December Theme: Honor

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Blog design copyright © 2007-2010 by Steve Amoia. All rights reserved. The blog template was provided by Google Blogger.

"Everything begins in the mind. Create the intention and then apply the effort to receive the result."

"It is very easy to break a pencil in half. Breaking ten pencils in half is an altogether different matter."

--- Coach Ron Pfeiffer, 7th Degree Black Belt, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin USA


"Don't fear the person who has studied a thousand techniques one time. Fear the person who has studied one technique a thousand times."

--- Ed DellaCroce, 3rd Degree Black Belt and the North Carolina State Director for World Dragon Kenpo.


December Theme: Honor.

The Example of Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta

“I lost two dear friends of mine. I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now.”

Featured Video




Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 2008 Slayer News

SLAYER NEWS
About Dragon Kenpo Karate
January 2008 New Beginnings

“From the end springs new beginnings.” --- Pliny the Elder

Table of Contents

Mind Over Matter by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Featured Article:
Introduction to Confrontation De-escalation by Jerry Munday
Let There Be Light: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by Phoebe Nelson Oshirak, RN
How to Deal with Toxic People: An Interview with Andrew T. Durham by Steve Amoia
Tai Chi and Me by
Kathleen Wisniewski, Tai Chi Student
Closing Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Staff Biographies Link

Mind Over Matter
By Coach Ron Pfeiffer

We've all heard it. Mind over matter... If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Of course the reverse is true as well. What you mind (focus on) does matter.

Many times as an instructor, we hear students, family and friends talk about matters important to them and end the sentence with "and there's nothing I can do about it." When the truth is there is one important thing we can do. Recognize first the many time problems are simply opportunities in disguise. Look for the key in removing the frustration from the situation first, and then see more clearly the potential for good that may have been hidden. That key is our reaction. Now we all react in some way to news or information that may affect us in a negative light. Usually, our first reaction will be quite strong and it's the one most difficult to control. It's a moment of truth, and your character determines how you behave during stressful situations.

Decision

You alone will decide how circumstances and events in your life will affect your tomorrow. Will they be millstones around your neck preventing you or excusing you from a successful life? Or, stepping stones leading you to your destiny?

One thing is sure in this. If you choose the millstone the result is assured and if you make life's problems into stepping stones you will close in on your goals. I prefer the stepping stones...

Coach Ron Pfeiffer

Announcement

I am pleased to announce the appointment of one of our active members to the post of Florida State Director. Besides an impressive knowledge of the martial arts this member has distinguished himself through his continued efforts. Join with me in offering your congratulations to World Dragon Kenpo Black Belt Instructor, Jerry Munday.

Jerry, thank you for your dedication and your support of our international martial arts program. You are an inspiration.

Another Announcement

Occasionally, our members have asked what's the best way to help others learn about our school and program. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Students! Just refer them to one of our websites, as some of you know we have a few. Also, our school depends on member referral to grow. Our tuition is the lowest of any school because we don't have advertising expenses etc. Use these links for referrals:

www.onlinekarate.bravehost.com

Coach Ron Pfeiffer can be contacted at dragonkenporegister@yahoo.com

“There are two types of people. Those who finish what they start and so on.” --- Robert Byrne

Introduction to Confrontation De-escalation
by Jerry Munday, Florida State Director for World Dragon Kenpo

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Munday has earned the following ranks).

  • 1st degree Black belt in Chun Li Chaun Fa Difficult Clinging Fist under Soke John Stover.
  • 1st degree Black belt in Arnis under Grand Master Bram Frank.
  • 2nd degree Black belt in Kenpo/Arnis under Kenpo/Arnis Founder Master George Denson.
  • 3rd degree Black belt in Kenpo Karate under Ed Hutchison.
  • 4th degree Black belt in Dragon Kenpo under Hap Ki Mu Sul Founder Rodney Lacy).

