Anger and Personality Style

What situations make you angry for no apparent reason, especially when others handle the same situation calmly?

Is there a particular word that irritates you? Do you get annoyed when people only drive 70 on a 55mph road? Is it situations that leave you feeling disrespected? Ignored? Like you have no control? Personality type plays a big role in your pet peeves and trigger issues. Dr. Aimee Daramus shares her insight and expertise in this guest blog.

There are 10 basic personality types, some more prone to anger than others, each with slightly different things that make them mad. Some of the types that are particularly prone to anger are the paranoid, borderline, narcissistic, and antisocial or sociopathic types, and obsessive-compulsive types. When a personality type is taken to an extreme in which youre experiencing multiple losses in life, such as losing jobs or relationships, or getting in trouble with authority figures a lot, its called a a personality disorder. Even for those of us with a fairly healthy personality, though, our type can influence what makes us angry, according to Neil Bockian, Ph.D., a Chicago therapist (www.bhawellness.com) who has written or co-written 3 books on personality disorders.

Someone with a paranoid type is always concerned that someone might be out to get them or take advantage of them. The healthy version of this type is realistically cautious. Theyll get angry when they feel taken advantage of. Anger management skills might include making sure that you actually are being taken advantage of before reacting, and learning some negotiating skills to be more effective at looking out for yourself.

People with narcissistic styles (the healthy version of this is someone with a lot of confidence) get angry when they feel inferior to someone else. According to Dr. Bockian, it might feel like unfairness or injustice. If this is your style, you might respond to anger by trying to prove youre better than someone else or by ridiculing someone. It might help to focus on improving skills in order to feel less inferior, rather than focusing on your place in the hierarchy.

People with an antisocial type (at an extreme, they can be sociopaths or psychopaths), might get angry when they feel controlled or have to obey rules that seem arbitrary. And to someone with antisocial personality disorder, most rules seem arbitrary. healthy people with this type are adventurous and see rules as flexible. Some people with this type also use instrumental aggression: you may not actually be that angry, but you act like it in order to achieve a goal. Bullying is a form of instrumental aggression.

People with a borderline style often have unstable relationships and have unusually strong emotional reactions. Theyre going to get angry when they feel rejected or abandoned. People with this style often turn their anger on themselves, but can also explode at others very suddenly. Emotion management skills (like those in Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and skills for healthy relationships might be useful along with specific anger management techniques.

While many people with domestic abuse issues are seen as sociopaths (and therefore the antisocial personality type), Dr. Bockian believes that many domestic abusers have a borderline style or disorder. He explains that since people with borderline style have unstable relationships and their anger is triggered by a sense of abandonment, this can lead to rejection or abusive behavior. This is followed by the classic abusive pattern of apologizing and trying to make amends before starting the cycle again.

People with an obsessive-obsessive-compulsive personality type value control and are often perfectionistic, so they might get angry over minor imperfections in themselves or others. They might also get angry when they feel disobeyed (even when theres no logical reason for them to expect obedience in that situation). People with this type get angry at themselves as much as at others because of their very high standards. It can be useful to work on the idea of good enoughinstead of perfect, and to explore how much control youre really entitled to in a situation.

It helps to know a little bit about how your anger triggers are affected by your basic personality type. If youre concerned that you might have a personality disorder, a psychologist can help you figure that out. Even if your personality is healthy, knowing your style can help you manage irrational anger and draw on your personality strengths to manage tough situations.

Aimee Daramus, Psy. D., lives and works in downtown Chicago and can be reached at www.audeotherapy.com or adaramus@adaramus.hush.com. She specializes in serious mental illness, such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, and PTSD.

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Avoiding the Good Intentions that Pave the Way to Hell

 I have recently found myself thinking a lot about good intentions. 

Inherently, they seem positive, right? However, they have a deeper negative impact that many do not fully appreciate. Good intentions are nothing more then idyllic dreams masquerading as concrete goals.

Good intentions are often things we say we want to do, we intend to do, yet there is not a clear plan in place to put them into action. They are the behaviors that we are preaching and projecting on to some undefinable, unclear ‘later’ date. 

