Feeling Challenging Emotions

I write a lot about finding joy. Today I’m facing up to my difficulty feeling challenging emotions.

Feeling Challenging Emotions

It’s hard work finding who we are when we have hidden so much away.

I was a good daughter who always followed the rules and tried to make her parents happy. Guess which emotion was a no-no in our household.

Were You Compared To a Poem?

Did your mother read it aloud to you? Mine did. We had a children’s book, A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But she went further than reading to me. She told me I was like this poem.

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

My hair was indeed curly. And I suppose I got angry, as all of us do. But, the shame of this little girl taught me not to show anger. That anger was terrible. It was horrid. And I was a bad little girl if I was angry.

If I couldn’t express my anger, the only other choice was to stuff it down. Thankfully, my personality isn’t highly into feeling anger. I’m an INFJ-A. If I were the same personality but were likely to feel anger, I’d be an INFJ-T. The A is for assertive, while the T is for turbulent.

Current vs. Childhood Memories

My day became different than I expected as I was finishing this article. I was checking in to have my teeth cleaned when the receptionist asked, “Did you take your pre-appointment medication?”

“What do you mean?”

“Anytime we touch your gums, your orthopedic surgeon requires you to take an antibiotic.”

“That would be a no.”

“We can reschedule you for tomorrow at 11 am. Then, we will contact your doctor to have the medication filled at your pharmacy.”

Did I forget about this? I suspect I didn’t understand it very well and forgot about it. Could the same be true for some of my childhood memories?

A Little Research Helps

As I enjoyed a lemon poppyseed muffin and an Americano at the Local Lion, I investigated why we often have poor childhood memories.

Your brain needs to forget to grow. As a result, your body incorporates new neurons (one type of brain cell) into existing pathways. Unfortunately, this may block existing memories.

I’m always remarking that my brain is full of information, and that’s why I find it challenging to take on new data, especially technical information, or as above, forget about the need to take a preventive antibiotic.

Now we all have an excuse! You’re welcome.

Getting back to feeling challenging emotions, I found this article about understanding anger in specific personalities.

Why is Expressing Anger Challenging?

I think part of the reason for me is personal unfamiliarity. Everything in life is more accessible or familiar the more we experience it.

But I’m learning more about my anger.

How I’m Working with Anger

Although I am not someone with explosive fits of anger, I find it essential to acknowledge anger within relationships I value. I don’t stop mid-sentence during an interchange with someone and go through this list. But I do go through this process later, by myself.

  1. I allow my anger to exist.
  2. I ask myself, “Why am I angry right now?”
  3. Become the observer of my anger.
  4. Delve into anger.
  5. What triggered the anger?
  6. Taking deep breaths always helps.
  7. Briskly walking disperses the anger.
  8. I stopped venting (telling the story over and over).
  9. A little distraction is good (I knit or watch streaming TV).
  10. If it seems appropriate, I tell the other person about my anger.
  11. I talk to my life coach about it.

In Conclusion

This doesn’t mean hurting others or yourself in anger is okay. It’s not okay. But it is okay to feel anger. After all, it’s just an emotion with a very short life span (90 seconds). It’s what we do with the anger that matters.

From The Good Therapy Blog:

“Anger is not just aggressive reaction. It often provides us with information that allows us to better engage with the world around us (as well as ourselves).”

The Fear of Success

The fear of success is an authentic human experience. Yet, the emotion seemed to have no source when I was crying with my morning coffee.

The Fear of Success

What brought on this sudden tearful episode? Then I had one of those aha moments when the ray of sunlight shines through. I had recently experienced an example of success and conquered the fear.

Was it a Walk or a Hike?

The weekend before, I joined the Blue Ridge Chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society for a hike. This event allowed me to get out and meet like-minded people, surround myself with nature, and exercise.

In my mind, it wasn’t clear whether I could complete this opportunity. There were a lot of unknowns. For example, how long is the hike? What is the difficulty?

Even so, I was excited to give it a try.

Was Nature Testing Me?

Waze showed it would take me about thirty-five minutes to drive to the Bluff Lodge parking lot in Doughton Park, where the hike began at 11 am.

As I’m ready to step into the shower, I see two young wild turkeys in a panic, caught inside my backyard fence. Mama turkey and two siblings are encouraging them from their freedom of the pasture.

The decision was clear; take my shower and deal with the turkeys afterward.

With focused determination, I completed my grooming, put on my clothes, and assessed the situation by the back door. My bird dog, Sugar, was on high alert. How could I open the fence gate and shoo the turkeys toward it while keeping Sugar at bay?

As soon as I opened the door, the young turkeys flew toward freedom over the fence. So all the worry before was wasted energy. And I was still on schedule to make it to the hike on time.

The Meadow Stroll

Our leader, Annkatrin, had structured the day with two opportunities. The first part was a stroll through a large meadow filled with blossoms, tall purple spikes of Liatris, yellow Coreopsis billowing below, and occasional milkweed in bloom.

Although I felt gratitude for this hour, I wanted more. So, talking with Annkatrin and looking at the map of the longer hike, I decided to try it. Three of us drove to the parking lot at the end of this extended portion, and a fourth followed to bring us back to the meadow. The drive back to the field was the perfect opportunity to tell the funny turkey story. We all enjoyed a good laugh.

The First Section

With my hiking boots strapped on, my walking poles in hand, and a day pack with water, I was enthusiastically ready to start.

hairy alumroot, Allegheny stonecrop, and reindeer lichen

Our route took us down a path toward the road, Annkatrin pointing out a few flowers in the shadows. As we trekked along the shoulder of The Blue Ridge Parkway, the variety of native plants exploded up the embankment. In this photo, there were three unusual finds; Hairy alumroot, Allegheny stonecrop, and reindeer lichen.

