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Posts Tagged ‘mental-health’

Anxiety-2Fear is a common problem for many people and it can be difficult for most to overcome. Fear is deeply rooted and linked with negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. This is not the healthy type of fear where it makes sense to be afraid of something that threatens the loss of life, but the type of fear that creates an internal disturbance toward a perceived threat. This is usually found in the form of worry. Worry can be debilitating and is the result of fear of the unknown. Here is the breakdown of how this works causing 3 common negative emotions leading to an uneasiness in our lives.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety in a nutshell is a fight or flight response to a perceived threat. Internally the body is reacting to something that signals danger and hasn’t yet fully comprehended the extent of the threat, it’s unknown. Many times unresolved anxiety is difficult because the reality of the threat is not real, it’s manufactured, and it’s offspring is worry.

Worry is about the unknown and it is full of “mights and maybes.” The body responds to protect itself, an autonomic reaction, and the result is anxiety. Internally the body cannot recognize whether or not the threat is real, it just has to prepare itself just in case. So, if the mind is producing the perceived threat then the mind is the one that can fix the perceived threat by changing it. Most people who suffer this type of anxiety are experiencing generalized anxiety which is associated with expecting the worst in most situations. Counter challenge expecting the worst by being more realistic about daily outcomes.

Anger

Anger’s internal language says “I am in imminent danger and I must fight.” Remember the fight or flight response in anxiety? Anxious people typically want to avoid, angry people often want to confront. Anger is about taking an uncertain situation and making it certain. If a person is angry with you then chances are they want to control you to get certainty of the outcome of the situation. Anger is a natural emotion and comes in handy when life is being threatened. However, unchecked and for it’s survival value anger can become destructive.

Healthy anger is possible and takes a justice approach. To get angry with someone at the right place and right time is paramount for it to be effective. For example, you feel someone disrespects you at work in front of coworkers then call them on it, either right away or later one on one. While it is difficult to not become explosive, the manner in which something is being expressed is important, it’s a response instead of a reaction. This is often difficult as most people are afraid to make waves at work or in family relationships. This isn’t about making friends with people who bully others, this is about personal dignity and protecting it, and anger is designed to protect.

Depression

Depression’s internal language is lost hope. Depression is typically anger that turned inward and creating weight in the center of a person’s soul. This is where a person’s life can become self destructive by neglecting health, addiction issues, missing work or often being late. Other signs of depression are frequent crying, feeling blue all the time, excess or lack of sleep, appetite changes and a general sense of wanting to isolate and not engage with others. We all feel blue from time to time but this is more about a chronic state of feeling depressed for about 2 weeks or longer.

Depression can also be one of the most difficult moods to treat since it may take a while for the person suffering to come out of it as it typically doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes anti-depressants from a doctor may be necessary for a period of time combined with talk therapy with a qualified counselor. Self help strategies for depression are very effective in treating it. For example, waking up at the same time every day and make the bed. Get in a routine, eat breakfast and get some exercise early in the day. This gets the body moving and puts energy forward building momentum. Journal thoughts and feelings that are causing problems. Numerous studies have shown that written expression of emotions is highly effective at relieving them. Get outdoors, some fresh air and sunshine does wonders for the serotonin in the brain that helps lift mood. Depression is highly affected by negative thinking. One of the best challenges to negative thinking is to ask “what evidence do I have that makes my thoughts true?”

My hope and desire is this article helped someone in some way. If needed, share it with a friend or a community.

God’s Peace and Love,
Brian

Luke 12: 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

 

 

 

 

 

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Work DisputeWatch out!

When a codependent has a break through and they find their voice and how to make a stand in their life things can get a little rough. It follows the old cliche that things might get worse before they get better.

Underneath all of the self sacrifice that has been stuffed down and stacked up inside resurfaces going in the opposite direction. Instead of self sacrifice in order to get love from another person, this new found sense of freedom and independence turns into tough love. The codependent understands that it is okay to express themselves, their opinions and not worry any longer about what others think about them. It’s not that they don’t care, they just no longer worry about it.

