Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to get past your past

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Getting past the past requires focused attention and energy. Many of
the people that I have counseled over the years have come to me with issues stemming from the past: anger at past abuses or past events, unresolved grief over past losses, and fear of the future because of past failures or rejections. I find that people struggle too, with their past history. It is like excess baggage that they carry from relationship to relationship; from job to job; and from crisis to crisis. This baggage can be both a burden and a friend; I actually had a client who described her baggage as her “friend”. It had become so familiar that she had forgotten what it was like to exist without carrying the burden of the past around with her. This excess baggage called “the past” interferes with your ability to have quality relationships. It interferes with your ability to achieve personal success. It interferes with your ability to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life.

The goal then is to find a way to put the past in the past. Do you remember the Greek myth of the god, Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders? Your goal is to be like Atlas, only choose to shrug off the weight. You see, no one puts the responsibility of carrying that weight on you but yourself. We humans bottle our anger, contain our grief, then suddenly we find ourselves developing physical illness or feeling emotionally unstable, and we wonder how we got this way.

Through the process of examining this issue of the past, I realize that there are really two things that must happen in order for the past to stay in the past where it belongs. First the events of the past need to be forgotten. All too often, we dredge up memories from the past and relate them to events in the present. In reality, the past event may have nothing to do with what is happening now. But we take the emotions from those memories, whether they are happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety, and depression; and, we attach them to events of the present, thus hindering our ability to function effectively in the here and now. So, we need to find a way to leave those past events in the past through forgetting.

The next skill we must master is that of letting go. Again, if you think of the image of excess baggage, when you have your hands full of stuff and it is weighing you down, all you have to do is let some go, and immediately your load will lighten. Through a greater understanding of the processes of forgetting and letting go, you will be able to move beyond your past and develop a more optimistic outlook on your future.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Anger Solutions: How Anger Develops

