Ok, now I’m punching pillows (Anger-management Adventures)

One of the emotions I still haven’t found a good way to relate to is my anger. For most of my adult life, my way of handling anger was simply to suppress it and pretend it didn’t exist at all. Getting angry meant that someone else had power over me, someone else was able to control and impact me—and I didn’t want to allow and admit that. So I pretended to never get angry—not only to others, but to myself as well.

Now there are blessings in disguise, and there’s also such a thing as a curse in disguise. I’m great at sales. The downside of that is that I’m also great at selling myself stuff. In this case, the believe that I’m not angry. It wasn’t only that I pretended to not be angry to others, I made myself belief to not be angry.

But you know how it goes with emotions: If you suppress them, whatever they’re meant to express comes out in other ways. In my case, it’s a what I call my OLD TESTAMENT JAW. My jaw becomes very tense. Painfully tense. Out of control tense.

I’m a big believer that our body can be a great source of wisdom and insight. And so I figured this tension is trying to tell me something. I spent around two painful hours trying to listen to what it had to say—and eventually (re-)learned an important lesson, that I had conveniently forgotten.


Let’s talk about my suppressed anger. So anger continues to be one of the most challenging emotions for me to get back in touch with. I’ve been on this journey for the past year or so of trying to rediscover my feelings and start feeling my emotions versus just thinking them and analyzing them. And there’ve been many feelings and emotions that have been challenging and that I had fallen completely out of touch with and was not quite comfortable getting in touch with, feelings like nervousness, anxiety, fear, grief.
[00:00:36]Many many feelings that I had abandoned and slowly, but truly have been rediscovering anger. Surprisingly has been one of the most challenging ones I knew growing up as a kid, I was very angry. And so I knew that anger was part of my personality. It’s part of my drive is aggression is when something feels overwhelming when I’m against the odds, when I’m supposed to lose this, something inside of me that gets activated that rocket fuels me towards the thing I’m afraid of.
[00:01:18]And part of that rocket fuel is my inner rage and anger if channel correctly. But. I’ve also recognized over the past months that I fallen completely out of touch with my anger and I’m sort of afraid of it. And as I’ve started practicing daily and being present. And trying to rediscover my anger and become friends with my anger, not let it control me, overwhelm me and dictate my life and actions, but also not pretend that it doesn’t exist.
[00:01:51] Suppress it, push it away, ignore it, enhance, feel superior to it as if it is not part of who I am. And then I pay the price for that. There’s no such thing as suppressing an emotion for free. We all pay a price. One thing that I learned recently is that when I get angry and I suppress my anger, it manifests itself physically in the sensation of a tense jaw.
[00:02:23] I’ve talked about this a couple of times. I might talk about this many, many more times until I fully grok this, but there’s this. Incredibly uncomfortable feeling of my entire jaw and all my teeth being so, so tense. And once I get into that cycle, it gets worse and worse and worse. And funny enough, I don’t even know how I do it.
[00:02:45]If you told me to tense up my jaw right now, I mean, I guess I have some ways of doing it, but I don’t know how I do it subconsciously and there’s almost no way out of it for me. Once I get into that flow. But I’ve started to learn to welcome that and say, thank you to that. As a teacher recently, I had a very intense case of this suppressed anger.
[00:03:12] It’s such a level and it overwhelmed me. It actually made me really, almost wanting to give up at some point because I was. I was just at the end of my rope. I didn’t know what to do to fix it. So here’s what happened. I started noticing tension in my jaw one day. And when that started, I asked myself, Ooh, I guess I’m.
[00:03:37] Angry. I am upset with something. I feel tenseness in my jaw. That’s typically the single force suppressed anger. Okay. Steli deep breaths. Excepted. Ask yourself, what are you angry about right now? What are you angry about? Just think it and then deal with it. Nothing was coming up. And I thought, well, okay.
[00:04:05] Let’s, let’s look through your calendar. Let’s analyze the last couple of days. What has been happening in your life? And I was completely empty my mind blank. I thought, wait a second. The last week has been fantastic. I am spending so much time in present thought. I am reading beautiful books. I’m going on long walks along the river.
[00:04:33] I’m meditating daily. I’m working out, I’m sleeping plenty of hours. I have had no stress at work. I’ve worked on some really cool projects. I had good calls, just all in all this week has been fantastic. There’s not a single thing that happened. I didn’t even interact with anybody really. How can I be angry?
[00:04:55] And then I started getting a little pissed that I’m angry. I’m like, how, how is it possible? I I’ve had such a fantastic week where the fuck is the suppressed anger coming from. I mean, if I’m, if I’m angry right now, I’m duped. How will I survive real life? This has been such a quiet, such a peaceful week.
