For the most part our society teaches us to repress our anger. We are taught from a young age to bottle it up, even if we feel like a beehive being used as a soccer ball. We are also told to “let it go” though how this magical process works is usually left very unclear. Many of us grow up surrounded by angry, cranky adults who advise us to “let it go” while often taking out their frustrations on the little kid-sized beehives around them. And so the anger chain continues until you find your full-grown self honking New York-style at a little old lady who is slow getting off the mark at a green light. There's got to be a better way, you think, internally cringing and hoping that she is too hard of hearing to notice your vehicular rudeness.
Well thankfully there are lots of better ways to process your anger, if you can calm down long enough to stop kicking the roses. My current favorite is a practice called “crazy creature catharsis.” It's simple to do, doesn't require any writing talent, and can also give you some insight into the particular anger monkeys that are hanging off your back.
Here's how you do it:
- Think of a creature that you identify with. It can be mythical, extinct, real, or any combination. Imagine it in your mind and get a good look at it. Note especially its expression and what emotions it might be feeling.
- Write 5 words that describe qualities you admire about this creature.
- Write 5 words that describe qualities that might be less positive or that make the creature vulnerable.
- Write 5 words about how you've been feeling lately.
- These 15 words are your word bank. Starting with the phrase, “I am…” write about your creature using the format that feels most appropriate. For inspiration return to your banked words and the phrase, “I am…”
- When you’re done, visualize yourself as your creature belting out its “I am…” anthem, scream the piece out loudly someplace where you won't wake any babies, or share it with a supportive friend.
I like this exercise because it’s active, creative, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It can allow you to open up and really dig into your angry bits. Doing it helped me to realize that I relate strongly to a fierce T-Rex who often regrets eating his friends and wishes he didn't always have to dance alone.
Its time we all got a little more in touch and friendly with our "grrr..." parts. What creature will you express and discover?