Wednesday, March 16

Responding, Not Reacting, Part I, Calmness in the Eye of an Emotional Storm ...................3/16/11

    It's important shel-tering ourselves. 

    Especially when overwhelmed by the crushing waves of abuse. This is also true when we're experienc-ing despair, frustra-tion, self-loathing or the negative behavior of others. This was the case yesterday.

         An critical part of my personal growth is Al-Anon Family Groups. It's an amazing organization.  It's been an emotional and mental life saver.  For more about it, see the footnotes.  As, always, take what you like and leave the rest. 

       It's easy sur-rendering our boundaries. To be intimidated.  A natural reaction when relating with an angry or manip-ulative individual.  Below is my re-sponse to such an occasion.  

         I'm thankful I no longer please unpleasant people.  I don't bear the burden of anoth-er's misbehavior.  Nor do I submit to overbearing conditions.  For more about that, you might want to read this

       Yesterday was a humdinger of a day.  Quite a bit of turmoil.  Relating with a volatile person does that. 

     I was encouraged seeing that in spite of the turbu-lence of her actions, I took time, noticing what was going on within me.  That wasn't my tendency as a kid.  Thank God for personal growth; it helped me thrive in spite of yesterday's difficult circumstances.

       Years ago, I believed the needs of others were more important than mine.  Now, I know better.  Understanding the importance of paying attention to my behavior, thoughts and feelings has increased the joy and satisfaction I now have.  Even if we are not aware we are not nurturing ourselves, our spirit and soul require attention.
                  Depression is our neglected psyche issuing a silent scream.  This negative, draining emotion is letting us know we are not taking care of ourselves.  Emotionally we are experiencing an unmet need.
    While not depressed yesterday, I yearned for tranquility.  Applying healthy principles permitted emotional safety. Even during a  moment of intense drama.  I'll list them in today's gratitudes. 

 1.  I'm thankful it's best staying present when in a crisis.  It's better responding. Way better than reacting. 

When I react during an emotional storm, it's my loss.  I end up giving away big chunks of my values.  Trying to soothe the situation by giving in, is a bust.  Manipulators, angry or abusive others taste our vulnerability when we do this.  Bad idea.   

          This 's not my response now.  For more about dealing with Emotional Bullies, you might want to read this.  This link provides an excellent article: Words Do Hurt--Stop Bullying From Affecting Your Health. 
           Bullies are more than thugs who harass kids on school play-grounds.  They are not just those who occupy the seami-er parts of town.  They can be our adult siblings, our spouse, our boss, among others.  Yikes!
2.  As I get stronger, I am not rattled when "bad" things happen.
3.  I'm grateful that---with practice---while enduring another person's  emotional maelstrom, I can emotionally step aside, using emotional aikido. 
     I can pause and decide my response.  This is what police, fire fighters do.  Also those who work in psychiatric hospitals.  Best approach when facing a crisis.  Considering our options, asking,"what can I do to take care of the situation?"
4.  I'm thrilled that moments that years ago would have disturbed me can now be seen with humor.  I'm thankful for a viewpoint that sees through the prism of healthy principles.  This lens allows my joy to remain, even while enduring significant pressures. 
5.  I'm thankful for skills that allow me to thrive during moments that at one time overwhelmed me. 
     Yesterday, it was helpful detaching, while remaining courteous, yet firm, towards a person who yelled at three different people, including the mailman (poor guy).  She had just smashed a flower pot, dirt, flowers and all, on the floor, smashing it to pieces, in her living room.
      If only she could have been a little more emotional. (I'm kidding.)
6.  I'm happy that, when I witnessed this emotional meltdown, I was calm. 

     The muscles in my face were relaxed.  I spoke in a measured manner.  My heart rate, wasn't too elevated.  

      Of course adrenaline kicked in----I'm human.  During the drama, my options, I considered.  One of them was getting out of there, away from that person.
     It is good knowing I am not a helpless victim.  I have choices.  Doing what provided serenity, during an intense, un-pleasant mo-ment, was my priority.  

