My brain is not working, that’s my problem. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a pretty deep hole of depression, low self esteem, or hyper-protectiveness to where anything I try to do that even remotely resembles work is a huge hurdle. Anything that has drama, misunderstandings, unkind behavior and the like makes me want to flee, and it’s spilled over into my volunteer work the most. It’s hurting my head to write this, but I’m going to, anyway. Someone has to say something, and perhaps if it’s me, I’ll feel better and more like keeping on.
What’s happened is that one of my “triggers” has been triggered. It bugs me, because I’ve worked really hard to get past it, but I’m getting the idea that I didn’t get past it; rather I buried it. I’ve talked about my issues with La Leche League before, but I’m going to briefly re-hash a bit to explain why I’ve been so messed up for the past month or two.
First, I love the friends I made in LLL. Love them to pieces. They are some amazing people. But, the organization itself keeps repeating its mistakes, as if no one learns from history (which is probably true). In a majority-women organization with a strong, focused mission, many people get “power” for the first time. And it really screws up some people’s senses of right and wrong, and for some reason empowers them to bring new things into the mission (like natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.)
Let’s see. What I’m trying to say here is that I have a hard time maintaining a poker face when my world takes a sudden shift, and I have an equally hard time rapidly processing sudden changes when I’m told about them. This isn’t a problem if I’m reading about something, all alone in my home or office. I have time to think about what’s going on, mull over the implications, push aside my knee-jerk reactions, and figure out what good spin I can put on it.
In person, though, it’s hard. I’m guessing it’s hard for most people, to be honest. When your adrenaline starts running like crazy and you go into survival mode, your higher brain functions get sacrificed (it’s one of the things I learned in the Behave book I read a while back). The best I can do at these times is nod and plaster a smile on my face.
For instance, yesterday in a work meeting, some changes were announced to our leadership team. Now, we knew something was coming, and probably most of us had an inkling of the kind of thing it was. But, with little prelude, we were shown a chart with all sorts of people, positions, and roles on it, many of whom we weren’t familiar with. The boss asked, “Do you understand this?” The other two colleagues, who are way better at office politics than me, nodded. I shook my head. Well, I didn’t understand it!
I’m the only one who asked for clarification, to help me process the shit ton of information I was supposed to internalize and grasp in 30 seconds. I did ask a few questions, to help me understand what was going on, since I will have to explain it to the people currently on my team. I’m guessing I was supposed to just say, “Okay,” and figure things out as I go along. But, I probably looked confused/annoyed and came across as a grumpy person who hates change.
I don’t hate change. Things change all the time. I simply find it easier to process with some context, reassurance that the sky is not falling, and some explanations of the rationale behind them. So, I didn’t get that, this time. That got me thinking.
If I have this kind of trouble, I should probably think about this experience next time I have to change something significant, change a process, etc. I think I do. I feel like I owe it to my team to provide context and rationale, rather than just say, “Here’s how it is now.” It’s not going to change the fact that a change is made, but it might help make it more palatable, gain buy-in on the new ideas or processes, and earn the trust of those I work with.
There’s a whole field of change management. I know it involves getting buy-in, setting expectations, and building up to the change. Maybe I’ll go study that some more and try not to do to others what was done to me. I had nightmares about having to implement something I didn’t know anything about!
Poor rigid Suna, ha ha. It’s just another effing growth opportunity, right?
Expressing anger is difficult for some of us. Like Suna.
No, no, I’m not angry about anything right now! Everything’s just fine. If you’re looking for drama, I’m not serving that up today. I’m just thinking about anger.
The book club meeting I attended on Zoom (of course, no in-person meetings for me!) today got on the topic of things we struggle with, and I brought up the fact that I totally suck at getting angry. The very nice women in the meeting were quite supportive of me, and the consensus was not to expect to be great at something you don’t have a lot of experience with. They were right!
Even as a child, I was discouraged from getting angry. If my little brother pestered me, I was told to, “Just ignore him.” And if I did get angry and yell or hit back after he slapped me, I’d get spanked. So, I fairly quickly learned to bottle up any anger I had and to arrange things to be as peaceful as possible in my little world.
Hence, I ended up an Enneagram Number Nine. As the website says:
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.
That probably also explains my initial resistance to change, even the good kind!
