Today I have been angry the entire day, and although the emotion is justified, its intensity most probably is not. Despite knowing this, I have not been able to regulate the feeling and it has been upward of 6 hours.
The thing about anger for me is that it is usually accompanied with a deep sense of shame, as I feel I have “no right” to get angry with people; it is as though my self-worth is too negligible to warrant even healthy anger being justified. I was given the message that anger is an emotion I am neither allowed to have nor to show. So it is something I struggle with, for sure.
My solution to anger used to be to self-destruct; whether through self-harming or abusing drugs or eating disordered behaviours or behaving rebelliously and disrespectfully towards the person or institution at the source (albeit in a convoluted – and perhaps seemingly manipulative – way). However, I’m at a stage in my recovery where I can control for the most part whether I react in these ways or not, and right now none of them are options I am going to choose.
I do want to get angry with university, and feel that my anger is justified, however I also know that acting on it is not going to be effective. If I act on my anger, especially considering the little power I have in this situation, the only person it will damage is myself.
So, I’ve been trying to Turn the Mind all day, with the hopes of cultivating some Radical Acceptance. It is not working. I am stuck feeling angry – and stuck hating feeling angry – yet I don’t know how to get rid of it. Despite all the skills I’ve used, they have only taken it away temporarily, but the residual anger lingers.
One recent therapy homework assignment was to try and describe my emotional experiences descriptively, in a very prescriptive way – “When I feel X, I notice Y”.
So, I’ll try that now for anger:
- When I’m angry, I notice my face gets hot and goes red
- When I’m angry, I notice my fists clench up
- When I’m angry, I notice my body feeling tense and tight
- When I’m angry, my feet and toes curl up
- When I’m angry, I notice my teeth clenching together
- When I’m angry, I notice my breathing becomes louder and less consistent
- When I’m angry, I notice my lips become pursed together or I start biting the inside of my cheeks
- When I’m angry, I notice my leg shaking or tapping compulsively
- When I’m angry, I notice my thinking dramatically narrowing
- When I’m angry, I notice feeling like I need to claw or pick at myself
- When I’m angry, I notice my chest feeling constricted
Not sure what this exercise is supposed to do as I’m not in Wise Mind to think straight right now, but at least I’m being #effective…