Keep Calm and Throw a Punch

You know how you wake up some mornings with a clear list of people you’d like very much to punch? And how no amount of Yoga seems to get your mind off it? Normally one or the other of the ‘keep calm’ mantras does work..eventually- philosophizing it, ignoring it, having some tea, journaling etc etc. A new one emerged today: don’t keep calm.

I find it quite fascinating on TV/ film when a character in uncontrollable rage throws things, crashes a table full of crystal, shatters expensive objects without a second thought. I am thinking,“Wow, so there’s really no voice in the back of their head going- ‘No no wait, put the crystal aside, then kick the table!’ How liberating!”

Me, I find aggression difficult even if I tried. I landed in a Taekwondo championship as a kid, with tons of training kicking and punching the air, but in the championship ring I just couldn’t bring myself to land a blow on my opponent. I’m sure many in the audience were left wondering why I had bothered to show up at all. It was the same story with basketball- I couldn’t bring about sufficient aggression for fear that I may hurt another player, as everyone ran close together in hordes.

So that kind of predilection proves problematic when you need to ‘act out’ the irritation built up inside you. Like today. When the usual talking things through, and looking at the big picture didn’t help improve my mood, and I was still walking around saying how I want to hit this person and that, my dear husband realized there really must be some hitting.

He pulled up a cylindrical cushion from the diwan, and held it vertically like a punching bag. ‘Hit!’ he said. So I did. I hit it, and I hit harder.

It felt epic! But I’m sure that to an onlooker it would have looked nothing like the intense single-minded punching-the-bag that one sees in the movies. I was no intent Rocky Balboa.

It went something like this: Hit, hit, punch, punch… Me: “Wait, it’s not hurting your hand, is it?”

Dear Husband: “No, it’s not. Go ahead.”

Hit, hit, hit.

“Why are you laughing at me?”

“Is this laughing? I’m smiling.”


“I’m happy to see that you hit this hard.”

Punch. Punch. Hit. Hit.

Me: “Oh no, the foam is falling out in tatters!”

Dear Husband: “Never mind. Go on.”

“It’s not easy to find these diwan cushions here.”

“Ok, let’s try these other ones…”

Two less fluffy cushions are combined into one.

Hit. Hit. “Eooowww.. this hurts my hand.”

“Okay, we go back to the cylindrical cushion.”

Hit hit….

And so it went, till the floor was littered with tatters of foam, and I was finally calm.

As they say, you sometimes need to get it out of your system. And what exactly is that ‘it’? I think it’s not so much the specific thoughts, as simply negative energy. Because you cannot simply argue with it or make it see reason, or transform it to an alternate thought every time. After the punching session, the same thoughts which were making me so angry before, didn’t evoke the same reaction in me anymore. It was as if the negative energy had entered by itself, and then found some thoughts to feed upon and make itself virulent in my system, like a parasite.

If ‘It’ is simply energy, then energy must find a way out. Come to think of it, it is surprising we don’t have more socially acceptable ways of acting out negative energy. I am mildly surprised I never boxed before. (I’m sure my husband would have drawn upon a new level of commitment today, to see that side of his partner and be able to happily accept that.)

So in absence of socially acceptable expression, where does such energy go? If we only insist on replacing it with ‘maturity’ or ‘positive thoughts’ does it get repressed? Does it find a way out as gun shootings, or crime? Or does it eat its way inward as illnesses?

I don’t think I want to find out the answer. I’m very tempted to invest in a punching bag.



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