Now comes the good and the not so good.

The good is personal freedom is often being experience for the first time in a very long time and quite possibly for the first time in their lives. This is not a move toward self-centeredness but a move toward self care taking and exercising some personal independence. It’s moving the self out from the subjection of others and into being objective in relationships and the environment in which they work and live.

Being objective in any situation means that the opinions, thoughts and feelings formed are unique to the individual who is experiencing them. These thoughts, feelings and opinions are viewed by the person who is holding them as just as worthy as anyone else, so there is a bit of self esteem that comes with this new freedom. It goes like this “my thoughts, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else.”

Now the not so good, but it often gets better. Just like any new skill learned it takes practice to get the hang of it. Here is another cliche; “it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. ” Here comes the stuffing. Like an overstuffed pillow, when the zipper first gets cracked open all the stuffing comes flying out all over the place. The idea is to treat it like a balloon, let out more air than is coming in bit by bit.

Usually the first few attempt come across as angry and brash. By validating and accepting themselves they struggle with the concept that they are doing harm or wronging another person by not putting the other person’s needs first. The codependent is finding their voice often for the first time and is learning how to communicate it. This takes time and practice. In this phase, learning self forgiveness goes a long way. Arguments may erupt, especially with family members who may not understand and only see a shift in behavior. Family and loved ones, not fully understanding what is going on, have to make adjustments as well since the dynamics of the relationship have changed.

One of the most common reasons why codependency happens is that somewhere along the road of the life the codependent learned to allow others to validate them. When they feel this validation is when they feel accepted, loved and liked as a person. When they move into this new sense of freedom they have learned how to accept themselves and not seek this validation from others. This can be a difficult behavior and habit for the codependent to detach from and learn new ones.

Learning how to live up to other people’s expectations is a tall order to fill. The codependent struggles to fit in with changing scenarios and compromises their true self in order to feel accepted or loved by others. People in healthy relationships have a genuine respect for each others thoughts, feelings and opinions, not because they match theirs, but because they are comfortable in their own skin, and their own right. It kinda follows one last cliche, “We can agree to disagree and still be friends. ” How is this possible? Because dropping codependency is about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, not who they think they ought to be in the eyes of another.

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pararescue impFamous author and inspirational leader John Eldredge takes a minute to talk to the nature of a man’s heart. John often writes demonstrating the overlooked masculine side of Christ that men so fondly resonate with. While Eldredge is famous for his book Wild at Heart, this excerpt is taken from another one of his books “Waking the Dead.” John asks a very important question and the expectation of where someone might think of where they should be in life. Where is yours, do you quest to fulfill unmet expectations or are you sleepwalking through life?-BM

From Waking the Dead

John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he’s going so fast it’s like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above. He is dazed and confused—just as we are when it comes to the story of our lives. It’s the perfect analogy. We have no idea who we really are, why we’re here, what’s happened to us, or why. Honestly, most days we are alert and oriented times zero. Dazed. Sleepwalking through life.

Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know—we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that’s true, then why didn’t he _______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help you out more.

Either (a) we’re blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn’t this where you land, with all the things that haven’t gone the way you’d hoped and wanted?

An excerpt from

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decisional balance

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Steve Maraboli

Deciding to take that first step to call a mental health professional to discuss personal problems can be an intimidating experience. It is normal to feel anxious or afraid when a person begins the process of opening up to discuss their issues especially if the pain has been stuffed or packed away for years. So, if going to therapy is about healing then what makes it so difficult? What causes people to avoid it? Why is it so hard to sort out problems and getting to the bottom of depression, relieving anxiety, or finally grieving the loss of something or someone held dearly? Or, perhaps what is going to take to finally kick that addiction habit that has become a routine part of life?

