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Archive for the ‘Anger Management’ Category

What is a Boundary Anyway?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016





Good boundaries are a part of any good relationship. In fact, a relationship without boundaries will almost always have other symptoms: violence, emotional arguments, infidelity, addiction, emotional cutoffs, or debilitating enabling. The problem with boundaries? They can be hard on a relationship. The boundary-setter finds it hard because he dreads retaliation from the boundary-receiver. The boundary-receiver finds it hard because, well, no one really LIKES to receive a boundary. Here are three things everyone in a relationship needs to know about boundaries:

  1. Boundaries are designed to protect the boundary-setter, not the boundary receiver. Let’s say you love your neighbor, you love your neighbor’s cows, and you love your yard. You do not, however, love your neighbor’s cows IN your yard. In fact, you are starting to lose your serenity because of it. Since you value your yard and your serenity, you decide to build a fence. The cows are a little miffed because they can’t get to your grass and your neighbor is a little miffed because his view is now marred by your fence. You, on the other hand, feel pretty good because you have your serenity and your yard. Maybe your neighbor will realize your serenity helps the relationship and grow to appreciate your fence. Maybe he will harbor hurt feelings over your fence and never speak to you again.

Lesson: You built a fence because you started valuing your peace more than your neighbor’s peace. There is a possibility the relationship with your neighbor will suffer because of this shift. There is also a possibility the relationship will become better than ever.

  1. Boundaries are not the same as telling someone what to do. Let’s say you have the same neighbor, the same cows, the same yard, and the same budding resentment. You realize that a fence might hurt your neighbor’s feelings so you are going to try some things that are ‘less offending’ than a fence. Here’s what you try:
    1. You try to talk to your neighbor and tell him that if he cared about you he’d keep his cows on his own side.
    2. You tell your neighbor that it’s just common sense to keep his cows under control and if had any common sense, he would do that.
    3. You repeat 1. and 2. at all social gatherings, barbecues, and kids’ birthday parties until eventually he goes the other way when he sees you coming.
    4. You file a restraining order against your neighbor and his cows.
    5. You shoot the cows when they come in your yard.

Lesson: Nagging, guilt trips, threats, and acts of violence are attempts to change or control another person. Unlike boundaries they rarely protect your yard or your serenity and they always damage relationships.

  1. Boundaries will always require a change in your behavior, not your neighbor’s. Did the neighbor have a right to graze his cows on your grass? No. Did you have a right to be angry? Sure. Is it fair that you had to spend money and time and energy to build the fence when his cows are the problem? Yes. After all, you care more about your serenity (and your yard) than your neighbor does. Lesson: If you value it, then it’s up to you to protect it.

So the next time you are considering action because of a partner (or a neighbor) remember the difference between boundary setting and controlling. Boundaries are uncomfortable, sometimes costly, strategies designed to protect you. Controlling strategies are designed to change someone else’s behavior so you are more comfortable. Boundaries have the added benefit of improving a relationship. Controlling almost always results in relationship damage.

Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT

Identifying Causes of Anger, Coping with Anger, and Managing Anger

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Anger is a normal human emotion we all experience at times. It can be motivational, help us move towards positive change, and assist us in meeting short and long-term goals. Anger can also be destructive and devastating, destroying relationships, careers, and lives. Individuals must take responsibility. Being aware of the causes of anger, learning effective skills for coping with anger, and all times managing anger is important to ensure it is constructive rather than destructive.

Becoming aware of the causes of anger may seem easy because it is one of the easiest emotions to express. Because destructive anger tends to progress so rapidly, however, individuals must be intentional and practice in order achieve awareness before damage is done. Awareness starts by paying attention to physical changes. Anger causes an increase in heart rate; tightness in areas of the body such as the chest, jaw, and neck; color changes to the skin especially on the face; and feeling as if the temperature has gotten hotter.

Once an individual recognizes her own physical responses to anger-provoking situations, she can be taught techniques that are effective for coping with anger. Relaxation techniques can assist in deescalating the anger and the situation.  For example, slowing and deepening breathing allows the body to re-oxygenate and diffuse the ‘fight or flight’ response. Once the body has returned to a ‘low-stress’ state, the mind is able to identify external and internal triggers and formulate alternative responses.

When anger is experienced too frequently, is too intense, or is expressed inappropriately, it becomes a problem. Effectively managing anger requires one to become aware of body changes before anger escalates. Employing strategies to mitigate the fight or flight response can help individuals identify and diffuse internal and external triggers. Sometimes these strategies alone, however, are not enough. If that is the case, a licensed professional counselor can walk individuals through the steps of mitigating their anger, and modifying their angry behavior.

Tia Parsley is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in Texas and Arkansas. She has over ten years of counseling individuals and families, improving relationships, working with parents, and helping individuals with emotional issues such as anger management and bereavement.

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