Introduction To Anger
According to the Collins dictionary, “Anger is the strong emotion that you feel when you think that someone has behaved in an unfair, cruel, or unacceptable way”.
Anger can manifest itself in a number of behaviours. We might swear more, lash out physically or verbally, we might feel rage and become violent or feel like we could be violent when we are in an angry mood.
Physically, anger can make our heart beat faster, our muscles become tense, our stomach feels jarred, our jaw is tight and we might be gritting our teeth even as we speak. We feel sweaty, anxious, frustrated and raging on the inside and we feel dreadful.
When we are stuck in anger but we are not aware we are angry, we can seem extremely aggressive to others. We seem to have no empathy or compassion for those that we are shouting at, or taking our anger out on. We can get stuck in angry thoughts and our thoughts effect other emotions. When we are not aware that we are angry or we don't know what we are angry about, it will show on our faces, in our body language and in our actions.
Being stuck in anger is our bodies way of showing us that we have lost connection to love. When we lose connection to love, we feel no love for ourselves or others, we feel lost, hurt, frustrated and angry.
When we hold on to anger we destroy relationships with others and we lose the ability love others or ourselves. We lose the feeling of being connected to others and the good things in life, we just feel the loneliness of anger.
Relationships can become abusive when anger is involved, especially if we do not know how to express that anger. When we have suppressed anger and we are in a relationship with someone who has anger issues, we can't feel happy. We live in constant fear of their next angry outburst or what they will do next and we live life full of anxiety and in fear of our own anger.
Whatever the reason for our anger we lose our ability to be happy as we can't feel angry and happy at the same time. Anger is a block to feeling happy and robs us of the inner power to change our lives for the better. Fortunately, we have the power within ourselves that enables us to deal with our anger.
We all feel anger for some reason at some time or other and that is okay. Anger is healthy when we are reacting to an injustice but can become an unhealthy emotion when we cannot let that anger go.
It is healthy to our mind, body and spirit when we consciously allow ourselves to feel and express our anger. We need to become aware of the feelings of anger and how we express our anger. We need to catch ourselves in the act of being angry and deal with the anger in a more constructive way rather than just reacting to anger and lashing out verbally or physically.
The positive side of anger is that it can be the motivation we need to deal with an injustice either to ourselves or to another. A bit of anger pushes us to deal with what needs dealing with. I get angry when I see anyone hurting an animal and I am not ashamed to say my words and actions after witnessing animal cruelty are definitely angry words. I also get angry if I witness an maltreatment, discrimination or abuse of another person and I am not afraid to express it. It's when we hang on to the anger after the event that is the problem because a lot of us, relive a angry provoking situation by talking about it, reliving it over and over again. We need to be aware that we are holding on to anger and we need to learn how to put the anger down.
Repressed or Suppressed Anger
Repression means to unconsciously block the emotion of anger and suppression is the voluntary action of holding back the feeling of anger.
Suppressing or repressing anger not only takes a lot of energy and leaves us feeling drained, it can prevent us from feeling positive emotions like excitement, joy, happiness and love.
Loved ones are afraid to tell us that our anger is affecting the relationship because an angry person is irritated and easily aggravated. An angry person can be frightening because they are quicker to snap with temper and frustration. They could lash out and so, most people walk on eggshells around an angry person, too afraid to point out the anger.
In his book, 'What You Can Feel You Can Heal', John Gray, says of supressed, anger, "Depression is not an intense sadness it is suppressed anger that has been redirected at yourself". pg 77
We often suppress our feelings and don't express our anger out of fear of being rejected or punished. Some of us are taught that it is wrong to feel and express anger. We might feel guilty for feeling angry or we might feel responsible for someone else's anger.
Unless we can learn to safely express our normal emotions of anger we forfeit the ability to create the life we want. We cut off from other positive emotions such as self love and love for others.
My Experience Of Holding On To Anger
I grew up in an abusive angry home. Both my parents were angry people and they expressed their anger with violence towards me. I would be punished by a beating from my mum or dad if ever I expressed that I was angry, so I learnt to suppress my anger. I would be seething on the inside but would never show that to the outside world for fear of what would happen to me.
