Anger Management: Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh tongue stirs up anger”.

–Proverbs 15:1

anger

How do you respond when you’re angry? What mentality overcomes you—the “turn the other cheek” philosophy or the “eye for an eye” mentality?

In situations where we experience anger, our reaction to the situation can often times be the deciding factor that either fans the flames or diffuses a situation.

When I worked in the inpatient psychiatric hospital setting, I taught a behavioral management course to incoming staff. Amongst many techniques, the technique that deescalated a situation almost every time was remaining calm in response to a heated situation. Remembering to keep your voice low in response to the angry person, body language relaxed, and eye contact continuous but not overbearing, were the key responses in bringing a person’s anger down to a reasonable and communicative level.

It is in our biological make-up to mirror the actions of another human being (i.e. mirror neurons in action!), especially when we like that other person. So by remaining calm and lowering our voices, it has the ability to cause the person that you may be in opposition with to instinctively lower their voice, and in turn, calm them down.

While you and the other person may not have a positive relationship, the key here is that one person’s reaction to the other has the ability to completely calm the other person down or oppositely, incite them. Next time you are in a heated situation, I encourage you to try this.

When we lash out at another person in response to their anger, it only adds the proverbial fuel to the fire. As in the Proverbs verse above, our response to a situation is very powerful. How we choose to conduct ourselves has great bearing on almost any situation that we are in.

Consider this scenario. Your child is misbehaving. They’ve torn the house apart and are not listening to you when you’re telling them to take a bath. You have two choices here. One, you can scream at them until the cows come home which will most likely result in tears and a spanking—and you losing your cool. Or you can take a deep breath, approach them calmly, offering choices and speaking quietly.

kid

A child’s response to the situation will become directly influenced by how you respond to them. While the first option I mentioned may be effective for the short term, it will most likely help your child develop a maladaptive set of behaviors and they will learn that “screaming gets stuff done”. The second option, although more time-consuming and requiring more patience, will inadvertently teach your child how to handle a tough situation. See the difference?

Second example. Your partner has just really angered you. They forgot to pick up milk and laundry detergent on the way home, are now totally engrossed in that “stupid video game” they like, and their dishes from breakfast are still sitting on the counter.

Once again, you have two choices. The first choice is to give into that disproportionate rage you may feel as a result of working all day, not getting enough sleep the night before, and feeling brain fried-lashing out at your partner and screaming “You can’t do anything right!! What a loser! You are so lazy!”. Or you can calmly make your way to where your partner is, sit down to ask them to clean up after themselves, and or ask them to go with you to the store to get the items that they forgot, turning the anger into a proactive response where you actually get to spend time with your partner reconnecting.

couple reconnecting

I’ve seen the first reaction play out time and time again with the couples I work with in therapy and I will tell you that after a time, the angry partner ends up causing the other partner to shut down. When the screaming starts, the other partner either leaves or slowly begins to detach from the relationship—losing the desire to make their angry partner happy.

Remember: You have no control over what the other person’s response will be to your calmness. But by you taking the responsibility of staying in control of your emotions and reacting calmly and assertively to a situation, it will diffuse your own anger and allow you to become more approachable in the long haul. Not to mention, your blood pressure will stay at a healthy level and after continuing to practice peaceful communication, it will become second nature to who you are!

Developing and cultivating a calm response to situations takes time, energy, and practice. For many people, it is not an intrinsic response. Perhaps you grew up in a household where you watched your parents yell, fight, and slam doors to prove a point. Perhaps over the years, the only way you felt heard was to yell. Either way, when we continually exhibit a negative set of behaviors, they will become engrained pieces of our personalities—humans are patterned creatures with a propensity to gravitate towards the familiar.

Being the best version of ourselves and making healthy choices in responding to anger calmly can be very difficult! Especially if you feel that your newer healthy responses are not as effective as your previous angry self.

Anger has the ability to corrode even the healthiest of relationships. Disproportionate anger especially. Taking out our own personal stress on the people that we are closest to and not giving them a pass for those simple shortcomings (forgetting to buy groceries, leaving the bed unmade, forgetting to take the trash out) are the quickest ways to alienate your partner or children.

The next time that you can feel the rage start to bubble up, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” Seeking to understand yourself and what is causing you to react in a certain way is a powerful key in behavior change. I encourage people to use the Alcoholics Anonymous acronym HALT for a quick assessment on what’s going on. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and or Tired? If you answer yes to any of those questions, chances are you are not in a good place to begin with.

Attempt to alleviate the HALT issues that are occurring and then tackle your grievances—calmly.

Food for thought: if you have “lost your cool” today, remember that you are human and tomorrow is another opportunity to practice peaceful communication and anger management.

tomorrow

 

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” –Proverbs 12:18

Encouraging you to practice calmness and peace in your interactions today and everyday,

Rachel Ann

#Frenemies: 6 signs you’re in a toxic friendship

I was recently talking to a friend of mine that was lamenting about the struggle she has with a friend of hers.

She spoke to the fact that they have ‘been friends for years’ so she was experiencing an unspoken feeling of obligation that she should maintain the friendship. Despite being constantly brought down by her friend’s negativity, misgivings that her friend was trustworthy, and the nagging feeling that her friend just used her to vent about the stresses of her life—my friend still seemed to struggle with letting this other person go.