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This post is excerpted from Julie Christiansen's book, Anger Solutions: Proven Strategies for Effectively Resolving Anger and Taking Control of Your Emotions.
“Two ways to fail: Think without acting, Act without thinking”
How do we get this thing called anger in the first place? Isn’t that the question? Understanding how anger develops is instrumental in developing safe, appropriate and effective ways of expressing it.
Let’s look first at some of the common causes or triggers of anger. You are probably thinking, “I already know what my triggers are! It’s those crazy drivers, those irritating salespeople, my boss, my whining kids…” Although we tend to think that the visible or audible stimuli in our environment are the causes or triggers for our anger, the truth lies more in the fact that those stimuli cause us to feel an emotion. The emotion that is induced by the stimulus is the actual trigger.
Some of the most common causes of anger are felt emotions such as confusion, frustration and threat. Let’s take a quick look at how these words really contribute to the context of anger resolution and management.
  • Over-stimulation or sensory overload. This might take the form of too much noise, too much traffic, too many people talking at once with the stereo blasting and the phone ringing, etc.
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain. (Poor breathing techniques can contribute to this. We will discuss the value of good breathing later on.)
  • Misperception of verbal communication due to poor filtering.
  • Misperception of physical communication due to poor filtering.
  • Misinterpretation of verbal and/or physical communication due to cognitive deficit (developmental delay, brain injury).
Consider this example of how frustration translates into anger.
I want my voice to be heard. I feel like no one is listening. My desire is not being fulfilled therefore I feel frustrated. I want to attract attention, but no one is noticing. I feel more frustrated... My frustration goes unanswered… I feel anger...
I once had a dream that clearly reinforces this concept. In my dream, I was desperately trying to dial 911 to report a severe beating of a woman outside my house. The first difficulty was that I had no dial tone due to someone else being connected to my line. I could not convince this person to hang up so I could connect with 911, nor could I communicate effectively how dire the need was that we get an ambulance. In the background, the noise level was mounting.
Since I could not convince the other party to get off my line, I asked them to get hold of 911 services for me. They agreed, but when I had finally completed giving them instructions to my house and I asked them if they had received all the information, there was no one there! As you can imagine my level of panic and frustration was mounting steadily as was the volume of noise in the background. Finally, in my dream, my state of anxiety continued to increase until I “blasted”, and what a blast it was! Needless to say, I awoke with a start and had a bit of trouble getting back to sleep afterward.
The process of mounting frustration and panic that took place in my dream is typical of what happens in our everyday lives, although not necessarily in that intensity. “Frustration” happens when your desired goals appear to be unattainable. Anger happens when “frustration” begins to build into an emotional crescendo.
The most important factor that I believe contributes to the escalation of anger is this: EXPECTATIONS. According to William Glasser, the author of Choice Theory, we all filter the stimuli we receive in the "real" world through our senses, our values, and our expectations. This filtered information is the "perceived" world. We tend to think of our perceptions as reality - the way things truly are; however, we must remember that our perceptions are coloured or impacted by our personal filters. This is why two people can see the same movie, witness the same accident, or look at the same beautiful person and have different reactions, thoughts, or ideas about what they saw.
Now, the problem lies here: in addition to our perceived reality, we also have an IDEAL world - our expectation of how things "should" be. For example, your kids should clean up their room, your husband should be considerate, the wife should always have dinner on the table, your boss should respect your intelligence and ability... but often our perceived world doesn't match up to our ideal world. When there is enough of a discrepancy between what we WANT and what we think we HAVE, anger can develop. It may begin with disappointment, frustration, or irritation, but the more unhappy we are with our perceived world, the easier it will be to respond in anger.
Often when we receive that FRUSTRATION signal to the brain, we revert to whatever comes naturally for us. One typical approach is to ACT without THINKING - this is to externalize our feelings through acting out behaviours - yelling, physical actions, slamming doors, threatening, throwing things, driving too fast, etc. The other option is to THINK without ACTING - this is to internalize feelings, hiding them from the world and using self-blame or perhaps other-blame in a very personal quiet way, while never actually talking about or doing something about those feelings. Either way, this creates a sense of imbalance. The only way to achieve balance is through a process of self-evaluation, which I have discussed often in this blog:
T: Think - what is happening? what does it mean? how do I feel about it? what should I do about my feelings? what is the best thing that can  happen if I do this? what is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?
S: Say - Talk to the person with whom you have the problem, or the one who can help you resolve it. Use assertive language - I feel ... because...
A: Ask - Invite the other party to engage in a dialogue with you to work at resolving the issue that is presenting itself. See if you can work together to achieve an outcome that is desirable for you both.
Remember that you cannot and must not ask for some input then walk away once the person starts to talk!  If you start the dialogue, see it through.  Remember that if you expect people to hear you out, you must extend the same courtesy to them.  So hear them out, and if you disagree, then so be it!  At least you are talking about it now, and even if all that comes of the dialogue is that you agree to disagree, you will still have come a long way from feeling hurt or angry.
To obtain your copy of Anger Solutions! visit and click on the STORE. 
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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Anger Solutions: Belief is the Basis of Action

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(This blog entry is excerpted from Julie Christiansen's book, Anger Solutions: Proven Strategies for Effectively Resolving Anger. To purchase your copy, please visit:
Anger Solutions: Belief is the Basis of Action
There are many common misconceptions about anger: what it is, what it isn’t; how it works, why it works; what it’s for, and how to express it.  Anger is one of those great emotional paradoxes. 
We as human beings experience anger on a regular basis, but unlike happiness, sadness and fear, we struggle with its expression.  When we’re happy we laugh.  When we’re sad we cry.  When we’re afraid, we tremble, run, fight, or hide.  But when we’re angry, we somehow get stuck.  Somehow, throughout the course of time, we have come to believe that anger is too volatile, too dangerous, too violent an emotion.
I suppose if you look at the history of mankind, from Cain to Judas to Jack the Ripper to Hitler, the examples we have for coping with anger haven’t left us much we can, in good conscience, use.  However there are two sides to every story, and two ways to learn from history. When I think of Joseph, Jesus, Churchill, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or Martin Luther King, I see another side of anger.  I see that anger is different things to different people. What sets one group apart from the other is a little thing called belief.
Belief is at the root of everything we do. To borrow from the title of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books, “you’ll see it when you believe it.”  This is not some hokey, “psychobabblish” notion that is all about “mind over matter”.  It is a simple truth; one that has existed since the dawn of time yet has been widely ignored or discounted by the populous at large.
When we get up in the morning, swing our legs over the side of our beds, and plant our feet firmly on the floor, we are doing so based on a belief (that the floor is still where it was when we went to bed the night before).  If we truly believed that while we were sleeping the floor had dissolved and turned into Jello, would we be so quick to jump out of bed? I don’t think so.