Often the answer to these questions are multifaceted for many reasons. A famous quote attributed to many famous people goes something like this, “people will only seek changing their situation in life when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than going through the pain of changing it.” Like this quote suggests, when does enough become enough? Emotions are strong and powerful motivators and often people seek counseling when they can no longer tolerate the pain. Emotions are there for a good reason, they say something about what a person is experiencing. Too often people become familiar with their pain, they don’t want to deal with it and results in a dysfunctional comfort zone or a type of distorted truth .

There is only so much emotional stuffing and distorting thinking the mind can hold. It has limitations. Like our dear old psychology friend Sigmund Freud once said “our bodies betray our minds.” In other words, the psychological suffering manifests itself somewhere else in the body. The worry wears holes in the stomach, leads to loss of sleep, stress creates body aches, anxiety can increase heart rate, blood pressure and sweating and in severe cases it can manifest into a panic attack.

A metaphoric way of looking at this is like that drawer at home that has been stuffed so full of junk it comes off the tracks because it won’t open. The drawer is opened and another miscellaneous object is tossed in there never to be seen or thought about again. Out of sight out of mind, right? But it is still there. Over time the junk drawer gets to be too much, it’s overwhelming, it needs to get cleaned out, organized and put back together. Following this is a sense of accomplishment , feeling better about the situation and it becomes more easily managed and maintained.

Where to Begin?

Recognizing that there is unwanted or unmerited pain in life is the first step. While this is good awareness, how does it lead to healing? Therapy now becomes a question of motivation and it might begin to get a little personal. A common reason for the uneasiness has to do with not wanting to roll out of the dysfunctional comfort zone and start breaking it all down. In assessing motivation this is referred to as being either ambivalent or contemplative. It is not action yet. The language of being ambivalent or contemplative says, “I don’t have/or want a problem, I’m okay right where I am” and all the while the person knows deep down inside the problem is there and unsure whether to take action.

A useful tool to help muster up the courage to go to counseling is something called a decisional balance. This process looks at, and weighs the balance of the benefits versus costs of counseling, and the benefits and costs of not going to counseling. For example:

Counseling Benefits:

  • Increased control over life
  • Better marriage/relationships
  • Better work performance
  • Improved health

Counseling Costs:

  • Experiencing emotional pain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Financial commitment

Not Counseling Benefits:

  • Don’t have to deal with problems
  • Easier to keep stuffing emotions
  • Don’t have to think about it

Not Counseling Costs:

  • Job loss
  • Relationship/Marriage loss
  • Increased health risk

These are only examples of how to measure and weight out the decision of whether or not counseling is needed. What side is the balance tipping toward, going or not going? In the long run, seeking out therapy is often a question of motivation. If still contemplating therapy ask and evaluate the answers to these very simple questions; what would be achieved as a result of going, what is the worst that could happen, what is the best that could happen?

Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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There is a type of addiction that exists that is commonly, and affectionately, referred to as a “shop-a-holic.” While it may sound like a term of endearment on the surface there are some people who strongly identify with it and have serious problems struggling to stop spending money. So what is behind this behavior, is it the love of money, does it feel good to spend money?

The real culprit behind spending money just like any other addiction is it makes the person feel good. When we medicate something painful in life it makes us feel better and reinforcing the desire to indulge in the activity. So what is the big deal about going out and spending money?” Spending money is okay, but just like drinking a little wine every once in a while doesn’t impair most people there are some who can’t touch the stuff as it will lead them down a path of destruction. But when spending money is put into the context of what constitutes addiction then it becomes a problem.

Addiction is the compulsive habit of turning to a substance or behavior that leads to dysfunction in multiple areas of a person’s life mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Often the underlying question is how come this is happening? The answer is typically that the compulsion is being used as a coping mechanism for some undesirable feeling such as sadness or unresolved anger. The rush of spending money sends a chemical to the brain that involves feeling good resulting in the perception of happiness. It feels good at the time but when the activity is over so is the elation. The reality of sadness and undesired feelings creep back in and the person returns to the thing that makes them feel good.

