Challenge Old Beliefs – Feeding the Drive to Self-Actualize

The pandemic we find ourselves in has done more to upend our lives beyond health and economics. Staying occupied with thoughts of these two survival necessities has held us all captive to the internal strife within. Much like clinging to a 2-inch railing so we don’t plunge off a 60-story building. The obsession allows for little more. The result is a stalling of our true purpose – the drive to self-actualize.

It is important that we continue our progress despite our current state. I am not saying that you should disregard either your health or your money needs. These must be taken care of to maintain and support life. But when this is all we accomplish during the day, life grows stale. Without realizing it, we soon find ourselves fighting the inevitable listlessness that such striving produces.

The Road to your future starts now. You’ll find beauty around the corner. (“Newfound Gap Road – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN” by pvarney3 is marked under CC PDM 1.0.

Breaking free from the drone of lack, slack and indifference is no easy task. It takes courage, fortitude, and determination. It takes a strong-willed effort to move freely through the concrete bonds of apathy to return to full purpose and discovery. Sometimes we need a little push, a little emotional jumpstart.

It is my hope that this blog will give you that jumpstart. That here you will find help on your way back to the path you were born to take. To the goals you were meant to accomplish. To the life you were meant to live.

We will explore new ways of thinking, inspiration, encouragement, and guidance to life’s mysteries. Our topics will include self-discovery, mind-body connection, perception, critical thinking, emotional healing, and much more. Motivating insight and knowledge to personalize. Open-minded differences of opinion are welcome.

If you are ready to:

  • Take back your life from the clutches of disheartenment;
  • Start or restart your personal growth journey;
  • Boost your day with a shot of optimism;
  • Find solace in a community of like-minded folks;
  • Expand your insight and intelligence; or
  • Open your mind to a deeper understanding of the world in which we live . . .

. . . make yourself a promise to tune into this online journal for five minutes a week.

I hope to see you jump on board. I’m looking forward to our journey together.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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To Be or Not to Be Humble – Four Advantages

The great scientist, Albert Einstein, was a humble man. Soon after he moved to America, he was asked to speak to a group of mathematicians at Princeton on tensor analysis as it was linked to his relativity theory. A small notice was posted where mathematical students could see the invitation. On the day he was to address this small group, hordes of people descended on Princeton to listen to him speak. Word of mouth had spread the news that this great man was to speak. Upon seeing the crowds, Einstein said, “I never realized that in America there was so much interest in tensor analysis.”

Humility (being humble) is probably one of the most important human traits that you can have. Humility comes from a place of knowing exactly who you are and what you are capable of. Being confident in your own abilities while being cognizant of those areas of your life that are flawed. And owning up to those flaws. Being authentic in how you present yourself at all times.

True humility is a rare trait, but it has its advantages. Image courtesy of WikiImages on Pixabay.

The world encourages all of us to act confident (to the point of arrogance) in every situation. It rewards those who appear to be all-knowing and perfect in everything they do.  Yet, when it comes down to it, we secretly feel uncomfortable around those who act this way. Because no one is perfect. And we all know it, but don’t want to admit to our faults.

The people we feel most comfortable with are the ones who are confident in their strong points and straight forward about their shortcomings. Making humility a desirable trait. As additional incentive, here are four more benefits for developing your humility.

Develops Vulnerability

When you realize that you don’t know something and ask for help, or share a weakness that you possess, you expose yourself to the possibility that someone may think less of us. Or that is what we think. But this type of vulnerability has the power to strengthen our relationships. As we allow ourselves to expose those parts of us that we see as flaws, we unknowingly endear those people with whom we share.

Strengthens Your Empathy

Empathy starts with a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others. In order to show people that you are truly interested in their welfare, you must be willing to be vulnerable within their presence. Sharing the parts of yourself that need work creates an atmosphere of authenticity. Allowing others to relax and feel more willing to open up and drop their defenses.

Demonstrates Your Tolerance

Humility and tolerance are both vital virtues that are linked together by common origin. Tolerance can only exist when we first practice humility. The more you focus on your own humility, the more likely you will be tolerant of those who are different. In a world that needs tolerant role models, increasing both of these virtues brings much needed attention to qualities that can heal our differences.

Increases Your Benevolence

In its simplest definition, being benevolent means doing good to others. As your humility and tolerance increase, so does your benevolence. You become more charitable and kinder. 

