Posts tagged ‘Anger’

How to Find Your Way Out of a Conflict

A while back my husband, Gary, and I were discussing something very important. At one point, Gary said something that made me feel like he disagreed with my viewpoint. Ordinarily this wouldn’t have bothered me very much. But because this issue was such a raw issue—one that carried a lot of “baggage”—our discussion immediately escalated into an argument.  For me, it felt like I was emotionally flooding—drowning in the intensity and alienation of it all.

Since our emotions were so strong and peaked at such a rapid rate, it startled me. Thankfully God used that intensity to grab my attention, and I immediately tried to gain some perspective.

  • I asked myself, Why am I feeling this so strongly?
  • I asked myself, Why is Gary not seeing my point?
  • I asked myself, How does this discrepancy look from his perspective?

As I considered my answers to those questions, I realized almost immediately that seeing things from his perspective was crucial and key to my understanding of where he was coming from. Quickly, my feelings soon followed suit, calming down and transforming into empathy.

So I told him that I could see his perspective, and from his perspective I could understand how he would feel the way he did. Once I said those words, it was like turning a key in a locked door. Immediately, our communication opened up and we were able to discuss the matter with patience and greater understanding.

Very often when any of us are in a moment of conflict with someone, we lose perspective. We get lost in the jumble of emotions and words. I think that all that I did to bring clarity to my situation was play the game of, “Where’s Waldo?” or in my case, “Where’s Gary?” In other words, I needed to inject myself into the issue from Gary’s point of view.

When I’ve played the actual game, “Where’s Waldo,” I’ve often felt a bit overwhelmed by the confusion of it all. It’s really very hard to find that goofy little guy! You have to spend a good amount of time scanning over every tiny image and overlapping detail. But when you finally find him, you feel exhilarated! You feel amazed at your accomplishment. My hope is that you feel that same exhilaration when you find your “Waldo,” whoever that might be!



Is Venting Your Anger Unhealthy?

Have you ever had an infestation of ants or roaches or . . . what about those dreaded bed bugs? Yuck! I hope not! But if you have, then you know that those little buggers can find the smallest places to hide or invade. And you wouldn’t try to get rid of them by locking all your doors and windows, would you? Of course, not!

Unfortunately, anger manifests in our hearts and minds very much like an infestation of bugs. When that happens, we may try to ignore our anger or lock it down tight. That won’t work for real bugs, so why do we think it will work with our anger?

Unless we squash or exterminate our anger directly, it will find a way out—either through our actions, words, or unfortunately, through physical or psychological problems. That explains why venting is often the first line of defense we turn to in order to get rid of this “bug.” But if we do that in a destructive way, it’s sort of like burning our house down to kill a few cockroaches!

I believe there are some misconceptions about what venting may involve. So if by venting you mean you are criticizing and degrading whomever you are angry with (to them or to others), then venting is absolutely destructive. But if by venting you mean you are simply looking for an outlet to respectfully process your anger with a positive purpose in mind, then I’m all for it!

We all, from time to time, need to process our angry feelings with at least God, but also with a trusted friend, and sometimes even with a trained counselor. BTW, the idea of meeting with a friend to process anger should not be to gossip or indulge in a gripe session. It is about finding a safe, confidential place to express our hurt and disappointment with the goal of gaining perspective in order to better respond to the one who offended us.

In my experience (because I am very prone to self-deception), God has used many a truth-telling friend to help me see how I’ve been thinking wrong. I thank God for those Divine moments, because God is using someone to help me to turn from my sin and face my responsibility. When I do that, I am doing the “One anothers” of the Bible like, “Carry one another’s burdens . . .” (Gal. 6:2a HCSB)

Venting or dumping our anger can be unhealthy, but we all need to find healthy outlets or we’ll just end up, as my late father used to say, “With ants in our pants!”


How Are You Pitching Your Message?

I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and have been all my life. And although I don’t sit and watch a game very often, I always, thanks to my husband, keep up on their standings (which are pretty depressing, right now!). And it has occurred to me that communication is a lot like baseball. Allow me to explain . . .

Let’s say that the communicator is like the pitcher. He has a lot of control over how the ball or message is received by the listener or batter. If the pitcher puts just a little spin on the ball, coupled with high velocity speed, the batter might end up striking out!

In the same way, when we send a message, we need to be extremely aware of how we are “pitching it” to our listener or we may end up striking out in our conversations!

