Category Archives: Conflict Resolution

How to Handle Ranting and Raving

couple-arguingThe other day a friend told me about her husband’s ranting and raving over what seemed like nothing. His work was demanding more and more, he did not like his boss or the people he worked with, the house needed some repairs, his health was deteriorating, he got a stomach ache from his last meal, the dog wanted too much attention, and several other large and small complaints.  His ranting and raving lasted well over several hours and resolved absolutely nothing.  At the end, she was exhausted, frustrated, hurt and desperately wanted to help him but had no idea where to begin.

Sound familiar?  Maybe it is a close friend, a co-worker, a child, a parent or a spouse who routinely rants and raves over what seems like nothing but usually is something.  Their ranting and raving does not seem to resolve anything in the moment and by the time it ends they feel better and you feel worse.  It is as if they unloaded their garbage onto you but you did not get a chance to unload and if you do try to unload during their ranting and raving, you have just added about an extra hour onto the discussion.  The rants and raves are not once a year incidents, rather they are almost monthly and if they don’t do a little ranting and raving, the next one is likely to be twice as long.

For some people they type of relationship is likely to cause them to run away, they would rather not invest the time and energy into such a relationship.  But for others, the benefits of the relationship far out way the monthly rants and raves, so they decide that the relationship adds more value to their life than it subtracts and they stay.  This is the case for my client; she truly loves her husband, is committed to the relationship and wants to help but is unsure how.

It’s not your responsibility.  Their rants and raves are their responsibility not yours.  This is extremely difficult to remember in the moment as the ranter and raver is likely to blame you for some if not all of the problem.   Once you look back over the course of your relationship, you will realize that even if you did change something that was not enough to stop their ranting and raving.  It almost seems as if they have an insatiable appetite for ranting and raving and if it is not this than it is that.  Their reaction is their responsibility; your reaction is your responsibility.

Change your expectations.  During the ranting and raving you try to help the situation by offering advice, compassion or accepting responsibility for your mistakes, yet none of their efforts seem to reduce the ranting and raving.  In fact, they seem to bring about even more and different ranting and raving.  If you want to offer encouragement, do.  Just don’t expect a return on your investment.  Decreasing your expectations is not giving up rather it is recognizing that you are not in charge of their ranting and raving, they are.

Look for the nugget of truth.  Ranters and ravers are not mindless people without intelligent thought rather they are people who have been pushed to their limit and they usually do have a valid point.  The key is to find the nugget of truth in their ranting and raving and focus on that.  For instance, they may be upset about your financial situation and declare that overspending on everything needs to stop.  Well, if you are overspending on something, maybe it is the groceries, then work on modifying that behavior.  Don’t try to change everything all at once because it just does not work.  Instead focus on changing one behavior at a time.  Find one nugget and work on changing it.  Leave the other nuggets for another day.

Try praying.  Ok, this is tricky because the type of prayer is extremely important.  More than likely, after the ranting and raving is over, you are in pain and feel a heavy burden.  So don’t pray that the person ranting and raving will hurt like you or that God will take revenge on them.  Rather pray to release the negative energy onto God so that you won’t release the negative energy on someone else.  Ranting and raving is like an infectious disease that can affect an entire community.  Decide to end the cycle, pray, release, let go and if needed forgive the other person for hurting you.  This will do far more good and will prevent the disease from spreading.

Get busy.  When someone rants and raves the temptation is to replay the ranting and raving over and over in your head.  We try to see where we went wrong, what we could have said instead to make a difference or how we could have stopped the cycle.  This is a waste of valuable energy, instead, get busy doing what you need to do and put all thoughts of the incident out of your head.  At first this discipline is difficult but with practice it becomes easier.  You are what you think and if you continue to replay the negative thoughts, you will be negative in turn.  You can choose to do something different and getting busy is more productive then stewing.

