Is it just me or is there is a lot of yelling going on?
Just this past month, I have become hyper-aware of some unseemly goings-on in my town related to disgruntled, irate and unfortunately loud suburbanites. Now, I consider myself a relatively subdued, somewhat sensitive and emotionally available person so these encounters always leave me a bit shaken. But I’m sorry, is a parking ticket really worth blowing the head off the meter reader with your stream of vitriol?
It started off with a trip to the soccer field! Isn’t this always the case? Miss So and So is perfectly lovely while volunteering at school functions and sipping wine at the latest social event, but get her babies on the soccer field and all bets are off. No sooner had we arrived at the field than she was loudly stating her opinion that the refs were “incompetent” and “retarded” (by the way, did she not get the fucking PC memo stating to never use that word anymore?). Mind you, the refs are volunteer players from high school leagues trying to further their skills and knowledge. By halftime, she was screaming at them calling them all kinds of names, her husband desperately pulling at her arm in an effort to cool her off. Clearly, this woman had never played a game of soccer in her life and she was yelling at these young people informing them of their sheer ineptitude. Ah, the irony! By month’s end, we had received an email from the league to please show respect for the refs, demonstrate good behavior for our children and reminding us that the refs were human, and were going to mess up some calls. Have we really gotten that entitled that we have to be reminded that we all make mistakes? Sheesh.
Next, what is it about cars that makes even the shyest and most awkward person more willing to flip the bird than any other place? Cars have become moving beacons of rage for the uncivilized of us, blanketing our roadways in the remnants of our busy, messy and stressed out lives. My friend was attempting to pick up her daughter from carpool and apparently made some sort of error that bordered on murder because soon enough she was being berated by a woman who had rolled her window down to yell obscenities. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for obscenities, but frankly I prefer my “shits” and “fucks” to serve a common good. My friend left so dejected, almost in tears, fearing what she had done and replaying the event to try and understand what happened to inspire such an outpouring of anger.
It’s well documented that when you yell at kids, you change their brains. They become desensitized to the shouting and so each time you get angry, and begin to yell, you raise the threshold from where they begin to pay attention to you. When you are unable to regulate your emotions, you can’t teach your kids to regulate theirs. So maybe you’re a yeller, that’s just who you are. Alright. Then balancing the yelling with loving acts and sincere apologies for when you have lost your shit; well, that works. It’s okay, Suzie Screamer. Just don’t tip the scales with crazy.
When you are yelling, and your freak flag is flying high, that is when your brain is experiencing helplessness. You are very much out of control. Often, anger and sadness are co-mingling in your rant stew. What happened to you earlier, how you were treated, mistakes that you made are all serving to make your anger worse. When you are even keel, your feel good neurotransmitters, dopamine and seratonin, are in adequate supply. If you get stuck in a long line to return a pair of shoes, you can take it with a smile on your face even though you are irritated. But if you haven’t slept well and your kids are whiny and you’ve gone negative on your checking account, then that customer service rep may just get a verbal shanking. In addition, your amygdala-that little emotional center in your brain-may hijack the prefrontal cortex (hello, reason!) in favor of a full-on tantrum.
The good news is that, even as you age, your brain can change. It’s call neural plasticity and it means we can all change if we want to! Yey! But, wait. It’s really fucking hard to do. You have to practice, over and over, what you want to happen. In this case, “yellibacy.” It means you make a commitment to not yell. Of course you will, and you will fail and try over and over again. Just like stopping anything else that’s become a bad habit. Remember that yelling is a protective response and we all do things to protect ourselves. Even things that wind up hurting us anyway.
And, so. Why do you yell? Your answer will be different than mine. Maybe it’s because that was the culture of your home, it’s how you were heard. Maybe it’s because you don’t know what else to do. Maybe it’s because you feel the disappointment in yourself for failing at being the perfect parent. Whatever the reason, cut yourself some slack. I think of a story I read about in yoga. It says that people yell because anger pushes their hearts far apart, even though they may be standing face to face. And when we whisper, it’s because our hearts are so close. And when we are silent, our hearts don’t need words. They just know. Next time you feel the need to yell, remember how close you are to the heart that you want to listen. And dial down accordingly.
What makes you yell? Does it make you feel bad afterwards? Does it make you uncomfortable when others yell? Oh and please don’t CAPITALIZE YOUR EMAILS. IT FEELS LIKE YOU ARE YELLING AT ME. Thanks.
Top image from streetsblog.net. Bottom image sensoryspectrum.com