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.

Once Upon a YouTube Binge

Mondays are typically my non-writing day.  A day of so called “research”  or rather a day of scrounging up a few edible bits to chew on for later use. My Monday looks similar to what a day of being stranded on a deserted island might look like to most. deserted island

The cast away (me) is left starving after surviving off a diet of pure coconut and decides not to eat another flake of the milky white insides of this deceiving nut.   The castaway desperately seeks an alternate food source.                coconut

searching high and low for a bit more insight on BPD.

I wanted to find something more noteworthy than just a fact feeding video (the coconut).

pineapple

Ok, that was only what I did today, I normally just live life on Mondays without scrounging for topics, but I was in the mood to do a little research today.  It was a long day of trying to understand myself better.  Looking for something that might spark my interest or provoke some deep form of thinking that I could translate into a relatable topic.  I was just browsing through loads of videos on YouTube.

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The only connection of all videos were of course those three little letters in the title; BPD.  Not true, there were blatant similarities.  One common similarity is the definition of borderline. People usually spout that off in every intro.  Which is fantastic, because if I had not been diagnosed with this disorder, I would not know of its existence.

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Most people making these videos give great information and are armed with many facts that address BPD.  I have learned the differences between a classic borderline and a quiet borderline.  I have learned that psychiatrists are more inclined to deny treatment of borderline patients.  I have learned that I have a lot of similar mannerisms to other exposed “virtual” borderlines.  I also found myself sucked into the rabbit hole and also having a faint desire to meet with these people and help them and in turn learn more about myself.

A doctor and professor from Yale University speaking on one of the videos I managed to come across today explained a great example of what the difference is between someone living with BPD compared to someone that isn’t.

the solid black line represents the working mind of a non-bpd brain. _________________________________________________

the line below represents the working mind of an individual with BPD.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I think this is a great example. It is actually a viable and simple way that may be helpful to others when they try to imagine the differences.  I can still work normally most of the time, it just requires a little bit more work and mindfulness when I hit the moments that I am not a solid line.

I am letting a few other things that I found marinate until the podcast on Wednesday. I appreciate you taking the time to read the words I feel compelled to share.  Have a wonderful day.

side note- Technically it is Tuesday, so I am not posting on Monday.

Being Mindful & Being Present

The post today will cover my thoughts and feelings on being mindful and my mental health self-evaluation. I have found that the self-discovery continues, and as I dive deeper into how I process life, my reactions to situations and people, the more I’m realizing how much Borderline Personality Disorder has continued to create turmoil in my personal and professional life.

I missed my opportunity to post yesterday, and oddly enough I should have posted not just because I want to write everyday… but, I want my Thursday posts to be about being mindful.  So I did live my life yesterday with intention.  I had counseling, so my entire day was focused on being mindful.  I spent most of my day being present with my daughter.  We went to the library after dropping big brother off at school, we both found a couple of books and she enjoyed playing with the nice Lego table they have for the little people. I watched her enjoy building and creating new things.  She built a beach that had an alligator and Lego people.  She said, “This was so much fun, mom!”  It was fun to watch my little girl analyze all of the little pieces available to her and what she would do with each piece while creatively building this beach.  She is so imaginative. I don’t remember using my imagination half as much as she does.  I am so blessed to be her mommy.

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Counseling went very well.  We went over the “How” on being more mindful.  My counselor had one of the books I was looking for at the library.  They didn’t have it, so I felt blessed to be able to borrow one of the books that the kids’ counselor had suggested.  The book is called  “One Minute Mindfulness” by Donald Altman.  I will start reading that wonderful piece of literature after I finish the book that I just checked out from the library.  The one I am currently reading is called “Choose The Life You Want.”  by Tal Ben-Shahar.  I have already finished 7 chapters, and really like it.  Chapter 7, is called Procrastination.  Who is guilty of this?  Most everyone, right?  The author says to use a helpful technique called “The Five-Minute Takeoff.”  I can see how this method would be helpful.  The objective here is to just dive into that project or chore that you need to accomplish for five minutes.  Once you do this for five minutes you are at a better place than you were before, because now you are actually doing something productive and not procrastinating, but acting.  I am about to use this technique to paint some walls in the living room.  I bought the can of paint several weeks ago… and yes I wanted to paint right away, but I had too many other things that stopped me.  I did what I normally do, I complied to my feelings to just procrastinate.  I feel that I am always waiting for the perfect time to paint.  Folks the truth is this – Perfect timing doesn’t exist.  procrastinating

