Anger, Resentment and Accountability

Anger, Resentment and Accountability

Show: Behind Closed Doors
Episode: Anger, Resentment and Accountability
Host: Dr. Kate Balestrieri and Lauren Dummit
Guest: Nick Papadopoulos

Announcer: This show furnished by Triune Therapy Group.

Kate: Good evening Los Angeles. Welcome to Behind Closed Doors heard every Saturday at 6 PM right here on Talk Radio 790KBC. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.

Kate: And together we are the co-founders of Triune Therapy Group a psychotherapy practice here in Los Angeles. Behind Closed Doors is a really special show about sex, relationships, mental health, addiction, staying healthy, and other related current events and today we’re going to be focusing on addressing Anger, Resentment and Accountability. Those are pretty big topics.

Lauren: They are.

Kate: So if you have any questions about this, if you’re watching on Instagram, e-mail us your questions. We’ll address them in each segment and if you’re listening give us a call at 3-1-0-9-3-3-4-0-8-8 at Triune Therapy Group and we will do our best to address your questions. So Lauren, one of the reasons I was hoping we could talk about this is because we’re seeing a lot in the media about the #MeToo movement. We’re seeing a lot in the media about people having anger about politics and about everything that’s going on and regardless of what side of the issues you fall on, anger is really palpable.

Lauren: Right. It seems like it’s just so prevalent right now.

Kate: So prevalent. People are just really not knowing what to do with their anger.

Lauren: Even this week, it seems like this is something that my clients have really been struggling with. Someone told me, Mercury’s in retrograde.

Kate: That has nothing to do with it. I don’t know about that.

Lauren: I think it’s a much bigger issue than that.

Kate: It is, it is. And when we think about you know anger a lot of people struggle with expressing anger at all, let alone in effective ways. So this episode is really important just to kind of talk about what is anger? And the purpose of anger and the function of it and how can we manage it in our relationships and within ourselves?

Lauren: Well, Pia Melody who is one of my gurus and she does a lot of work. She pioneered the treatment of co-dependence. But she talks about human beings having 8 basic emotions, Anger being one of them. And she says that if we are in perfect balance we should feel each of the emotions an eighth of the time. So I think often people like certain emotions better than others and so they repress those that they don’t really like and it’s all part of the human experience.

Kate: It is. Anger is a biologically necessary emotion because if we don’t feel anger, then we don’t know when we’re feeling disrespected, we don’t know when to stand up for ourselves or advocate for ourselves and—

Lauren: It’s a signal to keep us safe so that we set boundaries.

Kate: And so anger is a secondary emotion. A lot of people look at me like I’ve got cross eyes when I say that anger is not in and of itself an emotion that we feel standalone, there’s always another emotion that feels more untenable and more uncomfortable that’s driving anger. So anger is like a superhero of emotions.

Lauren: Well it’s empowering.

Kate: It is. When we have other emotions like shame or fear or hurt or feeling rejected or feeling sad those are really passive feelings. Thing is they’re happening to us and that doesn’t feel comfortable.

Lauren: People often talk about feeling kind of impotent in those emotions.

Kate: Yes, men and women say that.

Lauren: Right.

Kate: Because they’re all passive. They feel like the feelings are driving the bus instead of we are. So anger swoops in with that superhero cape and says: ‘Dodlittledo! Let me help you’. And it can feel really empowering and really enlivening and it’s a vital part of how we remain human and true to ourselves.

Lauren: Also I’m thinking about breakups and I don’t know about you but the times in my life when I’ve been in a really painful breakup and I am just grieving, it is so uncomfortable. But if someone does something to really make me mad, it is so much easier to walk away. It really just feels more empowering.

Kate: Yes, that’s a really good point. Anger is the thing that usually is galvanizing into action so when we feel like we have nowhere to go no place to be anger is usually what helps us get unstuck. But when we struggle to feel our anger or acknowledge it, we definitely are going to struggle to use it for what it’s there for.

Lauren: And if it goes unexpressed -I mean you hear about people going postal- that there’s so many people that have rage issues and part of that is from bottling up and pushing down and pushing down and pushing down their anger until it becomes like a volcano and it’s really dangerous.

Kate: It’s really dangerous for so many reasons. So we’ll talk a little bit later with our special guest about the different ways that men and women internalize and externalize anger. But anger is really a potent feeling and if we don’t address it can have pretty significant impacts in our brain and in our body. And a lot of people think about anger as just kind of a behavioral expression and that can be really confusing so we always at every point in our lives are having three concurrent experiences. We’re having our cognitive experience of the things that we’re thinking the things we believe about ourselves about other people. Then we have our emotional reaction, how we’re feeling about something. Then we also have a physiological reaction so this is important because even if our physiological or emotional reaction is calm, we’re still in a physiological or emotional state. So a lot of people really feel like if they’re not flipping chairs over, if they’re not punching holes in the door or holes in the wall or if they’re not getting into fistfights then they don’t struggle with anger.

Lauren: Right and while all of those things are going on, that’s what drives the behavior. But it’s important to realize if we can slow down we have a choice. We might not be able to control the thoughts the feelings and the physiological responses but we can pause and choose how we respond.

Kate: Right. So thoughts, feelings, physiological state, and then the resulting reaction is our behavior. That’s what we choose to do with our feelings and do with that anger so it’s really critical that we stop and think about: ‘OK, what is the impact on me? If I don’t learn how to negotiate my anger in a really healthy way? And you know just to back up just a little bit. Anger is a continuum and it includes lots of different feeling. So people will often say to me in session: ‘Kate I don’t get angry, I’m not angry’. Well, why not? Tour husband just said that they were having an affair. ‘Oh no. I’m not angry I’m just a little annoyed’.

Lauren: I get that all the time: ‘I’m angry, I’m just frustrated’.

Kate: ‘I’m not angry. I’m just irritated’. So just to be clear, irritation, annoyance, frustration, resentment, and rage these are all on the continuum and spectrum of anger.

Lauren: Right and just to clarify, resentment is anger that people have been holding onto for a long time. So I often think of it as re-sentiment is the feeling that keeps coming up.

