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Today’s guest is Alistair Moes.
We go deep talking about:
- How anger can serve us, not simply be a destructive force
- How to become more intentional and less reactive to anger by looking deeply at what’s going on inside you
- The physiological consequences of anger
- How to cool down and support yourself when you’re really triggered in anger
- Alistair processes me and my anger live
- Why the depth of our pain and trauma actually make life interesting if we’re willing to go there
- Practices to deepen your awareness and sit with your anger
- Developing Empathy and Compassion, the Anger Management Super Powers
Alistair is an International Anger Management Expert and Author, who has been working with people worldwide, and professionally since 1989 and as an anger management specialist in private practice since 1995.
Alistair has worked with those who have enormous challenges in the world: from high-performance business leaders, gold medal-winning Olympic and professional athletes, and people that are close to homeless. Anger is an equal opportunity emotion. Alistair has developed a manner of working, which is respectful, solution-focussed and based on both academic theory and extensive experience. This experience includes working with trauma, and historic abuse in a manner that honours each person and allows for deep healing.
Over the last twenty-seven years, he has worked with thousands of people who have made the call out of a desire to create change. Although he has facilitated court-ordered programs, he now works exclusively with self-referred clients, which includes those sent from the workplace, or strongly encouraged by a partner, or even unfortunately sometimes, a lawyer.
Alistair’s approach focuses on the gifts and potential of each person. In this manner “the good” that is present in an individual is attended to, as are the challenges that face each person. He also has extensive experience working with what is behind a person’s anger. The pain, sadness, hurt, fear, anxiety, shame, and often trauma, are what leads someone to react disproportionately to events. It is only when this is examined, with compassion and deep respect, that a person can alter their response to the triggers in their life, and learn to relate to the emotional reactions that have led them astray.
Alistair has been humbled and inspired by the many people who have taken up the courage to take on this type of investigation.
Find Alistair Online:
Curt Storring 0:00
Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. This is episode number 65 of the Dad.Work podcast exploring anger for dads with Alistair Moes. Today we go deep talking about how anger can serve us not simply be a destructive force, how to become more intentional and less reactive to anger by looking deeply at what's going on inside you. The physiological consequences of anger, how to cool down and support yourself when you're really triggered in your anger. Alistair actually processes me in my anger Live, which was an incredible experience, why the depth of our pain and trauma actually makes life interesting if you're willing to go there. practices to deepen your awareness and sit with your anger and developing empathy and compassion, the anger management superpowers. Guys, I know this is a very important episode for so many of you. At least half of the men in our communities in our groups tell me that their number one issue is anger impatience. And so I am so happy to have Alistair on the show. He is an expert at this and I'm excited for you guys to dig in. Alistair is an international anger management expert and author who has been working with people worldwide and professionally since 1989. As an anger management specialist in private practice since 1995. Alistair has worked with those who have enormous challenges in the world, from high performance business leaders, gold medal winning Olympic and professional athletes and people that are close to homeless. Anger is an equal opportunity emotion. Allister has developed a manner of working which is respectful solution focused and based on both academic theory and extensive experience. This experience includes working with trauma and historic abuse in a manner that honors each person and allows for deep healing. Over the last 27 years, he has worked with 1000s of people who have made the call out of a desire to create change. Although he has facilitated court order programs, he now works exclusively with self referred clients, which includes those sent from the workplace or strongly encouraged by a partner, or even unfortunately, sometimes a lawyer. Alistair's approach focuses on the gifts and potential of each person. In this manner. The good that is present in an individual is attended to, as are the challenges that face each person. He also has extensive experience working with what is behind a person's anger, the pain, sadness, hurt, fear, anxiety, shame, and often trauma are what leads someone to react disproportionately to events. It is only when this is examined with compassion and deep respect, that a person can alter their response to the triggers in their life and learn to relate to the emotional reactions that have led them astray. Alistair has been humbled and inspired by the many people who have taken up the courage to take on this type of investigation. You can find Alistair online at angerman.online, that's his website, anger.man.online, you can also find him on Instagram at Moose, like the animal Moose anger management, is the screen name on Instagram. Alright, guys, I know you're gonna love this one. This is the this is awesome, super impactful, very important topic. And I would love to get even deeper into this because I know so many of us, myself included struggle with anger, especially as fathers. You'll hear us mention men's group in this conversation. And I want to make sure that you know, we still have a few, a very limited number of spaces left in our men's groups, we have a Wednesday morning Pacific Time, and a Thursday evening pacific time group, we go into pretty much everything. Anything that you would need to get off your chest, your anger, your frustration, sometimes it can be overwhelming to do it alone. And as we talked about here, sometimes you need to be able to go deep and dive into those things that are causing the anger to come up over and over and over. And sometimes at least for men, at least in my experience, the best way to do that is to join a group of intentional other men doing their own work, who can hold the space for you and help you get through what you need to get through to get onto the other side of anger in your life. If you are interested in joining us, I invite you to apply go to dad.work/group and hit the Application button fill out the short form and we'll do a quick call before you join because I want to make sure I have a personal relationship with every man inside of our container to be sure that we're a good fit for one another both you for our group and our group for you. So go to dad.org/group. With all that being said, enjoy this amazing conversation with Alistair Moes on the topic of anger for the Dad.Work podcast.
