Continuing on from our human anatomy discussions, I was keen to introduce the idea of emotions as a physical process. LM and I have been known to infrequently but passionately defend our views, especially with each other, and so we agreed that anger would be a good emotion for us to analyse.
Using a combination of art therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy worksheets that I found online, we created our own exercise that used the paper of our choice (we both chose red) to represent anger. LM scrunched hers first and then did some erratic, jagged cutting – as did I. We then discussed five broad topics.
First LM and I talked about intensity of emotions and how we thought that using the one word ‘anger’ to describe them all didn’t really communicate what we were actually feeling. We discussed that there was frustration and annoyance on one end, and at the other end we felt fury and rage. We agreed that we would try to use the right words in future.
From there we talked about the range of emotions and experiences that anger is often used as an ‘umbrella’ term for e.g. sadness, disappointment, loneliness and even vengefulness. It made us realise that using incorrect and non-specific terms prevents us from communicating what we are really feeling and makes it hard for other to respond in the way we need.
We also talked about how sometimes we attribute anger to a person or moment but it has actually been caused by something else – LM said that tiredness is a big cause for both of us. I wholeheartedly agree with our junior psychologist.
Importantly, we listed some positives and negatives of expressing anger and agreed that the way we express it is important. We talked about communication strategies and trying to remain calm. We agreed that people too often insist that we suppress anger when actually, if we can stay rational and manage it well, it could lead to improvements and changes.
Finally we talked about things that we do when we are angry and things that we could (and definitely should) do that might be better. One valuable one is that we can influence our emotions, just as they can influence us. Ending with a fascinating discussion about self-talk that has left me thinking about what I really do tell myself about myself.
Ah the serenity.