Good intentions speak to life as we imagine it in our hopes, dreams, fears, wants, wishes, attitudes, expectations and perceptions. Yet promoting our good intentions do not seem to protect us from bad — or at least unexpected — outcomes.

This often happens because we haven’t fully thought out all the potential consequences of acting on our good intentions. Even the simplest actions undertaken for the best reasons, can produce results we didn’t anticipate.

Life is complicated. A spontaneous gift for one of our children can lead to hurt and resentful feelings from our children, who then takes the resentment out on the “privileged” sibling. Other times our intentions may be adequate, but our ability to follow through is lacking. We might want to really surprise our spouse by balancing the checkbook, only to make an even bigger mess of it because we just aren’t very good at it.

Good intentions are ultimately self indulgent, counter productive and often lead to destructive choices. Beneath our wishful hopes, the motivation that compels us to act is rooted in antagonism, masked as altruism. These are acts based in paternal protection exhibited by controlling behaviors that are used to prove our worth and hide our inadequacy to cope with uncertainty. 

Good intentions are only good for ourselves and most of the time they are very bad in relation to someone else. It turns out that even when we are seemingly doing ‘good things’, we can be almost certain that we are doing ‘bad things’ from the viewpoint of others. 

Good intensions can be understood in terms of four motivations that were modeled during childhood.

 

The first type of good intention is over-ambitious person, which applies to those who decide what others should be.  Until the person becomes what other want, they feel worthless and inadequate. An over-ambitious good intention sets others up to fail by living in the future and feeling incompetent in the meantime.

The second type of good intention is the over-critical person who finds fault with everything others do because they only want them to be their best, which means perfect.  This teaches others that they cannot do anything right and cannot trust their own judgment.

The third type of good intention is the over-indulgent person who gives others everything they want and more.  Because the others are not taught to work for anything, they become dependent on others and full of self–doubt when alone.

The fourth type of good intention is the over-protective person who teaches others that danger is lurking around the corner; something bad is bound to happen soon.  People end up feeling inadequate to cope and scared of everything. This is a recipe for anxiety.

What are real intentions? Real intentions involve acting in accordance with the demands of the present situation. Real intentions arise from: 

1) Perceiving reality and its demands clearly. 

2) Accurately assessing what the situation requires us to do. 

3) Deciding on an appropriate intervention. 

4) Implementing our decision in the reality that exists in the here and now.

Reality is the world as it is, not as we imagine it in our hopes, dream, fears, wants, wishes, attitudes, expectations and perceptions. We can do what reality requires and use real intentions to:

– Catch ourselves thinking, “this is what we should do” (Should is a preference)

– Catch ourselves trying to please others.  (We don’t know how they want to be pleased)

– Catch ourselves trying not to displease.  (We can live up to our own standards)

– Catch ourselves protecting others from consequences (They did not ask for our help)

– Catch ourselves trying to prevent disaster. (Live in the present, we can’t predict the future)

– Catch ourselves having high standards for self/others. (We don’t know what’s best)

– Catch ourselves trying to prove our worth to others. (Self worth comes from within)

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Successful Self-Control

Newton’s third law of motion is:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For many, the opportunity to live without consequences would be wonderful. 

But of course, this not reality. Reality is constantly giving us feedback about our behavior: a phone call from the gas company that we have not made a payment, a promotion for hard work on a project, a ticket for parking in the wrong spot. This is the way life is. 

Interestingly, many parents and caregivers break up this natural feedback loop for their children. These well intentioned people run interference for the child, so that they never have to live with the consequences of their actions. When parents do this, children realizes it does not matter how they behave.

We must allow children to experience the consequences of their behavior. A consequence is defined simply as “the natural outcomes of behavior”. Consequences teach a valuable lesson: we make a choice or we do not, either way there is an impact. Logical consequences teach children that there is an equal reaction to every action and in turn they gain some very valuable feedback about their behavior.

If we fail to exercise and eat well, the consequence is that we will gain weight and possible experience greater health problems as we age. We can have wonderful intentions to exercise daily, or avoid high fat foods, but in the end, reality does not care about our intentions. Our intentions don’t keep us from gaining weight; healthy eating and exercise do. The same is true for children: they either do their homework, practice piano or speak politely or they do not.

