Social anxiety – overcoming shyness

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

Ask people what they fear the most and many of them will answer, speaking in public. In surveys that ask people about their fears, about one person in five reports, an extreme fear of public speaking. Shyness and other forms of social anxiety are common, and they prevent people from fully experiencing life.

Shyness refers to the tendency to withdraw from people, particularly people who are unfamiliar. Everyone has some degree of shyness, in fact, a person without any shyness at all is probably one who does not make good judgments about maintaining appropriate boundaries between people. A bit of shyness is a good thing. But when a high level of shyness prevents a person from engaging in normal, social interactions, from functioning, while at work, or from developing intimate relationships, it presents a problem, which, fortunately, can be alleviated.

Shyness is one form of the broader term, social anxiety. This concept, also known as social phobia, refers to a special kind of anxiety that people feel when they are around other people. It is associated with concerns about being scrutinized. Shyness and social anxiety are closely related, but social anxiety includes other situations, such as speaking in public, taking tests, sports performance, and dating. Closely related to the concepts of shyness and social anxiety are embarrassment and shame. Embarrassment is what a person feels when something unexpected happens and drives unwanted attention (such as knocking over a glass of water in a restaurant). This creates a temporary feeling of discomfort. Shame on the other hand is longer lasting. Shame is a feeling that comes from being disappointed in oneself.

Who are the people most likely to suffer from social anxiety? Parents recognize some children are easily frightened from birth on and cry. A great deal, well, others seem more resilient by temperament, they seldom cry, hardly ever get upset, and are less easily frightened. Children love to explore the world around them. Others are cautious and don’t tolerate change well. Children who are inhibited are more likely to have a parent with social anxiety disorder. An anxious person is more likely to have a parent or sibling who suffers from depression. Many people with social anxiety disorder report having one or both parents who have a substance abuse problem, such as drinking, or come from a family and which:

  1. There is substantial conflict between the adults,
  2. Parents are overly critical of the children, or things are never good enough,
  3. There is excessive concern about what other people think.

National surveys find that about 5% of children and adolescents suffer from social anxiety disorder. Children with an anxiety problem seldom report that they are feeling anxious. Instead, they report the presence of physical symptoms, which include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, blushing, dizziness, And shortness of breath. They try to avoid the following situations: speaking in class, taking test, reading aloud, writing on the board, inviting friends, over to play, eating in front of others, going to parties, and playing sports. Children and adolescence with social anxiety disorder may go onto develop other related problems, such as loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem. Although some children overcome their shyness in time, as interactions with others, caused their fear to dissipate, others will experience worsening of symptoms. If a child shows symptoms by the age of six that have not improved by the age of 10, it is probably time to seek professional intervention.

The single most important strategy for overcoming social anxiety is to face your fear. Get back on the horse again. Take the car out for a drive once more. Go swimming again. Get back on an airplane. Give another speech before an audience. Go to another dinner party. Ask somebody else to go out on a date. Managing your physical symptoms and changing your thinking do little good unless you come to terms with your fears by getting back into anxiety provoking situation doing this takes courage. Avoiding it perpetuates the problem.

Adapting to chronic illness

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

The disabled often say that those who are able-bodied, or just temporarily, so, that most of us, at some point in our lives will suffer from physical disability. Many of us believe in the old adage, stating that if you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything. However, unexpected health changes can happen to any of us. Even without the health we may have formerly enjoyed our lives can continue to be rich and full – although perhaps different.

Our lifespans have increased enormously over the past century. Many of us live into our seventies, eighties, nineties, or longer. However, the rise in expected longevity brings with it the increased probability that we will suffer from one or more physical diseases during our lifetimes. The incident of heart disease, stroke, and cancer is high in Western societies. There is currently a diabetes epidemic that is associated with obesity due to diet and lack of exercise. Adults are more prone to developing diabetes, but an alarming number of children now experience type II diabetes. Many people develop immune deficiency diseases such as lupus. These diseases are often an outcome of lifestyle choices. Given the length of our lifespans, there’s a high probability that a health crisis will come into our lives at some point.

