CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Dr. Phil McGraw
Aired April 29, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KING: Tonight, he's back! Dr. Phil, Oprah's relationship guru is back and ready to talk, answers may be tough to take. You better be ready to listen. We'll take your calls, so get ready. Dr. Phil for the hour, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
One quick note: The Levys will be with us tomorrow night. Their daughter Chandra will be missing one year tomorrow. And on Thursday night a very special hour with Gene Wilder.
Dr. Phillip McGraw, if I have to tell you who he is, you're probably on another planet. Number one "New York Times" bestselling author. The new book, "Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out." There, you see its cover. It has been out 28 weeks and has been number one 28 weeks. He's been appearing every Tuesday on "Oprah" on human relations. Been with us now frequently.
Launches his own national TV show in September. And we may count him a regular around here, as well. He can have daytime, night time, every time with Dr. Phil McGraw. Always good to see you.
DR. PHILLIP MCGRAW, AUTHOR, "SELF MATTERS": Good to see you. See, I get them in the afternoon, then come here. They can never escape me.
KING: You saw your new set today. What's it like?
MCGRAW: Well, I tell you, it's amazing. I have been over at the Paramount lot today. And, as you know, they're producing the show. Oprah is creating it. King World is distributing. And we did the set design over the last couple of months. And it's just amazing how they do that stuff. I just look at it, and they all look the same to me until they show you something really neat.
We're going to deal with a lot of the things that I have always dealt with on the Oprah show, the traditional issues. Marriage, family, life, those sort of things. But we're also going to deal with a lot of topical things. Pulling things from the headlines. And if it's relevant to the viewer, I'm going to ask the hard questions and do some of the things that maybe nobody else is doing.
KING: Glad you said that, so we'll begin this way. Since nations are kind of extensions of people -- I don't mean a nation as an extension of all of us, could we apply anything that you teach and write about to the Middle East? Could you take a Sharon and an Arafat and apply any "Self Matters" concepts?
MCGRAW: Well, Larry, I don't want to be sound grandiose or arrogant about anything like that. Because those are complex problems, and there's such a history behind them that it's --
KING: But it's conflict.
MCGRAW: It is conflict. It's almost overwhelming to think of the different issues. And I don't care -- as my dad used to say no matter how flat you make a pancake, it's got two sides. And I think everything has two sides. But I do believe this, it comes down to rational people coming up with something that can give everybody the most of what they want. And at sometime independent of the history, independent of the region, independent of all the loads that it takes in terms of political things, it comes down to some rational people sitting done and saying enough people have died, enough blood has been shed. Somebody needs to be the calm in the eye of this storm
KING: Has to be a rational person.
MCGRAW: It does. And they got to want it. And I think sometimes we get into these situations where we're trying to negotiate a peace that people don't want, both sides don't want. And that can be difficult. I'm not a politician. I'm not an expert on Middle East. But I tell you what, it comes down to people getting eyeball to eyeball and talking about things that matter for everybody.
KING: Let's discuss some things from "Self Matters." We will of course, be taking your calls. What do you mean by life change?
MCGRAW: Well, that's what I mean. When you ask about the Middle East for example, everybody has a life chain. We're all born into something. Think about it, when you're born your parties parents already have a life going. There's a stream flowing and you're thrown into it. If your dad's a coal miner, you may well be a coal miner. If your mom's a brain surgeon, you might be a brain surgeon. If your mom's a stay-at-home mom, you might do that.
KING: You're liable -- you are going to be their religion.
MCGRAW: That's right, and there's nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I think what happens is a lot of people inherit that and passively accept it without asking themselves, wait a minute. Is this what I would have chosen for me if, at some point in my life people said, you're coming of age, what do you choose? What religion do you choose, what life do you choose, what occupation?
And I ask people to ask themselves this very hard question. Are you doing what you're doing today, because it's what you want to do or are you doing what you're doing today because it's what you did yesterday? It's not what you choose today. It's just what you did yesterday so you say, hey, I'm already doing it. I might as well keep on. In "Self Matters" I talk about the fact that you matter and you need to take care of yourself and ask some of those hard questions.
KING: Aren't there more people today doing what they wanted to do than, say, 20 years ago, when they had jobs they didn't like? Of course there father was a lawyer, they became a lawyer. Isn't there more breaking away?
MCGRAW: We are more transient in some respects. But I tell you what, people say that we are a selfish society, that we've become so self-oriented and all -- selfish. The truth is, I think we are a self-less society, not a selfish society. Because we're so busy now.