Following through with consequences for children allows them to experience the repercussions for all of their behavior and in turn teaches them take ownership and responsibility for their choices. Teaching children responsibility is not easy. It is, in fact so challenging, that many teachers and parents opt not to do it. Instead, they choose options that are often short sighted and easy. Unfortunately, it is the children who suffer. 

Children need to have successful experiences with self-control and consistent effort to become responsible adults. Wellbeing does not come from easy indulgence, but from the sense of being in control of life by personal effort and being the master of one’s fate. Difficulties in life are related to problems with impulse control or self-regulation. This is a central component of many psychological disorders from alcoholism to drug abuse to gambling to pornography addiction.

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3 Steps to Learning New Skills

Humans are learning machines. 

From the day we are born and even before, our brains capture and encode our experiences. The mind is a web of connections with over a hundred billion cells that are crammed into three pounds of the most complex tissue in the universe.

Our behavior can be changed with conscious, deliberate mental effort, but we need to understand these three facts:

1. Skill learning happens in the brain. The first thing we need to know is, that every behavior is activated by an emotion, which changes our brain. Not the skin. Not the muscles. Not our bones. Emotions cause changes in the brain. Stronger emotional connections in the brain lead to the pattern of thoughts and behaviors. And with attention and practice, they become automatic, happening unconsciously.

2. Behavior patterns are complex. A pattern of behavior is an unconscious response that links all kinds of information: perceptual, emotional, intuitive, conceptual, factual and behavioral. To establish a new skill (riding a bike), which can be performed naturally and automatically without thinking about it, an extensive network of neurons (brain cells) must be interconnected. This physical linking process takes place gradually in the brain. In the case of every ingrained behavior pattern, the specific brain cells grow until they connect to other brain cells, forming electro-chemical connections. So physically speaking, a skill is a behavior pattern that is driven by a network of interconnected brain cells. An emotional skill, for example, is a complex network of connections that coordinates perception, analysis and decision-making, triggering verbal and physical behavior. Thus, we may unconsciously respond with empathy or anger depending on how our connections have formed.

3. Ingraining an interpersonal skill takes time. What stimulates the brain cells to grow and connect? Repeated behavior, or simply put, practice, practice and more practice. Anyone who has learned a complex skill knows this is true. It takes an amazing amount of practice to learn how to hit a golf ball with a sand wedge, or to serve a tennis ball for a winner, and so on. Hit a thousand golf balls. Hit a thousand tennis balls. And these skills are not as complex as emotional skills. Before a skill is ingrained, and even while the skill is in the process of being ingrained, the brain has to make the behavior happen without the neural network. So even with effortful concentration, performing the skill may feel awkward and frustrating. With persistence, the connections gain strength, and the skill will seem like second nature, effortless, easy, and automatic. And best of all, once the brain cells are connected, the person “owns” the skill. The network of brain cells that operates the skill is hardwired, and for all practical purposes the skill may now be considered permanent.

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3 Ways to Make Better Decisions

Some of my clients will say to me: “why do I always end up drinking more than I wanted? I just don’t know.”

“I wish I could change how I talk to my partner. We always seem to end up fighting. I just don’t know what to do. I can’t believe it. Once again, I’m in a dead-end job. How does this happen? I really don’t know.” The question is, do they really not know? 

We often come up with the words, “I don’t know” to avoid solving a problem. “I don’t know” says one of two things, either A) we don’t know some sort of information and we hope that we will be left alone or B) that we don’t want to think about it, so perhaps someone else will tell us the answer. 

Now of course there are some kinds of information we really do not know. Like what the capital of Canada is? Someone can look me in the eye and say “I don’t know” and I can accept that. (It’s Ottawa) But when we ask how someone felt about being yelled at and they look at their shoes and say “I don’t know”, we probably do not believe it.

Often, our knowledge of our lives gets buried in a mass of (often unpleasant) information. For many, taking time to reflect, leaves them flooded with a host of painful memories, thoughts, and emotions. For example, we go to college and we may plan for graduation, getting the job of our dreams, marrying the person our heart has pictured, buying a car, a house; living the dream. 

