Our society is terrified of feelings. And I think it’s a pretty global phenomenon, being that I’m fairly well-cultured and –traveled. Obviously some societies tolerate or encourage certain forms of self-expression more than others, but where are we actively taught skills for getting the angries out? Where are there community bottle-smashing ranges as common as tennis courts or swimming pools?
Abuse is rampant, creating a vicious cycle. People suffer silently, because most people do not want to deal with the depths of pain and suffering caused by abuse. And so people who have been abused stuff the feelings deep inside – swallowing the rage, fear, and hurt.
Society has a much higher approval for addictive and self-destructive behavior than it does for something like yelling raw and loud and fierce in the middle of the street, at nobody in particular, seemingly about nothing in particular. That kind of authentic self-expresison just scares the bejesus out of people – probably because it awakens in them the seemingly never-ending tunnel of rage and grief that many people have buried deep down in the pit of their souls.
Here are some steps that I suggest for empowering yourself enough to get the angries out in safe and healthy ways, no matter what other people think. I want to acknowledge that the more rural one’s environment, and the less money one has, the more challenging it will be to access help. But see it as a challenge. Get creative. Use the internet. Find free options. Offer to trade your service for a service you need. And keep in mind that while any number of your attempts may not work, that’s part of the process of life. Keep on keeping on, and know that you are worth the effort. You get one shot at life. Make it count so that you can enjoy the fuck out of it.
Find like minded people.
Search the internet for support groups. Read books that open your mind, heart, and soul. Join local or phone-based 12-step groups. Look for art therapy and music therapy programs at your local community college. Call the women’s center of the local university (even if you’re a guy) and ask for resources. Follow the trail: When someone seems cool, safe, and knowledgeable, ask for additional resources.
People who go to therapy are not dumb or crazy. They are smart and courageous. People who don’t deal with their shit are foolish. Look for psychotherapists who are loving and feel safe. Trust your gut. Keep looking till you find someone who makes you feel as if you have just come home to yourself. Again, follow the trail. Ask people you trust about good therapists. Remember that you may end up with a few bad therapists before you find a good one. It’s good to have a support system (see #1) in place as you embark on the journey looking for a therapist.
Take baby steps acknowledging and expressing your emotions.
Once you get your support network in place, start getting your angries out, one baby step at a time. Write about your feelings, then maybe read your journal to someone you trust. Create music and art that express your feelings. Dance. Drum. Study self-defense, even if only verbal boundary-setting workshops. Go with a safe friend to a part of the beach or forest where there are not lots of people, and yell and stomp your feet. Get a yellow-pages phone book and the black foam insulator for pipes. Using the insulator, whack the shit out of the yellow pages (simultaneous yelling optional) – it makes a satisfying cracking noise.
Get your energy moving through and out of your body. Practice yoga. Run. Dance. Take up fencing. Play basketball. Row. Swim. Learn kick-boxing. If pain prevents you from doing any of these, do modified forms that are safe and comfortable for your body, or find physical activities that accommodate your limitations. Never push into your pain zones, because that will compromise your ability to heal. For more information about how to dance safely, even in bed, check out these videos on the Dancing with Pain method.
It takes tremendous courage to express ourselves authentically in this society. Pat yourself on the back for every step you take towards expressing pain and anger in healthy and safe ways.
Pre-order the Dancing with Pain audio class series, and get ready to dance in the comfort of your home!