Once you understand something, it’s hard to stay mad at it.
We all have those things in our relationships … That Thing we can’t get over. Maybe it’s a part of your partners past, or a fight that keeps coming up over and over. Or maybe its that time when things got out of hand, that neither of you are quite over. Maybe it’s that parenting moment you are sure has ruined your kid forever. Maybe you are living with something that is compromising your values, and you don’t know what to do about it.
Once you understand something, it’s hard to stay mad at it.
Has someone figured out a way to get therapy with out talking about our childhoods yet?
In therapy, there are a few different approaches, and sometimes you can deal with an immediate problem at hand without a huge delve into the past. But when you want to more permanently solve a problem, typically, unearthing the cause is necessary. (Disclaimer: it should be said that as a client, you should only undertake to do so with someone you trust and feel completely safe with).
Do the trauma's we experience in childhood actually follow us through adulthood? What qualifies as trauma? What one person of one generation would call a "tough" childhood, we might now call "traumatic". And when it comes to preventative health care - including mental AND physical health - that is a pretty significant distinction.
Education is everything. Knowledge is power. There can be so much freedom and progress in understanding why.
This TED talk reviews the original ACE's Study, its groundbreaking results and encourages all health care practitioners to screen for childhood trauma and how to name those events that shape our length of our lives. Nadine Burke Harris does a great job describing the study, why its important for health care practitioners in particular to think about changing their practices.
Stories of childhood abuse are all around us.
I just finished reading Breaking Away, a memoir of NHL player Patrick O'Sullivan's devastating childhood experience at the hands of his abusive father. I could not put in down. Patrick tells his story in a way that any person who has experienced childhood abuse will instantly recognize: extreme isolation from community, not understanding why others did not help him, being emotionally isolated, being ashamed of the abuse and intuitively knowing to limit the amount you tell others for fear they would be too overwhelmed. Patrick's experience goes one step further in that he also went back to confront the bystanders. I would recommend it to anyone who has experienced childhood abuse, if only to crack the isolation of that experience.
And today, the deeply sad story of harrowing abuse unfolds in Toronto courtrooms as Melonie Biddersingh's father stands accused of extreme abuse and ultimately her murder. Journalist Rosie DiManno's statement in this story, "To the death roll of Randal Dooley and Jeffrey Baldwin, children starved to death and grotesquely mistreated while alive, right in our midst, add now the name of this 17-year-old who lived and died with nobody taking notice" demands that we start paying attention to each other.
The more we understand about what constitutes "trauma", the better choices we'll make, the more we'll know about what to call it when we see it, when to tell someone, when to ask for help, and how to move forward.
For more information, check out Ontario's Association of Children's Aid Societies: http://www.oacas.org, or speak to a trusted friend, counsellor, therapist, clergy person.
(potential spoiler alerts!)
I took my family to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out this evening, wishing and hoping that it would live up to all of the rave reviews I’ve heard since its release. Sometimes I’m totally swept up in a kids/family movie, sometimes I’m left really cranky as I fume about sexist stereotypes or standardized fairytale endings. As a therapist, our household is no stranger to talk about feelings, emotions, how to regulate, mindfulness and so on. So much so, that my family is just used to it …. we forget from time to time that other people don’t live with a constant stream of neuroscience talk happening in the background. I was thrilled to see a jam-packed theatre on a school night in our small town! Way to go families!
I’m not sure I can even yet appreciate just how innovative and exciting this movie is for kids and adults alike.
In Part I of Understanding Anger, we talked about anger as a healthy and normal emotion (at times). We also reviewed how anger unchecked can do a lot of damage in your life: on your physical health, your family and romantic relationships and on the job. We all get angry for different reasons – because we are all very different people, who have different life circumstances.
There is no one size fits all solution, but there are many strategies you can try until you find the one that works for you.
One of the first things to try and figure out, is what is your anger trying to tell you? Is your anger covering up for other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability? It’s hard to have those feelings come to the surface. However, I would invite you to consider one thing: when you let yourself admit that you aren’t perfect, that you are in fact human, you begin to let the walls down that keep people from truly connecting to you. Shame is a loss of connection to people, and specifically, the people you love.
How do we repair this?
An issue I come across more frequently than not these days is anger. Turns out, there are a lot of misconceptions, old wives tales and armchair ‘experts’ talking about anger, and it really confuses people.
To be transparent, there is also disagreement within the world of psychology about anger and it’s role as an emotion. Some consider anger to be a “secondary” emotion – meaning the thing that triggered your angry emotions is not real culprit, but something else entirely. In this sense, anger is indicative of some other unmet emotional need you have buried deeper within. And some argue it’s not quite accurate to say its ‘secondary’, because anger has a healthy purpose and is part of our human evolutionary design. It’s there to alert us to something going wrong in our world.
Anger itself is a normal emotion. How you show your anger, and how long it takes to recover from a trigger are really where the heart of the conversation lies. In women, anger can be triggered by our hormonal cycles. Our fuses are shorter, we might be more argumentative, we might be more prone to making a “mountain out of a molehill”. Hormones also influence men and testosterone is known to play havoc with young men’s lives. Some cultures or communities in our society tell us that for the most part, it’s wrong to express our anger outwardly, so we work hard to suppress these emotions. However, when we suppress our feelings, rather than process and feel comfortable to talk about them, we can run into trouble. Its also important to remember, our hormones have a natural function – perhaps they give us the courage to let these emotions come to the surface – in essence saying – “hey, pay attention to me, I need your help.”
Is it really that harmful to get angry?