5 Things We Can Learn From ANGRY People…John Page Burton

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Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of angry people buzzing around our planet? Most angry people are two faced. They exhibit a public face and a private face. For example, the other day a man driving a high end vehicle, dressed in a suit and tie swerved his car and nearly ran me off the road. When I pulled up next to him at the stoplight and gave him a puzzled look, he promptly reached down under his seat and with a smirk on his face, brandished a hand gun! I certainly don’t care to do business with him! My social media streams feature countless posts “attacking” religious choice, sexual preferences, race, political affiliation or anything else that is determined different from the posters belief system. One of my clients recently asked me “why so many people seem so angry”? It’s a reasonable question. Many are quick to blame their anger on the economy, world problems, political agenda’s and even technology. I routinely interact with people who “ooze pissed off”. When I ask them why they are so angry it’s not uncommon for them to snap back… “I’m not angry”. Be honest, all of us get angry from time to time, it’s human nature.  As a coach, I routinely see the effects of unresolved anger. Divorce, illness, job loss and family challenges are some of the unfortunate consequences of unresolved anger. I have identified 5 characteristics commonly found in angry people. Also, here are five things I have learned on my own journey as a “recovering angry person”…

Acceptance. Because they have never completely accepted themselves, angry people struggle to accept others. Most of the angry people I have known share the common characteristic of being fearful people. Angry people have an above average fear of failure and are prone to anger when they find themselves roaming outside of their comfort zone. Angry people are quick to judge others because it is easier than facing their own fear.  I have learned to face my fears when they come up and to give myself some grace when things don’t happen EXACTLY the way I want them to. I remind myself that life tends to happen when we are making other plans.
Neurotic. Angry people tend to be compulsive worriers.  “95% of what we worry about never happens and the other 5% never looks as bad as we envisioned”. This quote is a reminder to focus on what we can control rather than on what may or may not happen at a future point in time. I have learned to stay in the present moment as much as humanly possible. I problem solve from my past, I create in the present.
Grudges. Angry people tend to hold grudges. My mother had a falling out with her two brothers over the disbursement of my grandmothers estate. Tragically, my mother passed away having not spoken to her brothers for over thirty years. Grudges rob us of our joy and over time, holding grudges may bring about physical or emotional health challenges. I have learned to speak my truth and move on. I remind myself that resentment only robs me of the energy I need to move toward a compelling future.
Reactive. Angry people tend to be reactive people. This is where the saying “they really have a chip on their shoulder” comes into play. Last evening I ran into a person who unbeknownst to me has been holding a long standing grudge toward me for not continuing to donate money to the charitable organization they represent. When I explained that I had decided to donate elsewhere because I had not received a thank you note or receipt for my previous donations they bristled and began to make it personal. “You misspelled my name when you signed my book” was one of the many “digs” this person leveled at me in an attempt to dodge any role they may have played in my decision to donate elsewhere.  In short, reactive people usually hear what they want to hear. Rather than be proactive and seek to understand they tend to pounce! As a “recovering reactive person”, I have learned to count to ten before offering my thoughts. “Seek to understand, then to be understood”. (Covey)
Yesterday. Angry people spend a great deal of time living in the past. They robotically recount the details of past hurts and disappointments and carry much of this anger into their present reality. Someone who disagrees with or upsets them may suddenly take on the identity of an unfavorable person from their past. A current spouse begins to remind them of an abusive parent, a new love interest does something that reminds them of a former spouse, an innocent mistake by a long time friend instantly becomes a betrayal of epic proportion or an admonishment from an employer becomes the voice of a demanding, perfectionist parent. I have learned that dwelling on the past only distracts me from the present. I get to CHOOSE what I focus on and I CHOOSE to focus on NOW!
We all get angry, it’s actually good for us to let off a little steam from time to time. If we find ourselves becoming an angry, ticking time bomb, it’s time for a check up from the neck up! A good coach or therapist can help us clear the clutter and allow us to live the joyful life we deserve.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!

