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Key to Personal Development: Releasing Anger

By the Urban Monk

I shouted at my family when they tried to reach out to me. I pounded the boxing sandbag everyday. My whole life was disrupted. It was one side of the coin; depression was on the other.

Isn't the goal of any life to achieve happiness? What stands in the way? Emotions and energies that linger on. Most people have some of these emotions, either repressed or lasting with no outlet. Some are low level, some are strong. Anger and sadness colors everything you do in your life. Every interaction; every moment. You have to deal with it, or it will kill you.

The Incredible Hulk isn't so fun in real life
I suffered from anger issues years ago. My emotions were pent-up. They often described me as a gentle and polite man; and I struggled to preserve that image.

When I blew up, I blew up. I became verbally abusive and irrational. It hurt the people who were around me and loved me the most. I spiralled down into a deep depression that lasted for more then a year - and badly deteriorating physical health.

Anger leads to rage. Rage leads to broken families and relationships. Emotionally, you will be strained and miserable. Physically, it takes a toll on you - and is often linked to serious illnesses like cancer.

When you take steps to conquer yourself, though, you drop all that emotional weight. You feel like a new person. Your self-esteem and confidence grows as you begin to master yourself. And you'll have taken a major step towards true happiness. What more do you need to know?

Understanding Anger and Sadness
First you have to understand anger. Anger is not "negative." It is simply an energy; an emotion. It serves as a protection system. When you get angry, it is a sign that something or someone is infringing on you or your rights.

It is only when you can't handle anger properly that it becomes blind rage. That is what we have been cautioning against. When it overloads and you start being abusive or violent, it has become toxic.

What do I mean? Emotions are like vegetables. When they are fresh, they are fine. But when they've been in the fridge for a long time, they go rotten. They explode to the surface or they kill you from the inside.

How to deal with Anger
There are many exercises for releasing anger before it becomes toxic, regardless of which methodology or therapy you choose. I've stripped all of them down to the essentials here. Note that you need to do this a few times. Pain comes in waves, and often one attempt won't be enough to release all that pent-up energy.

Step One
There are many causes of anger or sadness; bad parenting, childhood bullies, past lovers. Trace it back to the roots, understand it, and try to give it a voice. This is vital. Don't skip it.

Step Two
Find a safe location. Somewhere you can scream and act out your anger. You can be alone, or you can be with a person you trust and who won't be afraid.

Step Three
Let it out! Scream it out and act it out! There are vocal and physical components. Both are important ingredients.

Feeling weird or self-conscious is normal. Don't give up. Sometimes you feel like you can't do it. Something is holding you back. Keep trying; it'll come. So: Scream it! Even if it's just a string of vulgarities, do it! Become the yell. Scream until your whole body trembles from head to toe. At the same time, do something physical...

a) Kneel like you're praying. Find a large pillow. Make a hammer fist with your hands (not a boxing style fist, you might hurt your wrist). And start pounding the pillow with all your might until you can't go any more.

b) Twisting might feel better for you. Find a towel, and twist it like you are trying to wring out every last drop of water.

Step Four
Repeat. Do it until one day all your repressed anger is gone. It might take weeks, it might take days, it's different for everyone, but you will know it when it happens.

What's next?
Usually what follows the release of anger is the sadness and grief that comes with it. Read the next in this series of articles for this at the Urban Monk website.

Note: If it is something that you cannot handle, do not feel ashamed to seek out professional help. And avoid self-destruction; numbing of the pain with alcohol, drugs, or other risky behavior. I paid for such behavior physically and emotionally for nearly a year after - and I'm one of the luckier ones.

Copyright © Albert Foong 2007

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