Our world is in the midst of an emotional meltdown. People are restless, volatile, our tempers about to blow. Recently, a riveting Newsweek cover story, "Rage Goes Viral" described how from Tunisia to Egypt a wave of rage is rocking the Arab world to create revolutions. Then there are the talk radio ranters, congressional incivility, and domestic terrorists such as the Arizona shooter. Rage is also prevalent in our daily lives: There's road rage, office rage, supermarket rage, and even surfer's rage. Why is rage so rampant? What is the solution?
As a psychiatrist I know that there is more to overeating and obesity that meets the eye. Genetics plays a role, as do hormonal and psychological triggers. However, one big reason that many diets fail is that traditional weight loss programs don’t factor in how we process energy.
People we love can sometimes drain us the most. Our mates may not be trying to do this, but life's demands add up. For instance, at the end of a long day, he or she might come home in a negative mood or is needy and overbearing. Sometimes the draining behavior may go beyond this, when they become argumentative or hurtful. As a psychiatrist, I help my patients address these behaviors with their mates in a tactful, loving way to find positive solutions. Learning this skill is a wonderful Valentine's Day resolution to make in February, the month of love, and throughout the year.
When we're looking for love (or under its intoxicating influence), we often miss seeing extraordinary signs and messages that pop up in our daily life to give us clues as to whether we're on the right track.
As a physician, I've found that the biggest energy drain on my patients is relationships. Some relationships are positive and mood elevating. Others can suck optimism and serenity right out of you. I call these draining people "emotional vampires." They do more than drain your physical energy. The malignant ones can make you believe you're unworthy and unlovable.
A resentment is a grudge that you harbor after you've felt mistreated. It's easy to hold on to all the incidents that angered you, from a gossiping hairdresser to a two-timing ex-husband. And, if you took a poll, you'd probably get a lot of people on your side about your right to stay resentful. According to such logic, as time passes, you have "the right" to get angrier, becoming a broken record of complaints. But is that the sour person you want to be?
If you want to see people flip their lids fast, try invading their personal space. These intrusions cause our stress hormones to skyrocket and can affect our physical and mental health. Blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension are all affected.
As a psychiatrist, I strongly believe that it is important to know about the narcissistic personality so you can have realistic expectations when dealing with coworkers, friends or family members who may have some of these qualities.
It’s important to identify if you are dealing with a “controller.” These people obsessively try to dictate how you’re supposed to be and feel. They have an opinion about everything; disagree at your peril. They’ll control you by invalidating your emotions if those don’t fit into their rulebook. Controllers often start sentences with, “You know what you need?”…then proceed to tell you. They’ll sling shots like, “That guy is out of your league” or “I’ll have dinner with you if you promise to be happy.”
For over twenty years as physician, I’ve witnessed, time and again, the healing power of tears. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration. Also, you can have tears of joy, say when a child is born or tears of relief when a difficulty has passed. In my own life, I am grateful when I can cry. It feels cleansing, a way to purge pent up emotions so they don’t lodge in my body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity.