The Best Way to Get Revenge

THE BEST WAY TO GET REVENGE

Steven Berglas

Most people mollify psychic pain by attacking back; we yearn for revenge. But achievement striving is better. It opens the mind to the possible, instead of hitching it to the horrible.

In 2015, Dee Carroll was billing $17 million a year in her Washington, D.C.-based organizational development firm, heading a team of 18 in two locations, including a recently added IT arm, when her board suggested bringing on a chief financial officer. She found a candidate, and the board approved of her hire. Carroll, with a Ph.D. in business administration and 28 years at the helm, turned her attention back to growing the company.

“We were doing well,” she recalls. Every once in a while, she checked the books. The numbers added up, but she couldn’t figure out why the borrowing wasn’t decreasing on her line of credit. “We’re self-financing,” the CFO assured her. Then a day came when some documents needed reviewing and she called the bank. Its numbers and her numbers didn’t align. Carroll summoned outside auditors to search for a discrepant half million. The day she confronted the CFO, he admitted to running two sets of books. It took forensic accountants months to figure out how the guy had walked off with more than $2 million.  

Carroll cashed in her 401k and filed for reorganization to keep the company afloat—while she spent a year in and out of hospitals with stress-induced illnesses. Then the bank froze her assets, and it was all over. “I was so angry, all I wanted was to get my hands on that CFO and punch him out,” says Carroll. Miraculously, a few months later, the day came when she could. They found themselves side-by-side in the parking lot of a giant Walgreens—she in her old Land Cruiser, he in a new Audi. Ever the planner, she pulled out her phone and called her attorney: “Get down here—and prepare to get me out of jail.”

Carroll chased the CFO through the superstore. He outpaced her. So she shifted strategies: I’ll just ram his car. Behind the wheel, it hit her. “If he had me going like that, he was in control of my life. I drove off—and I felt good.”

The desire for revenge, she felt, “had stripped my courage, my convictions, my confidence. It had me beating myself up for my failures: ‘I should have known.’ ‘I should have checked more often.'” Crumbling was not an option. “I decided I’m not going to give him the pleasure. He’ll only see me flying high.”

And maybe he does—literally. Carroll has not only successfully launched a new company, she spends much of her time traveling the globe, promoting “emotional emancipation.” She focuses on persuading women that no one controls what they can accomplish. “I needed to embrace the possible,” she explains. “Now I can grow.”

What Carroll apprehended, sitting in that parking lot, was that nothing she could do to punish the CFO could harm him as badly as her desire for revenge was harming her.

Rerouting the Amygdala

Revenge-seeking has deep, seemingly instinctual roots in the human behavioral repertoire. Since the dawn of civilization, the highest authorities have sanctioned harming someone in the same manner as he or she has harmed you. From the 1754 B.C. Code of Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king, to the Bible—Exodus chapter 21: “You shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth”—the ancients specified how the impulse for revenge was to be carried out.

From the time we are barely able to put together full sentences, we yearn for revenge, screaming, “That’s not fair” in response to a perceived injustice (a sibling getting dessert that we don’t, because we are being punished) and following that outcry with the vow, “I’ll get you!” targeted at Mom, Dad, or the babysitter for giving preferential treatment to the kid who shares our bath.

As adults we’re only slightly more sophisticated in response to abuses by others. A small insult—getting cut off by a driver—can launch a highway chase for miles, either to cut that motorist off in the same way or to deliver the hand gesture known as “flipping the bird.”

Most people seek to mollify psychic pain by attacking back. But there is a better, far more adaptive way—showing ’em, by achieving something personally and socially significant related to the offense. To first turn the other cheek and then build something meaningful, to oneself and to others, out of the abandoned anger requires a psychological shift—within just about anyone’s reach—that harnesses the brain’s amygdala, its processing center of danger, and redirects its impulses.

When you cope with psychic pain via achievement striving, your mindset is on the possible. Revenge-seeking hitches it to the horrible.

“A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well,” wrote English philosopher, statesman, and scientist Francis Bacon. He captured the core problem with revenge: It demands ruminating about wrongs, which amplifies their significance, aggravates what sparked anger, and makes it impossible to let go.

Freud was the first to dissect the amplification of suffering brought on by anger born of distressing events. Paradoxically, despite the pain that such recollections cause, the events are “reviewed, repeated, or rehearsed”—through dreams or obsessional ruminations.

The continual mental replaying of an event, however humiliating, is a primordial propensity to revisit hurtful interactions in an attempt to master through imagery what could not be mastered behaviorally. As the initial injury is relived, negative alterations in cognition and mood grow progressively worse—negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world, exaggerated blame of oneself or others for causing the trauma, feelings of isolation, and difficulty experiencing positive affect. The original insult remains a focus of cognitive imagery.

Failing to consummate revenge fantasies turns them into obsessions. American literature offers the definitive example of obsessional revenge seeking in Herman Melville’s MobyDick; or, The Whale. After losing a leg to a white whale, Captain Ahab embarks on a hunt to destroy that whale, a quest that ends in his demise. To this day, “white whale” is another term for an obsessional pursuit.