However, as the days go by, our education seems less important and that person across the table looks better and better, so we go out and get married. We have kids and can no longer afford to continue in college. So we get a job, but we can’t afford a car. We can barely afford an apartment, and the dream begins disappearing a little every day. We end up feeling trapped and so does our partner. We blame them; they blames us.

Sometimes we may look around at our lives and wonder what we ever did that landed us in this mess. So much of what we achieve results from a lifetime of decisions, large and small. We choose our clothes, job, relationships and everything in between. Our choices may lead us to the peak of our potential, or leave us meandering in the valleys of doubt and guilt. Yet despite their power, most decisions happen so automatically we  barely even realize you’re making them. 

So, if our lives are not exactly where we want them to be, maybe we should change the way we make choices. We can hang onto our unattainable dreams and feel like a failure. Overtime we may feel guilt for failing. From this guilt comes a wave of anger towards the person we promised to love, honor, and cherish, which will eventually become bitterness and resentment. All because two people are choosing to assign blame, rather than accept the reality of their own choices and adjust their expectations to include the changes in their lives.

Below are some ways we can start making better decisions:

You can remind yourself that “imperfect judgment, a mistake, is not the end of the world. You have made many good decisions and have made mistakes before. You are more than the sum of your success and mistakes. Your performance will vary from day to day, hour to hour and you can separate your performance from who you are as a human. You are not worthless even if make mistake. Doing badly never makes you a bad person — only imperfect. You have a right to be wrong. You can separate the rating of your behavior from the rating of yourself. You have put up with disappointments all your life; you can tolerate this one too. Not getting your way is disappointing and inconvenient, which you deal with on a daily basis, In order to achieve pleasant results, you often have to do unpleasant things. Yes, it is a pain to do this now, but it will be much harder if you do it later.”

• Give yourself credit for making successful judgments in the past. You can build on your past successes. Your mind may be quick to criticize your mistakes, but very slow to validate your success. If you cannot acknowledge your own achievements, you look to others for approval. This means you give control over what is a success, control over your self worth, over your confidence to other people. When you look to others for approval, they control your confidence. You cannot build on you success and develop confidence. Instead, you can choose to say, “I did that. I got it done and I made it happen.” That is not conceit, it is not “smug self satisfaction.” It is confidence. It is validating your efforts to face a difficulty and get through it the best you can.

• You can replace your self-critical thoughts with more realistic ones, such as: “My judgment is good enough that I got though this. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. My mistakes only prove that I am an imperfect human. I am loveable and worthwhile regardless of the outcome. It would be nice if others recognized my efforts. But that is only a preference.”

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12 Ideas to Support Weight Loss

12 Weight Loss Mantras

1)     Your body will resist permanent weight loss

2)     Biology is not destiny

3)     Consistency and commitment are the keys to weight loss

4)     There are three stages of success:

  1. Honeymoon
  2. Frustration
  3. Acceptance

5)     Your hunger can be kept quite on very little fat

6)     If you maintain a written record of exercise and eating 75% of the time, you will be successful

7)     You got to move to lose

8)     Find lovable foods that love you back

9)     Maintaining weight is easier then losing weight

10)  Feelings of hunger + Images of food = Cravings

11) Setbacks are problems to be solved

12) Self control + External control = weight control

Losing as little as 5 to 15 percent of your body weight over 6 months or longer can do much to improve your health. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing 5 percent of your body weight means losing 10 pounds. Losing 15 percent of your body weight means losing 30 pounds. A safe rate of weight loss is 1/2 to 2 pounds per week.

Try some of these ideas to support your weight loss efforts:

  • Keep a food diary.
  • Shop from a list and shop when you are not hungry.
  • Store foods out of sight.
  • Dish up smaller servings. At restaurants, eat only half your meal and take the rest home.
  • Eat at the table with the TV off.
  • Be realistic about weight loss goals. Aim for a slow, modest weight loss.
  • Seek support from family and friends.
  • Expect setbacks and forgive yourself.
  • Add physical activity to your weight-loss plan. Doing regular physical activity can help you control your weight.

