Struggling With A Jerk At Work?

Got any jerks in your life?  You know the type. The ones who think they know it all, the ones who don’t listen to a word you say, the ones who push and push until you can’t take it, or the ones who are the first to cry victim but the last to admit to a fault.  They are exhausting, relentless, aggressive, nitpicking, frustrating, and by the time you are done talking to them you want to run away screaming.

Worse yet, they can turn even the best of days upside-down with just a comment, message, text or email.  You have become so programmed to their belligerent behavior that just the mention of their name stirs you inside and the sound of their voice can bring a fight-or-flight response.  As with any jerk, there are those who agree with you about the behavior and then those who adamantly disagree believing him/her to be a wonderful person.  So what can you do?  What do you do with all of that frustration especially if you are unsure of whom to confine it?

Identify the abnormal behavior.  The natural tendency when confronted by a jerk is to do just that, label them as a jerk.  While this may bring about some comfort, he/she is the jerk and not you, in the end it leaves you with nothing to do except avoid them.  More than likely, if this person is bothering you he/she is not a person you can avoid indefinitely.  So instead of labeling and dismissing him/her, identify the behavior that is driving you nuts.  Is it a word, phrase, tone of voice, emotion such as anger, aggression, or the way you were attacked?  If it is several of these, break it down until you have one really irritating piece.

Identify what it reminds you of.  Ask “what does this behavior remind me of” or “who does this behavior remind me of”.  The first thing that pops into your head is usually the best as long as it is not the same person or incident.  For instance, you receive an email from a co-worker who created a larger than life problem but is now trying to shift the blame onto you.  You are stuck cleaning up the mess and have to deal with the co-worker but are angry at his/her continued unwillingness to take responsibility for his/her actions.  The email sends you over the top as now he/she has manipulated the circumstances to blame you for his/her mistake.  So ask the two questions.  Could it be that this person reminds you of the time when a bully beat you up and then said it was you who started the fight and the bully was only defend him/her?  You may need to ask the question again if there is more than one similar incident, keep going until you have a couple of irritating people on your list.

Identify how you wish you responded.  Now that you have the underlying incident mixed with the underlying person, examine how you responded.  Most likely you have already replayed the incident in your head over and over wishing for another opportunity to confront the person and given the same set of circumstances and now your response would have been much better.  In reality we don’t have opportunities to turn back the clock and confront but we do have current circumstances with similar characters which is exactly where you are with the jerky behavior today.  At some deep level, this current circumstance reminded you of a past circumstance in which you already had a strong desire to do something different.

So do something different.  What is the outcome you are trying to achieve?  Using the above story, if your desired outcome is to get noticed for doing quality work, then do excellent flawless work.  Don’t let the jerk at the office rattle you and cause you to be ineffective, that is his/her goal; rather, use their immature behavior as a way of highlighting your mature behavior.  And in the end not only will you feel better but you are one step closer to your desired outcome.

Don’t allow the jerks to get the best of you and distract you from doing your work, having fun, or just hanging with the family.  He/she lives to steal the best from others and use it to enhance himself/herself.  There is no need for you to fall victim again to another trap, identify it and do something different instead.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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How Anger Fuels Addictive Behavior

Anger Addiction CycleHave you ever felt as though you were doing the same thing over and over again getting worse and worse results no matter how hard you tried?  Are you caught in a downward spiral that leaves you feeling helpless and more frustrated?  While there are many reasons for addictive behavior, certain emotions such as anger can add fuel to the addictive cycle thereby increasing the intensity and feeling completely out of control.

It all starts with a painful event such as the loss of a job, the betrayal of a close friend or the disappointment of a missed opportunity.  Each of these events can spark anger directed at another person for their part in the event or directed at you for failure to handle the event properly.  The feeling of anger is uncomfortable so you counteract it with a desire to escape or a desire to find pleasure.  You turn to the addiction of your choice: alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking, spending money, porn, excessive exercising, soap operas, adrenaline, sugar, or video games.  Other people in your life don’t like your addiction so they in turn become angry with you and withdraw.  You are now confused by their response as you were just trying to avoid the angry feelings.  This in turn results in another painful event such as a fight, loss of respect or distrust.

Acknowledge.  The first step to stopping the crazy cycle is acknowledging that you are repeating the same behavior over and over.  You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.  So admit it.  You are doing the crazy cycle.  This is not the time to blame others for the reason you are doing the crazy cycle; this is the time to accept responsibility for your own crazy behavior.  Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.  This maybe a new concept to you as our culture is quick to blame others, parents, churches, organizations, companies, governments, and even nations for bad behavior.  But this is not constructive thinking, it is destructive thinking.  You are responsible for your own behavior.

