What Everyone Should Know about Anger. Part 5: The healthy way to express anger.

 The urge to smash something is a common reaction people have when they are angry.  Many people, men and women, have smashed their phones, when they hear what they don’t want to hear.  Sports people smash their rackets, clubs, hockey sticks and other equipment. This can be expensive, not to mention inconvenient.

In the movie, The Godfather, Michael Corleone’s pregnant sister smashes many dishes as her husband, for sinister reasons of his own, provokes her into a nasty fight.

In the February 2009 issue of Psychology Today there is an article about a smashing business in San Diego, called the Smash Shack, started by Sarah Lavely.  While going through a difficult divorce she found smashing items on her driveway helped her to dissipate her rage.  Now, her business provides a safe outlet for others to handle their frustrations and let go of anger and rage.

Many years ago I saw a documentary done in Japan that showed people going to places where they could break three foot high ceramic vases as well as plates and other dishes.  I saw men hitting old TV’s with sledgehammers.  (I do not remember the name of the program.  If anyone knows of it please tell me.  It certainly impressed me at the time.)

I believe there is something about smashing that allows the cells of the muscles to release.  It is both the action of smashing as well as the sound of smashing that creates the release.  When the cells release, anger dissipates.  Then people are able to let go of their anger rather than hang on to it. Note: if you do fear going completely out of control, do not attempt this. Seek professional help.

One time I was working with a police officer who was containing a lot of rage and feared ‘losing it’ on the job.  We got a large garbage can, lots of bottles, stones and protective eye wear.  The officer found it difficult to start smashing, but once he started, he found it easy to continue.  He experienced the exercise as very therapeutic.

Another time I worked with a woman who was having images of holding a hammer over her finance’s head.  Acting violent was totally out of character for her.  She was horrified that she was having such images and feared she was going crazy. She told me she was frustrated because her finance was taking so long ending his previous relationship.  But when she was with him she wanted their time together to be good so she did not express her frustration to him. She did not realize that she was enraged at him.  Once she acknowledged her anger and found a safe constructive way to express it, the disturbing images went away.

Act rather react.

If you feel anger building up inside you or are having disturbing images, take action, plan a way to allow yourself to smash or do other attacking motions. Have one or more people with you to act as a container.  Just their presence will allow you to express anger without going out of control.

Letting yourself express anger is like preventative medicine.   You are much less likely to spontaneously ‘lose it’ during the day-to-day problems of your life because the anger does not build up.  You are much less likely to harm anyone.

Check out the rules and conditions for expressing anger and rage.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea.

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