M(3), 4/13/15: Anger, and Resentment, and Fear, Oh My!

Eighteen:  That’s the number of people in attendance at this morning’s meeting!

Exciting stuff, especially because several regulars were missing; this means we had quite a few newcomers, plus a bunch that have been MIA.  It’s always energizing to have a larger, more diverse group.

Today we covered chapter 15 from the book Living Sober, entitled, “Watching Out for Anger and Resentments.”  My goal for this month was to select readings whose subject matter centered around fear; not readily seeing one in the table of contents, I figured this must be closely related.  Plus the facial expressions of several in attendance had me believing this was a subject that needed to be discussed this morning.

As I started reading about the chapter and reflecting upon what I might share, my heart began to sink.  You see, I’m not sure how much progress I’ve made in the area of dealing with anger and resentments.  In active addiction, I would have told you I had none at all.  Then again, in early recovery, I was the person who needed to look at those charts with the smiley faces to figure out how I was feeling at any given moment:

I wish I was kidding, but I am not.

So the progress from then until now is that most of the time I can, when I take the time to consider, name how I am feeling without the aid of a graphic.  The problem is that most of the time I don’t take the time to consider, and my anger or resentment winds up getting more time than it should picking up steam.  Before you know it I’m fixing my hair and having imaginary conversations with people that have no idea I’m even upset.  And how could they?  I didn’t even know!

So a bit more progress to mention would be that when it gets to that point, I can stop myself (literally, the last time it happened I put down the brush and stared at myself in the mirror), and I talk back to the craziness.  I also realize that some mental housekeeping is in order, and that usually starts with sharing whatever the heck is going on in my head.

Not having much more to contribute in terms of how to deal with anger and resentments, I shared with the group all that I just wrote above.

As always, I get so much more out of these meetings than I could ever contribute, because all that followed had direct application to my life.  Here are just some of the highlights:

Reciting the Serenity Prayer

Multiple people shared that this is a technique that works for them.  Repeat it like a mantra, even (especially) when you don’t think it will work.

Talking it Out

Another commonly used technique by the group.  This various members that shared about this specifically stated that talking to someone else in the 12-step fellowship is helpful to get a better perspective.

This Too Shall Pass

When all else fails, remembering that feelings are temporary, and that it is possible to wait things out, often can diffuse the tension within.

Time and Space

Removing yourself from the situation helps to redirect your anger.  At the very least, it restricts your ability to act impulsively on the anger, which almost certainly will lead to regret (and, in the case of 12-step members, another amends that none of us wants to have to make!)

Distraction

Giving yourself something else to think about gives you less opportunity to brood, and more opportunity to clear your head, both of which give you the best chance of productively resolving your anger.

Acting As If

One of the techniques described in the chapter is to ask yourself what a well-adjusted person might do when handling anger and resentment, and then to attempt to act as if you are that well-adjusted person.  This section of the chapter never fails to get a laugh out of the group, but I actually have tried this, and it does work!  One person shared that he struggled with this idea in early sobriety, as he thought it seemed insincere, and really just a form of repressing angry feelings.  It took him time to balance the idea of “acting as if” in an authentic way.  When he can find that balance, he finds he is very effective in dealing with his resentments.

The one point with which every member of the group agreed:  bottling up anger and resentment is the quickest way back to a drink.  Any technique at all is better than repression.

I would love to hear from all of you… what is your go-to method of dealing with anger?

Today’s Miracle:

Besides 18 attendees, gorgeous spring weather, and coming off a weekend where both kids set personal records in their respective sports… I got my butt back on a treadmill, and I went faster than a walk.  I’m not sure it actually classifies as jogging, but dammit, I’ll take it!

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Posted on April 13, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Woo hoo! Jogging!
    My personal mantra is stillness and peace. I try to pause before responding in anger. That moment of stillness, and a deep breath, often prevents a cutting or hurtful response. If I don’t stop myself, I try to be quick to apologize.

    Everyone needs a break. I try to remember that when cut off in traffic, etc.

