Anger management techniques: How to control anger before it controls you

“It Is Not What Happens To You It Is How You Respond To It ! “

We are all humans and humans have emotions, lots of emotions. One of the strongest emotions we have is anger. And it is crucial to learn how to live with anger. Since we can not have a surgery and get rid of our emotions  we need to learn to cope with them on a daily basis. Without emotions life would be quite meaningless and boring but when we don’t know how to cope with anger, love or jealousy they could bring catastrophic outcomes.  The source of anger is irrelevant in a way because there will always be things that will annoy us. You can’t escape from that and expect everything to go perfectly well. But you can change your reaction to anger. You can choose to react in a way that short circuits that poisonous tension within you and cut the high voltage before it takes control over you and makes you act in a way you end up regretting terribly. Here are few quick anger management techniques to help you handle anger and to keep your cool.

 

Step #1  : Observe your anger building up and get ready : do not react immediately

angervoltageYou will absolutely know when it is coming, it is a matter of not reacting immediately. You are driving and another driver doesn’t stop at stop sign and you almost end up hitting him/her. You are furious, all you want is to roll down the window and curse at him. Even that will not calm you down, maybe you want to chase him and do the same to him. The first few seconds of anger is very important. So just stop instead of reacting, do not retaliate! Your ego will force you to do so but you should know that all your ego causes is trouble anyway. So just try to stop and do not act. That will give you some time to do the right thing .

Step #2  : Take a mental video of the worst  case scenario  worstcaseYes you heard it right. Now you stopped and the next step is to create a video on your mind in which you follow where your anger takes you and what could possibly could have happened if you did so. For instance just before you opened the window and cursed at that guy / girl , create that video with a possible worst case scenario and hit the play button . On your mind have yourself act in the worst way, for example in the mental video you roll down the window and swear at him/her then the driver swears at you and you get out of your car so the driver with a gun at his hand. He shoots you right in the head and you are dead or he just shoots you on the leg and pumps the gas leaves you there. People come to help you and you end up in the hospital and rest for a month etc etc. Or you just chase him with your car and hit him behind and the cops come , your insurance skyrockets and you both end up paying a big fine and lose the driving licenses for a year. Just use your creativity and come up with the possible worst case scenarios and run them on your mind and that will make you feel like you have already been there . This is a very powerful technique because by the time you are done with the video your anger will be short circuited . You will not feel as angry as you did few seconds before , it will be gone because you have already released that emotion on your mind hypothetically except you will not have to deal with the horrible consequences of your actions you took on your mental video. It might take some to to apply it properly but once you excelled this anger management technique you will be able to control your anger before it controls you in your daily life.

Step #3  : Remind yourself, it is just today

Some days everything just goes wrong. Your boss is angry , your wife , husband, child gives you a hard time. Your car breaks down when you have to rush for an important meeting. Everything just goes wrong and it becomes really hard to keep your cool and act calmly. Those days remind yourself that it is just today, tomorrow will be a different day and days like this happened in the past and will happen in the future and you will survive. That will give you hope and help you relax so that you can have the power to survive the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Step #4  : Exercise and let the steam out

sportSteer your tension coming from anger into a different activity and release the tension by hitting the gym or taking a walk by the river. Anger creates this tension inside you, you want to punch someone and break things and you have this  insane energy stuck inside so you need to let it out and exercising is one great way of releasing that stuck tension stuck inside you. Body and mind are connected as you go and hit the gym and run or go take a long walk around the river listening to a favorite song of you , it is guaranteed that you will feel better.

Step #5  :  Reward yourself every time you keep your cool against anger 

Now it is time to program your brain in a way that you feel really proud of yourself when you don’t fall in the trap of anger on a daily basis over little things and achieve to remain calm. It is a process to apply these steps  , you will not be able to stop yourself immediately when you get angry and maybe you will say things you will regret. What matters is to stop as soon as you recognize the pattern and steer the situation towards the correct direction before it gets out of hand. And when you are able to do it you should reward yourself so that your brain becomes more prone to acting the same way next time it happens. Remember Pavlov’s Dog Experiment ? We are animals in shoes, we behave the same way and as long as we program ourselves the right way we can handle anger or any kind of strong emotion without them getting out of control. So every time you do the right thing and create the mental video and take a walk, exercise and successfully short circuit the anger and release it  treat yourself. Buy yourself an amazing dinner. Go get those pair of shoes you always wanted. It doesn’t have to be about ” buying ” something. But just do something you really love to do after your successful attempt. That will motivate you and make it a second nature for you to act in the same way automatically next time. You won’t have to think about every single step consciously after some time, you will just find yourself doing the right things naturally.