Click here for more advice on how to beat procrastination!!

Self-evaluation.  I feel more aware, and less on autopilot.  I have been living so much like a zombie and never realizing why (minus the eating and craving brains part).  My past included an established a routine, something easy and comfortable.  I could easily set my destination on Michelle’s Map as “just get through the day.” (like a google map, but more accurate).  I have literally coasted through a full day before on numerous occasions.  I have had moments throughout those days where I would kind of catch myself realizing that I was just going through the motions, and I would say to myself… “this is so easy, I am doing things and not even thinking about them.”  WTH?  Why do I do this?  I love being present and intentional so much more.  It really does awaken our spirit.  When we take time to pay attention and be present. It is more about experiencing the things around me, the things that make up my world right now.  Appreciating the small and delicate details of the people and experiences we are blessed to share.  I am learning that this is truly one of the biggest blessings in life.  Our ability to experience, to see, hear, speak, touch, feel, taste.  I am so very rich to be given these things.  I will not take these great blessings for granted ever again.  Life is a wonderful thing, you just have to be mindful of all of those wonderful things it consists of.

Bless you,

Be intentional today and as you listen today pay attention to the message, as you talk today be true to your heart and mind, as you feel notice the texture and temperature, as you inhale notice the natural aroma of your home or the environment.  As you take notice of the things around you, look at it with the amazement, like that of a child, that is seeing it for the first time.  Life is really amazing, and being mindful of that really can change your mood.

 

 

 

 

#SelfhelpSaturday Post 1

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Debt Relief Programs – TOP TEN

Debt, oh how it can envelope us.  Drowning, is the term you may often hear used with the word debt.  As everyone that has ever said those words, “I am drowning in debt!”  really need help.  How does one go from the life of credit cards, and fake freedom to a life using cash and actual financial freedom.

I of course am no expert in financial freedom, although someday I hope to be.  Why listen to me?  Umm… I am starting the journey to become debt free.  Learn from my mistakes.  That way more people, especially young people don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

As I take this first step towards this debt freedom,  I realize I am about to work my way towards the most difficult journey of my life, almost like physically climbing to the top of Mt. Everest.  Not many people reach the top of Mt. Everest (approximately 4,000 people) over 200 people have died, here is the list of those that lost their lives to the climb trying to reach the top of this 29,000 ft. peak.  I was actually surprised to find out that over 4,000 people have successfully reached the top of this ginormous mountain.  These climbers are proof that it isn’t exactly impossible, but that this is also an event that not everyone will be excited to sign up for.  Talk about discipline and a little bit of insanity to sign up for this. And similarly, most people never realize the mountain of debt they have been building in their lifetime, and just where to gain the experience and wisdom needed to become an advanced climber to reach the peak of this mountain and claim it as their bitch.  How do we do this?  More importantly, how do I do this? 🙂

mountainHow severe is debt in the United States?  This is not a place of mystery for most.  I just googled it and those that are reliant upon credit to survive is at 40% according to “TIME”, and of course this percentage goes up to 45% when the income decreases below a $50K yearly salary.  I don’t make $50K.  I am not happy about being with 45 % of the population that relies on plastic to make it. plastic and the numbers that rely on it for everyday purchases

I know the struggle, and it appears that 45% of people making a similar salary or sadly, below the amount I make, understand this struggle too.

