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Fear

Allowing Visualization to Work

Visualizing what we want in our life is a great step toward creating what we want. There is value in visualizing what we want.

The trick with visualization is to visualize and then get on with doing what it is that will bring that visualization into reality. Can visualization alone attract what you want into your life? Possibly. But I see a great deal more evidence of success by individuals adding other key ingredients to their visualization, like passion and action.

I have found that passion and action go a long way toward bringing about the future we want to experience. Visualizing a lot of money in the bank or the love of their life standing next to them, but then never taking the risk to get out there is naive to me.

Visualize and then get out there and passionately pursue your vision and allow your intuition to guide you along they way rather than your fear or want of control.

Relationships and a Rich Life

A mentor of mine once told me that I needed community. I had no clue what he was talking about. I might have even went as far as to say I don't need anyone. I once prided myself on my "I can go it alone", "I'll do it myself", "I don't need any help", etc. Somewhere along the line I developed the story that it was better to go it alone.

Not too long after my mentor suggested I needed community I learned what he meant. In the course of 6 months I started a new career and moved away from a community of friends that I had developed deep bonds. With so much change in my life and so little in the way of supportive relationships, I went from feeling like I could conquer anything to feeling practically helpless. I went from having rich connection and support in my life to feeling like I was swimming in the ocean alone.

There is power in connection, in relationships, in community. They ground us. Our relationships can support us powerfully when we are climbing to that next peak or falling down a slope.

Do you want to make something happen in the world, in your life – connect, develop and cultivate relationships and communities that support you, that enrich your life.

The relationships that made the most profound impact on my life where not always the most comfortable. I sought out individuals that I could respect and trust to see me clearly. I want people in my life that want the best for me and who care enough about me to hold the bar up when I am unable or unwilling to do so myself. Love comes in many forms, tender and strong.

Happy or Frustrated

I should have had it done already. What a jerk, he drove up ahead and cut in front of everyone. They should get more involved and do their part. I should have a better job. I am so tired of it raining so much. They should stop talking so much. She's always working

There is a pattern in these thoughts, a theme. The theme is that I am wanting it to be different than how it is now, different than reality.

Early on in my career I came across this idea of loving how things are in the moment. I remember thinking how impossible that sounded. I was living in Chicago, Lincoln Park and making just a little more than minimum wage. I moved from East Lansing, Michigan where I could get a hair cut for less than $10 to Chicago and paying $26. I had goals for my life but it seemed my progress toward them was slow or non-existent. I was definitely wishing things were different for me, especially in the income department.

And then I started applying the idea of loving what is to my life. What I noticed, as I kept at it, choosing to appreciate how things are in the moment, I had more energy. I found myself smiling more and generally much happier. When I found one of those thoughts pop into my head, wishing some situation was different or being frustrated with some aspect of my life, I redirected my thinking.

Interesting enough, I started being more productive and taking on more responsibility with enthusiasm at work. As my attitude improved my relationship with those around me improved. As my relationships improved and I was able to create more of the results I wanted I was noticed more by those that could give me opportunities to take on even higher levels of responsibility. In the fours years following my realization that I could choose my view of life I attracted exciting new career opportunities, I more than tripled my income and I met my wife.

I have come back to this realization, that I can choose how I experience my life, over and over again. Inevitably, each time I made the decision and commitment to redirect my thinking, I experienced big shifts toward creating what I wanted in my life.

"Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Victor Frankl

Expressing Anger Assertively

Anger does not need to be aggressive or hostile. In fact, aggressive anger is more likely to create separation, division and pain. The assertive expression of anger on the other hand, holds the prospect of bringing people together, creating positive change and drawing healthy boundaries.

Not everyone will respond positively to either hostile or assertive anger. And we should not try to control others reactions. In fact, in expressing anger in any form we cannot hold onto a given outcome. When we need someone to respond in a specific way we are trying to manipulate or control them.

When we let others react without expectation we are more likely to stay clear as to what we want or don’t want. Staying clear allows us to dynamically work through the situation or make decisions that change the situation to create what we want or don’t want.

One approach to expressing assertive anger can look like this:

1. When this happened (action/inaction/behavior/)

2. I felt ….. (mad, sad, angry, excited, happy, tender)

3. Because… (the impact or effect of the action/inaction/behavior)

4. My judgment (or story) about the situation is…

5. What I want (or don’t want) is….

Notice in this approach the focus of attention is placed on behavior, impact and me (using I statements). People are more likely to get defensive when we make the situation about them personally.

As you take this type of approach to expressing anger you increase the odds you will create a healthy outcome for you and those involved.

I am designing a online 12 week training program that will support individuals in expressing and responding to anger in a constructive way. If you interested contact me at ted (at) pivotalgrowth.com.

Fear of Reaction to Anger

Anger can be healthy. Yes, it can also be destructive, hostile, and turned inward. But if there is healthy anger, the anger that is assertive and constructive, that can create and bring about what we really want in our lives, why don't we speak that anger?

