The Driver’s Seat

Lin asked me to look at some of the conversations on a Facebook site – not hers. It sounded like they were talking about the defunct Ocata/Astellas study. I concurred that it sounded like it was the same study. I also decided that, compared to the ‘what for’ these people said they were giving the research team, my incessant holiday greetings and pleas for inclusion are love letters. These people were mad!

Anger. It is always good to remember when dealing with angry people that anger is not the primary emotion. Scratch the surface of anger and you get fear and hurt. Angry people seem to live by the saying “the best defense is a good offense”….and some of them can really get offensive! If I hurt you first, you won’t get the chance to hurt me; you understand.

The problem is some people don’t get to have even that thought. Getting angry takes you deep into the emotional brain. That section of your brain doesn’t think and it doesn’t reason. All it does is react.

I am not sure that is the face you want to present to people you want to work with in a bid to save your sight. More importantly, if that is the face you show, will they want to work with you?

In 7 Mistaken Assumptions Angry People Make, Marie Hartwell-Walker starts off by debunking the “she made me so mad!” myth. No one can make you mad. That you do yourself. When kids at school say that to me, I like to make a big show of admiring how powerful the other child is to have forced the first child to do something against his will.

Angry expressions are a sign of weakness not of strength. They are the lashing out of a frightened or hurt animal.

Although many people like to say they are not in control of anger, they most often are. Angry expression is a choice. It may be your only choice because you have never developed alternative strategies but it is still a choice.

Other options can be learned if you chose to do so.

The choice to become angry can be predicated on myths – a la DBT – that you tell yourself. Things like I cannot stand it or frustration is intolerable. Things like in order to have value I must be obeyed.

Hartwell-Walker has a couple of other points. I refer you to the original article. Here I just want to touch on some of the DBT concepts we have gone over for dealing with intense emotions. Remember emotions in and of themselves are neither good or bad. They are, indeed, necessary and the fuel that propels us. If you think of a car, emotions become the engine and wheels and your rational self is the steering wheel and the brake. Without the engine, there is no go. Without the steering wheel and brake, you careen out of control.

So emotions add the giddy up but you need to have someone in the driver’s seat first. You can help to assure there is someone manning the steering and the brake by purposely putting a second between your emotion and your reaction. You can sit with a negative emotion and just observe it and how it is affecting your body. Sort of like sitting Shiva in the Jewish tradition. Just you and your emotions trying to find peace in each other’s company.

Those are just two thoughts for ways of controlling negative emotions like anger. I, for one, would not want to bite the hands that may lead us out of this mess, or anyone else’s for that matter. Losing your sight is scary and painful but angry expression is not my answer.

Next: All I Want For Christmas

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