Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Let Anger Work For You, Part 1, Causes

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

The pot of spaghetti slammed onto 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 and went outside 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. It was my enemy, 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 outbursts 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. 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 Moss in her book, 'Removing Your Mask', anger is a specific form of fear at a 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?

Anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you're being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something--look what they're doing to me--or that you've fallen short of your own standards--I'm so stupid. I should have done better. These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem, a need to feel secure and safe, personal exposure, your own imperfection, loss of something tangible in your life, 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 the 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 normal 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 or against you. Next week 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 enlightening self-discovery.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What's Next, And Are You Up To It?

With my first morning coffee in hand, I look around through sleepy eyes at the monumental job I've decided to tackle--go through my whole house, and sort out everything I own. It's time to release some of it, and make room for the new to come into my life. So why don't I grit my teeth and get to it?

The scary thing is, the more I slack off, the more it piles up, and the more it piles up, the more I slack off.  Amelia Mysko

I'm caught in that 'put it off' cycle where nothing gets done. Yes, this is a big job, but sometimes I put off the little jobs too, like doing laundry before the clothes hamper is so full it won't close, or throwing out spoiled food sitting in the frig too long. I'm not lazy, and I do know some causes of procrastination and ways to prevent it, so I better get with it on this job.

Don't ask for directions if you're not going to start the car.  Rob Liano

Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but has putting things off become a way of life for you? If so, you know that maintaining this habit requires a set of excuses, so you don't suffer 'procrastination guilt'. After all, you work hard, and you're a good person, so it's not your fault you can't get to everything. Of course, you can't. But be honest with yourself. Would it help to take a second look? I think it would for me.

Procrastination can stem from physical, mental, and/or emotional causes. Some may be the following:
1. Illness can sap your energy, and you no longer have enough stamina to keep up with everything. Maybe there's a handicap that limits necessary skills and abilities.
2. Your brain may be on overload with noise and distractions in our techy world, and you lack focus for those unmet tasks. So you put them on your 'later list'.
3. You may put something off if there's no consequence in letting it wait. So why hurry?
4. Maybe you're afraid of what might happen in a particular situation if you act. So you keep putting it off.
5. You may be depressed and too weak emotionally to handle everything.
6. You may be fed up, or feel like it all falls on you. Others aren't carrying their share. And you're just plain worn out

I'm fascinated with butterflies. They struggle in their protective cocoon growing and becoming what they're meant to be. Then they mature, and spread their wings doing what they're meant to do. I can't imagine one procrastinating. How great to fly with a sense of purpose and spend each day fulfilling that purpose. I wonder if they smile.

Life happens one step at a time, so plan your steps wisely.  Unknown

1. Ask questions. Why do I put things off instead of getting them done? Make a list of reasons, and clarify reasons vs excuses. The more you know about yourself, the better you can promote change.
2. Take steps to deal with any physical, mental, or emotional issues, and schedule some rest time every day.
3. Work on procrastination every time you're confronted with it.
     a. Clarify the task. Is it necessary and/or important to you, or can you just let it go altogether?
     b. Clarify why you're resisting it.
     c. List the benefits in completing it and the consequences if you don't.

     d. Organize time to do it, and go a little at a time if needed.
     e. Be determined, make a start, and do it.
     f. Forgive any goof-ups, and keep going.

Now you've got a formula for change. Every night make a to-do list for the next day, and check it off as you go along. You may slip up sometimes, but that's okay. And plan rewards for yourself. You deserve them. You're now a beautiful butterfly.

I wish you smiles every time you complete a task.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Many Faces of Love

Love planted a rose, and the world turned sweet. Katherine Lee Bates

I've sometimes wondered why we need a particular day each year to remember to express our love. Yes, Valentines Day reminds us of the blessing we carry around inside, but is one day each year enough to express that blessing? I've heard some people say they look forward to Valentines Day, because that's about the only time they hear I love you. What about all those other times we could be just as thoughtful and giving as on that day?

Have you ever wondered where Valentines Day came from? It has quite a history, and hasn't always been only for lovers as we think of it today. It was once a pagan fertility festival, and 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.