Life has picked up the pace. I mean, look at the kids today. I mean, yours will be there very soon. I got a 15-year-old that's got a cell phone, a pager. I mean, I talk to a woman the other day and I asked her where she lived and she said in a white suburban.
Because she goes from taking them to soccer practice to choir practice, to all of these different things. Nobody has or takes time any more to sit back and say, wait a minute, who am I, what do I care about? And so what I challenge people to do in "Self Matters" is say, tell you what; I tell you to ask yourself some hard questions and see what you come up with as answers. You might be startled at who and what you are and how you got there. I know I was. I did what I wrote in the book. I did it. It was the single most transformative experience of my life.
KING: You also discuss a concept called personal truth. Sounds great. Personal truth. Is that different from impersonal truth? Is that different from truth?
MCGRAW: Well, it is. And here's what I'm talking about, Larry. Every one of us, you included. Maybe we'll talk about yours here. I'll be dogging on you before the hour's over. But what --
KING: Staring in your own show already?
MCGRAW: Right here. You're my first guest, buddy. No.
Here's the thing. Every one of us have things that we believe about ourselves when nobody else is looking, nobody else is listening, nobody else is monitoring what we're doing. We believe things about ourself. We put on a social mask, and we put our best foot forward. We go out there and what everybody does is, they compare their reality with everybody else's social mask. And that doesn't work at all.
KING: We're all wearing a mask?
MCGRAW: Oh, everybody wears a mask. We all put our best foot forward. We all try and make a statement, I'm not saying that's bad. Frankly, I go to the mall. I don't want to know everybody's damn problems. Just let me go get my ice cream cone and go home.
So sometimes that's convenient for us. But the truth is, we all have those things that we know about ourselves and those things determine the outcomes in our life. And it comes out when the pressure's on. You are going for that job interview. And if your personal truth is, I'm not as smart as these people, I'm not as good as these other applicants. This isn't me. That's gonna come out because 93 percent of your communications are nonverbal. So your personal truth is going to scream who you really believe you are.
KING: If it's hurting you, though, how do you change your personal truth if that's what you believe? Perception is reality.
MCGRAW: Well, there is no reality, only perception. You are correct. But you can't change what you don't acknowledge. So you got to say, what is it I believe about myself? Instead of denying it, instead of pretending, instead of putting that social mask on, I'm going to acknowledge it and deal with it. And sometimes that's hard, but you got to be willing to ask yourself the hard questions and say, look, if I really don't have confidence, if I really don't like myself, if I really think I'm sitting here at 58 years old and feel like my life is over. I had my shot and I blew it. Then you got to acknowledge that write it down and say, this is something I got to deal with and change.
Now, on the other hand, know that your personal truth can be very positive. I know a lot of people who are genuinely confident. They are very realistic about what their skills and abilities are, they live a balanced life, between work and career, and God and family, and they know it. And so that personal truth gives them the confidence they need to excel in life.
KING: And the question is why do they have it and others don't?
MCGRAW: Yes. And that's the hard thing to get to.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll come right back with Dr. Phillip McGraw, the author of "Self Matters" who launches his own national TV show. Most times it will be aired around the United States on all the NBC, about 3:00, 4:00, late afternoon. Don't go away.
KING: We will, of course, be including your phone calls for Dr. Phil. What would an appearance with Dr. Phil be without phone calls? We'll get to that in a while.
About personal truth we were discussing during the break, my personal truth as I admitted to you is that I'm more comfortable performing than I am off stage. I'd rather do this -- I'm better at this than I am at a cocktail party.
MCGRAW: Yes, and you are in control of this, right?
MCGRAW: You decide who comes. You decide what the questions are going to be. You decide when to take the break. So, you're in control of everything. At a cocktail party, it's kind of like you don't have all of that structure, you don't have all that problems. And it takes one to know one. So, that's how I know. KING: You do the same thing?
MCGRAW: I have confessed, socially, I am painfully shy. I haven't been to a cocktail party in 10 years.
KING: I'm not really shy, but not when I get up to speak.
MCGRAW: Then I went at gun point.
KING: But you're not shy if they ask you to address the cocktail party?
MCGRAW: Absolutely not. You see me out there making small talk, as I said, I'd rather get a root canal. But if the building's on fire, I'm happy to show us the way out.
KING: So what do we do with that knowledge?