I learnt that it was safer for me to keep my anger to myself and inside my body where it played havoc. I came to a point where I felt numb and felt no anger but also I had no feelings of joy or happiness. I didn't even know I was angry or if I was angry I would deny it but I also felt anxious and unable to feel more pleasant emotions.
When I got older I still found it difficult to express my anger. I suffered from anxiety and was diagnosed with depression at the age of fourteen. As a teenager, when I became angry or frustrated, I self harmed by taking over doses of drugs, or hurting myself in some way to try and end my life because I didn't know any other way to deal with my anger. My stomach and jaw were tight and I always felt like I was ready to explode like a volcano erupting and damaging everything in its path. My anger ate away at my self esteem and my body and so life was not an enjoyable experience has it should have been.
In 2001 I came across John Grays book, 'How To Get What You Want And Want What You Have' and I learnt all about my messed up emotions and how to deal with my anger and other negative emotions and I hope you do too. I learned from John that it was okay to feel anger. I learned how to identify feelings of anger and discovered that deep down, I was very angry.
I learned that by allowing unexpressed anger to carry on within me, I was preventing myself from experiencing love and happiness. Hanging on to my anger was also making me ill and was affecting my relationships with others.
My life was devoid of any form of happiness as I felt that I wasn't worthy of feeling good. I felt angry and anxious all the time because of my low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness plagued me.
I spent my days alone, like a hermit living in a cave because I was too angry inside to enjoy the company of others. Because of reading John Gray, and understanding his insights and the insights of others, including my own, my life is transformed.
Because of anger that I couldn't understand, or know how to deal with, my emotional compass was pointing in the wrong direction, away from all the good and pleasure in life and the life I wanted, and I gave up on life.
The way to let go of a negative emotion like anger is to first become aware of it, feel it, name it, own it and then let it go.
When we are stuck in anger we want to blame the person, the situation or the thing that made us angry. By blaming others we forfeit our inner power to let the anger go so that we can move on and live the life we want and deserve.
If you don't feel safe to express anger or your anger scares you and you don't know what to do with it, try this process.
Write out your response in a journal or on a piece of paper that you can rip up and throw away. The point of this process is to get the anger out of you so that you can see what is making you angry.
Allow yourself to feel anger by thinking about what has made you angry so that you can release it. Don’t hold back. Say exactly what you want to say. Remember no one will see what you have written. Let your inner self express your anger. If you find that your anger erupts and you are struggling to deal with it, beat a cushion and let your anger out.
If I was feeling anger, what would I be angry about?
I feel angry because?...
I know that I am angry because I feel?...
I feel anger in my body and it feels like...
We all want to feel loving and be loved. We want to enjoy life and feel happy so, now that you are aware of your anger, do the following process to bring you to a calmer and more loving place. Take back your power to create the life you want to experience.
Write down your responses so that your body can feel what your mind is saying.
If I were to feel happy what would I be doing?
What experience would bring more joy and happiness into my life?
What would I be thinking about to make me feel happier?
What goal could I work towards to make my life happier?
Close your eyes and just Imagine your perfect life. Imagine how you would feel until you can feel it.
By thinking about and focusing on what we want from life and what we want to achieve, we bring our emotional compass to face the direction in life we want to go. By thinking and feeling about happier and more positive experiences, we have access to our inner power to create the life we want.
Ask yourself often. How do I feel right now?
Do I feel good or do I feel bad? If its bad then remember that you have gone off track and your emotional guidance is facing in the wrong direction and away from the goal you are aiming for which is to be more loving and happy.
In this article we have learned how to identify that we are feeling angry by listening to our own bodies. We have learned to become aware of the anger we are feeling and how to express it and let it go. The aim of this article is to help us become aware of our anger and bring us back to a sense of balance, to point our emotional compass in the direction we want to go, towards a loving and happy life.
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Louise Elcross (author) from Preston on September 24, 2020:
Thank you Pamela. I really appreciate your comments.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 23, 2020:
I think awareness is a big first step. You sure had good reasons to feel angry, but that is a horrible way to live long term. This is an excellent article, Louise. Listening to our bodies is a huge step forward. Your article is very good, Louise, as it has a wealth of great information. Thanks for sharing your experience.