What do you do with your violence? History tells us we are part of a violent species. Whether in the name of freedom, patriotism, defense, punishment or God, humans have a history of killing humans.

How do you relate to your violence? Do you deny it, project it onto other “violent” people, suppress it, rationalize it? If you want to manage your violence or help others manage theirs, anything short of taking responsibility for it is not a good starting point.

Violence is like sex, both are reflections of instinctual energies, energies that reside in our unconscious. The more we judge, deny, repress, or try to control them, the more power they have to control us. To limit their power over us, these energies are to be acknowledged and respected enough to keep them in our consciousness.

Here are three practical ways to bring into your awareness, your unconscious and potentially dangerous capabilities:

1. Notice your reaction when you see another being violent. Are you grounded and enforcing a healthy boundary or are you raging back with over-the-top indignation? If you spot it, you got it. Violence comes in many forms. Where in your life are you being violent and not taking ownership of your violence? I don’t mean just physical violence.

2. Find rituals to allow for a release of the energy. This means don’t punch someone out or numb out in front of Black Ops III in order to feel better. Note: Did you know that the before age 13 the brain does not know the difference between “fake” and “real”? Those video games and PG 13 movies are real for those with young brains. Sporting events where we can watch players be violent has been good therapy for centuries. Paint ball with the buddies can serve the same purpose. And who can forget business. If you look at business as a competition, a game, a fun outlet, it too is a way to release energy that could be used for violence if left unchecked. If you can’t shake hands afterwords, you didn’t keep it a game.

3. Abstain or at Least Don’t Indulge. Like not keeping cookies in the house, you may have to limit yourself to one episode of Rush each week to limit your intake of ranting and violent language from political pundits (liberal pundits are just as guilty). Stop indulging in watching or listening to people fight.

Sometime we can’t help it. We feel the violence arise inside of us. Then what do we do? Some say that if it wasn’t for the presence of Central Park, all New Yorkers would turn into killers. Even if you don’t set foot into the park, you feel its peaceful, natural presence. (I guess I wouldn’t test this at midnight on a Friday night but I think you follow the metaphor.) Inside each of us is a quiet, peaceful sanctuary that we can go to and be still and regain perspective when our violence gets the better of us–don’t forget that part of you is there and it is more powerful than the violent parts.

I don’t know what to do with the violence committed by my brothers and sisters. It is hard to understand its source sometimes. The first step is to work on my own…but for the Grace of God there go I.