Archive for the ‘anger’ Category

Is Nastiness the New Normal?

June 15, 2017

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the trend of “Global Snarking.” It seems as if mean spirited rhetoric and behavior are becoming more and more acceptable in many settings. While it is certainly true that there are plenty of reasons to be upset and troubled by what is going on in the world, I fear that vitriolic words and negative attitudes shared freely by angry and frustrated people are exacerbating the problem.

We are all being affected by things over which we have no control and that is scary and frustrating. But to allow those emotions to define us and to use them as weapons is not the answer. We all have heard of the “ripples in a pond” theory. One unkind word or act can affect more than just the intended target of the negativity. It can spread like a disease.

I understand crankiness. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. This week it is going to be 121 degrees. It is so hot that even roadrunners are taking the bus rather than to be outside for more than 3 minutes. That kind of heat makes people cranky. But what we are experiencing in social media, newsfeeds, etc. is more than hot crankiness. People are writing and saying things that can hurt and inspire hatred and it seems as if society is becoming more tolerant of it. We are finding ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones. Nastiness is becoming the new normal.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Resist the temptation to participate in vitriolic conversation. You can feel passion for a cause without spewing negative word vomit! Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes horrific events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

 

Reject the notion that it is OK to blame, shame, or bully.

Don’t forget joy! It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing pain. Joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness.

Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more mean spirited talk and actions. It causes us to become blinded to possibilities. Being kind is not the same as being weak. We have seen what hatred can do and it’s not working very well for us.

 

Linda Henley-Smith  http://www.lindahenley-smith.com  laughlady1950@gmail.com

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Is Kindness Being Kicked to the Curb?

February 3, 2017

Okay….so the world seems to be in an uproar. People are getting nastier. Conversations about life’s joys have given away to social and political arguments. You don’t like what you see going on. You are afraid. You are coming into contact with more and more people who are hostile toward anyone who does not share their opinion. You have three ways to deal with the situation:

  1. You can lose all hope, ring your hands while crying “Oh woe is me!” and join the prestigious yet highly overrated Victim Club. (Not a good idea.)
  2. You can let your anger grow to a fever pitch and allow it to define who you are. If you lose all of your rational thinking abilities and scream at people who make you angry, you can feel justified in your rage while accomplishing nothing. You can also let your life be dictated by the actions of others, and develop anger-induced vein bulges…those are attractive. (Nope…not this one either.)
  3. You can take a stand for a cause in which you believe… without being a troll. When people are nasty, don’t jump right into the bubbling cauldron of snarkiness with them because all that will accomplish is an overcrowded snark pot! Try to let your voice be heard on a higher level, speak up for your beliefs, and lighten up your corner of the world by spreading kindness; even to those who don’t really seem to deserve it. (Choose this one!)

Here is the deal: there are some things over which we have control and others about which we can do nothing. We CAN’T always make others think the way we do. We CAN take a stand against bullying, injustice, abuse, discrimination, and unkindness. We CAN control our attitudes and actions and we can do more to create positive change by staying focused on it rather than just spewing angry rhetoric. In a war of angry words, nobody hears each other.

Does this mean that if there is a mean spirited action or injustice being perpetrated, we should just smile and sing Kumbaya? No, it is about being smart with our thoughts and actions and it’s about being focused and taking positive action with a plan. Of course we should stand for what is right, but while we are fighting against what is wrong, we can’t lose sight of the importance of expressing kindness and respect in our everyday lives, lest we become so embroiled in negativity that we lose sight of the goodness in the world. Along with fighting what is harmful, dangerous, and unjust, we must, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

There are those who will say that this is no time to laugh, express joy, or be kind. I have been told that I am being childish and/or ineffective by refusing to be drawn into negative screaming matches or angry social media posts. I’ve also been told that by showing respect and kindness to people with whom I disagree, I appear weak and risk becoming a doormat. Hmmm. I have looked at myself in the mirror and can’t find the word WELCOME stamped anywhere on my body. I believe that there is strength in standing up for what is right without becoming rabid! And I will always believe that kindness is a part of humanity that must be preserved. Showing compassion to someone does not mean that you necessarily agree with their views or lifestyle. It simply means that you respect another person’s right to exist on this planet.

Being kind does not make you weak, finding joy in life does not mean that you don’t care about what’s going on in the world, and focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that you are sticking your head in the sand. We are stronger when we are balanced in mind, body, and spirit. Let your anger at inequities and injustices impel you to work toward making things better. Let your compassion, hope, joy, and kindness be your weapons in the battle.

