Monday, October 12, 2015

Mind Change Day 12: Anger Costumes

Okay, in terms of the name for this post I spent the night looking at Halloween costumes for my granddaughter but it put me in a good frame of mind for the "anger in disguise" step. Here is the link to some of the most common ways we trap anger in places where we don't recognize its corrosive power:

  • Frustration
  • Being right
  • Suppression / Denial
  • Identity as "cool and calm"
  • High ideals/standards
  • Opinionated
Despite my efforts over the last two posts to explain why a lot of the MBS writing on anger doesn't sound like "me" to me, there are of course some universal truths that still apply and here they are.

From "Anger: Damage Control" essay by Dr. Hanscom

I understand on an intellectual level that anger punishes me and those I love the most. But trying not to be angry is impossible. We're angry about real and important stuff, and what happens next is all about what we do with that feeling. Do we magnify or minimize? Deal with it or suppress?

I am extremely frustrated when I bump up to a wall I can't seem to break through since my last two concussions. I can feel my face go blank, my teeth grind, my fists clench. I'm angry all right. And I do not know (and get conflicting advice) about whether trying to accomplish something I haven't been able to do since my last head injury gets me closer to breaking through the wall or is stubborn, wasted effort. 

For example: going into a mall without drawing a complete brain blank
For example: making a plan for my day that I can follow and achieve
For example: listening to conversation and adding something at the right time

But even before the concussions I was someone who wanted to be right, and usually had a strong defense of my actions. I was proud of my "grace under fire," and although I worked hard at being honest and genuine, I could handle a lot of pressure and use it to push me in new directions. I loved the challenges of school and work, of having a large family, of an ever-changing marriage, of reading and writing and learning things all the time. My life felt vital, and even when I was super-tired, I felt at peace and alive. 

Was I arrogant? Yes, sometimes, and it took a while to talk me off my high horse. Still am, on occasion. But my husband and kids are excellent at knocking me off, and I've always had people at work who would do the same. Yes, I felt responsible for a lot of people, but I also relied on them intensely. My life had this core of purpose to it that kept me from feeling adrift, depressed, confused, maligned or uncertain. 

Then I lost that purpose. I wasn't a great wife or mom. I was a terrible psychologist and disorganized mess as a manager. And although I could see why I wasn't doing these super-important things well, I couldn't do them well the way I had before. Everything in my head was muddled and laconic, I hardly spoke, and my memory went from about 90% of what I "needed to know" in any situation to somewhere around 20%, which made me feel utterly inept. 

And deeply frustrated about having to learn to do and be all these things in a different kind of way. 

Where am I at now? 

Frustration is my sidekick. It won't go away. It's all about managing that low-level, "come on" kind of wanting to kick myself all day, and balancing it with appreciation for my sturdiness, my frailty, this different mix of qualities I show and feel most days, and accepting myself despite what I call my mental clumsiness. 

So I'm mad, and I'm okay, and I'm still happy most days. I'm humble. I let go of mistakes within an hour or two (or try to, even with big ones) because I have to, there's no other way to get through the day. 

I focus on being a loving person in whatever way I can. 

And I'm a work in obvious progress. 

Love, Lisa

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