Kate: I like that re-sentiment that’s great. So there are lots of different ways that not addressing your anger can have a negative impact on you and some of those things include having lots of different impacts on the brain which we don’t know about because we don’t live in our brains. But anger as a predicate emotion can have an impact on the eyvectila, hypothalamus and our adrenaline glands which all-inclusive increase the level of cortisol that we feel, our adrenaline and noradrenaline. And that’s great, that’s now galvanizing element that we were talking about. This is a call to action.

Lauren: Cortisol literally can give us extra strength.

Kate: It’s really key but if we don’t resolve our anger then that excess cortisol can actually damage brain cells in our prefrontal cortex which is the part of our brain that is responsible for all of our executive functioning like our judgment, our impulse control, and our ability to plan for the future and think through what our decisions will be.

Lauren: So if we can’t access that, then we’re staying in the reptilian brain which is the brain stem which is very primitive. We’re acting in a way that’s very primitive and cut off from our executive functioning.

Kate: The other part of the brain that gets impacted when we don’t effectively address our anger and just kind of hoard cortisol, if you will, is that our hippocampus which is the part of the brain that limits short-term memory and really is in charge of that the brain cells in there can die out. Which is why if you’ve ever been in an argument and you’re fumbling for words you’re like: ‘I don’t know what I want to say right now but I know I have something to say’ that’s because you’re hippocampus is being shorted right now. There’s too much cortisol. So that’s really key. Another impact of having too much cortisol is a decrease in serotonin. What is that? Serotonin is the feel-good chemical. This is responsible for happiness so it’s interesting if we don’t address our anger we actually experience a decrease of serotonin which then makes us more susceptible to feeling sadness and anger and all of the feelings that we’re trying to avoid by not addressing the anger.

Lauren: Which I think is common for people is that when they often have that cortisol dump then they go into a period of depression and they don’t really understand why and a lot of times neuro-chemical.

Kate: Completely. So chronic anger can also address lots of different health issues. Now that’s not mine and Lauren’s area of expertise but some of the things that can happen is having a constant state of having an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, changes in your thyroid capabilities, decreased metabolism, dry mouth, changes in eyesight. I don’t know about

Lauren: A lot of the exhaustion.

Kate: Yes, all of that. And then in relationships, this is key this is what we’re going to be focusing on today.

Lauren: This is our area of expertise.

Kate: Indeed it is so a lot of people will hold back on addressing their anger in relationships because they think Oh gosh I just want to make my partner happy or I don’t want to rock the boat or I don’t know last time I said something my partner blew up at me or my partner yelled at me and we want to address all of the different reasons that people might fear their anger relationally.

Lauren: And sometimes people just feel shame about feeling anger at all or that they don’t have a right to be angry about what they’re angry about.

Kate: Which is really a bit of a vicious cycle because shame is often the predicate feeling for anger. So if we feel anger and then if we feel shame and then we’re galvanized into anger as a reaction to that and we feel shame for being angry right that’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t seem.

Lauren: Shame rage.

Kate: So one of the things that we do at Triune Therapy Group is offer an eight week anger management course this is different than some of the anger management courses that might be out there in the sense that it’s really therapeutic and it’s geared toward helping people understand what are the underlying feelings that are driving their anger and how can they learn to step into their power in a more effective way so we are all about creating context for people to address these issues more effectively.

Lauren: And to become more embodied somatically so that they have more choice in how they respond.

Kate: Yes. We have to take a quick break but when we come back more about anger resentment and accountability with our very special guests this week Nick Papadopoulos esteemed Author, Executive Coach and host of the podcast show Dudes of Disruption. So follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Triune Therapy Group and message us with your questions. Stay with us everyone, thank you.

Kate: Welcome back, you’re listening to Behind Closed Doors. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit, Marriage and Family Therapist.

Kate: And together with the co-founders of Triune Therapy Group, a group psychotherapy practice based in Los Angeles. Today on behind closed doors we’re talking about Anger, Resentment and Accountability with our special guest, Nick Papadopoulos. Nick I need to say your name one more time because I love it.

Nick: Say it three times in a row.

Kate: Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos [laughs]

Nick: Yes first kid in school to learn the alphabet.

Kate: Nick is an author and executive coach and host of the podcast Dudes of Disruption and thank you so much for being with us Nick. It’s so great to see your face on our Instagram live feed.

Lauren: I love that Nick.

Nick: Thank you.

Kate: Well tell our listeners and followers a little bit about your show and about what you do as an executive coach and how you got there.

Nick: Okay that sounds good. Thank you for having me on the show. I love the start of the conversation about anger and how it impacts our relationships. So you mentioned I do have a podcast called Dudes of Destruction. I also run a men’s groups here in New York City along with retreats for men as well. Anger is definitely a conversation of interest because men deal with anger as you sort of describe in certain ways much like women deal with it certain ways. You know the work that I do regardless if it’s in a corporate setting with a team or an organization or with individuals regardless it’s really about disrupting the automatic. The automatic way of thinking you know being, acting not because of the way they were being or talking or how we’re choosing is wrong. Rather the disruption is more around disrupting, so that people can choose with eyes wide open. People can choose from an awakened place. When you choose, often you choose because now you feel like you have options when you’re awakened and your eyes are wide open I do believe you have an experience of coming alive and being back on the court if you will. Things are very different experience as a human being has when you disrupt that automatic and all the sudden you realize wow I have other choices. There are other options. Even if I choose the same one, I’m choosing it from an awakened place.

Kate: Right. Well that’s so important. I mean I think if we were to translate that into some of the language that Lauren and I use at our practice, Triune Therapy Group, we would say you’re making the unconscious conscious or the implicit, explicit and you’re really stepping into your life from a place of empowerment as opposed to feeling like all of your automatic or unconscious is running you instead of you taking control of it.

Lauren: And feeling out of control.

Nick: Turning the background into the foreground.

Kate: Exactly. How did you get into this work Nick?

