Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sticks and Stones: Disarming Hurtful Words

I used to pride myself on being sensitive. The problem was I was easily hurt by the things other people said to me. I lived in a chronic state of pain which lead to a lifetime of unhappiness and low self-esteem. But the alternative (being cold and aloof) was less appealing so I resigned myself to a life of sorrow. But as I got older and more comfortable with myself, the criticisms and negative comments of others became less problematic for me. I realized that words have no power other than what I assign to them. The word stupid for example does not evoke any particular emotion unless I take personal offense to being called stupid

If you are easily offended by what others say, consider working on building a healthier sense of self, one which allows you to listen to both positive and negative comments directed at you. There is much that can be learned from the unattractive remarks we hear about ourselves. After all, which one of us would not benefit from correcting some of our imperfections? Here are a few more tips:

1. Don't take personal offense to what is being said. Their truth is more opinion than fact.                                      
 2. Listen objectively to their comments. Like a mirror, people reflect back to us what they see that we may not be aware of. This can prove to be of great benefit to us.                                                                                
 3. Pay attention to your internal reaction. What does it reveal about you? Are you too sensitive, insecure, opinionated, close-minded?  Work on improving these.                                                                                                                                                  4. 4. Did you misunderstand or misinterpret what the other party said? Ask for clarification.                                                         
 5. If they are deliberately being rude or hurtful address your concerns and set boundaries. Then forgive them for their poor behavior and let go of the hurt. 

If you are the perpetrator of  hurtful words, take into consideration the following suggestions:

1. Before beginning, consider your motives. Are they honorable? If not, do not proceed until they are.                     
 2. Speak the truth and temper it with compassion and sensitivity.                                                                                                  
3. Carefully choose your words making sure to consider all possible methods of expressing yourself.                            
 4. Imagine how the other party is interpreting what you are saying. Put yourself in their shoes.                                                   
 5. Remember that it is what you say as well as how you say it. Choose polite honesty over brutal honesty every time. You're efforts will be greatly appreciated and you will earn the respect of all parties.    

Words don't have to hurt. It is the individual who gives them power. Choose your words carefully for once spoken they can never be silenced.   

Some great articles to read:

 "M & M's: Motive and Method" @

 "Tell It Like It Is" @

"The Looking Glass" @

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Four Keys to Overcoming Anger

I facilitated an anger management support group for several years. One woman began attending shortly after our first meeting. Her name was Joan. Joan's marriage of thirty plus years was in trouble. Admitting she had a bad temper, her husband recently filed for divorce. She was devastated. "I don't want to lose him," she said, fighting back the tears. "He's such a good man and I really do love him. I need to learn how to control my anger. Can you help me?"

"Control your anger?" I asked. "No. I don't teach people to control anger. I explain to them where their anger is originating (the root cause) and help them heal those issues. Once accomplished, the anger never manifests. But it's going to mean being brutally honest with who you are, what your issues are, and how poorly you have behaved. Are you prepared to do that?" "Yes," she replied. "I'm willing to do whatever I have to to save my marriage." I assured her that I would as well.

Over the next six months, Joan drove an hour and a half to attend the Antidote to Anger group. Regardless of the weather, each week she bared her soul in front of me and a room full of complete strangers. Much of what she shared was painful and sometimes even shameful to her. Yet she was never held back. Each week, she revealed more and more about her troubled past and how her pain and fear repeatedly emerged in her relationship with her husband. "It's not him, it's me", she said on more than one occasion. "He's a good husband and father. I know these issues are mine." Good, I thought. At least she's taking responsibility and not blaming him for her behavior. There's hope.

Joan quickly earned the respect of every member of the group and we were all genuinely elated when six months later she announced that she and her husband were back together. "He can't believe the changes I've made in myself! Neither can I. It's like a dream-come-true!" In spite of their recent success, Joan continued to attend our meetings faithfully each week for another year. Due to a change in circumstances, I had to terminate the group. It was hard saying goodbye to someone I had become fond of.  I told her I would keep her and her family in my heart and prayers. I've thought of her often but  never heard from her after that night.

So imagine my surprise when I recently presented a lecture in a church nearby and in walks Joan and her husband! Wearing a smile that lit up the room, I was greeted by a warm embrace from both of them. Her husband hugged me and thanked me for saving his marriage. "I cannot thank you enough," he stated, as he wiped a tear from his eye. "We have never been happier." "You need to thank your wife," I replied. "She did all the work and deserves all the credit."

Why is it that Joan was able to save a marriage on the brink of divorce while other couples fail miserably? There were four key elements present within Joan that are the keys for anyone making a major life transformation:

1. Motivation: Joan was highly motivated, willing to do whatever it took for as long as was necessary to resolve her personal issues and save her marriage.
2. Responsibility: she took 100% ownership in being the source of this issue. She did not blame her husband or anyone else for her anger and poor choices in managing it. And she made no excuses.
3. Solution: Joan was solution-oriented. She actively sought practical suggestions and strategies to put into practice.
4.Action: Without hesitation, Joan began making the appropriate behavioral changes that improved the quality of her life and ultimately her relationship with her husband.
Joan is a perfect example of what it takes to make a marriage work. I fully expect to get an invitation to their 50th anniversary party.

