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What’s a Healthy RELATIONSHIP?

There are healthy and unhealthy relationships, not in the sense of pathology or abnormality, but in terms of how satisfying and fulfilling they are. In those terms, healthy relationships are based on reality, not fantasy. When it comes to relationships, many of us buy into overly romanticized fantasies of love. You know, the living happily ever after thing. The problem is there are no Cinderellas or Prince Charmings, just us human beings. Sooner or later the illusion will shatter and it is a long fall from the pedestal. The alternative is a relationship based on mutual and reciprocal advantage, like a business deal. The reality is that we love people who do things for us.

That doesn’t sound very romantic!

Ah, but actually it is. When you see relationships as a business deal, it becomes clear that communication and negotiation are needed to keep the deal working. Do you know what the everyday word for negotiation is in relationships? Its courtship! In healthy relationships, there is an ongoing or periodic re-courting. That’s very romantic! One way to think about this is to ask yourself how you would act if you just met your current partner and were attracted but had no history together. Probably pretty differently. Try it. I think you will like the results!

What if I don’t have a relationship now?

You might want to look at what is keeping you from having a nice love relationship. Often we are our own worst enemies. Are you shy? Are you afraid of rejection? Commitment? Are you desperate because you believe you need love? Are you jealous and possessive? Are you procrastinating about social activities? Is there a lot of guilt, anger and frustration for you in relationships?

  By Robert F. Sarmiento, Ph.D www.cyberpsych.com

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Learn to Control Stress, Relieve Anxiety, Help Overcome Depression, Manage Anger, and Control Emotional Upsets

Who Controls You? How Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) can help you change unwanted emotions and behaviours.
By Dr. Wayne Froggatt

Most people want to be happy. They would like to feel good, avoid pain, and achieve their goals. For many, though, happiness seems to be an elusive dream.

In fact, it appears that we humans are much better at disturbing and defeating ourselves! Instead of feeling good, we are more likely to worry, feel guilty and get depressed. We put ourselves down and feel shy, hurt or self-pitying. We get jealous, angry, hostile and bitter or suffer anxiety, tension and panic.

On top of feeling bad, we often act in self-destructive ways. Some strive to be perfect in everything they do. Many mess up relationships. Others worry about disapproval and let people use them as doormats. Still others compulsively gamble, smoke and overspend – or abuse alcohol, drugs and food. Some even try to end it all.

The strange thing is, most of this pain is avoidable! We don’t have to do it to ourselves. Humans can, believe it or not, learn how to choose how they feel and behave.

As you think, so you feel

“People feel disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.”

Ancient words, from a first-century philosopher named Epictetus – but they are just as true now.

Events and circumstances do not cause your reactions. They result from what you tell yourself about the things that happen.

Put simply, thoughts cause feelings and behaviours. Or, more precisely, events and circumstances serve to trigger thoughts, which then create reactions. These three processes are intertwined.

The past is significant. But only in so far as it leaves you with your current attitudes and beliefs. External events – whether in the past, present, or future – cannot influence the way you feel or behave until you become aware of and begin to think about them.

To fear something (or react in any other way), you have to be thinking about it. The cause is not the event – it’s what you tell yourself about the event.

The ABC’s of feelings & behaviours

American psychologist Albert Ellis, the originator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), was one of the first to systematically show how beliefs determine the way human beings feel and behave. Dr. Ellis developed the ‘ABC’ model to demonstrate this.

A’ refers to whatever started things off: a circumstance, event or experience – or just thinking about something which has happened. This triggers off thoughts (‘B’), which in turn create a reaction – feelings and behaviours – (‘C’).

To see this in operation, let’s meet Alan. A young man who had always tended to doubt himself, Alan imagined that other people did not like him, and that they were only friendly because they pitied him. 

One day, a friend passed him in the street without returning his greeting – to which Alan reacted negatively. Here is the event, Alan’s beliefs, and his reaction, put into the ABC format:

A. What started things off:

Friend passed me in the street without speaking to me.

B. Beliefs about A.:

He’s ignoring me. He doesn’t like me.
I could end up without friends for ever.
That would be terrible.
For me to be happy and feel worthwhile, people must like me.
I’m unacceptable as a friend – so I must be worthless as a person. 


C. Reaction:

Feelings: worthless, depressed.
Behaviours: avoiding people generally.

Now, someone who thought differently about the same event 
would react in another way:

A. What started things off:

Friend passed me in the street without speaking to me.

B. Beliefs about A.:

He didn’t ignore me deliberately. He may not have seen me.
He might have something on his mind.
I’d like to help if I can. 


C. Reaction:

Feelings: Concerned.
Behaviours: Went to visit friend, to see how he is.

These examples show how different ways of viewing the same
event can lead to different reactions
. The same principle operates
in reverse: when people react alike, it is because they are thinking in
similar ways.

