43 posts categorized "ANGER"

July 24, 2012

What Politics And Women Have In Common: Avoid The Extremes

IStock_0couplearguingllMuch of my work with women is about getting out of the extremes: extreme thinking, extreme actions, extreme emotions etc.  In order for women to be heard they have to get out of the extremes and instead get grounded, calm and strong.  Too often women make outrageous statements in their effort to be heard and it often ends up guaranteeing they won’t be heard.  It’s a difficult lesson for some women to learn, however, it is powerful once they get that screaming louder and louder actually weakens their message rather than strengthens it. 

 This same dynamic happens in politics as well. In fact, I experienced this dynamic today when I was getting lunch.  I stepped out of my car and walked past a table with a poster of President Obama with the word “Impeach” at the bottom of the poster.  My first thought was, “Wow that’s a little extreme.” The woman behind the table waved and asked me to come over. I politely declined and went in to get lunch.  As I was driving away, I realized the poster had a picture of President Obama with a mustache like Adolf Hitler in addition to the word “Impeach”.  When I realized this, I felt a lot of anger and had lost all respect for the woman who was standing at the table trying to convince the world that President Obama was like Hitler. Really? Isn’t that a bit dishonoring of all the Jews who lost their lives as a result of Hitler’s atrocities? To equate how our President is running our country to the way Hitler killed countless Jews is so extreme and over the top that it is offensive.  This extreme message immediately lost any ounce of truth for me.  Once I saw the obsurdity, I was not even remotely open to hearing what the woman had to say.  Regardless of my views regarding President Obama, her extreme position drowned out any potentially helpful message for me.

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May 14, 2012

Sometimes You Have To Yell To Be Heard…or Do You?

IStock_0womanyellingat manllBelow is an excerpt from a recent note I received from a woman:
“…If I remain calm and peaceful he takes it as a sign that he can walk all over me. Us women are so conditioned to take it all with a calm and sweet smile. What kind of world have we created for our daughters and us? Women in general are still dealing with a lot of oppression and inequality in our society. I do not know one woman that has not suffered from it in one way or another-- being bullied at home, on the street, at work, at school, a man controlling, belittling, not regarding women as equal, but something to dominate and manipulate. You are very fortunate if your husband does not take advantage of your calm composure. Many of us will only have to endure more laughing in our face and more oppression if we do not stand up, rock the boat and claim or human rights, whispering or screaming, ‘Enough! I can’t take this any more.’”

In my work with women over the years I have heard this sentiment over and over again.  In fact, I see this sentiment play out all over the world with both men and women.  In general, when people get angry they either bully through people with their anger or duck in the face of anger.  Some people duck then bully.  The end result is people behaving in the extremes.  Behaving in the extremes, though, is not helping us.  When we bully, we’re being abusive and when we’re ducking we’re allowing ourselves to be abused.  Neither of these responses is okay or effective.

It is true that women do indeed need to rock the boat.  It is also true that women continue to this day to be bullied, gawked at, controlled, belittled and treated as anything but equals by far too many people in the world.  It is not true, however, that women yelling about it is going to change anything.  In my work with women and couples, I see far too many women doing nothing but yelling…and it is NOT working.  If women scream and yell that they can’t take it anymore -- and then they stay there and take it -- their words mean nothing. 

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May 03, 2012

Stop Taking Things So Personally; Sometimes It’s Just Not About You

IStock_0angrywomanllOne of the most freeing things in life is the ability to not take things so personally.  It is also one of the most difficult things to do.  People get reactive all the time to things that have nothing or very little to do with them.  People also give meaning to something that was said that simply isn’t there.  Below are several examples of what I mean:
•    Sam’s boss told him to be certain his project report was free of mistakes.  Sam’s internal response to that statement was to get angry and think, “Why the hell did she tell me that?  Does she think I’m stupid?”
•    Sarah’s husband said he wanted to make sure they did something special for their son’s birthday.  Sarah found that comment to be insulting and thought to herself, “What kind of mother does he think I am?!”
•    When Karen had to cancel her plans with her friend because she was sick, her friend questioned her honesty, asking if she was really sick or just didn’t feel like going out.  Karen was offended that her friend would even think that.  What the hell!  Does her friend think she’s a liar?

In all these examples the people are taking something personally that is not personal at all.  Too often we forget that the people in our lives come with their own experiences, traumas and histories. We also forget that these histories impact how they interpret things, what they fear and how they respond to people in their lives.  This is true for us as well.
Going through the above scenarios for example, each one has a background story impacting the interaction.

