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2 Misconceptions About Love & How to Turn Toxicity into Healthy Boundaries | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "2 Misconceptions About Love & How to Turn Toxicity into Healthy Boundaries".
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If you don't put in the effort to try to recognize from like where they're coming from and see it from their perspective, you may never know. And you may continue living this life thinking that like nobody really cares about me because you're not stepping outside of yourself. And so in relationship, the best-selling author and host, the number one health and wellness podcast. On purpose with Jay Shetty. Hey everyone, welcome back to this very special episode of On Purpose. First of all partners that better help for this episode. Today I'm joined with Hae Sujo, licensed therapist and head of clinical operations at BetterHelp. Hey everyone, welcome back to On Purpose. Thank you so much for coming back to listen to today's episode. I'm so grateful that you trust me. I'm so grateful that you value your time here with On Purpose so much. I want you to know that I deeply value each and every one of you that make time in your days and your weeks to connect here. And as you know, I'm always trying to come up with new ideas, creative ways of helping you learn about your journey towards happiness, towards healing and towards health. And one of the ways I like to do that is I love experiments, I always have. And I like doing things myself and putting myself in uncomfortable positions. And so one of the series that we started off here was me going to therapy and doing a therapy session as an episode, as a way to show you how accessible it is, how simple it is, how useful it can be, and also for you to get to know me better as well. I really want to be able to be more open with you. And sometimes when I'm doing a four minute interview on TV or even if I do a podcast episode with someone else, the conversation can seem very specific to what I'm talking about, but not necessarily specific to me. So this is for all of you who would like to know a bit more about me, learn a bit more about me and how I ended up the way I did, but also encouraging the conversation of how did you get to where you are today? And what is it about your life that you can learn from or grow from and can serve you differently if you thought about it differently. So I want to give a big thanks to our incredible partners that better help for this episode, our incredible therapist, Jesus, who's here with me today again. You've seen her in three episodes before this, and this is our fourth episode in this series. So make sure you go back and listen to the other three if you haven't already. Jesus, thank you so much for doing this again. Thanks for having me. Yeah, it's always great to be with you, and I feel like after our first therapy session, I feel it's amazing how you build a relationship with someone so quickly because you're so vulnerable with someone.
Understanding And Building Relationships
How do therapists monitor relationship building? (02:30)
How do you as a therapist monitor that relationship building because almost like as a patient, I'm like, "Oh my God, this person's like kind of like knows everything about me now more than what some of my friends may know about me, not my closest friends, but some friends." And people start feeling close to their therapist because of vulnerability. What's the professional line and how do you maintain that because I can imagine a lot of people start trusting you deeply. I don't know if you already know, but this is like a focal point in the education of therapists and continuing education. This thing you're talking about, your clients begin to feel closer. Your clients will also love you. Some of your clients will fall in love with you. Sometimes you're the first person or one of the only people that gives them the experience of being seen without criticism and judgment, which is like very rare in today's modern world when we're trying to connect with people. So managing this relationship that becomes very intimate is really important to protect you, to protect the client. So people will hear of things like the code of ethics and these exist to protect the public. It's like therapists gain a lot of power in this relationship. I know so much about you, but you don't really know anything about me. And I could use that with my clients to a huge advantage. So that is very dangerous, I think. And so these codes of ethics ensure that we are protecting our clients, we're managing our feelings about our clients, the feelings that our clients develop about us. It has a word, it's called transference and the feelings that I develop for you. That's counter-transference. And these are things that we have to process and things that therapists are encouraged to go to therapy for, consult with other people throughout their practice in order to keep things healthy, in order to keep things in line with the goal, which is to help you meet your ambitions and your goals. It's not about anything to do with what my emotional intentions or my ego is. But it is something that we are meant to be mindful to manage because there are times where when you're not managing it, it turns into a very messy situation. And you're like, folks have heard of these things. You know, people can lose their license because they've taken advantage of a client and entered a very personal relationship, which is a huge no-no. So for me, it's like just knowing and understanding your clients will develop very strong feelings about and towards you and continuing to be the safe person that's responsible for establishing healthy boundaries and making it very clear, like, what is this relationship? That makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much. I love that. All right, well, let's dive in. Over to you again. I will hand over my host hat to you to get into the zone. So that's what I kind of am interested in talking about today with you is relationships. So I don't know what you're willing to share about that. But can you tell me about what being in relationship means to you and like what is important about humans doing that? I think having a relationship with anyone is very sacred if you're both making time, sharing energy, you know, whether it's my wife, whether it's one of my best friends, whether it's a team member. I think about relationships as an exchange of energy. And I want that energy that is created in exchange to be positive and healthy for both people.