Nick: You know I was actually in a— I worked in sales and marketing the first time in my career and one of the things I realized was part of the job that I enjoyed most was coaching and developing and mentoring and really getting inside people and that was a part a job that I enjoyed most. So when my last company was acquired I was a V.P. of Sales. I was managing three hundred people. I was really successful and it all happened pretty quickly. I realized that part of the job that I enjoyed was the people part and it was like as I said the development, the mentoring it was the development of team dynamics and that’s how I transitioned. I transitioned really seamlessly because as my company got acquired a lot of people would refer to me already as a Coach Nick. You know somebody who paid attention to developing the person or developing the team and it was pretty— the universe always is going to tell you what’s available. And I had a number of people come to me and say, ‘hey can you coach me?’ and I had a number of companies come to me and say, ‘hey can you come in and speak to our group? I really like what you say and how you say it’. Originally and started more on the business side because that’s the world that I was coming out of. And then that transitioned into leadership that transitioned into culture engagement of organization that transitioned into personal development and then I would say about twelve years ago I realized I was interested and committed to changing my relationship with a men. My relationship with my dad who’s also been deceased and also my relationship with men in general. Because I found that I was drawn more to women especially when confiding with them. Confiding topics that normally I wouldn’t talk with men. So about twelve years ago I decided to do a lot of work around men including starting my first men’s group and I’ve had a couple since then.

Kate: You’ve have a really good point Nick. In that a lot of people struggle in having intimate relationships not sexual relationships but healthy intimacy with people of their own gender. A lot of the men that I work with tell me they’ve got all kinds of female friends and female girlfriends and they get along much better with women and they feel like they’re able to be closer to them and a lot of my female patients and friends say oh I am a guy’s girl you know give me a room full of guys and I can have really great friendships but put me in a room full of women and it’s terrifying. What do you make of that?

Nick: Well I can only speak for men obviously. I think for men— the experiences I’ve had in working with men, I’m just giving you my experience with the groups that I’ve led, the retreat that I’ve led. What comes out often is they feel safer psychologically emotionally they feel safer to be themselves. They can be self-expressed with a woman. You know the experience that men often have is that women are more understanding and are interested in learning about the whole person without the judgment whereas I think men often, at least the experience they have is that they’re being judged. Right it’s I mean everything from who’s got the bigger stick if you will. I think even as kids we’re always comparing our body parts, we’re comparing our muscles. Who’s got hair under their arms first? I mean I think there’s like constant competition.

Lauren: Well that goes on between women as well.

Kate: That goes on with women as well but it’s interesting in the way that I think men jockey together and women jockey together and why it feel safer to go into the opposite sex/ Now that feels like the topic for another show.

Nick: I also think that men generally— so a lot of executives who come to me for executive coaching often come to me just for the mere sake of: ‘Hey I’m tired of going to the bar and having drinks with friends and talking about sports the job and how much I don’t like my wife right now and I want to have a real conversation’. And I do think that one of the key reasons why the men in my retreats and in my men’s groups come back is just so they can have a real conversation.

Lauren: That’s hopeful.

Kate: We find that often in our groups with men that they really appreciate and value the intimacy that they’re able to curate because it is a safe space and everyone’s coming together for the sole purpose of growing their relationships with peers and that’s so key.

Lauren: Well I think that allows them to grow spiritually as well and when I say that I’m not talking about a religious perspective but more of the internal, the depth.

Nick: I had a man who— we have in our men’s group we have a private Google Group where we email each other and so they in fact couple of hours ago one of the men in the group shared a bunch of things that are going on in their lives and you know within five minutes there was at least ten e-mails you know expressing love and support and encouragement and I believe and all he did was just share. He wasn’t even asking for anything and that’s one of the value. One of the big values that the group brings is that men can share the way that he shared about scary things going on in his life. From finances to parents getting old, your folks really getting sick et cetera and doing it without any judgment. I think that’s a really big one is expressing yourself without any judgment.

Kate: That’s so key.

Lauren: Nick why do you think that anger is so difficult for people to deal with effectively?

Nick: Well that’s a good question. I think one place in listening to how you folks started the conversation today I do think it’s an adrenaline rush. You get adrenaline rush from anger. You mentioned something Lauren about exhaustion. I think that sometimes you get so addicted to anger even when you’re tired and fatigued I think you reach back even for more anger. So I think to some degree I think that we use anger as a way to be alive. We use anger sometimes— and again speaking more so from a male perspective and in the conversations I’ve had with men, often we use anger because in other places we’re disempowered or disconnected right and feel powerless and so let me come on the show now and get all angry and in your face because now I can feel powerful here. So it seems like there’s an addiction. We’re wanting to become alive which is awesome. That’s great. That’s really important to feel alive and be inspired and yet we’re using anger to do that as they access and I think that’s where it becomes unhealthy.

Kate: Well you bring up a really interesting point and there have been some studies to corroborate your hypothesis that there can be an addiction to rage because it does interact in the brain in such a way that our brain needs more and more and more to feel alive especially for more under arouse systemically all the time. When people don’t acknowledge their anger in direct ways, what’s been your experience Lauren, your experience Nick? In terms of how their anger creeps out because anger is going to go somewhere.

Lauren: Well in my experience I’ve seen it come out as the volcano where their stuffing it down and then it becomes rage or what I see very frequently as the passive aggression. Where it comes out sideways, in little covert ways that are really indirect and aren’t effective in communicating and problem solving and really can be harmful to relationships.

Nick: I teach a course called Crucial Conversations and I believe it’s Chapter one. The way chapter one starts it says: ‘if you don’t talk it out you will act it out’ to your point Lauren and Crucial Conversation actually refers to throughout the program about the reptilian brain and you referenced that in the earlier segment. And I do believe, to build on what you said Lauren, I do believe that when we don’t talk it out and at the very least even connected to it, it’s going to seep through in everything we do everything from ‘do we email someone or not?’

Kate: So Nick we have to take a quick break but when we come back let’s elaborate that and discuss more about anger resentment and accountability and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Triune Therapy Group. Message us with your questions now.

Kate: Welcome back you’re listening to Talk Radio 790KABC. This is Behind Closed Doors on Dr. K. Balestrieri.

Lauren: and I’m Lauren Dummit, Marriage and Family Therapist.

