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Tag Archives: nonviolent communication
I grew up in a family where emotions weren't expressed cleanly; especially challenging emotions like anger. Everyone feels angry from time to time, but growing up I got the sense that there was something wrong with this basic human emotion because nobody talked about it. My parents never seemed to say directly that they felt angry; but it was obvious when they were and their anger came out in ways that I found very frightening and destructive.
Everyone around me seemed ashamed of their anger. Over time, I learned to feel ashamed of my anger too. I denied, suppressed and internalized it as though I was doing something righteous and noble. But the repressed rage built up inside me until eventually as an adult I developed overwhelming anxiety, panic attacks, depression and even a physical illness.
This forced me to wise up and realize that there was nothing noble about denying my anger. But with poor role models for expressing anger constructively in my family of origin and in society at large, who was I to turn to for help?
My answer came in the form of enlightened therapists who understood that anger is a perfectly normal emotion whose purpose is to motivate us when our needs aren't getting met.… Continue reading…
I've noticed a consistent pattern among myself and my coaching clients: we all have a history of not standing up for ourselves when other people behave in ways that we don't feel good to us. Most of us had parents who weren't willing or able to teach us how to deal with our emotions, to self-soothe our nervous system when we were in distress, or to stand up for ourselves when our emotional or physical boundaries were being violated. Often the person we most needed to stand up to was one or both of our parents themselves, and that rarely goes well when you're a distressed child trying to stand up to an adult who is being unreasonable because their wounded inner child is running the show.
All of this is a recipe for ever-increasing anger, resentment and frustration. We end up overcompensating in a desperate attempt to get our needs met. Internalise that toxic cocktail and it's no wonder we end up anxious, depressed and lacking self-confidence.
Behavior patterns learned as a child tend to stick even if they never really worked well, and coping strategies learned as a child rarely work well in the adult world.… Continue reading…
I get my fair share of hate mail on the Internet, which I find unpleasant but not entirely surprising. Many people aren't good at expressing their anger cleanly, and some of them choose to channel it into hate mail directed at me.
Being on the receiving end of somebody else's hostility can be stressful, so it's important to be assertive with these people to stop their stress from entering our emotional boundary.
He's an example from a few weeks ago: I got an email from a female ex-friend who I initially met through a blog I run, which began:… Continue reading…
I've spent the last few years working hard on connecting more deeply with my father, motivated by a few reasons: For one, I felt I was missing something in my own sense of self; a connection to my own masculinity that would normally comes from a boy's father. I also found myself feeling a profound sense of grief and loss towards my father, which seemed particularly odd given that he's still very much alive and kicking. And then other men I've talked to whose father's had died have often told me how much they regret not connecting on a deeper level and getting the chance to ask questions they'd long for an answer to, while he was still alive.
Frankly, it hasn't been an easy process. My experience of my father is that he talks about his experiences in excruciating detail that is totally devoid of emotional content. This often leaves me switching off and ending up feeling isolated, lonely and depressed in his presence. He says things that just aren't very interesting and appears to show no regard for whether his listener finds the conversation engaging or not. When he tells me about visiting a relative or going to a concert, I'm likely to hear more about the parking and travel arrangements than whether he enjoyed the actual event itself.… Continue reading…