Comment: I cannot emphasize enough — the primary issue of emotional management is Safety! Everyone must be safe, and idealy everyone must feel safe (Security).
MacQuarrie Email Program #25 — Managing Yourself While Angry
I hope by now that it is clear that the skill of anger management is the ability to turn your power of domination into your personal power to influence. Expanding upon the principles I presented in Email #07 Blowing Out, Part 1, please note:
- safety for all is absolutely essential.
- the high intensity of anger or rage interrupts my ability to think, preventing my ability to distinguish whether the issue is my own powerlessness, or whether the difficulty exists as part of my relationship with the other, i.e., true conflict.
- This is the Darkness of anger and rage, especially rage.
- when I mismanage this energy, I am at high risk of dumping the energy on someone else (or on myself, by criticism of myself) in an inappropriate fashion.
- Either I blow up and dump it on someone else, and very soon recognize how inappropriate this is (“I should not have done this,” and I move into shame), or
- I blow down and dump it on myself, often with slower recognition (“I should not have done this,” and I move into shame).
- shame does not empty the pot (Email #06) — it puts a lid on the pot, such that the energy is sealed until the next episode. And the cycle starts again.
SAFETY Task #1: Negotiate an agreement for time outs with your partner (or the other participant in the issues)
In order to change this cycle, a new way of functioning must be instituted. It is difficult to do, especially with the potential hair-trigger issues which progress within seconds, or milliseconds. Question: do you want the 10-second plan, or the 10,000 year plan? Seriously — some people can talk about the issues for years, without resolution, without awareness. Analysis is an option, but frankly, it is not effective for many people. It is awareness (not understanding) that makes the difference! (Understanding is optional.) I may need to utilize the skills described in Email #11 The Checkbox of Change if the changes are happening too quickly.
The 10-Second Plan: Once I am able to recognize the build-up, the only thing required is a decision for a Time Out, a withdrawal from the situation. In so doing, I separate The Ghost (Email #22) from the current issue: I create geographic space between myself and the conflict, and by necessity I take the ghost with me. Anger work requires safety, integrity and privacy — I need to protect both myself and others, physically and emotionally, without guilt or shame. If possible, negotiate the exit, but exit nevertheless — to continue is (usually) to escalate. Instead, work with the Ghost.
If I am consistently having issues with specific individuals (e.g., my life partner), then ideally, the Time Out is pre-planned by negotiation with these individuals. I need to develop an agreement that, if I ask for a time-out, it means that I am becoming overwhelmed with my own energy. We agree that I separate from this individual for a pre-arranged time period so as to work through the energy, AND I will return within this agreed time period to continue the discussion. If I consistently keep this agreement, the other will learn to trust me. If I do not, they have no reason to trust — no positive trust, no relationship! It is the essential basis of relationship.
A time out could be as short as 20 minutes (10 minutes to discharge your energy, 10 minutes to explore the message!), or as long as a few hours — most people can wait this long. But the longer the time, the more difficult is the waiting for the return. And I still must return within the agreed time!
ENERGY Task #2: Establish and practice at least three ways to release
So now — what to do with the energy? Anything that works! Anything that empties the pot effectively, anything that releases the energy within the Muscles of Stability (Email #23).
The two ways that work best for me are to utilize and:
- use the emotional experience, and express what the muscles are asking.
- such a process utilizes both the story (as fantasy) and the Muscles of Stability.
- use Eastern forms of exercise — especially in “stillness,” the field of yoga.
- here I can access the energy directly, while still accessing the story.
Because I am very well versed in hatha yoga, I can release tremendous energy quietly and in apparent stillness, easily satisfying the requirements of No SAD and Stop. But most people are not well versed, if at all. Thus discharge techniques are commonly needed — all have some risk of physical damage to self or furniture. So practice with care. Remember No SAD.
There are a thousand ways — they are directed at the Ghost (the Story), paradoxically recognizing that the energy is being directed both in fantasy and in reality. My favorite ways are:
- taking a baseball bat or tennis racquet to a heavy bag or mattress (being careful of how I swing, and of the bounce-back of the bat).
- screaming (simple noise, or yelling what I really wanted to say) — screaming from my pelvis with an open throat, not from my throat directly — otherwise it hurts my throat.
- if I am worried about noise, I scream into a pillow contained within a bowl. Or I scream silently, breathing into the scream without noise.
- pushing in a door frame, pushing from the pelvis, not the back. Or push with upper body.
The important point is full release to the point of exhaustion. Then the message is available.
The difficulty here is that of stopping before full release — we get scared of the energy (often at an other-than-conscious level) and stop before full release, “thinking” we have done enough.
Coming next: The Message of Your Anger