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The Passive Experience

Anger can be both harmful and destructive, or helpful, and the fuel for protest, and social justice change.

It depends on how well you express and then let go of it.

Many, many of us really struggle to acknowledge that we have anger, mainly because it is learned and re-active behaviour. It is created in response to many small grievances, rather than anger from a single event. When it grows slowly and quietly, it gets expressed surreptitiously.

Examples are:

You struggle to relax and unwind at the end of a day.

You have feelings of guilt or shame that don't really make sense to you.

You sometimes feel taken advantage of or that your input is unrecognised.

You feel jealous of other peoples happiness.

You feel tired a lot of the time and find people demanding.

Sometimes you just can't speak or reply, and you withdraw emotionally.

You are frequently late or cancel at the last minute,

- Or paradoxically, you go out of your way to keep others happy at the expense of your own happiness because upsetting them feels mortifying,

and you dismiss others concern for you with “mustn't grumble, I don't want to moan, others have it worse and I'm fiiiiiine”

Many are surprised that these are signs of passive anger. But they are. Every Single One.

The sharp eyed will see that much of this list is present in the intro to my Prevent Burn-Out PDF and that's because not everyone holding passive anger is burnt-out, but every burnt-out person holds passive anger.

Science and medicine agree that anger can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, ulcers, heart-attacks, strokes, depression and anxiety.

Passive anger, by definition is a long-term state of being. The traditional expression of angry outbursts are missing but the outbursts of spite, and the need for revenge, the passive aggression, come from the same place.

Long term anger can be devastating to our physical health. It causes enormous fatigue to our autonomic system which gives us the Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn responses by. This system needs to switch gears and cool down frequently and when a person is fuelled with passive anger, the autonomic system is always ticking over. It doesn't get enough rest.

It is SO important to acknowledge anger and allow it to metabolise.

The first anger release tool I'm going to share with you is breathing. I'm serious.

Not so much breathe slowly and count to ten, more Just Breathe.

When we are in rage-mode our breathing becomes shallow and quick. This stimulates chemicals that are needed for defence, escape, or cunning. These chemicals stay in circulation until the danger, and need for anger is passed. Passive aggression may not seem like rage, but for those who exclusively express passive anger, it is.

Breathe into the bottom 2 ribs at the back of your ribcage and focus on how stretchy it feels when you breathe. Lean into the physical sensations. See how full you can make that space.

This back breathing allows you to create the physical softening and calm that comes with a body at ease, in safety. It allows the body and brain to register that the danger, and need for anger is past, and to stop releasing the chemicals associated with anger.

Without this safe-mode, these chemicals in the autonomic system don't stop releasing, even when rage-mode is passed. This makes this breath focus even more important for those who live with passive anger.

Image by Alessandro Gottardo

By Alessandro Gottardo, walking a tightrope of another persons making