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How to have a healthy relationship : Chasing the perfect girl or guy

This seems to be a common issue. Finding the right person could be a big struggle in modern age. We live in a consumerist and lonely age. Everyone is looking for the right person desperately yet  we keep treating the relationships as products we can purchase in Walmart. Well, yes there are people out there who care about your money more than your personality but is that the type of relationship you want ? I hope not.

So here are the rules of thumb to help you to have a healthy satisfying relationship with the kind of person you really want.

Step#1 : Leave the house and socialize 

Unless you leave your house you won’t meet anyone interesting other than the UPS guy or girl ( which I have never seen for some reason, UPS should think about this). For you to be able to meet potential girlfriends or boyfriends you need to leave your house and go to social occasions like local meetups, wine tasting events, book clubs, social gatherings. Just find something that you are interested. If you are learning spanish, go to spanish meetups and do what you like and meet people at the same time. If you like mountain climbing then take a course or join a club and get in touch with similar minded people. You need to get out of your comfort zone and that might require a little will power in the beginning. You can go to meetup.com or follow the nearby events  you see on your facebook and pick one and go. Don’t worry about being in an unknown territory because people who go to meetups actually go there to socialize anyway, so they will be open and accepting. If you don’t like meetups go to your friends events or offer to celebrate your friends birthday at your place and invite people. Do your work at a local coffee shop and say hi to strangers to initiate a small talk. There are many things you can do to socialize and meet new people , do whatever you can but get out of your couch and give a break to your Xbox.

Step#2 : Drop all your expectations

This one is very challenging!

The fact is that unless you drop your expectations about your potential mate, you have a very little chance of constructing a healthy relationship often you will end up screwing it up. Expectations will not allow you enjoy the time you spend with your date  rather they will make you start judging her/his every single move to make sure if he/she is the right one. Time flies when you are getting to know someone, it’s like a puzzle you are tying to solve that’s why it’s very interesting and exciting. Don’t rush for trying to figure out if he/she is the right one. Leave it to time and there is no other way frankly. If you rush, you will end up screwing it up because it will loose it’s authenticity, both parts will feel it is not natural. No matter how many times I say it to myself it is still hard for me as well. Because when you get to meet someone and really like him or her , you just want it to happen and your mind rushes you to go for it. It took me years of practice to tell my mind to stop and take the control of my emotions. Because after all, 20 minutes into the conversation you might think you like this person but in reality you still don’t know this person good enough to decide if it is anything else than some hormonal attraction. So calm yourself especially when you really like the person in the beginning , be cool and leave it to time to get to know her or him. By not being too eager and keeping it cool will give him/her space and he/she will not feel suffocated. That’s so key in the beginning in order not to scare him or her.

Step#3 : Embrace rejection!

Life is tough!

You have to be tougher to handle rejection. You will be rejected, maybe many many times. And it is okay it happens, it is not about you, don’t take things personally. Treat it like a social experiment. Go for what you want , try to get to know people and be cool when rejected. It doesn’t mean anything about your personality. It only means the person is could be married, doesn’t feel it, is not your type or maybe even not interested in the opposite sex . When it comes to life’s challenges we need to be thick-skinned and not let every single thing hurt us otherwise we won’t be able to enjoy life cause it will be unbearably painful. Create your own reality and live it. Speak yourself positively instead of beating yourself up when things don’t go the way you wished , say “it’s okay, I am valuable and I will meet people who deserve my attention and who wants to spend time with me”.  Do you give up life when you go to a job interview and get rejected?. Of course not, it is basically the same thing do not take things personally and move on.

Step#4 : Do not chase anyone !

Wait! aren’t guys supposed to chase the ladies and ladies are supposed to take it slow and not give in right away?

Yes of course there are certain roles for both genders . Speaking for 21.st century , it is perceived as more natural for men to go for girls they want and ask them out etc. This is commonly because in the past women did not have financial freedom and didn’t have the power to make the decision themselves. Since the criteria of power is shifting from ”  having more muscles” to “having more brains” in this century, women are less afraid of being labeled and more confident about going for what they want. But still it looks like we have to wait a little more for this to be more common.

By saying ” do not chase anyone” what I mean is : do not be crazy about one single person and bombard him or her with your attention. Do not send poems at 3 am via text message.  Showing over attention will guarantee a rejection. After all you are a valuable interesting person (or getting there day by day ), so why would you be crazy about proving yourself to her or him. You are the giver not the stealer.

The question we need to ask ourselves is that  how do we position our potential mate or date? Do we perceive him/her  as someone who we need in our lives to make us happier or someone who we invite to our lives to offer good time”.  Are we offering something or looking for something to steal because we are in NEED of love , in need of attention and  we need someone to tell us how awesome we are on a regular basis. 