Stop at Anger.  There is nothing wrong with feeling angry.  It is a normal emotion which even Jesus felt.  But there is something wrong with acting out in anger or doing something to escape the anger or doing something to suppress the anger (pleasure seeking behavior).  Whether you are acting aggressively angry or avoiding the anger by running away, anger is still controlling your behavior.  It is OK to be angry when you are hurt, when someone hurts you, or when someone hurts someone else.  Just don’t take it to the next step and escape from the anger; rather deal with the anger by confronting how you feel and taking responsibility for the actions that follow.  Just saying the words, “I am angry but I’m going to act responsibly” can restore the out of control feeling to feeling controlled.

Know Your Addiction.  What is your addiction of choice?  More than likely you have more than one addictive behavior.  Not all of the additive behaviors are listed so taking an inventory of your go-to addictions is extremely helpful.  Many times you will go directly from the painful event and skip right past the angry emotion to the additive behavior because you have developed a conditioned response similar to Pavlov’s dogs.  In Pavlov’s experiment, he trained dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell by first giving food along with ringing the bell.  Before long, he only needed to ring the bell for the dogs to salivate.  You have done the same thing with your addiction.  You no longer need to feel anger to justify the addictive behavior; rather you go straight from the painful event to the addiction.  If you know your addictive behaviors, you can trace backwards to the anger anytime you feel the desire to abuse your substance and stop it from going any further.

You can take responsibility for your own behavior and stop the crazy cycle from destroying your life.  You do not have to be a victim to your addiction or continue to allow painful events determine how you will respond.  Remember, if you make a mistake along the way and slip backwards, it is never too late to turn around no matter what others around you say.  Who you are is NOT defined by your mistakes.  Who you are is defined by your character which can be shaped by your mistakes only if you let it.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Are You Making Your Kid Angry?

Technically, no one can “make” you angry unless you give them that right.  While it may seem as though the actions of another person are “making you angry”, in actuality it is your set of experiences, emotions, beliefs, and ideals that cause you to get angry.  For instance, one person may become angry at being cut off while driving while another person may not even notice the action.  The difference between the two people is one person took the action as a personal offense while the other person did not.  The person cutting you off did not “make” you angry; rather you became angry because of how you perceived their action.

So while another person can’t “make” you angry, you can “make” your kid angry.  Why the double standard?  Because your kid is a child and you are an adult.  With maturity comes the ability to temper or control your responses which is the idea of having “self-control”.  But for a child, they have not reached this level of maturity and are unable to demonstrate self-control so they display immature behavior which is characterized by a lack of control over their responses.  Literally, you can “make” a kid feel a certain way because they are not fully in control of their responses.  Therefore, as the adult, you are responsible for “making” your kid angry.  Ephesians 6:4a warns, “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”  But just how are you “making” them angry?

Not listening.  Easily hands down the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying.  Too often as a parent, you are trying to get your point across and don’t stop long enough to make sure you understand your child’s point of view.  Then, because they are a child, often they really don’t know what they are really thinking or how they are feeling, so they default to anger.  No, they are not able to speak clearly, they are a child.  No, they are not able to counteract you point by point, they are a child.  But give them some time and soon as teenagers they will become more and more like you, not listening and counteracting you point by point.

Assuming the worst.  Just to make things more complicated, kids don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say.  While this is a nice lesson to teach them, assuming the worst motive or attitude about your child sends a subtle message that they are not valued or their opinion is not valued.  This brings on anger in your child just as you get angry when someone assumes the worst about you.  When you assume the worst about your child, they interprets this as “I am no good”, “I can never do anything right”, or “I am to blame for everything”.  The negative consequences of a child learning this at a young age is that it will not leave them as an adult.  For the rest of their lives, they will struggle with a positive self-image which you helped to foster.

Seeing yourself in them.  When you see your child behaving and speaking just like you while making all the same mistakes you made, there is almost an immediate angry response on your part.  It seems to come out of nowhere, one moment you are able to speak calmly and the next you are flying off the handle.  There is no rhyme or reason except that you were triggered by a past event or mistake and watching your child suffer through the same mistakes you made is more than you can handle.  The problem is that your child doesn’t understand your anger and they instead internalize it.  They become angry with themselves for “making” you angry.  In the moment, you child is not likely to respond badly but give them a couple of years and the resentment will build and turn to intense anger.

