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Men, Women and Confidence

Men, Women and Confidence

Men, Women and Confidence

Dr. Kate: Good evening Los Angeles, welcome to Behind Closed Doors at every Saturday at 6 pm right here on Talk Radio 790 KABC. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.

Lauren: And I am Lauren Dummit.

Dr. Kate: And we are the founders of Triune Therapy Group. A Psychotherapy practice based here in Los Angeles. Behind Closed Doors is a show about sex, relationships, mental health, addiction, staying healthy and all sorts of related current events. Today, we are going to be focusing our topic on confidence. This topic came about because after some of our previous episodes about shame and about betrayal, one of the things that our listeners messaged in on was often around confidence. I don’t have any confidence people would say so how do I get some.

Lauren: I think it’s easy to talk about how it shows up and we don’t have confidence. But how do you develop confidence, that’s a little trickier.

Dr. Kate: It’s a great question and one that a lot of patients asked me about. Often they feel like a lack of confidence or a lack of self-esteem it’s what’s getting in the way of all of their social relationships, their professional achievement and so we thought we’d take some time and really break it down today and talk about what confidence is really about.

Lauren: Great, because it is complex. There is no simple solution unfortunately.

Dr. Kate: Right. What feels like confidence to one person might feel like arrogance or braggadocios to others. It’s very subjective. So that’s going to be our topic and we are going to spend some time talking about how confidence differentiates between men and women and later we are going to bring on some experts to talk about the medical and the aesthetic impacts of confidence and specifically how confidence shows up with men. Lauren and I are going to start by just talking a little bit about confidence in women and I am curious Lauren for you working with patients and just in your own friend circles, what do you notice to be some of the biggest areas of focus when women are talking about confidence or a lack thereof?

Lauren: I definitely see a lot of young women so it’s interesting because what I often see is they haven’t really…when I say young women by the way I am talking about kind of early 20s to mid 20s and what I have noticed is I don’t think they have developed yet quite a sense of purpose and meaning and they aren’t yet grounded in who they are and what makes them who they are. I think there is a lot of focus on the external. So there is a lot of comparing about like who has a more social media followers or who is prettier, who has better body parts or things like that which can add to confidence. However I think that the internal stuff isn’t quite developed yet. You know when mom used to say look you are prettier when you are younger because you need it. We haven’t really developed our other sense of our other qualities that make us like ourselves and make us feel confident. Someone once said to me if you want to build self-esteem do estimable acts and I don’t think that that is quite engrained yet and I think that’s something that we develop as we mature and age. Not everyone matures as they age but we do. I think it’s a process.

Dr. Kate: It is and confidence is such an inside job. When we do think about the impact of what clothes we are wearing or what friend groups we are associated with or how many social media followers we have, what we look like in certain outfits and how we feel in our own skin. But, really confidence in the work that I do with women comes around in terms of thinking about how they really see themselves as women or as individuals in the world. Are they proud of the things they have accomplished? Do they have goals? Are they setting up to achieve those goals and making some sort of incremental progress? What are they basing their esteem on?

Lauren: I’m thinking about quite frequently I have clients that are young women that are struggling with I don’t want to work but yet I have nothing in my life. And so it’s like the concept of like doing something that’s going to help you develop a sense of self efficacy is still kind of, it’s not quite in their grasp yet let’s just says.

Dr. Kate: Well its hard work too. It’s difficult to really put yourself out there and take on the process of slowly developing a persona and a sense of identity that is stable and really congruent with whom you are and who and who you have been raised to understand you want to be. Often time’s people don’t really think about that because we have become a culture that’s so focused on these external cues for validation and for feeling like we are enough.

Lauren: I think it’s really important and it’s different for everyone to identify what your own set of values are. I think we gain confidence from living a life that’s most in alignment with our own set of values. When we are young we haven’t always established that and so I think especially working with people that struggle from various addictions, there’s a lot of manipulation, there’s a lot of dishonesty, there’s a lot of like acting out of a place of fear instead of acting out of a place of wanting to be a good person and having our actions aligned with our values. So that’s a lot of the work I do also and recovery is like looking at the emotional piece and building confidence from the inside in terms of being proud of who we are.

