#18. Lessons From My Angry Outburst – FRIDAY REFLECTIONS

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Welcome to this episode of Friday Reflections by Dad.Work! 

Every Friday I share the best of what we have been doing in the Dad.Work community, to provide perspective, new ideas, and motivation for you to continue on your journey to becoming the best man, partner, and father you can be.

This week we talk about:

  • Why I screwed up this week and expressed my anger in a destructive way,
  • The lessons learned about doing this work, the connection I have established with my son, and the love I feel for him,
  • Anger as an alarm clock.

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. Today is another Friday reflections where I'm going to be talking about some of the things that came up for me this week, this is a way for me to share with you my own journey, my own thought process. To give you a little bit more perspective, maybe some ideas that you haven't thought about, maybe you can relate to some of the stories I tell, maybe there are things that just come to mind at the right time where it's like, Oh, that is a total brain gasm. That's just something that I definitely needed to hear right now. And I didn't know I needed to hear that. So that's why we do this is just a great way to connect and learn a little bit more. So today, we're gonna talk about something that happened this week with me, that really sucked. I fell into anger expressed anger in a destructive way. And man, there was a lot of lessons lessons to be learned. The other thing I'm going to talk about is the two sort of steps of anger and the two types of anger, feeling men out there the two ways that you might relate to anger as a man, either not at all, thinking that you never feel anger, or like it's the only thing out there that you do feel. So we're going to talk about all of this in this conversation about anger and responsibility, and how to express yourself and what anger is sometimes hiding. So we're gonna go into that. And we'll start off with a story about how my anger was quite disruptive to my family and how I was terrified that I had ruined the connection I had finally created with my son. If you are enjoying this podcast, could I please ask a favor? If you if you listen on Apple, would you just hit pause and give me a rating and review takes like 15 seconds, then you can hop right back on here. And honestly, it's probably the best way for the podcast at least to reach more men who need this work. So if it has benefited you in any way, would you mind just doing that real quick for me, I would be very appreciative. If you would like to join us in our community. You can go to dad dot work slash FB. That's our Facebook group. I just posted yesterday asking for the dads who had, you know, gotten their temper under control. As a father, I asked them what their tips were, I think there's like 60 Something guys, we're responding now. So there's conversations going in there, it's way to get support. And you can follow me on Instagram at Dad.Work dot Kurt cu RT. Yeah, just want to connect with you want to find out what's going through how I can help and what else you'd like to see from from Dad.Work. Anyway, all that being said, let's get into a story about how I screwed up royally. And hopefully you can learn some lessons through it. Alright, here we go.

What's going on everyone, we are going to talk today about something that I did this week that I was not happy with, it's going to be a personal story. And I'm going to relate it to anger as a whole, we're going to talk about anger, like a signal that you can use to realize where you're hurting. A lot like physical pain can be used to find an injury, Anger can often be an emotional pain that finds an injury underneath that. So let me start with a little story. A few days ago, I was putting all three kids to bed. And I had the baby. And of course, you know, he prefers to have money for bed, but my wife was at a meeting. And so he's a little bit ornery. And I'm just you know, sitting there rocking him. And my older boys are about to go to bed. And I hear a scuffle. So I get up and I go in there. And I can usually help them work through it, set some boundaries, and just being there with as a presence can help them regulate. And so this time, because it was with a baby who was now crying a little bit, I, I overreacted, because I couldn't really show up with presence that I wanted to as I normally do. Because the baby was with me. And if I put him down, he would be even more upset. And you probably get in the way. And I didn't want him to, you know, cause any more distraction than there was in the room already. So my one year I'm hearing screaming and crying from a baby. The other year, I am hearing argument for my kids and I can't really help them out with the calm regulation that I need to. And it just sort of makes things worse. And so now they're fighting with me. And I am starting to feel angry at this point. I just want them to listen to me go to sleep, because I'm trying to put the baby to sleep and there's all this stuff going on. And then I tried to set boundaries and I say look, you're gonna have to go to sleep. Now I'm going to turn your lights off, you know, if you wanted to have lights on for a little bit longer to read, then you know you shouldn't be fighting. And that caused even more of a fight. And so this goes on and on. And eventually I just I mean, the moral of the story here is that I overreacted. I ended up raising my voice end up becoming scary, frankly. And yeah, I scare the shit on my oldest kid. And that feels real bad. And the reason they do it in the moment is because I need this to stop. I need to talk back I need the back talk to stop. I need them to go to sleep. I need the baby to stop crying my ear. I'm completely overwhelmed in my nervous system right now. And yeah, just don't catch myself to breathe or to ground or anything like that in time. And so there are The reaction is a raise voice and anger, and probably some shame shaming of the, the, yeah, the behavior of my older son. And things don't turn out very good, eventually calms down. But I can tell there's a disconnect. And so I get the baby to sleep. And I'm feeling bad by this point, I know that I've screwed up. And this is, you know, on the one hand, I'm going like, Okay, this is great, because it used to take me days to realize how badly I screwed up. And now I'm ready to Repair immediately. And so that's, that's one benefit of having done all this work is that I can recover much quicker. But I need to try to recover with him. Now, this is an important point that I want every father to know is that when you screw up, get rid of the pride, get rid of the ego, you're not weak in your children's eyes, if you can't apologize, I would suggest you're weak if you can't handle sitting with the discomfort of apology. And so I go to my oldest son, and I apologize for the way he acted. I make it clear that he's responsible for his actions. And I'm responsible for mine. And so my apology is not to get him off the hook for what I was originally upset at. Because I believe I had a reasonable ground, to be upset, and to be frustrated and to need to step in. And that's all fine. But my expression of the frustration and anger that I was feeling was unacceptable. And I told him then, and a lot of times, he will apologize as well, and you'll come back and things will be fine. But this time, I think because I had not acted like that and so long, it really upset him. And there was no reconnection from his side immediately. And so I'm going there to repair. And you know, this is good etiquette, as a father as a person really just repairing relationship ruptures, because

