Posts Tagged ‘w4cy’

Diffusing Family Tension

I’ve spent over twenty years working with families as a spiritual life coach. Many of my clients divulge painful or embarrassing situations that their families are struggling with, believing there must be something wrong with them since other families they know appear so well adjusted. I assure them that even in the most seemingly normal families there are often veiled matters of concern. Dealing with tension and strife in our family units can present unique challenges. In our social environments we can more easily disengage or remove ourselves from problematic circumstances. But when your sister marries someone who defines the very essence of drama, exiting may not be a logical option. Is there a way families can reduce the amount to tension between them? While we may not be able to completely eliminate it, we most certainly can take measures to make family interactions more enjoyable.

1. Always be polite and cordial to every family member, even those you may not be particularly fond of. Avoid ignoring or showing favoritism as it can easily lead to hurt feelings, jealousy, and resentment.

2. In disagreements, refrain from using the terms right and wrong. Leave your ego out of all discussions and respect each person’s position.

3. Don’t second guess other people’s motives for what they are saying or doing. If you are uncertain, either give them the benefit of the doubt or ask questions to gain further clarity.

4. Avoid engaging in hot topics. If someone initiates a discussion known to evoke intense emotions, redirect the conversation to a more neutral issue. Likewise in regard to fuel-injected statements, those comments that are designed to anger the other person: “You Always…”, “I Never…”, “You have a problem!” “ANY” Words: Always, Never, and You can be toxic in conversations. Ban them from your vocabulary.

5. If you have an issue with a particular family member discuss it with them in private. Do not invite others into the conversation. Respect their privacy. Remember: too many cooks spoil the soup. Be respectful by refusing to gossip or speak unkindly about the individual with others as well.

6. Never interfere with the relationship between one family member and another. If you do not care for someone, at the very least be tolerant of others who still do.

7. Leave the past where it belongs. Do not dredge up old issues or reopen past wounds. Address current issues only.

8. If you find yourself becoming upset with someone, stop and discern what is really troubling you. Very often it has nothing to do with the other party. They may be triggering an unresolved issue within you that needs healing.

9. Whenever possible and appropriate, use humor as a way of diffusing tension. -appropriate being the optimum word.

10. In any situation, we have the option of being an instigator, participant, or healer of family tension. Always choose the latter. Be the voice of reason, the peacemaker, the example for others to follow.

And if for some reason you cannot contribute to the well-being of your family then at the very least do not contaminate it further.

Family members may not always cooperate with your efforts. But remember: you are not here for their approval, you are here to please God. In the words of St. Francis: “Lord make me an instrument of your peace.”

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We all seek to be powerful. I’m not speaking necessarily about having authority over others but we certainly want to have control over our own lives. Yet even the most well-intentioned, enlightened person wants to control a particular situation or individual at times. Certainly, parents impose their authority over their children which is not necessarily a bad thing. Children, especially those who are young and immature or who may be developmentally slow, are not fully capable of making responsible decisions for themselves and rely on the judgment and guidance of the parents to do so for them. For those in the military, or other organizations responsible for the lives and safety of others, a leader must be in charge in order to keep all those under their command safe and to create the favored outcome for all. And we’re all familiar with the person who is a control freak, the one who needs to feel powerful at all times, never letting their guard down or relinquishing dominance over others.

But is there a connection between anger and power? The very definition of anger is that it is a feeling of discomfort or displeasure brought about by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Feeling powerless makes us feel vulnerable, susceptible to the whims of others. It takes an enormous amount of trust to permit others to have dominion over one’s life in any capacity. Very few are willing to relinquish such authority. Humans instinctively protect themselves from any perceived harm or unpleasantness and anger is an appropriate tool to get the job done.

Think about what occurs when someone gets really angry: people pay attention. If my boss is screaming at the entire office, you can rest assured that most everyone is affording him their undivided attention. Anger makes us feel powerful in the moment because we generally get the attention we’re seeking and very often the cooperation of others as well.

However, this kind of power brought about by anger is an illusion. When we lose control and allow anger to dictate what we say or do, then in essence we have given command to the emotion itself. We are no longer operating from an intellectual, rational mind but rather from a place of tumultuous feelings. When one is in a highly emotional state they typically are not making rational judgments, therefore they are not thinking logically by collecting the necessary facts that enable them to make an intelligent decision. In this case, one becomes power-less (a victim) to the rage.

Here’s the primary issue in the case of the boss: his anger evokes fear in his workers. When one is engaging in irrational or threatening behavior, others are uncertain as to what to expect. They feel at risk for any unforeseen consequences (such as an impromptu firing of a coworker or a cutback of privileges). They are unable to reason with a boss who is not displaying rational thinking and are hesitant top even try. In that moment, employees may comply with his demands but the long term and far reaching effects of his tirade create a breakdown of trust and respect, thus seriously undermining his effectiveness as a leader.

The authentic power of anger lies in our willingness to channel it in a constructive manner that will bring about positive change not just for the self but for all parties concerned. When the message of anger is deciphered, that is when we are able to identify what we considered wrong, unjust, unfair, corrupt, dangerous, disrespectful, and so forth, then the messenger (anger) has served its purpose. Much like an announcer who proclaims, “Play ball!”, once the proclamation is declared his job is complete and the players commence the game. Anger is an announcer, it tells me that something is wrong. Once I receive the message I can dispose of that specific emotion and put my energy into the solution.