Dr. Kate: That takes a lot of work, because when you are someone who has grown up without very strong role models for how a balance sense of confidence really looks and feels we have to wing it. So we tend to align our stars with examples that are fleeting. And, so a lot of women that I work with really tend to base their sense of self-esteem and confidence on what kind of validation they are getting from the men in their world if they are attracted to men. Or the women in their world if they are attracted to women and really kind of using their sexuality as a currency for feeling good enough and okay.
Lauren: Well they can use multiple things like their sexuality. Even on the other spectrum I see people being really good at being really bad. They are rebellious and it’s like with kids any attention is good attention even if it’s negative so I see them doing outrageous things to get attention and not give them a self of confidence even though it also creates a lot of shame.

Dr. Kate: That’s true for men and women. Specifically I see that with women a lot. They’ll act out badly but usually with money or going on shopping sprees and it’s not something they can sustain but it feels really good and then it also fills that void for validation around appearance as well as for just the need of being able to spend whatever they want to spend in the moment. What do you think is the biggest stumbling block that women come across in recovery as they are trying to build self-esteem and confidence?

Lauren: I don’t know whether you call this a stumbling block. I think one of the biggest problems is that they are continuing to seek validation externally instead of knowing their inherent worth and then also aligning their actions with what their values are. So I think it’s we talk about ego and ego is the purpose of it is for survival but sometimes it gets a little out of hand and we are focused on self to the extreme that we are not acting in a way that is of benefit to all. The problem is, it’s run by fear and it doesn’t actually help us feel more confident. It just breeds more fear.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. You said something really interesting about inherent worth and I think a lot of people don’t really know what that means and one of the things that stood out to me as I was going through my training and being a therapist I can’t even recall who said this so I can’t take credit for it but I can give credit where it’s due. Someone said all you actually need to do in this world to be considered a worthy human being is just breathe. So if you are a breathing human you have inherited worth. But I think so many people especially women are organized around this concept that they have to be high achieving, they have to be successful, they have to be beautiful and they really lose sight of their humanity and just the inherent worthiness that we are all born with.

Lauren: Absolutely and I think that also brings up an important point about a lot of the clients we work with have had pretty significant trauma. Sometimes it’s been in the form of physical or emotional or sexual abuse. If they have been raised by their caretakers who have been tying them with their nothing it’s really difficult to break those internalized voices.

Dr. Kate: There’s core beliefs of I’m not good enough or I’m a piece of you know what and all of these negative ideas that people often have about themselves when they have been traumatized or consistently invalidated growing up or invalidated by a society that oppresses them in whatever way shape or form.

Lauren: You also see that with parents often part of their job is modeling appropriate behavior and so sometimes I see mothers for example who might have body image issues or other self-esteem issues and they are constantly maybe not being verbally abusive to their children but to themselves in front of their children and I think that if you are the mother of a girl and that’s what she is hearing and that’s what is being modeled for her then she receives those message oh I better be prettier, I better be skinny or whatever that may be.

Dr. Kate: Also for women I notice often times one of the things they struggle with most in the recovery that we are working on is the concept of attenuation. This is so clearly linked to confidence because women are often socialized not to be so big that they take up too much spotlight because women are socialized to be social creatures and so the emphasis is about relationships, more so that it is on individual progress or development and so a lot of women that I work with struggle with really achieving their full potential because they have been told directly or indirectly don’t shine so bright because you are going to take away light from someone else if you do. So they learn how to attenuate or make themselves small and that compromises their ability to really have healthy self-esteem because to do so would be to violate that social moral.

Lauren: One of the things I was thinking of that I thought you were going to go into when you brought that up was also I think in terms of being socialized as social creatures I think that quite frequently there was a message that we have to put on a happy face a smile and please others and so sometimes pleasing others is not in alignment with who we are and what’s through for us and what we want. So for living, if we are not acting in our authentic self then I think it creates a divide.

Dr. Kate: It does I mean I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking down the street and someone usually a man but not always will say sweetie smile and I just think first of all why do you need me to smile for your day to be okay. But secondly I don’t know that I can muster that and be congruent with who I am but it does feel like this pressure to show up and confirm so on that note we are going to take a quick break and when we come back we are going to be speaking with Dr. Daniel Moghadam and he’s going to be talking about confidence in terms of aesthetics and physical appearance and what that means. So stay with us and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Triune Therapy Group and message us with your questions. Stay with us.

