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Anger is good when….

My last several posts have focused on anger – what it reveals about us – its good qualities and its potentially destructive impact on families and relationships when it is out of control.

Years ago, I created a handout on anger that was part of a class I was helping develop and write. The following is an edited version of that handout that helps summarize in a small way this complicated and complex emotion.

 

ANGER IS GOOD WHEN:

  • It helps us make constructive changes
  • It allows us to communicate how we feel
  • It enables us to be assertive
  • It helps us establish safe, personal boundaries
  • It gives us a sense of control versus helplessness
  • It serves to establish the rights of self and others
  • It starts the process of problem-solving
  • ANGER IS BAD WHEN:
  • It uses our energy negatively
  • It keeps us from honestly listening
  • It prevents rational thinking and discussion
  • It turns into aggression
  • It threatens and intimidates others
  • It puts us and others into a defense/attack mode

ANGER IS DESTRUCTIVE WHEN:

  • It becomes a habit
  • It becomes a quick fix to our frustrations
  • Its intensity does not fit the occasion
  • It lasts too long
  • It is used to hide other emotions and our insecurity
  • It keeps us from thinking clearly and productively

WE CHOOSE ANGER’S:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Duration
  • Direction
  • Honesty

We can replace divisiveness and anger by choosing to put our focus on working together to find solutions for our everyday conflicts. We can focus on what we have in common and use our time together in discovery and enjoying the things we like to do together. We can create a mindset where people are more important than positions and where we can use our energy to work on those things we agree on.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

It’s okay to be angry – its not okay to be aggressive

If you have known someone or lived with someone who has an anger problem, you might think there’s nothing good or redeeming about feeling angry.

Yet anger is a normal, natural emotion and has a purpose – it is part of our survival system.

Anger and aggressive behavior are not always synonymous.  You can feel angry without becoming aggressive.

We often have mixed feelings about this potentially explosive emotion.  If we think anger is bad, we won’t know what to do when we feel angry.  If we think being angry automatically leads to uncontrollable behavior, we might want to deny it or carefully hide it behind acceptable cultural masks. But it doesn’t just go away.  The thoughts associated with it need to be acknowledged and dealt with.

We have received mixed messages about anger. In the past, men, traditionally, were excused to show outward expressions of anger, while women traditionally were told it was unacceptable. Today, however, women are given cultural license to show both anger and aggressive behavior.

 

But does acting out in response to anger through aggressive behavior accomplish the goals or outcomes we want?

 

Whether you are a man or a woman, understanding your feelings of anger and how to express it appropriately is crucial.  The inability to do so can result in hostility, silent rage or passive-aggressive behavior.

 

We need to own our emotions, know what is fueling them and assert ourselves responsibly.

 

How do we distinguish between assertive behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, and aggressive behavior?

 

Anger triggers powerful body changes and like fear helps a person prepare to fight when threatened.  Anger can quickly escalate to physical aggression, abuse or destruction of property.

When anger becomes rage we see hostility.  A hostile person will explode over seemingly simple things. Responses are blown out of proportion to the event that triggered them.  Hostile language includes yelling and screaming, in your face, sarcasm, and expletive words (obscenity or profanity).  Anger spews out like acid on unsuspecting victims.  An angry, hostile person does not hear or listen rationally.

 

People who exhibit aggressive behavior

  • Talk in an aggressive tone and behave aggressively and compulsively
  • Get their needs met at the expense of other people
  • Do not respect the rights of others
  • Overinflate their own abilities, etc. to cover up insecurities
  • Feel people don’t care about them; therefore they do not need to be concerned about others

 

Passive-aggressive individuals use subtleties, manipulation and veiled hostility instead of being openly hostile.  They are difficult to be around and use subterfuge and deceptive ploys in their interactions with people.

 

Passive-aggressive individuals will typically

  • Have difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings and often “stuff” those feelings
  • Deny conflicts when they occur
  • Ignore their own needs over other people’s
  • Manipulate others to get their needs met
  • Allow others to make decisions and choices for them

An angry, hostile person does not hear or listen rationally. You can not have a rational conversation with someone who is enraged.  If you are the recipient of anger and abuse on a daily basis from a partner or spouse please seek help from a trained counselor. You will not be able to change or fix that person’s anger problem simply by being more accommodating.