Photo by Reinhard Hunger

Cultivating Congruence

My own clinical experience corroborates what decades of medical evidence demonstrates: People who harbor thoughts of exacting revenge exhibit systemic turmoil, courtesy of an activated amygdala preparing against the threat of attack. They experience sleeplessness, owing to nonstop rumination; irritability; hyperarousal; and distractibility that often impedes their ability to function. As Confucius said: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Orthopedist Richard “Rock” Barnes, 46,* walked into my office because I had written a book about burnout. Trained as a psychiatrist, he had worked at a prestigious mental hospital before feeling burned out. His remedy—changing medical specialties by retraining and moving across the country—wasn’t working.

In our initial session, Barnes didn’t seem burned out so much as burned up—consumed with rage from an incident early in his career. A patient under his care had been sexually exploited by a senior psychiatrist. Barnes had sought to avenge the wrong by exposing the abuser, but learned that filing a claim would harm the fragile patient and would be refuted by the VIP doctor as a tale told by a mentally ill woman.

In my office, Barnes raged at himself, but especially at the abuser. And he railed at the vestiges of a medical hierarchy that had made him feel so impotent as a young physician. How, I asked, could he “right the wrong in an ego-syntonic manner?”—that is, in a way congruent with his values, his personality, his self-concept, and his future. Certainly not by killing the doctor.

A decade and a half later, Barnes is still mending bones but he is also helping physicians everywhere to articulate perceived problems at their institutions without fear of rebuke or retaliation. Through an organization he started, first at his own hospital, he speaks at hospitals around the country, reducing the likelihood of abuse like that his patient suffered.

Fast Forward

My work with Barnes led me to recognize that it’s possible to say “Screw you!” to harm-doers in indirect but active ways that are not only personally gratifying but also socially constructive. Revenge is so tightly bound to pain because the eye-for-an-eye mindset is backward-looking, focused on the original insult—but also because it is irreconcilable with most people’s goalsfor themselves.

“Showing ’em,” not “socking ’em,”—taking a behavioral step beyond the amygdala’s bidding—brings relief not least because it jump-starts growth. It renders people no longer vulnerable to the forces that originally harmed them. For that reason, it directly enhances feelings of self-efficacy and power.

For sure, psychotherapy has value. It is especially useful for exploring conflicted feelings. But dealing with revenge through psychotherapy may bring slow healing. En route to relief, the victim must relive the original injustice. Mind and body return to the scene of the crime, again and again. Achievement striving, on the other hand, need never recall the actual insult.

The Power of Striving

Some Turn Away from avenging a wrong as if they had an innate understanding of the Buddha’s observation: “Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.” But for most, this is near impossible.

Revenge is rooted in a brain network involving the amygdala and temporal areas that are fired up very specifically by acts of perceived unfairness perpetrated by another human being, University of Geneva researchers recently found. The greater the neural activation, the greater the inner push for punishment. It’s common for people to yield to the urge.

But rage for revenge is thoroughly alterable. If the dorsolateral area of the prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a key area for emotion regulation, is activated during the provocation stage, the amygdala is muted, inhibiting the desire for later punishment, neuroscientist Olga Klimecki and colleagues observe in Scientific Reports. “The DLPFC is coordinated with the motor cortex that directs the hand that makes the choice of vengeful behavior or not. There is a direct correlation between brain activity in the DLPFC and behavioral choices.”

Striving toward positive goals, research has long shown, naturally subdues the amygdala. In my own clinical experience, the majority of patients experiencing profound trauma are able to flourish afterwards by channeling their anger into a meaningful endeavor, typically one that focuses on others. They do well by doing good. Revenge becomes an opportunity for exercising values mobilized by the insult.

Not all wrongs to be avenged are born of injury inflicted by individuals. Social injustice is a prime motivator, too, and the one that impelled lawyer Barry Scheck to create the Innocence Project, a consortium of attorneys that, since 1992, has been devoted to overturning wrongful convictions of (mostly) indigent people.

While in elementary school, a fire destroyed Scheck’s family home, injuring his parents and killing his beloved sister. At first debilitated, by high school he was academically motivated enough to gain entry to Yale, where he protested the Vietnam War on the grounds that the deferments granted to students discriminated against poor teenagers. He used his law degree to become a public defender in New York’s then-distressed South Bronx and a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society.

After co-founding a law firm specializing in civil rights litigation, he joined the “Dream Team” that got O.J. Simpson acquitted of double murder charges in 1994. By then, the Innocence Project was already deploying its legal skills to show the world that those who suffered injustice had an ally to undo what was done to them.

Beyond Herself

If ever a deed could conceivably justify the wish to exact lex talionis, the death of a child by murder might top the list. Yet that is not what happened in May 1980, when 13-year-old Cari Lightner was struck and killed by a drunk driver. The driver, who had been convicted of drunk driving offenses three times in four years, never even stopped his car. And when he struck the girl, he was out on bail for a hit-and-run arrest two days earlier.

Candy Lightner’s pain at her daughter’s death was amplified when the responding police officer told her, “Lady, you’ll be lucky if this guy gets any jail time, much less prison.” As she later told People magazine, “This was not an ‘unfortunate accident.’ Cari was the victim of a violent crime. Death caused by drunk drivers is the only socially acceptable form of homicide.”

The societal pass that drunk drivers received at the time served, Lightner recalled, to “double my anger.” And she immediately vowed to make people horrified by the consequences of drunk driving. Four days after Cari’s death, she quit her job and organized Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (later, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD).

Indefatigable in her quest to save others from a similar tragedy, Lightner was named to the National Commission on Drunk Driving in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. MADD has sparked new penalties for drunk driving and changed the legal drinking age in many states.

