Comment: I suggest the Blowing Out process to be the essential means by which human beings can be both safe and emotionally authentic, without being trapped by the issues.
MacQuarrie Email Program #07 — The Blowing Out Process, Part 1
Two more emails (plus a summary email), and then we start the process of skill development as to how to explore and manage your anger. I hope by now you are starting to recognize that the concepts thus far allow you to get a handle on your anger, but I also imagine you want more specifics — this email is part of the specifics.
As mentioned, the concepts of the previous emails became the process I call Blowing Out®, a method of utilizing unpleasant experience so as to create positive outcomes. For most people, when something unpleasant happens, they get stuck. The something reminds them of their past (their values, beliefs, memories, expectations, what I call their VBMEs), and they feel powerless. They label the something as some kind of conflict, and they don’t feel safe. Perhaps they are angry, or some such emotion, but lacking safety, they are also afraid or say to themselves, “I shouldn’t feel this way” — the sailors in action. So they stuff their energy — but eventually that doesn’t work, and they become a time bomb of some kind (the pressure cooker). This goes on over time, and eventually they explode outwards (family violation or social massacre) or inwards (depression or suicide). Not a pretty scene, but common in our society.
Safety for all is absolutely essential.
In my personal pain, I too recognized that this process of getting stuck did not work, and that the most important aspect was safety — for all! Instead of blowing up or blowing down, I discovered that I could blow out, like blowing out a candle — but instead of blowing out the light, I could blow out the darkness of my pain (the basis of my first book Blowing Out The Darkness).
We get stuck essentially because we mismanage our energy! First, because we are not safe (both with ourselves and with others around us), and second because we do not safely discharge our emotional energy — we generally dump it on someone else in some inappropriate fashion. We somehow believe that we have to resolve the conflict before we can manage our energy.
Not only is this nonsense, it is also a recipe for disaster. We hold the energy inside ourselves; the conflict is outside. We can separate ourselves from the conflict, and manage our energy — in so doing, we can then decide if the basic issue is what others are doing (the conflict), or is it what we are doing to ourselves (our powerlessness) because we are caught in issues from our past.
I indicated in the previous email (The Pot), that as the pressure builds up, three things happen:
- the high energy interrupts the ability to think (we become very intense, and foggy).
- further intensity results in our not feeling safe, and we shift to Lizard Brain, and
- we lose the ability to distinguish what is happening outside (the spoon) from what is happening inside (the pot), thus shifting to “the spoon has caused the carrot.”
Don’t take my word for this. Think about how you feel and act when you get to the edge of your rage. In some fashion, is this not how you act?
Task: So your task for this email is to think about what else you could do with your energy. And test out these possibilities; don’t just think — act! safely! An important adage is: You cannot think your way into a new way of acting; you can act your way into a new way of thinking!
Re-read Email #2 What is Anger? so as to really get No SAD and STOP. (You have probably noticed that all the tasks I assign are really focused on observing yourself — not for the purpose of self-criticism, but for recognition of how you actually create your own experiences. Over time, this will become your most important skill.)
Some hints: you can discharge energy silently, or you can make lots of noise. You can discharge privately, or you can do it in the presence of others. But if you are going to do it when others around, those others must agree to the parameters of No SAD and STOP — otherwise, they will not likely be secure, and because of that, you will criticized (or worse)! As such, it is very likely that you will shut down, and the time bomb scenario will resume.
The second most important aspect of Blowing Out is that the conflict must be resolved. Even if you discharge your energy, all that you will be doing is emptying the pot. It is essential that you then stop the pot from filling again.
The Importance of Blowing Out
My stance is that I can empty the pot in 10 minutes (I likely need another 10 minutes to process what happened that the pot was stirred — powerlessness or conflict?). Stopping the pot from filling again may take weeks or months of work — but I can keep the pot empty while I do this work! I need not stay stuck with a full pot — ever!
The goal of this portion of the Blowing Out process is to empty the pot, such that:
- everyone is safe
- I can think more clearly about the issues, and
- I can distinguish the spoon from the pot, the present from my past.
Most important though, as I empty the pot, I start to recognized either that this experience feels familiar (my powerlessness), or I recognize that the other is behaving inappropriately (a true conflict exists). The message comes through even though my thinking may still be fuzzy.
A reflection of mine: I’ve worked with thousands of people using the Blowing Out method. It is effective. But in my experience, when first presented with the Blowing Out process, less than 5% of people really want to engage with it. We are incredibly conditioned in our society to avoid violence (yet we are a violent species — war, domestic assaults, football, et cetera).
I make a huge distinction between violence and violation. Violence is sudden force to create an impact. Violation is restriction of freedom without permission beyond public safety. What we call family violence is actually family violation (frequently the violations are not even violent). Blowing Out can be violent; it is not a violation. We can be safe with violence (e.g., pounding a nail in a wall is violent); we are not safe with violation.
The bottom line: you can be safe (with yourself and others), and you can be at a place of internal peace. The price tag is doing the required work.
Coming next: The Blowing Out Process, Part 2.