Anger, Shame and U S West

I got mad at the phone company last week, and then I did something that made me feel ashamed.

I was angry because my new business line was to be turned on Thursday afternoon between 12:00 noon and 3:00 by US West. Fat Chance. By 2:00 Saturday I was still without a phone, and I had been waiting, trapped in my office, for over 48 hours. I was so angry I could scream.

Since I believe the body, mind and spirit are connected, my spirit is effected, and the angry energy manifests itself in my body. This is not what I was taught however. I was taught to ignore the sensations in my body, to deny the assault on my spirit, and go directly to my thinking mind. I learned all too well that if I was in the presence of anger, someone was going to get hurt. I didn’t care to be around anger, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone with my anger. So I pretended not to be angry. I tried to think my way out of it, be reasonable. I would do anything to avoid actually facing my anger. Anger was shameful. It was an indication of being out of control. It was dangerous, and the last resort of an uncivilized person.

I know better now.

Nevertheless, there I was, waiting for U. S. West after 48 hours and feeling enveloped in anger. I knew I needed to deal with it or the poor phone man would be in serious danger when he did show up, not to mention the residual effects my family would encounter when I finally did get home. So I followed the steps of anger release.

Step 1. Identify the sensations in the body.
I stood quietly and let my mind’s eye scan my body. I could feel my anger in my shoulders, and in my chest. The energy was compact and crushing.

Step 2. Determine if the energy can be released.
As I kept my focus on the energy, I got the sense that my anger just wanted to pour forth. I wanted to scream long blasts from the center of my chest. I wanted to pound and punch with my arms and shoulders.

Step 3. Release
I got the big pink pillow from the corner of the room, and rested it against the back of the sofa. As I was getting ready to punch and scream, I wondered; “What if someone comes in to the building? What will they think of me if they see me punching a big pink pillow in rage?” That’s when I noticed my old shame. I am ashamed of feeling angry, no less expressing it. “Nice people don’t get angry.” ” I won’t be lovable if I am angry.” And, “Forget it, just let it roll off you,” are the old messages I was replaying to myself. But I am older now, and hopefully somewhat wiser. I know that it is actually healthy to release my angry energy in a safe way. So I did it. I hit the pillow; once, twice, okay, by now it’s about 15 times, and I feel magnificent. I can feel the release in my arms and shoulders. My breathing is labored. I am really working at it. After a few minutes I stop to catch my breath. “Is this all I need to do?” I ask myself. Nope. I’m still mad. So I punch the pillow some more. I clasp both fists together and thump it from the top. Then I punch again and again, right, then left, then right again. By now I don’t care who sees me. I’m feeling fantastic, and I even do a little yelling at this point. The best part is that no one is getting hurt. I am not saying anything sarcastic. I am not yelling or cussing at anyone. I am getting rid of my anger safely.

Step 4. Decide if the anger needs to b expressed to someone.
If so, make sure the message is delivered using appropriate communication. I decide that the phone company being late is not the responsibility of just one person. If I want, I can file a complaint at a later date. At about 3:00, the US West phone instillation man showed up and he was quite pleasant. He couldn’t find 11 Sundial circle. He was helpful, I was pleasant, and my phone was installed in about 15 minutes. The best news is that I didn’t take my anger out on him, and when I finally did get home, I had no stored up anger to displace on my family. Is it possible to pretend that we are not mad? Can we ignore anger and have it go away? Personally, I don’t think so. Anger comes with the human condition. I think the key is to allow the anger. It is important to accept anger as part of the spectrum of human emotions, and express it in ways that do not hurt anyone. I would rather see someone in my family hitting a punching bag, or running up and down the road than sulking, yelling or sniping at me. If all of this sounds a little odd to you, or silly, I’m not surprised.

Frankly, I know of few families who actually condone this sort of behavior. Most of us are taught through the modeling we have received in our families to be either more aggressive or more passive than this model suggests. That’s too bad. If you are interested in trying out this method of anger management let me offer some words of encouragement from William James;

“To change one’s life
Start immediately
Do it flamboyantly.
No exceptions.”

Good luck.