A chronic illness is one that persists over time without an easily definable beginning, middle and end. While the suffering that accompanies a chronic illness can usually be alleviated to some extent, the illness itself is usually not curable. Our society, and the medical establishment in particular, feels more comfortable in dealing with acute illnesses, those illnesses that can be treated and cured. This is easy to understand if we consider that society tends to value achievement, and action. We prefer to deal with diseases that have a distinct cause, treat them with medication, or other interventions, and then wait for the healing to begin. Chronic illnesses are not amenable to such quick fixes. They are conditions that we have to learn to live with. Lacking social support, the task of adapting to a chronic illness can be a major challenge.

Living with a chronic illness brings many issues to the fore. One of the primary experiences of those with chronic illness is the challenge of realizing that their lives have changed, often permanently. Not only do they have to deal with the many changes that the illness will bring to their lifestyle and future plans, but they have to deal with the difficulty. The illness presents to their loved ones, friends, and work associates. Other people fail to understand the disease, and suddenly treat the sufferer in a different way. Often through avoidance or superficial and uncomfortable support. The person with a chronic illness is sometimes seen as failing to contribute his or her fair share and work setting. The disruption to families can cause severe conflict because it upsets the normal balance and family dynamics.

If someone goes to the many phases of a chronic illness, they eventually end up in the final phase, the integration phase. The final phase is the culmination of the struggle that your chronic illness is brought into your life. You understand what you have been through and how you have grown from the experience. You know, now that you are a much wiser and more able person than you were before your illness. You understand that you may backslide, especially when the symptoms flare up again, but you have the tools now to get yourself back on course again. You have integrated your pre-crisis self into your current sense of self so that your life can be seen as a whole, And from that, you have a good sense of what your life means.

Did you know when the chronic illness began that you presented with a gift, a gift that could make your life enormously rich.

Creating a strong, supportive family

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

One key to an emotionally healthy life is having the backing of a strong, supportive family. A strong family may be as small as two people, or as large as a kinship network of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The size of the family, indeed the composition of the family, does not matter as much as the feeling of belonging and the sense of sustenance that emerges from living with stable, familial support. People seem to do better in life when they have the feeling of belonging to something larger, and stronger, than they are individually. A familial network diminishes the uncertainties that derive from the stresses of everyday living.

The family has undergone many changes over recent decades, due mainly to major, social and cultural upheavals. When life was mainly agriculturally based or when immigrants came to the new land, the traditional family was able to thrive. We looked to our kin for support, and they were there for us. The decades since the middle of the 20th century have seen a steady unraveling of this bygone ideal. It is difficult to describe precisely what caused this change. It may have been such factors as government programs (the government, rather than children, would take care of people when they grew old) or automobile and modern roads (people were no longer confined to one location any longer, family members can move away). Or was it television? Computers and electronic data transmission? Improved communication technology? The high divorce rates? What we do know is that families find it more difficult due to competing demands from the larger world, to spend time together, to feel committed to each other, to communicate with each other, to share spiritual values, to cope with crisis together. Some families, however, seem to have overcome these threats to a strong and thriving fam life.

Here are some qualities shared by strong families –

A sense of commitment to the family

A commitment is a pledge or promise applied to family life, it is a sense of responsibility or duty to the family that overrides temporary conflicts or times of crisis. Members of strong families take their familial commitment seriously. It is conscious, unwavering, and unconditional.

Showing appreciation and self-esteem

Healthy families share in common the ability to show appreciation to each other. By showing appreciation, we are essentially saying that the other person is worthy and has dignity. We declare that we can see the positive qualities of the other person. This message is crucial to emotional wellness because it is a core building block of self-esteem. Thus, strong families help build healthy personalities.

Sharing positive communication

One research study has shown that the average couple spent 17 minutes per week in conversation. In contrast, strong families spend a great deal of time talking with one another, ranging from trivial matters to important issues. Communication helps us to feel connected and because members of strong families feel free to exchange information and ideas, they become good problems solvers. Some families set aside time for family council meetings, and others do their talking over the dinner table each night.

Staying healthy at work: Are you working hard or hardly working? (or both?)