If you stop to think about it, everything we do in the course of a day is based on certain beliefs we hold to be true.  Many of those beliefs are so deeply ingrained that we cannot even consciously acknowledge their existence.  If asked to articulate what belief allows us to drive our cars without fear every day; what belief enables us to perform the daily duties of our jobs, or to nurture positive trusting relationships with some people but not others, chances are the majority of us would not be able to articulate them.

The journey of life can and will be virtually impossible to navigate if we fail to use our built-in guidance systems. The most powerful of those is our personal belief system.  Beliefs have the power to shape us, to make us, and to break us.  Depending on what you choose to believe in, you may be an incredibly strong individual, with the ability to take on new challenges, to learn new things, to take risks, and to effectively deal with the consequences of your actions.  Your choices regarding your beliefs may also transform you into a weak, dependent person; one who is afraid to try, afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, and afraid to take responsibility for your own behaviour.  What you believe about anger is directly correlated to how you respond to situations that cause anger.  If in angry situations, you find yourself withdrawing, blaming, aggressing, or retreating, perhaps the beliefs you have held to be true are limiting you and shaping you into a person you do not wish to become.

Not long ago, I was talking with a client about his particular limiting beliefs. I remember sharing with him the notion that belief is the basis of action, and watching as revelation dawned in his facial expression.  He wrote it down in his notebook in large, bold letters, and repeated the phrase a few times to himself, “Belief is the basis of action.”  To paraphrase his response, he said to me, “Already, my outlook on life is changing, just by hearing that one statement.  I’ve been paralyzed, and afraid to act; but, if I truly believe that I have something to offer the world, if I truly believe that I am talented, if I truly believe that I am capable, taking steps toward my goals is so much easier! This has been the missing link for me.  I wonder why I didn’t see it before. ”
There is nothing wrong with challenging your beliefs; that is, as long as you are doing so in a systematic and open way.  Often people will challenge their foundational beliefs by espousing the exact opposite of the principles they have always lived by.
  • A woman who has remained passive in an abusive relationship one day comes to the realization that she enables her abuser by being passive.  She swings to the other side of the pendulum and kills her abusive spouse in his sleep.
  • A mother that traditionally vents her anger by crying in the bathroom decides that this technique is no longer useful for her. She begins yelling at her children.
  • Children that have striven for perfection in order to be accepted, decide to rebel. They slack off in school, listen to dark, depressing music and begin using drugs.
  • A quiet, non-confrontational, community-minded storeowner shoots the robber of his store with a shotgun after being robbed five times.
You see, just because you realize that the thing you have always believed is wrong doesn’t make your next choice of belief or action right.  Often what is required is not a dramatic 180-degree turn, but rather a slight shift of attitudes, beliefs, and actions.
Anger Solutions provides you with the tools you need to make those subtle shifts, and to challenge your beliefs openly and systematically.  The tools contained in this little toolkit will enable you to picture anger for what it really is. They will help you to examine your belief systems and to understand both the positive and negative ramifications of holding on to those beliefs.  You will gain an increased awareness of your own responses to anger, and insight into the responses of those around you.  Anger Solutions will show you how to free yourself from the bondage that anger puts you in, and how to make anger work for you instead.
Christiansen, J. (2003). Anger Solutions: Proven Strategies for Effectively Resolving Anger and Taking Control of Your Emotions. St. Catharines: Leverage U Press.  (Trade Paperback, 225 pages, $24.95 +GST, Shipping and Handling). Available at:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Anger Solutions: Pain vs. Pleasure (repost)

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People are always asking, "What makes Anger Solutions so much more effective than traditional anger management?" This is no simple question - as there are many facets of Anger Solutions that come together to make it an exceptional program. Today I want to share with you one of our great leveraging tools that help to contribute to our continued success. You heard about this a little from a previous posting in which I shared the story of Trey, and how I used pain as leverage to move him towards where he wanted to be.

