Dick: Are you ready, Bill?
Cl: Ready as I'll ever be, as they say back in Kansas.
Dick: Ready as you'll ever be, like they used to say back in Kansas. What are you feeling right now?
Cl: Kind of excited and nervous.
Dick: Which is it?
Cl: I think it is both.
Dick: I talked about how excitement, when we try to contain it and restrict it becomes nervousness, right? So if you just say "I'm excited" and go "Whooh", then this green light ..... (Deep exhalation) You see when you try to contain your excitement, what happens energetically in your body, what happens energetically in your body is the green light goes on, "Let's go" and at the same time the red light goes on, "Hold it in". (Dick gulps a breath and holds it). So you are trying to do both at the same time. You are in the dark vice.
Cl: It seems like I need the skills to know how to do it.
Dick: The skills to know how to do it. The thing to know is what you are doing, at that point. You are excited but you are also trying to hold it down. That is what you are doing. So you make the announcement, "I'm excited and I'm trying to hold it down. And that's where it's at." And you never, never, never say, "That's where I'm at." Don't ever use that phrase. Because there is always with that phrase the suggestion of the pejorative. "That's where I'm at, stupid bastard"
"That's where it's at. That is the way the wind is blowing. It has nothing to with me. That's where it is at. So, I'm excited and trying to hold it in, and that's where it is at." And then just feel the body. And feel that sense of relief that comes when you have announced it. It is in the open now and you don't have to hide it anymore. So what would you like talk about, what would you like to accomplish with this work. What? What?
Cl: I would like to talk about that thing that I mentioned in the introduction. The anger that came up for me. I feel like I have some pretty good understanding of it. Some acceptance of it at the time, and yet, it is like I don't know, that in the future it is going to come up again, and I won't like it.
Dick: Tell me again about the anger. Go over it again.
Cl: Lots of things floated into my body and my mind. It is attached to a lot of things. The incident that happened was that I went to Chicago to help my cousin move, and I had a long conversation the night before with a friend in the city, and we talked some about essence and some things like that, it was a powerful conversation for me, and she was telling me that I needed to express some of my own power. I needed to find a way to express that in my life more. And I took that to heart quite a bit. And the next morning I went to help with the move, and there were a couple cousins involved, but the one who was moving, when he and I arrived at the house early, he went to get some rolls and I was alone in the house. And then another cousin arrived, and I was alone and feeling meditative, I was feeling quiet, and I was trying to eat some fruit, I was peeling a kiwi. All of a sudden there was a loud banging, "Boom, boom, boom" in the house. I am usually well oriented with things like that and I know, "Oh that something banging, I know what it is". But I was startled by this, it took me by surprise. I felt jangled, or startled by it. Then I heard a loud yelling. And again my memory is that I didn't focus on it but there was this loud yelling, and this cousin was arriving to help with the move, and he can be an obnoxious person. I have felt angry at him in the past.
Dick: He is an asshole, in other words.
Cl: At times. He is also child-like,
Dick: Okay, call a spade a spade.
Cl: Sometimes he is an asshole to me.
Dick: All right.
Cl: He was being one at that moment. He yelled something real loud and I walked out into the room where he was coming toward me, and he just walked up to me, and he is two or three inches taller than me and forty or fifty pounds more, and he thrust out his chest and banged into me, just this real affrontive behavior.
Dick: Why did he do that?
Cl: I don't know, I didn't try to figure it out. He does something like that, sometimes. It is a way of being playful in his mind, I think. In his conscious mind. He did that to me, and I don't remember making any decisions, I lost it, I just ... This anger just ...... And I felt this rush or anger and fight, and I pushed him. And it is something I haven't done in forty years.
Dick: You pushed him like this. (Dick does a two handed shoving motion).
Cl: He was much larger than me and I really had to give it everything to have an effect. I did that. (Laughter) And he just, there was a wall about four feet away, and he just smashed into the wall and fell into a little chair there.
Dick: What a scene. Look at that. Enjoy it.