You do not have to be an athlete to benefit from regular physical activity. Even modest amounts of physical activity can improve your health. Start with small, specific goals such as walking 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week and slowly build up from there. Keep an activity log to track your progress.

Try these activities to add more movement to your daily life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure the stairs are well lit.
  • Get off the bus one stop early if you are in an area safe for walking.
  • Park the car farther away from entrances to stores, movie theatres, or your home.
  • Take a short walk around the block with family, friends, or coworkers.
  • In bad weather, walk around a mall.
  • Rake the leaves or wash the car.
  • Visit museums, the zoo, or an aquarium. You and your family can walk for hours and not realize it.
  • Take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.

 

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10 Ways to Manage Anger and Anxiety

When your anger is triggered, try the following anger interventions:

1: “Ride It Out.”

This is not the same as “ignoring.” You are consciously choosing to give his argument all the attention it so richly deserves, namely none. You just appear to be paying attention. Nodding your head would be a nice touch. You are choosing to keep your peace. You are making this new choice consciously on an informed basis. You are using your judgment to make this choice, not your old attitudes.

2: Your Power of Choice

You can choose to catch yourself being provoked to retaliate out of your own immature attitudes. As an adult now, you can choose not to. Instead, you can choose to shift your gears and operate out of the mature judgment that temporarily got away from you in the stress of this crisis. It is your right and your responsibility to get your equilibrium back. You can choose to tend to your own wounds before you begin to address his. That is a much more effective priority. You can choose to calm yourself down. You can remind yourself that you are worthwhile in spite of your motoring imperfections. You can remind yourself that he’s not 10 feet tall. He’s only an imperfect human being operating out of attitudes from his own past.

3: Don’t Take It Personally

You can catch yourself about to take his barrage of insults personally, as if they were a reflection on your worth as a person. That is exactly the way he wants you to take it! He is building himself up by tearing you down! This tells us that he is badly in need of building up. Self-respecting grownups have no such need, but those lacking self respect do. You can choose not to give him verbal ammunition to use against you. You can choose not to tear him down more than he is already.

4: Do Not Take Hurtful Words Literally

Do not take his hurtful words literally as if he means what he says. He is merely “firing for effect.” He wants to intimidate you into submitting like a victim, and he uses strong language to do it. You are not the worst person in the world. You can choose not to take his words at face value. They are non-rational absurdities in the service of his negative, destructive purposes. You can agree that he feels the way he feels: “You sound hurt “. That must be painful” and so on. We can keep our version of the facts to ourselves. This is called, discretion, which is the power to choose how much we wish to reveal and when. Right now, we do not choose to reveal anything. It wouldn’t help if we did. He isn’t interested.

5: Know You Are Equal

If you just have taken his insults personally, you have been put in a “one down” position. He made it happen. He was in control. He has put you in a condition of inferiority and self-doubt. You don’t know how to prevent this process from happening because you didn’t go to school for it. As of right now, you can choose to regain your context of self-respect by reminding yourself that you are worthwhile in spite of your faults and imperfections. You are still an equal member of the human race in good standing in spite of what he just said. Even if he is right in his facts, you are still worthwhile in spite of them. They merely prove you are an imperfect, like everyone else. Your “imperfection” made him angry, and you regret that it did. You have used your resilience. You can allow yourself to bounce back from his unhelpful put-down shtick.

6: Use Your Judgment

In this context, your new choice is to use your judgment to override his, not your defensive attitudes. Reality requires you to know what you are thinking and trust your own judgment. You can use your adult judgment to determine which words make sense and which are used to be hurtful. Any solution using your judgment will be good enough to get the job done.

7: Catch Yourself

You can get your independence back by reminding yourself that you have the power of choice. Specifically, you have power and control over what comes out of your mouth. You can catch yourself about to live on others’ terms and choose to shift your mental gears. Catch yourself about to explain, defend, debate, cajole, counter-attack or submit, and choose not to do it. You are choosing not to operate out of your old carryover attitudes from the playground. You do not react, but you are choosing to respond. That includes choosing to say nothing while he vents. You can stay in the present and exercise your power of choice constructively, using your adult judgment, which your adversary does not have. Nodding your head during the tirade is a sign that you are hearing what he said, not that you agree with it!

