Posts Tagged With: anger

Day 235: Disappointed

This post is dedicated to one of my childhood heroes — Carl Yastrzemski — whose birthday is today.

Yes, I confess.

I woke up this morning and was aware of the feeling of ….


Disappointment is a human emotion that I love to invite from people in individual and group therapy, but which I often judge in myself.

That’s another rampant epidemic I see in my work: that double-standard of accepting in others what we might judge or disown in ourselves.

Here are some random thoughts, this morning, about disappointment:

  1. Disappointment, like anger, might be a signal of not getting needs met.
  2. Disappointment might indicate an investment in some outcome.
  3. Here’s a movie-moment from one of my favorite actors:


What helped me, in dealing with disappointment this morning?

I read and liked some posts from other bloggers — some familiar and some new to me –including talktodiana, Mostly Bright Ideas, Awakening to Your Story, findingmyinnercourage, A Year of Rejoicing, Shekhina, morristownmemos, and Whimsical Eclecticist.

By the way, I recently tried to add some new “widgets” to my blog, including one that displays posts I’ve recently liked, and these New Things, so far, have not worked exactly the way I expected or wanted.

So what else is new?

Or, to repeat:


Anyway, something else that helped, this morning: I followed through with a “commitment” I had made, earlier this year in this blog, to pay bills when they first come in (rather than procrastinating).

And while I didn’t pay a certain bill immediately when it came in, I did pay it, this morning, much earlier than usual.

That’s worth celebrating, don’t you think?


Okay! So far, this blog post has included some tried-and-true Ways To Move Forward:

  1. Identifying a feeling (or thought).
  2. Accepting (and perhaps venting) that.
  3. Realizing that I am not alone in experiencing this.
  4. Seeing this as a possible gift or opportunity.
  5. Throwing in some quote (movie clip, comedian, poem, etc.) I really like.
  6. Giving credit to others.
  7. Giving credit to myself.

Before I end this post, I’ll just include one other Blogging Element I’ve enjoyed using this year: doing a random “spin” in Google Images to see what comes up.

Here are some images I found, doing a Google-Images Spin on “disappointed”:


(above posted by yet another blogger!! — thehonestone)





Anyway, time to end this post, for the day.

Thanks to Kevin Kline, “A Fish Called Wanda,” Yaz, bloggers familiar and new, disappointments familiar and new, and (but of course) to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 161: Tales of Tigers

Tiger Tale # 1

When I was a little kid, my parents went away on a trip. They brought home, as a gift for me, a Steiff puppet, that looked a lot like this:


I was apparently unfamiliar with the fine points of animal classification at that age, because I named it “Tiger,” despite the telltale lack of stripes on its fuzzy little body. Tiger became my favorite toy. I slept with Tiger and often carried him around with me. As we say in the psychology business, Tiger was a transitional — or comfort — object. Or, as one might say in any business, I loved Tiger very much.

One of my main memories of Tiger is — of course — a scary one (since those are one type of memory that tends to stick). My family and the family of my mother’s best friend were visiting New York City. I was carrying Tiger with me, and Richie — the son of my mother’s friend, who was a little younger than I — grabbed Tiger away from me, yelled, “I’m throwing this off the top of the Empire State Building,” and ran away. I remember being so scared and upset, in that moment, standing frozen and alone, both Tiger and Richie gone.

I can’t remember details about what happened next, except for vague memories of Richie catching some hell about that. And I know that Tiger was returned to me, because here he is:


Two things you might note about Tiger today. (1) He is hangin’, these days, with his own transitional object and (2) the top of his head is particularly fuzzy. The latter is due to his needing corrective surgery years ago, after being placed on the top of a lamp, so he could listen to a little girl practice piano.

Tiger Tale # 2.

