Thursday, June 28, 2012
Therapist and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, has given us hope! As my recent guest on Anger 9-1-1, Diane shared her knowledge and expertise on anger, stress, optimistic living, and happiness. I wholeheartedly agree with Diane when she says moods and attitudes are contagious. Spend some time with a negative or depressed person and you’ll discover how easy it is to become infected by their attitude. What began as a good day rapidly digresses into a miserable and unpleasant experience.
But all is not lost! It is possible to inoculate yourself against negativity and maintain your happiness. Diane suggests that if you want more happiness in your life, follow these few simple rules:
1. Make sure your basic needs are being met. Whether nutritionally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically, etc. take care in getting what is essential for your well-being. This includes getting at least six to seven hours of sleep per night and exercising regularly. Keep a Journal of Truth. Log your activities each day for a week. Then take a few moments to review it and check for missing needs. This will allow you to incorporate them in your daily routine.
2. Remove toxic people from your life. Surround yourself with positive, upbeat, happy people and you will find yourself absorbing their attitudes.
3. Live in the moment. Too often, we get stuck in the past: the what if’s, the I should have’s, the why’s. Learn from the past but let go of it. And don’t worry about the future. The future is filled with unknowns and we tend to project the worst which leads to anxiety and worry. Plan for tomorrow but live for today. Put everything into perspective. Only deal with what is present to you at this precise moment. That’s enough for now. Otherwise it’s easy to overwhelm yourself.
4. Express how you feel. Don’t bottle your emotions up inside of you. Learn healthy ways to share them. Then process and heal each one.
5. Laugh and smile. Never underestimate the power of humor. Not only does it make us feel better but it also keeps us physically healthier.
Optimistic people recover quicker from issues, see things in a more positive light, heal more rapidly from illnesses, have healthier relationships, experience greater success, and overall, enjoy life to a greater degree. And the good news is: you can learn to be more positive. So, here’s to your happiness!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Some of us have been taught it is not ok to get angry; that on some level anger is a bad thing. And although it has (unfortunately) become a source of media entertainment some degree, it certainly is still considered socially unacceptable. There are those who are uncomfortable speaking their mind for fear of the possible repercussions. “How will others perceive me: will I be considered mean, difficult, a trouble-maker? I want people to like me and nice people don’t get angry.”
Some believe they have no voice or do not have a right to speak up; or perhaps what they have to say is of no value and others are not interested. Still others were taught as children that anger is sinful. Low self-esteem, the absence of confidence and misinformation are all contributors to suppressing anger.
But this behavior can have devastating consequences. Besides leading to possible health-related issues*, it can easily turn to resentment, bitterness, an inability to enjoy life, unhappiness, depression and relationship issues. In extreme cases, it can result in self-inflicted punishment, sabotaging success, passive-aggressive behavior and substance abuse.
*In The Secret Side of Anger, Dr. Bernie Siegel says, “One’s life and one’s health are inseparable. Genes do not make the decisions. Our internal environment does. You internalize anger and it destroys you. Self-induced healing is not an accident.”
Anger can be expressed safely and must be resolved internally.
Learn to express yourself through assertive behaviors: be respectful of the other party and confident in your own abilities to handle the situation well and deal with whatever the reaction may be. Being assertive means being concerned for the well-being of the other party and does not impose a “hierarchy” mentality.
Don’t be afraid to take the initiative but do remember to deal with facts only. Leave opinions, perceptions, assumptions, accusations, blame, demands, judgments and accusations locked in a closet somewhere. Be solution oriented: seek a resolution all can live with. Be willing and ready to compromise. Speak with confidence and set boundaries when necessary. Always be brief and to the point. Long-windedness can be frustrating for the other party and may lead to additional conflict.
And don’t forget to forgive. We all behave badly at times and other people become angry with us. Forgiveness heals any residual anger and allows us to live in peace.
State your Position and Request (assertive) rather than Opinion and Demand (aggressive).
Things don’t always work out the way we want. Just because we speak up, the situation may not improve. But at least you stated your position and created the possibility. Whatever the outcome, let it go and be at peace. Just as anger is a choice, so is peace. Choose wisely.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
No one is immune. We all know of, or have heard of someone in our community, who has taken their own life. Suicides among the military are on the rise for the first half of this year. And it is the third leading cause of death among people age 15-24. It is a crisis that can and must be taken seriously.