What do relationships mean to you? (06:07)
I also think about it as a safe space. And hence, I call it sacred. It's a safe space that where you feel trusted, where you feel someone wants to try to understand and where you feel that your openness will not be used to be. Or will not be taken advantage of. And beyond all of that, there's a sense of knowing. And when I said knowing, I don't mean someone's a mind reader, they know what you're thinking about. It's that as you start to talk to that person, you know, they know what you mean. And because they've had so many experiences with you. That's how I see relationships today, but I think when I was growing up, I think I was so in love with the idea of love that I just wanted to be in love. And I think a lot of that came from just watching too many bad movies. I think a lot of my initial ideas on love were based on terrible movies that you see as a kid, whether it's American Pie, Road Trip, tons of Bollywood movies too, that Bollywood movies almost portrayed this really glamorous view of love. And I think Hollywood movies at the time portrayed a very lusty view of love. And you kind of get caught somewhere in between of like infatuation attraction and then this glamorised version of love is where I think I ended up. And so to me, I was always wanting to be in love without knowing what it was, without knowing what it required from the other person. I just wanted to give love and be loving and have love. And I think that led to a lot of issues growing up when I first started dating because when I first started dating, I was around 14 years old. And I was kind of like that person who just went above and beyond all the time with anyone, whether I'd just met them or whether I'd known them for a while. And that was quite new for I guess the girls that I was dating is where we were all fairly young. And so whether we were in our first relationships or a second, to have someone who was that overly giving was quite, people appreciated it, people liked it. But I realised that I was doing it and I realised it's afterwards, I was doing it because I just wanted them to like me. It's not that I actually beyond being attracted to them or beyond being infatuated to them or whatever it may have been. I don't think I actually knew anything about them, but I liked the idea of someone that I felt attracted to liking me and validating me and thinking I was a good person and thinking that I was special and thinking that I was important. When your mind is developing, this means your worldview is developing, which will later turn into your personal philosophy. So many things can impact it. So like, I'm not saying that this is how people should live their lives, but personally, I have witnessed so much and observed how detrimental it is to engage in many things as a developing young mind. Whether that substance, cannabis, alcohol, sex, these kinds of things which are highly emotionally charged, when you don't even understand what's happening to you when your state of mind is being altered, it's very difficult to reconcile that as an adult. It totally impacts you. And you see it now, there's so much research that shows kids that do these things. I'm not saying it's caused, but there's a lot more prevalence of mental health issues for kids that engage in these things versus kids that don't. So what we're hearing is that it's guaranteed that if you're in relationships and your teens, you're going to go through a ton of pain either way. We're going to make mistakes. Like it's likely that we're going to make mistakes. And some of those mistakes become really damaging and traumatic long term. Stay with you forever. I remember that. So my parents never wanted me to have a relationship until I was, ideally, they would never have wanted me to have a relationship until I was married. And so I never told my parents when I was dating. And my parents have no, if my parents are listening to the episode, they have no idea that I've ever had a girlfriend. They probably have some idea now, but like they would never have known that I was dating at 14. And it became so much more attractive to me to want to date because my parents didn't want me to date. And then obviously in culture, you don't want to be a loser again if you don't date. And so yeah, it's just, it's hard because I agree with you. I think you wouldn't make as much mistakes. You wouldn't learn as much. It's complicated. It is complicated. And parents, parents, sometimes they're not conscious of why they're even setting that rule.
If parents can articulate their thoughts well (11:02)
Totally. But if they could articulate it and if a 14 year old could understand it, it's like we're saying this out of the wisdom of knowing that you are still absorbing that. And we want you to absorb it in a way that's inviting, welcoming, loving, something that you can feel is safe. But they don't always like know how to say that. No, no, no, no, no, no. It's just like, no dating until you're married. Yeah, so powerful. Thank you for that. I love that. You mentioned that there's like a difference in how you view relationships then versus now. Like, can you tell me, I did this is a big question, but can you tell me, like, what happened to the in-between? Like, how did you get to this place now of how you view relationships? Well, lots of failed relationships. Lots of heartbreak. What used to happen was I would over love someone. Again, I'm not sure it was love, but I would over give. And when someone couldn't keep up with my rate of giving, I would walk away. So you're looking for that? I was looking for that. Yeah, exactly. I was like, well, I'm loving you. And it's so it was almost like I was setting the standard of how much love I was going to give. And then if they didn't match my standard, which I had made up anyway, they never even asked for it, then I would be upset. And that was extremely unhealthy. Now I see that because you end up feeling like the victim and you end up feeling like they wronged you.
