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Coping with Today's Tumultuous Environment

By: Martin Brenner

Tel: (213) 500-8865
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The age in which we live is full of stressors that can build and trigger a slew of negative emotions. Anxiety and frustration are everywhere in today's society and the way in which we choose to deal with them can have a profound impact on our lives. What we choose to do with our pain is up to us. Channeling it into a negative place can be devastating for us and others. Finding ways to cope with anger positively can improve the quality of our lives and relationships.

The bad news is everywhere, and hitting close to home for many of us. Who doesn't know someone who is facing the loss of a job or the threat of foreclosure? Companies are downsizing and layoffs are happening. Unemployment rolls are getting longer by the day. The downturn in the economy is old news. The fallout from this situation is what's relevant now. The nightly news is profiling the everyday person who is facing homelessness and the ones who are a paycheck away from losing everything. The press has even recently reported on people who have taken their own lives after being foreclosed on. What's happening is that people feel they are losing control. And with that fear comes anger, anxiety, depression and desperation.

Giving up completely is an easy way out. Giving into anger and other dark emotions can consume us. The insecurity over today's issues can lead us to a life of excess when it comes to drinking, eating, taking drugs, gambling or engaging in other behaviors to self-medicate our numb ourselves. But learning new strategies to deal with our emotional issues and fears is the key to our survival and prosperity. Otherwise, the negativity can trickle down, affecting every aspect of our lives - marriages, families, other relationships, careers and finances.

What You Believe About Yourself Could Make or Break You

Loving ourselves and forgiving our past mistakes are steps in the right direction. Psychologists dating back to Freud have said that many of our emotional problems stem from stressing over, avoiding or denying parts of ourselves that we feel bad about. It is important to accept ourselves now and as we were then to begin to make progress. We need to be aware of negative labels we place on ourselves and those given to use by others. Let's say someone influential in your life, somewhere along the way, told you that you'd never amount to anything. Did you internalize that statement? Do you believe it to be true? If you do, those kind of statements can come back to haunt you, especially in stressful times. Perhaps you're facing a job loss. How will those feelings of worthlessness serve you? Not well if you hold the belief that you won't be able to find a job or provide for yourself or your family.

Begin by recognizing positive aspects of yourself. Are you loving and kind? Trustworthy and dedicated? Make a list if you have to and keep it nearby. Remind yourself that you are worthy and that you can focus on happiness, abundance and gratitude. Spend some time each day visualizing past successes and future achievements. If you have a job interview coming up, walk through it in your mind from first introduction to the end. Envision yourself coming up with the right answers, without effort, and see yourself accepting the job and becoming a productive member of the team.

Anger and Anxiety Can Be Addicting and Cyclical

Holding on to anger or living in a constant anxious state can do serious damage to yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. It can lead to high blood pressure, stomach and heart disease and depression. By the same token, letting go of those negative feelings in an inappropriate way can hurt you and those around you. Negativity, anger and anxiety can multiply. They can also be addicting.

Take for instance the case of Barb, a single mom who is late on her mortgage payment. Higher costs for food and gas left her a little short one month. Barb has a great deal of anxiety about getting so far behind that she won't be able to recover. This triggers additional stress over whether she'll be able to cover other bills and feed her young children. At this point, her chest is tight, her heart rate has increased and she's feeling the physical effects of anxiety. She begins to worry about her health and what would become of her children if something happened to her. And the cycle continues. This negative emotion-thought feedback loop is a primary factor in panic attacks.

Those who choose an anxious or angry lifestyle often get trapped there. Accepting "what is" can be a starting point. If you are worried about your marriage or finances, accept the current situation. Know that you have no control over the economic downturn or the trickle-down effect it's having on communities and businesses. Focus on what you do have at the moment - loved ones, a place to live, food to eat and breath in your lungs. Feel grateful for it all. Historically, times of recession have had their place in an economy. It always rebounds, oftentimes stronger than it was before. Ups and downs are natural parts of any economy, including ours. Know and believe that you will prosper again and takes steps now to prepare for it.

Lashing Out Hurts You and Those Close to You

Our anger and frustration often centers over our fear of losing control. You might feel like you can't control whether or not you will lose your job, be able to pay your bills or whether your health will fail you. You may become easily frustrated when you don't get what you think you need, expect or deserve. It can be extremely helpful to recognize what is making you upset and understand why you lack the confidence in your own ability to be happy. Exploring your fears and underlying emotions is another useful strategy. If you feel helpless, admit it and move on. Do you fear that you lack something, be it money, love or the right clothes? Recognize whether this fear is valid. Do you worry about not having enough money because it may affect your bills or because of how it will look to your neighbors and friends? Knowing these underlying reasons can help you sort through the negative emotions and move toward acceptance.

Fear and resentment are incompatible with love. We often lash out and hurt the ones we love most. Being verbally or physically aggressive with others can do permanent damage to relationships. When faced with the urge to lash out, stop and think of the consequences. Choose constructive ways to deal with issues such as talking about them. Assume that others operate with the best intentions. Look for the win-win in any situation and choose love - it will bring you closer to your Higher Self. If these strategies don't work, take a time out or walk away to regain composure.

Anger Management Techniques Help Channel Negative Emotions

Exercise and other forms of physical activity are great ways to channel negative energy. Try working out, going for a jog, gardening, taking a few deep breaths or re-centering yourself with calming yoga moves. These are great ways to release and regain control over yourself. Other methods that work for many people include praying, meditating, journaling, listening to music and talk therapy. The right therapist can help you identify triggers, avoid them and work on possible underlying issues, fears and beliefs that contribute to anger or frustration. Anger management techniques can help us deal with the external situations that arise every day. They may help you understand that although you can't control or change the external factors, you can do something about the way you act and react.

When people realize their marriages or other relationships are in trouble, many try to immediately blame the other person. While the other person may be at fault to some degree, it is important to look inward and honestly assess what role you played in the issues. Relationship conflicts rank among the highest causes of stress. The progression of anger and frustration into physical aggression is often seen in close, personal relationships. Anger management can help you sort through feelings and provide strategies for avoiding escalating anger.

If you can commit to controlling anger instead of letting it control you, you are on your way to winning that inner battle. Daily affirmations can help to recondition your inner landscape. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can help in all situations. It's important to understand that you are a soul that has a primal, natural instinct to be in peace and happiness. Your Higher Self requires - demands - sustained peace and harmony. No outside trigger has the power to change this, unless you let it. Every moment you spend in turmoil is one less moment you have to enjoy and savor.

Martin Brenner is a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor and Anger Management Facilitator. He has 20 years of experience providing guidance and counseling to a wide and diverse range of people. Mr. Brenner provides services to individuals challenged with various addictions including but not limited to - Substance Abuse, Alcohol, and Anger.

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