The rules we live by

What we tell ourselves in specific situations depends on the rules we hold.  Everyone has a set of general ‘rules’. Some will be rational, others will be  self-defeating or irrational. Each person’s set is different.

Mostly subconscious, these rules determine how we react to life. When an  event triggers off a train of thought, what we consciously think depends on  the general rules we subconsciously apply to the event.

Let us say that you hold the general rule: ‘To be worthwhile, I must succeed  at everything I do.’ You happen to fail an examination; an event which,  coupled with the underlying rule, leads you to the conclusion: ‘I’m not  worthwhile.’

Underlying rules are generalisations: one rule can apply to many situations. If you believe, for example: ‘I can’t stand discomfort and pain and must avoid  them at all costs,’ you might apply this to the dentist, to work, to relationships, and to life in general.

Why be concerned about your rules? While most will be valid and helpful, 
some will be self-defeating. Faulty rules will lead to faulty conclusions.

Take the rule: ‘If I am to feel OK about myself, others must like and approve  of me.’ Let us say that your boss tells you off. You may (rightly) think: ‘He is angry with me’ – but you may wrongly conclude: ‘This proves I’m  a failure.’ And changing the situation (for instance, getting your boss to 
like you) would still leave the underlying rule untouched. It would th

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What is Stress?

Stress is an interpretation of an event or circumstance which is understood to be a threat. It can be any force or pressure put on a system (living or nonliving) which may result in a need for the system to adapt or change.

Stress on human beings is like a rubber band. You also stretch to meet the environment around you, the demands of your lifestyle, and the pressures you put on yourself. If pulled too far, stress manifests itself in real conditions mentally, physically, and emotionally. Like a rubber band breaks when stretched too far, human beings have a breaking point too. 

The secret is to learn how to handle stress in your life and avoid becoming over-stressed.

The A B C’s of Stress

Activating event

Belief about the event

Consequences of the event

Stress is the internal pressure we put on ourselves from external factors. Living with moderate stress keeps you sharp and ready to move forward, however extreme stress can put you out of commission. It depends on your stress levels how much you can deal with effectively. Some people thrive with stressful situations and some people snap at the slightest uncomfortable circumstance. Depending on your current stress level, when confronted with a stressor, you may respond with shock or feel stuck.

The fast-paced, technologically advanced, complicated world has brought many changes to our lives. The pace of change does not seem to be decreasing, but rather increasing all the time. These changes put more demands and pressures on each of us to make adjustments to do more with less. While stress is a definite modern world reality, being “stressed-out” is not. We mistakenly believe that being stressed-out is “just the way it is.” And we often get in competition with each other about who feels the worst!

This is crazy thinking. Stress can be a powerful motivator in our lives, and in fact, you can learn to use stress to your advantage. If you think about it, one form of stress or another is responsible for everything big and small in our world. For example, the earth “stresses” a piece of coal until it turns into a beautiful diamond. The key is to find out how you can use the stress in your life to create a diamond out of a rock!

 As with most things in life, prevention is the best medicine. By learning about your personal health risks, family history, current health, and life choices (eating, exercise, smoking, drinking, stress) you can make smarter decisions. Ultimately, your life choices affect how you feel and how you function.

Stress management comes down to self-management. It is about selecting appropriate options as well as making smart decisions.

The best way to avoid “burn out” is to become aware of your unique stressors and coping mechanisms. Burn out comes from experiencing stress over a prolonged period and often leads to a visit to the doctor. There are many ways to alleviate stress, however, you must find what works best for you and commit to doing it on a daily basis.

Michelle L. Casto, M.Ed. Whole Life Coach, Speaker, and Author of the Get Smart! LearningBook Series Her coaching practice is called Brightlight Coaching she empowers people to come up with bright ideas for their life and to freely shine their bright light to the world. Areas of expertise: Attracting Your Life Mate, Discovering Your Life Purpose, Living a Balanced Life, and Empowering Life Strategies. Visit virtually: www.getsmartseries.com  & www.brightlightcoach.com   coach@getsmartseries.com

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Do you know WHAT MAKES ME MAD?? It makes me SO MAD I just want to…

Sound familiar? If you want to manage anger, the only way of doing so is to listen to your self-talk.  This doesn’t mean listening to yourself talk.  It means listening to your SELF-TALK.   No matter how much you say—“She made me mad!”  “It makes me so mad when…”—the anger comes from YOU, not it or she.

Our thoughts about “it” or “she” is actually where the anger comes from. And by changing our thinking we can change the way we feel (for example, instead of angry or enraged, annoyed or irritated.)

Doesn’t it make sense, then, if anger is created from within that we have the power from within to keep from getting angry?  The answer is a definitive YES.

By adjusting how you think about a situation, to listen your self-talk, is how you keep yourself from getting mad—period.

How?  By listening for demands.  What are demands? They’re easy to spot.  They tend to express themselves in words such as SHOULD, ought, must, have-to, need. 

