Managing aggression: understanding the spring theory to healthy ‘unwinding’

Tequila shots of life:

Let’s be honest: sometimes the world just gives you lemons. After that, it can throws salt in your eyes and demands you to snort tequila through your nose. Not really the party here, but a real pain in the ass. I think you get what I’m saying.

The world can wear you down.

If these things happen, we can react to this in a variety of ways. Some ways are, under the circumstances, more clever than others to use. The negative things that happen to us definitely will have an effect on us, whether we like it or not. None of us have reached complete enlightenment or are total Zen Masters (yet).

We will have a natural reaction when something ‘shitty’ happens to us. This reaction will be tension in the form of locking our jaws or fists, lifting and tensing our shoulders. Or thinking negatively: thoughts and emotions come into play, en we can feel the negativity as well. We will store unexpressed emotions and thoughts in our body as tension again, as a reaction. Too much stress and bad anger management, could result in aggression and frustration.

The Aggression Theory: The Spring Coil

Searching for a good analogy here, let’s take a good look at a spring coil. We can see our emotional system as a spring, inner tension and stress as the amount of stress that is on our spring. If there’s no tension on our spring, it is in ‘rest’. This is our normal, relaxed state. Here’s an awesome illustration:

When tension and stress build up because a shitstorm just hit us for whatever reason, the spring coil will stretch out. The more and more stress there is at hand, the further it will stretch out. Resulting in aggression and frustration The coil can take on some natural tension, but there’s a Maximum… You better watch out. Another illustration:

Now we have two options to go about our built-up tension:

OPTION 1: Uncontrollable, Direct Flipout

The type of release a lot of people have when someone cuts them out in traffic, or when some person takes a shit in your open garage… (no, I didn’t forget, you fuck!). This is when the spring would stretch out more, with more & more accumulative stress and tension, and out of nowhere the spring coil just releases. There is damage to the coil and possibly to the environment as well. Tremendous amounts of energy is being released here, in an uncontrolled and ‘mental’ way:

This is the moment we are super reactive, directly after the shitty thing hits us. We immediately react our anger and frustration on the people or objects around us, our environment. We yell, we kick, we are in blinding rage. We are a danger to ourselves and others. This is how restraining orders and imprisonments happen. This is, logically, not the way you want to run things. Get a grip, son!

OPTION 2: Controlled release of tension

When we have a little bit more self-control and sanity, we can go about this stored energy and aggression another way. Little things that bother us, irritate us or damn right make us outraged and pissed the duck off accumulate in our ‘inner spring coil’. It will stretch further out through the day(s), and now this is where it gets interesting:

We can CHOOSE now to release the tension and stress in a controlled, healthy and slower way. I hear you posing the question: “Well how do we do that, great sir?”.

Well I have here 5 great ways that work, when you’re having enough of it:

1.Exercise and stretching

Any kind of exercise that gets the heart rate up, is a nice way to release of energy and aggression. I especially like HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and doing interval sprints. You can really give it your all, in a short amount of time. For the men among us, heavy lifting is an awesome example as well.

Deadlifts and squats are really awesome compound exercises that work almost every muscle in your body. There is a crazy amount of energy needed to fulfill these movements and therefore they’re great to release your bullcrap.

Stretching litterally massages and stretches out the tension that you store in your body, when your mom does great effort to put on a crazy shit show again. Taking the time to feel the release and link it with your breathing, really sounds like yoga, doesn’t it? That’s because it is, you genius! Yoga’s not for pussies, it’s for epic people that want to upgrade their life and health. Try your nearest yoga studio and see for yourself.

2. Screaming

I find this one just great: screaming your lungs out without any restriction or worry that people will hear you. So it’s a good idea to do this when you’re home alone or in an secluded area. Or at least tell your parents or friends that you’re going to scream a bit, before they think you’re being killed or drag you to a mental institution. These days I just tell my parents: “Hey, I’m going to scream a little bit now. Alright?” The answer nowadays is just a short “Meh, sure. But watch out for the computer screen and furniture, please.”

Problem fixed.

A part of OSHO’s dynamic meditation includes screaming, in combination with dancing and random body movements. It taps into your subconscious energy more than anything else you’ve ever experienced. This really frees up all the energy and tension in our body. It’s pretty intense, and you’ll probably scream your lungs out and cry your eyes out. Great shit, although it looks really weird. But it works wonders, trust me on this one.

3. (Heavy) Breathing exercises

Our breathing patterns really influence our mental state and vice versa. We can manage aggression and frustration, when we manage our breath. There is a bigger correlation than we would think or anticipate. You are probably reading this awesome post with your shoulders tightened up above and breathing short and shallow. GOT YA!

Or think back, back to a time in your childhood when you saw that big spider creeping and crawling around in your bedroom. Starting to panic, you also began to hyperventilate with that state of mind. So it has a direct effect on your body posture and physiology.

The opposite is true when we are fully relaxed and in a good mental place. Our breathing is deep and slow, our mental and physical state reflects this. It’s all connected, baby! So what I really recommend is slow and deep belly breathing. Do this combined with being really present and focussed on the air that enters and leaves your nose or mouth.

4. Relaxation

This is interconnected with the above point: breathing. What I personally really like for relaxation is to just lay down on my back in “corpse pose” in yoga (yes, this really is a thing) and just focus on your breathing again. Of course, all kinds of bullshit thoughts will cross your mind because, you know, we’re all still human. But see these thoughts merely as a cloud in the great, big sky of nothingness in your head. Aggression, frustration and all the rest melts away.

Good luck with that, lel.

5. Sleeping

Doesn’t this one speak for it’s self? Close your eyes and have a decent night’s sleep, for once.

Thanks to @daanvstr (instagram) for the illustrations

Peace out



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