Professional Help, Activity 2: New routines to handle your anger and practice

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C.

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Reminder: In order to honor our group process we ask that only current members post and respond here please.  Thank you.

Note:  Your recovery is unique to you.  These topics and activities are suggestions.  Please feel free to do and respond to those that work for you at this time

2.   The major work of therapy during this stage is to develop a flexible control over your anger.  Anger in itself isn't bad, but the expression of it can be harmful to you and to others around you, and so you need to learn to differentiate situations and responses to those situations.  Identify situations where you lose control of your anger as well as situations where you need to use your anger more constructively to stand up for yourself.  Work out new routines to handle your anger and then practice these routines in your therapy sessions before trying them out in your everyday life.

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VeryFoggy

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I found this to be a little offensive.  The author of this workbook saying we ought to have flexible control of our anger. My problem has not been too little control of my anger, it has been too much control.

But it had to go somewhere.  And guess where it went?  Towards me.

But finally, thankfully, it is not directed towards me anymore. I see it, I feel it, and I know now I must change what I have been doing with my anger.

My latest idea that I plan to explore tomorrow with my therapist, is that I must stop trying to control other people, and stop trying to make people understand they should be nice to me because I am a nice person, or stop trying to make somebody marry me because I know we are going to be good for each other, or stop trying to  make anybody do anything at all.

I think today it is a boundary issue.  I have had no boundaries at all. And I have not had a clue of how to set them or enforce them. Because they were not allowed.  But I think if I sit down and make a very simple list of things I don't like, and then decide what I will do when I encounter these unpleasant realities, then my life will be much happier and much simpler. 

Instead of being the feral child watching everyone else, and trying to figure out what they will do next, instead if I will simply decide what is okay with me, and what is not, then that is a much simpler way to deal with the same problem. 

I see clearly now that this is how I have lived.  I was watching everybody else.  I was always trying to figure out what they were going to do next to me.  Because that is how I was raised. Who knew what that crazy guy would do next? So I treated the world the same way. Who knew what they would do to you?  There was no way of knowing.

But I don't have to live that way and in fact it is impossible.  There are too many people, and too many ways for people to act, for poor little me to ever figure it all out.  So if instead,  I set some rules for what is okay with me, and what is not okay, then I think I will be much happier.

I will run this idea by my therapist tomorrow and see what she says.

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bee

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I see what you are saying VeryFoggy. I too have held my anger far too tightly, I need to lose control a little, not hold tighter.

  Identify situations where you lose control of your anger as well as situations where you need to use your anger more constructively to stand up for yourself.  Work out new routines to handle your anger and then practice these routines in your therapy sessions before trying them out in your everyday life.

In my case this is what I want to learn how to do, stand up for myself. And it's not just learning how to do it, it's believing that I have a right to do so, that is the hard part.

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Kizzie

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I know what you are saying VF, it's not worded well.  I think what the author(s) might be suggesting is that we don't stuff anger down (over control it) nor let ourselves blow and hurt others (no control), rather that we learn to deal with anger in a healthy, life affirming way for us and an assertive and firm way with others (flexible control?).  That's just the way I read it FWIW. 

Whatever the case I agree wholeheartedly that we need to work through the anger, and not stuff it down any more.  It eventually pops out anyway or at least it dopes for me when I am triggered by a PD person. And when it does I don't feel like adult me has control, it is my IC that takes over and while she is not violent or deliberately hurtful, she expresses anger in a young way if that makes sense, and then afterward becomes so afraid, ashamed and guilty. 

I want to somehow help her to understand the anger is a good thing, it does help us survive and thrive even, but it is how we (I) express it and how she really feels about being angry that needs to change.  Anger is not bad, wrong, shameful all things she was told, rather it does help us to stand up for ourselves - just as you suggest Bee, but you're so right that it is hard to convince that little girl it's OK. 

Great threads this week! I was uneasy about talking about anger but it's really helping  :hug:

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marycontrary

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Ohhhh...I was such a good stuffer.....then exploder! See, only crazy woman express anger...LOL!

I find that getting huge amount of exercise, eating a diet very low in processed food, and not hanging around dicks to be wonderful for managing mood swings.

Everybody here!!!! Listen!!! You don't have to prove anything to anybody! A safe person will see your beauty right away. I used to also try to "convince" others that I was a decent human....NO MORE! If you are having to convince someone that you are worthy, you are dealling with a PD. Just develop that habit of saying Farck it!

I have gotten rid of so many mangy characters this way.

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C.

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Great point about not needing to convince other people.  Be authentically you.

VF you are definitely on to something with what you've written.  Reminds me of a personal Vision Statement or something along those lines.

On the topic of boundaries to prevent problems/anger what are some other examples that people have found useful? 

A couple I have are:

1) Reciprocity.  I like to do things for others, but they need to be ready to step up for me too.
  It needs to feel balanced.

2) No gossip or backbiting about other people.  This probably fits the empathy-impaired Mary mentioned.

I know that early on for me learning to assess another's capacity for empathy was crucial.  Because it's a boundary I want and need.  But, never having received empathy from either parent I couldn't recognize it's absence.  It's been through this forum and my T that I've learned to recognize lack of empathy by others.  So my point w/this is that the boundary part can be complicated.  Like before certain behaviors of people to me caused me stress, but I honestly didn't know what the behavior was.  Now I know that it was lack of empathy.  So we have to dig up our boundaries and learn them ourselves before we can present them to the world...

