A N G E R

Responding like a stoic…

Is anger a good thing or a bad thing? Anger, when first recognized, is actually just simply a warning. A signal from your amygdala blasting throughout your brain, sounding an alarm via chemicals, that warns your body that something is not right. Message received as, “there is a present threat and there is a possibility to fight, flight, or freeze.” Anger can therefore be seen as a natural response to external stimuli. It is a response that was designed in humans to help protect us in perceived dangerous situations. After reading what Seneca wrote on Anger, I concluded that he deduced that anger wasn’t natural, that reasoning was natural. The truth is, it requires more brain function to engage the logical areas of the brain. Leaving me to believe, emotion is more natural than thought.

The emotional response happens automatically. This emotional part of our brains (amygdala) is so much more developed than the logical part of our brain, which is known as the prefrontal cortex. The emotional part of our brain has kept us alive, reacting to the world without much thought to consequences, other than one that is primal, “Stay alive!” While this much developed area of my brain has kept me alive, it has also assumed for far too long that it is in charge. I have now learned that the prefrontal cortex can be trained/stimulated so that it can show the amygdala whose boss. Seneca was then saying that allowing our emotional brain to just run rampant in our lives wouldn’t be natural. The natural thing, the “good thing” is to have what we call In DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, your wise mind always aware of what your amygdala and prefrontal cortex are doing. After studying stoicism and understanding that Cognitive Behavior Therapy was designed using stoicism. I can see how it’s philosophy is also helpful in The therapy I am currently receiving now. That this higher order thinking, being cognitively aware is the practice of stoicism. “through Stoic training, Aurelius was able to master his perceptions and see each obstacle as an opportunity to improve”(dailystoic.com) mastering our perceptions, added with the knowledge of how our minds naturally respond will help most manage anger.



You can find some exercises for the prefrontal cortex below…

https://heartmindonline.org/resources/10-exercises-for-your-prefrontal-cortex


If you have read any of my previous posts or know anything of Borderline Personality Disorder, becoming a stoic is changing the natural way in which my BPD brain will more than likely over respond to the difficult to digest external stimuli. Like black is to white, BPD is to stoicism. The way in which one chooses to respond to this automatic alarm system is what I believe answers our question today. When anger is triggered inside the mind, it is neither good nor bad. It is not decided until we respond.

Anger, shows duality, with the possibility of being both good and bad. Stoics believe that there is no good with anger. They were told to see that there is no good, because of all the “evil” it created. They want every stoic to believe that there is no good to be found in anger. I see the justifications of their message. A calm and sound mind, not writhing with “passions” can be controlled. One drowning in anger or other “passions” cannot. So then, if looking at it from this perspective, serenity isn’t the final goal, but rather control. Or does control get us to the place of serenity? I have had moments, in which I have given into passions of anger and it has kept me alive. So isn’t it necessary to be alive in order to be serene? Can we have one without the other?

I absolutely want to be a stoic sage someday, using this higher-order thinking to get through the most complicated of situations with clarity and peace of mind… I’m left perplexed at this particular question. While I understand what the stoic philosophers were trying to convey to their followers in those times, teaching people to seek serenity. Being calm and collected leads to logical thinking and sound decisions. I have also experienced anger on several levels. Ultimately, anger has ensured my existence during some pretty tough times. More recently, I find that I am just angry at myself and my mistakes and this anger has propelled me to find better ways to manage myself, my disorder, and my life. Has it been pretty? No, fighting my way to this point hasn’t been pretty. I feel that’s why we are all built in this way. There is no way to determine which human will be placed in prime conditions and which will be placed in tough conditions. The emotional tools we are equipped with may not be dispersed equally, but we were all equipped with the ability to learn. I choose now as I am on the verge of entering my forties, to learn this higher order thinking. Working a portion of the brain more and more, so that my logical mind becomes stronger every day. My ultimate goal being serenity in this deeply maddening world.

I had a discussion with my students the other day about anger. One student said, “as a kid, my counselor told me not to show my anger, but to keep my anger to myself.” I felt that wasn’t a very healthy way to teach a young person to deal with such an intense emotion. I asked him, “How has that advice worked out for you?” My student responded with, “I’m still trying to find a useful method to control my anger.”

I then asked, “what if we started looking at anger differently?” A lot of puzzled stares looking back at me. I then said, “what if we started looking at the positive ways in which anger can be of use to us? Can anger be of use to us? Can we manage it? Or do we let that emotion manage us?”

