Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘anger’

We Have a Choice…

Funny thing about how history repeats itself. The 60’s brought us a greater awareness of the need for peace with the familiar chant, ‘Make peace not war,’ an emphasis on the need for greater love for others and even a clothing style that melded the colors of the rainbow into the popular tie-dyed shirts that signaled a relaxed and confident belief in tomorrow.

Like any era the pendulum also swung in the opposite direction with characters such as George Wallace, the Deep South governor of Alabama who wrote a book entitled, “The Politics of Rage.” He went on to run for president (more than once) as he stoked the fires of hate and fear in anyone and everyone who would listen to him. He was against ‘bearded hippies, intellectuals, war protestors, people of color or cultural difference, welfare recipients, civil rights, Washington politicians, the list goes on and on…he was a divider.

For those of us who remember his demeaning comments woven into speeches filled with empty ‘plans or solutions’ to our national issues he was the master of fear, anger and deceit. His one-liners eventually served to unhinge him in the national spotlight and the nation heaved a sigh of relief. The ultimate take away for those of us who lived through that decade was ‘everything in balance’ and ‘love prevails over hate or fear.’

Fast forward to today. Around the world we see pockets of anger, fighting, and destruction as we did in the 60’s. Yet, we also see emerging the importance of greater mindfulness as we live our life. The tie-dyed shirt is once again popular as a symbol of freedom and inclusiveness. But we also hear from a few of the leading political candidates similar demeaning statements and vitriol that attempts to separate and divide us as a nation as we did from Governor Wallace. Their ‘Plans’ (I use the term loosely) proposed to fix the ills of our country by some of the ‘would be presidential’ candidates amount to one liners of simplicity at a time when the complexity of national and world concerns are nearly inconceivable.

Ahh…there’s the seed of the problem… it takes time to understand the depth of any one of the challenges we face and often we choose not to invest it. We turn to an escape movie or entertainment nightly sequel or grab our phones to send one more text to someone. I get not having the time or energy left at the end of a busy workday to invest in understanding sticky, complex issues. I understand that many of our world problems can make our brains hurt when we try to analyze them. But what I can’t accept is allowing ourselves to be swayed by a comical or puritanical snake oil salesman that dismisses any and every challenge with one liners that elementary students would recite out of pure ignorance.

History does have a way of repeating itself. Let’s hope that as Americans we will remember the lessons learned from the 60’s and once again rise to the challenge of choosing someone who can unite us as we wrestle with what the future holds. It will be a wild and bumpy ride. We need someone at the helm who is knowledgeable, calm, mature and truly interested in making our nation and the world a safer more inviting place. Someone who is brave enough to admit that there are no easy, simplistic answers to anything. A person who believes in the spirit that founded our country…hard work, caring for our fellow man and a belief that we are blessed to be in a country where each individual is valued and has demonstrated those values in their lives.

Have a great few days!

Remember the Love

The events of the past weeks in Paris and Mali as well as the Russian plane that was shot down earlier this month have given us a wake up call – once again. It seems inconceivable that acts such as these can continue to happen. How any group can destroy innocent human lives in the name of their ‘religion’ is incomprehensible. Many of us remember 9/11, and the Boston Marathon tragedies and how those events changed our lives forever.

It is easy to let anger and fear take over our thinking. I understand the anger … we are justified in feeling it as long as we don’t let it consume us. Seeing our world leaders come together to defeat this human plague should give us renewed hope in the future. Regardless of the diverse political backgrounds of these leaders they have chosen to work together for a purpose bigger than themselves.

As they decide on the next steps to be taken there is a way we can help. We must eliminate or at least control any fear in our thinking. Fear can seep into every cell in our body and render us helpless. When we begin to worry about the possible ‘what if’s’… in anything we are considering we can become paralyzed by indecision. Fear is the silent killer of our hopes and dreams. As the Paris survivors left their venues singing their national anthem they demonstrated to the world that fear would not win. What a powerful gesture in the wake of such carnage.

Fear is a heavy dark energy that can consume us. These acts of terror are caused by individuals who are consumed with hatred. When we look at examples in history there is no question that their hatred will destroy them. As difficult as it is to understand, they have actually chosen this life path. We know that what they can’t literally destroy they want to figuratively destroy with fear. They want us to retreat to a life of less rather than more. We cannot be swayed by their vitriol. We know truth, we know the importance of love and the importance of living a life filled with the belief in the beauty of the human spirit.