Ok, so you have made a few mistakes or more likely, made more than a few mistakes in “making” your child angry but it is not too late.  You can stop “making” them angry by simply doing the opposite of what “made” them angry.  You could listen to what they are really saying, you could assume the best about your child, and you could divorce your behavior from your child’s behavior.  After all, they have their own journey to make based on their own decisions and it is not necessarily the same journey you have made in life.  The decisions they will need to make in the future are made best when not heavily influenced by anger from their parents.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

9/11/01: A Day to Remember

Patriots’ Day Parade

Patriots’ Day Parade (Photo credit: mcritz)

For most people, remembering 9/11/01 is about remembering where they were when they first heard the news.  It is easy to recall it since it was such a shocking day filled with tragedy after tragedy and while most felt numb that day, recall of the event now includes emotions of great sadness, grief, despair, and anger.  The many days of confusion that followed 9/11/01 are more of fog compared to the moment in which you first heard the news.  That moment is imbedded into your memory as if it was yesterday, stirring up a mixture of both old and new emotions.  With each passing year, the memory refuses to fade as new memories are implanted into your head; instead it remains a solidly fixed and sober event.

But remembering 9/11/01 should not be so selfish.  It should not be about remembering where you were or who you were with or how you felt.  The people who committed the acts of terrorism on 9/11/01 were the selfish ones thinking only of their beliefs, their cause, their feelings, and their goal.  On that day, the terrorists focused solely on their agenda at the great expense of the lives of others.   No, this day, Patriot’s Day, should not a selfish day but rather a day in which we all remember one another and the sacrifices that were given both willingly and unwillingly.  For many gave their life, some had their life stolen, thousands of families were impacted and others worked tirelessly to save lives and clean up the debris.  For those individuals, this day has a different meaning as it was not just a national event, it was personal and it forever changed them as such.

Remember them.  Have you ever had to clean up after a disaster?  Maybe you have been in a natural disaster where things are suddenly not where they belong and destroyed beyond repair.  Or maybe you have had a smaller event such as a pipe bursting or a two-year-old on a rampage through your house.  While it is frustrating to see things get so out-of-place in such a short time, it can be even more frustrating to put things back together again.  Remember those worked after 9/11/01 cleaning up an unbelievable mess day after day only to discover an even greater mess beyond the surface.  The amount of discouragement must have been overwhelming, yet they kept going year after year.  For these individuals, 9/11/01 is not just a day; it is a series of events forever imbedded into their current memory.  And while they unselfishly gave of themselves to accomplish a task, they continue to give of themselves through the memories which repeatedly traumatize them.

Thank them.  These unselfish individuals deserve your thanks and gratitude for a sacrifice that hopefully you can only imagine but will never fully know from experience.  For most of them, recognition and thanks is nice but they did not do it for that reason.  Rather, they had a job to do and chose to do well.  Every day you have a choice to just do your job and get by with as little effort as possible or you can choose to do your job well and like the heroes of 9/11/01 do it beyond expectation.  The heroes had a choice and it is obvious by the outcome that they put aside their selfish desires and chose to live a life of service to others.  It is easier to say a thank you but so much harder to live by the example that was set before you of excellence.

Be them.  In the end, you have a choice.  It does not matter what your job is, who your family is, where you come from, or what your circumstances are in life, you still have a choice.  You have a choice to live a life that is selfish and focused on yourself or to live a life that is selfless and focused on others.  The terrorists made their choice; it was one of complete and total selfishness.  Some of the people who lost their life on that day did not have a choice; rather it was stolen from them.  But some of the people who lost their life on that day did have a choice; it was one of selflessness.  You too have a choice in how you live your life.  Are you going to be selfish like the terrorists or selfless like the heroes?

What a true monumental day 9/11/01 would be if the long-term outcome was a nation filled with individuals who became selfless instead of selfish.  For a few years following that day, there was a glimmer of hope that selflessness would be the final outcome however as the events of that day turn more selfish and focused on remembering where you were instead of remembering who perished, the hope faded.  But you still have a choice; you can choose on this Patriot’s Day to remember others and the sacrifices they gave and continue to give or you can choose instead to remembering yourself and how you felt.  Choose wisely because the outcome will determine the destination of our next generation.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why are you so angry?

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It happens.  You are driving down the left side of highway slightly faster than normal because you are late and suddenly someone cuts right in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks and almost hit their vehicle.  Instantly, you are angry.  Or how about your spouse promising he or she will be home by a certain time and you have made plans based on that time frame but your spouse doesn’t show up, answer the phone or even call.  By the time your spouse arrives home all plans have to be canceled and you are angry.

