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4 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Anger

When I see someone, a child, a teen or an adult who is often angry or who is easily triggered I can be certain that there is something much deeper going on than that person simply being a jerk.

Before I go on, let me clarify something.  There are things we should be angry about… being mistreated, seeing others mistreated, injustice, human deprivation, etc.  There are times when anger is justified and should be expressed appropriately.  And then there are times when we feel angry at little, more insignificant things (slow drivers, the neighbor’s dogs that bark incessantly every single day, and so on)… well, we think it’s anger but it’s really something much deeper.  Consider these four things about anger that give it a whole new perspective.

1. It is easier to feel anger than hurt.  Anger is usually a surface emotion that covers our true feelings of inadequacy, rejection, pain, feeling dismissed or out of control.  It’s easier for us to cling to anger than to make ourselves vulnerable and admit that we are fragile.

2. Anger has a strong physical component.  When we feel angry our bodies actually feel stronger and more able to protect ourselves from a  perceived emotional or physical threat.  Endorphins start pumping, our heart starts racing and we feel more powerful.  So, basically, anger is often a cover-up, a fake friend and a useless partner that keeps us from experiencing our real feelings.

3. Anger is a way to control people and situations.  When we feel unheard, disregarded and out of control we often use anger to direct the circumstances to our favor.  Some people don’t know how to express their true emotions… in fact, some don’t even know what their true emotions are.  So when that uncomfortable feeling rises up they lash out in an attempt to make the other person back down or give in.  Anger is like a bully and if we are not aware it often gets its way.

Helpful hint: How do you stand up to this bully without giving in?  Pause.  Collect yourself and your strength.  Then calmly ask what is really upsetting the person.  At least make an attempt to deescalate the person by trying to understand what is really going on.

4. Unexplored anger will destroy you.  As I mentioned above, there are times when anger is appropriate.  When we are mistreated, betrayed, wounded, belittled, teased, bullied, taken for granted or taken advantage of… these things warrant some level of anger.  If you sit on this anger without expressing it, it will eat you up.  It’s often said that depression is anger turned inward.  Directly face your own anger.  Explore where it may be coming from.

Anger eats away at relationships, slowly isolates us, builds resentment and can lead to broken families.  Learning how to communicate our feelings, our real, true, authentic feelings is the antidote.  We want your relationships and family to thrive and can help you identify and articulate root issues.  If you’re interested in how we can help, give us a call today at 562-537-2947.  Today can be the day that changes everything for you and your family.

Written by Lisa Smith

5 Top Reasons Couples Seek Relationship Help

If you are struggling in your relationship, you are not alone. Others are struggling with similar frustrations and don’t know what to do, how to move past this painful time. It is stressful to feel like you really don’t want to walk through your front door because you have lost that connection with your partner. I understand this feeling and frustration and I am able to help. Listed below are the top 5 reasons couples feel this way and seek help in their relationship.

1. You feel like your partner is an adversary not a teammate. When you get married you have the hope that your partner will be your greatest support, someone you turn to when you are struggling, someone who has your back and cares about your hurt. But now you may feel more like your partner is the one you have to battle, nothing comes easy, they have to be convinced and pushed to be on your side.
2. Your relationship feels more like a business relationship or roommate situation, not a marriage.You function together, things get done, kids go to school, you go to work, dinner is made and the lawn is mowed but what happened to the emotional connection, the intimacy, not just sexually but also feeling like your partner knows you well and loves you.
3. You can’t talk about what is important to you. When you bring up a conversation and you want your partner to listen and show understanding instead you feel like you are in a debate, you are challenged before you are heard. You can’t get the idea across without stress and frustration. You may feel like it is too painful to bring things up so you just avoid talking, it is always negative.
4. One or both of you becomes spiteful and hurtful. You feel like they are being unreasonable and finding ways to be difficult. This may be because they are feeling resentment, disappointment and frustration and being difficult is how they are dealing with these feelings. They are lashing out, showing you their hurt but not in a healthy way.

5. You have lost the connection of feeling respected or appreciated by your partner. Where did the connection go. When dating one of the things that draws couples together is they feel like their partner gets them, cares about them, meets their needs and builds them up with respect and care. When this is no longer happening you feel alone and the connection is missing.

One of the underlying causes of these things is a lack of healthy communication. You don’t know how to express your concerns in a way that your partner can hear them without getting defensive and challenging you. You want your partner to respond with understanding and care but instead somehow you push their buttons and they get defensive and angry instead. Each of you is struggling to be heard, respected and considered but that is not happening.

