Be Protected from Psychological Manipulation and Not Let them Psych you Out [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_George_Zgourides_Psychological_Self_Defense_Difficult_PeopleGuest: Dr. George Zgourides
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: George D. Zgourides, M.D., Psy.D., is a board-certified family physician and licensed clinical psychologist. His books include DON’T LET THEM PSYCH YOU OUT!, STOP FEELING TIRED! and STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR HEALTH! Dr. Zgourides counsels listeners to recapture their zest for life. Dr. Z’s unique background has led him to reject the medical approach of “a pill for every ill,”focusing instead on lifestyle medicine and the power of the mind to heal the body and build energy. Recommending the best evidence-based approaches to wellness, Dr. Z inspires listeners to bring themselves into balance and experience life as it is meant to be—with mindfulness, vigor, and energy.

Segment overview: Dr. George D. Zgourides, M.D., Psy.D., talks about a powerful technique to master to protect against psychological manipulation and other topics highlighted from his book, DON’T LET THEM PSYCH YOU OUT! Psychological Self-Defense for Dealing with Difficult People (Second Edition).


Health Professional Radio – Psychological Self Defense

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us today. There are a lot of places on the internet that you could be and you chose to be with us and for that I’m really, really grateful. Stress, we hear a lot about stress and if we’re not listening to hear a lot of about stress, stress seems just wear its ugly head no matter what we try to do to dodge the bullet as it were. Stress causes anxiety, stress causes exhaustion, stress causes all sorts of physical illnesses as well as mental illnesses. Our guest in studio is Dr. George Zgourides, he is uniquely credentialed as both a certified Family Physician, certified by the American board of Family Medicine, as well as a Clinical Psychologist and an author. His the author of “Don’t Let Them Psych You Out, Stop Feeling Tired” and another book “Stop Worrying about Your Health.” Now Dr. Zgourides is a very strong opponent of modifying lifestyle to achieve overall wellness as opposed to the common medical approach of taking a pill for that which ills you. How are you doing today Dr. Zgourides?

Dr. George Zgourides: I am doing fantastic. Neal thank you so much for having me back on.

N: I’m really, really glad that you could lend us some more of your time. We were talking in another segment when you were here before about the relationship between exhaustion and stress and how it’s so important to find a balance. A balance of what you need to do in order to perverse this life, and the things that you need to do to calm yourself, to find some peace in those times that you can in such a fast-paced world cause everything is high speed zoom, zoom, zoom.

Z: Yeah.

N: Now you’re a proponent of modifying lifestyle – this fast, high speed lifestyle in order to feel better, in order to regain some of that zest … that you may have felt that it has been drained out of you by everyday life. Now we’re not the only ones that are feeling stressed, we have to deal with others that are feeling the same stressors that we are. I understand dealing with yourself, I understand taking steps that are outlined in another of your books 10 Mind-Body-Spirit Steps to Address Stress, I understand that. But what about when it comes to those who are dealing with the same stressors and the chronic exhaustion that you are? How do two wrongs make a right?

Z: Yes, that’s a great question and what I often find in working with people as well as my own life and life of those that are close to me is that we’re all on this journey together. And so what I also will try to find when looking at someone else and what’s going on with them, I try to put myself in their shoes, the behaviors don’t just come out of nowhere. And so when I’m under a lot of stress and I kind of know what’s going on, and I know how I’m reacting, whatever. But it’s also important to have that insight into the other person. And so when you’ve got somebody that you’re maybe having conflicts with or that might be … very stressed out, it’s very important to be able to put yourself in their shoes and kind of where is that coming from? What’s happening with that person? So you actually literally can by following some of these cognitive techniques, you could literally somebody yelling and insulting you and not become upset at that, but instead be able to look and maybe even ask them like something to defect it, “You sound very upset. What’s really bothering you? What’s going on?” So psychology it often comes out of a processed comment to kind of getting above the conversation and looking at what’s going on. But I think it’s very important for us to be aware of not just what’s inside, like you said.

