Angry? Get Curious

 



Earlier this month I talked about how you can help someone with their first steps of regulation after they are flooded. After that, what is the next step?


Step 1: Acknowledge the feeling

Step 2: Get curious about where it came from


Anger, frustration and resentment all have the common thread of being energy in motion. Yet, so many of us do not enjoy feeling those which can lead to shame.


Are you angry or ashamed?

Resentful or feeling not fully respected?

Frustration or unable to focus?


Sometimes anger is a secondary response for..
  • A need that is not being met

  • A boundary that is being crossed

  • Something else you wish you could express in the moment


So, explore your own mind and in a moment of calm ask “how can I express myself in a way that will be authentic to who I am not not merely a reaction?”

If you’re having difficulty recognizing these underlying reasons or feelings it can make you feel overlooked and misunderstood. A licensed therapist can help you navigate this and give you healthier coping tools - feel free to reach out to my office to book an appointment or request a referral. 

Just Calm Down

 



Does reading that subject line alone tighten your stomach? In the history of humanity has there ever been an instance where somebody said “just calm down” and it then caused the irate/overstimulated/dysregulated person to think “wow, you are so right, I really need to relax, take a deep breath, get outside of my own situation and calm myself?” My thought is a big “Nope!” So, why doesn’t this statement have it's intended outcome? The person saying could be technically correct that the situation would benefit from the angered person to regulate, but have you ever wondered why saying that doesn’t land well with the person who is frustrated?

Here is my take on it - people want to feel heard. Saying something dismissive like “just calm down” completely leaps over all of their reasoning for being angered and can inflame the situation even more as now they are not only upset but also misunderstood.


If you are truly wanting to help someone who is in the throes of anger, try some of these statements and see how they land:


“Something about this is really hard. I believe you.”


“You and I are on the same team. Let’s work on figuring this out together.”


“I am here for you. I love you. You are safe”


“Seems like we could both use a little break. Let’s try that and come back together in 10 minutes.”


“It’s okay to feel angry. I feel angry too, sometimes.”



Did you say anything revolutionary? Not necessarily. But, you took the first step which is acknowledging this person’s feelings which sets you up better for the outcome of resolution. Now, should this be a recurring issue for someone in your life you may want to consider speaking to a professional licensed therapist (my door is always open) but for the everyday communication situations with loved ones try these out and let me know how it works.

Dancing in the Kitchen

 


When was the last time you turned up the music and danced in your kitchen?

If it has been too long for you to recall that means it is time TODAY to do that. It may seem silly and frivolous but studies have shown it can be so beneficial for your own mental health to let loose and move your body.


Brain Benefits
:

  1. Memory Boosting
    Music enhances learning and memory - just think, how did you learn your ABC’s? Through song! Dancing also creates new neural pathways and as a result your brain has an easier time accessing stored information.

  2. Enhanced Bonding
    The University of Oxford shows that dancing (“exertive movements in synchrony”) with others enhances bonding and creates a feeling of emotional closeness.

  3. Happy Hormones
    The endorphins released from dancing in sync with another person boosts the sense of connectedness - even babies can feel it! In the book “The Art of Changing the Brain” Dr. James E. Zull suggests that there is a connection between forms of movement such as play and dance with happiness.


So, what is stopping you? Go move your body! My current song to get down to is “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest - what is yours?

Ways to Love Your Friends

 



There are reasons that cliches are cliches… because there typically is some age-old truth in them. So, the old adage of “in order to have a friend, you need to be a friend” has stood the test of time for a reason.

It can be easy to look around you and wonder where are “your people” but first ask yourself are you that type of person? Are you being the kind of friend you would like to have?

