Wednesday, April 27, 2016

14 Common Reasons We Get Angry and Their Solutions

While conducting research for today's show, I found fourteen of the most common reasons people get angry. Keep in mind, these are only the triggers. Outside circumstances are never the actual cause. There are three root causes - hurt, fear, and frustration - that prompt anger in us. Let's examine some of the most frequent experiences that elicit  an angry response and what steps we need to take to combat each.

1.       Rudeness: When others treat us disrespectfully, the message they are sending is that we are  unimportant or less important than they are. We feel devalued; our feelings, needs, or input are not considered notable. Keep in mind that our worth is not defined by another's opinion of us. Their inability to appreciate us as we are reveals their flaws, not ours. Choose understanding of their weaknesses over hurt.

2.       Injustices: (perpetrated against us, another person, or any living entity) Natural human response seeks fairness for all living creatures. A lack of justice creates a sense of imbalance and disrupts the natural order of things. Consider this: life is rarely fair by our standards. Choose to seek to understand what is happening, why, how it can be corrected or used for the good of all.

3.       Being teased, bullied or treated unkindly: Anytime a person is being treated in an unkind manner, the message received is that they are not held in high regard by the offending party. People often try to exert power over the other person through acts of aggression and manipulation (the need to control is rooted in fear). Those who are truly confident within themselves are not intimidated by mean-spirited people. Choose confidence over fear, don't take personal offense, and rise above the incident. Be the example of true strength.

4.       Stress: (deadlines at work, traffic, family responsibilities, etc.)Stress is the result of trying to do too much in too short a period of time or without the proper training or materials. Keep in mind, that stress is created by the mind due to the unrealistic demands we place upon ourselves or others. Re evaluate your situation and remember to be reasonable in what you expect and do. Replace demands with sensibility and balance.

5.       Disappointments: (being let down by others, broken promises, betrayals, loss of trust, unmet expectations, could also include poorly made products and services, overly priced items, corporate or political greed). It is humanly impossible for anyone to be 100% trustworthy. Sometimes a broken promise is unavoidable, other times deliberate. Regardless, being prepared for disappointments by having a plan B enables us to continue to move forward in life. Replace resentment with understanding that not everything is meant to turn out the way we anticipated and that we have the ability to make every unexpected circumstance work in our favor.

6.       Failure: (inability to complete a task or reach a desired goal as planned) Many people judge themselves by how successful they are. Keep in mind, that failure is only a matter of perception. I may not complete the full marathon but running 17 of the 24.6 miles has a certain element of success to it. Choose to see mistakes and obstacles as stepping stones to greater accomplishments rather than berating yourself. Find the value in every experience. 

7.       Family issues: (acquiring new family members, in-laws, new baby, adjusting to marriage, purchasing a house, infidelity, career change, relocating, serious health issues, caring for elderly parents, blended families) Families can be our greatest resources or the greatest source of tension in our lives. Expectations for family members and our relationships are typically higher  that for others. Choose acceptance as a way of loving and valuing each person. Prioritize each new circumstance and only address those of the highest importance. Let go of the others.

8.       Financial issues: (too much money or not enough - leads to worry and anxiety) Put money into its proper  perspective. Sadly, we equate success in life with how much money a person earns. The two are not even remotely connected.  We place far too much importance on acquiring it, holding on to it, and how it is allocated . Money's only value is when it is used it for the benefit of our entire planet. Replace the need for greed with appreciation for what you currently have. If money is lacking, remember to be grateful for that you have and trust the God will provide all of your needs (not desires).

9.       Feeling coerced: (pressured into doing something you don't want to do or into being someone other than who you are) Families, churches, friends, business associates, and society in general pressure us to be what they deem acceptable. Build your self-confidence and self-love enough to be faithful to who you really are. Live an authentic life rather than one of lies and deceptions. Set boundaries and choose self-love over the need to fit in. Gently release those you do not support you.

