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