To order The Secret Side of Anger visit Pick up a copy of The Great Truth as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Assertive Anger: Tough With a Twist

Sixteen years ago, I moved to a quiet dead-end street.    Imagine my dismay when I discovered that I lived near a teenage heavy metal band!  As day turned to evening, my silent haven was interrupted by the sound of innocent drums and guitars being tortured!
I was angry.  I phoned the police to see if this racket exceeded the town’s noise ordinance.  Not even close.  I closed my windows, but the summer heat made it unbearable to sleep.  I tried earplugs but those little pieces of foam were no match for the gazillion decibels of cacophony that filtered into my bedroom each night.  I was frustrated and quickly approaching desperate.

I had to “confront the offenders” and resolve this.  But how?  I was upset so the first thing I needed was to calm down and change my attitude.  If I went there with a chip on my shoulder, that would be reflected in how I spoke to them.  History reminded me that the outcome would be poor.

I decided to view the situation through their eyes:  teenagers hanging out practicing music (I use the term “music” loosely).  Not doing anything wrong, not breaking the law, just having fun.  That’s a good thing.  That helped me change how I felt about them.

Next, I gave them the benefit of the doubt:   they probably don’t realize that the volume (not to mention the genre, ok, I did mention it, but not to them.) of their music was offending someone.  I couldn’t fault them for that.

A shift in my perception changed my attitude completely.  Instead of anger, I now felt understanding.  Next, I needed to decide what I wanted to accomplish (to convince them to “dis-band”!).  Was I being fair?  After all, I mow the lawn on Saturday mornings.  Couldn’t that sound be offensive to them?  What teen gets up at the crack of dawn on weekends?  Yet, no one ever complained about it.  So, what could I reasonably request of them?   

Once I answered that, the next thing was to decide my approach:  approach, not confrontation.  Approach sounds much less intimidating. Confrontation sounds like I’m ready to fight.  I wasn’t… ready, or willing, to fight, that is.

 I went to their house the next time they were practicing.

“Hi,” I’m your new neighbor.  You guys must be serious about your band.  You practice a lot.”

Yeah, he replied, they had a “gig”- hoped to make it big someday.  (Ah, yes, every young boy’s dream - to be a famous rock star!)  Who was I to squash that dream?

“Music’s important to me, too,” I continued.   “I feel bad asking you this, but when you practice late into the evening, I get very little sleep.  Could you either end a little earlier or turn the volume down a bit?”

The whole time I spoke, I kept my tone polite and respectful knowing that this is how I would like to be spoken to.

“Sure,” he.  “Sorry.”

“Thanks.  I really appreciate it.”  (I really did.  He didn’t have to honor my request.  After all, legally he wasn’t at fault.)

That wasn’t so bad.  The problem was resolved and I met my very nice young neighbor.

The next time you have a problem with someone in your life, try the following tips for resolving the dispute:

1.    Watch your attitude and approach.  They ultimately determine the outcome of the situation.   Leave your ego and anger at home.
2.    Polite yields polite, respect yields respect.  Be the first to offer it and most likely it will be returned.  Ghandi said:  “I must first be the change I want to see in others.”
3.    Begin by introducing yourself.  Establish common grounds such as, “We’re both homeowners who live in this beautiful neighborhood.”  This acts as a bonding agent.
4.    Ask if they are aware that there is a situation you are having difficulty with. (Remember, the boys didn’t realize that their music was offensive to me.)  Give them the benefit of the doubt.
5.    Don’t accuse, threaten, judge, name-call or yell.  Instead, ask questions to learn more.
6.    State your request.  Make sure it is fair and reasonable.  Ask yourself, “would you be receptive to someone making that same request of you?”
7.    Keep the ultimate goal in mind.  Stay focused on what  you need to accomplish and the best way to do that.
8.    Be willing to compromise.  Both sides need to be satisfied with the outcome or the problem (or a new one) will resurface.
9.    Show your appreciation for their time and effort.  “Thanks so much.  I’m really glad that we were able to resolve this.”  We all respond well to recognition.

Conflict resolution isn’t hard.  Most of us were never taught how.  But with the new tools you’ve acquired, hopefully you’ll feel a more comfortable the next time a situation arises. Remember:  “We cannot be a world at peace, Until we are first a people of peace.”   - Janet Pfeiffer

Order your copy of The Secret Side of Anger @

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Boston Bombings Can Trigger More PTSD

There’s no escaping trauma in the world today. Bombings, hurricanes, wars, domestic violence, gangs – it’s everywhere you can imagine. Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event can put an individual at risk for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. Any real or perceived threat to oneself or another can trigger a traumatic response.

Once limited primarily to those returning from war, we now know that a child being bullied in school, a witness of a violent crime or a survivor of a natural disaster can all suffer the devastating effects of PTSD even years after the event has occurred.

Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

nightmares ~ hyper vigilance ~ panic attacks ~ avoidance of certain places, experiences, or situations
flashbacks ~ feeling emotionally numb ~ hopelessness about the future ~ memory problems ~ difficulty concentrating ~ relationship issues

These symptoms can be debilitating and seriously impact the quality of one’s life. But PTSD is curable and Dr. Perry uses many natural and spiritual modalities to achieve this. She recommends the following: 

Reach out for support from friends, family, and support groups. Include counseling as a part of your treatment.
Hypnotherapy, guided meditation, Reiki, healing touch, and other energy modalities have all proven very effective.
Keeping a journal is very therapeutic as it allows one to identify and process many emotions that may otherwise lie suppressed within the mind.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is one of the newer and very promising methods of healing PTSD. 

Whatever method you choose, know that one does not have to be held captive to a past experience, no matter how terrifying. Healing is possible. Everyone deserves to fully enjoy all the wonders of life.

You can find Dr. Perry at and order a copy of her book, Courageous Wake.

Pick up a copy of The Secret Side of Anger and The Great Truth @