MCGRAW: Well, you know, first off, embrace it. I mean, it just may be who you are. But as I've said, everybody -- what I want everybody to do, and what I challenge everybody to do is to say, do you know what your personality is and how you got that particular personality? And as you know, I have said you don't have to analyze your whole life to know that. You have to identify 10 defining moments, seven critical choices and five pivotal people that have written on the slate of who you are.
KING: Ten, seven, five.
MCGRAW: Ten, seven, five.
KING: And when you do that, when you write that down, what does it do for you?
MCGRAW: Well, it's just like the root of a tree. If you identify your 10 defining moments, you can determine how each characteristic of your personality is tied back to one of those moments, because however you are, whether you're shy, whether you're extroverted, whether you're aggressive or passive, I'll promise you that came through one of those 10 defining moments.
Something happened in your life that caused you to be just that way. And when I looked at my personality, which is very straightforward, very direct, I went back and I found very specific defining moments in my life that I know exactly why I'm the way I am.
KING: And how does that help you?
MCGRAW: It helps me because I know if it's something I want to keep, then that's a good thing. I know where it came from. I know its origin and I can keep it. If it's something I don't like, if it's something that maybe I'm a people pleaser, maybe I'm telling everybody what they want to hear. I don't ever stand up for myself. If I trace it back to a time that I did that and got burned, it didn't work, then I can say, I now know the origin of that and that goes on the top of my to-do list. I'll get emotional closure on that issue and that characteristic will resolve.
KING: So you tell people -- let's go over it again. What should they do? List the 10 --
MCGRAW: You've got to go back through your life. Listen, if you're 50 years old, I mean, you've lived 16, 17,000 days. I mean, that's a lot. But you don't have to do that. Just find the 10 defining moments in your life. And in "Self Matters," I break it down to childhood and adolescence and early adulthood and your marriage and later in life, what are those 10 moments that changed you in a lasting way? You were one way before it occurred and another way after it occurred, and that change was lasting.
Then look at the seven critical choices. I mean, what have you done in your life, really brilliant choices or really dumb choices? Maybe you married the wrong woman. You decided to get this job instead of go to college. You decided to drive while you were drinking. You decided to do some dumb things. Or you made some really smart things. Maybe it was a spiritual step you took, or it was owning up to something you needed to own up to. And then finding out who are the five pivotal people in your life. For example, let's say that you're dealing with a woman that has been molested by a trusted man early in her life. Sadly, that's a pivotal person in her life. That person has written very tragically and sadly...
KING: An evil person can be pivotal in your life.
MCGRAW: That's right. And so you have got to say I feel like damaged goods here. I feel like I don't have anything good to offer. I'm unclean and impure. That's because of what he did to me and I want my power back. I'm not going to live that way.
KING: What do you mean by authentic self versus personal self?
MCGRAW: It's doing what you truly, truly want and need to do. I believe every one of us is uniquely skilled. I believe every one of us has certain characteristics. I can't sing. I can't dance. I can't draw a straight line. I have no artistic ability whatsoever.
But there are things that I am good at, things that I have developed across time. Analyzing things in a fast hurry is one of them. So if that's what I'm good at and I find a way to do that in my life, then that's authentically who I am. If on the other hand, I'm trying to be somebody I'm now because what my mom wants me to do or what the world wants me to do, then that's a fictional life. And it takes so much energy to deny who you really are and pretend to be somebody you are not. It drains your life energy and there's nothing left.
KING: How do you react when psychiatrists and others say, oh, Dr. Phil, that's pop stuff? That's easy to say and he's very glib and he's very good at saying it, but strong emotional problems, they are core problems. They're not solved with reading a book.
MCGRAW: Well, first off, you'd be amazed how much I agree with what they say sometimes, because sometimes there are problems that are terribly, terribly complex. So I would embrace their ideology in that regard many times.
On the other hand, I believe that anything someone can responsibly, maturely and sincerely do to heighten people's awareness about their ability to control their quality of life, about their ability to take charge of their life. And I don't care if I'm talking about post partem depression or I'm talking about anxiety attacks or I'm talking about problems in marriage, I guarantee you I can do more to raise the awareness on those issues in an hour talking to 10 million people than a psychiatrist or psychologist well intended and hard-working do in an entire career.
Do I take the people as far as someone who's doing regular therapy with them on a regular basis? Of course not. But I am not under the misapprehension that I'm doing eight-minute cures. What I'm doing is taking examples in people's lives that others can see themselves in and becoming an emotional compass for those people. If you come on the show and I'm talking to you about your fear of rejection or your anxieties about asking for more in this world and I deal with that, I'm going to point you in a direction and ask you some hard questions, give you some things to consider. The real work starts when you get through talking to me, many times. And so, I don't think I'm curing people. I think I'm waking them up.