[Break]

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

Lauren: I’m Lauren Dummit

Dr. Kate: We are here talking about confidence today. One of our special guests we are really excited to have him on the air today is Dr. Daniel Moghadam owner of Modern Aesthetica in Santa Monica. So Dr. Daniel tells us about yourself and your practice.

Dr. Daniel: First of all I must thank you guys for having me on this show.

Dr. Kate: No thank you.

Dr. Daniel: My practice actually is based upon a lot of what you guys were talking about earlier so we do a lot of weight loss and hormone replacement therapy but we also do minimal in based of aesthetic medicine. So we get a lot of patients that come in the office that’s have these proceed flaws and it might not be the best business because I feel like I am talking them out of it a lot of the time so you know when they come in my first question is…What bothers you?

Dr. Kate: What do they say?

Dr. Daniel: You know the spectrum is huge. You were talking about the young man in your practice and I get a lot of 20 to 25 year old’s that come into the office and Instagram and social media they want lip fillers and cheek fillers and I ask them why. What do they see in the mirror that’s bothering them and they can’t give me an answer. All they can tell me is that they don’t look like this person on Instagram.

Lauren: I just read an article recently in the magazine and unfortunately I can’t tell you which one it was in. I don’t remember but it was talking about the increase in cosmetic procedures for Instagram.

Dr. Daniel: It’s unbelievable I had a 16 year old coming to my office with her mother to get lip filler and she was 16 years old. It was like her birthday present and again talking about modeling their parents I told her I can’t do this if she is 16 years old. She hasn’t even grown into her body yet. Give it a couple of years and they practically berated me in the office. Then I ask them have you gone anywhere they are like yes two other doctors told me the same thing. I don’t understand why I can’t get lip fill. There is probably a reason.

Lauren: Yeah and talk about messages that you are sending to your children about what they need to look at.

Dr. Daniel: Mother was fully filtered out.

Dr. Kate: I think that none of us here have a bias against filler, any sort of cosmetic procedures but there is a specific kind of message that does come across when we have someone that young who is so dissatisfied in their own skin really looking to alter the foundation of their appearance and they are not as definitely about feeling some sort of social pressure and competition to feel prettier or adequate.

Lauren: The interesting part is make sense for example for 16 year old perhaps had an abnormally large nose and everyone has made fun of her and she is been bullied for it and she desperately wants to change it, that makes more sense. But this is a case where she wasn’t even able to identify what she didn’t like. Just that it wasn’t enough.

Dr. Daniel: She was a beautiful 16 year old girl and I told her like you need nothing. I am telling you this is someone who “sells this stuff” You need absolutely nothing she calmed down and then I started talking to the mother. She had some underlying psychological issues and mother thought that this was probably the best way to kind of get her over the hump. I said you should probably go back to your therapist and discuss this a little bit with them. I actually ran into them randomly in Santa Monica for lunch and she actually came up to me and said thank you. So there is a happy ending to that story.

Lauren: I think again if something is bothering you and you want to get something changed in order to make yourself feel better about that particular thing I don’t think there is anything wrong with that but I think that we are talking about right now is that when people are solely basing their self-esteem on what they look like then there is like nothing is ever enough.

Dr. Daniel: You get a lot of repeat business in the office because of that because once you fix one thing you want everything fixed and I always tell them like minimal you want to look like yourself.

Dr. Kate: It can become addictive. I have worked with so many patients who have had a little bit of Botox here, a little bit of filler there and next thing you know they are going in every month for some kind of tweak and it becomes an obsession and really emphasizes a dysmorphic relationship that they have with their body and their appearance.

Dr. Daniel: We are all guilty of it. I am 37 now and I am not going to lie I do a little bit of Botox. I have to and I am a doctor and you guys work long hours you know that does to your face and it bothered me one day so I did a little bit of Botox and that’s all I have been at since but I could see myself going down that pathway.

Lauren: The thing I was going to say it is very parallel to money. There will always be someone prettier, always someone richer. And so when we align our self-esteem with that as the sole source of esteem then it’s never ever enough.

Dr. Kate: How would you say that you…what are the biggest differences between male and female patients who come into see you and the things that they complain about or express concern of in terms of confidence like their appearance?

