Friday, January 4, 2013

It's Not You....It's Me.

"No matter how many times I attempt to explain that their anger is about's not out there at the other person, it's something about themselves, they just don't get it."  

Dr. Drew Pinksy 
Rehab with Dr. Drew

Not a fun concept to swallow and defiantly a hard one to grasp at times. But the more I think about it, the deeper I take it in my mind, the truer it becomes.  Hold on, wait, calm down. I just heard all of you that are angry burst out, "NO! It's not ME! I'm angry at HER! I'm angry at HIM! They made me angry! They did this to me!" While that may appear to be the case on the surface, I'm going ask you to back up and look at it from a different perspective. It won't be easy and it won't be fun. I know because I've had to do it a lot recently. It's never easy nor fun to place responsibility on ourselves. It's much easier and lot more fun to place responsibility on someone else. Why? Because that gives us an out. That gives us a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. But most importantly  it frees us from any overwhelming feelings we might be encountering that we would rather not face. Not feelings of anger; other feelings. Feelings like fear, inadequacy, loss, etc. It may sound crazy, but it's true.

Walk through this with me. Think of a person that you're angry with right now. Got them in your mind? Okay, let's go. Now, why exactly are you angry with them? Let me give you my example, so that perhaps you can walk through it better. I am currently angry at a good friend (or what I thought was a good friend) of mine. If you were to ask me why, my immediate response would be, "Because she's dropped me. She's totally disappeared from my life for no reason. She had no reason to leave, I did nothing wrong."  If I were to go on and tell you the back-story, most of you would probably agree with me and not only that, you would agree with my anger; possibly even encourage me in it. "It's perfectly normal to be angry at her! I would be angry too!"

We have now established that I'm angry, who I am angry at and why I am angry. Now let me show you why this anger is not about my so-called friend and is, in fact, about me.

Let's start with the first thing I said. I am angry at what I THOUGHT was a good friend of mine. This is my first issue; MY issue. I have had several situations in the past where people that I considered to be really close friends have betrayed me. It caused me a ton of pain and it was a pain that lasted for a  long time. And if we look at still hurts now. THAT is why I am firstly "angry" with this friend. My pain is being triggered by her actions. But it's my pain. And friend or no friend, I can't expect anyone else to be privy to my situation and cater to my hurts. That's something that I have to take responsibility for. I am responsible for my own healing, not someone else.

The next thing I stated was why I was angry with this friend, "Because she dropped me. She totally disappeared from my life for no reason."  Here is my second issue. I have a major fear of abandonment. I'm terrified of being alone in world. Even though I'm a fully independent woman, that doesn't mean that I don't want to have people close to me; friends, family, etc.  I'm not exactly sure where this traces back to, but I have an idea. But even if I knew exactly where it traced back to, who is the one experiencing that fear? Me. I'm the one scared of being left. And yet again, the anger is developed from an issue that is all my own; not my friend's.

The last thing I said was that my friend had no reason to leave because I had done nothing wrong. My final issue is one of perfection. Ever since I was a little girl I was surrounded by pressure to be perfect. Perfection was admired and was to be strived for. Your best was not enough unless your best was perfect. And of course, my best was not/is not perfect. For me, the struggle of perfection causes me to be incredibly defensive about mistakes that I make. Though mistakes are a normal part of life, they're not a part that I'm quite accustomed to yet. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to accepting my mistakes and forgiving myself of them.

Do you see now how my anger is not about my friend and is really about me?

I asked a good friend of mine to humor me and partake in this thought process as well. As luck would have it, she happened to be really upset at someone. So she agreed to try it out and see what conclusions she came to. Here is her answer:

I’m extremely angry at a close friend right now.  I’m moving next week, and have a dinner with my closest girlfriends planned for this weekend.  This friend that I’m mad at works weekends, so I made sure to give her the date about 6 weeks ago so that she could make sure that she was off in time to make it to dinner on Saturday…which she has, on more than one occasion, said wouldn't be a problem.  Well she ended up getting the weekend off and has decided to go out of town, so she will not be at my dinner Saturday night.  

Any good friend would make sure to see their friend before they moved out of town right?  I’m justified in my anger, aren't I?

Or am I?  If I were to be totally honest, I’d say that while my feelings are very hurt that she doesn't find it necessary to be there the night of my “going away party,” she did offer to come over the next night (when she gets back in town).  Problem with that is that we’ll have friends from out of town here helping us load up our moving truck, so we wouldn't get to spend much time together.  I should also say that I know that things have been rough for her lately, and I haven’t made much of an effort to go see her.  I guess I've been so caught up in my move, expecting everyone to cater to my schedule, that I haven’t made much of an effort to see the girls that have become like family here.  So, after talking it through, I’d say that I’m more mad at myself for getting lost in myself and not making the time for my friends these last few weeks. 

What about you? Are you able to look at the person you're angry at and see how your anger is not about them, but it's about you?

Now, none this means that I don't think anger is a necessary/normal feeling. I think anger is very necessary. I think it's necessary in helping us identify issues that we haven't fully dealt with yet. But the only way we can actually deal with those issues is by stripping anger of it's mask; by revealing it for what it truly is and pointing the finger where it belongs; back at us.

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