We humans are innately self-focused and self-serving (see last week’s post: Character’s First Commandment: It’s Not All About You). We have to learn how to get along and work together in a social world. In our second book written together, The Ten Commandments of Character: How to Build a Significant Life, Dr. Kathryn Armistead and I go into depth about what both clinical experience and science have taught us are the 10 essential “commandments” of sound character development. And the first axiom is recognize you are not the center of the universe and to ardently strive to be mindful of your impact you, your urges and desires, and especially your behavior have on everyone and everything else in creation. But just how do we go about acquiring such psychological, social, and spiritual mindfulness? The key is in developing our capacities for empathy and altruism. Below are some edited excerpts from the upcoming book that address this very issue:
We may recognize self-centered behavior as undesirable and bad but what is the good behavioral alternative? How do people act who don’t see themselves as the center of the universe?
People who have overcome their infantile narcissism and have learned to care beyond themselves are altruistic and empathic. And people who are altruistic act for the greater good. They are the folks who see the big picture. They have the capacity to act in others’ best interest even if it means putting aside some of their own needs and feelings. They love freely, not out of self-interest.
Over the years, we have learned that no one can ever be truly and fully divorced from their own self-interest. Moreover, total acceptance is not necessarily the best way to approach certain individuals. Sometimes, as with disturbed characters, a more direct or even confrontational approach is necessary. And while acting in other’s interests is considered noble, such behavior can have a darker side—that is, we can act on another’s behalf without sufficient regard for ourselves. Some sacrifice is noble and even healthy. But when a person sacrifices themselves unnecessarily, indiscriminately, or excessively it can be a real problem. Some folks can even develop a “martyr complex” whereby they glorify or build up themselves (sometimes unwittingly) by becoming the victim. True sacrifice is characterized by humility and not pride over saving others whil hurting oneself.
Historically in our culture we expected women to play the sacrificial role—the role of the person who sacrifices her own needs in order to care for others. Up through the 1970s, for example, women were expected to put aside their career aspirations, so they could fully experience the joys of motherhood. This is the self-sacrificing mother who sits by her child’s sickbed or the lover, girlfriend, or bad-girl-gone-straight who gives up her life willingly for her man, child, friend, student, patient, etc. Even today that is one reason that we see predominately women in less authoritative helping professions such as teachers (especially primary school teachers), nurses, daycare workers, babysitters, elder caregivers, and even office assistants. To be sure, this is changing, but it still is prevalent. Typically, these people are poorly paid and have responsibility that far exceeds their authority. This is a reflection of an unhealthy altruism.
Here is another way that altruism can be turned on its head—when one cares for a person in such a way that people being helped are robbed of their dignity. That is, they are helped to the degree that they bear no responsibility for their own actions and are totally dependent on the person helping them. There is a difference between being “taken care of” and “caring for” another. People who “help” this way are often called “enablers.” Said another way, they have a need to be needed. We all know people like this. They often have a difficult time saying “No,” and disturbed characters, who naturally tend to shirk responsibility, regard them as prime targets for manipulation.
Empathy is predicated on personal face-to-face relationships. It is a behavior that lets the other person know that I understand as much as I can. When I see that you are sad, for example, I can join you in your feeling; but it remains your feeling. I can share in your situation and in a sense help carry the load of responsibility but the situation remains yours. While I might think how I would feel if that happened to me or I might play with the idea of it happening to me, when I listen with empathy, I keep my own feelings out of the way enough to respect yours. Empathy allows me to resonate with you while retaining my objectivity, and it allows you the freedom and space to own your behavior.
Empathy is not sympathy; although we confuse them all the time. Sympathy is feeling for or on behalf of another person. Sympathy is a way that I can show that I understand how it is to “walk in your shoes.” It’s a way that I take on your situation and make it my own. So the more you and I have in common, the more I can sympathize with you. For example, I can sympathize with people I read about in the newspaper, even though I don’t know them, because sympathy doesn’t require a face-to-face relationship. Being able to sympathize with people doesn’t mean that you have a personal relationship with them; and extreme sympathy can indicate a loss of self-boundaries and consequently a loss of individual responsibility for one’s own life journey.
When we listen with empathy, we put their self-interests aside as an unselfish act for the person speaking. In conversation, empathic people do not hand out judgment or manufacture solutions. Rather, they discipline themselves as they refrain from quick fixes. When a listener gives a speaker acceptance and understanding, the listener shows care by letting the other retain ownership of his or her own thoughts and actions. Said another way: the listener doesn’t take on another person’s strictly personal problems and make them into a project. Empathy demands discipline, diligence, objectivity, and unselfishness. While the issues of suffering and struggle are real, they are not problems to be solved but can be opportunities to grow deeper.
I do not want to imply that when you listen with empathy, you are “only” listening. Empathic altruism is not neutral behavior. Nothing is further from the truth. Listening to someone is not passive but an active investment in another person. Empathic listening in the value-laden context of deeply committed people who are striving to care for each other as they journey together.
You can see why empathy doesn’t work with character-impaired people. Empathy is predicated on trust, honesty, and openness. It assumes that people want what is best for themselves and others. Disturbed people, however, will use your care for them against you to get what they want, and/or they may be unable to anything but lie in order to get you to give them their way. And it is clear that disturbed are not empathic, because they cannot set their own needs and desires aside. They have no interest in giving you room or the freedom to decide for yourself, because they want to control all possible outcomes for their own gain.
Learning that we are not the center of the universe and becoming a person who sees beyond their own limited worldview are not givens; they are achievements. And it takes a lot to find just the right balance between self-care and care for others. While it may be “natural” that we are primarily self-interested and that we are born immersed in an environment with expectations and responsibilities, the journey to mature character means that we learn how we impact the world around us and we that accept accountability for our actions. Not believing that we are the center means that we approach and treat others altruistically and with empathy. And, of course, we must balance that with lovingly and responsibily caring for ourselves.
Still hoping some kind souls will post reviews of my current new release with Dr. Armistead, How Did We End Up Here? on Amazon. Such reviews and great word-of-mouth are the main reason for the success of In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome.
My weekly broadcast, Character Matters, will again be live this Sunday evening at 7 pm EDT, so I can take your phone calls.
