frantic movement - I looked towards him and began to veer away from the tree. My focus had redirected and I missed the tree.”
This story perfectly illustrates the power of focus. Allie was putting energy into the tree and was being attracted to it like a tractor beam (for you Star Wars and Trekkie fans). Here’s the twist – the energy of our focus doesn’t always care about the details. Ally absolutely didn’t want to run into the tree – BUT, her thoughts drew her to it nonetheless.
I see this concept happening in the addiction all over the place. Drugs and alcohol are the same to me (mind altering substance) but let’s keep it simple and pick alcohol as an example. Drinking eventually leads to negative consequences which then gives people the desire to stop. Here’s the stumbling block I observe repeatedly; when someone tries to stop, they actually think about not drinking a LOT. And then they run into the Pine.
Before you think this is ridiculous, I’ll prove it to you. Ready? Don’t think about a white elephant. See?! I just said to NOT think about a while elephant and you totally thought of a white elephant.
In other words, people who constantly think of ‘not’ drinking are at a very high risk of relapse. “Where attention goes, energy flows” is a common phrase in the self-help community (think Tony Robbins or ‘The Secret’) but it’s origins go way back – for recent findings (1960’s) and if you like Hawaii, checkout “huna”. This isn’t a new concept.
Ok, Jed – now that I know this, what do I do about it? The answer? Redirect. Allie had it right when she focused on something else. When we redirect our energy, our attention goes with it and instead of ‘not’ wanting to drink or not hit the tree, or NOT be anxious, or NOT be depressed – which actually increases them, we start to just be. If you’re not wanting to drink – think about something entirely different. Invest your thoughts on family, work, triathlons, biking, music, hiking, trail running, nutrition – anything OTHER than ‘not’ drinking (or staying clean, or hitting a pine tree, or being anxious, or depressed, etc.).
Allie doesn’t even come close to hitting pine trees anymore – in fact, she doesn’t even think about it.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the Jed Said YouTube channel. You can find that at the website www.meaningtolive.com
The meaning of it all? Don't drive a snowmobile if there are trees around.
Till next time – awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Often people in unhappy marriages facing drastic changes like separation or divorce say the same thing; I don’t want my children growing up in a “broken home”. This sentence makes my butt-hole pucker. Still, parents are doing what they think is best with the thinking they’ve got which is where therapy comes to play – with honest talk, it doesn’t take long to expose what the real broken home looks like.
What does an unhappy family environment look like? It can look like a plethora of ugly behaviors so we’ll just keep it general.
What would a divorced and healthy family environment look like? Easy – reverse all of the stuff mentioned above. Your children will be more stable, less stress/anxious and feel more connected not only to you, but to everyone around them. The kid will learn that it’s ok and safe to express negative (sad, stressed, anxious) feelings because the parent is finally an emotional state where they're able to support them in the normal ‘growing up’ sad times. They are more connected emotionally – in fact, the child will display a much larger emotional range than when he or she lived in the ‘broken’ marriage. They’ll learn what’s acceptable and not acceptable in a relationship. And maybe best of all – the child will connect with the parents because the caregiver is able to give them time that’s not tainted by angst, resentment or sadness that often lies just underneath the surface in the marriage that stays together for the childrens sake.
Now, which do you think, is the ‘broken’ home?
Marriage is a contract that is always changing. Behaviors that were acceptable to both of you initially could change – that means that you and your spouse ‘get’ to change as well. Marriage takes constant work, energy and effort with the end goal of you and your partner growing and changing with each other. Staying married takes effort from BOTH – not just one. If you are struggling in your marriage, please seek marital counseling. Working with a professional can be helpful but know that you and your partner will be doing all of the work...and it aint easy.
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome and don’t forget to check out the YouTube – I’m planning on doing a video on this topic soon. www.youtube.com/meaningtolive
Till next time
Jed Thorpe, CMHC.
Who hasn’t been teased?! Let’s talk about the 2 different types of teasing and how to best handle it.
1. Endearment teasing: This form is used to bond or build connection. Think of a friend (or potential friend) giving you a ‘hard time’ about wearing a hoodie in the summertime, your butt-chin, twiddling your hair, etc. I use this form of communication when I make up a name for people. The name isn’t malicious – it’s meant to connect and build a bond.
