So, here I am…back to Blogging.
The SASS is Back.
Today, I attended a class on Anger Management, and our instructors went over the “A B C D”s of anger events. Now, I’m attending this class, not because I necessarily need it, but…well, it’s free for me, and it couldn’t hurt…and it could even help me become a more even-tempered person than I am.
So…. Our instructor presented a few scenarios in which anger might result. Let’s say, for example, I call up my good friend(s), and ask if I can hang out for a while. Well, my friend is busy. He can’t hang out with me. How does this affect me? Maybe I’m put off. I feel rejected. I think my friend has his priorities wrong. Or maybe, I just feel that I am worth LESS to my friend than…whatever it is that certain friend is doing.
And therein lies the seed of feeling “Worthless”…feeling rejected, snubbed, and lonely; this can lead to anger; and this (taken to extremes) could even lead me to going postal on an innocent parking meter somewhere! (Okay, no, not really….)
But more importantly, this scenario points up a few areas of false thinking that are taking place. One is that a friend “Values” someone or some thing more than me. Another is that the friend has (intentionally or not) snubbed me in favor of his current plans. Unfortunately, I’ve actually been on the receiving end, where this latter was actually the case. But then, those were never really friendships in the first place; and the ones who’ve done that to me generally have no desire to have anything to do with me to begin with.
And still an even more damaging false thinking is that my “worth” is somehow tied to anything my friend (or enemies, or acquaintances, or anyone else either, for that matter) says or does when I happen to want a few hours of pleasant company. It’s this very false thinking, in fact, that can lead to depression and suicide, as well as anger and domestic or workplace violence, stupid reckless behavior, drug and alcohol dependence, and innumerable encounters with the long arm of the law. All because our “Worth” is measured by outside forces, such as a friend’s current plans for the day.
Interestingly, our instructors gave us a variation on that scenario: say for example her daughter was sick and needed to be rushed to the Emergency room, just as her friend calls and wants to go shopping at the mall. Now, we can understand, the friend is lonely and needs company; but I think we can all agree that the child is much more important. Not only is the illness a very urgent situation, but (I certainly hope) most or all of us would readily put our kids ahead of our friends and acquaintances! But the point that struck me in this example was that the child’s NEED was greater!
Here is a variable that not many people think about when they try to balance the relationships and situations in their lives! What needs more attention? Will that friend die, if he/she doesn’t get to go to the mall and check out the latest fashion trends? Probably not! Unless they’re suicidal; and then maybe a hospital stay might be a better solution for the friend, also. But the sick and suffering child is in a life threatening circumstance-immediate, and desperate. The needs of that child very obviously outweigh the needs of that lonely friend.
In fact, in this past week, I have personally experienced the calculated weight of a variable need. Somewhere around Saturday night, I slept wrong, and hurt my back. I was in excruciating pain all weekend, and even part of Monday. On Sunday morning, a friend of mine called me, with an emergency. His cat was ailing, and he needed a ride to the Pet Emergency Center here in town. Without a thought, I knew that the need of this friend (and his cat) for emergency care was greater than my need for rest and recuperation. I jumped out of bed (screaming as I did so, incidentally), dressed, and crawled painfully into my car to rescue my friend and his poor ailing cat.
Sadly, the kitty was too sick to save without spending nearly $3,000 or more on treatments (The price of a used car, in fact!) and my friend had to have her put to sleep, instead. I comforted him as well as I could…(without being touchy-feely, of course), and I took my friend home to grieve.
Despite the pain I was feeling, my friend’s needs were clearly greater than my own.
But by Monday, I still wasn’t fully recovered. Now…on Mondays, I usually hang out with a group of friends that play Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop role-playing game, that gives each and every one of us a nice break from the harsh reality that most of us face in the rest of our daily lives. And one of those friends faces a very harsh reality, indeed: my friend George is currently staying in the local Hospice House, slowly dying of Cancer. The rest of our group gather with George by the fireplace, and there we live out a fantasy of epic adventure slaying dragons and rescuing fair damsels, all while forgetting-just for a while-how sad and lonely the rest of our lives can get. But remember…I was still in pain, and needed to recover, myself. So…I called up each of my friends, and I apologized that I wouldn’t be able to join them; and I made a special point to call George, and apologize to him and wish him well. Then…I laid back down in bed.
