I sat at the staff meeting
listening to a social worker talk about a client who was very upset because the elevator in her subsidized apartment complex was too
far from her door - and I marveled. Not only had the client invested a lot of energy in being upset about this, but the social
worker had bought into it and had now upset herself about it. Then, she brought it to the staff meeting and worried 17 other
people about it. What's wrong with this picture?
Perhaps I should first explain that
subsidized housing is assigned housing. You may wait a year on a list for a housing assignment. When your number comes up,
you take whatever they have available. Choosing to move to another apartment isn't an option. And the client was not disabled,
she just wanted the elevator to be more convenient. So what was wrong with this situation?
isn't based in reality. The elevator cannot be moved. The assignment cannot be changed. She can either accept the housing assignment or move back to the homeless shelter. So working herself into a frenzy about something that cannot
be changed only made her miserable. When the social worker bought into this (instead of helping
her figure out how to deal it) she then made herself miserable about something that could not be changed. She then brought it to the meeting where 17 other people decided to worry about the situation which could not be changed.
Why do I bring this up? Because I see people do this all the time. They are incensed
about things which are not fair, or shouldn't be happening, or aren't right. They use up tons of emotional energy and burn
away their peace of mind fretting about how they want things to be rather than dealing with how they actually are. Expecting the world to conform to your wishes rather than taking life as it is can be very frustrating. Expecting people to change rather than accepting them as they are can be very frustrating.
So when you find yourself getting riled up about something, listen to what you
are saying about it. Words like "should", "shouldn't", "right" and "fair" might tip you that you are expecting life to be
other than it is and setting yourself up to be frustrated, annoyed even infuriated. Here are some examples.
"He shouldn't do that to me."
But he does. What are you going to do about it?
"It's just not fair." You're right.
It isn't. Who said it would be?
"She should be more responsible." But she isn't.
I dentify when you are creating expectations that aren't realistic and then do a reality check. You can deal with reality. You can make
choices about how to react to reality and making choices keeps you from feeling helpless and frustrated. Let's look.
She isn't more responsible. So what do you do now? Cover for her? Fire
her? Double check her work? Now you have something to which you can actually react. You can't change her. You can only control your response to her. That you can do. And being able to actually do something reduces stress, tension and anger.
I see this a lot with road rage.
"It shouldn't take this long to get there."
But it does take this long.
Now what? Rant and fume in your car? Will that make traffic go any faster? No. What could you do? Adapt to the reality that
it does take this long. Bring language tapes and learn another language while sitting in traffic. Start taking public transit
so you can catch up on your reading instead of sitting and fuming. Take a different route. Go at a different time. Now you
have choices. Now you have something over which you have control. You can do all of these things. The one thing you absolutely cannot do is change the flow of the traffic. So fuming about it just gets you all worked up and accomplishes nothing.
Checking those expectations and taking life on it's own terms can lead to a lot more peaceful existence and a lot less stress. Let go of the way you think things should be. Let go of how you think people should act. Take them as they are - and focus on what you can do to deal with that. That is real. That you can do.
can read more about mental health issues at my blog: www.kellevision.com
The Rocky Road of Perfectionism: Help Overcome Stress, Anxiety and Depression by Changing
Unrealistic Expectations of Yourself by Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D.
You or the others you plague with these expectations will never be perfect or attain perfection in any desired goal. It’s not going to happen, no matter what.
Expecting the impossible is a straight
shot to trouble, disappointment and rocky interpersonal relationships. Perfectionism is an unhealthy way to live. I have witnessed the emotional turmoil of too many people who have this particular belief system with its ridiculous expectations. Believing that only one outcome (the perfect one!) is acceptable is incompatible with emotional health and creative living.
Think about it for a moment. If something has to be done to a tee, there’s not much room for exploration, discovery, spontaneity
and joy. Costly, debilitating and not much fun! Keep in mind that the perfectionist is worried about all the details of the outcome. That’s a powerful way to put out the fire and marginalize whatever gains you or anyone else makes. This also makes it hard to be open to unexpected and/or disguised opportunities. It affects other people adversely because it's your way or the highway.