Are You An “Angry Giver”? John Page Burton

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Hi, my name is John and I’m a recovering “angry giver”. This is how I introduced myself to the audience at a recent relationship seminar where I was privileged to be the guest facilitator. As a participant in the morning session, I couldn’t help but chuckle at all of the proclamations of “self sacrifice”, “tireless giving”, “putting life on hold for family”, “doing it all for the kids”, “having nothing left at the end of the day”, “this is what breadwinners do”, blah, blah, blah. These self absorbed statements were not gender specific, they were exiting the mouths of both male and female “angry givers”. What made it even more humorous was the fact that this had been my belief system and speech pattern for longer than I cared to remember.  I was the “angry giver” who never said NO. “Sure I’ll coach the ball team”, “no problem, I can fill in for you this Saturday”, ” yeah we can use my house for the party”, ” go ahead, take my car”, “wherever you want to eat is fine with me”, “here you go, pay me back when you can”. “Angry givers” tend to be masters of justification, I know that I certainly was. I could always come up with a justification for my need to be needed. Inside, I was worn out and pissed off! Let’s take a closer look at “angry giving” and where it tends to show up in our lives.

Defining “angry giver”. An “angry giver” is a person who routinely puts their needs on the back burner in order to “please” others. On the surface it sounds quite noble but in reality it is an emotionally destructive behavioral pattern.

AT WORK….

The “angry giver” tends to go ten extra miles at work. They volunteer to lead projects, plan events, come in without pay on their days off and are viewed as the go to person for everything nobody else has time to do. On the surface the “angry giver” desires to be seen as the ultimate team player, however, below the surface they harbor resentment, feel guilty, cast judgement and regret never having enough time to get their own work done. When asked how everything is going they will smile and say…”I’m a team player, and this sure is a great team to be on”. Inside they are oozing pissed off because of their inability to say NO.

THOUGHT: QUIT VOLUNTEERING TO DO EVERYONE ELSE’S WORK! Prioritize your time in a manner that allows you to put your priorities first.

AT HOME…

At home, the “angry giver” does everything for everyone. They work “tirelessly” to ensure that everyone’s needs are met. After all, “my family would be lost without me”. To the “angry giver” meeting everyone’s needs is an expression of “love”. In reality it is extreme co-dependent behavior. THOUGHT: “Feed a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. When we do everything for our spouse or kids we are failing to teach them self reliance. In essence we are saying to them…YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE. Children, especially, must develop a sense of self sufficiency in order to grow their self esteem. I have a client who still cooks all her son’s meals, does his laundry and drives him to and from school. FYI…He is scheduled to start college next fall. Is this extreme need to be needed helping or hurting her son?

AT PLAY…

The “angry giver” routinely engages in activities they really don’t enjoy in order to please people who could really care less. “Going along to get along” is a common way of being for the “angry giver”. In social settings it is not uncommon for an “angry giver” to smile and proclaim what a wonderful time they are having when in reality they would prefer to be doing something they actually enjoy. The “angry giver” is the undisputed champion of implicit communication. THOUGHT: IF YOU DON’T DIG IT, DON’T DO IT! In other words, start doing things that you enjoy, opposed to doing what you believe others expect you to do.

WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US!  4 Tips From A Recovering “Angry Giver”.

1. Learn to say NO. We must establish our boundaries and put OUR needs first. When we put OUR needs and priorities first, something interesting happens….WE HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME & ENERGY TO SERVE OTHERS IN A TRULY JOYFUL MANNER.

2. Become SELF CENTERED. It’s time to prioritize our desires and needs. During our time as an “angry giver” we taught everyone how to treat us. We taught them that our time was not valuable, that their needs were more important than ours and that it was all right to be taken advantage of at work or in business. We must now introduce these people to our new way of being. Trust me, you will meet a great deal of resistance in the beginning. Being SELF CENTERED means we are grounded in our authentic self. It has nothing to do with being selfish.