What if we started looking at the positive ways in which anger can be of use to us?

What are positive ways anger has helped you?

Can anger be of use to us?

Can we manage anger, or do we let anger manage us?

Emotions indicate so many things for an individual, learning to understand our emotions and why we choose to respond in certain ways, increases not only our emotional intelligence but the control we possess over ourselves. Why then should anyone just ignore this emotion, anger? Especially, when anger is often the first emotion we go to when life gets confusing, or when we are afraid, when we feel threatened or rejected.

“Anger is temporary madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it” By: Massimo Pigliucci, here he states 10 ways to curb anger! Maybe one of these can help…

  • Engage in preemptive meditation: think about what situations trigger your anger, and decide ahead of time how to deal with them.
  • Check anger as soon as you feel its symptoms. Don’t wait, or it will get out of control.
  • Associate with serene people, as much as possible; avoid irritable or angry ones. Moods are infective.
  • Play a musical instrument, or purposefully engage in whatever activity relaxes your mind. A relaxed mind does not get angry.
  • Seek environments with pleasing, not irritating, colours. Manipulating external circumstances actually has an effect on our moods.
  • Don’t engage in discussions when you are tired, you will be more prone to irritation, which can then escalate into anger.
  • Don’t start discussions when you are thirsty or hungry, for the same reason.
  • Deploy self-deprecating humour, our main weapon against the unpredictability of the Universe, and the predictable nastiness of some of our fellow human beings.
  • Practice cognitive distancing – what Seneca calls ‘delaying’ your response – by going for a walk, or retire to the bathroom, anything that will allow you a breather from a tense situation.
  • Change your body to change your mind: deliberately slow down your steps, lower the tone of your voice, impose on your body the demeanour of a calm person.

My Conclusion: I thought about anger for an entire week. Oddly enough it kept me from getting angry. While I may not have answered the question for everyone here, my answer is… Anger, like all other emotions is necessary. It is neither a good or bad thing. To let it get out of control is bad. To see what it can do for us when we need it to survive, is good.

Have a great day! The end! 🙂

A game that could help improve logic… Chess

**Wanted to include a huge thanks to @dailystoic and @stoiccoffeebreak for wonderful podcasts! Thanks for stirring good thoughts and inspiring and motivating me to change the things I can control. Check out their podcasts if you are learning on the stoic philosophy.

Mindful Moment

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I had a doctor’s appointment today, so I decided to put into practice a few things that I have been reading in the book I just started.  I will be writing my review on the book soon.  The book was suggested to me by my kid’s counselor, “One Minute Mindfulness.”  Did you know you could change your life in 60 seconds? Yeah… Me either. I have been trying to get a lot of things accomplished at home and Summer baseball is in full swing (pun intended.)  Organizing and such before school starts back for the kids & I in August.  That is correct, you heard me right.  I will still be working as a teacher.  Assignment pending, but most likely not with elementary students.  Praise the good and gracious LORD! He has been with me through some of the darkest times.

MINDFUL MOMENT

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The wind & small leaves work together, creating a small symphony.

Starting at the tip top of the surrounding trees, feel that breeze.

They create a sound similar to that of great applause.

They show their joy for this moment I took to pause.

I am present in this moment, I am aware

I hear the birds all around me, their beautiful song

And a greater presence joins, or maybe it’s been here all along.

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I feel the birds know that I envy their existence.

boasting their worry-free life, allowing me but a glimpse.

They swoop down for a quick breakfast on my lawn

As the glistening dew reflects the dawn.

The way they can see into each tiny hiding place

Makes me give a moment to this creature’s natural grace

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To fly above the world, a glorious view

warm rays of sunshine, brilliant skies of blue

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The working bird, yields a nest

picking up remnants of a forgotten mess

A small bundle of twigs, a few pieces of string

patiently waiting for the new life it will bring

The moment of listening to the leaves today

takes me to a place of gratitude, and I pray

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I pray for my family and for my friends

I hope they know the love I have for each of them.

Life is full of beautiful moments such as this,

Don’t let them pass you by, an always fleeting bliss.

Hold dear to those you love and tell them everyday

Sweet friends, in this moment I learned to never forget the importance of play.1040564_10200707385820949_648089819_o

Play relieves the pain and sadness of this world

maybe tomorrow I will take a moment to pretend I’m a bird.

