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.