It’s the scream that reverberates in our heads rather than coming from our mouths. Have you ever been in a position where the stress is building inside to an explosive point? Our natural reaction is to let this energy build up escape physically, perhaps through screaming, jumping up and down on the spot or lashing out. Unfortunately todays world finds this to be unacceptable and we are advised to keep it in. Contrary to the views of leadership and communications consultants this is not healthy for us.
Remember yourself as a child when frustrated or when you see a kid in the shopping centre throwing a tantrum. Everybodies first reaction is “oh that poor parent” or “I’ve been there”. Of course there are those, often not parents, who judge the parent and wish they would control their child. In fact the child is doing what we all have a need, and want, to do. When a child is feeling frustrated and stressed they have a huge amount of energy build up requiring release. Their psych and physiology allows this energy to escape through a physical action. Once released the child starts to calm down, often not worrying about the original issue. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we as adults had this freedom. I mean so long as we don’t hurt anybody why shouldn’t we be able to release that energy?
For the last couple of decades business and social communities have been devising all types of training and programs to discourage people from releasing this energy. These consultants are making millions promoting strategies that sound like a magical solution but in reality do us more harm than good. It also drives down productivity levels and increases personal days taken, negatively impacting the organisations trying to deal with it.
Before I continue I’d like to caveat this blog in that taking Ferris Beuller’s advice to “scream and shout” isn’t always the answer. In mild situations taking a mental step back, counting to ten or changing your breathing are all good strategies. However when situations intensify a different approach is required. One I’ve seen used in meetings is a neutral party calls for a break and all participants go for a walk. A great solution as the physical energy is being released.
Picture this, in any environment. Your having a conversation where you’re asked to meet unreasonable timeframes or listen to someone express an opinion diametrically opposed to your capabilities or beliefs. You provide response you believe reasonable how ever its rejected or ignored. Your anger level builds without release which then transforms into stress. With this energy bubbling away inside you return to work or perhaps hop in a car. The outcome is you are non productive for the rest of the day with this energy building inside. You then leave work, taking this energy into your two ton missile to drive home, hoping no one else aggravates you. Then you arrive at home with this energy still bubbling away to interact with you family. All disasters waiting to happen especially if alcohol is chosen over a physical activity on arriving home.
Again our business and social leaders, indoctrinated by the consultants they pay, tell you that breathing and talking is the best way to resolve these issues and release the energy. After all it’s socially unacceptable and unprofessional to express your anger in front of others for fear of hurting their feelings. You risk being judged as unreasonable and perhaps unstable. But what if there were other alternatives?
Let’s go back to the kid throwing a tantrum. They release that pent up energy, settle down quickly and move on. Could something similar be available in work or social situations? I think so.
Imagine if there was a space within the work environment sound proofed and fitted with elliptical machines and punching bags. These rooms would be judgement free zones where an employee could take five minutes to scream or punch a bag releasing energy and frustrations. Upon releasing the energy they can return to work in a more settled state and remove the risk of negatively impacting themselves or others for the rest of the day.
For social or outside of work situations something similar could happen. With councils installing quasi gym equipment in parks, which are an excellent outlet, the cost to add weather products punching bags would be negligible. These facilities, available in most neighbourhoods, provide an excellent opportunity to release energy when required.
So this approach is a little, or a lot, different to professional and community expectations. Or is it? These days spaces are made available for prayer and quiet reflection. Help lines are available for a variety of discussions and we are all encouraged by our families, peers, business and community leaders to use them. These are great initiatives however using them prior to releasing that pent up energy reduces their effectiveness possibly producing a negative experience and sour any idea of future use. We need to get rid or that energy.
So to quote Tears for Fears there are times when we all need to “shout, shout, let it all out”. When others ask what you are doing tell them. Don’t worry about the views of others, secretly, deep down they wish they could emulate your actions.
So the key to this conversation is removing that energy and frustration will hasten the return to reasonable thinking and actions.