Become Assertive

We think of aggressive behavior as someone who is out of control, in your face, with no interest in your feelings or concerns.  When people are assertive, of the other hand, they focus on the problem or conflict, define their position of why they think a certain way and are willing to listen to your ideas as well.

People who are assertive

  • Promote equality in relationships
  • Are able to express feelings honestly and comfortably
  • Can act in their own best interest
  • Exercise their rights while preserving the rights of others
  • Will stand up for themselves

Assertiveness is determined by what we deem is appropriate for each situation.  We are not born with this skill – it is learned.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

Has Anger become a Problem for you

Anger has enormous energy.  That energy can be a motivational force or a destructive one. When managed and expressed appropriately it helps us make important changes. When allowed to run wild, it can ruin lives – yours and others around you.

People with an ongoing, underlying anger problem will find themselves constantly stressed.  Everything is an irritation and they feel resentful and taken advantage of.  Only the things that are going wrong is noticed; the good things are blocked. As bitterness sets in, enjoyment of life disappears.

And yet anger is just an emotion.  It gives us information like all emotions.  It is neither good nor bad on its own.  Anger lets us know when we have been threatened in some way. It helps us survive, build appropriate boundaries and put in place preventive measures.

Anger can become a habit

If you find yourself constantly on the defensive, easily annoyed and quick to anger, you may want to ask yourself if there is a larger problem. Are anger and dissatisfaction your first and typical response to everyday problems? What makes you angry? When we understand our emotional responses, we are able to reframe and choose more constructive alternative ones.

It’s what we do with our anger that becomes the problem, not the anger itself. It isn’t about self-control, but rather about developing a more thoughtful and problem-solving mindset. What outcomes do I want?  Will anger accomplish that or solve my problems?

Each of us is responsible for our actions so it is important to pay attention to what our emotions are telling us.  Developing positive working relationships with others goes a long way in finding solutions. That requires active listening, understanding, and a willingness to work together.

Check it out

If you feel you might have a problem with anger, here’s a quick way to gather some data. For one week jot down every time you feel angry, annoyed or irritated. What was happening that made you feel that way? Did irritations and annoyances quickly escalate? What other ways could you have responded?

Keeping a record for a short time helps us discover patterns.  Be honest when doing this. It is for your benefit. Is there a pattern between events, your emotional responses and the thoughts you had at the time? What was going through your mind?  Our thoughts occur so rapidly we are hardly aware of them.  But they give us a clue about why we are responding like we are.

Now, go back and reflect on the positive experiences you had during that same week. What made you feel happy, contented or satisfied?  When did you laugh and feel good about yourself and others? Was there an equal amount of good times? Discovering your patterns is the first step in changing habits that are hurtful to you, replacing them with habits that provide the long-term outcomes we want.

 

If you think you have an anger problem here are some things you can do:

First, STOP

  • stop avoiding your problems
  • stop rationalizing your behavior
  • stop ignoring, stuffing or pushing your feelings away
  • stop medicating with drugs or alcohol to dull the pain of emotional conflict and accompanying fear and anxiety

Second, allow yourself to feel your emotions.  Ask yourself:

  • why do I always feel so angry?
  • What is my anger telling me?
  • What can I learn about myself in this process of understanding my emotional responses?

Third, before you immediately respond with anger to problems, ask instead:

  • What specifically is the problem I am facing? This is different than the symptoms of the problem
  • What is my part in the problem?
  • How does my response hurt or help me find solutions?
  • Wat positive problem-solving strategies can I bring to this situation to bring about a positive conclusion?

Connected to our anger we also find fear, guilt, and pain. These are usually buried.  Work through early childhood wounding to healing.  Seek out a good professional trained therapist to help uncover long-held issues that need processing.

Early childhood perceptions and interpretations can continue to shape and color our world negatively until challenged and explored. When we allow early experiences to define how we react today, we can miss out on a lot of happiness in life.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

Anger – what it reveals to us

Anger, like all our emotions, has a purpose. It helps us survive and motivates us to take action and make important changes.  It protects us when life threatens us psychologically or physically.

