Moods are symptoms. Don’t just react. Look under the surface and connect with the other person to solve or even prevent an outburst, tantrum, or other negative behavior.

I talked about this in a previous post, “Pain Is the Root Of Anger, and Why You Should Care” but today I’d like to amplify that by sharing the following post by Rebecca Thompson, M.S., MFT.

Her blog is about parenting, and this post of hers in particular reminded me of when my son was a toddler and he would routinely become annoying, fussy, and troublesome when he was tired. It was an irritating distraction for work-at-home parents. Of course the instantaneous reactionary impulse was to be short with him, tell him to stop being that way, even yell at him. But I wanted to love and help him, not hurt him. I found that all I had to do when he started acting badly, was realize that he had been awake for hours, and then pick him up and rock him on my shoulder. He felt the loving connection and quickly fell asleep. When he awoke, he was always able to behave much better.

For older kids too big to hold or too old for naps, a hug can be just as refreshing–like rebooting a computer which has clogged up and can’t function right.

For even older people or those you aren’t so personal with, look for a way to give a verbal hug. A kind word, compliment, or some acknowledgement that you are sympathetic.

Meeting and treating on a personal root level works with a person of any age—infant, toddler, teen, adult, and elderly. It can even work with animals.

Read Rebecca’s post: An Alternative View of Tantrums and Emotional Upsets

Or visit her website by clicking this image:

 

© NPM

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Anger Comes from Pain

Why is it really important to understand anger? Because:

  • Understanding anger is the first step in dealing with your own, so that you can behave decently, and so that you are not controlled by automatic responses to other people.
  • Understanding anger gives you helpful insight when dealing with angry friends or family members.
  • Understanding anger is important in the bigger picture of society—for preventing the formation of, or responding to, masses of angry people.

Think about what anger is: Anger is an emotion, a very intense feeling which summons your attention and energy; it is your subconscious talking to your consciousness while it rallies your body for what it expects your response will be. But if you have this detached perspective, then you are not bound to act as your feelings seem to tell you to act.

Emotions exist to serve us. They say, “Hey Master, here’s something you should pay attention to. Don’t you want to do something about this?” That’s true for happiness, sadness, love, anger, or any emotion. “Hey Master, there’s a good-looking person, don’t you want to make contact?” “Hey Master, there’s a fun game. Don’t you want to play it?” “Hey Master, this food tastes great. Don’t you want to grab another helping?” “Hey Master, notice how great if feels when you receive a compliment. Don’t you want to do that again?” “Hey Master, you’ve tried this already. Don’t you want to give up?” “Hey Master, that person stepped on your toe, causing you a lot of pain, and she didn’t even notice. Don’t you need to kick her so she doesn’t hurt you again?”

But we are to be the masters of our bodies, not leave emotions in control. The first part, “Hey Master, notice this,” is rather automatic. The second part, the “Don’t you want to___,” is trainable. Untrained, we tend to be selfish and superficial. We grab what’s fun and strike back when hurt. But we can train ourselves to look beyond the surface before responding, and to be kind when hurt.

What does it mean to be “kind when hurt”? Apologizing for existing because someone bumped into you, is not being kind. Being kind is taking note of your anger and telling it, “Okay, I got your message, now go back to work. I’ll handle this.” Then you look for more information about who hurt you and why, consider their point of view as best as you can see it, and offer some response which might actually help the other person to feel better—even if such a response has nothing at all to do with what they did to you.

Here’s the natural, untrained, emotionally reactive cycle of anger:

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Person A has a problem which generates an angry feeling, and so lets those feelings explode on whomever is handy. Person B, feeling the pain of being unjustly blamed (exaggerated by feared future consequences), yells back about the injustice they feel. Person A, being far from calm enough to admit an error, gets even angrier from the pain of being accused of unjustly yelling. Person B, feeling the pain of being in a hopelessly negative situation, yells about how absurd person A is acting. Person A not only continues to defend his or her self, but also feels additionally pained/angry because Person B has not seemed to care about the original problem.

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But when a wise person gets unjustly yelled at, the thought patterns goes something like this:

“That person is angry and it’s not my fault, which means they are dealing with something more painfully difficult than their level of strength or wisdom at this moment. They are not an absurd person normally; they are only acting on emotions right now, so there is no point in responding directly to their absurdness. I’m going to look for ways to reduce their stress, and try to figure out the real source of their pain so that I can find a solution for their problem. Then their mood will return to normal.”

When you realize that an angry person is actually a person who is in some sort of pain, you can shut off your retaliation instinct and proceed with empathy, love, patience, and possibly assistance.

