Posts Tagged ‘anger’

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

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

A Few Words About Forgiveness

November 19, 2015

I often write about forgiveness, so I’ll make this brief. Here is the thing: forgiveness is not for the person who offended, it is for the person who was hurt.

Today, I facilitated a workshop on recovering from betrayal and hurt. One of the main comments I heard was that people equate forgiveness with letting the other person get away with hurting them. This belief is a sure way to stay miserable!

Here is what forgiveness is NOT….

Forgiveness is not an emotion…it is a choice of will. And it is a wise choice for us to make because it frees us from reliving the past over and over again. Refusing to forgive gives power to our pain and eventually, it will weigh us down. We will become victims rather than victors.

Forgiveness is not about saying the words but still acting as if they were not said. When we allow our egos to get in the way, we subtly (or not so subtly)constantly remind everyone of how we were damaged. We are essentially giving  lip service to forgiveness, but we aren’t releasing the toxins of anger that will eventually eat us alive.

Forgiveness is not based on another person’s behavior. No matter what anyone else does, you must own your reaction.

Forgiveness is not allowing yourself to be abused or hurt again. It does not mean we continue being a victim.

Forgiveness is not excusing what someone did….it is refusing to allow their actions to destroy your heart and steal your joy.

Here is what forgiveness IS:

Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to let go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries. In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget hurtful acts that have been committed against us. The phrase “Forgive and Forget” is really unrealistic. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. But although we can’t forget what someone has done to us, we can try to live as if we don’t remember it.

Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and finding that the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a clog remover. It allows the healing process to begin.

Holding onto anger and holding out for revenge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die! It has been said that forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others are just two currents in the same river, both hindered and cut off completely by the dam of resentment. Once the dam is lifted, both currents can flow.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker 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