 

Left unchecked, however, it becomes toxic and explosive.  When we react without restraint to its powerful surge of energy, we not only inflict pain on others but ourselves.  It is up to each of us to examine the reasons associated with our anger, discover the underlying issues that perpetuate it on an ongoing basis and set up a plan to become responsible for our behaviors when angry.

 

Over my career as a teacher and therapist, I have acquired and read many books written by psychology professionals who have taken major issues, clarified their underlying causes and provided strategies for constructive and positive solutions. I share three books that I feel touched on the core of anger, why we get caught up in its passion often to the detriment of its outcome.

 

“The Dance of Anger,” is a woman’s guide to changing the patterns of intimate relationships written by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. Although written many years ago, it is timeless in its understanding of a major problem we all face.  Dr. Lerner describes patterns of behavior, the emotion of anger and ways to identify, understand and resolve problems surrounding an ongoing anger problem. She especially writes to those areas where contention and anger often arise in our lives: marriage, families of origin, mother and daughter.

 

“Beyond Anger, A guide for Men” is its counterpart written by Thomas J. Harbin, Ph.D. that speaks to a problem many men face today. While women often stuff their anger, become passive-aggressive or use it to manipulate, men’s anger often turns into a rage that when triggered seems to have no bounds.  Part one of the book describes how anger can become a central problem in men’s lives.  Part two has action plans to deal with unwanted anger.

 

 

“Anger: Deal with it, Heal with it, Stop it from Killing You” by Bill DeFoore, Ph.D.speaks to both therapy and self-help.  There is much we can do on our own by reading and becoming familiar with problems we may have. But there are times when we need a licensed therapist to help sort out the knots and tangles of our lives. Problems can be hard to identify at times and harder to resolve on our own. A good place to start is becoming familiar with what you recognize as a problem.

Whether you struggle with your own quick angry reaction to events or personally know someone who continues to flash anger in your face, this book gives valuable information on the overall subject of anger. All of us will come in contact with excessive anger at some time.  How do you deal with it?  How do you respond to it?

Bill DeFoore’s book is easy to read and gives a good description of many aspects associated with anger, such as:

  • it is used as a protective shield
  • it won’t remain buried
  • Breaking free from passivity
  • anger that has turned into rage
  • Protecting our inner child
  • The role of anger
  • Some faces of anger: the raging bull or the wild man

But even more important than its descriptive tenets, De Foore offers healthy ways to release our anger.

Anger out of control is a problem.  Anger that is buried eventually explodes.  Anger can become a habit and also addictive.  Anger used appropriately helps us right wrongs, set necessary boundaries in place to live life honestly and responsibly.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

You Got to Be Kidding

Adversity a blessing?  You got to be kidding! Who would even consider such a thing?  Who wants difficulties?  And how can misfortunes or hard times ever be considered a blessing?

And yet, when I am honest with myself, it is precisely in those times of difficulties and adversity where I have grown, learned I could do more than I thought I could, and developed emotional, mental and spiritual muscles.

It is where I learned to face my vulnerabilities head-on, where I chose to take charge of my life, not backed away or sidestepped or became a victim.

Adversity challenges us.

Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and take some risks? Am I ready to acknowledge my limitations and celebrate my strengths?  Am I ready to put in the effort and hard work to become capable and confident?

 

When I am in the middle of difficult times, I do not consider it a blessing.  It is only later, when I look back, that I can see that I have been blessed by the struggle and challenge.

 

Here are some things I learned through adversity.  Perhaps you can identify with some of them.

I learned that

  • I can put in place an “ I can do it” mindset to use in any and all situations
  • I can stretch my capability far beyond what I ever thought I was capable of
  • I have learned grace and forgiveness and humility
  • I learned there are always solutions to our problems if we are willing to search for them
  • I have learned to make tough choices based on principles and core values
  • I am never alone – God is always there with me even when I don’t feel His presence
  • I have learned gratitude for the simple things in life: love, friendship, loyalty, and the ability to work
  • I have learned only I can be in charge of my life – and only I can give that power away

 

May you find blessings in your challenges and struggles.

