Tag Archives: anger

What’s wrong with these emotions?

10 Feb

Here’s a quick rundown of the emotions that society tends to refer to as the “negative emotions” or the “bad emotions”.  Take a minute to see why in fact they are not “bad” and discover the functions they serve.   Author Pia Mellody reminds us of the most important thing to remember.  Feeling healthy emotions is a positive experience.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of our emotions, as long as they are expressed in a healthy, functional way and not an abusive one.  As part of the equipment we need to live life fully and functionally, each of our emotions has a specific purpose.

Anger gives us the strength we need to do what is necessary to take care of ourselves.  Anger enables us to assert ourselves and be who we are.  We can use healthy anger to our own best interest by facing it and expressing it in non-abusive ways (either to ourselves or others).

Fear helps us protect ourselves.  When we feel fear, we become alert to the possibility of danger in our environment from which we need to protect ourselves.  Healthy fear keeps us from getting into situations and relationships that would not be in our own best interest.

Pain motivates us to grow toward increasing maturity.  Normal healthy lives are full of pain-producing problems, and feeling the pain produces growth.  A functional person uses pain as a means to work through problems, heal from their effects, gain the wisdom that comes out of painful situations, and continue in the maturing process.  Repressing the pain and not facing it or medicating it in some way keeps us injured and immature.

Guilt is a healthy warning system telling us we have transgressed a value we consider to be important.  Feeling guilt helps us change our behavior and get back to living up to our values.

Shame gives us a sense of humility that lets us know we are not the Higher Power.  Healthy shame reminds us that we are fallible and that we need to learn to be accountable and responsible.  Shame also helps us to correct our areas of fallibility that impact others and society adversely.  This process helps us to accept the rest of our imperfection as part of our normal, healthy humanity.  We can also relate to a Higher Power in a healthy way that is necessary to live as a responsible mature adult.  We experience shame whenever we notice ourselves making a mistake or being imperfect.

There is purpose in everything we feel.  I encourage you to feel the emotions and use them the way they were intended.  You are not experiencing any feeling that hasn’t been felt by countless others.  Instead of running from it, ask someone else how they moved through it.  Seek guidance from your higher power and get ready to grow.

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A New Twist on Old Advice

9 Jul

I heard some great advice the other day. It wasn’t new advice and it didn’t come from a stranger. It was a twist on old advice from someone I greatly respect and get advice from all the time. For whatever reason, on this day, I heard it differently. It was simple really. She said, “You’re behavior is all you’ve got. Hold on to it.” It was a twist on, “You can’t control other people, only yourself.” or even, “You can’t control situations, but you CAN control how you respond to them.” I hear this advice all the time. I give this advice all the time.

This time though, it was more about recognizing when other people’s behavior is out of control or at best, not to my liking, I always have the option to control my own behavior. I can make a conscious choice not to get caught up in their rage. I can ignore their “f” bombs rather than throw in my own. I can hear them escalate and soothe myself rather than join them in their chaotic world. If I can manage that, I might even choose to throw in a little prayer for them or at least a “Bless their heart.”

Behavior is observable. We see it and therefore, we judge it. We decide if it’s good or bad and whether or not we like it. What I have managed to forget is that while I am busy judging, my behavior is simultaneously on display and living in the land of right or wrong for others to see. What would they say? Could I defend myself? Am I modeling appropriate behavior for younger eyes that are watching?

People that push our buttons are excellent “baiters.” They dangle the bait right in front of us and it is all we can do to no jump up and take it. We think we’ll be quick enough to grab it and fool them. Get in and get out and we win! The truth is, they catch us, every time. We are hooked and immediately on the behavioral decline right along side them. How do they do it? I’m curious about that, but I know my time is better spent figuring out how not to take the bait. I think I will tell myself that my behavior is all I have…hold onto it. I’m going to hold on for dear life. I am the only one accountable for everything I say and do. I might even bless their heart.

What Happens When One Person In A Relationship Changes

21 Oct

With the divorce rate as high as it is today, I often wonder what is happening to couples.  I am especially intrigued by the divorcing couples that have been married for 15 plus years.  They’ve been together so long, some since they were sweethearts in high school. What changed?

I am reading a great book by Harriet Lerner that is helping me understand the mystery of relationships.  One of the reasons relationships end up in divorce is because one partner in the relationship changed.   Even if one partner changes for the better, it can be met with great resistance from the other.   This can play out in families as well.  According to Bowen Family Systems Theory, in all families there is a powerful opposition to one member defining a more independent self.   Here are some of the reactions toward the changing individual:

  • “You are wrong,” and they go on to list their reasons to support this.
  • “Change back and we’ll accept you again.”
  • “If you don’t change back, these are the consequences,” which are then  listed.

In couples and in families, the person changing will likely see some counter-moves.  They may catch some verbal backlash and be accused of being disloyal, selfish, and having little disregard for others.  Their partners and families may threaten to terminate the relationship with them.    These are some pretty devastating consequences for a person who is simply trying to better themselves.

If you are the one who his changing, consider this – “Counter-moves are the other person’s unconscious attempt to restore a relationship to its prior balance or equilibrium, when anxiety about separateness and change gets too high. ” (Lerner, p.35)  In other words, people are not making counter-move to be controlling or chauvinistic.  Whether they have those qualities are not is sort of beside the point.  counter-move are an expression of anxiety , as well as of closeness and attachment.

If you are the one changing – it is really important to keep clear about your own position.  It is not your job to try to prevent the counter-move or tell that person they should not be reacting that way.  Let it be.  Focus on their feeling behind their behavior.  It’s how they feel and you can’t argue with that.

More often than not, depending on how one proceeds with their changes, it can really enhance  and strengthen their relationship rather than threaten it.  There is no way to predict whether or not you’ll be met with a counter-move, but when you are, now you will understand what is going on and that the person is likely afraid of change and mostly afraid of losing their relationship with you.  Communicate what the changes will mean for both of you and offer assurances when you can.

Don’t be afraid to change, just be ready for the counter-move and handle it with grace.

If you’re interested in more about Harriet Lerner’s perspective, Her book – The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships has been really eye-opening.