10.   Feeling unsafe: (threatened either physically, emotionally, financially; having your values or rights challenged or taken away from you; a threat to your livelihood) Being safe is a God-given right of every human being. Those who truly care about us provide an atmosphere of safety and concern. Remove yourself from any perceived threat if possible. Speak up to those who are alarming you. Fear, a root cause of anger, reflects a lack of trust in one's ability to handle whatever situation they are in. Build your self-confidence; trust in your abilities and have faith in God. There is nothing to fear. You are fully capable.

11.   Being tired, hungry: The need for rest, sleep or food are basic needs for survival. Unmet needs lead to anger. Remember that it is the individual's responsibility to satisfy their own needs. Choose action over dependence on others to provide for you. Speak up and get up: do what you must to be content.

12.   Pain: (emotional or physical) Pain lowers one's tolerance level and magnifies that which we are normally able to endure. In addition to addressing those issues causing the pain, we must remember not to impose our suffering on others. Choose consideration of others as important as caring for ourselves. Be equally as thoughtful and sensitive.

13.   Being humiliated or embarrassed. No one has the ability to embarrass us. Regardless of what someone says or does, low self-esteem concerns itself with how one is being perceived by others. When we are confident within ourselves others opinions no longer impact us. Choose to forgive the other person for their insensitive or rude behaviors for their actions are a reflection of who they are, not you.

14.   Grief: The loss of someone we love, our health, a lifestyle we've become accustomed to, and many others losses can propel us into the grieving process. Oftentimes, we feel misunderstood in our suffering, or pressured to move beyond it before we feel ready. This can cause us to lash out at those who we believe are unsympathetic to our situation. Choose to dialogue with those you are closest to in an attempt to enlighten them as to your situation. For those who seem uninterested or unable to understand, acceptance of where they are in life thwarts any additional pain and affords you peace of mind.

Anger is a normal useful, and even healthy emotion that has the potential to initiate positive change. By recognizing our triggers, we are better able to either avoid them or know in advance the best way to respond. In each situation, evaluate whether or not the incident is even worthy of getting angry. With these few simple suggestions, anyone can dramatically reduce their anger and choose happiness and peace as a way of life. 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Winning Arguments Through Non-Resistance

When disagreements arise there is always the possibility that they will escalate into an argument or fight. The very nature of dissension triggers feelings of uneasiness in the average person. Most of us struggle with some degree of insecurity.  Contradictory ideas, needs, beliefs, ways of doing things, or opinions challenge us and may threaten our sense of safety or question our level of intelligence. Our natural response to any perceived threat is resistance - we fight to preserve our integrity, to get what we want, or to prove ourselves right. The more we assert ourselves the more the other party feels threatened and will also put up a fight as well, each seeking to win on some level. And so, a vicious cycle of self-protection evolves. But there is another alternative.  One can actually win through a process of non-resistance. Consider the following suggestions:

1. Curtail your ego. Ego is that part of the persona that defines one's self-esteem and importance. It is the "I" portion of who we are. A healthy ego is essential to our well-being as it helps to define in our own minds who we are and serves to maintain a certain balance in relationships. However, it can also prove to be the bane of our existence. Egos can create a false sense of importance, raising ours above that of others and creating an imbalance in the relationship. In that instance, it serves to break down trust, communication, and concern for our opponent, placing the needs of "I" above that of the other. Pay careful attention and keep your ego in check so as not to have it interfere with a productive disagreement.

2. Trade arguing for discussing.  Fear is the culprit that leads an innocent disagreement down the dark path of fighting. The moment the individual places their needs above the other, or feels as though they are not being heard and considered, anxiety manifests and one seeks to protect themselves from a perceived enemy. Raising one's voice, making threats, and physical intimidation serve to level the playing field. However, if even one party makes the decision to simply discuss the issue rather than argue, they must prepare themselves should the other party insist on bickering. One must resist the temptation of falling prey to their tactics and employ diffusion strategies to prevent the situation from escalating.   
A discussion is a sharing of ideas, thoughts, and desires in an effort to better understand both sides without the need to be right. It forms an alliance with the other side. An argument is based on the need to win, to be right, and to seek victory over the other person. One views themselves as separate and apart from the other (adversaries) and more entitled. The argument ensues and progresses in fear.