I offer one-on-one and group coaching. Check out http://www.lindahenley-smith.com or e-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com

JOYISNOWHERE

December 7, 2016

Ahhhh….the Holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year….or is it? For some, December brings parties, decorations, carol singing and visions of sugar plums. For others, it is a stressful and sometimes lonely time and the fa la las remind them of what is wrong in their lives; what they had and lost or never had at all.

Some people become cranky around this time of year and may walk around with an expression that makes you wonder if their pants are in a bunch. As those who know me have heard me say, you don’t want your pants in a bunch because it does no good and just makes you walk funny. Besides, there are certain places that are not meant to be flossed…and the pant area is one of them!

It’s important not to judge people who seem to have lost their sense of joy, because they are probably in a sad and scary place in their lives. Joy has left the building and left a big empty spot that has been filled by misery or fear or anger or another emotional troll.

Joy is not as elusive as some might think and it’s not the same as happiness.   Happiness often depends on an outside source to make it happen, whereas joy comes from within.  Joy abides with us even in times of trouble because it thrives on hope and if we keep hope alive, joy will remain even when other things fall away.

Joy is rather indescribable; it is a peace that passes all understanding. It doesn’t depend on a perfect life, wealth, success, or any of the things we have been led to believe are necessary in order to be a joyful person. Joy can be nurtured by choosing to have an attitude of gratitude and by moving away from your own disappointments, grief, and fears in order to extend kindness and help to others who may be in need.

Joy can be found in the beauty of nature, in hope for a better tomorrow, and in the face of a child. It grows stronger with each small victory over fear and when shared with someone else, it is the gift that keeps on giving! Joy is a spark inside of you that can light up the world!

The thing about joy is that you have to be on the lookout for it and invite it in. Some will choose to read JOYISNOWHERE as joy is nowhere. Hopefully, many will read it as joy is now here! If you meet someone who seems to have lost track of their joy, I hope you will give them some of yours.

I wish you all a Merry and JOYFUL Holiday Season! If you open yourself up to it, joy is NOW Here!

 

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

Why Would You Want to Have Your Pants in a Bunch?

January 13, 2016

It seems that there is an abundance of negativity floating around these days! You hear people being snarky to one another and there are some who seem to treat complaining as an Olympic sport! They practice it daily and work to hone their negativity to gold medal perfection. Sometimes it even becomes a blaming and whining competition. People seem to be reveling in speaking their minds, with no filters…no matter who they hurt!

Recently, while sitting in an airport, I was struck by the conversations I was hearing all around me. I began to become aware of the number of negative words that were falling out of people’s mouths! Whether on the phone or in face to face conversations, there seemed to be a lot of toxic energy flowing. There was a lot of talk about stress and people explaining why their lives were not satisfactory. I even saw a really angry man pounding on the desk and screaming that the airline attendant behind it was messing up the week for everyone. Hmmm….he was crediting her with a lot of power to be able to ruin everyone’s entire week! My first thought was that she looked too small and quiet to be able to pull that off!

It started me wondering why we often choose negativity over being positive. It IS a choice, you know. We all have to decide how we are going to deal with whatever comes our way. You can be upset or disagree with a situation without spewing venom, so why do some opt for being negative? Does it make them feel better? There has to be some gratification derived from nurturing toxicity, or they wouldn’t wallow in it. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Negativity could be a result of feelings of frustration, jealousy or a sense of inferiority. If a person has low self-esteem, putting down or blaming someone else is a convoluted way of boosting his or her sagging ego.
  • Being cynical makes some people feel special and even “cool.” Think of the high school kid who was the smart aleck and complained that all the teachers were against him.
  • Some people just like drama! They either think it is entertaining or they like being the star of their own soap opera! If they can gather a receptive audience, they will perform.
  • Sometimes, a negative attitude can serve as an excuse for not participating in something that causes a person to face the possibility of failure.
  • Fear is one of the main factors behind a negative outlook. Some people become like animals who lash out when they feel threatened. Negativity can mask our fears and act as a camouflage when we think we’re going to be put on the spot. If we lay the blame on someone or something else, we can divert attention away from our own accountability.
  • Some use negative talk and action to create fear in others; possibly to gain a sense of control.

Most importantly, is the fact that many people just aren’t aware of the negativity they are exuding. They may attract other negative thinkers, but most other humans will run like ants from an ant hill when they see someone wearing the cloak of despair. As a matter of fact, I am learning that the best way to react to someone who has their pants in a bunch, is to just walk away.

