“The Secrets of Personal Empowerment” Comments, Page 1

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21 Comments (7 Discussion Threads) on “The Secrets of Personal Empowerment”

  1. I think some people have difficulties with this because they live in self-denial of reality as it is. They are prone to fall into self-deception and they unconsciously choose to buy into a manipulator’s excuses. That’s why when we ask our friends for advice they usually advice us to get a “reality check.”

    1. Mariana, I think you’re right about denial. I chose to ignore someone’s behaviour as I thought “I needed someone there”. I recently ended it with my ex. He was controlling, manipulative, and had physically shoved me around in the past. The final straw was when my mother was dying he kept going on about my behaviour (which was generally fine, apart from when he drove me mad), and wouldn’t be there for me (he was also very needy and I couldn’t deal with that while I was grieving).

      I finally told him his I couldn’t support him and that this was a time I really needed him to be there for me. I’d also mentioned that love is an action…. he then ended it with me. I guess at least I’m better off without him! I think subconsciously, I knew as soon as I set boundaries he’d be off. He’d always excused his behaviour on his horrific childhood, saying “this is why I do this”. I think it’s an excuse, and a poor one at that.

    2. Hi, Mariana. Certainly neurotic “denial” is a factor. Conscientious people who like to think good of everyone have a hard time reconciling malicious intent or irresponsible behavior. This sets them up for denial of the obvious. But one can’t forget the unfortunate legacy of traditional psychology that for many, many years promulgated the tenets that 90 percent of behavior is unconscious, that people are really more afraid, vulnerable, and needy, underneath the facade of their behavior which is just a cover up for their insecurities, and that to really understand the truer purpose to their behavior we had to understand their truer, deeper motivations. What a setup! Especially when the BEHAVIOR is the problem!

  2. I think the hardest part for me was trying to work out if my ex actually realised what they were doing e.g manipulating/lying. They’d lie and say “you did this” or “I thought you did that so that’s why I did it”, I’d end up confused thinking “maybe that’s what they really think”. Towards the end though I do believe they really did know, and were just lying to try and get away with it. As a couple of times I stood my ground, and they’d admit it. But then try the same lie later.

    The impression management comment of disturbed characters rings true for me too. When we split up my ex said “don’t go saying bad things about me all over town”. I have only a couple of friends as not lived here long, I was puzzled as to why he’d say that. Realise now he wanted to put across this image of being a “good guy”, not just to me but to others around.

    Thank you for these articles Dr Simon, I’m finding them very useful in looking at some of the people I’ve been with. The no excuses is something I’ll definitely bear in mind.

    1. Thanks, Ellie. I’ve heard similar comments many times. That’s why appropriate labeling of the behaviors and tactics is so important. We come to these situations with many pre-conceived notions about what must be making someone act the way they do, and many of those pre-conceptions arise out of the tenets of traditional psychology. So, even though our gut tells us that we might be being played, we second-guess ourselves and never think to confront. The first time we decide to go with our gut and confront them and then they fess-up, we’re not only a bit shocked but finally validated and we start to get a whole new picture of why people do the things they do. Empowering, no?

  3. Dr. Simon,
    I do not agree that to understand peoples behaviour is the problematic issue, and I do not agree that this means to end up justifying it. Neither, I agree that the solution will come with “labeling”, but this is a way to put distance, “objetivize”, bring that person from being a “subject” to be an “object”.
    To understand does not mean to justify, but to realize the mechanisms. Still if the outcome is hurtful you can give feed back to the person so that the consequences of their actions can be fully appreciated.