Signs of Perfectionism
Unrealistic expectations of self or others
Narrow idea of what success is
Broad definition of failure
Fear of disapproval
Fear of failure
Fear of making mistakes
* All or nothing thinking
Long list of "shoulds"
Setting goals that are unachievable
Conflict in relationships because of unrealistic expectations and disappointment when others don't meet those expectations
* Unwillingness to show others their vulnerabilities
Strong need to be in control
Excessive need for achievement
Focus on their or the other person's mistakes, missteps
Procrastination because they don't want to complete something that isn't
Inordinate amount of worrying and guilt
Main focus on details, not the "big picture"
Very sensitive to criticism
* If I can control myself and my world, the likelihood increases that I will be perfect
I need to be perfect in order to gain the respect and approval of others
Success comes more easily for others than for me
Whatever I do is never good enough
Anything worth doing is worth being done perfectly
My self-worth is directly related to my performance
What the Perfectionist Often Experiences
* By focusing on
unrealistic goals, the perfectionist is set up for failure
* Unresolved relationship conflicts often occur for perfectionists who want others to do things their way
* They have difficulty
feeling successful and peaceful
* They often apply this
philosophy even to leisure activities: "anything worth doing is worth doing right"
* Perfectionists ultimately find that their productivity suffers
* They too often experience
loneliness, sadness, frustration and feelings of inadequacy
* They experience sensitivity to what others think and are negatively affected if there is disapproval
* Instead of finding
what is important to them, perfectionists become hung up on the dreaded "shoulds"
* Finding peace is allusive to perfectionists
* They often feel stressed, anxious, depressed; many perfectionists have symptoms that rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis of a stress, anxiety, depressive or eating disorder
* They can be mired in
* They may have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
* Perfectionists may experience headaches, gastrointestinal difficulties, muscle tension, and cardiovascular problems
What To Do About It
Change your belief that perfectionism is something to strive for; dispute it when the thought comes to mind
Identify and admit the perfectionism beliefs and behaviors that are a major part of your life
Dispute the beliefs and expectations that are out of line with reality
Understand that the mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn and get stronger; adopt that as part of your new belief system
Give yourself permission to be imperfect and to make mistakes; learn to see the humor in your mistakes; think of mistakes as chances to learn
Accept your weaknesses. See them as part of your uniqueness
* Inject a humorous approach to your life and goals; so many things in life just aren't that serious or important; develop a 10 point scale for importance and make sure when you assign a number that there are few or no tens
* Resign as CEO of the
universe; it will be a relief for you and others
* Learn more about mindfulness and living in the moment; spend time with people who live in the moment
* Be kinder and more patient with others; learn to listen to others and have empathy
* Understand that procrastination is a form of avoidance; the perfectionist avoids finishing a project because then an evaluation of its perfection will take be done by him/her or by someone else
* Set realistic, achievable goals; congratulate yourself when you complete any part of your goal
* Get to know what you
really want in life
* Look at life and your
goals as a journey, not as a destination
* When something bad
happens have an optimistic attitude: don't take it personally, don't think it's permanent and don't allow it to affect unrelated parts of your life
* Figure out what fears lurk behind your perfectionism and face them directly
* If this is too difficult
to do alone, talk to a psychologist or other health care professional
You can be
excellent, but not perfect, at some chosen goals, and just plain mediocre at others that don’t matter much at all. Make the decision to be selective about what endeavors
merit your finest efforts, and then plan to revel in your accomplishments -- even the ones that may fall short of the mark.
For more information on the power
of Positive Psychology, look for my book It's Your Little Red Wagon… Six Core Strengths for Navigating Your Path to
the Good Life (Embrace the Power of Positive Psychology and Live Your Dreams), available on Amazon.com
Copyright 2009. Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D. Author's Bio
Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D., has spent
close to three decades helping individuals live their dreams through her work as a licensed psychologist, life coach and author.