All of these advantages work toward being a better person. Being humble may appear to be a less desirable trait, but working toward greater humility creates so many pluses in your life, it is worth making a daily practice of increasing it.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Why We Need Wonder in Our Lives and How to Make it Happen

Peter was a sensitive man nearly 70, who became so disconnected from his sense of wonder and mystery that his outlook on life suffered. A pervasive sadness took over with such force that two counselors diagnosed him as “clinically depressed.” Sensitive or not, this man’s case points out an important aspect of our lives, one that we let get sidelined all too often.

There are so many interests competing for our time. Career, family, civic duties, exercise and other self-care needs. And don’t forget all that binge watching that the pandemic has convinced us is a necessity. Aside from the binge watching, we have many areas of our life that require daily attention. So why is it absolutely necessary to make the time to maintain that same sense of mystery and wonder in our own lives?

Here are just a few of the benefits we can expect from maintaining a sense of wonder:

We Need Wonder
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
  • Grants significance to our lives;
  • Gives us respect for our purpose; and,
  • Opens up our horizons to endless possibilities.

As children we come into the world full of wonder and exploration. As we grow into the responsibilities of adulthood, that wonder can disappear. Don’t fret, it hasn’t really disappeared. It has only gotten buried. If you want to recover it, here are a few tips to get it back on track.

Prioritize

Make time to explore the mysteries of life. You might start by cutting some of those X number of hours you spend binge watching your favorite entertainment.

Learn to Quiet Your Mind

Nothing can enter a cluttered mind. Find a quiet spot and enjoy the peace. Meditate or do progressive muscle relaxation. Take an essential-oil-infused bath. Write in a journal or diary. Take a nature walk. Do deep breathing. Play with a pet. These are only a few ways to clear the clutter. Once your mind is at peace, you can begin exploring mysteries.

Create a Feeling Within Yourself Where Wonder Can Prosper

Start by reclaiming your curiosity. Look around you. What grabs your interest? Is there a question that has baffled you for a long time? See everything around with new eyes. As if you had a blank mind. Child-like wonder means letting go of preconceived ideas and a set-in-stone attitude.

Develop your Curiosity

Bring to mind questions that remain unanswered. What do you think is the cause or reason or solution? Read about space, the depths of the ocean, the parts of the human mind that remain a mystery. Ask questions. Hypothesize. Dig deeper.

Joy is found in the wonder that we create. Our minds crave the curiosity, seek out imagination. It is a part of our heritage as a thinking, inquisitive species. Your heart and soul will thank you.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Changing Minds Begins with Understanding – A Sympathetic Approach

We find ourselves in an explosive time. People not simply putting forth their own opinions, but doing so with a violent force. Groups of like-minded people banding together to insist that everyone get on board with their opinions. And if someone actually opposes them, that those who differ are in some way an enemy. That their opposition are taking their freedoms and rights away.

When did we devolve into this “me-centered – everything-has-to-be-exactly-as-I-want-it” society? Like the pot of boiling water, it looks like we are about to blow the lid off our interactions with one another.

What is interesting about this state we find ourselves in is that while on the surface it looks like we are slowly disintegrating and about to implode, these are the times when we can grow the most. Advance our understanding of one another’s positions and move into a better state for everyone. The biggest challenges produce the right conditions to grow the most.

But to do that, we must build a structure in which we can really and truly understand our very different positions. One that will expose assumptions made by each side, and lead to finding common ground. Only then can we move forward. To build a climate where that can happen, we have to step back and change our approach.

Step One: Create a Climate of Tolerance

Express an earnest and sincere attitude to hear, without judgment, the opposing viewpoint. To convey that intent, use a kind tone of voice and inoffensive language to make your request to hear their side. A warm attitude and open disposition will disarm initial doubt as to your intent.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Step Two: Ask Questions

Prepare questions to ask. These questions should give you insight into:

  • Their background and history;
  • Their beliefs, motivations, and other reasons for their position; and,
  • Their exact stance on the subject.

Ask pointed questions. Stifle the urge to say anything about your beliefs or position at this point. This is their time to talk. It is their moment in the sun. People want to be heard, and if you give them that to start with you will gain more trust and openness from them in addition to finding out exactly where they stand.

Step Three: Listen – Really Listen

Hear what they are saying in their answers. Push any thoughts about your own view aside. You are not here to argue, you are here to hear what is on their heart. If necessary, use reflective listening to make sure you get a clear grasp of what they are saying.

Step Four: Employ Empathy

Put yourself in their skin. Knowing what you do of their mindset (that you learned in step one), equate what you are hearing with who they are. Try to understand why. Drop your boundaries enough to truly feel their viewpoint within yourself.