92 thoughts on “Mindfulness through Empathy”
I strive to be empathic and have strived to be like that here in the comments as well, trying to see different sides, even if some sides may be more distorted and biased than others. Not specifically refering to any single instance, but broadly to many instances I’ve experienced and seen between people and many exchanges I’ve commented on here.
Especially like how you state empathy demands “objectivity” among others.
Hi Dr. Simon: This is a wonderfully engaging post – your excellent compare/contrast discussion of sympathy vs. empathy resonates deeply. An excellent piece of writing.
What I noted was: “Empathy allows me to resonate with you while retaining my objectivity, and it allows you the freedom and space to own your behavior.”
I admit, for a moment I got an automatic thought “Yikes! Someone just tried to sum me up” even though I know it’s not about me of all people. Still got that “oomph!” experience. 😉
After reading this article I realize I’ve got work to do on myself to become more emphatic and less the problem solvier. It’s a bad habit but I think it can be broken.
You can do both. You are for the first time learning the internals of how corrupt the CD can be. We just need to determine who is genuinely deserving of our time and efforts to help. I am learning all the time, sometimes the hard way but I chalk the experience up to another lesson in life and except it, let it go, and move on, the idea is not to do it again!
I’ve had some pretty scuffed knees but their looking better, less bruises and more peace. Just think with all your knowledge how you can go forward and help others in an appropriate way and still have all of you intact, learning and loving and growing, becoming a better person in this world. You are awesome Lucy. Hugs!!
Thank you. I Thank all of the posters. Your comments have helped me understand and pull through a very difficult time.
Poet’s PagePoemsCommentsStatsBiographySend MessageShare on FacebookShare on Twitter
Poems by Anders Lim : 49 / 64 « prev. poem next poem »
Sacrifice – Poem by Anders Lim
Autoplay next video
A sacrifice you make today
Will never ever be gone
A sacrifice you make today
Will soon be passed on
A sacrifice you make today
Will stay in many hearts
A sacrifice you make today
Help many play their parts
A sacrifice you make today
Will never be forgotten
A sacrifice you make today
Will never be mistaken
A sacrifice you make today
May even change history
A sacrifice you make today
May be kept in someone’s memory
A sacrifice you make today
Might light someone’s day up
A sacrifice you make today
Might fill someone’s dry cup
A sacrifice you make today
Will always be treasured
A sacrifice you make today
Will always be remembered
Excellent!!! Now the question is is this the talk of and Enabler, a Neurotic, an Empath, or perhaps, a Humanitarian? I thinks it rings loud of individuals who care.
I will not accept being labeled a Neurotic or an Enabler. Because, I gave and cared, believed in and loved someone that was not honest with me and I did not know who I was dealing with. All those years and not to know what was wrong, to have a feeling but then it is just a feeling.
When I finally found someone who told me the truth and explained what I was dealing with and my eyes were opened …..I left!
I think a true Neurotic or Enabler would had and does stay.
Because I am a responsible and caring person and help my fellowman I should not stereotype me with a pigeoned hole psychiatric label.
There was a time when one cared for their fellow man without wanting anything in return except to help. We seemed to have forgotten a way of life before all the immorality and the selfie nation took hold. Us Empaths and caring individuals are the ones that are fighting back, the Neurotics are crying in their homes changing the diapers of their CD.
I agree with you completely with the labels. One you didn’t mention and is my particular trigger for a rant is CoDependent.
I pull an accurate definition from AA, the group that first coined the phrase or label. When AA realized the some of the spouses of alcoholics sabotaged the recovery of the alcoholic, they determined the spouse was co-addicted (also dependent on the drug) and alcoholism was a family problem. The CoDependent could not let go of the care taking and control their inebriated spouse left them with through addiction and when the alcoholic spouse improved and became more engaged the Codependent couldn’t deal with the changes it brought. Hence, CoDependent on alcohol or Co-Addict.
I am definitely not addicted to my spouses behavior. I have no interest in controlling anything or anyone beyond what is mine to manage. What I have observed with my own spouse meets the true definition of CoDependent. The healthier my approach the more he ‘double downs’ with his own behavior. He needs me enmeshed, under his control, and mind reading his every thought and need. He gives the appearance of being addicted to his own power as well as codependent on the relationship his fantasies tell him he should have.
Neurotic could best describe me at my lowest point; however, it’s not my natural state. Without being in a relationship with someone who strives to twist my best character traits into something unhealthy and disfunctional, I have confidence and recognize my value, have the ability to resolve conflict and maintain healthy boundaries, and expect reciprocation without feeling selfish. When in a relationship with a CA, if you didn’t start out neurotic, you will certainly end up there eventually.
I’m glad you were able to leave as quickly as you did. Please don’t judge those of us still struggling to get out of such difficult relationships. Some of us have gone too far down the ‘rabbit hole’ to leave easily. Some of us lack support and means to do so. Some of us need to have a clearer understanding of the dynamics in order to not repeat the past. Some of us have long histories with aggressive personalities and unwittingly married into aggressive families not recognizing the them by the covert tactics they use. For some of us, the damage to our physical and mental well being has been so detrimental, leaving is almost impossible. For some of us, it may be dangerous to leave, taking control away from the character disordered who is not ready to discard is the ultimate battle. Many of us have work to do before we can be confident we can stand up against the force of the character disturbed.
One thing is certain, Dr Simon is helping us recognize both the good and bad parts of character creating order out of chaos and confusion. I am grateful for the clarity he brings.
I dont agree with the term co-dependant either. We all to a degree co-dependant on another. I am not judging anyone, and it was not an easy break far beyond what many have gone through.
What I was talking about is this subject of CD which was never broached or understood to the degree it is today. It took me years to finally get an answer to the lunacy head games and I was always the crazy one. In reality it was him. Once I understood the dynamics and years of educating myself and therapy did I make the break. But when I knew what I was dealing with it had to be over.
Depending where he is on the spectrum you may be able to get some change but by the time I found out his mind I believed was to diseased with hate and entitlement and resistant to change.
Went through al anon for 3 years, get it. I have lived and dealt with CD individuals like this all my life. I understand all that, perhaps you should delve deeper into the archives. There is only one judge and that is God.
Every situation is different and all aspects weighed and well thought out for what is best for all involved.
BTOV and Lucy,
I’m sorry if my response sounded critical. It was not meant to be. I’ve experienced a lot of judgement and criticism for not leaving yet so it strikes a nerve.