This turns into a vicious cycle of addiction where a person is avoiding their unresolved pain and instead learns to live in a world that makes them feel good. This forms a kind of love bond with the behavior and become attached to it. The only problem with the method is like any addiction it takes more and more to get the same result. The reason it takes more and more is the coping mechanism is faulty, it’s not true healing. The checking account runs low, savings accounts disappear, retirement funds get cashed out, second loans on the home and then foreclosure, lost relationships and marriages, cars get repossessed and the list goes on. It is not usually until a person who has an addiction issue hits rock bottom that they finally admit they have a problem and reach out for help. They have no more resources left to mask the problem. They have exhausted their friends and family and they have a debt they cannot repay.

So what does a person who has a spending addiction do? First is to know that any addiction is a symptom of an underlying issue. Seek professional help to help identify the root cause of the problem. One of the main issues regarding behavioral addictions is low self esteem and depression. When mood is lifted it is because it was lifted from a low place into one of elation. Developing healthy coping mechanisms that do not lead to destruction is a good place to start. This involves doing things that are enjoyable and require little if any funding to pursue. Taking walks in the park, visiting with friends or going and helping the less fortunate as a volunteer can be great places to start. To help with undesired feelings journaling thoughts through hand written expression, art, woodworking or other methods that involve the use of hands can be great for providing distractions to return to old addiction coping mechanisms. These therapeutic tools are also useful to relieve everyday stress, anxiety and depression which are common relapse triggers.

 

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Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Being in a relationship with someone who is healthy creates good feelings of wanting to move forward with that person. In the process of relationship maturity there are certain characteristics to look out for that will help identify how things will play out in the long run. Sometimes unhealthy behavior can begin to raise little red flags in the mind that maybe something is not quite right. This is usually indicated by feelings of reluctance to spend time with the other person leading to avoidance issues. Wanting to isolate or getting away from the other person can be an indication of wanting to sort out thoughts and feelings about the relationship.

When sorting out these thoughts and feelings there are certain behaviors that signal there may be something to further evaluate. Whether married, engaged, dating or single; here are a few suggestions for self evaluation in a relationship.

  1. I can express my emotions, thoughts and feelings freely without judgment or criticism. Nurturing a relationship built on safety and trust goes a long way. Someone who is always criticizing or being judgmental about thoughts and feelings discourages growth and maturity and eventually other areas of the relationship, for example intimacy may begin to suffer. Healthy people respect each other, not criticize, even if they agree to disagree on certain subjects.
  2. Watch how the other person treats their close family members such as their parents and siblings. Are they being treated with respect or are they being negative and sarcastic? Often how these people are being treated can be a clue as to how people in a relationship will eventually be treated as well. When a relationship is new it can be exciting and most people want to present their best. As time goes on the real person begins to emerge and expose their true character. Conduct an early check by watching how they treat family.
  3. Be on the lookout for controlling behavior. Areas that are frequently used to control others are by getting aggressive regarding money, sex, anger and time spent with others. With money it is usually an issue by criticizing how you are spending money, making frequent suggestions on how to get more and then using manipulation to get it from you. In the case of marriage, money is controlled by restricting access to it and using intensive questioning about how it will be used. With sex, it is often withheld or the opposite occurs by being abusive and forceful when it is non-consensual. Anger is used to control the behavior response from others and is very highly prevalent with addictive behavior. Using anger to control is all about the controlling person which implies that “if you don’t do what I want then you will have to deal with me being unpleasant.” Finally, time with others, if a person questions or gets upset that time is being spent with others often presents an issue with jealousy. Jealousy can be an inroad leading to more complicated issues later in the relationship.