Significant as the achievements are, they pale in comparison to what Lightner got from harnessing her anger and taking up a cause instead of seeking revenge. She not only gained kudos from around the world, she also gave meaning to her daughter’s life.

Getting out of oneself and giving back constitute a sure antidote to the emotional cancer of rumination. An added advantage of working for a cause is that you don’t act in a vacuum. On the contrary, such endeavors demand contact with like-minded people. Social support is the best-documented balm for almost every ill of mind and body.

Photo by Reinhard Hunger

Photo by Reinhard Hunger

Beating ‘Em at Their Own Game

Doing well by doing good could have been the epitaph for Benjamin Franklin, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and one of the richest men in American history, certainly its ultimate Renaissance man. Writer, philosopher, scientist, diplomat, musician, and oenophile, he spoke five languages—exclusively self-taught; he also invented bifocals, the urinary catheter, and swim fins! You probably recall schoolbook illustrations of Franklin flying a kite in a thunderstorm to study electricity—a daredevil venture that led to his invention of the lightning rod (which has saved countless lives and millions of dollars).

What’s missing from textbook accounts of Franklin is the truth about his early life. Because his father could not afford to send Benjamin to school, he arranged for his older son James (then in the process of establishing a printing business) to employ Benjamin, at age 11, as an indentured apprentice. Almost immediately, James became so jealous of Ben’s precocity that he demeaned and beat his younger brother regularly.

Things only got worse as Benjamin mastered the basics of printing and learned to read and write better than most adults in Colonial New England. He asked his brother if he could write for his newspaper and was denied. But instead of getting angry, he turned to writing articles under the pen name Silence Dogood. Slipped under the door of James’s shop, they quickly became the most popular part of the paper. When James learned who wrote them, all hell broke loose. Benjamin fled to Philadelphia, arriving with three shillings in his pocket and rags on his back.

Although wronged, Franklin never once sought to exact revenge directly or engage in displays of dominance. Instead, he found a psychologically satisfying way to “show” his brother—and thrive: by behaving better than him. He was driven to become the best printer in the 13 colonies. Starting as a journeyman in Philadelphia, Franklin soon established his own shop, leapfrogging from printing mundane legal forms to culturally significant pamphlets, newspapers, and books, including his own. As the leading printer in Colonial America, he ultimately printed its currency.

In 1748, after amassing the equivalent of more than $10 billion in today’s money, Franklin retired at age 42. It was time, he said, “to do something useful.” His next 42 years (40 beyond the life expectancy of males at the time) were a case study in generativity—not simply a Founding Father of the country and its first foreign diplomat, he also founded the American Philosophical Society, America’s first scientific society, its first science library and museum, and the nation’s first modern liberal arts college, later renamed the University of Pennsylvania.     

Franklin stands as the quintessential example of coping with the pain of trauma in an entrepreneurial, ego-enhancing way—by building something that not only helps the world but brings authentic personal rewards, from praise and respect to a host of new and exciting experiences.

*name has been changed

5 Things Every Wife should Know About Her Husband

5 THINGS EVERY WIFE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HER HUSBAND

Sheqoz

Become a better wife

Men Don’t Always Get Emotional:

After years of marriage, I’ve come to learn a lot about men and their triggers. Personally I’m overly emotional which has made me fall as well as progress in life. Evidently, men have difficulty communicating their emotions. This has been misinterpreted by women.

When a woman opens up emotionally, she can speak nonstop, cry and laugh at the same time. She can juggle her emotions and thoughts with ease. Men on the other hand think more than they feel; they do either one of them but never both at the same time.

For example, once a man confesses his love to a woman and things fall in place, he thinks that the only reason to have a real conversation is money or breaking up. So when you walk up to your husband each time you get emotional and tell him the dreaded words “We need to talk,” he quickly realizes that he has to think and feel at the same time. That’s something that is a real challenge to men which may feel like life is being sucked out of them.

Men Use Less Words:

When you want to start a discussion, it might seem like he’s not engaging enough. This may make you feel unappreciated. Due to the fact that women talk faster when excited, it interrupts your husband who is already struggling to find the right words.

When this happens, he may lose track or shut down because he feels cut off and is unable to express his feelings. At this point he becomes what we interpret as cold, a state which makes any woman race her mind into conclusions.

Imagine changing from the kind, friendly wife your husband knows to a resentful, nagging stranger all because of conclusive imaginations which women are good at! In the circumstance even the strongest, most patient man will become withdrawn.

This is why women should take time to understand how they differ from men when it comes to talking. It would give everyone a little more empathy when it comes to discussing emotional issues. Understanding one another is a big step towards creating and maintaining an emotionally fit and loving relationship.

Most Women Are Guilty:

A perfect example would be my own experience. When l want my husband and l to discuss something, l walk up to him while he’s watching his game and tell him that we need to talk. He gives me that look of “Oh my goodness, what have l done now?” He then has to pause his game and wait for my million words – which he can summarize in one sentence. Once I’m done talking, his response is usually calm and in very few words. This doesn’t mean he’s not excited; it’s just the way men respond.

Before l took time to understand him, l would get all upset and emotional and race my mind into conclusions. “He acts like I’m bugging him,” l would think to myself. Once l conclude that something is not right, and commit to finding out what it is… You do not want to know the extent of my amateur investigations.

