Easy actions for those fearful of hurting others
If you are afraid of, or ashamed of hurting someone else then read on.
Most people don't want to hurt others and choose not to. Some people make a bad choice and hurt others and then usually regret doing that. If you have a habit of hurting others or are scared that you might then here are some things that might help you.
5 tips for acting safely
The anger scale
The anger scale has been used by many people for a long time to get people more aware of their anger so that they have more time to make good decisions.
Nearly all people who hurt others report feeling angry first and not feeling emotionally in control.
Traditionally we take anger home from the public world to the private world of home and share it there with people who understand us. Home should be a place where people can bring out the upsets and hurts and be supported. Unfortunately it is also a reason why so much anger drives hurt; verbally and physically and emotionally in our homes.
Try talking to the other members in your family about the levels of anger on the anger scale as you feel them. Anger can then become a conversation in your home instead of a fearful word.
Awareness of your anger leads to more decision time about what action to take and to bringing yourself down emotionally.
Time Out - or "Time In" control of myself
Three Basic Steps:
- Step 1 - "I am feeling really tense/angry/upset."
- Step 2 - "I am going to take a time out for half an hour."
- Step 3 - "When I come back, I'd like to talk about this some more."
Time out is an action taken to keep yourself and others safe and stop you from hurting or making the situation worse.
There are 5 stages:
- Stopping and choosing to take time out
- Saying 'I need time out' and leaving the scene. You will get calls for you to stay and re-engage. You must ignore them.
- Calming - this for some is breathing, reading listening to music, and for others it first needs some expression like digging the garden, riding a bike, playing squash or just walking till the energy charge goes down.
- Thinking Develop a new plan for the same situation: What you were doing wasn't working so you need a new plan for going back and sorting the situation and getting some sort of solution.
- Returning, sitting down and working it out. If things get dangerous again you may need to re-start the whole 'time out' cycle.
The Purpose Of Time Out
- To interrupt a situation which, if it continues, could lead to violence or abuse
- To give you an opportunity to regain control of yourself (before the situation takes control of you)
- To give you an opportunity to reassess the situation
- To work out your feelings and clarify your thoughts
Preparation For Time Out
- Explain Time out to your family and anyone else who might need to know so they understand what's happening when you use Time Out. (They also might like to try using Time Out)
- Plan how you're going to use the half an hour you'll have when you use Time Out
- Put up a notice somewhere at home or work reminding you to take time out
- Make sure everyone understands the contract
Using Time Out
- When advising someone that you are going to take a Time Out, speak calmly and quietly. Avoid speaking in a way that might suggest you are taking Time Out to antagonise them.
- Don't be hooked back by taunts, names or challenges.
- Do something physical to burn off adrenalin. Run, play sport, fix something, dig the garden, clean up walk, mow the lawn, do vacuuming.
Don't drink, take drugs or drive when taking Time Out.
After Coming Back From Time Out
Don't start talking again until the charge is gone. Then:
- Make a conscious effort to make a fresh start on resolving the problem.
- make a cup of coffee, tea etc for you both
- talk in a different room.
- sit down on a chair or on the floor.
- talk in a quieter tone and in a lower volume.
- leave a pause after the other person has spoken to allow what they have said to sink in.
- talk calmly with out an "edge" in your voice.
- If you start feeling angry again, take another Time Out.
Basic Communication: the 4 Part Phrase
- I feel . . . .
- When . . . .
- Because . . .
- I would like/prefer/want . . . .
This is clever and works as long as you follow it carefully, memorise it and stick to it. It will get you out of all sorts of situations and often get you what you want.
- The first line is saying how you feel. Its best to use vulnerable feelings like hurt, sad, alone, ignored, devalued and then if that is not respected use angry, annoyed, upset, disrespected.
- The second line needs you to say when this happens or the situation. It is important to avoid the word 'you' here as the other person just feels blamed and stops listening.
- The third line gives the reason why you feel that way in that situation e.g. 'because its not fair' or 'because I was expecting...'
- The last line is the strategy for putting things right. It's the solution so it needs to be said reasonably and clearly.
The Four Part Phrase Works!
- State your feelings
- Begin with your vulnerable feelings: sad, hurt, left out, unimportant
- Then, if you're not being heard, say your angry feelings: irritated, annoyed, upset, angry, mad
- State the situation
- Leave out the "you" word
- Be clear and specific
- State the reason
- Most people respond to reasons. If they don't, then don't give one
- How you feel should be enough for them to take notice of
- State how you would like things to be.
- Be specific
- This is your strategy for fixing things so this doesn't happen again.
- It's vitally important so that it doesn't happen again.
Remember: You don't always get what you want. This is because others have choices too. However it's more important that you've declared who you are by saying what you want!
This is the best way to understand your anger, hurt, powerlessness and any abuse you may have done.
Tracking anger - apply your situation to the diagram below:
- Go to the ANGER shape in the diagram. What was the situation where you felt the charge of anger?
- Go to the box above and identify the POWELESSNESS that always lies behind anger. What had happened before it that was a hurt or a loss or a shaming, or fear of a hurt or loss happening?
- Go to the FEEL box. How did you express the feeling: words, sounds expressions or actions.
- Was it positive or negative: Did someone get hurt or disrespected? Abuse is not OK.
- Go to the THINK box. What strategy or plan did you develop to improve the situation so that you felt comfortable and restored again.
- How many ACTIONS or decisions did it have? Now do them. This may take courage and determination.
- Go to the bottom box. Did the strategy work? Do you feel in charge of your life again? Is it likely to happen again? If the answer is 'yes it could', then go back to the strategy box and re-strategise. You need a strategy that fixes it pretty much for good, barring the totally unexpected. Also ask yourself is there anything that you need to let go of (such as a death or accident or grudge)
- Congratulate your self. You are now ready to move on. If there is a recurrence you may need to ask new questions using the framework above.
When you have followed the diagram a few times and you can use it easily, you might find it just as easy to answer these questions.
- What was the powerlessness behind the anger?
- How did I express my anger? Did I abuse anyone?
- What is my strategy to fix and prevent this happening?
- Is it likely to happen again? (If so go back to question 3)
Thinking: I am not entitled to hurt others
Change your belief! Abuse is not OK!
Did you believe that you had some right to hurt or disrespect another person? No-one has that right. Often we abuse others who are close to us because we believe that they will put up with it and still love or accept us.
If you damage that trust you won't have that person there. It's hard to get trust back after you have damaged it.
You have a right to feel angry but you have no right to hurt or disrespect another person.
Men In Relationships handout (c) Man Alive and Associates, 1996