3. Delegate. There is no award given to the “sucker” who does everything for everyone at the expense of their own career or personal relationships. (This includes the relationship we have with ourselves) For example, when we learn to delegate household chores or assignments at work we are holding others capable. Most people, when held capable, rise to the occasion.  Try it, you’ll like it!

4. STOP over extending yourself. We don’t need to simultaneously be the classroom parent, HOA board member, fundraising chair and the social director at our church. In most cases, it is our quest for significance that causes us to over extend. Remember, the more activities we are engaged in the less time we have for ourselves. Over time this will cause many of us to become “angry givers”. I always encourage my clients to volunteer for things that they are passionate about but to set a limit of no more than two at any one time. This helps us keep our lives in perspective.

To quote Tony Robbins, “the secret to living is giving”. Our goal is to become happy, self centered, givers!
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback!

5 “NEEDS” That Stifle Our Personal & Professional Growth…John Page Burton

We all have needs. We need air, water and food to survive. Most of us have a need to feel safe, secure, loved and cared for.  I believe we can all agree that these are healthy needs. Unfortunately, not all of our needs are healthy. Many are destructive and can significantly stifle our personal and professional growth? Let’s take a closer look at 5 unhealthy needs and what we can do to create a shift.

1. The Need To Be Right. This need causes people to become argumentative, confrontational, condescending and vindictive. This need is Ego driven. The need to be right can be very polarizing in our personal and professional relationships. A person needing to be right struggles to consider any point of view that differs from than their own. Growth occurs when we become open and accepting of NEW and DIFFERENT beliefs, opinions and perspectives. It’s not as important to be right as it is to be respectful in our communication with others.

2. The Need For Constant Approval. This person expects to be acknowledged for everything they do. This juvenile, insecurity driven need is emotionally draining to spouses, friends, family members and co-workers. If you don’t acknowledge and shower them with praise they often become angry and resentful. Growth occurs when we learn to be humble. Our ACTIONS will always speak much louder than our words. We must learn to accept unsolicited praise, say thank you and move on. Nobody likes being around a person who “gloats” or demands acknowledgement.

3. The Need To Be Noticed. A person driven by this need is heavily influenced by appearances and is always in search of a new audience. They tend to base their self worth on material possessions and will go to great lengths to “flaunt their stuff”.  Characteristically, they are loud, boisterous communicators. They will do anything to grab the spotlight and they love to be seen as the “star of the show”. When they feel ignored, many will throw “adult temper tantrums” in a last ditch effort to satisfy their craving for attention. Growth occurs when we realize that substance is much sexier than stuff. People who crave notoriety tend to be seen as “show offs and braggarts”. People who exhibit humility and gratitude are generally seen as intelligent, trustworthy, responsible people.

4. The Need For Control. This need is fueled by insecurity and fear. Control is an avoidance strategy. At a subconscious level, the controller is simply avoiding their own self doubt and fear by focusing their energy on “fixing” and “manipulating” the people around them. Controllers are disappointed, frustrated and angry most of the time because rarely if ever do the people around them live up to their rigid expectations. “Control freaks” have a deep seated fear of being out of control and will do everything they can to control their environment. Growth occurs when we release our death grip on control, face our fears, embrace and accept failure, learn to delegate, appreciate that most people don’t desire to be “fixed” and commence on a dedicated journey toward self acceptance.

5. The Need To Be Needed. In my book Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to this need as “Helpful Harry Syndrome”. Helpful Harry routinely prioritizes the needs of others before his own. At first glance this seems to be a noble trait but in reality it is an avoidance strategy. Eventually, Helpful Harry becomes an angry giver as he comes to realize that many of his needs are not being met. The need to be needed does not encourage self sufficiency. In other words, “Helpful Harry’s” are teaching their children, spouses and employees to rely on others first. Growth occurs when we establish the habit of meeting our own needs before we focus on meeting the needs of others. With that being said, it is important to prioritize the needs of small children, those with disabilities and of course the elderly. We must encourage our adult children, spouses and employees to become problem solvers and doers. Admittedly, many may consider this a “self centered” approach, however, in the long term it will pay big dividends.