Cl: I wish I would have had a video camera.
Dick: Well, you had one in your head.
Cl: Yeah. And then I don't trust my memories specifically about what happened after that. I don't trust his either, he gave me some of his that were different from some of mine.
Dick: What happened?
Cl: As I imagine it, he stood up and pushed me back, real roughly, and I decided to continue the fight. I wanted to hit him. I didn't want to hit him in the face, but I wanted to cause him pain. I really wanted to cause him pain. I hit him in the chest. I hit him as hard as I could. I wanted to hit him as hard as I could. I wanted to hurt him. He hit me back. I hit him in the arm, again as hard as I could. I remember thinking, "Ohhh, this should stop." And he punched me in the mouth and then he went into the other room.
Dick: He retreated. (Laughter)
Dick: the coward!!! (Laughter)
Cl: Yeah, the slimy bastard.
Dick: How did that feel?
Cl: That made me feel good, but he got the last punch.
Dick: Oh, that doesn't mean anything. He shot over his shoulder as he was running away and it was a lucky shot.
Cl: He reminded me somehow of a puppy. He was whimpery and hurt.
Cl: And that's when that last shot happened.
Dick: So you beat him up. (Laughter). How do you feel?
Cl: I feel really good about it. He had it coming. He tells me he didn't. And this big voice of my wife, this is a big voice that is in my head a lot, that he didn't, and it was a terrible thing..
Dick: Did she say it was a terrible thing?
Cl: Yeah, afterwards. As I suspected she would. I told myself that I don't give a shit ahead of time, but not enough to really say that to her. I actually kind of said, "I don't want to do that kind of thing."
Dick: Well that was your mistake. Close your eyes. See your wife telling you that this is a terrible thing that you did, and tell her the truth about how you feel about that, what you just told us here. What is her name?
Dick: Tell Ann the truth.
Cl: Ann, I don't give a shit. I don't give a shit that you think it was wrong.
Dick: "He pushed me, he bumped me, he started it."
Cl: I want to say that I understand all the ways that it is wrong.
Dick: No, you don't say any of that. Oh no.
Cl: But she won't accept me.
Dick: Yes she will.
Cl: I'll tell her you said that.
Dick: You see, what the problem is, what you are doing is, you are becoming defensive. You were totally non-defensive when you were telling us the story. When I asked how you felt, you said you felt good about it, and so on. Now here comes Ann, and she says, "That is a bad thing to do" and so talk to her. Don't be defensive. Don't tell her, "Oh, I know all the bad things about that" and so on.
Cl: I guess I have beliefs in my head too about that, that you shouldn't beat people up, and when you get angry you shouldn't fight. You shouldn't lose control. I don't think people should go around settling disputes by pounding on each other.
Dick: No, but should they defend themselves?
Cl: Yes. Yes. That is what I said I wanted to do.
Dick: That is the gist of it. You paid a very small price for it. You got punched in the mouth for it, but you drove him away. He retreated. You didn't leave the room, he did.
Cl: He said he is very careful about how he approaches me in the future.
Dick: He said that? All right! From somewhere you got the feeling that this was a bad thing that you did. It wasn't a bad thing at all. You were even super careful. You didn't hit him in the face where you would mar him, or hurt his eye, or knock a tooth loose. You just wanted to give him a little passing pain.
Cl: Well, more than that. I somehow haven't got the power to have the right to live, the right to tell people what I think, to stand up for myself. That is what I am learning to do.
Dick: Yeah, how do you feel right now? Stay with your body.
Cl: I feel a sadness about that. The years of not doing that.
Dick: All right, feel that. Feel the sadness of not standing up for yourself. Let yourself collapse into that. And now be back with your cousin, and see that he walks in with his chest out and he bumps you, gives you a bump. That is the way football players greet each other. These big guys, that is a joke with them. And let him have it again.
Cl: Fuck you Bob, don't do that again!
Dick: Don't talk. Don't argue about it. Give him the push.
