Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trauma: Release Anger In The Pool

For those people that have been dealt a heavy hand of trauma in their lives, anger is one of the recurring nightmares that they must face. Even with much therapy, there is always that residual anger that keeps coming up. While you can make significant progress in learning to deal with anger and finding ways to release anger, it still shows up.

All too often in our lives, as victims of trauma or child abuse, we were not allowed to show anger for what was happening to us. Even in traumatic moments, the energy is locked within us. The focus at those moments is on survival, not dealing with the feelings and emotions of anger. In the end, unless we deal with the anger that has locked itself deep within us, it will stay hidden below the surface. It is crucial that we find ways to discharge the energy of the anger stored within our bodies. If we do not do this, we will be met with many physical challenges and be as a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

For a long time, I could not allow myself to get angry. My image of anger that I grew up with was an explosive father who just lashed out at the nearest person. During much of my life, I was so afraid of anger that I just held it in. Yes, if you are wondering, it did cause many physical problems from a nervous stomach, to shoulder, neck and back pain and in my case, paralysis. It took me a long time and a very safe place, with a very safe person who allowed me to go in and feel that anger. For some time, it was very difficult and scary and I needed much reassurance.

As time has passed, I have begun to release so much of the deep held anger within my body. It is the anger that is far below the surface and is not always easy to get in touch with. However, it affects me each and every day of my life in all that I do and all those that know me. M

I have gotten to a point where I can readily feel when the anger and stress levels are building up in me. If at that moment, I can begin to recognize these things and work through some of the surfacing anger, it will not nearly have the effect on me that it once did in my life. Of course, the fears that come up with this anger is that it will go to far and that I will lose control. I really have to honor those feelings and respect them so I allow myself to move through this in a safe manner.

Here is an exercise that I have used to help release anger by going to a swimming pool. This is an additional exercise that builds off of a previous blog post that I wrote (see Ways To Release Anger posted on 1/24/10).

Here's what to do:
Find a pool where you can have a little privacy and if you have one in your backyard, that is ideal.

As you begin to prepare yourself to do this exercise, begin focusing on the anger that you are feeling. Try to picture it completely in your mind and even talk about it or write about it if you can, even if this is just to yourself. Whatever works and makes you feel safe, allow yourself to really connect with that anger.

Now, go into the pool and find a level of water that is comfortable for you and where you can get solid footing. As you get your balance and footing in the water, begin to think about that which you are angry. At this point, you can either do the exercise mentioned above (Ways To Release Anger) or you can mix that in with this exercise. Whatever way feels right and works for you is the key.

So as you have your footing solid on the floor of the pool, begin to take your arm and make your hand into a fist, then start punching the water out. Use as much force as you can and really go deep and hard in to the water. Feel all of what is going on from the strength it takes to do this and the anger that you feel in your arm. Feel the pressure of the water pushing back as you punch the water. Continue to do this with one arm and then try it with the other arm. Feel free to alternate back and forth. Be creative in allowing yourself to connect with the anger. Remember, the water is not going to be hurt by you punching it. It is a safe way to release the anger.

Continue doing this until your body begins to feel exhausted and tired. You may be surprised at just how quickly this happens especially if you are really connecting to the anger and allowing that anger to exit through your arms. Before you get completely exhausted, find a comfortable, safe and inviting place to lie or sit down. Allow your body to feel everything that it is feeling from the exhaustion to the anger to the energy and excitement of what you just did. Allow your body to move or tremble or shake in any way that it may need to. Give yourself permission to cry or to scream out if that is what seems like the thing to do. You may even want to go and scream into the water if you're not in a place where you can do this safely. Just let everything come out and feel every bit of it. Notice all that is going on within your body.

Give yourself enough time to just rest and let your breathing and heart rate come down. Make sure you have plenty of time to just rest and relax because after you pushed your nervous system up into the anger phase, you need to give yourself the opposite side of it. It is the reward for going in and doing the hard work that you just did.

If you have a pulse meter, try to check it before you do this exercise and check it after. When I did it, my pulse went from a very high rate of around the 80-90's down to around 60 beats per minute. The more the drop, the more you really got in touch with your anger and released it. A pulse meter is a very good tool in helping you discern what really took place. And if by chance, you didn't get that great of a drop, don't worry - just try the exercise again. The more you connect with this, the more you will be able to impact your body in a very healthy way. Remember, you're not just releasing anger but you are having a positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional well being.

(Above Picture taken at our pool - (c) 09/07/10)

*Read other articles on Mind Body Thoughts Blog

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