Feeling the Anger, You Were Denied in Childhood
Posted On June 10, 2022
Anger is a healthy emotion that all humans experience. Anger is a way for us to tell if we are in danger and allows us to respond quickly.
Much has been written about anger and how it is sometimes repressed because it is not safe to express it, such as in a dysfunctional home. This article will be no different as we explore repressed anger, its reasons, and how to mitigate its effects on your life.
What is a Dysfunctional Home?
If you now live with complex post-traumatic stress disorder in your life, you likely lived in a dysfunctional home as a child.
A dysfunctional home is characterized by adult family members being subject to conflict, misbehavior, neglect, or abuse perpetrated against their children. Relationships in the dysfunctional home are tense and filled with yelling, screaming, and out-of-control anger.
The expression of healthy anger by children in a dysfunctional home is forbidden and even dangerous. These children will grow up with unexpressed anger seething below the surface and haunting their adult lives.
Unexpressed anger, as we shall see later, becomes repressed but does not disappear — instead, it goes underground.
What is Anger and How Does It Feel?
As stated, when expressed appropriately, anger is a healthy emotion. You might feel anger when you experience or feel:
- Treated unfairly
Anger is not a destructive emotion deserving of punishment; instead, it is a valuable emotion that helps us cope with our ever-changing world. Anger helps us identify problems that may hurt us, motivates us to change, and keeps us moving toward our goals. When our safety is threatened, anger prepares us to defend ourselves by giving us an extra burst of energy as part of the fight/flight/freeze response.
Most folks experience anger and can manage it like any other emotion. They learn healthy ways to recognize anger and deal with it. Managing anger is vital to a person’s mental and physical health.
Anger feels different to different people, but below are some physical and emotional effects that tell you that you are angry.
- A tightness in your chest
- A churning in your stomach
- Your legs might feel weak
- You experience a pounding, rapid heartbeat
- Your muscles feel tense
- You might feel hot
- You suddenly need to go to the restroom
- You sweat, especially on your palms
- You might shake or tremble
- You feel dizzy
- You feel tense and unable to relax
- You feel resentful toward someone
- You may feel guilty about something
- You are easily irritated
- You feel humiliated
Many other effects tell you that you are angry; too many to list here.
What is Repressed Anger?
Repressed anger is anger that is unintentionally avoided by a person who grew up in a dysfunctional home to keep from feeling uncomfortable feelings related to the past. People who live with repressed anger do not know what their anger feels like and make statements like, “I never get angry” because they are unaware they are feeling it.
People have repressed anger because of situations where they felt upset, stressed, or like they were being taken advantage of. There are many ways people respond to repressed anger; below are some signs you might harbor repressed anger.
- You never feel angry; however, you feel deeply sad or depressed
- You overuse sarcasm or cynicism
- You are uncomfortable with conflict or confrontation
- You feel guilty, deeply ashamed, or evil when you get angry
- You hold grudges and ruminate on things that upset you
- You ignore things and people that bother or upset you rather than handling them
- You feel bitter, envious, or resentful toward people
- You experience chronic muscle tension and headaches
- You feel uncomfortable when other people express anger
- You are passive-aggressive when interacting with others
These are only a few cues that tell you that you have repressed anger and rage.
People who have suppressed anger want to subconsciously ignore or avoid it, often out of fear or shame.
The Negative Side of Repressed Anger
Repressed anger, as one may have surmised, is terrible for your physical and mental health. Anger builds up, causes many adverse effects, and affects their overall quality of life.
Indeed, repressed anger is a leading cause of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic stress
- Having a higher risk for chronic health problems
- Impulsive or destructive behaviors such as substance abuse
- Heart attack
- Lowered self-esteem
Repressed anger does much harm without an outlet to express it, especially if it is often encountered.
Methods to Mitigating Repressed Anger
While it may seem impossible to overcome the effects of repressed anger, it is not. There are many methods to expressing anger in a healthy way that allows you to work through your emotions rather than suppress them.
The skills necessary to feel your anger at the moment instead of building it up in your mind will help you be more assertive and state how you feel and what you think. You will be more capable of getting your needs met in appropriate ways as well.
Being assertive will aid you in how you respond and help you to control your anger. It will also empower you to overcome the anger that haunts you from the past, as you will be better able to do the hard work required to overcome the effects of childhood trauma.
Anger is a reaction to an event that happens to you and your life. Anger is often an indicator that there is a problem that you need to work out. Try to pay attention to how you feel inside and what it is you want. Once you recognize where your anger started, your perception of your anger will change. You will become more able to overcome your anger by expressing it appropriately.
You can understand your anger by thinking about times in the recent past when you have felt anger. You can ask yourself the following questions.
- How do you know you feel angry?
- What changed in how you feel, your actions, and your body sensations, and how have your thoughts changed?
- What triggered your anger?
- What was your anger telling you about what you needed, wanted, or cared about?
You might find insights into your anger you never understood in answering these questions. The trauma you endured in childhood caused you to feel rage, but you were unable to express it. By exploring your anger today, you can turn on a release valve that will relieve the tremendous pressure from yesterday.
Ending Our Time Together
As a survivor of childhood trauma who is now dealing with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, you may not feel the pent-up anger you harbor from the past. It may have gone underground, and as such, it threatens you physically and emotionally.
The first step in allowing anger from the past to surface and be expressed is recognizing you are angry. While it may seem that you should know if you are angry, that is not true. You learned as a child that being angry is dangerous, and you may feel shame at expressing anger now.
To heal, the bandage that has covered the sore of anger must be removed so that it can get some air and finally close. It is not pleasant to address anger issues from the past, but the only way out is through. To be free from the abuse and trauma from the past, one must overcome the messages of the past that tell you that you haven’t the right to be angry.
Of course, you have the right to be angry. Appropriately expressed anger, once released, leaves you feeling lighter, healthier, and more in control over your life.
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