Cl: Give him the push?
Dick: Give him the push, and he hits the wall and he collapses into the chair. Just like in the movies, right?
Cl: The chair got smashed. There was a hole in the seat.
Dick: That's what you have. What are you feeling now?
Dick: Feel it. Say, "I'm alive. I'm real."
Cl: I'm alive. I'm real.
Dick: Yeah, and how do you know that you are alive and real? By the way you are feeling. Right?
Cl: Yeah. I feel exhilarated and I'm happy.
Dick: Feel it. That's right. And if someone said, "Are you a man or a mouse?" You could say, "Do you need to ask?"
Cl: I could just punch them. (Laughter)
Dick: You know, here is a case where you did a great thing for yourself. I may have been years since you did something like this. And what you are doing is questioning it, doubting it.
Cl: And I would like to say something like that to my father too.
Dick: What about it?
Cl: He was more the source of who deserved that energy than Bob. At that moment Bob deserved it, but ...
Dick: At that moment, Bob deserved it completely. You can draw a parallel between Bob and your father. But Bob deserved it, he is the guy who walked into you with his chest out and gave you that big bump. Boy you deflated him. Whhoooh. You pricked his balloon. Can you hear it? Psssst.
Cl: He walked around deflated for a couple hours and then I tried to talk to him about it. I tried to sort of patch things up for the sake of the family's feelings, but I did kind of a half way thing.
Dick: Well, let's do it over. Here is Bob. Now talk to him about it. What did you say?
Cl: I said, "I'm sorry that I punched you, that I got violent with you. I thought what you did to me was offensive and I didn't like it and I just got angry, and I just wanted to let you have it. And I'm sorry that I did it, I don't think fighting is the way to settle things." That is what I said.
Dick: Okay, so what else could you say to him?
Cl: What else I could say to him is ...
Dick: You could say, "I'm not sorry anymore, and I hope you are not mad at me." But you don't say, "Please forgive me".
Cl: Yeah, I didn't say that.
Dick: No. Why should you ask to be forgiven for asserting yourself in this terrific way?
Cl: I had a sense that other family members were upset about this, but that there was a sense of happiness with some of them, because it happened.
Dick: Probably right.
Cl: They appreciated it.
Dick: So what do you say to other family members who seem to be upset?
Cl: I would reassure them that I won't go around fighting with people, but that ...
Dick: But first you would say, "That's your problem". If you are upset, that is your problem." And then you could say that they don't have to worry because you are not going to go around fighting with everybody. You don't apologize. You did a heroic thing. It is maybe not as heroic as throwing yourself in front of a freight train to rescue a maiden, or something like that. When I was a kid there was a comic strip called Hairbreadth Harry. Did you ever see it?
Cl: Something about Harry and the woman on the railroad tracks?
Dick: Yeah, Rudolf Rassendale was the villain.
Cl: Was it Oilcan Harry?
Dick: Rudolf Rassendale had this mustache, and he always wore a top hat and a cape. So you did something heroic, you know. You stood up for yourself, that is always heroic.
Cl: And I want to do it more.
Dick: Yeah, it doesn't mean that you are going to punch people out, but you can assert yourself.
Cl: One thing I wondered about in coming up here to work is, maybe it means that I need some guides or something. I feel like I need help in hanging on to this self.
Dick: Let me make some suggestions that occur to me that might be useful. The key to defending yourself is to be totally non-defensive. To be non-defensive means to speak the truth without apology, and without hostility. The moment you speak the truth, it may be absolutely true, but you speak it with hostility, you are just engendering more hostility coming back to you. If you speak the truth with apology, you are going to engender hostility coming toward you, it will be the hostility of contempt. Don't apologize, and don't be hostile, and just speak the truth, as you see it. But be very sure you don't say it with hostility, because hostility is defensive. And defensiveness is always hostile. It is always a sneaky attack. Fritz Perls said, 80% of all questions are attacks. "Why did you do that" You don't really want to know why he did that, you want to put the other person on the defensive. "You did something wrong, why did you do that? Justify yourself!" All kinds of questions. And Fritz had the answer, convert the question into a statement. Instead of saying, "What time is it?" you say, "You are late for your appointment, I am irritated by that." And not, "Why did you do that?", but "I don't like what you just did." "Because it inconveniences me" or "It is not fair, I don't like it." And on and on and on. And start watching that. And the people who are most offensive are the ones who ask a lot of questions like that.