In addition, l acted differently and stayed on negative vibrations which the whole family picked up on. All of that was just because my husband’s reaction was not in conformity with my expectations. I can only imagine what was taking place in his mind as he tried to figure me out.

Stay on the Reality Lane:

A perfect husband only exists in fairy tales but your marriage is in real life. Stop focusing on your husband’s mistakes and start recognizing the wonderful things he does. By doing so, you will encourage him to do even more to become the man of your dreams.

It is human nature to focus more on the wrong than the right. As the saying goes, thoughts are things. You will attract more of what you invest your energy in. Things are prone to happen, If he wrongs you, don’t announce him to the whole neighborhood and on social media.

Get down on your knees and allow the One who controls all things to make the necessary adjustments. A praying woman is a powerful woman! Take this from me.

Men Are Not Mind Readers:

Women often feel overwhelmed with stuff, wishing that their husbands would help. I’ve been there too. The only way you can get anyone to help is by communicating. How many times have you heard women complain about their husbands not helping with house chores?

I remember when we both worked all week from morning till late. We would catch up with everything on Saturdays. First thing l wanted to do after breakfast was shopping, then cooking and cleaning at the same time.

My husband would want to just relax and enjoy a beautiful day with his family. That means he would call the kids and choose a nice family movie. Any woman reading this can already see the look on my face, when l walked into the family room and found them watching a movie.

Instead of asking for help, l would go shop, come back and start cleaning and cooking. By the time “the movie” was over, I’d have completed everything and showered. What would have taken less than two hours with help took a maximum of four hours. It would then be a resentment-filled, stressed-out weekend – because no one helped me.

Once again, my husband would spend the day trying to cheer me up. He remained clueless about all this, until l decided to verbally complain. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Men are strong, aren’t they? I know I’m spoilt rotten but l thank God for His grace has changed me.

As wives, we shoulder a lot of responsibilities and go through a lot of hardship. However, we should never allow life and its challenges to break the person God created us to be. We don’t have to camouflage our identity to blend with circumstances.

Why am l saying this? l have spoken to many hurting women who confess to changing their personalities in retaliation for bad experiences. If you were created a humble, kind and loving person, continue being you and find the grounds which allow you to do that. Each creation thrives in its own unique habitat. Find yours and bloom as you.

If by any chance there are existing issues with your marriage, look at the person in the mirror first before blaming anybody. More often than we realize, we create marital problems from very small issues. With our thoughts being too noisy, we miss out on the facts which steered things to the wrong direction. We live in a very stressful world, and everyone is seeking peace, acceptance and love.

If this life’s essentials are missing in our own homes, our families are more likely to be scattered in search of them. For this reason, make your family miss home whenever they are out there. All women have the ability to do this, not just for your husband but for your sons and daughters too. Build a solid foundation for your family, will you?

All the best, I love you all.

Thought For the Soul:

“The world never fails us; our inability to learn and change is the culprit.”

How to Remain Calm When Others Are Out of Control

HOW TO REMAIN CALM WHEN OTHERS ARE OUT OF CONTROL

Angel Chernoff

Over the past decade, there’s a way of being I’ve gradually been cultivating in myself—I’ve been taming my tendency to get angry and argue with people when their behavior doesn’t match my expectations.

As human beings, we all have an idea in our heads about how things are supposed to be, and sadly this is what often messes our relationships up the most. We all get frustrated when things don’t play out the way we expect them to, and people don’t behave like they’re “supposed” to. We expect our spouses and children to act a certain way, our friends to be kind and agreeable, strangers to be less difficult, and so on and so forth.

And when reality hits us, and everyone seems to be doing the opposite of what we want them to do, we overreact—anger, frustration, stress, arguments, tears, etc.

So what can we do about this?

Breathe… think better… find your inner calm.

You can’t control how other people behave. You can’t control everything that happens to you. What you can control is how you respond to it all. In your response is your power.

When you feel like your lid is about to blow, take a long deep breath. Deep breathing releases tension, calms down our fight or flight reactions, and allows us to quiet our anxious nerves so we choose more considerate and constructive responses, no matter the situation.

So, for example, do your best to inhale and exhale next time another driver cuts you off in traffic. In a poll we conducted with our most recent “Think Better, Live Bette 2019” event attendees, overreacting while fighting traffic was the most commonly cited reason for overreacting on a daily basis. Just imagine if all the drivers on the road took deep breaths before making nasty hand gestures, or screaming obscenities at others.

There’s no doubt that it can drive us crazy when we don’t get what we expect from people, especially when they are being rude and difficult. But trying to change the unchangeable, wanting others to be exactly the way we want them to be, just doesn’t work. The alternative, though, is unthinkable to most of us…

Here’s the way of being that I’ve been cultivating and advocating:

  • To breathe deeply, and often.
  • To remind myself that I can’t control other people.
  • To remind myself that other people can handle their lives however they choose.
  • To not take their behavior personally.
  • To see the good in them.
  • To let go of the ideals and expectations I have about others that causes unnecessary frustration, arguments, and bouts of anger.
  • To remember that when others are being difficult, they are often going through a difficult time I know nothing about. And to give them empathy, love, and space.

“Being” this way—THINKING BETTER—takes practice, but it’s worth it. It makes me less frustrated, it helps me to be more mindful, it improves my relationships, it lowers my stress, and it allows me to make the world a slightly more peaceful place to be.