There are several bad ways of handling anger but according to Scripture, there are only two good ways of handling it.  One is from Psalms 4:4, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Think about it overnight and remain silent”.  The second is from Ephesians 4:26-27, “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil”.  Either method works depending on your personality or the situation but first some common misunderstandings about anger need to be cleared up.

Defining Anger.  Most likely, you have experienced a time when everything seems to be going just fine and then all of a sudden something happens and you feel this rush of intense emotion causing your heart to race, your voice to get louder, or your fists to clench.  And then it happens, you say or do something that you normally would not do if the intense emotion had not occurred.  That is anger.  And while anger in and of itself is a God given emotion, it becomes sinful when it controls your behavior.  This emotion is quite useful in life and death situations as it propels you into action motivating you beyond what you would normally do.  But it can be destructive in personal relationships as it leaves a path of disaster much like the path of a tornado.

Blaming Anger.  Just because you are feeling angry and this emotion in some cases may be justified, it does not give you license to harm anyone in your path. How many times have you heard someone say, “You make me so angry”?  The reality is that they are responsible for getting angry just as you are responsible for your own anger.  Anger can control you which is what the two verses point out and that control does lead to sin.  No one can “make” you angry unless you choose to be angry.  Sometimes that choice is not a conscious one but an unconscious choice based on experiences and decisions made in the past.  Nonetheless, it is your choice to allow anger to control you.

Managing Anger.  The two passages above mention two different ways of dealing with your anger.  One is to not speak and think about your anger overnight.  The other is to confront your anger.  However, neither passage even slightly hints that your spouse must be involved in either.  If you are responsible for your own anger and letting anger get out of control is sinful then it is not the responsibility of your spouse to resolve your anger rather it is yours.  “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” is about your behavior and desire to hold onto things that should be let go or dealt with accordingly.

Reconciling Anger.  Once you have defined your anger, accepted responsibility for it and managed properly managed it, then you can begin the process of reconciliation.  Since anger destroys relationships, it is likely that there is a trail of failed relationships in the quake of your anger.  Even if the relationship may seem to be fine, unreconciled anger limits intimacy.  Your present anger may have less to do with present circumstances and more to do with your past.  Take the time to reconcile old relationships and you will find that your anger is less intense the next time.

Anger can be one of the most useful tools in helping you to grow and deal with your past but it can also be one of the most destructive if not addressed properly.  If you know of someone who needs help with their anger, speak up kindly and lovingly in a safe environment but make sure you have already addressed your anger issues first.  This effort while draining just might be one of the best things you do for your relationships.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Power of Unforgiveness

Angry Penguin

Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

College towns are hard to get around just on foot because of the distance between classes and dorms, so as a college student, I took up bike riding.  One day while riding in the street, granted I was riding in the opposite direction of traffic which is strangely prophetic of my college years, my wheel got caught in an old railroad track causing my bike to twist and overturn.  As my head was falling to the ground, I looked up to see a car headed straight for me.  Suddenly, my life literally flashed before my eyes with all of its highs and lows.  Thankfully the car stopped just before it reached my head and I suffered only a sprained ankle and a fractured arm.

Take a moment and imagine the highs and lows of your life right now, what images or people would pop into your head?  More than likely there are high moments with people and places of great excitement, joy, and love.  More than likely there are also low moments that are still causing you some residual anxiety, stress or anger.  One of the reasons those low moments leave residual emotional scars is because of unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness of past events or people can be powerful and destructive even to your current relationships.

Quick to anger.  if you find yourself quick to get angry over little issues, taking too many things personally,  or to blowing things out of proportion to their significance, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Anger is a powerful emotion that often has its roots in past rather than current events.  Our unresolved past events especially those events that were traumatic in nature creep into our current anger outbursts.

Biting sarcasm.  If you find yourself using biting sarcasm which is sarcasm that takes a dig at another person and find them not laughing or nervously laughing, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Biting sarcasm is anger’s close cousin and it is an effort to mask true feelings of anger and resentment.  Perhaps quicker than an angry outburst, biting sarcasm can destroy a relationship because it is a back-handed attack.

Malicious gossip.  If you find yourself needing to talk to several people about the same issue or person over and over to get just one more perspective, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Gossip is talking about someone behind their back.  Some even go to the lengths to justify their gossip by saying they were just trying to inform or protect someone else.  This is still gossip and your present relationships go on guard each time you talk about someone else behind their back.

