Tag Archive | "anger"

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I’m Full of it, How bout You?

Posted on 24 November 2011 by admin

Believe it or not- I do take requests on my blog articles and, some of my favorite posts have been suggested to me by my friends.

Today’s is no exception.
Earlier today my friend asked me this- How do I know if I really need space to figure something out or if I’m avoiding and running away from my feelings.  
As soon as I was asked my brain went into overdrive- mainly because I related so closely to the question.  I mean up until a few years ago I had set my life up to avoid as much hurt and anger as possible. Yet try as I might those emotions would continue to follow me around- usually bubbling up at the least convenient times!  So while I know that it is a good idea to deal with my hurt and anger- it usually takes me a while to get around to it.  So while on the one hand I know its a good idea to express and work through this stuff- I still avoid it like the plague.
That’s where my friend’s question comes in.  I mean- I was instantly convicted when I heard it.  I could see all the times I’ve said I wanted space and time to work something through and what I really needed underneath was someone to be close- uncomfortably close and in my business to help me figure it out.  I’ve actually been working a lot recently to more fully understand the differences between what I want, what I need.  There are times when what I want and what I need align and make sense- for instance when I am feeling angry I want to be right, and what I need underneath that is to be heard, acknowledged or affirmed.  If I’m sad I might say I want to be left alone, but what I probably need underneath, my deeper hunger, would be for a hug.  I’m getting better at identifying the differences and similarities between my wants and my needs, and I still have a long way to go.  There are times that the things that I want are not good for me, and the things I more deeply need remain a mystery.
When I was a kid I knew what I wanted but rarely had a clue as to what would be good or healthy for me.  I would always ask my mom for Doritos, nacho cheese flavor.  Those were hands down my favorite snack. I would ask for them all the time.  I wanted them in my lunch, I wanted them at home, for dinner, for a snack- I would have told you that I needed them, with a conviction and an insistence I would have made a case that they were what I needed to survive!  And I would have been dead wrong!  I wanted them. That much was clear, but I am learning that what I want is not always what will be good for me.  I mean think about it- were I to subsist on the ‘ito diet (Fritos, Doritos and Cheetos) I’d be a chubby bunny.  My wanting was good, its good for me to want things, but it was misdirected and misplaced into something that wasn’t good for me.
As I look at it more deeply, Doritos have a lot of flavor. Nothing complex mind you, mainly salt and cheese but flavorful none the less.  So while I said I needed Doritos- something with a lot of flavor.  What I needed was a reprieve from a pretty bland life.  There were times that my house growing up was painfully quiet, lacking in energy, aliveness, and fun.  There was no flavor but mild, bland, blah.  What I was really craving in addition to the Doritos was aliveness, engagement and flavor- something to spice up my life.  And the fact that I wanted all Doritos all the time probably meant that I was desperately hungry for more flavor in all areas of my life, not just my palate!
So, back to the question at hand- How do I tell if I need more time to deal with something on my own and when I’m just plain avoiding?  I think of Doritos and ask myself what will be the most nourishing choice I can make?  Sometimes it is to work through something in my own.  I know that in the past I have relied on my intuition and introspection to make good guesses at what I am feeling and how I am reacting/responding.  For a few years I was a journal king- writing down my thoughts, feelings and feeling good just to have some place to express them.  As I have grown in my self-confidence I am seeing that I can actually have the conversations I would write to myself or to God when I was journaling with other people.  I have been lucky enough to work in an environment and profession where these types of conversations- about how I am doing, what I’m feeling, where I’m struggling, and where I need support happen on a routine basis.  And even when they don’t, I am currently in an intensive training environment where I take on my personal growth as seriously as I encourage and empower my clients to do.
When we all play the same game everybody wins.  I think knowing if I am running away from my feelings or not is a question of how honest am I willing to be with myself.  If the question surfaces, if I have a hunch that I may be running, I probably already am.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing though; I am learning its much more effective to notice when I’m running away and choosing to come back and deal with those emotions either on my own or in relationship that really counts.  Its just not that helpful for me to get caught up in determining if I’m running or not and deciding to buy my own BS or not.  I’m learning I’m usually full of it all the time and doing a dance between being honest with myself and kidding myself.  I prefer being honest with myself even though it usually means I feel more upset.  I also open myself up to feel more joy as well.  And that’s perhaps the irony- the more uncomfortable feelings I am willing to experience, work through, and express, the more I am able to enjoy and embrace the pleasant ones.  So, even when I’m feeling something unpleasant I can look back and remember that while I may be temporarily in pain, overall, I am increasing my capacity to feel in general- the good stuff included.