Not getting back the same love you're giving (12:21)
When in fact, you set a false standard and hurt that person because that person was feeling overly loved by you. And then the next thing you know, you walked away and it's all over. And they're wondering what went wrong there too. And so I think there was a lot of failed relationships where, and again, I'm not saying that everyone I did was perfect and that I messed up in that way. There was, you know, there's obviously there's a lot of mutual responsibility. But I think what happened in between was I became a monk. Like that's the through line of so much of my life where it's like for three years, I didn't date. I didn't, I was celibate for three years. You don't really interact with women when you're a monk. And I think part of the reason why I did that was because I've obviously simplified some of my experience of how I was. But I also got to a place where I couldn't keep a healthy relationship. Like I didn't, you know, a long term relationship. There was something that would go wrong. And I was just sick of relationships. I was like, this isn't, I just don't want to put in this work for what reason. Like why am I putting in all this work to try and make this thing work with very little benefit. And I'd rather go and work on myself and help the world or whatever it may have been at the time. So which we've talked about previously. And so I think there was a part of me that was just feeling like I don't know how to get a relationship right. Yeah, I think what happened in between was spending three years on my own allowed me to re-clarify and re-identify what love was to me. Not what love was to my family or in the movies or to some of the people I'd met. But what was love to me? What kind of relationship did I want? And obviously like living as a monk, even though you're not dating, you develop a lot of good skills for dating like patients and commitment and discipline and understanding and listening and mindfulness. And so there's so many great skills that you gain that then become very useful when you start dating. And so then since I left the monastery, the only person I've ever dated is my wife. And we're all constantly working on things even today, but I definitely feel a lot more stability with her than I've felt before. And a lot more commitment and love there than I've felt before. And obviously that's a lot to do with her as well. That's not just me. But yeah, I think that's what changed it. Becoming a monk. Yeah. And you mentioned as a monk in the three years, you were a monk and many people stay monks until they leave this earth. And I'm understanding that you're saying monks don't date. Monks are celibate. So can you refresh my memory? Why that is? And it's not just in one kind of monk. You see this across cultural different monkness. Yeah. So why is that? Can you remind me? I mean, there's many different reasons, and I can't speak from anyone beyond my tradition, obviously. But I would say that the number one reason is to create a sense of focus and aligned energy. So if we all believe that we have a certain amount of energy and the more things we add to that, the more it takes away our energy in different directions. Now, being celibate or getting into a relationship is one of those, but it's the same as having a career as a monk.
Why monks practice celibacy? (16:00)
You don't have a job, right? And so it's the same reasoning where it's like, well, what if all of your energy was placed in self mastery and self realization and you didn't use your energy for anything else? Or anyone else. Or anyone else. Would you not have the opportunity to go deep into the self? And so it's not about women or celibacy or like it's not about the external idea of like some people like, oh, well, money's bad and women are bad. And that's where you stay and it's like, well, no, it's got nothing to do with that. It's not like you don't have a job because money's bad or you don't have a partner because, you know, a certain gender is bad. It's the idea that how could you limit all your distractions or how could you limit all your focus as an energy to the pursuit of self realization. And anything above the pursuit of self realization is seen as unimportant at that stage of life. And I think there's beauty in that. I think when you when I think about getting three years of my life to have an exclusive focus on self realization, I would say it works. And I think about this often, I'm like, when did people ever in their lives have three days for self realization, let alone three weeks, three months or three years? And so I think it worked. I think it was true. I do believe that carving out exclusive time for yourself and self realization is a beautiful commitment to yourself. And you don't have to go and become a monk to do it. I think therapy is one way to do it. And it is a great way to do that. Every week you're carving out an hour or two hours for yourself and understanding yourself. And so over years that will add up. And so I think that the idea or the concept, you don't have to become a monk to do it, but the idea and the concept of investing your energy exclusively in self realization is a healthy one. Thank you. Thank you for taking that detour because sometimes clients may have this idea that therapists know everything about all kinds of people. So sometimes I may ask you to remind me why something is the way it was in some piece of your life because it helps me understand you better as I seek to understand you better as I accompany you through whatever it is that you're trying to explore about yourself. So I really appreciate you taking the time to help me understand that. Yeah, of course. And in all that, I'm hearing like becoming a monk, which we talked about previously, a large part of it was maybe you couldn't articulate it before you became one. But after this journey is about being able to validate yourself. It sounds like all your early relationships, you're really seeking this validation from someone else. Yeah, yeah, it was validation for because I guess I didn't like myself. It was the idea of how do you buy someone's love? Like is it a fancy gift? Is it a posh restaurant? Is it a, is it me overdoing it for their birthday when we barely know each other? Like what am I, what am I overcompensating for? And I'm overcompensating for the fact that I'm not sure I think I'm worthy or I'm not sure that I like myself enough and I'm hoping that this will win that person over and then will have that romantic love in the movies. And that was the only way to get through to them was to do these grand gestures.
