Mary J. Blige Resolves to Be Healthy
The R&B and hip-hop soul sensation reveals the inspiring fitness, food, and anger-management lessons that are driving her on a powerful journey of personal and professional transformation.
Mary J. Reins in Her Rage continued...
“There are vast numbers of people who have grown up learning that the way to deal with a problem is to get angry whenever you don’t get your way,” he says. People who yell or scream nearly always believe those who hear them will see the light and fix the problem, he says. But it doesn’t work. “The other person reacts to the anger and doesn’t hear the message.”
Blige continues to take heart from Scripture passages that advise trying to be slow to anger. She says she reads them every day.
On the new album, she opens up about her progress. In a song, “Work That,” the first verse says:
You can look in my palm and see the
Read the book of my life and see I’ve
While religion and a supportive spouse have provided the way for Blige, Allan cautions that many people need to go further and seek out professional help or a 12-step program for anger management. Whatever the path, “all require a lifelong commitment and a day at a time.”
Mary J. Skips Ahead
Miele guides Blige toward the workout’s conclusion: push-ups on a balance ball, more resistance training exercises for her upper arms, ab work to trim her torso, and 5-pound hand weights to tone her biceps. Blige reaches for the padded cylindrical weight bar Miele hands her, sits on the mat once again, and does ab crunches as she raises the bar, a movement to help strengthen abs and arms at once. There’s some sweat on her brow but she’s not breathing hard. Her pumped-up workouts are paying off.
Almost done. It’s clear Mary J. is ready to rest. But it’s not over yet. “One more time, Mary J.,” says Miele.
Wordlessly, she accepts the hated jump-rope handles. On this grand-finale skip, she stumbles but repositions the rope, finishing her 45 seconds. She puts down the rope, looking tired; but more than that, she looks satisfied.
Mary J. is in peak form -- physically, spiritually, emotionally. She’s taking it one jump-rope skip, one Scripture reading, one day at a time.
Growing Pains celebrates where she’s been and where she’s going. It reflects “everything that I am becoming and have to become,” Blige says.
“No anger, no self-hatred, no self-resentment. All that takes work,” she says. “It’s going to take a long time. And all these songs reflect that.”
As Blige announces for all the world, and herself, to hear on her new album: “It’s OK, show yourself some love.”
She certainly is.
Anger Management 101
Blige, Robert Allan, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, grew up in an environment where anger was the “default” mode. In his book Getting Control of Your Anger, Allan offers a three-step process for taming rage:
the “hook” that feeds your anger. Knowing that a trigger sets you off is the first step toward changing your reaction and not allowing yourself to express the anger directly by screaming or getting physical.
Step back or disengage from the situation, and figure out the need behind the hook. Disengage by deep breathing, for instance. Or develop an “observing” self, a mini-version of yourself whom you visualize sitting on your shoulder viewing the big picture and warning you not to take the anger trigger, Allan says. When we get angry, the feeling is usually fueled by the need for respect or the need not to have our territory breached, or both, he adds.
Fill the need without expressing anger directly. Instead, ask for what you need.
Originally published in the January/February 2008 issue of
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