     After the episode settled down, I left.  Time elsewhere, enjoying hours free from emotional drama, doing something that nurtured me, was the tonic chosen.

Not Letting Others Affect My Serenity or Joy 

         I'm fortunate that I don't allow others to determine my moods or define who I am.  That's being codependent.  For more about that, you might want to look at this.  When I need the applause of others to feel good about myself, I give them power over me.  Not a good idea.  (Courage to Change, Virginia Beach,  Al-Anon Family Groups, Inc., 1992, 9, Print) 

        I'm thankful that yesterday, when I had an opportunity to do spiritual weight lifting, I did.  For several reps, I calmly lifted the weight of a dramatic situation.  Towards the emotionally intoxicated person, I was compassionate, yet detached.

        I've learned that pigeons do what pigeons do.  I've learned not to sit under a tree that has pigeons roosting in it.  I don't take a pigeon's behavior personally.  Angry people are caught up in their misery.  Many don't  know how to express their needs.  Anger is a tragic expression of needs.  It either alienates, infuriates or freezes those encountering it.

       I'm glad every time I respond to abuse or drama, using healthy, compassionate, assertive principles, I get stronger.  It also gets easier, responding from strength----not fear.  Also, acting this way in the future becomes more likely.

       It feels good, not being manipulated by anger---not caving in to guilt, shame, blame or fear.  When relating with others in a nonviolent way, I'm placing principles above my personality.  Please see footnote 1. 

      My response yesterday, while in a maelstrom of someone else emotional relapse is a huge change.  Abuse I endured as a child. Please see footnote 2.  My nature, before----and now, if I don't exercise the presence of mind which recovery from codependency offers----was passivity.  I'd either become frozen with fear or withdraw and isolate. Those were two ways of protecting myself. 

       I once permitted abuse to shower upon me.  I felt I deserved it.  Now, I know that thought is an outright lie.  Once, I was a doormat.  Now, and yesterday, I got up off the floor. (Courage to Change, p. 361)

       Seeing myself emotionally mature is gladdening.  Transforming from being emotionally the age of a seven year old to that of a mature man in his late twenties (even though I'm older than that) is heartening.  That's progress, not perfection.  And for that, I have an Attitude of Gratitude. 

How About You? 
What helps you to stay "centered" when you are pushed by the emotional storms of others? 

1. Al-Anon Family Groups is an international organization for friends and relatives of alcoholics, whether this person is actively drinking or not. Click here to find a meeting near you. 

     It is in no way related with Alcoholics Anonymous. This is an entirely separate organization, helping those who have been affected by the effects of alcohol in another. 

    Members learn how to deal with emotional abusers, less than pleasant bosses, intimidators, issues of control, perfectionism, and other problem behavior characteristics often found where others are chemically dependent or emotionally repressed. Al-Anon Family Group (AFG) members learn to clean their side of the street, how to take care of themselves. 

      Even if a person doesn't relate with an alcoholic, attending may help that person recover from passivity, fear, self-loathing. Members learn that establishing healthy boundaries is key for emotional health.  There are open meetings for those who want to learn more about this organization. 

2. "Looking within is essential from the effects of another's drinking [or abuse], for although we may have experienced difficulties and trauma in our formative years, it is actually the continuing reaction to these things that troubles our lives today. Although we may have left the alcoholic [or abuser], we did not escape the turmoil, guilt,  insecurity, rage, and fear we knew in our youth.  In fact, we were suffocating in our own unhappy habits (or emotions), never realizing  that another way, a spiritual way, could allow us to draw  life-giving breaths of hope, friendship, and love. 

    "Awareness does not settle everything, nor does change happen overnight.  Spiritual growth takes  time. Making the "new" [our recovery from less than perfect circumstances] a familiar and comfortable part of ourselves takes personal commitment and the support of help us on our way."   From Survival to Recovery, p. 268. 

1 comment:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Wow this was truly a powerful post. You have a very inspirational blog and i would love to become a follower. Feel free to follow mine as well. I look forward to future posts.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.