Kate: And together we’re the co-founders of Triune Therapy Group, a psychotherapy practice here in Los Angeles. If you’re just tuning in today we’re discussing anger resentment and accountability with special guest Nick Papadopoulos, Author, Executive Coach and host of the awesome podcast Dudes of Disruption. Nick thank you so much for being with us.

Nick: Thank you for having me.

Kate: Yes. So we are on Instagram live right now as well so if you are watching send us your questions. We got a question or the feedback rather from someone on during the last segment was talking about how as a dog trainer he’s often working with people to try and be aware of their own physiological cues and how important it is for that nonverbal behavior to be acknowledged and worked with just as much as it is for the verbal behavior. And I think that’s a really good point when we think about relationships ninety percent of the way we communicate with each other is nonverbally. It’s really subtle. From a facial expression, a subtle eye twitch.

Lauren: Body language.

Kate: Yeah changing the tone of our voice. We communicate so much more through all of that than we do with our actual words. Nick how do you coach people around their non-verbal cues?

Nick: My biggest mantra is notice, notice, notice, notice, pay attention. Pay attention to things that are triggering you, things that turn you on for that matter. Bring attention to who you’re being, how you’re acting, what choices you’re making. Are you talking faster all of a sudden? Are you just connecting? Are you crossing your arms? All of a sudden do you feel perspiration? I’m really big on the notice piece so when I’m working one on one with folks and we’re talking about: ‘I was just in a situation or I was just in a meeting’ those are often some of the questions I’ll ask. Which is we’ll go down through the inventory. Everything from what happened to your body, what was your body temperature to how fast or low you were speaking et cetera. And I think that’s really key. Is really just noticing because the noticing then allows you to disrupt the automatic which is what we talked about the last segment.

Lauren: You know it also made me think about when we’re working with a lot of clients have had trauma. A lot of people have had trauma and one of the things that comes up a lot is something called a regression. Where we actually leave the present ego state and go back into another time so noticing those physiological responses sometimes are actually having a physiological response that is tied to something that happened in our childhood with our mom and maybe our boss is reminding us of our mom. And so we’re dropping back into that original ego state which is very childish.

Kate: It is very childish and it reminds me of a really powerful recovery statement, that if it’s hysterical it’s historical that’s really important because–

Nick: I like that.

Kate: When our emotions get so big and we do drop into those regressed more childlike states I mean I don’t know about you but my twelve year old is alive and well.

Lauren: Oh yes. My angry teenager has enough.

Nick: At least you’re twelve, I’m seven.

Lauren: Well I’m seventeen.

Nick: The other thing that I do Kate is often to support someone from going from that hysterical state if you will up to their brain. It’s also have folks connected to their higher purpose or the higher purpose of what they’re wanting to accomplish with another person or with a group. As a way to get them reconnected to their higher self if you will. Why are we even in this conversation? Why are we just going back and forth? Why are we digging our heels or pushing hard on each other? Let’s just take a step back and a time out and think what’s the why here? I think often that is a way to remove all of that emotion out of the space.

Kate: It’s a good point. When we’re working with couples at Triune Therapy Group, one of the things that we often see is that when there’s conflict they’re not looking at each other. Unless there’s a higher degree of a different kind of pathology in which case they’re staring very intently at one another. But usually when people are in conflict, they are avoiding eye contact and I often will say to them look at your partner. What are you noticing with their body language? What are you noticing happening for them? And invite them to bring back that eye contact and that empathy driven behavior.

Nick: That’s great.

Kate: We were talking earlier about the ways that anger unresolved can leak out and affect our lives. But what do you see show up differently between the ways that men and women negotiate their anger or express it?

Nick: Well in my experience, men are not— especially with their partners and I’m talking more so on the heterosexual side. Men don’t express it well. In fact, I think they hide it and the experience I’ve had in dealing with men both in group and retreats is that the actually are dishonest if you will. And sort of just go along with whatever their partner wants.

Kate: Why are they motivated to hide their anger and disavow in your opinion?

Nick: I believe it comes from wanting to please, wanting to please their partner and not disappoint. I think men generally– I’m making a generalization here. My sense is that men generally want to protect, they want to make things safe, and they want to please their partner. And I believe that when someone pushes back or if they feel like they’ve done something that’s going to disappoint, I think they try to rationalize, they try to hide it, and they try to sweep it under the rug. You could probably speak to this more. So my experience has also been the men have an interesting relationship with their moms. More so than even with their dads which in my work of the last twelve thirteen years in the men’s group has really surprised me. I thought there would be more conversations around either who I’m being today or how I’m I acting today. It’s connected more to my dad and it seems like it’s more related to their mothers.

Kate: Well I think a few weeks ago we did an episode about Mother Hunger and one of the things that we addressed was the way that complicated relationships between mothers and daughters can result in a lot of unresolved anger and a lot of coping. I think the same is true for men and their fathers there’s a lot of unresolved father hunger out there between men and their fathers. And men end up relying on their mothers or their mothers become too close or enmeshing sometimes and that dynamic can create a context where the men feel far more dependent on and safe with their mothers but also then project their anger onto their mothers as opposed to with their fathers. Because maybe it’s more scary when they were younger to be angry at Dad than it was to be angry at mom.

Lauren: I think that another thing that comes up is what messages people received about expressing anger in their family of origin. At Triune Therapy Group I work with so many people that experienced like these covert rules that anger is rude, that you’re bad if you’re angry, that it’s not acceptable in this household or just that you know don’t be angry.

Kate: Well I think that source of invalidation from parents around children’s anger is well intentioned but really gets in the way of children learning how to express their anger effectively because what they hear is I’m bad, I’m not a good boy I’m not a good girl. I shouldn’t feel this way and so they just start to disconnect themselves from that emotion all together.

Lauren: Instead of modeling and teaching them and guiding them in a more appropriate and effective way to express their anger.

Nick: I think men have a hard time asking for what they want and making powerful and clear requests and so therefore I think often they’re walking around and operating inside of an experience of disappointment. And I think if you combine that with a man who has an ‘I don’t matter’ conversation going on in the background, then they definitely don’t know or believe they deserve to ask for anything. And so they get angry because their needs are not being met. They feel like they’re constantly paying attention to their partner’s needs and then they become entitled and they become angry after that. And it becomes this vicious cycle.

