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“Why do we always talk about such ‘nice’ ways of dealing with anger? When I’m angry, I need to do something physical and not so nice!”



Get that Anger OUT!

In the group class I am currently leading, we have been talking about the importance of learning to identify feelings – the word that describes the feeling (mad, sad, glad, scared) AND where and how you feel it in your body (heaviness in your heart, tension in your jaw, tingling in your arms). We have also been discussing healthy ways to express and deal with feelings.

A woman who I’ve known and worked with in therapy for several years has been very quiet throughout the first nine weeks of class. To my surprise, as we were talking about some of the most noted healthy ways to deal with anger (breathe deeply, set aside time to talk to the person using fair fighting techniques, talking to a friend), from the back of the room, this woman, who I will refer to as Kathy, blurts out in a healthy vocal level: “Why do we always talk about such ‘nice’ ways of dealing with anger? When I’m angry, I need to do something physical and not so nice!” Being like Kathy myself in that I have a pretty intense anger response, I laughed and told her I completely understood where she was coming from. The class offered a few helpful suggestions for dealing with anger in physical ways. I promised her that I would create a list just for her delineating healthy physical ways to deal with anger.

Tonight, sitting at my favorite calming spot, the swing on my second-story deck that looks out into the sky and newly budding trees of the woods behind my house, I saw a dinosaur in the clouds. Its ribs were showing, it’s head rather distorted, and it’s tail very, very long. I thought of taking a picture for my grandkids, but my phone was upstairs charging and I didn’t want to move from my swing. Wish I had. I guess it was actually a dissipating jet stream, but I thought it was cool and remembered seeing some really cool cloud pictures recently online. I don’t know for sure what that has to do with anything, but all of a sudden I decided I needed to make Kathy’s list.

I did the very scientific thing and Googled, “Healthy ways to physically express anger,” “Physical expression of anger,” “Ways to work out your anger,” etc. I found ONE little article that had four lame little suggestions. Everything else focused on… yep, the standard things - breathe deeply, set aside time to talk to the person using fair fighting techniques, and talking to a friend.

Too passive for folks like Kathy and me who need to find a physical outlet when we are really ticked off and want to scream at someone. Of course, that option is just not okay (which I worked really hard to try to convince Kathy of)! Because I couldn’t find anything worthwhile on line, I sat down and to my own surprise, came up with this list in just minutes!

Enjoy it. Share it with your friends (and family)! And use it!!!!

Kathy’s List of Ways to Express Anger in a Physical Way that Won’t Harm Anyone

1. Scream – where no one can hear you.

a. Scream into your pillow.

b. Go into a closet, shut the door and scream.

c. Sit in your car with the windows up and scream.

d. Then get a cold glass of Water and cool down.

2. Do an ANGER dance!

a. Be like Goldie Hawn in Housesitter and have yourself a good old “expressive” dance! shake what your mama gave ya!

b. Jump up and down like you’re on a trampoline – and scream while you’re doing it!

c. Actually jump on a trampoline if you have one handy!

d. Then turn on a love song and have a good cry.

3. Exercise … yes, move your groove thing!

a. Walk or run – outside or inside on the treadmill.

b. Get a kickboxing DVD and kick some arse!

c. Do that strenuous type of yoga – you’ll get the energy out and relax yourself all at the same time!

d. Then lay on the cool floor and have a laughing fit, remembering it’s probably not so serious after all.

4. Find a dog…

a. Chase it in circles… big circles, small circles…

b. Play tug of war with it.

c. Have a growling contest with it.

d. Then, pet the little friend and you’ll feel much better!

5. Get one of those old toys that kids practice doing hair on…

a. Comb the mess out of it with all your might!

b. Pull that hair!

c. Tell the mannequin head all about your anger.

d. Then listen to what it says back to you…

6. Stand in front of the mirror…

a. Tell yourself what the matter is.

b. Use foul language.

c. Make horrible, mean, ugly faces at yourself.

d. Then laugh with yourself.

7. Have an imaginary conversation with the person or situation you’re mad at…

a. Exaggerate the details so they/it sound really horrible.

b. Tell them about how wonderful you.

c. Remind them how valuable you are to them.

d. Then find some rational thought and calm yourself down!

8. Go outside…

a. Pull some weeds.

b. Throw some twigs.

c. Stomp some dirt.

d. Then look at the clouds and find a fun shape. (Maybe that’s the connection to the dinosaur I saw in the sky.)

9. Make some angry art…

a. Watercolor a dark scene.

b. Draw out the situation you’re mad about.

c. Write an angry poem.

d. Then write yourself a love note.

10. Write the “THERAPEUTIC Letter!”

a. Spill it all out on paper! (Do NOT send this letter!)

b. Use red ink or red font color.

c. Use whatever language feels best.

d. Then thank the person or situation for the lessons you’ll eventually glean from this.

Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.

www.connie@conniestapletonphd.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/connie.stapleton.923

Twitter: @cstapletonphd

LinkedIn: Connie Stapleton, PhD

YouTube: Connie Stapleton

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When I was a young teenager, I had serious anger issues. I never hurt anyone else but I often took my anger and frustration out on my own body in absolutely unhealthy ways (self-harm, binging, starving, staying awake for days, etc). The only thing that ever helped even a little to cope with those intense feelings of anger and frustration, mostly frustration at my life, my body, and my limitations, was to wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it whenever I felt like doing or saying something harmful to myself. I found it also worked when I wanted to give someone else a good slap!

It's tough for people who have a hard time coping with intense amounts of these bad feelings. Just talking it out or taking deep breaths sometimes just doesn't cut it. :P

Great list!

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Folks.....Dr. Stapleton is a real treasure.

I had the supreme pleasure to have her perform my psych eval while on my path to my wls.

Sitting and chatting with her was a wonderful way to spend an hour. I only wish we had occasion to spend more time chatting. That hour with her helped me find myself.

Her pre-work videos struck home some ideals and tenets that have proven themselves to be truth.

@@Connie Stapleton PhD , I am very glad to see you here. You helped me in a big way. The wonderful people in this place have helped me on many days since.

Do your thing and help us find our way so we can do ours.

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I was raised by an angry father and had intense anger at times when i was young. The best therapy was a long walk. I also think regular exercise and physical activities ( hiking, riding) are awesome.

I have always felt that the screaming, crying, punching pillows actually contributed to and activated the " fight" response so was not helpful to me.

I am not sure how it happened, but my anger is way reduced now. I feel much more peace which is such a blessing.

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I recently heard an NPR story about boxing gyms class for women that had children who committed suicide. They had special classes just for these women who were using the boxing as a form of therapy. I would think that it was a way to get their anger out.

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I recently heard an NPR story about boxing gyms class for women that had children who committed suicide. They had special classes just for these women who were using the boxing as a form of therapy. I would think that it was a way to get their anger out.

I heard that same story and it was very impactful. Wasn't it that their children had overdosed? It was a few weeks ago but well worth the listen.

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I overreact to my angry feelings all too often. I, personally, love to text out exactly what I feel inside, and just send that right on over to myself. It gets it all out and it's faster than writing on paper. I'm very private so I don't like to share my anger with outsiders, and this is the perfect way to get it out, and once it's out...i start to get myself back together mentally, and move on. These are great suggestions.

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