Fulfilled: Better By Monday

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.” – Melodie Beattie

The practice of gratitude is externally focused with deep internal rewards. It requires something outside of ourselves to be thankful for, a gesture, act of service, and the sharing of knowledge or perspective. We can be grateful for a sunset, but we may point that gratitude towards the maker of the sunset or the person who took us to see it.

“Gratitude is by definition antiheroic. It does not depend on courage or strength or talent. It is based on our incompleteness.” – Piero Ferrucci

In his book, The Power of Kindness, Ferrucci continues to explain that gratitude is recognition that we cannot manage life alone. We can stop over-functioning and let others help us. We have permission to take off the cape and keep our feet on the ground because we were never supposed to be a superhero.

Gratitude is affirming. It is the absence of walls which keep us afraid and isolated. It is the melting of chilly my-way-ness which stops people from learning the power of we. It cracks the rigid barrier that anger requires to stay overheated. It allows our softer self to emerge.

Once our gentleness enters the story – our narrative about our whole self can change. We can use the gentility towards what is broken within us and stop fighting against others because we are afraid they will break more of our fragile things.

Ferrucci believed in gratitude as an important change agent for his clients. He said, “For me, it is the single most certain criterion for knowing how well a person is. It shows that her channels of communication are open, that she neither overestimates herself (as she knows she needs others) not underestimates herself (as she knows she deserves what she receives).”

One Thing to Do: Remember every good thing which has come to you.

When we think about the things/people, we are grateful for we begin to realize that everything we enjoy has come to us through someone else.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Powerful: Better By Monday

“And yet the dance of anger and forgiveness, performed to the uncontrollable rhythm of trust, is perhaps the most difficult in human life, as well as one of the oldest.” – Maria Popova

Anger is the emotion which arrives pushing our personal power forward like a forgotten best friend who must step up to the moment or regret the missed opportunity. That opportunity is using our personal power to right a wrong, perceived or real, which allows us to trust ourselves again. Anger feels like an ally because she reminds us that we do not have to receive the blow of being wronged (harmed and/or offended) with surrender.

However, when anger is misunderstood as a vehicle to overpower others (take back something we believe has been taken from us), we miss an opportunity to trust our self-respect.

Martha Nussbaum philosopher and author of, Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice, helps us recognize that “wrongdoing” is often a misperception by the receiver. “Notoriously, however, people sometimes get angry when they are frustrated by inanimate objects, which presumably cannot act wrongfully… In 1988, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article on “vending machine rage”: fifteen injuries, three of them fatal, as a result of angry men kicking or rocking machines that had taken their money without dispensing the drink. (The fatal injuries were caused by machines falling over on the men and crushing them.)”

The men who raged against the machine, the vending machines, may have felt a complete loss of control over an object which could not be reasoned with. There was no argument which could persuade, there was no rising tone of frustration which would convince the thing to change its mind and this reality rendered the buyers helpless. The men thought they were getting a fair exchange and expectations were simple.

Cheating the men out of their money had occurred, but it wasn’t an act of harm. Feelings of powerlessness resulted from the loss of money but also from the loss of recourse. There was no one to report the loss too. There was no evidence the money lost was actually theirs. No show of self-respect could have made the machine return the money.

The ability to report an offense, be believed and seek restitution gives us hope that even in the event of wrongdoing – we can restore our human value.

“We are prone to anger to the extent that we feel insecure or lacking control with respect to the aspect of our goals that has been assailed — and to the extent that we expect or desire control. Anger aims at restoring lost control and often achieves at least an illusion of it. To the extent that a culture encourages people to feel vulnerable to affront and down-ranking in a wide variety of situations, it encourages the roots of status-focused anger.” –Martha Nussbaum

One Thing to Do: Practice Relaxation. When you care enough about yourself to calm down, using your personal power in a self-respecting way, you remind yourself you’re valuable. Thinking through what happened to make your anger surface is easier when calm.

  1. Breathe slowly. A five-count inhale followed by a five count exhale.
  2. Use a word which promotes relaxing. Say it to yourself as you breathe in/out.
  3. Trust your ability to problem solve once you feel less helpless.
  4. Ask for help solving the problem, if needed.
Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Angry again? Better By Monday

“Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy; that energy is what’s so juicy about him or her.” -Pema Chodron

I am hearing from many of my clients lately about how frustrated they are feeling during this election season. The anger is overwhelming, at times, and seems to be causing an increase in negative thinking, including, how being angry is upsetting in itself.

