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Jul 15, 2022

Psychology jargon goes through a cyclic evolution just like any vocation. Are "new age" concepts like self-love and mindfulness new concepts? If not what were they known as in the before times?



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welcome into the site with Mike Library this is Dr Michael Mahon I am here with Mr Brett Newcombe and intern Michael
hello hello good morning how are you gentlemen Exquisite yeah my uh
daughter's dog is staying with me for a couple of days and he made some noises
from the other room to which I said be quiet dog and you guys said that sounded like an old man in the other didn't
sound like a dog yeah how do you train that dog to make those noises yeah well I don't know he doesn't live with me
anymore but um yeah yeah that was funny so uh
I think that there is at least okay let
me ask a different question Brett you are and without meaning any
any uh uh negative connotation you're the oldest person in
the room yes absolutely okay and and the reason that I say that experientially and cosmically
yes is because you were a teacher born earlier ever yeah yeah and then you also
were a therapist forever you actually taught me and even though I feel like
I've done therapy for a long long long long time you've done it even longer than that and so what I would ask is
it feels to me like this idea of mindfulness this idea of self-love this
idea of uh aware of all all of these kinds of of new age new age right
kinds of Concepts that are being baked into psychology feels newer to me but I
also recognize things are cyclic and so what goes around comes around so what I would ask you is
are you aware of a a time in Psychology where these Concepts were being promoted
more than in my experience or do you feel like these things are
newer age they weren't being framed this way they weren't being this phraseology was not being used
these are marketing strategies my argument is frequently made that every so often you
have to change what you call it yeah so that you can charge more money for it right because the insurance companies are in this constant chess game to
reduce your payments so DSM has to be revised I also think though that people want to continue to
propose new theories and so you have to repackage things to be able to make it
fresh so that you can sell it as a new idea uh yeah but they're also
I mean when you sent this article for us to talk about my first reaction is you know Psychology today is becoming like
Brides magazine yeah these articles this article you read this article you just won't let that brights thing go well you
sent me the article that's all I can say all right um it's just fluff it's pablum it's
verbiage so I was going to say well I'm gonna throw fit and we're not going to do this conversation and then I thought
you know there is a legitimate conversation to be had around the idea
of doing therapy with t people and trying to facilitate their ability to be more
self-honest self-accepting self-actualize another term from the past uh you don't have to
call it self-love but don't that's why I agreed I would have the conversation that's exactly though the point you're
trying to make yeah is that that uh I think that these things aren't new I think that they have been in Psychology
before I think self-actualization which was a meslovian uh idea is exactly this
same thing it was just so phrased We Come Back to Basics yeah
my basic concept of doing therapy is that I have to have excellent attending
skills I have to be able to do reflective listening accurately and
empathically and I have to create a safe holding environment if I can do those three things and you spend enough time
with me I will learn Who You Are what's going on with you to the point
that I can then facilitate your exploration of issues that are causing
you pain behaviors that are causing you difficulty and I can throw all kinds of words and theories and terminology and
labeling and all that into the mix but the reality is if I do that I believe I
can help you improve your quality of life and reduce your level of frustration and pain so by doing so if
you're improving that individual's quality of life yeah how is that happening do you believe
that they are internalizing some of the skills that you are demonstrating in
that therapy session yeah I hope so because that's the microcosm of the universe the two of us are here well and
you know all the theories say well whatever they're struggling with in life they're going to project onto you and you're having a chance to react to it
differently and cause them to have to go home yeah what because how many times have you had clients that would come in
and say are you going to give me homework I said well do you need homework you don't need homework okay I'll give you homework but you won't do
it and then you'll come in next week and say you're going to be really mad at me I mean why would I be mad at you well I didn't do the homework that's all yeah
and why did they even ask if you're going to give them because they've been taught exactly and they want to feel
like they have quality for cost oh you gave me something to do right even if I'm not going to do it right right
and and for anybody who is very very structurally
