- What is hostility?
- How does hostility affect my physically? Emotionally?
- Why am I hostile?
- What irrational beliefs arouse my hostility?
- What are the negative effects of my hostility?
- How can I overcome my hostility?
- Steps to overcoming hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism
1. What is hostility?
When I am hostile I am:
- sarcastic, filled with bitter humour.
- biting and acerbic in my criticism of others.
- cynical and unmoved.
- suspicious and often unlikable.
- defensive, paranoid, and self-protective.
- untrusting and disbelieving in others.
- self-focused rather than other focused.
- lacking in tolerance for the behaviours of others.
- turned off to other’s concern, caring, or nurturing.
- blinded by my own self-absorption.
- bitter over real or imagined negative treatment I’ve received from others, past or current.
- sour on life.
- quick to attack others for their real or imagined faults and failings.
- inwardly outraged over the unfairness of life.
- quick to believe that nothing good is happening in my life.
- unable to see the redeeming graces or features in people, places, or things.
- hiding behind a wall or shield, unwilling to allow others into my life.
- disagreeable, filled with the “yes, but” attitude.
- ready for a fight or argument.
- antagonistic in my attitude towards others.
- a bomb ready to be detonated.
- setting myself up to be abused, rejected, disapproved, or unloved.
- fulfilling the prophecy that “others do not care about me” by turning them off without giving them a chance.
2. How does hostility affect my physically? Emotionally?
Hostility can result in physical experiences of:
- tightness in my chest.
- throbbing in my heart.
- warm blush in my face.
- profuse sweating.
- high blood pressure.
- tightness in my jaw.
- churning in my stomach.
- constipation or diarrhoea.
- coldness in my hands and/or feet.
- tenseness in my forehead.
- tension headaches.
- pounding in my temples.
- profound exhaustion.
Hostility can result in emotional experiences of:
- fear and confusion regarding the reactions and opinions of others.
- disinterest in the feelings of others.
- wanting to have attention drawn to me.
- wanting to be given sympathy.
- being lost and unclear about the direction my life is taking.
- feeling cheated in life.
- feeling betrayed, unsupported, and uncared for.
- desiring revenge or personal vindication.
- being unable to forgive or forget the real or imagined hurts.
- lacking generosity or goodwill for others.
- needing to protect myself at any price.
- wanting to attack before I am attacked.
- lacking enthusiasm for personal growth activities.
- bitterness about the status of my life, both emotionally and materially.
- sense of absolute futility of life.
- submitting to negative beliefs, like “life’s tough and then you die.”
- hopelessness and a bleak outlook for the future.
3. Why am I hostile?
Hostility is aroused in me when I:
- consider all the inequities of life.
- realize the perversity of people, business, or politics.
- consider the offensive treatment I received in my family of origin.
- review all the real or imagined failures in my life.
- see wicked people get ahead in life.
- perceive that I am being or have been treated unfairly.
- find that my efforts toward self-improvement have reached a plateau.
- realize that I will need to exert increased efforts to attain my goal.
- blame others for keeping me from success in life.
- recognize that things over which I have no control prevent me from experiencing the good things in life.
- feel coerced, forced, or cajoled into doing something I really don’t want to do.
- feel like I am being backed into a corner.
- realize that I am the target of someone else’s efforts to change or alter my behaviour.
- am reminded of things I’ve said or asked for in the past, which I no longer believe in or want to pursue.
- realize that what others are telling me is correct, but I stubbornly hold onto my negative beliefs because they allow me my self-pity.
- am being interrupted in the midst of my “pity party.”
- someone challenges my negative or critical viewpoint.
- someone offers a more promising, optimistic point of view.
- recognize that as a human being I am subject to making mistakes and experiencing failure.
- recognize that the human condition brings with it pain, suffering, and death.
- realize that I am an imperfect mortal.
- can’t get others to share my high expectations for work or community performance.
- made aware of the tragedy, travails, and hardship we are confronted with daily.
- fear that I will never be able to accomplish my lifelong dreams because of things out of my control.
- feel cheated because after a life of hard work, honest, and clean living I am suffering a major setback in my life.
- recognize that coming from a dysfunctional family got me off on the wrong foot.
- am confronted about my backsliding or relapsing by those who care about and support me.
- when my personal problems are outlined for me in a behavioural intervention by the people who love me.
- experience chronic rejection, disapproval, or disinterest at the hands of those with whom I desire a closer relationship.
- see my dreams slipping more and more out of my reach.
- realize how unfulfilled and unaccomplished I really am.
- see how much more work, energy, and effort I need to exert to attain even a slight degree of personal growth.
- am confronted with the need to give up my addictive behaviour, i.e., alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling, shopping, smoking, etc.
- feel lost or out of focus in my life.
- feel the song, Is That All There Is, applies to my life.
4. What irrational beliefs arouse my hostility?
- No matter how hard I try, I’ll not reach my goals of success and happiness.
- Why should I always be the one who is giving, caring, and forgiving, in my life?
- I should be rewarded for my good deeds, hard work, and sense of fair play.
- I shouldn’t have to suffer all this disappointment, pain, and suffering.
- The good should always win out over the bad in life.
- I should be treated fairly by others in my life.
- There isn’t anything that I should be unable to overcome in my life.
- If I had education, good looks, and money things would come easily for me.
- Evil, rotten, and unfair people should have to suffer in life, not me!
- There should come a time when I no longer need to exert all this effort and energy to get ahead.
- I should be rewarded for all of the suffering, turmoil, tragedy, and misfortune I have experienced.
- Others should be supportive of my desire for self-improvement.
