I often watch, with curiosity, scenes on TV or in the movies where the person is upset and lets it out by screaming in the car. Pounding on the steering wheel. Emitting a string of profanity that would curl paint at the top of their lungs and, at the end, peacefully returning to the day’s agenda. Even writing those words makes my stomach turn, just a little bit.
Don’t mistake me, I have no judgement about it, honestly. But the thought of engaging in that type of release (because I get that’s what it is), feels like a forbidden fruit. I’m intrigued by it. I can see the value but imagining myself doing it is uncomfortable.
I had this conversation with a friend of mine the other day. She and I are wired differently, and she didn’t even blink an eye before saying that she has used this technique before. Cathartically. She challenged me to try next time I was in my car.
And felt like an idiot.
The first words that came into my mind after my half-hearted yell were “hell no, that’s not happening again.” So far out of my comfort zone I nearly had to adjust to a new time zone. I relayed the experience back to my friend who laughed, and she said I’d probably write about it.
She was right.
Because the experience continued to roll around in my head as I thought about why I was so uncomfortable. First of all, yikes, that sure felt like a loss of control. It wasn’t, but that’s what I experienced. While I continue to work on loosening up, at the core, I’m wound tight. Yelling, screaming at the top of my lungs was, to me, anything but in control.
Second, I’m conflict adverse, I tend to ignore my own anger (a whole other story) and yelling felt like conflict. Yes, even alone in my car. I’ll be honest, I’ve tried it at home before and that didn’t work out so well either. I waited until I was alone in the house and then I tried, came out more like a whimper if I’m being honest.
Despite my own aversion to yelling it out, alone, I accepted that it’s simply not me. I think we often try to force ourselves into a strategy that works for others, but not for us. “Everybody’s doing it,” it not a reason to do something that doesn’t work for you. Culture can press up on us, working to convince us we should give it a try, but none of that matters if it doesn’t work for you.
That said, with respect to the release of negative feelings within yourself, within me, find a strategy.
The first strategy is to recognize the anger is there in the first place. Sitting with it, wresting and determining the source. I’ve learned that it’s often not what I think at a surface level. And then figure out what works for you. Negative feelings are akin to a cancer within our bodies. They take a serious toll on our health. This is not an alternative idea, it is fact. It is critical we find a way to process and release those feelings. Whether you scream in the car, or alone in your house, talk through it, burn sage, go to Taekwondo, or whatever it is that works for you, let it out.
I’ve had the Brene Brown The Call to Courage on Netflix on repeat. And while I am not a stranger to her work, I’m a devotee, I love listening to her talk about vulnerability. Vulnerability is courage. For me, at least, the release of anger is vulnerable. Vulnerable because it’s not an emotion I like or want to admit that I have. It feels “bad,” it’s not, but that’s been the story I tell myself. My life’s desire has been to keep ad promote the peace, so you can image my discomfort with anger. But for mental, spiritual and physical health, when it’s there, I need to talk about it, let it out.
While I still don’t see myself leading a vocal yoga class, or taking up yelling in my car, I do see myself being vulnerable. And although anger isn’t at the top of most people’s minds, or maybe it is, it’s a valid emotion that each of us have to one degree or another. An emotion that needs a release valve, preferably not in the form of incinerating another person in the process. I challenge you to think about where the anger may be coming from and then find a way to let it go. A way that is authentic and boldly you.