Here is a very serious question: how do you balance your desire to be a good person with your desire to sometimes punch people in the face?
Those of us reading Roots of She are likely to know the value of honouring our feelings and cultivating our wholeness as emotional beings. We are also likely to hesitate when we feel like punching someone in the face or throwing their phone out of a moving vehicle. As great as that might feel in the moment, we are a community seeking ways to honour our truest selves and take responsibility for our impact in the world. Yes?
Strong emotional responses like anger, grief or outrage don’t have a reputation for being tidy; they swell and surge and let you know they need OUT. In my experience, if you don’t let them out they’ll either overstay their welcome or find a creative exit — likely causing more damage in the long run. Damage that not only hurts you (in forms of illness & stress) but also the innocent bystander who happens to be next to you when your emotions break the emergency window to get some air.
It can be a bit of mess.
So what do you do if you are in a situation that is challenging what you stand for…but it makes you so upset that you are nowhere near having anything nice or constructive to say?
I know this is a gross metaphor, but imagine someone asks you an important question right when you need to vomit. And you are sitting there, unable to speak until you let it out, but you don’t want to vomit all over this person. Also, you know the question is important and you want your answer to be heard. You’re pretty sure you will not have their full attention when they are distracted by the mess you have just made of their shoes.
So the question is, how do I honour my commitment to express my emotions while doing as little harm to myself and others?
First of all, life is messy sometimes and that is okay. Also, nothing compares to the support of someone you can trust to hold safe (non-judgemental) space for you when the ugly is running wild.
Second, I invite you to also consider writing a really bitchy email.
Draft Folder, Meet All the Stuff I Would Never Actually Send
When I release joy, I often brighten the days of people close to me. Releasing anger is trickier.
I laughed really hard one day talking to my naturopath about how I have this gross perfectionist voice inside me that says but Danette, you’re a life coach…you should have all your shit together and have perfect relationships. My amazing doctor of natural medicine leaned in and said, what do you think it’s like for me when I get a cold?
Of course I don’t expect her to never get a cold, and of course I know she is brilliant at what she does no matter how many colds she gets. Duh. What made me think I was supposed to be perfect anyways? Who wants Ms. Perfectly-Perfect as a life coach?
Getting Past the Whole “Being a Bad Person” Thing
You are not going to send this email. We all get angry and we all have dark thoughts. Just because we might not write them down doesn’t mean we are not capable of thinking them. You can be angry at someone and love them at the same time. Feelings pass, thoughts pass, you will still be lovable you when this blows over.
Give yourself permission to write awful things you would never say. You can write bitchy ugly things and be a good person at the same time. In fact, writing a bitchy email helps you be a better person!
Before you dismiss writing a bitchy email as nothing more than immature whining, check out these grown-up benefits:
- Creative Outlet for Anger Management - expressing your feelings in a way that does no harm to others while exercising your creative writing skills
- Emotional Integrity and Self Awareness – once your words are on the page, it is much easier to see and understand what is underneath your triggered reactions and get to the core of what you need
- More Power and Clarity in your Communication – after you have done your own work you will be able to communicate responsibly and compassionately with others. Or, you will discover that you had the wrong target in the first place. Phew!
Ready to get started? Wait!
IMPORTANT: Do not put anyone’s name in the address field of your email draft. Just don’t. Do not load this gun. We’re here for some healthy expression, clarity and damage control for ourselves and for our relationships. Do not load this gun. This is a draft only. You are not actually going to send this one. Got it? Good. Now we can write.
Who is This Letter For?
Let’s be clear, oh self-aware readers of Roots of She: This letter is all about you. All of it. Even if it begins, “to the miserable ass who destroyed my creative confidence in grade 3″.
You might feel like you need to tell a family member what a jerk they are being, or a whole group of people that it’s not cool to cut in front of someone in a wheelchair to get a better view at a busker festival (for example). You may want to defend your point of view and rant about it like you are giving a closing argument in the biggest injustice trial of all time. But at the end of the day, you are the judge and the jury. You decide what you want to do with this information. You are writing this for you.
I know that it’s hard to give ourselves permission to do this sometimes, because some emotions just aren’t all that popular and celebrated. It’s not fun to be feeling these feelings. But these feelings can be your best friends.
These are the feelings that love you enough to tell you that something needs to change.
They are looking out for you.
You are writing this for you, to be able to hear those messages the hard feelings are showing you. There is a gem in all that vomit.
Your Gross Metaphor du Jour Continues
So, let’s return to imagining your hard-to-deal-with emotion as a whole lot of vomit. Now, imagine that every time you have a wave of this emotional vomit, you get a little prize. Like in boxes of Cracker Jack. Got it? We’ll call this prize the gem. There really is a gift in all this.
Imagine that in order to get to the gem, you must vomit; the gem needs a wave to ride up on. Once it’s all out there, you can find the gem, clean it off and receive the gift of it.
Hey, just like emotions, not all metaphors are pretty.
Getting it Out: Be Dramatic and Don’t Hold Back
Now that you have created a safe place (remember, no names in the address field) it’s time to play up the drama. I mean some serious, betrayed-by-their-bff-teenaged oh-no-you-didn’t kind of drama. I’m talking self-righteous-film-critics-who-only-want-to-showcase-their-obscure-knowledge-in-underground-culture-while-tearing-someone’s-work-apart drama. Anonymous-haters-anywhere-online drama. Whatever archetype works for you and gets you writing, try that on and be scathing. Have fun with clever insults, gold star slapstick and wake up calls. Tell it like it is. Be a brilliant, vicious, messy genius.
Basically, be a total bitch.
Access that part of you that has something to say even though it’s not pretty, and let her speak her mind.
(it’s okay if this is fun, by the way)
You are beind kind to yourself by giving your emotions room to flow. You are giving yourself permission to feel.
Allow yourself a moment to not be perfect. Go ahead and rant, wail and sting, for as long as you need to.
Then take some time to breathe.
You are still the same loveable person, I promise.
After the Bitch-Fest: Finding the Gem
The gem is your real message, the real truth. The gem is what you want to take away from this whole experience. Your gem is personal. Like your dreams, only you can truly crack the code and understand what the symbols mean to you.
Here’s where to go next:
- Sleep on it.
- Re-read your beautiful bitchy email and allow yourself to admire your audacity. Who knew you had it in you?
- Journal with an open mind and curious heart
Writing seems to magically reveal and heal all at the same time. It’s one of my all time favourite self-love practices. Here are some gem-harvesting journalling prompts for you:
- If you let yourself be honest, what are you really angry about?
- What hurts about this?
- What values of yours have been trampled on?
- What is wanting your attention?
- What are you resisting?
- What do you need?
- What actions need to be taken from here?
Self-awareness is a beautiful thing. When your anger and frustration are trying to tell you something, sometimes you need to clear some space so that you can get the real message underneath the drama.
Sometimes, a little rebellion and creativity are called for in the sanctuary.
Let yourself be truly heard. Starting with you.