While this is not a comprehensive list of things to look out for in a relationship it can be a starting point or way to evaluate a few areas that may be of concern. Relationships can be complicated and involve many moving parts that go into the overall equation. Healthy relationships involve feeling comfortable with safety and trust with the other person. Safety and trust are foundational and allow for other areas of the relationship to grow such as maturity and intimacy. This is a kind of intimacy that goes beyond sex in the form of a deep knowing of the other person. Intimacy and maturity are lifelong endeavors in any relationship and really never stop growing. It takes time to get to really know someone.

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Substance abuse recovery is really about life changes. Going from a life dependent on a substance to dependent on the self can be stressful.  However, developing a positive attitude toward recovery can go a long way by reinforcing the purpose for quitting addictions. If you are a person or know of someone who is suffering from addictions here are 5 positive ways quitting affects a person.
  1. It increases control over your life. When a person makes a conscious choice to stop using drugs or alcohol it helps to empower them over the substance. It signals to themselves that “I can do this and I am doing it.” Recovery takes effort and discipline and will be challenging at times. Keep the recovery in perspective by developing a healthy perspective of self-worth.
  2. Fewer job problems. This benefit comes from not calling in sick, being late, having mental issues with memory and processing information. Mental fog is often a problem for people who are struggling with addiction and comes at a price of lost job performance. Missed work is often the result of dealing with hang overs or wanting to isolate with their drug of choice. So the benefit of not using is increased performance, being on time and not calling out. Over time the mental fog should lift after the substance has been stopped being used.
  3. Better health and restored balance. Substance abuse releases dopamine into the brain that signals “I feel good.” Over time it can get burned out losing the sensation of being able to feel good anymore which is also known as tolerance. The abuser will notice that no matter how much more of the drug they take, known as “bumping,” doesn’t work anymore because the dopamine has been all used up. When a person stops using the dopamine is allowed to return to normal levels allowing the brain to improve functioning. Other health benefits can be exercise, more sleep and an overall general sense of feeling better with improved self-esteem.
  4. More Financially Fit. One of the biggest assets for someone struggling with addiction is cash flow. If the money is flowing in then the drug can be resourced. If the money stops then finding a solution can be a real problem. Usually the resource is found by manipulating other people or finding a codependent partner to lean on . When the addiction stops then the money stops flowing toward the addiction and goes toward other things.
  5. Respect. Family and friends will notice the change, especially if the addicted person has been struggling for a while. Usually the first improvements they will notice is increased mood and an change of attitude. When a person feels they have put the worst behind them and have a healthy outlook on life it transcends to the body and presents itself in a positive way. The ultimate respect will come from the self, self-respect. The biggest thing a person who struggles with addiction is to get out of a shame based mind-set and adopt the mind-set that they have beat something that at one time seemed bigger than they are.

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Stress! Just the mere sound of the word can conjure up feelings of uneasiness just knowing there is something tied to it that is unpleasant. So let’s take a minute to examine the word and find a way to fight stress with S.T.R.E.S.S. Stress is often unavoidable in life so like many other things it cannot be fully eliminated but it can be managed effectively if appropriate steps are taken.

Stress is a natural reaction to a perceived threat, fear and excessive worry. If it goes on too long and turns into chronic stress it can begin to impact our overall health both physically and mentally. Below is acronym for S.T.R.E.S.S. on how to help manage it and make life a little bit easier. While it may be impossible to eliminate stress altogether, getting a handle on it can be a good start.

SSlow Down. Don’t try to do too much too fast. A great stress producer is trying to do too much in too little time. Take smaller steps and just do one thing at a time to get the pace to slow down. The idea is don’t bite off more than you can chew. If your life seems overwhelming it might be time to throw some things out, delegate responsibilities and don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family and colleagues to lighten the load.

T.  Task Management. A technique for managing tasks is to sit down the night before and write out a list of 10 items to get done the following day. Don’t fret if all of the tasks are not finished. Additional stress can often be created by trying to achieve unrealistic self-induced demands. Have a stop time and let it go and let the remaining items roll over to the next day. Do not add 10 more to it; let it be part of the next 10 items.

