It’s So Easy to Stay Mad: When You’re So Done With Everything.

When you’re so done with everything.

These days, it’s so easy to get mad, and stay that way.
I was just thinking this after an intense Labor Day weekend. Most of it was fun.    My family and I went hiking to forest preserves and biking around town. Hints of Fall are creeping in, with shadows getting longer and a slight chill in the air in the morning and at dusk.
The weather is getting more tolerable, now that it’s a wee bit cooler. The Pumpkin Spice Latte and those good caramel drinks are back at the coffee places.  
School is on again . In Northern Virginia, kids are mostly going online.  We’re six months into the pandemic and it’s getting old.
Opinions differ on what we should do, how much we should worry, when and how to go back to work and socializing.  Sometimes, we get unsolicited opinions and advice, and we feel invaded or judged.  And, well, tensions build. I was driving down my street on the way home yesterday and passed a neighbor’s house. The guy outside turned toward my car, looked at me, and gestured with his hands flat, pushing downward. I waved at him. A minute later, I realized what he was signaling. It looked like his gesture meant, “slow down”.
And I got VERY annoyed. After I pulled my car into the driveway, I had an urge to storm over there on foot and start lecturing him about who does he think he is, telling me to slow down, when he and his family and friends are always out there without masks, but of course it’s all about them, etc. Words to that effect.
I’m glad I didn’t actually do it. But I did envision it. In that moment I was aware of my anger, accepted it, sat with it for a minute…But thankfully, I didn’t act on it.
So maybe he was being annoying. And maybe I was driving a bit fast for our relatively quiet street. It didn’t hurt me to slow down.  But, still.
 Do you feel sometimes that your moods are swinging more?  Like even if you are overall doing well, having a good day, but then something happens, your mood takes a nose dive? If so, you’re not alone.  Whatever life concerns we already had have been exacerbated by working at home (that is, if our jobs and school even allow us to do that) and being with our families or roommates almost constantly. We are saving lives and health, but it’s hardly ideal for our kids to be learning remotely. And to top it off, it’s an Election Year. Not exactly things that contribute to calm and cool living.
It’s understandable that you feel on edge.
There’s a whole lot of stuff to be charged up about.
So what can you do?

The things you read about with unplugging from news and social media?  They really help. The internet can be a double-edged sword. Right now, we are relying more on these outlets for resources, work, and social connection. But they can also be hotbeds for angry discourse and hurtful statements.  The psychologist

Brene Brown

 once aptly referred to the “comments” section of something she posted,  “the cesspool.”

I find that if I spend too much time scrolling through social media and news, my mood starts to tank. So, its really important to limit screen time and keeping interactions this side of civil. I have a better day if some chunk of it is spent in 3-D.

Here’s a good adage that helps me when it comes to potentially tense interactions: 

Is it kind, necessary, or true?

 

It should ideally be at least 2 out of these 3 things if you engage with someone.  I don’t know who said it. I just find it helpful.  
In the moment, I could really have let off steam by snapping at my neighbor. I could maybe have said things that were true (at least from my point of view), but they wouldn’t have been kind or necessary. And there are times when these folks have done me good turns.  It’s been years since we’ve chatted, but that counts for something.
And even if they hadn’t….What would I have added?
I haven’t always responded mindfully. None of us are perfect, and we get mad and let it out sometimes. The issue is, is it getting to be your modus operandi? Does it help?
But pushing your feelings down only helps for so long. So, what do you do with them? They are still there. They came from somewhere, and they can still take up time and energy.

As I’ve discussed on my videos, it always helps to just step back and observe your thoughts and feelings. 

Tara Brach

describes a nifty process to work through difficult feelings with a technique called R.A.I.N. 

We need to first know what’s there, before we can work on it.  This can be true of just about anything that is causing you anger, hurt or pain.    And sometimes, we want to talk to someone. The main thing is, even now, you don’t have to go at it alone or bottle it up.    
But you also want to talk to someone who won’t judge you. You want to let it out, but be understood. You want change.
This is where therapy can help. Especially if you find yourself with thoughts and feelings that are so powerful that they are getting in the way of your functioning, and they make it that much harder to be in the present. I’m especially big on the kind of work that I am doing, LSR and TIR. We start with what is charged for YOU. It might be something recent, or something from long ago. If your attention is on it, it’s important.
I don’t challenge your viewpoint. I help you look at the stuff that is charged in a way that will bring you relief and resolution. I believe in this method, not only because I’ve been trained in it, but I’ve been on the receiving end of it, too, and I can tell you that it works. It has helped me.
Sometimes, we just get plain tired of pushing things down that are charged. It costs us. We need to work through these things, but in a way that helps. This work gives you an opportunity to bring it up and look at it in a contained, guided way, so you get relief without all the fallout and kickback that can happen of we just react in daily life.
And this can lead to a better, more self-aware existence.   Yes, even during a pandemic and an Election Year!  To me, that’s totally worth it.