We love and express love in a certain way (19:24)
I've always been someone who considers themselves to be someone and I still to this day love grand gestures and I've married someone who doesn't appreciate grand gestures. And it took me ages to understand that and I think my wife because I do love her deeper than that was one of the few people who's been able to teach me that that grand gestures don't equal love or not the only way to show love because she didn't receive them with the glorification and adulation of, oh you're amazing. She kind of received them as like, well, I didn't really want this or this is not, this doesn't really make me happy. And in my head when we first started dating, it was like, well, you're weird. You know, it's like, how can you not be happy? Look how incredible I am. Only to realize that again, it was still, so even after being among, even in our early years of dating with me and my wife, I still think I was, and I even told this day, I think that is so important. And I think that is so deep rooted. That idea of love is grand gestures, love is this big thing. The idea of over giving, like I think it's so deep rooted. It takes a long time to be aware, let go, be conscious. You know, it doesn't just disappear. Right, right. And you know, sometimes for some people, love is grand gestures. And you're kind of touching on something that a lot of people would benefit from reminding themselves of. We or I as an individual love and express love in a certain way. And I feel love and I receive love in a certain way. It's pretty unlikely that you will end up with someone that speaks love and receives love in the exact way that you do. So it's like being in this long term relationship. It sounds like you and your wife have navigated. How can I express my love to her in a way that she will receive it? Because a lot of people are like, well, this is how I would like for someone to love me. So if I keep doing that to her, she's going to like it because I would like it. I think we're learning that that is not love. Love is learning to express it in the way that your partner receives it. And I also realized that for me, the way I like to receive love and give love is how my mom gave me love. And so my mom would, we've talked about my mom before, my mom would always save up to buy me the one big gift I wanted every year for my birthday. And we didn't have a lot growing up, so she would save up and she knew what I wanted and she always knew what I wanted. I didn't even have to tell her, she just knew. And then on my birthday, I'd unwrap this gift and it would be exactly the thing that I wanted. And so that had been how I'd been loved. My mom did give me time and we did have beautiful experiences, but I remember gifts being a big thing in my home. And then when I married my wife, it's like gifts are like not important in her home. They spend quality time with each other and their dad would take the day off on her birthday and they'd go out or whatever it may be. And so to me, I couldn't get my head around how gifts couldn't be important to someone because I was just like gifts are the best thing in the world. And it took me a long time to also realize that even until this day, one of the members of my team bought me a gift from my birthday was a couple of months ago. And she found something that I didn't need, I didn't want, but it was like a felt of understanding. I was like, and it was a new pair of shoes that were really cool and they were this cool collab and they were a bit rare. And I was like, this person understands me so well and it's a long time since I've received a gift that felt that way. And it wasn't because of how much it cost, it wasn't about it. It wasn't any of the, it wasn't grand because it was big or expensive, it was grand because it was so thought through. It was the right pair of shoes and I was like that was beautiful. And then a few years ago, I had a person in my life send me a life magazine, like the old ones that I don't think are in print anymore. And it was signed by the Dalai Lama. Oh. And they send that to me as a gift and I was like, this is the best gift ever. Like this person understands me and so I started to realize that even my love for gifts wasn't because I wanted something. It was because a gift made me feel understood. Right? It was, that's what I was looking for was a sense of, you know me. The sense you got when your mom gave you that gift that she knew what you wanted and needed and you didn't even have to say it. Yeah. She just like could see into you. Yeah, only realizing that that's very hard to do and putting that pressure on my wife was not smart because it takes a while for people to get to know you and, you know, it takes a while for people to know what kind of gifts you want. And also she was learning at the same time. She was learning that I needed gifts because in her eyes spending good time with each other was the gift. And in my head, I was like, no, like the gifts, the gift and time together is not the gift. So it's really interesting when two people are learning something at the same time. And it's hard because when you're both learning the same thing at the same time, you're just like, you know, knocking against each other. Yeah, finding that person, finding your person, whether that's like your person of the season or your person for the rest of your life, you're bringing together to most likely very different families of origin. And it's like your worldview is shaped by the people that raise you. And so you're touching on all these things. You know, this is the way that I received love from my mom. So this is the way that as a small child becomes deeply ingrained in me on how people are supposed to receive it too. And it sounds like she had a different experience. And like you said, navigating and learning these things at the same time. Much more difficult than when you have like an apprentice and somebody mentoring them. Somebody knows something. But oftentimes in relationships, you're realizing together like, I don't actually know anything and neither do you. So we're trying to figure that out while we're getting to know each other. Yeah. All with this like deep desire and need to be seen that's so much of being loved. Yeah. Yeah. I found that I would often over love my wife and then make her feel guilty for not loving me the same. Keeping tabs. Keeping tabs. Yeah. Can you give me an example of over loving? I would do something spontaneous like plan a weekend activity or whatever it may be. But then if she doesn't plan something the next weekend, I'm mad at her. And it's like that's, you know, now it sounds stupid saying it. But it's like at that time, it felt really real, but it's like, well, why are you not doing it back? But I haven't said I want that. I haven't expressed that I need that. She was just supposed to know. She was supposed to know and she was just supposed to get it. And if I've thought about it, how come she can't think about the next thing? And it was like, and you just feel you're so right. Like I think that's what's so hard talking about it now. I'm like, I can see why it's wrong. But when you're in that position, you feel like it's so right. Well, you're like, but I'm doing all of this for us. And what do you do? And I think I've always felt that way. Like that's always been like a very deep, rooted feeling of like, I do, I work so hard for this relationship, but I don't think you do. And I saw this really incredible image on social media today. And it was inspiring a story in me. I was like, this, this, you know, this could be a story, but it's like imagine, imagine you're on a, like a vacation and you're on a really high mountain top.