R. Relax. Find a way to relax by creating a distraction. After the task list has been put down for the day find something else to do, for example; read a book, journal, call a friend, go for a walk, go fishing, spend time with a pet, or meditate on God’s word. Creating a distraction from what is racing through our minds removes the burden of those things. Christ gave us a great example about worry and over thinking things in life in Matthew 6:25-34. Basically the idea is to let yesterday go, tomorrow has enough problems of its own and just focus on today.

E. Exercise. We don’t all like to do it but exercise can be a great way to get away from everything and it releases healthy feel good chemicals such as endorphins. Get creative as sometimes going to a gym can get monotonous. Walk, ride a bike, rent or borrow a kayak and spend part of the weekend out on the water. Exercise doesn’t have to be about getting on some machine and hammering out some routine, it can also be fun and relaxing.

S. Source it. Find out where the stress is coming from and deal with it at the root source. Ask probing questions about the validity of the stress such as what purpose is it serving and what can realistically be done about it. What is going to be achieved as a result of stressing? If it can be realistically changed think of ways to change it (think management) to reduce the stress.

S. Serenity Prayer. Sometimes the serenity prayer can be a real sanity saver in the long run. To be able to accept the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things that can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference. Those things in our lives that cannot be changed lift them up to God. Christ says His burden is light. Offer up the stressful things to God and let it go.

The idea with managing stress is to manage it rather than it managing us. When we become subjected to things in life that creates stress we take on unnecessary worry, doubt, fear and the feelings of loss of control in our lives. Take a look at the big picture, slow down and think about ways to reframe how your life is being lived out.

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addiction“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Addiction has a strong pull on the human psyche and in a lot of ways is like an emotional manipulator. Those who are caught in this affliction often testify that the pull of wanting to return to their drug of choice is stronger than their ability to overcome it. Addiction manipulates the pleasure center of the brain known as the limbic system which is a primitive part of the brain that is responsible for the feel good chemicals. This is accomplished when drugs manipulate the release of dopamine; a neurotransmitter that is responsible for producing pleasure, euphoria and controlling emotional responses, to basically feel good.

Manipulation in the brain is like a false positive; to feel good means one must not feel good, right? So if a person wants to feel better they must medicate, because, they don’t feel good. The problem with this theory is there is a lie involved. The quote at the beginning of this article gives an example of how there are two ways to be fooled, to believe the lie, or to think the truth is a lie.

This is the very nature of addiction; it is about living a lie. The addiction lies and seduces the user into believing that the substance is the answer for the pain they feel. Pain is there for a reason, usually emotional; to signal that there is a problem. To simply drown it, shoot it, snort it or swallow it is a short term solution to something that needs to be addressed on a deeper level.

Often when a person tries to move away from the drug and begin to face the deeper emotional problems they are experiencing some obstacles can arise, often in the form of the truth of what is being medicated. These obstacles are part of the denial process of trying to move away from dependency into independence. Independence is about being able to stand without using a coping mechanism to manipulate dopamine into feeling better. In this process the addicted person may begin to struggle with really wanting to give it up. They are afraid to leave the false reality of the safety and comfort of the drug that they have come to believe in. Here are a few of the common obstacles faced with addiction and alcoholism recovery.

Denying the Truth

Denying, or denial, in a nutshell is saying “I don’t have a problem.”  Someone who wants to recover admits there is a problem and takes steps to take care of it. Being hooked on a substance is a lot like being in a bad relationship. Like any good lover, the substance makes them feel better and is more important than regaining their dignity. The addicted person does not realize they deserve a better life.

Rationalizing

This voice says “I deserve it! I have earned it for whatever reason, xyz…” To put it bluntly, rationalization is about making an excuse to use and looking for a reason to pick up. This can also be an area where a person in recovery will test themselves to see if they are truly recovered. “I’ll just have one and prove to myself that I am no longer addicted.” Unfortunately this test rarely passes with positive results.

