Amplification of Feelings
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Chinese Energy Medicine says that it is helpful for the body to increase a symptom and then discharge what is excessive or toxic. Think of a pendulum swinging to its highest point and then coming back down to swing the other way.
Too much of anything is not good and the body has expulsion mechanisms for a runny nose, tears and diarrhea. This is the concept of homeostasis of the body wanting to heal and return to a calmer place. Amping up the energy around an issue can help you want to release it. Virginia Satir taught the technique of Body Sculpturing where a person held their body in a tight pose that demonstrated how they felt around an issue until they realized that it wasn’t helpful to hold on to it anymore.
Holding an exaggerated posture about an issue helps you recognize reoccurring body tension patterns that need release. Increasing the energy of a feeling and tightening the body until it hurts so that you want to let it go is a similar procedure. Amplifying uncomfortable feelings is the same principle of the pressure building up in a pimple or boil until it pops. Anger hurts when it builds up; the intensity of high emotions cannot be maintained. With the amplification approach, you increase anger about something staying stuck until you are uncomfortable and until you understand the destructive effects it has on you and let it go.
Amplification is the mechanism behind the stress reduction technique of Progressive Relaxation that uses tightening of different body muscle groups such as the neck, shoulders, legs, etc. until they are fatigued and then releasing them quickly. You purposefully build the tension until you can’t hold anymore and then release it to bring the muscles back to a state of homeostasis and relaxation.
Progressive Relaxation to Release Anger Facial and Shoulder Tension
Clench your face and jaw and notice the tension that has built up. Hold your breath and pull your face in, squeeze your eyes and frown like an ogre. Tighten your jaw and tongue and let your neck and shoulders tense as well. Increase the pressure until you can’t bear it anymore. Then blow it out letting the tension go. Notice the good feelings of relaxation. Note the difference between being tight caught up in anger and relaxation.
Now do it again and think of excessive anger built up in your facial muscles. Turn up the volume in your mind until you can’t stand the feeling anymore so that you’ll have a strong desire to release it. Then double it again by squeezing the muscles in your jaw, gums and eyes so tight until you can’t stand it.
Note how destructive anger is to your body and your peace of mind. Turn the anger up a few more notches and then take a deep breath and set it free on the out breath. You can continue this technique moving down the body separating out the different muscle groups and tensing and relaxing them.
Do this amplification approach with any other area of your body that holds anger. Angry tension held in the jaw may be a way to keep angry words from coming out of your mouth. Angry tension held in your shoulders may indicate that you are a people pleaser unnecessarily carrying others on your back! Learn about expressing and maintaining boundaries to keep these tension patterns from building up.
Sometimes great anger has to be expressed strongly before forgiveness can happen. That’s what Screaming and yelling and beating pillows does. Then do a forgiveness tapping exercise such as Breaking into the Three Unhealthy R’s: Rage, Revenge and Retaliation listed on this website.
You can view my interactive video, Squeeze Your Angries Out, amplification procedure posted on YouTube. It features humorous drawings, visualization and using the positive power of the mind to increase anger then clear it.
This technique and others for working with angry feelings to understand and release them can be found in my book Your Quick Anger Make Over.