Ranter and ravers are not without their responsibility in the problem but you cannot fix them, they need to choose to fix themselves.  Rather you can choose to do different behaviors, to think different thoughts, to absorb different emotions, after all you actually have more choice in the situation then the other person.  Your positive reactions over time will make a difference in your life and hopefully the other person will want the same change in their life.  Then and only then do you have the potential for a lasting solution.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How Do I Know If I Am Depressed?

crying-tears-of-joy-208913You struggle to keep on task and stay focused but your mind keeps wandering making the simplest of jobs take unusually long periods of time.  Is it ADD or depression?

You can’t seem to get motivated to do anything even things that you enjoy or used to enjoy.  Is it laziness or depression?

You have trouble getting to sleep and when you do you struggle to stay asleep waking up several times a night thinking about the same thing over and over.  Is it anger or depression?

You are tired all the time to the point of exhaustion where exercise is not even an option because it drains you of the last bit of energy you have.  Is it sickness or depression?

You wonder if life is even worth living or if you are really contributing something of value to your family or your work.  Is it a mid-life crisis or depression?

You are sad more than usual crying at commercials, movies, and other people’s problems but struggling to be emotional about your own issues.  Is it avoidance or depression?

Your weight has increased and the food that used to bring you pleasure is tasteless so you find yourself eating more to get the same effect.  Is it an addiction or depression?

You don’t feel like going out with friends and prefer instead to stay at home alone because no one seems to understand you.  Is it loneliness or depression?

You feel guilty for things you have done in the past and believe that you are worthless.  Is it remorse or depression?

Don’t self-diagnosis.  The problem with diagnosing your own condition is that depression can look like any one of the above issues: ADD, laziness, anger, sickness, mid-life crisis, avoidance, addiction, loneliness or remorse.  This is why it helps to have someone from the outside looking in on your life to see if you really are depressed or if something else is the problem.

Depression is not a momentary thing.  If you lose a document on your computer, you will be sad and even feel slightly depressed because it took you forever to write it but the feeling is not long lasting.  Rather, depression is something that dominates your life for a long period of time such as over several months and can be seen in more than one area of your life.  So if work is driving you crazy and every time you go into the office you feel sad and hopeless but when you go home and kiss your kids you are able to enjoy your time with them, it is not depression.

Do look at your circumstances.  Depression can be caused by many environmental factors such as the loss of a loved one, a decrease in daylight, bad news about a physical condition, your child’s behavioral problems, your spouse’s lack of attention, an out-of-control addiction, change in financial status, loss of employment, separation/divorce, or hormonal factors such as PMS, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause.  It is normal to feel depressed during these times and since every circumstance is different, one person may feel depressed for a day while another may feel depressed for a year.

Depression comes in many forms.  There is not one type of depression rather there are many different forms of depression.  There is mild, moderate, severe, one-time, chronic, bi-polar, manic, seasonal, traumatic, postpartum, dysthymic, catatonic, melancholic, atypical, medical, cyclothymic, rapid-cycling, substance-induced, suicidal, and psychotic.  Knowing the type of depression you have often determines the treatment for the depression.

Don’t wait.  The bottom line is if you think you are struggling with depression, get professional help from a doctor, pastor or counselor.  There are very few types of depression that get better just with the passage of time; many of the other forms of depression actually worsen if left undiagnosed and untreated.

You can get better.  There is help.  There is hope.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Sermon on Depression and Suicide

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You are exhausted, overwhelmed, and depressed with no apparent way to get out of your circumstances.  Sometimes that depression can sink so low it may seem as if the only way out is to take your life.  You are not alone in your struggle even though it seems that way most of the time.

If you are struggling with depression or know of someone who is, please read this tender yet honest sermon from Chris Erdman about the death of his friend and Pastor Jamie Evans.  I knew Jamie as a child as his parents were and still are dear friends of my parents.  His father, Louis Evans Jr., now deceased, was also my pastor at National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C.  He taught me to have a passionate love for God in spite of my difficult circumstances or struggles.

I have nothing but fond memories of Jamie, his son, as he would often pick my brother and I up to attend youth functions at our church.  He was always so full of energy and life, so much fun to be around.  In fact, my first motorcycle ride, much to the dismay of my parents, was on the back of his bike.

