Sunday, March 18, 2018

How To Let Anger Work For You. Part 2, Taming The Tiger

Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into power which can move the whole world. William Shenstone

As you go through life, whatever you encounter demands some kind of response. And the way you perceive and interpret external and internal situations dictates what each response will be. Most of your responses are automatically just daily routine. But when a situation produces a strong emotion like fear, frustration, loss, insecurity, or hurt, anger may follow. And you let the tiger loose on someone or some thing. Deep down you know it doesn't solve anything, except maybe give you a false sense of satisfaction and power. But you still go there. Perhaps you've actually given it power over you.

During my years of angry outbursts, when I threw a chair through my backdoor screen, or slung spaghetti against my kitchen wall, or all my other angry episodes, I believed that lashing out would stop my pain. But it left me exhausted, and I still hurt inside. Then I learned there's another side to this phenomenon. Anger can be useful if you use it as a tool for positive change rather than a remedy that doesn't work. Yes, it needs to be controlled, but it can help you grow and find more peace in your life.

Anger is pure energy, and you can work with it to your advantage. If you see anger as a teacher, you can use it as a catalyst to help you understand your fears and correct your faulty beliefs and perceptions, the real causes of your anger. The better you understand yourself, the better you're able to deal with life situations.

Anger is a warning signal. It points to problems. Meloday Beattie 

Anger doesn't stand alone. Anger is a symptom, and its presence is always a clue that something inside needs your attention, some emotional pain crying out for help that you need to work through. So when you feel anger building, pay attention, and change your focus to resolve issues and find peace that you may have missed without this intervention. It can teach you to look inside and begin your search for answers through inner and outer work. As you do the work and changes take place within, your anger will gradually diminish, even disappear.

Inner Work
1. Begin your search within for answers.
Write letters to yourself with questions: What am I afraid of? What in me feels threatened?
What in me needs changing? What situations make me angry?
Recall times when you were angry and, without judgment, analyze what you were feeling then...fear, panic, anxiety, sadness? Be clear about what you remember. 
Write down whatever answers you discover.
2. Clearing painful feelings.
Confront each answer with solutions for positive change, and work on ways to create the changes
you want. Emphasize peace, strength, power, etc. You might address your painful feelings to release them like, "Now I release you with love." Or use affirmations, "I let go of the pain. I am free." If this process seems difficult, take some breaths and repeat. It gets easier.
3. Forgive others who may have hurt you. And forgive yourself for not being perfect.

Outer Work
1. Stopping anger.
When anger appears, listen to what it's telling you. Then quickly stomp your foot to get rid of it with a key word that has strong meaning for you like, No, Stop, Whoa, etc. Repeat several times until it weakens and maybe stops.     
2. If anger remains, repeat step 1 again and refocus with affirming statements. "I have a right to be in control of my actions, I take back my power," etc. Use whatever stops the angry feeling before it becomes full blown. Now you're on your way to taming the tiger. Work with it until it gives up.

Anger may totally disappear, but if it still pops up once in a while, use your outer work and release it by doing something active. I do my best house cleaning when I'm angry. Ride a bike, run around the block, clean the car. Once you learn to identify and better deal with inner problems, anger won't visit you as often. Just be happy.

I wish you peaceful days ahead to be your special self.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

How To Let Anger Work For You. Part 1

Dear Readers, Today we're living in an angry world, and some of it can rub off on us causing discomfort, even pain. But anger doesn't have to be a bad thing when you understand it and know how to make it work for you. In the past I published a blog post on that subject, and would now like to share it again. Hopefully, it will turn some jangled nerves to more heart felt peace.

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled. Marshall B. Rosenberg

The pot of spaghetti slammed into the wall, and I watched my supper run down onto my clean kitchen floor. I stomped my feet in it, and then got a hammer and a box of nails to repair the backdoor screen through which I'd just thrown a chair. I already needed to buy a new lamp. The one I threw across the room last week was beyond repair.

That was me--way too often--for too many years when repressed anger broke down the dam and gushed through with a mighty force. I know about anger. When I was a child, I was forbidden to show anger. But it had to go somewhere, so it seethed inside, waiting until I became an adult and could let it loose, uncontrolled and very painful.