Alright dads, welcome to another episode of the Dad.Work Podcast. I am here with Alistair Moes and I am extremely excited to have him on because we are going to be chatting about anger. And if you have been following me for any time, if you are part of any of our communities, there's a good chance that you have told me at some point or another that anger, impatience, frustration. These are the biggest problems in your life as a father. And so Alistair, first of all, thank you for coming on to join us because this is really the most impactful thing we could be talking about today. And yeah, I just want to have this broad conversation Getting down to the specifics. So why don't we start? If you're comfortable with it just outlining what anger is? And the reason I'm doing this, because it's a broad question is because I would like the men listening to have the ability to have a new relationship with anger, rather than just being the thing that lets them see read, and that is broken in them, as many men think. I want them to see what it could be like on sort of a 30,000 foot view, what does it mean to be angry? Why do we get angry? So I'll let you go from there, if something comes up to sort of explain anger, and then we'll dive deeper into some specifics?
Sure, sure, thanks, and glad to be here. So anger is not a problem. There's nothing wrong with anger, anger is an emotion like any other emotion, and we can do something healthy, or something healthy, unhealthy, something constructive, or something destructive, with every different emotion. And people come to see us because of anger. And typically, if we do something healthy with the emotion, it is that, you know, like, if you think every big change in the history of the world, probably started with anger. Even Gandhi was probably kind of pissed off at the British occupying India, among other things, but you know, on a, on a bigger level, or even on a smaller level, closer to home, anger moves us, anger is the guardian of our boundaries. So So when somebody crosses your boundaries, or crosses the boundaries of somebody who is close to us, or on something we really care about, like the environment, or what have you, we feel anger, anger is is very physical in us, it's often it rises up like heat, or an energy or a wave of emotion. And, and it moves us. And if we pause for a minute, if we take a little bit of time, we can respond wisely to this, we can become more focused, we can become more determined. And if we stay connected to our heart, in our head, and our body, our intuition, we can respond with maturity, and with dignity, to that anger. Even in sports, you can see anger serves, but not if they get too angry, right? Too much anger and your hand coordination starts to drop, because we allow ourselves to escalate too much when we start to go into fight or flight. And that becomes counterproductive. So typically, when you know people do something destructive with anger, they don't take that pause, they don't stop and think about it. Now, it makes me think about people arguing online. Clearly, nobody's listening to each other, and people are just raging. And just putting everything out there. They're not using compassion, or empathy, or hat, they don't have the big picture. It's just like, they're in a survival moment. And literally, if we allow ourselves to get too worked up, the body goes into survival, it goes into fight or flight. And we lose access to the high reasoning part of the brain. And we're left with a very ancient part of the brain that is just focused on survival. It's all or nothing life or death, super dramatic. Thank Internet, and, and so we act like it's the end of the world when it isn't. Because most of the time, for the vast majority of us, there aren't near death experiences where a tiger is just about to attack us, where we can be sitting at home alone in a room just thinking about something. And then of course, if we add alcohol to it, then we can get even more outraged. But anger isn't bad. It's just what we do with it. And so there's a whole history, to anger in each person, and in each family. And those are worth checking into. How did I learn about my anger? When did When did my anger become worse? So the more intimate we are with our anger in the moment, how it changes our breathing, how it changes our thoughts. Like if you notice you're starting to blame somebody or you use the words always or never. You always you never that's usually a sign Okay? My brain is in an all or nothing thing, probably not helpful constriction in the chest shallow breathing, tension, teeth grinding all of this physical stuff, and our thoughts in the moment, but also over time, what did I learn drawing up about painter or sometimes if people have had head injuries, concussions, it changes, changes, how they respond to their anger.
If there's a history of trauma in the, in the person or in the person's family, family history, those can be related to how the person's response today as well. So there's, there's all these different layers and history. And the people that are willing to take the time to really look at that and understand that, you know, the more we shine a light on these things, the less they run us from the shadows, right, most people come to us, and they haven't really looked at this stuff in depth. And they don't under stand, how it makes sense that something small happens and their responses completely disproportionate to the event. And, and so it doesn't matter how intelligent you are, you know, you can be the most intelligent, brilliant genius in the world. But somebody pushes your buttons, or even you just think about something, and it can rise up in our body. And that emotion can take us over and all of a sudden our intelligence is out the window, our heart is nowhere to be found. And we're just in the survival mode, even though there's no actual threat to our physical survival. And then so we say and do things that we later regret. And then we hold shame in our, in our bodies in our, in our hands. And that, that doesn't help the whole thing. So, so yeah, there's a there's a lot to anger, it's connected to so much, and it's connected to many other emotions as well. Sometimes the anger rises up because we've been sad, or we miss somebody, or, or we're feeling physical pain, we have an injury, or we're hungry, sleep deprived, all these fun things. And but the end of when we do take good care of ourselves, when we do get enough sleep. Things tend to go better when we do recognize what's going on. As you know, like, even with this pandemic, there's a frustration and resentment and all sorts of things that have built up over the last couple of years. And left everybody kind of elevated. It seems like all of society is no, you know, for parents and kids can't go to school, at least some of the time. It's it's a big, big problem. It's affected so many of us. In fact, it's affected my business, when one of my counselors is stuck in Lisbon right now, because he tested positive before flying back here. And so oops. Yeah. You know, among other things, so lots of layers to anger. And for those who take the time, and the courage to really look at it with themselves and their family history, they become more in charge of it, they can become more intentional and less reactive. And that seems to be that that awareness, and that intention seems to be really key here. How do you want to? What do you want to teach your kids about anger? Well, act that way, whatever it is that you want them to learn, act that way, doesn't matter what you say. But how you act is that's what they're going to learn.