Intellectualizing

Intellectualizing addiction is about coming to a conclusion about how it all came about and this knowledge is going to be used on how they are going to outsmart the problem. This is not about facing the issue; this is about circumventing it and looking for a work around to real recovery.

Blaming

“I’m the victim of things that happened to me in my life, if it weren’t for these awful things that happened to me then I would not have this problem.” Okay, let’s go back to reality, not believing the lie. Blaming others or holding others responsible for the addiction will go nowhere. The decision to pick up and use is always the choice of the user. The old cliché about anger can be applied here “drink the poison and wait for the other person to die.”

The bottom line for addiction and recovery is about getting real that there is a problem and making a choice. It’s a matter of motivation. The addicted person has to make the choice to recognize that they have a problem and make a stand against it. There is no doubt, it is hard, it takes effort, it is a battle and it is not easy, but it is possible.

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It may sound contradictory for an angry person to be more assertive, however being more assertive can help release built up anger. Anger is a normal emotion and we all experience it at one time or another. However there are times when we have a tendency to hold things in regarding issues in life such as a perceived injustice or the lack of boundaries. When anger goes unexpressed for too long it can turn inward manifesting into resentment and compulsive behaviors. It is not uncommon for anger held on to for long periods of time to turn into depression. Other symptoms of mismanaged anger can be strong use of sarcasm, isolation, substance abuse, relationship problems and a general sense of the loss of self. Anger manifested outward is much more obvious. It appears as rage, directed at inanimate objects, road rage, yelling or becoming abusive toward others.

Since anger is a common emotion the idea of dealing with it is not to eliminate it, but to learn how to manage it. One common way is to learn how to be more assertive which is different than being aggressive. Being assertive is about expressing thoughts and feelings toward someone else in an open manner that fosters dialogue. Being aggressive is about dominance and trying to control someone or a situation in a more hostile way, usually as a monologue directed at someone. When anger becomes such a problem that it has a strong negative effect on others, or leads into self destructive behaviors then it may be time to get help.

How Assertiveness Releases Anger

In a metaphorical sense, anger directed at us is like a balloon being filled with air. Destructive anger is like the balloon that has been filled to its breaking point and then it explodes. With constructive anger, the balloon takes in some of the air, and then some of the air is let back out releasing the tension and preventing a blow up. This is the idea of being assertive, we do not take and take until we explode, we breathe in and breathe out. This is the boundaries part where some assertiveness training could come in handy on learning how to be more expressive with others. This often takes a little practice and getting used to if  being assertive and expressing yourself is something you are not used to. It follows the old cliché along the lines of “it’s not necessarily what we say, but how we say it” that matters. What will happen over time is this constructive outward flow back toward others provides a sense of empowerment and well being that relieves stress, anxiety and most importantly anger.

If you find yourself struggling with trying to manage the more destructive anger and wanting to react in a negative way there are a few techniques that you can use to help. The first is to ask yourself what you are reacting to and what exactly it is that is pressing your buttons? Once this information is realized then begin to challenge it by asking how important it is to react this way, or are the feelings appropriate to the perceived threat? This can be a lead-in to the next thought challenge by asking “am I over reacting to something? “ Other thought challenges include looking at how a situation is perceived, assuming the worst or thinking that someone meant harm when they really didn’t mean any harm at all. Think realistically, what outcome will my anger have on the situation?

When all fails and the anger still cannot be resolved, get away from the source of the anger, think blue for calm, breathe in and out slowly while counting to 10 or 100 if necessary. If you are able to get outdoors such as a park or lake to take a slow walk then even better. Remember, this is about managing anger.

Being assertive with others and expressing our thoughts and feelings can go a long way in preventing tension and anger from building up inside. Nobody wants to be the balloon where we take it all in until we explode. Allow yourself to breathe your thoughts and feelings with others through effective dialogue. You just might be surprised how much less anger you have as a result and how much better you feel about yourself as a person.

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