I gave a talk to our staff on ‘Anger Management’ yesterday and I found it much more stressful than I thought I would. Perhaps because this is an issue that is quite personal for me. Part of the reason that I went into Psychology in the first place was that I struggled with relationships and ‘Anger’ is all about relationships.
Here is the start of the talk:
By way of introduction, I have to tell this story. A couple of weeks ago I was walking my two-year old daughter in the park. She was being impossible, she wouldn’t walk, she wouldn’t be carried. So I picked her up and carried her on my neck. She’s fighting and trying to claw my eyes out. So I snap. Put her down and give her a couple of firm smacks on her bottom. Then I look up to see who has witnessed this embarrassing incident of child abuse. Inevitably of course it’s a fellow staff member. One of my colleagues is walking towards me with her husband. I try to shrink into the shadow of a tree. And then the next day I asked this colleague (who is a lovely person, warm, very together, not judgmental) if it looked as bad as I thought it did. She said she was focused on her conversation with her husband and so she hadn’t actually noticed!
From there I was able to share some interesting research on anger and attachment before discussing anger in relationships, the Fear -> Anger -> Aggression cycle and some case material. I finished up with some anger management tips. I thought it was a pretty good talk and the feedback was positive. But going into the talk I was definitely feeling more stressed than usual. I have been fighting a cold over the past few days and was really worried about losing my voice. I managed to get through the talk without losing my voice but then I was croaking for much of the day. Today it’s a little better but I’m still battling.
It doesn’t help of course that Leah has been sick this past week and L was sick yesterday and today.
But after my talk yesterday I felt a bit ‘spacey’ for the rest of the day. I suppose part of this was that I was running over the internal tape of my talk to see if I had embarrassed myself. Had I offended anyone? Made a fool of myself? Did I reveal too much personal information? For example, I confessed that early in my teaching career I was ashamed to admit that I had been aggressive towards a Grade 8 pupil. The boy was seriously ‘pushing my buttons’ and I asked him to wait after class. Then when he carried on being cheeky, I grabbed him by his tie and spoke to him sharply. I knew I had crossed the line immediately that it happened. And I was cross with myself for losing it like that.
So today I’m still wondering about sharing that incident with the staff. I’m sure they probably took it in the spirit that it was meant and that they don’t think worse of me as a result. If anything, it probably opens up a space for them to reflect on their own ways of expressing anger.
But, as Brene Brown commented after one of her popular TED talks on Shame, I want to go into my house and stay there for a while until I’ve recovered. Brene Brown calls it a vulnerability hangover. Unfortunately I have lots of things to attend to here instead.