Curt Storring 14:12
Yeah, thank you for all of that. That's such a overall a sort of general sense of anger and what it takes to perhaps free yourself from its grips if you are stuck in that. And I hear both the peace of what anger is as well as this hopeful idea of being able to do something about it. And I'd love to get there. But I wonder about, like, for example, in nonviolent communication, they suggest that anger can be valuable as an alarm clock to wake us up to needs that are being met and the fact that we're likely not acting in a way to get the mat as well as I have heard what you just said, which is anger is a natural response to having your boundaries crossed. Are there other sort of explanations for anger? Like I want to get really clear on why someone might Get angry in the first place so that we can then dive deeper into the how to do the work around that. Because if guys are just like, well, I fly off the hook, I don't know why, if they're like, Oh, it's my, it's maybe not the right reaction to it. But it makes sense that I feel this way. That's what I want to get people out is it makes sense. So are there other sort of reasons why anger comes up in a way that is neither good nor bad? Simply a reaction to something happening in the world?
Sure, well, one of the things that comes to mind is that it's, it's an emotion. And its data, if we dial into what what the anger actually feels like in our body, I think that the, the anger shows up physically in us first. And so like, like many men, I grew up learning just kind of numb from all that. That emotional stuff doesn't mean anything. It's just like, that's for girls or something, you know, like, anyhow, so I grew up practicing being numb to my emotions. And then of course, as I got into my teenage years and beyond, if it if there's too much, then then just drink, that'll help numb it. But it's really not really a great long term strategy. But so the emotions are neither good nor bad. It just depends what we do with them. And anger. Often it's, you know, as mentioned, there's often grinding in the teeth. Right, right in the jaw, heads constriction in the chest. Sometimes it's connected to anxiety, right? Anxiety is fear of what may or may not happen, pair of things that we have no control over. And often that leaves us irritated. But anger can be connected to lots of different emotions. But first and foremost, it's what? What, how does it show up in your body, sometimes it can just be really helpful to take the story out of it, and just look at how do you hold that in your body? Do I hold it in my shoulders, and you know, how, how tense is my back, my upper back my neck. You know, all of this stuff, is, uh, you know, the body is kind of speaking to you. I had one guy, talk to me, after I explained how effort in a situation where we feel kind of out of control can be a job can be a relationship. What happens in the in the, in the gut, in the stomach, is if we're escalating into fight or flight, then the blood vessels leading to your stomach, your whole digestive system constrict, it's like, your body's shutting this down, which is why we get butterflies, if we have to get up and speak, for instance, for some people, or if we get really stressed out really upset, then this, you know, your stomach can just shut down and even tie up into knots. Right, it can be painful even. And so the body's doing this because your body's going into fight or flight. And if the body could speak, or would say something like, well, we don't need to waste energy digesting food right now. And literally in your stomach, it's the only part of the body that has brain cells, other than the brain. So it's like we do have a second brain in there. And our job is to listen to it. But unfortunately, and so if we don't listen to that, and this continues for months or years, this constriction of the blood vessels to the stomach, then we become at higher risk for an ulcer or irritable bowel syndrome or gastritis, or acid reflux or various other things like that. And acid, not acid reflux, the irritable bowel syndrome, IBS. It's like we need to be near the bathroom all the time, because we don't have very much control over what's going on internally in our digestive system. And I think of it as a reflection of how we're relating to the life that we have outside of us. So I have this guy, come to me and say, talk to me about what he calls his crazy ex. And I said don't don't blame your your ex. You stayed with her. It was a crazy experience and we can have some compassion for her for that matter. But you stayed for five years now. Five and a half years, but five years he had IBS, his stomach was a disaster. And after he got the courage up to recognize this and leave,
and it wasn't that he had to leave, but he had to change how he was relating to this relationship, because he was relating to it in a way where he felt out of control all the time. And so his anxiety was through the roof, because he was putting his attention on what somebody else was doing. Rather than then looking at his own power, what how he is going to respond to this, he didn't listen to what was happening in his body, until finally, after five years of a lot of unpleasantness, he leaves stomach goes completely back to normal, like 100%, no problem. And I've had this multiple times. And it's not about the act, it's about you staying in a relationship that was toxic, that was unhealthy. And once the person actually takes responsibility for their own side in it, and figures out i Yeah, I'm really angry, because I'm, all I'm focused on is all this stuff out here that I can't do anything about, or whatever I am trying to do is completely unproductive. And, and so we need to listen to the body. And if we don't listen to the body, which, you know, generations of men in my family practice doing,
and continue to do. You know, like, we have to dial into all that stuff. And, and there's a, there's a school of psychology called somatic experiencing. And that's all they look at.
