relationship, it may be helpful to write out a detailed explanation of
what happened--then file the "report" away and forget it.
Lincoln also used his sense of humor to handle anger, like the time
when a heavy-set lady visitor to the White House sat on his high top
hat, which he had left on a chair, and he said to her, "if you'd just
asked me lady, I could have told you it wouldn't fit." A similar story is
told about Winston Churchill when an irate woman was criticizing him
and concluded, "if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea." Winston
quickly responded, "Lady, if you were my wife, I'd drink it!"
STEP FOUR: Tell yourself the emotions have been reduced to
manageable size and make plans to cope with the situation
After thoroughly discharging your feelings, shift your attention to
considering reasonable, constructive action you can take (including
forgetting the whole thing). Make specific plans and carry them out
(look up "I" statements, method #4 in chapter 13). Most importantly,
keep in mind that these exercises are to reduce unwanted emotions
and control them in interaction with others. You may rage in private
but remain rational and controlled with others, even with people who
have done you wrong.
If you are emotionally inhibited, it may take several hours and a
few patient friends to become more aware and expressive of your
feelings. If you can freely vent your feelings already, it may take only
30 minutes or an hour to discharge the emotions. Fifteen minutes of
rage is a lot...and tiring. Keep venting (with rests as needed) until you
You may act mad or sad on the surface without feeling intensely in
your gut. If so, this will not help you much; indeed, Zen Buddhists
have criticized Lowen's (1976) Bioenergetics as not being "belly-
centered" enough. The belly is thought to be the "seat of self-
expression." Intense, complete expression is necessary.
You may not take the task seriously, especially when with a friend.
Joking and playing around is a way to avoid a scary, serious task.
Some people are terrified of their own anger; others fear an
authority's disapproval. Some people are afraid or ashamed to cry. The
idea of losing control is scary. You may want to have a supportive
friend with you and you may want to approach an intense emotion
gradually, i.e. experience some emotion, then relax, feel more
emotion, relax again, express more and more intense anger or
sadness but continue to feel "in control" and, at the same time, "let