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Anger and Mindfulness {Self-Discovery Word-by-Word}

Hi, I’m McKella and I’m the poster girl for passive-aggressive anger.

Whew.

Ok, let’s back up for a second.  I participated in last month’s Self-Discovery Word-by-Word, and I loved it so much I wanted to contribute to this month’s too. When I realized that this month’s word is “Anger”, I almost decided to skip it. “What do I know about anger?” I thought. “I hardly ever get angry.”

That was two weeks ago, and since then I’ve realized that there are two kinds of people in this world that don’t get angry: People like my Uncle Rhett, who never take crap from people but deal with it in a low-key way, and people who get walked all over and pushed around until they finally explode.

How did I never see it?

I’ve never been good at standing up for myself.  My mom often says that when I was little, I never got candy when the pinata broke because I wouldn’t dive in and fight for it like the other kids. I cry when people get mad at me. I avoid conflict of any sort and when someone pisses me off, I keep my mouth shut.

I’ve lived this way all my life, afraid to express any emotion I considered negative or inconvenient for other people and those corked-up feelings manifested in my body though weight gain, adrenal fatigue, compulsive and restrictive eating, depression and anxiety.

When I discovered Intuitive Eating a few years ago, I realized that I had a whole underground chamber of emotions to sort through before I could ever be free of eating problems, and I’ve only recently reached the point where I can deal with these emotions without gorging myself on chocolate chip cookies. I’ve slowly let my suppressed anger bubble to the surface so I can experience it and then let it go.

I’ve learned that emotions aren’t good or bad, they’re just emotions, and I’ve finally…finally…given myself permission to experience them. I’m not a bad person for feeling angry or sad or competitive. With this kind of emotional freedom comes  a greater ability to experience feelings and understand their roots,  to go deeper and deeper and fully understand why I  hurt in the first place. With this understanding comes freedom of choice: “Should I really let this bother me?” or “Is this really a big deal?”. It’s like a ladder to greater mindfulness, and embracing my anger was the first step.

Now, emotions allow me to gauge how I’m doing and how I need to take care of myself. They’re like pressure gauges and thermometers. Pissed off? Time to get some space. Overwhelmed? Time for self-care. Resentful? There’s a misunderstanding somewhere and we’d better work it out.

In this sense, anger is a gift for self-awareness. When used properly, it’s  a tool for self-improvement.  Learn from it, experience it, use it. It’s a beautiful thing.

This post was written as part of the Self -Discovery Word-by-Word series. The May series is hosted by Jules at Big Girl Bomshell. Get details here to participate!

Happiness Project: Mindfulness

Wow, it’s Monday already! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend, because I sure did.

This past week, I worked on being more mindful as part of my Happiness Project. If you’re a new reader, check out these links:

Learning to be Happy parts 1, 2, and 3

My Happiness Project: Health

My mindful guidelines:

  • Be here now: I think everyone who isn’t a Buddhist monk has a hard time with this, because our minds are spinning out of control and we’re always thinking about everything except where we are and what we’re doing right now. For me, this usually means worrying about the future and wishing for the past. This week, I made an effort to rein in my thoughts. When I started to stress out about money, I pulled my mind back to the present and focused on what I was reading. I tried to pay attention to each bite of food I put in my mouth and describe it to myself. What does the sky look like today? How warm is it? Are the leaves any redder than they were yesterday?
  • Sing like I mean it- To be honest, I kind of forgot about this one. I took voice lessons for years, but I quit and now my voice is in pretty bad shape, but singing is such a freeing thing. However, last night at my family’s house, I did decide to play my little brother’s guitar and sing Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic” at the top of my lungs. By the way, I’ve never played guitar in my life. My husband was pretty amused and there’s probably a video on the internet somewhere.
  • Keep better track of spending- Also, still need to work on this. I  check my account every day and keep a general total in my head, but I really need to write everything down. I used to be a stickler for checkbook balancing, budgeting and coupon clipping. No need to be extreme, but I need a little more discipline.
  • Honor my emotions- By this, I mean not using food to handle emotions, but to embrace them. Also, not feeling bad about the way I feel (wrap your brain around that one for a second, but that’s what I do) I stopped to think about what I was doing before I dove into the M&M bowl I hide in our room.  I write about what I’m feeling, gush to my aunt and cousin, and take breaks when I need them. Surprisingly, I don’t feel anywhere near as overwhelmed as I did a week ago.
  • Limit screen time- I started off trying to limit computer time to 45 minutes a day, but I realized I don’t waste much time on the internet watching videos or playing games. I spend a lot of time researching and reading useful information, writing, promoting my blog, networking, etc. I did limit the idle time watching videos and stuff like that, but now I’m much more mindful off what I’m doing on the computer and I realize it’s not a bad thing.

Though I wasn’t perfect, I feel I made significant progress this week, at least with managing my emotions and living now. Now just for managing my money…

Next week: Attitude

Attitude:

Decide to have fun

-Dress nicely. And shower every day.

-Don’t let myself off the hook

Act the way I want to feel

Learning to be happy: Part 3

Continued from Learning to be happy: Part 2

The next step to Gretchen Rubin’s happiness project was to list the areas of her life she wanted to improve and set a time frame for focusing on each other these areas. Then she worked on mini-goals within each time period. Her project lasted a year, so she each month she focused on one part of her life.

I think I’ll start with a week for each of my areas, and then each Monday I’ll check my progress.

It took forever, but I think I’ve identified my areas and mini-goals (I’ll probably keep adding to them) but as it stands, here they are:

Health:

–          Do a little yoga each day

–          Learn to move more

–          Take my vitamins

–          Honor my hunger and fullness

–          Treats should stay treats

–          Spend time outside every day

Marriage:

–          Do something nice for Sam

–          Make time  for us, every single day

–          No snapping

Friends and family:

­– Reframe social gatherings (i.e. don’t dread them)

-Call a friend of family member I haven’t talked to for awhile

-Arrange a get-together with my old friends

– Email someone I haven’t seen lately

Mindfullness:

-Be here now

– Sing like I mean it

-Keep better track of spending

-Honor my emotions

-Limit screen time

Attitude:

Decide to have fun

-Dress nicely. And shower every day.

-Don’t let myself off the hook

Act the way I want to feel

This week, I’ll start with Health, because the way I feel tends to affect everything else. Next Monday, I’ll let you know how I’m doing.

I’d also like to invite my readers to start their own happiness project! Visit Gretchen’s site for tips or make it up. Share it with me in the comments or send me a link!

McKella