43 posts categorized "ANGER"

May 15, 2014

Power from Within Versus Power-Over

IStock_000001213984_ExtraSmallOur world functions in a power-over paradigm. We confuse power with aggression and standing up for ourselves with stepping on others. World leaders, men, women, professional athletes, politicians and on and on, often move in power over others in an effort to get them to agree with their demands. Our world teaches us that yelling, intimidating and overall bullying others is okay if it serves our own needs. We snap at employees, tell our loved ones to shut up, shame our school children for mistakes, yell and scream at those we feel aren’t listening and bully those who struggle to stand their ground. We’re taught that sometimes the only way to be heard is to get BIG.

In the short run, this power-over paradigm often works. It succeeds in getting us what we want. People cower to our rage, they give in to our demands and many shrink to our intimidation. For the moment, we “win.” People back down, give us space and give in.

We forget to notice, however, what it feels like to the person on the other side. In that moment, we don’t really care that they gave in out of fear. We don’t care that people don’t like to be bullied, shut down or not listened to. We don’t stop to notice how our intensity or our rage silenced their voice. We only notice whether we got our way.

Continue reading "Power from Within Versus Power-Over" »

January 16, 2014

Divorcing with Integrity


The divorce rate has been hovering around fifty percent for many years in the United States. As many of you know, divorce is often a very painful process for all involved, even in the most amicable of situations. In those divorces that aren’t amicable, the damage done is hard to fathom. This is especially true in those divorces where children are involved. I can think of no worse example of this than a recent incident in Florida in which a mother is alleged to have shot and killed her two teenage children and then turned the gun on herself. Allegedly, the mother was under extreme duress about the divorce and the father’s alleged unwillingness to provide child support, alimony or anything else (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fla-mom-allegedly-kills-teens-murder-suicide-cops-article-1.1579512).

Although I don’t know what the “truth” is in this case, I do know that many people go through divorce angry, bitter and determined to “get” the other person. I have seen countless couples emotionally bash one another throughout the divorce process, attempt to get every last cent from the other person and try to make the other person hurt as they themselves hurt. These maneuvers cause nothing but more pain for families already reeling from the loss of family as they knew it.

Continue reading "Divorcing with Integrity" »

December 12, 2013

Stop Obsessing and Let it Go

IStock_000002084023_ExtraSmallSometimes people can throw you a curve ball. They can do something so hurtful that it knocks you off your feet and sends you reeling. And, without doubt, these events can rock you to your core. They can leave you obsessing about them, raging about them and scratching your head trying to explain them. Sometimes, though, there is no explanation. There is no justification, rationalization or understanding about why. Sometimes there is no helpful closure or any closure at all. More often than not, closure comes only from letting go. 

The more you think about what was done, obsess about it and complain about it, the more you keep it in your life.  Continually talking about a hurt someone caused you will not help you heal. In fact, the more you keep the story alive, the more your pain, anger and upset will last.  Obsessing about the person, issue or pain will not make the pain go away. It will not make the hurtful act any less hurtful. And it will not help you.

Regardless of whether the issue is someone cheating on you, lying to you or gossiping about you...learn to let it go. Don't allow this person to cause any more drain on your life than they already have. If the person has acknowledged what they did and tried to repair the harm they caused, then be thankful they are accountable and move forward. If the person wasn't accountable at all, then move on and don't look back. Whichever the case may be, stop giving this person or event so much power over you. Know that people make mistakes and do hurtful things for all sorts of reasons--many of which have nothing to do with you. Stop wringing your hands, wondering why or how they could've done what they did. Stop telling the world how badly this person hurt you. Stop staying up at night plotting revenge or feeling sorry for yourself. Just...STOP. Move on for your sake.

Continue reading "Stop Obsessing and Let it Go" »

October 01, 2013

Life Lessons Part I: The Debris Your Actions Leave in Your Wake

IStock_000015134817_ExtraSmallAs much as I help my clients to better navigate their lives and relationships, they also help me to better navigate mine. I have the unique privilege of working with clients on the most intimate aspects of their lives—their relationships. As such, the journeys of countless clients have taught me a great many life lessons. Many of these life lessons have, unfortunately, been the result of their pain and anguish, while others have come from their successes and triumphs. All are powerful lessons from which all human beings can learn…hopefully prior to making painful mistakes. 

