Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One Key Eliminates Fighting Forever

Conflict and fighting are not synonymous. Although they very often go hand-in-hand, disagreements need not end up as arguments, fights, or physical altercations. A  conflict is simply two forces in opposition: a husband and wife disagree on where to spend their vacation; you support the Republican party, your friend is a staunch Democrat; best friends listen to radically different music. Conflict can actually be a very positive force in our lives as it introduces us to new ideas, new possibilities, and the opportunity to learn and expand our world. Fighting, on the other hand, is based on hostility and struggle to obtain what is desired.

Yet many people would gladly have a root canal rather than address a conflict. There are yes- men, people pleasers, and the peace-keepers, all of whom seek to maintain the status quo as opposed to upsetting anyone or anything. An undeniable aspect of life, resolving our differences is something few of us were properly taught how to do. As children, very often the larger or more aggressive child would win the dispute, leaving the other one feeling defeated and resentful. Some grow into adulthood learning to cower to the stronger one, others become defensive and prepare to fight for their individual rights. Either way, we approach conflict with great trepidation and angst, anticipating the worst.

The key to resolving conflict is never by using avoidance techniques. An uncomfortable reaction to conflict is the result of the internal issues we have not yet resolved that are being triggered by the event. Here's an example: if my experiences in life have led me to feel unimportant, if I have felt as though no one really cares about me or how I feel, then when my husband tells me he wants to go out for MacDonald's (knowing that I would much prefer Chinese food) my insecurities are triggered and I become defensive. At that moment, I experience him not as my loving partner but rather my opposition. I am prepared to argue and fight in order to be treated fairly. 

Emotions act as messengers - they alert us to those troublesome issues we need to address and heal within us. Once I acknowledge that his behavior is actually triggering my own insecurities, I can  begin the process of strengthening my self-worth. Feeling strong and self-assured in my own skin allows me to debate our disagreement calmly and confidently, finding a mutually satisfactory resolution. Resorting to fighting or aggressive tactics is completely unnecessary because no painful buttons are being pushed. 

Conflict is an ever-present part of our lives but it needn't escalate into a battle. They key to eliminating fighting lies within me. When I heal my internal issues, disagreements are discussed and resolved with relative ease.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Creating a Peace Plan

While it's important to understand, express, manage, diffuse, and heal your anger, imagine how much easier it would be to prevent outside forces from irritating you from the get go? You can learn to be emotionally unaffected by the drama and chaos around you. Rest assured, I'm not suggesting that you allow people to behave badly and simply shrug them off. Nor am I recommending that when you see an injustice or someone being hurt that you ignore it so as not to become upset. What I am saying is this: anger is a choice. So is inner peace. It is the ability to remain calm in the midst of chaos, to maintain focus when you are under attack, to make rational decisions based on intellect rather than feelings. It's similar to medical personnel in an emergency room. They see tragedy and crises every day and are trained to remain somewhat emotionally detached in order to deal with them in the most efficient way possible. In many cases, these are life-and-death situations and one cannot afford to make even the slightest mistake.

Creating a Peace Plan is like a diet: when you create a menu of foods that are healthy to eat, you stay focused on only buying, cooking, and eating those. In that way, you develop healthy eating habits and your body responds accordingly. Being tempted by high calorie, high fat, or unhealthy foods becomes less appealing as you savor the positive changes in your body. You don't ever want to lose what you have obtained.

