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Book Summary: Mindreader – Find Out What People Really Think, What They Really Want, and Who They Really Are

Mindreader (2022) explains how to read and understand people. Written by an FBI instructor and lie-detection expert, it delves deep into how to understand situational subtext, interpret language, and determine whether a person is being honest.

Book Summary: Mindreader - Find Out What People Really Think, What They Really Want, and Who They Really Are

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: Understand why difficult people are so difficult.
Anxiety makes us fixate on ourselves.
Low self-esteem is easy to spot if you know what to look for.
Emotional resilience is the backbone of a healthy outlook.
Outsize ego is a marker of fear.
Getting caught up in someone’s contamination narrative.
Summary
About the author
Table of Contents
Overview
Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award
Video and Podcast
Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Genres

Psychology, Science, Self Help, Sociology, Relationships, Popular Psychology Personality Study, Communication & Social Skills, Interpersonal Relations

Introduction: Understand why difficult people are so difficult.

Psychotherapist and author David J. Lieberman knows how to spot a liar. And he’s keen to share his knowledge with others, so they can spot liars too. But his skills go far beyond this. In Mindreader, he shares his knowledge on how to read others, how to spot what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.

Yes, a person who’s avoiding eye contact is probably deceiving you; and yes, at the same time, a sociopath can maintain eye contact and lie to you with a straight face; but the real interesting takeaway from Lieberman’s work is an understanding of what’s driving the people you know are dishonest. Or arrogant, boundary-crossing, or just downright unpleasant.

In this summary, we’ll focus on getting beyond the superficial. We’ll find out just how ego and low self-esteem can lead us to act in less-than-ideal ways. And we’ll learn how to spot the hidden clues of low self-esteem.

Spotting people with low self-esteem and understanding why they do what they do and why they act in such ways, will allow you to respond to them with empathy rather than anger or frustration.

Anxiety makes us fixate on ourselves.

If we want to understand what’s going on with other people, it’s easiest to start by looking at ourselves.

First, imagine how you feel when you’re in the zone. Like, deep into your treadmill workout or effortlessly driving a car. You’re moving without thinking, you’re alternating between the brake and the gas, you’re changing lanes automatically.

Now, imagine carrying a hot cup of coffee across the room, one that’s filled to the brim.

Why do you feel so different in each situation?

When in that second situation, your ego is anxious that the hot coffee might spill and burn your hand. So it makes your perspective zero in on that coffee. The anxiety of being under threat means you fixate on yourself.

The same thing happens when you have to drive through a snowstorm or make witty chitchat at a cool party. Suddenly, all those moves you would normally do without thinking become conscious and calculated – you find yourself tightly gripping the wheel . . . or your drink. Simply put, when the stakes are higher psychologically, your anxiety goes up and your perspective narrows.

Anxiety forces you to fixate on yourself; it limits your ability to process what’s going on around you. Have you ever blanked out during a crucial exam or choked during an important interview? In these cases, something that you’ve always done automatically suddenly stops working. You’re too conscious and your cognitive timing is off. That’s anxiety in action.

Anxiety also expresses itself verbally through the use of qualifiers, like “I think” or “I guess.” When using such qualifiers, we end up softening the conviction of what we’re saying.

While all of the above are examples of situational anxiety, they do hint at generally low self-esteem. That’s because when we have low self-esteem, the more stressed out and fearful we tend to become. Let’s look more at low self-esteem in the next section.

Low self-esteem is easy to spot if you know what to look for.

Generally, the happiest among us are those who have emotionally healthy relationships. That’s because being vulnerable and letting people into our lives requires a bit of ego deflation. To have someone come into our lives, we need to make space for them. When someone is fearful or ego-driven, their problems fill up their whole life and their capacity to give love is diminished – there’s simply too little space for anyone else.

Such self-absorption is an example of someone with low self-esteem. And it’s evidence of a deeper emotional pain. Emotional pain leads to self-absorption – just like with physical pain. When you have a headache, it becomes difficult to focus on what someone might be saying to you. Self-absorption is the same and it can express itself through arrogance, self-pity, or trouble empathizing with others’ problems.

So how can you spot someone with this kind of toxic low self-esteem?

Perhaps they’re a constant people pleaser – always saying yes, even when they don’t want to. Or they obstinately always hold their ground, never being willing to admit they’re wrong.