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VeryFoggy

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MaryContrary - You always crack me up!  Thank you for the laugh but you are s-o-o-o right!  The dying to convince someone that I am a nice person is left over from childhood too.  I wanted s-o-o-o badly to be seen, to be heard, to be understood! For who I really was, and not what he said I was.

But asking for that from a Narcissist is like asking for a cobra not to bite you. They can't help themselves, it's just their nature.  But I did not know that until January of last year, so I persisted with trying diligently to convince PD people that I REALLY was a very nice person and there was no need to treat me so badly, really!

And you are absolutely right.  You don't have to convince safe people of anything.  They can see it for themselves. Because there have been plenty of other people in my life who liked me just fine, and who I did not have to convince of my goodness.

So I had quite the discussion with my T today about my lack of boundaries being my problem with PD's specifically. That it was my belief that it had been programmed into me that I was not to be separate, or different, or have different thoughts, or ideas, or feelings than the Narcissist.  We were to be completely merged, and like one organism living, moving and functioning together as one being.

And I explained to my T that I simply do not know HOW to do what comes naturally to other people - boundary setting.  Or believe as I think it was Kizzie who said something like:  It's hard to believe you have the right to them, because you were programmed to believe you did not have the right to them. 

So my T completely agreed I am onto something, and that is definitely something I have to work on learning how to do. 

But she found my first draft proposals of responses to boundary violations too forceful. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about that. Because in my experience?  Gentle prods with Narcs do NOT work. I've tried it the recent past with my roommate, and she could bulldozer my gentle prods right out of the room and onto the neighbor's property.

So it's back to the drawing board, and in the end I have may have to have 2 sets of boundaries.  One for Non's and one for PD's.

One last thing my T said that confused me even more.  She said that it may not be a matter of me sitting down and making lists of what I will say and memorizing stock responses.  She said it needs to be natural, and flow out my heart in a natural defense of myself.

This sounds like what C. is talking about with empathy and digging them up and learn them for ourselves first.

But Yikes!  That sounds like another 2-3 years of therapy at a minimum! Because feeling natural defending myself?  That does not sound natural!

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C.

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It's exciting to see your break through.  It sounds to me like you have a general idea and understand some about your process.  Boundaries.  Discovering. 

I can think of a lot of life examples too of discovery.  Like I recently took a job saying I would work any time, any number of hours.  I soon realized my physical/emotional self cannot take more than about 30-32 hrs of this type of work.  So now I need to go back to my boss and explain that better to him.  I don't know if it'll work for the company, but I know that's my limit.  Otherwise I start getting physically sick and/or too much stress and EF's.  And I had a recent BF who said that it was ok w/him that I be in a different religion, but when it came right down to it he discovered he wanted to date someone from within his Faith community.  The point being we are human and although we've started out w/limitations to our ability to set limits, everyone is a work in progress w/this topic...

I think I understand what your T means about boundaries w/non-PD.  The majority of people can read and respect boundaries like if I have a healthy friend visiting in the evening and I say "I'm tired" they'll pick up on the cue and leave soon.  It's the PD that needs the direct "It's time for you to go home please, I need to rest." 

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Annegirl

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Mary Contrary, I love what you wrote. Made me laugh too but really true what you said.
This question is so interesting. I think when I feel angry maybe a safe way to express it is shouting into a pillow, but I still don't want my kids to hear that but then maybe it would teach them  good way of dealing with anger. I don't know is this a good way to deal with anger, or chopping wood?


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C.

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Chopping wood sounds great!

I had a trainer at my work w/young children and I really liked what she said about the pillow question you brought up.  Basically the idea is to find a way to get out the anger that doesn't hurt oneself, objects or other people.  Ideally something constructive like chopping wood or kicking a soccer ball. 

BUT sometimes a person is not to that point and the important thing is to find a less destructive substitute.  In the example above she said that stomping for example is socially "so-so" but if that's an easy transition for an angry child it's better than the alternative so go for it.  She was even ok w/punching a pillow as transition.  Now, we're talking about a transition.  If the behavior was screaming at people, negative self-talk, hitting, then hitting a pillow is a better option.  Once that transition object/behavior is mastered, then one could try something like throwing a ball into a basket or another expression that is more appropriate.

So, if screaming in to a pillow works for you I'd say great!!  Go for it.  I have a feather pillow and I love the way it "muffles" the sound but I can really scream too.  It's up to you of course, but from what I can tell it doesn't hurt you, another person, or the pillow.  It might surprise or frighten your kids at first but I think that you're right, it's healthy role modeling.

Sorry I know this a pretty wordy response, but your question and ideas really sparked something in me haha

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Kizzie

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Gentle prods with Narcs do NOT work. I've tried it the recent past with my roommate, and she could bulldozer my gentle prods right out of the room and onto the neighbor's property. 

I am just catching up with posts in a couple of steps I missed and have to say I burst out laughing when I read this VF and my poor dog who was napping quietly at my feel leapt into the air.  You are so right lol.  And not only do they bulldoze you onto the neighbour's property, they're very literal about boundaries and so persistent in testing them.

When my F was still alive my NPDM would email without fail when it was his bath day (my F required assisted care).  I asked her to stop telling us about this very normal and private aspect of everyone's life (didn't want the images in my head truthfully), and she did - for a while.  Then we started getting emails where she would say things like " it's your F's you-know-what day" or type the word "bath" in really small type.  :doh:  So we had to tell her again (and again and again) - sigh.  Exhausting.

Sometimes the only thing to do is scream into a pillow  ;D
« Last Edit: May 08, 2015, 04:22:12 PM by Kizzie »

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bee

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Kizzie your story about bath day made me laugh. That is so typical of them, and so "off" from normal human behavior.