I’m having a hard time with the news this week. I was heartbroken over the terroristic murders at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church, but I felt uplifted by the families’ faith and courage. And I was encouraged by the community’s response, thousands of them walking in unity over the Ravenel Bridge to show that hate wouldn’t win in their city. Then the state legislature found the courage to stand up to bullies and got the rebel flag off Statehouse grounds. So I was still very sad but I felt strengthened by the stand so many people took against hate.
Then came this week. Continue reading
“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” H.H. The Dalai Lama.
“Autoimmune disease. Heart disease. Chronic bowel disorders. Migraines. Persistent depression. Even today, doctors puzzle over these very conditions: why are they so prevalent; why are some patients more prone to them than others; and why are they so difficulty to treat?”
Sound like some outcomes of bottled up rage? Yeah, I thought so too.
This is a long read but well worth it, and it offers hope to adults whose “adverse childhood experiences”, or ACEs, may be affecting their physical and mental health decades later. The good news is that an ACE score can be partially offset by resilience factors, such as having other caring adults in a child’s life or the knowledge that even a flawed parent did love the child. You can test yourself for both ACEs and resilience here:
Got Your ACE Score?
I was raised in a household where children were never allowed to express anger. Not that all anger was forbidden or unexpressed — just children’s anger. A child’s anger was wrong — and bad. So I spent many years not admitting even to myself when I felt mad, and instead feeling sad and bad. And when I had children of my own, I wanted to teach them to know their emotions: to name them, acknowledge them and cope with them. Sort of like mindfulness for toddlers.
So I did a few things. I always told (and still tell) my kids clearly that I love them, every day if possible, even if it’s just a text now that my oldest is away at college. And when they did something that upset a member of the family, including me, I would say something like: “You did ___. That makes me sad. And mad. I am sad because (fill in the blank: you broke something I liked; you said something hurtful; you pushed your sister). I am mad because (fill in that blank: you know better; you hurt someone; what you did was wrong and here’s why).”
Then I would work with the child to address the situation: offer an explanation, clean up the mess, apologize to the sibling, take some time out to think about what just happened, reflect on why the kid did it, think of better ways to proceed next time. The idea was to model that we can be sad and mad, but those feelings don’t make us bad. It’s how we choose to respond to those feelings that can turn a situation bad.
I was reminded of this, reading another blogger’s eloquent post about Pagliacci, and anxiety and sadness, and how those can look like anger: Pagliacci Is In Town Tonight. I would add that not allowing yourself to feel mad can make you feel really, really sad. And THAT’S bad.
Illustration: Sad and Mad; found on thisisnthappiness.com
Photo credit: Jon Davidson, Office of President Clinton
The New York Times has just blogged that Hillary Clinton is presenting herself on the campaign trail as an “unapologetic” grandmother. Since when does anyone have to apologize for being a grandparent?
Taking Note: “Hillary Clinton, Unapologetic Grandma”
As the NY Times noted, given “the lack of respect generally afforded older women in America, asserting oneself as both grandmother and candidate still feels groundbreaking.” Okay, here’s a challenge to all the press: don’t write about Hillary Clinton in a way you wouldn’t write about a male candidate: no hairstyle critiques, no wardrobe commentary, no speculation as to whether family matters might make her withdraw from the field. Oh, and please stop body-shaming legendary female athletes while you’re at it. K, thanks.
Double Fault in Article on Serena Williams and Body Image
I am a middle-aged person whose life, public and private, demands self-control. But sometimes I just want to scream, and maybe you do too. I need an anger translator. This blog is my Luther.
Luther, Anger Translator
What is anger? Funny you should ask. The Disney movie “Inside Out” and comedian Lewis Black offer this brief explanation: Meet Anger .
An op-ed today calls for more white people to emulate Jenny Horne, the (white, Republican, female) state legislator whose passionate statement in favor of taking down the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina went viral yesterday: The Power of White Outrage, by Dorothy Brown.
Watch the video embedded in the article; you’ll see a vivid example of righteous middle-aged rage. One male legislator, an outspoken opponent of taking down the flag, who kept the debate going for thirteen long hours by proposing ridiculous amendments like one that called for the American flag to be hung upside down on the Statehouse if the rebel flag was taken from the grounds (patriotic, right?), told a reporter that Representative Horne’s statement was “unbalanced” and “self-serving.”
No, sir. What you saw was an intelligent, middle-aged woman, willing to stand up for what she knew to be right and for people she knew to have been wronged, who was mad as hell and not willing to take it any more. She won. Get used to it.