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This is another excellent article Kellen, but whilst change can be very good, I worry that many people become angered by their situations and can resort to domestic violence at these times;

There have been many sad stories in the news this new year. What would you suggest these people do to prevent their anger from becoming violent? I would love you to write a simple step by step guide to help them calm their feelings and convert their anger towards a more positive outcome.Is this possible?

Hi Felix,

I can write it in one step: Walk Away.

Research has shown that when our heart rate gets over 96 beats per minute, our frontal cortex shuts down. Basically, that's the thinking part of our brains. When people get that that upset and agitated they start saying cruel things, hitting below the belt and things continue to escalate, sometimes to the point of violence. If a couple can agree to walk away when things get tense and come back together when they cool down - that will make a big difference. Some use a signal (like the time out signal used in sports) or a word. Some can just state that they need to walk away and it will be honored. Two things are required:

1: Both parties have to agree to walk away. One can't try to walk away while the other chases them down or continues to take cheap shots. They have to part company and stop talking about whatever is causing the conflict. And that includes not calling mother or talking to one of the children about it. The subject is closed until everyone can calm down and return to the discussion.

2. They have to agree to return. If one party uses the walk away clause to exit the scene and not return to finish the discussion the other party will not be duped into dropping it again.

It also helps if couples can calmly negotiate points of sensitivity or hurt which should be avoided. A therapist would say, "what pushes your buttons". There are some things which just hurt and should be avoided. Unfortunately, fighting couples often go for these soft spots in a fight instead of avoiding them. Obviously, this has to be avoided.

I hope this helps.

Hi Felix (again),

I KNEW I had written an article of fighting fair, but couldn't find it for the life of me. I hope this helps answer your question:

Hi Kellen,
Your articles have helped me sort out the dysfunction in my family more than years of therapy have. My question: Is it possible to have just been a parentified child through high school, and then when trying to individuate become the scapegoat because my thinking, likes and dislikes, politics, etc. changed from the conventional wisdom of my family?

Thanks Kellen,

I had guessed that would be your answer, and at last it is nice to know the reasoning behind the need to walk away; I didn't know that the heart rate changed the way we think and communicate!

I will remember this if I ever feel the need to help someone.



Hi again,

I tried the link but found it didn't work. I googled the information in various ways with the same result. It would be nice to see, could you investigate please.

Well Felix,

Oh no! I wrote it, but never published it, lol!!! Well Felix, I can see it on MY computer. Why can't you??? LOL. It should be freshly posted, or you can find it here:

Hi MadCityQuilter,

Absolutely! That's not always scapegoating, but it certainly can be. It's definitely a boundary issue. Healthy boundaries allow different members of a family to hold their own thoughts, opinions, beliefs and feelings about things - even those which are contrary to the parents or other members. And this would be the most likely time when that controversy would arise - during individuation.

Truly loving and healthy families are able to accept and incorporate members with differing opinions, lifestyles, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, political ideals, etc.

Amazing analysis. Although you say life is rarely ideal, I unfortunately find myself to be the 'ideal' scapegoat. My experience in trying to get out of this role is most challenging in its utter aloneness. Who will believe me (other than the therapist I hire)? Just hasn't proven to be enough to change me or my situation. Sorry to be so despairing but something tells me you know what I mean;)

Hi Johnny,

I certainly do. Getting out of this role is very hard and sometimes takes a lifetime. But the harder you fight, the more you work at it, the better you will become at dodging the traps.

I hope you are able to invite new people into your life with whom you don't repeat this role and who will know you as you truly are, not the role you have been conscripted into.

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