Friday, April 5, 2013

Resentment: The acceptable Anger

When i work with couples in strife it is clear that  anger issues are always a part of the problem, regardless of what set these feelings in motion, too often i hear,"I am not an angry person ", i will then agree and suggest that resentment can cause problems in that persons life and will get agreement. We have many terms to describe anger and over a period of time for some reason have come to believe that these ongoing feelings are not actual anger. This is a mystery to me, along with the idea that long held anger is justifiable where short term angers are not. I know for one thing that i would rather have someone get something off their chest in a meaningful and appropriate way than be subjected to moods that go on for days or even weeks, it also has to be said that the person who holds grudges is usually on a simmer for years over slights and damage done in their childhood and youth, this acting as a foundation for every single moment of dissension in their present and future. 

Often i hear clients, and recently an acquaintance, say they are not good at confrontation, yet every time i hear those words i know i am hearing them from those who frequently bring conflicts about by their dishonesty, negative or angry attitudes and just as often resentful or angry words being thrown out when there is any level of discord. I guess it is the right time to say that some level of conflict will arise at some point in nearly every relationship at some point, if your first thought in this is that it is the other persons fault for having the audacity to actually mention a problem, then you are likely to be an active player in major conflicts rather than an innocent recipient. It is also a good time to point out that when you deal with issues as they arise honestly and with a mind on solutions rather than getting your way, it is unlikely that particular moment will become a conflict or confrontation. 

Attitude is the single biggest factor in fights, ask yourself about your attitude to problems, when someone comes to you reasonably and mentions an issue what is your attitude, do you try to shut them down? do you get critical of them? do you find insults an acceptable start to a discussion where your behaviours are under scrutiny? Do you wait for things to go wrong or do you look for ways to make things better? There is no doubt that if you are the one focused on the issue at hand rather than if it can be resolved or if the other person feels they have talked to you repeatedly until they too are now just angry things will always end up in conflict. Lets have a wee look at the difference between confrontation and conflict. Confrontation is the word usually thrown around with an i don't like it used as the reason for things going badly, the truth is quite different, an unwilllingness to confront issues leads to conflict and it is conflict that most don not enjoy. I put it to you that you rarely if ever need to go into conflict if you are willing to explore issues as a couple or team with an eye on solutions, this immediately takes the focus off the actual problem so it does not simply become a bone of contention, but rather it becomes a foundation for an excercise in caring, loving or sharing. 

Building relationships is not an overnight miracle, love or a surging of feelings may feel that way but a relationship needs structure, solid foundations as well as feelings to succeed. For that both parties need to be willing to accept responsibility for their own feelings and their own behaviours, it is not right to throw anger from your past at your partner or workmates, it is not right to engage in relationships and then say you have trust issues, all you are doing is expressing anger at its various levels, even depression is anger, while it is self oriented it does a lot of damage to those who live around it, parents damage children not just partners with angry emotional outbursts. Frustration is anger, it is anger at having met a brick wall or not getting your way, which is it that you are facing? Blaming is anger, it is anger without responsibility always directed at anyone that does not enable you in some way. 

It is now known that those who live a low level and ongoing anger (negativity) actually bring others around them down, interestingly angry people are drawn to postive people or upbeat people, this indicates that they are perhaps seeking to be more positive or happier in their life if you are that person then you have given yourself the job of lifting your game and dealing with those issues that you carry rather than expecting others to play roles in your life that meet your expectations. If you have a genuine caring for another there is no reason you would not want happiness, health and wellbeing for them. If you want to share time , business or your life with them perhaps the ultimate gift you have to offer is to deliberately change those aspects of your character that bring your own issues and place them on another. It is easy to identify if you are the one being angry by looking at the external factors, do your friends tend to be angry or unpopular, it is easy to tell yourself they are different and society at large does not accept them, the chances are that they are really just angry and there is a natural tendency from those who are not angry to want to keep their distance. If a large number of your friends have substance abuse issues or constantly criticize others, blame society or individuals past and present for their angers, it may be time to look at your self and decide if you want to have a different type of lifestyle.

