Stresses and strains of life today can take various forms. We can feel embattled, place blame on others and ourselves. We have a range of articles that can help you cope with stress, anxieties, depression, and anger, and how to better manage how we react to situations.
Some of us are struggling with finding gratitude and things to be thankful for during this tumultuous time in history. With all of the shootings, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, political discord, sexual harassment and sexual assault, intolerance for difference and hate, it is sometimes really hard to focus on anything else that is positive. It almost seems unnatural to focus on gratitude with everything negative occurring all around us. Although it can be challenging, it is possible to find things to be grateful for, it sometimes takes a lot of work to identify and embrace what is right in our lives instead of what is wrong.
I was raised in an alcoholic, dysfunctional family and at the age of 5, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa: deterioration of the Retina, which results in a slow loss of vision. By the time I was fifteen, I had lost most of my vision. But if I hadn’t had the childhood that I’d had and the life experiences that I’ve had, then I wouldn’t be the person and therapist that I am today. I can be very patient and have incredible empathy for others – because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to struggle and to feel ashamed.
There is no question that there are life situations that trigger anxiety for many of us. It may be a job interview, going on a date for the first time, traveling, public speaking, going to a networking event, attending a retreat, or just from doing something that you haven’t done before. Then there are experiences that we have that are anxiety provoking because of the thoughts we have, or as I like to describe it, what we tell ourselves or the stories we create.
Anger is a feeling. It is not logical, or illogical. It’s not rational, or irrational. It’s not negative, or positive. It’s none of these things, it’s just a feeling. Some feelings are more comfortable than others. Feeling happy is certainly more comfortable than feeling sad or angry. However, to be a fully emotionally healthy being we need to allow ourselves to feel the full gamut of emotions. The whole spectrum.
Our Feelings Need to be Expressed
The difference with anger is that some of us may express it in a way that is not helpful to us or others, or the way it is expressed may be inappropriate. When we feel angry, which is a natural emotional response, if we are yelling at someone, or lashing out, then we are expressing our “anger” inappropriately.
All of us deserve to experience and express our feelings regarding the presidential election, regardless of our political affiliation, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. It is natural to feel disappointed, sad, angry, fearful, grief and hurt around what we hoped and wanted to happen, but didn’t.
If Secretary Clinton had won the presidential election, I would be saying the same exact thing for Trump supporters. Coming together as a nation does not only mean supporting the presidential elect. It means supporting and allowing the feelings that everyone has, and holding the space for those feelings.
People are often told to smile or made to believe it’s unacceptable to experience uncomfortable emotions. For women, a bad day is maybe blamed on PMS, or menopause or some other mysterious female ailment. Thus many women bury their true feelings under a false cheerfulness. For men a bad day is maybe blamed on having an argument with their partner or a difficult day at work.
That's not okay because it's okay to not always be happy, otherwise it's the only feeling we'd be equipped with. By embracing our own emotions and not feeling as if we are obligated to conform to society's expectations of emotional expression, we can improve our emotional health.
It is not as uncommon as we might think that women who experience anxiety turn to alcohol to try to alleviate it. Alcohol is, unfortunately, an anxiety reducer. How many times have you heard yourself, or someone else say, “I want a glass of wine,” or “a mojito”, to relax, or to unwind?
This is not to say that each of us who periodically drink alcohol is an alcohol abuser, or an alcoholic. It just may mean that we may want to explore what our motivation for drinking is, and whether alcohol is the main way, or the only way, that we choose to reduce our anxiety.
Unfortunately, women are prone to suffer from anxiety more so than men. In a recent study published in the June issue of the journal Brain and Behavior, researchers reported that women were nearly twice as likely as men to have an anxiety disorder.
Giving ourselves the gift of a vacation is a way of taking care of ourselves. Whether it’s time in the Caribbean, laying on a beach on Long Island, or a staycation, taking time off from our busy, stressful, structured lives is vital, and from my perspective, emotionally healthy.
There is no question that there are people in our lives who manage to push all of our buttons, whether they are a relative, our partner, an acquaintance, a friend, our children, or a neighbor. They easily manage to get under our skin and annoy us, frustrate us, anger us, or insult us.
Do you know deep within your core that there are things that it’s time to let go of? Old hurts that continue to fester, anger and resentment that refuse to diminish, and beliefs about what others have “done to you”? Perhaps you even feel anger, guilt, shame or sadness regarding your own past, the things that you’ve done to yourself?