Bullying

Recovering from Childhood Abuse: The Past Keeps Getting Clearer

In trauma recovery it is said, “You’ve done the hardest part -- you survived the abuse.”

After a year of accepting that I was sexually abused as a child, I’m finally starting to understand that recovery isn’t the hardest part. The shame is less automatic now, and the past is getting clearer.

As a child suffering abuse we don’t understand exactly what’s happening to us. Sex and sexuality is a mystery, so it’s not easy to recognize sexual abuse. Physical abuse is also confusing. We are tricked into thinking we’ve done something to deserve maltreatment. And in the end, we give in to this naive hope: “Everything is normal. No one would let abuse happen to me. I’m not in an unsafe situation.”
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Bullying

Kill Them with Kindness

“Matt, you are too sensitive,” a family member said.

I chafed at the label. Sensitivity, within my immediate family, is disparaged as a sign of weakness. Stoicism, with the occasional angry outburst, reigns. Feelings? According to my family, Oprah and I should schedule couch time to discuss them.

In my world, feelings predominate. My mood and emotion vacillate based on a heart-warming compliment or stinging rebuke. When feeling well, I exude confidence and joy. When feeling down, I ruminate and question. Feelings -- and a willingness to experience raw, unfiltered emotion -- define me.
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Bullying

Community Building After Tragedy

My satirical policy recommendation: Bowling in every street.

You chuckle. But, in the States, we are striking out at the type of grassroots events that bind neighborhoods into communities and transform wary strangers into community leaders.

Robert Putnam’s book is more apropos than ever. In his bestselling Bowling Alone, he tackles the decline of social institutions. We don’t bowl together or host neighborhood parties. Our social connectivity is now through virtual platforms.
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Bullying

The Hidden Face of Mental Illness

It breaks my heart every time I see it. A morning scroll through my newsfeed only to find a GoFundMe posting for funeral services of someone I knew in high school. Sometimes it's drugs, other times, suicide. Tragedies that could’ve been avoidable. People taken too young, too fast, too soon.

Every time I see their faces, I think back to what I may have thought of them in high school. Was I mean? Did I make fun of them behind their back? Did I avoid them? Was I nice? After all these years, I can’t really remember. Though I know I did my best to treat people with kindness and respect, it’s possible I joined in on the judgments or comments others around me made.

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Anger

How to Neutralize Emotions

There has been a lot of discussion on all sides regarding “emotion processing” and how to successfully handle what are coined as “negative emotions.” In the Pixar film "Inside Out," a few different emotions are cleverly assigned individual personas so that children (and adults) can interact with them in a tangible way.

So what are we to do with negative emotions? Which ones are they? They are broadly defined as sadness, anger, bitterness, greed, hate, jealousy, fear or anything that makes one feel bad about themselves. So when an unsavory emotion surfaces and it starts to cause you guilt, what do you do with it?

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Anger

The Reason Children Misbehave

You and I are adults; we talk like adults, use deductive reasoning, think about consequences for our actions, and make informed decisions based on facts (most of the time). Adults aren't always wonderfully smart, though. We can, and often do, fall prey to the “little adult syndrome” when dealing with children, especially when they’re misbehaving.

Working with children day in and day out provides me a fantastic perspective and a look into who they really are. Sometimes they’re wonderful angels sent from heaven to remind us of the beauty in life. Sometimes they’re tiny emotional vampires just waiting for us to look away so they can pounce on our weak point. Most of the time they're somewhere in between.

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Anger

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members

Everybody has a difficult family member. It could be a toxic mother-in-law, a domineering father, a manipulative cousin, or even your own bratty child. But no matter who they are, they know how to push your buttons and just drive you crazy.

The bad news is, you can't get rid of these people completely; they are family. The good news is, learning to deal with difficult people is a considerable advantage in life, and can be valuable in any number of situations. So here are a few things to keep in mind.
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Anger

How to Heal After an Abusive Relationship

If you’ve recently gotten out of an abusive relationship or are considering doing so, your sense of self has likely been altered -- or even destroyed. So, too, have your feelings of safety and your ability to trust others.

You can and will regain these things, but it will take time. This is likely one of the hardest things you will ever do, so be patient with yourself. You can move on...
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Anger

How to De-Escalate Fights with Family Members

Ever find yourself on the receiving end of verbal attack? Many people have loved ones who lash out in verbally abusive ways. Some of these people refuse to listen to reason when angry. They take no accountability for their role in creating strife. They might insist that you are the cause of their abusive behavior and they would stop hurting you if only you would change. But relationships are always about two people. Each person interacts and affects the other.

For example, Moira, a 45-year-old wife and mother of three, was abused as a child. Moira was easily triggered into jealous rages. These rages could be set off by the smallest thing: perhaps her husband glanced inadvertently at another woman, or complimented a coworker. Or perhaps her teenage daughter talked back to Moira or expressed affection for a teacher, igniting Moira’s jealousy.

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Bullying

Why the Selfish People in Your Life Aren’t Going Away

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde
Selfish people consume the time and energy of others and, despite what you tell yourself, there’s no end in sight to their narcissism.
“I’ll just do this last thing for her and then I’ll get back to my own affairs.”
“Maybe if I’m passive aggressive, he’ll take the hint that I have my own things to worry about.”
“She appreciates me in her own way…”
You can’t wait around for the day selfish people finally appreciate your time and show respect for your needs. It’s time to stop being manipulated and start focusing on yourself.
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Anger

What’s Your Intent?

We all say hurtful things from time to time. Sometimes we lash out from anger, saying mean things on purpose with the intent to hurt. Sometimes we just don't think before we speak. We do not mean to cause hurt. But it is easy to forget to use empathy, which tells us to be aware of the impact we are having on the person with whom we are communicating. When we say things without thinking, we sometimes inadvertently cause pain.

When someone hurts my feelings, I find it helpful to question the intention of the one who hurt me. I ask myself, “What do I think was his or her intent?”

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