They stay away from the story, not 100%, but mostly, and it's really kind of freeing, because you're just trying to dial into what's happening in the body and figure out what you need to do to, to bring your physiology down into, you know, a healthier state. Because however you're interacting with the world, is not leading to that healthy state. They call it a pen Ulation. So it's like, you feel the edge of that stress, the edge of the trauma, and you figure out what you need to do to, to pull it back. So here's a here's a simple one. And this is from the work of a guy by the name of Peter Levine, who has been studying trauma since the since the 60s. I taught this to my to my group last Thursday, session number two of the group. So put your hands up like somebody who's got a gun to your back. Right. So it's like hands up, you can do this, and you take your right hand, and you put it kind of over your heart and into your armpit a little bit. And then you take the other hand and you put her on the outside of your other arm. And then you close your eyes. And just breathe slowly for a minute.
Do you take about five of those breaths maybe you feel your shoulders dropping a little bit. And your breathing slows a little bit more. And it slows everything down. So you, you actually pull your body
a little bit away from that fight or flight. Sometimes it's just stopping and making sure you're breathing through your nose and breathing slowly into your abdomen, like in for five and out for five that can actually help slow things down. But it's noticing the stuff going on in the body. Because if we ignore that, well, it's just then we're elevated, we can't even think straight. And we need to figure out how to think straight. And that's that's why it's such a good idea to build a like a timeout into our relationship with your partner with your kids, maybe even just with yourself, where you notice you're getting really elevated. And you get to this point where again, you can't even think straight. It's like okay, I'm not capable right now of addressing any sort of conflict, like a reasonable person. So I need to take five minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, whatever it might be. And, and bring everything back down. So my so my feet are flat on the ground again and I breathing slowly and my body's pulled out of fight or flight. So, so we lead people through breathing exercise specifically designed to do that. Because it's healthy, and it gives us this power over ourselves. And it focuses on what you do have some control over yourself and takes the attention off of others. Because you don't have control over them. Generally.
Curt Storring 25:36
No matter how much I wish that we did, yeah, thank you for sharing that breathing technique. Because I think that is absolutely vital in getting to the place where it's not so destructive all the time. And the question that comes up is like, what is the balance between the somatic side of things and like, okay, great, I can deal with it when it comes up, but it keeps coming up. Like, why does it keep coming up? Like, do we need to figure out what those traumas were? Why we're being triggered so often, like, what is it about the fact that when my kid comes into my office, when I'm working, I'm like, don't you know, I'm working, get out of here. I'm so stressed out because like, this is my space. What are you doing? Like, what is the balance between being able to sit with an embryo and then figuring out like, what the hell it is? It's actually causing us to Sanger.
Mm hmm. What, and it's different for everybody. So, so. So it's a feedback loop, as well. So when your kid walks into the room, while you're working, what happens in your body? Like, where do you feel that
Curt Storring 26:45
for so my anger, let's just let's just use me as a guinea pig. Because like, anger has been my biggest thing forever. And I feel very comfortable in having it no longer run my life and cause terrible harm to my family, because I used to scare the shit out of everyone. Like I was just a scary mean person. But when I feel anger, it is in my sort of the center of my gut all the way up to my heart space. And it feels like it's on fire. It's just this like red, orange hot energy. And then of course, everything just goes into like clampdown mode where the body is overwhelmed with this energy of needing it to stop. That's my typical anger response is I needed to stop no matter what. So like, I will just blow up. That's what it feels like. Mostly this red hot got in the center of my body.
Yeah, well, it's like a line up and down between your your chest and your gut. Yeah. Is that Is that right? Yeah. And is there a weight to it? Or is it just
Curt Storring 27:53
you know what, it's, it's almost weightless in the sense that it feels like a void, which is hard, because there is so much energy behind it. And yet it doesn't feel heavy. Feels like there's something happening there. But it's mostly the energy.
So is there like, emptiness in it? Is there?
Curt Storring 28:14
Yeah, I mean, I don't know how else to explain it other than like, I've never thought about the weight of it before.
And what happens to your breathing
Curt Storring 28:28
it usually quickens and gets shallower.
Yeah. So the that that that shape expands and kind of pushes on your lungs almost. Yeah. Yeah, well, that sounds threatening just in itself. Yeah, so right. So it get Are you okay? If I go farther with this and ask if you
Curt Storring 29:01
please, I would love it and I'm sure they will benefit everyone else. But I would love it if it benefited me too.
Okay, so and, and tell me to stop if you have if you want me to imagine that we're able to pull you apart. And one side is the guy that's talking to me right now who's pretty settled and breathing and calm. And you're able to have a conversation with the red hot, man. Whatever we want to call him right? What do you want to call him?
Curt Storring 29:39
A rage monster?
rage monster. Okay, rage monster and we're imagining that rage monster is able to just hit a pause button and have a conversation with you. Okay, I don't know if you've ever done anything like like a gestalt before, but that's what that's what this is. So what I'm going to do is As you're imagining, you're having a conversation with rage monster. And I'll start a sentence. It's called a sentence stem, and you just complete it spontaneously. You don't repeat my words, you just act as if you already said those words. And you complete the sentence. And then I'll say switch and you'll, you'll be rage monster, but you're able to talk back to compassionate you.
Right? So the rage monster actually feels heard in that moment. Makes sense? Yes. Okay, so if you're able to look at the rage monster, what's his body language like?
Curt Storring 30:44
He is prickly. His shoulders are raised. He's looking side to side to be on the lookout for threats and is ready to run at a moment's notice.
