While there are many examples in people’s private’s lives and in the world at large of anger that is openly expressed and out of control, there is another dynamic that is often overlooked and this is because it is not as easy to recognise.
This is when one should get angry and express how they feel, but instead of doing this they end up denying how they feel. It then becomes hidden from them and typically ends up being repressed.
A Negative Emotion
Although anger is widely seen as a negative or bad emotion, this is far from the truth. In situations when anger has become extreme and out of control, then of course it would be right to label it as negative.
However, anger can be expressed in different ways; in ways that don’t have to lead to violence or drama taking place. Due to there being so many examples of anger in the world that have gone to the extreme, the benefits of anger are rarely given attention.
At its root, anger is there to ensure one’s own survival; nothing more nothing less. It is what enables one to know when their boundaries have been crossed and that some kind of action needs to be taken. This could be a minor compromise or something far worse.
Through becoming angry, one is instantly notified that something is not right. And this anger then gives them the energy and therefore the power, to stand up for themselves in an assertive manner. So if one didn’t get angry, they could end up being taken advantage of on one end of the spectrum and being killed on the other.
Without anger, one is nothing more than a door mat and is completely vulnerable to anything and everything. One might survive, but it is unlikely to be a life that is worth living.
So on one side there is the individual that has anger problems and is labelled as being out of control and bad. And on the other side is the person who appears to never get angry and is therefore labelled as being good.
As human beings, we are not perfect and neither are we meant to be. This means there will be times that one becomes overly angry when it was not appropriate. And there will also be times when one was not angry when they should have been.
But when this has become ones identity and the way they generally behave, it is going to cause problems. And just because hiding ones anger is seen as better than constantly expressing it; it is no more functional or healthy.
Just because one doesn’t express their anger in an assertive way or in a way that is aggressive or violent, it doesn’t mean that it will simply disappear. It will become internalised and so instead of someone feeling a sense of power through expressing it in some way; they can end up feeling disempowered.
It is often said that depression is a consequence of repressed anger. And this is partly because one will have to carry the emotional weight around with them and this is going to be a burden. One will not be speaking their truth; they will be denying what is true for them.
And when one doesn’t speak up for themselves and say what they need to say, it is inevitable that they will feel a loss of energy and power. It is also possible for one to become emotionally stuck and unable to change how they feel as a result of the internalised anger that has built up. This can then cause one to feel a sense of boredom and to be emotionally disconnected.
When anger has built up on the inside, it can be normal for one to feel incredibly anxious during certain moments or as a general life experience. Anxiety creates a state of being highly alert and aware and under this is usually some kind of fear.
So where as the purpose of anger is to stop someone from being violated; anxiety is generally there to warn someone of an impending attack and that their survival is under threat. This means that anger and anxiety are very similar. In a way, anxiety could be described as what appears when one feels they are under threat and it is not safe for them to stand up for themselves
And anger could be described as what happens when one feels under threat and feels safe enough to stand up for themselves. Anger would then be empowering and anxiety would be disempowering in this context.
A Way Of Life
To feel that it is not safe to stand up for one self will be something that everyone is likely to experience at one point or another in their life. And so anxiety will be normal in this type of situation. But when one feels that it is never safe for them to stand up for themselves and be assertive, then anxiety will be a constant state of being.
So the natural need that one has to look after themselves is being sabotaged through one being overly anxious. One is then not working with themselves, they are working against themselves
On the surface this can seem illogical and make no sense whatsoever. And yet something will have happened in this person’s life to make them this way. The perception they have is that it is not safe to be angry.
This could be due to what has happened during this persons adults years and what happened to them as a child. And the primary cause is often how their caregivers responded to them when they were younger.
Here, one could have been brought up by caregivers who were emotionally numb or abusive. So in the case of them being emotionally numb, they would have denied all expression of anger, simply because they were not comfortable with it themselves.
If ones caregivers were abusive, one could have been verbally, emotionally or physically abused whenever they showed any anger. And so they learnt at a very early age that it was not safe or acceptable to be angry.
This also means that they were learning to feel comfortable with abuse in the process. By being out of touch with their anger, they would also lose their ability to recognise when they were being compromised or violated by another. Anxiety would be what they became used to and anger would be something they came to fear.
Anger is a vital part of being able to survive on this planet and in being able to thrive. It is just another emotion that every human can experience. Emotions only become problematic when they are not allowed to be expressed.
For someone who feels anxious at moments when they need to stand up for themselves, there could be a lot of repressed anger that has built up over the years. And as one learnt that being angry was not acceptable, guilt may also arise when one is angry.
One will need to release this anger, anxiety and guilt and the fears that are hidden below these three emotions. This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer who will allow one to face their emotions and feelings and release them.
As this takes place, one will gradually experience a sense of balance within. And being assertive when they need to be will naturally take place. A feeling of being empowered can then follow.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.