Kate: Well that’s just it. If we sit on our anger for too long it transitions into resentment. And resentment always transitions into entitlement because if I feel victimized all the time I’m going to have to take back my power somehow and then we just sit with it and sit with it gets more and more disruptive inside of us. And then we just take and we become the aggressors. We become the perpetrators. We become the people who are responsible for the hurt that we are tired of feeling.

Nick: You know we use the victim hood experience as a way to come alive and to be powerful. It’s almost like you to use it in this clever way to feel powerful and meanwhile again you’re actually making matters worse.

Lauren: Well I think when we’re in the victim stance we really don’t have any power and by being accountable is how we reclaim our power because then we have the power of choice. Instead something just having happened to us.

Nick: Some of the coaching I give the men and group is that when we go to that victim place we’re operating from that childlike place, our partners do not want anything to do with us. They definitely don’t want to sleep with us, they don’t want to make important decisions with us. In fact we will likely occur to them like we’re now one of their children.

Lauren: That is not exactly a turn on.

Nick: It’s not cool. It’s not a good place to operate from.

Lauren: And it feels like a burden to a lot of— especially if someone has several children having one more grown child like such a burden.

Kate: I recently read an article that supports that it was talking about how women with children often feel like they have one more child than they actually have given birth to and that is their husband. And the article is not trying to be inflammatory towards men or women but rather saying that men in an effort to keep the peace often usurp their own needs and end up deferring to their partner as a pseudo mother figure and that creates a lot of strain in the relationship and the women become responsible for their partner’s emotional needs in a way that is not healthy for either of them.

Nick: Yes. I would say that’s one of the more common conversations we have which is, I’m going to do whatever my partner wants regardless of what I want. I’m going to put their needs ahead and again the issue with that which we just mentioned is that I’m stewing and boiling up and the reptilian brain is already out I’m just doing my best to keep it hidden. But it comes out in so many different other ways.

Kate: It really does and we’ll talk about that more when we come back from our quick break well discuss anger resentment and accountability with special guest, Nick Papadopoulos. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Triune Therapy Group and message us with your questions Stay with us we’ll be right back.

Kate: Welcome back, you’re listening to Talk Radio 790KABC. If you just tuned in you’re listening to Behind Closed Doors I’m Dr. Kay Balestrieri.

Lauren: And I’m Laura Dummit, Marriage and Family Therapist.

Kate: And together we’re the co-founders of Triune Therapy Group, a psychotherapy practice in Los Angeles. Today we are talking about anger, resentment, and accountability with our very special guest Nick Papadopoulos and if you are on Instagram you can follow us live right now as we talk about this issue. So right before the break we were talking a little bit about just how accountability and feeling victimized might compel someone to stay in their anger versus break out of it and take control. And one of the questions that came up on Instagram live was, what do you make of this saying ‘happy wife happy life’? And I have to tell you this is one of biggest pet peeve sayings because–

Lauren: It’s so placating.

Kate: It’s so placating and Nick is making a cut the throat motion.

Nick: Absolutely.

Kate: It’s a terrible saying and I think it’s so well intentioned but it really creates a context where one person is constantly putting their own needs and wants second and making the priority their partner’s needs and wants. And that’s fine, if it’s a once in a while thing but when it happens over and over again that ends up creating a situation where you’re giving away your own power and then sitting on the resentment that broods from that. I wonder Nick in your experience working with men, what have you heard about that saying or that pattern?

Nick: It makes me cringe. It’s so archaic and ineffective. I would say honest life makes happy wife, makes happy relationship. My experience with both personally with my partners and with the men that I’ve coached, is that women love, love, love, love, love, love, love honesty. Women like to work things out, they want to talk things out. To me honesty creates a workable relationship and so women like to tackle things and talk about them and twist them around. The journey, the process is what actually creates the connection. That’s why I say honest life makes happy life.

Lauren: If we want to have emotional intimacy, we have to shop authentically.

Kate: Authenticity is the key to really taking the risk to show your feelings and then actually be seen and heard and valued but you’re never going to be seen and heard and valued if you can’t actually show up as who you are and how you really feel and what’s important to you.

Lauren: And when we do that, a lot of times people have fear of showing up authentically. It really like sets the stage. So sometimes I see people having difficulty expressing something especially when they’re in a new relationship and then once they do they’re so much relief on the other end because it gives them permission to be honest and open with their feelings as well even if they’re not positive.

Kate: Exactly, exactly. So Nick how do you work with people in developing accountability, developing authenticity and what do you think is the role in reducing anger?

Nick: Well my relationship to accountability is that accountability starts with me first. That I’m 100 percent responsible for the results and the experience that I’m creating. In fact actually the other person or group, but let’s just keep it to another person, they actually have zero responsibility for that. And by the way for the controllers out there this is your good news. Because it actually takes all that— you don’t have to wait for anybody else. If I’m 100 percent responsible for my results it actually has me operate very, very differently and in fact I end up doing less work. Because I’m not waiting for anyone, I’m not dancing with anybody’s reactions or will they call me, will they not call me back? Then I’ll call them if they call me first. I’m just going to operate the way I want to operate based on the intention that I have. So for me accountability is number one, it starts with me.
Number two that accountability is not good or bad or right or wrong. It’s a learning experience. So if I make a promise to you I’m going to be on the show and I’m on the show, great. It doesn’t make me a superstar it just means: ‘ok what can I learn from it and if I don’t make the show what can I learn from it as well’

Kate: Just to be clear, we think you’re super star.

Nick: To me it’s learning you know versus the probability is not about blame or judgment. That’s what I mean about not right or wrong. Rather it’s an optional learning. How do I operate in this situation or relationship? Let me learn from it regardless if I kept my promise are not.

Lauren: Well it’s about truth.

Nick: Yes exactly, exactly. And I think accountability ultimately creates a healthy relationship so that when we are accountable and we own our results and we own experience that we’re creating, I do believe it creates a workable healthy relationships.