You can look at their relationships with the people around them. Do they have a core group of loyal friends? Are they close to their family? Do they take responsibility for their part in conflicts or do they skew toward resentfulness?

People with low self-esteem usually treat themselves far better than they do others, indulging in their own desires and being stingy with giving. Or if they do give, it’s only to gain someone’s approval. People with healthy self-esteem, on the other hand, tend to nurture their own well-being as well as that of those around them.

There are plenty of other red flags. Does this person treat waiters unkindly? Do they not return items that they borrow, promptly and in good shape? Do they maintain healthy boundaries or are they emotionally needy or controlling? Do they violate social norms by asking embarrassing or inappropriate questions? Do they have trouble accepting no for an answer? And so on. These are all signals that the person is primarily preoccupied with self and oblivious or unable to understand how people are responding to them.

The thing is that all these behaviors do not outright make someone a bad person. Most likely, this manipulative or inappropriate behavior isn’t conscious. Rather, it stems from deep, legitimate emotional pain.

While self-esteem is often used interchangeably with confidence, the two are not the same. While confidence connotes how we might handle a certain situation, self-esteem goes much deeper than that. It’s a measure of how much we love ourselves. For instance, someone might have good self-esteem despite the fact that they’re a bad cook. Likewise, someone who might be a great cook may also have low self-esteem and, by constructing their identity around their cooking ability, be building their whole self-image around it. However, this does not lead to peace of mind since it perpetually requires that they compare themselves to others just to feel any sense of self-worth.

In the next section, we’ll look at emotional resilience.

Emotional resilience is the backbone of a healthy outlook.

Emotional resilience is the ability to deal with stress and adversity while maintaining a healthy mental attitude. This is the difference between people who allow stress to drive them into depression and those who can handle the periodic tribulations of life. And it’s all down to the fact that emotional resilience stems from a healthy self-esteem.

Let’s take a closer look at how ego functions.

The ego has a driving need to understand the unknown and unexplainable. Think less in terms of spiritual matters and more like, Why didn’t she call me back? And, Why didn’t I get that job? Resilience is founded on the admission that questions like this can’t be answered. Like the case of the missed job opportunity. Sure, your ego is obviously hurt and wants to know exactly why you were passed up for the role. But this is something no one will tell you. And honestly, most of the time, it’s something outside of your control. Maybe you said one offhand remark in the interview – not anything you could prepare for.

Resilience calls for letting go and moving on. Ego calls for anger and outrage and self-pity. And the more ego-driven we are, the more we’re convinced that everything in the world is about us. The more convinced we are that we didn’t get the job because we’re inherently unworthy or awful. The more we blame the universe and everything in it for our problems.

Resilience is built by confronting the situation. But these days, it’s all too easy to escape from emotional pain. When the fears and anxieties get too loud upstairs, there’s always doom-scrolling through Twitter or binge-watching Netflix.

The author references terror management theory, which states that people handle anxiety in two ways. If they’re living happy, fulfilled lives, they do so by embracing their values and beliefs. But those who are living less happy lives tend to cope with their anxieties through escapist self-indulgence – anything from food to sex to television. While the latter tends to make things worse, the former actually promotes better resilience in the long run.

But resilience really comes down to how we handle our anxieties. Whether on a date or a job interview, do we accept and respond, react and freak out, or just hide? Predictably, people with high anxiety tend to flee and, over time, serve to reinforce their fears and their low self-esteem in the process.

So when trying to measure someone’s well-being, consider whether they’re balanced and moderate. Or in other words, are they chill?

Outsize ego is a marker of fear.

But why does the ego do what it does?

People with low self-esteem tend to take their frustrations out on the world around them. Whereas a healthy person is able to be authentic and nonjudgmental, the unhealthy person is fixated on themself. And when you see someone focused so much on themself, it tells you a lot about who they truly are.

Think about anger, for example. It’s just an ego-driven response to fear. Anger grants us an illusion of control; it drives our attention outward, away from our fear. But angry people tend to see themselves as victims, of life, of situations, of forces beyond their control. They blame the universe and ask, How could you do this to me? Of course, anger doesn’t really get great results, it mostly leads to discombobulation. Just think of how you’re always more apt to stub your toe when you’re angry.