This leveraging tool first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud is called, "The Pain/Pleasure Principle". It simply states that: Human beings will do more to avoid pain than they will to obtain pleasure.

Think about that for a minute: Human beings will do more to avoid pain than they will to obtain pleasure.
Ain't that the truth! Women will endure a great deal of abuse before they opt to leave a relationship. Employees will often put up with harrassment, put-downs, poor leadership, and all sorts of workplace challenges before they decide to leave a job. People will put up with all sorts of misbehaviour from loud, rowdy neighbours before they decide to call the police, start community action, or move to a quieter street. We have known this for years... that we must be highly frustrated or dissatisfied with a situation before we will attempt to make a change.

Why is this? Perhaps because there is safety in what we know. You've heard that old statement: "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't..." There is also a certain fear that is associated with changing - perhaps we will make the mistake of going from the frying pan into the fire.

This is also true when it comes to making behavioural change. It is so easy to do what we've always done - especially when there is some benefit in our current choice of action. Even if your present anger style is causing you pain, if you get the least amount of payoff from it, you will likely continue to use your old style because it is less painful than the perceived pain of trying to create change. We do this all the time - choose what we perceive to be the "lesser pain" rather than opting for what will bring us the "greater pleasure" in the long run.

Here's an example: Jon Smith is angry at his wife. He doesn't know how to talk to her without hurting her feelings, so he hides his anger by going out to the bars after work. This is causing him pain as well - because he is in effect alienating his wife and creating more distance between them. However, the perceived pain of confrontation is too much for him to handle so he avoids it by choosing the "lesser pain" of retreating to the bars. Jon's problem is that he has not considered the "greater pleasure" of what might happen if he sits down with his wife and has that difficult conversation. He is too afraid of the immediate discomfort and cannot see past that to how his relationship with his wife might be better if they just talk it out.

Anger Solutions challenges this way of thinking and encourages people to address the pain/pleasure principle on a conscious level. This proves to be an incredible leveraging tool - try it for yourself!

How would you apply the principle of pleasure and pain to the following situations?

1. Quitting smoking

2. Foolish binge spending

3. Losing you temper at work

Here's a Hint:

List the perceived benefits of each behaviour (or the "lesser pain") and remember what William Glasser says: "People do what makes sense to them..." If there is even a little benefit in the behaviour although it is painful, people will continue to do it.List the downside - what is truly painful about this behaviour (the "greater pain")?

Identify why it doesn't make sense. The key here is to emphasize the painful aspects or consequences of the behaviour...

Ask yourself: If by changing my behaviour, I could achieve the same or better feeling of pleasure without experiencing so much pain, would I change?

Visit our website at to purchase Julie's book, Anger Solutions: Proven Strategies for Effectively Resolving Anger!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Two-facedness: Is it always a bad thing?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInLately I've been doing some studying on a notion that came to me in my sleep. This often happens to me: I'll be in the throes of REM sleep, likely my third or fourth cycle, which means it is close to when I should wake up. Somewhere between REM sleep and floating back into a state of consciousness, an epiphany occurs and I can't get up fast enough to write it down. Some of the best song lyrics I have penned have been born in my REM sleep. Also, I get great ideas for presentation topics, seminars, or just new book material.

In any case, the other night or morning I was mulling over the term "two-faced" in my sleep, and woke up realizing that we all wear two-faces. Sometimes they mirror each other, and sometimes they do not.