Life changing events are meant to teach us something. They stop us in our tracks as we reevaluate what is important. We take stock and consider what we may be taking for granted. Just as we have seen with our world leaders tragedy has a way of recalibrating our thinking. There has been a critical need for countries to work together to help solve so many issues on our planet and maybe – just maybe – these terrible acts will be the stimulus that has been so desperately needed. Life is full of irony – let this be one of them.

We have a choice to be part of the solution in our own little corner of the world. We can each do our part by embracing life through more loving, considerate acts towards others. We can commit to going the extra mile for a fellow traveler. The energy level of our planet has taken a hit and any act of kindness directed toward another elevates that energy. We just need to remember that love builds, grows and celebrates life. Love conquers all. It is the Alpha and Omega of the Universe.

Have a loving and peaceful few days.

Adversity can be a Double Edge Sword!

We all know someone who just seems to experience so much more adversity in life than others. We may think to ourselves if they didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all. How do they cope with it? How do they continue to put one foot in front of the other and face another day? These individuals can teach us a great deal about compassion and resiliency.

Two studies soon to be published by Dr. David DeSteno and graduate student, Daniel Lim of Northeastern University help us understand the real effects of adversity in a person’s life. We may think that living through adversity would naturally cause a person to be more compassionate but there’s more to it than that. DeSteno says, “Living through hardship doesn’t either warm hearts or harden them; it does both. Having known suffering in life usually heightens the compassion we feel for others, except when the suffering involves specific painful events that we know all too well.”

In the later case it seems our minds can quickly move into a judgment mode. The studies indicate that when we see someone living through an event similar to one we have lived through the natural human response is to downplay the difficulty we had in dealing with our life challenge and think to ourselves, ‘Well, I made it through and they just need to buck up and move on.’ Oh, if it were only that easy.

Each of us has chosen specific life challenges for the lessons involved. We cannot equate or compare one individual’s ability to cope to our own even in similar circumstances. Another way to think about it is that no two dramas are the same because of the human factor. We may have overcome a hardship or life altering event but it doesn’t mean that someone else can heal at the same pace. That’s what the stages of grief teaches us. Everyone has a right to heal and overcome at their own rate and time. Recognizing the needs of the individual and giving them the gift of time and understanding is where compassion comes in.

When we live through the loss of a loved one or experience,moor example, emotional or physical abuse the loss, fear and anger affects each of us in our own way. Some scars are deeper than others and take longer to heal. There is no blueprint to follow for the complex task of healing. Each of us struggles to understand and accept life according to our own strength, tenacity and reserve.

The next time we hear of someone who is experiencing a difficult time coping with an event in their life maybe we could put aside our own life experience, especially our words of advice, and just be there to listen and show we care. The greatest healing energy comes from the power and honor in the human connection.

The pay off to accepting where someone is at and offering an empathetic ear and caring heart is double fold. The person has a shoulder to lean on as they attempt to right themselves after the onslaught of their latest challenge and by bonding with them during a critical time in their life we fuel greater compassion and resiliency in ourselves. Something to think about.

Have a great few days!

Are You In a Dependent Relationship?

I have written about the four different types of love that were identified by the Greeks hundreds of years ago (see blog archive 8/16/15). Their point as reiterated by David Brooks in his book, The Social Animal,” was that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to develop in relationships over time. That makes sense. Once the initial physical attraction is experienced, deep love like the flowering of a rose takes time to tend and nurture to full bloom as it celebrates the individual strengths of each other.

But what happens if the Philemon type of love – the platonic, friendship type of love you have with a best friend seems to be difficult to juggle as you spend more time with your new found love? Let’s first look at what causes two people to become best friends. Shared interests, respect, admiration and concern all rank high on the list of factors.

However, once in a while this type of love can devolve into a needy, unhealthy type of dependent relationship. When you share your excitement about this special person in your life with your best friend and you hear subtle demands that infiltrate into your relationship such as wanting to know when they will see you again it’s time to consider the possibility that this could be a type of co-dependency. Maybe – maybe not – but for sure sharing you is not something they want to do. The label itself is less important than the recognition of the signs involved.

Any dependency is usually rooted in childhood and these individuals often become ‘survivors’ that exhibit fear, anger, pain or shame which was ignored or denied early on in life. These feelings begin to color their world over time since dependency is a learned behavior. The more it is practiced the stronger it becomes. The friendships they develop are more need than mere want but they simply don’t see it since abandonment is a constant issue.

