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The C**P That Makes You Want To Stay Home From Work, Keeps You Up At Night, Makes Your Life Miserable

C - - P_R1

 

Dear Friends,

This month, I’m addressing the c**p that makes you want to stay home from work, keeps you up at night, makes your life miserable: Conflict.

Let’s start out with the philosophy that conflict is normal. Conflict is good. Conflict opens the door to innovation, revelation, opportunity, understanding, and improved communications. That is, it can open those doors. But – we must each open our own door.

Recognizing that it’s our job to open our own door is the important first step in moving toward the opportunity to turn our relationships around. We don’t become Masters overnight. This endeavor requires time and patience, dedication, determination, and consistent follow-through.

Here is an Introduction to true Conflict Avoidance. And truth be told, it is not really about Conflict Avoidance.

The only people who avoid all conflict are in the cemetery. Living, breathing people who interact with other people experience conflict daily. Some even go out of their way to create conflict. We don’t have trouble finding it.

What do we do when we do? We all need help. We all had models of conflict engagement as little people. Some of us even had good models. Unfortunately, those positive models are in the minority.

What models did you observe in your home of origin?
How did that influence your reaction to conflict?
How do you deal with conflict now?
Has there been growth?
What changes still remain to be made?

Here is an exercise to explore with someone you trust. Take 5 minutes in some quiet place with a pad & pencil in hand. Write brief answers to the 5 questions raised in the paragraph above. Not more than a line or two. Take another 5 minutes to discuss your reply with your partner.

Be brief. Invite your partner to go next. Same protocol. After you’ve both shared, open a discussion about what you have learned. Write down your insights. How you will use them in the future to improve your approach to conflict management?

I hope you find this email helpful and that it puts you in the mood to converse. We only truly learn through discussion and, ultimately, fearless self examination.

Your friend,
Ron Supancic
The Law Collaborative, APC
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
T: (818) 348-6700
F: (818) 348-0961

The Five Pillars of Marital Success

Relationship experts tell us that there are five pillars which can support a healthy marriage, but not all marriages have all five pillars supporting them. Four or five strong pillars can support a relationship that will last the age.  But if a relationship has only one or two strong pillars and the others are weak, the marriage might not survive the ravages of time. During the honeymoon period when the weather is fair, the marriage stands tall — but when stormy weather comes, when the winds start blowing and there’s been some erosion, the whole structure might come tumbling down.

Before people get married they should assess their pillars. Couples already married can shore up their pillars. People can make an effort to stay in shape and preserve the first pillar, they can write budgets and meet with financial advisors to shore up the second. They can agree to compromise on going out Saturday night. They can read books together. They can learn to accept the other’s spiritual journey. Knowing that the pillars exist is the first step, assessing and working on them comes next and takes time.

Disengage from Conflict

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama was asked what human trait he found to be most baffling.  He replied that he was mystified that Man, “sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV

 
That is an accurate description of Man as Machine. Humankind, as programmed by media, by upbringing, by circumstance, to strive rather than to abide. This is the way that most of us live. It’s what war is all about, and progress too. What a conundrum. Where does consciousness fit in to our lives, so that we may make peace instead of war, and make progress as well?
Let’s start with the psychological term, ‘projection.’ A wise man explained to me that projection is when we see our own mostly negative qualities, problematic issues, or challenges in another person. It’s called Projection, “because it’s like having a light on your forehead that shines” our own injurious, unmindful material, onto that other person. Then we feel angry or hurt, and blame that person for causing our pain. Our projection does not come from anything that person may have done – it comes from us, from our own unconscious. When we are in the grip of projection, we refuse to take responsibility for our own ‘stuff.’

Projection is, unfortunately, alive and well before, during and after divorce. Projection can even cause divorce. How is this possible? Projection interferes with relationships because, when it occurs, it is impossible for the person in it’s thrall to take responsibility for owning the negative material. We cannot claim to be conscious, and ‘adult,’ while refusing to take responsibility for Projection.

This month, l am going to try an experiment. On a daily basis, when a conflict arises, I am going to attempt to keep my projections at bay, to disengage them from play. If I find myself judging, suspecting or accusing another person, instead of voicing that negative and giving it life, I am going to ask myself how that negative might apply directly to me – what does such a thought have to say about my own motives? If I am judging another as greedy, am I myself actually feeling avaricious, or miserly, grudging or impoverished or jealous? Will I then take responsibility for that feeling and own my responses to it? That is probably the most important and challenging part of the experiment. Admitting fault, even to ourselves, makes us feel vulnerable and unmoored, but more importantly, it exposes the conflict for what it is and enables resolution.

