Friday, February 26, 2010

Fear or Faith: a Heavenly Story

I believe very strongly in the power of intention. I have been on tour with my new book, The Secret Side of Anger. for several months. When my book was released, I made the decision that in addition to the traditional methods of selling books, I specifically wanted to use mine to help non profits raise funds for their organizations. With the plunging economy, people were fearful of not having enough for themselves and were naturally cutting back on expenses. Non profits are hit particularly hard.

I, however, have a very deep faith in God and believe that he will continue to provide for me as he always has. I increased all of my donations.

The morning of one of my book signings, The Daily Record had an insert for the Market Street Mission, a homeless shelter with whom I had recently become affiliated. They were seeking donations for the upcoming holiday dinner. Of course, I thought, I'll write out a check. But then I decided that after my signing, I would ask for donations from the audience. After all, this was a local organization I'm sure everyone was familiar with. Not feeling comfortable with soliciting donations though, I put the idea aside.

The lecture began and I spoke about fear (one of the underlying causes of anger). I also spoke about my faith and trust in God and my ability to live without worry. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. For the first time ever, every single person in the audience bought a copy of The Secret Side of Anger. Some paid with $20 bills and told me to keep the change (that's $7!). "Put it to good use," they said. I was speechless! (And for me, that's quite a challenge.)

I returned home with far more money than books sold. Of course, there was no doubt as to where that money was intended. So along with my own personal check, I made a sizable donation to the Mission.

What happened that evening was further testimony to my belief that when you have pure intentions in your heart and put forth the appropriate effort, God makes miracles happen.

Put all fears to rest. Work unselfishly for the good of all humanity. God will do his part and your rewards will be heavenly.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Never, ever ask this question. It is the quickest way to offend someone and turn an ordinary conversation into an argument.

We've all encountered someone who is upset, distressed, angry, sad or not in a positive frame of mind. In an effort to find out what's wrong, we sometimes blurt out a rather offensive query.
The question (in question) is "What's your problem?" (emphasize "your", say it with an attitude and be sure to scrunch up your face.)

We've all said it or had others ask it of us. And the typical response is...? "Me?? I don't have a problem! What's you're problem?"

Wow, what just happened here? I'm asking a simple question of concern and you're reacting defensively. Now for sure someone has a problem and it certainly isn't me!
(I hear some of you laughing. Can you relate?)

So why is it we react so strongly to a seemingly innocent inquiry? Oftentimes, we hear something very different from what the other party is actually saying.
Rather than recognize the sincerity of the original request (assuming it is heartfelt), we hear an implied criticism. "You are the problem!" We take personal offense - we are being told there is something wrong with us. Feeling as though we are under attack, we respond with resistance or hostility.

(I find this reaction odd because if that same person walked into their mechanic's garage and was asked, "What's your problem?" they wouldn't react the same way. Why? Because one understands that the mechanic is referring to their vehicle and not them.)

So imagine how different the response would be if the one being questioned realized the other person was referring to their situation or experience and not them personally? We all have problems (an issue we're struggling with, a dilemma that needs to be resolved, a concern weighing heavily on our minds). Those internal issues are reflected in our behavior: the way we act, speak, our body language. The individual is addressing the apparent issue, not who we are as a person.

So what alternative approach can one use to better uncover the root of the problem?
Select one of the following and see if it results in a more cooperative response:

1. "You seem upset?" (My observation, not criticism). "Is something wrong?" (Some thing is clearly addressing the issue as opposed to attacking the individual.)

2. "Is everything ok?" (Again, every thing deals with a non-human entity.) "Is there anything I can do to be of assistance?"

Can you see how these questions sound less threatening? This will reduce the odds of the other person becoming defensive. While not 100% foolproof, they certainly increase the chances for a more positive dialogue. They have consistently worked well for me, especially when dealing with hostile people. I hope your results are equally as beneficial.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

R~E~S~P~E~C~T: This is What it Means to Me

Working with clients at the battered women's shelter is both a blessing and a challenge. Rarely are they happy about being mandated to attend my weekly anger management group. It is not uncommon for them to be angry and unattentive during our meetings. Some sit with folded arms and closed minds.
Last year was no exception. "Rebecca" was agitated and complained she didn't need this "crap". She had five kids to care for and this was taking her away from them. Her body language clearly stated how upset she was: she sat next to the exit door with arms and eyes closed. Periodically, she would mumble something under her breath. I didn't let her attitude phase me. If she disagreed with something I said, I would ask to hear her input. I acknowledged her view point as valid (it was) and told her I appreciated her input. Not once did I challenge or criticize her. Even in the most sensitive of topics (I'm a strong Christian, she's an atheist), I respected an valued her position.
As weeks turned into months, Rebecca's attitude slowly changed. I was no longer viewed as the enemy but rather someone who was caring and accepting. Gradually, her chair moved closer to me, arms unfolded and she took an interest in what I had to say. She even began participating in the meetings.
Several months later, she came to me excited with the news that she was finally moving into her own apartment. I was thrilled for her as she put her arms around me to give me a big hug.
"I'm going to miss you," she said. "Can I still come to the meetings?"
"Of course!" I told her. "I would love to have you here."
She had gotten a really good job in her field of nursing. When I asked her where she would be working, she stated, "Oakland Care Center." My jaw hit the floor. We had just put my dad in that facility. "What's his name?" she asked. "I'll make sure he gets extra special care." I knew she would.
Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, even and especially when they are at their worst. Respect will bring out the best in them. Be the example. Let others aspire to be like you.

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