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Monthly Archives: November 2012

More on Anger

The world has seemed to explode with anger.  Almost everywhere you look around the world, people are angry and they are destroying property and killing and maiming people.  How do you get people to do this?  Threats can be made to people that the same will happen to them if they do not cooperate in doing this and that they will become the enemy  and be slaughtered too.  This is what has happened to children soldiers in Africa.

What is the origin of anger?  It always starts with the individual and his or her ability to control his or her own temper.  Some people consider anger a right.  They may even believe that they can not help how they feel.  They may think, “It is alright for me to do this if someone or something makes me angry.”  This might be labeled as righteous anger.  (See my post, Righteous Anger published previously on this website.)

After we are born, our emotional feelings separate into two kinds of feelings,  positive and negative.  Anger is one type of  negative feeling.  Frustration is one way that negative feelings are created.  We learn in childhood the appropriate ways to express these feelings and what type of behavior we are supposed to use to do this.


ANGER!! (Photo credit: Za3tOoOr!)

There is a difference between power and force as means of getting one’s way.  Force is fueled with anger and it is expressed as aggression.  If I want something, I take it.  Power is more subtle and complex.  An example of this would be Mahatma Gandhi in India and his nonviolence movement.  The more respect one has for one’s self and others and the the more peaceful one’s value system is, the more likely it is that when that person accomplishes something, it is will be through power and not force.   Dr. David Hawkins has a book about this called, Power vs. Force.


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A Help Up or a Help Down?

requesting help with the high notes

requesting help with the high notes (Photo credit: lisaeeeee)

As you probably know from following this website, I am a believer in helping others; but sometimes doing nothing is more helpful than doing something.  Everyone probably has a friend or relative who appears to need help.  In fact, they may even come and ask you for help.  Yes, children need and deserve to get help from others; but as they grow, they need to do more and more things for themselves as somebody might not be around to help them do these things when they are grown.  There are also crisis situations where people suddenly need help for a situation that they did not anticipate and could not have anticipated or where their own resources are exhausted.  There are also situations where a gesture like paying forward or babysitting so a young couple can have a night out can benefit both the giver and the receiver.  Also there are mutually beneficial situations where when one person needs help the other person gives it and vice versa.  Also in situations where one person is in the other person’s debt, the debt is repaid in some form or other.

What inspired this blog is both the requests for advice about what to do in situations like this from people I have seen and actual situations in which we have been in my family.  The people concerned will not be identified.  Hopefully as people grow up they will learn to take care of themselves and when it is clear they need help, they will be grateful for the help received and if possible, plan ahead so they will not get in this situation again.  I realized this when help was given in situations where after the help, no change ever took place in what the person was doing that got them into this crisis.  Very often the same problem occurs over and over (perhaps with even more serious consequences).  In many cases like this, the people’s situation gets worse as people continue to give the help needed and run out of resources with which to help the person and may eventually need help themselves.

I also admit that sometimes a bigger problem can be adverted when help is given while the problem is still small. What is the most beneficial? Help? or no help? Also exhausting your resources may cause big problems for you and you wind up in a situation where you may no longer be able to help in the future. It might also create a dependency relationship where help is not only needed, but also it is expected. Sometimes a compromise can be reached where the person gets some help, but also takes some responsibility for what happened and makes a needed behavior change.

I know this is controversial, but what I hope is that it will make you think the next time you offer a person help, especially if you have done this many times before with poor results.

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Courage Is Not Always Just a Masculine Trait

The famous "The Buck Stops Here" sig...

The famous "The Buck Stops Here" sign from President Harry Truman's desk. The reverse of the sign says "I'm From Missouri". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When people grow up, they should develop both their masculine and feminine sides.  This is often forgotten when a father has the desire to have a “real boy” and the son has anger issues because of his father wanting to have a “tough” kid and reinforcing such behaviors.  Having softer feelings, being sentimental, and certainly not crying, are not encouraged by this type of father.  Feminine girls are often handled in almost the completely opposite way.  I definitely surprised my older brother in early grade school when I tore in to a kid that was beating up on him.  Anger is often considered the appropriate emotion for boys and men to have when they are upset and in the same situation, girls are expected to cry.  I was also brought up to believe that when a catastrophe occurs that women are supposed to make and serve coffee and sandwiches while men do the “real” work.  You can guess that when the river was going to flood my college campus what I did.  I filled sand bags.