Lauren: What do you say to men and women that might say like, ‘well you made me angry or if you wouldn’t have push my buttons, I wouldn’t have had that reaction’?

Nick: Yes another one that makes me cringe. Well because it goes back to I believe we’re one hundred percent responsible so if I just triggered you that’s actually your good news. We mentioned in an earlier segment that’s like notice that you got triggered I didn’t do anything. In fact you can make a case you should be grateful that I triggered you. Because I’m serving as the opportunity for you to learn about something that is still bothering you or something that still lingering that needs some attention.

Kate: I think that’s a really good point. It’s an opportunity for more self-examination. Which I think is part of why people don’t like to own their feelings because if right I own it then I have to look at it and I might not be ready to take that on. But if we reframe that discomfort as an opportunity as opposed to something that’s being infringed on us, think about the psychological gymnastics that that endeavor allows you. To just feel more liberated, more free. That’s really empowering.

Lauren: And to work towards more self-acceptance because I think a lot of times when we’re triggered there’s a part of us that’s being triggered that we’ve disowned because we find it unacceptable.

Kate: And I think a lot of people also walk around on the planet thinking that they should just be even keeled all the time. Never had a feeling, never experienced discomfort, and just always stay really static. But the reality is we’re human beings with a very wide range of emotional reactivity and if we’re going to snuff out the negative stuff we’re going to have to numb the good stuff too and that’s no way to be. I mean it is healthy to experience a certain level of oscillation in our emotions.

Lauren: Yes, I find that to be so true and I think that at Triune Therapy Group we also work a lot with addicts. And that’s often exactly why people are using substances or using a certain behavior is because they’re really having difficulty tolerating a negative emotion.

Kate: I’m curious Lauren and Nick, what would you say to someone who asked the question: how do I deal with my partner when they’re angry? We got this question on our Instagram feed just now.

Lauren: It’s a great question. Nick what do you say?

Nick: I believe listening is key. And actually ridding yourself and certainly in this case the question ridding someone else’s reptilian brain. My experience has been that people want to be— one of the things they want most is to be understood, to be heard, to be gotten, to be appreciated and notice I didn’t say agreed with. So I would say to listen and listen without having to respond. Listen from a generous place. Listen from a place— a blank canvas. Meaning, you don’t have the rap sheet it’s not next to you open on the table while you’re having the conversation. To really be in the discovery of the person. Someone told me that a long time ago. They said when you’re with people be in a discovery like you’re meeting them for the first time. Like if someone’s interviewing for the first time you’re really interested in everything. You go on a first date with someone you’re really interested. You’re interested about the silliest smallest things. So I would say it’s about listening but listening from a place of being in discovery with them because you might hear something different and they may share differently when you’re listening from that generous, engaged, connected place.

Lauren: Yes Pia Melody is someone that I mentioned before as my guru. And she talks about— she has something called The Talking Boundary. The purpose of it is because when we are sharing our emotions we’re really sharing who we are with the other person and so if we want to receive someone you know it’s about showing empathy and I think that goes a long way. Even if you don’t agree to say: ‘oh I see your perspective and I can understand how you might feel that way’. I also think that you mentioned how to deal with someone else who’s angry. I think that just because someone is angry, doesn’t give them permission to treat us however they want. So while I can listen to you, if you’re willing to be constructive and have a discussion but if you’re going to be rageful I can set boundaries to keep myself safe. So I can say: ‘look I see you’re really angry, I’d love to have a talk with you about this but why don’t you come down or talk to me when you’re not so volatile’.

Kate: Right. So Nick, what other projects are you working on right now and how can our listeners get in touch with you if they want to learn more about what you do?

Nick: Well thank you for asking them again thank you for having me on the show. One of the exciting projects I’m working on right now is a novel. And it’s a novel about male transformation and I’m really excited about it. We’re also our final draft where we are now looking for an editor. So if someone out there has a good editor, we would love to engage you because you know the next step after that is to send it off to a book agent. But we’re really excited about the book and the project because I really believe it shows men in a very different way. Men who are inspired to live life purposely and to transform the world. And that’s where you get us at and/or to listen to or Dude to Destruction pod cast which is on iTunes and on Panomatics.

Kate: Thank you Nick. Thank you so much for being a part of this.

Nick: Thank you.

Kate: So thank you listeners. This has been a really exciting episode and if you want to learn more about anger or how to address your anger effectively or if you’re in a couple ship an anger seems to be something that the two of you struggle with you can always call Lauren and I at Triune Therapy Group 3-1-0-9-3-3-4-0-8-8. We can talk to you more about some of the programs we have and other resources in your area, if you’re not local.
All right well don’t forget to follow us on social media. We’re on Instagram and Facebook at Triune Therapy Group and thanks so much listeners have a great weekend.

Lauren: Thank you.
Announcer: This show was furnished by Triune Therapy Group


Ask the experts

Often, when anger is the first response, it’s considered impolite, crazy, bitchy or dismissed as overly emotional. Yet, there are many instances in which one’s anger is stirred, and the key is putting it to good use. For instance, when a loved one is unfaithful, or when insensitive remarks are made concerning one’s ambitions or dreams, when feelings are questioned or when a woman is told to be more vulnerable and subservient. Though family and social expectations place unnecessary burdens on women (and men too), they can channel their anger-filled responses into action by going against the grain, pursuing their own interests or business, going to graduate school and much more. In turn, they’re encouraged to surround themselves with like-minded individuals, committed to supporting and cheering on one another, and ultimately helping the other discover their true potential. This system of support will continue to help individuals convert their anger into action, and perhaps enjoy a few laughs, too.

Yes. One hundred percent. Women are socialized to put relationships before themselves, and this often leads to stifling anger or any feeling that might compromise the bond between two people. This is especially the case in their relationships with men, or in competition for men, and over time, women’s anger and aggression has become more user wraps, or covert. Passive aggression seems to be both the only “acceptable” means of communicating anger, but women are also labeled “manipulative” when they attempt to express themselves indirectly. It becomes a vicious circle of anger, denial or minimization of anger, and then make ourselves smaller just to avoid being a “problem.”