2. Influence teasing: This form is used to change a behavior. It’s not meant to hurt – rather, it’s meant to help as the behavior likely isn’t a positive one. Immediately, if someone is slurping their cereal their friend (noticing that it’s just the most horrible thing in the world and wanting to help their friend stop) will point out the behavior in a jesting manner. If it were me, I’d also slurp for a very exaggerated time while looking right at the person.Teasing can be a very good thing – teasing too much can easily step into the ‘bullying’ category. To tell the difference, just ask yourself if your teasing the other person to get closer to them (build a bond/connection) or help them (to make a positive behavioral change) OR are you trying to feel better about yourself by putting them down.
Now that you know what teasing is and the motive beneath it, you may want to know how to handle it as it can be pretty awkward (especially if you're not used to it). If you’re the one being teased (as long as it’s actual teasing), the best way to avoid any awkward potential is to GO WITH IT. Laugh at yourself. Smile with your friends. When you become ‘reactive’, the teasing will only increase. Say something like, “good one” (while smiling), or even exaggerate the thing that you’re being teased for – while staring at them. Remember, teasing is meant to either connect with you or to change a negative (in their eyes) behavior. If you can ‘take’ the teasing, the attention will naturally redirect off of you. One time, I heard a kid that was being teased about his backpack shrug and say, “it doesn’t effect my value”.
Remember, there are 2 types of teasing – Endearment and influential. If you're trying to connect or help someone to identify a behavior that's out of line, you're in the tease-mode. If you're not doing any of those things, you're likely being a bully.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to the Jed Says YouTube channel.
Till next time, Awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
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 lookin at 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 justifiying 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.
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. Sociopaths make up 4% of the population (16% if looking at CEO's and Supervisors). In other words, 1 out of 25 people are unable to feel deeply. The other 96% have a normal range of empathy or feeling so are able to connect with each other on an emotional level. To the sociopath, this ‘connecting’ idea is as foreign as your idea of being blind (I’m assuming you’re not blind if you’re reading this). You don’t understand the notion of 'not feeling' thus neither do they understand what 'feeling' is like. What they do understand, however, is how to adapt. 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.
Oh! 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...am I right or what.
Fascinating, right?! Awareness is necessary in order to climb out of chaos. The sociopath feeds off of chaos because confusion is a handy tool for manipulating (sensing a theme here?...). They utilize every chess move on any chess piece in order to get what they want and they do it because they lack having a moral compass. They'll use pawns to move like a queen. Remember, they aren’t playing by the same set of ‘consciousness’ rules as the rest of the 96%. Eventually, people around the sociopath gain awareness and are able to see the truth and when that happens – the sociopath will simply move on to the next ignorant group that may not be so insightful in order to start another game.
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 is not bliss. I can’t depict in words how that time of life felt but I can easily recall the powerful moment of realizing that someone had toyed around mercilessly with my life and family for a long, long time – why did they do it? Did they simply want what I had? Or was it more to distract themselves with some form of amusement? I don't know. I do know that the experience almost ruined me. Almost, but not quite. At this point of life, I’m thankful that it happened. I learned a lot about myself - most importantly, that my perceived value and identity - my whole foundation of happiness and even ETERNITY, could be stolen away, small piece by small piece and amazingly, 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 sociopath - As I think about it, I'm hoping they don't demand payment for trying to destroy my life. Haha, get it? Let me explain - Because sociopaths are entitled they'll believe that the end result: my awareness and new-found inner strength - was all because of them! And when they don't get to take credit (or don't get paid) for me being innately resilient, 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 they cause in other peoples lives – sociopaths are fond of knowing they are 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. BAD PUBLICITY. What they are not fond of, is truth, honesty, transparency - because it will damage their reputation which is the most important piece in their 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! Now the question you have to ask yourself is…have you been or are you now getting played? If you've ever known a sociopath - the answer is, "Yes".
Thanks for reading and make sure to check out and subscribe to my “Jed Says” YouTube channel found at www.meaningtolive.com
Till next time,
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