So if you could look into his eyes, what would you see? Fear here, okay, great. So you're looking at rage monster. And just finish the sentence. What I noticed most about you right now is
Curt Storring 31:14
your heat and your discomfort with being uncomfortable.
Alright, so now we're going to switch and you become rage monster talking back to yourself. And you say, of course, I'm uncomfortable because
Curt Storring 31:31
things feel overwhelming. And I've never had to learn or had anyone teach me how to deal with them.
And a time when I was younger, that kind of stands out, where I first remember noticing this and me was
Curt Storring 31:48
when my dad left us and I had to take on the brunt of everyone else's emotions and didn't have any space for mine. And so there was no one to help me. Process mine.
And what I noticed in my body when that happened was
Curt Storring 32:12
heat and the feeling of fear of being on the precipice of disaster, uncertainty, a sinking in my stomach sadness around the eyes and the face.
What I was most afraid of was
Curt Storring 32:38
being left alone forever.
If I was left alone forever, what would happen is
Curt Storring 32:51
no one would be there for me. And I would know for sure that I have no worth.
Right. Ultimately that, you know, the little, the little kid or however old you were, would feel like, and I'll die. Yeah.
Curt Storring 33:10
So. So we're talking to that young part of you. And looking back at the adult, much wiser man now. And that young part of you says, you know, what I really need from you is like, if you're able to be there for him when he was at that age, and he will say he would say what I really need from you is
Curt Storring 33:38
to hold me and be there for me when I am feeling overwhelmed, and angry and crying and screaming and not leave when it seems like I'm too big to handle
Okay, let's switch back to you now. So you're the adult, compassionate man, father, and you're looking at him. And you say the commitment I'll make to you today. When I notice you're feeling like that. I'm going to
Curt Storring 34:21
give you the patience and the grace that it will take to see you by breathing deeply removing myself from a situation to be with you if necessary, putting my hand on my heart so that you feel me and not judging or blaming you for bringing this up at me.
All right. Now just to keep this brief, I'm going to say
what I noticed most about you right now is and you're looking at the the Kid and the rage monster, but I noticed most about you now is
Curt Storring 35:06
the melting relief that you embody
how I can see that in how you're holding yourself as your body languages.
Curt Storring 35:21
Everything is down. Your eyes look like they have a longing in them. Your shoulders are down your legs and your arms are limp, basically. And you are ready to be braced.
Yeah, sounds like there's more openness. Yeah. Okay, what do you what do you get from, from that
Curt Storring 35:55
really settled feeling. I have tried to do things like this not quite so useful in terms of having a round table inside of myself, where I invite the anger to sit with the rest of the emotions and be heard. But bringing it back from the body feel to the story. And the trauma in like five minutes is remarkable. So I'm, like, I'm excited and almost exhilarated to have this. And just, man, I have done so much work, to not feel sort of terrible and judged myself and angry and be mean to my family. And it's so amazing how much still gets held up in trauma and old beliefs and conditioning, no matter how much work you do, it always comes up. And I've been doing a lot of work on rejection and stuff like that recently. And surprise, surprise, it comes back to this exact thing, which I just shared, which is that wound of being a three year old, with his dad leaving and having like, everybody leave me. So of course, I went, we need to be perfect, of course. And if I get angry, that's like a really scary thing, because everyone's gonna, you know, leave or ostracized or whatever or abandon. And yeah, I just feel the sense of completeness with that process, if that makes sense. So I yeah, I very much appreciate you doing that. And I hope that it comes across for the men listening, is that something that can be done? If you're following along the podcast? Or do you need a sort of a guide to do that?
Well, yes, and yes, it can be helpful to hearing that for sure. And when I do this kind of thing in one of one of our groups, and I'll say to the, all the other guys in the Zoom Room, just put your hand up, if you can relate to that. And loads the guys will put their hands up, because we've all got our trauma in our system, it may be different than yours, of course. But it comes back to the same thing where and we feel like we're going to die. We feel worthless, you know, because that little kid wasn't looked after. He wasn't. He didn't get the loving support that he needed in those moments. So that that trauma could be worked through, then. And so it stays with us. And, you know, I've done in work. And, and I know there's there's still things to work on, there's always still things to work on. You know, sometimes it feels like really stale. But yeah, absolutely. There's, there's lots of stuff and, and that also keeps life interesting. Because there's always more depth, there's always more depth, there's always going to be more struggles. And if there is no struggle, if you're not doing any of that, then you're probably not in a relationship. And you're, you're doing the same thing every day. Like you're, you know, like, most of the rest of us have struggles all the time. Certainly, if you're living a somewhat dynamic and engaged life, and most fathers certainly it's like, well, those relationships are, you know, dynamic, and they're ever changing as kids grow up and you know, partners and all of that, like, that's a lot more complexity to that. And whatever we're doing for work, even if you're like a brain surgeon, and believe me, we've worked with from people from every walk of life imaginable over the last 27 years, so yeah, yeah.
