Dealing With Hurt and Anger

A few days ago, I talked about being angry after being wronged. First of all, thank you for all your supportive emails and messages. They were thoughtful, insightful, and uplifting. And comforting.

While I was working on letting go of my anger and choosing a course of action, I wrote my own coach, who reminded me that before I took action, I needed to spend some time healing.

It’s good advice. When we are bruised, we put ice on the spot and elevate it. My spirit needed the same thing. But I’m so busy! I have deadlines! I need to . . .heal. My coach was absolutely right. How do you heal? But treasuring your creative work and spending time with it. By being creative, the sense of loss is not a sense of threat. By turning to creative work, the hole left by the sense of lack is filled with creative work, proving we are capable of it, and capable of healing ourselves.

Choosing a reaction doesn’t spring from a sense of anger, it grows from a sense of boundaries and accountability. Yes, that’s from Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. Brené says that by holding people accountable for their actions, we enforce the boundaries of acceptable behavior and can concentrate on what someone did, not who they are.

My first task today was healing. I went out to the Desert Botanical Garden and enjoyed the butterfly house with a friend. We then wandered into the garden, found a bench, and sat down to sketch. Sketching requires concentration and gives you positive results. Looking closely at something you are drawing helps you see how it’s constructed. A bigger lesson at work.

So thanks to my own coach, I’m on the road to healing through creativity and setting boundaries and holding the person who wronged me accountable. I want to create a solution that is clean, ethical and simple. I think I can.

--Quinn McDonald is working through a hard time the only way she knows how–by meaning making and creative work.

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7 responses to “Dealing With Hurt and Anger

  1. My journey of late has been all about finding a way out of anger, and boy, has it been a long road. I have never had many ‘creative outlets’ – my sister was the creative one, the one who could draw and paint and make things. I can’t draw recognizable stick people. I can write, but sometimes words aren’t what you need. I have been absolutely amazed to discover that I can use knitting to both work through and to express my feelings – not just to make mittens and shawls and pretty things, but to embody metaphor.

    What you said about first needing time to heal is so very true. You have to take some time to sit with the hurt, to acknowledge that it’s there, almost like sitting beside yourself and offering comfort, saying “yep, that hurt, I know, I hear you, it’s okay to cry”. I have knit through the hurt, so many stitches, one after another, such slow work, but every time I set it down, there’s a little more there, a sign of visible progress. I think that helped – to see that I had created something out of the pain, something beautiful.

    Though I do not speak the language of art very well, when I look at your drawing of the flowers I see both an exquisitely beautiful sadness and something that speaks of hope and sunlight and growth.

    Peace to you.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing some really workable actions as reactions to feeling angry and hurt. How wise to first heal the hurt, make yourself whole, and then work through the difficulty from a place of strength. I use art frequently for healing, for working through problems, but I have never thought to apply calming art and creative activities to reining in unwanted emotions. Thanks for sharing, so helpful.

  3. Your coach gave you good advice. Whenever I have been wronged I try to take a step back and give myself time to process everything that happened to cause the hurt — give myself some time to heal before responding. I try to wait until I have gotten to a place emotionally where I can act instead of react.

    Your comments about sketching made me think of a post I recently read on Danny Gregory’s blog: http://dannygregory.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/senioritis/

    Included in this post he wrote: “When you draw something you see it in a new way. A good drawing is a fresh perspective on an object you may have seen a thousand times before: a building, a body, a bowl of fruit, your breakfast dishes. But by paying deliberate and careful attention to every nook and cranny, you flood your mind and your page with new information about what you are seeing — the texture of a banana skin, the way light hits a brick, how the knee connects to the shin bone, the exact curve of a cup handle. You are suspending the critical function of your pre-frontal cortex, refusing to decide whether there’s importance to each individual line and aspect; you just record them all. This information isn’t actually that important to you beyond the act of drawing, you don’t need to retain the visual data about that banana skin, it may have no further utility to you. But it is expanding your awareness of the world around you, strengthening for observation muscles — it has as much purpose as lifting the same weight over and over at the gym. . .By exposing yourself to art, to novelty, to new ideas, facts and experiments, you stretch your mind so that it is pliable and elastic, so that it doesn’t seize up when you have to move in a new direction. Your reservoirs of references are loaded and you have oodles of bits and bobs to build new ideas with.”

    I have not focused much on sketching in my art work but have this desire to start and hopefully hone any skills that I might have in this area. I believe that if I just “do it” I will get better with practice. Your words and Danny’s certainly have me thinking more about it!

    • Danny Gregory is right–you need to suspend judgement and commit to seeing. The image I did in the part yesterday took a long time, but it doesn’t look it. It took time because I looked at every inch of that agave–hot it turned, where the shadow was, how the light moved. And that kind of thinking helps free you. The great thing about drawing is that most of us get better with practice and ignoring the thought we can’t draw.

  4. I’m glad you are feeling better about things; it takes time to work through our hurts and disappointments, and when someone really cuts us deeply, revenge seems so good, even if its out of character. Its also a very human reaction for the most even tempered person when they are pushed too far!
    We all have boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour. We try not to overstep those boundaries ourselves but when hurt its hard not to have smoke bellowing from our ears and lightening bolts flying out of our eyes.
    Art is great when we hurt, or we are confused, or angry; actually its great all the time and helps keep us grounded. You are lucky to have local Botanic Gardens to let nature’s beauty work its magic and help soothe and restore your peace of mind. But then, would the gardens be so beautiful if we did not have these bad moments to help us appreciate them? We need these contrasts in our lives to set our personal boundaries and help us work out our own philosophy of life.

    • What a beautifully written piece! Being out of my house is soothing when I’m angry, particularly on a gorgeous day. Then being back in the studio feel like re-discovery, which is also restorative. Thanks so much for the comment!

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