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Pushing the Limit

Posted on 17 October 2011 by admin

What would it take for me to really push my limits?

Where is my point of exhaustion?
     The short answer is that I don’t know.
          I’ve never really pushed myself that hard.
I’ve seen pictures and heard stories of athletes who work so hard they puke; runners who collapse in a heap after giving it their all on the track; businessmen who are relentlessly working and striving to be at the top of their game; and church leaders who are always preaching from their heart instead of hiding behind the pulpit.  I’m not sure what compels them to do this- but I want to know.  My co-worker Nancy Rollins always says, “You can always do more than you think you can.”
I want to see just how true that is.
What I’m trying to say in a round about way is that although I think I push myself hard, I have not yet begun to scratch the surface of what my full potential may be.
I have grown accustomed to begin comfortable and do not spend enough time embracing discomfort as a means for exploration and growth.  Fear is a big factor here.  I Fear the unknown, failure, letting go, and freedom.  Fear keeps me addicted to comfort.  Well maybe not fear, but the control that I allow fear to have on my life keeps me addicted to comfort.  I’m learning that my emotions only have as much power and control as I give them.  If I don’t let them take over, they won’t.  If I do let them take over, they will.
In talking with my clinical director Rich Blue, he urged me to think of my emotions, fear, hurt, anger, sadness, and joy as trusted advisors in my company of which I am the CEO.  These trusted advisors form my board of directors that gives me great data.  Yet I, not my emotions, ultimately decide where it is that I am going, what I’m going to do when I get there, and how I will get it done.
Pushing the limits with my emotions really means allowing myself to feel them fully while trusting that as I do so I will be ok.  For instance I really mad- at a close friend who had gone behind my back and done something sneaky. As I came to find out about it, I took the opportunity to get clear with him.  I was angry, and by fully expressing my anger, I found that there was hurt and sadness lurking just beneath my awareness.  I went into those emotions as well.  I explored and expressed and yet though I was expressing I wasn’t feeling satisfied.  A lot of my words were met with a dismissive non-response and not a genuine engagement.  I was hungry for a higher level of engagement and when I was again met with emotional silence I tried again.
I continued to push against my limiting belief that says I’m too much and that my anger and my hurt don’t make sense to other people.  Even though that voice was ringing in my ears, I kept with my conviction that I would feel satisfied by the end of the conversation.  So I expressed myself again and was once again met with the same silence.  On my final try I changed my tact, I was more direct.  I asked my friend to engage back with me, to give me a reaction, or a confirmation that he agreed or disagreed with what I was saying.
My persistence paid off!  I was rewarded with a more honest and deeper level of truth from my friend.
I was willing to push the limit on my own level of comfort and satisfaction till I got what I wanted.  It was a win, and I felt humbled by the experience. I had expressed myself, explored my anger and kept digging until I got to my pain and sadness, and then kept going from there to bring it to a place of conclusion and resolution by saying what I wanted and what I needed from the situation.  I would have historically waited for the other person to pop, or show their hand and hold onto my anger and my judgments as a way to draw out a fight and punish the other person.
Instead, I did the opposite.  I said what I needed to say, oriented to my own level of satisfaction, and cleared the charges that I was feeling towards my friend as we were talking.  I insisted that he engage with me in return, and told him what I wanted and needed from him in the moment as well as in the future.  I’ve had this experience before, fighting through to completion and resolution, yet I’ve not done it in a succinct and integrated way before.  I would have historically gotten much messier or not gotten fully clear and held onto judgments as weapons to be used at a later fight.  Instead I integrated a lot of the tools I have been developing recently and synthesized them into an approach that left me feeling more satisfied and actually increased the level of depth and closeness between me and my friend.

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Still Don’t Know what I Don’t Know

Posted on 17 February 2011 by admin

This is Part II, don’t miss out on Part I from Tuesday!

I do not feel gratitude often, I feel more like things are owed to me, or I am entitled to them. Please and thank you can be perfunctory for me, and saying sorry is one of the toughest things for me to do. While I can pretend to be nice, what I lack in authenticity comes out as superiority. Expressing sincere gratitude and sorrow threaten to take me into shame. What I don’t yet realize is that not expressing myself sincerely keeps me disconnected from myself and from others. The shame I feel from being disconnected is far deeper and more painful than what I imagine feeling if I were to express my gratitude openly.