When I was 10 years old, and had my first major heart surgery at Children’s Hospital, I know I didn’t have my comfort object, Tiger, with me. People probably thought I might lose him. Or maybe there were other rules about that. I know there were rules, during those days, that prevented my parents from being with me there, outside of normal visiting hours. (Things have changed, quite a bit, regarding parents and children and hospitals, since 1963.)

My mother told me a story, later, about sitting at my bedside, soon after that surgery, during regular visiting hours. I had fallen asleep. Suddenly, I stiffened. As my mother described it, “You went stiff as a board. Then, you yelled, ‘I have a tiger in me! A tiger!!'”

My mother was freaked out and frightened by that, I know. Again, I don’t remember the details that followed.

That tale has always stuck with me. My assumptions about that — then and now — include these: I was in pain. I felt like violence had been done to me (and my world). I was probably scared and angry.

One thing I’m noticing now: Just like with my Steiff puppet, I used the word “tiger” not-exactly-correctly, to name something important to me.

As I’m revisiting this story today, I’m glad I didn’t yell out the name of another ferocious thing with fangs and claws — like Bear, Beast, or Monster. Instead, I used the name of something I already loved.

In a lot of ways, I’m still making sense of that moment.

For example, this is a book I’ve been reading lately:


I bought this book, years ago, because of the title. Since then, it’s been recommended by several people, as an effective way to work with people dealing with PTSD symptoms. I’ve resisted reading it, until now. (Also, I CANNOT hold on to the first word in the title of that book. Whenever I mention it to somebody — a healer, or somebody who wants to heal — I can never remember the verb. In my mind, I struggle: “Taming the Tiger?” “Turning the Tiger?” “Stirring the Tiger?” And I look it up, every time, to discover that first word, anew.)

The time is here for me to look more closely at that tiger. And even wake it, in some way.

Something that helps me feel braver and more ready: I’ve always loved cats, of all kinds. Big ones. Little ones. Wild ones. Tame ones.

Including this tiger-striped one, who watches me as I write:


Thanks to all, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 156: Taking in what’s out there

There are certain things that are difficult for me to take in, for whatever reason.

I’m working on being more open to perceiving them, and allowing them in.

I could write about many things, in this regard, but i’m going to focus on one.

The love that’s out there.

I have trouble “reading” it, sometimes.  I’m afraid of it. Afraid of needing it. Afraid I’ll see it when it isn’t there, and then be disappointed and bereft. Afraid of losing it, once I see it and believe it.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling good, I see love everywhere. In everything.

I see it when I take a detour, walking to work:


In the bunny in the backyard:


In the faces of people “on my team“:


In people I’ve just met:



In people I’ve known, for a long, long time:



I see it in messages people leave for others:


And in messages I leave to myself:


What makes all that love so difficult to take in?

Disappointment.  Anger. Pain.

That’s been my experience.

At the same time, in my work, I try to make it very, very clear that I invite — that I whole-heartedly welcome —  those very things: people’s disappointment, anger, and pain.

I think that’s essential, for healing. To believe that those things are finally welcomed by somebody. To feel those things. And to clear the way, leaving room for everything that’s out there.

Including those things that are so hard to see, sometimes.

I guess this post is done, for today.  Thanks for reading, everybody.

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Day 150: The A-word

This post is dedicated to my friends Rob and Gene.

The very first week of this blog, I wrote about a word that I hesitated naming.   That was the P-word, which was Procrastination.    I hesitated to speak its name, because that can be a loaded, self-critical and unhelpful word for a human process I see everywhere — in myself and in others, too.

Yesterday, I wrote about another word, that I felt the urge to not-name, also.  That was the D-word.  And THAT was a word that a lot of people try to avoid.

Death. (Eeeek!)

Phew.  So much for the D-word, in THIS post.  (I’m definitely on board with Death Avoidance today, people.) (Although, earlier today I was worrying about some deadlines.  And take a look at THAT word. Dead-lines!  Geesh! Is that word supposed to motivate us or paralyze us with fear?!)