Dreaming of revenge.  If you find yourself daydreaming of getting back at someone or seeking out ways to outdo someone else to prove you are better, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Revenge comes in many forms and it does not always have to be physically harmful to another person.  Just wanting a person to get what they deserve, lose a relationship, have financial hardships, or feel pain is vengeful thinking.  Your present relationships will then be in fear of retribution rather than feel your love.

Unforgiveness is powerful in that it gives you the false sense that you are in control.  By harboring the negative feelings, a person can feel like they are in charge.  But sadly, the person or event that caused the unforgiveness is really in control and in charge as you are merely reacting to the person or event.  Take charge of your own life and don’t allow someone else or something else to control what you are doing or how you are reacting.  Better yet, turn your life and your unforgiveness over to God and allow Him to take care of the person or situation.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Surviving the Emotional Side of Bankruptcy

Emotion

Emotion (Photo credit: rexquisite)

The decision to file for either a business or personal bankruptcy is difficult enough.  While you may have prepared yourself for the short-term and long-term financial consequences for the decision, most likely the emotional consequences have yet to be addressed.  Each person is different and for some the emotional reactions are less than others but for the most part, each walks through the different stages although not necessarily in any particular order.  By being aware of the emotional stages to the bankruptcy and learning to cope effectively you can begin to heal from the storm of bankruptcy.

Shock – Is this really happening?  This is the most immediate reaction to the reality of filing for bankruptcy and usually lasts for a couple of weeks.  It is similar to a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car; you feel paralyzed, overwhelmed, and insecure about the decision you made.  Worse, some your past decisions are what contributed to this moment so you are reluctant to trust even yourself to make the simplest of decisions in the moment.  Shock fades as the reality of your situation sets in and some minor decisions are able to be made.

Guilt – What have I done?  Recalling past mistakes over and over for the point of learning from them is useful but when the recalling turns into beating yourself up, it becomes destructive.  Feelings of guilt over poor decisions in the past seem to flood your thinking and can be too much to handle at times.   Being aware of your mistakes and learning from them is different from agonizing over them.  What is done is already done, now is not the time to beat yourself up over the past, rather begin to look forward to the new possibilities.

Shame – What will others think?  Friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors might be able to find out about your bankruptcy.  However, you are under no obligation to tell anyone about your bankruptcy unless it is asked for on an application to a job, rental agreement, loan or other legal binding document.  Everyone does not need to know about your financial situation; this includes friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors and talking about it to everyone is not necessarily helpful.  Your financial situation is your private business and should only be disclosed if required or agreed upon with your spouse.  Instead find a confidant, a counselor, a long-term friend, or your spouse to discuss and vent your feelings of frustration, but try to keep the discussion to just one or two persons.

Anxiety – What will I do now?  The pounding in your chest, difficulty breathing, racing heart rate, stomach indigestion, nausea, sweaty palms, dizzy feeling, chills or hot flashes are indications of intense anxiety.  Anytime you feel out of control, overcome by fear of things that you were never afraid of before, or as if things are happening to someone else and not you, it is likely that you are experiencing anxiety.  Just identifying anxiety as anxiety sometimes reduces the intensity while understanding that the root of the anxiety is the bankruptcy and not you losing your mind.

Anger – Whose fault is this?  There is a tendency to blame others for the bankruptcy and in some cases this is entirely true.  Economic factors such as loss of a job due to reorganization, loss of business, or decreased value in a home are for the most part outside of your control.  Taking anger out on the economy, politicians, or your dog will not improve your condition, it will only make it worse because it distracts you from the things you can control.  The same is true for blaming your spouse for the bankruptcy; all that accomplishes is to add to the increased tension in a marriage and could result in permanent separation.

Depression – Why does everything seem so hard?  At some point all the other emotions seem to fade and you are overcome by an intense sadness that may result in a desire to be alone, crying over unexpected events, disinterest in things you previously enjoyed, moodiness, loss of energy, insomnia, indecisiveness, decreased sex drive, or sudden weight gain/loss.  Situational depression under these circumstances is normal.  There are times in our life when we will naturally have great peaks of excitement such as falling in love or the birth of a child followed by great valleys of sadness such as losing a loved one or as in this case filing for bankruptcy.  Understanding the cause of your depression is half of the battle, not allowing it to take over your life is the other half.

The emotions you may experience after filing for bankruptcy may catch you off guard and can vary in intensity over a period of one to two years.  In many ways, filing for bankruptcy is similar to a death because recovery from bankruptcy requires a commitment to die to past spending mistakes and expectations for the future.  Look for the article titled, “Now What: Recovering from the Negative Emotions of Bankruptcy”.

For more information, watch this YouTube video: 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.