Q. People see me as a balanced, kind of mellow, non-reactive, reasonable and sensitive guy. This is all true in a way. I tend to not stand out and am not that assertive. I am starting to feel frustrated in being that kind of a person. I feel ordinary, repressed and at times passive. I know there is a more aggressive, angry and dominant side to me, but I can’t seem to connect with it and express it when I need to. How do I begin to let this part out more?
A. It seems something is occurring currently that is making you focus on this dimension of your personality. I am curious what that is and why now you are feeling more frustrated and interested in looking at and expressing your “aggressive” traits and feelings. Are you noticing these limitations at work, in your friendships, intimate relationship, athletics or elsewhere? It can be all or some of these areas. We all have a range of qualities, energies and feelings that need acknowledgement, development, integration and expression. To be a full human being is to open ourselves to this spectrum. Some aspects of us are more mirrored, supported and drawn out, while others can be forgotten, discouraged or even traumatized. As we go further into mid-life, we notice how we curtail, hold back and do things to fit in, rather than be genuine, strong and bold. There is a kind of deadening that starts to happen for many. Waking up to this is a significant step in our human journey. It’s worth understanding how you were shaped into the person you are now.
Who were the primary caregivers and what did they expect from you and model for you? Did you have an aggressive side as a kid? Some kids who are bullied or had an aggressive parent, will vow to never be like them. Others were so intimidated and scared that they cut off their anger. When you are not so reasonable, what are you like? What comes out when you are frustrated? That’s a good starting point. Do you pay attention to your fantasies or dreams? What are the characters in those scenes like? Are there certain people in your life or in films, politics, etc that you are really drawn to?
Beginning to understand these characters around and within you is a powerful way of integrating these sides of you. Putting yourself in situations where you are in a more dominant role will bring out your strength and aggression. Some people play a role in a play or athletics where they get to express these feelings. Others write short stories that fully flesh out deeper layers of themselves. What are some creative ways for you to get in touch?
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com