8: Regain Your Self-Respect

His criticisms of your skills are not to be taken as a reflection on your worth. But it’s hard to avoid going down the path of doubt and self-criticism. You can’t help yourself in a way. You can regain your self-respect by reminding yourself that others’ comments are merely a child’s temper tantrum; they don’t help the situation for him or for you. Even if they are true, they are only imperfections. They are regrettable, and you wish you didn’t have them. You wish you had seen this coming in advance, but you did not. You are a worthwhile human being in spite of these human imperfections. This part of the process is not between you and him, it is between you and you.

9: Liberate Yourself

You are choosing to liberate yourself from the tyranny of your old attitudes, such as, “I don’t want to be displeasing” Or, “I have to take a stand or he’ll think I’m a wimp.” Instead, you are making a Third Choice. You are freeing yourself to act responsibly and effectively on your own terms in this crisis. You don’t have to say a word. You are able to use this turmoil as an opportunity to replace your own self-doubt with mature, effective self-respect: the feeling that you are a “worthwhile human being in spite of your faults and imperfections.” That is reality. We don’t always feel that way. We need to feel it more often. You can use this crisis to grow on, to declare your mature independence as a person in your own right, not against him, but for you. He doesn’t have to know what is going on in your head. It’s none of his business.

After awhile, these experiences of self-respect in your daily life all run together. Your previous roles in the family as the Pleaser, the Victim or the Responsible One have been replaced by an independent identity on a realistic basis. You have been tried in the fire and come out stronger than you went in.

10: Regain Control

This whole situation is scary. He is making it scarier than it needs to be. Why is he doing it? Because he can. This is a person who can’t make a positive contribution to highway safety, but he sure can make a negative one. In his book, it’s better than no contribution at all! All of these behaviors arise out of his attitudes toward you, himself and the whole human race. His attitudes are in the saddle, controlling his empty words and his negative behaviors. His attitude-driven words must not be taken at face value as if they made sense.

We feel anxiety when we feel out-of-control. He is in control, all right, but it is negative, destructive control. It’s the only kind he has. He is using it to make this regrettable situation worse instead of better. His attitudes are not set up to control positively. That would be inconsistent with his low self-regard. He can’t do it. When we feel controlled negatively by him, we feel out-of-control. That’s scary.

When do we feel out-of-control? When a) our own anger is out-of-control, we are out-of-control along with it. That’s scary, too. When we b) live in the future, predicting a disaster for ourselves at any moment, we are out-of-control in the present, and when c) we live on other people’s terms, not our own, we cannot be in control of our own life. These are three situations that contribute to our anxiety, which is the feeling that “something terrible is going to happen and I can’t prevent it.” You can choose not to argue with these attitudes from the past. You are in control of you in the present. You are choosing to exercise admirable restraint: “I really could have let him have it, but I chose not to! I made it not happen!” When you minus a minus, it’s a plus. That’s an accomplishment. That is a success between you and you. You have used this crisis to strengthen your self-respect.

What is panic? Panic is the feeling that “The bad thing is happening to me right now and I’m going to die!” Not if you choose to ground yourself in the real world, in the present you won’t. The reality is that he’s only making scary mischief in order to build himself up. You can choose to ride it out until it’s over. It will never be over for him, but that’s his problem. You are not his shrink. You are not required to make him understand the error of his ways. That’s your good intention! You have your hands full with you! You can choose to keep on having real intentions for yourself.

In making these informed choices in your own behalf, you are replacing your scary out-of-control feeling with control of you. You are living in the present, not the future. You are taking control away from your attitudes and emotions, and giving it back to your adult judgment where it belongs. When you make these self-affirming choices, your anxiety comes down, which is the very thing you want it to do. Your self-doubt goes down. Your self-respect goes up: you have earned it in the line of fire. You have done a Homework in your own behalf.