Dr. Daniel: I could say for what you guys were saying earlier about the female population is definitely spot on. They never feel good enough. I feel like sometimes I’m running a barber shop when I am sitting there and they kind of complain to me what’s wrong with them then I have to sit and tell them it’s okay no you look great. With men also uniformly to come to my office they come in for hormone replacement therapy because they hear so many things about it now. Almost always it has to do with the feeling of sexual prowess. In others its age related the kind of masculinity that’s probably 90% psychological and 10% physical so I get a lot of guys that are like 35 and don’t feel like they are 25 anymore. I have to explain to them that’s normal.

Lauren: You are not 25.

Dr. Daniel: I don’t feel like my libidos is down, my energy level is down I can’t put on muscle mass so we do a lot of lab work and I would say a good percentage of them do have decreased testosterone and I do put them on and they do really well with it. I do a lot of psychology in the office. It’s not just hormones so a lot of these guys think it’s like a one shot miracle I’ll just go and I feel better and then come back couple months later for the follow ups they are like yes I feel better on putting on muscle mask my libido is up but then there is this issue.

Dr. Kate: What’s this issue? What’s usually the next issue?

Dr. Daniel: The married guys, the guys with partners almost always come to the conclusion that they don’t feel appreciated by their partner. They are not like the sexual beast that they want to be like first got together and she is not crawling all over him and once every second of the day and I think that is a big boy to a guy’s ego. Guys are very fragile when it comes to this type of thing. They really are. The truth is the truth.

Dr. Kate: You bring up a really interesting point there because I think a lot of men based their sense of confidence based on how sexually desired they are by their partner whether it’s a male or female partner and I like the term that you use their sexual prowess because I think that so many men that I work with come in and start talking about how they use sexuality as a way to boost themselves when they feel vulnerable, boost themselves when they are feeling down and out. But if they get a look from the pretty girl across the bar that’s sets them right again. To get disconnected from that sexual power is a blow to their confidence.

Lauren: Yeah I see that with both men and women. Unfortunately, when you are in a long term relationship that’s just the normal decline, you hear multiple women say that they don’t even feel like their partner sees them anymore as a woman. They can walk by naked and their partner wouldn’t even look up from their IPad. Unfortunately I think as we become more emotionally intimate sometimes the sexual excitement decreases. It has nothing to do with their age.

Dr. Daniel: I tell them that all the time. You see someone day in day out for a few years, it’s going to be a little bit spottier but I always make the analogy it’s a fire that’s going to go out quickly. You would rather have the end burn but the fire does feel good when it’s there.

Dr. Kate: It’s a good analogy. Can you tell us a little bit more about the Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men and for Women? What’s involved? How would someone know they had a hormone deficiency issue and what would be some of the things that they could come to address with that?
Lauren: How do they benefit from hormone replacement?

Dr. Daniel: For men it’s actually pretty simple. The complaints are almost always lack of energy, lack of sleep, lack of putting on body fat when they use to not, just lack of drive ambition libido. The women it’s always a little bit more complicated because there is a lot more psychology involved and because their hormone cycles actually vary throughout the course of the month they are not always quite in tuned but always they come in with very similar components. I don’t feel sexy. I don’t want to have sex, I can’t get back into shape like I used to. With Hormone Replacement Therapy it involves just a systematic approach to their hormones. Check their labs, see what they look like and then just try to get them back to optimal levels. I have a fair share of guys that come in and think that I am going to put them on juice. I always tell them that’s not what I do. I will replace your testosterone back to where it’s supposed to be but you are not going to be Schwartzenager, so you will feel better, you’ll drop some body fat, and you will put on some muscle mass and all the sexual stuff kind of falls into place. Usually it takes about 3 months before they kind of fully realize it. At about 4 weeks they call me like I feel great can I go up on the dose and I am like absolutely not. It’s the whole more is better thing.

Lauren: It sounds like a lot of people and this happens in therapy people are looking for a magic pill. I need you to solve all my problems where is the magic pill and it sounds like you have really helped them stay realistic.

Dr. Daniel: It’s one of those things I always believe in you want to undersell and over deliver. I tell them you are going to feel a little bit of a change and I am going to get that call one month when they are like I want to double my dose then I have to like pull them back. With women it’s a little different because there’s more hormone than play. With men, testosterone if you manage it and all the testosterone is pretty much in that part. With women, because their estrogen and progesterone and even testosterone is just off and neglected and you are looking at their hormones you kind of have to play with a little bit more but you can actually manage them pretty easily with daily injections or once a week injections.