If you decide to join my experiment, please let me know.

 

6 Tools to Deflect Anger

a couple argue

By Sig Cohen

In his book Who Gets What Kenneth Feinberg acknowledged the importance of allowing claimants to talk candidly about their losses.
Indeed, he notes that often a claimants’ desire to speak about the victim — especially a loved one — was more important than how much the claimant would receive.

Feinberg was the mediator who oversaw the distribution of claims arising out of the 9/11, Virginia State University, and BP oil spill tragedies so he found himself listening for hours to the family members of persons killed or injured in those tragic events.

Mediators are expected to listen to parties’ vent their concerns, fears, and expectations. Venting can be a normal, cathartic, and usually positive step in the process of arriving at an agreement. Some parties need to blow off steam before they’ll engage in the serious work of reaching an agreement.

The challenge is to listen non-judgmentally, respectfully, and “care-ingly.”

But what if venting gets personal? You may want to rebut, rebuke, or resist the other person’s comments, be she a family member, neighbor, business associate, or friend. This is especially painful if a grievance has festered for months, even years.

Here are some ways to mitigate the hurt you may experience if you’re the target of a vent:

1. Remember, listening is not agreeing.
2. It can be the first step in healing an emotional crisis.
3. Try holding your fire until the other person finishes.
4. Keep track of what was said so you can respond — but without getting emotional yourself.
5. If the vent goes on interminably, ask at some point: “What do you need?” This can force the other person to state his or her concerns in a more orderly way.
6. Bear in mind that whether the dispute concerns you or not, allowing the other party to be heard does wonders for healing an someone on the other side of an issue. The person on the receiving end of a Vent — whether a mediator, adversary or family member– needs to hold fire until the other party decides enough is enough.

The Blame Game

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The Blame Game.” It’s very easy for most of us to play. We’ve been programmed to play it since childhood. “He did it!” “She did it first!” “It’s your fault!” Finger-pointing is so simple when we’ve been disappointed. If a situation has not gone our way, and we find ourselves feeling ‘wronged,’ we can usually find someone else to blame. However, blaming is generally not helpful, and may even be perceived as abusive. In fact, it is an attitude that will easily embitter any relationship. This is because any relief the Blamer may experience from taking a blaming position will usually be more than matched by the bitterness, anger and guilt that the ‘Blame-ee’ will feel.

Fortunately, there are alternative ways to communicate disappointment without accusations or ‘dumping,’ even when we have been legitimately wronged. If someone has caused or contributed to a difficult situation, the transgression must be discussed. Instead of accusing or blaming, try resolving. In other words, focus on a future preventative solution. “I understand that you did not purposely (drop the ball, blow the account, insult the client), so, if we find ourselves in this situation again, I’d like you to _(fill in the blank)_.” If a colleague has messed up, frame your response in terms of, “should this happen again, here is an alternative way to handle it.”

It’s OK if the other person feels badly because of what he or she did or did not do, but it’s not OK to hurt or humiliate them with your words or attitude. If you use this new approach, your relationship is less likely to be damaged by the conflict and may even improve. The other person will probably breathe a sigh of relief, and thank you (silently) for not chewing him or her out, and most people will appreciate getting a second chance. Try it. Let me know how it goes. Let’s keep this conversation alive. We can all be more collaborative.”

Non-Communication Can Cost You

This is a risk of “traditional” divorce that doesn’t come up often. Traditional divorce doesn’t teach you to communicate with your ex spouse, but rather to have an adversarial relationship, where non-communication becomes the norm. If you think that’s fine, think about the following situation, involving two parents, two sets of lawyers, and one wise old judge.

The custodial parent moves and enrolls their child in a new school, but fails to communicate the details with the other parent, who comes to believe that the child would be walking home along dangerous, busy streets and coming home to an empty house. That parent files a temporary restraining order to prohibit the enrollment. The truth is that the custodial parent had in fact taken all concerns into account, and the child was at no risk. The non-custodial parent based their fears on hearsay, and the restraining order had no merit – so, after reviewing the evidence and the custodial agreement, the judge threw it out.

But, and this is a big one, he didn’t grant attorney’s fees to the custodial parent. Why not? The restraining order had no merit, after all. The judge decided that court was a poor substitute for a simple conversation. In effect, he punished the custodial parent, who was acting within their rights, for not pro-actively communicating with the other parent. Mediation or collaborative divorce can help avoid expensive and wasteful litigation not just at the time of the divorce, but years down the road.