Remember, no one else can give you long lasting happiness if you are not already happy in your own state. If you are unhappy when you are lonely and you think you will be happy if you get a girlfriend or boyfriend , you are dead wrong! You will be happy for a week and get back to your unhappy state even if you have a girlfriend. So, work on yourself and cultivate your inner happiness, if your happiness is dependent on external factors , when they disappear your happiness will be gone as well.

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The Perfectionist & The Habit of Beating Yourself Up – Stop Self Punishment in 3 Steps

Self Punishment Hurts

Self Punishment Hurts

I am a half time perfectionist. I used to be a full time perfectionist. I would always beat myself up when things were not the way I exactly wanted them to be. There was always a reason to beat myself up.  Sometimes it was because of forgetting  the car key at home , not paying the gas bill on time,  for eating junk food or for wasting my time by procrastinating. There could be various reasons  and programming behind this behavior.  Sometimes it is due to low self esteem. Someone criticizes you or you have a short argument with someone and you take things too seriously and start blaming yourself according to what people think about you.
Whatever the reason is , beating yourself up over little mistakes  is really ineffective and does not work. If nothing else, it kills your self esteem and makes things even worse. It gets  harder for you to feel good about yourself.  Remember that you should be your best friend and personal motivator. Otherwise paying someone a fortune to motivate you will not last long because no one can spend more time with you other than yourself.
 Here is  the simple method  to stop self punishment in 3 steps.
1- Let your observing ego kick in. ( Catch yourself doing it )
Step number one is observing yourself and knowing that you are beating yourself up.  In order to stop the habit you should know when it is happening. And whenever it happens just stop and say it to yourself  ” I am beating myself up right now” . When you realize you are repeating this old habit just stop. And tell yourself ” it is okay, things happen , I am probably not the only person losing his car key in the morning before heading  to work”
2 – Ask yourself if it really helps beating yourself up
We are extremely smart creatures. We don’t realize that but we are always in a verbal fight with our minds.  If you want to change a habit you need to convince yourself by solid proof.  Then your mind will absorb it and decide it makes sense and will be willing to let you change it. That’s why pure forced motivation is not enough for long lasting changes. Since you are forcing yourself without convincing yourself on a deeper level, sooner or later you will see your old habits repeat themselves. So when you catch yourself beating yourself  ask the question ” am I really helping myself by beating myself, is it making the situation any better” ?  The answer ,  of course, is NO. You are just adding fuel to the fire by getting angry about yourself. You are killing your self-esteem and mood by beating yourself. It is just making things worse. By acknowledging this fact you will feel more prone to acting differently.
3-  Calm yourself and do what you can do 
You can only do what you can do. So do not expect more than what you can do from yourself simply because it is unfair.  If it is not only you who loses the car key in the morning , when you say ” I am stupid because I lost the keys ” . You should always test if the statement is true. Ask yourself  ” does it make me stupid to lose the car key” . It really doesn’t and it only tells that you are a little disorganized. Instead of choosing the harsh words for yourself , address yourself with mild and logical words. This will keep your self-esteem high and help you resolve the situation calmly and keep your mood up at the same time.
Summary
Now you caught the pattern and stopped it.  Picked the statement ” I am stupid , I lost my keys “.  Now questioned the negative statement and asked yourself ” is it really true” .  And came up with  ” there are many people losing their keys everyday so it is not only me so it does not prove that I am stupid, I am just disorganized and I can work on it ” . Now you eliminated the negative pattern without getting angry and losing your control.  Keep catching your negative thoughts daily, carry a small notebook and write them down as they cross your mind,  disprove them using the same exact pattern.  You will feel better about yourself over time.
In case you never heard of it, this pattern of solving problems is a technique in CBT.  It is used to help people treat their social anxiety, phobia , thought based depression  etc. CBT is based on keeping a log of your thoughts and filtering the sabotaging ones. And writing them down , asking simple questions to see if they are true and by using simple logic refuting the sabotaging thoughts and changing the pattern. Check out the youtube video and apply it yourself.

 

Loneliness vs. Aloneness – The constant urge to escape from the self

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before” . 

– Albert Einstein

We, the people of 21st century, are suffering from depression and stress more than anytime in history. We are constantly multitasking and trying to accomplish many things at the same time. We are eating while watching TV and talking to our friend and answering phones and cooking and sending an sms simultaneously.  We rarely spend time by ourselves and especially in the western societies spending quality time by yourself is often misinterpreted as being a loser or as having no social alignments.