Expecting your partner to just know (26:56)
And unfortunately, your partner slips and falls and you go to grab them and you thankfully you catch hold of them so they don't fall off. And what ends up happening after that is one of the rocks from behind you falls on your leg while you're holding on to their hand. And a snake is going up their legs. So this is the image that was on social media. It was asking for the reflection of the person being held is thinking, why doesn't my partner just lift me up? Not realizing that that partner has a rock on their leg. And the partner with the rock on their leg is thinking, well, why doesn't this person just lift their own weight a little bit? We could do this. Come on, help me out. Not realizing that there's a snake at their leg and they're scared of moving. And the piece of art and whoever had posted was trying to get that question of like, that's kind of what relationships are like sometimes. How do you know whether your partner is actually putting an effort into a relationship and putting in work if you're someone that constantly feels like you are putting in the work but you don't think they are? How do you know whether you're right or whether you're not right? How do you know anything? But you know, when you were describing like having planned this great weekend and then expecting for someone else to return that gesture and do the same thing and then having the experience of feeling like, I put in so much work and you haven't, that mindset and that person is not tuning in to pay attention to how that other person is showing up and is doing that work. So it's like, to answer the question, how do you know if you don't put in the effort to try to recognize from like where they're coming from and see it from their perspective, you may never know. And you may continue living this life thinking that like nobody really cares about me because you're not stepping outside of yourself. And so in relationship, not just with like a romantic partner, but even your friends, your family colleagues, teammates like you're depriving yourself of the next level of connection by only thinking of it the way from your stance, from your perspective. So flip that question back to you. It's like, how did you know? How did you come to realize that she also loves you very deeply when she wasn't getting you these big gifts? Yeah, no, I mean, it's exactly that you hit the nail on the head. It was me starting to look at how she contributed to the relationship. And I started to realize there were so many ways she contributed to a healthy relationship. It was she's the only person I've ever been with who is extremely secure in herself and trusts me and doesn't make me feel like she's never made me feel like she doesn't trust me. And that's a massive gift in a relationship, like the idea that my partner trusts me. I think that's a beautiful thing. When things were tough, when we were struggling and when we were going through financial difficulties and everything like that, she was fully there with me. It was like, I trust you. I'm there with you. Like whatever help you need. You know, those were huge gifts in the relationship. I think even when I first met her, I, you know, I'd left the monastery like a year before that or less than a year before that. And I didn't have a plan or I didn't have like my life figured out and I didn't even have a job when we first started dating. And she was okay with that. And I was like, you know, there are so many huge gifts here that I missed out on because I was looking at it from this singular perspective of why doesn't she do this.
How do you know your partner is making an effort? (30:38)
And that is exactly what I had to do. And even till this day, I feel sometimes I have to do that because those deep rooted ideas are so strong where I'm like, well, what does my wife contribute to this relationship? And you find there's so many things, but you can very much live in a self-centered world of I'm the only one who contributes to this relationship. And I think we're scared of noticing how other people contribute because we're so attached to them contributing how we contribute. And we're scared that it almost makes us weak. Like, I guess we don't want to be in a situation where they're doing more than we are because we see that's what relationships are about. It's about doing equal for each other. Whereas I've realized that I don't think the relation to me, my wife have today is that we do equal for each other. We just do different things for each other. Right. For folks that are out there still thinking that relationships about equal work, to be able to calculate that it's equal still means you're keeping tabs. You're still like trying to keep some kind of score. And that is where a lot of resentment grows and a lot of pain and a lot of like expectation. There's this idea that people talk about in therapy too of like the way that we react to our own feelings or we react to other people. It comes from one of two places and it's like either we're reacting because we're fearful of something. So we're trying to avoid or prevent something or we're reacting out of love. Love for ourselves, love for the person, love for the situation in itself, which means acceptance of what it is. And, you know, that's like a truly loving relationship, right? Is that you're not behaving from fear of rejection, fear of, oh, she doesn't love me as much as I love her. Like that kind of stuff isn't there. It sounds like you just like had this knowing that she's there for you. I'm there for her, the trust. Yeah. And I think that what you just said, I think there's such a fine line between that I do things out of fear and I do things out of love because a lot of the times things that we think look like love are actually just fear in disguise. So you're like, I can, you know, sometimes like you want to plan a big birthday, not because you love the person, but because you're scared that they'll be sad. Like that's not love. Like, is it or is it? Is that like, you know, it's almost like, are you basing your intention on you want them to be happy or you don't want them to be mad? And sometimes we, sometimes we create that in other people too where I've had past relationships where I did things because I was scared of them. I was scared of what would happen if they got angry. And therefore you keep doing the thing. You mentioned like, over loving, over compensating. So maybe in one of these past relationships or some like, what can you recall about something that you were over compensating for from fear. I guess a lot of it is just staying in a situation that doesn't like I remember I had one relationship where I'd turn up on time. I'd made a plan, I'd come up with a great evening and the person would not appreciate the plan. They would disrupt the plan. They would want to go home early. We'd drive home and they wouldn't talk to me home the whole way. And then you do that week after week after week because you just didn't want to let them down. And so you're not doing that because you love them. You're doing it because you're scared that you're going to lose them. But then it's like, why would you be scared of losing someone like that, but you get wrapped up in that belief that you upset them some way. Like you did something wrong. And I mean, at least with that one, I realized I wasn't doing anything wrong. But it's really interesting how you work differently when you have high confidence in a relationship versus low confidence. And I think in the beginning stages, when I've had low confidence in relationships because you want the other person to like you, you'll keep tolerating bad behavior because you want to be like so bad. And you're only acting in a nice way because you're scared of losing them because you think that them being with you is the only reason that you're liked. Does that make sense as an example?