Don’t give up hope, these skills can be learned and if you and your partner are motivated to break this cycle, it can happen. Make a change and give us a call at (562) 537-2947, there is no obligation and we would love to hear from you.

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Improve Conflict Resolution Within Your Family

Are you frustrated that you can’t seem to make any progress in resolving a conflict? It may be with a husband or wife, a child or parent or any person you are in conflict with. But when dealing with family the stakes are especially high because there is a lot of emotion involved. No one can push your buttons better than those we love.

What I have observed while working with clients is that some people really do not want to work to resolve the conflict, they just want their way.  

This is what I hear from the partner that wants their way;

  • She is not listening to me.
  • He is being unreasonable.
  • What they are asking is unacceptable.
  • My way is the best.

This is what I hear from the partner who is feeling pressured to see things a way that they don’t agree with;

  • He is so stubborn .
  • It is her way or no way.
  • He wont consider any other possibility.
  • She gets angry if I suggest anything different.
  • We can’t work together.

Working together is what is needed and there needs to be an openness to hearing other possibilities and brainstorming options. It is a battle to break through this tunnel vision of seeing only one possibility.

This inability to flex with your partner sends a message that you do not care about their feelings or ideas. This can create feelings of resentment. When you can’t flex than It feels like a demand instead of a suggestion. Consider using phrases like “How would you feel if we did this…” or “Would this work for you?” This way the partner feels like you are considering their opinion and this shows them respect. I find that people are much more likely to cooperate when they feel considered. 

Making a demand or being inflexible is often a sign of insecurity.This person is not comfortable with another option because they loose control and that can be scary. But being inflexible will tear down your relationship.Consider trusting your partner to care about you and your needs and create an environment where you can work together to come up with a solution you can both be happy with when resolving conflict. 

Written by Lisa Strong

What to do When You Need a Communication Time-out

Your emotions are running high, there is yelling and frustration, what do you do? Some choose stonewalling to escape the frustration. This is when one person decides to shut the other out, gives the silent treatment and won’t communicate. This is one of several unhealthy communication styles that create negative feelings in your partner and does not move you forward. Let’s look at what this technique does.

  • Your partner feels abandoned. In the middle of an emotional interaction, when your partner wants to know that you are there, this is when you choose to shut off communication.
  • You partner feels alone, like you don’t care about their feelings. They may feel scared or hurt  but you don’t seem to want to know about this.
  • They may feel confused as to what to do next. Because you won’t give any direction or input they are left on their own to figure out how to mend the relationship.
Why do we do this to our partner?

  • You may want to hurt them back because they hurt you.
  • You may want the power and control position in the relationship.
  • You may want to protect ourself from further hurt.
  • You may feel overwhelmed with emotions and don’t trust yourself to interact with our partner.
This last reason is a healthy reason and pausing the communication may be the best choice at the time. In the heat of an argument, taking a time-out might be a wise choice but do not just leave the room or the house without saying anything. Do not ignore your partner as they try to talk to you. When you do these things it brings the feelings of abandonment, loneliness and confusion that I mentioned above. Instead let’s try to have the time-out without the hurt.
You could say “I know your angry (or hurt) right now and I do want to talk about that but I am very upset so please I need time to calm down and think. I will come back and we can talk about this tonight.”

This helps your partner know;

  • You are not abandoning them
  • You do care about their feelings
  • You will come back and discuss it.
Doing this will reassure them and because you said that you need the time to make a better decision then they are more likely to give you that time without frustration. If you value your relationship then don’t mistreat it. Use healthy communication that will get you the result you are looking for.

Written by Lisa Strong

Managing Conflict: How Can a Dreamer and a Doer Live in Harmony?

Managing conflict between a dreamer and a doer, two very different personality types is possible. A dreamer is someone who likes to talk about their ideas and bounce those ideas off their partner. The doer is the one in the relationship who actually gets things done. They make phone calls, set a plan and do the follow through. This can be great if you both work well together and make the dreams come to fruition.

The problem can occur when the dreamer starts talking about their dreams, like remodeling the house, starting a small business, or something as simple as a new diet for the two of you. Let’s say the man is the dreamer and he has heard about a raw foods diet. It sounds amazing, so healthy and his friend is feeling so much more energy since being on it. So he starts sharing his ideas with his partner. The woman hears this and she knows that the actual implementation of this diet is going to fall on her shoulders. What she hears is, “I will have to shop differently and learn new recipes”. This is stressing her out.

She thinks about this and she wants to dream with him but she can’t take this on right now because of other things in her life. This is where conflict arises. What she may do is try to shut it down, she becomes the nay sayer. She points out the problems with the diet, that it is not realistic, too hard to really do, can’t eat in their favorite restaurant anymore. This frustrates the dreamer because he doesn’t want to hear that, he likes to dream.

