Thursday, April 03, 2008

Naomi Campbell Needs to Re-Think Anger Management

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis just in: April 3, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - British police escorted supermodel Naomi Campbell off a U.S.-bound flight at London's Heathrow airport on Thursday, airport sources said.
"Police were called to remove a passenger from a British Airways flight this afternoon," a spokesman for the British airport authority told Reuters.
Police said they had arrested a passenger on suspicion of assaulting an officer but declined to provide further details.
Airport sources identified the passenger as Campbell who was on a BA flight due to depart for Los Angeles.
Campbell spent five days mopping floors as part of a community service sentence in New York last year and was ordered to attend anger management classes after throwing a mobile phone at her housekeeper during a row over a pair of jeans.
The model has blamed her temper on resentment of her father who abandoned her as a child.

When is Naomi going to change? When she's ready, I guess.

I think it's time to grow up... lots of people have abandonment issues; they don't all end up getting arrested for assault and thrown off planes. Maybe Naomi should re-think anger management and look for a solution that works. She might want to try this: Naomi, when you're ready, call me...

Break the Cycle of Hopelessness

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I had an interesting question today from Anne, who is planning to incorporate Anger Solutions into her Caregiver 101 workshop. The question is this (in a nutshell), "When people needing care, and those providing care get caught in the cycle of frustration and hopelessness, what can they do to move themselves out of it?" Here are my thoughts, with the help of Jack Canfield's great video program, "Self Esteem and Peak Performance".

Jack coined this term many years ago, prior to the success of his Chicken Soup for the Soul series: E+R=O

This means: Event + Response = Outcome. In other words, it is not the events of your life that determine your outcomes, but your response to those events. It is important to understand that when someone sustains a stroke, or acquires a head injury, or suffers some other debilitating illness, this is an event. We cannot control the events in our lives - they are external circumstances much like the weather - we have no control over them. What we can control is our responses to the events: how we deal with the barrage of emotional highs and lows that come from providing care, or coping with the physical, emotional, and sometimes behavioural changes that accompany personal injury.

Look at it from this way with the help of an excerpt from my new book Stress Less in 26 Days.

"Too often we believe that our outcomes are out of our control, that the event itself is the outcome, or some other adulteration of the truth. What is true is this: how we choose to respond to the events in our lives is what determines the outcomes we achieve. In effect, we create our own outcomes.

Take this story as an example. Jim and Marty are co-workers at a large firm. They are not friends outside the office, and are content to co-exist at work. Jim sees his job as a chore, and is fairly unenthusiastic about every aspect of his work. He is really just there for the paycheque. Marty is a keener who likes to take the initiative, and works for recognition because it fuels his passion for his job.

Their boss pairs them together on a new project. As they begin to brainstorm how they can be successful in this task, they try to work out the delegation of tasks, and Marty says something to Jim to imply that he is not as skilled in public communication as Marty is. Jim takes offense and punches Marty in the face. Jim is suspended for a week and told that he must enroll in anger resolution classes before he returns to work. Jim blames the whole thing on Marty. If he hadn’t been such a over-eager jerk, Jim wouldn’t be losing a week’s pay.

Let’s analyze this scenario a bit more closely. The first event was the assignment of the project. We can assume that Jim accepted the task half-heartedly, probably because he couldn’t find a way to get out of it without looking bad. His response may have led to Marty feeling frustrated about Jim’s apparent lack of enthusiasm. The second event occurs when Marty, being more of a social animal anyway, suggests that he should take the lead on public communication, while Jim does more of the low-key work. Jim’s response begins with his perception of what Marty said.

You see, if Jim had approached his work with a different, more positive attitude, he might have perceived Marty’s comments as a fair assessment of their unique skill sets, rather than a judgement about his ability or lack of it. Jim perceived Marty as an “over-eager jerk”, and his response was in keeping with that perception. The outcome of that response (punching Marty in the nose) was one that should be expected when one engages in workplace violence – a suspension without pay. How could this possibly be Marty’s fault?

The bottom line is this: it is not the events that happen to us, but how we choose to respond to those events that make us who we are, and determine the quality of life we are going to have.

Here are some interesting facts about visual and auditory perception:

  • Nobody really knows exactly how many colors the human eye can see. The closest researchers can estimate is millions and millions. Scientific experiments have shown that humans can discriminate between very subtle differences in color, and estimates of the number of colors we can see range as high as 10 million.

