A number of times in the past few weeks I have experienced events of such stupidity they have got me to a state where, in the past, I would have got extremely angry and voiced my opinion loudly without any consideration of the consequences. This never bothered me before because it was my way of blowing off some steam having spent so much energy during the day hiding the turmoil going on in my head and showing the world a happy and confident facade.
The anger outbursts were like the valve on a pressure cooker – the feelings inside would continue to build and build and if they weren’t released, well, who knows what might have happened. I have noticed more recently that this ‘pressure release’ is a common event amongst military trained people. While it is never discussed, it just becomes an event that everyone accepts as a normal way of life – “Hey, Davo just cracked the shits but he’ll be okay in a bit” would be a common expression – then everyone would just go on with their work.
Military guys, have the outburst – everyone sees it, ‘Davo’ releases the valve, everyone knows there is nothing personal in it, or if there is then you work it out together in a gentlemanly manner that, in some cases, may have involved an exchange of punches. But… once finished, it is over and done with and things get back to normal – no hard feelings and no grudges.
I have realised, since being diagnosed with my conditions that ‘normal’ people don’t do this and mostly don’t know how to handle situations where people do it. So when a person has an emotional outburst to release the pressure, ‘normal’ people see it as a personal attack and get upset by it. They feel as if the person is angry with them and with what they have done rather than this being the final bit of heat adding to the inner pressure causing the release valve to trigger.
So, what do we do about it? I have two ways of handing these situations now – and they have been tested to their limits over the past month or so…
Run Away!!!! (Probably more professionally know as Avoidance.) When I feel myself getting frustrated at behaviours or attitudes of other I know it will eventually result in an outburst that will upset those around me and possibly cause damage to any ongoing relationship. The best thing I can now do in these situations is to move away from the cause of the frustration and allow the event to go on without me nearby – I accept that people will do or say what they think is best and me getting angry about it wont change their mind. So I get away from it, get alone, out of sight out of mind, calm down and maybe do something I prefer to do while the situations dissolves.
Batten Down The Hatches!!!! (Probably more professionally known as Withdrawal). In some cases it is not possible to get away and avoid the catalyst so you have to get away internally. By this I mean to close down your emotions, try to ignore the stupidity going on around you and just ride the flow through until it is over. The situation that has allowed me to develop this approach is going through airport security. So many times they seem to do things without reason, or they do it differently, or something is picked up that has been okay in the past – many things vary. So much so that you get frustrated with the lack of consistency and perceived stupidity. However, you know that by just saying one word you could find yourself out the back with a large fellow and a rubber glove… so I just shut down and am like cattle to the slaughter – nothing you can do about it so just let it flow and get out at the other end.
So when I am with people and there is a situation occurring where I find myself getting angry or annoyed, I no longer disagree or voice my contrary opinion, I just shut up and stop participating in the discussion. I know by continuing on I will just get angrier and angrier until I explode and that will cause damage to friendships with others who are in the vicinity and friends of myself and the other person/people in the discussion. Don’t get me wrong though, I am happy for people to have contrary opinions to mine and I am happy to debate and discuss those opinions but they need to be supported by valid facts or logic – in some cases I will even accept that my opinion could be wrong if proof is provided.
The sad thing with both of these techniques though is that you risk being seen as sulking because you don’t get your own way but, in fact, this is just the opposite. You know what your limits are and you know what the outcome will be by continuing so you are taking a positive step to avoid hurting those around you and damaging friendships that you hold so dearly. Better to damage how you are perceived rather than those around you.
Another problematic situation is when you are told by your counsellors that it is time you stopped worrying about others and started worrying about yourself – doing what you want to do and enjoying your life rather than helping others to enjoy theirs. When you have spent a lifetime focussing on others this is a very, very difficult thing to do and, sadly, when you do it you tend to upset other people or be seen as hard and uncaring – but this can be the subject of a future post…