Category Archives: Emotions

Learn to master your basic emotions: anger, fear, sadness, peace, love and joy.

How Emotional Trauma Works

Trauma is the unpleasant residual emotional charge left in our brain and central nervous system connected with memories of emotionally overwhelming events from the past.

Here's a video on how it works:

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Using Music To Express Anger and Rage

Since the beginning of the year I've been studying Music Performance full-time at a local tertiary college, and the experience has been extremely healing for me. The interactions with teachers and other students have brought a lot of my unresolved adolescent insecurities to the surface: in some ways, going to college is like going back to high school. My fears about whether I would fit in brought up a lot of anxiety for me, coupled with a very strong desire to try hard to make other students like me. I often had to take a deep breath and remind myself to focus on what I was learning and just have fun participating instead.

“Full-time” at the college I'm attending is only 2.5 days per week; although I spend pretty much all the rest of the week doing homework of various forms: learning to play new instruments, practising songs for our performance night, writing my own songs and getting them recorded.

In the process I've found music an excellent way to express anger and rage. A lot of the songs I've been writing have a great deal of anger in them, inspired primarily by life circumstances and/or other people's behaviour. Writing, performing, recording and releasing these songs has been extremely cathartic for me and the feedback from the other students has been very positive and accepting.… Continue reading…

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How To Deal With Other People's Jealousy

An interesting thing happens when we get out act together, drop our victim stories, start taking responsibility for our lives and getting what we want in life: Other people's response to us change significantly. The majority of people treat powerful, self-confident men with respect; but there will always be people who respond with hostility because they are jealous of our success.

Don't Get Trapped By Other People's Jealousy

The only real downside to letting go of our insecurities and learning to live life on our own terms is that other people's insecurities can start getting triggered by us.

This happened to me today at music college when another male student walked up to a lighthearted group conversation I was having and suddenly said "Graham, you need to stop being such a cunt."

That didn't feel good to me: I immediately felt deflated. When I thought about it later, I felt angry; but when I interpreted what he said in the context of possible jealousy towards me, I could see that his comment was really about him rather than me.… Continue reading…

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Why I Got Upset In Guitar Class

I'm a full time music student at the moment, and I'm loving learning how to write songs, perform in front of people and express myself through music. Music is great because it deals with both the analytical and emotional side of our brain.

Becoming a rock star isn't all riffs and distortion. There's conflict with other musicians to navigate too.

However, the irrational nature of emotions means that they don't always arise just when we want them to. Most of us are still carrying unhealed emotional baggage from our past which can get triggered in what might otherwise seem fairly innocuous situations. This can make dealing with unexpected upsets challenging both in ourselves and in other people.

In yesterday's guitar class, I got triggered by my teacher's response to what I though was a fairly intelligent question about whether the best way to improvise over a chord sequence in a major key would be by using the associated relative minor scale. My engineering brain thought that this would lead to less potential dissonance; but for any other budding musicians out there the answer turns out to be No: you use the minor pentatonic scale of the same key.… Continue reading…

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How To Deal With Being Lonely

I recently joined a men's group which now meets at my house once a fortnight. The idea of joining such a group was suggested to me a few years ago by a mentor of mine and they're highly regarded in the men's work movement and in books like Steve Biddulph's excellent book Manhood. A few years back I started hearing about them all over the place and when I start hearing about an idea from multiple sources, I begin paying attention.

You don't need to be alone in your loneliness.

You don't need to be alone in your loneliness.

It's taken a few attempts to find a group that really works for me; this is my third men's group in fact. The first one didn't meet often enough to really get traction, and some of the participants seemed so stuck in their own ways that I found the meetings very frustrating. We spent tremendous amounts of time on situations that had seemingly trivial solutions, like one guy who was in a lengthy and expensive legal battle with his sister. Even on the basis of his telling of his side of the story, we all thought he owed her an apology rather than more litigation. He didn't see it, and instead wanted our moral support for continuing to attack her in the courts over a dodgy property deal that he had engineered.… Continue reading…

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Are You An Angry Young Man?