Here are some suggestions for showing you care to those individuals in your life:
  • Write them a handwritten letter about a quality they hold that you admire

  • Keep a note in your phone when they casually mention their favorite sweet treat or something they’ve had their eye on purchasing

  • Set a reminder on your phone that recurs annually the week before their birthday to help you remember to get a gift

  • Shoot them a quick “thinking of you” text

  • Initiate plans and take care of the details

  • Listen to them when they speak and ask thoughtful follow up questions

  • Ask them specifically how they would like to be loved. There is nothing worse than hitting a bullseye on the wrong target.

I want to clarify these are suggestions for life-giving friendships that are built on equality, support, and respect. If you feel like you are giving 100% of the effort 100% of the time then reevaluating that friendship may be something to consider. If you aren’t sure where to begin, a licensed therapist can help you process and talk it through.

Relationships are the most precious currency we have as humans, be sure you are both investing in and withdrawing from people who are worth your time.

Looking at the Man (or Woman) in the Mirror

 


“I'm starting with the man in the mirror

I'm asking him to change his ways

And no message could've been any clearer

If they wanna make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make a change”
- Michael Jackson

The song “Man in the Mirror” is arguably one of the greatest songs about self-accountability and ownership. Yet, responsibility is easier said than done especially when it comes to emotions. If you are struggling with self-regulation, hare are some mantras you can hold on to as you have big emotions rise up in your body:

ANGER - I can pause, give myself a moment and step outside the room until I can respond more logically instead of reacting.

DISCOURAGED - I will be kind to myself and trust that I am doing my best with the knowledge I have and the circumstances I am in.

INSECURE - I can appreciate that I am a work in progress and the goal is not perfection but acceptance of my ownership.

STRESSED - I will breathe, take a moment for myself, and trust that it will all work out.

LONELY - I can reach out and text a friend letting them into my vulnerability and ask them for their support.

Sometimes these action steps can feel like climbing mountains. In that case, let me recommend speaking with a certified therapist about which of those emotions is the most difficult for you to manage. Therapy is a great tool for identifying our own personal triggers and using coping strategies to work through them. You already took the first step, which is acknowledgement and self-reflection, so know that self-regulation is possible too.




Mature Love

 


Humans love storytelling especially when it comes to the subject of romance. We enjoy starting with a “meet cute” which is followed by conflict that ultimately lands in a happily ever after. Yet, a two and half hour movie could only distill down bits and pieces of what makes a lifetime of love and never give the full picture of a real experience. 

The film industry typically likes to show young individuals getting swept off their feet, but what does it look like to invest in the long term?

There are aspects of mature love that are undervalued and underrated. But, should you be in a lengthened relationship and missing those butterfly feelings here are some concepts you can celebrate and appreciate.

Mature love…

  • Give space for each person to find their own hobbies

  • Knows there are bad days but that doesn’t waver the relationship’s foundation

  • Enjoys and appreciate one another’s souls in equal value or more than their body

  • Understands rich conversation is more valuable than text messages

  • Doesn’t compare its relationship to others

  • Is aware of the other person’s love language and values giving

Sometimes it can be difficult to appreciate what is right under your nose but taking a step back and seeing the beauty in the everyday, especially when it is underserved by the media. Yet, there are things that can go deeper than fleeting feelings that should be equally celebrated.

We Aren't All in the Same Boat

 



“We are not all in the same ‘boat.’
We are in the same ‘storm.’
Some have yachts, some have canoes and some are drowning.
Just be kind and help when you can.”
- Dameen Barr


So much is happening in the world - we are all still recovering from the collective trauma of a pandemic and then you throw in world conflict and it can feel all too much.


I reference this quote not to diminish anyone’s pain or difficulties they are going through, but to acknowledge that while you may seemingly be weathering the storm “better” than another person, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are weaker.


There are such things as prejudice and privilege that all can come into play as well. Although, instead of dissecting who may have been dealt a better or worse hand than you in life, I love how the author ends this - “just be kind and help when you can.”


We are all in this together. It can feel like “too much” sometimes and that’s when we need to reach out for help. Also, when we are faring well, let’s look out for one another and be of service where we can.