Depending upon the context and situation, when these words or thoughts are used they will create anger.

Whether you use them on someone or someone is using them on you, a sense of anger, rage or mad evolves from these words/thoughts of demand when things don’t go your way.

There are numerous examples of how this is true, but here is a simple one that most everyone can relate to:

You’re driving in rush-hour traffic, late to get home.  Another driver cuts you off, almost hitting you, so he can run a yellow light that actually is quite red by the time he runs it—leaving you stopped at the light and cursing the driver as he speeds away.

Your immediate thoughts are: “What an idiot! People like that shouldn’t be allowed to drive!!  He’s an accident waiting to happen. They ought to lock him up!!”

The word –should- creates anger because of its demanding nature.  Simply stated, the situation is history.  Yet, by saying it shouldn’t happen you’re demanding that reality not exist as it does, lousy as it may seem.  Bottom line: it happened as it should based upon all the events that led up to it happening.

Instead if you approach the situation without demands then your reaction will change appropriately.  You may wish he didn’t drive that way, you may prefer it, but he’s driving that way…so don’t deny the reality of it!

It may be illegal, but it’s his choice to drive that way. You’d feel much better to accept it and not demand anything to the contrary.

This works for anything in life. When you “should on somebody” you’re creating anger for yourself (or them) when it is totally un-necessary.

When you knock off the demands, shoulds and oughts, you’ll notice a difference. It would be nice if things always went the way you want them to go, but that isn’t reality, so become more tolerant by listening to your own thoughts and you’ll start to see anger withering away.

Dr. David L. Thomas, LMHC

Dr. Thomas is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a practice in Tampa, FL.  He has been counseling people to feel better for over 28 years.  He is the Managing Partner of Whitford Thomas Group www.wtgtampa.com

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Rational Help for Those Suffering From Anxiety & Panic

Panic attacks (anxiety attacks) can be debilitating but there is something you can do to prevent anxiety from ruling your life.

By Dr. David Thomas

If you, or someone you know, suffers from anxiety, then you understand just how debilitating and downright paralyzing panic can be.  But there is much you can do, without being heavily medicated, to alleviate panic from your life.

First of all, understand that anxiety is one of the Four Blocks to Happiness that motivates individuals to seek out counseling.  It, along with depression, are the most common emotional disturbances that counselors see people for in the U.S. today (including in my own practice).  

The other two Blocks, anger and guilt, are also experienced en masse, but with far less frequency.  Panic is an intense anxiety.  Much like Major Depression is an intense depression. 

Many years ago, a colleague of mine had a perspective on anxiety that I hadn’t heard before and I have since incorporated into my own teaching and counseling.  She explained it by its relevance in evolution. 

In the prehistoric years, when our species was in its infancy, man actually “needed” anxiety to survive, or more accurately the symptoms of anxiety.  The dangers our predecessors were faced with (like the Saber-Tooth Tiger) evoked these symptoms and helped man to avoid harm’s way.  My colleague used the Saber-Tooth Tiger for her example and I will do the same here. 

These tigers were flesh eaters and preferred their game alive.  In order for man to avoid extinction, they would need to fight or flee.  These behaviors could only be accomplished if adrenalin were produced in the body quickly and in abundance.

The sensation of wanting to strike out or run away are two common symptoms of anxiety; still useful under certain conditions, but generally maladaptive in most anxiety provoking situations.

Our ancestors would often experience stomach ailments triggering vomiting or loose bowels.  These conditions are generally not perceived by the Saber-Tooth Tiger (or our associates today) as evoking odors of freshness and desirability (“…geez, what died”). 

Today, these symptoms continue to be common ailments associated with anxiety.  Hypothetically, these warning signs helped then, but are not so useful now if you are attempting to drive over bridges, shop at the mall, or deliver a speech (some of our modern day Saber-Tooth Tigers). 

Often clients will report being “paralyzed” when experiencing anxiety or panic.  This catatonic state may have been just what man needed in order to be undetected in the bush, avoiding harm’s way once again. 

And finally, if you talk to enough people who have experienced debilitating anxiety, they will often be unable to describe the events coinciding with the feeling of anxiety. This disassociation may, or may not have been my first choice in primitive times, but psychologically speaking, the moment of doom may not have been cognitively experienced.   

Anyone who has experienced the type of anxiety described above can relate to some of the symptoms.  Therefore, we would have to infer that our species has maintained these symptoms for survival purposes and therefore our tendency to become anxious is truly couched in our biology. 

Fortunately, we do not have Saber-Tooth Tigers any longer. Now our perceived dangers exist in the form of air travel, driving over bridges, being around groups of people. Or they may be fear of losing’s one job, of dying or disease, of going bankrupt, “losing it all,” or other future events, or even things like speaking in front of groups, being around insects, reptiles, and many other stimuli that give host to our anxiety. 