[00:05:16] How is it possible that I’m angry right now? And then I said, shake it off. Just relax. It is what it is. You feel the tension, your jaw, there must be something. And then there’s another voice in me. That’s like, no, there’s nothing. There is nothing. This was going on for about two. Days two or three days and it’s gone.
[00:05:37] It has gotten worse and worse and worse. And I tried a number of things. I tried to journal. I tried to do a body meditation where I lay down, I put on some music and I scan through my body. And then I scan to the point of my jaw that’s tense. And I try to be completely open to that feeling, visiting that feeling just fully being present for it.
[00:06:02] And oftentimes when I did this exercise within seconds, a thought popped up and I read it, Ooh, this is it. This is the reason, this is the scenario. This is the interaction. This is the reason why you have XYZ emotion. But when I did it this week about the suppressed anger tension in my jaw, nothing I’m like doing the meditations.
[00:06:25] I’m doing all the inner work. Nothing is coming up and I’m getting a bit desperate. No four days into it, I wake up and now I’m in desperation because I couldn’t sleep well. And my jaw is so tense. Jesus Christ, I’m suffering. This is getting ridiculous. It’s out of hand. And I’m also a bit desperate because I don’t know what to do.
[00:06:53] And in a quiet moment, I sit down and I think. And I realized, okay, yesterday when I did the body meditation, I did the meditation because I wanted to flee the feeling I wanted to resolve the feeling. I didn’t meet my suppressed anger with full presence and acceptance, like saying, I am visiting you. I am here to feel you fully.
[00:07:27] And no matter how much pain you want to, cause I’m not moving. I’m watching you. I’m feeling you I’m accepting you versus zooming in on that emotion or that tension in my jaw, in this case, thinking I’m going to zoom into the jaw and then quickly, hopefully there’s going to be a thought and that will leave lead to a resolution, which then will make this feeling.
[00:07:51] I can go away where I’m. Not really present, I’m doing the meditation, but I want to run away from the feeling. I want to fix the feeling I want to solve the problem. I’m there because I want this thing to go away. I’m not there because I’m ready to listen. I’m not ready to fully be there for that feeling present for it, open to whatever it means.
[00:08:20] And however long it takes. I wasn’t. So I thought, okay, today I’m going to, I’m going to go and do a body meditation, but this time I am not going to set the goal to fixing the feeling, making it go away. I’m not going to even try to understand why I have suppressed anger. All I’m going to do is visit my tense jaw with all my consciousness and all my awareness.
[00:08:51] All I’m going to do is I’m going to lay there and give it all my attention. Focus time. I’m going to think about it as if it’s one of my inner children as if it’s a wounded soldier in my army. And what I’m doing and about to do is to go visit. With all the time and all the presents and all the love and all the care in the world, not in a hurry to fix, not in a hurry, to resolve, not in a hurry to analyze or understand, just be there for it.
[00:09:27] Just feel it fully. So go to the room. I laid down. I put on the music, I meditate a scan through my entire body. Eventually end up in my jaw with my awareness and I visit. And it feels terrible, terrible, so tense, so uncomfortable, but I continued to breathe and I continue to focus and I try to be open for it.
[00:10:03] And here’s what happened over the next one and a half to two hours. I was firmly on the struggle bus. It was a struggle. It was not pretty, it was brutal. I, I was on and off moments where I was really loving awareness, full present consciousness. Opened just feeling it fully. And that moments where.
[00:10:34] My mind was running away and thinking, okay, you’ve been doing this long enough. It feels really shitty. I’m starting to get pain in the jaw. When can this go away? What is it? What, what was I angry about? Just come up with a story, come up, try to figure it out. What is it? And then I would catch myself, my inner dialogue running away from the problem and the pain, and it would go.
[00:10:56] Relax, take a deep breath and just visit, just be here. Just feel it. Eventually I had this sensation and desire to bite down on my teeth and I thought, all right, just follow that instinct. And so I’m biting my teeth real hard and it feels good. And I go, Ooh, interesting. And I continued to press my bite harder and harder and harder.
[00:11:31] And I think, Ooh, that feels oddly satisfying. And I continue to bite down harder and harder and harder. And now I’m starting to get a little word now. It feels not okay anymore. It feels if I continue biting down harder. Maybe I’ll break a tooth. So this is not a healthy place. And we’re now biting so hard.
[00:11:59] This is not good. This is not healthy. This will lead to problems. It doesn’t feel, it feels like I’m doing something bad to myself. And as I realized and recognized. This fear popping up this anxiety that, Ooh, what’s that thing that my body wanted to do biting down real hard. That felt so good at the beginning.