KING: And you're saying you can do the real work? You can apply and do the real work no matter what the defining moment was that made you the way you were.
MCGRAW: You can. And the idea that in order to get your life in order, you've got to go find yourself a therapist and pay him $180 an hour three times a week for five years is offensive to my sensibilities. I don't think you have to do that.
Now, there are some situations where that ain't enough. But there are many situations where, if you'll give people a good, thoughtful book that is a guide, it's a manual to dealing with those things, they can take that and in the privacy of their own home, at their own pace, they can do a good job of doing it.
KING: More with Dr. Phil McGraw. Dr. Phil starts his own TV show September 9. By the way, we mention it's on all the NBC (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's also on many CBS stations, ABC stations, independents. He's all over the place. There are well up over 160 affiliates already. They'll cover the country by the time they go on the air. We'll be right back.
KING: Our guest is my man, Dr. Phil. Somebody's definition of insanity once was repeating the same act that has befallen you in the past, expecting a different result.
KING: Why are, by that definition, are so many people insane?
MCGRAW: Because we got a world full of right fighters. I call them right fighters.
KING: Right fighters. I thought you were going to say something else.
MCGRAW: They want to be right. I mean, everybody wants to be right. And we trust ourselves, so we think, hey, I got this figured out. Fathers do it terribly. They'll say to their kid, you need to not drink and get home on time. Why? Because I'm your father and I said so, that's why. Well, you're right. You are your father and you are the man in authority. But how is that working for you? I mean, if the kid's got nine piercings, four tattoos and is coming in three hours late and telling you to kiss his foot or something else, it's not working. But we continue to do it. I talk about...
KING: The question is why?
MCGRAW: Because we are so rigid, we get committed to what we know and feel like if we give that up, if we give up what we think we know, then we're venturing into some unknown. And sometimes things that don't work are like not very good old friends. They're not a good friend, but they're an old friend. It's familiar. I'm going to do what my dad did. I'm going to do what my mother did. That's just the way we are. And I think that is incredibly stupid. And I have done it in my life. I'll bet you've done it and then finally...
KING: How about this morning?
MCGRAW: So finally, we change, but it's like we just beat our head against the wall until it's a bloody nub, and then somebody comes along and says, have you noticed that's not working? Move. Do something different.
And so, I think it's just a matter of habit. But, you know, people talk about breaking habits. You don't break habits. What you do is replace one behavior with a new behavior because if you just stop doing it, and you don't put anything in it's place, it will come back. You got to be willing to learn. That's why there's an old saying that psychology works best for those who need it least. You know, the more screwed up you are, the more rigid you are, the more backed-up you are, the more your ears are shut and you won't listen and you won't hear. So I think we have to decide that we create our own results in this life, which is why I said self matters. You matter in the outcomes of your life.
KING: Do you think you can apply any of this to like alcohol addiction or is that another ballpark?
MCGRAW: Well, I think that there's one thing that I have seen as a common denominator over 30 years of working with people, and that is whether I'm dealing with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, food addiction, anxiety, depression, divorce, whatever, the common denominator is a lack of self. It's a lack of knowing who you are. Why else would you go taking drug and alcohol if you weren't looking for something that was a void in you? You're looking to fill a void.
And I always say, I am a huge fan of Alcoholics Anonymous. I'm a huge fan of Narcotics Anonymous. I think those are fabulous programs because they're action-oriented and they hold people accountable. And they say, you don't cure this, you manage it. You know, one of my life laws is life is managed, it's not cured. And so I'm a huge fan of that.
I'm very careful to not oversimplify addiction. I think people often just want to tell people, look, you just need to toughen up, buck up and get over that. It's not that simple. I have seen a lot of white-knuckle sober folks, you know, they are just like, I'm sober for 19 days in a row. But they're white-knuckling. They're not really dealing with the issues. And I think, again, if I can do things to wake people up, give them a wake-up call and say, don't settle for this in your life, there is a way to get out of this. Am I going to give them an answer to alcoholism or addiction in a few minutes on television? No. But if I can drive some of them to therapy, to AA, to something that will change for them, then that's a good thing.
KING: A cardiologist can have heart trouble. Is there anything about you you want to change?
MCGRAW: Oh, how much time we got?
MCGRAW: But my wife's going to be one of the call-ins here. I forgot to call her before the show, so, hi, Robin.
KING: So you can help while still there are areas of yourself that need help?
