Saturday, 9 April 2011

me and anger

Contributor: Bill Longshaw

As a kid I got the idea that I shouldn’t feel angry. Getting angry did not usually end well for me, so I learnt not to express it. At least that’s what I tried to do. But during my recent radiation treatment for early breast cancer, in my emotionally vulnerable state, when one of the tattoos they gave me turned out to be much more visible, bigger, blacker and uglier than I was told it would be, I got really angry.

I spent sleepless hours fuming. I had lost control over what happened to my own body. I felt graffiti-ed. I withdrew from others because discussing this would only draw attention to it. And who would understand this anyway? They would only tell me I was being stupid. So I covered it up with a bandaid and began to think about a solution to the problem. I decided to speak to the doctor about the impact of this tattoo and to request it be removed after treatment. I was so nervous about this idea I felt sick. I sat in the waiting room with my heart pounding in my ears and my breathing shallow. Finally I went in. I left nothing unsaid, but was respectful and solution-focused. The doc was remarkable. He understood. He also agreed to arrange for the removal of the tattoo. I could not have hoped for a better result.

I hate being angry and I am not very good at it. So why use my ‘assertiveness muscles’? Well I figure I have a choice – be assertive or stoke up the internal pressure-cooker of anger which will seethe away inside. Assertiveness ends up being the lesser of two unpleasant choices and comes with the benefits of clearing the air, and greatly reduces the intensity of my anger.

What do you think of the social pressure that women shouldn't feel angry and men shouldn't feel sad? How are you with these unpleasant emotions? Do you have a strategy that works? Tell us. Click 'here' and share.

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