On October 18th, The Law Collaborative is offering Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Divorce, a seminar that will provide tools for moving a stuck case forward, how to communicate effectively with a former spouse, tricks for negotiating even when negotiation seems impossible, and more. The workshop is $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Licensed attorneys who attend will earn 1 MCLE credit. Anyone contemplating or going through a divorce is invited to attend.

Register online at www.thelawcollaborative.com or call us toll free at (888) 852-9961.

Getting Anger Under Control

Dr. Walton will be presenting at this month’s Second Saturday Divorce Workshop on Saturday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at our office in Woodland Hills. He’ll discuss combating emotional agendas, tips for better communication with your ex, how to help your kids through the divorce, and how to get through it yourself. Register now for $25 at www.thelawcollaborative.com/secondsaturday.htm or call us toll free at (888) 852-9961.

Getting Anger Under Control Is Easier Than You Might Think
By James E. Walton, Ph.D.

The first thing to understand about anger is that you, and only you, are responsible for your thoughts, feelings and actions. That includes anger and angry behavior. You are responsible for becoming angry and you are responsible for letting it go. No one can “make” you angry. Only you make yourself angry. Anger is a feeling. When we are able to put anger into words, we can clearly communicate our strong feelings to another.

Angry behavior is not a clear form of communication, rather, it is a form of acting out when we yell, scream, throw things or hurl insults. This behavior doesn’t express anger. It simply demonstrates our feelings of helplessness and our desire to force another to bend to our will through intimidation.

Uncontrolled angry behavior interferes with talking and listening. It is actually a very ineffective way of expressing anger. Instead of the receiver hearing clarifying words, they are left to interpret the behaviors, and often their interpretations are not what the sender was trying to express.

To better get anger under control, ask yourself if the angering situation is going to really matter 20 years from now. Then, ask yourself if you would rather be right or happy. Sometimes we prefer to be right, but usually we prefer to be happy. These are two techniques for reducing feelings of anger.

Never attempt to settle an argument when you are angry. Walk away, sit down and cool off. Deal with the situation later when you are rational. Feel with your heart, but act from your head.

Dr. James E. Walton, Ph.D. is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Sherman Oaks. Log onto his website at LAtherapist.com or call (818) 753-4865.

Spinning Record

photo by joshfassbind.com via PhotoRee


YourTango.com recently posted a great article by Dr. Margaret Paul called “Do You Have The Same Fight Over and Over?” about why couples can sometimes resolve conflict easily and why other times resolving conflict seems completely impossible. From the article:

As long as avoiding pain is more important to you than being loving to yourself and your partner, you will be closed and protected and the conflict cannot reach a mutually satisfying resolution.

Dr. Paul says, “If you are stuck in resolving conflicts, let go of the issues and look at your intent. I assure you that when both of you are open to learning about yourselves and each other, and want to support your own and your partner’s highest good, you will be able to easily resolve your conflicts.”

Read the article HERE.

The Ten Commandments of Family Law Litigation

photo by @jbtaylor via PhotoRee

There are many ways to resolve a dispute. To save our Clients’ time, money, and stress, we first recommend Collaboration. However, it takes two to collaborate. If you find yourself in a situation where collaboration is not possible,  we recommend following The Ten Commandments of Family Law Litigation:

I. Always take your file with you everywhere.

II. In your journal, make an entry of every significant event, conversation, discussion, and action of your spouse at the time it occurs.

III. In your ledger, make an entry for every financial event in your case in order to assure a complete accurate and legible record. (Example: each time support is paid out or received.)

IV. Memorialize every agreement with every person who is interested/involved in your case; keep/send copies.

V. Meet and confirm strategy with your attorney in person; explore alternative dispute resolution; confirm everything in writing.

VI. Know your strategy; do not deviate without advice and counsel from your attorney.

VII. Participate in preparation of your case: draft, document, investigate, gather information and pre-interview witnesses.

VIII. Let your attorney know when he/she is on-track as well as off-track.

IX. Schedule regular Spit & Growl sessions: don’t let resentments accumulate with your attorney or staff.

X. Keep your account current: offer security.

Breaking The Cycle Of Divorce

If this is your picture, please let us know so we can credit you.

Have you ever noticed a continuing trend of divorce in families? Sharon Brooks, an adult child of divorce herself, interviewed over 400 other adult children of divorce over the course of twenty years. She was determined to find the cause for divorce being passed down through the generations. In the process, she discovered a pattern of four destructive relationship behaviors that were abundant and gender-neutral.

Most kids who grew up in divorced homes never had the opportunity to learn what love looks like. Instead, they learned what love does not look like. They may have witnessed a lot of tension, chaos and instability in their home and this is what feels normal and familiar to them. Subconsciously, this is what they think love is.

For her full article and all four behaviors, click here.