Thus I found that as I grew up, that there were situations in which I had to take charge and do the right thing and I could not wait around for another person, especially a man, to come around and take charge for me.  “The buck stops here,” was the new motto of the day.  I learned that when something goes wrong and you are “it”,  you can’t always wait for someone else to come and help do anything.  I surprised myself by what I could do when I had to.  Some of those times were my most valued experiences as I matured.

There are times when you (yes, you women) have to deal with dangerous situations and be very careful not to upset the apple cart.  You might not be able to win if there was a physical fight but you can sometimes side step a dangerous confrontation by using your head.  I am not suggesting that you put yourself purposefully in such a situation to prove yourself; but to remind you that it can happen. Using both the masculine and the feminine side is sometimes the best solution in such situations. We can’t always leave it to the men to take care of such problems and before I get in trouble, men can’t always leave it to the women when a women’s touch is needed.



President Harry Truman with "The Buck Sto...

President Harry Truman with "The Buck Stops Here" sign on his desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Here I Am, Send Me, Send Me

Send It On (song)

Send It On (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you give of yourself, you give the best thing you can give.  Your time is worth a lot more than your money.  Children know this, parents know this, significant others know this.  Also those without family members who can come and see them and take them places know this.

Be fully present when you are present.  It does not count when you are multitasking at the same time.  When I have your attention, I want to have your full attention.  When you listen to me, listen to me.  When you are watching me, watch me.  Don’t be thinking about what you are going to say or do next.  We all want to be heard and seen.  Doing the former is sometimes called active listening.  Can you truthfully say that when you are having a conversation with someone, that you know what they are saying?  Can you repeat what was said to you?  You don’t have to agree with me, but at least be able to tell me what I have told you.

I am your friend; I am your family, or you may know about me because you have been touched by my plight.  Put yourself in my place.  Visit me.  Don’t forget that I exist.  Yes, you may have to go out of your way to do this.  Think of me often.  Remember you are in my thoughts too.  You may not know of the extent of the impact that you have on another when you give of yourself.or pay it forward.  Do something nice for someone you don’t know.  A waitress where I went this week, told me that a couple that comes to the restaurant that she works at often chooses another table in the restaurant and pays for their meal; thus they pay it forward.

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How to Change Behavior

Me And My Parents

Me And My Parents (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

Part of a parent’s job is to modify the behavior of their child or children to protect them from danger and to learn more appropriate ways for their child or children to get what they want or need.  For this we get very little training and what we do know we have learned from the way our parents‘ raised us.  It is surprising to me that for one of the most difficult jobs in life we get very little education.  How we acquire knowledge is very important and yet it is often not studied by the very people who need it.

Behavior modification has been around for a long time.  It has been taught to mental health professions, parents, teachers, and others.  It seems very simple to do, but it is not that easy to apply.  It takes some finesse and that is what makes it work for some users and not for other users.   In this method, behavior change is facilitated by the use of rewards and punishments.  Rewards can be given consistently or they can be given intermittently.  The latter rather than the former is more effective.  The behavior targeted to change is also important.  Punishment focuses on the wrong, unwanted behavior and rewards focus on the desired behavior.  It is usually best to develop an appropriate behavior by rewarding it with which to replace the “bad” behavior.  An appropriate replacement behavior for one child might not work for another child.  Also the effectiveness of the reward used depends on what the child likes to do or have. Social rewards like praise are better in the long run than concrete ones.

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Put the Best Construction on Everything

Yes Drama

Yes Drama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Old sayings have their uses.  If someone fails to do something you thought they were going to do for you, you often think the worst of them.  That can hurt both of you.  It can lead to some major drama.  A surprise party planned where one is the guest of honor  initially looks like the event has been forgotten to the person involved.  There often is enough drama in our lives without us adding more to it.  An appliance needs a major repair or replacement; your child gets hurt at school; or you make a major miscalculation when you are paying your bills.  All of these things are frequently cause for drama, both real and imaginary, before the crisis is resolved.  Who needs more drama when you are not sure what is going on.

Thinking the worst about someone or something before you know what really happened is creating additional stress for yourself.  Yes, you should be cautious and wait until all the information is gathered before jumping to conclusions, especially if you might do something drastic if you don’t wait.  Of course, there are somethings that can’t wait when dealing with an emergency.  For example, if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, don’t be too quick to dismiss it as something like an anxiety attack.  You better be safe than sorry especially with heart problems.  The time span during which action must be taken in these cases is short.

