Water Works: How Anger Flows

Shit Happens!

Wait!

I thought you said that shit is the ineffective and unhealthy outcome of some of our selected anger behaviors, and thus, the end of the system? Outcomes are last. So why lead with Shit Happens? (Previous Post in this series) or READ ON….

I did say that. I did. I own that.

The problem here is that real life is not linear.

Books, lectures, radio shows, seminars and workshops are linear.

Real life is process-oriented.

Shit happens and you interact with, ingest, decide and then respond to “The Bullshit of Life” hundreds of times each day. A shit leads to more shit, which leads to more shit which leads to the need for healing, coping skills, problem solving, communication and so on.

Life is cyclical.

As the 80’s band the Fixx sang, “One thing leads to another”.

Think of your behavioral outcomes as a new beginning of a process that goes on and on and on and on. Or better yet, consider a parking garage. You enter. You turn left. Like all great NASCAR drivers, you turn left. You look for a space. You turn left again, you look for a space. This continues for two more lefts. Then you GO UP a level. And you start the process over in the relatively same place just one level above where you started. Cyclical.

So, as I said on the LAST page…Shit or Something happens.

You think about it.

You try to make sense of it by thinking about it.

You try to understand it’s meaning by thinking about it.

You then have an emotional reaction. And a physiological reaction. Both reactions are driven by thinking.

Then you express those emotions and expel those physical sensations through a carefully selected behavior that you believe helps you fulfill your needs and get you what you want.

What a system.

Back to the beginning of a single process: Shit Happens!

When shit happens, we think about it. We ponder. We tear the situation apart and analyze it six ways to Sunday; especially if you are a guy. Guys need to understand why shit happens so we can either repeat it for purely entertainment purposes and/or attempt to improve the quality of our life in some way by changing behavior.

The brain’s primary purpose is to make sense of the world around us. As we live our lives and experience all that is to be experienced, we gain knowledge. We learn that fire is hot, ice is cold, beer is good, and kissing a hot and sexy girl is absolutely awesome.

In this book, when I refer to “The Brain”, I am referencing the logical, organized, information-driven abilities of our marvelous thinking machine that sits above our neck.

When I refer to “The Mind”, I am referencing the dreaming, imagining, creative and innovative aspects of that thinking machine.

This is NOT a Right vs. Left brain argument. I do not believe that, like a great hockey game, the two spheres compete. In reality, the left and right hemispheres work together to:

  • store and recall information,
  • imagine possibilities,
  • problem solve and contemplate,
  • dream,
  • create innovative perspectives and
  • much, much more.

For the purpose of this book, the differential of brain and mind is key since both play critical and complimentary roles in how anger behaviors are selected and deployed.

As our brain is busy collecting and storing data about the minutia of our lives, our mind is busy translating the data into insights and interpretations which are then, by the brain, converted into automatic emotional and physical responses. The brain collects facts and checks our database of experiences and the mind interprets, and then tells the brain to order the body to respond. As our body responds we experience emotional and physical sensations.

If our mind perceives the data the brain returns to be “dangerous”, then the mind communicates back to the brain the need to prepare the body for fight or flight. Your body begins to, automatically, prepare for the physical exertions anticipated. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter if you kick the shit out of someone or thing, or run away, our body needs incredible energy to do either. So the brain encourages the body to prepare. When our body responds, we experience physical sensations (energy) such as increased blood flow, oxygen capacity, sweaty palms and muscle twitches to name a few.

The brain also, anticipating the fight-flight initiatives, floods the soul with anxiety if “danger” is perceived. Anxiety can sharpen our focus – which is a positive outcome when fighting or running your ass off away from a threat. When our soul is filled with anxiety, we need to express the unwanted and undesired emotion with behaviors.

If there is NO NEED to run or fight, then the triggered emotional and physical responses are trapped in our bodies. That is a major issue. The energy and unwanted emotions are then usually converted into behavioral action: anger! And as I have suggested, the outcomes of anger behaviors are often less than desired.

Toilet Time Review 1:

Complete the Following Fill-In-The-Blanks

When Shit Happens We __________________________________

(clue: rhymes with blink)

When we Think, We _____________________________________

(clue: rhymes with real)

When We Feel We _______________________________________

(clue: rhymes with fact)

Your “paperwork” is complete.

Start the next chapter upon your return to the crapper.

Remember to flush.

Here’s a podcast episode with more on Anger.

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Hump Day Vids

Want to improve your mood?

Sure you do. Who wouldn’t?

Here’s a video on the secrets of increased mood in a matter of seconds…

Why HEAL Anger?

If you want to change:

  • the way your life works,
  • the way you respond to fear or hurt,
  • the quality of your relationships and
  • the way you think about the events of your life

then keep reading, learning, and reflecting about the connections among how you think about and interpret the world, your automatic emotional and physical responses, and the corresponding behaviors that follow.

Once you lay out the plumbing of your proprietary thinking-feeling-acting system, you can start to make changes that help you filter out the ineffective and unhealthy outcomes or “crap” that mess-up your life. And of course, I am talking about the ineffective and unhealthy outcomes that usually follow anger behaviors.