Anger is a complex critter. When projected outward, it becomes destructive, sometimes even lethal. It can ruin relationships, careers, even property, as in my outbusts toward whatever inanimate object was within my reach when the monster reared up inside. Society tells us we shouldn't get angry, and if we do, we should just suck it up. As if stuffing it down somewhere inside is going to dissolve it. But when anger is repressed, it can cause ulcers, blood pressure imbalance, heart disease, any number of illnesses. On my 30th birthday, I vowed to never have another angry tantrum. And I didn't. But then my anger turned inward, and caused severe depression.

According to Marion Ross in her book, 'Removing Your Mask', anger is a specific form of fear at a very deep level, and most anger shows that people's internal and external realities are not in balance. The real message of anger is almost always about one's own beliefs, perceptions, or actions in a given situation or with particular people, not the situations or people themselves. P 194-195.

Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. Eckhart Tolle

So what causes anger? Where are you hurting?

Sometimes repressed anger will surface without a conscious reason. But anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you or others are being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something--look what they're doing to me, or that other person--or that you've fallen short of your standards for yourself--I'm so stupid. I should have done better. These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem issues, needing to feel secure and safe, your own imperfection, loss of something in your life, your sense of caring for others, or something as simple as a need to be right. For some, being wrong means invalidation of self, but being right provides a false sense of power.

When a situation arouses an inner fear, you may perceive anger as a way to deal with a situation, sometimes just to let off steam like throwing a chair through a screen door. Some of your perceptions may be accurate, but lashing out in anger is not the answer. Anger is a natural human emotion, and it can kill you or save your life, depending upon how you use it. But you must use it wisely for it to work for you instead of against you.

Next week  in Part 2, I'll go into some ways to tame the tiger and put you in control, ways to allow it to help heal your fears and grow in truth.

I wish you a peaceful week.


Monday, March 5, 2018

A Time To Quit Or A Time To Stay. The Choice Is Yours.

In everyday life, we encounter many issues that take our time and energy and guide our life, one way or another. If the car breaks down, we get it fixed; if we lose our job, we look for another; if we're sick, we see a doctor. It's easy to get caught in the rush to keep up, and the load gets heavy, leaving us exhausted. Many people give up and spend years treading water while life slides by and leaves them wondering, "Where's the sunshine?"

All living creatures possess the will toward a meaningful life, and oftentimes this 'will' keeps us hanging on when we're too weak to see a way out. But sometimes life is more than a person can handle, and giving up becomes all there is. And it comes with the stigma of being a quitter. You've heard the classic advice, "Never give up...don't quit...quitting is for wimps." Is is really? What's involved?

There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you've had enough. Unknown

Giving up usually comes from feeling overwhelmed about a situation with no other alternative available. The person becomes exhausted, and can't find enough stamina to keep going, or even make it through another day without rest. They lose sight of their inner 'will' to hang on, and may experience self condemning thoughts like, "I don't have what it takes; what's wrong with me?" etc. And they finally give up. But hopefully to rest and wait for a new day.

Knowing when you've had enough is when you feel unfulfilled, and you no longer see something as worth continuing. It may involve leaving a job you don't like, or dissolving an unhappy relationship; or whatever. But other paths are available, and you have freedom to choose what you'll do. When you've had enough of something, you're able to give it up and seek something better in life.

Don't be discouraged. It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock. Unknown

Another example is a person pursuing a dream their heart yearns for. But they keep running into dead ends, and nothing works out. As time passes, discouragement sets in, and they fear their dream may not be worth pursuing. So they give up trying. But eventually, if that inner 'will' pushes them to renewed hope, they can continue on to fulfillment of their dream.

If you're going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

Recently I witnessed a small tenacious critter refusing to give up. It was a little fly floating in the cat's water bowl on my concrete patio, swimming like crazy to get out. I dipped him out of the bowl with a leaf, and told him to fly. He frantically tried, rolling over, kicking, and flapping his wings, but got nowhere. I watched intently with words of encouragement while he struggled for his life. Twice he flew a short distance, and fell back both times, but would not quit. I wondered how much that little fella could endure, when he suddenly took off flying through the air, up and away. My heart jumped when I heard him thanking me for believing in him. And I thanked him for a lesson learned.