    Remember this the next time you venture outside and look at the beauty of nature. You will note that the trees, the grass, the shrubs, are all for the most part green. What contributes to the beauty of the outdoors is the subtle differences in colour created by the interplay of light and shadow on everything we see. Imagine how boring our world would be if everything were monochromatic. Perception is powerful, and it has the ability to add immense richness to our life experience.
  • The human ear can cope with an incredible range of sound. Your ear can, in fact, cope with a 10,000,000,000,000 fold difference in loudness. That’s a range of 130 decibels.
  • The ear can pick out and focus in on a particular sound or conversation in a roomful of noise.
  • The human ear can detect a difference of just two degrees in the direction of a sound source.
  • The ear is able to recognize at least 400,000 different sounds, matching them up against those stored in the memory banks.

    Now, what about our thought perceptions? Take a look at this statement and tell me what you see:


    Do you see the statement:
    “I am nowhere” or,
    “I am now here”?

    What you see is a matter of perception.

    Try this little grammar and punctuation test on for size. Punctuate this sentence.

    A woman without her man is nothing

    I’m willing to bet that all you gents are punctuating the sentence like this:

    “A woman without her man is nothing.”

    Period. Full stop. No other way to look at it, right? Wrong. Ladies, don’t panic! Try the sentence this way:

    “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

    You see, just a little shift in perception can completely change the meaning of a simple sentence!

    Think about what is causing or contributing to the stressors in your life right now. Ask yourself these questions:

    1) What am I doing to create the outcomes I am experiencing right now?
    2) What circumstances am I looking at from only one perspective?
    3) If I change my perspective or shift my perception, how might this situation become easier to handle?
    4) How can I begin to respond effectively rather than just reacting to stressors in my life?
    5) What is really true about this situation? (Not what I perceive to be true)
    6) What can I do differently today to create shifts in my perception?

Challenge yourself to look at your life through a different lens. Please don’t misunderstand me and think that I want you to look at your circumstances through rose-coloured glasses. What I am saying is that we need to look at life as it really is, before we react, before we colour it gray with our misguided perceptions. Remember that nothing in life has meaning, except the meaning we give it! Take ownership for the outcomes you have created thus far, then make a concerted effort to create better ones for yourself. Begin to alter your perceptions and you’ll realize that the view is much better than you first thought."

Anne - I hope this is helpful. In my next post, I will upload the Self-Awareness Wheel that helps people to see the difference between what happens when we Think, Say and Ask - and when we jump right from the Frustration Signal to Reacting.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why Hurry if You’ve Got No Place to Go?

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This is another chapter from my new book, The ABCs of Stress Management (working title), to be released this April. If you'd like to pre-order a copy, please visit to download your pre-order form.
A 2002 study by the University of Chicago found that they have found a correlation between having a sense of time urgency and impatience (TUI) and an increased risk of developing hypertension or high blood pressure. We all know that hypertension is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke and many other health problems. It has been dubbed, the "silent killer." According to government statistics, 50 million Americans have high blood pressure and one-third of those don't know it.

For a short time when our kids were growing up, we experimented with having hamsters. Our first hamster was named Cody. A cute little thing with beady eyes, Cody was a little high strung. He was an incredible escape artist, and once lived for a week outside of his cage, having broken out, and crawled through a small hole in the floor that we had drilled for the TV cable to come up from the basement. Cody’s downfall (pardon the pun) was his love for the hamster wheel. He couldn’t resist the thing – in fact, we sometimes had to take it out of the cage because he would run on it for hours. But when Cody escaped from his cage, we realized that we could use Cody’s love of spinning to our advantage.

My husband moved the cage downstairs to the basement to a prominent place where he knew Cody would find it. Then, he put a piece of fresh fruit in the cage, on the wheel, knowing that once Cody got on the wheel, he wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to run. Then, he rigged the wheel to the cage door, so that once Cody started running, the door would slam shut and he would be caught. It worked like a charm, and before you could say, “fresh fruit”, Cody was back in his cage, spinning happily on his wheel.

Sadly, not long afterwards, we found Cody lying limp and lifeless in his cage; he had literally run himself to death on the wheel.

I have often thought about Cody and his sad little life. He knew only one week of freedom, in which he could run and hide, and explore the great big world of “basement” before he was back in the little restrictive bubble of his cage. Yet, he had the wheel, and as long as he was running on the wheel, I suppose he felt he was getting somewhere. Too bad that he spent so much time rushing, rushing, spinning the wheel faster and faster, only to find that the thing he thought he loved was the death of him.