Like you, I reject the labels that seem to imply blame. If I had any idea his character was so poor, I wouldn’t have married him.
I take comfort in the fact that no one else recognizes his character either even while they judge me for not being happy and wanting to be with such a great guy. Sure, they were a little intimidated with him at first, he’s so intense but once they got to know him they realized what a great guy he is.
Meanwhile, I hear about how he goes out of his way to befriend anyone who is uncomfortable with him flattering and complimenting them so they feel good about themselves and no longer fear him. I hear his judgements and criticism and how he likes to mess with people’s heads because it’s fun and people are oblivious that he’s doing it.
They don’t recognize him either so I know I’m not at fault for missing it as well. No expects a wolf in sheeps clothing unless you’ve experienced one.
A piece of advise. SAY NOTHING OF YOUR PLANS WHEN YOU ARE READY TO LEAVE. Some of his aggression will be predatary. He will be watching and monitoring you. His aggression/hostillity will rise when you are occupied by something that is not him. For me, even a plant in the garden caused aggression/hostillity. I had to dig the plant up. The aggression/hostillity is to beat you down to teach you a lesson. Your mind and time are occupied by this aggression/hostillity they have created. You have undermind them when you are not focused on them. THEY ARE THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD. You and I are spectators who looks up to these false gods. Abandon them if you are able. IT WILL HIT THEM SQUARELY. Like Nuclear bomb. BBBOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM. When they hurt you THINK ONE DAY I WILL ABANDON YOU,ABANDON YOU,ABANDON YOU,ABANDON YOU,ABANDON YOU. Not just leave, ABANDON YOU.
You got that right, not just “leave” but “abandon”. That is so true. She will need to be sneaky.
Joey is spot on, take his warning seriously. The CD will devour you and regurgitate your remains and that is what he thinks of you when he has no more use. The CD that do the mind games that you have recognize as such can be very dangerous to leave.
Plan, make sure he does not have access to your computer, tell him nothing about what you know. Plan, plan, plan, start putting your money away, figure out how you will leave where you will go, he will be so angry and vengeful you left. I am not trying to frighten you, I am warning you like Joey. Fear will be your enemy, build your resolve and inner strength and trust God he aways cares for his children.
I hope you stay here, we will help you as much as we can.
You have a way with words and they could only have come from you. So many of the poems and the above statement come from so deep within and profoundly true. You have a gift, a wonderful and joyous gift. I am glad we have you.
Hugs and so many Blessings
Is there some reason why you are using all caps? People seem to use them a lot these days. Isn’t it a form of shouting? Are you indicting people who use caps are bad like a bomb and to avoid them? Or is there another significance? Is there a spiritual aspect? And where are more of your poems please.
Well stated. You just put it in perspective. When I left I was 100 percent certain I would never return. No regrets. I gave a man Love and he stomped on it.
I knew this too, I looked at him and me and said goodbye, he thought I went to stay with my children, whom I had been visiting, they insisted I leave and I did. I looked at him and thought how much I had loved and still loved him. I knew there would be no turning back and I was heartsick, I knew though it was the right thing to do for everyone.
Sometimes it is hard to put into words the unbelievable loss, the CD are delusional in a selfish way but as the description Dr. Simon used of the women not believing her husband was dead, is how I feel at times when I know my marriage is dead. It is the death of a marriage and part of yourself, it is sad and painful. The saddest of all is to helplessly watch the destruction of your loved one and there is nothing you can do but kindly step aside and watch their demise. Such a sad waste of life.
Lucy, the ignorant fool and all the fools don’t realize the most precious and the best thing in their life is YOU and they had you. You were their rock and now they are sinking in the quicksand. For many the sinking will be very slow and as they sink deeper they become more desperate and delusional.
Be strong and use all you have learned from this experience to become a better person, to go on and live life to its fullest. Try not to look back, it will only drag you down, learn from it and you will rise to new heights you never knew existed. A new beginning for all of us!
Read Joeys poem, that is what is all about. You will see.
Historically, and they still do, men have gone out to work in jobs which entail higher pay. They sacrifice longer commutes, work in all sorts of conditions (ie. rain, snow etc), more dangerous jobs (e.g. construction, mining), longer working hours etc. In a lot of cases they are not working in a job they love but they are working to make ends meet. They bring home money to their family where traditionally (and still does) the wife would manage the money and determine spending. In short they are sacrificing themself for their family but the degree to which they sacrifice themself means the less time they can enjoy with their family or even doing the things they love.
I just want to clarify why I mentioned the above. I was regerring to what I see as gender bias in the above article. In no way am I saying that the women you mentioned do not make a wonderful contribution to our society. I just think that it is going a bit far to suggest that all women work in those jobs because they are sacrificing, there are many many reasons why they may work those jobs and I tried to show what some of those reasons could be.
Thanks for giving your input, Mick. Greatly appreciated.
No offense was taken. You will leave him when you’re ready, and now that you know his true self, you are definitely getting ready.
Just warning, from what I’m experiencing as I’m going through divorce proceedings, my STBX is showing what the real uncaring conniving CD he is. You think the husband is bad now, just wait till you leave him.
I can only say that before you leave get your finances in order, find all the bank accounts, snoop around the house, in drawers, etc., for any papers you may need. Get the titles to all vehicles in your possession. Gather your important papers that you will want/need. Get the passwords to accounts if you don’t have them. If you’re not being physically harmed you’ll have some time to do these things, especially if he doesn’t know what your intentions are. (Sorry, I’m just making an assumption that you will eventually leave – No Judgment Here!)
Open your own checking account in your name only. Go to the bank and find out what accounts have your name on them.
I had been lazy in my marriage in not checking on my finances, assuming he was “taking care of it”. He was taking care of himself. Not me.
You will see the true Beast that he is once/if you leave him. I just want you to be prepared.
Lucy, has been there, all of us who are warning you have been there. Listen closely and be ever so careful, Lucy just gave you a mouthful of of first hand experience. If you decide to leave be prepared even if you are unsure now make the arrangements in advance and be prepared. There may come a day when you are his punching bag that he is going to take it all out on. If you have to leave in a hurry you will be prepared. Open a safety deposit box too. Or if you have a trusted close relative that would be great.
Winner takes all and the CDN never, ever, want to lose. If you think ahead you will be in a better position when you leave. If you can afford it find a good counselor and get their input. This way you will have a professional in your corner to provide support.
