Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Anger: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As a child I was taught that anger was a bad emotion but I've have since come to understand that there are no bad feelings. All emotions have purpose and value as they teach us about ourselves based on how we react to external events. We assign value to each depending on how people act them out. If someone feels angry and reacts by screaming or hitting someone, it is pretty well agreed upon that that's bad. Hence the feeling behind the behavior is labeled likewise. Keep in mind that it's imperative to always separate the feeling from the behavior. The emotion may be appropriate to the situation but the actions that follow may not be.

GOOD ANGER: Anger is a necessary part of our existence as it alerts us to the fact that something is wrong or in need of our attention. For example, if I'm constantly annoyed at my husband, my anger may signify that I have too many expectations of him and am not accommodating enough of our differences.  Becoming more aware of my arrogance and consciously changing my thoughts about him enable me to move beyond anger to a place of loving acceptance. My anger ultimately proves to be a blessing as the peace I now acquire not only benefits me but my husband as well. 

We may also experience anger when we witness an injustice is occurring. Without becoming upset or irate, how would we know that we need to take action to correct it? In this regard, laws have been created by man to protect the innocent and create a fair and equitable society for everyone.
And in the event we feel threatened or unsafe, whether physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally, etc, anger prepares us for the vital fight or flight response. We either stay to correct a wrongdoing or we flee in order to keep ourselves safe. 

BAD ANGER: Anger becomes problematic when it is mishandled, misdirected (at those who are undeserving) or the result of a misconception. 

A popular song, Lost Boy, is one of my new top five favorites. I recently listened to it on Youtube and much to my surprise discovered that it's performed by a lovely dark skinned young woman. I had envisioned  a 14 year old Caucasian girl with a short pixie haircut. I mentioned to a friend of mine how surprised I was. "She didn't sound black", I stated. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, clearly disturbed by my comment.  "Just how are blacks supposed to sound?" She was clearly irate. "Some black singers have a very distinct kind of twang (for lack of a better descriptive term) to their voice", I responded, "much like a Southerner might or an Aussie from down under, a Hispanic sporting a Spanish accent, and so on. Each has a unique sound to their voice that gives insight into their heritage or where they're from." 

In this instance, my friend clearly had unresolved issues with racism, insecurity, poor self-image or some such issue. Her reaction indicated that she was not comfortable with my comment and perceived it to be derogatory. Such a perception led her to respond with anger. When one takes personal offense to what others are saying or doing or misinterprets another's innocent actions as hostile, their anger reveals a deeper rooted issue that is causing distress to themselves. However, with serious introspection, one can determine the root cause of their indignation and thus seek an effective solution through understanding and healing. 

Anger can be detrimental to our physical health as explosive or long-term anger can cause the body's natural immune system to break down making one more susceptible to a range of diseases from high blood pressure to ulcers, cancer and more. There are also times when we use anger against ourselves, when we are so upset we may deny ourselves the chance to be happy or to take advantage of a wonderful new opportunity; to laugh or find joy in the moment or to fully express or receive love.  Anger can damage our outlook on life, impede our emotional well-being, and rob us of our overall sense of enjoyment in life.

UGLY ANGER: Anger at its worst becomes ugly when it is used to hurt or offend others or cause any type of damage to a person or object.  Criticism, belittling, embarrassing, ignoring, and gossiping  are all expressions of anger at its worst. Acts of racism, physical violence, hate speech, betrayals are all violent forms of anger being expressed with the sole purpose of causing extreme pain or hardship to another. Intimidation, manipulation, threats and coercion all seek to gain control over another party through the use of force. Damage to nature or personal property through acts of rioting and looting or individual acts of rage are all reminders of just how ugly anger can become when it's intent is to harm rather than to foster positive change. 

To summarize: anger is neither a bad emotion nor a good one. It's simply a messenger. When we are able to understand why we react in anger as opposed to another feeling, we can uncover the root cause of our issues, resolve them and ultimately channel our actions into creating positive change that benefits not only the self but those around us as well. Use anger to your advantage. Much good can come from doing so.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ten Tips to Diffuse a Volatile Situation

We are living in a very volatile and dangerous age. Not only have issues of domestic violence, child and animal abuse, anger in the workplace and so on been more apparent, but we are definitely witnessing a rise of violence within our communities. Gangs and individual assaults seem to be taking a back seat to protests by militant groups claiming to seek justice but who in actuality are promoting and engaging in acts of violence themselves. What could be a peaceful gathering intent on seeking a reasonable solution to a problem escalates to one of violence and often bloodshed. Angry and passionate individuals determined to right an injustice only create further mayhem by advocating and engaging in the very acts they condemn.  