Another thing it explains is why I’m always trying to attain some sort of spiritual transcendence; it’s another way to escape the real world. At least I have the sense to know that “the only way out is through,” and am coming to terms with the whole “life is suffering” concept.
Anyhow, I am just not good at getting angry. Not one bit. I can’t be like Anita, who often declares she’s angry at this that or the other, but she just expresses herself strongly. I keep thinking, “Why is she angry at that? I’m sad, or…some other emotion.” That’s because if I try to express anger, it scares the pee out of people. You know, I also learned from my family or origin how to have a very sharp passive-aggressive tongue. Oopsie.
I can actually remember the two or three times I let my anger spill out. After one time, I was never able to bring myself into a particular community again. I just left and never came back. I’ve only let myself express anger at my spouse a couple of times in all these years. I just get snippy on occasion then over-apologize for it.
Dang, I need to learn how to legitimately express anger when it’s appropriate without alienating people forever, or turning into a sniveling ball of self-abuse. Those seem to be my main anger outlets. I’m just not equipped to be an angry mob of one, I guess.
As my colleagues in the book club pointed out, it helps to remember you’re angry at a situation. (And I point out that it helps to remember people are doing the best they can; though when I’m angry at an institution, that’s hard to apply.) If kindness is my main value, I should apply it to both the object of my anger AND me, right?
This is pitiful, I know, but I Googled “effectively express anger” (because, how else do you figure things out these days?) and I got this:
Address An Issue Immediately Before It Escalates. …
Take A Walk. …
Try A Simple Breathing Technique. …
Try Getting In Some Rigorous Exercise. …
Journaling Can Be Another Great Way To Process Anger. …
Well, I do all that! That’s not expressing anger, it’s dealing with anger. Those are all the tools I use to maintain the peace and not rock the boat.
I turned to that oracle of knowledge, WikiHow, who went through all the above anger mitigation techniques that I already do, then FINALLY gave some advice on how to express it! That’s what I wanted!
Choose to express your anger assertively. Assertive expression of anger is the most constructive way to express your anger. Assertiveness cultivates mutual respect for each other. You can still express your anger, but you do so in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. You have mutual respect for each other.
Assertive communication emphasizes that both people’s needs are important. To communicate assertively, give the facts without making accusations. Simply state how the action made you feel. Stick to what you know and not what you think you know. Then ask the other person if he is willing to talk. 
For example, you might say: “I was hurt and angry because I felt like you were belittling my project when you laughed during my presentation. Can we talk and work this out?”
Enough with the background colors. I didn’t mean to make you all sick.
After reading the information, I conclude that it makes sense, and sounds a lot like things I’d read in all my “how to get along with people” courses and such. I know I try to do that, and sometimes do. I just need to work on my tone, maybe.
In any case, if you have an anger problem, whether inability to express it or expressing it too much, how have you dealt with it? There’s so much anger in the world right now, it might be helpful to band together and make an effort to say what upsets us without turning the audience away completely.
I shall now go look at nice, happy animals and stop with all this self-analysis.
It happens. Happened to me. I was trying to be a good friend, but didn’t use good judgment. Did it go unnoticed?
Nothing goes unnoticed today, and by the end of the day, numerous people had reported to my spouse that I had made a mistake. Small town living at its finest.
That kind of thing can make you feel paranoid! Or, in my case, a lot of the work I’ve been doing on my “stuff” can fall away, and I end up acting like teen Suna with all the negative self-talk bubbling up.
I’ll take that as an educational moment, and one that can provide helpful insight into how my inner workings work, and maybe how many of us work. We may work to change ingrained patterns and know what our triggers are, but every so often, we’ll fall back into that hole.
What’s important is to learn to quickly pick ourselves up, reflect on what we can do differently next time, and (most important) shake off that self criticism and crawl out of the hole more quickly each time it happens.
I even DREAMED I was climbing a rickety ladder, trying to get out of a hole. Like I’ve said before, my dreams contain very un-subtle metaphors.
Hug yourselves, friends. Our imperfect selves are here to learn to love and forgive not only others, but ourselves.
How do you forgive yourself? Through prayer, meditation, invoking a higher power, or reading? Searching the internet for quotes by your favorite healing author?
What are some useful things to tell yourself (asking for a friend, ha ha)?