While it is becoming more acceptable for women to show anger, progress is slow. Most of the time, female anger is couched in comedy or parody, and only accepted in small soundbites. Those invested in a patriarchal perspective, men and women, hold firm in their beliefs that women ought to act a certain way, or not make waves. The vary act of saying “we’re angry!” is a bold and pioneering move. Further, some women hold more internalized oppressive views, and refuse to participate in a movement that is labeled feminist or angry. For some women, to do so would compromise their social standing, romantic relationships, financial security, etc. It is scary, because the backlash is real. To take a stand is mark of bravery, and not everyone is ready to avail themselves to the fiery response of those in opposition. My opinion is that over time, the backlash will subside and change will take place. Cultural growth is a slow moving process, and with every voice heard, the collective voice of a paradigm shift grows louder and more effective. I don’t think women (or men) should care about acceptability. The more those who are angry attempt to hustle for the approval of their oppressors, the more power is given away. From my perspective, those who are angry a well suited to unite and establish new norms, refusing to tolerate mistreatment any further.

There are so many way to channel one’s anger constructively. I do not condone any violence (unless in self-defense) and instead think about using anger as a collaborating force within and with others. Being of service to others is one way to channel anger. This is especially relevant because so many women today do not have strong female role models, who they can turn to for advice. Get engaged. Mentor younger women, get a mentor, get creative. How can you pass along the resources (i.e., emotional, financial, logistic, etc) that were not available to you and resulted in your marginalization? What do you wish existed that could have helped you through a particularly challenging experience? Create it. I did, and it changed my relationship with anger and helped me take it for what it is a healthy emotion that lets us know when we feel disrespected or mistreated. This is key information that keeps us psychologically and rationally healthy. Anger is invaluable and an essential part of the human experience. When we embrace that, we can make it work for us in myriad ways.

As a psychologist, patients, friends and family are always asking me advice on their relationships and, let’s be real, everyone else’s relationships. One of the biggest questions they have, is why are there no good men or no good women out there? There are good people out there, I reassure them, but they inevitably come back with some retort about having to settle or face being single forever; for some, a fate worse than death. So herein lies the conundrum stay single forever or settle. Well, let’s back out of the black and white thinking that keeps us stuck for a moment and think about what it means to settle. Most of us have arbitrary ideas or checklists we drag around to assess our swiping situation. Does he make a certain amount of money? Is she pretty enough to take around my friends? Is she/he tall enough/too tall? Is she/he fit enough? What kind of car does he/she drive? Do they like dogs? All-important questions, but what do they really mean about a person’s character or how well you’ll get along? When considering the question of settling, it is important to ask what we:

  1. need in relationships
  2. want in relationships and
  3. won’t tolerate in relationships?

No two relational blue prints will look the same, and there are no right or wrong answers. Let’s look at needs first. We all have intimacy needs, like support, trust, security, communication, touch, respect, etc. They may change over time. That’s okay. Its hardwired in us. We also have relationship wants, the qualities that might ignite our fire a little more intensely. Physical appearance, fitness level, similar hobbies, values, job, financial standing, etc. are examples of wants. There is nothing wrong with wanting whatever you want in a partner. But many times, we mistake our wants for needs and then we feel like we’re settling if the want boxes are not checked, because we’re ignoring the meaning we assign to these traits. For example, consider meeting someone who is two inches shorter than your preferred height in a partner. He or she is funny, witty, charming, consistent, honest, and generous with their time, all of the other wants and needs you’ve identified. They just happen to be a little short-changed in the height department. What does height mean to you? Does it represent strength? Safety? Protection? Status? What does it mean about you if you date this person anyway? Whose judgment do you hear in your head? Why is their judgment so important? Asking these tough questions can help you decide if this is a want or a need, and if the underlying meaning is a need, can that need be met in other ways by this partner or other people in your circle? We often expect our partner to meet all of our needs, and overlook the inevitable disappointment in that expectation. Many people do not know what they need or want in relationships, because they are so eager to be in a relationship that they haven’t stopped to consider what they are looking for in their other half. They accept what is available, to avoid being alone. One day, they wake up and think, “Hey, I think I want more than this. I wish my partner would….” and realize that they might be settling but are afraid to leave. This brings me back to the last point, knowing what you won’t tolerate in relationships. It is just as important to know what doesn’t work for you when considering whether to start, stay in or leave a relationship. For some, deal breakers might include violence or infidelity. For others, perhaps smoking or liking heavy metal is the end of the line. Knowing yourself is key in defining your needs, wants, and deal breakers for relationships. If you don’t know some answers to these three factors, perhaps you’ve been neglectful (and settling!) in the most relationship of all, the relationship you have with yourself. Only when you set intentions and cultivate a relationship with yourself can you invite in the kind of love you are seeking and deserve to have. Until then, you’ll be running in circles, chasing ideas and looking to define yourself in the reflection of another.

Obsession, a thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind, is often what drives addiction. Obsession is about hypervigilance. When we feel the object of our affection (whether real or in fantasy) may not feel the same way, we perseverate about them, ourselves and the relationship. This rumination and over-focus is an emotional survival strategy that keeps our brain playing out all of the what-ifs and looking for answers to the sometimes unconscious ques- tion, “How can I make sure my partner doesn’t leave me?” A milder version of obsession can look like ruminating thoughts. “What if he likes her more than me?” “Did she talk to her ex-boy- friend last night?” “If only I lost those last 10 pounds…” Perhaps you find yourself checking their social media accounts for proof they are with you, or have moved on. Maybe you enlist your friends or family to investigate or check on your desired. At the extremes, obsession can morph into stalking and domestic violence. If we feel threatened at the loss of someone, and re- taliate with this level of possession, it can be dangerous for everyone involved. Contrary to what may be glamorized in movies, extreme jealously and stalking are not healthy courtship behaviors, and can lead to emotional and physical trouble.