a cognitive behavioralist and you really believe in home homework we're not
saying homework assignments aren't beneficial what we are saying is that homework assignments should never be
given because to make sure to hold the client responsible for doing the
homework it's always about if you give the client this assignment yes if you do
it we can talk about what the effect was but if you don't do it there's just as much information to be gleaned in
therapy from a client who doesn't do their homework as a client who does do their homework so years and years ago
before you were born okay there was an argument about that's hard to believe differential between counseling and
therapy and the argument was made that counselors provide behavioral
interventions like I can help you stop having panic attacks or I can help you quit smoking or I can help you lose
weight we use this cognitive behavioral stuff teach you new language teaching new habits uh and therapy was about
personality change self-structure change
I don't know that I could make a distinction or have a horse in that race I believe
fundamentally if you come to me and I pay attention to you and I see you accurately and empathically reflect that
back to you that we can dance a dance that offers you an opportunity for
growth and change I don't know what the outcome is going to be but I believe it's beneficial on
average and don't help everybody I'm not everybody's cup of tea but if you give me that opportunity I believe I can help
you and that really is about what we would call re-parenting
which is the dance which is the danceholding environment and we were recently as you repair it yourself I
don't parent you I don't say okay that's the point I wanted to get to that's the point I wanted to get to is right who's
doing the parenting and yes the clients re-parenting themselves by internalizing some of the things that are being
presented especially in emotional regulations you're getting in your way yeah yeah is it fair is it unfair is it
sad is that okay it reality is let's deal with reality but what options do you have in one episode recently we were
talking about personality and I was saying that at my stage now almost 60 years old whereas I felt like the
personality was immutable I kind of feel like now you do have some uh advocacy or
or nothing is immutable death in taxes I know yeah it it and and but it's through
that re-parenting that you have the ability to be able to maybe make some changes so we have the younger smarter
element here let's ask what do you think well I I think it's interesting I see
you twitching I just like no Warriors it's interesting that you bring up the idea of self-love and self-care in the
Zeitgeist I think you're absolutely right I I think about uh shows like queer eye right
um very popular on Netflix Jonathan Van Ness comes out one of the cast members of query comes out with uh this book
called Over the Top which is all about his own self-love his own self-reflection um and he really dives into Richard
Schwartz's Parts Theory right he really starts to talk about that it's really starting to dissect one's own
personality and finding the aspects of one's personality that serves one right
um so we talk about if you were press apart uh that part can act out in a
different way if I repress the depression in me that part eventually will either take over the driver's seat
because it hasn't got the attention or um or act out in another way I have a
number of friends who are family systems trained and believe and work and I've
seen it work I mean it's beautiful work it can really it's another way to speak it's another language but I love to jack
around with them because I'll say part of me really resists what you're saying yeah and you know they just roll their ass and and part of them wants to slap
me when that happens you know again I I we've talked about this that that is anything new or is everything always
repackaged you and I being more psychodynamically focused uh neither one
of us really use that language of Parts theory that doesn't mean that it isn't real or isn't relevant it's such an echo
of all that I learned about working with multiple personalities yeah uh which I mean it is an in a fight with it's just
an echo of how I learned to understand it uh but I don't know that it matters at the
end of the day I have to hear you accurately and reflect to you what I'm hearing not judgmentally but accurately
so that it resonates with you I mean he sees me he understands me he accepts me then I can challenge you can you accept
yourself right the whole thing about guilt I don't accept myself because I'm so guilty I've I'm carrying this burden
of of angst and regret and so on and we have to find a way to say what
is that in service how is that impacting your survival and your progress yeah
could you let it go and if and what would it take for you to be able to let it go what would it be worth I believe
that all behaviors cost and pain all choices cost and pay we have to do the
emotional economics can we give you new coin of the realm to play with uh
that's the challenge of the dance well dance with me the only thing that I can
or there is something that I am very aware of as we're having this conversation that just recently happened
and there's no reason for people to know this you guys know this my daughter just graduated from medical school and we had