The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart)

THE ART OF LETTING GO (TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART)

Angel Chernoff

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
― Dorothy Allison

I loved him like a brother, and he treated me as such. He told me I was a genius and that the world needed to hear my music. He was a ball of passion, and when he spoke it always felt like a battle cry to fight for a better life. I was working as a teacher, spending my summers with struggling artists who gave me that energy and community I craved. When I met him in Toronto, I felt like I found new family in my own hometown.

His family wasn’t so abundant—his parents struggled with addiction and were trying to take the earnings he made producing music. It was killing his spirit, and I could sense it. So without consulting my parents, I invited him to live with me. He was the brother I never had.

We got matching tattoos and promised each other that there would always be two of everything. We hustled the music, threw shoes, networked, and talked about what we could do artistically and for the scene in the city. The summer had ended and now I was back to grinding the 8-5 shift. It was killing my soul to be working knowing there was so much to create. Then he came to me with an opportunity that changed my life forever.

It was a songwriting deal, worth $120,000, to write 10 songs for an unknown artist who apparently had major connections. We’d get paid to write the songs, and with that money we could be full-time artists. Without much thought, due diligence or reflection, I took a leave of absence from work, and we moved into a rental property that I purchased as a responsible adult. Then we got straight to creating.

They Never Did

He explained the money would come soon, but weeks went by with no word. Weeks turned to months, and with no income, I was quickly accumulating debt by swiping credit cards, and negotiating a bigger line of credit. I wasn’t worried, when the money came in, it would wipe the debt clean, and we’d have plenty to play with.

He told me about all the friends that owed him money, and how we could start collecting to cover the bills, but he wasn’t finding much luck. As the months went on, I began to ask him more questions, and he became more and more defensive. One day he went out of town to collect some money from a family member. A mutual friend disclosed to me that he had been asking people to lend him money, and that in fact, no one owed him anything. I called him to clarify this, and he immediately hung up, and I never heard from him again.

He literally left his belongings in the apartment and never came back for anything. Clothes, a computer, keepsakes, it was as if he fell off the face of the earth. I was confused, devastated, and heartbroken. I had never had my heart broken by a friend before; it was a foreign kind of betrayal I couldn’t wrap my head around. Beyond the betrayal was the slow sinking reality that I was in deep trouble with my finances. I had accumulated over $80,000 in debt and had no way to pay it off. It turns out the songwriting deal was never real—he had forged documents, changed names, and was planning on borrowing money from others to cover it. When that didn’t work, he ran out of options and ran away.

That was seven years ago. The years that  followed were the hardest years of my life. I fell into deep despair and turned to NyQuil and muscle relaxers to numb the pain. I blamed the world and everyone around me for not warning me of his sleazy ways. I stayed in bed for weeks, and ate very little, hoping the cavalry would come to save the day.

They never did.

A Challenging Time

During the worst moments, I thought the worst thoughts about him. How dare he do this to me, after I let him in my home, and allowed him to live with me for a year rent-free. I was nothing but amazing to him! I treated him like a brother! And this is what I got in return?

But I learned to let it go, gradually.

Of course, I didn’t let it go because I thought what he did was OK. I let it go because I could not afford to carry such a heavy burden of resentment and regret with me. If I was ever going to get myself out of the mess I was in, I needed less baggage…

I needed a different mindset.

He wasn’t evil, he was scared. He bit off more than he could chew, and instead of facing the consequences of his actions, he ran away. All of that was out of my control. And for me to maintain my sanity I had to focus on what was in my control.

What was always in my control was my thinking and expectations. I expected him to be honest with me, because I was honest with him. But that’s not how things work. As I write this story, I am at a friend’s house in Austin, TX. I can hear the neighbour’s dog barking really loud. If I went over and stuck my hand through the fence, that dog would probably bite me. I can’t assume or expect him not to, just because I don’t plan to bite him. Dogs do what dogs do. Scared people do what scared people do.

So I forgave him, little by little, and began taking more responsibility for what happened. It was hard work. But doing so helped me let go of the resentment and regrets that were holding me back

Truth be told, it’s easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, and cast ourselves as the victims in life. And it’s not only easy, it’s quick and convenient too. It gives us an immediate opportunity to feel connected and significant. We connect with ourselves because we feel like no one else understands what we are going through (as if I was the first guy to ever be betrayed by a friend). It also gives us a subtle high of significance, because we start to convince ourselves that life is conspiring only against us, as we question what we did to deserve its wrath.

This quick fix doesn’t last though, and what accompanies it is a long and drawn out feeling of powerlessness. We have no power because we’ve blamed everyone and everything except ourselves. Thus, for me to find power in my situation, I had to take some of the responsibility, because only in those areas would I find the power to improve my circumstances.

Again, it took plenty of practice, but I gradually became more mindful of my expectations, and instead of kicking myself (with my 20/20 hindsight) for all the danger signs that were right in front of me, I decided to extract the wisdom from my past experience. I promised myself I would use that wisdom until I was glad I went through such a challenging time.

I Am Cavalry

Over time, my broken heart healed, I got stronger, I got back on my feet and spent the next four years getting myself out of the hole. Through selling my possessions, finding odd gigs here and there, touring, and writing my book Unlearn, I finally got to a $0 bank account—no debt.

And gradually, I began to feel sincere gratitude for the journey I was on, and what I went through to get to where I was.

