Dealing with negative emotions in the age of coronavirus


So I had a "relapse" of anger last night but this time I recognized it, stopped, and dealt with it. I'm sure it will keep happening off and on. I suppose that is normal. But I am determined to deal with it better and faster than before and not make it anyone else problem.

Anger and frustration on their own are not destructive emotions. In fact when used correctly they are there to motivate us to make changes that are needed. But if they are not dealt with properly we lash out. For me there are two keys to keeping a handle on those negative emotions. One is to simply acknowledge that I am having them and give myself permission to feel them. The other is to recognize that speaking with anger is not productive and it's not really the core of my emotional state. Anger is caused by pain. By getting to the heart of that pain I can be more productive.

The heart of my pain is knowing there are people who look at people like me as if we were worthless. Our aid was cut off, which made shielding us impossible. We don't have the money to stay in all the time. We can't simply hire someone to run our errands for us and in many cases people are facing a loss of housing. What sets me off is when I see someone saying that we don't matter. Last night it was 2 things in a row that pushed me over the edge.

The first was a statement by the president of Brazil saying that his people needed to stop being "wussies" and deal with the deaths as "we all have to die sometime." This was followed by a person saying that "only" elderly and people with medical issues die so it doesn't matter. It hurts to know at least half of your countrymen see you as less than human. Undeserving of life or protection.

I went the typical route last night of telling people off and explaining why it was so wrong to say those things. But I did it with anger. I recognized what I was doing and stopped for a while to calm down. Then I went back in and calmly explained my situation. I made it one on one personal and respectful. I asked people to please help me and if they would not then please tell me why. It seemed to have a much greater impact. And I for once actually felt some relief when it was over.

Instead of self righteous anger I responded with my hurt and my need. I used "I" statements and explained my emotions. I can't know if it made anyone change their actions but I think it stands a better chance than the anger. And for me it was a lot healthier.

I don't want to go back to feeling anger 24/7. It was bad for me and the people around me. There is a time for anger but now isn't it. There is nothing productive I can do with it and it's getting in the way of what I can do. I'm not perfect. I'm going to get angry and I am going to make mistakes. But I can learn from each incident and use it to improve myself and my relations with others.

Another thing that has been triggering my anger is that old impotent feeling knowing that many thousands of people are going to die and I can't stop it. The people infected today had their fate sealed. The doctors will do their best for the severe cases but many will die. With over 145K new cases yesterday the number of those people is higher than ever. I just want the pain to stop. But it won't. I have to accept it. Embrace it. Deal with it as it is and not as I want it to be.

That's it! I've been focusing on how I want it to be and not how it is. That discrepancy is causing so much anger. The facts are that it is too late to stop what's coming. It's been too late for a long time. I know it intellectually but emotionally I still haven't accepted it. I need to work on that. Acceptance doesn't mean I give up, it just means that I am not trying to grasp at straws that don't exist. I have to figure out what I CAN do and do that. It's the lack of action that bothers me so much so I need to change that.

So what can I do? What can WE do? We can follow the guidelines to reduce infections in our own home and town. We can make more masks to donate to charities. We can look for solutions to the personal problems the pandemic has caused for each of us. I'm doing all of those things. I maybe just need to be kinder to myself and give myself credit for them and not feel guilty about what I can't change. Guilt. Yet another cause of pain and anger. I know I shouldn't feel guilty but I often do. As if there is something I could or should be doing and that if I just did less people would die. I think that goes back to my inability to accept the situation for what it really is. And it's arrogant now that I think on it. I'm not some scientist or doctor. I shouldn't feel the weight of the world on me. I'm just one person doing my best. There is nothing to be guilty about. But it's still there, inside me. I'll have to work on it.

Times like this I don't know what I would do without this journal. It lets me talk out my problems in a way that lets me look them over and find solutions I wouldn't otherwise catch. It really is good for one's mental health to write things down. So if you are reading this and struggling like me know you aren't alone. We can struggle together. And we WILL make it through the other side. One way or another. I promise.

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