Lauren: Okay.

Dr. Kate: Awesome. Well it’s amazing to hear you talk about this thing. I work with a lot of men and women who as they are getting into recovery they are like their bodies are out of wack. It’s been so long since they have had homeostasis that didn’t involve some kind of chemical or behavioral compulsion but their body and their neurochemistry are really learning to settle back into a new normal so it’s really good to know that there are physicians out there that we can send them to and people can get more of a biological and a medical approach to feeling rebalanced.

Lauren: That also reminds me I have a client who went through a significant trauma with some infidelity and it centered into premenopausal. It like depleted all of her hormones and she had no idea what was going on because she wasn’t expecting that so it’s interesting to think about how trauma can affect our hormones as well.

Dr. Kate: There is such a close relationship. So we have to take a quick break but when we come back, more about confidence with our special guest Dr. Daniel Moghadam and we’ll be introducing Dan Griffin, an International Author and Expert on men’s issues. When we come back, follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Triune Therapy group and message us with your questions. Stay with us.

[Break]

Dr. Kate: Welcome back you are listening to Talk Radio 790 KABC, this is Behind Closed Doors I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.

Lauren: I’m Lauren Dummit

Dr. Kate: We are the cofounders of Triune Therapy Group. If you are just tuning in today we are talking about confidence and how it differentiates between arrogance and confidence and what it looks like with men and with women. We are being joined right now by Dan Griffin. He is an author, an international expert on men’s issues, relationships and masculinity in the 21st century. Dan thanks so much for joining us.

Dan: Thank you, thanks for having me.

Dr. Kate: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your area of expertise and your practice.

Dan: My area of expertise is deeply interwoven with who I am as a human being so it’s a little odd sometimes because I have just been very interested in this whole journey and evolving conversation that would I need to be a man in the 21st century and how much the idea of masculinity and the performance of masculinity has been changing in the last 40 years but I would say rapidly in the last 10 to 20. So that’s a focus of mine.

Dr. Kate: How did you get involved in that?

Dan: The short answer is I took sociology of women course in undergrad. So women had convinced me to take that course and I got very interested in gender and the concept of gender and I asked our professor if anybody is looking at it for men and masculinity. She said I don’t know why don’t you do some research. It looked as if she didn’t know but I did research and then I did my masters research and it was very personally important to me because I had a lot of my own challenges and trauma growing up around being a man and masculinity that it just resonated with me and there really wasn’t anybody doing a lot with it, especially in the addiction and mental health world and as a result of that, that resonated with me too because I like to tilt the windmills.

Lauren: So as an expert on modern masculinity, what are the areas that you think are the biggest concerns for men today?

Dan:That’s such a big question. There are so many areas. I talk about an idea of conscious masculinity. All that really means is like so many people out there seem to want to define what a man is and who a man is supposed to be and what’s good and what’s not good and all that stuff and I think that’s inherently problematic especially for men to be able to hear it. What I talk about is this idea just men being more conscious of how they show up as men, fathers and then their relationships. I guess one of the biggest areas of concern that I would say particularly when it comes to men in confidence is being able to establish for themselves what authentic confidence is rather than the dominant model of male confidence which I have watched so many men just drowned trying to achieve what they think is going to give them confidence or what it’s supposed to be about. I think when men are giving themselves permission to truly embrace who they want to be as men and not the dictates of this kind of a larger piece of what I call the man roles. I think that’s a huge issue.

Dr. Kate: Can you tell us about the man rules and the way that you think that men are socialized to be masculine. What is this ideal that men are being held up against in their minds?

Dan: Talk about this concept called water and the water is simply the idea that it’s the reality in which we all immersed like fish in the water we have so little awareness of it. The man rules and gender tend to be very deep experiences of reality and so when I talk about the man rules a part of it is just trying to get people to see the water. When I talk about the women rules it’s just getting people to see the water. So if I was to ask the two of you when you were growing up and if you had brothers, fathers if there were rules for being a man, if there were some rules that seemed to be out there about what makes a boy into a man, what would be some of the rules that you would say we are out there.

Lauren: Being tough, being strong.

Dr. Kate: Not crying.