This wonderfully written sermon is a testimony to Jamie’s life and struggles with ADHD, dyslexia and depression.  It reminds us of the importance of treating mental illness and not pretending everything is OK when it is not.  It is well worth your time to read and hopefully will be an inspiration to reach out for help when you are feeling depressed.

http://chriserdman.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/God-and-Suicide-Luke-13.31-35.pdf

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Related News Post:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/07/church-members-open-services-with-prayer-for-pastor-rick-warren-after-suicide/?test=latestnews

Why are You Instantly Angry Over Little Stuff?

couple-arguingAnger happens.  You are driving down the left side of highway slightly faster than normal because you are already late and suddenly someone cuts right in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks and almost hit their vehicle.  Instantly, you are angry.  Or your spouse promises he will be home by a certain time and you have made dinner on that time frame but he doesn’t show up, answer the phone or even call.  By the time your spouse arrives home, dinner is cold and so are you.  Better yet, you  ask your child to do the simplest of tasks only to be met with defiance, back talk, and ungratefulness.  The result is instant anger.

You have several bad ways of handling anger, all of which you most likely have mastered by now including the silent treatment, intense aggression and smile now but pay later.  While these methods felt good in the moment, they resulted in poor long-term resuslts.  So you are open to trying a new method.  Here are two.  One is to think about it overnight while remaining silent in the moment of anger and the second is to address it immediately without aggression.  Either method works depending on your personality or the situation but first some common misunderstandings about anger need to be cleared up.

Defining Anger.  Most likely, you have experienced a time when everything seems to be going just fine and then all of a sudden something happens and you feel this rush of intense emotion causing your heart to race, your voice to get louder, or your fists to clench.  And then it happens, you say or do something that you normally would not do if the intense emotion had not occurred.  That is anger.  And while anger in and of itself is a God given emotion, it becomes wrong when it controls your behavior.  This emotion is quite useful in life and death situations as it propels you into action motivating you beyond what you would normally do.  But it can be destructive in personal relationships as it leaves a path of disaster much like the path of a tornado.

Blaming Anger.  Just because you are feeling angry, and this emotion in some cases may be justified, it does not give you license to harm anyone in your path. How many times have you heard someone say, “You make me so angry”?  The reality is that they are responsible for getting angry just as you are responsible for your own anger.  Anger as an emotion and left to run rampet over your life can control you if you let it.  However, no one can “make” you angry unless you choose to be angry.  Sometimes that choice is not a conscious one but an unconscious choice based on experiences and decisions made in the past.  Nonetheless, it is your choice to allow anger to control you.

Managing Anger.  The two methods mentioned above have two different ways of dealing with your anger.  One is to not speak and think about your anger overnight.  The other is to confront your anger.  However, neither method even slightly hints that your spouse must be involved in either.  If you are responsible for your own anger and letting your anger get out of control is wrong then it is not the responsibility of your spouse to resolve your anger rather it is yours.  “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” is about your behavior and desire to hold onto things that should be let go or dealt with accordingly.

Reconciling Anger.  Once you have defined your anger, accepted responsibility for it and managed properly managed it, then you can begin the process of reconciliation.  Since anger destroys relationships, it is likely that there is a trail of failed relationships in the quake of your anger.  Even if the relationship may seem to be fine, unreconciled anger limits intimacy.  Your present anger may have less to do with present circumstances and more to do with your past.  Take the time to reconcile old relationships and you will find that your anger is less intense the next time.

Anger can be one of the most useful tools in helping you to grow and deal with your past but it can also be one of the most destructive if not addressed properly.  If you know of someone who needs help with their anger, speak up kindly and lovingly in a safe environment but make sure you have already addressed your anger issues first.  This effort while draining just might be one of the best things you do for your relationships.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Eliminate Stress from Your Life without Taking a Yoga Class or Changing Your Schedule in 10 Steps

supermomHave you ever Googled “eliminate stress” only to find a long list of impossible tasks from people who obviously don’t have a job and aren’t married with kids?  My personal favorite ideas were to quit work (really… because last time I checked you work to earn money to care for your family and quitting work would add considerable stress to your life), have an open schedule (this is laughable as my schedule is almost entirely dictated by my kid’s activities), and avoid difficult people (yes, that is really possible when you work with difficult people all day long).  You already know that you need to reduce the stress in your life but having ridiculous suggestions about how to go about it only increases stress and gives you the impression that reducing stress in your very busy life is impossible.  It’s not.

