Posts tagged ‘labels’

April 4, 2011

Women and anger

by Dandy

The past couple of weeks I’ve received a few emails from women concerning my post on Boundary Lessons.  This has created some lively discussion on women’s issues, anger, betrayal, forgiveness, expression.  So I’ve been asked to write about this topic some more. 

There was a rough patch in my life awhile ago that caused me to have some serious anger issues.  I didn’t like experiencing  that emotion and sought out counseling and read many, many books about the subject.  I would like to share some of the tools I’ve learned. 

Know your triggers

For most women, our triggers are around issues of power, justice, and responsibility.  We  become angry when we cannot meet our own expectations, when we cannot change frustrating circumstances from work or home, and being treated unfairly or disrespectfully.

The self-esteem factor

Venting anger is even more harmful than keeping it in.  Labels like bitch, shrew, ball-buster mean to undermine self-esteem.   To enhance self-esteem people need to feel loveable, and competent, and venting anger does neither of these.  Having low-self esteem makes people more likely to be easily provoked and to express their anger in volatile ways.  When we are angered we  tend to regard innocent acts and words as personal affronts, further undermining self-esteem. 

Another counterproductive response to anger (this one was so me) is a tendency to ruminate and brood about the precipitating event, construing it as unfair and deliberately provoking said rumination only worsened angry feelings.

When we have high self-esteem we have fewer anger symptoms and are much less likely to brood about the events that provoke anger.  We also have a less propensity to become angry or to keep anger in, or to vent it. 

Rather than suppressing anger or negatively expressing it, women with high self-esteem tend to discuss their anger in a problem solving way, either with a confidante, or with the person who provoked it, or both.

Women with high self-esteem also do not have to busy themselves with protecting a fragile sense of self, but can identify the salient aspects of the anger producing situation and approach it from a problem solving stance.

Women who suppress their anger also suffer from low self-esteem, because they’d allowed themselves to be treated as doormats or punching bags.  Occasionally after prolonged suppression, their anger would erupt in a way that was out of proportion to the triggering event, making  them feel guilty and worthless, further lowering self-esteem( this was me too).

 

The difference between venting and expressing

*Analyse what makes you angry with out walking around it.  Without blaming or reaching for complaints.  Recognize it.  Validate it by writing it down. 

*Admit your anger, feel it out.  Exercise, yell into a pillow.  Go running.  Tear apart old phone books. Depending on the intensity of the emotion this may not always be necessary, some may prefer to draw, paint, or write in a journal.  Expressing anger in this way is so positive and healthy, and it is not venting out, hurting people.  Regardless of whether or not they make sense our feelings are an essential part of who we are – no longer allow repression.  With expression there is no room for it!

* Understand the deeper meaning.  Once you’ve allowed yourself to really feel it and you are aware of where or who it has been directed to.  There is almost always another feeling behind anger. 

* Set boundaries!  Plan ahead.  Say what you want.  Hold yourself responsible for your own happiness.

* Know your limits.  Recognize those triggers.  Find the roots of them.

* Value yourself and forgive.  Forgive others for not always getting it right.  Forgive yourself.

On a side note, any emails sent to me will absolutely, positively be private.  I do not share emails or names, and do not discuss private conversation with anyone, ever.  Privacy is a huge issue for me!  If there is anything you would like to discuss or comment on in private please email me at thereflectiveself@hotmail.com

December 30, 2010

The Highly Sensitive Person Part 2

by Dandy

If you have ever been told, “you are too sensitive,” or “you need a thicker skin,” chances are you are a highly sensitive person.  Those of us who are highly sensitive have heard these comments all our lives.  It is very difficult to get a person who is not highly sensitive to understand what it is like to have our kind of experiences.  It would be like asking an elephant what it is like to be a butterfly.  That elephant could spend its long life studying butterflies, maybe even try to get in touch with his inner butterfly self.  An elephant cannot stop ever being an elephant and a highly sensitive person (hsp) cannot stop being highly sensitive.  Some people may view this innate ability as a weakness, because there is no therapy, exercise, or pill to fix it.  There are some of us hs individuals who do not wish to “fix it” anyway.  One reason being is that the non-highly sensitive person can benefit from our compassion.  Compassion is just one of many wonderful traits the hsp possesses.  Other benefits are creativity, intuition, right brain intellect, and strong multi-tasking abilities among so many others.  A person not being able to understand the hsp doesn’t mean that they cannot learn how to treat us with kindness and love.  The example set out by Jesus is proof.  In my opinion Jesus was a hsp and he encouraged and inspired great love and compassion from others. 