You see, in this case, my needs were greater. I’m feeling much better, now.
And this has given me a much better perspective on the way people interact with one another! You see, most people only think about what they, themselves, are feeling about a given situation or event. Yes, they may consider the feelings of others, or try to see their point of view; or, they may try to intercept their path to anger through a number of different techniques; but is it possible they may actually be missing the entire point altogether? What if, instead of an emotional reaction…we were to consider the needs of ourselves and that person we’re interacting with, and ask, “is his/her need greater than mine?” Maybe the friend in the first scenario isn’t rejecting the offer to hang out because he/she “Values” my friendship less…but because someone or something NEEDS his/her attention more! Thus, my “worth” is not a factor in the friend’s decision, and my Self-Worth is not impaired just because the friend saw to the greater needs in his/her day.
So that’s it! “Count the NEEDS!”
By considering how greater need affects the the actions and decisions of those we interact with, we can remove the stimulation that leads to anger when things don’t go our way, and still enjoy our time with people when things do go our way!
It may be a simple as counting up…what really counts!
And speaking of needs…I need to address one other topic that came out of that class today.
While considering scenarios that lead to anger, and the false thinking that may trigger the anger itself, I threw out the scenario of freeway driving. I think we all (those of us who drive, anyway) have experienced an event where someone cuts us off in traffic, or crosses lanes without looking or signaling, or makes rude and obscene gestures, or…any number of other annoying and dangerous acts that it is possible for drivers whom we consider less capable than ourselves to perform.
And…one of the “False Thinking” things that I put up into the discussion was, I often feel that other drivers are…: “STUPID!”
Well…okay, while it is true that not everyone is Stupid…I argued that each and every one of us…IS…STUPID…at one point or another in our lives. YES, NO EXCEPTION, PEOPLE! I even include myself in that description; and upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving.
Now…before I get into how a stupid act becomes “I am stupid”, I ought to explain that, when it comes to language, and the ENGLISH language in particular, I consider myself a PURIST. I use words with their purest, and most undistorted meanings possible. When words become so distorted and polluted that they no longer convey the meaning I need to express…I find clearer words to use!
So, follow, if you will, my use of the term “Stupid.” Stupidity, is both a condition, and an action. If I-or others-perform an action that I consider to be “stupid”, then I am acting “Stupidly.” The condition of acting stupidly is synonymous with the act of “being stupid.” Yes, that is one of the definitions for “stupid” given in any good English dictionary. Therefore…if I am BEING Stupid…it follows (By definition of “IS” and “BE”) that for that brief time, I AM…STUPID! Does it not? Of course it does!
So…by virtue of the very nature of those of us in the Human Race, I postulate that each and every one of us, at one time or another…WAS STUPID!!!
I mean…it’s what we do. I am no exception!
Case in point…upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving. I was waiting to make a left turn onto Sprague Avenue, one of the busiest streets East of downtown Spokane, when I saw a possible opening in the Eastbound traffic. I knew that the light a block West of me was going to change, so…when I saw a small hole in the Westbound lanes, I gunned it! Well, I knew immediately I was being stupid. I mean, the car coming up behind me in the nearest lane couldn’t have been more than a few car lengths from where I crossed over into the outside (far) lane! I’m grateful my car has good acceleration and guts, or I might have caused another Spokane Traffic Statistic! But…he didn’t slam into the back of my bumper; though I probably gave him one hell of a scare. I certainly gave myself one hell of a scare.
What I did…was STUPID. It was reckless, thoughtless, dangerous…and unnecessary. Well, as Forrest Gump said in that famous movie… “Stupid is as stupid does.” And our good English dictionary confirms that it also follows, as stupid does, so stupid is. In that act of careless driving…I was…pretty stupid.
This is what it is to be Human, everyone. We all to stupid things. We also do things that are pretty cleaver at times, too. So I feel justified, in my precise, and unflinching English, to say to you all, that each and every one…at one time, or another…has been stupid, smart, jaded, innocent, obnoxious, helpful, WRONG, (and right, naturally)….and a great many other conditions that really just come with the territory-the condition of being HUMAN!
Really…it’s what we do! I’m right in that boat there with you. No offense implied or intended.
SASS has Spoken.