Cl: The question that comes to my mind is a belief that I have this buried anger that has to come out. There is this anger that I am pushing down because I couldn't really express it. I have that.
Dick: No, you don't have buried anger, because it doesn't exist. It can't exist. In the early 1970's, a guy by the name of Janov, a psychologist, published a book called the Primal Scream. And he came up with an incredibly destructive, lousy form of therapy that he called Primal Therapy. And he used to have people lie on the floor and scream for three hours at their mother. And what he said was, "In every person, there is a pool of pain, which has to be drained." Well, there can't be a pool of pain, because ..., have you ever seen a bucket of pain? There is nothing you can drain. I can imagine a bucket full of puss. Or a bucket full of blood, or anything else, but not a bucket full of pain.
Cl: Some people are constricted in pain.
Dick: Yes, some people are experiencing pain, but they are experiencing pain on a moment to moment ongoing basis. There is no reservoir, no pool of it. And if what is causing the pain stops, the pain stops. The same is true of your anger. As long as you fail to assert yourself, you will find yourself being angry. Not because you have a pool of anger, which is left over from all kinds of experiences, which is left there, but because you don't assert yourself, and that makes you angry.
Cl: I'm angry about not asserting myself. I'm angry at myself.
Dick: Yes, or angry at someone else. Either way, and it goes on and on and on. Ten minutes from now, you don't assert yourself again, and you just barely get over being angry with one thing, and another happens. And you are doing it all the time. It springs from your self image of being weak and helpless. And as long as you have that self image, you won't assert yourself, but you will feel angry. Does that make sense?
Cl: How do I learn to assert myself then?
Dick: You do it one moment at a time, like everything else. And the first thing is to know that you are angry. And that is the importance of Self Acceptance, to experience myself as I am in any given moment, without any self judgment. So to know when something makes you angry, and then to say, what you have just said, "It makes me angry", or, if you are in a position where this is your boss or something like that, and it could cost you your job, and it would be foolish to do that, to say it to yourself, "That really makes me angry." And at the first chance you get, say it to yourself out loud.
What I am talking about, about acknowledging your own anger, about experiencing your anger, don't confuse experiencing anger with acting out anger. Fritz had, I think in his book Legacy from Fritz, (published posthumously) he made the distinction between acting out an emotion, and acting through an emotion. To act it out is to respond by picking up a cup and throwing in through the window, or by kicking somebody, or saying something very brutal, and just raising hell. That is acting out and he never recommends this.
But he talked about acting through, that means allowing yourself to feel the anger, and then you may talk to an empty chair, and read him the riot act.
Cl: At the end of that day, I had moved all day, and I should have been tired, but I was energized at midnight and I lay down to go to sleep, and I couldn't go to sleep. I sat up and meditated and I reached a generalized anger toward my parents, and I said "I'm smashing your faces into the dirt"
Dick: Great. I call that a wipeout fantasy, and that is a technique that I teach. But you see, with a wipeout fantasy, that is not a dry run, training you to push your parent's faces into the dirt. You experience the positive results of that action, but because it is done in fantasy, you don't have to pay a price. In one case it could end in going to prison, or of inflicting injury that would make you feel guilty all of your life, or losing a relationship, or losing a job, there are all kinds of penalties for acting it out. And acting out is done by people who are very immature people who have a poor reality principle. So I am not suggesting acting out. But I am talking about acting through. And so, in your fantasies, don't apologize for what you did with this guy, you know it felt great, enjoy it! That one fight you had, that can last you for the next 25 years. You don't have to go around doing it. But you have the experience now. And you can have similar fights, if you have to have them in imagination. And that is the way to handle your anger. To acknowledge your anger is not just to say, "Yes, I am angry" That is not acknowledging anger, that is talking about it. To acknowledge anger is to let it run it's course through you. And in order to do that, you have to do something. Motor. With muscles. Physical.