Marlene Anderson

 

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Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Working through our losses

Throughout life, we will experience losses that drastically change our way of living. It isn’t the momentary losses of car keys or misplaced important papers; but life-altering events such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a childhood, our dreams, and expectations. An injury or chronic illness is losing life as we knew it. Life will not be the same.

 

Losses come in all sizes and packages; some with the normal progression of age – some with the unexpected telephone call in the middle of the night. Some began early in life when day after day we are yelled at or hit by an alcoholic parent leaving us feeling angry and worthless.  Later in life, the depth of those early losses become more evident and we are required to process and grieve them.

Losses:

How do we recognize them? How do we survive and move past them?  How do we grieve them? How do we rise above them?

 

Here are some suggestions to work through losses, either current or from the past:

 

  • Grieving losses requires honesty, courage and a willingness to work through the pain, uncertainty, and vulnerability. We will experience a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. This is a time to reach out to others and accept the love and support of those who want to offer assistance.  While we want and need time alone to process, we also need to know we are not alone.

 

  • What unanswered questions, injustice or results of bad choices are you struggling with? At some point, we are required to come to terms with what has happened because there are no satisfactory answers. Coming to terms is an understanding that we might never have the answers to “why” or “what if.”  It is an acceptance that lets us put to rest what has happened so we can move forward.

 

  • Writing letters of goodbye can articulate what is in our heart and soul and help resolve and integrate our losses. Much like journaling but more direct, writing to our losses creates a way to speak to subjective things such as loss of dreams, lifestyle, and expectations we hold for life. Writing takes it out of the head, illuminating both thoughts and feelings. Write as you would any letter.  Dear (dream, career, health, etc.) I remember what you meant to me, what I wanted, etc.

 

  • Write a letter to your loved one who died. Tell them what they meant to you, the good times you spent together, how you are keeping your memories alive, what is the hardest part for you now, etc.

 

  • Sometimes words cannot express what we are feeling. Art gives us the opportunity to say through fabric or clay or wood or paints what cannot be expressed adequately otherwise.  Make a wall hanging or quilt or mold clay into a memorial of some kind.  There are many art therapy classes available.

 

  • It takes courage to survive a loss, to face our fears, pain, and anxieties about the future.  Create a new narrative that focuses on possibilities.  “I will be okay – I can make it.  God will see me through this.  I lost the love of my life, but I can move on and the memories will give me comfort and purpose moving forward.  I’m okay; I am discovering more about myself and my abilities. When I reach out, my friends support me.

 

  • Focusing on what we can do instead of focusing on what we no longer have, allows us to explore and try new things.  We no longer see ourselves as a victim, but a capable person able to create a new reality that holds both purpose and meaning. It is grabbing hold of hope and making it work for us, believing we can do this.

 

  • Write a letter to yourself as if you were your best friend.  In that letter put down all the things you are proud of, your accomplishments and strengths and why you believe you will not only survive but live again.

 

  • We need other people.  It is difficult to step out of our comfort zone.  But by reaching out, we can join new social groups who share a commonality with us. Include times of laughter and fun together as you encourage and support each other’s company.

 

  • Grieving major losses is a spiritual journey.  As a Christian, God has been an integral part of my life who gave me the hope, strength, and comfort I needed in my darkest hours. When everything seemed at its worst, I found God’s outstretched hand reaching out to me, ready to embrace me with tenderness and understanding. We have a God, who not only understands and consoles but gives us the strength we need to move forward.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

What do I Want

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.  Aristotle

If you woke up tomorrow morning and could be doing whatever you wanted, what would that be?  What are you doing?  What are others doing?  How do you feel?  Are you motivated and excited or anxious and doubtful?

Most of us know what we don’t want but have difficulty defining what we do want.

 

Before making new goals for our future, it is important to reflect on what we want and why. What is meaningful and valuable and worth pursuing.

 

Here are 3 important words to consider as you begin this process:

Why – What – How

 

Why

  • Why do I want to set this goal?
  • Why have I not made it before?
  • Why is it important now? Does it fit with my values?
  • Why do I hesitate if I say I want it?
  • Why are other things more important than reaching my goal?