But is it possible for large masses of angry individuals to successfully , reasonable, and peacefully find solutions to perceived issues of extreme injustice? Yes, if both sides follow these ten recommended tips: 

1. Approach other party(s) in a non hostile non aggressive way. By taking a non threatening approach the other party feels relatively confident that they are not at risk physically or otherwise and therefore the need for a defensive response is unnecessary.
2. Be open minded and fair in the way you present your grievances. Refrain from using such phrases as "you always", "we never" "it can't". In each case, one assumes a scenario that is not necessarily true, appears extreme and unrealistic, and creates a mindset of preconceived defeat.
3. Be respectful in the way you speak to and treat one another. Passion need not translate into disrespectful or degrading conduct towards the disagreeing party. Always be mindful that the amount of cooperation you receive from the other party is in direct proportion to the amount of respect you afford them. So be generous.
 4. Deal with facts, not simply feelings. Too often we rant about how angry or hurt or offended we are. Dealing with facts enables us to more accurately see the true nature of the incident. Adding feelings to the dialogue lends a deeper level of understanding as to how the incident is impacting both sides.
5. Keep everything in the proper perspective. Exaggerating may add an element of drama but is only effective on stage. Deal with the serious issues and leave those of lesser importance for another time.
6. Remove any extraneous issues; stick to the original topic. When discussing a serious issue, refrain from going off on tangents. It's easy to become distracted by related issues but only takes precious resources away from the primary one.
7. Refrain from any inflammatory or accusatory statements. Quickly diffuse any that may occur. Accusations, blame, assumptions, and exaggerations can all incite. There are those who will deliberately try to provoke the other into losing control. Be aware of the intent and nature of every comment and quickly diffuse anything that can escalate to something more serious. Don't ever take the bait.
8. Listen objectively with the intent to understand the other person, to gain deeper insight into the nature of the conflict, and to extract any possible solutions or partial solutions offered by the other party.
9. Be willing to compromise, recognizing that each side believes their position is valid and correct.
10. Show appreciation for the time and effort the other side has put forth. A little appreciation goes a long way and can enable both sides to reach a peaceful resolution more efficiently and quickly.

With true concern for the well-being of each other and a sincere desire to resolve the issue peacefully, anyone can find a reasonable solution to any challenge by following the above Ten Tips. It can be challenging but with practice and determination and a sincere regard for justice, one can realize the path to coexisting harmoniously with others. And we certainly are all deserving of that. 

Let me reiterate: "The amount of cooperation you receive from the other party is in direct proportion to the amount of respect you afford them." Be generous.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Black Lives Matter Clearly Misguided

Morris County's Daily Record July 15, 2016

I am deeply disturbed that there is now a chapter of Black Lives Matter in Morristown, NJ. Any incident where a police officer takes the life of another human being is distressing and must be taken seriously. However,  BLM is a militant group that brings anarchy and violence to their protests. While they may appear to be concerned about the lives of innocent black men, the looting and rioting that occurs at their marches, along with chants calling for the slaughter of our men and women in blue, is anything but peaceful and unifying. If they are truly concerned about the lives of their men, where is their outrage at the 4,472 black men murdered by other black men between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 2012? According to an FBI report, during that same period of time, only 112 black men died from police involved killings. 

They claim that police are unfairly targeting black men but read the statistics:  In 2012, white males were 38 percent of the population and committed 4,582 murders. Black males were just 6.6 percent of the population but committed 5,531 murders. In other words, black people –a fifth of the size – committed almost 1,000 more murders than whites. The Washington Post tracked fatal police shootings and since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,502 people have been killed by on-duty police officers - 732 were white, 381 were black. Perhaps the real agenda of BLM is something other than what they claim.
Are there incidences of racism among cops? Certainly. Racism exists in every facet of society. But to advocate the senseless murder of those who risk their lives to protect you and I is criminal in and of itself. Has even one of those who are so critical of our police officers ever risked their own lives to protect others? I seriously doubt it. Easy to criticize when you're not the one putting your life on the line every day.