Sound familiar?

At one point or another, you have to evaluate the friendships that are in your life.

Healthy characteristics of friendships include:

  • a reciprocation of support through the bad and the good times in life
  • a feeling of positivity that is derived after an interaction
  • the ability to go out and enjoy life activities together
  • a bond that is impenetrable through life transitions
  • trust.

A healthy friendship enhances your life, and should not take away from your joy. Of course there will be moments where you will feel concern and worry for your friend, but this should be tempered by humor and lighter moments where you both share joy!

lab and elephant friends

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” ― Alice Walker

So how do you decipher through the friendships that you have and decide which ones need to be let go?

Here is a list of the top 6 signs that your friendship is toxic, and needs to be expired:

1. Despite your best efforts, your friend never seems happy with you.

Some people are intrinsic people pleasers. They may feel a need to always try to make others happy despite never being able to achieve that because the other person will always feel they are not doing a good enough job. My biggest concern for the people pleaser is that who is trying to make you happy? If you begin to notice that despite your best efforts, your “friend” still becomes upset that you didn’t call her back at the right time, didn’t listen long enough to her grievances, didn’t fix her problem, give her the right advice, etc., then it may be time to move on. Who wants a person in their life who you can’t ever make happy despite your best efforts?

2. Your friend is a social glommer.

Social glomming occurs when your friend only seems available during the good times in your life. The social glommer is surely there to celebrate that new job, but there’s no sight of them when you need support with a break-up, loss, insert whatever hardship you may have going on. A social glommer is there to ride the coattails of your happiness but you can’t count on them to be there for you when the going gets tough. Friendship should be based on the understanding that there is support even when you are not at the top of your life game.

In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.

–Aristotle

3. Your friend loves drama.

Maybe you’ve begun to notice a pattern where your friend loves to function around and in dysfunction. While the friend that loves drama can provide some entertainment and or strong opinions, this kind of friendship surely does not promote peaceful living. If you find that your friend is only calling you when he or she is at the center of a dramatic event and seeks to pull you in, it may be time to pull the curtain on this one. When we constantly allow ourselves to become involved in these mini-dramas, it takes away positive energy—draining us of our ability to be healthy and centered.

4. Your friend does not communicate with you when they are upset.

Maybe you had to cancel a dinner with your friend because you were sick with the flu and strangely you haven’t heard from your friend for weeks. You know that the dinner was important to your friend because it was a celebration of their new job and wonder why they aren’t responding to you since you cancelled. You’ve apologized but still, no response. A true friend is able to check in with you if you’ve done something that upset them. There is the ability to have a meaningful conversation about hurts and or disappointments and instead of the difficult conversation breaking up the relationship, you and your friend become stronger. Just as in any relationship, there will be times that you may upset or let one another down. If you aren’t able to discuss these concerns, then it can be a tell-tale sign that it’s a dead-end friendship.

4. Your friend does not encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

The friend that is a bad influence will often manifest themselves in many different ways. Whether it’s the person that encourages you to drink more than you know you should, not go to the meeting on beach cleanup, or tell you that kissing someone other than your partner is not cheating, this person encourages bad behavior and in turn causes you to be a less healthy version of yourself. This person is often disguised under the mask of being nonjudgmental which is surely a quality that we want in a friend. But instead of being open to accepting you as who you are, their nonjudgmentalness takes a turn for the worst—instead of offering up healthy encouragement while still accepting you, he or she may completely validate totally irresponsible and unhealthy behavior. If you recognize this in your friendship, it’s time to find someone that encourages you to grow.

A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Your friend is not trustworthy or consistent.

True friends are able to respect you and hold the sacred details of your life close to their heart without repeating them. Likewise, their actions follow their words. Not only do healthy friendships speak the truth, they follow through with doing what they say that they will. Example: you just confessed to your friend that you are feeling really lonely and would they go with you to your company holiday party? Your friend offers you verbal support and tells you “of course I’ll be your plus one!” but when it comes time for the action to take place, you find out that not only does your friend repeat what you have told them to another mutual friend, they bail on you when it comes time for the get together. If you are allowing someone that is not trustworthy or consistent to be in your life, then it’s time to reevaluate and let go.

 “Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”

― William Shakespeare

frenemies

Tying it all together…

The beauty of our adult friendships is that we have the capability to pick and choose who we allow to be in our lives, our inner circle, our ‘tribe’. Friendships should benefit your life and cause your life to be enriched with support and positivity.

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes your friendships will wax and wane as you may be in different life stages, yet no matter what, a true friendship will persevere throughout. Make space in your life for healthy friendships, with people that will encourage you to be the best version of yourself, and love you for exactly who you are.

Never settle for less to pacify loneliness; when you accept less than what you deserve, the end result is one that lacks fulfillment and true human connection. While it can be difficult to find faithful friends, hold tight because they are out there! And more than likely looking for a good friend like you.

Focus your energies on being the best friend that you can be and the positive people that you want to attract will come…

Wishing you solid friendships full of health and positivity today and everyday,

Rachel Ann