Curt Storring 39:44
Thank you for that. And that's like part of why in men's groups like we do, it's so helpful for the dads to come because like you just said they're not alone. It's like, oh, yeah, like everyone always raises their hand. Can you relate to this? And it's not like I'm the only one struggling and therefore you and berate yourself all the harder which, for somebody who does that, automatically, in general is not fun to be in that loop. And I am super interested in sort of practices if you have more on two fronts. One is, what are some of the things and I presume they're mindfulness techniques, perhaps, to catch the body feelings, because so many of us are divorced from the general feeling of our bodies. I think this is a huge problem in almost every aspect of our society today, but as it relates to anger, how are we supposed to even know when we start breathing, when we clench our teeth, when we're like, feeling that rage in the center of our bodies, are there practices to get us there sooner, so that we can react better without being at like, you know, 100%, and then just blowing up, and I'll ask, perhaps, about what we can do when we do get to that? 100%?
Well, sure, I mean, there's, I mean, joining a men's group, you know, for sure, that's, that's going to make a difference. Going to anger management, seeing a counselor but, but simple things like sitting still, for a few minutes every morning, just setting with yourself and noticing just scanning slowly through your body. And, and sometimes I'll do that in the in the group. And I'll really slowly go from the crown of your head slowly and just mentioned, every, every little nuance body part, hands back in the hands, fingers, you know, elbow was just going through the hips every everywhere on the way down. And, and the job is just to notice what it feels like in there. And men can't feel every different part. But when we slowly scan through the potty, guys, oh, I didn't notice I had that. But it's like, there's pains that they weren't even aware of. And that and that tension, or that pain, or the relaxed Ness, if that's what's there, these are good things to notice. Because it tells us about what's what's going on with us. And if we're, we're blind to that, that's, then we're kind of blind to our own emotional state. Meditation, yoga, stretching, tai chi, you know, all sorts of things like that, that help you stay connected to the body dance. These things where we move our body or sports, we can be you know, or working out of the gym, you somebody can be very present and intentional, and making sure they're doing everything with their breathing and really noticing their body posture. And what it feels like in every part of the body, you practice doing that. And it's a it's a lifelong practice. Right, and you just keep on noticing, and as the years go by, you'll notice more and more. And I, I think our our really good window in is what's happening in your body. Because if people don't address what's happening in the body, then they just stay in their head. And you can't figure this stuff out in your head. The learning tends to show up in your chest, in your, you know, around your abdomen, or your solar plexus. Like when people get it. It's like, that's why they feel it. Somebody crosses their boundaries, and they feel it in their bodies like hey, that's not right. Okay, hang on, I want to act like an adult this time. What would I do if I was? Well, I'd probably stop and think about it for a minute before you know responding. And in whatever it might be, it might be something that he can take your time at might be something that just needs a couple of breaths before opening mouth. But it's that practice of noticing what happens in your body. Your kid walks in the door. You feel this in your body is like oh, okay, what do I need to do? And what do you need to do? Your kid walks in the door. That that that that flaming thing happens in your body? And what do you do? What's What's your go to based on what we just did? Correct? What do you do?
Curt Storring 44:34
For me? It's a few deep breaths, like really deep into the gut to circulate that energy a little bit so that it almost dissipates by putting it elsewhere on the body. That's what I try to do at least.
Sure. And based on the on the Gestalt that we just did that that exercise. What what is that? need that part of you? What does that part need
Curt Storring 44:58
to feel safe and light Like, there is space for him and like, well, in this case, there's like a controlling element, because the fear behind that is if I'm out of control, like, I'm just gonna be left and nobody's gonna be there for me. And so there's, there's that which is strange because here's this child walking in here who wants to be with me, you know, and this idea of nobody being there for me.
And, and you want him to experience you in a certain way. And so first you need to parent yourself in that moment. Okay, this is not the end of the world. We're all safe here, or whatever language works for you, right? But it's like you're talking, am I breathing, but feet on the ground. Different practices can include looking out the window, if there's window and seeing far away, and then seeing something close. It's about putting your hands on the table, feeling what it feels like there. And smelling just all the different sensations. And connecting to I'm here right now, that can alter things. Right? And then you just acknowledge, okay, everything, you know, I'm safe. And loved. And, and I'm loving toward that part of me that feels unsafe. Right? Yeah, maybe maybe you do what you say where you put your hand on your chest or your heart. Right? Or you do the Peter Levine thing. Or, Hey, come here and you can get your your kid you got to come in and get a hug now. And you're right. Because that's, that's what you need. So it's probably what he needs anyway.
Curt Storring 47:04
Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, boy. But yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And being able to see what you need it to give it to them. And I think that's actually sort of side note, I very underutilized parenting tactic, which is just remember that which you needed. And make sure that that's not lacking in your child's lives. At least that's what I have tried to do. And just being there, because that's what as I said, I felt like nobody was truly there for me and sort of a leadership or guiding sense, as that's not going to be lacking in my kids lives. Although I will, of course, create my own wounds in them. And you know, they'll have to deal with that. So what about when you're in it? Like, this was a question I got from a couple of guys in my men's group. I said, I'm going to be talking anger on the podcast, what do you want to know? And they're like, What about like, when we're in it, and the lava starts flowing, and it's too late to notice. And we're like, we've got to move this energy. Typically, it's going to come out as like screaming at the kids because you're bigger, and you get to feel good, because you know, they can't do anything about it. And you got to get this energy out. But when it's like coming out, what can we do to transform it, if such a thing as possible, in a way that's not destructive, but still moves in?
