Miraculously an article appeared in my Inbox forwarded by NPR Health – it was about anger and it could not be more timely as rage has become my middle name. I had a series of mental health interviews at the time of my incarceration and a routine question is:
They: Do you have thoughts of harming yourself or others.
Me: I do not have any thought of harming myself but I am not to fond of the guards at King’s County Jail. But of course, I am not going to kill them.
They: I wouldn’t think so, and I understand your anger at those people who hurt you.
But it rage remains an issue and so it was with joy I began reading an article written by Michaeleen Doucleff. Here is how it began:
“Over the past three years, I’ve had one major goal in my personal life: To stop being so angry.Anger has been my emotional currency. I grew up in an angry home. Door slamming and phone throwing were basic means of communication.I brought these skills to my 20-year marriage. “Why are you yelling?” my husband would say.”I’m not,” I’d retort. Oh wait. On second thought: “You’re right. I am yelling.”
The appearance of a baby girl in her life led her to make an effort to curb her anger so Doucleff saw Lisa Feldman Barnett a psychologist at Northeastern University who spoke of a concept, suggesting that she could increase her emotional granularity, which meant that she should: “Go learn more emotion words and emotion concepts from your culture and other cultures” Apparently anger isn’t one emotion but rather a whole family of emotions and learning to identify the differences can be a tool for regulating anger. .
“The idea is to take a statement that’s broad and general, such as, “I’m so angry,” and make it more precise. Take the Thai: “I’m displeased,” or the German “Backpfeifengesicht!”
Apparently if you have emotional granularity you are less likely to shout or hit someone, less likely to binge drink when stressed. Looks like a handy thing to have! And people with major depressive disorders have low emotional granularity compared to healthy adults. Bring on this emotional granularity.
So it works like this: “Being granular with you anger helps you figure out what’s the best way to handle the situation — or whether you should do anything at all.
For instance, if you are feeling a quick burst of anger, which you know will fade rapidly, then maybe doing nothing is the best strategy.”
So what one does is analyze your angers, give them specific names and start using the terms with all those around you. What fun this is going to be!
The author came up with three or four. The first was illogical anger, when someone makes a decision that is completely illogical. She decided it was a waste of time to try to convince an illogical person to be logical – so she gave it up. Then hurry-up anger which is when someone is not doing something fast enough. My God, do I have that one as I am famed for my impatience. She decided that: “ Huffing and puffing doesn’t make it faster.” Trust me, I am not there yet, but am slowly seeing that tardiness and non-responsiveness is the other person’s problem, not mine. I have a right to feel impatient and perhaps that relationship is not the best for me. Then she has something called disophous anger which I do not understand and therefore cannot translate for you. It has to do with kids, dogs and husbands, it is no wonder that I don’t understand it.
So I learned a lot from the article but my anger was cooled by another method. I received a series of emails from London David. They began with a precious message from him, the subject line was Some Pictures to Cheer You Up. .
He: Dear Alexis, so distressing to hear your news: a time in jail – how terrible. Having checked you out on the blogs, I am so pleased to find that you have bounced back from the ordeal. I really knew you would, of course. You are a tough little girl. In New Zealand, we came across the Wanaka tree, so will send a few more pictures and hope you find them comforting! Lv DavidGreg
Me: It worked! It worked! It worked. I will include this on the blog with one, two or three of the images. One will definitely be the one with the piano as it contains an element that I find so soothing, music. I can analyze why I found the series of pictures so comforting but it is an individual insight based on my own life. But brother, did it ever work. With much love, Alexis
So there are good people (David/Greg) and bad people (Goon Guards). And just as there can be no joy without sorrow; there can be no good without bad. That thought should mellow you out. The pictures should be attached if I can figure out how to do it. Sometimes I need a slave but if they brought back slavery I would be the slave and not the Master. I have a good sense of reality.