Dan: Be brave versus don’t be weak and like so the man rules and when I do this I do like I just did with you, part of being able to see the waters naming the rules even though they are the same all the time. What’s challenging is that if we learn the rules so implicitly often times explicitly but probably 90% of it is implicit. So all these little micro interactions we have all our lives when we learn not to cry, when we learn not to ask for help, not to be vulnerable then we have to be strong, we can’t look weak no matter what then we don’t ask for help, then we have to be providers and being providers not in the sense of like hey I get to contribute, meaning like I am going to work myself ragged to be able to prove that I can make enough money or I can provide and so all of that is a man rules. It’s not necessarily who men are or how men live their lives but it’s the judgment we place on each other, on ourselves that women place on men, that girls place on boys, that boys place on boys and it’s the water. We are all in it and sometimes we see it and sometimes we don’t and sometimes we can navigate it well and sometimes we can’t.

Dr. Kate: That starts even in utero for both genders. The minute someone knows what the gender of their baby is people start with interacting with the fetus or with the pregnant belly in a way that it’s conducive to these mandates of the waters you are calling right.

Dan: Exactly and that’s what I talk about like when I say it runs deep I am like you know exactly what you just said. What’s the narrative that you begin to write as soon as you find out you are having a boy or a girl and imagine like you think you are having a boy or even if you are having a girl you go into like your 8th month appointment and all of a sudden they say you are having a boy what does that do to the narrative, what does that do to the baby shower, what does that do to how you painted the room and like you said the baby hasn’t even born and there is all of this mental narrative that is already been built in who that human being is going to be or become.

Lauren: So as adult man how do you see these implicit messages affecting them and how they show up in relationships?

Dan: I think that’s the water is that our ruled by these rules much more than we realize and here is what I want to emphasize is because I have found this to be probably the most significant point of my work. I discovered it at a certain point but it’s true for me and we can see. What I have come to see is that the man rules may or may not work but what they do give us at a very deep level when we are boys is safety that when we stop crying we stop being made fun of. Some of us even stop getting beating. When we stopped asking for help we stopped being told we were stupid or just figure it out for yourself or we stop being vulnerable, we stop being made fun of or beaten up or bullied or rejected to our sensitivity and it goes on and that’s the way that we fasten ourselves to the man rules. It’s like it’s going to make us safe. Then has somebody who has looked at trauma then we know that maybe sometimes even how men react or even kind of just flashing to the man rules is more of a trauma or a fight or flight response and men don’t realize they are doing it and then they look back and they are like why did I do that. That’s why I talk about conscience masculinity because the more we can become aware of how that’s showing up and how it’s incongruent with the men we say we want to be but then we begin to realize we do have a choice and in fact we have a responsibility to pay attention to that. This idea of safety and how do men find safety. I think it actually is blends in very well with this idea confidence because the man rules create a false concept. Then because of the power and privilege that men have then we get to use that false confidence to create even more of a false confidence and it becomes this really dangerous persona that we develop that again many men think is keeping them safe. Many men are thinking is what’s going to get them accepted, not only by society but by their partners, by their children.

Dr. Kate: Can you say a little bit more about that? How does this false confidence show up in relationships with a primary partner?

Dan: Here is the thing, when I talk about the man rules and I have a lot of women in the audience who is in the work that I do. Brenae Brown talked about this I think beautifully too and that is that because we are all in the water whether we realize it or not, we are more invested in the rules, man rules, women rules, the rules of gender than we realize. I think the challenge for women in particular they identify heterosexual relationship with a man. The challenge is how do I create a space or how do I co create a space for the man in my life where he can feel safe enough to be vulnerable and I can feel safe enough or conscious enough I would say in many ways to realize how I need him to protect me and be vulnerable where I need him to not be emotional and be emotional. There is a double bind I think a lot of men feel in their primary relationships and sometimes it’s unintentionally perpetuated or communicated by their partners less because of what they are saying but more because of how they are responding and men show different signs of vulnerability.

Dr. Kate: That’s a really good point and I think a lot of women feel that double bind as well because they will say to me things like I really want my partner to show up. I want to feel him emotionally. I want to know that he is there and I can’t access that part of him. This is because I think he is stuck in that paralysis of not being vulnerable so as to come across this strong provider and really shielding his partner from his own vulnerability but then when that vulnerability does arise it can create a lot of discombobulation in the homeostasis in their relationship.