Thank you everyone for the kind words, thoughts and encouragement.
At one point, everyone’s advice would have scared the pants off me but I’ve come a long way from that in accepting who he really is and how he thinks. Cognative Dissodence is behind me even if it is sometimes hard to reconcile his fantasy to reality.
I did try to leave before and experienced the nuclear KA BOOOM of Joey’s warning. (Thank you, Joey for the truthfulness if that.) It was shocking, dirty, and damaged every relationship in my life. Even the few people who saw enough to know he isn’t ok, backed off and away ‘for their own safety’ or words to that effect. I have sought professional help, studied and researched these behaviors (how I found Dr Simon’s work), and am preparing myself the best one can for the inevitable. I believe knowledge is power. And I’m empowering myself as much as I can.
It’s going to be rough, no doubt, but I will not be as easy to guilt, frighten, and manipulate as I was before. He can’t align with other people to manipulate me because there isn’t really anyone left. I’m aware of my vulnerabilities and am trying to resolve them or mitigate them as much as possible. It’s certainly not easy to do under the circumstances but I see improvement even if it’s slow. Leaving will happen, slow and steady wins the race.
Thank you again for the empathy, sympathetic responses, and compassion. I’m so sorry we are all dealing with such difficult people in such important positions in our lives.
So from the heart, I can step into your shoes and they feel so familiar. Your are in a safe and good place here. We have some loyal regulars that will help you on your journey. Their are others who follow the blog but haven’t posted of late that have filled the archives with a plethora of knowledge, wisdom, validation, insight, compassion and on on. It is our way of paying forward and thanking the selfless individuals that helped us. We are all Kindred Spirit on this plane.
More than anything Charlie, Dr. Simon, first and foremost is a man of Character, honor and integrity and he stands behind each and everyone of us. He nurtures us with loving care but at the same time will protect us as a mother lioness does her cubs. Dr. Simon is known world wide for his work in this field and this is one of the top blogs to help get you through your ordeal. Dr. Simon always monitors and reads his blog, I noticed he steps in when we need some guidance or redirection but usually lets us on our own. That indicates we must be doing fairly well and we all don’t have to agree. Many times a good banter back and forth opens new avenues of thought and change.
I followed Dr. Simons blog for years before I began posting and wished I had interacted with so many of the posters as it would had benefited me immensly.
Just saying, I hope you stay connected and are so welcomed here. Whether you decide to stay or leave the CD , know this, you are embraced with acceptance no matter what.
Gods peace and Blessings
Be safe and well
Just to say the SACRIFICES WOMEN MAKE???????????????????????????
I just read that article. We act out of love and instinct. A man would do the same.
There are plenty of stories of men who have sacrificed themselves for men, women, and children. Often those who aren’t even related to them. We don’t need to make the divide between men and women worse than it is already. As any good psychologist would back up.
Just one more tidbit. Get on the internet and follow closely the activity going on in your joint bank accounts. (You can’t sign onto an account you are not named in). I found out the hard way that you cannot get your name off a joint account, you have to close the account. The bank does not like or will refuse to close the account when it has pending activity. You can only close it at a point where all pending is cleared through. What makes it difficult is when you have the other person constantly using the debit card. I beg and pleaded with my banker to close the account, it was overdrawing. They worked with me and I got two banks each to close a joint account.
I spent a lot of time on the internet going to the “documents” tab and saving the bank monthly statements and other documents to my computer in files.
Do the same with any savings/IRA/Wells Fargo accounts or whatever you might have. Save the monthly documents to a file.
I trusted my STBX to manage accounts – I had no idea of the monetary damage that he was doing. Like you say, knowledge is power.
Closing the account, of course, will alert the husband that you are doing something, getting ready to exit, so this will be done at the last stage, the day you leave.
Thanks for letting me know that the blog is a safe and supportive place. Strangely or not so strangely, I realized when I read that I’ve stopped thinking about and looking for safe places and only look to determine if a place is unsafe. I think my pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme and think this will be a good place for me.
I have spent quite a bit of time in the blog’s archives but only recently started paying attention to the comments. I imagine I’m not the only one who has learned to be a bit cautious when interacting with new people.
It will be good to be with Kindred Spirits.
Thanks for the banking advice. I noticed you mentioned you were ‘lazy’ with your finances. I interpreted ‘lazy’ as trusting. I think trusting would be fine in a healthy relationship, don’t you?
I’ve taken some steps in that direction as well. My situation is a bit different than yours in who manages the accounts. I do all the work and have all the responsibility but none of the control. It took a long time to figure out that I don’t actually have control in managing the finances so don’t be certain that if you were more involved it would have made much difference. It’s difficult to manage anything with someone who cannot handle ‘no’s’ or having to wait.
I received really good advice from a past neighbor who is a divorce attorney a while ago that really resonated with me. She said that I needed to treat my marriage / divorce as a business, to emotionally detach and make good business decisions. Easier said than done, of course, but I’ve found it’s an excellent frame of reference. I imagine you’re finding that to be true as well?
Check out what state laws as to how your state determines division of property. How many years were you married and how many children are factors. If you decide to go be ever so cautious and it might be you can stay and he can go make sure you have your eggs in the basket if you can before you leave. If you can start stashing so extra, and anything is of value and means something to you get it out of there, it may disappear or get destroyed. Just some hints.
Can you say how long you were married? Have you read all dr. Simons books? We can suggest some other very good one too. Your very welcomed and we are all glad to help. I hope you listen you’ve gotten some good pointers so far.
My “lazy” comment was in that I did trust him, as he did handle the financial end, his end anyway, for many years, but then there came a time where he no longer did. I still do regret that I did not get more involved in watching where the money was going and having an understanding of our finances. I had certain financial responsibilities in the marriage, numerous, as I had a good paying full time job throughout.
And I totally understand having the responsibility but not the control. I found that out when trying to close a joint checking account. And my STBX spent spent spent even when he was losing his license and for some years his business was not profitable. The whole time I thought his business was ok. Normal people don’t spend spend when they are not earning enough to cover it.
I declared I’d divorce him almost two years ago and am going through Divorce Hell. He being a disbarred attorney – what worse scenario can I have? He contests EVERYTHING. Has depleted accounts even while under court order not to do so. He does what he wants. Always has. Has no boundaries.
I only just saw your exchange with Allen Roy. Well cleared up.