I remember having a routine of  eating at my favorite Mediterranean restaurant once a week and I told this to one of my friends. He was shocked that I actually went  to a restaurant at night and had my favorite food by myself . According to him it would only be normal if I went out with others .  It was eye-opening for me that we as a society feel the necessity to do every single activity with others and it is perceived as something weird to enjoy a meal by yourself.  We feel the need to be talking all the time, it doesn’t really matter what the subject is. It could be friends, families, society, new dates, hockey anything. It really doesn’t matter as long as it is not  SILENT.  We are afraid to death from SILENCE. We just  can’t handle it.  That’s mainly why depression , anxiety and all kinds of mental illnesses skyrocketed in 21st century. That which you escape from becomes your reality and stays with you forever!

Then I realized I used to repeat exactly the same thing in my life , if i was bored  i reached out for the phone to meet a friend, if I was sad i called some friend to dump all my negativity ( sometimes it’s useful ) , or I watched TV for 5 hours or kept reading and forgot about the time. It all served the same purpose actually : trying to kill the silence and not staying alone with myself. 

I have to state that there is nothing wrong about sharing your life with your friends, spending quality time with people you love or socialize with.  And I do have many good friends with who I spend quality time regularly. The point is that you should be spending quality time by yourself and shut the motor ( your mind ) periodically. You NEED it to let your observing ego to give you the feedback on your life journey.  You need it because it gives you a chance to observe yourself, your body, your thoughts , emotions.  Once you are the observer you are not escaping anymore and once you stop running from silence, your anxiety, fear, doubt, panic disappears. You are not in the current being drifted by your emotions and thoughts any more. You are the third person observing yourself.

An Indian spiritual teacher, Osho defines loneliness  differently from aloneness.  Loneliness, in his definition, is something we want to escape , it is dark and sad. We don’t want it, we desperately look for other people to get rid of loneliness. Aloneness on the on the other hand is something we choose to have. We enjoy it. We take it as an opportunity to calm our minds and center ourselves.  I find his definition very accurate. When we actually stop escaping from the self and learn to stop distracting ourselves at all times the more centered and grounded we become.

How to get long lasting motivation through gratitude ?

gratitude. It all looks simple and easy when people say  ” just get your life   together” , ‘just do the right thing” . We all look at those                 Hollywood stars and their awesome (?) lives and think why we are   not at the same level of happiness, why we are stuck with a daily mediocre cycle. The media is lying to us and we keep taking what the media , parents, society, teachers, priests say about happiness as the ultimate truth and try to apply those happiness templates on our unique lives . Unfortunately, this is not the right approach when it comes to finding happiness and peace in our own lives.

You can’t fix all your patients by prescribing the same medicine!

We humans as in  programming language jargon are all case sensitive. Meaning, we all have unique characteristics and nature so we need to be constantly observing our own nature and coming up with the solutions that apply to our very own nature.

Happiness is not something that happens to us , it is something we cultivate by working on it on a daily basis. In the previous post I talked about unless we act on it nothing is going to change in our lives.  To be able to come up with the action to make the change in our lives we need to have MOTIVATION!

Now the next question is  why should I get motivated or what’s the point of getting motivated?   There are tons of motivation coaches out there telling people how they should get motivated and go hit the gym 5 times a week or eat lettuce everyday so that they can live longer or drink Dandellion tea so that they can keep their weight down etc etc etc.. The truth is that  it doesn’t matter if you can instantly get someone motivated for half an hour or not but whether the motivation lasts long in the individual’s life or not!  If, deep inside, we are not believing the necessity of that motivation , even if we have a tiny little bit of a doubt on our minds we will quit hitting the gym , we will stop eating healthy and get back to our old bad habits sooner or later. So in a way quick fixes never worked and will never work!

What’s the solution then?

For someone to be able to get motivated he/she needs to have reasons to live , which ultimately brings us to the topic of self esteem and gratitude. We need to learn to cultivate self esteem and learn to appreciate our lives no matter how many problems we are struggling with.

Our mind is like Google , if you ask  why do I suck? It will find you 10 convincing reasons for why you suck. If you ask why am I great? On the other hand, your google mind will find another 10 very convincing answers to prove you why you are great.  So we need to learn to ask ourselves the right questions at all times to feel motivated to live a better life.

If we feel good about ourselves we will get motivated easier and that motivation will be long lasting because we really believe that we need it, not because some motivation guru making millions of dollars a year said so in a pricey seminar. We are motivated because our lives matter ! And now we are excited about the next step to awesomize our lives.

So the key word in this post is GRATITUDE .  Gratitude —> Motivation—> Action .

How to get grateful about our lives though ?

It will not feel natural in the beginning!