Below are the top ten lessons learned from the painful side of the equation:

  • A hundred kind acts do not erase the burn left from a hot temper. Acting like a ticking time-bomb from which your loved ones have to cower and protect themselves rather than a safe haven for loved ones to lean into for love, support and guidance will burn out any relationship. The burning embers of your anger remain long after your explosion is over…often for years. 
  • If you parent by instilling fear in your children, they will remember the fear, not the love. 
  • Children live what they know and they know what they live. They will model what they see their parents do and will brush past what their parents say. Be sure that the lessons your actions are teaching them will serve them in their own lives. 
  • An untreated alcohol/drug problem will likely become an active addiction. The addict who models the addiction and the enabler who tolerates the addiction will often create and pass down a toxic legacy of addiction from one generation to the next. The toxic legacy continues until one brave soul finds the courage to actively change that legacy.

Continue reading "Life Lessons Part I: The Debris Your Actions Leave in Your Wake" »

June 10, 2013

Ten Reasons to Stop Avoiding Conflict and Start Dealing with Issues

IStock_000010586566_ExtraSmallThere are countless people who believe that the best way to handle conflict is to not have any. When things get tough, their choice is to duck, avoid, distract or disengage, in the hope that the issue will resolve itself. If the issue doesn’t resolve itself, they feel a sense of relief that at least they succeeded in avoiding conflict. 

The unfortunate truth about conflict, though, is that not talking about conflict often creates more conflict—either internally, externally or both. 

Stop fooling yourself into thinking that avoiding difficult conversations is doing you any favors. If anything, ducking is causing you more problems then you realize. Below are ten reasons to stop avoiding -- and start having -- adult conversations.

  1. Avoiding difficult conversations makes solutions almost impossible. It’s very difficult to solve a problem if you’re not willing to talk about it.
  2. When you stay silent in response to conflict, inherent in your silence is acceptance. If you don’t like the behavior, stop silently acting as if you do.
  3. The more you ignore issues, the bigger they grow. The issues you ignore today will likely drive you crazy and harm your life tomorrow. Tomorrow may be a day from now, a week from now or even five years from now…and, tomorrow will come. 
  4. The bigger the issues grow, the bigger your resentment is likely to get. It’s almost impossible to continually avoid addressing poor treatment or upsets without getting resentful. Avoiding conflict with others externally doesn’t mean you won’t feel the turmoil internally. 
  5. You teach others how to treat you. In your effort to avoid conflict, you often teach a very warped lesson to others about how you like to be treated.
  6. The more you duck and avoid, the more others get away with their behavior and the worse they treat you.
  7. The worse others treat you, the worse you feel about yourself and your relationship. Your attempt to avoid conflict at all cost, in an effort to save a relationship, ironically ends up rotting out the relationship. 
  8. The more others treat you poorly, the more angry and resentful you’re likely to become. The angrier you become, the more likely you are to oscillate between silence and blowing up--neither of which are effective.
  9. Your anger is, in part, at yourself. You can only take so much poor treatment before the wisest part of you gets angry at your lack of self-care.
  10. If you avoid conflict in one relationship, you are likely to avoid conflict in all relationships. Your avoidance is about your edge, not about the other person’s behavior.

Avoiding conflict is a seductive pull for many people. On the surface, it looks like doing anything to keep the peace is the smartest choice. When you look beyond the surface, however, the reality is that this tactic seldom keeps the peace for long. 

Stop ducking. Trust that you are mature enough to handle an honest conversation about a difficult issue and then step in and respectfully have the conversation. Handle a moment of discomfort now and avoid years of anger and resentment later.

Challenge: Notice all the things you do and say to avoid conflict. What impact does your avoidance have on your life and your relationship? Start to take baby steps to stop avoiding and start dealing.



May 07, 2013

Relationship Game Changers: Characteristics That Burn Out Relationships (Part II)

IStock_000010066559XSmallThere are a handful of characteristics that can, will and do make relationships extremely difficult. Last week I wrote about six of them and this week here are the remaining six. If these issues are present within you or within your relationships, chances are there are struggles in your relationships that are beyond the norm. Tackle these issues with a determination (not aggression) to get them under control.

