Surprising Anger Tool


I was recently reminded of a powerful tool we have at our disposal.  I heard from someone who had some built up anger and rage she was trying to release.  She has a punching bag she is able to use and spent more than half an hour (with gloved hands) punching, with little success at releasing it.  She said she moved to another room where she had an art project and worked on the art project, which seemed to help her anger dissipate.  I have heard of similar results for many, many people.

It surprises me still that art can help us with our anger....sometimes better than physical exertion.  Don't get me wrong.  Physical exercise, such as walking or running, as well as hitting/kicking pillows are good ways to release some anger.  I have heard of equal or greater success with trying to do some art.  I have seen very angry people transform through painting, through writing poetry, through writing stories, through coloring with and women alike.  And it isn't even necessary to make an art project that demonstrates the anger....or write a poem that is clear-cut about the object of your anger.  You certainly can!  I've seen some pretty amazing pieces of art that had smeared colors throughout or had lines of poetry that were dark.  But I have seen the same results from writing short stories about animals or making a collage of bright and fun colors.

I am sure there is science and research to explain this phenomenon.  I didn't seek that out for this blog post.  My research is based on experience with friends and clients who have shared their stories with me.  While my research is anecdotal only, I believe it is worth trying nonetheless!  And it stands to reason that if it is powerful enough for our anger, channeling our creativity can be equally as powerful for our other emotions....fear and sadness or grief.  Please share with me your own experiences....good or bad....with trying to express emotions through artistic or creative avenues.

(By the way, it doesn't have to be masterpieces or even shared with others....the magic is in the process within yourself!)

Here are some ideas to get your creative emotional expression on its way:

  • Get a sketchpad and your favorite writing/drawing medium (markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.)--then just free style!
  • Have a box and start filling it with anything that strikes you (newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, ribbon, and even "trash" like candy wrappers, etc.).  Then do some research on collage and see what you can make out of your box filled with goodies.
  • Have a spiral notebook and write some poetry or short stories or start a novel.
  • Get some sidewalk chalk and find some sidewalk that you can draw on.
  • Take a class at a local community center or even at some craft stores (oil painting or pottery or cake decorating....anything that sounds like you'd enjoy it).
Once you find some creative paths that resonate with you, it would be good to be intentional about emotional expression through creative means.  Maybe once a week, set aside some time to relax a bit then do some of your painting or writing or whatever you've discovered or revisited.  And if that anger gremlin creeps up and really wants out, maybe try this tool out and see if you have results! Share with me!  Have you tried artistic or creative means to express your anger?  Has it worked?  What else would you add to my list of ways to be creative?  How about some websites with more ideas?

(Note:  the art pictured above is from my teenage daughter's collection)