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The Horrible Things That Truely Exist in Our World

Cult and Ritual Abuse

Cult and Ritual Abuse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the horrible things that really happen, why do we have to focus on make believe mayhem?  In my field of study, psychology, I have heard and read about atrocious things that have occurred in people’s lives now and in the past.  Every time a tragedy occurs, there can be horrible details of what actually happened that remain in the memories of people who had to deal with them or were victims of them.  Why do we have to create disgusting scenarios in movies and video games when the real thing is bad enough or maybe even worse than the imaginary thing.

Human sacrifice is prevalent in history and even occurs in satanic ritual abuse.  Babies are conceived, never registered, and disappear this way.  Also when people die, how does it happen.  Do they experience terror before they pass on?  What about the aftermath?  Who finds and/or deals with the remains and how do these horrors effect them?  This is not just make believe like at Halloween when people put together scarey haunted houses.  This is often the origin of post-traumatic stress syndrome where people live over and over the horrible things that have happened to them in the past.

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Is Gratitude Your Attitude?

Road Rage*

Road Rage* (Photo credit: PDXdj)

Focus on the good things.  Look around you and see what you can see that makes you happy.  Your attitude effects others:  not only in the way they see you but also how they feel around you.  I am always saying, “thank you.”  Why should I ruin someone else’s day?  This is not to say that I don’t feel down at times or that I don’t let “things” get me down.  When talking about other people, I point out their good points when other people are focusing on their bad points.   Surprisingly enough, people’s view of me has changed and I have been told at times how nice I am.  This is not to brag but it can show how others’ perceptions of you change when you change.

Focus on what you have rather rather than on what you don’t have.  Usually there is at least some small thing you are grateful for.  There is beauty in simple things.  I happen to live out in the open spaces and frequently see lovely white clouds in a heavenly blue sky.  When I am driving (and I have to go a ways to get anywhere out here), I try to make the drive as pleasant as possible.  Other people can make mistakes either walking or driving down the road.  Do I need to make it worse? with road rage?  I am happy with an accident free drive and once I get where I am going I no longer focus on what could have happened if I or others had not been paying attention.

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Why Be Grateful?

Grateful Days

Grateful Days (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When someone does something good for another, there are two people involved, the giver and the recipient.  Both people are necessary.  Through circumstances that I have little control over, I have been put in the position where others frequently help me out as it is obvious that to them that I could use some help and I often overtly tell them that I appreciate their help, but I secretly wish that I could do without it.  Both parts of the transaction benefit the persons involved.  Sometimes people find it difficult to be put in a position where the other person expects them to respond politely and be grateful.  We do not always have control over what life hands us and when we don’t, we feel that we appear to be weak.  Helping others aids the giver in making them feel that they are useful and have had the chance to make other people feel better.  It takes two to accomplish this and it is one way that we get our needs met in this world.  Does it matter who is responsible for the filling of a need: the person him or herself or someone else?  We can tally the number of good deeds that we have done and/or we can tally the number of good things that have happened to us including those made possible by others?  Being grateful calms us, relieves stress, and helps us to keep a positive attitude towards life when it is difficult in this world, to ignore the things that happen that we could see as bad.


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Ending the Pain

We face a lot of pain in our lives.  Why do we focus on the things or people that hurt us and create more hurt.  Some people do this to themselves and they seemingly thrive on resentment and to have a conversation with one of them can be depressing.  I am not advocating that you adopt a Pollyanna point of view all the time but you have some control over what you think about and when it is not necessary, don’t adopt a pessimistic point of view and focus on what is wrong with your world.  Don’t let others drag you down.  Have you ever eaten out and had your dinner spoiled by someone at the table next to you who has had their steak either overcooked or undercooked?  Your dinner may have been delicious and you have had no reason to complain about either the food or the service.

I have watched programs where people are looking at houses to buy and no matter how nice the house they are shown, they always find one thing about the house that they don’t like and is the reason they won’t buy it.  Such a negative attitude is aggravating after a while.  What is even worse to me is the news and the negative attitude it generally has.  Where is the good news.  Why don’t we hear about people who have done good things for others.  We are a nation whose life style is generally better than many other places in the world but we seem to have little to be grateful for.

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