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

 

The atmosphere of the workplace has changed dramatically in recent times. Ever since the exploitative practices of the industrial revolution were removed through legislation, work has been defined as a place where a person could find fulfillment through a job which was rewarding and paid a fair wage. But this definition has reverted in recent years to one in which the needs of the employee have become less important. Finding personal fulfillment through work has become more of a challenge. Progressive occupational stress, leading to job burnout, has become a painful reality for many people. This is especially true during times of high unemployment, when the workers who are still employed are expected to carry the load of those who are no longer with the company.

 

The incidence of job burnout has become increasingly widespread as

  • Corporations merge in the interest of the stockholders come to predominant, business policies.
  • Jobs are eliminated or combined, because of technological innovations.
  • More production moves overseas where labor costs are cheaper.
  • Downsizing has become more frequent (where the worker is expected to do more work for less money).
  • Layoffs occur with alarming frequency.

Many people are working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities, just to “stay in place.” Where one income used to support a family, now it usually takes two, and this has a major impact on the dynamics of raising the family. As a result of these changes in the workplace, stress has increased dramatically for some workers. Job stress is a result of overload on our senses and in our ability to complete tasks. We are presented with more demands, information, stimuli, and intensity than we can take in and process. The end result of prolonged exposure to stress is job burnout. We progressively shut down under the demands placed on us from the outside world. When we have difficulty in setting priorities, and putting ourselves into balance, we are more prone to suffer from burnout. We feel that we cannot keep up with everything we have to do. Not only is our work intense, but we also have demands to participate in family life, keep up with friends, and complete our normal chores of everyday living. We feel a decreased ability to set limits on various demands. We then begin to feel a vague sense of just not caring so much about work, or maybe anything, anymore. We feel overwhelmed then we retreat.

 

Burnout prevention

 

Burnout is not an all or nothing condition. Rather, think of it as a progressive wearing down, ranging from normal feelings of getting a little tired of your job, to a state of complete exhaustion. Most workers suffer from some of the symptoms of job stress, if not burnout, from time to time. With careful examination of what is contributing to our stress in attending to our needs for well-being, we can usually halt the wear down and revive our enthusiasm for work. Frequently we must take an in-depth look at how we work, and live, in order to turn our stress into an opportunity for personal growth.

Freedom from verbal abuse

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

A home should be a happy place, or at least a safe place. Killing daily with the outside world, with extensions, pressures, and surprises, can be difficult. Home is a place to come back to you, a place to feel free, relaxed, and comfortable. Home should be the place where we feel loved and accepted just for being ourselves. This is, of course, an ideal description of what a home can be.

In truth, home is also the place where our personal conflicts are worked out, sometimes in destructive ways. Our internal conflicts may involve issues of anger, power, and control, all of which can lead to verbal abuse. The verbally abusive household is usually not a happy place, and in extreme conditions, it may not be a safe place. It is important to recognize verbal abuse when it occurs, and then do something about it. Fortunately, there are effective ways of dealing with such a situation and making the home a safe haven.

Verbal abuse leaves no physical scars, but the emotional wounds can be just as deep, and recovery can be prolonged. On the surface, others may see both the verbal abuser and the victim of the abuse as a happy couple, the nicest people. But behind the scenes there exists a subtle pattern of manipulation and intimidation, unreasonable demands, sarcasm, and angry outbursts. At the onset of these relationships, everything may seem wonderful. The person who later becomes verbally abusive may shower the eventual victim with gifts and complements and make that person feel like the most important person in the world. Gradually, however, the relationship deteriorates. The abusers’ anger and need for control are projected onto the victim. The victim is blamed for not being “good enough,” and the relationship gradually turns into an emotional roller coaster. When things seem to be going well, a fight emerges unexpectedly.

Because the partners in a verbally abusive relationship have usually adapted to their situations, as painful as this may be, it might require the intervention of a trained therapist to interpret the communication patterns, objectively and empathetically. In therapy, the partners in the relationship may learn how dysfunctional families breed codependence, as well as how negative self-esteem, and lack of adaptive Interpersonal boundaries can lead to a verbally abusive relationship. New and healthier ways of communicating can be learned along with the issues of control, the need for a quality in a relationship, and how to trust and respect one’s partner. Learning assertiveness, and refusing to participate in the cycle of abuse, are crucial steps in coming to terms with the destructiveness of the verbally abusive relationship.