I was talking to a synergetic play therapist once and she suggested where there is repair, there's no trauma, because it's only in being alone with that perceived trauma that the actual wounding happens. And I'm not sure if that's exactly how things go. I'm not a doctor or scientist or whatever, that makes a lot of sense. And so I try now to never allow a wound like that to sit without coming back to my kids and saying, Look, I'm here with you. I know how that felt that was terrible. And you're not alone. That's just a good practice. And I'd suggest thinking about that in your life and how you can show up for your kids that way. And so I do this to my son, and he's just not there yet. And I start to feel terror, just this absolute, gut wrenching terror, like I haven't felt in years. And I think, what if this is what if I was so bad to him now that he never trust me again? What if he's forever disconnected? What if he thinks that this relationship is ruined forever, because I expressed anger uncomfortably, and like, my entire first few years of childhood was expressing anger this way, like to everyone to my wife to both of my kids at the time, it was just like, This is my life. And I felt bad a lot. But it was just this constant turmoil. And I know that I became numb to it, but almost expected to feel like this. And after doing the healing work, and the growth work that I've done, I haven't felt like this for four years now. And so to be back in that body sensation, this, like it felt, I tried to feel into this as hard as I could, so I could explain it, it felt like waves deep in my gut. This like broiling waves fire, almost like this sun, just burning into my guts. And it was this helpless fear. Because what if I had screwed up so badly and disconnected from him, that he never wanted to connect with me again. And in that moment, I realized how important the connection with him was. Before that point, and since he was born, I've always felt very difficult to connect with my oldest. There's a lot of reasons for this. But it's always been a challenge. And only recently have I found a connection with him. I wasn't sure how durable that connection was, I wasn't sure how deep that connection yet felt. But in the face of losing that connection, I realized just how important it was. And so this was a terrible, terrible lesson to have learned. And I wish that I could have learned another way. And on the other hand, sometimes, as we've talked about on this podcast before, you need to get hit by a two by four, to wake up to reality. And that's what this felt like to me. So I got a very good reminder of why I do the hard work to not express my anger this way. Because it's terrible and because if I don't repair it if I do this too much, I'm going to actually deeply wound my son and perhaps I will send him away and I just the feeling There's a feeling of wanting something and not having it reciprocated. That is absolutely terrifying. And I'm sure that, you know, many men have felt this in intimate relationships. If your partner is no longer there, if your child no longer wants to be with you, the desire to have something so important to you with your heart, and then having that thing unavailable and nothing you can do because the ball was totally in his court, I was fully back I was fully reconciled, reconnected. And it was up to him. And I learned how important my relationship was, how connected to him I was and how much power he has as his own human being. He's 100%, in control of his life, his destiny. And he had the power in that moment, to break my heart, basically. And obviously, he's not thinking about it like that. And obviously, it's not as dire as all that it was just, you know, one thing, it wasn't the end of the world. And it's turned out not to be the end of the world. But I saw in him the power to be his own person that I need to respect if I want him to reconnect with me. So in order for me to have relationship with Him, which I want dearly, I need to respect his boundaries, his desires, his feelings, because I can't force him to do that. There comes a point in relationship with your kids where they can choose whether or not they want to be with you. I don't want to force that because you can't. This was an incredible lesson in feeling helpless, and understanding the power that he has and the love I have for him. And finally, this taught me just how far I've come, this whole thing absolutely sucked. But afterward, I gave thanks for the depth of feeling I had in the moment of fear, the love for my son that I had access to, because I haven't always been able to feel that. And that day I did.