There is more than one answer to that question. One reason is to avoid the reactions of others. I don't like to experience your (potential) reaction to my anger so I avoid speaking it to you. I would rather withhold what I really feel to keep the peace.

I would rather allow you to overstep my boundaries. I would forgo getting my wants and needs met. I would rather not say what I like and don't like. I would rather live less than satisfied, maybe sad and depressed much of the time.

What I have really done is lowered the bar for both us. By not stepping up I play smaller in my life and you will do the same. The unexpressed anger does not just impact this moment, it impacts all aspects of our life.

One weak spoke on the wheel of the bike affects the entire wheel. It can set it off balance and potentially bends the rim – which could cause a crash if not fixed. We play a part in that crash.

Faces of Anger

Ok, there is the feeling or emotion of anger, but what do you picture when you think of anger?

At one time the only picture that came to my mind when I thought of anger was "aggressive anger". It tended to look out of control and destructive. Meant to intimidate, cause pain or damage someone or something.

In addition to aggressive anger there is "passive aggressive" anger, the anger that is not direct and assertive but round about and hostile. It is not outwardly aggressive in the direct way but it can be equally destructive as the aggressive anger expression

Another expression of anger is the "passive anger". Opposite of aggressive anger, the passive anger can fold in on itself. Instead of the individual getting bigger, they shrink away. It may not be obvious on the surface but there is typically a drop in energy. They are left finding other round about approaches to getting their needs met that can be ineffective and costly in time and energy.

The anger that is the most effective in creating a constructive outcome is the "assertive anger". It is clean and direct, with a positive intent. It can create healthy boundaries, bring clarity, communicate wants and needs. Assertive anger is powerful – a power meant to create versus the intent to hurt and destroy.

The true, most powerful and constructive expression of anger is the assertive anger. Using this approach over the others is a choice – albeit one that may take practice for those of us less skilled!

An Anger Stigma

With most things in life, too little or too much can have undesirable consequences. The expression or lack of expression of anger is no different, too much or too little can have undesirable and even more, harmful consequences.

Anger is a feeling/emotion. It does not need to be stuffed down or expressed through hostility. In it's purest form, anger is a healthy and powerful emotion.

For some individuals, expressing anger to create positive outcomes and consequences is a challenge. They have learned behaviors or have inherent traits (or both) that impact how they express or manage their anger. A learned behavior may be more obvious, you see tendencies in the family or social environment of some unhealthy anger withholding or expression. An inherent trait might be they experience their feelings as very strong and overwhelming, bringing anger out by the truckload.

In both of these situations there is a learning opportunity. Learning that can change the trajectory of an individuals ability to express or manage anger to create positive outcomes.

Instead of labeling the emotion of anger as good or bad, we can look at what we can do to express anger in a constructive way that create positive outcomes.

Anger & a Pitfall of Denial

It can be anger, it can be jealousy, resentment, shame, etc.

When we deny the existence of any of our emotions – we block their release. When I feel anger toward someone else and I deny that anger exist I block the release of it.

In the software development world some application development approaches refer to the software development process as having a full lifecycle. There is a beginning, development steps or iterations and an end, which is the final release of the software. If there was not a release in the process you would not have the internet browser you are using right now.

We may not be conscious of our emotions at this level, but there is a natural process to our emotions, a beginning, processing and a release. When we deny an emotion, in this case anger, the life cycle of the emotion is stopped somewhere in the middle.

The most profound changes I have made in my life and that I have seen in the lives of others begins with acceptance.

I’m Not Angry

No, I'm not angry! Why would you think I am angry? What would I be angry about? No I am not angry, I just had something on my mind. Another response to being questioned about being angry might be no response at all. Denial can have many faces and that holds true for the negative impact of denied anger as well.

Denied anger tends to be toxic. It becomes toxic for the individual denying it and quite often to those around the individual denying their anger. The effects may not show up for days, months or years, but inevitably it does show up.

Denied anger can look like self alienation, loneliness, outward/inward hostility or hate, cancer, depression, inauthentic niceness, action or inaction with the intent or motive to hurt another, the list goes on. 

Ultimately anger that is blocked up, going unexpressed or unresolved blocks up a part of our energy that we could use to create what we want in our life.

Do you have or know someone with unexpressed or unresolved anger? How is it impacting or showing up in your/their life?

I welcome your comments or reactions below or in an email ted (at) pivotalgrowth.com.

Don’t Be Angry!

How does one "not be angry"? I can understand working through anger, but not feel anger? Anger is a natural human emotion. To be alive we are certain to feel anger and the other emotions.

I see parents that shame and threaten their children if they show any anger. In many work environments anger of any sort, including passionate expression is not acceptable. What can we do if we are not allowed to express or show anger?

Unexpressed or stuffed anger can have a stifling affect on us. In some cases it shows up as passive aggressive, a physical disease or emotional challenges. Anger that is not addressed in a healthy way can block the energy and aliveness that we have within us.

Allowing ourselves to feel anger can be critical to our ability to create what we want and less of what we don't want in our relationships and in our lives.

There are ways to work through anger that is unexpressed. The challenge comes when we neither express nor work through anger.