MCGRAW: Why, sure. Haven't you ever heard the old adage, the wounded healer?
KING: Sure. So, why is so it difficult for you?
MCGRAW: Well, it's less difficult all the time. I struggle -- there are things I struggle with. One is working too much. I struggle with keeping a balance in my life because I get so busy and I'm not good at saying no. I'm just not good at saying no. So I get real busy, and next thing I know, I look up and I'm not investing what I need to at home or with the children or whatever and I have to bring myself back. That's why I say life is managed, it's not cured. I'm also terribly impatient. You know, I have got an agenda. I want everybody to keep it.
KING: Me, too.
MCGRAW: And the truth is not everybody's on your agenda. And just because it's yours doesn't mean it's right.
KING: Isn't no the hardest word to say?
MCGRAW: It is for me because...
KING: It is for a lot of people. MCGRAW: I like to feel like I can help. I like to feel like I have got something to contribute. And it's a short step between feeling like you've got something to contribute and thinking the whole world stays on its axis because of you. And, you know, it goes from caring to arrogance real quickly. And so I have to really work at saying, look, you can say no. The world ain't going to fall off its axis. Just calm down, go home, shut up. You'll be all right.
So I have to talk to myself that way sometimes because I want to do it all. I want to do everything. And I admit that. I have to struggle with that every day. But I'm getting better at it, and even my wife will say I'm getting better at it.
KING: Do you pinch yourself over your success?
MCGRAW: There are days that I find it very humbling. You know, you'll go out and do an event somewhere and you got thousands of people there and they're all so nice and so supportive. And you -- it's very humbling.
You know, I have kind of a spontaneous delivery style. You know, I'm kind of quick-lipped. They didn't call me "Quick Draw" McGraw for nothing. You know, but I'll tell you what, that's my delivery style. The truth is I weigh very carefully the things I say before I say them. People ask me sometimes how long did you prepare to talk to this guest, you know, and the truth may be several hours. But the real answer is 30 years and several hours.
KING: Well said.
MCGRAW: So, I take very seriously the things I say.
KING: We'll go to break. And when we come back, we'll take your phone calls for Dr. Phil McGraw. The book, of course, is "Self Matters." He launches his own national TV show in September. He's a regular on "Oprah." Going to be a regular around here too because we love him.
Tomorrow night, the Levys. It's the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Chandra. The Levys will be with us and that tragic story. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE with Dr. Phil. Tacoma, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Dr. Phil. This is Lisa. I just turned 36. I'm still single and I have been dating a guy for nine months who I'm absolutely crazy about. He isn't crazy about me. I'm having a difficult time moving on. The men who are interested in me I'm usually not attracted to and the ones I end up falling for are guys that dot want me. How can I attract someone where the feelings are going to be mutual on both sides?
MCGRAW: First off, let me say, you are out of this relationship? Is that what you're telling me?
CALLER: I'm having a real tough time keeping myself from calling him.
MCGRAW: Well, let me help you with that, OK. If the boy's got to talk himself into being with you, or if you got to talk him into being with you, you don't want any part of that. Think about that. If you call him and you talked him into it, he said, all right, I'll come over and be with you, or I'll even marry you. That is nuts. You don't want that. You don't want to get hooked up with somebody unless they're willing to climb every mountain, swim every stream.
KING: What does she do with the pain? Or what does she do that she keeps finding them that she likes, and the men that like her repetitive?
MCGRAW: You got to ask yourself what's your payoff for doing that, OK? You're saying I only attract those that don't like me and I don't attract the ones I like. That's no accident. You're getting a payoff for that and you need to ask yourself what the payoff is. Maybe it's that you feel safe, that you know it isn't going to go anywhere.
Maybe you don't really want to get involved and make the commitment. I don't know. I'm not going to try to guess what your payoff is, but I will tell you there is one. Because you don't do anything over and over and over again in this life unless you're getting some payoff for it. Do you follow what I'm saying.
MCGRAW: How many times have you stuck your hand in a blender? That doesn't work very well, does it?
MCGRAW: That's like one trial learning. You wouldn't do that but once because you would say that didn't work. I didn't get anything out of that. You are getting a payoff for this or you wouldn't do it.
You just need to ask yourself what the payoff is and deny yourself that payoff. Obviously, I mean, you're a young, healthy, caring woman, so the fact that somebody's not going to plug into you has got to be something you're doing.
KING: It's not a direct comparison -- you're a criminal and you keep doing crimes. Your payoff is you must get some sort of kick out of that.
