The Gift of Anger By Cheryl Richardson
Almost every day I post an affirmation on my Facebook Fan Page to support visitors in staying on track with living awake and authentic lives. I enjoy the real time, interactive nature of Facebook and I love that I can personally connect with friends from around the globe. You can join us by visiting: facebook.com/cherylrichardson
This week, one affirmation in particular, raised a few questions. My post read:
"I allow myself to embrace my power by fully expressing my anger in healthy and productive ways."
Several people had questions about "healthy and productive ways" to express their anger. As I read through the posts, I was reminded of one of the first times I learned how to do just that. And in doing so, connected with the power hidden beneath my rage. Here's what happened:
In 1991, my friend Lucy died of cancer. She was 83 years old and for three months we walked the path of completing her journey together. It was a life-altering experience for me having never been that close to death and dying. And I was blessed to be with her when she took her last breath.
For several months after her passing I was pretty busy. As the executor of her estate, I was charged with the responsibility of getting her home ready to be sold. It was an emotionally turbulent time. As is often the case when we experience a major life crisis, the floor beneath my feet started to shift and life as I'd known it began to change dramatically. A five year relationship ended. I was forced to leave my apartment. And my work started to move in a whole new direction. During this period there were lots of tears, frustration, and exhaustion.
One day, as my friend Bill and I were going through Lucy's house boxing up her belongings, he listened patiently as I cried and complained about losing my friend and the subsequent uprooting of my life. After listening to me for more than an hour, he asked me to follow him to the basement. Once there, he showed me a large box of light bulbs he had gathered in a corner of the room. "I'm going upstairs" Bill said, "and I'm going to turn up the stereo full blast. When I do, I want you to empty this box, one by one, into the corner of this room." I looked at him as if he were crazy. "And as you smash each lightbulb I want you to scream and yell as loud as you can to get the pent up rage out of your system. Don't come up until all the bulbs are gone."
As Bill climbed the basement stairs, I stood looking at the box. "Was I really that angry?" I thought. I didn't think so. But, honoring his request, as soon as I heard the music kick in I picked up the first light bulb and smashed it in the corner. It made a loud, popping sound. Then, I picked up another and let it rip. By the third lightbulb I was screaming like a mad woman desperately grabbing for the next bulb. By the time I emptied the box, something significant had shifted inside me. I felt both exhausted and exhilarated. I ran up the basement stairs looking for more glass :).
That day taught me about a safe and productive way of expressing anger. Until that time, I had done things like written rage-filled letters that I never sent, or talked about my anger with friends. While these methods were helpful, they never left me feeling empowered the way moving my body did. I suddenly understood that using my intellect to express anger wasn't enough. I needed to physically get the anger up and out of my body to actually feel the power hidden beneath. For days after that experience in the basement I felt lighter, emotionally stronger, and better able to face the job before me.
Since that day, I've thrown light bulbs in my own basement, taken a kick-boxing class when I needed to vent, moved furniture around in my family room so I'd have the space to dance my anger out, or visited a batting cage with Michael to smack baseballs.
There is enormous power hidden beneath your unexpressed anger. Don't use your head to get it out. Use your body instead. Check out this week's "Take Action Challenge" for safe and healthy ideas.
Take Action Challenge
If you have hidden anger or rage (who doesn't?), then find a physical outlet.
Here are some ideas:
Visit a driving range and hit golf balls.
Take a spin class and ride your way to freedom.
Kick a soccer ball around your yard.
Crank up the music at home and scream at the top of your lungs while pounding the sofa.
List your frustrations on a bunch of rocks and throw them into a lake one by one.
As you move, feel the rageful energy leaving your body. Then, wait for the power to emerge. It's there. It's always been there. It's just waiting for you to let it out.