    And if I doubt I talk to my husband. Having another 12 stepper at home is helpful as resentment and anger tend to grow if hidden. He often points me in the right direction.

    So, for me, yoga, meditation and the 12 steps work to keep my blood pressure down and my days peaceful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is great to have another 12-stepper at home. One of the errors I have been making of late, and I came to this realization as everyone was speaking yesterday morning, was that I was bouncing things off a non-12-stepper; a family member in fact, and one that would be predisposed to agreeing with anything I say. A testament to the fact that we can slowly start sliding back to old ways of thinking, I’m just grateful that I have the ability to recognize, acknowledge, and turn back in the right direction.

      Stillness and peace… I will try that the next time I find myself getting riled up. Thanks Anne!

      Like

  2. Untipsyteacher

    Dear TMIATC,
    I breathe. I talk it out with a safe person. I don’t want to act out in anger, because that almost always makes everything worse.
    Well, everything Ainsobriety said is what I do!
    She’s pretty smart!
    Way to go on the treadmill!!
    Hugs!
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, Anne is pretty smart, and so are you, Wendy 🙂

      Talking it out with a safe person is a great thing, but as I replied above, I think I was cherry picking my safe person, and I need to go more objective. Well, lesson learned!

      And thanks for the treadmill congrats, just need to keep it going.

      Have a great day, Wendy!

      Like

  3. I’m still a work in progress on the anger issue 🙂 Removing myself from the situation and remembering to breathe are working for me “most” of the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Josie, I recognised so much of myself in this post. Anger and resentments are biggies for me, too, and, like you, I would have said that I simply didn’t have any resentments at all while I was drinking. “I’m just not that sort of person” I told myself. As I get more in touch with my feelings, I feel almost overwhelmed by this stuff sometimes, and start to wonder where it all comes from, but in truth, it was there all the time, but labelled “not allowed” and suppressed, hidden, ignored, anything but dealt with. And I still need a chart to help me work out how I’m feeling. And then I struggle because I seem to be feeling seven contradictory things at once 😉
    I liked your list of techniques for dealing with anger – mostly I just use your “time and space” one, but I will for sure try the others, too. I like “this too shall pass” which I do use when I feel desperately low and sad, but I can see how this so easily works with anger, too. After I get angry, one of my most common feelings (apart from shame) is one of surprise and incredulity – as if to say, where did *that* come from? I cannot understand why I got so angry. Weirdly, often when I have more of a “right” (daft word) to get angry, when the trigger is BIG, then I am usually very calm. I suppose that my anger most likely has very little to do with what sets it off. And honestly, that thought has just occurred to me now as I wrote it down, so now I am going to have to go away and think about that.
    Thanks for the post 🙂 And well done to your kids for their sporting achievements, and to you for your treadmill achievements 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the comment, MTM, it does not surprise me at all that we are similar, I remember well us agreeing with this kind of stuff before 🙂 In fact, I’m seriously gearing up for that job search that you and I wrote about a while back, and I’ve been thinking of you as I do!

    This too shall pass is extraordinarily difficult for me when I am in the heat of the moment, I tend to want to fight that thought, but when I can apply it I know it does work.

    So great to hear from you, as always!

    Like

  6. Hello, my friend! I think of you often and hope you are doing well. I’m out from a bloggy break and was so happy to find your words.
    I’m having such a tedious morning and am immediately going to adopt your “as if” attitude. What a fantastic notion! Thank you so much for AGAIN finding a way to make your experience with your group applicable and relevant for all of us beyond it.
    Miss you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Michelle!

      So sorry for the delay… things have been crazy (I feel like I’m saying that to you often; then again, what parent doesn’t have things crazy?). I did not even get to post last week due to the recent insanity. I hope to write about it tomorrow. In the meanwhile, thank you so much for these wonderfully kind thoughts, they are a balm to my frayed nerves!

      God willing, I’ll be back to my meeting tomorrow, and to the blogging recap after. Hope this Sunday evening is less tedious than the morning you wrote this comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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