Figuring out how to go from $80,000 in the hole to $0 also helped me grow from $0 to a bank account with decent savings. My struggling days taught me the value of minimalism. I became a dramatically better judge of character, and looking back I realized how resilient I really was.

I no longer hope for a cavalry, I am the cavalry. I am no longer afraid to lose because with loss comes learning. I don’t question whether I need to trust others, because I know I can trust myself. Challenges and resistance make us stronger, so either we make ourselves uncomfortable so we can grow, or life does it for us.

We Can Choose

Although I’ve now completely forgiven my old friend, and even thanked him for the lessons I’ve learned, it all happened internally. I never made any proclamation or tried to contact him. After the passing of a mutual friend, he tried to reach out, but I didn’t need that energy in my life. I had already let it go, and there was no need to re-introduce it back into my life.

We need to let things go and forgive others, not for their sake, but for ours. We need to rid ourselves of the weight we carry around holding grudges, regrets, and the other burdens that try to pile up. We also need to let go so we can create a space where self-love exists, because most likely we’ll need that space to forgive ourselves, too.

I have indeed forgiven. And I am truly grateful.

Had I not gone through such a heartbreaking experience, I would have never dug deep into myself to write Unlearn. I would have never crossed paths with the amazing Marc & Angel, or read their books. And, most importantly, I would not have grown into the person I am today.

We can’t see into the future, but we can choose how much of our past we deliberately carry with us into today.

We can choose to let go and move forward, one day at a time.

Now, it’s YOUR turn…

I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section.

What do you need to let go of (or forgive), to move forward with your life?

Anything else to share?

Please leave me a comment.

Reasons for Failed Relationships

REASONS FOR FAILED RELATIONSHIPS

Sheqoz


Small things grow into bigger problems if left unsolved

If you are in a relationship, you obviously have good and bad days. That’s normal in all relationships. The up’s and down’s are not enough reasons to push a relationship off the cliff. Those are moments meant to strengthen you. I like to think of a palm tree when the downtime comes. You must have watched either live or on the news when there are bad storms in countries with many palm trees.

They don’t seem to be very steady when the winds begin to blow but if you pay close attention, those palms bend to an extent of breaking but they never lose their ground. In this same way, some of the things relationships face are meant to make things more solid. The biggest problems come from little issues left unresolved. These problems don’t go just because they were left unaddressed. Let’s take a close look at 6 reasons why relationships fail.

1. Ignorance About Petty Issues:


Partners should never ignore each other

Many relationships become victims of their own weaknesses. Small problems become an  ignored enemy which gives it the power to win. You cannot underestimate an enemy and expect to come out victorious. Those small issues you notice but fail to fix could become the biggest threat. To stop them from destroying what you’ve worked hard to build, you will need to identify them. A problem well identified is half way solved. Once you do this, write them down and find some stress-free time to discuss and solve them.

2. Lack of Emotional Discipline:

Many relationships suffer emotional abuse. Normally one partner plays the role of the abuser knowingly or unknowingly. When we allow our emotions to run wild, we fail to recognize the red flags and thus do not make conscious efforts to apply the much needed breaks when necessary. When this happens, a crash becomes imminent.

Take control over your emotions, don’t allow them to control you. We all have feelings but they must be guided. If you want to protect your heart and relationship from unwanted abuse, control your emotions. Don’t feel entitled to get whatever you want when you want it from your partner.

Do you know that the number one reason people find themselves in wrong relationships is emotional indiscipline? They let how they feel control their actions and reactions!

3. Lack of Appreciation:


Always appreciate each other’s initiative to resolve conflicts

Never take people’s goodwill for granted or think they are kind due to weakness. When you abuse a privilege acting like you’re entitled to it, you put yourself on a dark spot. You may lose everything this way. Get into the habit of appreciating what others do for you and be respectful while at it. This goes a long way and pushes others to want to do even more for you.

4. Unthoughtfulness:

Lack of communication falls under this category. You see, when you have someone you care about and make no effort to reach out to them, they may interpret your silence as disinterest. A short text or phone call matters a lot. If you have been quiet on someone you love or care for, don’t wait for them to break that silence. Take the initiative to reach out. Don’t miss out on a good thing because of pride.

Thought for the Soul:

“To have good relationships with people at any level of life, good personality must be present. You must be in a position to concede and compromise some things. Have an understanding heart so that you can forgive.”


Happy relationships are built over time. Each day brings a new understanding.

Find out how you can make your marriage shift from worst to great again.

How to Overcome Infidelity in Marriage

HOW TO OVERCOME INFIDELITY IN MARRIAGE

sheqoz

When the betrayed spouse feels violated, they get a rush of adrenalin which triggers irrational reaction

The Pain:

After infidelity, the betrayed spouse goes through intense emotions. The hurt, bewilderment, anger and numbing shock are overwhelming. There’s normally accelerated anger from the betrayed spouse which causes them to vent their rage. Although they should be granted the freedom to do so, it is important to choose the verbalized words carefully.

Reaction:

The strenuous stress contributes to a flood of adrenaline in the body. It is during this reaction that the betrayed spouse can do anything to hurt back the betrayer. This is the most sensitive time which determines where the relationship will end up. It can be the beginning of marriage recovery or the end.