Our homes can, and should, be happy, loving and safe. We owe it to ourselves, and to our partners, to confront the issues which prevent us from making trust and love essential ingredients in the recipes of our lives. The rewards of doing so are immeasurable.

Handling stress in everyday life

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

Stress happens when we perceive an event as disturbing or threatening. Our primitive ancestors experienced stress when they had to fight off wild animals, invaders, adverse natural events, and other threats to their survival. These days we are more likely to feel the anxiety that emerges from stress when we face overwhelming responsibilities at work, or home, experience loneliness, rejection, or the fear of losing things, are important to us, such as our jobs or friends. When we are exposed to such events, we experience what has been called the fight or flight response. To prepare for fighting or fleeing, the body increases its heart rate and blood pressure. This is more blood to our heart and muscles, and our respiration rate increases. We become vigilant and tense. Our bodies end up on full alert, and this allows us to take action. When these anxiety inducing conditions continue over a long period of time, however, and have a significant impact on how we live, we may begin to suffer from one of the anxiety disorders.

Research indicates that anxiety disorders are the leading emotional health disorder for women, and are second only to substance abuse among men. Within any given year, it has been estimated that 15% of the population suffers from one of the anxiety disorders, I get only a small portion of those who suffer receive treatment. Fortunately, Treatment is available in generally effective.

Anxiety can be helpful when it promises to take action to solve a problem. We can use our anxiety as a clue, in fact, that there is a problem, and that we need to confront it. Public speakers, athletes, and entertainers have long known that anxiety can motivate them to perform much better. When we don’t recognize our anxious feelings, or don’t have the tools to deal with them, we may continue to expose ourselves to the causes of the anxiety, and this leads to more problems.

Prolonged anxiety is demanding on our bodies, and our lives in general. The constant state of “fight or flight” may cause heart palpitations, dizziness, trembling, or shaking, increased blood pressure, sweating, choking, high stomach acidity, nausea, chest discomfort, or muscle spasms. We may feel detached or out of touch with reality or think we are dying or going crazy. There’s evidence that prolonged anxiety can lead to heart disease and a compromised immune system. It depletes our energy and interferes with concentration. We may become abrupt with other people and engage in emotional outbursts or even physical violence. Our relationships and job security may be jeopardized. People who experience prolonged anxiety are more prone to self-destructive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse, since they may turn to these substances as a form of self-medication.

The clue to handling anxiety well is to acquire skills. We need to feel empowered. This requires a good, honest exploration into our lives. We need to explore the strengths that we already have for coping with stress, as well as to learn new skills. A professional therapist has a number of specific techniques for the treatment of anxiety, as well as overall life strategy plans for dealing with these problems and other life experiences. We need to be able both to comfort ourselves, and to let others nurture us as well. All of us can learn, with some healthy exploration, to manage anxiety successfully.

An awareness of time

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

Give yourself the time of your life.

When we get right down to it, we have to draw one inescapable conclusion: time is our most important asset. Unlike most assets, there never seems to be enough of it. There are always so many things to do, so many pressures, so many things to keep track of. Our life seems to whiz by, and where has the time gone? If time is your most important asset, why do we know so little about it? Why do we stay so busy yet accomplished a little? Are our accomplishments all that important in the overall scheme of our lives? In a sense, when we simplify our lives, and become aware of the rhythms of life, that occur internally, we can cultivate our sense of time, and we can self-knowledge that generally escapes us within the bustle of our daily lives.

Think about what modern day life encourages us to do. We need to keep up with the news, drive to work, perform meritoriously on the job, work overtime, maintain a spiritual life, have many friends in a few deeper relationships, be a good partner, and perhaps a good parent, keep up with TV and movies and books and music, and all the new ideas, travel, have several hobbies, dress in the right fashions, spend time on the Internet, keep good credit, be a good neighbor, and participate in the community, do volunteer work, take classes, exercise, and so it goes. It is little wonder that many of us feel so pressured. In the end, what really matters is how well we have lived, not necessarily how much we have done.

