I’m not asking if you shout when you get angry?
I’m asking if you get angry when you shout?
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot since I came back from visiting my parents in England a couple of weeks ago.
Let me explain.
I was staying in my childhood home with my mum who is 78 and has Alzheimer’s, and my dad who, at 93, is very frail, more-or-less house-bound, and extremely hard of hearing.
During my stay I became, as I expected, more-or-less their full-time caregiver. I planned, shopped, made meals, organized appointments, offered support, and so forth.
I looked after myself while doing so as best I could. I did Constructive Rest every day, though admittedly my mum, who would forget what I was doing, often interrupted me – sometimes many times. I went for a walk outside everyday – by myself or with a friend with whom I could be myself and share my concerns.
I practiced attending to, and inviting, ease in the moment whenever I remembered. I confess I did this less than usual, however, due to the strong stimulus of the situation, and my deep worries and sadness about my parents’ decline.
It turns out ease and worry do not go hand in hand! In fact, it became clear I would have to let go of the worrying to practice ease. I am afraid worrying won much, but not all, of the time.
As time went by, and especially during the last two or three days of my two-week visit, I became aware of my changing mood. Rather than feeling concern and empathy for my parents, I was fed up, irritated by the constant repetitions and confusions. I felt angry inside.
I am full of admiration for anyone who is a caregiver full-time. I know very clearly that this is NOT for me.
I have a couple of possible insights about my mood change. One is that my irritation may have been a sort of sub-conscious defense mechanism, which would make it easier for me to leave. I remember how – over 30 years ago now – mum and I fought constantly the summer before I left to go to university. Apparently this is quite a common phenomenon. At the time it certainly did make it easier for me to leave and step into the unknown. Was the irritation I was feeling with my parents a manifestation of the same thing?
My other insight relates to the question I pose in the title of this blog post.
Does shouting make you angry?
I realized that for the best part of two weeks I had been doing a lot of shouting – or talking VERY LOUDLY. My dad is so hard of hearing that you need to be just a foot or two away from him, looking directly at him, and speaking at the top of your voice to have any chance of him understanding you.
I was not shouting because I was angry. I was shouting to be heard – literally.
Yet, over the course of my stay, I became more and more irritated. Angry. It was as if by exhibiting a physical behavior (shouting) that is normally associated with anger, I actually became angry.
There are numerous studies that suggest that our physical habits influence our state of mind – our mood. This makes perfect sense to me because our physical habits are a reflection of our state of mind, and vice versa.
It seems likely to me that this could well have played a part in the way I was feeling emotionally.
I am pleased to report that, for the most part, I kept my irritation to myself. Guiltily I acknowledge that I was more than ready to get out of there by the end of my visit.
Awareness and acceptance of how we use ourselves is key to being able to unlock and change our non-productive behaviors – our habits.
My challenge, before my next visit, is to work on speaking at volume with more ease. I know it is possible. We can cheer and shout with joy – just think of fans of the winning team at a sporting event. Like many of you, I am more easily triggered by my nearest and dearest, than by almost anyone else. Therefore I need to practice, so it this is more accessible to me in the moment.
The things we do, and HOW we do them, have consequences – intended and unintended. This is not only important in our personal lives, but in our work and business too.
Most of us have experienced how an argument with your spouse or child before work, can affect the tenor of your whole working day. What you may not realize is that you have the power, in the moment, to change that pattern. You have the power to choose not to stay in the tension and the hurt.
You may, in some ways, not actually want to change it. We get a strange comfort from our irritations, our worry, our anger and our pain. But you do have that power. And it IS worth learning how to use that power. Then you have choice. Body intelligence and the Alexander Technique can teach you how.
Can you relate to my story? Are there times in your life when this sort of scenario may have played out? Would you like things to play out differently?
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comment in the space below.
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