You're sitting there, eyes steel against the backdrop. All you see is red as intense feelings of rage wash over you.
We all get angry. It's natural. It's expected.
Physically, the signs are common across individuals. Your amygdala senses a threat and sends signals to your nerve endings and thereby your muscles to begin preparing. Preparation typically results in an acceleration of heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, and increase in breath rate. Blood flow will be redirected to your arms and legs in preparation for physical action. Catecholamines are released causing a surge of energy. Shortly after adrenaline and noradrenaline are released as your attention narrows onto the cause of the threat.
Interestingly, the physical reaction to the threat occurs long before you may even realize what is happening. This physical preparation is a left over protection mechanism from a time when threats were more immediate and the consequence of inaction more permanent. Think a saber tooth tiger coming at you. You have to be prepared to fight or run and you have to be prepared now.
Nowadays there aren't many Saber Tooth Tigers running around but that amygdala doesn't know that. It can't discern between a real physical threat and a perceived one. So when your spouse raises their voice, the kids are coming at you and your boss is up your ass...well, it's saber tooth time.
Luckily, most of the time, the prefrontal cortex kicks in and stymies actual action.
If we logically know that there aren't tigers running us down, what is it that's really causing anger now?
Realistically, most of the time, it boils down to unmet expectations.
Anger is can be simply defined as a physical manifestation of an internal battle between what your "self" expects and what you've actually received. That can come in many different forms. Remember, your monkey brain cannot tell the difference between a saber tooth tiger and an angry text from your spouse or a bad meeting with your boss. The reaction is the same, prepare to fight.
Now consider that we are inundated with fight messages much of the day and you quickly realize that you are in fight mode much of the day as well.
So what do we do with all of this pent up energy? As a socialized member of society, hopefully, you refrain from biting, punching or attacking someone when you become angry with them.
Instead you "hold back" and calm yourself. Yet physically and unconsciously you are still preparing for the fight. A duality will naturally exist where you have constricted all of the muscles allied with the primal actions you would like to take but must hold back.
And all of this control keeps your body tense, tired and eventually weaker. Emotionally, the anger is building up more and more. And then, it happens to all of us, one day you react and flip out.
In the aftermath you may be left confused, wondering what the hell happened. That person wasn't you. You are always in control. You have it all together. And yet, for that one moment you didn't.
So what can we do about it. Beyond having a confidant that you can speak to, professional or otherwise, you also need a physical release.
Yes, you need to talk through the feelings. But you may also benefit from releasing the emotions in a purely physical manner.
Instead of lashing out, go lift. Get somewhere with heavy objects and go balls out and leave it there in on the gym floor and leave nothing else behind.
That's the purpose behind the workouts I write and the purpose I take when I go into the gym.
When you lift it is neanderthal you-vs.-gentleman you. No one else is there, no one else matters.
It is you battling yourself, giving everything you have for that one glorious session. Behind you, at the door, is the bloody corpse of all you brought with you, the old you that held you back. In front of you, in the mirror is the new you.
Strengthened and hardened from the battle, still shaking from the fury with which you brought down the self limitations and anger.
And in your mind, for that one moment in time, muscles quaking-breathing deep-hands swollen and cracked as you look upon the steel that you wielded; you stand victorious...and spent. Stronger for the experience instead of weakened as those who give way too often to bouts of rage and anger. You have chosen to go Beyond Strength to tap and tame the warrior instinct.
You have become the Gentleman Neanderthal.
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