Whenever we feel emotionally threatened, the ego activates its defense mechanisms such as anger. Our ego does this because, well, who wants to admit their own shortcomings? Who wants to admit that they’re self-serving or slothful or a failure? To avoid this, the ego blames the world around us or works to help us justify our actions.

Smoking is an example of this. While every smoker knows that cigarettes are bad for their health, their ego kicks in to help them practice avoidance, denial, or justification. I could die tomorrow or I don’t want to quit because then I’d gain weight.

And low self-esteem is actually why it’s hard for some people to apologize or forgive. Whether they were wrong or had wrong done to them, they find themselves feeling vulnerable – and to feel stronger, more secure, their ego digs in and prevents them from letting go. In turn, signs of a well-adjusted person are their ability to forgive or apologize quickly. Those who can move on tend to have greater emotional strength.

Getting caught up in someone’s contamination narrative.

So what are some tell-tale signs that someone might be troubled?

First, consider whether the person you’re dealing with tends to react to life calmly. Or do they blow things out of proportion, getting upset over trivial things? For people with poor emotional health, who lack perspective because they’re always focusing on themselves, everything’s a big problem. While having a balanced perspective allows us to see things in their right size, people without a healthy perspective are unable to do the same.

So what is a healthy perspective?

That depends on whether we give our experiences a contamination narrative or a redemption narrative. Those who defer to the contamination narrative see perpetual catastrophe everywhere. One thing goes wrong and then everything’s ruined. LIke a little rain at a picnic. The contamination narrative casts everything in a negative light. The redemption narrative, on the other hand, looks for the silver lining in everything, even when the situation is terrible. And people who can see things through this lens can reframe even traumatic events to find hope in them. For instance, recognizing that their relative passed away with no pain. Predictably, the redemption narrative corresponds with greater well-being.

A person’s speech tends to give away which narrative they’re using – just check the ratio of positive to negative statements. Think of the person who walks into a room and instantly finds something not to their liking. This person’s world is negative – and we can presume that their life lacks joy.

Likewise, speech also gives away a person’s anxiety level. For instance, the frequency with which a person uses dogmatic expressions – everybody, always, totally, etc. Fear and anxiety cause people to want surety and this leads them to see things in black and white absolutes. In contrast, calmer people have an easier time seeing things in a nuanced way.

To spot an absolutist, keep an ear out for abrasive language. They use expletives to intensify their statements and they tend to exaggerate. The car isn’t just in need of repair, it’s totaled, for example.

They also tend to pronounce universal judgments, projecting their opinion onto reality. Take the example, “everyone likes the beach.” These statements also tend to escalate beyond mere judgment. For instance, “Anyone who doesn’t like the beach is so crazy they should be locked up.”

Spot these clues in someone’s language and you’ll have a good chance of understanding their levels of self-esteem – and their happiness.

Summary

Ultimately, the best way to read people is to look for the tell-tale markers of low self-esteem. Do they focus the conversation back to themselves? Do they anchor their personality around one superficial trait? Do they swear a lot and get angry easily?

At the same time, it’s important not to judge based on one isolated incident. We all ebb and flow through highs and lows, but it’s the repeated pattern of behavior that really gives someone away.

About the author

David J. Lieberman, PhD, is a renowned psychotherapist and the author of eleven books, including the New York Times bestsellers Get Anyone to Do Anything and Never Be Lied to Again. He has trained personnel in the U.S. military, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA, and his instructional video is mandatory for psychological operations graduates. He teaches government negotiators, mental health professionals, and Fortune 100 executives, and has appeared as a guest on more than 300 television and radio programs, including the Today show, NPR, The Howard Stern Show, and The View.

David J. Lieberman | Website
David J. Lieberman | LinkedIn

David J. Lieberman

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part I Subconscious Reveals 1

Chapter 1 What They Really Think 3
Discover what someone really thinks-even thoughts that lie deep in their subconscious mind-no matter what they say or do.

Chapter 2 How a Person Sees and Feels about Other People 12
Find out how a person really feels about those in their life-whom they feel close to, whom they admire, and whom they secretly despise.

Chapter 3 Close Encounters 20
Learn how to tell if any conversation, interaction, or new relationship is going your way or the other way. Is the other person just being polite, or are they genuinely interested and engaged?

Chapter 4 Relationship Status and Power 28
Who is holding all the cards? Regardless of what anyone claims, you’ll know whether a person feels in control or insecure within any relationship.