Overcompensating because of fear (35:05)
Yeah. And you know, if you're entering or trying to maintain a relationship and you have low self-esteem, you don't have very high confidence in yourself. A lot of people have described just, will anybody ever want to be with me? So it's like, this might be the last person that I have a chance for so I can't ruin it because I don't want to be alone. Like so many people don't want to be alone. We fear that. There's a metaphor I think of as just like, you know, we have these glasses here. And when you enter a relationship, you're coming in with a glass. And if you're coming in with an empty one, you kind of have this like very parched expectation for the other person to fill it for you. And to constantly expect someone else to fill it for you means they are depleting their own. But you know, when you both come with a full glass and there is no expectation to fill that for each other, now you can love out of the abundance of having it for yourself. Yeah. And now this like need or expectation to fill it isn't there. It's just now we're like two full people, two whole people that can, you know, live life together, navigate life together, grow together if that's something that's important to you, be content together. If that's what's important to you, you know, the early relationship, it really sounds like you were coming into it with glass empty. I also think at that age, I just loved the chase too. I think there was something about like that proving to someone that you were worthy. I think there was something about that was interesting. Was it the chase? Like something about that pursuit that's interesting? Or do you think you got like reinforced when you finally got this thing that you were chasing? I think it comes back to the, it's kind of like gift mentality too. It's like when you see someone as a thing to get, right? Like it's the idea of, and that's what gift mindset is worrying sometimes because you're constantly working. And I've definitely like, when I unpack that, I really, I really realized that I love the element of surprise. I love surprises. I genuinely love surprises till this day. And I realized that anyone could have the opportunity to surprise me in a loving, conscientious way. It's like, I feel like the idea of like saving up for the thing you want. And then when you get it, you're like, "Ah, it wasn't that great anyway." And I think we all feel that way with things. Things never live up to their height. The joy and the pleasure of a thing is very short lived. We know that. But sometimes I think we're programmed to believe that relationships in people are like that as well, where it's like, well, once you get that person, then you'll be happy and you almost treat it like a achievement. And I think that in my teens, that was definitely there. And I needed some people who were pro-rejectors. Well, professional at rejecting me to help me learn that that didn't always work. Like that wasn't a good path to take. I'm just thinking of like the neurotransmitter dopamine. Like dopamine is something that's released when something good happens. Like when we're a reward, receptors in our brain, like getting the thing that we were pursuing. And we do feel good, but it's momentary. And it's like it's our bodies like training us to continue pursuing good stuff because we want to feel good. But then in a long lasting partnership and relationship, a lot of times it doesn't feel good. So can you tell me a little bit about like relationships when it doesn't feel good? How do you know that you're supposed to keep going? Like what makes it worth fighting for? That's even a strange term for it. Yeah, that's no. I've thought about that a lot actually because I'd say that my marriage right now is the only relationship I've ever worked beyond that point. And I realized that there were so many relationships earlier in my life that I just tapped out of because I was like, I don't want to do this anymore. Like why are we wasting our time? Why are we doing this? I think there's a couple of things. I think one is that the other person also wants to work on it in a real way. So you want to work on it and the other person wants to work on it. I think what I found in previous relationships is I didn't want to work on it. And someone says they want to work on it, but they don't really want to work on it and themselves. And I think that's the question. It's like, am I willing to work on myself for this person? It's not, am I willing to work on this relationship? It's, am I willing to work on myself for this person? And is that person willing to work on themselves for me? And I think that's where I feel with my wife right now. I'm like, at this point in our relationship, I know she wants to work on herself for me. She'll say that. And I know I want to work on myself for her. So that's one thing that I definitely have looked for and I've seen that difference in past relationships and this relationship. In past relationships where I didn't work out or where you didn't push through, it's because ultimately I felt no matter what I did, this person would never be convinced I loved them. So I dated a lot of people that I felt that even if I did what they wanted me to do, and even if I tried my best to love them in the way they want to be loved, they still were unconvinced that I loved them as well. Because to them, they were still going through that process of filling their cup. So no matter how much I filled their cup, they always felt thirsty or they felt parched.