Here’s an example: a young mother is outraged that her father-in-law favors their oldest son. Her younger children have noticed the nepotism and she can see the hurt in their eyes. “How could he be so insensitive and mean to my other children?” she thinks to herself. But rather than verbally lambast him, she sets out a course of action to create a more balanced family dynamic. She puts down the anger and addresses the issue with the grandfather stating that she realizes her son is a very special child and she loves the bond he has with him. She also knows how much her other children would cherish the same kind of relationship with him. She then offers suggestions as to how they can work on creating that as well as the benefits for all of them. In this regard, her anger motivates her to improve a family situation before any serious damage was done. The ability to make thoughtful, intelligent, positive decisions with extenuating benefits for everyone is where our authentic power lies.

Take great care when choosing anger for it can be highly deceptive. Never relinquish your authority to such a powerful emotion for once you do it has the potential to have devastating consequences. Like an announcer, listen to its message, set it free, and set your thoughts on a path to positive actions. And in this way, you will find the true power that is rightfully yours.

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Recently a 43 year old man and father of seven, Keith Lamont Scott, was killed by police in Charlotte, NC. As is often the case, there are conflicting reports as to what actually happened. Currently, an investigation by a separate state agency is taking place to determine if this shooting was warranted or was an act of racial profiling. In any event, investigations of this nature can take months to complete. In the meantime, people are up in arms about another killing of a black man that, for many, appears racially motivated. Police in riot gear are trying to keep protestors from becoming violent yet their efforts are falling short. Looting local businesses typically accompanies rioting and Charlotte is no exception. Along with physical injuries, there was an innocent civilian who was murdered by a civilian, all due to the chaos that is germane to violent protests.
I totally understand the anger and outrage at a presumed killing of an innocent individual, and protests, if handled correctly, can be a powerful tool in voicing one’s concerns as well as influencing much needed reform. However, here are some of the reasons why protests of this nature do not work.

Flawed From the Get Go

First, upon hearing such news, people are quick to jump to conclusions and make assumptions about the guilt and/or innocence of all parties. This is typically decided by a predetermined mindset or belief that the person subscribes to. Rather than review all of the facts, they pick and choose those details which support their beliefs and discredit those that contradict them. Their actions are a reflection of those beliefs, however accurate or erroneous they may be.

Secondly, once an individual has made a judgment call, they are eager to disseminate that information in order to attract followers and thus gain momentum. When they condemn the supposed guilty party before an accurate determination can be made, their agenda incites hatred towards the alleged perpetrator typically followed by outrage and violence. Fear (that justice will not be served) fuels this behavior in an effort to gain power and control over their (perceived) oppressors.

Unintended Consequences

However, rather than achieve the positive changes they are seeking, the opposite actually occurs. Rioters lose the respect of the community and nation; they are seen as hate-mongers who are unable and unwilling to negotiate an issue rationally. Whatever trust and cooperation could have occurred between both sides is dashed as their actions support the belief that (based on their violent behaviors) they are untrustworthy.
While their concerns may be valid, their actions elude to another agenda. The deliberate destruction of another person’s personal property, i.e. the looting of local businesses, damage to vehicles, assaults on innocent individuals, etc., suggests that their protest is actually an excuse to cause mayhem and destruction. Additionally, those in the black communities who accuse whites of racial profiling are only further hurting their cause for justice by reinforcing the violent image many people have of them as they engage in unjustifiable destruction and harm to their communities and fellow citizens.

The Path to Righteous Change

Violence is never the way to change. From a Karmic perspective one cannot engage in negative, hateful actions and expect to reap a positive end. In Biblical terms, (Galatians) God tells us that “You shall reap what you sow.” Therefore, the only way to create justice is through fairness and rational, respectable actions. Ghandi stated it so eloquently, “I must first be the change I want to see in the world.” It cannot be any clearer than that.

Relevant Questions

Here are the questions all agitators need to consider before engaging in destructive acts: will this help or hurt my cause? Will this make the situation better or worse, now and in the future? Clearly there is nothing constructive that has emerged from any of these riots. On the contrary: blacks have further damaged their image and race relations are more strained now than in prior years.

Authentic Power

While violent protestors are dangerously misguided in their way of thinking, that violence is power, the truth is that responsibility is power. Only when we take personal ownership for the sad state of our lives rather than blame others do we have the power to change it. Peace is power. “I Am the Way and the Truth and the Life” says God. God’s way of love and kindness and concern for one another is the path to a more just and safer world. It is our Divine right to be free from harm and to be treated with dignity and respect. But that will not happen through the use of force. It will only occur when each individual chooses to be respectful towards all of humanity, even towards those who may be acting out; to rise above, to be the example of what is means to be fully human.

In Summary

When both sides are willing to come together in a meaningful dialogue to share their concerns and grievances, to listen not only with their ears but more importantly with their hearts, when they are willing to forgive the transgressions of the other party and put the past behind them, only then do they stand a chance at ending the hatred and coming together as one.

You cannot beat a child and expect him or her to trust and love you. Likewise, you cannot riot and loot and injure and destroy and expect others to respect you. “What you reap you sow.” Positive change can only occur through positive actions. Let go of the fear and anger and hatred. Let God’s way be your way. And in doing so, the world will finally find the peace and justice it is so desperately seeking.

Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @

Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @
Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @
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