Chapter 5 Reading the Mood 35
Feelings of anger and anxiety leak out through seemingly kind and benign language and gestures. Decode the signs of hidden emotions to know what people are feeling, despite how they appear.

Part II The Human Lie Detector 49

Chapter 6 Assessing Honesty and Integrity 51
Whenever you’re speaking with a suspect, coworker, or new acquaintance, find out if they’re going to be open and honest, or guarded and deceitful.

Chapter 7 The Art of Reading the Bluff 60
They make a threat, to walk out or to sue; they make a claim, to expose you or to protect you. Instantly know if they are just blowing smoke out of desperation or making a declaration of true intention.

Chapter 8 Making Up Stories: Alibis and Lullabies 68
Quickly determine whether someone’s account of any incident or experience is the absolute truth or nothing but a complete work of fiction.

Chapter 9 Tricks of the Trade 81
See through the psychological tactics used by master manipulators and con artists to get rational people to behave in utterly irrational ways.

Part III Taking a Psychological Snapshot 91

Chapter 10 A Peek into Personality and Mental Health 93
Find out whether anyone you meet-a potential hire, blind date, or new babysitter-has an easygoing and agreeable nature or is a force of nature just waiting to be unleashed.

Chapter 11 Narrative Identity: Reading Hearts and Souls 106

We all have a narrative that explains “who I am and why I am.” Because human beings don’t easily go off-script, once you know their story, you’ll not only know what they’re thinking, but you’ll also be able to predict what they’ll do next.

Chapter 12 Activating the Defense Grid 113
When we take notice of how people see themselves and their world-what attracts their attention and what they avoid; what they mention and what they miss; what they accept and what they reject-we know their strengths, insecurities, and struggles.

Chapter 13 The Meaning of Values 121
The values that we hold announce to the world what matters to us most and paint a picture of our deepest selves. Pierce anyone’s public persona and you’ll know what makes them tick.

Chapter 14 The Resilience Factor 126
When a person is under pressure or dealing with stress, learn how to tell who will bend and who will break-and how to spot cracks before they even appear.

Part IV Building a Psychological Profile 133

Chapter 15 In Search of Sanity 135
People who suffer from emotional illness share common language patterns, which broadcast their perceptions of reality. Learn all about a person’s inner world in a single conversation.

Chapter 16 The Psychology of Self-Esteem 146
Uncover the myth of the self-loving narcissist and find out how to tell who has self-esteem and who suffers from a deep-seated feeling of inferiority and self-hatred.

Chapter 17 Unmasking Personality Disorders 153
Discover why some people push your buttons and your boundaries-and why you too often let them. More importantly, know how to spot any personality disorder type, including the well-hidden and polished sociopath.

Chapter 18 Reflections of Relationships 160
Whether you’re working with a patient, interviewing a potential hire, or making small talk with a colleague, detect the dead giveaways of mental illness in minutes.

Chapter 19 Highs and Lows and Suffering in Between 170
Some people put on a brave front. Learn how to tell who really has it all together and who may be suffering silently on the inside.

Chapter 20 When to Worry: Red Alert and Warning Signs 182
People don’t just snap. Identify the advance warning signs for those who are poised to become a danger to themselves or to others.

Conclusion: What to Do with What You Know 189
Notes 191
Acknowledgments 219

Overview

Tired of guessing what they’re really thinking? Read people in every situation—in person, on a screen, or in writing—using the new science of psycholinguistics, from a New York Times bestselling author and consultant to the FBI, CIA, and NSA.

What did your boss mean in that email? Is your mechanic stretching the truth? Whether you’re engaged in a casual conversation or a high-stakes negotiation, it’s critical to understand the subtext of a situation. But with so much interaction happening on screens—via email, texts, or video chat—we are losing the ability to interpret expressions and cues. Furthermore, since many are now savvy about the meaning of body language, it’s become even harder to discern someone’s true thoughts or intentions.

A leading lie-detection expert who instructs the FBI and other security agencies, noted psychotherapist David Lieberman, PhD, takes “people reading” to a whole new level. Drawing on the latest research in psycholinguistics—the cues embedded in spoken and written speech—he shows you how to apply his cutting-edge methods to countless everyday situations, including:

  • Detecting the messaging behind passive language, personal or impersonal descriptions, and level of detail.
  • Determining whether someone’s account of any incident is the truth or a work of fiction.
  • Finding out whether a potential hire, dating app match, or new babysitter is trustworthy or hiding something.

