On Anger

finger-422529_1920

 

Picture this:  Its a fine sunny Sunday in mid summer, you’ve just been for a relaxed coffee with friends and you’re heading to their place for lunch.  On the way you drop into the local deli to pick up a few items.  But as you walk in the door there’s someone from the past who is definitely NOT happy to see you and glares at you like you’re something he’s scraped off his shoe.  Well that’s a downbuzz.

This happened to me recently.  It caused some unwanted emotions  for a couple of hours until I got in control of my state.  One of which was how hugely upset I felt all over again,  for being unfairly judged by others,  who for some reason feel they can look down their nose at me.  It dragged up a whole lot of old “stuff” about my redundancy I thought that I’d finally laid to rest.  Afterwards  came the anger.  Not a slash and burn fury,  but a slow burning icy “well, screw you buddy.”

As a woman anger doesn’t sit well with me.  I grew up in middle class New Zealand in the sixties and seventies.  Girls were “good” and it was most definitely unladylike to express your anger which meant  we didn’t get the opportunity to learn how to be healthily angry.  We  either laid waste to all about us or turned it inwards and ate ourselves alive.  I tended towards the latter course of action and  have lived with depression for a large part of my adult life, interspersed with the odd bout of landscape-razing fury.   Neither of which approaches are ultimately beneficial.  But no more.  Only now at 55 have I learned (and am still learning) how to be mad, angry, furious, ticked off, pissed, whatever label you want to give that particular emotion, in an empowering fashion.

So now that I’m dealing with my anger in a more empowering way what am I going to do about the haters like Mr Man in the Deli?  Well I’ll show them –  not as a tit-for-tat, childish “I’ll show you!” reaction;  but  determinedly live a life of richness, fulfillment, happiness and gratitude.  Anger can be acidic and destroying or it can be rocket fuel to propel us forwards towards our goals.  I choose rocket fuel, and the key is I CHOOSE.  Again it’s about controlling your state and choosing your reaction to any given situation.

Yes! to loving my family, enjoying my friends, achieving my goals, living in happiness and contributing to my community.  Yes! to writing this blog in the hope that it may be of slight use to someone else, Yes! to being visible, Yes! to having a voice and using it.

 

 

 

You can control your state

smiley-1041796_1920

Ok, so this is a weird title I know, but let me explain a little before you click away from this page.

One of the many things that regular meditation has taught me is that I can control my emotions and my reactions to any given situation that life throws at me.  So whatever happens I get to choose how I react to it.  For example I am making my living as a limousine driver right now.  It is full-on-height-of-an-unprecedently-busy-season-madness here in New Zealand.  Crazy stuff.  The traffic where I live is often gridlocked, which is nuts for a small tourist town, but that’s life.  I am often on a tight schedule running people to the airport and other places for deadlines.  It is very easy to become anxious when sitting in a long queue of cars in the heat, time is ticking and nothing is moving.

So here’s what I do when I need to change my state:

Pause my thoughts

Slow everything down

Relax as much as I’m able

Take a couple of deep breaths (inconspicuously if I need to)

Ask myself what can I  do right now to change this situation?  Very often it’s nothing.

Ask myself will getting anxious help?  Obvious answer – NO.

Ask myself what will help?  Often it’s just to smile

Choose the positive emotion I need for the particular situation

The point here is that it’s crucial to recognize that emotions are a temporary state.  They pass and it’s possible to choose which ones you feel and hang on to.  Let the negative ones pass quickly and hang on to those which are useful and empowering.  Life isn’t a dress rehearsal; you can CHOOSE the way that you live it.

This has been a HUGE turn around for me.  Previously I was a victim to my emotions.  Emotions happened to me not for me.  Now I choose.  I believe that this is a direct result of regular meditation – I have learned to recognize my feelings, observe them as they come and go and now I realize that I can make the negative ones leave.  Awesome! With this comes the ability to let stuff go……..and what a relief that is.

Next up:  A different perspective on anger

Meditation

lotus-1205631_1920

 

I can hear the groans now.  Meditation is one of those things that we know are good for us, like brussels sprouts, and has about the same appeal.   Zero., nil, nada.   We all know we should do it, but we don’t.  But you know just about every successful person I have read about meditates regularly.  So you should too, if you want to start seeing some results in your life.  Here’s why:

I took a  mindfulness course in 2016 and it was one of the best things I did to aid my recovery.  I learned in a formal setting from an experienced instructor.  I’d tried on my own in the past but the practice never really stuck.  this time it did.  Brilliant – and this is when my recovery began to really pick up speed.  It was like day and night, before meditation and after meditation.  I could now see why people got hooked on meditation and raved about it.

I can’t say that I meditate every day now, although I do try to.  I’ve become addicted to that state of quietness and the refreshment that it gives my busy mind.  If I find myself getting uptight  I am now able to get myself into a momentary state of quietness and flick out of the panic and anxiety.  It so helps.  Meditation gives us this ability to get quiet and get clear and reboot our minds.  To switch off and gain clarity.  One of the things I’ve found is that it doesn’t take long either.  A minute or two and I’m feeling refreshed, or sometimes even seconds.

With the quietness also comes insights, and creatively this is such a bonus.  As a lifelong creative I just love this.  To quote Julia Cameron it is a way of “filling the well”

So if you’re stuck, want to change your circumstances, get out of the rut you’re in, try meditating.  Take it from me, it WORKS.

Rock Bottom Part 2

Winter  2015 was when I started gaining that much needed perspective.  Therapy helped the process immensely – just having another point of view from a person who was completely neutral was useful.  The therapist helped me unpack my emotions and examine them and this wholly clinical examination laid to rest many of the demons spinning round in my head.  Therapy is an incredibly valuable process if done well;  for me, the best therapists are the ones with whom I may not have a lot in common, but who are prepared to call me out ideas and emotions I take for granted.  I need someone who is rigorous and doesn’t let me away with  hard luck stories, someone who is understanding but prepared to challenge me.  It is through this process of  questioning and challenging that I eventually gain clarity.

Working with a therapist gave me a bunch of insights and fast tracked my ability to dig myself out of that deep deep hole I’d fallen into.  From this point I discovered some awesome tools that I used to revolutionize my life.

If you’re ashamed about going to a therapist, or debating the usefulness of one don’t be.  If the first person you go to doesn’t “click” then keep trying until you find the right one.  And don’t think you’re going to be in therapy for the rest of your life.  In my opinion this is a tool, a kick start.  A good therapist should be committed to get you out of their office and back into the mainstream of life quickly.  Don’t go over old ground again and again, rehashing it.  Move on.  Look up.  Breathe.  Life will be different than before.  In fact it can be BETTER!

In my next post I’ll talk about some other tools I’ve used to build my new life…