Step Five: Find the Common Ground

Now that you have full understanding, look for common goals and beliefs. These are the cornerstones you can use to work toward. If you have the same ultimate destination, all you need to do is find the best path forward.

Steph Six: Relate Your Needs and Desires to That Common Ground

As you work toward that common destination, you can explain how your needs and desires align with their own, making the goal a shared one to work toward.

Step Seven: Find a Workable Solution for Everyone

Hopefully at this point in your discussion, you are both on the same path. Working together to benefit everyone involved. If not, look at any assumptions that are still in play and go back to the beginning.

To unmask the assumptions that stand in the way of understanding, it is necessary to use a different approach. One that softens hostility and opens the door to real change. It is not always easy to follow the above script, but if true understanding is what you are looking for, this offers a workable way to get both sides the answers they seek.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Unmasking Assumptions as a Key to Change

About 20 years ago, I was making changes focused on my health. Small changes I was making to my exercise/mindset routine and diet were included. One of those specific changes was beginning a practice of yoga every day. Another focused on a dietary change removing excess sugars from my menu, including yogurts with added fruit.

One day, my young son who was a toddler at the time, came up to me as I was preparing to start my daily set of yoga poses. “I want to do plain yogurt too,” he said pointing to my mat. I smiled at this confusion in his young mind. He made an assumption that the two were one.

Words form the communication that we use to relate to one another. It is how we understand where another person is coming from, what they believe. This exchange of information tells us how someone else feels about a topic. Yet we often miss the mark, others misinterpreting our meaning, as we misinterpret theirs.

This type of blunder does not only happen in young children. It happens on a regular basis in adults, on both the delivery and reception sides of the equation. Too often we fail to truly understand one another, making assumptions that lead to further lack of clarity. We end up fighting with one another without understanding what the other side really means.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For example, I am a strong believer in the use of mask mandates for public safety, but I really want to grasp why so many -people oppose it. I have a hard time getting the sentiment put forth by a group of people who say their reason for resisting the mandates is “an individual’s right to personal choice.” This same group’s consensus for another issue – abortion, is anti-choice. Wouldn’t it follow that if you are in favor of personal choice, it would apply to both issues? What seems apparent on the surface does not jibe with the viewpoint on the other issue. I suspect there is some other meaning behind the words “personal choice” we are missing in the message coming from this group. Making it challenging to fully understand their viewpoint.

We interpret another’s meaning through the lens of our own beliefs and impressions. Truly understanding another’s viewpoint can only happen if we dive deep into that person’s motivations, previously determined views, and past histories. All determiners of where they are at this moment in their lives. If we don’t have this information, we cannot get a clear picture of their position.

In the next post, we’ll look at ways to dig down into true meaning for more accurate understanding. In the meantime, you may want to read Four Reasons Why You Should Allow Your Opponent to Talk First in an Argument and How to Communicate with Integrity – 7 Points to Prevail.

I look forward to seeing you in the next segment.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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The Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance and Why It Matters

Years ago, I had a guest in my home with whom I was having a good-natured disagreement with over the path a particular road took. I don’t remember the specifics of the dispute. What I do remember is that she asserted her position in a cocky and pompous manner. As this person left my home, I thought to myself, “She is going to go racing down [that road] on her way home so she can call me back and tell me I’m wrong.”

I knew it would take her about half an hour to get home. Sure enough, at the appointed moment, my phone rang. “I drove down [that road],” she said before even greeting me, “and I was right.“ I conceded my error, and she continued bragging on the subject. Before we got too far in, she switched directions and started to complain. Apparently, in driving down [that road], a cop decided she was going a little too fast and she ended up with a speeding ticket.

I suppressed a chuckle. She literally did go racing down the road in her attempt to prove her superior knowledge.

Do you know someone like that? One of those people you don’t mind seeing get a rare instant karma moment.

There are those who would characterize her behavior as extremely confident. I call it arrogance. There is a difference, and it matters. A lot. Here are three areas where you can see the difference:

Attitude

Attitude toward other people is a good way to discern the difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance sees a class system or hierarchy of people and they sit on the very top.

Confidence sees individual strengths in everyone they encounter. Confident people never look down on anyone and are grateful to others for their contributions. They will apologize for harm done to someone else, though it means admitting to fault.

Motivation

Image courtesy of Schaferle on Pixabay.

Achievement is the cornerstone of a confident person. To see the difference in the two attitudes, look to the motivation behind any accomplishment. An arrogant person’s motivation is power. They have no regret stepping all over people to get it.