Anyway, moving on, to today’s  Word-That-Might-Not-Be-Named.

I would like to present, ladies and gentlemen, the A-word.


Not quite as scary as death.  But still difficult for me (and a lot of other people, I believe) to talk about.  And to deal with.

This is what I’m noticing about anger, these days:

  •  Most people (including me) don’t have good role models for How To Experience and Express Anger Effectively.
  • Anger is an emotion that a lot of people disown and dislike in themselves and in others.
  • Anger is just another human emotion, like sadness, joy, and fear.  Everybody reading this blog has all those emotions. (If Mr. Spock is reading this blog, he knows that he has them, too.)
  • Anger is the human reaction to injustice and to fundamental needs not being met.
  • Anger has a lot of energy, to help us change that which is unjust and not serving us well.
  • Anger, the way it is expressed out in the world,  is tied up with hatred and violence (which can be very confusing and frightening).

I’m not sure what the “solution” is …. to the “problem” of anger in the world (and in ourselves).

My belief is that the first step is accepting anger as human — as something useful and maybe even beautiful. Then, maybe we can  do better at figuring out more effective ways to express and use that Energy of Anger.

I think this is a tough topic, people. I’m not surprised that I procrastinated writing about this, until Day 150.  (Even death was easier to broach, apparently!)

As always, I am curious and eager to hear your thoughts about this.  And thanks so much, for reading today!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 118: We really don’t know how we affect other people

About a year ago, I finally got up the courage, for the first time, to start writing a book,. (See this blog post for some thoughts about “The P-Word” —  procrastination.)

I started this blog, on 1/1/13,  as way to move forward with that book. During my first days of blogging — and overcoming my natural insecurity of doing something new — I sometimes “went to the well” of what I had already written: the draft of my book.

And when I posted chapters of the book (here, here, here, and here), I got good feedback and comments.

But I’ve resisted quoting chapters from this book,  for the most part, as I’ve continued blogging.


Because I wrote that stuff last year, people!  And I feel like I’ve been learning so much, every day since then — writing these posts, doing my work,  meeting new people, having new conversations with friends, thinking new thoughts  — that I assume that what I wrote months ago is now “out-moded.”

Also, I usually wake up in the morning wanting to write about what feels relevant “in the moment,” as a way to help me deal with whatever is facing me that day.

Also (I confess),  I can be very self-critical.  I often have fears of reading what I’ve written before, because I know that my inner critic — my internalized judgment — might be present, and I don’t want to hear what that critic has to say.

My worst fear is this: if that harsh, inner critic is present when I re-read what I’ve written before, I might stop writing.

And I want to keep writing.

So I’ve resisted reading what I’ve written before — in my book and in these blog posts.

At the same time, writing these blog posts has been helping to quiet down my inner critic.  Which has been wonderful.  So I’ve gotten up the courage, every once in a while, to re-read previous blog posts and look at chapters I’ve written for the book.  I’ve looked at something  I’ve created and said, “It was good (enough).”

So what does this post —  that I’m writing now — have to do with the friggin’ title?  You know, that title you read, a while ago:  “We really don’t know how we affect other people.”

Here’s the deal:  I wrote a chapter, for the book, with that title. And I woke up this morning thinking about that topic.

And I’ve decided that I’d like to share the draft of that chapter, here, today.

So, here it is, ladies and gentlemen ….


We Really Don’t Know How We Affect Other People

(Draft of Chapter #? from AFOG: Another F***ing Opportunity for Growth)

 by Ann Koplow

When I am supervising and teaching social work students, here’s one of the (perhaps more annoying) things I might say to them:

“While you are working with people,  you may offer an insight, analysis, or other intervention that you just know is brilliant — that encompasses everything you know about this work.  But that comment — while it shows creativity, empathy, and skill — may not be the game changer you hope it is.  On the other hand, you will say or do things you barely notice which  have a major impact on somebody’s healing. We just don’t know.”

