Comparison is the thief of joy~
Do you often feel drawn to helping people? Does it give you satisfaction to please others?
Do you help even when it's at the expense of yourself or deprives you of sleep, energy, or self care?
Where do you find yourself on your own list of priorities?
You may have difficulty figuring out when helping or pleasing people is not in your best interest.
Here are some ways to help you decide~
You can tell if your helping or people pleasing is not healthy by answering the following questions:
-Are you doing things for another that they should be doing for themselves? (i.e. doing homework for your child, or calling in sick for your son who spent the night partying and is sleeping if off)
-Does helping make you feel resentful, drained, or cranky?
-Do you automatically say yes to requests before taking a moment to think them through?
-Does "helping" regularly create barriers related to what you want/need?
-Do you help or please others out of a need for approval, being liked, or gaining attention?
-Are you a chameleon-changing your behavior, thoughts and statements to be in sync with the other?
-Do you frequently put your own needs aside to please another?
-Do you often do things that make you uncomfortable because you don't want to upset the other or make them not like you?
You can probably see where this is going!
Remember~ helping is doing what's helpful for the other person, not what you think is helpful.
Lastly, if you happen across a help-rejecting complainer, RUN. These are folks who complain incessantly but will do nothing to change their situation. They aren't interested in feedback or suggestions. Let them be.
I should be more patient. I should always do my best at anything I spend time on. My partner should listen to me. The kids should do their chores without complaining.
Maybe you've heard yourself say something similar. "Should" has a tightness to it- a rigidity. Notice how your body responds to a should. Close your eyes and tune into your body when you use the word. Holding ourselves and others to absolute standards, all the time, without any flexibility can be draining. What would happen if you upgraded your shoulds to preferences?
I'd prefer my partner listen to me. I'd like to be more patient. I aspire to do my best in all that I take on. Do you notice a shift? A loosening? Rather than demanding that you or others behave in prescribed ways, preferring can actually create more space to allow that which you'd like to happen to show up. Allowing can be far more powerful and less energy intensive than forcing.
Anger is a natural response that tells us something is amiss. Only out-of-control anger becomes destructive and problematic. The goal is not to avoid anger but to process and express it constructively.
When we react immediately to anger without thinking or calming down we've allowed our emotional brain to hijack our thinking brain. Aggressive reactions become more likely at this point which rarely serves us.
Imagine that your take-out order arrives late, is incomplete, and the driver has no change.
You're frustrated. Acting from your knee jerk response, you might work yourself up to verbal or even physical aggression.
It's important to recognize that anger is considered a secondary emotion, meaning there is almost always another emotion hiding underneath. Often fear, disappointment, hurt , or frustration lie below. If being ignored, passed over, or forgotten triggers hurt you may well feel angry. If you're thwarted from achieving something you want there could be fear or disappointment lurking below. Commonly, feelings of powerlessness are at play which can be difficult to tolerate.
It can help to recognize underlying emotions, untangle the feelings, and identify the strands that make up your intense angry feelings. Many of us "prefer', whether we're conscious of it or not, to experience anger than helplessness because anger feels energizing and powerful. Helplessness and hurt can make us feel weak and insignificant. The more you know about the origins of angry feelings the better equipped you are to manage them.
There are a number of anger coping styles. What do you know about your style? Do you tend to bottle up and seethe? Do you stuff it and blow later? Do you let it rip on the spot? Do you clam up and push it down, denying yourself the knowledge that you feel angry? Do you allow yourself to calm down and identify what you find disturbing?
It's important to ask yourself if your coping style works well for you. Does it diminish conflict? Magnify it? Clear the air? Promote understanding between you and another? Surely, positive results would indicate that your style is effective.
A major key to managing anger is to learn to shift from reacting to responding.This can be difficult and require practice. Reacting is like going from 0-60 in seconds. Sometimes it FEELS like that's our only option but the truth is that it works something like this-an event occurs, thoughts happen, there is a physical reaction, and a behavioral reaction.
Event happens - Boss smirks at you.
Thought follows - What did I do? Is she mad? What’s her problem?? What a bitch!
Bodily Reaction- Tension, shallow breathing, adrenaline is released, breathing rate and heartbeat increase, blood pressure goes up.
Possible Reactions- Walking away, ignoring it, stuffing feelings, shooting back a comment, yelling, striking something, slamming around, pausing to take a breath and tell yourself it's not necessarily related you.
You may wonder- what's wrong with reactive solutions? They tend to feed anger's fire and limit available solutions.
Also they inhibit clear and rational reasoning and negatively impact memory.
Commonly suggested solutions like punching a pillow or throwing eggs in the woods are now thought to intensify rather than calm anger. Letting it all hang out is not only ineffective, it can be dangerous, fueling additional anger.