The range of symptoms associated with anxiety varies.  Often an individual will experience anxiety, and it will be uncomfortable, but tolerable.  Other times, the occurrence is perceived by the person as being “truly” unbearable and the thought of ever experiencing it again as unimaginable. 

Because the person believes the anxiety is so “awful” he or she will superstitiously attach evoking power to the stimuli that occasioned the dreaded feeling.  The result is often debilitating because the person will design their life (if they can) in such a way to avoid encountering the stimulus that they mistakenly believe will bring on the frightful feeling.

The person believes the stimulus causes the feeling and they absolutely could not bear experiencing the terror again.  Associated fear often results in ideas of going crazy, passing out and being embarrassed, not being able to escape or simply not being able to cope.

The person unwisely puts himself in an approach-avoidance that reinforces the idea that the experience of anxiety truly is unbearable and can not be tolerated.  The practice of avoiding then negatively reinforces the idea that the bridge, staying home alone, or shopping in the mall, etc. causes the feeling.  It can become debilitating and often negatively affects not just the person, but family members or friends.  Panic is born and begins to dictate many of the person’s behavior going forward.  It is an overwhelming fear that can truly affect many facets of one’s life. 

Now I will make a statement that may sound trite but is absolutely the truth, “it is all in your head.”

Your feelings are real, but they are not created by a virus, or events in your life, but simply they are created by the thoughts you have about yourself, others, or life conditions.  Remember my statement earlier, there are no modern day Saber Tooth Tigers.  Real dangers do exist though and we had better practice caution in some of our practices, but bridges, staying alone at home, giving a presentation, shopping in public areas, or seeing a snake does not have causation power unless you give it power.

If it were true that the sight or thought of a bridge causes one to become panicky, then everyone who encountered bridges in their travels would have to respond the same way.  The person truly feels panic, but the creator of the emotion is their thinking.  And by changing the thinking, the panic will go away.  Not magically, but through changing one’s thoughts.

Panic tends to be much more intense than anxiety, but a lot of anxiety is created leading up to panic responses and the person is so scared of having another panic “attack” that their anxiety will trigger it. 

Panic can not be experienced unless one is focused on the future.  Therefore, all panic, like anxiety, is future related.  What If becomes the beginning of the sentence and from there, the person will exaggerate how bad it would be to experience the event.  In panic, it is always the experience itself–the anxiety symptoms.  A mountain is made out of a mole hill. 

Let’s take a look at the world through a person’s eyes who is experiencing anxiety.

And to do this, I want to talk about phrases called “awfulizing or catastrophizing.”

When we awfulize we tend to view a life event, not on continuum, but as the worst thing that could happen, not just bad, but more than bad, more than 100% bad.  “And it should not be.”  Two irrational ideas, first a rating of more than 100% is scientifically an exaggeration.  100% is a maximum amount so if a person views it as more than 100%, their reference needs to be lowered and the current event placed in its slot. 

My mentor and creator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Albert Ellis, uses this as an example.  I have a Catastrophe Scale, and everything on this scale is bad.  It goes from zero to 100.  100 representing the worse possible thing that you believe can happen (real or imagined). 

You may divide it into increments of tens if you like (10, 20, 30, etc.).  Where on this scale would you put Being Tortured to Death?  Most people would rate it a solid 100.  Now I say to you that I Am Going to Torture you to Death, but Sloooowwwwer.  Now, where would you put this?  Again most people say 100.  But, 100 is already taken up, so you have to lower the first example to 99, and place this one in the 100 slot.

And I could give you more and more examples, possibly lowering the original torture rating below 90.  Now are these events bad?  Of course!  But not off the scale. 

Now we then add this statement, And it Should not Be.”

Logically speaking, if the event occurred, then it should have occurred based upon science.  Everything that exists in our world, should exist, because it does.  There are always pre-events or antecedents which make reality just that, reality.  You may not like the reality, but that has zero to do with its existence. 

So 1, we exaggerate its rating and take it off the scale and 2, we state that what just happened, be different than it is.  “Reality should not be reality.”  It is really kind of funny, because if it shouldn’t be reality, what could it possibly be?  The answer, Fiction, Magic, Make-Believe! (All in your head.)

Another way we can Awfulize or Catastrophize is to take low level events which normally we would rate below 50 and escalate them to high level ratings.  I also call this tendency awfulizing.  It may not be rating the event 100 plus but it does exaggerate the placement on the scale. 

So to review, we start with a What If (WI), and we add an Awful (Aw) with a Demand component.  Let’s talk about this for a moment.

Demands are words we say to ourselves that are absolute in their meaning.  We want to avoid these words because they place absolute requests on ourselves, others, and the world around us. These words include: should, ought, must, have-to, got-to, need-to, insist, expect to.

