December 27, 2009

I gotta feeling

"Feelings are everywhere -- Be gentle."

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time talking about feelings with B and the kids, Unfortunately, most of them are negative. Which makes me wonder why are we getting so mad at each other? I found a possible answer from Science Daily article on anger.

Young, less-educated people with children tend to get angry more often. In addition:
"Feeling rushed for time is the strongest predictor of anger, especially the "low-grade" forms like feeling annoyed;"
"Individuals who experience more financial strain tend to report higher levels of anger. This relationship is much stronger among women and younger adults."
Well, that pretty much sums me right up.

But even fitting into some "anger mold" doesn't explain it all. I have a quick temper that I got from my dad. I'd say he's a pretty happy guy most of the time...until he's not. You know what I mean? It can be sudden and sometimes scary; it often goes as quickly as it came. Over the years I've learned some of the triggers: fear, worry, Sundays. All negative emotions get lumped into one angry outburst. I do this as well. My mom, she keeps it inside. It eats away at her, literally. And I have a little bit of that in me too. My sister avoids the extremes. Instead, she's perpetually discontent and grumpy.

So here I am, quick to temper, getting angry instead of dealing with other emotions, or letting something fester inside of me. This is not the person I want to be and it's not the model I want to be for my kids. Practicing what I've learned about emotional intelligence with the girls has helped. They are both so young that they need their feelings identified for them. I can give them the words and empathy to deal with their big emotions. So helping them find labels benefits me too. Correctly identifying fear or being anxious has led me to take other approaches. There is no need to yell when the proper thing to do is find an ice pack and a towel.

Robotson is more difficult. He describes it as a volcano that is bubbling and then just explodes. When it erupts, it just flows and it's not easy to cool down. That's similar to the way B gets angry. It's hard to figure out when the eruption is going to happen and it seems impossible to cool the lava to a point where the volcano would go dormant. It's always there.

I feel sad that there seem to be so many negative emotions around us. I wonder if we are abnormal in that way. Maybe we'll grow out of it. After all, my children will one day be adults, I'll be old instead of young, and we are all learning every day. I want to be more proactive than that though. In 2010 I plan to really study mindfulness. I think it might be the key to handling the bad feelings and getting to the good ones much more quickly.


  1. Hey there! (Sorry, couldn't find your name anywhere.. :) )

    Firstly, an empoweringly-honest post, thank you very much for sharing! It seems anger takes a lot of people by the throat these days (if you'll excuse the pun). I can't help but feel a lot of what we worry about, or feel anger over, is inconsequential but made by modern society to feel more important than clean air!

    I found your post by an alert I have set up for "mindfulness" and noticed you mentioned it as a possible "solution" here... and I have to agree. After meditating for 3 or 4 years now, and study philosophers like Alan Watts ( - there's also a podcast) has realigned my mental focus to what is important in life.

    I now find it terribly difficult to feel anything about things that seem to rile up all sorts in my friends and family - things like being cut up in traffic, being snowed in, a mobile phone not working. None of those things, including a low bank balance, threatens my or anyone else's life, what! :)

    I wish you luck with your mindful times, and will subscribe to see if I can help along the way at all :)

    Thanks again for the wonderful blog.


  2. Hey Matt,

    I'm Sarah :) Thanks for the really nice comment. I'm so glad to "meet" someone practicing mindfulness. I think I'm going to have a lot of questions. I'm heading over to Alan Watts website right now. Thanks for the link!