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Managing the Rage-Be The Person You Want to Be
Like many of you, I have struggled with rage since 2016. It has gotten worse for me as I watch locally and around the country as laws are being passed to erase LGBTQ+ people. In addition, there are continued injustices against Blacks and other POC. I see the harm happening and I envision the harm to come. Laws that I know will cause people to die. It is hard to respond in anger to people on the internet spewing this mess. A part of me wants to do that and another part says no. The first part says it is a good anger release. The other parts agree that it really doesn’t release anger and it also makes me feel bad about myself. I don’t want to be the type of person I dislike.
As I was writing this I read this article on Scary Mommy. A woman tweeted about how she enjoyed hours of conversation in her garden with her husband in the mornings. The pile-on happened quickly. People took offense to her living her life. She was rich, she was entitled, and she was able-bodied. They were not. Capitalism needs to be overthrown. Why? Why can’t we just be happy (or if you can’t be happy ignore it!) that this lady is appreciating her life and her loved ones? I understand many people are in pain but do they want or need others to be in pain also? Why can’t we just let people be happy? Unless someone is coming for the rights of others I am inclined to let people live their lives without me commenting (well except when they pay me to!).
The response shows that I am not the only one struggling with rage right now. People are so unhappy. We have so much untreated trauma and other mental health issues in our society and no capacity for people to get the healing help they need. When I am in my best place I have compassion for all of this. When I am not then not so much.
How do we cope with this? I think the first step is to acknowledge what is going on in this country (and the world). It is tough right now. Many people had prior traumas and many have had trauma piled on with COVID and all of its consequences. While I think the words self-care have been overused I do believe in each of us listening to ourselves and figuring out what are the things that make our minds and body happy. For me I know that exercise and getting outside are important. Being connected with my people is very important. I work hard to keep up with these things. Of course, it can be a struggle sometimes. Weather, mood, etc can interfere. But I do the best I can. That is all we can do. Our best can be different on different days or even hours. I also think it is important to stay in spaces that are supportive and avoid spaces that are not. That means reducing social media. It is so easy to go down a rabbit hole there. I try to keep a rule of limiting social media and NEVER reading comments, and not commenting if I do read the comments. I don’t always do well with this but I keep trying.
It is also important to acknowledge that there are other feelings underneath the rage. Often there is grief and sadness. Sometimes our angry parts are trying to protect us from that. We need to find and allow space for those feelings to also be felt and acknowledged. Easier said than done. That is the place where having a therapist or a safe friend who can tolerate difficult feelings is essential.
The election is soon. Do what you can to take care of yourselves, your people, and all the feelings.