 

What

  • What specifically do I want to do, to have, to attain?
  • What keeps me from doing it? (Past attempts, past failures, lack of commitment, etc.)
  • What obstacles, restrictions, setbacks do I face (financial, age, lack of support, determination, fear, unsure, etc.)
  • What interferences are there? (demanding job, family concerns overcommitted in other areas, home to keep up, etc.)
  • What would happen if I didn’t make a decision and get started?

 

How

  • How will I maintain my other important and necessary commitments (job, family, church, etc.)
  • How will I get past discouraging moments?
  • How will I keep myself motivated when I am tired and alternate diversions become more compelling?
  • How will I define my goal specifically enough so I know exactly how to structure my plan of action and keep on track?
  • How will I know when I have reached my goal and am ready for the next one?

 

When we can define what is important to us in our values and wants, we will be able to make our goals more specific and precise with step by step plans of actions.

 

Are you ready to take that next step?

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Letting Go – Taking Control

I share with you today a handout I created years ago when helping to create a chronic illness class. It is important to remember that every day we can let go of unimportant stuff and focus instead on what we can do to meet any of life’s challenges.

 

Let Go – Take Control.

 

 “If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death.  Without  suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”  Victor Frankl

 

To experience freedom and create meaning in our lives, we must “let go” of the past while taking “control” of the present and future.

 

Letting go means

  • Removing my masks – becoming honest with myself and others
  • I can laugh – I can cry – I can feel my pain – and its okay
  • Transcending my fears: facing death, disability, hardships, disappointments
  • Grieving my losses
  • Asking for and receiving help
  • Acceptance of those things I cannot change

 

Taking control means

  • Discovering the real, genuine, authentic me
  • Spending time discovering the real me
  • Focusing on what I can do – not what I can’t do
  • Choosing hope over despair – the positive versus the negative
  • Soaring like an eagle
  • Believing I have choices and that I am making those choices every day
  • Enjoying each step forward – there is no step too small or too large
  • Looking for and finding opportunities within every situation

 

Problems, disappointment, life situations CANNOT keep you from

  • Exploring new options
  • Setting new priorities and goals
  • Living life to the fullest
  • Developing a better quality of life

 

Problems, tragedies, and losses CAN help you

  • Discover great, hidden strengths and determination
  • Create new and exciting meaning for our life
  • Transform “who you were” into “who you are becoming”
  • Develop awareness and appreciation for you and your world

 

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Gratitude

Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more feel-good hormones?  According to research, just the process alone begins to change the brain.

Wow – that’s pretty amazing.

If we can actually feel better by finding those blessings and things to be grateful for, then why aren’t we doing it?

Instead, we hover incessantly over all the things that have gone wrong or are going wrong.

As I read stories of people who have gone through tough times but still found things to be thankful for, I am reminded of all the blessings I have received.

Yes, there have been tragedies; the loss of my husband and a son, both to cancer; the loss of our newly built dream home and retirement pension, and the near loss of a daughter to breast cancer. The list goes on – just as yours does.

We have all suffered unspeakable tragedies in one way or another and people wonder how we will survive, go on, rebuild, find joy again.

As a therapist and former teacher and facilitator and now a life coach, I teach and encourage people to challenge negative thinking and replace it with positive affirmations.

We can approach our problems by focusing on options or we can remain angry at what is happening to us.

We can reframe events and see our circumstances through a different prism of understanding and insight.

When we do, we go beyond all the negatives and see positive elements as well.

Again, as research has indicated, it isn’t events or people that make us angry, anxious, depressed, etc.  It is how we choose to respond to life.

This is not a Pollyanna attitude.  Rather it is choosing to see beyond the immediate; seeking those nuggets of hope and grace and yes, blessings, in the midst of whatever we are facing.

Give it a try

Start a gratitude journal and begin recording the things you are thankful for every day.  It might feel weird at first and you might have to struggle, but after a little while, you will begin to notice these blessings throughout the day.

Purposefully looking for blessings gradually changes the paradigm you are living under. It expands your view – your frame of reference.