This is an introduction to Confrontation De-escalation and the No Touch Fighting system. I put this program together mainly for my younger students who more often than not are forced into fights. And since these confrontations often happen at public schools, they have to be able to defend themselves without using their hands or feet. Hence, “No Touch Fighting.”

Martial Arts training should be as much about changing your behavior as it is learning how to fight. It is a simple thing to get angry. It is a simple thing to hit someone. It is more difficult to train yourself not to have to fight.

Fights also do not spontaneously occur. They come about through the escalation of verbal disagreements, fueled by false pride, lack of humility, poor etiquette, and general disrespect for others.

The escalation of a fight often follows an order such as: resistance, compliance, pain, destruction, death. The further you go up this path the harder it becomes to go back, and at times, impossible. One should always be prepared to defend oneself, but you are also morally and legally obliged to try and de-escalate a confrontation before it becomes a fight.

The actual training techniques for the No Touch Fighting system are not difficult, but require patience and practice. Nor are these techniques new to the Martial arts world. They have been taught alongside the well-known fighting techniques we use today for many generations. The techniques we employ are as follows.

  1. The Ten Evasive steps. An exercise designed to train you to get out of the way, without having to run away. The Ten evasive steps is the foundation of the no touch fighting system, and I will be writing about it in length in the next newsletter.

  2. The Quick Run. Running away at times can be the most effective way of avoiding a fight. And it is not cowardly. I always encourage my kids to practice the quick run (25 foot dash). If you think this is nonsense, then you should definitely try it. Ask yourself how fast you can run flat out, and how far. If you are willing to chase someone down could you actually do it? If you had to outrun someone, could you do it? The key here is the 25 feet. Most people will not pursue you past the 25 foot mark. For more info, please visit http://www.tompatire.com/Courses.asp?key=KNOW_n_GO. However, this is not the best strategy to use against a bully or any repeat aggressor. In these cases, I refer you back to the Ten Evasive steps.

  3. Breath Control. Control your breathing and you control your fear; control your fear and control the fight. Sounds simple, but how do you do it? I personally employ 7 of the 14 traditional White Tiger breathing exercises. You can practically use any of the traditional breathing exercises from any of the martial arts systems, or even from yoga. I will also lay out the 7 exercises I personally use, with an explanation of how they work and why they are effective in a latter issue.

  4. Speech and Vision. Knowing what to say at the proper time and where to focus your vision is a key to ending any confrontation. This is where de-escalation begins. You speech portrays you attitude, your confidence level, and your intentions. Your visual focus or lack thereof allows you (and your opponent if you are not careful) to know when and where to strike, and how hard you need to hit, to be effective.

  5. Hand Positions. Use proper body posture and balance to control your opponent. For the kids, the hand positions are of utmost importance. They have to look non-threatening, as well as convey a message to those in authority that the child is not hitting back. Being able to do this without being bludgeoned into the ground by an overaggressive child takes practice, but it does work.

  6. The Four Hit Fight. End any fight within one to four moves. This sets a firm boundary in your own mind to end the fight. These first strike points center around 9 particular pressure points. The results of striking these points range from embarrassment to permanent disability for the attacker.

As I mentioned earlier, I plan on elaborating in depth on these 6 points.

CD training can also be taught by itself apart from traditional fight training for anyone who wants to be able to defend himself, but has a moral, legal, or physical problem with using physical contact training.

Jerry Munday can be contacted at modular_kenpo@yahoo.com

“Start off everyday with a smile and get over it.” --- W.C. Fields

Let There Be Light: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
By Phoebe Nelson Oshirak, RN and Tai Chi Student

“A day of sorrow is longer than a month.” (Chinese proverb)




Video of Dr. Rosenthal courtesy of YouTube.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2008. This is a “leap year” too, giving us an extra day of winter on the 29th of February. For many, like myself, that simply means we have an extra day to contend with the symptoms of the Winter Blues, more commonly known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is hardly a new discovery, for poets throughout the centuries have lamented in rhyme about their depression, sense of sadness and the lethargy that accompanied the onset of winter.