- I shouldn’t have to suffer confrontation when I am backsliding or relapsing. I deserve a break!
- Others should treat me gently when they are giving me their support, caring, and nurturing.
- There should be no injustice, suffering, or tragedy in life.
- I should be able to live the way I want for as long as I can with no pestering from others to change or reform.
- No one is going to tell me how to live and enjoy life.
- People should do what I say, not what I do.
- People should give me what I want, not what I ask for.
- Why can’t things go my way?
- No matter how hard I work and try, I never seem to get ahead.
- Life’s tough and then you die.
- Evil always wins out in the end. The good guy finishes last!
- No one would like me the way I really am, so I’ll reject them before they reject me.
- I should be able to live forever.
- I should be able to be successful, rich, and healthy with little or no effort on my part.
- I shouldn’t have to make sacrifices or experience self-deprivation in order to achieve the things I want.
- My parents should have given me a better start in life.
5. What are the negative effects of my hostility?
Because of my hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism, I find that:
- people seek me out infrequently.
- it is hard to sustain friendships and close, lasting relationships.
- there is less enjoyment in my work, play, and life in general.
- I am not sought out to be a support person in someone else’s life.
- my philosophy of life is open to criticism and attack.
- I am a ready target for personal attacks.
- I am often misunderstood.
- I often feel ignored, invisible.
- I lack motivation in my desire for personal growth, recovery, and wellness.
- I feel cheated by life and feel a need to get revenge.
- I hurt others’ feelings, then can’t understand why they feel hurt.
- I become an open target for abuse, negative confrontation, and criticism from the others in my life.
- I tend to seek out others who are at least equally hostile, sarcastic, and cynical to feel good about myself.
- I look down on those who are making an honest, concerted effort toward their own self-improvement.
- I am caught up in a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies of self-failure, self-defeat, rejection, disapproval, and lack of personal success.
6. How can I overcomemy hostility?
In order to overcome my hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism, I need to:
- rethink my philosophy of life.
- make an honest inventory of my behaviour toward others.
- analyze the effects of my hostile behaviour on me and on others.
- develop a set of rational beliefs about the realities of being a mortal being in the human condition.
- become less “cause” oriented in my view of life.
- recognize that the underdog can be successful if that person takes control of his own life and stop wasting energy blaming others or engaging in self-pity.
- give permission to the support people in my life to give me honest feedback and confrontation when I am being unfaithful to my program of recovery.
- recognize that I can control only myself and my reactions.
- abandon the struggle to control things and people out of my control.
- recognize that most of my hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism is a control-related problem, namely my being unwilling to let go of the needto control.
7. Steps to overcoming hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism
Step 1: To overcome my hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism, I must admit that this is a problem for me. To do this, I need to review the following questions in my journal:
- Which of the characteristics of hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism apply directly to my behaviour?
- What physical side-effects do I experience when I am hostile?
- What are the emotional effects of my hostility?
- What are the negative consequences of my hostility?
- What irrational beliefs lead to my hostility?
- What are the causes of my hostility?
- How big a problem is my current hostility:
- on the job?
- at home?
- in my marriage?
- in my friendships?
- with my health?
- with my ability to gain full personal recovery?
- What keeps me from accepting my hostility as a problem?
- What further proof will convince me that hostility is a problem for me?
- What does the fact of admitting that my hostility is a problem mean about my ability to be honest in my self-assessment?
Step 2: Once I have admitted that hostility is a problem for me, I need to inventory my philosophy of life.
Personal Philosophy of Life
- My philosophy of life is based on:
- 2. Are these beliefs irrational? If they are, what rational beliefs could replace them?
My current beliefs:
My replacement beliefs:
- What “causes” in the world, the nation and my community do I feel strongly? How do these causes influence my attitude about life? What new strategies could I develop to address these causes? How can I be less hostile, sarcastic, or cynical about life?
- How can I promote the “underdog” without feeling the need to take control?
- What beliefs about controlling the uncontrollable elements of life do I need to develop?
Once I’ve analysed this philosophy of life I’ll record my new philosophy in my journal.
Step 3: With a new, less hostile, less sarcastic, and less cynical philosophy of life, I need to integrate the new rational beliefs into my emotional responses.
- How open am I to changing the way I view inequities of life?
- Am I ready to hand over the responsibility of control to others? How detached from others can I be?
- What emotional responses would be healthy for me when I see suffering, hurt, pain, and failure in others?
- When I experience a set back, failure, or loss, what emotional response do I need to evoke in myself to keep from relapsing into my old hostility, sarcasm and cynicism?
- What other emotional responses could I develop to handle my hostile, sarcastic, or cynical behaviour?
Step 4: Once I have integrated the new emotional responses into my belief system I need to change my behaviour to reduce my hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism.
- What new behaviour patterns could I develop to reflect my amiable, approving, and confident self?
- How can I give to my network of supporters permission to confront me when I slip into my old behaviour patterns?
- How can I reinforce the increase and sustaining of these new behaviours? What cues would catch my attention?
- How can I reflect my new found belief that I must accept that I am unable to control the uncontrollables in life and that this fact is OK with me?
- How can I measure my success in achieving a change in my hostile behaviour?
- Will people always give me the chance to change from my old, hostile ways? How will patience and understanding help to keep me on track?
- My amiable, approving, confident behaviour will include:
Step 5: Now that I have (a) realized the need for a less hostile philosophy of life and (b) integrated my new emotional responses to reality, and (c) identified a set of new behaviour traits to overcome this hostility.
I will assess the status of my hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism. If I still feel the negative effects of hostility, I will return to Step 1, and begin again.