Audrey Jolly Therapy

​Lifting the Lid on Anger & Aggression

Posted Dec 31st, 2014 in Mental Health

​Lifting the Lid on Anger & Aggression

Have you ever experienced aggression or agitation towards your partner following a perfectly pleasurable, intimate exchange and there seems to be no obvious reason for it? Research is revealing some possible answers.

According to a recent study from the Association for Psychological Science, incongruous emotions might serve a greater purpose that we are aware of. They may actually help us keep our emotions balanced.

Oriana Aragon, a psychological scientist and lead author of the study published in the journal Psychological Science said people may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions of aggression. She said they seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions. People who display aggression seem to recover better from these strong positive emotions that are overwhelming for them.

Using an online survey, researchers from Yale University asked participants to rate their emotions while viewing photos of babies and older children. Participants showed a higher degree of aggression towards infantile babies — wanting to pinch their cheeks, growl, and "eat them up."

According to the study, intense positive emotions can directly rouse negative emotions like aggression to keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Researchers discovered that five minutes after viewing the babies, participants who showed the most aggression had the greatest drop in positive emotion as their emotions neutralized.

This does not, by any means, include all expressions of aggression, which is multi-faceted and complex. Not all expressions of aggression are following positive feelings that are overwhelming for the individual.

John Lee discusses this complexity in his writings on anger. It is an emotion that is good to get to know and embrace in us. Anger is a great personal teacher and guide for us to what we need, want, don't want, what boundaries we require, our feelings of safety, etc.

Understanding intense emotions — whether negative or positive — can help you gain more personal power.

Paul Scheele states whenever you experience a strong emotion, in order to grasp its power, take the following steps


Feel the emotion free of any thoughts you have about it. Let go of any labels to describe it or any history or associations you may have attached to it. Release any judgments or intentions to make it other than what it is. Notice the location of the emotion, the size and shape of it, the intensity of it, the energy in it, and the power in it. Feel the energy.


Feel love for the emotion the way it is. Feel love for the power in it. Feel appreciation for the feeling the way it is. Appreciate the power in the emotion.


Feel love for yourself feeling the emotion and feeling the power in it. Appreciate yourself feeling the emotion.

As you begin the process of feeling your emotions free of labels, descriptions, or judgments, you may notice the energy in the emotion. The energy has a vibration, so feel the energy vibrate through your body. Then notice its intensity.

Finally, as you feel this intensity of energy as power, you recognize this power as your own. Any label you might have put on your power originally was a limitation — a way to keep the energy contained and controlled. When you use this exercise, you reclaim your power to gain more freedom.

Practice the first three steps so they become automatic for you and you fully appreciate your emotions the way they are.

I recognize, as a psychotherapist, this exercise is easier said than done. To remove judgment and love the pure energy and flow of your emotions, without attachment to them, is bloody hard… but not impossible. You will probably need support to get to where this is possible but it will be one of the most freeing things you will ever do in your life…especially with anger and aggression.

If you learn to embrace, understand and yes, even love your “aggressivity" as my French physical theatre teacher used to say, then you are on your way to a freedom that you have never experienced before in your life.

As you can tell I highly recommend the process of embracing anger and aggression within us so that the force and power is your own and you are in the driver's seat, not sitting at the back of the bus. You are the dog wagging its tail, not the tail wagging the dog.


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