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Processing Intense Anger - Lifting

Heavy metal music optional. A part of the Radical Humans Series

Photo by Victor Freitas

Sometimes when you’re really angry (which, you’ll want to read What Lives Underneath Anger to understand better) you just gotta blow off some steam. My favorite way to do this is of course The Push. But that requires a group of men. So sometimes, when you don’t feel like being around people and you need to just move some energy, the simplest thing to do is to go to the gym and lift some heavy weights. Here’s the key - lift something heavy enough to gas you out, but not so heavy that you can’t keep good form. I mean, that’s just basic gym advice. After you hit the gym, I highly recommend that you do some car-tharsis to release whatever’s left. In my experience, there’s a vocal component to anger that’s a little hard to fully let go of in the gym unless you have a totally private space (or a space that encourages screaming at the top of your lungs ><).

What we’re doing here is discharging the physiology and hormone load of anger. Anger is a protective emotion that flares up when we feel powerless and need to defend ourselves. So when we’re lifting, we want to focus on the body parts that would typically be used to defend ourselves, which is mostly the upper body. Anger usually lives in the back of the neck, the shoulders, the arms, the chest, and the hands. Basically the middle of your torso and up. So you’re looking for exercises that allow you to use these muscles in a defensive manner. Primarily pushing movements, punching movements, and to a lesser extent pulling movements. The simplest is of course pushups if you don’t have access to weights or want to move some energy right away without going to the gym

Here’s the catch - sometimes, the anger is there to protect your more vulnerable emotions rather than to protect you from any perceived outside threat. If you’re uncomfortable feeling sadness, a common pattern, then the anger will flare any time you start feeling sad. Unfortunately no amount of discharging the energy will get you out of this loop if you don’t pause for long enough to allow yourself to make contact with the sadness.

Once you’ve discharged the energy (or if you’re stuck in a loop) you’re ready to drop in deeper, with What Lives Under Anger.

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