Tuesday, 24 February 2015

To Keep a Stiff Upper Lip - or To Throw it Away?

"F**k, F**k, F**k!
Life is S**t!
Everything's getting worse. Nothing's getting better.
Nobody's getting richer;
Least of all me!"

Well, charming! I thought as the young man who had shouted these words at the top of his voice, to nothing and nobody as far as I could see, strode off into the distance.

I had kept my distance from him, of course, and now continued my journey through the school gates to collect daughter number two.

Then I started thinking, rather than just reacting with distaste.

Possibly the young man has Tourette syndrome, or challenging behaviour issues. When I examine the rhythm of the words above I could almost think they are part of a poem intended to be read out loud in some Avant-Garde night club full of other Angry Young Men.

Whatever the background of this outburst, I hope he felt better for the catharsis.

A therapist friend compares her own rather dysfunctional family, who seem to have short life-spans, with that of her husband. In his family they shout; they stamp their feet; they kick things (not people or animals, I promise). In her family they repress emotion; they are terribly British and stiff upper lipped about everything.

She is convinced that the prevalence of depression, cancer and strokes in her family is directly attributable to this bottling up of emotion. Her husband's family seem to live healthily into their nineties and beyond.

We do need to express emotion. We need to howl with rage, to stomp around with frustration, to cry when we're upset. Even if we are British and male. We also need to laugh, to hug and to kiss. It works both ways.

But can you imagine expressing your frustration like this in the office? Many of we women with overactive tear-ducts know only too well the humiliation of welling up in tears in public and the derision with which we are viewed (by some male colleagues) when that happens. In our culture, it is not appropriate to express strong emotion in front of others. In many families even, a child shouting at a parent in frustration will be told to control their temper.

So it's a fine line to walk.

My therapist friend recommends EFT (tapping) to safely and discreetly release the emotion. Because I have (to the embarrassment of my family) very few inhibitions, I have been known to say "Please excuse me for a moment while I go outside and scream". Usually that gets a laugh, but my husband has learned to hide away when I am fighting with technology: it's really not pretty and if computers could bleed, then the forensic team would have a field day later on!

I don't have any easy answers, but I still think that shouting profanity outside a primary school is inappropriate.

I mean, you'd never do that, would you?

Mary
A Moodscope member.