For example, when you are feeling truly happy or jubilant inside, and you wear the face of happiness on the outside, your two faces mirror one another. But have you ever been happy about something, or felt proud of an accomplishment and felt like you needed to "tone down your enthusiasm" for the sake of those around you? Have you ever downplayed accolades or praise because you didn't want to appear prideful or conceited? This is an example of when your "two faces" might not match. Consider this - have you ever been truly disappointed in a friend or family member but didn't want to hurt their feelings by telling them how badly they let you down? What face did you show them? A face of resignation, forgiveness, love, apathy, or indifference? A face that did not truly reflect the feelings in your heart? This too, is being two-faced.

We tend to associate the term "two faced" as somethign that is derogatory, undesirable, or insincere. We see it as an indication of dishonesty, and proof that the person we link to that label cannot be trusted. But is this always the case?

I'm beginning to think that sometimes being two-faced is a good thing, and I believe what makes the difference between "good" two-faced and "bad" two-faced is your intentions. If your intent is to hurt, scar, manipulate, or deceive, then clearly being two-faced is "bad". If however, your intent is to save someone from hurt, to show them love or forgiveness despite the harm they may have caused you, then your two-facedness is "good".

I remember how my mother always smiled in the faces of her enemies and treated everyone with love and respect even when they hurt or disappointed her. She made a habit of doing her best to show the face of love at all times. She didn't always succeed in that regard - sometimes, especially when she was very angry, her two faces mirrored each other, but that's ok too. I'm not saying we should always choke on our anger and pretend to be sweet. My mom simply believed that she could accomplish more by building relationships rather than actively trying to tear them down. In other words, she had pure intentions.

By contrast, I can think of other people in my life who presented the face of helpfulness, attentiveness, eagerness, etc., only so they could establish a trust relationship with someone else for the purposes of taking advantage. Others still presented the face of a poor injured bird, needing support and attention, when in fact, they were manipulating their targets into compromising their integrity. These people had evil intentions, and used attractive "faces" to draw their victims in.

How then, do we prevent ourselves from becoming the wrong type of two faced? The answer is simple: search out and clarify your intentions. Ask yourself these questions (you might see some "Anger Solutions" formatted questions here because they fit):

1. Why am I hiding my true feelings from people? Is it because I want to protect their feelings, or because I secretly hope to hurt them down the road?

2. How do I feel about this person? Do I like/love/appreciate him/her, or do I really wish I didn't have to deal with him/her?

3. How do I feel about this situation? Am I feeling hurt, angry, disappointed, frustrated? Or am I feeling happy, pleased, satisfied, superior? How am I expressing this feeling with my outside face?

4. What do I want to happen in this situation? How would I like it to be resolved? Do I want us to work it out and to remain friends? Or do I want to gain the upper hand?

5. What is the best thing that can happen if I express my true feelings? What is the worst thing that can happen?

6. What is the best thing that can happen if I exercise my good/evil intentions? What is the worst thing that can happen?

Check your intentions to ensure that the face you are showing the world is the face you truly want them to see.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Community Workshops by Leverage U

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Dealing with the Downturn
When we face turbulent times like these, the natural instinct is to panic, duck, and cover. This kind of response is fueled by the media, whose typical focus is “Doom and Gloom”. But what does “panic mode” do to our bodies and our minds? Will it help us effectively survive and thrive during tough economic times? What can we do to deal with the downturn? This workshop will look at the realities of a bad economy: unemployment, underemployment, living lean, and struggling to get by. It will also provide 6 key strategies to help you deal effectively with the downturn – and show you how you can not only survive but come out ahead!

Anger Just Doesn’t Work!

Have you ever heard this before? “I didn’t lose the job because I’m angry; I’m angry because I lost the job!”

Have you ever wondered how your client could not see that his/her anger or attitude is a barrier to securing and maintaining employment? How can you help your clients to realize that anger just doesn’t work?

This highly interactive workshop will provide you with proven strategies borrowed from the Anger Solutions™ model.  The exercises and challenges will help you build awareness in your clients by helping you to answer the following questions together:
1.      What is anger?
2.      Who owns my anger?
3.      Should my anger be controlled or resolved?
4.      How is my anger/attitude affecting my employability?
5.      What can I do to become more attractive to employers?
6.      How do I maintain my new skills AND my new job?