Anger isn’t bad. I believe that anger is an important signal – that it means something has gone wrong, causing a feeling of disrespect to disempowerment.  I haven’t met anyone who likes to feel angry. However, I have talked to many “angry” people, over the years, and sometimes the anger feels better than the despair waiting just underneath the surface.

Pema Chodron offers a perspective on anger which is refreshing and reasonable. She helps us see that we are making a mistake (when we let a feeling take over) which keeps us stuck in, “our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness…”

The mistakes which keep us stuck involve misunderstanding our anger. One way is to assess it as bad or ugly and to shame ourselves for feeling angry. Another way is using the energy it brings to overpower others. An additional way we stay stuck in anger is to ignore what caused it and try to escape the feeling, denying why it exists.

There is a way to honor the presence of your anger, respect why it has surfaced, and let it be a sign – not something to which you resign. “The idea isn’t to try to get rid of the anger, but to make friends with it, to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also to see it with gentleness,” Pema gives us a way to process something we avoid.

It’s important that we don’t repress our anger. When it shows up we can respect it by being precise in looking at what caused it to arrive, be honest about our role in how it arrived, and be gentle with yourself as you experience one of your strongest emotions.

One Thing to Do: Learn how to assess anger with gentle-accuracy.

  1. Stop judging yourself as wrong or bad.
  2. Stop glorifying it as “right” or more right than someone else.
  3. Stop rationalizing that other people “deserve it” because they are stupid.
  4. Start seeing your anger as a protector of your story.
  5. Start identifying which part of your story is changing.
  6. Start listing the pros and cons of taking charge of the change.
  7. Start letting go of the anger and moving with the action you can take.
  8. Enjoy the wisdom of keeping anger useful rather than toxic.
Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC


Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Anger: Better By Monday

“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”  – Thomas Szasz

Anger is a feeling with a bad reputation. The ideas which have developed around anger can make something simple seem complex. When I reference the simplicity of anger, it’s not to take away the seriousness of feeling angry. Anger is one of the core feelings which humans can have, which help us navigate life.

Anger can be trained out of a person – this happens through developing the ability to suppress it. A child showing irritation may be stopped with words or actions from insensitive adults. The anger still exists in the child, who may become a person who has trained himself not to feel it but how?

What doesn’t get verbally vomited out remains inside, festering.  Toxic build up of unexpressed anger can be manifested in the body. Albert Ellis said, “ Actually, anger and rage show your weakness…. They take a great physical toll – often bringing on undue stress, high blood pressure, intestinal problems, cardiac disabilities, and worsening of other physical problems.”

Suppression of anger can look like forgiveness, but it isn’t accounting for the offense with reality. Without awareness to process the offense – in steps denial.  Expression of anger can be healthy. It can remain connected to the event which triggered the experience. This includes acknowledging the offense, accounting for its impact, dealing with the effects, and then setting a better boundary through apologies and forgiveness.

How can we keep anger simple? First, pay attention to when it shows up. The anger is distinct from feeling sad or afraid. There is a reason you feel angry, and it is usually because you experienced some form of disrespect. If it is perceived disrespect then clarifying with the offender will be a quick remedy.

One Thing to Do: Remember that anger is a signal. It can remain a signal when you attend to it with speed and accuracy. Clarifying can keep anger from being suppressed or over-expressed.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S. LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.


Better By Monday: Holiday Stress Buster

Better By MondayDuring the holiday season, triggers which negatively affect your emotional elevation abound. Higher expectations, deadlines and a harried pace contribute to the potential for us to be gone in sixty seconds or less to an unhappy place. Gone from fun family sing alongs with each other in the car, while looking at lights, to Rudolph the Red Faced Rage – Deer.

Jumping into a frustrated, disagreeable, anxious and/or deflated state may steal away the rest of an otherwise good day. To keep your good mood through the holiday season, keep these three statements handy.

How to be selective about what (or who) triggers your emotions:

  1. Ask yourself, “Do I have all the facts about what is happening?”
  2. Tell yourself, “If I wait, this may resolve itself.”
  3. Self-soothe, “I can handle this right now – the right way.”

The answer to number one is always, “No!” We never have ALL the facts. So, don’t give your power away to a moment that looks like a mess, sounds like a mess and will only become more messy if you jump in too. If there is truth you need to tell someone try to wait until a shared moment with that person can be had one-to-one.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can try, over the weekend, to feel a little better by Monday.