Giving up or staying in is complicated, and a decision to either keep going or give up depends upon many variables in a situation. When you face a dilemma, consider what's at stake. What's the benefit or loss to either choice, how much are you suffering, can you deal with being seen as foolish if you hang on, or a wimp if you fold, and who will be affected by your decision? Will you throw in the towel and give up, or will you choose to get out when you've had enough and search for something better?

"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." Anthony J. D'Angelo

Each day do what's yours in your special way. There's nothing wrong with quitting, but if something is worth continuing, get back to it, and let your light shine through it. You're free to be your beautiful self. You can give up some of the pit stops, but stay on the journey. It's yours, and it's blessed with your presence.

I wish you sunshine always.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Miracles Happen. See Your Miracles With Your Heart

 Dear Readers. We all experience miracles in our lives. Some people only see a small coincidence, but others see an amazing miracle and never forget. Today I was reminded of one of my miracles. And I'd like to share it with you.

Of Course

Sometimes our prayers are answered in unexpected ways. When this happens to me, my initial response is usually one of amazement. But within a short time, I respond with of course and a knowing smile of gratitude.

One such blessing occurred when I worked in Administration for a Mental Health Agency coordinating services in five nursing homes. As a Psychotherapist, I'd worked in various settings, but now my work had become unfulfilling, and I felt overwhelmed and disillusioned. I made a list to satisfy my work needs, but after a week of good intentions, nothing came of it. So when one of the Counselors could not come in to work, I filled-in for her myself and gathered information on new patients to complete our files.

It was late in the day when I entered Martha's room, my last patient before leaving the nursing home. Martha was eighty-one years old, a frail woman with white hair and hazy blue eyes. Her face held lines pinched with time as if she hadn't smiled since she was young. She was oriented and alert, but in a highly agitated state when I approached her. She sat on the edge of her bed wringing her hands and swaying from side to side. She looked at me, but didn't acknowledge my presence.

I pulled a chair over beside her. "It's all right, dear," I said. "I just want to talk with you for a while." She watched curiously as I held her small hands and quietly began to calm her while asking questions for my files. "What kind of work did you do? How far did you go in school?"

He body became still, and she continued watching me. But she had not spoken when she suddenly reared back and asked with serious eyes, "Did God send you?"

Her question startled me, but I considered the importance of this situation. "Well...maybe He did," I answered and smiled.

"Well, I think He did," she said with firm conviction.

At that moment I decided my files could be completed another time, and I became open and receptive to whatever God had in mind for us. Martha began to relax and spoke of times she spent with her children when they were small. Her hands stopped shaking and her face lit up with memories of swimming in the creek, John learning to read, and Billy chasing chickens around the yard. She was engrossed in her stories. And I listened.

In a while, her head nodded, and her breathing became shallow. I saw she was tired, so I suggested she lay back on her pillow. When she was comfortably settled, I moved closer and asked if she could imagine things in her head. She nodded. Then I asked, "Can you imagine yourself a little child cradled in God's loving arms, feeling safe and at peace?"

"Yes, I can do that," she answered, slowly closing her sleepy eyes.

I watched her face for a moment and saw her thin mouth broaden into a peaceful smile. "I have to go now," I said. "But you rest and know that anytime you feel nervous and upset, you can just go inside and be with God, and He will comfort you."

"Mmm hmm." She squeezed my hand.

I left the room and felt my own peace as I stood in the hallway and glanced back at her. Now my work-needs list contained only one item. My answer was clear. I had to work with patients like Martha. Of course, I thought, and felt a knowing smile of gratitude.

Yes, miracles happen. Of course they do. And sometimes they bring a smile. But is a miracle a happenstance? Is it a blessing from God? Is it angels knocking on your door? You interpret them in your own way as they make sense to you. But know when you experience one. And some miracles may even change your life.

I wish you amazing times to remember.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Many Faces Of Change And How They Affect Your Life

Recently I was sitting outside watching leaves fall from the big oak trees, and I saw the first blossoms on my camelia bushes revel in the sunshine. A baby lizard ran beind the patio chair, and I heard birds talking bird language celebrating our early spring. I live in Florida, and we never know when an unpredictable weather change will arrive. So we go with the flow and welcome the beautiful change when it comes.

As I watched this change unfolding in nature, I thought about our own lives and the positive and negative changes we experience all the time. When life is going good, we coast along in the status quo and don't want anything to rock our boat. Then there are times we pray for, or initiate, a change to move us out of the mess we're in. Change is a law of the universe. Things are always moving, repositioning, increasing and decreasing, or taking a different form. And nothing stands still.