This can also happen with your teenagers, they come to you with big ideas. Mom or Dad hear “unrealistic” and “it sounds like a lot of work”. So if you are the doer how should you handle this without having to squash the dream? There are various options but one of them is to be supportive, honest and put the ball back in the dreamers court. It is not your job to make all their dreams a reality. If you are too busy or just don’t want to put your energy there then say something like, “That’s a great idea, how can you make that happen?” If they put it back on you then you have to be honest and say “I want to support you but right now I don’t have the time or energy to make that happen”.

As a doer you assume it is your job to take care of it, that is your gift, making things happen, but it is not always helpful, especially for a teenager as they need to put the effort in. And the truth is some adult dreamers just like to share their ideas with you, they probably aren’t ready to make it happen either but the dreaming is what they do and it is fun for them.

Recognize that you are different in this, accept this part of who they are and don’t let it stress you out. Recognize that you can say no, you are not responsible for making all the ideas happen, if you just let them talk about it that actually might be all they need.

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Listen When Someone You Love is Hurting

When someone you love is hurting and comes to you with their pain, what can you say? You want to make them feel better but you are uncomfortable, you don’t know what to do. Remember these 3 helpful suggestions.

It’s not about you. I am sure that you have heard the analogy that a conversation is like a tennis match. You have to keep the ball going back and forth. This may be true sometimes but I believe that when someone is hurting, they want the ball. What I mean is, it’s not time for you to tell your story. We all do this, we want them to know that we understand what they are going through so we start telling them a story about how we went through something similar. They lost someone, so did you. They have cancer, so did your uncle. They feel depressed, you felt like that when you lost your job. When someone is hurting and opening up to you, let them have the ball.

No judgement. In order for someone to come to you and share their feelings they need to feel like you are a safe place. They don’t want you telling them what they did wrong. If your child comes to you, telling you a story of something that is troubling them don’t lay into them with advice of how they can do better. There will be a time for that but for your advice to be effective they need to feel like you are on their side, have compassion for them, and you understand. When that is established then maybe they will be open to your help.

Keep them talking. It is hard for many people to share their hurts so if they feel like you’re not interested then they will stop sharing. You need to show them that you want to hear what they have to say. Give them your full attention. Don’t look at your phone or away from them. Encourage them to keep sharing by saying things like, “how did that make you feel?” or “tell me more about that”. This will prompt them to keep sharing and help them feel supported.

These three things will allow those you care about to know that you are ready to listen. We all need to be heard, especially when we are hurting. If you can put yourself aside, you opinions aside and your time aside to listen then they will know that you really care about them. It is a gift you can give.

Written by Lisa Strong

5 Reasons to Improve Family Communication

When you get home after a long day of work is your home a place of rest, where you feel comfortable to be yourself and you can relax? This is not always the case.  It can feel like a place where you have to put walls up to protect yourself, you don’t feel understood, and there is no peace. You can’t figure out how to change that. It could be that you and your loved ones are not communicating in a way that works. If you could communicate in a healthy way then you would see benefits. Here are 5 benefits to healthy family communication.

1. If you can learn to communicate your needs and feelings in a way that is received then you will minimize resentment in yourself. Resentment is a feeling of indignation and displeasure because you feel like you are being mistreated, misunderstood or wronged. This is not how you should feel with your loved ones. They should be your teammates, the people who are on your side. It can be an environment of cooperation, not competition.

2. When you learn to listen to those that you care about then they will feel cared for and validated by you. This will improve your relationship and minimize their anger and frustration with you.

3. When you learn to communicate in a nonthreatening way then you will minimize defensiveness. By minimizing their defensiveness then you create an environment where you can be heard and they will feel safe, they can take their walls down. You will be building trust and a feeling of security in your home.

4. Respectful communication is a good role model for your children. They learn how a marriage functions by watching you and your spouse. Do they see you showing care and compassion or is it more of a competition to get your way? Is the communication demanding or does your child see each of you listening and working together to find a solution to a conflict?

5. You will be able to resolve conflict without feeling like you are in a battle. With healthy communication you will feel heard and you will be able to understand your partners view and then move to brainstorming a solution that would be acceptable to each of you.

These communication skills can be learned and practiced. It may be hard for you to change bad habits.  Possibly because you were not raised in a home with this type of an environment. You can change the repetitive cycle of bad communication, be the one in your family to change what your children are exposed to and how they will interact with their future friends, colleague or spouses. This ripple effect will benefit your whole family.

By Lisa Strong