You no longer see the telescopic dot of misery, but other aspects of good are brought into your vision. When that happens, you will experience a difference in your mood, your attitude, your thinking, and your life will take on a new color.

We are choosing all the time.

We choose our emotional responses. We choose what we want to focus our attention on.  We can focus on constructive planning and decision making or we can focus on our insecurities and doubts. We can choose to worry or we can choose to put our energy into problem-solving.  We can spend our free time on trivial things or we can build more positive relationships with others. Connecting is so important. We can choose to see our container of life as half empty or as half full and filling up. We can choose to be optimistic instead of pessimistic.

Marlene Anderson

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Unplug

Unplug and just “be” –  be in the moment.  Take  5-10 minutes and disconnect from life as usual. Connect instead with your self, God, and your surroundings.

 

From the time we get up until the time we go to bed we are running.  Even when it is time to relax, our thoughts and minds are bombarded with all the things we should have done, should be doing or must do.

We try to block out all the internal and external noise by spending time on media sites, posting, texting or by zoning out with TV or video games. We go to bed exhausted and get up with little rest.

 

Unplug and take a timeout

When our kids were young and they got too exuberant in their play or started fighting, we would put them in a time out for 5 minutes until they could calm down.

As adults, we are no different.  We keep up a demanding, relentless pace until we are so stressed we can no longer function. And when we try to relax, our thoughts continue to keep us stressed. Before that point is reached, quick short timeouts can calm both our minds and our bodies.

Take 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day. With all the things that need to get done, this may seem like a ludicrous suggestion. But in the long run, you will have more energy and be able to accomplish so much more.

 

It may be the most important 5-10 minutes of your day.

 

Maximize those minutes

Choose times when it isn’t disruptive to your job or others and walk away from what you are doing. This isn’t a time to socialize.  You want to be alone.  Go outdoors if possible or find a quiet, restful spot to sit. Because we are constantly in a “doing” mode, it may take a while to become comfortable just “being”. But it will soon become normal and natural.

 

Now focus on your breathing. Are your breaths short and shallow?  Take deep, calm even breaths that come from your abdominal area. Pay attention to each breath – in and out – slow and even. Notice that as you slow your breathing, your whole body begins to relax.

As you develop the skill of calmly breathing in and out, you will begin to relax wherever you are, whether at your workstation, waiting in line, or driving in traffic.

 

Our minds are programmed to be doing something: finding solutions, solving problems, etc. So, at first, your mind will wander to all the things you want to accomplish on your “to do” list.  Simply acknowledge whatever thoughts come into your mind and then re-focus again on your breathing. Don’t try to force thoughts away.

 

If your thoughts are persistent, imagine a beautiful box next to you.  “See” yourself putting all the things that require your attention into that box.  Put the lid on and tell yourself you will get to each one of them. Then re-direct your attention to your breathing.

 

When your breathing is even and your body relaxed, turn your attention to your surroundings. If you are outside, notice the sky, the clouds, birds, the warmth or chill of the day.  What do you see and how does it make you feel?

 

 

What do you smell: the scent of flowers or freshly mown grass or simply fresh air.  What colors are there?   Are there birds flitting about.  Become aware of their songs and actions.

Notice little things you would typically walk by, such as a bug crawling on a plant, a spider’s web, the movement of tree leaves.

 

 

If you are walking, notice the texture of the path, the shapes of bushes and tangles of roots and scent of pine needles.

 

Soon you will be amazed at how much you notice for the first time and how refreshed you feel.

 

This is so simple, yet we resist the urge to sit still and be in the moment.

We are so busy rushing around.

 

This is mindfulness – being in the moment – not the past – not the future – but right here and now in the present moment.

 

When you are in the here and now, your mind is not regurgitating all the problems or things that have gone wrong, what you should do, haven’t done, or are incapable of doing, feeling helpless, stressed, and frantic or whatever.

 

Mindfulness quiets the mind – giving it a rest.  It takes you away from obsessive rumination of the past and anxiety about the future.

 

And it just takes 10-15 minutes.  It is a mini-vacation that you can take during the noon hour or at the end of the day or as you get up from your desk and walk around for a few minutes.

 

Marlene Anderson

 

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