There are two types of change: the change we choose and the change that chooses us. Linda Ellerbee

Some changes are so subtle we don't even notice them happening. In the midst of a dull brain fog I may notice a tremendous idea that quietly crept in. Or I'm amazed at how quickly dust accumulates on the furniture. It wasn't there yesterday. But other devastating changes may hit suddenly, and these can affect our health, work, finances, relationships, any part of our life. Sometimes we have options, and we can choose what we want to change. But other times we're forced to accept what we don't want. And that's life.

Changes may be easy or difficult, but either way you could run into some inner obstacles. With a commitment to release something and create something new, you may feel overwhelmed. How can you let go of what's familiar and learn a new way? Or maybe you cling to an uncomfortable situation because you fear the unknown. And resistance sets in. Or you might experience the loss of someone or something good in your life, and you have to make painful changes to adjust.

In the waves of change, we find our true direction. Unknown 

Change is inevitable, sometimes with unpredictable outcomes. We're constantly being moved along our path with no two moments the same, and we can't live in our status quo for long. Life is about growth, and we can't grow with our feet in mud from the last rain. The new rain has new puddles. Maybe it's time for new puddles.

"All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you." Octavia Butler

Examine various issues in your life, maybe feelings, an attitude, a situation. Observe the bigger picture of yourself and your life, and imagine how you want it to be. Then decide if you'd like to release something, change for the better, or create something new. There's no need to feel overwhelmed, afraid to change, or resistant to it. Everything you need is within you, and awareness supplies courage to make changes you might want. And if you feel now that your status quo is fine with you, just love yourself and be prepared for changes in the future. Remember change is inevitable.

Recently I came across a poem I've had for many years, and it reminds me of changes I've experienced in my life. The poem is quite revealing.


I have resisted change with all my will,
Cried out to life, "Pass by and leave me still."
But I have found as I have trudged time's track
That all my wishing will not hold life back.
All finite things must go their finite way;
I cannot bid the merest moment, "Stay."
So finding that I have no power to change
Change, I have changed myself. And this is strange.
But I have found out when I let change come,
The very change that I was fleeing from
Has often held the good I prayed for,
And I was not the less for change, but more.
Once I accepted life and was not loath
                                         To change, I found change was the seed of growth.

I wish you a happy life filled with wonderful surprises.


Monday, February 12, 2018

The Many Forms Of Love. You Don't Need Words.

We usually think of love in a romantic sense, and how wonderful when 2 people find each other and share their lives in love and harmony together. But love can't be harnessed in only one dimension. Love reaches out, and its expression is found everywhere there is life, because love is life. Each year we celebrate Valentines Day reminding us to express the blessing we carry around inside. I've heard some people say they look forward to Valentines Day, because that's about the only time they hear 'I love you'. But love is expressed all year if we listen.

Valentines Day hasn't always been only for lovers as we generally think of it today. It has quite a history, and was once a pagan fertility festival, then later a religious celebration to commemorate St. Valentine. But there's a difference of opinion as to which Valentine that was. There were several. By the 18th century it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes on one day in February. And by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters. Now there are Valentine cards for just about anyone.

Since the words 'I love you' are usually meant in a romantic way, hearing or saying the words in any other context can sometimes cause discomfort. There's love for family, friends of both genders, agape, or spiritual love, and for our pets and plants. But some people think carefully before expressing love for anyone else. What would your neighbor think if one day you said, "I think you're a great neighbor, and I love you"? Or you phoned an acquaintance and said, "Just wanted you to know I'm glad to know you, and I love you"? Raised eyebrows? Love is a natural emotion, so why not express it as we choose?

Love takes many forms from quiet uttering of the words 'I love you' to love so grand it takes your breath away. Even animals and plants express love in their own ways. Have you ever seen love in the eyes of a devoted pet for its caretaker? Or when a thirsty plant responds to a healthy watering? That's love. And we love them back.

"Love cures people, both the ones who give it and the ones we receive it." Dr. Karl Menninger

Love is akin to many experiences. It doesn't always speak as love, but when you feel gratitude, peace, encouragement, support, kindness, acceptance, happiness, etc, do you not feel a loving tug in your heart? At times like this we may not make a conscious connection to love, but it's there. And it's healing what needs to be healed. Love is like spark plugs in a car to make it run. A particular spark of loving energy produces expression in all of life. But we must be willing to allow love to manifest through us.

