Has This Ever Happened To You?
It was a beautiful California day with the sunshine bouncing off of everything. One of those days when you have a spring in your step and everything feels all right in the world. I pulled out of a gas station, listening to my favorite music, glanced to my left, saw that it was all clear and proceeded to turn right onto the road. Instantly, a car frantically started beeping its horn. Where the heck did they come from? I could’ve sworn there wasn’t anyone when I glanced to my left. As I pulled up to the red light, the frantic driver pulled up next to me, rolled down his window and screamed, “ What the heck is wrong with you, don’t you know how to drive? Didn’t you see me?” I turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry, but I really didn’t see you.” His face looked flustered as he blurted out, ” Well next time be careful, you could’ve gotten hurt you know.” I thanked him for his concern and proceeded to drive. Let me confess something here, when confronted by an out of control motorist, I am quite capable of giving it back (New York style). But that day, my anger was nowhere to be found. In fact, I was quite happy to be without the racing heart, frustrated thoughts and knot in the pit of my stomach feeling. It felt quite freeing not to have to carry Mr. Frantic Driver’s anger in my body and mind for the rest of the day.
The truth is that it is quite impossible to go through our daily lives without encountering anger from others or within ourselves. Everyone has different reactions to it. Some people try with all their might to avoid it, while others seem like a magnet for it. Whichever category you happen to fall into, the best gift you can give yourself is to understand your relationship to it. When you understand your anger, it cannot poison your life. Recalling a patient of mine, Ms. S, the poison took the form of a physical ailment. Ms. S came into therapy complaining about painful stomach aches. She had gone the route of the medical field and no one could give her an explanation for her ailment. Frustrated and feeling hopeless, she decided to give therapy a try. Ms. S was the type of person that everyone turned to help for. Growing up in an alcoholic family, she became the problem solver and the peace maker. Because she carried the burdens of her family, Ms. S’s needs went unnoticed. She stuffed her rage underneath a helpful persona and picked a career as a nurse to continue healing her wounded family. She was a successful nurse who was well liked. Ms. S was unaware of her anger; she viewed herself as a positive cheerful person. But, underneath her pleasant exterior was a mountain of anger, caused by a childhood environment where she was never able to express her feelings. She learned to stuff her feelings deep inside which eventually led to her depression and ailing stomach. Ms. S’s abusive childhood was internalized and became toxic because being a “nice girl,” she had nowhere to put her rage except back into herself. Through her courageous work in therapy, she was able to get in touch with her rage, hurt and disappointment in a safe environment and express it. Her justified anger was a healthy response to her childhood wounds. She learned to stop her old patterns of self-sacrifice and deprivation and start saying no, setting limits and putting boundaries in place to protect her time, energy and emotional needs.
Below are some questions to help you explore any underlying anger that you might have:
- Are there emotions that you have been repressing for a long time that are causing a low-grade depression?
- Is there anger that lies very close to the surface and erupts with damaging effects to yourself and others?
- Do you suffer from a wound of such magnitude that you remain dominated by your anger?
- Do you find yourself continuously disappointed in yourself and others?
- Do you carry unspoken words inside because you are afraid to tell people how you truly feel, for fear of losing them?
When we can acknowledge our anger, understand its origins, see its effect on our lives, then we create the power to break free of the limitations of our past. Explorations of your past wounds can be looked at as challenges or opportunities for growth and development.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Visit my website to guide you through your journey. Email me if you would like more information on how I work with actor’s psychological issues in groups and individually to help them discover and release internal blocks to their creativity and ability to live happy lives.
Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. One of her specialties is working with artists in the Entertainment Industry. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice,visit her website.Follow her on Twitter and Facebook
Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.