Friday, March 27, 2009

The Dance of Anger part deux

Harriet: "If feeling anger signals a problem, venting anger does not solve it. Venting anger may serve to maintain, and even rigidify, the old rules and patterns in a relationship, thus ensuring that change does not occur." (pg. 4)
Jacquie: Ever just ranted and raved at your mate, or good friend and felt "better" after? But did anything relationally really change from your venting?
Harriet: "Nothing, but nothing, will block the awareness of anger so effectively as guilt and self-doubt. Our society cultivates guilt feelings in women such that many of us still feel guilty if we are anything less than an emotional service station to others." (pg.7)
Jacquie: Do you agree guilt and women/mothers go hand in hand?
Harriet: "Those of us who fight ineffectively are usually caught up in unsuccessful efforts to change a person who does not want to change. When our attempts to change the other person's beliefs, feelings, reactions, or behaviors do not work, we may then continue to do more of the same, reacting in predictable, patterned ways that only escalate the very problems we complain about. We may be so driven by emotionality that we do not reflect on our options for behaving differently or even believe that new options are possible. thus, our fighting protects the old familiar patterns in our relationships..." (pg.9)
Jacquie: OOOhhh. So guilty here, the nagging, the blaming, the crying and stomping. Many years I have tried to change Bob, and he so far has never changed because I thought he should. And it turns out, all my "reactions" drove us further away from change.
Harriet: "Our anger can be a powerful vehicle for personal growth and change if it does nothing more than help us recognize that we are not yet clear about something and that it is our job to keep struggling with it." (pg.107)
Jacquie: When I feel myself getting angry, these are good times for me to say to myself, "what am I really angry about here?" "Is there something I, (not someone else) could change in this situation?"
Harriet: "Countermoves are the other person's unconscious attempt to restore a relationship to its prior balance or equilibrium, when anxiety about separateness and change gets too high...Our job is to keep clear about our own position in the face of a countermove - not to prevent it from happening or to tell the other person that he or she should not be reacting that way." (pg.35)
Jacquie: A wise woman told me this week, you can only be responsible for what you are responsible for. I have seen in Bob's and my relationship, his attempt to escalate an argument, when I won't fall into our old pattern of fighting. (I'm not bragging, I've got a long way to go, I'll be honest.) I can be responsible for my end of the fighting, to not blame, nag, and speak in "you" messages. I can express my feelings (NOT TO CHANGE HIS, but to clarify my position), I can ask to regroup myself so we can talk later when it's not so heated...and in the end, if they freak out, or play the martyr, I can't be held responsible for his reaction.
Harriet: "Even if we are convinced that the other person is ninety-seven percent to blame, we are still in control of changing our own three percent." (pg.56)
Jacquie: Need I say more?
Harriet: "But we know that this interaction [of blaming] is really a circular dance in which the behavior of one partner maintains and provokes the behavior of the other. The circular dance has no beginning and no end. In the final analysis, it matters little who started it. The question of greater significance is: 'How do we break out of it?'" (pg.?)
Jacquie: I think Harriet said if one person changes the step in the dance, the same dance can't continue...praise God, there's hope!
Ok, folks, I'm not sure I'm I'm leaving you with these tasty tidbits. If you're interested, she's also written a book called The Mother Dance. If I had ninja stars, I'd give them, but I think I'd like to finish these books first...and like I said, I have a hard time finishing books!!


Michele said...

Sounds awesome! There's some great stuff in what you've written there and I can totally relate. Where did you find these books?

Jobina said...

there's some real "meat" in that book! Oh how I hate that bit about changing my 3%. Yuck. I really hate to admit when I'm wrong, especially when the anger is flowing. I might just have to take a peek at that book!