I’ve not seen anything from Allen Roy so I hope he feels the same.
I have ready two of Dr Simon’s books (Character Disturbance and Sheep’s Clothing) and currently have two on my purchase and read list (Judas Syndrome and How Did We End Up Here.) Are there others?
I have been married over twenty years. I was young when I married and too inexperienced in determining character as well as naive when I believed everyone was the same in working towards doing their best with learning and following social rules. I think I could be described as earnest. I have dogs but no children due to timing issues, that unsubstantiated feeling something wasn’t right, as well as what a very blunt endocrinologist defined as ‘my hormone’s don’t want to procreate. ‘
I had to chuckle when you identified your spouse as an attorney. That is certainly a field that attracts some aggressive characters that are excellent fighters. I can only imagine how difficult that marriage was for you.
I married military also a field that attracts aggressive people. Ive learned that every interaction is a battle for him with only one winner and one LOSER. I’ve also learned if he ends up the LOSER in the last battle the next battle is critical for him regardless of the importance of the topic. I would imagine you’ve experience the same during divorce/courtroom battles. (And he must be very bad to be disbarred. )
I prefer the win/win compromise in which everyone walks away happy and whole. I plan on working towards that but am preparing for the more likely event of a battle.
He once told me that compromise means no one gets what they want. I try to keep in my mind, his perspective is his reality, regardless if it makes sense to me.
You sound well equipped to handle him. You know how to read him. It becomes predictable, doesn’t it?
You said you “only recently started paying attention to the comments”.
Let me warn you a little in advance that I’ve myself seen a few odd comments somewhere in the much older comments, some even eyebrow-raising. If you see one, please remember they are exceptions and only reflect a particular poster’s opinion. Don’t let them alienate or scare you from this blog. Treat them as interesting discoveries like anything else with potential to teach(even unintentionally?) or unusual or disagreeable opinions of someone seeing the world a certain way.
Also, please remember that sometimes folks here may discuss matters that don’t seem directly related to main subjects of this blog. I hope they don’t bother you, either.
There’s a lot of discussion on matters like personality, character and thinking. Even though many of the posters seek help for matters of immediate or near-immediate concern, it isn’t by any means eclipsed or overshadowed by contemplation of things from different perspectives. Hopefully you don’t feel like it would. You’re welcome to give your views and perspectives in discussion, even if they differ from those of others.
I hope this helps with welcoming you to this blog. 🙂
I am intrigued by how one thinks and human interaction. I am curious in the achieves which post did you find odd or eyebrow-raising. Wondering if I picked up on the same. I think this may make for interesting conversation since I think we have both been here for sometime.
I don’t quite remember when I discovered this blog, but I have a friend to thank for it. I only turned my attention to comments about a few weeks before I made up my mind about posting and even then just randomly.
Thanks for asking, I don’t quite remember where they were and it’s been some time and my memory’s all hazy, though, bummer of bummers. I try my best, ‘kay? But I remember there were the same two posters in all of these.
There was something about some news article that led to some mention of international gangsterism and then somehow led to some seemingly starry-eyed declaration of a mass awakening(?).
Then there was some odd comment that was starkly against meditation and said there was a danger of getting infected by other people’s thoughts if you empty your mind and there was a mention of MArtha Stout and osciopaths. It was followed by a comment where another poster said she(at least I think both were women) was the one the comment was directed at before including some link that seemed to be about hypnosis(that I didn’t click), talking about nature spirits(I think) and confronting her. Then there were some non-sequitur comments where she accused her of twisting her words.
I actually responded to one convo with a comment of my own, because it started to seem like some instances I’ve unwillingly found myself in as well as many that I’ve seen occur between people. I tried to be as objective as I could and look at many sides as possible. Basically one poster blew up and said there had been something provocative directed at her. The follow-up between other posters said that it had started or escalated or at least had something to do with a religious discussion.
But I don’t know your history with any particular poster. My peace of mind isn’t disturbed if there’s something you see no point in revisiting. 🙂
I have a curious and analytical way of thinking, and like to dissect. Nothing personal. Thank you, I recall this too. There have been some trolls which are usually removed.
I like to keep all these interactions and particular posts in my head. Many comments on how others dealt with a CD comes in handy.
I have to ask you, didn’t you originally post about having problems with bullies? I have found that the majority of CDN are in fact bullies. They don’t feel good unless they are pushing others around. I was just have this discussion.
I realized I wasn’t clear enough on this.
Yes, I’ve posted about what I think of bullying. Now that I’ve had a long while to think to myself some things(right now I’m not dealing with any problem personality), it’s interpersonal conflict and dysfunction I strive to understand. That’s a broad umbrella if you think about it. That includes bullying.
But I sure have met some problem personalities. You may have noticed I personally prefer the term ‘problem personality’ to the usual ‘character disorder’ or ‘narcissist’. I find that ‘problem personality’ better describes the different people I’ve had the displeasure to meet.
I think I also misunderstood one comment. I’d mentioned some posts by same two posters and thought you were referring to that exchange, when you mentioned trolls and bullies. On further thought, I’m not sure if that was your intention. You may have intended to refer to my other post about primal scream preachers, gangstalking paranoia agents and so on so on. I was hasty to ask. You can freely ignore my question if you feel like it.
I think I may better understand now. I am glad you are working on this and hope you find understanding. The broad umbrella becomes smaller when one finds someone they can trust to talk to of the internals. This is where on listens gives healthy input without judgement and is willing to listen. Not an easy task by any means but peace does come.
Many times ghosts haunt our internals and it is hard to exorcise them let alone understand them. But, the path to freedom is the ability to recognize this to begin with.
I am glad we are here at this juncture in time. I will try to help you understand if I can. Many times I can’t get back to answering, so please be patient, I am so swamped and at the same time deal with chronic pain and that is difficult. One thing that is important is to understand our fellowman’s needs, many times above our own, and this can be very rewarding and at the same time cathartic.
Hugs and Blessings
I have mentioned something about bullies, yes. Bullyonline’s a great resource, too. It’s been updated. Some old pages of the site have to be sought with fervor to be found, which I find annoying, but the info on that site’s sound, too.
Sorry, I don’t remember all the specifics I’ve posted or read, so I may be a bit lost from time to time.
When you say that the majority of problem personalities are bullies, I kinda take that literally. What about the minority? Are they some different breed of difficult, then, in your opinion?