My first step this week has obviously been to find  a way to manage the debt I have incurred over my lifespan.  I want to do this on my own, so I only want to manage this solely on my income.  I have recently reached out to a debt relief program. Freedom Debt Relief Website  I know one thing is certain they do not consolidate or pay off student loan debt.  This makes me sad.  50 % of my debt or more is student loan debt.  This debt sadly stays with you until the grave and somehow I have heard that it can follow you there too.

Second step, realize my problems with credit card usage, and use methods of budgeting and only make purchases with cash.  Do not touch allotted savings each month.

I also need something to invest in.  Any suggestions?

My #selfhelpsaturday for April 7th, 2018 is about finances and being debt free.  Hopefully in a year from now we can see some progress.  Day 1, and step 1 of several.

HELP YOURSELF TO THESE LINKS!

5 Steps – Become financially responsible

Clean up your debt link

Huffington Post 2017 – advice on Self Care

Mindfulness

Quotefancy-33042-3840x2160 So I decided after my counseling session today that I would add a few things to my routine.  I have to be more mindful of the things I accomplish in my day while working at being more present.  I decided that I would read a chapter of a book before writing my blog entry for the day.  The book I decided to start reading today is “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?” By: William Poundstone.  I am only reading a chapter per day.  I can handle small goals that ultimately lead you to reaching bigger goals.  Today the first chapter tells the origin of the name, Google.  I had actually heard of the word ‘googol’ before as it is used in the mathematical sense. Oddly enough I heard this from one of my students, that had been instructed by his parent to ask me if I knew what it was.  I said, “the website?” He confidently said “No, the number.”  I said, “nope, never heard of it.”  I had a more in depth conversation about this from said parent during a parent/teacher conference.  I am sure he meant to make me look stupid with this new information, but I just wanted him to talk about his student and leave, so I could continue with the other 40 conferences we needed to conduct.  Well, he did eventually leave.

The reason I personally chose to add reading to my routine today after counseling, was my intention to be more mindful.  I never actually thought about the concept of being mindful.  I so often run on auto-pilot.  The more mindful I am of myself, my surroundings, and the people in my life the more I should see an improvement in my mental health, my over-all physical health and my financial health.  It seems like everyone is mindful, right? Stop what you are doing, look around you, what do you notice?

I sat down intent on writing my daily blog and noticed that just to the right of the bar in our kitchen a stack of neat books.  Books that I have had either given to me or that I have collected from thrift stores with every intention on reading.  I wasn’t being mindful of my urges when I purchased so many books, as when I purchased these books I didn’t really have time to read them.  I mean I might have been able to, but I would have had to sacrifice something else in my life at that time. I need to be more mindful of my spending and why I am making purchases.  What purpose does that item fulfill.

What gives you joy?  What brings you peace?  I have found that I am peaceful outside, more than I am when I am inside.  That I am joyful over a hot cup of coffee (no cream or sugar necessary.)  I am also a person that enjoys spontaneous adventure, or to find time to gain more knowledge.  What is one way to do both of those things without breaking the bank… Reading.  I love to read.  I always have.  It needs to be included in my daily routine.  I love it just as much as writing.

Living life being mindful sounds easy.  Once you consider the time it takes to appreciate all that is around you, it may not seem so easy anymore.  I will try to be more mindful of my activities, my urges and those people with whom I share life with today and from now on.   

The first chapter of the book was great.  I am so glad that I read it today.  I even imagined I could go to an interview with Google.  The work environment sounds incredible.  The first interesting thing that I found while reading is a quote from Nikolay Gogol.  He describes in his story “The Overcoat” the difference between those that fix and those that create.  “The abyss that separates tailors who only put in linings and do repairs from those who sew new things.”  It is a different world for those that create from their imagination (creative mind – creators) and those that only rely on what they have been taught (academic mind- scholars).  I love what Gogol says and also the quote from Einstein.  Creativity can often be overlooked.  I want to be mindful of my creativity.

Have a mindful day, inspect your surroundings.  How does it smell, sound, and feel?