During this period, the last thing the betrayer should do is react with anger. Instead, they should allow their spouse the space to vent while they maintain an apologetic attitude. This will help calm the situation to a point where a decent discussion is possible.

What to avoid:

The betrayed  –  

Avoid any physical confrontation with either your spouse or the person they cheated with. Sometimes stepping down to your betrayers level might turn the table making you seem like the evil one.

Do not jump into the option of property damage. It will do you no good and might land you into a lawsuit. You have loads of emotional healing to deal with. Don’t add any more.

Take some time away if you can. It will help you heal and make sound decisions on the next steps you want to take.

The betrayer –

You have violated marital vows and solid trust. Avoid any form of arrogance towards your spouse. A kind, polite attitude during this time will go a long way.

This is your time to make amendments since you’ve been caught pants down. Try an honest approach with the questions your spouse has. Remember you’ve been caught because she/he had some information.

There’s no need to hide bits of it from your already injured spouse at this point. Your precious relationship is shattered into pieces. There’s nothing left to protect. Nothing will injure your spouse more than being subtly  deceived on top of your act.

Trying to hide what they already know is clear indication that you intend to protect and cover up your rendezvous. If you do not wish to continue and you honestly desire to save your marriage, tell it like it is. Your spouse already knows the truth anyway. Deceit has done no good to your marriage. It definitely will not rebuild the broken one.

Questions to Expect From the Betrayed Spouse:

These questions are almost guaranteed after the first surge of anger. What happened? When did it happen? How long has this been going on? Do you love her/him? Men are said to want details of the sexual activity.

No matter how awkward the question, do not squelch the information. Most women are known to calm down when they realize their spouse isn’t trying to fool them any further.

After the Interrogation:

The wounded spouse now has the power to call the shots. If she/he intends to save the marriage, she/he will try to work things out positively. However, it all depends on the violations picked from the betrayer.

It is crucial that both spouses work together from one level. The possibilities of falling off the marriage wagon at this point are very high. There must be some mutual understanding and support. The betrayer must work hard to rebuild trust while the wounded spouse must create the opportunity and show support

Expectations in Rebuilding your Marriage:

Although there’s an open window for rebuilding your marriage, the emotional turmoil from infidelity is not anywhere close to over. There’s going to be a recurrence of certain things like grief, suspicions and sometimes accusations.

When this happens, the best thing to do is to reassure the grieving spouse that it will never happen again. As time goes by, the relationship will begin to get stronger and trust might eventually kick in.

What to Avoid:

Having an opportunity to rebuild a broken marriage should not be taken for granted. It’s more like walking on glass until the solidarity is once again proven. For example, if the betrayer is a man, the last thing he would want to do is continue visiting bars and showing up late in the night.

Such behaviors will keep the woman in a grieving state. She will not be able to move on and forgive because she thinks her spouse is still running around with the woman he cheated with. This will push her limits and eventually she will completely give up on the marriage. The same goes to a man betrayed by his wife – which isn’t unusual nowadays.

Facts:


A couple that prays together stays together

Things happen and temptations are always present. Infidelity for the most part is normally premeditated. The will to walk out of it depends entirely on the betrayer. If they arrogantly continue the deception, the betrayed spouse is left with two options. To either live with that pain for the rest of their lives or completely shut the door.

I personally don’t encourage people to divorce but nobody should live an unhealthy life due to stress-related illnesses just to hold a marriage together. Life is short and should be lived at its best. Every married couple need to understand that they can love their spouse but cannot control the decisions they make.

The only option is to commit the relationship to God. His Holy Spirit will always guide you into the right direction. My conclusion? Pray for each other. l have never known of couples who pray together going through wreckage. Please take time and read about forgiveness in marriage here. Good luck with your marriage.

Understanding the source of anger

UNDERSTANDING THE SOURCE OF ANGER

Os Hillman

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
(Proverbs 29:11)

The workplace can be a pressure-packed world. The demands that are often put on us can bring out things that we never knew were there. Sometimes we begin to think that the source of that pressure is to blame for our response to the pressure. It could be an event, a spouse, a boss, a client, a child, or even a driver who cuts us off in traffic.

I recall responding to a close friend one time, “If you had not done that, I would never have responded that way.” Later I learned that this response had little truth to it. We all choose to get angry. No one else is to blame for our anger.

“The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am” [Dr. Sam Peeples].

This simple quote has had a profound impact on how I view my anger now. Anger only reveals what is inside of me. I can’t blame anyone but me for my response to a situation. I have learned that anger is only the symptom of something else that is going on inside of me. This quote now resides on my refrigerator door as a daily reminder of the truth about my response to life’s situations.

It has been said that anger is like the warning panel on the dash of your car. It is the light that tells us something is going on under the hood and we need to find out what is the source of the problem. I discovered that the source of anger is often unmet expectations or personal rights. We believe we are entitled to a particular outcome to a situation. When this doesn’t happen, it triggers something in us. At the core of this is fear, often a fear of failure or rejection, fear of what others think, fear of the unknown.

If you struggle with anger, ask God to reveal the source of that anger. Ask Him to heal you of any fears that may be the root of your anger. Ask God to help you take responsibility for your response to difficult situations.