3. Seek to understand: a lack of understanding impedes the discussion and resolution process. Only when we are willing and able to view the issue from the other person's perspective are we able to see their point of view and are better able to empathize with their feelings and desires, regardless of how different they are from ours. Resist the need to resist their input. Be open-minded and fair.

4. Be generous.  Find a way to give the other person what they are seeking. Whether the individual wants to be acknowledge for their efforts, appreciated for their input or ideas, be thanked for lending a hand, to be told or shown that they are valued, or perhaps receive a tangible form of recognition such as a gift, plaque or trophy, make the extra effort to comply with their requests. It sends the message that they matter. 

In any disagreement people generally anticipate that their opponent with become defensive and hostile. However, if you respond with non resistance, that is that you are willing to listen, to understand as best as possible, and to consider their perspective, they will let their guard down and generally be more cooperative. In this way, both sides expend minimal amounts of energy, maintain their personal integrity, preserve their relationship, and improve their chances of finding a mutually agreeable solution.  

Remember, winning does not mean acquiring everything you were seeking. It often means placing the other person ahead of yourself, putting their feelings and needs first, making certain that when the discussion is complete that they feel satisfied enough to put the issue to rest. When others feel heard, understood, and valued they are far more willing to work with you making certain both sides get what they wanted. In this way, through non-resistance rather than combative strategies, disagreements are more easily and satisfactorily resolved. 

"The kindness you extend to others always finds its way back into your life, so be generous."

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

3 R's That Mend Broken Relationships

Relationships can be challenging, each with its own unique set of issues. Whether on the job with co workers who can at times be condescending, to social encounters with individuals who are overly critical, to our most personal relationships with family members who deeply offend us with hurtful words - on every level our relationships can be seriously impaired and suffer deep wounds. However, even in the most serious cases, it is possible to repair the damage that has been done and restore the connection that once existed. Consider the three following components necessary to mend broken relationships:

1. Recognize: First and foremost, it is critical to recognize when we have said or done something offensive to the other party.  We must be willing and able to identify our insensitivity, thoughtlessness, cruel remarks, or those times that we have let the other person down. In some instances where we are unable to discern our transgression, it can benefit us to seek those who can help to shed light on the situation. Additionally, it is equally as important to fully understand how deeply  our actions impacted the other party. If you borrow money from someone with the promise to pay it back but renege on  your agreement, this is a violation of trust. This issue is oftentimes about more than just money: it illustrates a  complete lack of regard for the other person's feelings as well as perhaps their financial situation. If the disrespected party feels as though you do not fully comprehend the serious impact your actions have had on them, it may be very difficult for them to move beyond the  incident and rebuilt the trust.  In their mind, there will always be the possibility that you will repeat the offense or another of equal or greater significance. Understanding, along with a sincere apology, is the first step towards a reconciliation.

2. Restitution: Words are cheap. A simple "I'm sorry for what I've done" may not be enough to repair the damage. In order to convey sincere regret, one must be willing to make restitution whenever possible. If I started a rumor about you at work that prevented you from securing the promotion you were being considered for, I need to come clean with those in a position of authority and do whatever I can to remedy the situation. Not only does this support my repentance for what I've done, it takes it one step further in showing that I am making a sincere attempt to right a wrong, thus restoring justice for the aggrieved party.  

3. Reform: Apologies are a powerful tool in the reconciliation process but are meaningless if one does not put forth a concerted effort to change their behaviors. A husband who has a affair, apologizes and promises to be faithful cannot hope to regain the trust of his wife if, in fact, he continues to have contact with his mistress or finds a new love interest. The only way to rebuilt trust, the very foundation of every healthy relationship, is through consistent positive change. To repeat the same disrespectful behavior only causes further damage. New behavior brings new life to the damaged relationships and shows not only the person's desire to change but their ability to do so as well. This offers the hope necessary to move things forward in the right direction. No change; no chance.