So it is with peace: once you experience it you never want to succumb to angry outbursts again. Your serenity is sacred and you refuse to relinquish it to the offensive behaviors of others or to circumstance that are out of your control. While issues will always arise and need our attention, we are now able to address them from a completely different mind-set, from one of peaceful surrender (?)
In the same fashion that we create a diet or develop a business plan, we can also create a plan for peace than prevents anger from controlling our lives. You already know those activities and attitudes that contribute to your sense of well-being. Draw up a list and begin incorporating them into your daily routine. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Refrain from judging others. When we label other people ("she's a jerk", "he's a waste of my time") we are forming negative and unfavorable opinions of them. Any negative thought will generate a negative feeling. Replace judgment with understanding and  compassion.
2. Be grateful. Many people continually complain about everything that is wrong with their lives and/or the world. None of us is without fault - everyone can use some improvement. As sad a state of affairs as the world is currently in, there is still much good to be found. Focusing on the blessings in your life rather than the shortages will enable you to maintain a feel-good attitude.
3. When given the opportunity to be right or be kind, choose kindness every time. (Note: you are always given the choice.) The payoff is huge.
4. Practice peace-inducing activities such as aerobic activities (releases endorphins), listening to soothing music, reading uplifting material, reciting a mantra to maintain focus.
5. Put everything into the proper perspective. Ask yourself, "Will this issue matter in ten years? Will I even remember it?" If the answer is no, let it go.
6. Choose to love unconditionally (it is possible, just takes practice) and forgive freely.
7. Remove all expectations of others. They are not here to be who you think they should be, to live their lives the way you feel is right, or to learn life's lessons in your time frame.
8. Practice deep breathing. Oxygen to the brain is very soothing and comforting.
9. Meditate, whether in the traditional form or simply by taking time to focus on something peaceful.
10. Spend time in nature. Her healing properties and abilities to calm are extraordinary.
11. Touch: human touch has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and produce a state of calm. Don't be afraid to hug one another. Human touch is very therapeutic.
12. Treat yourself to a good massage or reflexology session. Releasing muscle tension on a regular basis is physically and emotionally healthy. You can give yourself or your partner a good massage if a professional one is not within your means.
13. Spend time with your pet. My dogs have the ability to calm and soothe me immediately.
14. Sit in a quiet room with ambient lighting and candles. Simply sit and enjoy the quiet. Really. I know it sounds hard but it works.
15. Pray. Being connected to your higher power, to God, to your source of Love and Healing creates a sense of tranquility and stillness unlike any other. Rest assured that with God all is well, even though it may not be what you had expected or wanted. All is exactly as it is meant to be.

Peace is the ability to accept that which is. Life was never meant to go exactly as we had planned. Knowing that each experience we have, no matter how unfair, unjust, frightening, or painful is exactly what we must endure in order to fulfill a higher purpose in life, alleviates anxiety, anger, and suffering. It has taken me many years and a lot of angst to come to this awareness but having done so, I no longer fear what life has in store for me. My awareness that there is always a greater good to  my current circumstance thwarts anger and fear. My faith in God restores my sense of stillness as I realize all is exactly as it is mean to be.

Practice peace. Make is a conscious part of your daily life. Eventually it becomes habitual and will require little if any effort.

"Some people believe that when you have your health you have everything. I believe that when you have inner peace you have all you will ever need."

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Violence, 911, and War: There's a Better Way

Since the beginning of time, wars have been fought in an effort to bring about peace. Have we accomplished that yet? Maybe violence isn't the answer.

I am a peace lover. Not only do I promote peaceful coexistence but I also live peacefully with others. I do not argue or fight; I do not promote or instigate dissension between family or friends; I am careful never to offend anyone and apologize quickly if I do. I have yet to meet anyone who loves  brutality or war yet I continually encounter those who live violent lives.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said, "It is not enough to say, 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace." But how is that possible in a world filled with terrorists determined to annihilate all those who oppose their radical ways? Lawfully, we have a right to defend ourselves against those who pose a threat to us. We may use reasonable force in the face of peril. Therefore, if someone endangers my life, I may have a legal right to take theirs. 

But my religious beliefs tell me hurting and killing others is wrong. The Sixth Commandment clearly states "Thou shalt not kill." To the best of my knowledge, there is no amendment which states, "with the following exceptions." All human life is sacred and I firmly believe in the preservation of such.  But do I have a moral right to extinguish the light of another in order to protect mine? Herein lies my quandary. 

In my latest book, The Great Truth, I speak of a great Spiritual Truth which redefines the meaning of our existence. Life is not about my experiences nor my relationships nor being happy. I firmly believe that in each human encounter God expects us to respond in accordance with Divine Law. Do I make decisions that are in my best interest or do I obey my Heavenly Father? As in war, a soldier may be given a command by his/her superior but feels their way is a better one. Yet, the soldier is obligated to obey the commanding officer not only for the soldier's best interest but for the safety and benefit of the entire unit and ultimately their country as well. One arrogant act of disobedience can prove catastrophic. 

So it is with God's Command. We may not always be privy to the bigger picture. Yet if we are true disciples of the Lord God, then we must obey each of His Laws without question, trusting that His Way is the right way. We do not hand-pick those teachings which momentarily suit our needs.
In a recent statement regarding the latest terrorist attacks in Seria, Pope Francis calls for a peaceful response: "Violence and war are never the way to peace... War always marks the failure of peace; it is always a defeat for humanity." Godly words, for sure.