Self Esteem for Students

Self esteem is a key indicator of the extent to which people will succeed in life.  Studies in developmental psychology show that while self esteem rises throughout the years of adolescence, self-esteem is lowest in Canadian adolescent girls.

This short program is designed to introduce both male and female students to the concept of self esteem and how it can affect their lives today and the decisions they make that could affect their entire future. While addressing a serious topic, the content is light and upbeat, and engages the students through a variety of exercises.

For more information on our community workshops, please contact us at 1-866-754-6169.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New home, new face for Anger Solutions

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New home, new face for Anger Solutions

I am so excited to announce that after many years, Anger Solutions and our Leverage U programs now have a new home and a new face, thanks to Paul Pollard at OmegaWeb ( He has done a fantastic job of rebranding the site and providing us with an easy-to-navigate, user friendly site that will certainly represent Anger Solutions and Leverage U for the years to come.

Leverage U's home on the web will continue to be found at, and you can still access us using the traditional email addresses: info@ and julie@ .

Our new store is a secure site managed by Chase Paymentech, so you can rest assured that your online purchases are as risk free as possible, and we will be enabling the store site to allow our regular clients and customers to pay their invoices online for convenience's sake.

As on our previous site, we will continue to proudly list the names and agencies of our Certified Facilitators, Trainers, Master Trainers, and Coaches, and provide links to their websites.

I welcome you to check out the site, and tell us what you think! Use our contact form to share your feedback. I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, March 01, 2013

TSA in Review: Anger Solutions Bullying at Work

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In my previous blog posts, my focus was on specific things we can do to process what is happening and how best to deal with bullies in the workplace. I promised to review the TSA process in full for this installment, and as I was preparing to do so, I came across this poster on Pinterest and had to share it. "Most of the problems in life are because of two reasons: we act without thinking, or we keep thinking without acting." This notion is one of the underpinnings of Anger Solutions philosophy - that we must be conscious in our efforts to process our experiences and to make clear, informed decisions BEFORE we take action. In my book, Anger Solutions: Proven Strategies for Effectively Resolving Anger, I note that when we are angry and we act without thinking, we typically will lash out, use verbal aggression or verbal abuse, or perhaps even use physical aggression or abuse to express our ire. Whe we think without acting, anger is internalized resulting in physical ailments, emotional upset, and distress. Bitterness, resentment, mood disturbances, "trust issues", insomnia, heart disease, diabetes, depression, chronic inflammation (fibromyalgia, polymyalgia, asthma) and other illnesses can be linked directly to the stress that is caused by the internalization of negative emotions. This is why TSA is so important and inherently essential to the resolution of anger.

T: Think - what is happening? What does it mean? How do I feel about it? What is the lifetime value of this event? How would I like this to be resolved? What is the best thing that can happen if I choose this option? What is the worst thing that can happen if I choose this option?

S: Say - Talk to the people who matter - who are directly involved in the issue you wish to resolve. No water cooler talk, no coffee talk. Don't talk AROUND the issue: approach the issue head on. Say, "This is how I feel and this is why. These are my expectations for the future. I am observing these behaviours and this is what they mean to me. In future, for us to communicate clearly with each other/work more effectively together, this is what I need to happen."

A: Ask - Invite the other party to engage in the dialogue. Remember - this is about resolution, not about winning. In order to resolve a problem people must work together. This means you advocate for your position but you do not become adversarial. You must also seek to accommodate the needs of the other party (within reason) as much as you hope they will accommodate your needs. Ask questions like, "Can you see where I'm coming from? Do we have an agreement? How can we work together so that this conflict does not arise again?" Asking the right kinds of questions indicates your commitment to understanding the other party. It demonstrates empathy, and a willingness to work together.

Whenever you have these kinds of conversations with your bullies (or with anyone else in the workplace with whom you might have conflict), document exactly what was said, who was there, and what the circumstances were surrounding the event. Be sure you also document the outcome of the conversation as you remember it. You never know when you may need the record of that conversation to back you up later.