Now, imagine someone telling you, “You look great!” Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy all over? But what if you knew that the message was sent with a sarcastic and angry tone? Would that change the way you received the message? Sure it would! Non-verbal communication puts a powerful spin on the words we say.

Communication studies have shown that words alone account for only 7% of the message we convey. The majority of our message (93%) is through non-verbal cues, (55% is based on body language, and 38% is on our tone of voice).

Generally speaking, if you find that you or someone you know often sends negative non-verbal cues, you might want to consider looking at whether anger is the underlying issue. If you are the angry one, then consider reading the series of posts I did called, “What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t” (Parts 1 – 4) and really give yourself to the forgiveness process.

If the anger is coming from the other person, then try to avoid negative non-verbals whenever you talk with this person. Very often when you positively model the right non-verbals, you can influence the conversation for the better.

Now, normally I would want to offer positive tips on non-verbal communication, but I think that identifying the negative non-verbal cues is more revealing and relevant.

So here’s what to avoid:

  • Crossed arms or legs
  • Clenched hands
  • Sudden hand, head or arm movements
  • Poor eye contact
  • Eye contact that is too intense or threatening
  • Rolling your eyes
  • Laughing at inappropriate times
  • Stepping or leaning away
  • Leaning in too close
  • Frowning or smirking
  • Loud, angry or sarcastic tone

Next time you find yourself feeling misunderstood, frustrated, or in an unintentional argument, check to see if you may be pitching your message with a negative spin! Oh, and as far as my beloved Cardinals are concerned–watch out for us next year!

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #1

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #2

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #3

What forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #4

Today’s post is linked to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chattingatthesky blog

tuesdays unwrapped at cats


I Just Need to Vent!

Have you ever heard or said those words? I know I’ve felt like venting at times, but I’m not sure I always describe it in such graphic terms. I’d rather say it in a more palatable way like, “I really need to talk” or “I need to let off some steam.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In fact, I’ve come across some research that indicates that venting may not be a healthy way to deal with anger. As a counselor, I’ve always helped people to work through or process their emotions, be they anger, sadness, whatever. However, I have often considered venting and processing to be two different things.

In a later post, I will be sharing some of the research that I’ve found about venting that should give all of us more clarity on the subject.

  • So, what do you think?
  • Do you think that venting is different than talking through a problem in a positive way?
  • What are some of the positives you’ve experienced due to venting?
  • What are some of the negatives you’ve experienced due to venting?


Marriage Mistake #5 – Negative Focus

Have you ever tried to tend a garden? If you don’t have the plastic weed barrier firmly in place, then you might as well resign yourself to a long-term battle with your finger on the trigger of Round-Up—aiming to kill.  In the same way that weeds can take over a flower garden, I allowed “weeds” to invade my marriage garden.

In the early years of my marriage, I tried to avoid dealing with conflict, (Marriage Mistake #3). Often when this is the method a person chooses, it comes out somewhere.  The person either complains to friends and family about the offender, or complains internally. I did both, but more often than not, I did the latter.

At the time, I thought that this was a great way to manage my anger. I was able to dwell on all the bad things I thought my husband was doing, enjoying the rush that comes from feeling justified and indignant, and I never had to face his anger.  Well, at least that’s how I thought it worked.

Actually, the negative thoughts, like weeds, began to take over and warp my view of reality. I began to think my husband was the biggest villain of all time, and I was his poor pitiful victim—strapped to the railroad tracks and all! This approach not only made my anger grow, but also my defensiveness, since I couldn’t imagine that my bad attitude had anything to do with me!

When I look back on it now, I’m embarrassed to admit that I believed that all that garbage could remain underground.  Eventually, the weeds of my mind made me an angry, bitter woman who could get ticked off by the slightest provocation. It was at that point, that I went down that path of “fighting fire with fire,” (Marriage Mistake # 4) another ridiculous strategy.

Thankfully, God intervened in my madness. He convicted me that my negative thoughts were not benign little contemplations that I could pull out and play with like evil Lincoln Logs.  So I began to train myself to notice when those delicious, but very destructive, thoughts wanted to surface. And in those moments, I made a choice to focus on the positive.

Almost immediately I felt a difference. I didn’t feel as angry or irritated. And there was an added bonus for my husband, who didn’t feel as defensive or rejected.  With consistency and time, I knew I had found an important strategy that clearly improved the love and positive feelings within my marriage. Now, every once in a while I notice that I’ve let one slide under the radar undetected, but believe me, it doesn’t stay alive long.  I “Round-Up” that thought and aim to kill!

So, what’s on your mind?

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)