I believe that love expands. As you give love out, it's received and reciprocated--and it grows. That's the beauty of it. Hill Harper

Love doesn't always have to be verbalized. You can love without words, and opportunities are abundant. You can smile and wish a stranger a happy day; or hold a door open for someone struggling with an arm full of packages; or wink at a little boy riding in Mama's grocery cart; or run an errand for a neighbor; or hug a friend. Isn't that love? And don't both of you feel it? When I was working, 'I love you' was never said. But I loved all of my patients. And they loved me back.

Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives. Louise L. Hay

As you go through life loving others, don't forget to love yourself. There's something special in you, like no other. And you deserve a miracle. What would that be for you? Maybe discovering just how special you are, and feeling it down to your toes. Give yourself a hug, and feel your special love in your heart. And take it with you everyday.

Let love shine in you.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Move Your Mountains And Find More Of Yourself

Dear readers, I apologize for this article being late, but I just came through a mountain of my own, and it took a while to catch up. I hope you enjoy this reading. Maybe it will sound familiar. Blessings to all.

You are not IN the mountains. The mountains are in YOU. John Muir

Life is a series of the good times that warm our heart and put a smile on our face, or times so painful we wonder if we'll survive, and all those in-between times we call routine. We hope for the good ones, but sometimes we're faced with sudden challenges that knock us off our routine path. Each of us is on our own unique journey, and whatever is on one path may not be on another. we never know what each tomorrow will bring. But we're all faced with something, some time. And we all have our mountains to move.

Pain comes on many levels. Some situations nullify your plans like when you're ready for work and your car has a flat, or you receive notice you didn't pay your mortgage, or you forget to register your kid for summer day camp, etc. Others can mean life shattering devastation like sudden illness, loss of a job, death of a loved one, financial loss, the list goes on. Some experiences are extremely hard while others seem less demanding, but whatever the severity, life pushes us to learn and grow from each experience.

How do you respond when a challenge hits? Maybe the first thought is to panic with a 'what if' attitude. What if I'm late for work; what if this ruins my credit; what if my kid thinks I forgot because I don't care. Or more serious, what if I don't get well; what if I can't find another job; what if I can't find peace; what if I lose everything. Our attention is usually so turned toward the outside, we often don't listen to what's going on inside. Are you thinking fear, lack, I can't do it, or any other defeating notion? These thoughts may be your biggest mountains, and only you can move them.

When you focus on faith rather than fear, you tap into a strength to carry you over even the tallest mountains. Gail Lynne Goodwin

Challenges in our life are teaching experiences, and every mountain serves a purpose. They present opportunities to discover something we need on our journey. And they help us realize our strength in overcoming. Turn your mind from fear to faith, and deny that any self-defeating beliefs have power over you. Then replace them with truth. "There is nothing to fear, I have everything I need, I have faith in the Power within to move mountains, and I have faith in myself to be guided and strengthened. I can do it." Give these ideas positive energy, and they will manifest in positive ways.

As you build on your faith, move away from worries, and move toward a solution. Step back, and gauge the size of the mountain you're facing. Theres a saying, "Don't make mountains out of molehills." How big is your mountain really? It might be just a little hill to step over. Size up the mountain, and create a plan. Ask, "How big is it, and what can I do about it? What are the consequences if I can't fix it? Where can I find help if I need it?" Etc. Accept where you are, and voice your intention to move forward.

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. Confucius

Don't feel like you have to hurry through this. Someone once told me that when you're working with a life challenge, remember it's a process, and you have to allow it to unfold in its time, as you're doing what's yours to do. She also said that each time we overcome a challenge, something inside changes, and we're better for it. So take the time you need to move your mountain, and welcome the change within yourself.

For every mountain there is a miracle. Robert H. Schuller

Moving mountains isn't easy. It takes practice and patience, knowing that each overcoming moves you closer to being more of what you're meant to be. And if there's something you can't get past right now, it's okay. You haven't failed. Celebrate the mountains you've moved, and be grateful for those you haven't. They're part of your journey, and will serve a purpose. Their time will come. And you are blessed.

I wish you freedom to discover more of you.