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April 25, 2012

Finding Your GPS (Grounded Powerful Strength): Stop Behaving In The Extremes

IStock_00angry womenlIn our world today, very few people have mastered the art of standing up for themselves.  After working with hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the years, I’ve found that people typically land in one of three groupings when it comes to having difficult conversations or handling difficult situations:
1.    The “take no sh*t” group.  This is the group of people who will quickly react in anger to hurtful behavior or issues of disagreement.  If someone speaks to them disrespectfully, this group often will quickly shut that person down, fight back, get defensive, yell, scream or intensely storm out.  
2.    The “create no waves” group.  This group tries to do whatever is necessary to keep things calm.  They can duck, walk on eggshells, placate, make empty promises, silence or try to appease others.
3.    The "teapot” group.  This group slowly simmers by silencing, placating and letting things go for a period of time, only to later escalate and blow up.

As you can imagine, none of these approaches is effective.  Too many people work in the extremes—either silencing and placating or snapping and bullying.  As a result, people either overshoot or undershoot in their responses to upset.  Too few people actually step in with a Grounded Powerful Strength (GPS). 

A Grounded Powerful Strength is calm, strong AND relational. The bottom-line rule in a GPS is DO NO HARM.  Regardless of how angry you are or someone else is, neither you nor the other person has the right to be verbally, emotionally or physically abusive.  Yelling, screaming and calling names are abusive—to others.  Allowing others to yell, scream and treat you poorly is abusive—to you.

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April 20, 2012

Is Avoiding Conflict Really Helping You? The Cost Of Ducking

IStock_00silencemallMany people struggle with conflict.  Some bully their way through conflict, while others duck to avoid conflict at all cost.  Although there have been tons of information about the pitfalls of bullying and rage on relationships, often people forget about the pitfalls of ducking from hard issues.  They frequently believe that because ducking avoids a fight, it’s a healthy choice to make in response to conflict.  They couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Contrary to popular belief, ducking is anything but a good response to conflict in relationships.  Ducking can take on many different forms and is an equal opportunity response to conflict -- both men and women duck.  People can duck by getting silent and refusing to speak about an issue.  They can duck by becoming passive-aggressive and indirectly complaining without ever directly addressing the issue.  They can change the subject, shut the conversation down, placate, over-accommodate or pretend they’re okay with an issue only to later complain about it under their breath.  They can lie and say everything is fine, smile instead of frown and pretend rather than be real.  The truth is, there are probably countless ways to duck when it comes to conflict.  Not surprisingly, however, regardless of which approach we use, ducking is not helpful


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March 14, 2012

Reasons It’s Vital To Speak Up In Relationships

IStock_00silencemallToo often, too many people stay silent in response to mistreatment or upset.  Regardless of whether the other person is your partner, spouse or friend, speaking up about issues that are bothering you is vital to healthy relationships. 

Below are five reasons why speaking up is so important:

1.    Silence often leads to resentment. When we stay silent about things that bother us, those upsets often turn into resentments.  The more we stifle our upsets, the more resentful we get about the person’s poor treatment of us.  As a result, our anger and upset will often come out sideways (passive-aggressive) or through angry outbursts and blow-ups.
2.    Resentment rots out relationships. Countless unspoken upsets lead to a natural buildup of a wall of resentments.  Eventually too many resentments erode relationships.
3.    Solution is impossible without conversation. If you stay silent about an issue, it makes it impossible to resolve that issue or your negative feelings about it.  You cannot blame other people for not changing their behavior if you haven’t spoken about it to them.

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January 17, 2012

Resentment In Relationships: Are Others To Blame For Your Resentment?

IStock_0bullyingallResentments creep up in relationships all the time.  You’re resentful that your partner works all the time.  You’re resentful that your boss gave your co-worker a raise, but not you.  You feel resentment at your parents for the way they raised you and now expect you to take care of them.  You’re resentful that your children take advantage of you…and on and on.

The truth is that resentments can grow at an absurd rate if you’re not careful.  I say if YOU are not careful…because YOU are the only one responsible for your resentments.  Your resentments are not the fault of other people. 

Take that in for a minute…your resentments are not because of other people or their behavior. 

I realize that when you read the above statements it may be a bit difficult to take in, and even more difficult to actually believe.  You may believe that your feeling resentful at someone is, in fact, because of the other person’s behavior and therefore your resentments are the other person’s fault.  You may also feel very righteous about this. 

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December 19, 2011

Here’s To The Abnormal Relationship And Setting The Bar Higher (Part I)

IStock_00happyolder coupleXSmallI often get asked what is “normal” in relationships; I don’t ever want to answer the  “normal” question.  I don’t like to answer this because I believe that the norm for couples is way below par.  It is way too common for couples to be yelling, cheating, acting selfish and in general acting anything but cherishing to their partners. 

I want to move away from “normal” as a goal for couples.  Striving for the average relationship is truly setting the bar way too low; you deserve better than normal—trust me.  How about we all strive for the abnormal when it comes to relationships.  Let’s all try to do things differently from the way most people are doing it.  Let’s try to truly create relationships that are loving, respectful and feel great to be in.  Shall we?

