Anxiety and suppressed anger: how does repressed anger turn to anxiety?
Anger usually seems like a very difficult and powerful feeling to express. People are prone to suppress their anger, as they may be afraid of harming others, especially the close ones.
It is one of the first emotions a child may repress, fearing punishment, rejection or harming the parent.
Are you dealing with some hidden anger?
.You may be the one who says, ‘I never get angry.’
.You may also find yourself avoiding confrontation.
.You may find yourself being busy all the time.
.You may have a mild depression.
.You may have bodily issues such as muscle tension, stomach problems, fatigue.
.You may be feeling stuck in your life, being late for everything, missing deadlines or procrastinating. (I will talk about procrastination and anxiety in another blog.)
.Worst of all, you may begin having anxiety and panic attacks without knowing where they’re coming from.
Anger is an emotion that, if not recognized and not expressed, becomes repressed, turning inwards and attacking the self. Although your anxiety is a warning to you of an inner turmoil, it is in fact an attack of your repressed anger towards yourself. Since the anger is repressed, you may not feel it, but you’ll find yourself having other symptoms, such as anxiety and panic attacks, and you’ll wonder why. So you need to go deeper and search for it. Some people find it very difficult, as there is always a fear of anger.
If you find yourself self-sabotaging (in any shape or form), succumbing to all sorts of addictions or having habits like nail biting, skin picking etc., these are all signs of your suppressed anger turning towards yourself.
Often people ask me, ‘But even if I find out about my anger, I can’t just go around being angry with everybody.’ There is a difference between acting out your anger and being able to recognize and understand it. When you are able to think about your anger and learn to express it in a constructive way, your anxiety, or whatever symptom you’re suffering from, will begin to disappear. Once again, sometimes people ask, ‘But how do I know my anger is legitimate?’ The emotions you’re feeling, in whatever shape or form, are still the way you feel. We need to attend to them and try to understand the reasons behind them, otherwise they’ll turn to anxiety and all sorts of other difficulties.
If you find it too difficult to search for your possible anger or other difficult emotions, you can ask for help. Therapists are equipped to help you in this and assist you in understanding your feelings.
How or when will you decide that your anger should not be expressed?
Here are some roots, though there may be more:
. Constant destructive fights between parents and violence in general (even the simplest form of it) at home leaves the child not only in a state of alarm (perhaps leading to anxiety and hypersensitivity in the future) but to seeing anger as dangerous.
. Seeing a parent as vulnerable may leave the child feeling guilty for expressing any anger in case they harm their parents.
. If a child feels like their parent is relying on them, the child takes the role of a caregiver. In this case, showing negative emotions may feel dangerous to the child, as the parent’s upset feels like the child’s fault. This child will grow up accepting only the good parts of himself (the parts that are acceptable to the parents) and denying his unacceptable parts because of fear of the parent’s rejection. I will talk about the ‘fear of rejection’ in my other blogs.
. When a child is growing up, their life depends on the parents’ care. Even if a parent is violent, the child still needs them. They are the only ones the child has. The fear of loss of the parent, loss of their love and fear of punishment and rejection lead them to supress their anger.
Later on in life, this anger comes out as anxiety and panic attacks or other forms of self-sabotage. It attacks the self, because it doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
So if you are suffering from anxiety, be aware that this anxiety is telling you something. It’s telling you that your mind and body have become overloaded by some deep and difficult feelings and you need to listen.
How does therapy help?
As we constantly try to silence our negative thoughts, we don’t get a chance to listen to what they try to tell us. When we pay attention to these inner dialogues, they will give us a clue to what is going on in our unconscious. Therapy helps you to recognize these negative thoughts, their deep unconscious roots and possible anger related to them. It will give you a chance to experience and feel your anger (once it comes out) in a constructive way. In therapy, you will learn how to ‘think’ about your difficult emotions instead of acting them out. Feeling your feelings will eventually lift your anxiety. One day, you find yourself being anxiety free.
Please feel free to Contact me if you wish to have a brief chat or to book an appointment.