Traffic was light as we quickly crossed toward the Visitor Center. Luckily, the line for the portable toilets was short, and we soon observed another meadow. This time it was in a raised bed next to the parking lot by the park restaurant.

Annkatrin remarked, “I could spend hours here on the varieties of lichen alone.”

As we left the parking lot, another meadow of milkweed emerged. There wemale monarch on milkweed saw the only Monarch butterfly. We poised our phones and snapped photos and videos while he sipped nectar hungrily as he walked the flower clusters.

“We know it’s a male. He has white spots along the hind wings. Let’s hope he finds lots of eggs to fertilize. Since Monarchs are territorial, he’s staked out this entire area to defend.”

The Middle section

Halfway through the hike, two people turned around. So our original group of eighteen during the meadow stroll was reduced to eight. At that point, I felt good. There was a fantastic vista of the mountains with meadow flowers surrounding us.

The Final Miles

As we left the meadow with the incredible vista, I saw the trail meander up and down an area of tall grass before disappearing into the pine forest.

“The difficult section is coming up,” I thought.

It still was never as difficult as I feared it could be. The rain forecast had held off, mud was nonexistent, and we were in the shade. However, the hour was growing late. It was 3 pm, and we still had a quarter of the hike left. I had forgotten the opportunities to sit and rest might not show up. And I had been standing or walking for four hours, except for the short ride back and forth to the parking lot at the hike terminus. Three of the hikers in the front opted to press on, leaving Annkatrin, another couple, a young man, and myself at a slower pace. In the past, I would have berated myself for apparently holding up the hike. Annkatrin understood the consensus.Carolina lily

“We’ve seen a lot of flowers today. But, unfortunately, it’s put us a little behind schedule.”

Annkatrin’s words and this beautiful Carolina Lily gave me the strength to know I could still do this.

The Conclusion

Annkatrin and I emerged from the forest and joined the remaining three participants, who rested on the stone walls or foraged blackberries. First, I stretched my hamstrings and quadriceps after taking a long drink of water. Then, I stored everyone’s backpacks and my walking poles in the back of my Subaru while Annkatrin took the opportunity to continue her walk in nature.

After dropping Will, the youngest hiker, at the Visitor Center parking lot, I continued onto the Bluff Lodge parking. Bob, Catherine, and I talked about the hike and the native plant organization for a few minutes.

I felt it was time I voiced my disappointment in keeping up with the pace. It wasn’t a rant. Instead, it was a compassionate relation to the situation.

Then Catherine said, “Currently, we don’t offer less strenuous opportunities for our field trips. So perhaps it’s time we did.”

Her statement filled my heart with gratitude. Any kernel of guilt I felt dissolved. My difficulty opened new opportunities for myself and others. In the end, the fear of success and the sore muscles were minor considerations.

Letting Go of the Past Brings Joy

Do you want to experience a new, more accurate you? Letting go of the past brings joy by filling the void with possibilities for the future. As a result, you experience less emotional baggage and open up the room to develop into your true self.

Letting Go of the Past Brings Joy

I clearly remember when my friend said, “Let it go. Just let it go.” The subject of my rant was the judgment I felt from my mother. My internal response was anger. Since I grew up with the illusion that anger is an unacceptable emotion, I pushed the anger down. I felt it was impossible to let it go.

What is a better response?

Lower your gaze and take a deep breath into your energy center, just below your belly button.
With compassion for yourself and your friend, respond,

“That feels like a kick in my gut. Can you help me decipher where that discomfort is coming from?”

At this point, your friend might be angry, have hurt feelings, or they might welcome the opportunity to help. It’s okay.

The most important result of this scenario is that you made a giant leap toward letting go of the past.

What is Anger?

Anger is an illusion. It lives in your past. When my friend responded to my outpouring of frustration, my anger response was in the past. Specifically, it lived in the seconds before I acknowledged my anger. Furthermore, my lifetime of hurt and disappointment fueled the flames of emotion.

This concept that anger is an illusion because it lives in the past can be life-changing.

You can feel anger, acknowledge it, and immediately let it go by purposefully living in the present with a deep breath. That deep breath is in the now. It is the only thing that is now.

How to Change Living in Past Anger

Practice is key.

Imagine a situation in your past when you became angry.
Notice how you feel about that now.
Take a deep breath.
Notice how you feel.

Next, you can practice in your everyday life.
When someone pushes your emotional button, take a pause.
Take a deep breath.
Acknowledge your feelings.
Share how you feel.
Ask for help.

You can do this after the moment has passed, such as later in the conversation.

“Hey, I just realized your comment hurt my feelings. Can we talk about that?”

It’s never too late to start letting go of the past.

What’s With the Plates?

In the past, I worked for the Department of Public and Environmental Health in the City of Denver. I was the smiling face that appeared at an employee’s desk to fix their computer problem. I loved my work. It satisfied my curiosity and need to connect with people and gave me a deep sense of accomplishment in troubleshooting their problems and finding a solution. One high-level manager was eating her lunch on a beautiful plate. It made such an impression that I bought two small Fitz and Floyd plates for my lunches at work.

While Mom lived with Wayne and me in Florida, she helped me by setting the table for meals. Mom always chose one of the Fitz and Floyd plates for herself. I resented it but didn’t let her know my feelings. After we moved to NC, these plates fell out of favor for me. I moved them around in the cabinet, and yesterday I took them out.

I said, “Enough! It’s time for these plates to go.”

I’ve cried three separate times over this. First, forgiveness for Mom came during the release of tears. Then I forgave myself.

Letting go of the past brings joy into our lives in unexpected ways.