The human side of me struggles with the dilemma of how I would respond should someone attack one of my children or grandchildren. Would I use deadly force to protect them or would I relinquish my human rights to Divine Decree?

Matthew 16:24  ~ Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."

Maybe there is a higher purpose to not waging war or fighting back. After all, this world and all its events are  but a moment in time. It's the next life that is eternal.I pray that I am a true disciple of the Lord and will faithfully follow His teachings. "Peace is the way, not a goal." ~ Janet Pfeiffer
Order your copy of The Secret Side of Anger or The Great Truth @

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Children of Divorce: The Angry Aftermath

Divorce is difficult for everyone. Even though children are resilient in many areas of life, divorce takes its toll on the youngest family members as well. While superficially they may appear to be fine, their internal struggles and turmoil are often hidden beneath an exterior of normalcy. 

Confusion, anger, hurt, frustration, fear, and anxiety are just some of the emotions children of divorce grapple with. They may be expressed as angry outbursts, moodiness, falling grades, truancy, defiance, self-destructive behaviors, isolation, promiscuity, and more. It is critical for parents to maintain open communication with them during this uncertain period of transition offering them unconditional love and support, as much information about the divorce as is age-appropriate, and a sense of security and reassurance of the future.
I went through a divorce thirty-one years ago when my children were still relatively young. I witnessed how their anger got expressed at various stages during subsequent years. It is imperative for parents to understand that anger is merely a symptom of a deeper emotional issue. All anger comes from hurt, fear, or frustration.  Let's take a look at how each root cause impacts children.

Hurt: it is not uncommon for children to feel a sense of rejection when one parent leaves the marital home. Whether by their choice or their spouse, daily contact is one of several ways a child feels loved by their parents. Time spent together validates the child's self-worth. When that dynamic of the relationship is altered, a child often feels rejected, neglected, unworthy, and therefore unloved. Daily interaction between the children and the absent parent can minimize or prevent the pain of a perceived or real rejection. 

Fear: the child's world is being turned upside down. Daily routines, their sense of security, and sense of belonging can be shattered by the dissolution of the marriage. The uncertainty of their future creates anxiety (fear) that often gets expressed as anger. It is imperative to reassure the children that even though their current situation is changing, both parents are still present to make decisions that will affect them. Helping them to see the potential in their new living conditions and teaching them that change ultimately brings about personal growth can help alleviate any worry they may experience.

Frustration: by nature, children want their families to remain intact. Frustration arises when a child feels powerless to maintain a certain status quo. Adults are making decisions that the child may be resisting yet they lack the authority to prevent it from occurring. By helping the child to focus on those areas they do have control over, and  by taking their needs and desires into account, children can maintain some sense of control in the decision-making process and thereby reduce their levels of frustration.

I am a believer in the sanctity of marriage. I support "for better or worse, till death do us part". However, I do recognize that divorce is a reality for many of us, including me. When children are present, it takes things to a whole new level. Parents can greatly assist their children in navigating the challenges of their new family circumstances by following a few simple suggestions:

1. Maintain an amicable relationship with your ex. Remember, that whatever you do to him/her you are ultimately doing to your children. If you hurt them, you hurt your child.
2. Try to keep the daily routine as consistent as possible for the children. This offers them some sense of comfort and normalcy.
3. Children must always be the priority. Be certain to spent a significant amount of quality time with them each day. Like food and water, they need daily contact with each parent.
4. Make certain to keep the lines of communication open and honest. Only share information about the divorce that they absolutely must know. Adult issues should never be discussed with children.
5. Acknowledge their anger and help them to express it in a healthy way. Show them how to process and heal it. Forgiveness is a critical component to the healing process.
6. Reassure your children that the divorce was an issue between the adults only and had nothing at all to do with them. Guilt over something they were not responsible for is not an issue they need to be burdened with.
7. Remember that just because the parents no longer love each other, the children still do. Honor and respect the love they feel for the other parent and always encourage a healthy relationship with them.

Children don't need to suffer long-term and irreparable damage from a failed marriage. As parents, we have a moral responsibility to equip our children with the necessary understanding and skills to use the divorce as a tool for personal growth. They can emerge stronger and wiser but it is up to us to secure that for them. And remember: the greatest gift a parent can give to their children is to love and respect the other parent. 

Order your copy of The Secret Side of Anger or The Great Truth @