As a humanistic psychotherapist I often see people with anger issues. People who tell me they can’t control what they say in arguments with loved ones, or lash out verbally at their children and are instantly remorseful. People who tell me about the ‘red mist’ coming down.
There are practical tips all over the webosphere for controlling anger, and these are (mostly) helpful. But my first suggestion to a client is that the next time they are in a situation where they find themselves getting angry, they might try to just notice what’s going on. How they are physically in their body, what’s going through their mind, how they are feeling.
Because by noticing how they are when their anger is triggered, the next time they might notice a bit sooner in the process. And that is key. If I don’t notice I’m angry until I’m exploding, then I’m on autopilot. I’m reacting. If I notice as the anger builds, then I can decide how to act. I am responding. I have a choice.
This is clearly only part of the process of the therapy; finding out together why it happens and what may be underlying the anger is the real work. But that’s another story. Choice is part of the taking back of control in our lives. When we allow others to make choices for us – as we do when we let someone wind us up to the point of explosion – then we are giving up our power. We can’t help feeling emotions like anger, sadness and fear. But we can choose what we do with them.
I just got back from spending a week in Marrakech, learning about travel photography (as opposed to general photography which I have been doing for most of my professional life). I have to say it was one of the more intense weeks of my life. A barrage of sights, sounds and smells – in a good way (mostly); from the main square, Jmaa el Fna, with its cacophony of traders and snake charmers, to the darkened corners of covered souks, where as a lone woman, it definitely felt like there was safety in numbers.
I was there with my OH as part of a group, led by Stephen Studd www.digitalphotographyholidays.com exploring how my garden and landscape work could translate into a slightly more adventurous perspective. Turns out it’s not that different, but there are subtle distinctions: more emphasis on the simple and graphic, for example:
My ‘best bit’, though, was learning how to approach total strangers on the street and asking permission to photograph them. Previously, on various holidays, I’d always wimped out and missed the images. Stephen was very patient and very empowering – the essence (in my mind anyway) of a great teacher.
We took a day out in the nearby Atlas Mountains, and here the landscape came to the fore.
My favourite part was arriving footsore and weary, at our Berber guide’s home, where his wife and mother had prepared the best tagine I have ever tasted. It felt really special to be an invited guest, right down to the customary washing of hands before we all dug into a common plate with bread and fingers.
And I guess this was the measure of my experience. The sights and sounds were amazing but talking to the people: course members, souk traders, riad staff, people in cafes and restaurants, made this week truly memorable.
I was going to write about being a garden and travel photographer and writer. I was going to try and make this funny and entertaining. Then I read a blog by a young friend of mine: Let’s be game changers
This made me really think about why I am doing this. Initially, it was to publicise my photography, to raise my profile, to get more widely known, to make a living. And that’s still up there. But actually, those aren’t the only reasons. I want people to recognise who I am. I want them to understand me a little more. Maybe I want them to like me a little more. Most of all, living in the backwaters of Norfolk (UK), I want to connect with the wider world. But not all of the time. Definitely not every day and probably not even every week. For me, being online is not a substitute for real world living (although sometimes it’s a lot easier).
Being a photographer and writer isn’t all that I am. I am also a psychotherapist, working with adults in private practice, and with young people with drug and alcohol-related issues (and a lot more besides) for the Matthew Project in Norwich. I was going to say part-time, but that sounds like I do it on the side, like I’m not quite committed to it. Untrue. When I’m doing whatever I’m doing I do it wholeheartedly. I have always tried to keep these different sides of my life separate, to maintain professional boundaries. And maybe I will decide to again. But just for now, I want to be me. All of me. Hope that’s ok with you.