I have to ask you , did it feel natural when you were driving a car for the first time? , or when you were just learning to ride a bike or speaking in a new language after just a few courses? None of them felt natural in the beginning because they were all new to you and you were in an unknown territory out of your comfort zone.

It is the same when it comes to cultivating any new skill. To cultivate self esteem by gratitude you need to be insistent and patient.

Now comes the technique!

Everyday choose the best time for you and isolate yourself from the outside world , in your bed when your roommate is out or in the evening at a silent park by the river, you spend sometime with yourself. Take a notebook with you , no phones no tablets no distraction! Start writing down what you are grateful about your life. Think about it , you will find plenty of things. You are healthy , you are not cancer ( or if you are cancer you are still alive ), you can walk, or speak or you have a house, you can make your own money , you have people who care about you the list goes on. Write them and read them to yourself. Do this 3 times a week for half an hour , the more you do it the better it is. Make it a part of your life to remind yourself the good things in your life.  The reason we need to do that regularly is that we simply take things for granted and forget about the good things in our  lives.  We are all negatively programmed by the  media, society, religions, teachers etc. In order to slow down this pattern and reverse it we need to put constant effort in the right direction.  After repeating this for a couple of months , start doing it at the lunch break  for 10 minutes. Quickly go over your weekly list and remind your mind that you are grateful and you will see in unpredictable ways that you have more energy , excitement and motivation to live, to try new things and you get excited easily . You will be able to smile more often and take things easy and feel more  positive day by day . It is a process and you will know it works because everyday it will get harder and harder for you to get depressed because what is depression after all ? Accumulation of subconscious negative junk on your mind! By shifting your attention from negative to positive and ignoring the negative constantly, your subconscious will be fed by positive emotions and emotions determine your mood and your mood determines your actions ultimately.

Remember our current negative brains are a result of years of  programming and wiring , we did not end up being negative in 3 days neither were we born like this. It had to take years of processing garbage and ultimately the negative thinking became part of our subconscious , now with this exercise we are reversing the cycle and helping our brains generate new neural paths. As for any new habit and skill it will take time and it is very well worth the effort.

Enjoy it, cause you deserve it!

The change won’t come unless you act !

act nowHave you ever felt like every single day is the replica of the previous one ?

Maybe your daily routine is going to work coming back home , watching a show, having a tea and reading something and sleeping. And days keep flowing like this. On your mind you are just thinking that right after you get done with this  project at work you  will have time to do what you really want, or it is the finals and school work keeping you from doing what you really want to do with your life.

Do you notice a pattern?

The thing is that we are just finding excuse after excuse and distraction after distraction to NOT start living the way that really satisfies us.  Interestingly, this seems to be happening all subconsciously. We can’t help escaping from what really makes us happy in life. In other words we are afraid of leaving our mediocre life behind and move towards what is more fulfilling .

After this happening for years in my own daily life, I finally recognized that it was a repetitive game that my subconscious played with me. Now I know  unless I act and do something about changing that vicious mediocre cycle , nothing is going to change actually.

That project at work will pass, the finals and school work will pass but then I will find other excuses for not changing anything. Maybe I will complain about the flu, or I will be tired or who knows maybe I will complain about the  financial issues just not to take the steps I need to take to initiate the change I crave in my life.

Living is not breathing !

Living means “living to the fullest” . Taking advantage of every second we are given, enjoying and celebrating the time and health and peace we have right now. One can’t live in the past or in the future, the only time we have is just now.  That brings me to the point of  “Observing Ego”.   I define observing ego as the ability to change.  It is basically the act of watching yourself with no judgement , being able to observe yourself , your reactions, face expressions, anger, frustrations, happiness, your reactions to the outside world.  If you are able to observe yourself , you have an amazing gift , congratulations. Now go take a shower and eat a kiwi , you don’t need my advise.

But the reality is that most of us on a daily basis lose our touch with the observing ego and find ourselves being drifted with the current and end up spending most of our times with irrelevant stuff.  The moral of the story is that one should learn to cultivate the skill of observing himself/herself.  If you can do this , you can improve, you can figure your way out of any conflict you are experiencing in your life. If you don’t have the observing ego on the other hand, you will try , try and try and keep failing because you will be searching for the answer randomly and your chances of coming up with the right approach to solve the problems is very small without the feedback you receive from your observing ego.

This is basically why we should meditate regularly, and spend time by ourselves and learn to enjoy it. After all if you can’t be a good company to yourself how can you be a good company to anyone else?

In the next article I will be talking on 100% working techniques for overcoming procrastination and  things to do for cultivating a proactive life style to bring the change you desire to your life.

So stay tuned!…