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Coping with a Critical Family

Therapist: “You say you want a relationship with your mother. Well, you’ve got one, but it’s destructive. You cannot begin a constructive relationship with her until you put an end to this negative one. It sounds like you are feeling helpless and discouraged. I’m willing to guess she expects you to give up on her and confirm her feelings of worthlessness.”
Barb: “That’s what I feel like, all right. I’ve had it with her.”

Therapist: “But if you give up on her you will feel guilty, irresponsible, negligent and worthless.”
Barb: “She tells me I’m selfish – I only think of myself.”

Therapist: “That is a confession, not an accusation. She is entirely preoccupied with her own distress, her own anger. She is in no position to tell you what you are and are not. That accusation keeps you proving to her over and over that you are not selfish! But no matter how much you try it’s never enough to satisfy her.”
Barb: “Exactly!, Its never enough for her. What can I do? I feel so guilty for disappointing her!”

Therapist: “No, you aren’t guilty. But you plead your case to defend yourself against your mother’s false accusations. You take her accusations literally, personally, and serious. When you do, you make the mistake of choosing to plead your case in an imaginary court of law with a judge and jury of one. You defend your innocence to avoid being convicted as guilty and deserving punishment.”
Barb: “What’s wrong with that?”

Therapist: “It doesn’t work. Your mother hasn’t change her mind and your pleas are disregarded. Thus, you feel like you failed to make your case, which only compounds the guilt and escalates the miscommunication as you retaliate with your own blaming accusations.”
Barb: “But if I stop trying, I’ll lose her altogether.”

Therapist: “One thing you can do is disengage from your mother’s antagonism and do the unexpected. For instance, she expects you to defend yourself against her accusations of failure.”
Barb: “That’s right.”

Therapist: “Can you stop defending yourself against your poor irrational mother? Her accusations don’t make sense. As you replace your childhood beliefs of “control” with mature ones in the present, your anxiety level comes down. You are freeing yourself to override your own inappropriate attitudes as they rise up, and choose to operate out of your civilized judgment. You are freeing yourself to do the last thing he expects you to do. This includes agreeing that she feels the way she feels: “I don’t blame you for being angry.” She can’t fight that. You are not agreeing that she is “right” in her facts, merely that she feels the way she feels at the time. By agreeing with feelings, not the facts your doing the unexpected. Can you say, `It seems that way, doesn’t it,’ or `You must be very angry,’ or `I’m sorry that you are so unhappy’.”
Barb: “It will sound like sarcasm.”

Therapist: “Not if you say with the right tone, one of compassion for a person in terrible pain. If she accuses you of sarcasm, you can disengage from that too, `I’m sorry you feel that way,’ or `It sounds like sarcasm sometimes, doesn’t it?’ In other words, you are refusing to be drawn into a fight with her, a fight that you will both lose.”

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5 Questions to Improve Understanding

Normally, things run smooth and our emotions and thoughts work in harmony towards a common goal. 

However under situations of stress, unresolved anger, private sorrow, or paralyzing fear may flood our thoughts. We can make efforts to solve the mystery of where the intensity of our emotions comes from by getting to know ourselves better. Once we make unconscious beliefs conscious, they lose their grip on us. This is why getting to know ourselves is so important.

We can begin to get to know ourselves better by reflecting on some questions such as:

1.) What are our regrets and mistakes?

There is no such thing as a perfect person. To be human is to be imperfect, to be imperfect means we make mistakes and to make mistakes means we have regrets. Regret is the wish that things were other than they are. But they aren’t. This thing happened, and it’s regrettable. 

We can choose to accept that we are less than perfect. Our imperfections are not crimes. We are not criminals worthy of punishment. We can replace our fictitious guilt with the regret that we aren’t perfect, which only confirms our humanity. There is no way to prevent imperfect human beings from being imperfect. We can take reasonable precautions, but beyond a certain point, our good intentions to ‘prevent’ becomes counter-productive. By reflecting on both our assets and liabilities, we can enhance our ability to find self acceptance.

 

2.) What do we see when we look in the mirror?

Many people wish that they were better than they are. Here’s what’s wrong with it: “When we say life will better if __” or “I will be better  when___”, we imply we are worse now. When we feel lesser, it’s difficult to strive to achieve our best.  This desire sets us up to feel  that we are not good enough.  We feel inadequate when comparing our appearance to others.  We  imagine that we will respect ourselves more after we have weight loss, boob job, face lift or hair transplant.