Dan: You got it right. That’s the balance when all of a sudden the man shows up the way the woman has them wanting into show up this whole time. Something significant changes and that is now suddenly she is being asked to show up the same way. She is being asked to no longer focus on him but to also that we have where you got and I think that one of the challenge is I hear this from women a lot, my husband wont do this, my husband doesn’t do this. I know my husband have these feelings of a general life but he doesn’t show up.

Dr. Kate: So Dan we are going to stop right there and take a quick break but when we come back let’s pick that right back up and continue on our conversation about confidence. Stay with us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Triune therapy group and message us with your questions we’ll be right back.

[Break]

Dr. Kate: Welcome back you are listening to Talk Radio 790 KABC, this is Behind Closed Doors. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.

Lauren: I’m Lauren Dummit.

Dr. Kate: Our guests today are Dr. Daniel Moghadam, owner of Modern Aesthetica in Santa Monica and Dan Griffin author and international expert on men’s issues and masculinity in the 21st century. Thanks so much both of you for joining us and just before we went on break we were talking with Dan Griffin a little bit about the impact on relationships of a lack of confidence or full sense of confidence for men. So Dan, let’s go back to what we were talking about. You were illustrating for us a very clear picture.

Dan: Yeah I think the challenge in relationships is always know where is the safety and how do I feel safe enough to show up authentically because men have so much experience not being able to do that or feeling safe enough to do that or even just simply learning not to do that. It can be challenging and then when we really do start to dip our toes into that we have to be mindful about how that is going to impact our partner. A partner has to be mindful about how they are receiving it and these are skills that men are just not taught and I think women aren’t necessarily taught like how you navigate intimacy within confines or constructs of gender which is so deep in our ideas of life.

Lauren: For the women listening that are hearing you say this about the men, about creating a safe space for their male partner; do you have any suggestions for them on what they can do to create that safe space?

Dan: It’s interesting. One of the projects that I am working on right now is a book called what men will tell you if they weren’t too busy watching TV. It’s a humorous title but I am working on it with a very good friend of mine Dr. Allen Burger and it’s all about us speaking directly to women and trying to share men’s inner our lives. I think the first thing that women can do is let go of the agenda that they have that says: This is how we had supposed to do this, this is how you suppose to show up if you would only do this because as soon as a man hears that it’s like it hits that core shame that not only is there something wrong with me but I am not man enough in this relationship.

Dr. Kate: That’s a really empathetic statement to hear you say that I am running through the interactions I’ve had with men in my life all the time about how I wish they would show up differently. I’m pretty sure that’s why I am divorced right now.

Dan: I hear over and over again women buy my book to give to their husbands and I am always like please just invite them to look at it or maybe first kind of share what you got out of it for you that gave you insights into him rather than anything that is received or could be received. Is there something wrong with him or that you know how to fix him. Who likes that? Nobody wants somebody to come to them in that space. Quite honestly that’s one of the woman rules.

Dr. Kate: Which rule? There is so many of what you just said.

Dan: It’s hard to talk about the man rules without talking about the woman rules. One of the woman rules is you have to be the expert on intimacy and relationships. The other is that you have to care take everybody of course other than yourself. The other is that you’re responsible to fix anything that’s not working in a relationship and so you have to have that answer.

Dr. Kate: Which again brings us back to that double bind that you mentioned earlier. My experience in working with couples is that often times one partner is identified as the person who needs fixing, I heteronormative relationships, often the man and the woman is identified as the fixer. There is this interesting dichotomy where the person who is identified as needing fixing is often looking to the fixer for help and guidance and then resents it when it comes at them because it does fit at that core shame wound and that experience of I am not good enough, I am not man enough that you were mentioning. So then the very person that they come to for help or with an expectation of healing then becomes the enemy. The men and women I work with become so polarized in their efforts to understand each other and create safety.

Dan: That is so well said and I see it all the time and then that doesn’t need to open up the space for us to talk about the numbers of men with especially in the recovery community but the numbers of men who are the ones, who are actually trying to get their partner into counseling and therapy and that’s just kind of phenomena that we could spend a lot of time on.

Dr. Kate: I want to put this question out to both of you Dan and Dr. Daniel about men and male relationships. Tell us a little bit about your experience in terms of hormone imbalances, male friendships, and testosterone competition. What are you both seeing in your offices around those topics?