MCGRAW: Absolutely. You get a kick out of it or you wouldn't do it. You either get the reward of what you stole or you get the thrill, you get the high. You get something or you wouldn't do it.
KING: You to admit that to yourself. That's why I'm doing it.
MCGRAW: That's exactly right.
KING: Ottawa, Ontario, for Dr. Phil. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Phil -- Hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Phil. I'm calling because my 17-year-old son tried to murder my daughter in December. Thank god now she's well. But now that she's on the road to recovery, I'm frozen in time. I can't seem to be able to do anything.
KING: How old is your daughter?
CALLER: She's 14.
KING: What is he doing, your boy, who attempted this?
CALLER: He's waiting trial in jail.
MCGRAW: So he's off the street?
CALLER: Yes, he is. And my daughter, I was told if I had come home ten minutes later, she would have been dead.
MCGRAW: OK, so what is it that's got you paralyzed? Are you playing what if?
CALLER: I think so.
MCGRAW: Why didn't I see this? What if I had come home later?
MCGRAW: You're replaying all of this in your head?
MCGRAW: Let me tell you, what could have happened did. OK, what could have happened did. You can go back -- how many times have we stood around and say, if I had only turned left instead of right. Or if I had just done this instead of that.
Not even God can change what has happened. All you can do now is realize that you've got to start doing some things that put one foot in front of the other. And if you ever get stuck like you are, anybody out there that's in paralysis, stuck, I tell you, the thing that will unstick you the quickest is to start giving. To start doing. To start ministering in some way to someone else.
If you're empty -- it's kind of a contradiction, but if you're empty inside, start giving to others. The more you give away, the more you fill yourself up. Your son is obviously very disturbed. Don't know any of the facts. Don't need to know. The fact that he tried to kill his little sister is a bad clue. He's not all right. You got him off the street, which means at least she and you are not in danger at this point. But this is not going to be a simple thing for your daughter to live with.
You need to start asking yourself and everybody you can find, what can I do to help her? And that will help you. Go see your minister. Go see a counselor. Go to trusted family members and talk this out. Don't pretend it didn't happen. But also don't just sit there in paralysis. Start finding what you can do to help your daughter live her life and it will fill you up.
KING: Cedar Falls, Iowa, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Phil. I have been dating a wonderful man for the last little over a year and I have grown to respect and love him very much. And just recently I asked him if he could see our relationship going forward to the next level. And he had a couple of particularly painful rejections in the past and his answer to me was, yes, I could see us going to that next step, but take its me longer to get there than most people.
And he said, I completely understand if you feel like you need to move on, but I think I'll get there some day and maybe it could be you who would take me there. I don't know. My question, how long is too long to wait?
MCGRAW: Well, listen. That depends on you. Let me give you some criteria to follow that might help you. First, as I said to a caller before, you don't want to have to talk anybody into it. If you got to talk him into it, you don't want him. Trust me, you don't.
Secondly, that doesn't mean don't be patient. But the thing I want folks to understand is, there is no neutrality in a relationship. You're either contributing to the relationship or you're contaminating the relationship. And when people come out of a prior relationship in which they have been hurt or damaged in some way, and they've not resolved that, they've not worked through it, they've not gotten emotional closure on that pain that they've dealt with, then they drag that into the current relationship and contaminate that relationship.
You are hooked up with a carrier -- what I call a carrier. Somebody that is bringing pain into the relationship and creating a problem. How long is long enough? As long as he is willing to work and make progress towards resolving it in an earnest fashion. Talking with you about it. Let me tell you, he's got to do two or three things, and write these down.
No. 1, he's got to do an autopsy on the relationship he's been in that is gone. What happened, where did the wheels come off? Did I invest too much and lose? What happened? He's got to be willing to do that. Secondly, he's got to come up with a plan he can show you to resolve it. Listen, everybody says time heals all wounds. Time doesn't heal a damn thing. What time does is a function of what you do with that time. He could sit there for five years not dealing with this and not be one inch further than he is right now.
If he's willing to work on it and can show you a plan to get resolution, be patient. If he can't, head on out and find somebody who will. KING: We'll be back with more of Dr. Phil. Tells it -- why don't you try to be a little more direct.
MCGRAW: All right.
KING: This wish-washy stuff. Geez. Back with more after this.
KING: We're back with Dr. Phil. No. 1 "New York Times" best selling author. The book "Self Matters, Creating Your Life From The Inside Out." Experts on human relations for Oprah. Launches his own national TV show in September. Debuts September 9, I believe. One of the good guys. Also going to host this show one night. We'll let you know the night. You're looking forward to that.