Until the Middle Ages, there were no clocks. Other cultures even now measure time more in terms of seasons or natural cycles than by hours and minutes. Just two or three generations ago people had much more free time just to be, to enjoy, to develop more meaningful relationships. This is not to suggest that we should go back in time, because we cannot. But we do need to get in touch with our more natural internal rhythms, which are a primary source of stability and health, and to incorporate this awareness into our everyday lives. Rather than trying to squeeze more activities into the time we have available, it may be more helpful to examine what is really meaningful in our lives, and to devote our time to those pursuits. The quality of life can be much more meaningful than the quality of things we try to cram into our lives. In other words, we may need to develop a new relationship both with ourselves and to time.

Some of us have become so accustomed to adapting to the pressure of the external world that we have lost awareness of our internal state. The “high” that accompanies our adaptation to the stress of modern life, becomes something like an addiction. The busier we are, the more we feel alive. Yet our anxieties increase, and we lose track of the experiences which truly matter. Our health deteriorates, our relationships become superficial, and our sense of our own self evaporates. We long for something meaningful, and we lack the tools for finding it. The solution to the dilemma includes a paradox: we gain time by giving up time.

Problematic personalities

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

We all have our own unique ways of feeling and thinking and expressing ourselves. Most of the time, our uniqueness is seen as an individual difference, or something special about each of us. In fact, this is what brings interest and variety to the people in our lives. This is a positive thing. One of the healthiest things we can do is to achieve a fairly objective understanding of just how we are unique or different from other people. Then we can understand how our behavior impacts other people and adjust the way we act accordingly. That is, we can problem solve our way through situations when we have a good understanding of our unique personality characteristics. We are talking here about personality style, and all of us have our own styles.

Some of us though have personalities that vary significantly from the expectations found within the culture. This can involve patterns of feeling, thinking, impulse control, and interpersonal functioning that cause direct distress, sometimes to the person, but especially to those around the person. If the pattern is enduring and pervasive (meaning it persists over time and can be found across a broad range of situations), then it might meet the criteria for a personality disorder. One of the features of a personality disorder is that the person may not realize how their behavior affects others, and that’s why it continues over time and with variety of different people. So, a person with a personality disorder may have difficulty with problem-solving, which impairs their ability to adapt to life‘s challenges. People with personality disorders don’t feel distressed about their personality traits, but may suffer from the way others react to them. Personality disorders seem to begin fairly early in life, and unless changes are made, they may continue on through the person’s adulthood. It is important to realize that the behavior of those with personality disorders may have served a positive function at one point in the person’s life, but now those behaviors are an ingrained part of the personality (although they no longer serve the person well). They actually work against the person’s ability to adapt.

Professional therapists help to address a number of problems in everyday living, such as mood and thinking disorders, anxiety, impulse control, problems, or addictive behavior. Personality disorders fall into their own category, however. That is, personality disorders may, or may not, be related to those more traditional areas of treatment. For example, a person suffering from depression may, or may not, also have a personality disorder. Fortunately, there is help for people suffering from personality disorders, as well as their families, work colleagues, and close friends. In most cases people who suffer from a personality disorder can learn to make changes in the behavior that causes distress. It’s not really feasible to say that therapist can “cure“ a personality disorder, but they can have the person learn to manage life’s details and responsibilities better.

A trained professional therapist is able to provide a setting in which seemingly intractable problems can be addressed. A feeling of safety is built between a therapist and a client, and that’s opened the door to try new behaviors with support which have seemed impossible until now. A whole new world awaits those who give it a try.

The influence of birth order

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

Birth order affects our behavior and relationships.

If brothers and sisters are raised by the same parents, how do they end up so different? How is it that one sibling grows up to be successful, academically and professionally but with few friends, while another becomes the athlete with loads of friends? To the degree that one of the siblings is a responsible person, another will be attention seeking or rebellious. One follows the ways of the parents, and another looks outside the family for support. The strategies we learned in childhood for dealing with her parents and siblings have a long lasting influence on her behavior, afternoon ways, we barely recognize.