The good news is that by recognizing dependency and learning more about the signs and signals it can be overcome and replaced by confidence and trust in one’s own ability to thrive in future healthy, loving relationships regardless of what happened in childhood.

How do you know if a relationship of dependency exists? Let’s look at some other possible indicators. Is there a pressure to touch base frequently – fearing anger or hurt exhibited from the other person if you are not in constant contact? In reality, best friends can go days, weeks, or months without touching base but still know the other person cares for them and has their best interest at heart.

If you experience feelings of rejection when you spend time with someone other than the dependent friend and it results in pouting, temporary withdrawal or outright anger until they have your attention once again – you can be sure dependency exists.

Other indicators of co-dependent people are their difficulty talking with people in authority, making decisions, handling pressure regarding time frames for completion of tasks, difficulty or even rigidity in adjusting to change, feelings of inadequacy, and an inability to share their feelings – especially with family members. Basically, they have low self-esteem often due to their early upbringing.

If you are involved in this type of relationship at first you may feel a sense of importance by ‘being needed.’ Unfortunately, your attention and constant concern or attempt to do more than your share does not help since this behavior can become compulsive and self-defeating as the reliance increases. In essence, both parties start to develop a view of ‘us against the world’ and the dependency increases.

As stated, the good news is that when the dependency is recognized and steps are taken to readjust the invasive nature of this type of relationship personal growth is experienced by both parties and over time an even higher level of friendship develops. Sometimes it takes a best friend to get their attention and even professional to unearth the need for dependency.

When you really care about another you want the best for them. Moving from dependency to independence is the best gift you can gift yourself and the other person. The Philemon type of love is a critical element in best friends as well as deeper love relationships.

Have a great few days!

Is it Time?

Christmas is only one week away – where did the time go? As you are wrapping gifts to give to your family and friends how about giving one to yourself. I am not talking about anything that can be bought in department stores or shipped to you from the hundreds of online suppliers. No, what I have in mind is too big, too valuable to simply be purchased. I’m talking about the gift of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the magic elixir, the thing that can seriously change your life for the better. If there is someone that you have unfinished emotional business with or even open wounds that haven’t healed when we talk about peace on earth remember, the peace must first start in your own heart.

You can tell if a person has been sidelined due to their bitterness over something that happened in the past. When they talk about it (which they often do) they talk faster, louder and with such strong emotionally laden words that it sounds like it happened just yesterday. They seem to relive the time, date and place with such vehemence that you just have to wonder what toll it is taking on them on the inside. I wonder if they know about the research regarding the relationship between anger and cancer. Is it time for the gift of forgiveness.

Anger, bitterness or resentment can eat away at you. Even if you feel 100% justified in your feelings the only one paying the price is you – over and over again as you relive it in your mind. Simply put, you have allowed another person to rob you of today when you relive the negatives of yesterday. Sometimes we may feel that we want the whole world to know we were wronged. Here’s a news flash … the rest of the world really doesn’t care – not really – they are too busy dealing with their own challenges. Okay – something hurtful or wrong happened – now the million dollar question is do you really want to carry the enormous weight of that baggage on your shoulders for the rest of your life? If not, decide how long are you willing to carry it and write it down. Your answer determines how long you choose to be the victim.

Forgiveness is not easy but essential if you want to be truly happy. You might think that you are past the issue or do not want to give the person the time of day ever again. I get it – but just remember you are choosing to pay a steep price from your emotional bank account. If you continue to hold on to the grudge sooner or later you will be emotionally bankrupt as you join the ranks of the walking wounded. There are no blue ribbons for the person who has been hurt or wronged most deeply.

You can forgive but you needn’t forget. You have learned something from the experience and it has made you wiser more equipped to handle similar situations in the future. Perseverating on the past keeps you locked into a victim mentality. Little by little you begin to see others with a jaundice eye. Negative energy multiplies fast and will seep into your pores until you look for – even expect -more of the same in your life. You become primed for a hostile emotional take over and then wonder why life continues to be so tough. It all boils down to energy – negative attracts more negative.

Forgiveness is not simply a feeling it is a choice that you make. Are you ready to let go of the yuk from the past? Only you can decide if being in the role of victim, filled with grudges and unhappiness, is the role you choose for the rest of your life. Maybe it’s time to give yourself the greatest gift possible … forgiveness.

Have a great few days!

Express Yourself!