How many of us are just like Cody? Rushing from one place to the next – even when we are on time, and we are not even going anywhere special; we don’t have a deadline looming; we don’t even have anyone’s expectations to meet – and we still hurry along, spinning that wheel faster and faster… Is it possible that even with our highly evolved brains, we are nothing more than hamsters on a wheel, plagued by Hurry Sickness, and inadvertently killing ourselves with our need to run?

As I was thinking of Cody and writing this chapter, it occurred to me: If you’re going to hurry, you better have somewhere to go. It would be a shame if at the end of your life, you were to look back and realize that for all the pushing, shoving, rushing, and hurrying, that you never accomplished your goals, or got to the destination you had in mind.

John Brunner’s book The Shock Wave Rider talks about the effects of “future shock” as developments in technology take place faster than the human being can adjust. Hurry Sickness is an effect of “future shock” – as the world speeds up, human beings are expected to speed up with it; however, the consequence of this ever gaining speed is an inherent frustration and irritation with others who may not be moving as quickly!

Hurry sickness is defined as “a malaise where a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.” In his book, Faster, James Gleick says, “The microwave oven is one of the modern objects that convey the most elemental feeling of power over the passing seconds. You watch those seconds, after all, as they tick past on the digital display. If you suffer from hurry sickness in its most advanced stages, you may find yourself punching eighty-eight seconds instead of ninety because it is faster to tap the same digit twice.”
Does this sound like you? Are you constantly stressing over how you can shave off a second here, or a minute there? Does the old figure of speech, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” make perfect sense to you? Perhaps your nickname should be Cody.

If you’re ready to get off the wheel and slow down your pace of living, here are some simple tips that can help:

Prioritize! We are often plagued by the urgency of the insignificant; before you know it, you can blow a whole day just by putting out fires while all the important tasks remain undone. Focus on the important things rather than the urgent; let go of or delegate dealing with the urgent so that you will not feel as overwhelmed.

Practice Slowing Down. When driving on the highway, put your car on cruise control rather than trying to keep up with the flow of traffic. When you watch other harried drivers whizzing by, smile and remind yourself that by laying off the gas pedal, you can relax and enjoy the process of getting from point A to B. Think about this, Americans place sex as one of their favorite pastimes, but on average devote only 4 minutes to the activity! Perhaps this is another area in which you might want to slow down. Remember, life and love isn’t just about the destination – the journey needs to be enjoyable as well!

Breathe deeply and exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Clean air refreshes the brain so it can function more efficiently, helping you to make better decisions and fewer mistakes.

Take time outs. Five minutes of doing nothing seems like an eternity to people with hurry sickness. Taking a few minutes for some shut-eye, deep breathing, relaxation, or meditation can refresh you with enough energy to keep you going for a couple of more hours.

Do one thing at a time! Our society has become one of multi-tasking. We eat or talk on the cell phone while driving (a big no-no), we take our work with us on vacation, we use the Blackberry to send “important” messages while watching our kids play hockey… It is a myth that we can accomplish more by doing more than one thing at a time. We just end up feeling as though we have worked hard, and usually have no completed work to show for it! Focus on only one task at a time; you will accomplish more, and feel less stressed.

Revise your expectations of immediacy. Just because you want to live your life at the speed of sound doesn’t mean everyone else has to. Don’t take it personally if you have to wait. That’s just life!

Ask yourself, “do I have to do this… or do I choose to do this?” When you CHOOSE your activities, it puts you back in control of your life. You can choose to do what is important, and choose to say “no” when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Choose to respond to frustrations in a way that preserves your integrity and keeps you and those around you safe.

Take a vacation! Studies show that regular vacations can prolong your life and increase your cardiovascular health. People who are addicted to life in the fast lane will tell you that you can’t afford to take a vacation… The truth is – you can’t afford NOT to!

I recently asked a client of mine, who is a self-professed workaholic, “Do you live to work, or do you work so you can live?” She replied, “I live to work, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.” I’m guessing that there are countless others out there who feel exactly the same way.

I suppose there is nothing wrong with living to work, except for the fact that working is a means to an end, not the end itself. Once you have finished all your work, what will be left? At the end of your life, do you really want them writing, “She worked really hard” or “He really knew how to run that wheel” on your tombstone? Or would you like to be remembered for the legacy of love, charity, poignant memories, laughter or friendship that you left behind? Think about that the next time you’re running the wheel with no place to go… Step off. Plot out your destination. Plan your route, and then take time to enjoy the journey.