My last post was on the subject of fear. Fear is the emotion which I’ve been personally most aware of as holding me back over the years, and I wrote about the need to “be afraid but do it anyway” – the key to breaking through fear. After reading the post, my wife said something like, “Okay, nice job with fear but what about anger?” I had in fact written about anger in the post, but pretty much dismissed it as not being applicable to me. But with this prompting, I decided to dig a bit deeper and see what I found…
I’ve known for years that I don’t do anger well. I am quick to dismiss it, often justifying it by telling myself that I’m not the one to blame, there are two sides to every story, etc. So the anger gets stuffed away and I’m completely unaware of it. Until one fine day I actually do get angry and need to express it. I then feel it physically, in my chest, my brain loses rationality and my expression of anger is over the top and inappropriate. There are clearly times when raising one’s voice in emotion is appropriate and even necessary to make a point, but most of my attempted expressions have been excessive or even misdirected, so that effectiveness is reduced or diminished.
I admire people who can get angry and then, like a zebra after she’s escaped a predator, stop, shake it off, and then get back on with what’s hand. I’m often stuck for hours, or even a day or more, with the remnants of the anger emotions.
So now that I’d come clean and confessed/acknowledged that I too struggle with anger, what was I going to do about it?
With anger, it’s all about how one expresses his or herself. In the small things, it’s usually enough just to acknowledge it (also described as “frustration” for things that the word “anger” seems like too strong a word for) out loud preferrably to the person responsible. But if it’s not let out it gets stuffed away somewhere inside. Little things accumulate and then there’s usually something “bigger” that comes along at some point, beyond simple frustration. Maybe something gets expressed but, in my experience, it’s not always expressed to the full extent necessary so the pattern repeats until… the volcano erupts.
Getting aware of anger is a first step and this little wife-initiated self analysis I believe will help in being aware and making a valiant attempt to express it. That said, I know very well from my coach training, and real life experiences, that pent up anger needs to be released, and there is no better way than by combining a physical and vocal expression.
So last week I took action and visited the Fragment Room in Singapore, a place which allows anyone to go into a room and smash things up with a bat, with the sole aim of dealing with anger. Watch the video here.
Knowing that in all likelihood I won’t be able to suddenly express ALL my anger as and when I’m feeling it, I believe that, if nothing more than a “just in case” prophylactic, I should do a process like this every so often. So I’ve set a calendar reminder for myself in two months time to visit again and smash some more bottles! And I’ll be recommending that I visit the Fragment Room with any of my coaching clients in Singapore who need to do a bit of anger work! Getting some prompts and encouragement to really get it all out most certainly helps.