Written by: Michelle C

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Nail biting and BPD : Mental Eval Friday

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For as long as I can remember I have been a nail biter.  I even have a picture somewhere that shows me biting my toenails. Before you begin to judge, I was only 2 years old. At that age it wasn’t gross to me.  I will say it now, though… GROSS!!!  And instead of my family stopping me, they only stopped to make it a Kodak moment.  I am sitting there in some very tight fitting, 80’s styled toddler outfit, looking like some sort of chunky albino monkey chewing on my toes, bearing a huge grin on my face.  Thanks mom or grandma, whomever is to blame for the evidence we now have of my intense nail biting. This habit was obviously a self-soothing method to cope with my nervousness.  Instead of sucking my thumb, I found relief in chewing up my nails.  I just recently discovered that this is something that people with BPD suffer from as well.  (Article attached at the end of blog.)  They are also classifying people that bite their nails habitually and harmfully as OCD, labeling these individuals as having a diagnosable mental disorder.

I have had several people give their best efforts to keep me from biting my nails, the jalapeno sauce on the fingernails, and one of my aunts went as far as even trying to bribe away my bad habit.  She would say that if I could grow my nails she would pay me some hard, cold cash each time I would go to visit her with longer nails.  I was unable to grow them at that age.  Life for me at that time was far too nerve racking.  I do feel that I learned to chew my nails during intense moments to help ease my anxiety.  And then it became a horrible habit that until now I felt I was unable to break.

I can remember spending loads of money getting fake nails, and feeling better about myself almost the instant my nails were done. How does a little bit of powder, gel and polish change the way I feel about myself? I know that how we feel about ourselves on the outside can affect our mental state.  It can cause serious issues.  What could possibly be enhanced by fake nails? Why stop there, why fake lashes, fake breasts, fake tan, makeup even.  Falsifying who we are on the outside to make ourselves feel better on the inside.  Personally, the idea that I could apply beautiful nails hid the fact that I had a horrible habit of biting my nails.  It also concealed my failure with my battle of being a nervous and insecure person.  The fake nails hid those real parts of me.  I loved fake nails, and I would even pick out the polish by the name…  It had to match my mood or the persona I wanted to exude.

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I am happy to announce that my addiction to fake nails has since been rehabilitated and I have beaten my nail biting nervous habit.  I am now actually growing nails, and I can’t tell you how this small & unimportant physical feature actually empowers me.  I feel like this is something I have battled since the age of 2. I had always felt that I wouldn’t be able to beat this habit.  Making the once impossible idea of beating this bad habit, now very possible.  The major change for me that has helped me beat this habits was first simply asking myself what it is I want? Giving myself time throughout the day to care for myself. Making my mind up to be more present, to be engaged more often and less time checked out. I could spend hours adrift in my thoughts, before practicing mindfulness.  I check in with reality a lot more regularly now.  Being more intentional with my actions, and with the way I want to treat myself and others.  I don’t live in a fantasy world, and I know I create what is happening in my life, and that I am in control of what happens with my body.  Starting with growing long, beautiful nails. This is just the beginning of being 100 % real.

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Now if I could just kick my habit of Snapchat filters… I would be all real all the time. LOL!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the super hero moms out there that do their very best for their kids!  Every day isn’t always easy, but they are all definitely worth it.

Biting nails and BPD… Read HERE

 

Nail Biting article… Read HERE

 

Literature Review: Choose The Life You Want (The Mindful Way to Happiness)

I am nearly finished reading this book.  It has provided a lot of useful information. I am happy to have found it available at my local library.  So a choice piece of literature for free.  Bonus!  And for a person that hasn’t been able to complete a book in a very long time I am feeling very good about including one of my old cherished past times of reading back into my daily routine.  That word “routine” seems funny for me to even write.  I have very few things that are routine.  However, I seldom perform these “routine” tasks at the same times each day. Is it still considered a routine? The definition describes it as a “fixed program.”  One fixed program that I must stick to is making a cup of coffee in the morning.  Each morning a wonderful little invention called a Keurig creates a bit of magic in my kitchen.  It dispenses a perfectly made cup of motivation.  I don’t know what I would be without it… probably still  asleep.  🙂 Thank you Keurig manufacturers.pexels-photo-888992.jpeg

On to the highlights of the book.  I get carried away sometimes with my thoughts.  It is my inevitable “squirrel” moments.