BTOV, you asked me to tell more about comments I found eyebrow-raising. I’m not quite sure I understand your other post, though.
Were those exchanges related to religious discussion(which I refered to) were actually bullying or trolling, too?
When you finally say the marriage is over and you start planning to leave…any money that was squandered will not mean one wit when it comes to divide what is left of the assets.
Can’t get blood from a turnip. So if the money is gone say good bye and get out. No amount of wrangling in court is going to get that money back…any money you receive in a litigation battle will go to the attorneys. You will see little of it.
So start stashing cash for the inevitable and do not let him/her know what you are doing. I stashed about $40000 and it helped to pay for attorney’s fees, rent, food, health insurance etc. I had not worked in a regular job for eight years and he walked with his job intact (although he ended up losing that one too). Never told him and I will never tell him. That is not the revenge I want.
It is all about the money now. Do not expect anything to be fair. Or said another way….All is fair in love and war.
True words. And I am finding these things out. Unfortunately, I did not plan my exit. I was still naïve and blind to what had happened financially. We had “separated” but were still living in the same house, on different floors, until STBX acquired a job. Then I left for a weekend, he wasn’t happy about it (why would he care when he’d been using prostitutes for the past few years? unbelievable . . . ) and he declared he was moving back upstairs. With that, I called a friend and moved out the next day. I felt panicked. Big mistake.
I’m glad at least One of Us made it out the right way!
In his mind he owned you!
That is a disturbing thought.
To this day I do not believe the ex ever figured it out that I was stashing cash. He just could not fathom that I could be cunning and without remorse. Goes to show you their blind spot when it comes to their belief in their value.
That’s good information to know – for me to use. I’m having to quit being the “good” one here in this divorce. It seems to get me nowhere. I just keep getting screwed. I’m tired of being on the defense and running circles around the crazy CD.
That is so cool you got away with it. . . . . .
Thanks, Timothy. I will keep that in mind when I go back and read old comments and thank you for welcoming me to the blog. I feel very welcomed by everyone.
Oh, and thanks for the sly comment on the other post, I know it wasn’t meant as a compliment, but its been giving me amusement for the past couple of days so I apparently took it as such. When one feels like the fool most days being thought of as sly was a fun change and gave me a little lift.
I’m in the same position as TereseK in not having a regular job for about the same timeframe. Ive been struggling with health issues some of which relates to autoimmune disease. Stress is a big trigger for flares and fatigue. He is very stressful. I’m in quite the mess but I’m not going to lose hope like before. Slow and steady wins the race.
I’ve been studying animal behavior for years and moved into studying human behavior just in the last several. I believe strongly that problems need to be identified before they can be resolved. I also believe that is a hard wired trait to resolve problems and conflicts probably related to survival mechanisms. Behavior is a fascinating field and applies to everything living. It’s good to be with people who have that in common.
It’s good in any case that you cleared it up with Allen Roy in a completely open, direct, non-combative, fair and objective way. Misunderstanding cleared.
Most here have more experience and with more severe problem personalities than I do, so they are better geared to giving suggestions for matters of more immediate concern.
Convos also take directions to what you just said well: ” that problems need to be identified before they can be resolved.”
A small fraction of convos can be quite odd, like I said, but even then they tend to make some sense. That’s a small fraction, though, don’t let them color your perception of the general.
One example I mentioned about to BTOV was apparently some series of exchanges between two posters that had something to do with a religious discussion.
When I’ve been here, I’ve seen other instances first hand. Try to follow, please. 😉
Some guy came up and accused Dr George Simon of being aligned with feminist agenda on some ridiculously illogical grounds. Everyone called out the game. Later this same user made his(I think it was a guy) accusations even more extreme and colorful, spiced by obscenities and curse words galore. He was blocked.
I randomly saw some comment by some other poster followed by Dr Simon himself saying that this particular poster had posted under several usernames for a longer time, acting covertly aggressive, harassing some posters as well as treating the blog as his/her(?) sounding board. Haven’t seen that same poster post here anymore, though.
Around the same times there was yet another man, who preached for Primal Scream Therapy(with capital letters). He was called out for repeatedly insisting that anyone not in agreement with him can’t be in their right mind and for acting with the zeal of a hell-fire fundamentalist preacher(except like a “science-minded”, nihilistic variant).
And wouldn’t you know, yet another bizarre one came, mimicking gangstalking paranoia under the username taken from the Matrix -movies(Anderson). Apparently he tried to disorient and indoctrinate us with some paranoid views. Later he posted some long comments where he bemoaned his longstanding problems with paranoia(so he said), trying to appear apologetic and reconciliatory while not outright apologizing or promising to get himself in order.
This Anderson later posted a few short comments, seeming to want to be on good terms with everyone. I have to admit I made a small mistake then. It doesn’t haunt me, but it was kind of a bummer. He posted a long comment detailing some scenarios where people don’t reap what they sow. Another poster responded to what I first thought was singling out a small fragment. I stepped in and said she seemed to be missing the actual essence there and if there was anything else I didn’t know about. She pointed me out to another comment section where this same guy had posted bizarre drivel under another handle before signing one post with Anderson.
Turned out pretty soon that this guy was the same one as the one preaching primal scream therapy with passion – three handles, two of them sockpuppets. Well, he hasn’t posted here since.
Then there was some far milder case, where a women self-identifying as a psychopath said her opinions. Following the discussion some other poster claimed she’d been disappointed trying to participate in discussions. This poster, though, didn’t include any references in her comment, so what am I supposed to make of it other than she might’ve edited some comments of her own out? I still gave her a response I thought was objective while still refering to that she might have either edited something out or misinterpreted something.
That’s about what I’ve seen. Those are rare, though, and exceptions.
I remember reading the Primal Scream guy’s comments and the “preaching” and that every character issue developed before we were born blah blah blah. It was bizarre. I quit reading his comments. I was so disinterested in his topic probably because I totally disagreed with his declarations.
That Primal Scream -guy just went on and on and on. His “anyone, who disagrees, doesn’t know S**T” -attitude turned me off quickly. It shone through in every paragraph. Goodness gracious.
And Mr Anderson, apparently his sockpuppet, mimicking gangstalking paranoia, unbelievable. Almost at once – almost at once! – my eyebrows must’ve raised so high it’s a wonder my forehead doesn’t look like a raisin. Would he really have said all that if he really suffered from gangstalking paranoia?
