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Monday, May 14, 2012

An exercise to tap your anger


Go ahead, beat up your sofa!

For this post, I want to back up a bit and really dig into stage 2 of the 8 stages of emotional clearing. Stage 2 is where your character must tap into her anger. As I said in my earlier post, many people get stuck at stage 2 because they don't recognize how anger disguises itself in other emotions or behaviors.
If you or your character has no clue how to touch anger or are just plain afraid to do it, this is the exercise for you! 

Getting in touch with anger.  Ooooh, that's a fun one. For someone who has a difficult time accessing anger, the key is to find something that's opposite of your normal routine. So, for instance, for people who spend much of their days in their brain (writers, software engineers, bankers, really any desk job) physical techniques can be very effective for releasing anger. People who are quiet can benefit from using their voice.  Here's a great technique that combines both types of release, physical and vocal.  

Things you'll need:  
  1. whiffle bat (plastic bat)
  2. sofa
  3. room to move with no breakable objects, people or pets nearby
Get yourself a whiffle bat and stand in front of your sofa.  Now think about a person who triggered you. Picture them in your mind. Hear their awful words. Picture them pointing their finger at you, yelling, accusing, blaming as they cross your personal boundary. Feel how your belly starts to churn up some energy. You're starting to feel that familiar flight or flight sensation. Stick with it. 
The person is coming at you, still yelling, accusing, blaming. You can't even hear the words any more. Just a roar in your ears and flashes of their angry face.  


Now pick up the whiffle bat
Give yourself permission to pummel your sofa.  
Really swing and whack.  Cuss.  LOUDLY.  Blame the source of your anger.  Cuss them to hell.  Keep going until you have no more whacks or cussing left to do. Drop the bat. 

Notice your energy.  Notice how you feel.  

Write that feeling down, or discuss it with someone.  Do you feel lighter? Do you feel lost? Do you feel more yourself? Do you feel pleasure? Do you feel guilty? What do you feel? However you feel, ask yourself why. What need did that release in energy fulfill?  What needs do you still have? 
Come up with some ways to fulfill those needs.

You're a writer - remember those feelings. Allow your character to draw on them to move through their own issues.  When your character recognizes their needs, they'll come up with a plan.

The technique above is very useful for expelling a large amount of anger and resentment very quickly. Notice how you feel about the technique. Your reaction to the technique is a reflection of how you feel about releasing anger. For some, the technique can be frightening and overwhelming.  Others relish the idea of pummeling something, swearing and screaming.  Some people only want to scream.  Some people can't scream at all, or won't cuss.  And others give only wimpy taps with the bat. For some, the session goes on for ages until they are physically and emotionally drained. For others, the session lasts only a couple of minutes. Whatever you won't do, or had difficulty doing in that exercise, those are signals of your personal boundaries, your code of behavior. 
Keep in mind though that the boundaries are artificial boundaries - you make them, you can break them, you can make those boundaries flexible and healthy. You're in a safe environment - just you and the whiffle bat and the sofa. Nothing is going to break. No one is going to get hurt. Things can only get better. Now, in this safe environment, is the time to give yourself permission to shift energetically.  

Giving yourself permission to release your anger in a safe environment is a great step toward healing. Because you are replacing the person who triggered you with an inanimate object, and you are quickly releasing a large amount of energy in a safe environment, the technique shifts your attention away from the other person onto you. Participating in the experience energetically imprints itself on you, shoring up your personal boundaries and giving you confidence that you can take care of yourself in the future. And with that confidence of being able to work through your anger to identify and fulfill your needs, you are less likely to be triggered by other people.

And now let's shift to writing.  I'm curious. How do your characters deal with anger?

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