The beauty of personal growth is that ALL of us are a work in progress. It is VERY safe to say that none of us will ever achieve total mastery. We are human! Our goal is to recognize a familiar program when it begins to run and make an immediate shift toward our truth. With each shift we lay the foundation for our NEW REALITY.  As a wise man once said…SHIFT HAPPENS!

As Always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
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The Benefit of Checking Into REHAB…John Page Burton

If you’re the type of person who sets big goals and desires to play an above average game of life you’re more than likely aware of the benefits gained from a trip to rehab. I recommend checking in quarterly. I like to refer to rehab as my “check up from the neck up”. Similar to residential real estate, my rehab process reflects a period of restoration. I keep what is working and remove or modify what is not. My trip to rehab is designed to move me closer to my stated objectives both personally and professionally. Let’s check into rehab…

REHAB…What really happens behind closed doors?

Review. Our first step is to take an in depth look at what has and hasn’t worked during the previous quarter. Did we reach the goals we set? If not, why? In order to reach our objectives we must have a strategic plan in place along with a reliable system to measure our progress. We must be willing to make course corrections when necessary. Conducting a comprehensive review enables us to analyze our past performance and then chart a new course for the upcoming quarter, a course that is based heavily on our past success. Heed the adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it”.

Edit. What needs to be changed, modified or re-designed? If something isn’t working it’s often time to make a directional shift. Having edited the previous quarter we can now establish new objectives and create a detailed strategy for accomplishing our goals.

Habits. What habits are keeping us from reaching our stated objectives?. What new habits can we establish that will support our vision? For example, we may find that we have created the habit of avoidance in a specific area of our business. This habit may be what is keeping us from reaching our full potential. Armed with this awareness we can begin establishing new habits, habits that will move us closer to our stated objective and away from our avoidance strategies.

Action. What actions do we need to take in order to meet our objectives? Action leads to results. Massive action leads to massive results. I refer to this as the law of action. When we hit the proverbial wall or find ourselves experiencing doubt or fear the ONLY way we will experience a BREAKTHROUGH is by engaging in massive action. Action is the great equalizer.

Brainstorm. What new, innovative ideas will we incorporate into our next 90 day burst of focused activity? What resources (material and human) can we enroll into our action plan? Who can we add to our mastermind group that will bring additional insight to our mission? (If you don’t have a mastermind group it is a good idea to start one) Brainstorming is inspiring and can be extremely beneficial as we grow our business. Remember, the quality of our life experience is a direct reflection of the questions we ask.

I gain tremendous value from my trips to rehab and my hope is that you will find your experience fruitful as well.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

GOSSIPERS BEWARE…We’re Onto You!…John Page Burton

As a society we seem to be preoccupied with gossip. Many of us just can’t seem to get enough. The National Enquirer has one of the largest readerships of any publication on Earth yet the vast majority of it’s content is fabricated. People love “dirt”. Think about it, when was the last time “a friend” pulled you aside to share something really POSITIVE about someone else? He said-she said is one of the most unconscious games we play. So why do people love gossip? Does the gossiper provide an important public service or are they simply struggling to find significance in their own lives by analyzing and sharing details about ours? First let’s review three common types of gossip and then let’s take a closer look at the word gossip and identify some of the characteristics inherent to a person who regularly engages in this behavior.

3 Common Types of Gossip…

*Malicious- The intent is to cause harm. This type of gossip often shows up in the workplace and is quite common during divorce/custody proceedings. This type of gossip is almost always based on false or half truths and is designed to make the other person look BAD! “I feel so sorry for Susy because Paul is so careless when he has Jimmy. Did you see that terrible scrape on Jimmy’s head?” ***Jimmy fell off the swing at school and his Principal carried him to the school nurse.