Wel l, and writing about it, like you want to become more intimate with what this path looks like, what it feels like in your body, your thoughts, your actions, so that you know that the more you write, or talk about it, the more you're able to sort of step back and notice or witness that experience. And that's, that's what we're after. Because we're being engulfed, the emotion is taking us over. And, and in those moments, we're disconnecting from our heart and our intelligence or in our ability to think you have is this, how much is this going to matter to me in a minute, an hour, a day, a year, a decade? 20 years from now, it'll matter a lot if I lose it in front of my kid right now. But really the fact that they just walked into the room or or did this or that? Right, so so that, that rating scale, how much on a scale of one to 10. This is before your power lies in what you do before you get there. And the more you've examined all this, the more you're likely to catch yourself before you get up to that. The technical, psychologically technical name for that as the Fuckit point. Right? Where are you saying? Fuck, you just lose it. Well, you may not say that but it is said so to speak. You know, by the time we're in that place, are thinking you is all or nothing. It's fight or flight. So it's super dramatic. And we're still capable of walking away. Like, we still have the capacity to do that. It's less, it's harder to walk away. And so it's knowing yourself as you escalate up there. And it's practicing. I think one of the other things we do in our, in our groups is as we go through all of the impact on the other, whether it's a partner or a child. And even if somebody doesn't have children, they were one one. So they get it. It's what are the impact on the child? What does it feel like in their body? What does it have? What happens in their head? What does it you know, how does it impact them in multiple ways? If we've explored this ahead of time? And we get oh, yeah, well, you know, the first things guys say, in our groups as well, what happens to kids, when there's an abusive event in the home as well, they're afraid, they blame themselves, they take it out on their siblings, or they it affects them in this way, or that way, that way. And if we've really searched all this stuff out, and acknowledged it, then we're more likely to be aware of it. And we're less likely to go as far down that that path. But it means we face our own shame, when we really look at that stuff. And that takes a lot of courage. And it's helpful. If you're with somebody who knows the way who's been down that path and and guide, who, who gets it, who has made their own mistakes, many of them and, and that they've taken the time to look at their own stuff that they can acknowledge, yeah, I, you know, I've, I understand, I get it, you're human, we all make mistakes, there's compassion, there's understanding. And so, you know, if we can actually, then we're more likely to have empathy and compassion, which ultimately are like the anger management superpowers. Because so many of us men have have career or in our work, where all we do is fix things.
You know, whatever your job is, it's just about, here's a problem, I'll fix it, or I'll repair it, or I'll, you know, take care of it. And then we get home and we try to do that in our home life. And it's like, yeah, okay, that was a disaster. Because people don't need to be fixed. People need to be heard, and seen, valued and loved. And if you do that with your kids and your partner, you make the priority that they experienced, being truly heard, and listened to, and that they feel valued and loved. Yeah, that's like more than half of the problems just disappear, doing that alone. And it takes us out of our anger. And then, you know, and helps if we've looked at our history, and we understand our traumas that trigger us so that we overreact. But really connecting with the impact on the other. And understanding the impact on ourselves when we were young, to the rage to the neglect to the, you know, sudden changes, what have you, I was with my family and living in Santiago in Chile in 1964, or five. And all sudden, my older brother and I were sent away to get flown in that year, and then in the late 60s, flown to Holland, where we lived with an end uncle for about six months. And my mom had had postpartum depression when my youngest brother was born in Santiago, and and based in tried to kill herself. So she was not capable of looking after us. So we were sent away to live with the net and uncle. And then you know, eventually my dad came and got us and they had moved back to Vancouver in the meantime and and in our family, just nobody ever talked about it. It was just what it was like, I just thought, Oh, well, you know, that's perfectly normal that this happens and they'll be like, This is so called But not that that specific thing happens that or that significant events happen. And then nobody talks about it. And, you know, as long as nobody talks about it, it wields all this power. And it's not a good power. It's an Unhealthy, Toxic kind of power. And so things need to be acknowledged. And, yeah, that's not dealing with your anger, your outrage in the moment. But if you want to deal with your overreaction in the moment, we need to go back and go, Wow, you know, this is, this is still a touchy subject. It's possible that there are people in my family where that's still a touchy subject. Probably won't listen to this podcast. They did. They'd be outraged at me that.
Curt Storring 55:57
Yeah, oh, man, that all of this holds. So true. Just in everything that I've experienced as well, is that like, I, I'm almost asking for all these guys who asked me, like, what are the tools? What do I do? And it's like, the more I hear you talk about this, I'm hearing the same idea, which is basically the only answer is to shine light on it, to talk about it, to investigate why? And unpack it. And I love what you said about the courage that it takes to do that, because this shit is so hard. And it feels like I mean, it activates my little boy who thinks he's going to die still, in dealing with some of this and being vulnerable with it. And I don't know if you want to talk about that at all, but like, what is it about the vulnerability? And how can we get over that vulnerability of being seen to have these shameful wounds? We think does it help to? I mean, obviously, it does. But what about your experience in having people come to you or being in group? How can we get over this sort of internal shame of having these things?