a few ways that anger expresses itself and perhaps an insight to yourself, a partner or workmates and friends. No matter what you are hoping for here you nothing changes in your life til you decide to change your own attitude, it is a sure thing that if you have a lot of conflict in your life that you are the common denominator and that if nothing else is worth a look if you think you are a good guy in general. Anger does not make a person a bad person, behaviour can do that if they take their anger and turn it on others, whether by grinding them down or abuse someone it is not appropriate. I have never heard anyone say they fear happiness so if you find it difficult to look at your self, perhaps your fear is in your own opinion of your behaviours in relation to your values, if you don't acknowledge these at some point you will continue to live them and may wonder why life simply does not seem to work for you

prescription for misery:::: are you in here?
William F. Doverspike, Ph.D.

Never say you’re sorry. Psychological research and theological writings have shown that relationships are enriched by the processes of forgiveness and reconciliation (Worthington, 2001, 2006). The 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous reads, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” This step has been described as “relationship glue” for those who are living a life of intentionality. In contrast, one of the best ways to ruin a relationship is to never admit when we are wrong. We can hurt others through acts of commission (things we have done that we should not have done) as well as acts of omission (things we have not done that otherwise could have helped someone). Rather than focusing on the things you have done that have hurt someone, or the things you have not done that otherwise could have helped someone, consider making a list of all the things that someone has done to hurt you. Think about what you would like for the other person to do to make amends to you—and then just keep waiting. Sooner or later, you are bound to feel miserable. In order to create unhappiness in your life, be sure to never apologize when you have hurt or offended someone. Even better, blame the person whom you have offended.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, don’t ever say you’re sorry or admit that you were wrong.

Blame others for the problems in your life. Psychological research has shown that people who avoid accepting responsibility for their behavior are more likely to achieve less than those who readily accept responsibility (Sternberg, 1996). Rather than looking at your own contribution to situations that turn out badly, focus more on shifting responsibility to the other person. When things go wrong, notice what the other person said or did to cause them to go wrong. Develop a sense of externalization, which means placing the blame on something outside yourself. Even better, place the blame on someone else, while avoiding responsibility for your own actions. Develop the psychology of victimology, which means taking on the role of victim in the blame game. If others do not play the game, then blame them also. Whatever your strategy, just be sure to criticize others while justifying yourself.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, blame others for your problems.

Take what you want from others. Psychological research has shown that people who are unhappy are also more selfish, and people who are selfish are also unhappier than others. People often feel worse when they spend more time thinking about their own problems, rather than focusing on helping others with their problems. There is a strong correlation between health, happiness, well-being, and compassion (Posta, 2005). Therefore, in order to make yourself miserable, spend less time caring about other people. For example, the next time you dine at a fine restaurant, leave a small tip. Even better, get someone else to pay. In addition to holding on to what is yours, cultivate both sides of the attitude of greed, including envy (the resentful desire to have what others have) and jealousy (the resentful desire to exclusively possess something or the fear of losing what you have). In this sense, envy involves two people whereas jealousy involves three, so take the easiest path to misery and be envious of others. For example, rather than giving your time by volunteering at a homeless shelter, take a tour of luxury homes and notice your feelings of envy. When you see something you like, think of ways to acquire it so that you will have more than others. Rather than giving to others, expect others to be giving to you. When you don’t get what you want, take it.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, take what you want from others, while giving nothing in return.

Hold grudges and never forgive others. The benefits of practicing forgiveness have been studied from a psychological perspective for many years (Smedes, 1984; Enright et al., 1991; Freedman & Enright, 1996). Forgiveness can be defined as the process by which we let go of negative emotions such as anger and resentment. Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting, denying, suppressing, condoning, excusing, pardoning, or reconciling. It is possible to forgive without reconciling, but it is impossible to reconcile without forgiving. On the other hand, resentment can be defined as the process by which we hold on to negative emotions such as anger. Resentment is like setting yourself on fire in the hope that the smoke will bother the other person. The key to harboring resentments is to hold on to the anger and other negative emotions that are associated with being hurt or wronged by someone. There is usually an emotional payoff in holding on to resentment; we get something out of it. Resentment ties us to the problem--and binds us to the person--through anger. This form of emotional blackmail gives us a sense of self-justification and leverage against the other person. For example, rather than taking the initiative to reconcile a small rift with a friend, spend more time obsessing about what the other person should do. Don’t reserve grudges and resentments for the big things in life, but learn to harbor resentments for the little things as well. For example, rather than calling a friend, become angry while waiting for your friend to call you.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, hold on to resentments and never forgive.