Percy Blythe Shelly wrote: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Well, my date book indicates we have a way to go until the Vernal Equinox on March 20th. Meanwhile, we who cope with winter blues and SAD, endure.

In 1984, psychiatrist, Dr. Norman Rosenthal, published a paper on the suspected cause of winter blues and depression. He put forth his theories, suggesting the decline of daylight and our exposure to natural sunlight, which is limited during the cold, cloudy winter months, directly contributed to the cause and severity of seasonal depression. Only then did those who suffer these symptoms begin to understand the causes of this yearly phenomenon. Prior to Dr. Rosenthal’s research and publication, folks just accepted that when the days grew short they would sink emotionally until spring, and their energy and sense of well-being would resurface with the emergence of the Snow Drops and Crocus as the days grew longer.

It is estimated that a debilitating form of SAD may affect as many as 10 million Americans, while a milder form may be felt in even larger numbers. Many people find they eat and sleep slightly more in winter and dislike the dark and short days. This is commonly called 'Winter Blues'. For some, however, symptoms become severe enough to disrupt their lives, causing considerable and sometimes life altering distress. These people suffer more than “blues,” they suffer from full blown SAD.

SAD is more commonly found in women than men with the most frequent onset, but not limited to, one’s thirties. Typically, the higher the latitude in which they live, the more a person tends to exhibit the symptoms of SAD. For instance, a person suffering winter depression in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin will find her depression declines or disappears entirely while vacationing in Florida; only to return when the vacation ends. Bummer! Furthermore, it is unclear why some people develop SAD while others who live in the same areas don’t. Occasionally, individuals who work long hours inside office buildings with little outside light exposure, may have some symptoms year round.

The typical and most common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include some or all of the following:

1. A deepening sense of loss often leading to depression of varying intensities.
2.
Lethargy, fatigue and loss of personal motivation.
3. Sleep disorders. Increased need for sleep or sleeping longer than you normally do.
4. Food cravings, especially for carbohydrates and sweets, causing weight gain.
5. Difficulty concentrating. Coping mechanisms compromised.
6. Irritability and hyper-sensitivity – Your feelings are more easily hurt than normal.
7. Increased tendency to isolate ones self and avoid social interaction and sometimes decreased libido.

Since Dr. Rosenthal’s revelations and the publication of his book (“Winter Blues” 1993, Guilford Press) numbers of well-designed studies have confirmed and refined his hypothesis. New and effective methods of treatment are offering relief for SAD victims. So far, we have learned that this SAD business has something to do with how much sunlight our bodies are exposed to, and most of us don’t have the luxury of basking in the Caribbean for six months. Therefore, we turn to more accessible and affordable treatments. First and foremost, I advise all of you, before beginning any of the following therapies, to have a physical exam and get the approval and monitoring of your physician. Often combinations of treatments are necessary to provide the most effective relief of SAD symptoms.

The most frequently recommended treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder are:

Light therapy: This therapy entails the combination of sitting in front of a special light, the intensity of that light source and the regularity of exposure to the light. The light should be as bright as the sun in the morning on a clear day and for most people sitting in front of it for 30 minutes per day will prove sufficient to alleviate the symptoms. You don’t have to stare at the light. You can watch TV or read. Just make sure the light reaches your eyes. It is recommended you use at least 2500 lux (lux is the technical measure of brightness) which is roughly five times brighter than a well-lit office. Brighter, 10,000 lux lights take less time to use and allow you to sit further away; but they are costly. Using full spectrum lights at home will not work as well because they're not bright enough, however; some people report using full spectrum lights to their benefit.