Cl: When I was doing it that night in meditation, I wasn't doing anything motor.
Dick: Yes you were. Because of your unconscious response to the images. Close your eyes. All of you can do this. See that you are walking down a country road. See yourself walking. Now be very conscious about how you are walking. Left, right, left right, left, right, quite briskly. Left, right, left, right, feel your feet coming down, feel your legs swinging, feel your legs extending, your hips swinging. Feel your arms and shoulders moving, as you are walking like that. Feel yourself walking like that. Okay, that is enough. How do you feel after doing that?
Cl: As it was happening, I was feeling like some nerves were firing in my body.
Dick: That is what I was talking about. That is feeling. How many felt the nerves firing. Lots of hands going up. Right. Your unconscious mind, your system, responds to what you imagine just as if it really happened. And that is why it is so deadly. Did you ever have a sexual fantasy?
Dick: Nobody has to be around to really make changes in your body, right?
Dick: You bet. Your body responds to the images that pass through your consciousness. Whether it is an image which is stimulated because a person is walking across the room there, or whether it is something that is happening with your eyes closed and nobody is within a hundred miles and you just imagine it. Your unconscious responds to the images that you make. So if you make an image of beating someone up and tearing him apart, you will feel all the relief of having done that, but you don't have to pay the terrible price of having done it.
Now the thing is this, some people will do this in imagination, and then they will start to condemn themselves for having done it. Were you brought up Catholic?
Cl: No, no.
Dick: You missed that one. How many of you were brought up Catholic? And what did you learn, that the thought is equal to the deed, right? You must not be angry with anyone, right, because it is the same as doing all kinds of terrible things. And that is a real rough one to get around. And don't try to tell me ... I am standing up here on the fourth floor and I see a man that I don't like standing there, and here is this flower pot about this big with a big red geranium in it, if I just nudge it, you know what will happen. Is there a difference between feeling that I would like to do that, and actually doing it? What do you think that man would say? What do you think a jury would say? There is a huge difference.
Cl: I had a boss about ten years ago that I disliked and he asked me to help him carry a 300 pound safe up a flight of stairs. And I was on the uphill side. I could barely move this thing, and I had a fantasy about, all I had to do with do a little nudge with my muscles, and he would have been dead.
Dick: You wouldn't even have to nudge, you could have just let go. He couldn't possibly hold it. And after it was all over, you could image it, and let it go. This is the value of the wipeout fantasy. If you condemn yourself afterwards, you are worse off than if you had never done it. So you instinctively did it, you probably cleared away years and years and years of resentment, wounds that you have in your emotional body, toward your parents, in that meditation. That was the perfect thing to do.
Cl: Yeah, I came out of that weekend feeling that something powerful had happened, that something good had happened.
Cl: I still had some fear of telling it directly that way to Ann and other people.
Dick: You can tell it now. Non-defensively, without apology, and without hostility. This is the way it is. That's where it is at. Not where I am at, but where it is at. And Ann is looking at what you did only in terms of what you did: you pushed her brother, that is all she is seeing. She is not seeing the other thing, which is completely true: that you asserted yourself, and found a part of yourself that had been missing for years, which is a wonderful, creative thing to do. And it is too bad that she can't see it.
Cl: I'll tell her.
Dick: And this is not a matter of approving or disapproving what you did. The first thing is looking at it from one point of view. Look at this from the point of view that I just pushed somebody who pushed me first. The other point of view is that I asserted myself against a bully who is much bigger than I am, and who was trying to bully me. Well, how do you feel?
Cl: I feel a sense of relief.
Dick: Do you feel finished with this for now?