I know a young guy here in the US, about 17 years old, whose grandfather was from Italy and whose mother speaks Italian. He recently told me that he knows no Italian except for “grazie” and “prego”. Unless he gets angry, that is, and then the Italian comes tumbling out on its own. He’s just glad that his teachers don’t understand it!
It’s a funny story, but it occurs to me that it represents an example of Steve’s advice to absorb input and to let the output come when it may. Of course his mother must sometimes revert to Italian when she gets mad (marital advice: cuss out your spouse in a language he doesn’t know). The son has been passively absorbing that for 17 years, and it’s there when he “needs” it.
Something similar happened to me. Just after finishing 2 years of intensive college French, I went to Paris for 3 weeks. I had a very difficult time saying the simplest things until one day something upset me, and the words came pouring out, just like with your acquaintance. My hunch is that it has to do with dropping our grown-up self-consciousness in those emotional moments. We’ve got the input (yes, Steve!!), but we seem to have lost the uninhibited freedom we had in childhood to play, experiment, and make mistakes. How can we regain that freedom, without needing an emotional upheaval to do so?!
I probably mislabeled this thread. Although the blood pressure may rise, when you’re really angry caution and restraint is thrown to the wind. In that regard it’s more like the unselfconscious, uninhibited freedom that you describe, so not exactly like being under pressure.
Getting angry is a bit like a pressure cooker exploding, so I think your title was appropriate!