We all get angry feelings from time to time, but everyone handles them differently. Some people decide to save negative feelings instead of expressing anger, while others go ahead and communicate how they feel.
While people handle emotions differently, repressed emotions can severely affect an individual’s physical and mental health. Keep reading to learn how repressed emotions affect health.
What Is Repressed Anger?
Repressed anger is negative emotions you unintentionally ignore, mainly to avoid conflicts, and to prevent uncomfortable emotions.
Repressed anger is quite different from suppressed emotions, which is purposefully avoiding difficult emotions. People with repressed anger will often say that they don’t get angry because they’re unaware of their bottled-up anger.
What Causes Repressed Anger?
Emotional repression is often rooted in childhood trauma. As a child, you are encouraged to be obedient and “well behaved.” Therefore, sudden outbursts or other methods of expressing anger are frowned upon by primary caregivers.
Children who throw tantrums are seen as ill-mannered and punished. As a result, some grow up with emotion-withholding behaviors and rarely express anger.
Similarly, children who grow up in an abusive household might associate emotional expression with fear, danger, or broken relationships.
While these are some of the leading causes of repressed anger, there may be other environmental or genetic factors. They include:
- Being reprimanded for expressing negative emotions in the past.
- Drug or substance abuse.
- Experiencing mental health conditions such as chronic trauma or depression.
- Certain physical ailments like traumatic head injuries.
- Passive-aggressive anger.
- Having high levels of shame.
Forms of Repressed Anger
Repressed anger can manifest itself in different forms. Here are the most common types of repressed emotions:
Repressed Negative Emotions That Turn Into Depression
Repressed anger is one of the less talked about cases of depression. For a long time, mental health experts have known that inward, repressed anger turns into depression.
Studies show that people with repressed emotions are sad and pessimistic when they are angry at something.
Repressed Emotions That Turn Into Paranoia
Sometimes repressed anger might show up as intense anxiety. When someone has repressed emotions, they might project them to others instead of acknowledging that something has made them feel hostile. This might cause them to feel threatened or conceptualize that others are hostile toward them.
Repressed Emotions That Turn Into Subjugation
Highly sensitive people with repressed emotions might be out of touch with their anger, seeing it as a bad thing.
They are afraid of the adverse effects of their own rage. For instance, they may realize that a conflict also arises whenever anger emerges.
As a result, whenever they’re angry, there’s an equal force to shut it down. They may immediately turn to serve other people’s needs or any other activity that will neutralize the anger. These people often seem nice, but if you annoy them hard enough, they might end up losing control.
Repressed Emotions Turning Into Self-Righteous Anger
When emotional repression is paired with OCD or perfectionist tendencies, it could manifest in a self-righteous way, where the person becomes more critical of themselves and others, often setting unachievable standards.
Perfectionists can repress emotions for two reasons: Their accumulating frustration over not meeting the unachievable standards they’ve set for themselves and their resentment of other people’s “lack of ethics.”
Most people with self-righteous anger don’t seem angry but could be overly controlled, civilized, or tense. They might be highly critical and morally demanding of others but don’t know the source is repressed emotions.
How Do You Tell if Someone Has Repressed Negative Feelings?
As we’ve already established, repressed emotions are hidden and show few physical symptoms. In fact, many people don’t notice they have emotional repression until they lash out at someone. However, a few signs might indicate you have repressed emotions.
People with emotional repression are often defensive when they’re accused of being angry. They never admit feeling resentful, even when it’s clear to everyone else around them. That said, they might admit to other emotions like feeling sad or neglected.
They might also:
- Feel sad or depressed.
- Make sarcastic comments.
- Experience negative thoughts.
- Isolate themselves.
- Have difficulty in setting boundaries or standing up for themselves.
- Get angry for seemingly no reason.
- Disregarding other people’s emotional needs.
- Anxiety or irrational fear.
Effects of Repressed Emotions on Physical and Mental Health?
While there are no apparent physical symptoms of repressed anger, mental and physical health are interlinked. This means that repressed anger eventually affects a person’s physical health.
Here are the primary harmful effects of repressed emotions:
- High blood pressure.
- Low self-esteem.
- Cardiovascular problems.
- Impulsive or self-destructive behaviors.
- High risk of chronic ailments.
- Apathy or numbness.
- Chronic stress.
- Bodily pain.
How to Release Repressed Emotions
With the negative effects above, it’s clear that repressing anger is not healthy. It’s therefore essential to learn how to express anger and other negative emotions.
The best place to start is by taking anger management classes or seeing a mental health professional. They can help you understand your feelings and what to do when you feel angry.
You can also practice expressing anger by yourself and then with people you trust. Here are a few steps you can take to release repressed emotions:
Allow Yourself to Feel Angry
If you have repressed anger, it’s probably because you’re afraid of strong emotions. It’s important to note that anger is completely normal, and expressing it is good for your psychological health. You need to be comfortable with your own emotions and find ways to express them.
When you feel resentful, express it with your words or find another way to release the frustration.
Use “I” Statements
A person who has repressed anger also likely holds passive-aggressive anger. They will often see the faults in others and never admit to any wrongdoing.
If you find yourself with these tendencies, practice assertive anger. This means using “I” statements to admit your faults. You can use the script, “I feel… when you… therefore I would like…”
Mindfulness and meditation are excellent ways to release repressed and suppressed anger. When you experience a negative emotion, take a deep breath and focus on your surroundings.
Meditation helps reduce stress and bad feelings. It also uplifts your mood and promotes positive emotions.
Understand Your Anger
To conquer negative feelings, you need to find out what triggers them. Learn how anger manifests in your body and what changes you can notice.
Some of the common ways anger will show in your body include:
- Muscle soreness.
- Chest tightness.
- Weak limbs.
- Increased heartbeat or blood pressure.
Understanding these cues will help you know when you’re feeling angry and reduce repressed emotions.
Write a Journal
Journalling can help you connect with your daily thoughts and emotions. When you write how the day’s events made you feel, you can know precisely what makes you angry.
Writing a journal is also good practice for expressing your emotions. When you write your feelings habitually, you’ll find it easier to communicate them with others.
Release Your Repressed Emotions Today
Bottled-down anger can interfere with your everyday life. It can lead to unstable mental health symptoms like anxiety and stress.
Repressed emotions can also ruin your relationships and sink you further into emotional instability. It’s therefore essential to find a healthy way to express your anger.
You can join anger management classes or practice the steps outlined in this article on your own. If your emotions pile up and you feel depressed, you can use these hotlines to talk to certified mental health professionals.