    I read a lot of these kind of drastic “defence” actions, and “recipes” so typical of the “medical enviroment”, so partialized…and to me, it is quite obvious that they come from a bad mentalizing process, with all the respect you deserve.
    Emotions block the mentalizing process. May be this is the case of many counselors that believe in this methods.
    I believe that THIS kind of approach it is among “the most problematic legacies of traditional psychology” as you quoted.
    We are moving now days toward compassion…
    It seems to me that what you call “people with disturbed character” fits an antisocial or border or neurological or organic person, and there will be different means of approach to them.
    But most of all the best approach would be: take them to therapy, give them feed back, weather possitive or negative, or/and if this is the case, reconsider the relationship…
    Alex Olivera

    1. Thanks for your comments, Alex. I’m not sure exactly where you and I might disagree, because lot of what you say I am in total agreement with. I think that in order to understand the context of my remarks in this post, you really have had to have digested the other articles, especially those that carefully define just what character disturbance is and how it differs from other personality anomalies and from neurosis.

      In several of my posts, I also make the point that to understand is not necessarily to excuse. But regarding the harmful legacies of traditional paradigms that were only marginally good at explaining a very limited phenomenon (severe neurosis) and always very poor at explaining non-neurotic phenomenon, I stand by my comments. I cannot count the number of persons I encountered in my research and in my practice whose temptation to over-understand their abuser’s behavior was based upon their adoption of traditional assumptions about the purported fears and insecurities that lied underneath someone’s behavior and then began sliding down the slippery slope of inadvertently excusing the behavior because they were trying so hard to be understanding and empathic. The really bad part about the legacy of the traditional tenets, however, was how many times the presumed motivations for the behaviors turned out to be completely false (e.g. supposed fear of intimacy wasn’t fear of intimacy at all but rather lust for novelty, etc. – and there is a BIG difference) and how few times the traditional explanations had any validity whatsoever. So, for many one-time victims, simply buying into a new framework for understanding human behavior was an eye-opening and empowering experience in itself when it came to understanding and dealing with the disturbed characters in their lives.

      I have no beef with traditional frameworks, provided they’re used and understood withing their limits of validity. I actually work with non-character disturbed people, too, and when I do, I work within those traditional frameworks. But they have no place for me in my work with the character disturbed and I have found that their tenets predispose people to dis-empowering thinking about the nature and character of those that might otherwise abuse or exploit them.

  4. Thank you for writing this. This is what I did after 10 years of being manipulated by my husband. I did it instinctively, awakening to the need for self-preservation. It is good to get validation.

  5. So nice to know I am not crazy! Maybe a little neurotic, but not crazy! I have slowly (painfully so) come to many of the same conclusions you are writing about. What I was taught in school (MS Counseling Psychology), had a profound negitive impact on my personal life, and those I came across professionally. By allowing bad behavior to go unchecked, (all the time searching for some deeper meaning ha!) I fear I hurt more than helped. Lucky for my clients, I went into financial counselling. (Numbers are much harder to manipulate, and they don’t lie). My personal life was not so lucky.

    Your desire to get your ideas to the nation, gives me have a little more hope. I fear there are many like me who have the need to unlearn what we were taught to be true. Bad behavior will continue if those that are commiting the bad behavior are given excuses by those in position to be called “authorities” on the subject. I wonder if you have considered sharing your ideas in a curiculum for teachers? Seems to me that would be the best place to stop the madness.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Kate. Sorry for just now responding.

      And you’re very correct about the enabling done by “authorities” on bad behavior. Actually, teachers were among my best and most receptive audiences when I was actively doing workshops. For now, I’ve had to limit my trainings, seminars and workshops to limited and larger-scale venues.

    1. I hope soon. Dr. Simon’s “in Sheep’s Clothing” book is one of the best books I ever read. I can only think his next book (on Disturbances of Character, I believe) will be just as excellent or even better than his first (if that is possible!)


      PS: Dr. Simon, let us know when it comes out so we can buy it on-line.

    2. Target release date for “Disturbances of Character is June 20. Look for previews and sneak-peek articles online starting then as well as links to the online sellers.

