Pausing Intense Emotions

Anger is an intense emotion. Anger is an emotion that most people would not really prefer to keep hold of for very long because it results in fight or flight reactions and if kept going indefinitely in the background as a sustained emotion –  health problems. Which emotion, pastime or action is in force is beside the point. Curious if it’s possible to surpass any intense emotion, intense enough to distract reason.
It’s been proved that strong emotions interfere with creative thinking ability and common sense. Defensiveness and self-protection seems to preclude creative and reasoning ability.
Aside from why it’s not possible, have some people done it? Is it possible to actually think, problem solve and come up with something new if you’re in the throes of anger, defensiveness or other intense emotional self-involvement?
Perhaps it’s the self-deception that is the culprit?
Some sort of brain coercion itself that seems to be operating. Once the activity of a charged emotional state goes into action, the safety of having the wrong idea is suddenly gone. Evidently, it is the “reptilian brain” that is giving all these ideas why something cannot happen. If these two are not congruent, then you get threats which are so seriously ridiculous that they are humorous, such as; “OK everyone, all of you there must be having fun now or I will kick your ass!” Or the common parental declaration: “Stop crying now about nothing, or I’ll give you something real to cry about!”
I know it’s possible to creatively problem solve while also being angry. I’ve done it myself. It happened because I was challenged to do so repeatedly without the usual characteristic of defensive self-preservation being a feature. If I did it, I know it’s possible for others to do so.
From this personal experience, I know that it’s possible to marry precluding “opposing” characteristics so that having and either/or is not necessary. You can have both, and sometimes you can have it all – up to a point.
But here is the conditional deal-breaker: It’s only available if you train the skills that are needed to make it happen in a safe environment. Usually, anger occurs in an unsafe environment. So you need to practice using it in an unsafe environment. You need to attempt to problem solve when you’re actually freaking out.  The old adage: “Necessity is the Mother Of Invention” isn’t quite true, until the pressure comes off. Until there is a pause. “Play is the Father of Invention.” 
The ability to think well while under pressure is unusual because the intensity and the nature of the emotion will shut down the ability to think. People who are angry in this way are similarly blinded. Ego is necessary in threatening situations because it’s primal survival imperative. People can be distracted by being absorbed in any habitual state – emotional, physical, mental. People when they are freaking out get distracted by their status quo expectations and fears. They space out and miss stuff they’re not anticipating that could be useful, because it’s not what they expect.
So – perhaps the ability to STOP, PREVENT or SUSPEND is the crucial one activity that is CRUCIAL to model if you’d like to gain some way to solve a situation during the throes of an intense emotion. Whatever the habit that is in place, in the way of flexibility is the ability to respond to circumstance appropriately.
 A style of coercive assault that accuses, (provoking a defensive reaction) is a dangerous circumstance to resist constructively. Whereas, nobody blames an earthquake or a big wave for being what it is. The relative importance of what you’re getting upset about depends on if you have someone around you who is doing one of these provoking reactions on a repetitive basis that you are, in some way, forced to deal with. It’s certainly challenging and a little poisonous to have to deal with a person who constantly demands attention who is not physically ill or a child. There are many other situations that can encourage someone to go into a panic – reasonably. Earthquakes. Fires. An accident, etc.
One way to practice the ability to suspend one’s reaction to circumstance and choose differently is to learn it and practice it by studying Alexander Technique. I’m very curious to find out if, in general, do people who study Alexander Technique find they are better able to respond intelligently during genuine emergencies or able to problem solve during intense emotions?

Had a friend who lived in Chicago and had worked with Goddard Binkley. In lessons, my friend reported that Binkley would have my friend shout out emotionally charged phrases during hands-on lessons. Has anyone else had these sorts of psychological activities encouraged during Alexander Technique lessons from past teachers?

4 thoughts on “Pausing Intense Emotions

  1. One of the odd consequences of undoing physical overdoing is that the source of these reactions can get uncovered as well. I had a similar experience during A.T. training, but with a different feeling, (not anger,) but a fear of being isolated – falling down a long, slippery hole.
    You’re left with feelings – they are a response to what? Often you can’t know where the emotion came from, in order to address the cause and choose another way that answers the need – the emotion is too buried, the reaction too fast. I found a source by tracing the reaction further and further backwards. One day the real source popped out, and choosing another way to address it changed it profoundly for me.
    David Gorman’s learningmethods attempts to address some of this…

  2. Hi Franis, I am training as an AT teacher. In my second year. I know I was much more angry when I started AT lessons 20 years ago and I was very aware that AT helped me to somehow become less angry. However, as things go deeper in the training I’m not sure AT does help me manage emotional releases. The releases are primitive, early, and leave me open and raw. The amount of release that’s occurring for me needs (I think) a really safe space and sometimes therefore actually results in tightening not release…and pain not ease. Jane

  3. Yes, no wonder you are confused there. Sometimes I get overly complex in my sentence structure and end up saying nothing! Meant that inappropriate but routine responses get in the way.

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