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Anger: Harness its power to tame anxiety

By: Connie de Veer, MFA, CPCC

Is fear of public speaking costing you vital career advancement and opportunities? Learn practical exercises for using anger constructively to manage performance anxiety. Note: I managed to have a

Is fear of public speaking costing you vital career advancement and opportunities? Learn practical exercises for using anger constructively to manage performance anxiety.
Note: I managed to have a successful career in the Theatre and as a teacher of acting prior to my present calling as a coach. AND I had performance anxiety and full-blown, diagnosed Panic Disorder the whole time. These exercises and observations are field- tested by yours truly! May they bring you peace, freedom, and empowerment.

"Anger as a gift?! You're kidding, right?" you might be saying. "I'm trying to GET RID OF anger, not walk smack into it!."

Fact is, many of us work in environments that discourage the expression of feelings and emotions, especially so-called "negative" ones, such as anger. And rightly so, to a certain extent. The upside of that coin is that we all want a civil, pleasant workplace, safe from ranting, raving abuse.

But where's the balance between an abusive environment and a repressive one? When we feel we must stifle our true feelings, avoid discord or risk being labeled "not a team player;" when we swallow beliefs not congruent with leadership,and put on a happy face day in and day out, we are betraying ourselves in a fundamental way. The result of "stuffing" our true feelings --- not speaking our truth ---- often shows up in the form of panic attacks or generalized anxiety.

Anger is an emotion many of us have been taught to control, perhaps leading us to believe (consciously or unconsciously, that even having the feeling of anger let alone acting it out, is BAD! But in service of not being hurtful toward others, we sometimes go overboard and suppress even our awareness of the feeling of anger.

What is that costing you?

Panic attacks? Compromised personal integrity? Performance anxiety that prevents you from moving forward in your career?

Try these powerful exercises for using anger constructively to re-claim your power:

1. Move the energy through your body The energy you're NOT ex-pressing has to go somewhere. If you keep it locked up it WILL scream to get out (and rightly so!) in the form of a panic attack. So when you feel panic rising, acknowledge the feeling and honor it as a vital messenger from your Higher Power. Move to a safe, private place (your office, the broom closet, restroom...) and imagine the object of your anger and/or fear in front of you. Now, GET MAD and box, beat, and punch the daylights out of it for a full minute! Feel better?

2. This week, raise your awareness: Count the number of times you feel panicked, angry or resentful and record it in your journal. Note what you were doing, where you were, who you were with,how you reacted, the impact of your choice of reaction, and how your body felt. Notice any patterns?

3. This week, answer this question: What am I NOT saying to set a healthy boundary for myself? And then...Yep... you guessed it - SAY IT! Think about it first, hold the other party and yourself in big love and compassion, and speak your truth when you're calm and clear. Notice the impact.

4. Imagine this 3 times a day for 3 weeks: - Practice this at a time when you are NOT in the midst of a panic attack. It will help you later. - Get quiet and undisturbed for about 3 minutes. - Check into your body-mind-soul and imagine the energy of fear and/or anger coursing through your veins. - Imagine it turning from hot molten lava --- sluggish, heavy, exhausting --- to crystal clear water --- beautiful, flowing, cool, refreshing, energizing. - Call to mind what often triggers your panic and pour your cool, clear water over the "problem." What do you notice?

About the Author

Connie de Veer, MFA, CPCC, is a Certified Life Coach and published author. She teaches successful professionals how to break free from performance anxiety and move ahead in their careers. Look for her e-book, Pull the Plug on Panic: Speak With Confidence, and Keep Your Armpits Dry! due out August 2003. Learn more at

"Knowledge is power. It takes a long time to harness enough power to even talk about it." - Don Juan, speaking in "Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan", by Carlos Castaneda, 1972

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