And I cannot even express how dismayed I am to hear that there were Christian pastors who joined a group that singles out the protection of one class of people. God would never advocate for the safeguarding of only some of His children nor for a group that clearly promotes racism, segregation, and violence. Their chant, "No justice, no peace", is unchristian in every sense of the word. Jesus' message was one of peace and equality. Race is a man-made concept and has no basis in our Christian doctrine. All lives matter; all of us are equal in the eyes of God - none has greater or lesser value. Why are we not all joining hands in calling for unity and peace and justice for everyone, equally? I am sympathetic to any individual treated unjustly but let's not continue to promote the myth of different races and instead address each incident objectively. 

Kalyn Chapman James, the first black Miss Alabama, called Dallas sniper Micah Xavier Johnson a "martyr" for killing five cops. "I don't feel sad for the officers that lost their lives." Seriously? This is what America has come to? I hope that the next time Morristown's BLM leader, T'Anna Kimbrough, calls for a demonstration she lets me know. I'll be there with my own sign: "God says, 'All life matters'. So love your neighbors, all of them. Period." Please stop the divisive speech that only leads to the further separation of humanity and realize that we are all one. 

Please share this message. Thank you and may God bless all of us with His love and peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


With the exception of impersonators, most people believe that they only have one voice. That voice is used to express one's feelings and needs. It  can be vocalized either loudly or softly; it's tone can change from one of sarcasm to that of compassion; one's voice can be used to express happiness, anger, sadness, silliness, compliments or criticisms. We have our "baby" voice, (typically reserved for newborns), our disciplinary voice (used for our children), our boisterous voice (most commonly found at ballgames, amusement parks or hurled at obnoxious drivers), and our multi-purpose whisper. Words are powerful energies that can encourage, degrade, incite fear, convey love, and so much more. What few people realize is that we have not a single voice but actually two: we have our inner voice - our thoughts - which may then be expressed verbally in our outer voice. Let's examine the role of both and how they impact our relationships.

In Chapter 4 of my book, The Secret Side of Anger, I speak about a formula that drives the course of our life which I refer to as T~E~C~O Magic: Thoughts, Emotions, Choice, Outcome. The most powerful tool we have are our thoughts, our internal voice that speaks to us throughout the course of every day. From forming opinions about the weather, to determining what items of clothing we'll wear, to what we think about our children, spouse, friends, coworkers, and even strangers, what we say to ourselves impacts how we feel and ultimately how we treat others in our life.

Consider this: People often believe that when they meet the right person they magically fall in love with them. In most circumstances, at some point the magic fades and they fall out of love. This is a common misconception. What actually takes place is that initially our internal voice repeatedly reminds us of the wonderful attributes the other person possesses. "She's beautiful!" "He's so smart!" "I love the way he's so laid back and easy going." Our internal voice reminds us of everything wonderful  about our significant other. Thoughts, the words and opinions we form in our mind, create Emotions. All feelings are generated by our internal voice. And it's the feelings that we eventually act out in the subsequent Choices we make - how we choose to speak to and/or treat our partner. We may share compliments or express our gratitude at having such a wonderful person to share our life with. In this case, the  Outcome, or result, is a relationship that flourishes. 

However, at some point our thoughts typically begin to change. The positive, loving reminders are exchanged for harsh criticism. "She's beautiful" is replaced with "She conceited." The quality once referred to as "smart" now is defined as "arrogant".  "Laid back and easy going" is relabeled "lazy and a wimp." Regardless of the individual's character or actually behaviors, it is our internal voice, how we label them, that ultimately determines how we feel about them. Feelings change over the course of any relationship not necessarily based on the changes that occur within each party but rather how each person chooses to see their partner. People will choose to see what they want to see and feel what they want to feel about one another. The truth about who that person actually is has little, if anything, to do with it. 

How we feel about our partner dictates how we treat them. Those who are treated well remain  in relationships and work together to foster a healthy, satisfying, lifetime partnership. Those who allow their inner voice to poison their emotions will ultimately sabotage any love and commitment the two originally shared.  One can secure the well-being of their marriage, or any other significant relationship, by utilizing this one secret weapon: monitor and carefully choose your internal voice for it determines how you feel and treat your spouse and ultimately directs the course of your relationship.

Thought ~ Emotion ~ Choice ~ Outcome: TECO Magic: it really works. I should know: this is what's kept my 20-year marriage alive and happy. 

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