MCGRAW: I think that sounds like fun. Do I have to wear the suspenders?
KING: No, you don't have to.
MCGRAW: Can I do my Larry impression?
KING: Let me hear it.
MCGRAW: I like it when you're talking about the weather and out of the blue, religion. Tell me about religion. OK, thanks for the warning. Are you nuts?
KING: You'll be seeing him sitting in this chair. He's also going to be a regular guest here. He's consumed the daytimes with Oprah. Going to have the daytimes on his own. He'll be with us once a month. Next thing we got to get for him is a morning gig.
MCGRAW: That's right.
KING: If we could find a morning show for you, we will accomplish everything. Because you help a lot of people.
MCGRAW: Thanks. I appreciate it.
KING: Madison, Wisconsin, with Dr. Phil. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Phil, I need your advice. I'm smart, attractive, I'm friendly, I'm active. And I end up answering personal ads just to get dates. So what advice can you give me on meeting nice men?
MCGRAW: What are you doing to meet them now?
CALLER: What am I doing?
MCGRAW: How do you meet them if you don't do the personal ads. What do you do when you get up in the morning?
CALLER: Well, I go to work. MCGRAW: OK, what do you do when you get off work?
CALLER: I'll go to book stores. I'll go to things that are happening around town.
KING: Do you meet any men at work?
CALLER: No, I haven't yet.
MCGRAW: Where do you work?
CALLER: Where do I work?
KING: What kind of work do you do?
MCGRAW: I don't mean give me the address. Are you a like a nun or something?
CALLER: No, I work in the student loan industry in a company of over 500 people.
MCGRAW: So there are men there?
CALLER: Yes, there are.
MCGRAW: But you haven't met any of them?
CALLER: Sure, I have met them but haven't dated any.
CALLER: Why? No one's asked me.
MCGRAW: Nobody's asked you.
KING: But you're pretty and bright, right?
KING: OK. Obviously something's wrong. Because if you are pretty and bright and in a company with 500 people and probably at least 100 or more of them are men, then I would think people would be noticing you. Unless you are making a statement with your demeanor, your conduct, your appearance that is different than what you're telling me now.
You're saying I want too meet somebody. I want to go out with them. You're obviously putting out some kind of message that says stay away from me, don't approach me. Let me tell you, everybody makes a statement. They make a statement with their appearance. They make a statement with their tone of voice. They make a statement with putting their head down. I had a very similar question recently from a woman and after I really broke down her day it was apparent to me that in order for somebody to meet her, they would have had to have thrown themselves on the hood of her car between office, work, kids, all these different things. You got to ask yourself what kind of message am I putting out. If you're telling me the truth, men are visually stimulated. Men are very different than women. The brains are wired up very differently. Men are visually stimulated first. Women are not, but men are. If you're attractive and you're there, you got to be putting out something visually that says, danger zone, don't approach her.
So you know what you should do? Find some men that you know and trust that are just friends and ask them the question. Say don't tell me what I want to hear. I want to know what it is about me that sends a message, stay away. I'll promise you, you're making a statement that says stay away.
KING: So the fault goes back to you. You do that a lot, where you turn it around. It ain't the men, it's her.
MCGRAW: Sure. It's sure not the men. Let me tell you, there's enough hound dogs out there that they're going to be around there for sure. And you got to ask yourself, the only person you control in this world is you. You can influence others. You can inspire others, you can do what you want to to encourage others. But the only person you control is you.
KING: It has been said that it's not the event, it's your reaction to the event. A house could burn down, my house could burn and I react completely differently than if your house burns.
MCGRAW: Of course.
KING: What about a tragedy like 9/11 dealing with that. Families that have to deal with that, where they see it on television, how do you deal with that kind of loss?
MCGRAW: Well, I tell you...
KING: Where a country loses.
MCGRAW: I talk in "Self Matters" about defining moments; 9/11 was the only event I have ever seen that I would call a collective defining moment for an entire nation.
KING: We all experienced it.
MCGRAW: Everybody experienced it at some different level. It changed us in a lasting way. People wonder how short our memories are. They're not as short as everybody thinks they are. It does affect us, and what you have to do is you have to learn to live with loss. And the whole country, whether we lost someone in 9/11 or not, has gone through a period of mourning.