Exercise: Need I say more. Depression and lethargy, two of the most common symptoms of SAD and Winter Blues, tend to make us put our exercise programs on the back burner. The merits of at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking, aerobics, or any form of exercise that raises the metabolic rate, the heart rate and increases the production of uplifting endorphins in our brain (that make us feel better) will help alleviate some of the effects of SAD and WB. This year, as well as Tai Chi class, I have splurged and given myself the luxury of a personal trainer for two months. This has helped me out-smart the lethargy, boost my motivation and get me out of the house and in the company of people. Personally, I find an outside walk each day (weather permitting) is really beneficial. The sun’s rays can penetrate clouds and getting sun exposure helps assimilate that daily dose of vitamin D while lifting our spirits. Of course the dog likes this idea a great deal, but finding the time is always a challenge.

Medication: Today we have a number of pharmacological agents your doctor can prescribe or recommend to help relieve the pain and suffering that accompanies SAD. In most instances, they can be used as a temporary medication for the winter months.

The best advice I can offer: Do all that you can to help keep your “sunny side up.”

Taking stock of your emotional and physical well-being is crucial to finding ways to improve your quality of life during the winter months. If, after reading this article, you see yourself, realize that knowledge is power. What you have learned can be put to good use and personal gain by employing more effective treatment to alleviate your symptoms. Who said “You can’t fool Mother Nature?”

So, let there be light for those of us who cope with SAD and the Winter Blues. Grab a good book, settle back and flick on the light switch. Hey…it can’t hurt and it just might help.

[Spring is] when life's alive in everything. Christina Rossetti English poet (1830 - 1894)

Phoebe Nelson Oshirak can be contacted at Ophoebe0077@aol.com

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward, you can remove all traces of reality.” --- Pablo Picasso

How to Deal with Toxic People: An Interview with Andrew T. Durham
By Steve Amoia

Unfortunately, daily life presents us with toxic people: Friends, colleagues, family members, enemies, and strangers. Similar to toxins that affect our bodies, these individuals attack our psychic, mental, emotional, and sometimes physical well-being. The issue remains how to deal with them or inoculate ourselves from their devastating behaviors.

In the July 2007 edition of American Chronicle, Andrew Durham wrote an article entitled, “Goodbye Stranger: Amputating Toxic People From Our Lives.” When asked why we attract toxic people or situations into our lives, Mr. Durham had the following interesting commentaries:

“I have no answers. I’ve been a therapist, an outreach worker, a behavioral specialist and even a bouncer at a dance club. All I know is this: there comes a time when you have to cut the hand off to save the arm…”

“My own brother is a sociopath, yet is a counselor for high school kids…”

“You – I – have to learn, once and for all – today, not next week, or 10 minutes from now – that all there is exists today. Tomorrow isn’t here, and yesterday is a corpse. The nonsense needs to end, once and for all. Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. Today, let’s you and I decide to remain sane.” (1)

Short of the amputation approach, how can we protect ourselves and/or deal with toxic people? Can we de-escalate such situations? Or is it all futile once the toxic level becomes dangerous? Let us hear from the voice behind the article, Mr. Andrew Durham.

“Andrew T. Durham is a graduate of State University at Albany, BA in Psychology/Philosophy. In the late 80's to mid 90's he was instrumental in creating ground-breaking outreach/prevention programs, as well as being a highly successful public speaker. A former acupuncturist and clinician (primarily to inner city adolescents), he has also been a consultant to the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health and several non-profit organizations. He is an accomplished musician, actor and playwright, 5 of which have been produced. Durham has been frequently featured on the website of the Savage Nation: Michael Savage.Com, and continues to follow the ominous problems threatening our borders, language and culture.”

Here is a link to his writings:

http://www.webcommentary.com/asp/ShowAuthor.asp?id=durhama

Mr. Durham, please accept a warm welcome to World Dragon Kenpo.

Thank you so much. I have been so blown away by the circumstances of this situation. Maybe at some point you may share those particulars with those around you as examples of what some of the issues we’ll address.