Now the final piece to Anxiety is ICSI, which simply means I Can’t Stand It!  Without mincing words, an incredibly “stupid” statement!  As you are saying you can’t deal with it What ARE you in fact doing? Yes, dealing with it! You may not be doing as well as you’d like and you may not be feeling well, but you ARE STANDING IT!  Fact, not Fiction. 

To sum up this “formula” for Anxiety:

Anxiety = WI + Aw +D + ICSI

[WHAT if…that would be AWFUL…it SHOULDN’T be that way…I can’t stand it]

Now what is the difference between Anxiety and Panic?  Not much, except you experience the severe anxiety (Panic), then you begin awfulizing about experiencing it again.  You become hypersensitive to the possibility of experiencing the feeling again, resulting in an increase of anxiety (What If-ing) the panic comes back. 

A person becomes fearful that the panic response will return, which increases the possibility that it does and driving the person “crazy” thinking about it.  Virtually everything is manipulated to insure that the person does not have to put themselves into a position to experience the panic.

The slight sensation indicating the onset of nervousness or anxiety becomes the breeding ground for panic.  The person believes they will not cope and every time they experience the panic, it reinforces this belief because the person often solicits family and friends to assist.  “I can not do this alone, see, I’m a wreck!”

They mistakenly allow the feelings they have be the proof that the situation or stimulus causes the feelings and they can not cope.  They have difficulty realizing that it is “all in their head.”  If they will instead tell themselves something different, more rational, the feelings will slowly go away.  Force themselves to stay in difficult situations, and the anxious feelings become less intense. 

Work hard and practice and panic disappears.  Is it easy? I don’t think so.  Can you learn to get rid of panic?  Absolutely!  Are you “nuts?”  No, just human!  Just like the rest of us Fallible Human Beings!  Remember, its part of your heredity, but let’s work on changing our evolution too.  There are no Saber Tooth Tigers! 

Dr. Thomas is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with Whitford-Thomas Group in Tampa, FL.  He has been counseling people to feel better for over 25 years

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Are You Talking Yourself Into Misery?

(c) Chris Green – All Rights reserved                                             
Conquering Stress

Stress. Depression. Anxiety. They’re powerful words that conjure up all kinds of images and prejudices in our minds. People who suffer from these illnesses find it hard to cope with life. They can feel deeply unhappy, they can find no joy in anything life has to offer, and of course, their levels of self-esteem, confidence and self-respect plummet.

But how can this happen to someone?

Let’s concentrate on how these illnesses affect the way we value the self. Of all of the destructive patterns of behavior these illnesses cause, the way a sufferer talks to the self is the fuel that maintains their illness.

I have experienced depression from two sides. For 5 years, a series of traumatic events triggered a personal nightmare I believed would never end. One of these events came when my lover was diagnosed with depression. At this time, I too had entered into the spiral of anxiety-induced depression. Both of these experiences have given me an insight into how sufferers destroy any value of the self.

Let me give a couple of examples. With my partner, if I’d arranged an evening out with friends, she’d say:

“No, I won’t come, you go without me. I never have anything
interesting to say. I just bore people. They’ll find me an effort to be with. I’ll stay here.”

If I made a mistake, I’d say to myself:
“I’m useless. I’m no good at anything. Everything I do I get wrong.”

This self-deprecation then spreads into other areas of life. You begin to criticize the way you look, the decisions you make or don’t make, and you focus solely on the downside of life. Each time a little bit of self-worth, a little bit of self-respect and a little bit of self-confidence are eroded. Eventually, they are lost completely. When I reached my lowest point, having lost everything and everyone I loved, I’d say to myself:

“If I died tomorrow, no one would know and no one would
care.”

So, what helped me to come out of the fog?

Well, the reason I thought I’d become depressed was because of a series of traumatic events occurring at the same time. I was wrong. The root cause of my depression lay in the ways I reacted to them. One of the ways I’d reacted was to blame myself for events I couldn’t control. The more I blamed myself, the more I beat myself up. The more I beat myself up, the more my self-esteem decreased.

The phrases I have used to briefly illustrate self- deprecating phrases we continually use against the self are mild. I’m sure you realize that many people use much stronger phrases than I’ve given here. The point is that these phrases would be totally unacceptable to say to others. You wouldn’t tell a person that they were boring, an effort to be with and that everyone found their company dull
and it would be better for everyone else if they kept away
from people.

Agreed?

Yet, if I say to people:

“Pay yourself compliments. Accentuate your good in all areas of your life. Write down your good points, your triumphs, your achievements. Remind yourself as often as possible about all the good you have done.”

They look at me like I’m an alien and say they’d feel stupid. Or uncomfortable. Or even embarrassed.

Yet they don’t feel any of these emotions when they talk to themselves using emotionally charged, self-deprecating phrases! And like rust upon metal, these phrases gradually erode our self-esteem and our confidence.