graduation last weekend and while we were at graduation my daughter said to
me I just want to tell you that when we
were little you were a really big advocate of we have to love ourselves
and that that has to be the focus of Our Lives because on my email there's a
Latin phrase that is Nemo debt quad non-habit which means you can't give away something that you don't have and I
always told my kids you can't really love somebody else if you don't love yourself you can't really trust somebody
else if you don't trust yourself and I've always believed that that is a foundational psychological principle and
she said you know I just have to thank you for in ingraining that in us because
it was not something that was looked unfavorably in my family I remember my daughter said when she was
still in a pumpkin seat in the back of my mom's car grandma do you love yourself and my mom said well I don't
know probably not and my daughter would just went off on oh well I want you to love yourself and because my dad says
that you got to love yourself and you can't and I just want you to be happy grandma and my mom came over that day
and and confronted me and said what are you teaching your kids you're messing your
kids up and all this stuff and because that wasn't something that was promoted in my family the idea of
self-love was not something that was okay your shame is a very powerful language yeah speak it's also a very
easy language to speak and and I think brene Brown has a quote out that shame derives its power from being unspeakable
and so if we Revel in that shame and we we exist in that shame we will never
truly love ourselves um and it's so I'm a member of the queer community and it's really prevalent uh
Jonathan Van Ness is also in the queer Community um there's a another person uh RuPaul
um very famous for being a drag queen and ends every episode by saying if you can't love yourself how in the hell are
you going to love anybody else right and I I it's interesting too I think you got that from me I might have yeah no no I
think RuPaul was I might have gotten that from you uh possibly um but I really do think it's
interesting that that has come out of a community where shame tends to be a
driving motivator a driving uh factor in a lot people's lives there's another
book called The Velvet rage whose author I can't remember at this moment but all about shame right does shame
research and says these are the stages that uh that a queer man goes through as he grows into into life um and it's it's
focused on shame back in the 90s there was got an author Leo buscalia yeah the
doctor of love love doctor he was on he was huge on Hugh Donahue back when you
Donahue was still on yeah yeah I think he was replaced by Dr Ruth but I think they had a different Focus Savage has
his problem yes right Savage Love is no self-love ultimately and it's it's interesting to me that that these ideas
of self-love really find pillars in in the queer community and in other
marginalized communities um and it's and then people who tend to
pillars can be anchors yes they can help stabilize you and ground you if you can buy the same thing religion can do for
people yes can anchor you in times of turmoil
I've often said that clients who have a religious anchor to
hold on have something additional to fight with in times of trouble and crisis then
clients that don't have that and but you've also said that that can both be a
benefit but also a liability that religion can give you the illusion
of having some sense of certainty and maybe I'm maybe I Mis well no I think
the caution that I would offer is the things that I say personally in my personal life are different than the
things that I say counseling my job is not to proselytize my beliefs about religion and faith my job is to take
what you believe and help understand how it anchors you or how it gets in your
way and then offer to you new ways to think about that not as a as a
conviction of my premise but as a growth within you that gives you more freedom
and less okay so if if if religion causes a blockage for growth yeah then
it's not a positive well what I kind of heard you you picking at there is uh the
idea that while religion can anchor you say somebody comes that can also come with a risk of an existential crisis yes
in and of itself if they start to question or doubt their own religion right with that gain comes comes another risk
yeah but yeah to my question to my answer is what doesn't come with other risks right right that doesn't exist
okay let's run to our break and we'll pick this up on the other side hey guys Dr Michael Mahon here from
Psych with Mike and do you think that you have a story to tell I know that
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cycling okay we're back and the one part of the
article that I actually liked was there's a section where the author is
talking about you know you can kind of monitor your own sense of self-love by
are you quicker to self-criticize or are you quicker to self-praise and I think
that that's a really important concept so I think a lot of that is driven by the scripts that you internalize as a
child the parenting scripts that your parents used who in the hell do you think you are
