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