So I sat with this, and noted it, I noted that I was angry that I overreacted, that the feeling underneath was actually fear and loss of control. That's another thing that I haven't talked about yet is that why was I so angry in the first place? Well, I felt out of control. And when I feel out of control, I'm scared. Because in my life, particularly in childhood, if I was out of control, and nobody was in control, and if nobody was in control, and I felt scared, abandoned, alone, vulnerable, was basically the worst. And so that's why in my life, I tried to control things so much. So I brought it back shortly after being in there, this whole process only took an hour or two. And I just gave so much thanks that I've done this work, because again, it is lasting. It's durable, mindfulness work, meditation, journaling, breath work, sitting with coaches, in men's work, men's groups, all of this kind of stuff comes together over the years, and actually changes your life. And so that's why I'm doing this work. That's why this entire podcast exists. That's why all of the things I'm doing right now actually exist, because I know just how much this works. And I can't overstate it. Like if this had happened six years ago, man, my week, my month would be ruined, I probably consider, you know, maybe even killing myself because I was so bad. And I would blame myself so much. And so if you're there at that point of your journey, don't give up, do the work, you're important, you're worth it, you have value your kids need you. And if you have done the work, just give thanks for having done that, for having given yourself the gift of doing that work, because man, it feels good. The next thing that I want to talk about which is very related to this is how we can use anger as an alarm clock. There's a quote from the book nonviolent communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, which I highly, highly recommend that book as well as tick knock hands book, The Art of communicating our two fundamental communication books that I have read to to seriously help the way that I interact with people. This quote says, Thus, anger can be valuable if we use it as an alarm clock to wake us up to realize we have a need that isn't being met, and that we are thinking in a way that makes it unlikely to be met. There's a couple of pieces here. And I love the alarm clock analogy. Because like I said earlier, and I got this from a man in my Instagram, DMS. So thank you. It was such a well put succinct analogy. In response to this message, or this Instagram post, he said, Okay, so. So anger is kind of like physical pain that allows our body to see where the injury is. And it's like, yes, that is exactly what it is. It's an alarm clock to wake us up. So why are we angry? What need do we have that isn't being met? For me, it was the need to be in control. And I'm not saying that's a good need necessarily, but that was my need and the need under that was to feel like I need to feel safe when I'm out of control. And I didn't and so that was me using anger in this case as the alarm clock to wake me up to this. And so I've got more work to do on control, vulnerability, surrender all of that stuff. And I love the point of this quote that says, we're thinking in a way that makes it unlikely to be met, because the whole point of nonviolent communication is to observe something. And then find out how it makes you feel. And then express a need that you have, and then ask for it to be met. And you don't need to accept it, you don't need to assume it's going to be met, you don't need to expect it to be met. But you can ask for two men. And so this whole method of communication, I love that he says you're thinking in a way that makes it unlikely to be met. Because if you shift your mindset from victim into an author of your life, and you start asking for it, you start expressing it, you start letting other people know how you're feeling, then you can actually get out of your own way and get these needs met.

And a couple of things that come to mind for anger for me, or that it's usually shows up in men in one of two ways. One, it's your most common emotion, maybe the only one you can actually feel. Or two, it's completely inaccessible. And it's completely unable to feel anger at all. And so maybe just ask yourself now which side are you on. And now what if I told you that anger itself was neither good nor bad? Like all emotions, it was simply a signal to pay attention to an energy to move emotion, energy in motion, anger, as an emotion on have two distinct steps or parts to it. And these things, I think we miss a lot, we just feel and react at the same time. And I think there are two separate steps, there's the one feeling it and the two expressing it. If you have a hard time with one, maybe need to explore your life your childhood, and consider if it was unsafe to feel anger in your household. If you can't feel it, maybe it's because anger is looked upon with fear, judgment or whatever. And you learn that to feel loved and not to be abandoned not to be vulnerable, you better not show anger. So you've stuffed it. And if you haven't felt anger for years, maybe this is your story, there's a lot of work to be done. Anger doesn't have to be destructive, even though you're probably very scared of it, or think that you can't feel it, usually. And we'll get there in a second. It's like a plugin that's blocking a whole bunch of other stuff in your life. There's great power in being able to feel this emotion. And in my experience, it usually allows for many other emotions to be unleashed as well, which is just like I said, it's a beautiful freeing feeling. So I just call it a plug, you can also see it as like, imagine that the bottom layer is love and empathy and excitement and joy. And it's building on top of each other. There's kind of like the stack of emotions. And they're all colorful, and they're all good. And they all have their own place and time. And then anger is like this black wet blanket that you just chuck over your mentioned mentioned these emotions that I'm talking about in a stack or like a stack of blocks. And you just chuck this wet rag of anger over top of it. And it's the only thing that comes up. And so that's for the guys who have anger is one of their most common emotions, you have all these things underneath there. And until you can express your anger in a way that is acceptable and non destructive. Actually, this goes for both both sides. If you can only feel this, it's the only thing coming up. Sometimes you got to work through that you got to find out why you chuck that wet black rag on top of all your emotions. And if you can't feel it, sometimes you need to rip that off, to chuck that anger out to feel it finally to move it through your body so that the wet black rag of anger is gone. And you can finally access all the other emotions. So caveat, this can and sometimes should be done with a professional, whether it's a coach, a counselor, a therapist, even in men's group, there's a lot of cathartic release that we do. And, you know, this is sometimes scary work. It's hard work, and it's uncomfortable work. So please, if you are not feeling comfortable doing this by yourself, because you don't trust the way in which your anger is going to be coming out. Please do it with someone else because I wouldn't want this to end up making things worse. So just as with all things, find balance, be conscious, be intentional, don't do stupid stuff. Now, if you have a hard time with number two, which is expressing it