An expert in human behavior and motivation, Dr. Esonis specializes in the burgeoning field of Positive Psychology, the scientific
study of optimal human functioning and the core strengths that can lead to the achievement of one's personally-defined goals.
She earned her bachelor and masters degrees at Ohio University and her doctoral degree at Boston College.
is licensed in psychology in Arizona and Massachusetts, and in addition to her many years of private practice as a clinician
and coach, she supervised masters and doctoral students in their clinical work at Arizona State University. She has served
as a hospital staff psychologist and has lectured on topics ranging from stress management, meditation and relaxation training
to assertiveness and sleep management. Today, she teaches Positive Psychology in the Extended Learning Program at California
State University San Marcos, and she has a private practice in the San Diego area dedicated to personal and professional coaching.
Her latest book, It's Your Little Red Wagon... 6 Core Strengths for Navigating Your Path to the Good Life (available
on Amazon.com), is Dr. Esonis' contribution to the field of Positive Psychology, presenting proven success factors and strength-building
techniques that can lead individuals to a life of purpose, motivation and personally-defined happiness. Her website is at
Dr. Esonis is a member of the American Psychological
Association (APA), the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT), the San Diego Professionals Coaches Alliance
(SDPCA), the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), and is a Founding Member of the Centre for Applied Positive
Why Do You Get So Angry?
by Author: Telka Arend-Ritter L.M.S.W.
angry people are those who are most afraid.”
You are a human. Like many other species on this lanet, you have a biological protective ability
to become angry. Your anger response triggers a series of chemical reactions in your body that allow you to either “fight,
flight or freeze.” This anger response was designed to help you during threats of physical danger. As a predator attempts
to kill and eat you, your anger response helps you move faster, fighter harder or play dead and therefore avoid becoming lunch.
Consider the last time you were angry. Was anyone trying to kill and eat you? If
yes, skip this chapter. You do not need to read any further. If however, you are like millions of other humans, your last
anger response was related to something much less life threatening. Something along the lines of:
*The driver in front of you drove the speed limit.
*Your cell phone bill
was too high.
*Someone missed the clothes hamper.
*The toddler didn’t want to eat broccoli.
*Your team lost the playoffs.
*You had to wait too long.
*The dishwasher was not loaded correctly.
one offered to help.
*The price of gas went up.
*They did not include you.
*A check bounced.
*Someone drank too
*They never called back.
*Someone broke it.
*No one listened.
were not in real danger. Why did you get soooooo ANGRY? Why was your response so intense? Perhaps there is more to anger than
just physical protection. Perhaps anger protects you in more ways than just enhancing physical strength and speed.
is your protective outer layer of emotion that prevents you from feeling your more painful emotions. To resolve your anger
you must investigate your deepest underlying emotions. I refer to this tool as the anger onion. Peel the layers of anger to
find your core issues.
Anger Onion: Layers
1. Anger focuses attention outward toward others, not inward.
Blaming others blocks insight into more painful emotions.
3. Unrealistic expectations, coupled with poor coping skills,keeps
blame focused outward.
4. Underlying Issues Hiding Beneath Anger
Fear of death (Separation from love).
abandonment (Separation from love).
Fear of not being enough (Separation from love).
Fear of not being loved or not
being lovable (Separation from love).
Fear of no control- helplessness or vulnerability (Separation from love).
of having “no control” may be triggered by unrealistic expectations and poor coping skills.
Relationship Anger: Unrealistic expectations of relationships. Relationship anger may also
result from inability to control others.
Work Related Anger: Unrealistic expectations of the work environment, employer
Road Rage: Unrealistic traffic and time expectations or narcissistic entitlement.
Entitlement: Unrealistic expectations regarding your abilities and rights.
Examples: Anger at having to wait, take turns,
compromise or accommodate other people. Anger is also caused by failure to accept personal limitations or societal rules and
*Poor coping skills, chronic pain, brain injury and some drug and alcohol use may increase the frequency
and intensity of anger.
