Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Repressed Emotion: Anger

What is anger? One definition of this is: A strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. A more medically inclined definition of anger is: An emotional state that may range in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Anger has physical effects including raising the heart rate and blood pressure and the levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. And yet another definition is: A strong passion or emotion of displeasure or antagonism, excited by a real or supposed injury or insult to one's self or others, or by the intent to do such injury. And the last definition is: Trouble; vexation; also, physical pain or smart of a sore.

And to give you a clearer picture of what this is, here are some synonyms for anger:Resentment; wrath; rage; fury; passion; ire gall; choler; indignation; displeasure; vexation; grudge; spleen.

Now that we have a clear understanding of what anger is, we come to a number of questions. Is anger healthy or unhealthy? Is it healthy to repress anger? What are the affects of prolonged anger on the human body? Do Empaths express anger or have a creative outlet for their anger? Do Empaths repress their anger? And what are some healthy outlets for expressing anger? So lets look at each of these questions one by one, shall we?

Anger: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Anger is a healthy and perfectly normal human emotion. It can motivate us to take action, feel empowered or stand up for ourselves when we are being treated unfairly. It is an emotion that people express when they are: stressed out, upset, frustrated, uncertain, anxious, hurt by another person or life in general, or confused. The trick is finding healthy, constructive ways both to express anger and to work toward changing the situations and thought processes that provoke it.

On the other hand, rage is neither healthy nor normal. It is irrational and all consuming. It keeps people at arms length, both physically and emotionally.

Anger Repression

Some people consider that anger is an inappropriate or ‘bad’ emotion, and choose to suppress it. Some people are guilt ridden simply for feeling anger, so they hide it away ~ bottling it up until one day........BOOM! Bottled anger often turns into depression and anxiety. And some people vent their bottled anger in inappropriate ways toward innocent parties, such as children or pets.

Suppressing anger also has physical affects on the human body in both short term and long term ways. In the next section, I will talk about those affects.

Physical Affects Of Anger

Anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for physical exertion. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires. The mind is sharpened and focused.

The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that accompany recurrent unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body. Some of the short and long term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:

1. Headache
2. Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
3. Insomnia
4. Increased anxiety
5. Depression
6. High blood pressure
7. Skin problems, such as eczema
8. Heart attack
9. Stroke

The Empath: To Repress or Not to Repress

An Empath is someone who is capable of feeling another person's emotions. This includes anger. But they also have a tendency to repress their own emotions in the process of care giving to others. This is particularly true for the unskilled and unaware Empath. They repress their emotions to the point where anything which is added to emotional boiling pot creates an imbalance within the Empath. The result is either an explosion of emotion directed at innocent people or they become depressed and feel overwhelmed. Panic attacks could also be a result of this imbalance.

But this is not limited to the unskilled/unaware Empath. It is true for all Empaths, no matter how skilled they are. It is a constant battle to feel like you matter enough to give expression to your feelings, even anger. And more to the point, it is an uphil battle to find positive modes of and outlets for that emotion.

Healthy Modes Of Expressing Anger

Here are a few healthy modes of expressing anger:

1. If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation temporarily, until you cool down.
2. Recognize and accept the emotion as normal and part of life.
3. Try to pinpoint the exact reasons why you feel angry.
4. Once you have identified the problem, consider coming up with different strategies on how to remedy the situation.
5. Do something physical, such as going for a run or playing sport.

Suggestions for long term anger management:

1. Keep a diary of your anger outbursts, to try and understand how and why you get mad.
2. Consider assertiveness training, or learning about techniques of conflict resolution.
3. Learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
4. See a counsellor or psychologist if you still feel angry about events that occurred in your past.
5. Take regular exercise.

Anger Check List -- How Is Your Anger?

1. People tell you that you need to calm down.

2. You feel tense much of the time.

3. At work, you find yourself not saying what is on your mind.

4. When you are upset, you try to block the world out by watching TV, reading a book or magazine, or going to sleep.

5. You are drinking or smoking marijuana almost daily to help you calm down.

6. You have trouble going to sleep.

7. You feel misunderstood or not listened to much of the time.

8. People ask you not to yell or curse so much.

9. Your loved ones keep saying that you are hurting them.

10. Friends do not seek you out as much.


0 - 2 = MANAGEABLE: you could benefit from relaxation training.
3 - 5 = MODERATE: you need to learn more about what stresses you, and learn stress management techniques.
6 + = OUT OF CONTROL: you have an anger problem that could benefit from learning anger management techniques.

Anger Tests


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