Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category

I was sitting with my mother in the hospital lobby once waiting until we could see my father in the intensive care unit. Mom and I were talking and smiling. Perhaps for the first time in days we felt that everything was going to be okay with Dad.

Across the lobby was a young woman with two small children about two and four years old. As we talked, I noticed the littlest child have a bit of a temper tantrum, fussing and tugging to get away from his mother’s grip.

The mother was holding onto the child’s sleeve and trying to balance a plate of cookies in her other hand.

I must have looked away when all of a sudden the woman was standing in front of us. She leaned forward and said in a most hostile voice, “Are you having a good time?”

Caught off guard, I automatically turned my head around, thinking the woman must be yelling at someone behind us. But there was no one there. The woman stormed past with her children and disappeared down the hall.

My mom was clearly shaken. In that moment she looked like a little girl who had just been severely reprimanded. I didn’t feel so great either. It’s no fun having someone yell at you. I put my arm around my mother and patted her on the back and told her I loved her.

What I concluded was that the woman must have decided that we were enjoying her predicament. She had presumed to make herself the center of our attention. Yet at no time had my mother or I even commented about the woman and her children. If anything, the two of us were her allies, because we, too, have struggled with young children.

The sad thing was that because this woman had assumed that we were laughing at her, she made herself a victim, and in turn victimized us.

Although most people could probably say they would never behave in such a mean-spirited way, most of us make false assumptions rather routinely. Often these assumptions are based on seeing oneself as the center of the world.

For example: the boss calls a co-worker into his office, and you wonder if they’re talking about you. Your husband turns on the radio when the two of you get into the car, and you think he’s trying to avoid talking to you. You have a great date with a new man. He doesn’t telephone for a few days, and you decide he doesn’t like you. Your boss sounds irritated, and you think he’s mad at you.

When you’re not sure what’s really going on and you make an assumption, think beyond yourself. Make yet one more assumption.

Examples: Perhaps my boss is mad because he didn’t like what I had to say at the meeting. Or, perhaps my boss is mad because he just lost a big account.

Perhaps my husband turns on the car radio to avoid talking. Or perhaps he turns on the car radio because he likes music.

Perhaps those women across the lobby think I’m not a good mother. Or perhaps those women are happy because their relative is starting to fuss about hospital food and soon will go home.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com


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A man I see in therapy explained.

I had an affair two years ago and my wife won’t get off of it. She constantly brings up the affair. She says I don’t understand how hurt she is. I say, “Hey I gave up the affair. I apologized. I’m here. Get over it.” What can I do to get her to stop thinking about the past?

Man, you don’t get it. It takes about 5 years to get over an affair, and then rarely does trust come back 100%. Each time your wife brings up the affair, something has triggered her bad feelings. And I bet there are plenty of times when your wife doesn’t bring up your affair even though she’s had thought of it and felt the hurt.

Instead of telling your wife to get over it, which is incredibly insensitive, apologize again and again for the hurt you have caused her. For example, “I’m so sorry I hurt you. I love you. I care about you. You’re the best. And again, I am really sorry.”

After several thousand sincere apologies, yes, several thousand, such as the one above, your wife will be more able to move on in her life without being reminded on a daily basis.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.
Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com


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I want to know how can I control my temperament/anger, and increase my patience with my 3 year old son. I am out of energy, struggling with my weight/shape, time management and level of responsibility at work. I feel like a zombie.

Three year olds can be a handful and everyone seems to be overwhelmed today. Regarding your anger and weight, try this affirmation, “I choose not to be angry or overeat, I choose to be in control.”

Why this particular affirmation? Because it addresses both of your issues, anger and weight and the mere repetition of the affirmation will help you feel more calm. Say it several thousands times a day (no joking!).

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” (a middle grade read) as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Pouting closes off communication channels between parent and child.

Dear Pouting Parent,

Did you know that pouting closes off communication?

Pouting says I refuse to be close.

Pouting is a form of anger.

Parent, you can’t fix the problem when you pout.

It’s okay to be quiet and back off from your child when you’re ready to chew a nail because of his or her behavior. At the same time, answer your child when she tries to talk to you. If she tries to make small talk, understand that it is her way of saying, “Let’s be friends” and her attempt to get back in your good graces.

At some point, discuss her infraction and what you would like to have happen differently in the future. For example, you might say, “I’m very disappointed in the way you acted when your friends were over. As an apology and a gesture of good will, I’d like you to take out the trash and shred that stack of papers in my office. Once you do these chores, I’ll put away my bad feelings, and we can be friends again.”


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Here’s a far too familiar family drama.

Bobby comes in from playing and heads for the refrigerator. He stands in front of it, surveys its contents and grumbles, “We never have anything to eat.”

Mom, already frustrated from cleaning up the four messes that Bobby made earlier that day, says sarcastically, “Then what do you call the stuff you’ve been shoveling in your mouth? And close that refrigerator. It’s not an air conditioner, you know.”

Dad sitting at the kitchen table, gets into the act and says, “He’s a growing boy dear, what do you expect?”

Bobby responds, “Yeah, Mom, I’m a growing boy.”

Mom gives Dad the evil eye and says, “And who invited you into the conversation?”

Dad answers, “Just trying to be helpful, dear.”

Now Bobby looks at both parents and says,”I hope you two are not going to fight the whole night.”

“That will be enough,”Dad replies.

