How do I stop suppressing my personality

Angry? I? - Body therapeutic anger work

Do you get angry sometimes? Anger is a feeling that many suppress. Instead of using the anger positively, we build internal dams - and are totally tense in the long term. Our author Evelyn Richter-Schäfer, who in the past could not do much with anger herself, now loves to support her clients with body therapy in dealing with anger. You can find out how she does this here.

If someone had told me a few years ago that dealing with anger would become important in my work and that I would even enjoy accompanying people in dealing with their anger - I would probably have looked at them rather skeptically. I couldn't do much with anger. Of course I was angry now and then - but the anger wasn't in my consciousness and I didn't want to get into this strong feeling either. Most of all, I was afraid of it. That was what I was trained in or withdrawn from - in any case I was not drawn to it.

It was only in my body therapy training that I found access to this powerful and life-affirming feeling. A bit bumpy at first, then better and better. Today I am able to courageously accompany my clients in using their own anger as a guide and strength. And you?

Photo: Brooke Lark -

Anger is an underrated life force

When do you get angry? Do you dare to feel angry or are you afraid - and if so, of what?

We encounter anger primarily in one place, namely in our own Limits. If these boundaries are violated by ourselves or others, our body signals this to us very clearly and directly with anger. He calls out to us, 'Hey, something's wrong!' - but unfortunately we often don't hear it at this point.

Anger also arises when we or others ignore ourselves as a person and ours Need for belonging and community is not met. People who are bullied have a considerable amount of anger in them - but suppress it instead of using it in a dignified manner.

If needs are not taken into account over a long period of time, and if one's own leeway becomes increasingly narrow, anger can manifest itself physically or turn into aggressive, even hate-driven behavior and action. Aggression and hatred feed on hostility, anger on the desire to create.

Instead of using the power of anger creatively and positively, many suppress or negate their anger. Instead of, as one could say in body therapy, letting the physical and thus emotional life force flow, we prefer to build internal dams to suppress anger and other unwelcome feelings. Why are we doing this? Because we learned it very early on.

Photo: Mwangi Gatheca -

Two stories of anger from body therapy practice

Birgit's father quickly became aggressive, but her mother remained silent. Birgit learned in her childhood that it was better for her to be nice, to play the sunshine and to cheer up her father, instead of taking up space with her own wishes and needs or even getting angry. Fear was her greatest inner enemy and savior at the same time. As an adult, she continued this behavior: e.g. in her job as a nurse. Nor did she take up much space in her marriage. She didn't dare. When we started to work, she showed clear signs of exhaustion and mildly depressive symptoms - which corresponded to her suppressed life energy balance. I supported her in getting her energy and anger back into motion. On the one hand, I focused on giving her a feeling of stability through standing exercises. On the other hand, I helped her to take space for herself through body therapy exercises and to experiment with her anger. She was amazed at how much power there was actually in her. At some point she was there, her anger, full of tears, strength, anger, voice and relief. This physically experienced force boosted her self-esteem and encouraged her to face her fear of rejection in everyday life.

Daniel was a mommy child, as he called himself, and was raised by the women in his family. His father was non-existent as a relationship person. These women did one thing above all else: talk and take up a lot of space with that talk. Daniel became a perfect, silent listener who only spoke when asked. When Daniel came to me, he had just broken up with great difficulty from his girlfriend, who, according to what he told me, had narcissistic personality traits. She influenced him like a puppet and his greatest fear was that she would call him and he would not be able to hang up. Worse still - she might want him back and he would be drawn back into her 'spider web'. In his job, too, it happened time and again that colleagues would come up to him and talk incessantly. He listened without drawing a line or realizing that he was busy with other things. I worked more powerfully with Daniel. I learned that he had a soft spot for heavy metal and that he associated this music with freedom. So after a few hours of preparatory work, we went to a room in which we could be loud and he was allowed to work out physically. His favorite music supported him. With the inclusion of body, breath and voice, he let go of topics and, for example, regained his attention and ability to love. After the body therapy exercises, he was no longer afraid of a possible phone call from his ex-partner. His self-esteem increased and with it his willingness to put himself more at the center of his own life. Thank anger!

Body-therapeutic anger work in practice: a few examples

Of course, not every therapist has the opportunity to be louder than usual in their rooms. Not every type of anger work fits into the flair of my practice, which is why I also use external rooms for this. Nevertheless, there are exercises that I think are very suitable for everyday use and that everyone should try out. They may be a little unusual, but they are highly effective in that they bring back pent-up energy and thus provide a targeted outlet for anger.

1. Wring out the towel

Much of the tension that has arisen from withheld anger is in the neck and arm area and is given too little opportunity to work out. What to do? You take a small towel, roll it up and start wringing it out. You can offer the client or yourself the idea to introduce yourself, to turn the neck of the angry person - of course only in the imagination. It is important here, in addition to the targeted exertion and the possibility of self-expression, to add voice and breath. The breath should neither be held nor pressed and the voice can join in with an 'Aaaah' or 'RRRRRRh' without clenching your teeth. Body, breath and voice are allowed to flow and find expression. If you instruct a client to do this, you participate - including training in your own comfort zone!

Photo: E Cano -

2. Bite the towel and growl

The towel can be used for another exercise straight away, as follows: Take the rolled-up towel between your teeth and bite it vigorously while making growling and aggressive noises. Sounds funny? It is. Rather, however, it is effective: Because pent-up anger also likes to hide in the jaw and is thus loosened and dissolved. Here, too, it is important to join in and not leave the client alone with this exercise. This not only helps the client with their topic, but also greatly promotes the relationship between the client and the therapist.

Two small, exciting exercises with a big impact. Whether and how you dare to approach anger or to do body therapy work is of course up to you. For me now applies: Anger work? - Yes absolutely!

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