Today I’d like to share some handy tips for dealing with suppressed anger. (I’m not a mental health professional, I’m a writer, so these opinions are strictly my own FYI thanks!) I do have a lot of experience with suppressed anger, however, as I’ve been in a lot of situations where shall we say, my voice was not welcome. Or rather only welcome up to a certain level of opinion that stayed within the non-threatening range.
You know the thing where you share a thought or calmly assert yourself and someone snaps your head off and tries to swipe your legs out from under you all at once because they’re more concerned with saving face and being in control than anything that has to do with you? That. Being in relationships where that’s the norm is a bit suffocating and doesn’t leave any room for healthy expression. It doesn’t much feel worth it to express anything out of the realm of small talk if it’s just a matter of time until that person irrationally pops off. It says “no” to your opinion, and therefore to you, and that just ain’t cool! Especially if you’re like me and are actually chock-full to the brim with opinions.
For years I took this and swallowed it all…including my anger. I internalized everything that I wasn’t allowed to say or do lest I be reprimanded for it. The pressure! Naturally, I took this out on myself in a variety of unhealthy manners until I learned to identify it and start unraveling the frozen knot of a person I became. When you start doing that, LOTS of stuff comes out, including lots of things you’d rather not feel. Things that pop up at the “wrong” time, etc. We all feel angry sometimes. Here are my personal tips and tricks for wrangling the suppressed anger into appropriate levels while still letting it the fuck out.
Obviously, I write. I’ve been writing since I could write, and have proof via lots of childhood journal entries begging god for who even knows what. (And I wasn’t even raised religious!) I could express myself there. Reading those old journal entries now makes me cry a little, further proof that the cathartic nature of writing just gives on giving.
You don’t have to be good at writing to write, and you sure as hell don’t have to actually SHOW anyone your writing for it to help. In fact, most often you should not. You don’t even want to know how many letters I’ve written to people and then burned them or threw them away, never to be seen by the human eye. But honestly, I swear those work it some majestic way. Take back your power and assert yourself via private journal. You’ll find awareness, clarity, identity patterns, and state what you truly want. It will change you, having that communicative secret with yourself. They won’t know what hit them.
I do understand why acting class feels like a dangerous battleground because it can be. That shit is as weird and vulnerable as it is beautiful. But if you don’t feel safe expressing yourself in your real-world…ta-da! You can become someone else for a bit and cry and rage your face off and be APPLAUDED FOR IT. Sometimes people even cry along with you. Even if you bomb and burn your way off the stage carrying all the shame of the world you still get to experience some quiet undivided attention on your glorious self for a bit which in and of itself can feel like a respite.
Go to Therapy
Spoiler alert: therapy is not just for crazy people. Therapy is for the non-crazy people who’ve dealt with crazy people and need a professional reminder that they’re not crazy. If I say “well I’m not even mad at so-and-so,” my therapist will cut me off and say “you’re NOT mad and so-and-so??” Like bitch you betta be. No, you’re right, I’m f**king pissed! I love it. My therapist also happens to be in a building that mostly houses production offices, which also serves as a nice, ongoing reminder that I should go back to acting class.
Wild Dance Sessions
In all honesty, my wild angry dance sessions evolved out pillow punching sessions, which aren’t always as satisfying as one might hope. You have to hold a weird crouch/lean position to actually hit the pillow repeatedly with full force and for me personally it creates a dull ache in my shoulder area. It’s alright. But what is undoubtedly better than punching pillows, is dancing around like a maniac. I do live in a rather small space so I’m aware that there are also challenges with this form of anger expression, but close the blinds and pop on those headphones and go to town sometime.
If you’re not a big dancer you might just sway for a bit or tap your feet, but if you’re in the mood to really let it out I suggest flying around until you reach a level of sweatiness that you require a shower. (It escalates to that level much faster than you might think.) Following your wild angry dance session you will not only feel alive with electricity and have that proud earned exhaustion feeling, but you will probably be smiling because it’s impossible to dance with wild abandon without feeling like an absolute jackass and laughing at the absurdity at some point. It works for me.
If you need a song suggestion I like Electric Guest’s “Oh Devil.” Not for the song topic but simply because it’s a “bop” as one of my musician friends called it. You can safely shuffle and wiggle/side step without the pace getting out of hand.
I know you don’t want to hear about yoga again, this fucking yuppie meditation/workout thing. It’s like the opposite of being free to release your suppressed anger, right? Wrong. You can yell out a breath with every down dog and cry on your mat if you want. The flow of yoga involves a lot of getting in touch with the body and actually feeling the movement of energy, which allows for the fact that sometimes it comes out. I have absolutely 100% sobbed in yoga class, yes. I have also moved into a chair pose and felt a kind of sturdy strength that I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling. I feel that strength most of the time that I move into chair pose. It’s like something clicks into place. My worth or something. I feel it just thinking about it! It’s my favorite pose. Hurts like a bitch, but damn. I’m solid there. You also don’t have to like yoga for it to make you a better human, similarly to how you don’t have to be good at writing to organize your thoughts.
Meditation is sometimes included in yoga, yet it’s a totally stand-alone art. Again, you don’t have to like it to benefit from it. You don’t actually have to do anything at all besides quietly sit your ass down and let your neurons reorganize themselves. Because that’s what it does, proved by science. (Science!!!!) Meditation has been proven to lower activity in the default mode network (DMN), which is the place where you experience “monkey mind,” AKA the worried part of your brain that won’t shut up. It decreases brain cell volume in the amygdala (where the fear is), and increases thickness in the hippocampus, where we learn new stuff. It is literally good for everything, I swear.
Occasionally I do have interesting realizations while I meditate, but more often than not I have productive ideas after I finish meditating. Perhaps it’s just that my worries step out of the way a little more often and allow my brain to really do its thing. I’d much rather use my mind power to create new and good things than focus on the outdated bad stuff, If it’s going to be busy in there, might as well help it figure out what to focus on (or not,) am I right?
Again, I’m not a mental health professional, but I am an individual experienced in managing one’s own mental health. Find me on Twitter if you need me.