Is there a way to address a toxic situation the first time that it occurs with a given individual that will provide inoculation for future encounters?

The first time it happens you don’t know it. You don’t recognize it until you’ve been completely absorbed. And you will be absorbed. The pain comes with the realization of actually when it “first happened”. The only inoculation is to be as spiritually fit as you can be. The toxic person cannot influence the spiritually fit person.

In your opinion, is it possible to de-escalate a recurring toxic pattern of behavior?

No, the more time you spend on it becomes “stalling” time for the toxic person. They’ll think of something else. Always. A therapist will tell you differently, primarily because they want you coming back for more sessions. You must decide that enough time has been wasted on a situation.

Toxic supervisors and co-workers make many lives unbearable. Short of finding another job or position, can you suggest any techniques to handle these daily situations?

Every situation is different. It all depends on the state of your spiritual well-being. If you are in a situation where this person has no cause/effect relationship in your life, you do what you need to reach comfort, never “tolerability”. Once you opt merely for tolerability you are always going to get to the point of being further poisoned. It’s just like when you have a mole removed: you cut enough around it so you know that whatever disease there maybe will not return. A comfort zone, if you will. If it’s a supervisor, you wonder immediately about the competence of those who hired him. With people that have this kind of corrosive effect on you there is no negotiating it. In my opinion, there is no “short of finding another job.” You do this 8 hours a day at least. Get out. Or sue them into the Stone Age if he does something that has an effect on your health or well-being. Here’s a good rule of thumb: when your health or sleep is being disturbed by any one person, it’s time to bounce.

Let’s say that a family member repeatedly exhibits behavioral patterns that affect the entire group dynamic. You and others approach the person on many occasions, yet they fail to recognize how their actions affect others. Some family members “amputate” the person from their lives. But with those who remain, the protagonist becomes defensive, abusive, and then makes accusations of things and events that are not true. Is there any logical way to resolve the situation at this point, or do you reach for the proverbial saw?

Your use of the word “logic” sort of self-answers that question. If there were logic in the first place, the situation would never have gotten to the point it did, or would have never been allowed to happen. People will say to you “But they’re family!” Nobody cares. If someone has run out their chances, that’s it. Family are other people. Like everyone else. And just how long are you going to continue to be a doormat, just for the spirit of “keeping things together?” It’s worked famously so far, hasn’t it? Everyone pays for their actions. Family are no different. Depending on the severity of the situation, it is a no win situation.

In our discussion before this interview, you mentioned “the enormous parallels between chemical addiction and the psychological/spiritual poisoning of people.” Could you be kind enough to elaborate on this thought?

Chemical addiction is the ultimate spiritual sickness. You can be addicted to a person or relationship just as easily as any drug. Unfortunately groups like AA and NA create toxic people and emotional robots. When you are so brutally mutilated by alcohol or drugs, toxic people circle like sharks. But chances are they are already there. I guarantee that. More to the point, having a toxic person around is just like a drug: you cannot ever go back to casual use from addiction. And make no mistake: toxic people do not get better. And my concern is not with their plight. I did that for too many years in my life. These ideas are for you who are the wreckage of warped people. So what if some do get “better”? Not likely in this culture. Remember: God healed the crippled. He didn’t invent another politically correct name for them so they could feel better about themselves.

To paraphrase a quote from the movie, Goodfellas, “They always attack you when you are at your weakest, and they are the ones who have known you all of your life.”

Is this similar to the predator/prey analogy that you used in your article, and perhaps a reason why family members seem to execute the toxic buttons with more ease?

Absolutely. Perfect analogy. And let me make this clear: we, none of us, know anything about anyone. Your family members, your lovers, friends, etc. Whenever someone says “I know him inside and out,” they are a deluded individual. Just ask the parents of Jeffrey Dahmer. Just ask the wife of the BTK killer. Once we “put all our eggs in one basket”, spiritually or emotionally, in any one person we are DONE. People in this nation do not know how to balance, how to “just take it easy” with their emotions, wants, desires, you name it. We don’t know how just to BE with another person without the mind games. We know nothing about withholding impulses; we know nothing about discipline. Just look at obesity.