When you blame others, you experience an immediate physiological relief. Blame projects your
anger outward, away from you. Your deeper, more fragile and painful emotions are protected. Blaming others provides a strong
psychological defense against personal responsibility or choosing your response. Working through your anger requires you to
stop blaming others:
*Stop blaming others for the response you choose in any given situation.
*Stop blaming others
for the emotions you feel.
Consider Anger as an OPPORTUNITY. Rather than feeling upset by your anger, use your anger to
gain insight and understanding.
1.What is the emotional lesson that hides beneath this urge to blame?
2.How is your
anger a reflection of your physical, emotional and spiritual health?
3.Are you living in the present or stuck in the past?
have you felt like this before?
5.Are you a positive role model when angry?
6.How are you managing your stress? Does
your life have balance?
7.What purpose does your anger serve?
8.Are you choosing to remain angry rather to problem solve?
your expectations realistic?
10. What is the "right" response, not your emotional response?
Once a lesson is learned,
the emotional pain & anger are released.
Author: Telka Arend-Ritter L.M.S.W. Excerpt from Change Your Thouths,
Heal Your Life an Eleven Week Program to Transform Wounds into Wisdom and Pain Into Purpose, Chapter 4. Healing Anger ŠTelka
About the Author
Arend-Ritter, L.M.S.W., A.C.S.W. is a licensed Masters Clinical Social Worker specializing in individual, marital and group
solution-focused therapy. She has worked as a therapist and as an educator in the field of behavioral health and addictions
for over 20 years.
Telka is the author and facilitator of a unique 11-week solution-focused, cognitive-behavioral treatment
program designed to address mood disorders, relationship problems and recovery issues.
A graduate of Michigan State University,
Telka resides in Lansing, Michigan with her psychologist husband, their teenage daughter and a middle-aged cat.
you would like to arrange for Telka to speak to your organization, conduct classes in your area or are interested in other
materials, you can contact her through:
Quick Tips On How To Build Your Trust In Your Relationship
by Jennine E. Estes, M.A.
It is very important to show your partner that you are trust-worthy....and
here are some quick tips.
1. Follow through with what you say. If you tell your partner that you will be home by 8:00,
come home no later than 8:00pm. If you are going to be late, call them and let them know ahead of time.
2. Don't be unrealistic.
Avoid saying that you will "Always" have your cell phone on or you will "Never" turn your phone off. This is unrealistic. Sometimes your phone will die or you might forget it or you might not hear it ring. Instead, tell
your partner that you will try your best to answer the phone. And then....follow through with what you say (tip #1).
3. Let your Partner in. If you have a wall up, it hides things
and creates a suspicious feeling from your partner. Avoid the suspicious behavior and be an open book. The more open you are,
the more trust you can build.
4. Keep your eyes on your goal. Body language speaks louder
than words....and so does your eye focus. If you are talking to your partner and a beautiful woman walks by, keep your eyes
on your partner. If your goal is to build trust, then your actions have to show it. If you want your partner to be self-conscious,
then keep looking at other women. It is your choice.
5. Make time for Communication. Communication can create a
safe and comfortable feeling in your relationship. The more communication and feelings of safety, the more the trust can build.
If you have a history of trust being broken in your relationship, it might take more than these behaviors. You will
have to resolve the past so it doesn't interfere with your current behaviors. Possibly working with a professional therapist
can help. Jennine E. Estes, M.A., Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF#47211, Supervised by Mark
Kaupp, MFC#33213 Visit http://www.EstesTherapy.com
Author's Bio Jennine Estes works with Couples helping them learn how to have a healthier
relationship, improve communication, increase intimacy and sex, and have more time enjoying one another. For more FREE relationship
tips and information, visit www.Estestherapy.com. She is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern under the direct supervision of Mark Kaupp, Psy.D., MFC#33213.