I went to my first Anger Management session in May 2011, where I met Ben, the therapist who leads the groups. Over the past year, I’ve come to know the course structure very well; particularly the phrases and metaphors which are used to illustrate points.
Last week, that phrase about commitment came up.
“I’m more committed to being happy than to being ‘right’. That’s all you’ve got to do; be more committed to making your life work than being right. It’s your choice.”
Over the last year, I’ve noticed that, at least in my experience, there’s some damn truth to this: which I find rather annoying.
I grew up in a space where being different was being wrong, and where that was also “ridiculous”, “stupid”, or most often, “something everybody but me knew was stupid/ridiculous”.
So a lot of my “I must be right” is a form of OCD-like perfectionism drilled into me from a young age, propelled by fear. I also grew up in this environment where aggression was normal, acceptable and what strong people did.
I began on that path, where people who were right, people who could see those wrong things were obviously stupid could be aggressive and feel justified in that act of oppressing others.
Each one of us has some form of conditioning, and I’ve spoken before about some of the ways to create gentle change in those habits.
This choice should feel positive; like I can control myself and my feelings. Just as I have become committed to doing any job if it keeps me in Brighton with those supportive systems, positive influences and opportunities for further development. Even if it won’t meet the job description I want to do.
As a redefinition alchemist, this is my forte. I feel at home with this potential, this extra chance for change. The tools of awareness, of realising we can change – it’s a useful one in the process of redefinition.
Each moment is another moment for that reminder –
“I can choose my response to this action.”
“I am committed to this relationship working”
“I have a commitment to being a kind and compassionate person.”
Whatever the goal, there’s a choice, a decision made and a commitment to keep.
I’m constantly redefining myself. I came out of a house as an angry, verbally aggressive, closed-minded, negative, aversive person who took everything personally and was terrified of being wrong.
I still struggle with anger, anxiety and fear. I still struggle to be wrong, and I can still be very strong minded about certain views.
The difference is that those views are now relatively well-researched from both sides.
I came to university and met people who didn’t use fear and aggression to make others submissive to them. I discovered the people I grew up around are not right 100% of the time. I found out that being wrong did not get me hit, yelled at, or threatened.
I learned that in the real world, there’s no danger in having a different opinion.
Across March and April, I spent three and a half weeks back in my hometown. As the final week rolled around, I noticed the highly judgemental, defensive and quite angry comments whirring round my head again; conditioning I thought I’d broken free of.
I returned to Brighton, with supportive systems around me. Co-facilitating anger management courses keeps my own emotions under watch, working in the hospital keeps my life in perspective and my friends here continually give me options to meet them.
Today, I’m home with my parents for a week, and in three weeks I’ll be back here again.
I have a choice.
I made my decision not to emulate the people around me.
And I am committed to being a kind and loyal human being.
What commitments are you keeping to yourself?
What decisions could you make in your life right now?
– Rose –
As phoenix rises from ashes into flame, the alchemist turns lead to gold.
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