N: Uh huh.

Z: But also the stresses and the other sorts of things that are going on with those around us.

N: Now you’re a clinical psychologist and you didn’t become so overnight. You trained, you practiced, you practiced on yourself, you practiced on others, you did clinicals, you did all those things to become a clinical psychologist, you did all those things to become a physician. Throughout that process you’ve dealt with people that are difficult, you dealt with people that were stressed out. When you came across this people who were I’ll just say I’ll use “angry,” when you came across this angry people it says that misery loves company. These people can sometimes be manipulative as we can be manipulative when we’re under stressed, when we’re exhausted, when we’re stressed out, and anxious over our health and all the other things that we have to do.

Z: Exactly.

N: When you have to deal with this people that weren’t trained, what types of advice does your book “Don’t Let Them Psych You Out” offer for this? Or I guess that would be a kind of self-defense mechanism, you were talking about getting above the conversation,

Z: Right.

N: Well sometimes getting above the conversation, are you actually above the conversation or are you stopping the urge to bash them by his brains out?

Z: Well probably a little bit of that sometimes too. But fortunately personal insight prevents me from ever taking into that point, and I also break easily so I can’t. (laugh)

N: You don’t want to break your resistance on somebody’s head, no? (Laugh)

Z: Exactly. And you speak of the angry person, that’s probably one of the common things we deal with in terms of difficult people. Your neighbors that are mad about something or a boss that’s upset about your work. We’re coming up on the holidays, it’s here so there is lots and lots and lots of angry interactions with family members that people will unfortunately be experiencing. But again I think being able to keep your own cool and that’s a lot of what the book is about “Don’t Let Them Psych You Out.” It’s really what kind of reflecting on what’s going on inside you and then I offer some techniques for just your average everyday person to be able to take a look at what’s going on inside themselves. But then also some strategies to just kind of not let that stuff out there get in between your ears and I find that generally in life and this is supported also by a lot of Cognitive Psychology Research.

N: Uh huh.

Z: That you really can’t control other people or how they react. You can’t really make somebody not be angry, just like you can’t actually make somebody angry. They’re choosing to be angry, or they’re choosing not to be angry. So there is this a lot of sort of refraining that one can do in order to face the situation that’s come up. And then at that point how offer maybe some verbal comments or some ways to redirect the conversation. There is this lots and lots of different techniques for doing that, but I think that ultimately it’s really about getting inside one’s head, one’s own head and not letting all of the interference out there affect one’s psyche.

N: In a world that is well politically correct, would you say that it’s still safe to say to tell someone to just simply get over it? Or is it much more complexed than that? Is that what’s going on, nobody can just get over it? There has to be a training and self-assessment, and all of these other things, is that what we’re talking about? Just basically breaking down that old fashion term get over it and telling people how to get over it?
Z: Yes, I’ll say there are occasions where it might be appropriate to just say “Yeah, get over it.” “Walk off.” There is just an infinite number of responses one can have to any particular situation just see given what is going on in that, in that case. However I think it’s better to take it steps further, like you’re saying. And not just get over it, but let’s try to get all this to a win-win discussion. What is going on tell me what is happening? Lt’s try to find what’s going on that’s causing this. Look at those process comments, not just what’s going on in the content. And sometimes that you could be successful with that, other times nothing’s gonna help. You have to just make the best decision you can and in terms how to deal with whatever. And if it’s just not going to change in that particular time, that particular situation, I tell people just to remove yourself from the situation. I call it a “time out,” just get out of the situation. Go get some space and kind of rethink how you want to handle things.

N: Now it’s interesting you use the term “time out.” Now you are a husband, right? Are you a father as well?

Z: To a four legged barking child.

N: That absolutely counts, believe me.

Z: It absolutely counts, but I do clarify (laugh)

N: You are an author, you’re a family physician, a family denoting that you deal with the mom, the dad, the kids, the dog, (Laugh)

Z: Many, many…

N: So in your writings, in your books – how much of these or these techniques applicable when we’re talking about the stress that children may experience or their exhaustion because they have lives as well?