OK, here’s the bottom-line. I’d like you to inscribe what you are about to read into your mind over and over again until it is permanently etched there:

It is NEVER acceptable to talk to myself in a way I know is inappropriate and even offensive if I spoke in the same way
to others.

Time for me to sign off, but before I do, here’s a phrase I say to myself every single day without fail. Please use it, it is very powerful:

“If you put yourself down, down is where you will stay.”

Chris Green is the author of the new acclaimed book “Conquering Stress”, the complete guide to beating stress, depression and anxiety, quickly, naturally and permanently.

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What Causes Anger?

by: Tristan J. Loo

Anger is a strong emotion of displeasure caused by some type of grievance that is either real or perceived to be real by a person. The cognitive behavior theory attributes anger to several factors such as past experiences, behavior learned from others, genetic predispositions, and a lack of problem-solving ability.

To put it more simply, anger is caused by a combination of two factors: an irrational perception of reality (“It has to be done my way”) and a low frustration point (“It’s my way or no way”).

Anger is an internal reaction that is perceived to have a external cause. Angry people almost always blame their reactions on some person or some eventbut rarely do they realize that the reason they are angry is because of their irrational perception of the world. Angry people have a certain perception and expectation of the world that they live in and when that reality does not meet their expectation of it, then they become angry.

It is important to understand that not all anger is unhealthy. Anger is one of our most primitive defense mechanisms that protects and motivates us from being dominated or manipulated by others. It gives us the added strength, courage, and motivation needed to combat injustice done against us or to others that we love. However, if anger is left uncontrolled and free to take over the mind and body at any time, then anger becomes destructive.

Why We Need to Control Anger

Just like a person who is under the control of a street drug—-a person under the influence of anger cannot rationalize, comprehend, or make good decisions because anger distorts logical reasoning into blind emotion.

You become unable to think clearly and your emotions take control of your actions. Physiologically speaking, anger enacts the fight or flight response in our brain, which increases our blood pressure and releases adrenaline into our bloodstream, thereby increasing our strength and pain threshold. Anger makes us think of only two things: (1) Defend, or (2) Attack. Neither of these options facilitates a good negotiation.

Internal Sources of Anger

Our internal sources of anger come from our irrational perceptions of reality. Psychologists have identified four types of thinking that contribute to anger.

1. Emotional reasoning. People who reason emotionally misinterpret normal events and things that other people say as being directly threatening to their needs and goals. People who use emotional reasoning tend to become irritated at something innocent that other people tell them because they perceive it as an attack on themselves. Emotional reasoning can lead to dysfunctional anger in the long run.

2. Low frustration tolerance. (LFT) All of us at some point have experienced a time where our tolerance for frustration was low. Often stress-related anxiety lowers our tolerance for frustration and we begin to perceive normal things as threats to our well-being or threats to our ego.

3. Unreasonable expectations. When people make demands, they see things as how they should be and not as they really are. This lowers their frustration tolerance because people who have unreasonable expectations expect others to act a certain way, or for uncontrollable events to behave in a predictable manner. When these things do not go their way, then anger, frustration, and eventually depression set in.

4. People-rating. People-rating is an anger-causing type of thinking where the person applies a derogatory label on someone else. By rating someone as a “bitch” or a “bastard,” it dehumanizes them and makes it easier for them to become angry at the person.

External Sources Of Anger

There are a hundreds of internal and external events that can make us angry, but given the parameters of a negotiating situation, we can narrow these factors down to four general events.

1. The person makes personal attacks against us. The other side attacks you along with the problem in the form of verbal abuse.

2. The person attacks our ideas. The other side chops down our ideas, opinions, and options.

3. The person threatens our needs. The person threatens to take away a basic need of ours if they do not get their way i.e. “I’ll make sure you’ll never work in this city again.”

4. We get frustrated. Our tolerance level for getting things done might be low or affected by any number of environmental factors in our lives.

Factors That Lower Our Frustration Tolerance

1. Stress / Anxiety. When our stress-level increases, our tolerance for frustration decreases. This is why there are so many domestic disputes and divorces over financial problems.

2. Pain. Physical and emotional pain lowers our frustration tolerance. This is because we are so focused on taking care of our survival needs, that we do not have time for anything or anyone else.

3. Drugs / Alcohol. Drugs and alcohol affect how our brain processes information and can make a person more irritable or bring forward repressed emotions or memories that can trigger anger.

4. Recent irritations. Recent irritations can also be called “having a bad day.” It’s the little irritations that add up during the course of the day that lower our tolerance for frustration. Recent irritations can be: stepping in a puddle, spilling coffee on your shirt, being late for work, being stuck in a traffic jam, having a flat tire.

