How To Make Our Anger Result in Action

There are lots of things for us to be angry about, but new research shows we often don’t do anything about it.

A new study out of Carnegie Mellon University reveals that we typically become angry about two types of injustices. First, when a bad thing happens to a good person and second when a good thing happens to a “bad” person despite their bad behavior. 

In the first instance—such as when a natural disaster devastates a town—the research shows that we have a desire to help, but usually only in a nominal way. Dr. Jeffrey Galak, an associate professor of marketing in the university’s Tepper School of Business states, “When a hurricane happens, we want to help, but we give them 10 bucks. We don’t try to build them a new house.” 

While donating $10 can be meaningful and helpful, our reaction to this type of injustice usually does not result in action on a grander or more effective scale.

Likewise, when we react to the second type of injustice—when a good thing happens to bad people—the research demonstrates that more often than not we don’t do anything at all. According to Dr. Galak, “That’s because people often feel that the forces at play in creating the unfair situation are beyond their control, or would at least be too personally costly to make the effort worthwhile.”

So how do we use our anger to take action in a way that leads to effective change?

1. Take it to God—First and foremost, take your anger to God. Tell Him how you are feeling and even what you would like to do about the situation. Then listen. Allow God to direct your response in a way that glorifies Him and leads to an appropriate response to the circumstance.

2. Address your concerns. If you have a problem with someone—a problem that is causing you to view that individual  as a bad person—it is best to address your concerns with that person in a respectful and clear way. Be honest with the individual—but not blaming—about your feelings. Share with them what you need to heal and feel supported. Moreover, it is best to talk through small problems before they become big problems.

3. Don’t let your anger consume you. When you are feeling overwhelmed by anger make an effort to focus on the blessings in your life. Make a list of three things you are grateful for each day and thank God for those happy blessings. 

For more on how to deal with infuriating people or situations check out “God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts!” and “God Help Me! This Stress Is Driving Me Crazy!

How to Make New Years Resolutions That Actually Last All Year

Happy New Year! Aaah January… the time of year that we are inspired and excited for new beginnings, big changes, aaaannd the time of year where we hear and talk about New Year’s resolutions. 

New Year’s resolutions can be a great concept, and usually extremely well intentioned. However, fast forward a few months and no one is talking about them anymore. If we see or hear anything about New Years resolutions anymore, it’s typically because people are talking about how they forgot about their resolutions, how there’s always next year, or how they don’t have time for the resolutions they had made in the midst of busy schedules. In fact, only 40% of people who make New Years Resolutions actually keep them. 

So how do we make resolutions that we can actually keep all year?

First it is important to recognize that there are different levels or stages of change. Identifying which stage of change we are in determines what we need to do to effectively integrate the desired change and outcome we want. 

Stage 1: We don’t think about the desired change on a regular basis. This can mean anything from losing weight, praying more, being more productive, etc. The change that would be beneficial for us to make is not on our mind in a pressing way.

What to do: First, it is helpful to learn more about it. What are the benefits of getting in shape, developing a stronger prayer life, or making the most out of every day (at work, at home, within the family). Second, make a list of about three reasons why making a change would be helpful and then make a list of approximately three reasons why the change is not yet being made. 

Stage 2: We are thinking about making a change but have not developed a plan for how to do it. 

What to do: Acknowledge the negative effects and ask, “Does my behavior align with my view of my self? Does my behavior fit with my idea of who I want to be?” In this stage is it helpful to seek support such as social supports, counseling, or support groups. Seeking supports is helpful for us to acknowledge hope for the future and for creating a successful change, but allows recognition of potential barriers that may arise. Supports and resources help us to overcome potential barriers while maintaining hope and continuing progress towards our desired outcomes. 

Stage 3: We prepare to make a change within thirty days by utilizing a realistic plan and timeline. 

What to do: Create a realistic schedule and timeline for how and when to achieve the goal. Utilize the resources and supports identified in stage 2 to stay on track. 

Stage 4: We have taken action and made efforts to work towards our goal within the last six months, but we may have encountered a few barriers or set backs. 

What to do: Commit to the change. This can be done by telling a friend or family member about our plans, writing down a statement of commitment, keeping reminders around our house, our office, or on our phone, or whatever strategy we feel will help us stay accountable to making a change. It is also helpful in this stage to change our environment in ways that will help us overcome potential barriers. Replace candy or junk food with healthy snacks, identify a quiet place in our homes where we can focus on prayer without distractions, create a daily schedule to maximize productivity. Finally, create small rewards for achieving the desired behaviors on a daily or weekly basis. 