In our culture, the words I love you are usually meant in a romantic way. And hearing those words in any other context, at times, causes discomfort in some people. But there is love for family, friends of both genders, and even agape, or spiritual love. We tell our pets we love them. That's okay. But we think carefully before we express love for another person. Love has many faces, but we deny what has become unacceptable. Love is a human emotion that lives in the heart, so why can't we express it any time in any way we choose?

Would your neighbor think you were crazy if one day you said, You know what? I think you're a great neighbor, and I love you? And how would your friend feel if you called on the phone one morning in June and said, Just wanted you to know I'm glad you're my friend, and I love you?

Love doesn't always have to be verbalized. I wouldn't feel comfortable saying I love you to a store clerk, especially one I didn't know personally. But I'd love to give her, and yes even him, a rose just because I wanted to; or 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. Isn't that love? It doesn't need to be Valentines Day. Any day will do. All year. Love has many faces.

Where there is love, there is life.  Mahatma Gandhi

Love is our greatest gift, and it can be expressed in any form at any time. Love nourishes our cells, and without love we die inside. I've found that angry people are usually lonely, longing to be loved, and I've made peace with some angry people by expressing love to them in some way. There are many people who suffer from a lack of love in their lives. Maybe you're one of them. It's like wandering through life without really feeling at home. But expressing love in your life all year will help you find that home in your heart. Love has many faces

I wish you love every day of your life.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Turn Resistance To Welcome Resolution

Will I ever be free from all the problems, all the to-do stuff day after day? Hide from my nagging boss; stretch my money to pay the bills; get that noise in my car fixed; ease that pain in my neck; get that critical neighbor off my back. Too much? You bet.

Is any of that familiar to you? If so, that's the world you live in, and it's strangling the essence of who you are. You try everything you know to resolve all those nagging issues, but the more you push, the bigger they get, and they refuse to move. You're a nice person. You do the best you can. But it's draining, and you want it to stop. So what's really going on?

Cause of persistence: You're in a state of resistance. That's what's going on. Resistance breeds persistence, the cause of a lot of your pain. The more you focus on a problem and emotionally push against it with frustration, impatience, and anxiety, the more power you give it over you. And it won't budge. Our minds are more powerful than we realize. Every thought produces energy, and a mental and emotional state of resistance is like pouring coal into a furnace instead of allowing the fire to die out.

The more something upsets you, the more it is meant for you. When it no longer upsets you, it is no longer needed because the lesson is complete.  Bryant McGill

Your life is your journey, and hopefully you'll learn and grow with many lessons along the way. All those problems in your life are part of your journey, and they need attention. But dwelling on a problem in a state of resistance isn't the answer.

Solution: When a problem enters your life, stop trying to push against it. Let it be, and accept its presence while you're doing what you can to resolve it. This doesn't mean giving in without a fight, but take your fight to the solution--not the problem.
     1. Clarify your problem. Be specific. What exactly do you have to resolve?
     2. Approach your problem mentally, but practice emotional detachment. Imagine your problem as    
         separate from your emotions. You're not your problem. Your mission is to resolve the problem, not
         get emotionally involved with resistance.
     3. Make a list--even if list making isn't your thing. List various ways to approach and resolve the
     4. Protect your boundaries. You may have to defend your needs where others are involved, or decide
         how far you're willing to go with the situation, etc.
     5. Inner guidance. Ask and listen to your inner Voice for guidance. And ask what lesson you need to
         learn from the situation for your personal growth.

Not all situations are solvable. Sometimes we have to live with something we don't want. But resistance will only cause unnecessary suffering. Work on accepting that situation, and learn coping skills without resistance. Then the mountain won't seem so high, and you can find some joy in spite of it. Or maybe because of it.

This reminds me of a story. Two little farm boys were playing in a hay loft and fell to the ground, landing in a pile of manure. Mama heard their screams, and ordered them out of the manure pile. One came out, but the other just began digging around in the manure. Mama yelled, "What are you doing? Get out of there." The little boy kept digging and yelled back, "No, Mama. With all this manure, there's gotta be a pony in here somewhere."

So when you're confronted with situations in your life that need your attention, tackle them with acceptance, but without resistance or emotional attachment. Your journey is a series of glider rides and river rapids. Enjoy the rides, and concentrate on the paddles when the rapids get big. And look for the pony. There's one in there somewhere. And your lesson may be as simple as learning to peacefully resolve problems.

I wish you many happy ponies.