  • Control. Constantly telling others how to do something, what to do and when to do it, is annoying at best. If you struggle with wanting things done a certain way (your way), then learn to let go of your grip; people don’t like to be controlled. If someone is controlling you, stop going along and take a stand using a grounded, powerful strength (GPS). Stay calm and matter of fact and tackle this issue.
  • Lack of accountability. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” is a crazy saying. When people refuse to be accountable for their mistakes it becomes a chore being in relationship with them. We are all human, which means we are imperfect and will make mistakes. Making mistakes is not the problem; not owning them is.
  • Blame. Blaming often happens when a person is feeling shame and they want to get out of that feeling. It’s thinking, “If you didn’t do __________(fill in the blank), then I wouldn’t have had to do _______________(fill in the blank).” This type of thinking gets really old to be around. If someone is constantly blaming their behavior on someone else, they’re unlikely to ever change their behavior. Justifying your behavior because of someone else’s will burn out your relationships. Someone else’s poor behavior is not a green light for yours. Period. If someone uses this type of thinking, don’t buy into it and if you think this way, you’re fooling yourself. We all do what we do because we choose to do it.

Continue reading "Relationship Game Changers: Characteristics That Burn Out Relationships (Part II)" »

April 11, 2013

How to Handle Passive-Aggressive Behavior

IStock_0rollingeyeXSmallI work with couples all the time who are impacted by the sting of passive-aggressive behaviors, which is why I’m writing this post. This post is for those people who are friends with, living with or family members of people who deal with anger and upsets in passive-aggressive ways. 

Here are the best tips I know for ways to address this kind of behavior head on, using compassionate accountability rather than a hammer. 

  • When in doubt, check it out. One of the crazy-making things about passive-aggression is that it’s seldom acknowledged yet often felt; it’s “hidden” anger. The first move, therefore, is to take the covering off the anger simply by naming it, “I’m making up that you’re mad because I asked you to help. Are you?” The more you name it, the more you increase the other person’s consciousness—and have your own back. 
  • Don’t mind-read. The work for people who struggle with being passive-aggressive is learning to speak their truth in a direct and purposeful way rather than indirectly and unconsciously. Do not alter your behaviors based on what you imagine the other person is upset about. Tell them when they’re ready to talk to you about what’s upsetting them that you’re open to hearing them. Until then, don’t chase them to try to make them feel better.
  • Check your responses. Be sure that on your end, you are respectful. It’s not uncommon for passive-aggression to show up with people who struggle with overt aggression and reactivity. You are responsible for being safe in your relationships...and yelling and screaming is not safe. Clean it up.
  • Practice compassionate accountability. Have empathy for your partner’s struggle with conflict while also holding them accountable for handling it responsibly and respectfully. Know when to check it out, make a request for change and/or set a limit. Do all of the above using a grounded powerful strength (GPS), not an aggressive strength.
  • Be the mirror. When you feel the sting of people side-swiping (biting comments, rolling eyes, silencing, snide remarks) simply hold up a figurative mirror and name what they’re doing. Three examples include: “You’re rolling your eyes;” “Wow, that was biting;” “You won’t even look in my direction.” 
  • Have an honest conversation. Find a good time to have an honest conversation about the impact of the passive-aggressive behaviors on you and your relationship. Be clear about what you would like to see be different and what you will do about it if it doesn’t change (e.g. “If this doesn’t change, I want to separate” or “I will no longer chase you down to see if something’s the matter. From now on, I will assume if you’re not speaking about a problem, then everything is ok.”
  • Explain the degree of seriousness involved.  If you’re thinking of leaving the marriage because of this issue, state that. The other person has the right to know how high the stakes are so they can decide how much they’re willing to lose. 

Challenge: Although passive aggression can be extremely frustrating, yelling and complaining about it just keeps it going. Be calm and forthright in your approach and deal with it head on and in a respectful manner. When talking doesn’t work, know when to set limits and up the ante when necessary. Good luck!

April 01, 2013

Changing Your Family’s Toxic Legacy

IStock_00couple alcoholAll human beings have been -- and continue to be -- greatly influenced and impacted by our family of origin. Some of these influences have been great and some have been toxic. And all of these influences impact the legacy we pass on to our children. For those who don’t have children, these influences impact the personal legacy we leave in the world. 