Please understand I am not saying to distrust everyone. Be vigilant, as if on guard. And I am not saying any of these situations are hopeless. We create hopelessness; there is no hopelessness. If we feel hopeless, then we’re the ones who got us there, no one else. Surround yourself with those who are at peace, yet not to the point of being too distant from people; people who radiate something you can’t write down. And learn how to wait for God to bring people into your life. Don’t go looking. Once you are spiritually, emotionally and physically fit, they will just show up. And if you are currently struggling with all those issues – as most of us are – then those who are also struggling will come along as well. But at least you know you’ll both are working for the same things.

Thank you very much for your contribution to increase our understanding and awareness regarding this relevant topic.

Reference

(1) American Chronicle, “Goodbye Stranger: Amputating Toxic People From Our Lives,” by Andrew T. Durham, 19 July 2007.

Note

Mr. Durham recently wrote another article about this topic in the American Chronicle:

"The Snapping Turtle Syndrome: The Toxic People in Our Lives," 30 December 2007.

Steve Amoia can be contacted at info@sanstefano.com

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” --- Anne Frank

Tai Chi and Me
by Kathleen Wisniewski, Tai Chi Student

(Editor’s Note: This is another example of the healing properties gained by the study of Tai Chi).

This is the first time I have written for the Slayer News. I am 56 years old and a post polio victim. I contracted polio when I was just two years old.

I have been married to Mike Wisniewski for thirty-four years. We raised two children. Not long ago, my husband began taking Tai Chi at the local YMCA in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin hoping it would help him stay fit and cope with his diabetes. It has. Often, I would watch Mike while he practiced the Tai Chi moves, and it made me wish I could learn Tai Chi too. But I felt unsure that I could do the moves because of the after effects of polio. One day, after Mike displayed some of the Tai Chi moves, I got up my courage to try them. It felt great. So, the next week I went to meet with Mike’s coach. I told Coach Ron that I wanted to participate in the Tai Chi class, and asked him if it would be all right to try it. I felt just because I have a handicap, it should not prevent me from trying Tai Chi. He agreed with me and suggested I sign up for the beginner’s class. I did, and that was three beginner’s classes ago. I am now in the advanced class with my husband and the many friends I have met at Tai Chi.

I would like to take this opportunity to say, “Thank you Mike and Coach Ron” for having faith in me and giving me encouragement to try Tai Chi. I also want to thank Ellen, a fellow classmate, who took me under her wing and told me every week what a great job I was doing and how much I was improving. Every one in the beginner’s and advanced class are really supportive. We are a team now.

Tai Chi has not only given me new friends, it has helped boost my self-esteem. In addition, practicing Tai Chi in class and at home with my husband has increased the strength in my affected leg. When I was growing up, the kids at school made fun of me because the polio made me walk differently. In Tai Chi class, all eyes are on Coach Ron, and I am just another student in class.

I wanted to write this article with the hope it would let others who are like me know they do not have to let their handicap prevent them from achieving their goals. Don’t let it stop you. Just try your best, enjoy your life and above all, have fun doing it.

“My future starts when I wake up in the morning.” --- Miles Davis

Closing Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer

If you have an article that you would like to submit, you may respond to me or Steve Amoia. Comments and questions about our publication are encouraged via the interactive nature of our blog. Or you can direct them to me by email. Please proofread your submissions, and shorter rather than longer articles are preferred. WDK reserves the right to edit any submission.

Important Notice To All Members

All Student/Instructor members are reminded that advancement and promotion are not automatic. Contact Coach Pfeiffer or your local instructor if you have questions or to request advancement information.

Is your school having an event? Let the Dragon Kenpo community know by placing it in the Slayer News! We are here to help you and your students get the most out of your training.