*Subtle- Designed to drop a hint or start a rumor. This type of gossip is often based on jealousy or a desire to get even for a perceived wrong. This type of gossip gained it’s roots in high school but is often carried into adulthood. “You know that John had a child out of wedlock didn’t you? You should probably be careful with that guy”. ***John didn’t call her for a second date which irritated her.

*Unfiltered talker- They make a career out of sharing something about someone with everyone. Commonly referred to as the neighborhood “busy-body”. “I heard that Mark and his wife are having financial troubles, their house hasn’t been painted in a few years”. “Did you know that Sarah talks to the mailman for 15 minutes everyday and even had him come into her house the other day…looks like she’s up to no good!” ***Mark and his wife are putting all of their extra money toward the care of Marks sister who has a rare medical condition that is not covered by insurance. Sarah routinely visits with her cousin Larry who just so happens to be her mail carrier.

GOSSIP

Gullible. Gossip meets the needs of gullible people. How else can you explain the monumental success of tabloid publications. Far too many of us are so busy keeping up with the Kardashians and their family challenges that we miss the real life challenges within our own family. I recently read a news account of a teenager who committed suicide by using a hand gun. Her mother claimed she was in the other room watching “Real House Wives of Atlanta” and never heard the gun go off. She told police that she discovered her daughter after she “realized she had not seen her for awhile”.

Opiate. Gossip addiction is similar to drug addiction. The gossiper receives a fix due to the “rush” they get from sharing “secret information”. Withdrawal from gossip can be a very intense process. Forced to mind their own business, a habitual gossiper can easily have a relapse and fall back into their old, destructive pattern of sharing “information”.

Social Bonding. Gossipers tend to attract other gossip dependent people and together they form a social bond. For many people, gossip is the only type of communication they are comfortable with. Talking about and analyzing the lives of other people keeps the spotlight away from them and feeds their profound sense of importance. Like attracts like and soon a community is formed. Within this community a hierarchy will develop as members strive to solidify their position of importance and power. It’s a safe bet that gossip will start flying!!!

Self Esteem. The lower a person’s self esteem, the greater the chances become that they will engage in gossip. Gossipers are masterful at transference. The gossiper offsets their insecurity and fear by sharing and analyzing the perceived problems of others. By taking the focus off of themselves they don’t have to look at their own unhappiness. “Did you know that Sues husband is cheating on her because she had a breast removed? I heard it from a very reliable source”. I overheard this comment at a party we recently attended. The person who shared this “morsel” of information did so with a demonic gleam in her eye. As I watched Sue (the Cancer survivor) interact with other people at the party, it became obvious why the gossiper was so angry. Sue looks great, radiates happiness, smiles, uses touch in her communication with others and seems to be a genuinely happy person who has survived a difficult challenge. On the other hand the gossiper in question is 60-80 pounds overweight, radiates misery, has a wall surrounding her and oozes pissed off!

Intelligence. I have found that the vast majority of chronic gossipers possess below average emotional intelligence. Remember…Great minds talk about ideas, small minds talk about people.

Power. The habitual gossiper operates under a false belief that they somehow wield power over others. They remind me of the “proud peacock” as they strut around sporting their “I’ve got something on someone” look. The reality is that outside of their co-dependent circle of influence (if we can label it as such) their message offers nothing of value. Authentic power isn’t a bi-product of gossip. Authentic power is achieved through congruent actions based on integrity.