After all, loving behaviors, for example: hugs, kisses, high-fives, fist bumps and so on, have a tendency to make your life a little sweeter and much more fun. Of course, make sure that you perform “loving behaviors” on those whom you love and most importantly love you back. Mutuality people is a good thing.

Counselors and plumbers constantly deal with and manage a ton of backed-up crap. Plumbers and counselors open the system, clean out the piping of muck and yuck, add filters and pumps, delete sections, and create new plumbing runs to improve the systems as a whole.

In this series of posts, you will learn how to:

  • connect every-day life events to a thought process you have created over the course of your life,
  • identify how your thoughts automatically trigger emotions and physical sensations,
  • understand how toxic emotions (hurt & fear) and physical sensations fuel anger behaviors,
  • realize anger behaviors, like all behaviors, lead to unhealthy and ineffective outcomes that are evaluated and you’re the evaluator and can’t blow off your responsibilities for evaluating,
  • identify behaviors, anger and/or otherwise, that lead to ineffective and unhealthy outcomes and need to be flushed away then replaced with more new/modified behaviors – you’re responsible for making these choices and overseeing the installation – leading to healthier and more effective outcomes in your life,
  • you CAN heal anger for the purpose of improving the quality of your life. IF YOU WANT!

This series is designed for you to interact with one section at a time in the course of “a seating” in the library. If you are like me and take forever to read something while visiting the “library”, no worries. Each segment is short and to the point.

I like brief.

Then again, if you are a fast reader or an overachiever, go ahead and read and interact with as much of the material as you can during one visit to the crapper.

It’s your life.

Feel free to read the book in other locales such as on the train, in your office, in bed, on the beach and while waiting for the bus.

This is the end of the first segment.

So, finish your paperwork, flush and I’ll see you next time you visit the library.

100 Lessons from 5 Shitty Days

img_20180906_093155I have traveled to Hell and back so often, I have frequent flier miles. During those various journeys and adventures I picked up a few life survival skills. I learned a couple of important life lessons and now I am about to share them with you.

I wrote this blog series to heal. No other reasons.

Writing these lessons helped me process, even further, what I experienced. Writing helped me flush-out the meaning I have associated to these trips to Hell and back.

I am in no means an expert in anything. Sure, I have a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a license as a clinical counselor. That means that I can take tests and had the money to attend school (I actually borrowed most of it and will have student loans up to and past the day of my funeral) and the cash need to pay for the licensing exam.

Perhaps I am an expert in living my life. At times I don’t believe that I have managed that all too well either. No regrets. Sometimes I wonder “what if?!” Only briefly though.

You may or may not find answers to your own healing questions or the next step to take in your own healing journey while reading this book. Grief (a.k.a. The Art of Healing) is so individualized even my wife and I don’t follow the same path most of the time. Your grief and my grief; your healing and my healing are two living, breathing things.

The backbone of this book, my other books, radio show and podcast, videos, workshops and seminars is called Bubba Counseling. The system is quite simple:

  1. Shit Happens: We live and we experience life storms (a.k.a crises).
  2. Life Storms break things: marriages, families, hope, dreams, trust and security.
  3. Life Storms leave behind debris: plenty of hurt and fear.
  4. We attempt to understand and apply meaning to the life storms through grieving.
  5. We attempt to mend the broken relationships, hope, dreams, trust and security through grieving.

Grieving or healing is a series of actions and behaviors we have identified and leverage in an effort to mend what is broken and clean up the debris.

Here are the FIVE Shittiest Days of my life in chronological order:

  1. Entering Alcohol and Drug Addiction Rehab

In May of 1995, I entered an intensive outpatient rehabilitation program for addiction. Until that time, I had NO idea that I was an alcoholic or drug addict and was also highly unaware of how my behaviors impacted others.

  1. Death of My Son Kyle

In August of 1996 shortly after my wife and I returned from the 100 Olympiad in Atlanta, we were informed that our unborn son’s heart had stopped beating and that he had died. An autopsy later determined that Kyle had Truncus Arteriosus, a rare congenital heart disease in which the pulmonary and aorta values fail to correctly form.

  1. Loss of My Job and Struggles to Find a New Position

In January 2002, I lost a job. I struggled to locate a new position. I networked and sent out hundreds of resumes. I even started a consulting business to bring in extra monies and keep myself busy. After ten months of struggle, I have burned through my life savings and our lifestyle changed dramatically

  1. Death of My Daughter Dakota

In April 2002, as I was searching for a new job and launching a new business, my wife and I were informed that our fourth child, Dakota, had the same congenital heart defect that took the life of her unborn brother six years earlier.

In September 2002, Dakota underwent open heart surgery to correct her Truncus Arteriosus. She passed away 10 days later on October 3, 2002.

  1. Homelessness, Bankruptcy and Financial Struggle

In October 2002, we sold our family home. Due to loss of income, we could no longer afford the home. We sold it and moved in with my in-laws twenty-one days after burying our second child lost to a congenital heart disease. We lived with my in-laws for a period or eight months.

In June 2003, we moved into a town home owned by my parents. I started graduated school and my wife started her teaching career.

Over the course of the past ten years, my wife has experienced an up and down career in which she experienced years of under-employment or lack of employment and even though I have been employed since 2006 with the same organization (a social services not-for-profit) our family has struggled to maintain financial security.