Please remember to keep your information updated so that the World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self Defense can serve you in the best way possible!

The articles within this newsletter are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self Defense.

Coach Ron Pfeiffer can be contacted at dragonkenporegister@yahoo.com

Staff Biographies Link

For a link to our Slayer News Staff Biographies, please click here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How to Deal with Toxic People: An Interview with Andrew T. Durham

Unfortunately, daily life presents us with toxic people: Friends, colleagues, family members, enemies, and strangers. Similar to toxins that affect our bodies, these individuals attack our psychic, mental, emotional, and sometimes physical well-being. The issue remains how to deal with them or inoculate ourselves from their devastating behaviors.

In the July 2007 edition of American Chronicle, Andrew Durham wrote an article entitled, “Goodbye Stranger: Amputating Toxic People From Our Lives.” When asked why we attract toxic people or situations into our lives, Mr. Durham had the following interesting commentaries:

“I have no answers. I’ve been a therapist, an outreach worker, a behavioral specialist and even a bouncer at a dance club. All I know is this: there comes a time when you have to cut the hand off to save the arm…”

“My own brother is a sociopath, yet is a counselor for high school kids…”

“You – I – have to learn, once and for all – today, not next week, or 10 minutes from now – that all there is exists today. Tomorrow isn’t here, and yesterday is a corpse. The nonsense needs to end, once and for all. Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. Today, let’s you and I decide to remain sane.” (1)

Short of the amputation approach, how can we protect ourselves and/or deal with toxic people? Can we de-escalate such situations? Or is it all futile once the toxic level becomes dangerous? Let us hear from the voice behind the article, Mr. Andrew Durham.

“Andrew T. Durham is a graduate of State University at Albany, BA in Psychology/Philosophy. In the late 80's to mid 90's he was instrumental in creating ground-breaking outreach/prevention programs, as well as being a highly successful public speaker. A former acupuncturist and clinician (primarily to inner city adolescents), he has also been a consultant to the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health and several non-profit organizations. He is an accomplished musician, actor and playwright, 5 of which have been produced. Durham has been frequently featured on the website of the Savage Nation: Michael Savage.Com, and continues to follow the ominous problems threatening our borders, language and culture.”

Here is a link to his writings:

http://www.webcommentary.com/asp/ShowAuthor.asp?id=durhama

Mr. Durham, please accept a warm welcome to World Dragon Kenpo.

Thank you so much, Steve. I have been so blown away by the circumstances of this situation. Maybe at some point you may share those particulars with those around you as examples of what some of the issues we’ll address.

Is there a way to address a toxic situation the first time that it occurs with a given individual that will provide inoculation for future encounters?

The first time it happens you don’t know it. You don’t recognize it until you’ve been completely absorbed. And you will be absorbed. The pain comes with the realization of actually when it “first happened”. The only inoculation is to be as spiritually fit as you can be. The toxic person cannot influence the spiritually fit person.

In your opinion, is it possible to de-escalate a recurring toxic pattern of behavior?

No, the more time you spend on it becomes “stalling” time for the toxic person. They’ll think of something else. Always. A therapist will tell you differently, primarily because they want you coming back for more sessions. You must decide that enough time has been wasted on a situation.

Toxic supervisors and co-workers make many lives unbearable. Short of finding another job or position, can you suggest any techniques to handle these daily situations?

Every situation is different. It all depends on the state of your spiritual well-being. If you are in a situation where this person has no cause/effect relationship in your life, you do what you need to reach comfort, never “tolerability”. Once you opt merely for tolerability you are always going to get to the point of being further poisoned. It’s just like when you have a mole removed: you cut enough around it so you know that whatever disease there maybe will not return. A comfort zone, if you will. If it’s a supervisor, you wonder immediately about the competence of those who hired him. With people that have this kind of corrosive effect on you there is no negotiating it. In my opinion, there is no “short of finding another job.” You do this 8 hours a day at least. Get out. Or sue them into the Stone Age if he does something that has an effect on your health or well-being. Here’s a good rule of thumb: when your health or sleep is being disturbed by any one person, it’s time to bounce.