 What is particularly hard on couples, individuals and families, though, are the toxic legacies. Toxic legacies leave a tsunami of damage in families and in our world. Most of the time, these toxic legacies are unconsciously lived out and sadly passed on from one unsuspecting generation to the next. Before you know it, a person can look back a hundred years and see the same insidious, painful patterns back then that are being played out in the present day. Why is that? It seems crazy that people can’t learn to not repeat the same mistakes their great-great-great grandparents, grandparents and more recently their own parents made. Is it in our DNA to repeat the same toxic behaviors as those who have come before us? Are our destinies pre-wired? 

 Let me start by defining “toxic legacy.” A toxic legacy is a pattern of hurtful, painful and/or damaging behaviors that have been handed down from one generation to another through role modeling.  When parents repeatedly interact in a family system in an unhealthy way, they are imprinting this behavior on their children. The children (us, let’s say) then often grow up and repeat the behaviors we saw played out everyday of our childhood. As children, “we live what we know and we know what we lived.” As we grow up, we repeat what we learned in the first 18 years of our lives. And if we don’t repeat it ourselves, we often marry someone who does. 

Continue reading "Changing Your Family’s Toxic Legacy" »

September 25, 2012

Five Reasons To STOP Your Reactivity

IStock_00angry womenlReactivity is far too common today.  Someone feels slighted and they fall apart or attack the person whom they think slighted them.  Another person feels wounded and they respond by blurting out the one thing they’re sure will hit the offender like a ton of bricks.  Yet another person discovers their partner had an affair and they make it their mission to make their partner, their partner’s lover and the lover’s family pay for the betrayal. 

It’s time to stop the reactivity.  If we cannot contain ourselves when life throws us a curve ball, then we are in for a very bumpy ride.  Life throws us curve balls.  People make mistakes that cause other people pain.  Men and women alike will be hurt, disappointed, upset and frustrated by one another from now until the end of time.  It benefits all of us when we can handle these life incidents without flipping out, hurting back, collapsing or getting hysterical.  Remaining grounded and calm in even the most difficult of times will help the difficult times be less difficult.  Staying calm while also setting limits and having our own back during these times will also speed up any healing that needs to happen.

When it comes to reactivity, it’s best to leave it out of your life.  Below are five reasons to stop the reactivity.  Take note:
1.    Reactivity is a thoughtless act.  Anytime we just give in to our knee-jerk reaction, we are not thinking.  That is a child-like response to an adult problem.  Children can’t solve adult problems.
2.    Reactivity results in you looking like the crazy person.  Regardless of what the other person did or didn’t do, when we start responding in the extreme, we look like the crazy one.  When we look crazy, the other person looks like the good guy—even when they’re not.

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August 28, 2012

Do No Harm: A Silly Platitude or a Much-Needed Guideline?

IStock_0womanandangrybossallIn my experience, both in the world and in my practice, one of the core places where men and women struggle is in the way they respond to conflict and upset.  Far too often, both men and women deal with upset by responding in the extreme.  They often yell, scream and control or they silence, placate and over-accommodate.  Naturally none of these moves is particularly helpful and all of them are often harmful.  Sometimes the person is the victim of harm (due to silently accepting poor treatment) and sometimes the person is the perpetrator of the harm (by aggressively responding to poor treatment).

I’m currently leading a teleclass titled “Finding Your GPS” (Grounded Powerful Strength).  A GPS is about walking in the world differently and at its core is the principle of Do No Harm.  Handling upset and conflict without doing harm seems almost unheard of today.  Whether it’s countries at war, politicians fighting during an election, couples trying to heal from an affair or bosses reprimanding their employees, people have given themselves the green light to harm one another.  It’s as though, in the heat of the moment, “anything goes.” 

Below are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

•    Politicians bad-mouthing one another for the purpose of increasing their chances of getting elected.
•    Spouses yelling, screaming, name-calling and even throwing things due to discovering an affair.
•    Countries hunting a leader down and killing him in retaliation for that leader killing others.
•    Friends bad-mouthing one another in response to gossip.
•    and on and on…

Continue reading "Do No Harm: A Silly Platitude or a Much-Needed Guideline? " »

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