[00:12:18] Now it’s running away from me and it’s going to a place that’s not good that it’s dark, that might lead to pain or problems. I caught myself again and I said, Well, if it is that way, so be it. What’s the big deal. If I break a tooth, I’ll just go to the dentist. Just fuck it. Just surrender to it.
[00:12:39] Trust and surrender. Let go of all control. Just trust the wisdom of your body. Just let this thing play out. Don’t overthink. Don’t worry. What’s the worst that can happen. Well, what if I injure my jaw? Well, then they’ll go to a doctor. There’s going to be a fixed, just let go. And so I continued and honestly it sucked, it was not a pleasant feeling.
[00:13:09] This was the, the most unpleasant buddy meditation I’ve ever done in my life. Also the longest where, I’ve done this many times now with feelings where I thought, Oh, I don’t. W why am I so tense or there’s something in my body doesn’t feel right? And then I sit down and do a body emotional meditation, and usually within 10, 15, 20 minutes of presence with the body and the feeling, boom, an insight pops up and things resolve.
[00:13:38] And I get refreshed, but not this time, this time I w it felt to me like, 10 hours of agony and pain and tension and suffering with no resolve and no resolution in sight, but I just kept going. I just kept reminding myself, just be present, stay open, feel it fully. Don’t run away from it. And that’s what I did.
[00:14:13] And. Eventually after we turned out to be almost two hours, I wasn’t keeping track of time. It was laying there with closed eyes, but I checked later, but I feel two hours of laying there in discomfort. And in struggle, I had this impulse in my body that said, okay, it’s enough. Enough is enough. It’s enough.
[00:14:39] Get up. And then I didn’t want to follow that impulse immediately because I didn’t know if it was my mind or truly my body. And I said, all right, I’ll stay a little longer and I’ll really pay attention. Am I now running away from it or have a really come to the end of this process and my body, the wisdom of my body’s telling me now it’s time to get up and, finalize this.
[00:14:59] So wait a little longer. And then I got another strong impulse from my body and I said, all right, I guess I’m ready to get up. So open my eyes. And in my mind this session, I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t lead to a solution, but it was what it was. That was what my mind had determined. But then something funny happened.
[00:15:22] I got out of bed and as I was getting out of bed, I realized, wow, I’m getting out of bed with a lot of energy. I walk out of the bedroom and I start pacing up and down my living room. And I start thinking, yeah, anger, rage. There’s power in that something, when I get angry, anger for me is the thing inside of myself that is protecting me.
[00:15:46] It’s a protector to defender. You need to allow your anger to protect yourself, to defend yourself. You can’t. Not give it attention. And as I’m thinking these thoughts, I realize that I’m pacing up and down my living room with quiet, immense intensity. And my like my whole body feels super energized and I think, wow, where is all this energy coming from?
[00:16:15] This is weird. I feel kind of good if you’re kind of powerful. I don’t know why I feel this way. I didn’t feel that way at all. During the meditation. And thought and expected to be drained from all of this, but it was energized. And then I thought, Ooh, what do I do with all this energy? And a thought popped up in my head, a memory a couple of days ago, I’d gone to kickboxing and I went to a sparring session in a spart with about 10, 15 people.
[00:16:49] One of those people was somebody that was sparring in a very awkward style. That I had a difficult time figuring out he was going a bit too hard, which was irritating me on top of me not being able to figure him out. And his style was awkward. He was going very hard. So it was very tense with him.
[00:17:06] And I was struggling in my session with him to figure him out and to control him during that struggling sparring exchange. I threw a lazy kick and I hit my own big toe. On his knee. And I hurt myself and injured myself quite badly. And the moment that I hit him in this kind of awkward bad angle, and I hurt myself, he saw that and a big grin popped up in his face and he giggled and said, did I hit you on the liver or something?
[00:17:40] And I remember that in that moment. I had this to NAMI does wave of rage and anger in me. And I wanted to kill the dude. I wanted to murder him, but I instantly suppressed that wave. And I told him, no, I hit myself on the toe. I pushed away all feelings. I became ice cold, dead inside, and I continue. To spar with him making it my mental challenge, not to show him how much I was hurting, not to give him any indication of how hurt I was.
[00:18:23] And when the session was over, I spoke to myself and I told myself, this is an important lesson. This dude. Is your teacher and he taught you some really important lessons. I’ve been a couple of times in fighting in weird spots where I’m stressed and I throw lazy kicks and it’s never good. So I made a mental note, no more lazy kicks.
[00:18:45] You’re going to work on this, put yourself under a situational high pressure and make sure you don’t throw lazy technique. This was the moment where it clicked for me. I’ll never do this again. I’ll work on this. And also. He gave you a lesson on how to not show when you’re hurt. You showed it too much.
