What’s Playful About Anger?
Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018
I have written a bit and teach a lot about the distinctions between anger and aggression. Such as about how anger is so valuable for 1) recognizing and honoring what works for us and what does not and also for 2) making agreements and requests. Whereas aggression is forceful and pushing and likely about taking others down (this can be intentional or subconscious). Aggression is sourced from Fears such as Fight or Flee. Aggression is competitive.
A new distinction that has emerged for me regarding the experience and expression of anger (and this distinction really is for everything) is seriousness and playfulness.
At a baseline, the capacity to feel and express one’s own anger and be present to experiencing and receiving others’ anger (as one of the 5 core feelings) is important.
So, how are you, how am I, with this anger feeling wave?
If we get serious, which is typically accompanied by tightening, bracing and pushing against or pushing with, we are actually caught in fear as well as being angry. If we are instead dancing with the anger feeing wave, with more of a nonchalant, no big deal quality of fluidity and flow, really a playfulness, we are not caught in fear and are now maximally strengthened or empowered.
I’m currently reading Finite and Infinite Games by James P Carse, which is what brought this awareness to life for me. It is not only whether we are able to be with the feeling of anger, it is also these qualities that we bring to our being with it. When we relate to anger from fear, we are in a serious finite game. When we playfully dance with our and others’ anger feelings waves, we are in an infinite game.
The same is true for sadness and every other feeling. Being playful is not disrespectful; it is full of possibilities. If a person who is feeling, experiencing, expressing or receiving anger gets serious, the opportunity for them is to see how they are in a finite game at the moment, playing more to win (or prevent a loss) than playing to keep the game going.
For me, this new context of playfulness with all that is, is very empowering. Katie Hendricks is currently contexting her basic course as the Path of Play. With this new aha, I get her emphasis at a deeper level. And I’m smiling.
If you are familiar with the work of Gay and Katie Hendricks, you might also think of their three ways of manifestation. Playfulness leads us to their most advanced form, The Third Way. I think of this third, most advanced type of manifestation as juicily playing with what is and what’s wanted and allowing for a third, even better option, to emerge.
So how can we manifest a Third Way when anger is one of the things that is here?
Poke, poke. Will you play with me? Will I play with you? Am I willing to play with everything? Even with those seemingly hot potatoes like anger?
You betcha. Now I am.
[I’m a certified Big Leap Hendricks Coach. I love their work. Contact me for a complimentary session.]