Lauren: How do the man rules contribute to male relationships?

Dr. Daniel: I don’t want to speak for Dan but in my office I see a lot of gay men mentality. There is always an alpha and then everyone else falls behind him and I do get groups of friends that come in. So 4 or 5 guys would come in and want their testosterone levels checked and balanced and I do see, I used to think it was false but maybe because I have my own level of self-confidence but there is like an alpha and there is definitely the betas. Whenever the alpha says goes sometimes the betas will come back to the office two days later and like no I don’t really want to do this but I couldn’t say this in front of him. Unfortunately, but guys are much like women our own worst enemy. We compete with each other for no reason to say that we compete and we are better than or bigger than or stronger than or richer than or whatever it may be. Just like women are prettier than or more educated than or have a nicer car. I hate getting to the nicer bag. It’s very similar that’s the funniest part to me is men and women are so similar they don’t realize how similar they are.

Lauren: I think what you are talking about is the difference between looking for external validation versus believing in their inherit worth which I am about real confidence.

Dan: Society just does not still ultimately send a message that says that internal sense of worth and that internal sense of confidence until the women use the women rules as the conduit with their confidence and the man use the man rules conduit to their false confidence. Like Dr. Daniel is saying men will say if I get this car I will be confident, if I get this body shape or if I get this body increase in its size. It’s a constantly moving line because there is no internal connection and so it’s like some of these cartoons with bug’s bunny where he is like I dare you cross this line and then just goes off the cliff. My experience with men because I live in slightly different world, I have been in recovery now for 20+ years I am surrounded by men who like seek to be in community, seek to let go of ego, seek to see each other sources of support and vulnerability and intimacy, seek to be the best fathers they can be and husbands they can be. Many of whom have lend the external confidence to drop to the ground. So many of us can say we had the money, we had the career, we had the prestige, we have the life, we have all of the external stuff and we were suicidal, hopeless, killing ourselves with alcohol and other drugs. We get to come out on the other end and be like we know that it’s a false guide.

Dr. Kate: Dan thanks you so much for saying that. I think our patients and listeners really can resonate with that. I’m curious how can our listeners get a hold of you and learn more about your upcoming works or your books?

Dan: So if I could just a couple of projects that I am working on which I am really excited about, the man rules have kind of become my thing and so I am writing a book called the Man Rule. It will be just a good premier. I am writing a book called How to be an Imperfect Father, The Arts of being an Imperfect Father. The what men would tell you they were too busy watching TV they will be out early next year and then I am working on two curricula, one for fathers and one for men in trauma. All the information and ways to find out more about me can be Dangriffin.com or they can also listen to my Man Rules podcast which is available anywhere podcast are available.

Dr. Kate: Thank you for that. Dr. Daniel how can our listeners hear more about your services and what you can offer for them?

Dr. Daniel: They can visit my website. Its www.modernaesthetica.com or they can just call the office and schedule 3103955055.

Dr. Kate: Great, thank you both so much for being on this episode with us. Lauren I am so glad that we had these two incredibly, talented and conscious men on this episode to talk about confidence with us.

Lauren: Such important information shared today.

Dr. Kate: One of the things that we do at Triune Therapy Group is offer an evening intensive outpatient program for men who are looking to enrich their relationships. It’s our Men Healthy Relationship and it goes from Monday through Thursday, from 6 to 9 pm. This program is really geared for men who are struggling with commitment issues, struggling with infidelity, struggling with any kind of compulsive sexual relational behavior or who have found themselves being accused of any kind of sexual harassment or misconduct in the workplace and really we are looking to help men get in touch with those wounded parts and emerge through them in a way that really manifest internal worth confidence healthy intimacy and all of the growth that we have been talking about on today’s program.

Lauren: Or even for men that are just really struggling with how to be vulnerable in relationships and sometimes that starts with our male friendships.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. Well thank you so much everyone for listening and tuning in today. Please remember to follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Triune Therapy Group and message us with your questions or give us a call at 3109334088 or visit our website Triunetherapy.com to catch this episode again or for more resources and information about mental health and addiction. A big thank you to our guest Dr. Daniel Moghadam and Dan Griffin, we couldn’t do it without you our listeners. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend everyone.

Lauren: Thank you.

FAQ

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.