I am glad in a way these people snuck in for awhile. They do shed light on there dysfunctional way of thinking which can be a plus for who are getting to have a better understanding how they think and work. It comes in handy when you meet another one of them.
Timothy, didn’t you say you speak another language too, I really admire being able to do that I am trying to learn al little Spanish. The TBI influences my ability to do that. So what languages have you accomplished.? I aways wanted in my youth to learn German, now I really am interested in Hebrew and Greek. If possible would like to visit Israel.
I said I’m of mixed lineage, so in that sense I’m not the spitting image of a Brit. My family line’s all over the place! 😉 Kidding, but a part of it is German and Poland.
I used to speak some Russian and some German back then, though thanks to lack of use and not speaking much of either of them in the first place I’d have to do a bit of relearning.
Btw, from one thing to whole another one yet again, you bring up a different way of seeing the more problematic folk.
My “haha” showed up in the wrong place, inappropriately
And of course, Charlie, if you ever see a comment that’s not merely odd or disagreeable, but unnecessarily and unduly offensive and detrimental to the general athmosphere of the blog, feel free to contact Dr Simon below underneath the links. Include the comment section and so-and-so-message by so-and-so-poster with the dates and times of a day included right underneath poster handles, with an explanation why you feel that so-and-so comment ought to be deleted. 🙂
While perusing Huffington Post, I came upon an article entitled “Psychologists Diagnose Trump” and I see a quote of you, Dr. George Simon, from Vanity Fair, as follows: “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics . . . Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”
From the outset I thought Donald Trump would be a dangerous president because of his narcissistic traits.
Thanks for the warning. I would expect some odd ball stuff or trolls in any blog, I would think Dr. Simon’s could get a greater than average but sounds like it may be less. I will chalk it up as good practice to avoid sheep status.
Thank you for bringing Dr. Simon’s article up. I’ve been wondering what he and everyone here has been thinking of Donald Trump and his tactics.
Early on I recognized who and what he was and avoided any media coverage concerning him because seeing so many people support him caused me to feel anxious, confused, and scared. And it was depressing to watch on T.V. the daily fighting tactics in my home. My spouse is like a Trump mini-me (without being RICH .) Boy was I wrong!
While trying to stay current with the news, I saw a clip of an interview between Donald Trump and Anderson Cooper on some outrageous Trump statement, I had the best, most powerfully validating moment. Watching aggressive, experienced, and hard hitting Anderson Cooper lose total control of the interview while he tried to make sense of Trump’s agreement, deflection, disagreement, shift blame, and agreement with more deflection. I watched the frustration on Cooper’s face and his inability to move the question forward. Cooper was shut down, he lost. Another effective Trump win. It illustrated to me how utterly effective these tactics are and not only didn’t I stand a chance against them most everyone else doesnt either. That was a very validating for me.
I think I may be glad Trump is running, he seems to be bringing character issues to the forefront and while it may be bad in the short run, it may be very positive for the nation in the long run.
Greater than average but sounds like it may be less?
Commenters have sound things to say here and that’s the norm. Just because someone may have said something out-of-place doesn’t detract from merits of others’ sayings.
If someone comes here to treat people horribly, chances are he/she wants to chase them away and miss out on what otherwise would’ve helped them greatly and significantly. Those problem people are quickly dealt with.
Just because someone says something douchey to you doesn’t mean you should swear off all connections.
What does the word douchey mean? Is that an English word like I think and will have to ask Joey the word Drackard its meaning again. We were talking about the saying ” they shoot horses don’t they” meaning putting one out of their misery.
Charlie for the most part we have good solid posters. We respect each others right to disagree. A narcissists sees everyone as objects that should in essence be clones of themselves. Here we respect every person to be unique and individual unto themselves. Therefore one may see things in a different perspective and that is your prerogative.
People post once, twice, several times or regularly and as times go on many find other resources in their lives to pursue. Many stay for years, follow the blog and feel when moved to post.
Some comments are very emotional, full of pain, sadness, fear, and desperation, many times others don’t make sense and at other times we have some undesirables that try to sneak in and start problems, and others that are blatant CDNSP these we tend to weed out fairly quick. When a problem arises that may be upsetting to you you may always contact Dr. Simon and he will review and make a decision on how to handle it.
Expect that we all have opinions and have handled situations differently. Many times we discuss our differences in thought process which are good, it many times opens new avenues for all. All in all we care and try our best to offer a helping hand and support each other.
We speak our minds and are opinionated but at the same time realize and most of all respect everyone here. That is why Dr. Simons blog works and is so successful. I always say heathy banter is good, at the same time everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
If you read the archives you will ultimately know what you need and don’t need for you. I hope we are able to help you on your journey.
I think he means DODGY (NOT HONEST)
Example (a dodgy deal) They got involved with a dodgy businessman and lost all their savings.
It is Knackard (TIRED)
I’m too knackered to go out this evening.
3 Broken / malfunctional
4 You have no choice
1 I was knackered when I got in from work.
2The teacher caught us smoking and now we’re going to get really knackered.
3 I tried to fix my dad’s PC but now it’s more knackered than ever.
4 You cannot reply or challenge
You can use the “F” word and it means the same.
I live with chronic pain and sometimes it becomes so unbearable an d I remark about the horses. Some take it literal and get all worked up. So now my word will be KNACKERED. Your such a blessing.
I like these English terms, I can say things and people can take them so literal, now they won’t know what I am talking about and if asked I refer them to the dictionary. Thanks
“Douchey” as in someone acting like a douchebag.
My BF calls my STBX a douchebag. Haha
It is not a colloquial expression I am familiar with. I know a Douche
is a gynecological term. I have not heard it before. I know it is used in Russian expression.
I am lost in this conversation. And what happened to Allen Roy? He hasn’t posted of lately.
I’m also worried about Jeannie. I wish she’d update us, see how she is doing. I hope she does not think I’d be critical of her choices. I just try to bring my experiences into the mix, as others do, because I find it helpful. I know everyone has their own set of issues. We are all unique. Having said all that, I hope that EVERY ONE of us who is attached to a life-sucking CD can get some type of freedom from them. And I hate to see one of us drawn back in by their tactics.
I’m going to have to watch that interview. I “watched” it happen before me at marriage counseling the banter between the counselor and the STBX. It was so interesting. It’s like I displaced myself and sat and became educated.