Nobody wants to be played a fool. Mindreader will help us identify who can be trusted, and who may be out to get us.

Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award

“A treasure trove of concepts, ideas, and tools that we can all master to be safer and happier. It’s a must-read!”—Joe Navarro, author of Dangerous Personalities

“The more complicated human interaction becomes in a polarized world, the more essential it is to gain the means to penetrate the fog. Think of this book as your guide.”—Susan Carnicero, former CIA security specialist

“David Lieberman’s command of the nuances of language gives him extraordinarily keen insight into what’s really going on in a person’s head during everyday encounters. In this book he’s melded science and art to forge tools that will give you an enviable advantage over those who may be withholding the truth.”—Phil Houston, former CIA officer and senior member of the Office of Security

“It’s one thing to have proven expertise in a complex field, but quite another to have the skill to share it with a broad audience in an easily comprehensible way. David Lieberman’s remarkable ability to accomplish that is evident on every page of Mindreader.”—Michael Floyd, former officer at both the CIA and NSA

“David Lieberman provides a novel and practical approach to help you distinguish between perception and reality in any and all personal interactions. Mindreader is your key to cultivating healthy emotional intelligence, meaningful relationships, and success at home and the workplace.”—Mitchell Silk, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury for International Markets

“Perceptive . . . readers will find [Lieberman’s] straightforward explanations logical and reasonable. This accessible pop psychology volume makes for a solid primer on getting into other people’s heads.”—Publishers Weekly

“Good clues for detecting lies but better insights into human nature.”—Kirkus Reviews

Video and Podcast

Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Chapter 1

What They Really Think

By paying close attention not only to what people say but also to how they say it—­their language pattern and sentence structure—­you can figure out what’s really going on inside their head. To demonstrate how this works, we begin with a quick and painless grammar lesson.

A personal pronoun, in the grammatical sense, is associated with a certain individual or group of individuals. It can be subjective, objective, or possessive, depending on usage. Grammatically speaking, when discussing a person or persons, there are three separate perspectives:

  • First person (i.e., I, me, my, and mine or we, us, our, and ours)
  • Second person (i.e., you, your, and yours)
  • Third person (i.e., he, him, and his; she, her, and hers; and they, them, and theirs)

On the surface, it might seem as if pronouns simply replace nouns so that people don’t have to repeat the same words over and again. “John lost John’s wallet somewhere in John’s house” is not exactly an elegant sentence. “John lost his wallet somewhere in his house” just sounds better. But from a psycholinguistic standpoint, pronouns can reveal whether someone is trying to distance or altogether separate himself from his words. In much the same way that an unsophisticated liar might look away from you because eye contact increases intimacy and a person who is lying often feels a degree of guilt, a person making an untrue statement often seeks to subconsciously distance himself from his own words. The personal pronouns (e.g., I, me, mine, and my) indicate that a person is committed to and confident about his statement. Omitting personal pronouns from the action may signal someone’s reluctance to accept ownership of his words.

Let’s take the everyday example of giving a compliment. A woman who believes what she’s saying is more likely to use a personal pronoun—­for instance, “I really liked your presentation,” or “I loved what you said in the meeting.” However, a person offering insincere flattery might choose to say “Nice presentation” or “Looks like you did a lot of research.” In the second case, she has removed herself from the equation entirely. Those in law enforcement are well acquainted with this principle and recognize when people are filing a false report about their car being stolen because they typically refer to it as “the car” or “that car” and not “my car” or “our car.” Of course, you can’t gauge a person’s honesty by a single sentence, but it’s the first clue.

A Distant Second

Even when a personal pronoun is present, a switch from active to passive voice may signify a lack of sincerity. The active voice is stronger and more directly interactive, revealing that the subject—­the person or the people, in our examples—­performs the action of the verb in the sentence. With the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by some other entity.