Stage 5: We have practiced our new habit or behavior in place of old habits consistently over the past six months. 

What to do: Celebrate success! To maintain this change in our lives, the same strategies discussed in stage 4 are applicable. 

Once we have identified which stage of change we are in and what to do from there, it is important to create small, attainable goals that will help us to achieve our desired change. Simply working towards the desired change by focusing on the larger, main goal is not an effective approach to successfully establishing new behaviors. If this is our approach we are, as the phrase goes, “biting off more than we can chew.” 

In any endeavor it is best to create small, attainable, and measurable goals such as, “Within two weeks I will replace the junk food in my house with healthy snacks,” or “I will pray for five minutes every morning before I start my day.” These goals act as stepping stones that lead us on the path towards our desired change and allow us to hold on to inspiration and hope through the celebration of small successes. 

If you are looking to increase your resources and support network through counseling or spiritual direction, we’re here to help. Visit us at CatholicCounselors.com or give us a call at 740-266-6461. 

New Year, New Mindset – How to Effectively Practice New Years Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again where we are starting to work on our New Year’s resolutions. While resolutions can bring hope for a happier, healthier year ahead, they can also cause unnecessary stress. We might start out strong for the first few weeks or so, but as we get back to our normal, busy schedules it often becomes more difficult to fit in that daily workout, consistently eat healthy meals, or remain positive while our co-worker is getting on our nerves or when we are trying to get our children out the door on time.

Furthermore, the way we set our resolutions can unconsciously cause us to have more negative feelings about ourselves or our current state in life. For example, while many of us make a resolution to lose weight in 2018, phrasing it this way tells our brains that we are overweight, we don’t look good enough, etc. causing us to become demoralized even before we start.  So how can we more effectively execute our New Year’s resolutions to create a truly happier year ahead and actually achieve our goals?

New research conducted at Florida State University tells us that to most effectively form our resolutions, we have to change the way think about them and phrase them for ourselves. Researcher and Professor, Pamela Keel, gives an example by saying, “Consider what is really going to make you happier and healthier in 2018: losing 10 pounds or losing harmful attitudes about your body?”

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our bodies that we want to change through diet and exercise, Keel and research scientist, Eric Stice, suggest that individuals should focus on the things we appreciate about our bodies. These positive attributes can be about the look or even the function of our bodies, such as, “’I really appreciate the way my legs take me wherever I need to go,'” Keel said. “‘Every day without fail, they get me out of bed, to the car, up the stairs and into the office. I don’t have to worry about walking.’ It can be that kind of functional appreciation of what your body does for you.”

This mindset can be brought into every resolution we make by simply focusing on positive aspects instead of focusing on the negative things we want to change. For example, instead of saying “my closets are a mess, I need to get more organized this year,” we can say “this shelf looks really nice, I’m going to strive to make other parts of my home look as nice as this.” Focusing on the positive aspects helps us to feel more hopeful and allows us to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the things we want to change.

While this positively focused mindset can influence the resolutions we have made for this year, working to utilize this mindset throughout our daily lives can be a resolution itself. When we order our thoughts in a healthier manner, we automatically begin treating ourselves and others in a healthier way as well. “When people feel good about [themselves], they are more likely to take better care of themselves rather than treating [themselves] like an enemy, or even worse, an object,” Keel said. “That’s a powerful reason to rethink the kind of New Year’s resolutions we make for 2018.”

For more information on how to learn to make graceful change in your life, check out Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart. And be sure to tune in to More2Life
— Monday-Friday at 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio, SiriusXM 139.

Coming Thurs on More2Life Radio: Managing Change Gracefully

Habemus Papam!  With the election of a new Pope we all have change on our minds.  Today on M2L, we’ll look at 4 steps for managing change gracefully (using the acronym GROW).  If you’re going through a change in your life, wondering whether it’s time to make a change, or struggling to deal with a change that’s been thrust on you, call in from Noon-1pm E (11am-Noon C) at 877-573-7825

Don’t forget to answer our M2L FB Questions of the Day:  (Two-Fer!  Answer one or both…) 1. Think of a time you experienced a significant change.  What was the toughest part of managing that change in your life?   2. What advice would you give for making change less painful?

—Listen to More2Life live weekdays from Noon-1pm E (11am-Noon C).  Can’t get M2L on a Catholic radio station near you?    Tune in live online at www.avemariaradio.net,  listen via our FREE AveMariaRadio IPhone or Android App (Check your app store!), or catch the M2L Podcast!