You go through a period of mourning, a loss of Americans, people that you feel a connection to. A loss of a way of life. A loss of innocence and an era as cliche-ik as that may sound, it changed. We were very sad about that and we've gone through a period. What you do is you adjust to a new normal. I got to tired of hearing politicians step up and say we've got to get back to normal. You know what? Normal was gone. What we had to do was get back to a new normal. Create a new normal and live with it in that way.
KING: Back with more of Dr. Phil on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.
KING: We're back with Dr. Phil. Levys tomorrow night. Thursday night, Gene Wilder. Extraordinary. Gene wilder Thursday. Virginia Beach, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Dr. Phil, hi, Larry. Dr. Phil, I'd like to know when identifying your five pivotal people, if one of them or more than one of them was abusive to you as a child, sexual abuse, and you're now an adult, and you want to live your life authentically and move on, but these people are still in your life, how do you do that?
MCGRAW: Well, first off when you say they're in your life, are these people that are in your circle, they're still interact with you at like family events or community things where you have to see them?
CALLER: Yes, father, brother, cousin...
KING: All sexually molested you?
MCGRAW: Well, let me tell you, I want to answer this in a couple of ways. First off, I don't want to say anything that would trivialize what has happened to you. And there's not anything I can say in 30 or 45 seconds here that's going to be a real stepping stone for you and getting that through. And to do so would trivialize the problem. This is a terrible thing that you've undergone.
But let me tell you what your goal is, and then I'm going to give you an assignment to work on. Your goal here is, you've got to identify what I call your MER -- your Minimal Effective Response. What is the least thing you can do that allows you to get emotional closure on your problem?
What's the least thing you can do? And when I say the least thing you can do, I mean, I don't want you to overkill the situation. If you don't have to blow up your whole life and your whole family in order to get yourself where you need to be, then you don't want to do that. If you do, and these people have aggressed against you in that way, that horrible exploitive, tragic way, then you do what it takes for you to get closure on that.
Let me give you a few examples. Some women have told me, I need to write a letter to the person that did this to me, because I need to know that they know that I know what they did and I know what it did to me. Some women will say, that was very cathartic for me. I didn't need to mail the letter I just needed to write it so I gave a voice to my feelings.
KING: What do you want her to do?
MCGRAW: Others have said I need to write the letter. Others have said, I need to call the police and get him picked up. What I want you to do is decide that your goal is, I'm not going to live with this the rest of my life. I am going to get emotional closure and I want you to write the name of each person that molested you and I want you to start writing down the possible alternatives that you can pursue, whether it's confronting them, writing them a letter, turning them into the police, telling your other family members. Whatever it is.
Write those things down and see which one feels right and which one you believe will deliver you to emotional closure. No. 1, give yourself the right to do it. No. 2, identify the responses that are possible for you and then seize one of those.
KING: Pretty bright guy. Spencer, West Virginia, hello.
KING: Go ahead, Spencer. Turn your TV down. Speak up. We got limited time.
CALLER: This is Spencer, West Virginia.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: My question to Dr. Phil is, you always are sort of a stoic person, but do you ever, after your programs or during your programs, stop and cry?
MCGRAW: Let me tell you.
KING: Good question.
MCGRAW: That is a good question. And I have...
KING: We have a minute and ten seconds.
MCGRAW: I have said a million times we've been socialized in America that big boys don't cry. But men do. And absolutely I have those feelings, and absolutely I allow myself to emote and do that. The reason you don't see me do that oftentimes on television when I'm in the middle of something is what people need at that point is leadership.
They can cry with their mom. They can cry with their sister or their brother. It's like if I found you in the forest in a deep dark hole. I can't help you by jumping down there with you in that deep, dark hole, that emotional hole. What I got to do is stay rational, stay up on ground where I can move around, go get help, get a rope, get a ladder. I got to stay focused and rational. So sometimes I deny myself that. But let me tell you, when I have done my job, it is sometimes a heavy, heavy burden and one that I don't run from.
KING: Always great.
MCGRAW: Larry, thanks.
KING: Dr. Phil. You'll see him in this chair, you will see him as a regular guest here and you will see him on his own show starting in September. He's with Oprah every Tuesday. Dr. Phil McGraw. the book is "Self Matters: Creating Your Life From The Inside Out." We'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, the Levy's the parents of Chandra Levy. One year ago tomorrow was the last time anyone saw Chandra Levy. The Levys tomorrow night. On Thursday night Gene Wilder is the special guest, and Friday night, a tribute to Jackie Gleason and "The Honeymooners."
NEWSNIGHT is next with Aaron Brown in New York kicking off another great week of programming -- Aaron.
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