Recognizing the Physiological Signs of Anger

By recognizing the physiological signs of anger, we can attune ourselves to know when it is time to take measures to make sure that our level of anger does not get out of control. Here are some symptoms of anger:

1. Unconscious tensing of muscles, especially in the face and neck.
2. Teeth grinding
3. Breathing rate increases dramatically
4. Face turns red and veins start to become visible due to an increase in blood pressure
5. Face turns pale
6. Sweating
7. Feeling hot or cold
8. Shaking in the hands
9. Goosebumps
10. Heart rate increases
11. Adrenaline is released into your system creating a surge of power.

Am I Right to be Angry? 

Damn right you are. You have your own perception and expectation of the world that you live in and when the reality that you live in fails to meet your expectations, then yes you have the right to be angry. Afterall, if everyone thought alike, then the world would be a pretty dull place to live. You are going to run into situations that you don’t enjoy. You are going to run into people who don’t respect your views and ideas. The feeling of anger is totally justified according to your beliefs and so don’t repress or deny those feelings. 

Having to right to feel angry does not mean that you have the right to lash out in anger by attacking the other person. You can’t change the views of other people to conform to your own because, like you, they have their own right to uphold their view of the world. The best thing you can do is recognize your anger and focus it on the problem instead of your counterpart.

Key Points

Being angry or frustrated is just like being under the influence of a drug. It prevents you from rationalizing and thinking logically.

Anger is caused by a combination of an irrational perception of reality and a low frustration point.

Anger is a natural response and you have every right to be angry, but you must learn to keep that anger in check during a negotiation because once you react in any negotiation, then you lose the agreement.

About The Author

Tristan Loo is an experienced negotiator and an expert in conflict resolution. He uses his law enforcement experience to train others in the prinicples of defusing conflict and reaching agreements. Visit his website at http://www.streetnegotiation.com

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How To Help A Stressed Or Depressed Loved One

I receive many emails from concerned relatives, partners and friends who are trying to help a loved one suffering the torment of a stressful or depressive episode. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that people who love us are also affected by these illnesses and may find it difficult to
understand what’s happening. They want to help, but just
don’t know what to do for the best.

Having lived with a depressed partner for 3 years and suffered anxiety and depression for 5 years, I’ve experienced both sides. In this article, I’ll show you exactly what you can do – and, what you shouldn’t do – to
help your loved one.

1. Please, however frustrated you feel, please never say to a depressed or stressed person: “Come on, snap out of it. What have you got to be worried or sad about anyway. People have it much worse than you.” Please understand that these illnesses cannot be “snapped out of.” You wouldn’t say this to someone with high blood pressure or pneumonia because you know it isn’t that simple.

Stress, depression and anxiety are real illnesses that have specific causes. Asking someone to snap out of it makes that person feel inadequate or that they’re doing something wrong. Absolutely not so. Comparing their circumstances to people who are suffering greater hardship is no use either.

I couldn’t have given two hoots about other people when I was ill because their circumstances meant nothing to me. I was struggling to solve my own problems and couldn’t see anything else. Knowing that others are starving, are terminally ill, or suffer in squalor didn’t matter a jot because they didn’t make my problems go away. One more thing about such statements: they confront the sufferer with their illness and they put pressure on them. This will cause sufferers to retreat further and further into their own world. Better is to offer love and support: “I’m always here if you need me or want to talk.” And 3 little words can mean so much: “I love you.” I didn’t hear them for 3 years and believe me, I missed them so very much.

2. As a loved one, it is totally natural to want to understand what is happening. Many loved ones conduct research into these illnesses to develop understanding. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. However, a problem can arise if you start to impose your knowledge on the sufferer. This happens when you observe certain behaviors and habits performed by sufferers and comment on why they are behaving
in such a way.

For example, you hear a sufferer put themselves down, so you say “That’s a part of your illness. I’ve been reading about it and self-deprecation is one of the reasons why people become depressed. You need to stop putting yourself down.” Again, this is confrontational and puts the sufferer under pressure. All they’ll do is dismiss your comments and clam up whenever you’re around as they’ll feel they’re being scrutinised. A better way is to challenge
them very gently by reminding them of a time when they did
something good. For example, you hear a sufferer say: “I’m
useless, I never get anything right.” You can say “Sure you
do, hey, remember the time when you…”.

Do you see the difference in approach? The first is more like a doctor assessing a patient, the second is just a normal, natural conversation and doesn’t mention stress, depression or anxiety. This is very, very helpful as it shifts focus from a bad event: “I’m useless…” to a good one: “remember when..” without exerting pressure.

3. Finally, you may find a resource – a book, a video, a supplement etc. – that you think will help someone to beat their illness. Perfectly natural. But there’s a problem. It confronts the sufferer with their illness and puts them under pressure to do something about it. The result of this will be resentment followed by retreat into their own world. Isolation is a part of these illnesses. Sometimes, you just
can’t bear to be around people. My ex-partner used to sleep in a dark room for an entire weekend because she just couldn’t handle anyone being around her. “I bore people, I’ve nothing to say of interest and I don’t want anyone asking me how I’m feeling. I just want to be on my own.” I know, it cuts you to ribbons when you hear such words from someone you care deeply about.

