Posted by Noa on February 27, 2000, at 17:38:09
In reply to Re: releasing anger...how?, posted by CarolAnn on February 27, 2000, at 10:20:41
Carol Ann, it used to be thought that the best thing is to release anger. But now it is recognized that it is not universally helpful. Because sometimes, when anger is released, it can feel out of control and uncontained. I think the older idea was very psychoanalytic, the idea of pent up anger, like steam building up, needing to be let out or else the whole thing will blow. For many people, releasing the anger would be disastrous because they don't have the ability to process it and then calm down. And the idea of "releasing" anger gives the false impression that somehow you will purge it from your mind and body. Untrue.
Instead, think of ways to think about or process bits and peices of issues related to anger. Exercise can help channel some of the energy and stress that can be experienced as rage, too.
As for the little things that set you off, perhaps it would be helpful to brainstorm ahead of time things that help to deal with these little situations, to prevent the blow ups. For me it helps to try to be aware of things that set me off, to try to anticipate that I might get angry or frustrated in those situations, and to prepare myself to deal with them or avoid them if possible. For example, I try to notice my mood, energy level now before it is too late, before I am cranky in the long line at the pharmacy. I'll remove myself from the situation ("If I go to that one more store, even tho I am ok now, I have a feeling I'll be exhausted halfway through and then I'll pass my point of no return, so I better head home now and leave this for tomorrow"). Yes, perhaps the meltdown in the store is related to my feeling powerless in my life which is related to my feeling angry and helpless about this that and the other thing. But all of that isn't so helpful. What is helpful is to learn how to manage it all, and in truth what is more important than the remote connections with psychodynamic stuff is the little ways I learn to read my body, my mood, what stresses me, what helps me. Much more useful to me than any releasing of anger.
Just my two cents worth (of which the ins. co pays 60%, minus deductible)