The events leading up to suicide are widespread and vary from individual to individual. Feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances can easily cause feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. When one is without hope, it impedes rational thinking. One cannot see beyond the pain they are experiencing. Isolation and the decision to keep their feelings to themselves rather than reach out for help only exacerbate the situation. It is imperative to be aware of some of the warning signs of suicide: isolation; being bullied; feelings of despair and/or depression; alcohol or substance abuse; talking about ending one’s life; obsessive thoughts of death and dying; giving away of personal possessions.
How can we help? There is no greater pain than to be rejected; to feel unloved or devalued. Feeling as though we are unwanted and have no significant value to those who matter to us, can lead to depression, low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide.
First and foremost, we need to be certain we always treat one another with dignity and respect, include them in our lives and let them know they matter to us.
Second: it is vitally important to avoid labeling ourselves “victims” of a particular circumstance or incident. A victim is one without power. I have power; I have free will and while I may not be able to fully control what happens in my life, I have 100% control over how I allow it to effect me. I can learn from life’s greatest challenges and grow stronger. Pay attention to your mindset. Be a person of courage and strength.
Third: monitor your thoughts at all times. Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. “I can’t handle this!” “Nothing is ever going to get better!” This kind of thinking will generate negative feelings of despair and helplessness. Change your mindset: “I can and will face this head-on! I’m strong, confident and determined to move beyond my current circumstance” will engender an attitude of resolve and fortitude. Focus on the solutions rather than what you are unhappy about.
Fourth: reach out for help. You do not have to do this alone. Seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness. It shows you are intelligent enough to recognize you are struggling with something serious and value yourself enough to get help. There is no shame. I’ve been there; done that.
Fifth: turn to God for strength, guidance, comfort - whatever you need. He is the Source of all healing. Trust in Him. He will take away your pain (even if your circumstances remain intact) and restore inner peace. “In time of trouble, He will set me upon a rock.” Psalms 27:5 Pray. It really works.
Sixth: stay positive. Put everything into perspective. Remember, all things shall pass. What seems monumental today by tomorrow will shrink to the size of a grain of sand.
Seven: give yourself some TLC. Take extra care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, recreate; do what feels good.
Eight: find the value in the experience you are having. Ask yourself, “What is this situation here to teach me? How can I take what I’ve learned and benefit from it? How can I use it to serve and benefit others?” Be proactive. Find meaning.
Remember, you are the master of your destiny. You are fearless, strong and capable of overcoming any adversity life puts in you path. Your life has purpose and value. And you matter.
For emergency assistance, call:
National Suicide Prevention hotline @ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Vet2Vet 1-800-SUICIDE (7843433)
Teen Nine Line 1-800-999-999
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
My guest today was attorney and mediator, Mari Frank. She shared some powerful tips on resolving conflict. Her mnemonic phrase “HARD LOVING” really packs a punch (figuratively speaking, of course!).
When dealing with one who is angry and trying to find resolution to an issue, try the following:
H - Halt: stop and breathe at the moment you feel yourself becoming upset. Refrain from becoming defensive. Remain calm.
A – Anger Control: Take notice of where the anger settles in your body – tense muscles, clenched fists, etc. Feel it. Your body is a messenger of your emotions.
R – Reverse the Reaction: take a moment and ease your physical symptoms. Relax your muscles, unclench your hands.
D – Disengage: release your defensiveness. It’s easy to feel under attack. Do not take personal offense to the others behavior. Remain neutral.
L – Listen: Listen objectively to what the other is saying. Listen effectively and receptively.
O – Openly Mirror and Restate Neutrally: reflect back what you heard them say.
V – Voice Open-Ended Questions: ask questions to learn more. “Can you explain what you mean?”
I – Imagine Solutions Together: brainstorm solutions to the issue. Request input from each party.
N – Non-Aggression: calmly respond to their suggestions or comments.
G – Go Away: if any eminent danger is present, leave immediately. If you reach a stalemate, calmly excuse yourself stating you will resume negotiations when both parties are calm and rational.
Mari refers to this technique as “solutioneering”. (Love it!)
The process of resolving conflicts does not have to be problematic and result is arguing or fighting. If you follow Mari’s techniques, which I wholeheartedly support, you will experience greater success in less time and will significantly less aggravation. Peaceful resolution is possible.