What can you do?

Call me

I’ll give you a free, 10-minute consultation.  If we decide to go ahead and schedule, we”ll  work together to bring you relief and resolution for a better quality of life.

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“Sometimes, we want to talk to someone. The main thing is, even now, you don’t have to go at it alone or bottle it up.”

 

What’s Being Exposed is What Will Help Us Grow: Racial Bias and Trauma.

The world feels like a hard place to be in right now.

I’ll go ahead and say it.  The world feels like a hard place to be in right now.    We’re all tired of this pandemic, of racial injustice, of anger, of people just not hearing each other or themselves. Tired of being tired.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  That sounds great.  It is definitely something to strive for. But sometimes, we need to step back and acknowledge the lemons. So said Donna Oriowo, educator, therapist and author, at a recent webinar I listened to.

The lemons haven’t been the same for everyone. The death of George Floyd ignited international outrage.  It laid bare the kind of treatment that People of Color have told me they have often been aware of as a possibility, or a reality, but it has rarely entered the consciousness of most White people in this country.  It was one brutal incident that was filmed, among many others that weren’t.

Even if you haven’t been physically brutalized, maybe you have still experienced trauma, humiliation, or stereotyping on the basis of your skin color or ethnicity.  The events of this past month may have triggered past traumas that are the result of racism on systemic and interpersonal levels.  That is your story, your experience, and I don’t want to tell it or interpret it for you.  Nor do I want to assume that that is even the same story for everyone.

But I am here to listen your experience, whatever it may be.

What ARE your lemons?  That’s what we take time to look at in therapy.

The lemons are the bumps. The hurts, the stressors.  The roadblocks that get in the way of us being fully present in our lives. They could be experiences you’ve had with being sized up and treated a certain way, and as a result, you felt ashamed, powerless, or humiliated. 

It usually doesn’t help when someone asks you, “Are you sure that’s what happened?  Maybe it wasn’t (racism, sexism, harassment, ageism – insert your own perspective here).”  This likely well-meaning person is coming from the premise that it’s your own distorted perceptions that are keeping you stuck, and if you only changed this perspective, you would feel and do better.  

But when we are hurting, that’s usually not helpful.  It makes us feel more alone. Unheard. How do we trust someone if they can’t even hear us out? So we push that lemon down deep into ourselves, and keep on with our lives.  No judgment there – we do what we do to get through our days. But over time, with all those buried lemons, it’s kind of hard to make lemonade, isn’t it?

When I think back to the times when I was really hurting about something, and someone tried to be helpful, you know what meant the most to me?  When someone really listened.  Listened, without judgement, without trying to change my perception or my feelings.  That felt like compassion. 

And that meant the world to me.  It made me feel less alone. 

I think a lot of us need more of that, nowadays. People who can just acknowledge the lemons without trying so hard to make us “get over” them.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of racism, you have probably felt this for years, at different levels of intensity, but to survive, you may have had to suppress the parts of yourself that hurt or were angry because of this.  (And maybe you still do, at times.) Maybe those are your lemons.

If you have high-risk people in the home and are feeling anxious because you have committed to social distancing and/or isolation, while others around you have not, those might be your lemons right now.

So what do we do?

First of all, acknowledge the lemons.  The frustration, the pain. Accept that they are there, with compassion for yourself.

Some great authors to help you get started with that:  Tara BrachBrene Brown.   Resmaa Menakem.

Give yourself time for this.

Then, get help. I know I am not the only therapist out there.  There are options that are more affordable, and therapists whose way of working and being may be your preference right now.  But if you want to work on your stress and trauma in a structured but centered-on-you-in-the-moment way to get relief, that’s what I do.

I’m not here to decide what is “real” or not.  That’s not how trauma therapy or life stress reduction work. 

In fact, if you have done therapy before, you are probably used to a therapist giving you their opinion or interpretation of what’s happening in your life, and what to do about it.  That has its place, and if that’s the approach you prefer, go for it! 

It’s just not what I do, generally.  We will work to determine your lemons, YOU will decide with me, what they are and which ones you want to work on, and we will go from there.  It’s a process, and we will work on it together. 

It starts with acceptance of ourselves.  We don’t have to like every part of ourselves; just accept that these parts are there, lemons, lemonade, and all.   That’s where compassion starts.

Take care of yourself this month. You are worth it.

 

 

 

 

“When someone really listened… without judgement, without trying to change my perception or my feelings.  That felt like compassion.  “