I think it would benefit each one of us to regularly assess our attitudes and make sure that we are not carriers of doom, gloom, anger and angst! Negativity sucks the energy out of the air. You can’t fix anyone else’s attitude, but you can sure adjust your own! Don’t choose negativity because even if you get the results you want for a while…it will turn and bite you in your bunched up pants!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, author and coach. Check out her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

How Do You Re-Stuff a Bean Bag Chair?

October 6, 2015

A few years ago, I decided to relive my days of yore and I bought a couple of bean bag chairs. As you know, they are stuffed with those tiny little squishy Styrofoam balls that stick to everything if they escape from the zippered lining. If they ever get out, it’s impossible to round them all up and herd them back to where they belong. The slightest breeze carries them into corners and they become like little magnets, attaching themselves to skin, hair, clothes and any animals that happen to be within a mile!

The point is, if they get loose, there is no hope of collecting them all because they are carried to parts unknown. You can never re-stuff a bean bag chair and restore it to its original condition.

I recently facilitated a relationship workshop in which we were discussing what happens when you say snarky things and hurt someone. Many people suggested that you just apologize and all is well. Others brought up the point that apologies don’t always make all of the hurt go away because angry words can sting and their impact isn’t easily forgotten. Some in that workshop said that they are still affected by things that were said to them years ago.

That made me think about the crazy little balls in my bean bag chair and how you can chase them ‘til the cows come home, but you won’t ever get them all back. Words can be kind of like those little Styrofoam pieces. You can try to retrieve them all but some are going to stick to the person you hurt and possibly be carried for a long time. And if you gossip about someone, other people may carry those words and spread them.

You may be sorry that you ever opened that zippered chair and let  that stuffing out, but that doesn’t change the fact that you did and and the chair will never be quite the same. And you may be sorry that you let the nasty words fly out of your mouth, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone may still be carrying them around and they will never be quite the same.

We all say mean things at times and regret them soon afterwards. Of course, we apologize and hope that our words haven’t made a lasting impression on the injured party. But every person is like a piece of delicate rice paper and our words leave a permanent mark on that paper.

The message here is that we need to think before we speak unkindly. We may just throw out words in an angry fit and then be over it, but the recipient of those words may not recover so quickly and may hold onto that hurt for quite a while. So be aware of the danger in spewing angry words….and never unzip a bean bag.

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Visit her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Holding Onto Grudges Can make Your Arms Tired

September 25, 2015

The world can sometimes be an angry place.  Well, at least some of the people in the world seem to be angrier than usual.  I can actually understand that because, as a recent victim of credit card theft, I have been feeling a little cranky myself lately.  I always prefer to think that people basically want to help each other and show compassion. Sadly, some people’s milk of human kindness seems to be skim milk!

Years ago, Randy Newman wrote a song describing the confused state of a world in which people still have the core desire to help and forgive others, yet are afraid that they will lose part of themselves if they give too much, so they hold on to anger and fear. One of the verses goes like this:

“Bright before me, signs implore me to help the needy and show them the way.  Human kindness is overflowing….but I think it’s going to rain today.”

I have had to remind myself that while I might be justified in feeling ticked off in certain situations (did I mention credit card theft?) there is only one letter difference between Anger and Danger. Danger comes when anger runs amok.

There is an old movie, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” In that film, Dorian Gray was an angry, bitter man who couldn’t let go of his anger and he treated people badly.  In his attic, there was a painting of Dorian, which began taking on the manifestations of his negativity. Every time Dorian’s anger got away from him, and he hurt someone; an ugly gash or scar or horrible expression would appear on his likeness.  Dorian, himself, never changed; but his portrait became a hideous image of the monster he had become.

I think that’s what happens to us when we allow negativity, anger and an unforgiving spirit to dominate our lives. Our souls become our portraits and bear the scars of our anger. Eventually, all of that poison makes us sick and the weight of the grudges we are holding crush us.  Lest you think that it might be nice to remain young and unlined while your picture takes all of the beating; the rest of the story is that Dorian’s anger finally caught up with him and he turned into dust. Bummer.

Anger can be productive, if you are standing up for something that is important to you and it gives you the incentive to change something that needs to be changed. But that is a result of healthy and controlled anger…not the kind that stays inside and makes you into a hissy, snarky troll. So, before your anger turns into danger, try to channel that energy into something productive. Do it before you turn into dust!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who helps people find their funny bones and put things into perspective. Check out her website at  www.lindahenley-smith.com