If you are being bullied at work and need additional support to get through it, please call me toll free: 1-866-754-6169. I would be happy to assist. To learn more about my counselling services, visit:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Part 3: Anger Solutions Approach to Workplace Bullying

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInIn the previous post I focused on honing on your desired outcomes to help you devise appropriate responses to bullying or harassment at work. I also promised to deal with the question: "What is the best/worst thing that can happen if I do/say...?"

Now here's the rub. Think about some of the days you have gone through recently. You've probably had some good days and some bad days. In reality everyday has a little bit of good and a little bit of bad in it. The typical human response is to focus on the bad that happened throughout the day, even if 90% of the day was good. It is way more fun (most of the time) to gripe about the bad stuff that happened because it garners you sympathy, empathy, and moral support. Talking about the good stuff just isn't as rewarding (I hope you can hear the sarcasm in this statement).

Truth be told, we humans do tend to look at the darker side of life - this pessimistic outlook is reinforced in the media - the news is 90% bad and 10% good at best. Bad news sells. Period. However, if we want to be able to effectively use Anger Solutions to our advantage, we need to maintain a balance between possible positive and negative outcomes.

For example, when I was working in one particularly toxic workplace, I had become very sick and at one point I had to be off for 6 weeks to recover from major surgery. Shortly after returning to work (only a few months later), the very thing that led to my surgery had returned, and my health was beginning to decline again. On top of that I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and had to begin taking medication to manage it. And I hadn't even had my 40th birthday at the time!

Everytime I went to work I felt sick. I was weepy, and emotional, and had difficulty concentrating. My anxiety was through the roof, and I was terrified of losing my job. I had become fully focused on "What is the WORST thing that could happen if I defend myself, or stand up for myself, or challenge my boss for her behaviour?" Then one morning I realized that if I lost my job, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I extended the question to sound like this... "What is the worst thing that can happen if I get fired from this job?" The answer sounded something like this... "Well, I won't have a steady paycheque, but it will give me an opportunity to build my business."

Then, I asked the truly powerful question: "What is the best thing that could happen if I get fired?" O.M.G. The answer was incredibly empowering! "I won't have to feel sick or anxious in the mornings, because I won't have to work there. I will be in a better position to explore my options, and I can find another job or expand the business so that I can work in it full time. I would file for wrongful dismissal and get a severance package so that I wouldn't be struggling financially while searching for work. I won't have to put up with the constant badgering and put downs that I get from my boss on an almost daily basis. I can kiss office politics goodbye..." and the list went on and on.

That very day, I walked into my boss's office when I was summoned and she proceeded to launch into her daily rant of how useless I was. I interrupted her and asked point blank, "Are you going to fire me?" That stopped her cold. I continued, "Because if you're going to fire me, I'd like to know in advance so I can get my resume ready." She began to stammer, and finally said, "Well, there's nothing in it for me if I fire you." Strange response, but I took it to mean NO. I replied, "Ok, then if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to work." When I left her office I felt like a new person. I had found a way to resurrect my voice. Although she did not fire me (in fact, she was fired), I went ahead and prepared my resume. I also began exploring my options for a quick exit, and decided in the end to pursue my dream of running my business full time while working part time for a base income. That was 8 years ago, and I don't ever regret leaving. I owe my change of mindset to those two very simple questions:

"What's the worst thing that can happen if I ..." AND
"What's the BEST thing that can happen if I ..."?

Moving forward, as you work through the process of Thinking, Saying, and Asking, remember that you must thoroughly exhaust ALL the questions in the Thinking component before moving forward. Once you think things through clearly, what you have to say and/or ask becomes much clearer.

I hope you have found this helpful. I know that sometimes it helps to have another perspective - a supportive, empathetic sounding board to help process your experience. Call me if you need someone to talk to: 1-866-754-6169 toll free, or contact me via my website:

In my next post, I'll review the TSA Model in its totality. Until then, stay solution focused!