Confidence takes into consideration how the outcome affects others. A confident person does not revel in an accomplishment gained at another person’s expense.

Failure

An arrogant person will not consider the possibility that they may be wrong. They are all-knowing. There is nothing that they can learn from anyone else because they know everything. Failure for them, therefore, is not possible.

Confidence allows for failure. Failure is a teaching moment, a steppingstone to new growth and further accomplishment.

So why does all this matter? The two traits, while sometimes confused with one another, are opposites in their manner and outcome. Confidence achieves good. It is based in love. Love for others, and healthy love for oneself. It is a positive force.

Arrogance tears down. It is based on fear. Fear that the person will be looked upon unfavorably. It is a fear that says, “If I’m not the best, then I’m no one. So, I have to continually push down others who might threaten me.” It is a negative force.

There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance but beware that you learn to discern the difference. Take care when dealing with the arrogant; emulate the confident. Their effects on you are very different.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Leveraging the Edge Between

What’s your edge?

If you need to solve a problem or pique your creativity for a project, what do you turn to? Either you seek the insight from a conscious state (your wakeful day), or you look for the answer at night in your sleep through dreams. Both are good sources of inspiration. But I’ve found that the states between full wakefulness and sleep are rich sources for out-of-the-box inspiration, whatever your goal might be.

This is not a new concept. Many creative over-achievers, lauded by history to have extraordinary talent, have tapped into these two states for their genius. These states are called hypnagogia (the period you experience as you begin to fall asleep) and hypnopompia (the period you experience as you come from sleep into full wakefulness). Each of these produce dreamlike hallucinations, or dreamlets.

These dreamlets produce visual and sensory phenomena like your sleeping dreams. They tend to be shorter and (unless you are skilled at lucid dreaming) more easily manipulated. I’ve used dreamlets many times.

In my personal experience:

  • I have posed questions whose answers were obstinately elusive and received clear direction;
  • Obtained insight into people and relationships;
  • Gained wisdom into personal aspects of myself;
  • Acquired topic ideas, whole content structures, and actual wording to my writings;
  • Sensed calming feelings I had only previously experienced during meditation; and,
  • Intuited a path to the future.
Image by Uki_71 on Pixabay.

You, too, can use this resource. Be sure that you provide ample time to linger in your in-between state. Also, keep a pen and paper nearby. Either go to bed early or set an alarm earlier than you need to rise. Allow your mind to slip into the state between sleep and wakefulness. If you have something specific you want to know, spend the day before reminding yourself that you want an answer to your issue. Record the images and insights you get.

One of Salvador Dali’s favorite methods of attaining the hypnagogic state was to sit comfortably holding a spoon over a tin plate. As he totally relaxed his body, he would begin to fall asleep and enter the hypnagogic state. As he did, his hands relaxed, and the spoon fell from them. As the spoon hit the plate, it made a noise that aroused him from the state. He would immediately capture the images and other phenomena from his dreamlet.

At first, what you gather from your dreamlet may not make sense to you. Write it down anyway. Clarification may take a while to come, but it will. As you become more experienced and more comfortable with trusting your subconscious, the answers you seek will show themselves.

When looking for answers to life’s complicated problems, don’t ignore the edge you’ll find between sleep and wakefulness.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Three Lessons I’ve Learned from the Pandemic

It’s in times of big hardship that we learn the most. Everyone has faced the challenges of potential illness, separation from loved ones, and disruption of our oh-so-comfortable routines. And we all, in our unique perspectives, have come away with lessons.

Here I share three of the lessons I’ve learned in the last one and one-half years of the pandemic so far.

Image by 7089643 on Pixabay

No One is an Island

Fiercely independent is a term I have enjoyed indulging in. I love my independence. I thrive on my self-reliance. While I still consider this a good trait, I have become very aware of the importance of community and helping one another in crisis.

Image by 7089643 on Pixabay

We are all connected. There is no grimmer example of this than how one case of Covid has grown to 235,579,484 (as of this writing) cases in the last eighteen months. We get within a minimum of six feet of one another every day, leading to transmission.

Human contact is necessary for our survival. There are very few true hermits in this world. Human connection helps us grow and thrive. We gain knowledge, companionship, and progress through community. We are stronger together than we are apart.

We also suffer when we do not get this valuable component of life. Human touch is so important to our ability to live that we die if we do not get it.

Our lives require us to be in contact with one another. Cherish the ones you love. Hug them (within guidelines) and tell them how much they mean to you.

