Counselor's Corner: Tension people and peaceful people

Fred Cavaiani

Have you ever met someone whom you know causes tension by continually attacking people who might disagree with them? This type of person cannot stand to have someone think differently than they do. Instead of discussing viewpoints and the reasons for different viewpoints, this type of person attacks other people by calling them names, putting labels on people who disagree with him or her. To be around a person like this is be in constant tension. At any moment you might be attacked verbally from a person like this. In some ways when you are around someone like this, your worst self seems to surface. If you have ever been judgmental or condemning towards others, these qualities will surface quickly around someone like this. Now, have you ever been around someone who seems to be consistently peaceful and compassionate in the way they interact with other people? To be around someone like this is to experience a sense of peacefulness. It is like you want to be your best self when you are around them.

When a critical and judgmental person becomes your idol or leader of your group or company, this group, company or gathering begins to experience internal tension and conflict. It is because there is little discussion of ideas and viewpoints because a leader likes this cannot tolerate different viewpoints.

The tension people in the world of history often were dictators: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung. If you read history it is easy to observe peaceful producing leaders and tension producing leaders. It is easy to see this in your daily interactions with other people.

Some people relate with you by consistently criticizing other people and will seldom be interested in listening to your viewpoint with any understanding. Other people relate with you by kind and affirming words and actions and a very patient and compassionate listening to how you think and feel.

Imagine how your life would be if most of your friends were condemning and judgmental. In your interactions the problems of life would always be outside of yourself but never within yourself. Imagine what it would be like to be surrounded by peaceful and compassionate people. In this peaceful and compassionate atmosphere you will be gently challenged to look deep within yourself without having to become defensive. When I am with a gentle and peaceful person or group of people, it becomes much easier to be open and honest with myself. When I am with angry and judgmental people it is very hard to be open and honest with myself because I must be on guard lest I get put down or be condemned and judged.

Angry and self- centered people do not listen to advice from others. They also do not have the capacity to feel empathy for other people who are in pain or are struggling. Angry and self-centered people need to have followers who agree with them about everything and who will passively go along with them.

Caring and compassionate people inspire others to be better people. To be around such a person is be inspired to be your best self which is always to be more caring, compassionate and reflective. To be around such a person is to experience someone caring about you and listening to you.

When we surround ourselves with people who are peaceful we are very blessed and discover a deeper meaning in life. When we surround ourselves with critical and judgmental people we live a life of tension and seldom experience a sense of peacefulness and compassion.

Who do you like to be around? How often do you experience a sense of peace within yourself and a feeling of compassion and concern for other people? Are you surrounded by people who seem to have a strong foundation in a loving God and not a judgmental and condemning God? Do you have friends that look for the goodness in other people and treat others with respect and love?

When we live in a gentle and reflective manner, taking time out to be quiet and reflective every day, we will find people who want to do this also. We will be nudged to be more caring and compassionate. We will also want to have friends who are loving and compassionate. At the same time, no matter who crosses our path, we will treat everyone with care and compassion. What everyone needs is more love and compassion: Love, sweet love. Find friends like this. Be this. Change the world from a tension filled atmosphere into a peaceful filled atmosphere. Make your own personal life full of peace so tension can have no place in it.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is