What makes a relationship worth fighting for? (40:24)
And I was just like, okay, so this doesn't make any sense because no matter what I do, this person will never be convinced. So I can't keep working on this. Whereas with my current relationship today, I'm like, "Radi doesn't demand a lot and she's quite full already, and I think I'm the same back with her." And so it's kind of like a sense of like, "Oh, well, everything's a bonus. Everything's exciting. Everything's fresh." All when things are tough, let's get back to figuring out what is it that currently is making things tough, but there's an underlying feeling of, "You love me enough and I love you enough." If that makes sense. There's not a sense of feeling that emptiness. And I think there's just an open space to talk about it without judgment and getting ugly. I have like difficult conversations with my wife, and I'll say to her, like, I have a rule that, since we've been together, I always say to her, I'm like, if the relationship's not going in a direction we both want it to, I want you to tell me and I'll tell you. And so I've sat down with it and I've been like, I don't like where this relationship's going right now. Like, this isn't the relationship I want. Is it the relationship you want? If it isn't, what are you willing to get it to where you want it to be? And if it isn't, what am I willing to get it to where we want it to be? And what do we want it to be? And so I think we have that conversation regularly, like, you know, at least once or twice a year, because you're naturally going to go off track. You can never just be on track. And I think in other relationships, not only did we assume we'd always be on track, I think when we went off track, we were very unhealthy in how we talked about it. And at least with my wife, I think there's a sense of humility from both sides in saying, we've got this wrong. Let's try again. Let's shift this. And so I think a sense of lack of ego makes it easier to work on it continuously. Whereas if you both just have an ego all the time that you're doing everything right and the other person's wrong, then that discourages a relationship. And this is where this, like, cliche thing of, like, oh, well, my therapist said that I need to use "I" statements. So if folks have heard of this, it's like, this comes from coming into maybe like a emotionally charged topic with someone you really care about and not starting with the "you did this, you make me feel this, like, you are whatever." That's like very, like, blame-centric language. And you mentioned humility. It's like coming into the conversation, like, humbled by... I'm not going to put actions and intentions in your mouth. I'm just going to show up with how I feel about it. And that's what "I" statements are. I feel so-and-so when you do this, I would like when so-and-so. I am expressing what my needs are, and this is what I think you can do to help me meet those two. And that's where that thing comes from, right? Yeah. That "I" statements. It's very important to show up as you, not you are the one that's going to make this all better. Yeah, yeah. I've always had my own little version of that. I've always said, "Instead of you and me, use us and we." And so when I'm thinking about constructively moving away from the conflict or moving forward with it, I always say, "What are we willing to do for this relationship?" And what is something that's important to both of us? And that way now we're a team, we're working on it together, where we're solving this rather than like, "Well, you make me feel like this, and you do this wrong." And it's almost like saying, "Well, there's no responsibility on my end." Whereas I often go, "We're pretty much both struggling with this. How are you struggling with it?" Right? And then giving the opportunity, but then going, "We're both struggling with this. It's not like a you and me. And so I think shirking responsibility has always been hard to build with someone who you feel is just always making it your fault or you're making it their fault. I don't think you can get past that after a couple of years because it's hard, you know? And I think with my wife, too, I think if we ever fall into those patterns, we're constantly trying to say, "Okay, okay, wait, we can see ourselves moving into that pattern and then try and come back." Or the other side is you just get numb from everything, right? Like that, I think, is also unhealthy where you don't feel anything about anything. You're just indifferent. And that's not a loving relationship either. So I think some people may not experience extreme conflict, but I think some people extreme experience indifference where you don't feel any different whatever happens with your partner. And you're right. So this apathy in a relationship I think is sometimes even more slippery, slope dangerous than having hateful feelings towards your partner because that means you still have someone in a passion there. I really like what you're saying about using this "we" language versus "you" versus "me" because this is something that people can expect in couples therapy also. As you come in and you start learning how to reframe "you" versus "me" "I" versus "you," it's "we" versus the problem, right? And so I really like that. And I tend to use that kind of language with my clients. Like when I'm trying to express something to help my client feel like they're not alone in the struggle, you know, I'm going to do a lot of things to try to normalize. This is like this experience of helping the client feel like they're not the only person in the world to experience this. So I don't always say like, "Yeah, people experience anxiety that way." I say "we experience anxiety in that way. We tend to." And then I list off whatever symptoms people have. So I like this idea of bringing some attention to the collective experience of us. And, you know, it's like really easy to want to just go the "I" me route, especially in Western cultures. This is a way that we're raised. This is a way that we're socialized to like be an independent, unique, and individual, which those things are great. But especially in relationship, there isn't us. There is a "we." We're doing this together. We're choosing each other every day, which is not easy. Yeah. And I think I realized that exactly what you're saying, during actually the week of my wedding, and, you know, I know a lot of friends, family, team members that are preparing for a wedding right now. And I don't think everyone talks about enough openly how stressful weddings are. Weddings are meant to be the best day of your life. They're meant to be all these exciting things, and they are. But they also have a lot of stress leading up to them, the week of. I remember, you know, everyone has so many opinions, and family wants you to do it this way, and the other family wants you to do it this way. And both people are holding together their family's opinions and values and rituals and traditions, as well as their own.