Here are a few suggestions that been tested and proven to be effective by very busy people like you.

  1. Know where you are going.  As silly as it sounds, having goals for each area of your life actually reduces stress.  For instance, if your goal with your teenage son is to help him be a self-sufficient adult who is not stuck playing video games on your sofa at age 25 then you have a goal.  With that goal in mind he should be making his own meals, taking care of his own laundry, and working at a part-time job.  Doing this process for each area of your life makes decisions easier and less stressful.
  2. Stick to your plan.  Using the teenage son example you will undoubtedly be met with stiff resistance on his part as you enforce the new direction.  This is good.  As a parent your responsibility is to teach your child to become a functional adult it is not to be their friend (hopefully that will come much later).  By remembering your goal and sticking with it and serving out consequences for not following the plan, you will reduce more stress in the long run but not the short run.
  3. Set realistic expectations.  Just because you spent all day cleaning the floors of your house does not mean that anyone will even notice.  If you clean the floors expecting gratitude or praise then you are likely to be disappointed.  Instead, recognize that you like the floors clean and you are really cleaning them for yourself.
  4. Monitor your thoughts.  This is a biggie for most women as thoughts tend to run ramped and one strange phone call can leave you replaying it for hours if not days.  Give yourself the two times rule.  You are allowed to replay a conversation two times but any more than that you need to distract yourself and move on.  Think about it for a second, when was it ever productive to waste a bunch of time obsessing over something that you can’t change.
  5. Be your own best friend.  Your inner dialogue should be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend.  Would you ever look at your best friend and call her “stupid” for making a mistake at work or call her “fat” for eating a piece of chocolate cake or call her “loser” for missing an appointment? Of course not!  So stop doing this to yourself.
  6. It’s ok to say “no”.  Mommy guilt runs strong and powerful especially when you are working and you know that your kids don’t have your undivided attention.  This means that some activities will conflict with work forcing you to say the dreaded “no” word.  It’s ok, you are not in this alone and it is good to teach your kids that they can’t get everything they want when they want it.  Remember the bigger picture.
  7. Don’t lie.  It is very tempting to play God and believe that you know what someone else is thinking and can make someone feel better by telling a little lie.  But lies have a strange way of catching up to you and creating much bigger problems and stress in the end.  So make a habit of being truthful even if it might hurt someone’s feelings.
  8. Set boundaries in your life.  Boundaries are like walls which are very useful after all who wants to watch you in the bathroom at work (ok, I admit that visualization was a bit over the top but highly effective).  Here are some practical stress reducing boundaries: don’t answer your phone when it rings, check email only three times a day, non-emergency communication gets an automatic 24 hour wait before responding, and limit social media stuff to once a day.
  9. Choose OCD behaviors wisely.  Some OCD tendencies are rather useful such as always putting your keys or purse in the exact same place every day.  This eliminates the mad dash to find things.  But some OCD behaviors are not useful such as needing to wash your hands 50 times a day or cleaning obsessively with bleach.  Get help for the behaviors that you need to change and embrace new habits that are time savers.
  10. Work on you, not everyone else.  In the end, you are only responsible for yourself. (Yes, there are those kids of yours but they are already responsible for some of their behaviors and most likely need more not less responsibility.)  When you take time to work on your own issues instead of pretending they don’t exist, you will find more energy.  After all, you can’t give what you don’t already have.

Reducing stress in your life does not have to be about taking a yoga class, changing your schedule, exercising more and eating healthy.  These are all external things, not internal things. And while these things certainly have their place, the best place to start is in your mind.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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