Unexpressed anger prevents unity. The operative word, of course, is ‘unexpressed’. When we move from disappointment to anger with someone and think we can bury it inside or ignore it usually we simply can’t do so. The anger continues, festers then boils inside of us and soon everything that the other person does aggravates us. Little by little the relationship sours and we eventually wonder what happened.
Actually, the real problem was that something didn’t happen and its called communicating our authentic feelings. Often, we choose to dismiss rather than confront issues. Why? It’s messy, uncomfortable, scary and can be quite unpleasant to discuss something that really bothers you about another person but if you don’t – and there really is an issue – it is a matter of time until the entire house of cards comes tumbling down.

The statement, ‘The less said the sooner mended,’ can certainly be true if you are able to let the feelings you have inside pass on through you. If not, avoiding an uncomfortable topic with someone serves no useful purpose. In fact, your heart feels closed and you may feel lethargic – lacking the energy to see a better tomorrow. The Universe is a great teacher and gives us signals when things just feel a bit off. These signals are meant as a call to action. We need to set things right with ourselves and others.

Lyrics from the Moody Blues’ song, “Say What You Mean,” speaks volumes:

“Say what you mean
Mean what you say
Think about the words
Speak for yourself
Say what’s on your mind
Think about the life you are choosing…
Look into the world of tomorrow
Say what you want
Want what is true…”

There is no rule that says you have to closet your true feelings for the sake of someone else. If they truly care about you they would want to know what both your mind and heart is telling you. It is important to remind yourself not to let your heart close. You are too important to this world to allow that to happen. If you start to feel yourself close off to the energy of another just take a moment and ask yourself what is the benefit of closing your heart. You really do have a choice and the most authentic choice is always the best. Face your feelings, or anger with words not of attack to another but with a genuine desire for resolution.

Your own happiness must remain your primary focus. It is not out of selfishness that you consider yourself first but out of a knowing that if you are not happy with the way things are others in your inner circle will ultimately not be happy as well.

Take the risk, speak your mind using your authentic feelings and all will happen just as it is suppose to happen. You are worth the risk!

Have a great few days!

Even Rats Have Regret!

U.S. researches have discovered what appears to be “regret” in lab experiments with rats. In “Wired.com” a research team located at the University of Minnesota said they were able to substantiate that the observed behavior was actual regret rather than mere disappointment.

Regret, the recognition that different choices could have resulted in different outcomes can be destructive or instructive. If even rats can demonstrate regret what does that say about regret and the human condition? It seems that the feeling of regret is more prevalent than we once thought. Rather than deny any feelings of remorse we may be experiencing maybe the issue is really the length of time spent in regret and what we take away from the experience that is the discriminating difference between productive and nonproductive behavior?

Some people live their life living in the regrets from their past resulting in a continual cycle of thinking ‘if only I would have done this or said that rather than..’ and as a result seem stuck in the past. Their lives continue to replay scenarios of what could have been. Living in the past stops people from experiencing the joys of today and hopes of tomorrow. They live in “the waiting place” that Dr. Seuss refers to in his book. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

On the other hand, other people experience regret but look at it from a perspective of what lesson they have learn from the experience. They live in today and dreams of tomorrow because they feel empowered to make better decisions for their lives because of what they learned from their yesterdays. Doesn’t it seem only natural that we relive moments or events when we were not at our best in an attempt to better control our decision making for the future? As long as we are aware of the amount of time we are spending in that place of review it can be a healthy, instructive thing.

We all have times – especially when we are sick, tired or stressed when mole hills look like mountains. Before responding or making a decisions at this point it is important to realize that we are not functioning at our best and try to avoid saying or doing something that we may regret later.

Let’s assume, however, that we do not heed our own best advice and say or do something that we wish we could undo. Often this happens from feelings of fear or anger. After all, we are simply human and bound to make occasional mistakes along the way. Rather than beat ourselves up over it or attempt to assign blame to others if we simply accept ownership for the error or mistake and offer appropriate apologies as necessary we can turn around something that could have become rather ugly into something meaningful – an “Aha” moment that makes us better, happier people in the long run. Regret in this example can mean that we have lived, learned and are moving on. That’s a good thing!

Our challenge is to learn from the experience and decide to handle the next situation a bit differently. We are all products of the choices we make. Everyday and in every way life has a way of testing us to become our best selves. Life is not for the faint of heart. We have chosen this life experience to become wiser, more thoughtful and productive human beings while we are on this planet. It starts with being brutally honest AND ultimately kind to ourselves and others as we learn our life lessons.

Have a great few days!