Where You Feel

Did you ever notice…

…that you feel sadness in your throat? That feeling when you’re about to cry?

That you feel anger in your chest? That your lungs constrict and it’s hard to breathe?

That you feel fear in your gut? That you get nauseous with every moment closer?

And that you feel happiness, well, everywhere?

I’ve noticed that. And I can’t help but feel that our bodies aren’t getting the credit they deserve.

So, remember your body and all that it can do for you every day and every night. Not just in what you feel but your other senses too. You usually only appreciate things when they’re gone, but you should appreciate your body always – especially when it allows you to cry, get angry, feel afraid, and enjoy happiness.

Love,

Bailey

Anger is a Splinter

When you think about emotions, what comes to mind? What does happy look like? Is it a group of friends laughing together? What does sadness look like? Is it raindrops running down a window? What does fear look like? Is it a dark room with a single door?

And what about anger? Is it more than the color red?

For me, anger is not an emotion in the traditional sense. It is a reflex in much the same way that someone may tap your knee, and it will respond with a kick. In simpler terms, you may notice that anger is first out of you when something bad happens, instead of an emotion like sadness, because you haven’t had time to rationalize or process your feelings yet. Once you have taken the time to think it through, you turn to another emotion to cater to your expressive needs.

On the other hand, sadness, happiness, and even fear are not reactive. They are the product of something, but only after you’ve had time to ruminate. Anger is somewhat pure in that it is not tainted by thought, and actually, it is so strong because it’s devoid of thought entirely.

But of course, anger is problematic as a result of its nature. You may find yourself lashing out because of not being able to form what it is that you want to convey, and so anger beats you literally and metaphorically to the punch.

This is why anger is like a splinter.

Splinters. You will notice when you get one…or at least you think it’s a splinter. It could be just a little bump of unusual pain in the middle of your hand. You don’t really know because you can’t see anything. All you know is that you are hurting and the sharp sting of the tweezers is not making it any better.

It’s the same thing with anger. You don’t really notice that anything has happened until you are crying and honking uncontrollably at the car that cut you off. You don’t really think that you are upset until you are eating your feelings and swaddling yourself into a snuggie. You don’t really know what’s come over you, but you would love to start a fight club right after your book club. Anger is also a generalized, unreachable pain.

Now the trick is to head off your anger. You have to identify the exact issue you are angry at, the exact position of the splinter. Because your pain and frustration radiates and poisons everything else if you don’t. It creates layers and layers and layers until you are shouting at a shadow when you should really be telling a loved one “I’m sorry.”

Simply remember that anger is a symptom like pain, and that it is does not represent the emotion that you are actually feeling. Rather, anger is a substitute, a filler, and until you can identify what you should be really feeling (frustration, grief, jealousy, confusion), you need to root around with your tweezers until you can find the right spot. Ask yourself: Okay, I know the barista getting my order wrong is not what I’m actually cheesed off about, but what is making me so upset? It may be momentarily painful for you, but it will save everyone around you their own anger.

And even more like splinters, remember that anger is pretty much unavoidable. It would be great if it never happened again, but since that is unlikely, it’s simply best if you kept a pair of emergency tweezers nearby. And of course, ask for help when you need it.

Anxiety & Anger

I started my day out with a man silently cursing me out in the third lane of a highway.

It was sort of like something out of The Exorcist because his head spun around to yell at me over his shoulder, but it definitely wasn’t The Exorcist at the same time because we were both driving to work on a dreary Monday. (Oh, and there was no pea soup.)

And while I understood his frustration and even admit that maybe half of those curse words could have been warranted, I had a weird reaction to it all. I sort of guffawed while trying to choke down my anger.

One side of me said that it was absolutely ridiculous to get that angry inside of a car. I mean, it’s sort of like space, isn’t it? No one can hear you scream, and you’ll use up your oxygen for nothing? Besides, there are plenty of things to focus your anger at besides cute bloggers who drive poorly. (Like why we haven’t solved homelessness or revived the Wishbone series for kids.)

But of course, then another part of me decided she was angry, too. My blood pressure started to rise when I realized that this man was aggressively shouting at me because I was going the speed limit. I felt like defending myself, loudly, to no one. What do you want from me?! The black pedal next to the gas is called the brake, and contrary to popular belief, it will NOT hurt your car if you press it from time to time.

Of course, neither of these reactions were truly appropriate. So, I took the rest of the car ride to think about how I really needed to feel.

And this is what I’ve realized: when you’re angry, you need to think about the bigger picture. But when you’re anxious, you need to focus on a single moment.

Believe me. I tried every way ever presented in the media to calm myself down after this encounter. I took deep breaths, counted to ten, then twenty, then thirty. I even turned up the radio to drown out my thoughts for awhile. But I found myself to be angry still. Pissed, actually.

And that’s when I realized that I wouldn’t even remember this encounter when I got home that night (and this was true. Sort of.) And that tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t recall what had happened. And the day after that, well, I daresay the whole thing will have been forgiven and forgotten. (You know, if I wasn’t documenting it on this blog…)

In essence, I realized that I had to focus on the bigger picture, if only to figure out that my anger was completely worthless in the smaller one.

And I also decided during my drive that anxiety should get the inverse remedy.

Personally, I get anxious when I’m thinking about too many things at once. And it happens all the time. I could be simply enjoying my Wednesday afternoon when I feel a punch in the gut over what I did four weeks ago, or what I need to do tomorrow. I break out into a cold sweat and hyperventilate about the lack of time I have. But this is where you need to focus on your breathing. For me, it works to separate everything into “moments” interspersed with deep breaths. It helps to make everything a bit more manageable.