Image by 7089643 on Pixabay

Life is Unpredictable

So much emphasis has been put on making plans and following through. If you do, you get your heart’s desire. Or so the wisdom goes. I think this is a great truth to live by. But you should also keep in mind that you can’t plan for or control everything. Life throws a kink in the best of plans.

It’s important to remember that life is unpredictable. The best way to cope with this truth is to remain flexible, be grateful for the beauty in it, and remain open to its ways.

The pandemic has upended so much of what we came to rely on. Daily routines have by necessity had to morph to consider so much we used to take advantage of. You must find a way to get through and thrive despite its uncertainty.

Image by 7089643 on Pixabay

We Have Limited Time – Don’t Waste It

It may be a cliché, but life is short. It’s gone before you know it. If you are putting off some important goal or waiting to start something new, you might find you run out of time before you can get to it. Time is something you can’t get back. There is no time like the present to start that project, take that trip, write that novel, or get that degree. Follow your dreams before you’ve run out of opportunity.

Find the hope you need to overcome the woes of the pandemic. If you change your perspective a little, it may teach you valuable lessons from which you may thrive.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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How to Communicate with Integrity – 7 Points to Prevail

Words have power. They can soothe, uplift, empower, inspire, and create vivid mind pictures. They can also wound, deceive, manipulate, gaslight, and degrade. They can implore and they can demand. If integrity is your goal, it’s important to apply that virtue to the power of your words.

Integrity means being honest and morally upright. To communicate with integrity means employing honesty, compassion, and empathy. This form of communication demands that you speak forthrightly and ensure that the message you convey is sincere, relaying it’s meaning in understandable terms.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

It’s an honorable goal. So, why don’t people do it? It is because they focus on what their words mean to them. They sabotage their message by refusing to take into consideration the people they want to reach with their message. That communication is one-sided. Your focal point for good communication should be first and foremost on how the other person hears it; and then, using that knowledge, on how you convey that message.

When communication only indulges the speaker, it cannot be effective. Remember — it is not what you say, it is what people hear. If you want people to really hear you with 100% accuracy, they must also include the other party or parties. Here are seven elements to help you get it right.

1) Get to know your audience

Who is the person or persons you are talking to? What is the educational level? If it’s a group, what is the minimum level in the group. For understanding, you must use language appropriate to that level.

What is the person or group’s emotional quotient? A lower EQ may require more explanation of emotional issues. Or a more rational explanation. Any detail you can identify in your listener will give you clues how to talk so they can understand your position.

2) Develop an ear for how people hear you

It’s not what you say, it is what people hear. In the long run, people will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Integrity demands that we communicate with empathy. Be cognizant of the feelings of the person you are communicating with. Speak with conviction laced with compassion. Use assertion, not aggression.

3) Be aware of what you don’t say

Watch out for subtext – when you may not say something outright. The listener may or may not infer meaning. It is best to be explicit in your talk, so your position is clear and concise. If there is something you need to avoid saying, your reason must be of upright intentions.

4) Determine your intent

Find your place of authenticity. Derive your intent from this place. What do you want to accomplish? How are both you and that person or group best served by your speech? Keep your values at the forefront as you converse.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

5) Recognize and hone the tools of communication

Use the following tools of communication to their greatest advantage: word order, emphasis, intonation, nonverbal communication, and auxiliary gestures. These elements complement your words and work together to convey just the right message. Hone them to perfection.

6) Get feedback

Be open to listening. Use reflective listening to really hear the other person’s meaning. You must determine if you are both understanding each other. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification.

7) Practice delivery and analyze what message was received

Use these tips in all your conversations, from personal to business. Later, in private, review your conversation. What did you do right? What could you improve on? If you felt you may have been misinterpreted, contact that other person and clarify.

Communication with integrity brings meaning to your relationships. Words have power. Direct your words to reveal exactly what you want them to say. Deliver them with accuracy and authenticity.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Four Reasons Why You Should Allow Your Opponent to Talk First in an Argument

People like to talk. And they like to be heard. Notice when two people are arguing how both parties compete with one another to talk over the other. No one is listening. When this happens without pause, no one can be heard. Nothing is accomplished. They might as well be talking to the wind.

While wanting to be recognized and heard is an innate characteristic we all have, there are advantages to stepping back, being quiet, and listening instead. The real advantage lies in being the listener. To gain this upper hand, you must quell the impulse within and concentrate on listening to your opponent. Here are four very good reasons to do just that:

1) Listening Indicates Respect

When you are quiet so that your opponent can speak his/her mind, you validate their feelings and show respect for their opinions. It is hard to feel antagonistic toward someone who gives you that level of respect.