In reality, no one can take away our self-worth.  Self-worth is not contingent on our ability to be a perfect. Self-worth means accepting that we are not ever worth more or worth less. We are always worthwhile and unconditionally lovable.

 

3.)  When we are dealing with struggle what do we do? What do we tell ourselves?

Frederick Douglass said, “Without struggle there is no progress.” We learn from adversity and grow from it in ways we never we could have without it. We can make successful efforts and still have undesirable outcomes. We can be a hard working employee who is punctual and loyal, but we can still get laid off. We can be a caring and thoughtful partner, but still get our heat broken. We can be a careful driver and check our mirrors and put our turn signals on, but someone hits our car. In all these situations our efforts were commendable, but the outcomes were disappointing. We can choose to validate our efforts, regardless of the outcomes.

4.) How do we define success?

To feel successful, we must first define what success means. Everyone has a very different definition of success. Success is not concrete like a car, I can’t point to it. Success is abstract and subjective. To some, success may mean a six-figure income. Others feel successful even in the midst of daily disappointments and inconveniences. The secret to success is determining what we prioritize and then to make small consistent efforts over time.

5) What makes us happy?

We spend lots of time trying to make others happy or preventing their unhappiness. This requires one to: chose to stop doing what is unnecessary and do something constructive by living on our own terms in the present. This may involve stopping what we “should” do and making a choice on our own behalf.

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

People are So Rude: The Source of Modern Anger

A majority of Americans say rudeness — particularly behind the wheel, on cell phones and in customer service — is the biggest trigger to their anger. 

Here is where we need to use anger management to counterbalance the hostile, impulsive, infantile insistence on getting what we want, when we want it. If we have reached adulthood without having the skill to delay gratification, we can focus on developing this ability now to reduce impulse-related problems throughout our lives.

Expectations of instant gratification versus the capacity to self-regulate have become embedded in modern life. Historically, humans survived in conditions where some level of hardship was the norm. Thrift used to be an essential part of middle class life and the things we longed for did not appear instantly, they had to be earned. As a result, there was much more value and appreciation for what we had, rather than focusing on what we lacked. There was a sense of pride in mastery and achievement in having worked one’s way to a goal, in having had experiences with adversity and growth from struggle. 

In the past, we welcomed challenges, learning to ‘make-do’, to adapt, to wait, or to work for lengthy periods to achieve a goal. Of course nobody would suggest that today we should increase hardship and create obstacles to earn everything we want or need. There has to be some happy medium.

We need to have success with self-control and learn to apply consistent effort to be responsible. Wellbeing does not come from easy indulgence, but from the sense of being in control, with confidence in our personal effort and being the master of one’s fate. Maturity is about finding out that we can’t always have what we want, that we can deal with that, and still be healthy and happy. The learning that results from delaying gratification contributes to the growth of resilience. 

Resilient people have the capacity to withstand setbacks, to rise to a challenge, to find new ways of solving problems, to feel a sense of self-confidence in managing the social and material world, and to know that hardship can be overcome. Some grew up in circumstances where instant gratification was the norm. Everyone has seen children who are showered with toys, are given any food they like at any time they like, have entertainment on tap, without having to go looking for it. Whatever they want they can have, without actually having to wait for it, to earn it, create it, or to find an alternative if it’s not available. For such children, new toys become a two-minute wonder, played with fleetingly because they are so easy to get, but are soon, quickly cast aside in favor of the next gratification. These children learn to expect that what they want will always be provided and they won’t have to wait or make an effort.

So, what happens to those who grew up on this diet of instant gratification? They have difficulties in life related to problems with impulse control or self-regulation. These are central components of many psychological disorders from alcoholism to drug abuse to gambling to pornography addiction to anger. When something goes wrong for others, it’s their fault. When something goes wrong for them, it’s not their fault; it’s the fault of external forces. They project blame. This projection often antagonizes a situation. Feeling entitled to something they aren’t getting, leads to anger, which triggers emotional eruptions and exaggerated reactions.

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

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