Reinterpreting Negative Experiences – Annoyance

When you Experience Annoyance, it brings an understanding of Patience.

Annoyance is an unpleasantness that distracts me from my ability to focus. It typically leads to my experiencing irritation, agitation or aggravation. Annoyance is a mild form of anger and, as such, it happens when something suddenly occurs that I’m not expecting. It is present when someone does something I find inappropriate and certainly if they say something that directly contradicts me. More often than not, annoyance accompanies a repeated occurrence of something that bothers me. I am annoyed when my importance is not acknowledged or I feel disregarded.

What happens when I experience annoyance? Usually I feel stress in my body that results from my instinctual response to an unwanted intrusion. The disorientation that come from being distracted, the challenge to my having my freedom impeded, the apparent ignoring of my rightful presence, all make me feel discounted or unimportant. I react by attempting to be recognized, to reestablish my place, to show my importance or, at the extreme, take control over the situation,such as when I am cut off in traffic. More likely I refuse to participate in order to assert my independence.

Yet I fail to account for the fact that I am the one who permits myself to be annoyed. I am the one who places my priorities above what else is going on around me. I am the one who expects my surroundings to support my objectives. I am the one unwilling to share time and space. What underlies this reaction is a self-centered need to be important coupled with an unawareness of my self-righteousness.

Being full of myself is a state of mind that results from a failure to recognize my underlying emotions. At the moment I am feeling disoriented I have the opportunity to look at my primary emotions. I can recall the acronym S.R.E.F.F. standing for Surprise, Resentment, Embarrassment, Fear, and Frustration. By focusing on my underlying emotions, I minimize my tendency to react to what is going on outside me and take care of my feelings of vulnerability.

Patience is the antidote to being annoyed because it gives that moment of reflection to get in touch with my feelings. It is variously defined as my ability to face a delay or my endurance before expressing negativity toward someone or something. Patience is a learned response to my instinctual inclination to favor short-term outcomes over long-term solutions. It involves the struggle between my basic instincts and my attempt to live by principled behavior. Patience is necessary for society to function where imperfections and differences of opinion exist in abundance.

Patience is an attitude that is synonymous with acceptance of reality so I do not attempt to mold reality into what I want it to be. Practicing patience does not mean I should accept unacceptable behavior from others, but it does mean that I should focus on taking care of myself and not expect others to act in a way I want them to. Patience and acceptance are at the root of maturity as expressed on pages 46 and 47 of the book.

Can you think of a situation where you felt the need to assert your authority in a discussion or situation? What was the result? Was there another way to handle the situation?

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Reinterpreting Negative Experiences – Anger

When you Experience Anger, it brings an understanding of Forgiveness.

What is anger? Anger is an intense negative emotion that involves a strong hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat. Anger can occur when a person feels their personal boundaries are being violated and may involve a learned (automatic) tendency to retaliate out of the need for self-protection. More specifically anger is likely used to cover up fear, hurt or sadness which leads some scholars to classify anger as a secondary emotion.

The following model explains the progression of anger I have experienced.
I experience a feeling that I interpret as negative because I don’t want that feeling.
I don’t question or attempt to get in touch with the actual feeling.
Instead, I instantly focus on what I perceive to be the cause of the feeling.
My split-second objective is to change the circumstances that caused it so the unwanted feeling will go away.
Therefore, all my energy is focused on changing what is going on outside me.
In the moment, I make no calculation as to whether I can or have the right or actual capacity to change what is outside.

The fallacy here is I think someone or something outside me caused an unwanted feeling. Since I operate on the premise that no one has the right to effect my feelings, I have the right and obligation to protect my space, my integrity. In this way, my conditioning not to tolerate certain feelings comes from my erroneous belief that I can control what happens to me and produces an instinctual reaction which come from inside, not outside of me. Had I learned an important lesson with an objective review of the situation I would recognized that I had caused my own anger and had no right to attempt to impose my will.

The alternative to reacting out of anger is forgiveness toward myself. I need to forgive myself for my internal reactive nature that does not want to accept the reality that I am the source of my feelings. I need to forgive myself for the physiological responses my body produces that make acting out on my feelings seem imperative. The increased heart rate, the release of adrenalin, the laser focus; these are the natural mechanisms necessary for the survival of our species. And, I need to forgive myself for displacing my feelings that causes me to be aggressive toward others.

To be sure, there are precipitating events to which I react and I acknowledge that there is unfairness or thoughtless behavior on the part of others. However, if I choose to be judgmental or feel the certainty of right and wrong, then I construct a perceived conflict that I must rectify. I don’t need to forgive someone else if I don’t hold them to my arbitrary standard in the first place. When I hold on to the idea that I must defend myself then the idea of being threatened defines how I view my world. I need to forgive myself for imposing my standards on someone without their knowledge and certainly without their permission.

Write about 2 or 3 situations where your anger caused a situation to become worse. Describe if you thought you had a right to be angry and how you tried to express this justification. What may have been a better way to handle the situation.

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Reinterpreting Negative Experiences – Abandonment

When you Experience Abandonment, it brings an understanding of Self-Reliance.

Abandonment is one of the most feared of emotional experiences. I have, in the past, attempted to avoid feeling abandonment by either not engaging in relationships at all or limiting my relationships to people I was certain would not leave me. This led me to entrust my emotional well being with people who were emotionally unstable themselves.

Intellectually I accept abandonment as a fact of life and the experience is universal. Yet emotionally the fear of abandonment is so strong I find myself acting irrationally. For example, when I feel a cherished relationship may end, my anticipation of abandonment is just as painful as the actual experience and I end up perpetuating the feeling over time rather than dealing with it just once.

I found the following statement on Wikipedia that describes emotional abandonment as “a subjective emotional state in which people feel undesired or discarded. People experiencing abandonment feel at a loss, cut off from a crucial source of support that has been withdrawn. Typically, the breaking of the emotional bond is one-sided, that is, the object of one’s attachment is the one who chose to break the connection. Feeling rejected has a biological impact in that it activates the physical centers in the brain and can leave a long lasting emotional imprint.

For all of the emotional energy I expend in dealing with actual or perceived abandonment, I have found that there is life after divorce, there is happiness after rejection, there is a sense of inner peace after desertion. In reality, I must acknowledge that in many ways my life is better afterwards, not only better than I thought it would be but better than I dreamed it could be. In this way I am released from the sadness that things will not be as I had expected but instead, things will unfold as my life’s adventure continues.

The lesson I take away from this experience is that walking through the feelings of loss and loneliness that accompany abandonment add to my emotional strength. Self-reliance includes living each day knowing “I will be taken care of” which provides a forward perspective, not back. My experience that “all things work together for good” give me gratitude for the happiness I’ve experienced and the happiness yet to come. When I place my emotional well-being in the knowledge that “better days lie ahead” I don’t need push my negative feeling away but neither do I need to be held captive by them.

As I fill my reservoir of self-reliance, I develop an ability to enjoy my relationships without the fear of the pain that may result from separation. Self-reliance means I depend less on the other person for my self-worth and give them the freedom to make the choices that are best for them, not mine. This healthy independence makes the relationships stronger and is the basis for honesty and openness that makes for truly meaningful interaction. Self-reliance, in this sense, is not refraining from a relationship but establishing and maintaining an adult-to-adult relationship where I focus less on their part and more on my responsibilities to myself and them.

Have you experienced abandonment? How did it feel? How did you react? Did your reactions make the situation better or worse for yourself (describe how)?

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