July 2018
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how Hannah taught me to keep compassion in my anger


A world where Hannah and I were never friends is inconceivable for me. But even more so, myself without the changes Hannah has inspired in me; most importantly, how ze taught me to keep compassion in my anger.

My earliest education in how to be angry involved yelling, throwing things, calling names, breaking things, and generally trying to hurt the person one was angry at. Through my first romantic relationship I learned how to refrain from those things, and I thought I was really good at being angry without being a jerk. But then Hannah and I had our first fight. I was very angry and I did not want to hurt Hannah, so I withdrew into coldness and silence, trying to dissolve my anger before interacting. Hannah got very upset with me about this, which baffled me. Here I was, not attacking, restraining myself, trying to avoid being mean, and it wasn't enough? what more could ze possibly want?

We talked about it for some hours, and ze tried to explain to me that one could be angry and compassionate/kind at the same time -- that ze practiced this with zir partner Nick. I didn't even believe zir at first, because in my mind anger was the opposite of love, and they could not coexist. But when I saw how upset ze was, I realized that even though I was trying very hard not to hurt zir, my methods were doing just that. So I opened myself up to the possibility that one could be angry and compassionate at the same time. I asked how ze did it, and I do not remember any more what ze responded -- but it took root, grew and became an inextricable part of me. I didn't even realize this until I found myself getting upset with people for how they treated me when they were angry. In trying to articulate why, I verbalized how it is that I try to act when I am angry.

1) hold off on getting angry; assume good intentions. Most of the time, the anger is coming from a misinterpretation of someone else's behavior; first ASK what their motives are. Don't jump straight from "they did this" to "and that means BAD THINGS." Take a pause in the middle and ask. In my experience, the vast majority of the time people are not trying to hurt me. Most of the time they are missing some key information or understanding that would have prevented my upsetness.

2) treat them as a whole person; don't turn them into a cardboard cut-out labeled "enemy." Don't ignore or discount the good, even if they have been a total shithead for the past day and a half. Remind yourself of previous kindnesses, things that contradict the statement their actions seem to be making to you.

3) listen and empathize. Being understanding of their reasons does not invalidate your own pain. I used to refuse to empathize because I thought if I did, the other person would take that as proof that my suffering wasn't really that bad, or would ignore my suffering because they hurt too. But through practice I learned that it is possible to give compassion AND receive it in a situation of hurt on both sides.

4) don't disconnect. It takes a hell of a lot of strength to stay emotionally connected to someone who is hurting you, but it's a hell of a lot easier to rebuild afterward if you haven't severed bonds. I can understand when people do this because it is instinctual, but I believe it is the more damaging route. For me, at least, it definitely is.

I can't even imagine myself without these practices. Not that I'm always true to them; sometimes I need to be called out on my turning-people-into-cutouts, for sure -- but I do usually manage to follow #1 and avoid anger all together. But they are so much a part of my personhood that without them, I cannot conceive of the kind of person I would be.

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Comments
hope.text -
delicatexflower ══╣hope.text - "where the heartbreak ends"╠══

very validated points.

i'm curious to know what are your views on anger and abusive relationships? do you continue to feel your anger because of what the other person is doing to you, or do you simply walk away for it?

i am torn because this is what i'm facing with my mom because she's constantly trying to hurt me and use manipulative on me. the relationship is anything but healthy, yet i find myself wondering what to do. i refuse to give up on a person, because people can change, yet it's not healthy for me -- body, mentally and emotionally.

i'm very interested in what you have to say about that :)
sikander7 ══╣╠══
good advice
Some good points to think about.
sabrinamari ══╣╠══
This is a great post. Thank you.
sabrinamari ══╣╠══
I linked to this in my LJ. I hope that's OK.
magic horse
frecklestars ══╣magic horse╠══
I am going to print these out and hang them on my wall! Especially the "assume good intentions"; in pessimist mode, I'm not good at that.
isarma ══╣╠══
Thank you for this! I've been practicing similarly for years - not entirely sure where the pieces came from - and I find explaining it very challenging. I actually just linked someone to this post, because I thought it did a great job of laying it all out :)
verviana ══╣╠══
Love this. Thank you.
I have struggled for a lot of years with the concept of anger. For many years, I would not allow myself to feel it -- except in rare situations where it had built up to the point of explosion from a terrible situation.

Learning to allow myself to feel and express anger has been a huge breakthrough for me in the last couple years. But, having never allowed myself to really accept that I felt it, I had a hard time knowing how to handle feeling angry. I've been looking for answers for that more and more lately. This helps.

[say] oic
zeitgeistic ══╣[say] oic╠══
These are really good points of advice, and probably even more valuable now during the holidays, when families are stressed.
Basric Stones gif
basric ══╣Basric Stones gif╠══
I think you did a very powerful piece. WELL DONE
whipchick ══╣╠══
Very healthy approach!
lawchicky ══╣╠══
Great advice!
myrna_bird ══╣╠══
Those are four very good reminders. Thanks for sharing!
fourzoas ══╣╠══
One of the first places I "go" when I'm presented with an anger-inducing situation is to understanding--we never know what another is experiencing. Very useful messages in this entry.
locknkey ══╣╠══
Coming from a home of anger and abuse, yelling to solve problems, I really appreciated how you break this down in a practical and thoughtful manner. I am always looking for better ways to own my feelings and help my son own his without using them to lash out.
whirlgig ══╣╠══
This is lovely - if more people were like this our world would be much happier! Great job for the prompt x
Mona Lisa Impression
karmasoup ══╣Mona Lisa Impression╠══
Great interrelational habits I wish more people could put into practice... it would be nice if this were the norm, rather than something most still had to be taught.
pixiebelle ══╣╠══
Very good points, especially #1. I learned that in my last relationship. It's a shame he never did though... Well only a shame because he will be alone forever with the way he handles anger.
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
What you've said here is so important.

It took me a long time to learn to not get angry and to assume good intentions. I do sometimes slip up, when I can't see how intentions could have been good, but I do find that asking, clarifying and informing are all better options than getting angry. Most of the time, I find that it was a misunderstanding and the person in question and I learn to understand each other better.

I also find it hard not to disconnect, as I tend to shut down in anger or extreme hurt. Sometimes I actually ask to come back to it later when I can function again. Sometimes, though, the person on the other end takes my shut down mode as rejection or deliberately ignoring them and that makes it all the worse. I guess I need to find a way to honour my need for space that also honours their need for acknowledgement.

This is the kind of thing I want to share around widely, because the lessons in it are so helpful. Following these steps can lead to a healing conflict, rather than a hurtful one.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.