I don’t know how that speech affects my students.  But here’s an example from my experience.

One day, many years ago,  I was talking to my own therapist about some difficult memories of feeling scared, lonely, and sad in the hospital. When I shivered almost imperceptibly, she offered me a blanket, rushed to get it when I nodded, and handed it to me.

When I think about my years of therapy with her, that’s the first memory that often comes to mind.  The blanket. How she noticed I was cold and frightened.  How she asked me if I wanted a blanket. How I said yes. How she gave it to me. How comforting it felt, as I went on, now warmer, to tell her more.

During our work together, she showed me, in so many  beautiful and effective ways,  that she heard and accepted me.  But it’s the blanket she offered me one rainy, raw day that touched me in a way nothing else had.

Who knew? She probably didn’t, either.

I think about that blanket, sometimes,  when I feel proud — or when I feel nervous — about something I’ve said or done as a therapist to others.

© 2013 Ann Koplow


Here’s the reason I wanted to include that chapter here, today.

Last night, my son and I had dinner with an old friend, Jon, whom I’ve known since Junior High School, and his wife, Debbie.  Jon had reached out to me yesterday, at around 5 PM, out of the blue, and invited us to join them for dinner. And we were able and happy to do so.

Jon and I were both really tired and also (I think) more stressed than usual, partly because of what happened here in Boston on April 15 (the Marathon bombings).  So, over dinner, he and I were having some heated discussions about how the authorities had responded to the situation in Boston.

I got mad at him, during dinner, and expressed it.  I felt a little bad about that, at the time,  because I don’t feel particularly comfortable with my own anger (I’m working on it!).

Last night at dinner, I was afraid that my anger might have hurt the other people at the table (especially my son, who is 15). But after the dinner, when my son and I were driving home, I found out what my son and my friend’s wife had been doing when I had been getting pissed off at Jon.  They, apparently, were looking at each other, smiling, and getting a kick out of it.

In other words, it was fine. My worst fear — that my anger had been hurtful and inappropriate, to a damaging degree — was not true.

I really didn’t know how I was affecting people at the table.

And, one more thing, before I end this post.

My friend’s lovely and kind wife, Debbie, told me last night that she is reading this blog. And she appreciates it. And she’s getting something out of it.

That means the world to me.

I didn’t know how I was affecting her.

We really don’t know.

Thanks to you for reading today. And thanks to Jon, Debbie, and — last, but certainly not least — my son.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 102: How to stop and tie your shoe

Yesterday, I wrote about Bill Rodgers, who won many marathons during the 70’s, and how he stopped during an important race to tie his shoe.

This story spoke to me about my current need to take care of myself.  To slow down.  Because I am definitely doing too much (work) with too little (external resources), right now.  And that can be a self-perpetuating cycle, because the longer this kind of stressful situation continues, the less internal resources (stamina, health, enthusiasm, focus) I’ll have to drawn on.

So, the first question I would like to ask myself, right now, is this:

What helps me, in the moment, when I am feeling that level of stress?

Here is what is coming to mind right now:

  1. Asking for help and support.
  2.  Allowing room for all my feelings, even if those feelings include anger — new AND old. (Most of us have certain feelings we “don’t like” or “disown.”  And  repressing those feelings — which is an old habit — does NOT help.) (I’ve been screaming in the car lately, which is actually fun.)
  3. Setting limits, clearly and firmly.
  4. Recognizing and owning my personal power (for me, that includes realizing that I am not helpless and small, like I was when I was a child) (it also includes realizing that I have options — that I am not trapped in a current situation).
  5. Realizing that I am not going to do a great job at everything. I just can’t.
  6. Setting priorities (because of #5).
  7. Letting go of past regrets and future worries, to be in the moment with all my senses (especially since the trees are starting to flower!!!

And there is one more:

8.  Writing down my thoughts and feelings.


Thanks for reading (as I stop and tie that shoe).

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