What you get in return: Your opponent feels validated and becomes more open to hearing your opinion. They let their guard down. This sets the environment for meaningful communication.

2) Acquiring Perspective

Employ active listening. When you listen with an ear to really hearing what your opponent is saying, you gain perspective into his/her mind. To hear someone is to place yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from. Often, learning new information from another person’s point of view will change how you see the issue. When you can identify with their point, it becomes personal.

Knowledge is power. When you get information about your opponents’ wishes and desires, you gain strategic influence.

What you get in return: You gain insight in the intent, motivations, and desires of your opponent. You experience their side within yourself. Changing how you view the issue will help you work toward a resolution everyone can benefit from.

3) Coming to a Feel-Good Solution

If your goal is a win-win result, the best of all outcomes, listening gets you past the stalemate of inaction. You’ll never reach a conclusion until there is progress in exchange of ideas. The only way to do that is for one side to hear the other and vice versa. A lesson today’s politicians should learn.

What you get in return: It starts the process toward mutual resolution. The process cannot begin between two stubborn people demanding the other give in to their desires.

4) Changing Your Opponent’s Perception

To be the first to stop and listen puts you in the driver’s seat. You gain the leadership advantage. When you allow your opponent the first expression, you are steering the course of the argument.

Leading with your unexpected action gives you the advantage because you are perceived as confident in your stance. Taking the high road is not an easy thing to do. It is the mark of a leader.

What you get in return: There are two advantages here. One, it puts you in control. You are in the driver’s seat in this process. Two, your opponent now sees you as confident enough in your position to step back and let him/her talk – adding value to your persona.

In conflict, it’s a natural desire to aggressively force your position ahead. But if you want to move toward resolution, you’ll be the one to lead the strife into a win-win end. By stepping back, you step forward.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Stop Lashing Out – When Anger Wins, We all Lose

Anger seems to be taking over everything. New expressions on the age-old emotion have showed themselves in road rage, Internet and social media rants, and harmful behavior directed toward total strangers. A new wave of belligerent travelers are now attacking airline staff in the confined space of our skies. What has happened to us?

The stresses of a life-threatening pandemic combined with our already fast-paced, technological world are getting on everyone’s nerves. Entitled people think it’s their way or no way. We all operate on a short fuse these days. But that does not give us license to lash out at people.

A disclaimer, before we get into the steps you can use to get control of your anger — If your anger issues are the result of a medical condition, seek help from the healthcare community. Depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse, grief, or anger-based mental health disorders are serious. You are best served going to the professionals for help.

For the rest of us, here are some ways you can take control before anger controls you:

Before An Angry Situation Arises . . .

  1. Get plenty of exercise. Physical activity reduces stress.
  2. Put humor into your life. Lighten up with laughter. Listen to comedy. Perspective and your ability to control how you perceive your world is paramount to a positive world view. See the humor in every moment.
  3. Spend a few moments each day doing deep breathing exercises. Take relaxation breaks. Meditate. These activities help you gain the control you need when you need it.
  4. Work on your empathy skills. When we can place ourselves into the shoes of someone who makes us angry, we are less likely to place blame and ridicule.
  5. Put the brakes on rumination. Misplaced aggression, the result of reliving an experience over and over in your mind, can cause you to lash out at innocent people and pets. Ban it from your life.

During a Conflict . . .

Image by 95C from Pixabay
  1. If possible, remove yourself from the situation. Putting time and distance between you and another person who is the cause of your anger, allows you to calm yourself, think rationally, and be able to speak without raising your voice.
  2. Take control of your reactions. Stop. Breathe a slow, calming breath. (If you’ve practiced, this comes easier during stressful and challenging times). Remember, you own your reactions, they don’t own you.
  3. Focus on finding a win-win solution. Allow your creativity to distract your impulsivity. Pull your empathy for their position into your resolution.

After the Encounter is Over . . .

  1. Don’t ridicule your response. We are all human. But learn from it. What could you have done differently? Did your actions escalate or de-escalate the circumstances?
  2. Apologize if you were in error.
  3. So often, how we respond to another’s anger determines the outcome. Lashing out may initially feel good, but regret can follow if our actions/reactions were less than we expected them to be.
  4. Forgive, regardless of who was at fault. Don’t allow the bitterness to build. That only hurts you in the long run.

Use these suggestions to fine-tune your response and gain control over your anger.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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