[00:19:03] That’s why he was laughing. You do work on that, play your carts closer on your chest. And so within a couple of seconds, this all happens in a couple of microseconds. I had talked to myself, analyze the situation, taken up the lessons learned and made this a positive experience in my mind. And then I forgot about it.
[00:19:27] I was hurt every day, my toe, I don’t know if we got broken or what the hell happened to it, but it was really hurting every single day. And actually it took a long time for it to get better. But I forget about, I had forgotten about that entire exchange until that moment where I’m pacing up and down my living room, after my suffering, struggling, buddy meditation, it, that memory popped up and I realized, fuck.
[00:19:55] That was it. That was my suppressed anger. In that moment. I was so angry at the dude, but I didn’t accept my anger. I hate being angry at people, like accepting that I got mad at him. There’s something about that. That makes me feel like a loser. If I’m honest, makes me feel like anybody could piss me off. I feel so small.
[00:20:25] Like somebody that is not in control of his emotions and like somebody that can be easily influenced by adversaries. And I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like the idea of giving that person power over my life, over my emotions. That’s why I learned to suppress my anger about people and analyze it and make it all positive and practice and lessons learned and all that good shit.
[00:20:53] And that’s fine. That’s valuable that has served me in my life, but what’s not serving me is to pretend that I never got angry and to never acknowledge that anger, feel it fully, you know what I did afterwards, this is really embarrassing. I hate to share this because it really doesn’t fit my self image and the public image that I like to have about myself.
[00:21:19] I like to be cool. Calm, collected. I like to be above some of the humanity that I’m truly actually part of. But afterwards, when I had that realization, that that was where the suppress the anger came from. I asked myself, what could I do to deal with that anger, to let it out, to fully feel it? And I thought, well, I’ve seen this in movies where people with anger issues sometimes have to scream into a pillow or something.
[00:21:48] And I thought, well, this is dumb. I would never do such a dumb thing, like screaming to a pillow. I would feel silly. Maybe it’s time for me to feel a little sad. Maybe it’s time for me to do something that does not feel comfortable and experiment. And so I went into the bedroom again and I took a pillow and I screamed into it with all my might and power.
[00:22:12] And then. I looked around the room and I thought, I don’t know if this feels better or not. And I thought, well, try it again, do it a second time. Do it a little bit better. And I screamed into the pillow again. And then I looked up and I thought, if I’m honest, I don’t think this is doing anything. And then I looked at that pillow on the bed and I thought, what if I punched the pillow?
[00:22:35] And I thought, what another dumb idea. Something that I would laugh at as silly and beneath me, this is not intellectual punching a pillow. What am I a five-year old? And then I proceeded to do exactly that. I imagined that person, that lovely man, this is not his fault, but that dude’s face. And I punched the pillow violently.
[00:23:00] I actually elbowed the pillow violently and I did it with violence in mind. I just accept my humanity in that moment, that in the moment where I got hurt and he laughed what was inside my heart was violence. It’s part of being a human it’s part of being me at least doesn’t mean that I need to let that out, or I can’t control that.
[00:23:25] That’s not what I’m saying, but denying it is false. It’s a lie. It’s not being better. It’s being worse. It doesn’t make me a wiser human being to deny my true feelings just makes me a coward. That’s all, you’re not above anybody. And so I elbowed that pillow a number of times violently, and I felt amazing afterwards.
[00:23:57] I’m afraid to say it. I’m not proud of it. I’m not, not proud of it. It’s just a fact. Now, if you told me this a year ago, I would have not believed you. And if you’d given me the advice to do this, I would have not followed that advice. I would have thought this honestly is beneath me. I’m beyond these kind of silly techniques, but I’m not time not above or beyond it.
[00:24:25] I’m not past it. Not at all. It truly is really was very, very, very satisfying. It really was, and it was relief. There was relief. It was releasing. And all of the sudden, within the next hour, all that tension in my jaw was gone. I couldn’t believe it. It felt so good. And I had a lot more energy. All of a sudden, again, the last couple of days, they had been a drag.
[00:24:57] It had been difficult to get the motivation to do anything. Then all of a sudden I had all the motivation, all the inspiration and all the energy I needed, and I was relaxed. I was in flow and all it took was to do the very unpleasant in this case, in a work to truly discover the source of my suppressed anger.
[00:25:23] So a lot more to learn, learn here, folks. I am an absolute beginner. It’s obvious, I guess, but if you. Are in touch with your anger and rage or with your suppressed anger. And H if you gone through any learning journey, there are books or philosophies or personal stories that have helped you. Would you do me a favor and share them with me?
[00:25:48] I am a student, a white belt, but I am committed to become an ally of my anger. Friends with my anger and rage and make it a better part of who I am in my life versus put you to running away from it, afraid of it. Like I’ve been in the past 20 years.

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