We live in a disposable society. Few take the time to repair that which is damaged or broken opting instead to discard it and replace it with something or someone new. Relationships are our most precious gifts and need to be consistently treated with dignity and respect. Rather than dispose of them, seek to restore and rebuild. With a sincere heart and some savvy skills, such as those I've outlined above, there is a strong possibility your relationship can be mended.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

D~U~C~A~P Method of Dealing With a Difficult Person

We could all use a few suggestions for dealing with those difficult coworkers, obnoxious family members, or challenging neighbors that find their way into our lives. Some really know how to push our buttons and bring out the worst in us; others are stubborn or opinionated; still others can be rude, disrespectful, or argumentative. Whatever their unique behaviors are, they pose a challenge to everyone they encounter. It's easy to become frustrated and short-tempered but that rarely makes the situation better. Some find it easier to simply avoid them whenever possible. That, too, can pose its own set of challenges not to mention that avoidance fails to teach us much needed skills to be successful in life. Here are five unique strategies that enable us to better handle difficult people:

1. Don't judge: The first critical mistake most of us make occurs when we label and judge others. "This guy's being a jerk!" "She's so full of herself!" We form unflattering opinions on the individual based on how they are behaving. We fail to seperate their actions from who they are intrinsically. That's equivalent to judging someone by their physical appearance. We are not our behaviors. Labeling (creating a thought about that person) determines how we will feel about them. And we treat people based on our feelings. "Judge not lest ye be judged."

2. Understand: The opposite of judgment is understanding. It is what all humanity seeks - to be understood. Each of us is struggling with internal issues and demons. A woman may have a sick child at home that she is worried about; your coworker is trying to balance a full-time job, supporting a family, and caring for an elderly parent. Anyone under these condition would be stressed to their limits. Behavior is an outward expression of what a person is dealing with internally. "Bad" behavior merely reflects an unresolved issue such as fear, pain, loneliness, embarrassment, etc. 

3. Compassion: Not only do people seek to be understood intellectually, they also desire that others fully know on an emotional level what they are struggling with. One who has recently lost a spouse does not need to hear someone say, "Yeah, I lost mine too. You'll get used to it." What they are seeking is the emotional support that accompanies compassion. "I lost my husband last year. It was the loneliest time of my life. I'm so sorry for your loss." Extending compassion bonds individuals on a deeper emotional level. It does not excuse poor behavior nor does it give permission for it to continue. One has every right to set fair and reasonable boundaries with the other party.

4. Assistance: In circumstances where we continue to have contact with the individual through necessity or choice, it is important to offer them whatever support they need pertaining to those issues that are causing them distress. In doing so, they may more relaxed and even-tempered. As each of us addresses and heals those issues our behavior automatically reflects that. If I can offer my personal experiences that are similar or share some insights or words of wisdom then hopefully the other party will embrace my contributions and recognize the value of change.

5. Patience: Most of us want what we want when we want it. However, this is not how personal evolution works. Growth takes time. Each of us in on our own personal journey towards enlightenment which cannot be hurried. "All things in God's time." Just as I did have not attained my present state of being in any predetermined time, nor can I expect that others will comply with my time frame and reach each pinnacle according to my dictates. Keep in mind, too, that I have not yet reached a state of perfection and others are respectful enough to extend the gift of patience to me as well. Therefore, I can expect no less from myself.

 As a society, we have become much more compassionate towards those with physical disabilities. It would be completely insensitive and highly offensive were we to be abrasive or unsympathetic to those who faced greater physical challenges than the average individual. For those who are emotionally or verbally challenging, their disability is their inability to identify and heal their personal issues. One is of a physical nature, the other emotional yet both need to be treated with the same amount of sensitivity. We need to extend the same considerations to the latter as we do to the primary. 

I hate clich├ęs but this one certainly is apropos for this subject matter: remember that each person is a work in progress. And remember, too, it's about progress not perfection. And while you are busy noticing the imperfections in others, be certain to first identify and work on your own issues. Make certain that you are not the difficult person others can't deal with.

Matthew 7:5 "First take the  plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

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