Let’s say that a family member repeatedly exhibits behavioral patterns that affect the entire group dynamic. You and others approach the person on many occasions, yet they fail to recognize how their actions affect others. Some family members “amputate” the person from their lives. But with those who remain, the protagonist becomes defensive, abusive, and then makes accusations of things and events that are not true. Is there any logical way to resolve the situation at this point, or do you reach for the proverbial saw?

Your use of the word “logic” sort of self-answers that question. If there were logic in the first place, the situation would never have gotten to the point it did, or would have never been allowed to happen. People will say to you “But they’re family!” Nobody cares. If someone has run out their chances, that’s it. Family are other people. Like everyone else. And just how long are you going to continue to be a doormat, just for the spirit of “keeping things together?” It’s worked famously so far, hasn’t it? Everyone pays for their actions. Family are no different. Depending on the severity of the situation, it is a no win situation.

In our discussion before this interview, you mentioned “the enormous parallels between chemical addiction and the psychological/spiritual poisoning of people.” Could you be kind enough to elaborate on this thought?

Chemical addiction is the ultimate spiritual sickness. You can be addicted to a person or relationship just as easily as any drug. Unfortunately groups like AA and NA create toxic people and emotional robots. When you are so brutally mutilated by alcohol or drugs, toxic people circle like sharks. But chances are they are already there. I guarantee that. More to the point, having a toxic person around is just like a drug: you cannot ever go back to casual use from addiction. And make no mistake: toxic people do not get better. And my concern is not with their plight. I did that for too many years in my life. These ideas are for you who are the wreckage of warped people. So what if some do get “better”? Not likely in this culture. Remember: God healed the crippled. He didn’t invent another politically correct name for them so they could feel better about themselves.

To paraphrase a quote from the movie, Goodfellas, “They always attack you when you are at your weakest, and they are the ones who have known you all of your life.”

Is this similar to the predator/prey analogy that you used in your article, and perhaps a reason why family members seem to execute the toxic buttons with more ease?

Absolutely. Perfect analogy. And let me make this clear: we, none of us, know anything about anyone. Your family members, your lovers, friends, etc. Whenever someone says “I know him inside and out,” they are a deluded individual. Just ask the parents of Jeffrey Dahmer. Just ask the wife of the BTK killer. Once we “put all our eggs in one basket”, spiritually or emotionally, in any one person we are DONE. People in this nation do not know how to balance, how to “just take it easy” with their emotions, wants, desires, you name it. We don’t know how just to BE with another person without the mind games. We know nothing about withholding impulses; we know nothing about discipline. Just look at obesity.

Please understand I am not saying to distrust everyone. Be vigilant, as if on guard. And I am not saying any of these situations are hopeless. We create hopelessness; there is no hopelessness. If we feel hopeless, then we’re the ones who got us there, no one else. Surround yourself with those who are at peace, yet not to the point of being too distant from people; people who radiate something you can’t write down. And learn how to wait for God to bring people into your life. Don’t go looking. Once you are spiritually, emotionally and physically fit, they will just show up. And if you are currently struggling with all those issues – as most of us are – then those who are also struggling will come along as well. But at least you know you’ll both are working for the same things.

Thank you very much for your contribution to increase our understanding and awareness regarding this relevant topic.

Reference

(1) American Chronicle, “Goodbye Stranger: Amputating Toxic People From Our Lives,” by Andrew T. Durham, 19 July 2007.

Note:

Mr. Durham recently wrote another article about this topic in the American Chronicle:

"The Snapping Turtle Syndrome: The Toxic People in Our Lives," 30 December 2007.

Steve Amoia can be contacted at info@sanstefano.com