Friday, June 15, 2012

Do you keep losing it?

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape 100 days of sorrow. 
- Chinese Proverb

Research has shown that chemically anger lasts 4½ minutes in the body.  Anything longer and you are bringing other issues to the situation to burn as fuel.  Anger is a blanket emotion, it covers over deeper feelings, emotions you don’t want to admit to because they make you vulnerable.

It is often easier and more familiar to be angry than reveal your true vulnerability, and yet it is only through lowering our defences and revealing our vulnerability that we can feel connected.  Developing a kinder attitude and having the courage to communicate about the fear, insecurity or hurt that's beneath anger, creates a shift in attitude where, rather than reinforcing the conflict and hurt,  better understanding, greater trust and a more loving connection can grow 

Here is an exercise I use to get past the first level of anger.  Many clients have reported that they have used it to help them to get through to their children when there is an 'eruption'.  The purpose of this exercise is to access the hidden emotion by acknowledging the surface feelings first.  First acknowledge what is going on.
  • I feel angry because.........
Allow yourself to really get in touch with all the issues that are bothering you, as you work through the layers the emotion will change.  Ask yourself what you feel sad about?
  • I feel sad because ......
Again, dig deep and explore this vulnerable area.  if you are patient something deeper reveals itself.  What is it you're afraid will happen?
  • I'm afraid that ....
Fear is the force that hold us back and prevents us looking at the deeper issues.  You might be afraid of being alone, of feeling vulnerable, of having to feel the next layer of feeling. Every time we feel bad, we are feeling guilty.  It is a difficult feeling to process, but to achieve well-being it is vital we become conscious of how it drives us.
  • I feel guilty that ......
Guilt is our biggest sticking point - if we feel guilty about our behaviour and ashamed of who we are, we trap ourselves with a belief that we are unworthy. This is a deep and often well-hidden emotion, it is vital to maintain an attitude of compassion in this level of vulnerability, it will help to dissolve the pain and loosen the grip that shame and guilt have on our lives. If we hold on to shame and guilt, it drives our behaviour, fuels anger and generates a cycle blame and criticism where the disconnection between us and others grows, and we feel even worse.  
  • What would I like to have happen ....?
Developing compassion and empathy and having the courage to communicate about the fear, insecurity and hurt  that hides underneath anger, creates a safe emotional atmosphere where deeper understanding, greater trust and loving connections can grow.

The next time you feel you are losing it ask yourself what the real issue is.   Think of the sorrow you could lose and the love and compassion that could flow!

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