and you're constantly expressing it in a destructive way, and maybe you need to find the space between steps one and two. And this can be done through mindful awareness. You can actually notice that your anger is existing before you express it and the better you get it feeling into your body. The more embodied you can be the more yoga or an exercise and walking and meditation and body scans you can do the sooner you'll actually be able to notice this anger which gives you a greater gap between being so angry that you can't help it and being able to take a breath or calming down in some other way. And so feeling deeply into your body is one of the most fantastic ways to get in control of this anger by finding this gap the space in between Feeling and expressing it. Because when you can notice before blowing up, it will change your life. And I know because it did for me and this is part of my journey. One day about, he was two weeks into meditating daily, I was using the headspace app at the time, this is like, I don't know, six or seven years ago now. I stopped myself from blowing up. My oldest son, I think he's like, one and a half or two at the time did something that would normally trigger me. And like, you know, I obviously had a lot of pain. If a one and a half, two year old just triggered me. I stopped. And I took a breath. And I was like, wow, I don't even know that was possible. I thought you just like, got angry and blew up. And it just blew my mind is like that. I don't know if you've seen that meme that gif of that guy with the like, space background. He's wearing like a turtleneck or something like that. And he's doing this like mind blown hands hand movement on his head. He was like that gif. You can go Google it, it'll show I was so insane was so life changing that you can actually find the space and choose how you react. And if like me, and this is my work right now, if like me you are controlling. What could be a better challenge than controlling your own reaction to things. Because I've learned and I still struggle with this. You can control the external world, you can control other people, the only thing you can control is your own reaction to things. Man that is so empowering, because it actually works. If you want to feel in control, that's the way to do it. So there are steps after all of this to move the energy like I was talking about in a productive non destructive way, and to safely bring these feelings to another person. But most men I talked to, could use this initial reframe like we just talked about. So what do you have more trouble with feeling? Or expressing in? And from there? Ask yourself, why? What kind of work do you need to do? Who do you need to talk to, to feel this anger or to react better when you do feel the anger? Alright, that's gonna be it for today. I have just booked like a dozen other podcast episodes with amazing men, amazing dads who have some fantastic wisdom, insights lessons. And I'm just super excited by this. I have connected with so many men. Listen, so many men who are on the podcast. And this has just been one of the best things that I've done, ever. So thank you guys for listening. Thank you for being a part of this. I look at the stats I see, you know, hundreds of guys listening. And I'm just like, Man, I don't know most of you guys personally. But I feel so grateful that we get to spend this time together. I'm just sharing what works. What has worked for me. I'm going to share my story probably in the next few weeks here. Because yeah, my life was living hell, internally, absolutely miserable. So I'm sharing what has worked for me to take me from that, thinking that my kids and wife would be better off without me to really loving pretty much all aspects of my life and feeling like an author in it and being calm and content and confident. And a leader. I felt like a like a little boy for a long time. I don't know if you can relate to this. I felt like a sad, scared little boy deep down. And I finally feel like a man like an adult. And that was what I like to call my initiation ceremony. It wasn't even a ceremony. It was a long, gradual, slow process. But one day, all of this work came together. And I was man. And if you never thought about in that frame before that can sound perhaps a bit funny. But I think that most of the problems in the world that people relate to masculinity are actually not masculinity at all but an immature boy form of masculinity. In the book King warrior magician lover, I believe they call this the boy psychology. It's when you haven't matured, there has been no initiation and you are stuck wanting the things you wanted as a child and acting out negatively. So all that being said, thank you so much for being here. If it helps, I would love to know if it helps God. And if it helps, would you please consider leaving a review if you listen to this on Apple, just go down to Dad.Work podcast and podcast app scroll down, hit ratings and reviews and leave whatever star and rating you think is appropriate. That's it for today.

Thank you guys have a great weekend and I will be back here next week for three more episodes of the Dad.Work podcast. Thanks again for listening. Have a great one

that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave review work with us go to dad dot work slash pod that's di d dot w o RK slash pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad dot work slash pod to find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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