by Charlotte Melki, 24th October 2022
How is your day going? Is there something on your mind? Has someone or something pissed you off? Are you still thinking about that thing that happened three days ago that really annoyed you, that you didn’t do or say anything about? Is there something inside of you that wants to get out? And scream? Good…. because I am here today to talk to you about anger.
But let's get something straight, I am not here to talk to you about how to "manage" your anger. Because you can’t. You can’t always choose how you feel. You can, however, choose how long you decide to entertain that feeling for and what you will make of it. Because, although we cannot decide to never feel anger (and we have very little control over what will ignite it), how long we choose to dance with anger for is entirely up to us.
Let me start with this: no emotion comes from the outside world, we live the experience of our thinking. Emotions spring forth from our thoughts, they are just manifestations of our thoughts rendered by our nervous system.
And guess what? You have zero control over what thoughts come through your mind either. None. Thoughts come and go, and you can do nothing about it. It’s the natural state of the mind to create constantly. Research shows that the human mind generates an average of 50,000 thoughts daily! 70% of which are negative.
I know, scary, right?
So we have no control over what goes through our minds. Now, this doesn’t mean we cannot influence that. The major part of the work that I do with my clients is to understand what is at the root of the thoughts that are highjacking their behaviour, and to help them to create new perspectives. Because your thoughts aren’t real, they’re nothing but illusions. And if you made them up you can also make a conscious decision to ignore them. I would like you to humour me and try this: Close your eyes and spend a few seconds quietening down the noise inside of your head. If you struggle to do this, try this technique: First, take a moment and notice 1 thing that you can hear, letting the information fill your awareness. Once you’ve done this, notice 1 thing that you can feel in contact with your body. Finally open your eyes and notice 1 thing that you can see. Now try to notice all 3 things at the same time. Let each piece of information fill your awareness without trying too hard, notice all their details without analysing them.
Do it, I’ll wait.
What did you notice? Did you feel agitated or calm? Anxious or peaceful? Did your mind feel scattered or focused? I am almost certain that you felt the latter of each of these questions.
Here is a wonderful quote from Jamie Smart that describes very well what it means to clear your mind from thoughts:
“If a pond is clouded with mud, there’s nothing you can do to make the water clear. But when you allow the mud to settle, it will clear on its own, because clarity is the water’s natural state” Clarity is your mind’s natural state.
Ask any great public speaker what goes through their mind when they are giving a speech, and they will all give you the same answer: nothing. It’s when the mind is cleared from thoughts that we can tune into our true abilities and be our most true selves.
Now, while your unconscious mind is processing this, let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Charlotte Melki, and I am a Cognitive Hypnotherapist based in London. I have a background in neuroscience, and I worked for ten years as a marketing manager before deciding to become a therapist. You can say that finding my path wasn’t a straight line at all (is it ever?). But I find this unusual path only strengthened me as a therapist. My understanding of neuroscience is a tremendous help in selecting the most valuable techniques for my clients. Because of my previous career, I know how my clients feel when they see me because they feel stuck, insecure in their jobs, and on the verge of burning out. I am now on a mission to ensure that every person I work with will leave my therapy room one day feeling free, powerful, and in complete control over their feelings, behaviour, and lives.
I also have an 18-month-old daughter called Harlow. I am mentioning this for the mothers who struggle(d) and read this newsletter. The mothers who feel angry at their partner for not appreciating them enough, angry at their children for ruling their lives, social calendar, and sleep schedules, but mostly, angry at themselves for having these feelings. I see you.
Ok, so now that you know a little bit more about me, let me tell you what inspired me to write these anger sessions. I came across this tweet one day, and it was a bit like when you look at an optical illusion, and your brain makes sense of the illusion. There is no turning back; there is no way to unsee it.
This is the quote:
“Honestly, the best marketing scheme in history is men getting away with calling women the “more emotional” gender because they’ve successfully rebranded anger as not an emotion.”
Mind blown, right?
How did this happen? How did we get to being called “emotional", "irrational”, "hysterical" and "crazy”, when we have been holding back our anger for most of our lives, specifically not to be called that? And how do men get described as “assertive", “logical”, "powerful", "opinionated" and "dominant” whilst wearing that emotion like a badge of honor?
Isn’t it time to reclaim this emotion that is as much ours as any other? I think so too…but let's set the records straight for anger, because it has been treated like the ugly duckling of emotions for too long.
Anger is like water. When in its natural, healthy state, it flows in and out of our bodies. This goes for all types of emotions. Yes, even joy needs to leave at some point; too much sun makes a desert; you need all emotions to create a balanced ecosystem.
What else do we tend to do with anger if we don't let it flow in and out of us? We either push it down and try to ignore it, or we hold onto it (or, to continue on the water metaphor, we bottle it).
This happens because we feed our anger with our thoughts and, when we do, anger is taken out of its healthy natural state and stagnates. Have you ever found yourself really pissed off with someone? But instead of expressing how you felt, you just mulled it over for days? Having these “I should have said that” conversations with yourself in the shower ends up winding you up even more, doesn’t it? It’s as if you had your anger bottled up, and your thoughts were lighting a fire underneath. What happens if you light a fire under a bottled-up liquid? It heats up, boils, and sooner or later, the whole thing explodes. The control is lost; the choices of your actions and words are also lost.
And this is what these sessions are about; they’re about control and choice over your actions. Because if you know how to use your anger when it’s in its healthy natural state and let it go when it's no longer needed (when it's done its job teaching you about your boundaries) then you have the choice of your actions. Anger can give you the power to be brave, to be strong, to be you.
So here is a question I have for angry you, taken from the amazing book, The Mind Monster Solution by Hazel Gale: Can you do anything about this right now?
If the answer is yes, then great! Have a listen to Anger as a source of power. This session is here to help you channel your energy, make the best use of the information your anger brings to your attention, and take action. Anger can trigger us into taking brave steps, think about revolutions, for centuries the world has continuously changed for the better thanks to people’s outrage towards injustice, inequalities, and the exploitation of our planet’s resources. There is also a shorter version called My anger is powerful, which is perfect if you’re at work and need to re-center quickly.
If the answer to the question is no, you might want to ensure you are not bottling it up so it doesn't become toxic. The Letting go of anger session will help you make sure you are listening to your anger before you let it go. So your nervous system can go back to baseline, so that you can move on to other things. Here as well, I created a shorter version of this session called I chose to let my anger go.
That’s it, folks, I truly hope that by now you have a better understanding of this incredibly important and powerful emotion that has been with you your entire life, that has a place and a purpose. And most importantly I hope you now understand the difference between being angry and getting angry. Your anger is entitled to exist and you’re entitled to own it, but it doesn’t define who you are, because you know it will pass.