Within two minutes, this very typical family has traveled the triangle and everyone has had his or her turn at being a Rescuer, a Victim and a Persecutor.

How did it all start?

When Bobby left four messes in the kitchen and didn’t clean up after himself, Bobby became a Persecutor. When Mom took responsibility and cleaned up the messes, Mom became a Rescuer and defined her son as Victim.

A persecutor on the triangle is a person whose behavior is hostile and angry. The Persecutor usually “gets” people with nasty remarks, sarcasm, and hostile behavior, but denies or discounts the fact that he’s angry.

A Rescuer is a person who takes care of people who don’t need to be helped or who takes care of people when they don’t want to be helped. In both instances, the Rescuer discounts the other person’s ability to take care of himself.

A Victim is a person who acts as though he can’t do something for himself when, in fact, the opposite is true. The Victim discounts his ability to take care of himself.

When Bobby walked into the kitchen and grumbled, “There isn’t anything to eat,” Bobby became the Persecutor and Mom moved from Rescuer to Victim.

Mom, however, made a fast shift from Victim to Persecutor when she commented about the food that Bobby has been shoveling into his mouth and the fact that the refrigerator was not a cooling system.

Dad hopped on the triangle with his comment, “He’s a growing boy.” Dad became Bobby’s Rescuer and Mom’s Persecutor.

Bobby, taking permission from Dad to persecute Mom, responded to the invitation with his own persecution: “Yeah, I’m just a growing boy.”

Mom, unwilling to stay Victim, came up swinging with,”Who invited you into this conversation?”

And on, and on . . . Which, of course, leads to the moral of my story: With so much drama in the family, who needs television?


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A husband’s bad behaviors invites his wife to turn off emotionally and sexually.

Jim came to my office because his wife has left him after 37 years of marriage. He wants her back. She does not have anyone else. She simply is fed up with him.

As we talked, I got him to help me make a list of behaviors that probably drove his wife away.

Worked too much. About 60 hours a week for years.

Unwilling to take vacations because of his job.

Drank too much in the early years of their marriage.

Got too angry when drinking. Never hit her but was verbally abusive.

Continues to get too angry when he doesn’t like what’s going on.

Gives her the silent treatment.

Gives her nice gifts, but they are things he likes. For example, a leaf blower, a big screen television, a new computer.

Didn’t take much responsibility with the children or housework because he was always at work.

Rarely helped make social plans.

Failed to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “I love you.”

Never acted like he appreciated her salary and how she contributed to the household.

Didn’t show much kindness or love.

Showed affection only in bed.

Was too demanding when it came to sex.

Watched too much television.

Jim’s now putting in fewer hours at work. He’s watching very little television. He’s doing housework and now understands how much there is to do. He’s willing to learn how to be emotionally supportive. He’s working to keep his anger in check. He’s sorry and in a great deal of pain. He hopes she will come back.

If he continues to say he’s sorry and clean up his behavior, perhaps she will come back. It’s unfortunate that sometimes people have to leave their mate to get their point across.


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Most people think they’re nice guys, but many are not.
A friend said he had volunteered to direct traffic for a religious function, and he was appalled at the behavior of the people driving into the parking lot.

“Mind you,” he said, “I was just a pawn doing what I was told to do by the people in charge of the traffic committee. My job was to hold up a sign that told people that the lot was full and they had to park farther away and take a shuttle bus.”

“One driver stopped and said, ‘I’m only going to be here for a few minutes.’ This was his excuse to be able to park in the nearer lot.

“Another said, ‘I have a fourth-grader.’ A lot of people had their children. Somehow having a fourth-grader was supposed to get the woman in the closer lot.

“One particularly nasty guy said, ‘Isn’t there room for just one small car?’ He was driving a sports car. I felt like saying, ‘Maybe for the car, but not your big mouth.'”

“And I couldn’t believe the people who wanted to park in the handicapped spaces and volunteer spaces. It was amazing how obnoxious some of them were.”

“When 7 or 8 cars would leave the closer lot, I was told to go ahead and let people park in the lot. I was really in hot water then. If someone who had parked in the far lot saw that people were being admitted into the closer lot, they walked up to me and demanded to know why they had to park in the far lot, like I had individually picked them out to persecute them. I kept thinking, ‘Who do these people think they are?'”

* * *

I recall a similar experience from my own parking attendant days when my daughter was in grade school. I was overseeing the high-schoolers who were directing the parking. A number of parents were determined to park in the fire lanes and bulldoze their way into a certain lot. I continually was telling the parents that these students were following instructions. It was a nightmare.

Several weeks ago I had this same experience in the doctor’s office. I had taken an aging relative for a second medical opinion. When the doctor walked in, he started telling the relative what she had and how she should treat it. Then he patted her on the knee and told her of course she didn’t have cancer.

She kept trying to interrupt to tell him why she had come, and he kept talking over her. He did not want to hear her symptoms, and he was not going to listen. I finally stepped in and asked if he had seen the woman’s medical record or had talked with her doctor. He said no one had sent him anything. Then I explained why we were there and why we wanted a second opinion. He somewhat backed down after I pushed him to listen to her symptoms, but his arrogance was noted throughout the entire visit. Despite his reputation, he ruined it by not being responsive to his patient.

If asked the question, “Who do you think you are?” what would your answer be? If it’s, “I’m a nice person,” I suggest you act that way in all circumstances.


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