Hold on to anger and resentment. Psychological research has shown that people who are angry are more likely to be miserable and they are also more likely to die early. Sustained hostility with angry outbursts contributes more strongly to death from heart disease than other well-known risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol (Finney, Stoney, & Engebretson, 2002; Suarez, Lewis, & Kuhn, 2002; Williams, Haney, Lee, King, & Blumenthal, 1980). Scientific investigators have found that the ability of the heart to pump blood efficiently though the body dropped significantly during anger but not during stress or exercise (Ironson, et al., 1992). Anger also affects people without heart disease. Medical students who were often angry were seven times more likely to die by the age of 50 than students in the same class who had lower levels of hostility (Williams, et al., 1980). To make yourself miserable, maintain a seething sense of resentments in your life. Get into more arguments by making accusatory indictments toward others. For example, begin your statements with “you” and use an angry tone. Take no responsibility for your own emotions, but blame your emotions on others. For example, use statements like, “You make me mad.” Engage in absolutistic thinking, which means equating your thoughts with reality (e.g., “If I think so, then it’s so”), because this type of thinking leads to rigidity, inflexibility, and lack of emotional and behavioral freedom. Remember, it is better to be right than to be happy. Engage in emotional reasoning, which means equating a feeling with reality, because this type of thinking will produce negative emotions. Engage in emotional stockpiling, which means keeping a mental list of ways that others have offended you. When arguing with others, don’t stick to the issues, but bring up the past by using your list of resentments.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, hold on to negative emotions such as anger and resentment.

Develop a sense of hopelessness. Psychological research has shown that hope is one of the most important variables in creating positive changes in one’s life (Hanna, 2002; Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Hope can be defined as a belief in a positive outcome related to the events or circumstances in one’s life. Hope is not the same as wishing, longing, desiring, or yearning. It is the unseen evidence of a brighter day, no matter how dark one’s present day may be. It is the realistic expectation of a positive outcome, regardless of how dire one’s present circumstances may seem. On the other hand, hopelessness is one of the most significant psychological risk factors associated with suicide (Beck, Brown, Berchick, Stewart, & Steer, 1990; Bongar, 2002). An attitude of hopelessness is usually associated with greater misery in life. Although there is nothing certain in life except taxes and death, focus on taxes and death if you want to make yourself miserable. Develop the self-fulfilling prophecy that nothing good will ever happen in your life.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, develop a sense of hopelessness about the future.

Live a more meaningless life. In Man’s Search for Meaning, expanded from its original title, From Death-Camp To Existentialism, Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl wrote, “Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way in the moment that it finds a meaning” (1969, p. 179). Half a century after Frankl had written his monumental book, researchers have observed that people who are happy tend to have a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Therefore, to be as miserable as possible, it is important to live a life without purpose or meaning. Live without higher values or, if you have values at all, be sure to violate them as much as possible. In other words, live in the basement of life, rather than on its highest plane. Rather than living on the basis of principles, live on the basis of nothing at all. Even better, live only for yourself. Rather than actively participating in the world, spend more time passively watching the world go by. For example, spend more time watching television or listening to the evening news.

Prescription for misery: To make yourself miserable, strive to live without purpose or meaning.

a final note from me

perhaps you could write yourself a new prescription for life, if you hit more than one of the markers above you would benefit from determining life is valuable enough for you to put some effort in instead of expecting others to do that for you....Healing is not really about forgiveness it is about accepting what life has thrown at you, learn from it if you can, and then live in the present knowing you survived.

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