Acknowledge to yourself your own anger, but shut it down by working to alleviate or eliminate the underlying pain. And if that underlying pain is someone’s unjust anger vented on you, work to alleviate or eliminate THEIR underlying pain, and everyone’s anger will vanish.

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Further reading: Here is an article on the value of seeing people’s offensive actions as stemming from ignorance and poor assumptions rather than maliciousness, thus allowing yourself to avoid reacting angrily: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2009/10/falkenblog-epictetus-the-life-coach/

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© 2014 Noname Porter-McShirley

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Is there a bit too much of you after all those holiday dinners?

You can give “yourself” away on EVERY ordinary day.

Giving away your food, or the time you would spend preparing food and eating, reduces your intake which over time will reduce your size. This can be done within your ordinary routine—there’s no need to join a club or charity or diet. You can even give to yourself!

When you give something up, you won’t feel deprived if you focus on the joy of sharing and seeing someone else enjoy what you’ve just given (or the joy of giving yourself something unusual and fun).

Your kind act should give you an emotional boost to counter any lingering hunger. If you need extra help, take a deep breath stretching yourself tall while pulling your tommy in, and tell yourself, “I’m getting thinner.” Then go on to your next chore with a cheerful mood.

Here are some examples:

  1. If you are making yourself a snack when your spouse or friend walks in the room, give your food to him/her, or at least half of it. (This may or may not work with kids, as they might not like the kind of food you fixed for yourself.)
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  2. When making breakfast or lunch for your kids, don’t make any for yourself–just eat the scraps or their left-overs. Give the extra time saved to your kids instead, in the form of your attention while they’re eating.
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  3. When you usually eat with family, but find yourself alone for dinner, either skip dinner alltogether or have something quick and light like popcorn or a piece of toast, and give yourself the meal time for something special instead (like a long bath, or reading a book you’ve been wanting to get to, or cleaning the closet, calling a relative or far-away friend, writing that book you’ve been dreaming about, or any other thing you don’t usually have time for).
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  4. Taking lunch to work? Watch for a homeless person and if you see one, then give away your lunch and go without that day. (You’re more likely to see a hungry person if you are looking for one.)
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  5. Taking lunch to work, idea #2: Share it with someone who has less quantity or less quality in their lunch bag.
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  6. At home OR at work, when you’re thinking of getting something for yourself to eat, look around on your way to the food for little chores that need doing, and do them (an hour or two may pass before you get to the fridge, and by then it might actually be meal time). You’ll feel happier because you were productive rather than wasteful/waist-full.
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  7. When you’re thinking of getting something for yourself to eat, idea #2: Ask someone nearby if there is anything you can do to help them right now. (This gives you a break from your own activities, and gives you an energy boost from being surprisingly & kindly helpful, while keeping you too busy to eat.)
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  8. Planning on buying your lunch? Give that money to something later by putting it in another pocket, telling yourself it will buy XYZ (or it will go with tomorrow’s lunch money for XYZ if XYZ costs more). Make sure XYZ is something you’ll feel good about, like a present for a child or spouse, lunch out with your mom, or something you could really use that you’ve been putting off buying.
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You can probably find more ways to give yourself thin, if you get started and keep looking. You’ll become happier, and so will those around you!

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© NPM

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Holiday gatherings, and the month of dread which comes beforehand, are some of the most frustrating and depressing times for many people. These are supposed to be celebrations and reunions, but one of the biggest contributing factors which makes these events problems, is that so many people are measuring themselves and others with the wrong measuring sticks.

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Tradition is to compare and judge others’ lives against one’s own life, based primarily and superficially on physical accomplishments, because these are the easiest things to put into words and are most similar across humanity in western cultural terms.

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Examples: awards and educational degrees earned; prestige or money from jobs and number of promotions; home size, toys, and cars; money spent on gifts; kids and their growth, involvements or accomplishments; fun activities and places visited; number or class of friends; club memberships; books read or written; childhood dreams realized; etc.

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But you can HAPPILY look like a failure by all of those standards, IF you have gained (or know you are gaining) understanding of humanity and of God, your reason for existing, and what will outlast the fleeting years at hand. For if understanding a good chunk of those things is what you pour your time and resources into, you can feel confident in your abilities to be an honest benefit to fellow humans and to the entire universe.

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Communicating a meaningful measurement of your life is often hard, because there’s so much value in the fleeting moments which are like little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and just as hard to remember or explain their context.

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Examples: the times you made someone smile, were kind to a clerk, gave a hug, answered someone’s nagging question, realized the answer to your own questions, forgave someone, lovingly sacrificed your own desires for someone else’s good. The times God’s Spirit embodied you and shined through to lighten and enlighten the world with love.