I embrace the first amendment and I am grateful for the wisdom of our founding fathers in making it the cornerstone of our constitution. Everyone is entitled to their point of view and we live in a society that affords us this liberty. Fortunately there are laws in place that protect our personal interests when freedom of speech gets out of hand. I.E. Libel, Slander and Defamation of Character. In my opinion, gossip only serves one purpose and that is to tarnish the reputation of another person. When I find myself in the company of a gossiper I immediately exit stage left. On the other hand, when I am around people who are discussing concepts and ideas I cannot help myself from engaging in the conversation. Another benefit of our amazing constitution is that we have the freedom to choose the speech we desire to listen to. Choose wisely my friends!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

I Believe Jesus Would Embrace My Addiction…John Page Burton

We live in a society in which the vast majority of us are addicted to something that fails to support our long term well being. I like to refer to these as unhealthy addictions. Some of the most common unhealthy addictions include, work, drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise, food and gambling. All of these unhealthy addictions (including exercise) hold the potential to dramatically effect our quality of life as well as that of our family and friends. My heart aches every time I hear of a friend or family member who is suffering due to the controlling nature of an unhealthy addiction. Our friends over at Websters define an addiction as “the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences”. The “habit” forming component of an addiction is characterized by the immediate gratification we feel when we are getting our “fix”. “Just one more spin and I am certain to hit triple seven’s” is the common mindset of an addict. Physiological dependence is characterized by the addicts desperate need for more of something in order to satisfy increased tolerance levels. Using our gambling analogy, physiological dependence explains why a person can begin playing penny slots and eventually work their way up to $5 slots with little regard for how much money they may be losing. These same dependencies occur in sex addicts, drug addicts, food addicts as well as the “workaholic”. Understanding societies propensity to become easily addicted to things, I have come up with an idea. Let’s all join together and get society hooked on a brand new set of addictions, ones that are actually good for us and that present NO adverse consequences.

THE PLAN…

Our goal (as a brand new addict) is to first develop a high tolerance for each of these new addictions which will then cause us to constantly need a “fix” and thus we will have successfully established a healthy new habit. The next step is to groom our children to get “hooked” therefore ensuring that the next generation will also be comprised of healthy addicts. I am proposing that we all take the plunge and get hooked on 5 addictions right away. They are benevolence, love, gratitude, compassion and faith.

LET’S DO THIS THING…

Benevolence. Benevolence is good will. Benevolence is an act of kindness without expecting something in return. Volunteering to teach someone to read, taking meals to elderly shut in’s, volunteering at a humane society, paying for someones groceries or anonymously making charitable donations are all excellent ways to get our “fix”.

Love. Love is an excellent “drug” of choice. Over time, love eventually softens even the hardest heart. We expend far less energy sharing love than we do expressing judgement and hate. Love is our most natural emotion. Love brings comfort to those who are lost, sick or in deep despair. Unashamedly expressing our love with everyone we meet is guaranteed to fill our veins with some “really good stuff”.

Gratitude. Not only does expressing gratitude send a powerful message to the universe but it also provides us with the “fix” of always getting more than we expected or needed. When we are grateful for ALL of our experiences the universe gladly accommodates our addiction. Gratitude, if expressed consistently is habit forming and tends to leave us on a continual “high”.

Compassion. “But for the grace of God, there go I” is a quote I committed to memory many years ago. My interpretation of this quote is that I am to never turn my back on a brother or sister who is less fortunate than I. Showing compassion for others often requires building up a tolerance level that we never knew we possessed. When we are addicted to compassion we view the world from a more “psychedelic” perspective.

Faith. Of all of the addictions available to mankind, FAITH is the most hardcore. Once we become addicted to FAITH there is NO turning back. A FAITH addict can never be rehabilitated, interventions are out of the question and FAITH addicts graduate to become “dealers” who share samples everywhere they go. FAITH is the ultimate “adrenaline rush”, one that is not for the faint of heart.

Faced with so much uncertainty and turmoil in today’s world, I often find myself asking the life grounding question…What would Jesus call me to do? I believe he would want all of us to embrace these 5 addictions and create a whole bunch of brand new addicts.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.