Anger is one of the emotions that I have found most difficult to deal with in the past. I grew up in a house where anger was handled in ways that I found very frightening, leading me to become very afraid of conflict. This meant that I made a decision fairly early on in life that anger was a "bad" emotion that I should suppress at all costs. I became very ashamed of anybody knowing when I was angry.

I ended up internalising a lot of rage and unhappiness. I just didn't know how to let anger go and how to get it out of my system. It wasn't until the last few years that I even realised just how angry I was deep down.

I now know that anger is not "bad" emotion; it's just a signal that our needs aren't getting met. Anger provides energy for us to act assertively in situations where people are treating us in ways we don't like. If we've learned to be passive in the face of our anger, that energy gets trapped in our nervous system.

Because I have many years of internalising my anger, the situations where I would have liked to act assertively have long passed.… Continue reading…

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How To Heal Emotional Trauma

Sumelevate Life Coach Sume Chatz recently interviewed me for his video podcast about how I work with my coaching clients to help them heal emotional trauma from the past so they can move on to a happier future.

The interview packs a heap of information into a half hour, covering topics like:

  • How family of origin issues can set you up for emotional problems down the track
  • The impact of poor communication skills on our world view as children
  • How to heal overwhelming anxiety
  • The role of the subconscious and how to work with it
  • Mindfulness and the importance of living in the present
  • What I actually do in Skype sessions with my clients
  • How to coach someone in emotional trauma
  • How to get motivated towards your goals

That's a lot of valuable information for one half hour! I recommend you check it out.

emotional traumaThe one thing I didn't mention explicitly was what exactly emotional trauma is: the emotional residue left in our brains and nervous system attached to memories of any emotionally overwhelming past event that we weren't able to fully express and release at the time.

Healing trauma is important because emotionally charged memories from the past restrict our ability to be freely self-expressed and get on with life in the present.… Continue reading…

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Read Healing The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw

Let’s have a bit of a chat about a massive topic that undermines self-confidence and that is called shame. And in addition to just talking about it, I reckon that there’s a book you should read about it, which is this one: It’s called Healing The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw, and it’s an absolute classic in the area of dealing with this nasty substance called toxic shame.

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My Feelings on the Executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

I had a lot of mixed feelings this morning after hearing of the executions in Indonesia of convicted drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran overnight. For readers outside Australia and not familiar with the case, they were sentenced to death in 2006 by an Indonesian court after being found guilty of attempting to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin to Australia via Bali. Their arrest in Bali came after a tip-off by an Australian lawyer to the Australian Federal Police was relayed to Indonesian authorities. The court found Andrew and Myuran to be the ringleaders of the group often described in the Australian press as "The Bali Nine". Their case had received a great deal of coverage during their trail and leading up to their impending executions, with many pleas for clemency being made on the basis that they appeared to have rehabilitated and been model inmates during nearly 10 years on death row.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

I didn't know Andrew or Myuran; my only real association with them is via the media, and the fact that I grew up in the same city they did. Nevertheless I do feel a lot of conflicting emotions about what they did and their resulting execution; and since the healthiest way to deal with emotions is to express them, here they are:

Mostly, I feel a great sadness for their friends, family and loved ones left behind.… Continue reading…

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How To Manage Anger Constructively

I grew up in a home where anger wasn't handled well. Let me take you back there:

Do Other People Push Your Anger Button?

Do Other People Push Your Anger Button?

Now, don't get me wrong. My mother lets her anger flow freely, but she rarely uses the actual words "I am angry". Instead, her anger comes out as hurtful criticism, put-downs and emotional bullying.

My dad isn't any better. He bottles his anger up so badly that he often seethes with resentment so loud that I can hear him muttering under his breath when I'm playing in the next room. It's frightening.

All it takes is for mum to walk in and say, "What's wrong with you, you stupid creature?" and, bang, next round of World War III is back on again.

What I learned from all this was the idea that anger was somehow a bad thing, that it was a bad emotion that I should never feel, because it always seemed to be expressed destructively around me.

As a result, I learned to push down my anger very hard, to suppress it. In fact, I pushed it down so hard that in the end I barely even felt it.… Continue reading…

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