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So gather with grace, confidence, compassion and love for everyone, wherever they measure up at the moment–or think they measure up–on any yardstick. Hope for meaningful progress.

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Happy holidays!

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© NPM

When “all options are on the table,” it is too easy to settle for the wrong option, thinking it’s the only viable or fast enough way.

When the wrong options are removed from the choices you make available to yourself, and the remaining selection isn’t appealing, you are forced to try to discover new options and good ways to enact the best option found.

Ozma of Oz would never have discovered a way to turn the evil spirits into agreeable spirits, if she had accepted the much-offered option of defensive fighting. Because she ruled out that response as not being an option, then she and her friends had time to notice not only a better solution, but one which might actually succeed; and then having chosen a good option, they were committed enough to give a needed nudge in the right place to make it work.

Think you can justify yourself in saying “all options are on the table” in order to surprise your enemies with your selected option? Never mind. Either you are willing to do anything to meet your goals, or else you are lying; and if you aren’t the type to choose wrong, then your opponent will know what is not really “on your table” anyway. You’ll have to do better than that to be surprising.

Don’t be lazy. Cast away wrong options for meeting your goals; then if you can’t find anything left, reconsider your goals and be patiently watchful for new options to arise.

© NPM

To see my books in print, please visit  www.Amazon.com  or www.BarnesAndNoble.com  OR visit my publisher’s website: www.rifll.com

 

You can say you are walking up a mountain, and if you sometimes (or oft-times) stumble, your statement is still truth—if it is your intention to walk up the mountain, and if you are applying yourself to it with what ability you have, because you are in fact taking steps toward the top (even if progress is slow). Likewise, if you say you love someone, and sometimes show it but also sometimes mistreat them, your love can be true—if that’s the best you know how to do. But if you have a hiking partner and you intentionally trip repeatedly in order to trick that partner into carrying you, all the while saying that you love them, selfishness and meanness is the reality you are creating; your statement of love is not truth, is not reality.

How would we like it if God said that He loved us, inviting us to heaven, only to laugh upon our arrival saying “Just kidding; get out!”? But that’s sometimes how people treat people—stating love, but not fulfilling the statements; not making love real.

It’s easy sometimes to be lazy, choosing what amuses or comforts ourselves, rather than what is honestly good for everyone. The seeds of love might be in our hearts, but might never have a chance to blossom if we water and eat the fruit of selfishness instead. 

Helpful perspectives:  
1)  Every act that is truly good for others, is also an act of love toward oneself, because true acts of love and kindness benefit everyone in the long run. Selfishness is mediocre because it seems good from one perspective–our own–but is not good for everyone. We all receive better, when we’re willing to give up mediocre.

2)  Why stop at wishing for, or day-dreaming of living in loveliness? We each ensure the presence of goodness when we are the embodiment of it (when we choose continually to let it embody us). And if goodness/loveliness is present, we can all enjoy it and feed off of it.

We need to make real what we really want to be.

Be a blessing.

It’s easier to hand God one’s reins in order to be restrained from selfishness, when one focuses one’s heart and mind’s eye on the benefits—the benefits to others and to oneself.

© 2012 NPM

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God designed work and rest. Sometimes He set the intervals. Day and night. Summer and Winter. Six days of work and a Sabbath. Six years of cultivation and harvest, and the seventh year a Sabbath for the land (which some modern farmers have found so beneficial that they rotate their plots, always having one at rest). Sometimes God devised or allowed exceptions. There is no winter of rest around the Equator. Slaves, prisoners, and the persecuted were not always allowed a Sabbath of rest. Since Christ, we are freed from strict rules, as were made for the childhood of humanity; we are to understand, value, and aim for what the laws were supposed to accomplish, and we are saved even when we fall short.

For years I thought that at least some of the reasons for resting the seventh day, was for the Jews to gather for listening to God’s word (as they did not each have their own Bible), to exercise their trust in God to provide for them even if they did not work non-stop, to set the Jews apart from the rest of the world in an outward way, and to remind the Jews themselves (as well as the world) that God’s people were no longer slaves—that God was better to them than their old earthly masters.  I thought that if God was in my heart and thoughts every day, if I read His word frequently, and lived my life for His glory (sharing Him with others, directly or indirectly), that I didn’t have to follow the strict 6-1 schedule. I didn’t need to put one day aside for God, if every day was for God.

I still believe that. But however flexible God is, and our bodies are, there remains the rule of alternating work with rest. It’s part of the earthly human existence God put us in. It has reasons and value, which we should appreciate and respect.

