This is a little story to illustrate how a toxic emotion like anger can hide deep emotional wounds.
Frank came to me because his anger was reaching frightening levels.
He told me in hushed tones how he would erupt with anger whilst driving and it seemed that the triggering incident was nothing major. In fact it was a small thing, like another car was travelling a little too slowly in front of his car and Frank was in a hurry to get past it. He felt the rage coming up from inside him in a flash, turned to the other driver, screamed and made rude hand signals at the shocked female driver!
Later, he felt ashamed of losing his temper and he couldn’t get the frightened face of the other driver out of his mind. It seemed to remind him of something but he couldn’t quite make out what it was.
At work, he was often in a bad mood and noticed that his colleagues were avoiding him. As soon as he came within sight of a group of colleagues, they would suddenly become quiet and avoid his eyes when he approached. He started to feel uncomfortable to be with people and started `hiding’ in his office.
As a senior manager, he felt that he was letting his team down by not being more approachable and able to communicate in a positive, open way with them. He started to feel worried that senior management would hear about this problem and how it might affect his job.
When he got home, he would simply blow his stack at the slightest provocation. The kids leaving their toys around and he would trip on one of them. Or tearing strips off his youngest son for not eating his vegetables! He would remember guiltily that he hated broccoli himself when he was a kid! When his wife, Sally, asked him what was wrong, he would ignore her and sit in front of the TV for hours to avoid talking to her. Needless to say, their sex life was as frozen as the atmosphere between the two of them.
After digging deeper into his childhood, we discovered that he had been bullied in school. When he got beaten up, he would make excuses for the bruises when he got home. He walked into a door, he tripped… When his mom cornered him and asked him what was wrong, he would say “Nothing” and hide inside his room pretending to do his homework or `research’ for a school project on his computer.
Going to school everyday took all his energy. Even some teachers noticed how quiet he had become. His English teacher, Mrs Jones, was a kindly woman and was worried about him. When she approached him one day and asked what was wrong, he suddenly erupted and screamed at her. Her shocked and frightened face finally made him stop. He ran out of the classroom in despair…
We worked through other incidents like this and released the fear, shame, guilt and anger.
After one particular session, Frank broke down in tears. it was the first time he had allowed himself to cry and release all the fear which have been locked inside for years. It got easier after that. Frank was like a man with a mission and he wanted to be free of those terrible emotions.
It was gratifying to see the progress in Frank and his wife even rang me one morning to say how much he has changed and to thank me for my help!
If this `story’ resonates with you, please contact me so that we can work on it…