I love going to the farmers market on a sunny Sunday morning. Actually, I love going to the market any day of the week, it’s just that normal week days are often too busy for a leisurely walk through stands filled with inviting fruit and vegetables, nick knacks, pots and pans, old rusty tools, tempting pastries and cakes, clothes and pottery to name just a few. On some days I am going home with bags full of goodies, on other days I just stroll and buy nothing.
I woke up this morning thinking how close life resembles the market. There is so much on offer, there are so many different experiences one can have, yet I don’t have to ‘buy’ into it. The stand holders can’t make me buy anything if I don’t want to. Sometimes I let myself be talked into buying something I later regret. Still, it’s me making the decision to buy. My thoughts about what I see in front of me create a feeling of wanting which then leads to a purchase. (more…)
I thought the end of the year is a good time to focus on what is important. In my opinion it’s finding peace – inner peace as well as peace in the world around us. The latter doesn’t seem to be achieved easily considering the level of violence experienced worldwide – amongst countries, religious groups, racial groups, communities, and even families. There is everything from bomb attacks in Nigeria on Christmas Day, overflowing refugee camps, assaults, murder, women’s refuges at the maximum of their capacity, abuse of children, road rage, down to grumpy old (wo)men. (more…)
Have you ever seen how two people get completely caught up in a war of beliefs? It turns into painful, hurtful lose:lose situation. For example a separated couple fighting over the care of their child(ren). Each partner truly believing that they are the better person to raise the child(ren), that they are in the ‘right’. Each partner usually has a group of supporter who equally believe s/he does things right. The battle than is about pointing out the other party’s shortcomings or mistakes and highlight one’s own assets. (more…)
I remember back in the early days of my psychotherapy training we had one afternoon set aside for an experiential lesson on ‘Anger Work’. We had to bring props like cushions, newspaper, phone books, or towels to express our anger with by hitting them on chairs, tables, or the ground. In no time the room was filled with students hitting and banging on things, shouting, some students crying, some in fear. About 20 years ago that was the height of psychotherapeutic practice when it came to expressing anger healthily as opposed to hitting or shouting at a person. We also learnt the “When you do X I end up feeling Y” formula for expressing anger assertively: “When you forget to put the garbage out I feel angry” thereby helping people to de-personalise the incident. It’s not you I am angry with, it’s your behaviour! (more…)
Conflict is a normal occurrence. Whether you think of personal intimate relationships, friendships, or workplace relations, you can anticipate that conflict will happen sooner or later. It is unrealistic to expect that people have always the same needs, ideas, intentions, or plans. By finding constructive ways navigating through times in which you have a different position to your ‘partner’, you will be able to
- grow as a person
- arrive at a deeper understanding of any given situation
- learn about the other person and his/her needs
- will gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your important needs.
In a way, conflict can be understood as a result of resistance to one’s planned path of action or expected needs. Yet, rather than seeing it as a negative phenomenon, resistance has a life giving side to it. Life would be impossible without resistance. Indeed, resistance is not an impediment but the driving force for any progress and forward movement. Without resistance people cannot blow-dry their hair, cars don’t move, and people would slide off chairs.
When you experience resistance, you are given the opportunity to grow stronger within yourself as well as strengthen your relationships. Read on in the next post that explores “How to fight fair”.
Anger is probably one of the most important emotions available to humans. Far back, at the dawn of mankind, anger was absolute necessary for the survival of our species. Whenever a hostile tribe or a Saber-Tooth Tiger would attack, our distant ancestors could rely on the emotion of anger to prepare them to either fight or take flight.
Anger signals to the brain that the survival of the self/ the person is under threat upon which chemicals and hormones were released to prepare the body for the needed action. The problem with anger is, however, that Saber-Tooth Tigers are extinct. Yet, feeling the rush of the chemicals released by anger modern (wo)man reacts with a fight or flight response designed to deal with prehistoric beasts in situations that are not life-threatening. People get angry when another driver cuts in front of their car, when they have to wait at the supermarket check-out, when their child is not coming immediately when called,
when dinner is not ready at the usual time, or when the expected pay-increase is not happening. It’s like shooting mice with cannons. Over the millennia (wo)men have forgotten or un-learnt to respond appropriately to low-grade infringements. Anger and the violent expression of anger has become a serious problem in relationships, in
parenting, and in society.