Argentinean Bernardo Stamateas is one of the most popular psychologists. And it is not for less, since his works have always been among the best-selling books. In addition, he stands out as a lecturer, where he often talks about human relationships, leadership and personal growth.
Of Greek descent, Stamateas has a vast training as a psychologist and sexologist, and his view of human behaviour leaves no one indifferent .
Today we had the pleasure of sharing a conversation with Bernardo Stamateas, to review various topics about his life, his work and his vision of reality.
Interview with Bernardo Stamateas
Bertrand Regader: The sequel to his biggest publishing success “Toxic People” is his latest book: “More Toxic People” (2014). What is happening in our daily lives that makes us constantly surrounded by people like this? Or do you think this has always happened?
Bernardo Stamateas: Toxic people have always been there and there will always be around us. Everyone who has their self-esteem destroyed, which is usually built up during childhood, will have toxicity in their lives to a greater or lesser extent and will fix their gaze on others. The reason is that he cannot find a meaning, a direction in his life and decides to stick to someone else’s life. Usually, these are people with big relationship problems that, although they seem big and important, hide behind masks that consciously or unconsciously try to sell to others.
Thousands of people live daily in this way, perhaps the freedom and technological progress that we enjoy today in most societies today makes these attitudes more evident and are exposed, unlike other times when, although they existed, they were kept hidden or ignored. Not because of this, the damage they caused was less.
B.R. What would be the main features that define toxic people?
Stamateas: As I explain in my book “More Toxic People”, every human being possesses some toxic trait, which is equivalent to an immature air of their personality. The truth is that we all come from “factory failures”. The difference with the toxic one is that for the latter it is not a characteristic but a way of living, thinking and acting.
Being toxic is one way of working. Another important difference is that most people try to improve their negative traits (by perceiving them first); while the toxic one doesn’t recognize them, denies them, and chooses to blame others for their problems. This attitude only steals other people’s energy.
B.R. Another of your books, the also best-selling “Toxic Emotions”, has given a lot to talk about. What are these emotions of self-destruction and how can we try not to let them affect us?
Stamateas: Emotions are part of our life and they always convey a message to us. No emotion is bad in itself, because they all “teach” us something. Sadness makes us walk slowly, talk slowly and increase the process of reflection and introspection because there is a loss to be elaborated. Anger and frustration are emotions that generate inner strength because we see that there is a rock in the road and we need to be strong to move it. Guilt makes us feel bad for having transgressed a norm and provokes a process of reflection to produce a repair. If I insulted someone, I will now go and apologize.
Emotions become toxic when we give them free rein. For example, the person who says, “I express all my anger, so I’ll never get a heart attack. And that’s just a toxic attitude, giving them free rein. Or the person who suppresses his emotionality and says, “I never get angry. When we learn to express our emotions, to put them into words so that they have a meaning that helps us to grow, then we are managing them intelligently. This is called “emotional intelligence”.
B.R. You are a multi-faceted psychologist, a figure you may be missing out on to make way for ultra-specialized professionals in a particular field. This allows you to give lectures and write on a variety of subjects. What are the subjects you are most passionate about talking about?
Stamateas: The topics I talk about or write about the most are those about which I am contacted in search of solutions. I receive hundreds of emails every day asking for help and the number one problem is couple conflicts, among which are: firstly infidelity, secondly abuse and thirdly endless fights. Outside of these couple issues, the most consulted topics are unresolved duels, losses and self-esteem problems.
Every book I’ve written came about after listening to people’s everyday problems, their successes and their mistakes. This allows me to understand what their main needs are and try, from my place, to help them be happier and discover the purpose of their lives. My goal as a writer is to collaborate so that each human being becomes the best version of himself, achieving a healthy esteem and the fulfillment of all his dreams.
B.R. Self help is a rather underrated genre, and sometimes rightly so. But your books have managed to capture the attention of a wide audience, eager to know a little better the human mind, why we are the way we are. What do you think your books have to do to have achieved these superlative sales figures?
Stamateas: My intention in writing is that the books should be simple material, easy to understand, so that everyone who reads them knows what is being talked about in them. I don’t intend to impress anyone. As I said recently in a newspaper report, a magician once told me that when they want to hide something they leave it in the public eye. The reason? Because “the obvious becomes invisible”. That phrase struck me. I’m not trying to discover or invent anything, nor am I trying to write academic texts. I only seek to offer ideas that for various reasons may have become invisible to people and invite my readers to think.
B.R. B.R.: Don’t you think that, in the genre of self-help, a certain “congratulation” is abused? The cliché of “love yourself more, pursue your dreams”… Your books are something else.
Stamateas: Within the genre of self-help we have everything from the simplest books that say: “Amate, querete, cuidate”; to the most elaborate that offer intelligent solutions. No book changes anyone’s life because a book is not a magic wand. It’s just a thought-provoking trigger. Instead of self-help, I prefer to call them “personal growth books” although, if we stop to think a little, eventually every book is self-help. A book of poetry and a book of history help us to think, to reflect, to grow.
The process of growth always depends on oneself. It is true that within the genre, as in any other, there are different developments and levels of depth. It is up to each reader to decide which one will serve him/her according to the stage of evolution he/she is in.
B.R. B.R.: Do you feel a bit of pressure to keep up this sales pace with each new book you write, or is it a subject that doesn’t concern you too much?
Stamateas: I distinguish success from fame. Success is doing what you like to do. Fame is the social gaze. When you stand on success, you enjoy fame or recognition from others. The problem arises when you go after fame. I’ve always focused on doing what I love to do and, of course, I enjoy traveling to different countries, meeting a lot of people and feeling like I’m doing my part to help improve and release the potential that we all have.
B.R. Let’s look at the future: what projects are you working on, perhaps some editorial work for the next few months?
Stamateas: Right now all the books I have written in the newspaper La Nación are coming out here in Argentina. I am also working on new projects where I am compiling the five hundred most frequent conflicts and practical ideas and tools to be able to solve them. I continue to travel and lecture all over the world.
- Image credits: Bernardo Stamateas, losandes.com.ar