messaging that you internalizing well who do I think I am what makes me better what makes me different I have to be
this way shame power control pain or levers that many people parent with
mm-hmm there's a a line in a song that I like where this guy is talking about his
experience in Catholic school and he says that he got his knuckles bruised by
a nun dressed in black who told him that fear is the Heart of Love so he never
went back and I think that that is so true that's my daughter's dog is so true
in a lot of our experiences that people taught us that fear is the Heart of Love
and it's not it's not when we love other people and it's not when we love
ourselves my father specifically said to me I don't care if you love me but you will fear me
yeah there's a great Michael Scott quote from the office it's would you prefer to be feared or loved and he says is it too
much to ask for both I want people to be afraid of how much they love me and I
said yeah that sounds good oh afraid that's a nice thing yeah I didn't think that's where that was going in the
beginning yeah uh okay so now actually now I'm gonna pose a question uh because
if you look awe up in the dictionary the definition of awe is Majesty with a
sense of fear I mean that's that's the that's the definition so is sinners in the hand
you're an Angry God well but but is fear required as a part of Love reverence and
respect are different are different okay I think they are different um and I think reverent
in in religion in particular at least how I have understood um Christian religion as I've grown up
is that uh God has two parts to him right um grace and mercy whereas Grace is
receiving something you don't deserve and mercy is not receiving something you did right uh and so I I think love can
exist without that I don't I I agree love can't exist without fear in some sense because if
you aren't afraid of either losing it or um what can come as a result of this
vulnerability right that you're entering into someone with someone else it does it have vulnerability at all so the
Buddha said that the heart of all despair is attachment and so the
Buddhist concept is Love without attachment and so there is no fear of
losing that and that you know Buddha said that the greatest love is love that doesn't have that fear of loss
associated with it transcendentalism and and so I and and I will be honest uh I
believe that human beings are ingrained at the level of our DNA to be in committed relationships so to me the
idea of Love without attachment is something that I feel is alien to Being Human but that
you know that that caveat put out there you know we do have a concept in uh in
in our world of love without fear and is that a superior form of love should we
even have fear associated with love
I think it's uh I don't know I don't I'm not clear on
what I want to say um I think the idea of humanity
is that we try to hold on to things to Anchor ourselves to things and people
to be safe before we stay in one place instead of wrong motions
the idea that you're articulating about The Love without fear is a greater love a larger love a more encompassing love
and as the Buddha is suggesting transcendentalism is suggesting if we can detach ourselves from these fears
and these inhibiting anchors then we can be more expensive and we can see a larger part
of the universe I don't know if that's doable or not yeah I think that's my understanding of
the discussion and it you know this is something that I've really thought about
a lot in Greek in the Greek language there are six or seven words for love
depending on which reference choice you look at and we don't have that broad kind of love language in our society and
I think that we're missing something because of that I think that we should be more focused on that but let's go
back clinically to this idea of are you quicker to self-criticize or are you quicker to self-praise you know if you
look at yourself and you answer that question in the negative I am much more
quick to self-criticize that's actually something that we can help you with in
therapy we can help you learn compensatory measures where you can
practice trying to be more self-presentative amazing and in the
beginning that's going to be really hard to do so one of the ways you approach that
clinically use a specific example I was talking to somebody the other day was telling me that they get in depressive
cycles and they stand at the front door they want to go outside and they know they need to go out and walk and be in
the Sun but they just can't go out they just can't go out and I suggested to
them that words matter and the language you hear in your head structures reality
and so you have to learn to recognize that voice that says can't and change it
to will or won't so it should shouldn't can can't get rid of those and make
affirmative choices but it's not one trial learning you can't do it today and say I will go outside and go outside but
you have to change the script that you've internalized from childhood that gives you an opportunity to
be more free right and less bound to your depression and while that isn't one
trial learning I do think that that is spotter than for the therapy session so
you can say I will go outside today and go outside and then the next time you come back and see me we can talk about
how was that you didn't die was it do you want to get to a place where you can say I will stop therapy