  6. We have been trying to deal with bullying at our children’s school, and we have found that in the case of a bullying teacher, and a bullying child, the first response of the school has been to mitigate the aggressive behaviour through ‘understanding why they did it’. Essentially any discussion then circles around our lack of ‘perspective’ on the issue, and not the behaviour.

    We have found it difficult to approach the principal who is very passive-aggressive, and finds the direct approach to be too confronting. He is always trying to get us to see the aggressor as a good person who means well, but is just having a bad day. Added to this, communication is very bad at this school. Emails, phone calls and notes are frequently left unanswered for days, and we have to keep contacting the school to see what they are doing about our requests.

    We have interviews which end up making us feel like we are the aggressors because we don’t want to discuss the excuses for the bad behaviour. An interesting side effect of this is that we often get lured into mitigating our own responses, and find ourselves looking for some sort of common ground. What happens then is that we walk out of the principals’ office kicking ourselves because we feel we have compromised. He’s happy because he has managed to get us to back down somewhat, on the other hand, nobody gets labelled a bully.

    We are still working on this, but after having read this article, I sent him another email stating our case in no uncertain terms, and what we expect the school to do about it.

    We shall see what eventuates!!!

  7. “When someone engages in a behavior that’s a problem, the reason they do it is irrelevant. If we try too hard to “understand” the behavior, before long we’ll find ourselves excusing it and eventually enabling it. If a behavior is wrong, it needs to be corrected, purely and simply.”

    This may be the understatement of the century. I SO did this for SO many years. Trying to figure out the reasons others’ bad behavior always led me to excuse it. I agree 100% now. Regardless of the reason, if it doesn’t work for me, I don’t accept it. End of story. Another great article, thank you!

  8. Dear Dr.Simon,

    Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the society. I have been recently an victim of Covert-Aggressive person. I wasnt sure whats happening around and I was confused and lost my individuality.After meeting with therapist, reading books written by Ricahrd Nealson and Dr. Phil Nuerenberger and couple of good articles on the internet all the occupied clouds started to clear. (Labelling is most important step to address the solution). It helped me to know more about myself and others. Though I have witnessed overt-aggressive from my childhood and reacting in the same way myself , puts me in embarassing situation. I always wanted to practice polite and be humble and I ,truly admire those who posses them. I havent had guidance what I was looking from long time. Im fortunate to read your articles and assimilate good things. Im working with therapist to overcome my weakness. I would defintely read your book in couple of months and would see myself as a person I wish to be.
    All I need is to practice. Education system all through the world should include Psychology to self-support to handle real life crisis. Next year, Im enrolling to Psychology school and would like to contribute more to the Society.

    Thank you,

  9. Dear Dr. Simon,
    It’s not exaggerating when I say, I’ve been reading your articles, blogs, online solutions just the way I read our Bhagavad Gita – i.e with so much reverence and with the intention to get answers for my relationship problems with my husband who is covertly as well as overtly aggressive. After having spent 35 years with him, and after losing all my strength and stamina to resist him, I’ve been coming out like ‘Phoenix’ out of the ashes.
    Recently i read your Empowerment Tools (I wonder how I missed this topic) and it was such an eye opener that i realized that the call of the day would be to preserve my energy to live through the rest of my life. I’m 60 now. Still, i don’t think it’s too late. I’ve begun stepping on the stairs and am sure if I continue climbing, I’ll certainly reach the place where I’d want to be.
    My son is also very much a victim of his father’s disordered personality. I mailed your articles to him and suggested that he read it as early as possible. He is 28 and developed few mental blocks. I said to him that these tenets of yours will certainly improve his performance at work besides understanding his father better and change his responses accordingly towards him.
    Thanks so much…

    1. Thank you for such kind words. Not only does the validation of my work mean a lot to me but it’s truly touching when someone takes the time to send some validating words along. Stay true to your quest and keep on your path! And think of it not so much as eventually getting there, but actually being just where you need to be, on the lifelong journey of growth, enrichment, empowerment, and awareness.

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