Here’s to the abnormal!  Below are the first five of 10 characteristics of healthy relationships.  I encourage you to work hard to incorporate each and every one of these into your closest relationships.
1.    Cherishing.  Genuinely treat your loved ones as though you cherish them—through your words and actions.  Be kind, compassionate, complimentary and understanding.
2.    Respectful.  Refuse to call your loved one a name, swear at them in anger or treat them with disrespect in any way at any time—even in anger.  If you mess up—repair it without excuses or justification.  Simply own your mistake, apologize and STOP doing it.  Speak to your loved ones as though they are close friends whom you greatly admire.
3.    Authentic.  Be honest.  Tell your truth with compassion and…tell it.  Without honesty there is no trust and without trust there is no healthy relationship.  Refuse to lie.  If there’s something you’re struggling to say, tell them you need to think about it and get back to them.  Do not justify your lies because of their expected reactions—set a limit on their reactions and control your lies.
4.    Affectionate.  There’s nothing like a pat on the back by a friend, an understanding hug from your partner or a high five from your teenager to let you know you matter.  Great relationships require some affection; they require warmth.  Be warm to those you love: squeeze their hand, ruffle their hair, give them a kiss, high five them, etc.  Show the love!
5.    Accountable.  Making mistakes is part of our humanity, however, it appears that owning these mistakes is not so much a part of humanity.  Learn to apologize, accept when you are wrong and then repair it.  Repair requires an apology, an action and due diligence to insure it does not keep happening.  The abnormally healthy relationships are high on accountability.

Creating healthy relationships requires that we be mindful of our actions rather than reactive.  Without being deliberate about how we show up in the world we are all destined to stay “normal” which is doing all of our relationships a true disservice.  Dare to soar past the norm and into great.

Challenge: Scan the relationships in your life and of those around you and honestly ask yourself how all of you are doing.  Look over these characteristics and pick the two that you are weakest in and focus on those.  Pay attention to any shifts that occur.

November 14, 2011

Taking The High Road: Revenge Is Seldom Worth It

IStock_0revengeXSmallIt’s not at all uncommon for women (and people in general) to want to exact revenge on someone in their life who has “wronged” them.  If their husband had an affair, women often want to make him pay.  If they’re too scared of losing him as a result of their revenge or anger, they may try to make the “other woman” pay by calling her family up and informing them of the affair.  Some women may try to take every last penny they can get from their cheating spouse, make visiting the kids a near impossible feat or shout out from the rooftops what a louse this man is.  Revenge is often tempting in non-romantic relationships as well—in the workplace, between friends and among family members.

Countless people have revenge fantasies when they’ve been hurt, cheated or shamed.  The pain is often so intense that people don’t know what to do.  Because a woman often has an intense feeling of injustice and humiliation, she may want the other person to feel the pain she feels.  Sometimes this desire can consume her every waking thought and lead her to do things she never thought she’d do.  In the moment, she is certain that revenge will help relieve the pain.

Unfortunately, exacting revenge is often bittersweet.  Getting revenge may feel good for a moment, but that feeling seldom lasts.  When we try to hurt someone as they hurt us, we stoop to their level.  In our effort to get back at them, we end up hurting ourselves.  The “perpetrator” then ends up taking up more of our time and attention than they deserve.  Lowering our sense of integrity just to get even ends up chipping away a little part of us.  When we allow someone’s behavior to lead us to do something that we wouldn’t normally do, we give him or her too much power.  Why give them that power?

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September 07, 2011

How to Stop Being Passive-Aggressive

IStock_0eyerollingll I recently wrote a post entitled, ‘Are You Passive-Aggressive?’  A comment was left on my Facebook page http://tinyurl.com/3o53ke8, asking me how to stop being passive-aggressive.  Here’s my answer.
1.    Get conscious.  Pay attention to all the things you don’t say, all the times you make snide comments and all the times you feel annoyed.  If you don’t know when you feel annoyed, pay attention to your eye rolling, sighs and glares.
2.    Speak up, don’t shut up.  Often people who struggle with being passive-aggressive are also afraid of conflict.  In an effort to avoid a fight or disagreement, they stay silent rather than honestly speak about their upset.  Because they keep things in, they end up getting resentful.  Ultimately, their anger then gets leaked out rather than worked out.
3.    Start small.  Speaking up takes practice after years of not being direct, so you need to start to speak up on smaller issues with “safe” people in your life.  For example, begin to be more honest with your closest and healthiest friends before moving to a more difficult partner or co-worker.  The more practice you get, the more courageous you will feel with others.
4.    Have integrity with your word.  If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.  If you say you will do something—do it.  If you do something, do it on time and to the best of your ability rather than doing a poor to mediocre job.  Avoid saying you will do something just to get someone off your back—it will only keep the person on your back longer.

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