Hsp make excellent healers, counselors, advisors, and leaders in part to our intuition and ability to read people.  We pick up on the emotions of others very, very easily.  Hsp have strong artistic, musical, and writing abilities.  We have an appreciation for art, animals, and children.  We can read people by their tone of voice, body language.  We also feel deep, profound sense of justice and fairness, hence the reason why we make great leaders and authority figures.  We have a keen attention to detail and fastidiousness.  We have a strong connection to nature and the spiritual world.  Many people who have psychic abilities are hs.  We revel in peace, quiet, and calm and have the ability to get into deep meditation.  Our relationships are usually deep, meaningful, and can last a very long time, because we are loyal people.  When we fall in love we usually fall fast and hard.

There is a flip side to being hs.  We are easy to hurt and can become quite isolated and cynical.  We are slow to heal from trauma and it is crucial for the hsp to be taught to appreciate and how to work with our sensitive natures.  Since the publication of Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person over 10 years ago, acceptance of the hsp has been gaining in the psychological community and in our culture.  There are now educators, therapists, psychologists, and life coaches who specialize in working with hsp.  More and more books are being written to help people who are highly sensitive.  If you have a hs child, you owe it to them to educate yourself about this, especially the younger they are.  It may even take a hsp to point out that a child is hs to a non-highly sensitive parent.  It is also important for the hs child to appreciate their unique traits and learn how to keep themselves from being overwhelmed.  Children often do well with yoga and meditation.  It is important to not label them as overly sensitive.  There is no such thing as being overly sensitive.  There is such a thing as a sensitive person being overwhelmed with too much stimuli, and unable to handle it.

I remember as a child the noise and chaos of my 1st grade classroom.  One particular day the high-pitched voices, overly bright lights, the heat of the classroom, the noise coming from a record player in the background became all too much.  I needed a moment to put my head down in all this stimulation.  So that’s what I did.  I covered my arms over my head to block out the excessive stimuli.  I see now that what I was trying to do was center myself, only of course being 6 years old, I did not have the vocabulary to explain my needs.  My teacher Mrs. Johnson was worried I may be ill.  She brought in another teacher to see about me.  I couldn’t explain myself to them.  But having these 2 large adults stand over me made me feel there was something wrong with me.  None of the other children needed a break from the chaos like I did.  I felt alone.  It was the first time in my life I felt defected.   Fortunately with Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person these situations do not have to happen.  I believe it should be a required read for every teacher.

It’s taken many years for me to realize that being a highly sensitive person really, truly is a gift.  By no means is it a defect.  I was just surrounded by people who didn’t understand it.  I love having insight into problems that others do not seem to have.  I love having a perspective that others do not.  I love hearing from people, “oh, I didn’t think of it that way.”   Many, many times in my life I’ve been told I have a strong and unique insight.   So despite the hurtful and confusing moments of my early years, I would not change being a hsp.  I choose to see the pros over the cons.  I’ve stopped apologizing for being sensitive.  I’ve honed in on my gifts and am aware of how it benefits me and others.

The world needs all sorts of people.  We need the straight talking, tell it like it is sort.  We need their tenacity and strength.  People who don’t need to contemplate and deliberate, they get in and get the job done.  Those are wonderful qualities.  The world needs the sensitive types as well.  We need insightful people who just seem to “know” things.   People who bring forth great compassion and understanding.  The world is complex and so are the people who are in it.  Isn’t it extraordinary?

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