But weirdly enough, we tell people to take deep breaths when their angry instead of looking to the future (calm down? CALM DOWN? CAlm dOWn?!) and broaden their thinking when they get anxious instead of telling them to focus on a single moment (Don’t talk about the “what ifs.” Think about what could go right in addition to wrong.) Somewhere along the way, we got this mixed up.

Of course, your therapist has probably been telling you this for years. This isn’t new or ground-breaking information about anger and anxiety.

It’s just your general reminder to be aware of yourself and what you need. Take a time-out or a walk before anything gets too serious. Before, you know, you yell at a stranger. Any stranger, whether they have a weapon or not.

After all, it’s time that we took better care of ourselves. But it’s up to us all to start.

You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Tonight, we’re going to talk about our feelings.

No, seriously.

You can work to swallow them, hide them, or even pretend that they don’t exist. But feelings are a part of us, and without them, we’d all be Cybermen.

(Personally, I like to sing to in the car to expel my emotions. Performing a concert live where no one can hear me sing the wrong words and notes makes me feel like Beyonce, and we all know that no one can hurt the queen’s feelings.)

It was during one of these solos inside of my car that I realized something about one specific emotion: anger. Anger is unlike any other feeling because it is so fleeting. It transforms too quickly to envy, fear, sadness, or even apathy. We don’t really experience anger all that often, at least not in its purest form.

But when we do experience anger, and here’s where my revelation comes in, we are not angry in the way that we have made ourselves believe. Have you ever realized that when you are angry at someone or something it’s because they didn’t do what you expected them to do instead of being angry at them for what they did? Isn’t anger then simply surprise and confusion?

Think about it. When you were younger and you did something wrong, oh say, stuff a lot of tissues in the porcelain throne to see what would happen (like I did), you can probably remember that your parents were pretty angry. Or at least, you could probably guess that they would be very angry if you did such a thing. Why? Because you did permanent damage to the toilet? Maybe. But they could buy another one. Because you purposefully tried to break something? I guess, but you were just a kid.

No, it was because you weren’t acting as your parents were expecting you to act. I don’t know why, but most parents simply assume that their children will wear halos and do what they are told. And everything we know, from fairy tales to television shows, tells us that this is not true. So, kid goofs off, parents get angry, kid gets punished, kid promises never to do it again (with variable results).

Think of another situation. What about when you forget to buy something for your anniversary with your partner? Why does he or she get angry, you ask? Not because they really wanted a present, and not even because this is probably the fifth time you forgot. (Although, yes, it is probably the fifth time you forgot and that sucks for the other person.)  But the reason they are probably angry is because you are not acting as they’d expect you to act. 

Consider one more scenario. You have a best friend. You develop feelings for him or her. Then, when you build up the nerve to tell this person, he or she tells you that they are not interested, but they would like to stay friends. You, in turn, are angry. So, you declare yourself eternally in the “friend zone” (which does not exist) and proceed with whatever course of action that scorned lovers take. But really, you guessed it, you are only angry with your best friend because he or she did not act as you expected. This causes feelings of mistrust and hurt, and that’s understandable. But it isn’t your best friend’s fault for being honest with you.

Essentially, you need to evaluate the situation the next time that you find yourself angry at someone or something. Most often, you will find that you are angry because things didn’t go the way that you were expecting them to. And if you are going to be angry about that, then you are going to be angry for the rest of your life.

Turning Aggression into Creative Expression

I had one of those days.

One of those days where nothing goes entirely right. And also one of those days where everything does not go especially wrong, either.

Yes. One of those days.

And I chose to deal with it in a terrible way. I vented and ranted and tried my best to blow off some steam by blowing up in people’s faces. (Not literally. Imagine what a mess that would be!)

So, I decided to break the cycle. Instead of destroying the things around me, I had to build myself back up. What you all probably don’t know is that my most natural means of expression is not a blog. It’s poetry. And I’ve been neglecting my art a lot lately. So much so that I’m going to need to get back to basics by writing some haikus.

Haikus, by nature, are supposed to be filled with serene images of nature. But haikus also have a rigid structure that has always conveyed to me a sense of restraint, thus mirroring anger itself.

They’re also fun because they will take you back to Kindergarten, making you count out all of the syllables on your fingers.

Try sticking one of these haikus in your pocket for one of those days and see if it makes you unclench your fists for just a moment. Trust me, the knot growing in your back will really appreciate it.

Pity Party

Throwing a pity

party for yourself is hard.

There’s no confetti.

 

I Can’t

Seriously? Did

you just–No, no. I can’t with

you at all right now.

 

Irate

Irate. I would rate

my anger on a 10 scale

but it’s off the charts.

 

Just Say It

You’re disappointed?

What about me? I just used

all my syllables.

 

Breathe Deeply

If I breathe deeply

enough maybe I’ll suck the

air out of the room.

 

100 Words for Snow

There are a lot of

words for being mad but I

cannot pick just one.

 

It’s Worth a Shot

Do you think if I

yell loud enough the man in

the moon will hear me?

 

Subzero

I can’t take it. If

I hear one more person tell

me to cool it, I’ll–

 

Armed and Dangerous

I have two cookies

one for each hand and I’m not

afraid to use them.

 

Useless Tips

Breathe in. Breathe out. And

count to ten. And scream into

a pillow awhile.

 

Ah, that’s better. Happy Friday, everyone.

B.B. Gunn