some people do yes there's a lot of um like reaffirmation in that language yes
I I've heard the same example with vegetarianism people are really wanting to become vegetarians and they say
instead of saying oh I can't eat meat they say oh I shouldn't eat I don't yeah exactly tell their friends I don't teach
me I'm not smoking today yeah I don't smoke yeah right right no I think that words matter the the
words absolutely matter and that's why it I feel like it's super super
important to work with people who are overly self-critical to try and even if
it isn't change that to self-praise at least start by modifying the
self-critical language you know because it can make a huge difference just like
you're saying the difference between I don't eat meat and I won't eat meat
is only one letter but it makes a huge difference in the way
that you perceive it in yourself well it kind of brings us back to the new age word of empowerment yeah you accept your
power to act you're not trapped you're not stuck you're not limited you're not bound by these strictures you have the
power to choose we just did a whole episode on personality I think one becomes a behavior you are exhibiting
and the other is a choice in your personality trait yeah and and choice
among personality traits yes you know I I I'm really
so I am very aware that uh
there's and and it's always this way but there's a a real
um sense in our society that we have
so many more opportunities we have so many more people encouraging people to
be empowered to express their to be you know body what's it what's it called
when body uh uh happy when you're happy in your own body body positive
um you know and and so we reject the old kinds of of
media driven ideas of what is attractive and just be body positive and so we have
these messages and then on the other still sell Barbie dolls little girls yeah and but but and and I have I've
heard from clients that they feel like it's harder today to be able to feel
loved because the ideas that they see on social media of people promoting their
lives is is so incredibly difficult to live up to and I tell people all the
time what you see on social media is a lie I mean nobody's living that life maybe you just don't turn off social
media well well that I think that's the problem is that they are living that life now previously when we look at at
advertisements or Hollywood that is separate and that is removed from your pocket but now I think we have children
and teens in particular have social media and they build lives that portray
this image they build false identities yes it's not real and that becomes their
entire existence and that's that's not a job for them that is them now
well I don't know I disagree because I influencers you mean yes because they're
promoting that and that may be their social Persona online but they're still
you know so I see these these you know depictions every year the social media of you know people at Thanksgiving and
everybody's having a great time and they're cutting the turkey and everybody's happy and laughing but I
know at that table there's a lot of dissension people are arguing with each other and somebody left and you know was
angry and somebody else drank too much Rockwell painting no huh but but I think that but I wonder if
there are more opportunities to be yourself today but that some of the
straitjackets that we live in are just as real today as they were in the 1960s
right yeah but you could live in a 50 Cent video today instead of a Norman Rockwell painting sure
and I so I guess it's picky poison but but in the end that hurt but in the
end you do have some agency to be able to
change the language that you use to be able to think about yourself to me the
language the self-talk is more important than the social media projection is that
fair yes yes and so what I would be saying to
individuals is it's more important how you conceptualize yourself than whether
or not you get 10 million likes on your Facebook feed
well it's Fame is so microscopic now that it truly is fickle and brene brown
talks about this idea of scarcity in life and a focus on scarcity uh which eventually
she she argues leads to a focus in scarcity of oneself uh and you know we
talk about um the generation between the Boomers and the Gen xers uh really had to uh
keep up with the Johnsons right or keeping up with the Joneses that was a whole big thing then
um and I think in some ways is now too but just in a much more microscopic way
um I mean I get on my social media and I feel as though I can never keep up with
all of the things that I should do I should be an interior designer and a
photographer and a musician and uh and uh and uh you can have it all you can't
have it all um so I wonder how and when we I I'm grateful for some
of the self-love talk but I I hear your point around there is now a societal
pressure to say you have to love yourself and if you don't well what's wrong with you yeah like like that's the
normal the the normal state would be to love yourself when I'm not sure that
that's ever been the normal state but it is a state that we should aspire to we would like to Aspire to
yes yes those language matters all right hopefully that is beneficial for people
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