When it comes to anger, there seems to be two types of people who get all the attention- those who have no problems spewing anger everywhere and those who feel it’s best to never display anger. I have a suggestion for the second group – schedule an anger date.
What’s an Anger Date?
An anger date is a scheduled period of time where you talk about in all the things that make you angry. You could do this alone, with another person, or with a crowd of people. However many are participating, you just let it rip. Yell, scream, cry, be demonstrative. The only restrictions are that you can’t hurt yourself or anyone else, you can’t take your anger out on anyone else, and you must stop when the time is up.
Let’s take a look at what this might look like. Say you’re going to do a solo anger date this evening at 6:00 p.m. Maybe you prepare by writing some quick blurbs down so you don’t forget certain things. As the day goes on, your list gets longer. You start to even feel a little excited about it.
At the appointed time, you set an alarm for fifteen minutes and let her rip. You speak your anger into the world. You say how hurt you are and how you didn’t like what happened. Maybe you punch a pillow or two. After a while, you look at the clock and notice that only four minutes have passed so you wind up again. You want to be sure to use all your time. So, you go back over the same ground.
This time maybe it’s even more intense because you had some practice. Or it could be less intense because you let off the first round of steam. However it works is okay. Just keep going until your time is up. If you have to rev the engine to make it go, that’s okay. If you have to fake it little, that’s okay too. Maybe you reach back into ancient history to get enough fuel to keep it going. That’s perfectly fine.
You set aside this time for your emotional expression. It’s a gift. Use it.
If you choose to do it with one other person, the person acts as a witness for you. You act as a witness for him or her. There is no judgment and no feedback – ever. When it’s over, it’s over. The purpose is to be heard. That’s it.
If you do it in a group, either the whole group can go at the same time or half can witness for the other half as they express their anger, then the other half expresses while the rest witness.
We need permission to express. Most of us are told as children, “Be quiet. Don’t do that” when we emote. So we learn to keep it in and be quiet. Everything wants freedom to be real and authentic. Your emotions do too.
Now this doesn’t mean that you get to go out and unleash on people. The Anger Date is about primarily getting things out in a controlled way. As you get better at feeling, you wont need to explode or set a date with your emotions. You’ll just feel and express appropriately as feelings arise. If you’re not there yet, you can try this technique and let me know how it works for you.