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Chapter 88 is a chapter every living, breathing person should read.  And possibly revisit several times throughout their lifetime.  The title says all that needs to be said, “Experience your mistakes as catastrophes -or- Treat your mistakes as valuable feedback”  As a teacher it was very easy for me to remind my students that mistakes were part of the learning process.  Inventors do this and learn from their mistakes.  We know that mistakes are inevitable.  The fact is no one is without their faults… The trick here is to find the value of every mistake made.  Remember the lesson that you learned from your mistakes and then avoid making the same mistake again.  Consequences are valuable teaching tools, but they aren’t nuclear bombs.  You can LIVE and LEARN and continue LIVING.  If we were meant to learn without mistakes, erasers would not exist.

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One of the final statements made in the book is this, “Choice unleashes the potential within each moment.  As you become MINDFUL of the potential within this moment your life gains momentum, becomes momentous. When a moment matters, LIFE MATTERS.”  I really hope to remember the meaning of this statement for the rest of my days.  We are the directors of our lives, each and every day plays out the way we choose it to.  For the longest time I have always told myself that someone else was in charge or controlling parts of my life and this would always stifle my personal growth.  I now take responsibilities for myself and my decisions, staying mindful of this will help me continue with making progress.  pexels-photo-103123.jpeg

Have a wonderful day being in charge of your life!

 

Friday Self-Evaluation

A question I have always had an immediate response for is “are you ok?”  I know because my answer is always one given without much thought at all.  I say “yeah!” or “Uh-huh!” I say this without really checking myself to see if I am actually doing ok.  It’s more of a reflex, really. I should be more mindful of this response when people ask, right?  I want to give them honesty.  A true response, but I just give the short, quick answer because I don’t feel that anyone wants to really hear my thoughts on if I am truly ok.  Does this say more about me, than the person asking the question?  I think so.

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I have asked people this question before, with the expectation of getting the answer I usually give… The reflexive “Yeah!” or “Uh-huh!” When I actually meet someone that wants to divulge their personal problems to me or dives in a little deeper than I am comfortable with, I usually mentally check out.  The occasional head nod and eye contact usually works incredibly well for managing a conversation without really having a conversation.  Then, I start wondering how many times have I done this to someone?  How many times has someone used this “checked out” strategy with me?  charlie-chaplin-copy-circus-white.jpg

It is very scary to be vulnerable and honest with people. I just said these words yesterday. “I have been dissecting myself for all the world to learn about this disorder.” I have no end goal for this forced transparency shown through my blog… Except to practice transparency. In hopes that being mindful and transparent one day becomes automatic. I also utilize blogging as a system of accountability and as a log to refer back to later on in life.

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To answer the question, “Are you ok?”

Yes, I have been doing ok.  I have noticed that mentally and emotionally I am not ok with my weight gain right before the summer months.  It emphasizes my need to be smaller and to look more toned and trim.  I will more than likely limit my eating or invest in a cute bathing suit cover up.  Random-Funny-Picdump61

 

I am physically drained everyday.  I feel as though I have accomplished something worthy of mentioning when I complete laundry or put the dishes away.  Lately, just making sure I have sent my son off to school with a good breakfast and a lunchbox full of food is equivalent to working a full 8 hours.  I know it doesn’t make much sense, but I feel that if I have done that than most of my work for the day is complete. The other half of the day I only need to take care of my daughter’s physical needs.  If I am having a good day, I will add a little more excitement to our day by going to different places or just letting her play outside while I lay down on the patio furniture.  These days are rare.

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I am hoping to add more to our day today.  I am resting on the couch now and it would be fine with me if someone could come in and take over for me today.  Lethargy has taken residence inside my whole being.

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I woke up at 6 am, made my son breakfast, made sure he was well equipped to tackle the day on his own and dropped him off with his baseball team for a tournament.  I then made it back home, served the baby girl breakfast and started the Keurig.  I was able to get a cup of coffee down. I still feel that I need 12 more to get to a level of “just woke up”  Does anyone else deal with this?  How does one overcome this? I want to work efficiently throughout a day, I would take one day.

So maybe I am not ok… I am realizing I need things to get me there.

on to cup #2.  Have a great day!  I will most definitely use up all of my energy, trying.

Better Late Than Never:) Podcast Episode 4

Episode 4 —CLICK HERE—-

 

I have spent most of the day in the ER with my husband, his job takes him out into the country to shoot footage for films and he is now undergoing treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Thanks to a little bitty bug that wanted to suck his blood.  It has been a day, but staying mindful and appreciating the small victories is helping me.  This podcast and completing it today is one of those victories.  Please keep my family in your prayers.  Have a blessed night!

I will try to get caught up tomorrow.