But please, you must resist the urge to DIRECTLY give them a resource you think will help them. For someone to emerge from these illnesses, they have to make the decision themselves. A direct offer will more often than not be refused. So, if you find something
you think will help, leave it lying around somewhere your loved one will find it. The idea here is for them to CHOOSE by themselves to investigate further. Such an INDIRECT approach is more effective because once again, there is no pressure, no reminder, no confrontation. It is the sufferer who takes a willing first step towards recovery.

It is so hard to understand and reach loved ones when they’re caught up in these illnesses but please believe me, these ideas are very effective and they will help.

Chris Green is the author of the new acclaimed book “Conquering Stress”, the complete guide to beating stress, depression and anxiety, quickly, naturally and permanently.

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Calm, Conquer and Convert your ANGER

by Clive Simpkins

I often hear people say “He made me angry!” or “I couldn’t help being livid!” or “It just happens before I even know it!” These statements put the blame for becoming angry on someone else, or circumstances. The good news is that you can, if you wish, minimise anger almost immediately. With a little time and effort you can overcome it and manage or convert the energy you might have wasted on anger, into something more useful.

Anger is the result of frustrated desire. The steps to it are short and swift. You start off by having a desire or wish. Nothing wrong with that, but when you add impetus, energy or concentration to that desire, it develops quickly into a demand. As soon as the demand encounters frustration, you’re into anger. The simple solution would be to say, “Then don’t be demanding.” But as we all know, that’s a lot easier said, than done.

It’s helpful to go back a few steps in the observation of our thought patterns. Some of our “thinking” is not at conscious brain level at all. We have lots of parcels, audio and video tapes, CD ROMs, flash discs, e-mails, memos, letters and documents in the subconscious mind. They may have been recorded, filed, archived or stored there, years ago. Yet they can still negatively influence our thinking and responses in certain situations.

Whether or not we’re aware of it, any behaviour starts off with thought. That thought creates a second level of activity, which is feeling or emotion. At that stage, we may “feel” angry, depressed, humiliated or whatever. But the feeling was preceded by a discussion. Perhaps along the lines of, “How could he speak to me like that? He’s got some nerve!” We might not even be aware of this internal dialoguebut we’ll experience the result, as emotion.

Our emotions inevitably translate into a third level – behaviour that’s visible to others. 

In some people, it’s like viewing a synoptic chart. A high pressure system here, a depression there! 

The sequence then, is thoughtsfeelingsbehaviour. Much like an archery target. Thoughts in the centre, surrounded by feelings or emotions, with behaviour being external and the biggest, most visible circle of all.

Thoughts are like bubbles at the bottom of a fish tank. As they first peep out of the sand, they’re tiny, travel slowly and can quite easily be caught. As they rise and the water pressure reduces, they grow larger and travel faster – until they explode through the surface. What’s needed, is consciously to become aware of our thoughts, at the earliest stage of their formation.

When you’re upset, you’re out of control, low on constructive resources, illogical, and it may take hours to return to a state of equilibrium. Meantime, you may have caused significant or even irreparable hurt through what you said when you were angry.

Here’s a suggestion. Start noticing which comments or thoughts irritate you. What it is that makes you flare into anger. Become aware of their presence in your mind – only sooner than you did previously. That you even notice them now, is a significant step forward in the direction of anger management, control or conversion.

You’ll reach a stage of awareness where you’ll catch the thought early enough to make a conscious decision not to get angry. You’ll choose an alternative to stay in balance, equilibrium or harmony.

Having observed and then caught the thought bubble, you’ll be into the management phase of your thinking. Instead of other people or circumstances “pressing your buttons” or “making” you angry, you’ll now enjoy a choice in your response. One choice is not to be angry. If you are angry, it’ll be because you choose to be.

You won’t have an immediate one hundred percent success rate. This is an incremental self-awareness and growth exercise and hiccups will occur. Control of your thoughts, emotions, behaviour and mind, will though, be taken out of the hands of other people, and given back to the rightful custodian – you. It’ll be a relief and an energy saver.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about these anger-management techniques and how to work on your self-talk and thought process, click on the links below.

About the Author

Clive is a marketing and communications strategist. He helps people and organizations make sustainable change. http://www.imbizo.com

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What are the different forms of depression?

There are several forms of depressive disorders. The most common are major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder.

Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.

Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by long–term (two years or longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

Some forms of depressive disorder exhibit slightly different characteristics than those described above, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not all scientists agree on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include:

Psychotic depression, which occurs when a severe depressive illness is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.

Postpartum depression, which is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.1

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.2

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes-from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). Visit the NIMH website for more information about bipolar disorder.

Causes of Depression

Information from NIMH–National Institute for Mental Health