The 'WE' versus 'YOU' language (47:43)
And it can be a really, I feel like marriage is nearly break people up because they're so intense and stressful. And I remember saying that exact thing to Radim, the week we got married, where I was just like, "This is how it's always going to be. There's always going to be so many people who have opinions about how we should do this and how we should have done that." And more importantly, people are going to tell you how I should be different, and people are going to tell me how you should be different. And I was like, the only two people that need to agree are me and you. And then we need to make sense of everything else that's going on. Because, and if we don't set that habit now, we're going to constantly be lost and struggling and I think that was the week where we were able to admit that there were people in our lives that wanted what was best for us according to them, but not best for us. And we were the only ones who could decide what is best for us by knowing ourselves and knowing each other. And yeah, I just think all of these experiences in life are helping you get there. But you have to use them as a way of not looking at it as me versus you, as you said. You have to look at it as like, well, what can we learn from this? What can we grow from this? What are we going to solve with this? And I think that's constantly been my approach, at least in my post-monk life of whenever there's an issue, it isn't their problem or my problem. And I think that's the issue, right? You literally have to obliterate that thought after time. Where it's like, this isn't a you issue or a me issue, this is something we are dealing with. And how do we figure it out? And I think if you say that and the other person doesn't want to figure it out or doesn't see it, that's where you start going, well, I don't know where this is going. Because I think there has to be a collective responsibility. It's just like a huge metaphor here, right? It's not just about our spouse or our romantic partner. It's like so much of what you're reflecting on would be so helpful for society as a whole, right? If we all could adopt some more of this, us versus the problem mentality, I think that would be really, really helpful for a lot of people. And it seems like this is like a value and a notion that I think that you try to have an impact on. Yeah, I think it's easier to choose a side. It's easy to pick a side and stick with it and pick a story and stick with it. It's harder to hold two seemingly opposite ideas and figure out how they connect and how they correlate. But I think that all of us would agree that if you look at any relationship in your life, you know you had something to do with it and the other person had something to do with it. I don't think there's ever been anything in the world that is completely one-sided until it gets, you know, I'll check that back. I think there may be certain things that are completely one-sided and you have to be aware of those and be careful of those in your own relationships. But I can definitely say in my life at least that most things have been two-sided and you can see two hands in all of it. Yeah, and you know the I versus you mentality, it's like sometimes it feels like it's emotionally easier to take that path because I'm putting guards up and protecting myself from whatever. The us, we mentality, like you said, it means that you have to own up to take accountability for your part in this, which can be very uncomfortable for people. It's very painful sometimes to confront this idea that you're not always making the best choices that you have done things that are hurtful to people. One of us just like don't want to admit that. We think it puts you in a position of weakness and yes, with a unhealthy partner it does, right? And I think that's part of how you know where it's like if you disclose, vulnerably, "Hey, I think I messed this up. Let's talk about it." And they're like, "Yeah, look, you already know you messed it up. Like you got it wrong." Like that, if someone uses that in that way, then yeah, that can be a unhealthy relationship. Whereas if someone goes, "I'm glad you noticed that, but I know I'm responsible for this, too."
The Concept Of One-Sidedness
Not all things in the world is one-sided (52:00)
There's something that can be built there and I think you need someone. Not everyone can do that in the moment. Not everyone's going to do that when you're having the fight. Not everyone's going to do that in the argument. Sometimes people need more time and knowing that is important too because not everyone in the moment is able to be that vulnerable straight away. Yeah, I think that to me this has been really helpful today and useful today because I think what you said about always feeling like we're the one doing all the work and where those kind of mindsets can really lose a good thing. We've also talked about some of the unhealthy things to watch out for. And so I think it's just a healthy discussion because I think relationships are constantly, they're constantly going on in our lives. So you never get to a place where you're like, "We mastered that. Now we're on to the next thing." These things are all so deep rooted that I'm like, "I'm dealing with these things on a daily basis with my wife because you're just living with another human being, another mind, another person and you've got to constantly refresh these ideas." So thank you so much. Yeah, I've genuinely appreciated refreshing some of these, again, ideas that I'm conscious of but it's useful talking it out with someone and hearing your take on them too. Yeah, there's a big power in articulating the stuff that's going on in our minds. All the time you talked about this, this is stuff that I already know but there's difference between knowing and speaking, expressing and getting it out in there for another person to witness it. It does something. 100%. So thank you for being open with me too. Thank you. Everyone has been listening and watching. I hope that we discovered some useful skills and tools for you to apply in your relationships. I hope that you got a deeper sense and understanding of the simplicity of therapy too where we turn into a conversation at one point and I was sharing my opinions and ideas and I was getting to hear, "Hey, Susan, opinions and ideas too." And I hope that this encourages you, a family member, a friend, seek advice, seek help, seek therapy, if that's what they need, that's what they're looking for. Please pass this on to someone who may be on the fence and figuring out whether it's useful to them and just needs to be encouraged to have their first session and see how it goes. Again, I want to give a big thank you to our partners that better help. I want to give a big thank you to Jesus for being here and always facilitating these sessions so wonderfully. And a big thank you to all of you who have been listening and watching. I appreciate you trusting me with your time but also I trust you so much and so I've been tuning up so wonderfully in these sessions. I trust you with that. Thank you so much. This episode was sponsored by BetterHelp Online Therapy. Big thanks again to Hae Suu Joe, head of clinical operations at BetterHelp. So just so you know, this was a therapy session that you got to get a look inside of but Hae Suu Joe is not my therapist. We do not have a therapist client relationship but I wanted to show you what a therapy session could look like. Also, just because you might hear something on the show that sounds similar to what you are experiencing, beware of self diagnosis. You want to find a qualified professional to assess and explore diagnosis if that's important to you. If you want even more videos just like this one, make sure you subscribe and click on the boxes over here. I'm also excited to let you know that you can now get my book Think Like A Monk from ThinkLikeAMonkBook.com. Check below in the description to make sure you order today.