Why Communication Won’t Save Your Marriage (Part 2) – What Will

WHY COMMUNICATION WON’T SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE (PART 2) – WHAT WILL

The Relate Institute

So after readingpart 1, you’ve recognized this annoying little cycle in your marriage (one of you pursues and one withdraws, you both withdraw, you both pursue, etc.).  But while your spouse is going on and on about that thing you do that bugs them so much and you know you’re about to get into a fight, how do you stop it?   How do you break the cycle?  This is the question we get from couples everyday.  “Okay, we get it.  We do that thing, but how do we get out of it?”

Here’s the trick: We all have insecurities and fears in our relationships that we need help overcoming.  When you can help soothe each other’s anxieties about where you stand in the relationship you can avoid eruptions that turn into fights.  When we soothe each other, we can feel calm and discuss issues calmly and safely, instead of from a place of fear and reactivity.  So basically, you are trying to respond to your partner’s needs and give your partner the chance to respond to you by expressing your needs to them.

Here are three ideas taken and adapted from Sue Johnson’s theory of emotionally focused therapy for how to do this:

1. Recognize your cycle when it happens.

This may sound trite, but honestly, just being able to stop yourselves and recognize, “we’re getting caught in our cycle” in the middle of an argument can change everything. All of a sudden you are fighting a common enemy–”the cycle”–instead of each other.

2. Understand what’s driving the cycle.

​It’s not going to help you very much if you can say, “We’re stuck in our cycle right now,” if you don’t know why the cycle is even happening.  It’s important to understand what goes on for each of you internally during the cycle.  In general, our visible responses (yelling, crying, running away, shutting down, etc.) are being driven by something deeper.  This “something” will be different for everyone, but it usually involves feelings of inadequacy, fear of losing your partner, shame, hurt, fear of not being important, embarrassment, loneliness, etc.  These feelings are often driven by the most fundamental and important unmet attachment needs of belonging, acceptance, safety, and connection.

Why Communication Won't Save Your Marriage (Part 2) - Here’s the trick: We all have insecurities and fears in our relationships that we need help overcoming. When you can help soothe each others’ anxieties about where you stand in the relationship you can avoid eruptions that turn into fights. When we sooth each other, we can feel calm and discuss issues calmly and safely, instead of from a place of fear and reactivity. So basically, you are trying to respond to your partner’s needs and give your partner the chance to respond to you by expressing your needs to them.

3. Learn how to express the emotions driving the cycle when it happens.

Instead of continuing to shut down and walk away when your wife starts nagging or yelling, recognize that you are shutting down, ask yourself what you are really feeling (beneath the annoyance and frustration), and communicate that to her. For example, you might be feeling overwhelmed by her nagging because you feel like you’re already doing so much and you don’t need her to add to your to-do list. This “nagging” makes you feel like you’re not doing a good enough job as a husband because she’s not happy, even though you’re trying your best, and this makes you feel inadequate as a husband.  It might even make you feel like a failure.  That’s a pretty scary place to be. Try sharing the fear of failing as a husband with her, instead of running away from her and your emotions again.

And to the “nagging” partner, try to really consider what’s happening for you.

​Are you feeling like he’s not responding to you? Is that why you have to complain? Does it feel like you aren’t being heard in your marriage?  How is that making you feel?  It might make you worried that when he forgets to do things you ask, it means he isn’t listening to you, which means what you say isn’t important, which means you aren’t important to him.  That’s also a pretty scary place to be – to not feel important to your spouse, the person who has committed to love and cherish you forever. Try sharing those fears with him instead of reaching out by nagging.

It’ll be a lot easier to respond to each other when you change the way you reach out to get your emotional attachment needs met. Instead of nagging to make sure he hears you, or running away to make sure she chases you, try actually sharing your deep-dark-scary-fears and see what happens.  We have found that it’s natural to respond to those we love when we can see and feel their pain with them.  If you can access that pain for yourself and share it with your partner, you’ve reached an entirely new level of safety, acceptance, and connection.

**Now, that example was pretty stereotypical, and it happens the other way around as well–with the husband nagging and the wife shutting down.  And it also happens around different issues.  For one couple it might be that one partner is cheating on the diet they are working on together, for another it might be that one partner always has to be right, for another it might be that one can’t keep the house clean, etc. etc. etc.  The issue is always unique to the situation, but it always comes back to the same cycle and same underlying emotions, fears, and attachment needs that need to be responded to and soothed.

Keep in mind, it may sound like 3 simple steps to changing your relationship, but accessing your underlying emotions is very difficult, and sharing them with your partner can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task because of the vulnerability it requires.  Don’t rush the steps.  Take your time helping each other figure out what you’re really feeling.  You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your relationship.

Forgive Your Spouse

FORGIVE YOUR SPOUSE

You never realize the strength you receive once you forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and accept an apology you never received. Today you must decide to forgive your spouse who hurt you intentionally. Not because they apologized, or because you enjoyed the pain that they caused you, but because your soul deserves peace.
 
Forgiveness is a choice to show mercy. It is a commitment not to hold on to count the offense against the offender.
 
Forgiveness is an expression of love. Just like God forgave you, forgive them also and pray for God’s intervention. Once your heart is sincere and pure, your prayers are heard. That’s when God starts moving into your situation and takes revenge against those who intentionally troubled and hurt you.

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Major causes of domestic violence in Nigeria

MAJOR CAUSES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA

Here are the leading causes of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE in Nigeria and most countries. The problem is quite widespread so it is better to know the main reasons, and maybe this will help to avoid such anathema at home.

Major causes of domestic violence in Nigeria

The list of domestic violence causes

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