While reacting aggressively isn't desirable, we also want to avoid a passive response- stuffing it down or ignoring it. Denied and unrecognized anger often pops up where we least expect it.
What we want to do is to respond rather than react. Consciously acknowledging anger and deciding upon a strategy for coping with it are empowering. Taking a moment to breathe, giving your emotional (reptilian) brain a break and allowing your "executive functioning" brain an opportunity to kick in, and giving yourself a moment to decide how to handle the situation are all essential steps for responding.
We ask ourselves -what just happened? What got triggered? What pushed my buttons? What other feelings are at play? What options do I have for responding rather than reacting?
Many couples whether married, cohabitating, dating, gay or straight come to therapy secretly (or not so secretly!) hoping that the therapist will get their partner to change or to "see the light".Unfortunately that focus tends to yield the worst results. None of us has the power to change another. Our power lies within changing ourselves. What we each as spouses or partners need to be thinking about is "What do I need to do to become a better partner? What areas do I unwittingly contribute to the problems in my relationship? What parts of MYSELF need to be strengthened in order to improve my relationship?"
Geesh(!!) you might be thinking. What good will THAT do? Quite a bit actually. If you're willing to take a look at yourself you stand a much higher probability of getting the most out of couples counseling, significantly shortening your stay in therapy, and enhancing your level of satisfaction in the relationship.
Couples have numerous patterns interwoven in their interactions. Many are at a subconscious level, others are quite obvious. Perhaps in arguments you pursue and want quick resolution and your partner tends to withdraw, get quiet, or shut down. You may ask repeatedly (read nag) for something to be done and your partner digs in her heels. One of you may be thrifty with money and your partner a free spender. The list goes on. Patterns are not necessarily negative but the ones that cause you dissatisfaction certainly get your attention. When you change your part in the dance (interaction pattern) your partner often tends to shift somewhat as well.
Would I suggest you change your pattern in order to get your partner to behave differently? No. The value of changing your piece in the dynamic may impact your spouse but it will definitely impact you-often in the form of increased self respect, greater calm, and self focus that allows you to experience your well being from inside. It can be very disempowering and frustrating, not to mention unproductive, to base our well being on someone else's moods, behaviors, words or opinions.
So consider turning inward, reflecting on your own issues and begin to answer the question, "What can I do to improve my relationship right now?"
Are you ever criticized in a manipulative way? You know, your spouse or partner ways "You're so selfish, you never want to do what I ask!" Or your parent says, "Why can't you be more like your sister! SHE always comes to visit me". The upshot is your loved one is trying to get you to behave differently. Of course you always have the option of deciding to go along with their request-except that it's really not a request but a tactic to make you feel guilted into doing what they ask. What to do?
Try fogging them. Fogging, you say? Fogging is an assertiveness technique where you agree with the kernel of truth in what the other says without buying into the whole "argument" or changing your behavior. When you agree with the piece of the statement that you DO believe is true it tends to take the wind out of the sails of the criticizer. TBC.....
Hatred corrodes the vessel in which it's stored.
We all get caught in negative thinking that brings us down. Would you like a simple way to reduce the amount of self defeating thinking that creates the urge to beat up on yourself? The ABC method is a component of Cognitive Therapy that highlights how our thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives (our cognitions) impact our feelings. Here is how it works-
-Activating event (the incident that I wish hadn’t happened)
Example-I took a wrong turn traveling to a meeting and was late.
-Belief about the event (what I tell myself about it)
Example-I'm an idiot who NEVER gets it right! Only losers make stupid mistakes.
-Consequence of that belief (feeling that results from my belief)
Example-I feel ashamed, stupid, depressed, sad, etc.
-It is the thought or belief about the event that causes my upset, not the event itself.
-Circumstances don’t cause my upset, what I tell myself or believe about them is what upsets me.
-I can alter my thoughts; therefore, I can change my feelings.
Turning it around- Based on the same thought thread above, see how changing your self talk can shift your feelings.
-Activating event- I made a mistake.
-Belief about the event-I’d prefer not to make mistakes, but everyone does so I'll cut myself some slack.
-Consequence-I feel disappointed but my self-esteem is intact.
If you'd like to practice, you can use the questions below as a guide to keep you on track-
Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning, said that in between each urge (stimulus) and its response is a space. It is that space wherein your power and freedom lie.
If for example, you find yourself reacting angrily and snapping harshly at your child when she grabs for candy at the supermarket checkout and you've tried to respond differently, pay attention to the small space between her action and your response. It is within THAT moment, that the choice to do it differently presents itself. Each time you even notice that space you've contributed to the eventual change in the pattern that makes you feel regretful.