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!)
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?
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!
Posted on April 13, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Anger, fear, Living Sober, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Resentment, Sobriety, Support group. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.