Yeah, well, I think the, the exploration of them needs to be done with curiosity and non judgment. In other words, yeah, my mom used to lose it and smash things and scare the shit out of me. But I'm not here to blame her. Yeah, she could have done things differently. My dad could have done things differently. Sure. What. And I can't change any of that. So, you know, I can think, Oh, well, my dad's dad was imprisoned by the Nazis in the Second World War for five years, because they were in Holland. And, you know, that's what happened there. So he never talked about any of that stuff ever, because his dad never talked about any of that stuff ever. And for some reason, I, you know, in, in my books, lucked out that I figured out how to dive into all that stuff. And so I don't need to blame anybody, but I certainly needed a guide. And continue to study and attend groups, and do what I need for. Because is, there's always more healing. Right, there's always more to learn. And either we decide, yeah, I'm gonna go on this path, and I'm gonna make a difference for myself, for those around me, can be a better person, maybe what I'm going to try to be as a good person rather than a better person. Because so many people get wrapped up in trying to be better and better in every way better and better every day. And it's like, yeah, that's failure. You can't do that you're just gonna fail over and over again. But I can, I can work on being a good person. And, and, and that can include really looking at this stuff, and finding places where that healing can occur, and searching it out, and are many different places where these things are going on a lot more these days than they used to be. I mean, there's all sorts of different things going on from things like the mankind project or around here, clear mind or places like the Haven over on Gabriel letter. There's all these different places that we can go. There's all these different opportunities. And our job is to take the current job and not do what was done in previous generations but to actually face this stuff. And, and be around other men that you can actually talk with them. All this stuff that's, uh, you know, that's a real treat. And, and I think the other thing is that we need to go at a pace that that works for us. You know, it's not a race. It's you know, and a guy say to me a while ago, he says, always afraid that, you know, we're gonna, like, totally dive into the midst of my sexual trauma and I and, and, and I, you know, I think it's pretty cool that you acknowledge that that's happened first of all. And but this this process is as best served if we go on a pace that works for you. This is, you know, and so I think that we go to the edge of the trauma, and we be gentle with that. So you notice what it feels like there and the way penggiling would pull back from it. And that's breathing, looking after yourself, knowing what you need to say, giving your kid a hug. Right, you know, figuratively and perhaps literally, but knowing the things we need to do so that we can look after ourselves like an adult's. We got to have some humor in this whole thing. Because it helps us step back and be intelligent and curious with that. And, yeah, and it sounds like you're, you're participating in that with all sorts of different men. So though the world needs more men like you happening out there, correct, so that this becomes more and more common. And so I started running anger management groups in 95. And in the 90s, I would ask guys in my group Sensei, so how many of you have ever done any breathing exercises or meditation, nine out of 12, or 15, guys there, and maybe one guy puts his hand up. And, and now, most groups, at least half of them. I even had one group once or everybody put their hand up. Wow. And so things are changing substantially. In some ways, things are still the same. But in other ways, they are really changing. Like, I think a lot of the same messages are sent to our kids about how to be a man out there that we're supposed to be coughing, suck it up and not depend on anybody and figure it out yourself. And, you know, don't cry stuff. Like a lot of those messages are still out there. But it is shifting. Shifting for sure.
Curt Storring 1:02:58
Yeah, reminds me of a coach, who was doing a breathwork session with me. And I was judging myself and saying, you know, I don't want to do this. And I see the feelings that are coming up. And I'm just not into it today. And she said, Is it hard? And I said, Yeah, it's really hard. She says, Well do strong men do hard things. And it's like, Damn, it gets a better go here now. And so my invitation for the men listening are like, Yeah, well, I just don't want to be angry. But I certainly don't want to, like look into it. That's weird. Like, guys, this will literally change your life. I know it has, for me, it sounds like it probably has for you to, from what you've been saying. And it takes going there. And it takes journaling and talking about in men's group and finding, you know, therapists or counselors or whoever to help you feel safe in navigating it. But you got to do the work. And that's like, the whole point of this project is just the hopefulness that comes once you start doing the work because it is such a hopeful message to be able to not live your life controlled by rage or anger anymore, at least in my experience. So I know we're at the end of our time here together, Alistair and I really appreciate everything you've shared with us. But where can people go to find out more about you or join your group? So you've been mentioning? What is the best link or otherwise find you?
Anger man, like Superman, Superman only with anger, angerman.ca or angerman.online. Most spelled like the animal most Anger Management on Instagram, Facebook, but the website, the websites the best and there's my phone numbers on there and all that kind of stuff. And makes me think one thing before we end is whenever I finish a group session at the end of every session, I'll say to the guys, okay, share one or two words that that, you know, show where you're at right now in this moment. And a lot of the men will say, hopeful how optimistic, sometimes anxious and afraid. Hurt sad shame. And those aren't bad things. They're feeling that and they're still feeling hopeful and optimistic and understanding and learning. And and for the guys that never said anything the whole group you know, there might be a few of them and you go around the circle and it's like oh, right I have no idea otherwise and so it gets something out of every person and all sudden all these guys oh, I'm not the only one that feels like that are you know, I share that and yeah, I'm interested I want to keep this going. Oh, yeah. So there you go.
Curt Storring 1:05:52
Beautiful. Okay, well, I'm gonna wrap it up now. I really appreciate this and have a lot of interest in future future conversations to be honest, but I'll leave that for another day. I appreciate this very much. Make sure to check out Allister and you can find out all those links that he mentioned at dad.work/podcast, as with all show notes, and that's it for now. Thank you guys for listening. Alistair, thank you for being a part thank you
that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including shownotes resources and links to subscribe leave review work with us go to dad.work/pod That's DAD.WORK/POD type that into your browser just like a normal URL, dad.work/pod To find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.
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