I have been asking you to tell me what troubles you have with living an authentic life or with self development in general. The following was a comment left in the sidebar box. And I think it is a very good one – it puts very simply a dilemma that I think all of us struggle with if we care about being authentic to ourselves. In response to the question: What is your greatest difficulty with living an authentic life?
Speaking my truth whenever it will cause discomfort or worse with another, especially family. This leads me to live very INauthentically, and makes me very sad and feeds my depression.
A Word On Values
It is OK to keep ourselves safe. Some people are violent and some relationships are toxic. If you are with someone dangerous or in a relationship that is toxic to you (it may not be to someone or everyone else but that doesn’t matter) then please consider getting out as quickly and safely as you can.
I do think it can be OK to risk our safety but I think this needs to be freely chosen and that you need to embrace this choice with joy. Feeling compelled to make this choice is, for me, a warning sign.
My Opinion on Depression
I think that depression is anger turned inwards and many disagree. You can find out for yourself. As you express anger does the depression decrease? Does it decrease in proportion to the amount of anger expressed? In my own experience, and the experience of those I have talked to it does. However, I do not ask you to accept this: you can check it out for yourself.
There are ways that we can express our anger that doesn’t damage ourselves, others or the furniture. I am saying that there is no need to be scared of our anger. Even if the results of expressing it last time were scary, we can learn better ways.
How to Express Anger Safely?
Firstly (in light of my values) it may mean not expressing it to the person who made us angry or in the relationship that makes us angry.
This may mean finding a friend or a professional or a group where we can express anger. We can also do it on our own.
Expressing Anger on Your Own
And the important thing when doing it on our own is: to go slowly and safely. Do not go to the point you get scared, stop when you feel safe. If you go to the point you are scared you are just teaching yourself that anger is in fact scary. The purpose is to learn instead that anger can be expressed safely. It is better to have the feeling of wanting to do more than being reluctant to come back.
This can be done in lots of different ways. For instance:
- writing out your feelings in a journal. It can be a letter addressed to someone that we don’t intend to post, it can be an imaginary speech, or it can be purely expressing our anger (which will usually involve some pretty colourful language). You may just like to start writing about an incident or your feeling of anger and see where this takes you.
- hitting a pillow or mattress. Having an object in both hands can help – it gets all of your upper body involved. A tennis racquet or a rolled up newspaper are favourites, but it can be anything that works for you.
- having a tantrum. If you want to do this make sure you have enough room so that you won’t hit any hard surfaces – like walls and furniture. This is best done on a bed so you don’t hit the floor too hard.
- you can make a representation and take your anger out on the object. A common way is to write all your anger in words on a box and then tear the box apart.
- you can smash into tiny pieces something that represents what you are angry about or who you are angry with.
With all these things it is better to stop a little early so you don’t get anywhere near being scared of your anger. Then you can do a little more the next time.
Dan Millman’s motto applies here: a little of something is better than a whole lot of nothing. If you start out with stamping your foot once, or writing one word or sentence in your journal, that’s a great start.
In part two I’ll talk about expressing our anger to others.
Please let me know how you respond to the dilemma of expressing your truth to others. Or, perhaps it is not even a dilemma for you. Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.
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- To find out how to live authentically you can download my manifesto. It has exercises that will help you experience what authenticity means for you and so experience a more satisfying life.
- I would like your help. I want to know what your biggest pains or passions about living an authentic life are, or about self development. I hope to write a great book on self development and living authentically and this is the kind of information that I need to write it. I wrote this postabout it which will give you more detail.