Another course of Anger Management began last week. We talked about the motivations each member had for attending the group, and I grinned all the way home at the idea of so many 16-25 year olds I’ve met who were willing to come to a class and face the consequences of their emotions.
I never understood people who didn’t always seek to further their development. I still struggle with it – if you’re life isn’t as it should be, what can you do to take that step forward?
I grew up around the phrase “political correctness has gone mad” and a lot of shouting about “freedom of speech means I can say what I like!”
And then I came to university, where people get offended, and where I suddenly have to respect everyone. I didn’t see a lot of respect when I was growing up, so this was a shock to me.
The policy of this group is to respect difference – no offensive comments about gender, sex, race, housing situation (e.g. council house and violence, travellers, homeless), sexuality, disability or age. We also try to adhere to a rule of ‘No Generalisations’, generally. I’ve become pretty proficient at picking up on generalisations actually.
I don’t get offended that easily by words (despite my last post). I’m happy with swearing, including being called a c-word, b-word, f-word and so on. It doesn’t bother me to be called them, and I find it odd when other people are upset by it. To me, it’s not discrimination in the way the previous words are.
Being called a “chav” or “gypsy” is a direct negative comment about your actions, who you are, what you do. Being told to eff-off isn’t anything to do with you; it’s about the other person wanting space.
I now get the difference, but it’s taken three years of working in this field to get my head around. Even the c-word isn’t said because you’re female or because you’re male; it’s said because it’s known to hurt you and the aim is to upset. Intrinsically, it’s no different from being called an “elbow”.
Understanding and awareness is the first step. Now I have the new battle to fight; the conflict between being able to say what I want (freedom of speech) and have other people say what they want… and respect my new lesson that no one should be upset by it.
The Phone Conversation
One of my strong views relates to parenting, as children are a big motivator for me. I want to teach and to guide; which ultimately leads all my self-development to be “training” for helping others. I sat behind a woman on the phone on the bus home from running the first class; and she said:
“Well you better make sure it’s done by the time I get home, okay? Or else I’ll get really mad.”
No wonder these young people arrive at anger management believing it’s bad and they’re bad people for getting angry! I could feel my own anger rising, my sense of injustice, and even some dislike for the woman who is causing her child to develop certain feelings for a natural emotion.
Her wording also bothered me. I speak a lot about language and how important different words are. I could understand “If it’s not done i’ll feel angry because you lied/I needed it done/ it means our relationship doesn’t mean as much to you” but that’s not what it sounded like to me.
It suggests to me “I will hurt you” – be that harm emotionally making you feel guilt, shame, sadness or verbally calling names (useless, trying to cause trouble) or even physical violence.
Who threatens another human being? I don’t get it.
My Views Arise
“I don’t believe it is acceptable to treat another person in that way.”
Last week I said “how dare she exist in that way of treating people.”
I’m noticing a trend in my world view. And Ben (the therapist at Anger Management) says, anger can be triggered by “any threat to a view we hold dear”.
I see people upset by drink-drivers, by animal-abusers, by child-abusers but somehow it’s okay to call other adults names, especially if you’re a different sex/race/age and it’s okay to use lying, verbal abuse and mental manipulation to get what you want?
I grew up in a black and white world, and I can’t understand these shades of grey people have created.
Understanding leads to Acceptance
I don’t understand humanity. I’ve done a psychology degree, I’ve now attended a total of six anger management courses (five co-facilitating) and I’ve gone on to work in mental health to get my head around the mental aspect.
Maybe I understand it too well – that we need freedom of speech but we shouldn’t negatively impact others. Maybe I see why X did Y, but why I’d do Z.
I’m stuck in this limbo between two principles I’m supposed to value; with no idea how I really feel about them; seeming to agree with them at different times.
How do you deal with conflicting values?
What are your views on these two subjects – freedom of speech and not hurting others with your speech?
– Rose –