The world of the firstborn child differs markedly from that of the second born, and if the third comes along, he, or she will carve out territory within the family system. The difference from the first two. This is not to say that these patterns are carved in stone, there are always exceptions to the rules, and if the third child comes along much later, the last form may have characteristics resembling the first born. The gender of the children and physical differences can also make for deviations from the general patterns, as well as the birth order of the parents and the nature of the relationship between the parents. And, of course, two families who come together through the remarriage of the parents (the blended family) can create all sorts of interesting combinations. Researchers have been interested in birth order for nearly a century now, but learned only within the past few decades about the influence of birth order, and our behavior, and the nature of relationships with our partners. Consider two parents, possibly newly married, who have their first child. Determined to be the best parents in the world, they dote on the child, give the child an abundance of attention, and try to show just how responsible they are. They want to be perfect parents, they want the child to be perfect, and it’s a lesson. The child learns well. Firstborns often grow up with perfectionistic tendencies, and they strive for approval and success in the adult world. The second child usually doesn’t get nearly the attention received by the older sibling, and deviating from the pattern already established by the first born, the second child will often go outside of the family constellation as they grow up. The support of their friends becomes more important than the approval of the parents. By the time the last born child comes along, the parents have loosened up considerably in their child rearing practices and tend to indulge this child, so the baby in the family, having learned of his or her special status, may grow up to be attention seeking, perhaps manipulative, people oriented, and a charmer.

Birth order has a significant influence on our behavior in adulthood. The tactics we developed in childhood to deal with other members of the family remain with us and can cause conflict in our relations with other people later in life. Others may appear ambitious, selfish, withdrawn, irresponsible, or opinionated, and we may wonder why others would even see these attributes as a problem! One of the major goals of therapy is to understand how our development has affected our personalities as adults and see how these influences have slanted our ways of dealing with other people. Despite the heavy impact birth order has on us, we can learn to change some of these behaviors, and if change is not indicated, at least to use our special attributes to their best advantage. The first step in this process is awareness, this leads to understanding, which in turn can lead to intentional change.

How does this all affect our choice of a partner? The best bet when deciding on a partner is to choose someone with a birth order unlike our own, so that we can benefit from the strength of someone who has learned a different set of strategies for dealing with life.

So, which birth order makes the ideal partner? It depends on you. There are no hard and fast rules. Some people say their firstborn with the last one provides for a good mixture of responsibility and playfulness. Others say the first or only born with a few friends can benefit from a relationship with a socially oriented, middle child. Tempered with a good dose of common sense, the answer lives in your heart.

The passive, aggressive partner

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

Some people just can’t admit that they’re angry. Anger is one of the basic emotions which touches all of our lives to one degree or another. Indeed, a person who is incapable of experiencing anger, would certainly be at a disadvantage in trying to survive. Used constructively, anger helps to protect ourselves. It motivates us to solve problems and to resolve conflicts with other people. Anger is an emotion that tells us there’s something wrong out there and we want to make it better.

Anger can serve a positive function in our lives, but so many of us have heard just the opposite message. How many times have we heard don’t be angry or good people don’t get angry or healthy people don’t show their anger or love and anger are opposite emotions. Then there is the classic line: If you loved me, you wouldn’t be angry at me. None of these statements is compatible with emotional health. The clue is to accept your anger and learn how to express it constructively.

Passive aggression is certainly aggressive behavior, and it is laden with anger. It is a form of hostility, disguised as innocent impassivity. This type of hostility is found frequently in relationships, especially troubled relationships, because the passive aggressive individual finds a convenient and available target for his or her anger in a partner. Even though passive aggression is expressed most frequently and virulently in a relationship, this form of aggression is also seen in interactions between friends or on the job. The passive aggressive person usually will claim not to have any anger at all. But when anger is finally brought to the surface, it is usually blamed on the partner, (or a friend or a boss) who is accused of being controlling and demanding. Rather than acknowledging his or her behavior as angry, the passive aggressive individual plays on the excuse of being the misunderstood victim. The other person is always the prosecutor. Communication between partners in a passive aggressive relationship is usually blocked off, distorted, and ultimately very destructive to both people individually in the relationship itself.

Passive aggressive relationships are difficult to deal with, but help is available and change as possible. When you start to make the necessary changes in your relationship, the passive aggressive partner may fight you even more. But if you set firm limits and respect yourself, the situation is likely to change for the better. There may not be a complete transformation, but your relationship can be much better. You’re invited to make an appointment to start this process.