I have thought a lot about anger recently – probably due to certain public events, but it’s also something that comes up in my work quite often. Plus: I’m human, so naturally, I experience it myself.

When I look at my work as both a voice coach and a therapist, I cannot help but notice that many, many clients are SO used to trying to down-regulate their nervous system: Initially, they often voice a wish to be “calmer and more in control”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that since sometimes, that’s precisely what’s needed.

Our culture predominantly rewards “calm & in control”…

Anger is frowned upon, or it is only allowed in certain circumstances (“righteous anger”, anyone?), and possibly even for certain people:

Did you ever notice that a woman openly displaying anger is regularly labelled “hysterical”, or “hormonal”, or “unfeminine”? 

Or that a person of colour expressing anger in a similar way to a white person is immediately perceived as more “dangerous” or “unhinged”?

Don’t get me wrong: This is absolutely not a vote for out-of-control rage or physical violence. 

It is a vote, however, for listening to anger, and not to “regulate it away”

Foremost, so it doesn’t end up as out-of-control rage or said violence. It’s even more insidious than that though: Repressed anger doesn’t always lead to pressure that builds until it can’t be contained and hence ends up in rage – in many people, it doesn’t do that at all. It does, however, lead to passive-aggression, people-pleasing and shame (all of these are very common in the performing arts), and often, we aren’t even sure what’s at the root. But how do we find out?

Well, maybe it’s time that we stop down-regulating all the time?

Maybe it’s time to consciously up-regulate, to find ways to befriend our anger, to give it space and be curious (and even playful) around it.

When I work somatically with my clients, I sometimes choose techniques that do exactly that: Safely up-regulate their nervous system, feel anger physically and allow it, process it physically and thus mentally, and ultimately befriend it so they have a choice what to do with it instead of either internalising it or letting it run wild. 

What do I wish for you?

  • That the next time anger visits, you will actually be aware of what it is (it might sound strange, but sometimes, we really aren’t).
  • That you find the courage to listen to anger instead of pushing it away, and that you have the support to develop strategies that feel safe instead of triggering and overwhelming.
  • That you can hold space if you encounter anger (not violence!) in someone else, so they can begin to feel safe in expressing it without shame.
  • That you find or learn a self-care practice that allows for not only down-, but also up-regulation, so you begin to befriend all emotions, develop the capacity to listen to what they try to tell you and ultimately understand their impermanence:

You don’t become anger just because you allow yourself to feel it for a while. 

And if you need support with any of this, you always know where to find me.

About Petra Borzynski

Petra Borzynski is a voice coach and therapist with special expertise in helping (performing) artists and creatives to overcome limiting beliefs and emotional blocks to perform better and without fear. She has helped hundreds of people to prepare for or sustain a singing career, find personal fulfilment through music and overcome limiting beliefs & performance anxiety. Her articles on singing, creativity and performance psychology have been featured in several publications.

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