Z: Yes. And I believe we’re witnessing an increase in our society of the kinds of pressures you’re mentioning on children. And as a Family Doctor I’m gonna step back and say “Wow, we’ve got kids eating very terribly, okay. Not healthy meals, not healthy lifestyle stuff.” And so kind at one level I would say the physical, the eating, the exercise and all that, that’s kind of one thing that’s setting then the minds to maybe not respond the pressures and stresses as effectively as possible.

N: Uh huh.

Z: But kids are under a ton of pressure. I very much admire parents these days that are raising children in our current culture there is an increase…

N: So much pressure.

Z: How to perform, and to pass tests, and get into the best school. And my wife and I was watching the news today and we’re talking about all this sexting that’s going on with kids. And unfortunately without guidance related to those activities, they might not at that age realize that these kinds of behavior could follow them forever. And so there’s a lot of stress and a lot of pressure, I really do feel for the kids. Now I do have young nieces and nephews and I see what’s going on with them directly as family members but have definitely worked with many parents, and children, and families, both in my medical and psychology practices. And it’s a tough time right now.

N: Absolutely. And it seems to be getting even more tough when the small kids are sent into an environment on a daily basis that says “No one wins the game Johnny. We all just had a great time, there is no score being kept. It doesn’t matter.”

Z: Right.

N: But we’re sending them into the most competitive of environments before they even get into high school. It seems unfair, I mean we’re talking about psychological self-defense and mental manipulation. We’re sending them into the lion’s den, because once they’ve come along they’re people in their 20’s and 30’s whose already figured out that it’s not this none compete world.

Z: Right, exactly. And everybody doesn’t end up with a price at the end of the day. Often we’re seeing in practice a lot of aspects in that and I totally agree with you Neal, I think there’s a ton of stress on young people and a very, very difficult time right now for them.

N: As we wrap up as the author of Don’t Let Them Psych You Out, psychological self-defense for dealing with difficult people in its 2nd edition, available on Amazon and all the major literary outlets including Barns and Noble, and also at your website as well. Could you let us know where your website is?

Z: Great, Neal thanks. It’s

N: Now if we visit your website, in addition to finding information about alleviating stress thereby feeling less tired, and less anxious, and less worried about your health. And also some very helpful hints on how to achieve this wellness to the teenagers, the young adults, when it comes to dealing with stress and letting them know that you’re walking into a situation where you’re going to be bombarded with folks that want to psychologically manipulate you, they want to be angry, they’re stressed out, they’re exhausted and we’ve been at home talking to you about how to deal with yourself. What would you tell this young person, maybe possibly giving them a copy of your book, in addition to telling them, giving them one little nugget of advice to take with them?

Z: The big nugget of advice I would give these young folks is to start to develop that self-confidence to be themselves – to be their own person. So that when these assaults from people that might be trying to manipulate them come in, they feel very grounded and able to deflect anything. At least to give them some time to think about how they might want to respond or how they might want to act in a certain situation, so. And I would also encourage the young people and again I don’t like to sound like an old person, but find a mentor. Find an older person who will maybe show you the ropes on some things, give you some advice, kind of help you not recreate the same kinds of problems, and make the same mistakes that others have made.

N: Yeah. I was told once when I was young to always listen to old people because they didn’t get old being stupid.

Z: True, for some reason they’re still there.

(Both) (laughing)

Z: Exactly.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been an absolutely pleasure talking with Dr. George Zgourides returning with us in studio today.

Z: Thank you so much for having me on.

N: Thank you. We’ve been here talking about some of the ways that you can stop people from psyching you out, not letting misery enjoy company and basically changing your lifestyle in order to feel better pretty much now. It’s been great having you here with us doctor.

Z: Thank you Neal. Looking forward to continuing our conversations.

N: Absolutely, thank you. Transcript and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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