My strategy to avoid shame in reality only deepens it. I have a bad habit of routinely reopening core wounds- people don’t like you, you are not valuable, you don’t matter. What I don’t know is that cycling in and out of shame is a childhood drama that I constantly replay. My mother’s voice asks if people like me. If I’m liked then I’m happy, so I act in a way that I think they like. I do not have much respect for myself when I conform to their expectations instead of my own. Even if they like me, I don’t. Though I live my life wanting to be liked, I’m not sure that being liked is the answer. I would much rather be respected for the powerful man that I am than be liked for how nice I can be.  Ironically, I’m not that nice. I get others to express my anger, so as to avoid my own hostility, pain and despair. I am coming to realize that one of the costs is that I don’t know much about myself.

Growing up I often felt alone, left to my own devices, and left to figure myself out. I didn’t know that I was missing out on connection; I didn’t know isolation and loneliness were not normal, and I didn’t know I was angry about it. Gratitude is an antidote to hostility. Being thankful for an opportunity to learn and grow instead of resenting it meets my needs for connection. In the past I have spent more time shooting the messenger than listening to the message. I used to think that gratitude was weak and humiliating, that it confirms the other person is smarter, better, stronger, and more capable. What I have not yet learned is that gratitude can build trust, intimacy and connection between two people; there is true power in connection with myself and with others.

I am learning that it is possible to receive feedback coming from a place of love not spite, with the intent to build and not destroy. I am my most attractive self when I am fully alive, expressing my emotions in the moment. I am a force to be reckoned with, I deeply love and respect myself and am grateful for the love and support I receive daily. I am proud of who I am becoming, and excited to be on the path towards transformation and growth.

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I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know

Posted on 15 February 2011 by admin

I don’t know what I don’t know. I am reminded of this each day as I learn more about what I do not know through honest and at times painful feedback. For me to continue growing, I am slowly learning to rely on other people to show me what I do not know about myself. This requires me to have courage. To grow and become the man I want to be I must put myself in situations where truth is plentiful and delivered with the intent to build me up.

Historically, I would have avoided such confrontational circumstances at all costs. What I have been unwilling to realize is that I have not been living as the type of man I want to be. I cannot become that man I respect apart from the truthful investment of other people. I am learning that relationship and intimacy are built during times of honesty and truth; paradoxically, being nice, especially if it is mixed with insincerity, builds hostility and resentment rather than good-will.

I have many blind spots, areas of my life where I have little consciousness about the types of reactions I stir in other people. One that is coming into greater focus is how I have acquired power through being hidden and guarded, appearing to be meek and humble. I have thoroughly internalized the message to play it safe and lay low by living small and being indirect. “Live out loud,” was not my tune growing up. Instead, my mantra was, “Fly under the radar and don’t get caught.” Stay safe and play small. To draw attention to myself is to bring about shame and judgment.

What I haven’t learned yet is that attention can be positive; it can feel good. Criticism, when delivered with the purpose of holding me to a higher vision and standard for my life, can be nurturing and supportive. I experienced my dad as more critical than instructive— guilt and shame seemed to creep in whenever he would correct or punish me. I doubt that was his intent, but, over time I learned to hear his feedback as judgment.

The main message I heard from my mother was to make sure that everyone likes me. Her advice was, “Be nice.” In fact that is still one of her first questions when I talk about people I meet, “Do they like you?” I never realized how limiting it is for me to be living as if I need to be liked by everyone.

When I feel the urge to conform, I cut off my aliveness and energy. I limit the best aspects of my personality in order to fit in. In so doing, I exchange hostility and anger for authentic aliveness. Right now in my development, I associate being angry with being alive. When I am in touch with my anger it becomes the energy and power that gets things done. Anger calls me to action and propels me forward with a forceful surge.

I am re-training my brain to believe the opposite of what I have always assumed was true. I am fighting the mistaken belief shared by the Hulk when he would say, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” I am learning and believing that I like me, especially when I’m angry. I respect being a man of power and a man of action. I think Jesus was angry more often than most of us are comfortable acknowledging. His anger led to courageously taking action and boldly telling the truth.

While anger moves me to act, hostility leads to inaction. Hostility is a different form of power, it is the dam that blocks the flow of water in a river, it is resistance, static friction, like a turtle in its shell. It is a reactive and defensive power. Everyone needs a defense, a form of protection, and yet I have a habit of using hostility when it is unwarranted.

I use hostility reflexively when the threat is perceived but not real. Like the quills of a porcupine I back people off. What I don’t realize is that the threat is in my head–my defensiveness is out of proportion. The result is that I am often safe but alone. I am low maintenance but unsatisfied. When I am unsatisfied I believe strange but familiar things about myself. Like being delirious after not getting enough sleep, I begin to be- lieve I do not matter, that I am not important, and that I am undeserving of more in my life. I know are not true yet dissatisfaction with myself clouds my vision. I think that in the short-run these lies help me cope with the pain I feel from being inauthentic.

Check back on Thursday for Part II !

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