Some people may be built to go all their lives on two-thirds as much sleep as other people, but each better get the rest he or she needs. When there are unusual circumstances or people who need our help, we may be able to go for weeks on a fraction of the sleep we usually need, but eventually we will stop functioning well and even collapse without enough rest. We can break down emotionally or physically—even spiritually if we allow the strain to lead us astray. Jesus didn’t take much rest during His ministry, but then He only had to go at it for about three years before He was done with His physical body.

I really extended myself all this Summer, for the sake of others directly, and for the sake of projects intended in the long run to be mostly for the sake of others.  I thought that God was my strength, and He was. I didn’t succumb or stray emotionally or spiritually under the strain, and my body lasted the summer. But then I had a month of physical trouble—a month of rest and refurbishing before I could work again. A Summer on, and month off. It’s like a week on and a day off, but on a different scale. I never would have been able to serve the people who desperately needed my love and help, if I’d stuck to observing Sabbaths for only rest and worship. But what I’ve learned is to have more respect for God’s design, and to look for when I should accept rest, rather than expecting to be “on” for the whole of my life. If I’d taken rest just a bit sooner, I could have prevented my physical crumbling. And on top of that, if I plan in regular rest, I’ll be stronger the next time I’m called upon to work a very long stretch.

I’ve learned to accept that “everything” will never be done, and I’ll make myself sick trying (giving me even less time to get “everything” done), so I’m better off taking time to rest rather than being made to take time being sick. The tricky part is knowing what doesn’t have to be done. I’ve learned to trust that God can help me get enough done, without doing all the time. I’ve long known that choices, balance, and respect were keys, but now experience has in one more way made them a reality in me. I’ve felt consequences of over-tiredness before, but sometimes we humans don’t “get it” the first time around.

I have to take care of the dearest tool God has given me to work with—my body. God knows there is only so many hours in each day, and days in our lives; so He knows what we can and can’t accomplish. We just have to not be too busy to hear His guidance on how to make the best of our time.

Someone who knows me may read this and think, “I knew she was trying to do too much; I told her to rest.” But it’s not a matter of how much I’m trying to accomplish, it’s a matter of how. Working fast when I work is fine, if I can think fast or feel guided. Working on a short night’s sleep is fine, when necessary. But what’s new for me is accepting that I can’t always cut sleep to make things work. There has to be another way, most of the time. There has to be something else to cut, or smarter ways to get things done in the given time. I have to look for those solutions, because I have to respect that God wants me to rest. Rest is a piece of God’s puzzle, and if I accept that piece as non-counterfeit, then I can search for what fits with it, until my life works. I can still amaze everyone with what all I accomplish, because God is my guide and my strength, and He is amazing.

Some people hand out advice which sounds rash to me, like ditching your spouse if he or she seems to be holding you back. I believe more often we need to look for more creative and gradual solutions. You may not feel you can commit to eight or nine hours of sleep, and let everything else work out around that. What you can do, is work toward the rest that you need, as quickly as possible, with trust that there is a way to have a balance appropriate and good for your particular body and spirit. If this post is another nudge to you, that you know you need more rest, aim for it, seriously. You can work better with a full battery, and be happier in the processes. Trust God that it is possible.

© 2011 NPM

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Decide how you WANT to feel, and ACT as if it were real.
Pretend that you don’t feel like smashing, hitting, yelling, crying yourself to sleep.
Give a hug, a kind word, a calm response; start a good topic.
Watch your mood really change, your heart soften, your self lighten, the air clear.
Watch those around you melt a little too; they may even apologize.
If they don’t, at least they may slowly follow your lead in peaceful positive directions.
And if not even that, then you’ll feel better for not joining them in hurtful behavior.
But hope for the best – act as if you expect them to join you in positivity; make space for them.
Everyone feels like fighting when pushed; so back off, offer a little metaphorical milk, and most folks will put their claws away.
Life will seem brighter and more lovely when you practice love.
Just like anyone determined to learn a skill, you’ll make mistakes; but keep practicing acts of kindness until you become kind.
For even faster and truer results, consult and seek love and guidance from the creator and source of love – God Himself.

Now, what’s your next move, your next word? Make it a good one, and enjoy the results.

© NPM

SEE ALSO:
Problems Shrink When We Outgrow Them, p.45**
Taming Impulses, p.50**
Every Detail Matters, p.52**
Taking His Hand, p.49**
Intervening, p.55**
A Prayer in Advance, p.61**
Expecting the Surprise Attack, p62**
He Works Every Day, p.67**
After the Rain, p.4**

**(from my book,
“Pebbles, Blisters, and Handfuls of Sunlight”
Also available from your favorite online bookstore.)

Pebbles, Blisters, and Handfuls of Sunlight. ISBN: 9781935710004

Pebbles, Blisters, and Handfuls of Sunlight: Treasures of a Traveling Teenager