For example, “I gave her the pen” is in active voice, while “The pen was given to her by me” uses passive voice. Notice the shift in phrasing and how it subtly decreases the speaker’s personal responsibility. To wit, let’s say that two siblings are playing, and the younger one starts to cry. Most of the time, when mom or dad asks what’s going on, the reason the child is crying—­as stated by the other child—­is because “he fell,” “she got hurt,” or “he banged his head.” A child rarely says, “I did (action A) that caused (consequence B).” Indeed, it’s unusual for a child (the egocentric beings that they are) to assume responsibility and declare: “I pushed him into the wall, and he hit his head,” or “I should have been more careful when she climbed on my back.”

Let’s look at this in another context. In a study titled “Words That Cost You the Job Interview,” researchers assessed the interview language of hundreds of thousands of real-­life job candidates. Based on language patterns alone, they successfully divided these candidates into low and high performers.1 Here’s what they found:

  • High-­performer answers contain roughly 60 percent more first-­person pronouns (e.g., I, me, we).
  • Low-­performer answers contain about 400 percent more second-­person pronouns (e.g., you, your).
  • Low-­performer answers contain about 90 percent more third-­person pronouns (e.g., he, she, they).

High performers put themselves front and center in the action because they can call upon actual experiences. Low performers don’t. They can’t. They are more likely to give abstract or hypothetical answers, because they lack real-­world experience and success.2

High-­performer language: “I call my customers every month to see how they’re doing.” Or “I made two hundred calls every day at ABC Corp.”

Low-­performer language: “Customers should be contacted regularly.” Or “You [or one] should always call the customer and ask them to share . . .”

When you take yourself out of the proverbial action, you send a concealed message (possibly even from yourself). Ask a child about her first day at camp, and note how the same summation reveals two different impressions of her experience: the first, more enthusiastic and the second, lackluster:

Response A: “I ate breakfast, then we went over to the park to play on the swings until I got to go swimming.”

Response B: “First, it was breakfast, then they moved us over to the park to play on the swings until they sent us to the swimming pool.”

The use of the passive tense or the absence of a pronoun also softens a message that may be ill received or confrontational. For example, one might excitedly proclaim, “We won the game!” but not “The game was won [by us]” because the active voice with a personal pronoun conveys solidarity with the message, thus invoking an assumption of pleasure and pride. Likewise, politicians tend to phrase reluctant admissions or apologies to dilute direct responsibility, including such gems as “Mistakes were made,” “The truth had some deficits,” and “The people deserve better.” The phraseology also hints to the character of the speaker. When your tailor informs you that “I made a mistake on your hem,” rather than, “A mistake was made,” we can surmise that he operates with a greater degree of honesty and integrity.3

The Great Divide

Distancing language assumes many shapes and sizes. Take a look at the following pairs of phrases and ask yourself which ones strike the chord of greater authenticity.

“I stand in awe” versus “I’m in awe.”

“I find myself filled with pride” versus “I am so proud.”

“I, for one, am glad” versus “I’m so glad.”

“I am a great admirer” versus “I greatly admire.”

The first phrasings are all attempts to imprint the message with an emotional intensity but fail in convincing the keen observer because of two linguistic giveaways. First, a heightened emotional state is associated with a simplified grammatical structure, not the more florid ones. Sincere, emotionally laden sentences are short and to the point. Think: “Help!” or “I love you.” Second, the speaker creates a separation between himself (the “I”) and the emotional sentiment. Which of these statements sounds more believable?

Statement A: “I’m so grateful that my wife was found alive. I’m indebted to all of the rescue workers.”

Statement B: “I, for one, am so grateful that my wife was found alive. I find myself indebted to all of the rescue workers.”

Statement A resonates as heartfelt while Statement B feels like a PR release. The second statement is not worrisome if the speaker has had time to compose himself and his thoughts. However, an impromptu, emotionally charged situation should exhibit a language pattern more consistent with Statement A.

At such times, clichés and metaphors are also highly suspect. A person using them in an attempt to portray himself as impassioned is trying to economically convey an emotion that is not real. Manufacturing emotion takes lot of mental energy, so the person uses borrowed phrases. For example, ask any trauma victim about what happened, and you will not get a Nietzschean quote such as “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering” or a cliché such as “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Certainly, with the passage of time and a shift in perspective, we may adopt a more philosophical view. Yet no one will ever convey an emotionally charged encounter by reciting the latest Pinterest quote on the beauty of suffering. Likewise, if someone proffers that a traumatic experience is “indelibly in my amygdala” (emotional memories are stored in this part of the brain), it reeks of inauthenticity. There needs to be emotional congruence.