Personal Reflection: CAROLYN
I don’t remember expressing anger very much as a child. I can remember some times where it seems I was probably mad, but it quickly morphed into being sad.
To this day, any anger I have will quickly turn into sadness, and I cry. This has had both positive and negative results. Discharging the energy through crying can reduce the pressure I feel, but can also create a tendency to put up with inappropriate behavior for too long in both personal and work relationships. Once I figured out that this is what was happening, I learned how to get my pattern to work for me. I now know that it is okay for me to transform anger into sadness, and to use the sadness to motivate me to act. I can feel sad and let the energy out by crying, and I can tell the other person what I think is wrong or not working for me in a way he or she can (usually) hear. Now that I understand it, I think this pattern is useful; I believe sadness is underneath anger anyway, and I find that people respond better when confronted without angry energy. This is truth without judgment, which is discussed in Key 8.
Personal Reflection: GWEN
In the past I felt so uncomfortable with sadness that it was hard for me to even admit to myself when I was sad, or to express it. Today I still feel uncomfortable showing sadness, but I can feel it and talk about it. As a kid, sadness scared me. If I felt it coming on, I would deny it, make a joke, or distract myself. If this didn’t work and the sadness broke through into my awareness, I would get very scared. Growing up, the overall mood in our home was tense. My dad was angry a lot and if he was home, his anger permeated everything, which made the rest of us tense and sad. My mom seemed the most affected by his anger, and her sadness made her seem vulnerable and alone. I desperately wanted to cheer up those around me and to make them laugh. To me, it seemed like sadness never went away once you let it in, so I was determined not to let it in and do what I could to keep it away from others too. I ran from sadness as much as I could and I know my eating disorder was one of the ways I kept sadness and other difficult feelings away. The problem in never expressing my sadness was that nobody ever knew I needed help, comfort, or compassion, so I felt very alone and scared if I ever felt sad, which made it even harder to deal with and more scary to feel.
Anger didn’t bother me nearly as much because there was at least power in it. I wasn’t scared or intimidated by anger because although my father was angry most of the time, he wasn’t physically abusive or out of control when angry. I didn’t like feeling angry, but it sometimes felt like fuel, and sometimes I needed that fuel to help me do things I was afraid to do, like saying how I felt even though it might upset someone else. My fear of rejection and judgment was so strong that it took anger for me to override the fear and push me into action.