ATTITUDE RECONSTRUCTION: A BLUEPRINT FOR BUILDING A BETTER LIFE
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If you want to slow down and be more relaxed, driving the speed limit is one possibility. As you watch the cars go flying by while you keep your foot off the accelerator, emotions will be unavoidable. You will feel anger at being denied a great source of pleasure: going fast. At some point, you’ll also probably feel incredibly antsy, which indicates both fear and a lack of ease with what’s presenting itself right now. Sadness can also surface, as you have the opportunity to feel hidden hurts and losses or realize how far away you’ve been from yourself.

As you continue to trundle along and struggle with the temptation to race, repeat your goal to yourself (“I want to be more mellow”) and/or recognize the reality of the situation (“I can’t afford to get another ticket”). Keep easing your foot off the pedal, shiver like crazy, and sooner or later, you’ll rediscover the pleasure of the present. You’ll actually feel peaceful, take in the scenery, prevent yourself from doing something potentially dangerous, and experience the indisputable triumph of contradicting an old habit.

Being egotistical, narcissistic, or stubborn indicates that you believe your needs and views are more important than other peoples. I suggest finding way to channel your anger physically and constructively. This will leave you more receptive to mindsets like “Your viewpoints and needs are as important as mine” or “How can I help?” Or you could start to listen, understand, and acknowledge the other person’s position. Or you could work together to find solutions. Or you could consciously practice surrendering your own desires for what’s best for the other person.

When you bring in a third party to justify your position, it’s like putting lighter fluid on a burning barbecue. Your fiancé can’t help but feel angry, because bringing in your parents leads him to feel as if you’re ganging up on him with people not even present in the room. Whenever you unilaterally make your private relationship problems public, you introduce an additional issue to resolve. In this case, you have the original topic that you were trying to discuss and your decision to involve your parents. I suggest that you apologize for your communication mistakes and then do some more listening so that he feels truly understood.

First, you need to become aware of the physical warning signs of an impending outburst. When you perceive the physical signals — heat rising on the back of your neck, heart pounding, breaking into a sweat — immediately take a break, saying something along the lines of, “I don’t want to blow up and say something I’ll regret, so I’m going to take a few minutes for time-out.” Express your anger physically and/or power on accepting what bugs you. When you feel more centered, you can then locate the specific thing that set you off and find what’s true for you about the topic.  Then return and deliver your message with kindness and a smile.

All of the unfinished business that comes flooding into your mind — the new car, the golf clubs, or the restaurant receipts for lunch — should be noted, but addressed at a different time. Right now, stick to the topic of which bills need to be paid this week and how much money is in the account right now. Just stay with that task and celebrate your team effort. If you lump more than one issue together, your communication will inevitably get out of hand and most likely little will get resolved.

Yes. Your intuition is not some abstract force. It’s a faculty that we all possess, whether we use it or not. I’m not saying we can predict the future. However, if we listen within, more frequently than we realize, we can get a sense for what will keep us in the flow. Our intuition often sends us clear messages, but we ignore it. Here’s an everyday example: you go out to dinner, and instead of ordering the usual hamburger, you scan the menu until you realize a salad feels like it would satisfy your body best. Messages from the heart are not accompanied by flashing lights. They simply reflect what is true and authentic for you.

You’re lucky that you can cry easily because tears are a great purifier that wash you clean. Keep them coming. But be sure you keep your attention on naming what you’re experiencing in your body, a specific hurt or loss, or loving yourself by repeating something along the lines of, It’s okay. I just feel sad. I did the best I could. I’m doing well. I did well. I am a good person. Your crying might intensify at first, but sooner or later you’ll get that you did the best you could at the time and that you are okay no matter what.

The trauma of your parents’ divorce is lodged inside you. If you ignore the emotional component of specific past events, its effect will show up one way or another. Few treatments put sufficient emphasis on releasing emotions physically. Keep talking about how you remember feeling back then and when the emotions begin to surface, let them come out. Emotions are at the root of virtually all psychological issues and honoring them is a necessary part of the healing process.

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Jude Bijou, Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), educator, and author.
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