I’m reading a novel in which a girl grows up with a chimp as a “twin” sister. In her early years they develop a close bond. They mimic each other. As a young woman, under times of stress, her behaviour reverts to become a little chimp-like.

Don’t we all sometimes feel like jumping on tables and making a lot of noise. Strong emotions want to be expressed. But we can’t. We’re human and civilised. Acting out our feelings isn’t allowed once we’re older. The things that children and chimps do are off-limits. But I think it’s healthy to let that energy out.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to jump on tables. Not unless I really go round the bend – so far round the bend that I don’t even notice the curve.

What could we do?

So I’m thinking we need to find other ways to let out the energy. Here are some thoughts:

  • Sing it out. Loud! Write a song. Sing along to someone else’s.
  • Dance it out – in your lounge-room or on the dance floor. Or in a gym class (if you like that sort of thing).
  • Run it out – it’s one way to get fit.
  • Draw, paint, sculpt – get messy with Art stuff and make something (no one cares if you do it well or badly)
  • Play a sport (I’ve heard of those, some people enjoy them)
  • Watch that energy and ask it what you need (warning: vigorous exercise may be needed first, before you get all Zen about it)
  • Go for a walk (start with a really fast power-walk, if need be)

Do something with the energy, then choose

It helps to do something with strong emotional energy. That doesn’t mean pulling faces at people and screeching (try not to do that to your elderly neighbour). Let the energy out so it doesn’t get in the way.

Then get clear: is the issue old stuff (drama city) or do you really need to act on it?

After that, go back and communicate what’s needed like a sensible and civilised person.

The rules of our games often don’t allow us to throw tantrums. We take tantrums pretty seriously. They have consequences. Maybe they shouldn’t but they do. But I think we’re still a little bit ape-like in our hearts. We feel what we feel and we need to do something with that right now!

Maybe it’s our games and our rules that are wrong. Then again, primates with guns and power are pretty scary. Just watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That’s probably why we’re not allowed to throw wobblies over breakfast cereal or because someone else got the best food (or car or promotion). We still want to though.

So find a way to let out the feelings. Do some table-jumping in a socially acceptable form. Choose something that won’t get you fired or committed to an institution.

Know that feeling, let it out safely and then have a sensible civilised discussion. Communicate clearly. Connect. Someone in our species needs to make this breakthrough. It might as well be you.