Obsession with another person may be a symptom of love addiction, which is essentially an ad- diction to the experience or “high” of being in love, and generally appears on the form of putting another person on a pedestal, creating the fantasy that they are perfect or the one, ignoring their faults or certain red flags that point to the contrary. Love addicts often expect their partners to care for all of their needs. Love addicts often neglect to care for or value themselves while they in the relationship. There often exists a toxic bond or an obsessive attachment in love addicted relationships. Love addicts often continue to engage in the relationship, trying desperately to connect as they search for their self-worth in the relationship, even if the object of their desire is pejorative, hurtful, or abusive. Inappropriate boundaries, abuse, neglect, intimacy issues, chaos, drama are some of the deleterious characteristics of these relationships. Love addicts suffer from profound feelings of shame, anguish, and fear of abandonment.

Since love addicts typically suffer from an anxious or preoccupied attachment (hypervigilance about their partner or the relationship), some signs to watch out for would be someone who is wanting speedy closeness, says “I love you before the first argument, has poor boundaries, is constantly expressing insecurities and worrying about rejection, is often very unhappy when not in a relationship, plays games to keep your attention, has difficulty with direct communication, struggles to effectively express their wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings, expecting you to guess or read his or her mind, acts out, tries to make you jealous, always makes things about him/her- self in the relationship, lets you set the tone of the relationship, seems preoccupied with the relationship, calls or texts excessively, stops by your home or work unexpectedly, fears that the small acts will ruin the relationship, seems to be trying too hard to keep your interest, and is extremely jealous.

If you suspect that the person you are getting to know has obsessive or love addicted tendencies, this does not mean you have to cut them out of your life completely. However, it is important to take things slowly, establish very clear boundaries, assess what works for you and get consulta- tion from friends and loved ones about your experience, pay attention to any attempts to get you to change or disregard your boundaries or needs, use direct, clear communication, and effectively verbalize your wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. – Dr. Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, and Lauren Dummit-Schock, LMFT, CSAT, CoFounder

The first step to getting help from this type of toxic relationship is to recognize narcissism in your partner or spouse. This involves identifying the traits and warning signs of this disorder, which you may have been living with for quite some time. At Triune Therapy Group, we have skilled clinicians who are highly trained to treat those that are in a relationship with a narcissist.

To help you understand the condition and how you may or may not have been affected, please explore the following Frequently Asked Questions and Answers provided by Licensed Psychologist Dr. Kate Balestrieri: Read More FAQs About Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Perhaps the greatest hope surrounding the #MeToo movement and other similar movements is that it will generate an awareness of the magnitude of sexual assault and harassment, particularly in the workplace. In doing so, maybe it will initiate and rebirth conversations regarding equality that have since gone underground. This is important, because many people fail to see the ways in which others misuse power and privilege, and how this leads them to engage in predatory behaviors. In another sense, the #MeToo movement could educate people on how to avoid being exploitative, while enlightening them on affirmative consent, power imbalances and how to classify and pursue intimacy and happiness in a authentic, healthy manner.

I work with new mothers and I have on multiple occasions worked with mothers who have experienced a the loss of a pregnancy close to becoming a mother. It is indeed a double whammy. There is so much that gets stirred up, and it intensifies the transition into motherhood and the processing of these loss, exacerbating common life-cycle events, and resulting in undue pressure on new moms, emotionally, physically, spiritually. When we’re trying to understand how motherhood and losses affect us, it is imperative to remember that the transition into motherhood and assimilation of loss are multi-dimensional and encompass physical, social, emotional, spiritual aspects of humanity. Although we mostly associate motherhood with new beginnings and joy, the questions of loss and death and endings actually also come up. Becoming mothers is a definite end to our earlier self, our pre-motherhood bodies and relationships, and mothers must mourn how the idealized fantasy of motherhood is never matched with the reality of the day to day. This is all considered “normal” to go through unless it gets complicated with trauma or major stressors. But if the transition to motherhood coincides with a loss, mothers get all of this thrown at them at the speed of light. It’s like existential pressure overload. – Helena Vissing, M.S., Psy.D. Clinical Associate, Psychological Assistant

The mental health of mothers is a major public health concern. Research demonstrates that depression and anxiety in mothers impact their children. The exact ways children are impacted by their mothers’ mental health involves a complex interplay of factors. We always have to look at the unique combination of risk factors and protective factors for each mother-child couple. If you grew up with a mother who suffered from postpartum depression, you are not necessarily determined to suffer. But we know that on a large public health scale, there is a clear connection between mothers’ mental health and lifelong mental health of their children. The immediate effects of mothers’ depression is that babies become withdrawn and irritable. This is happening at a sensitive time when babies are beginning their lifelong development of emotion regulation. Development is layered and scaffolding throughout life, so a baby who is experiencing these challenges already during their first years will be What we often experience in the consulting room is adults who struggle with feelings of shame and inadequacy or “never being enough”, even when they are normally functioning. They might describe a vague sense of unworthiness that has always “haunted” them. Although it’s widely acknowledged now that our sense of ourselves is rooted in our earliest relationships, it is still overlooked how issues in this area can stem from the emotional pain the child of a depressed mother experienced. This pain does not just disappear as the child grows or if the mother’s mental health improves, as it has influences the very core of the child’s sense of self. Infants and children are developmentally unable to make sense of the intensity of their mother’s depression, but they still feel it. This is because our earliest sense of self is built from our early nonverbal and physical experiences of being cared for. The only way and infant can interpret the signals from a depressed mother is to internalize it, which manifest as a sense of never being enough. Even when the child grows up to be an adult who can rationally separate their mother’s emotions from their own self-worth, the early experiences can still linger and manifest as issues with unworthiness. For each person, it’s a unique story of with all the risk factors and the negative impact on one hand, and then all the mitigating factors and strengths on the other hand. The adult who describes feeling shame and unworthiness might struggle to pinpoint the root of their issues, especially if their mother’s emotional issues were hidden, denied in the family, or minimized. The mother’s emotional state during the crucial early years is often that missing piece to help an adult fully understand their development and life story. Often they are not in a position to communicate about sensitive material with their mothers. This is why it’s crucial that maternal mental health is addressed clearly at all levels of society. The taboo still surrounding motherhood and postpartum emotional issue has devasting consequences for the entire family. I know this is a lot. Feel free to use what makes sense, and let me know if I should clarify things? I tried to use language for laypeople. – Helena Vissing, M.S., Psy.D.