Ugh, I’m confused. It would appear I said something that appeared negative and I’m not certain I’m grasping the issue.
Timothy, you seemed to have an issue with my statement, ‘greater than average but may be less.’ I’m not certain why. My statement was intended to reference a blog site helping those harmed by aggressive people who are often predatory. Based on my personal experience with predatory, aggressive people, posting here would be great fun for them, so I would expect more posts of that nature than you described hence the statement.
I’m also not certain the intent of the statement ‘just because someone says something douchey to you doesn’t mean you should swear off all connections’. Was this the ‘you’ specific, to Charlie, or the more general, rhetorical ‘you’? I cannot see where I swore off all connections, if your statement was ‘you’ specific so if you could please clarify.
BTOV, I already became aware there are good solid posters here which is why I’ve been posting so much as I get a feel for things. I feel that perhaps you interpreted my remarks implied differently. Again, I’m not certain why. My comment merely was a reply to Timothy ‘s post warning me if some past issues that were ‘odd.’ I’m certainly not judging odd, people have issues which is certainly why I’m here. Trolls are a different story but it sounds like issues are handled appropriately.
Clarification would be greatly appreciated.
First of all thank you for asking for clarification. I read a sign once that said: “What I said is not what I mean and what I mean is not what I said.” Boy, that is a tongue twister but is so true, and has gotten me in some hot water. Sometimes what we say comes out wrong or the person interprets what we said in a whole different light than what we meant it to mean.
I can only speak for myself and how I may read people, read into things and how I feel in how I comment. It was just my input to further expand on the blog. What I was trying to say is that one is entitled to their own thinking, feelings, opinions etc….. without feeling they have to agree with another. We would not be unique and a diverse society if we weren’t different and that is what makes everything and everyone so interesting. We aren’t “its my way or the highway” type of thinking, at least I’m not. I am always learning and it usually is from someone else.
We have had many different commenters on this site, as you can discern for yourself. Timothy was just trying to be helpful.
I am not sure what Timothy is talking about in re of the convo with Andy. It is probably something I have missed. Know this, you have added to this forum, there is nothing I have read that is questionable. In fact you have added a lot to this blog and as I stated banter (disagreement) is good because it challenges us to open our minds to further thought and in that, perhaps, develop new ways of dealing with problems. NEVER will we all agree!!!!!!
For example I do not agree from the information thus far in Allen Roy’s situation, I personally would handle otherwise. I am not going to get into a lengthy discussion at this time as I have voiced my opinion just as others have voiced theirs and respect as such. This being an example, this may have been what happened with you. Time to go forward!
Besides educating, and supporting each other we are trying to problem solve. Thank you, for all your input, I hope you stay and keep adding to this blog which has been an valuable resource for so many. You have a lot to offer and we will all I am sure benefit from from your continued thoughtful input.
Hugs and Blessings
p.s. Whether we agree or not is our God given right.
You were discussing Bullying earlier on, in this post. Please see attached link. Very Good.
Hang In There
Hello, my friend; You’re on my mind,
Because you’re somehow ailing,
But your response to any challenge
Has always been unfailing.
So I’m confident you’ll win again;
Hang in there, and you’ll see;
You’ll be back on top in no time,
Tackling life courageously.
By Joanna Fuchs
That was meant as a rhetorical statement in the similar spirit as in “just because one person acts badly one shouldn’t assume the same of everyone”. It was a general statement and it fits in the same spirit as the other statements in the same post.
Nothing you said indicated you were going to sever connections or that you would’ve said anything to that effect.
And now I’m confused about something BTOV said.
The convo with Andy?
Timothy and Charlie,
I stand corrected, I meant Allen Roy, I should had looked at the post again.
We all have a way of speaking and conveying our thoughts here. I must remember sometimes the convos can go so fast that a very important post may be lost within other posts throughout the day and change the whole context of what is being discussed. We also, come from different parts of the country and world and many times words, and things might be referred too and understood in a different light.
So many of us have unique ways of understanding and our thought processes different, our unique idiosyncrasies and personalities. All of us have a unique way of writing and I think we see that in for instance in Joey and Timothy in their personal form of articulation. Given this it is important before taking anything post personally as Charlie and Timothy did, always feel free to ask for clarification.
I don’t know how to make the happy faces for all of you but I would put 10 of them. I have 10 sad faces because I hurt a lot today.
I said some of that wrong, should had reread but I know you will understand, I am having a bad pain day today. I apologize. You all are very special and I don’t want us to get hung up on the small stuff.
To all of you, we are Kindred Spirits on a really the same journey to grow and strengthen our character, to give and make this a better world even if its one at a time. Big Hugs to All
Sorry you’re not feeling well.
Check following link for making happy faces. It is simply two characters: ‘colon’ and ‘)’ 🙂
So today I read and answered an email from STBX. I normally don’t read them because they make me angry and don’t usually resolved anything.
He took property from the marital residence, which items he was specifically court ordered to NOT remove. He has locked these items at his employer’s property. Then he has the nerve to tell me to pay for licensing, insurance and repairs for said items and THEN he will return them.
TYPICAL! So of course I won’t pay him a penny, he will continue to hold these items and use that as his excuse for keeping the items and to not being held in contempt of court. Maddening.
It is not my intention to speak for anyone else’s experiences or thoughts but I think this blog is important and valuable. This is what I’ve observed from the past two blog entry comments:
This is a group of people,many of which have been emotionally harmed by people who were supposed to be sources of love, trust, support and respect, who have come together to learn, support, heal and disagree (as it’s part of human nature) with each other.
Disagreements are handled thoughtfully and respectfully and in open and direct but non aggressive ways which is completely the opposite of many of our life experiences.
I know my experiences have left me with or deepened insecurities I did not have before and I think disagreeing, miscommunications and misunderstandings and how we learn to deal with them within this blog may be the greatest healing gift we provide for each other.
I’ve been neither offended nor insulted and am looking forward to being part of the group. It’s been a validating and rewarding experience to see and participate in normal, healthy conflict and see acceptance and dignity and not see fits, tantrums, diatribes, rages, hostility, contempt, name calling, and manipulation.
This IS a good and safe place. I know this because of how conflicts are being resolved not from the lack of them.
This is the best article I have read from you Dr. Simon, kudos.