“If you carry around a lot of suppressed or repressed anger (anger you have unconsciously buried) you may lash out at people, blaming or punishing them for something someone else did a long time ago.” – Beverly Engel
Repressing emotions can happen when those emotions make us feel uncomfortable, or bring up memories that we would rather leave buried. While emotional repression can help in the moment to relieve stress or allow us to move forward with our lives, it only causes more turmoil in the long run.
According to Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler, “What repressed anger does is to make its home somewhere in your body and create more stress.” Repressed anger can especially leave us feeling hollow, stressed and angry at the wrong targets. The problem happens when we repress this anger to either the breaking point, or until it eats us alive. Allowing yourself to let go of this repressed anger is the first step to healing.
6 Ways To Let Go Of Repressed Anger And Gain Control Over Your Life
This is the first step to releasing any repressed emotion, but especially anger. We can oftentimes brush off self-reflection as something that just doesn’t work. However, being able to reflect on your emotions, thoughts and reactions can help make releasing all of your repressed anger so much easier. First, you need to figure out how you began to repress your anger in the first place. Perhaps there was a specific event during childhood that taught you to hold your feelings in. Once you pinpoint this, you can learn how that lesson has led you to repress your feelings throughout the rest of your life.
2. LEARN FORGIVENESS
According to Professor Robert Enright, “Our science shows that as people make the decision to forgive and follow a valid process of forgiving, then the one who forgives experiences considerable psychological relief such as reduced anger, anxiety, and depression, and an increase in self-esteem.”
This doesn’t just mean learning to forgive others. Learning to forgive yourself is as equally important in beginning to release the repressed anger inside of you. Forgiveness is a powerful tool for self-healing. When you begin to forgive the people who have harmed you in some way, you are able to release the anger that you hold inside of you. Once that anger is released, you’ll find that your mind and body can become healthier as you begin your process of healing.
3. UTILIZE POSITIVE VISUALIZATION
When your mind is thinking of negative things, you’re going to feel negative emotions! The best way to combat this, and to begin the road to recovery from repressed anger, is to use positive visualization. Instead of focusing on the people who have hurt you, focus on the people and things that bring you joy in your life, as well as purpose. Release your anger in constructive, healthy ways, like art, music or exercise. Letting your emotions out and feeling them is an important part of letting them go.
4. ACCEPT THE PAST
Trying to deny or rally against things that have already happened is a useless effort. The past is the past, and there’s nothing that can be done to change it. You can’t erase the things that happened, but you can learn to accept them and how they affect your life now. Acceptance of the past will allow you to move forward. You can’t look straight ahead if you’re always looking back! Once you learn the power of acceptance, you’ll find that your path to healing becomes much more straightforward.
5. UNDERSTAND THE OTHER PERSON’S POINT OF VIEW
When you began your self-reflection, you may have begun to realize that you hold repressed anger because of someone else. This is a good time to try and reflect on their point of view. Understanding where someone else is coming from can help you process your anger, rather than letting it fester inside of you. Of course, this is only useful if the anger comes from a differing point of view, rather than an expression of violence. In cases like this, it’s important to know that someone’s violence against you was not your fault. Being able to release yourself of the blame can help you move past your anger.
6. ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE NOT IN CONTROL OF LIFE
Sure, you can control certain things about your life – who you interact with, where you work, how you spend your time, etc. But in the long run, life is going to happen and the most any of us can do is brace ourselves for the ride. According to Dr. Amy Johnson, “I’ve noticed that things go much more smoothly when I give up control—when I allow them to happen instead of making them happen. “
You can’t control other people’s actions. If an ex-partner broke your trust and cheated on you, being able to accept that there was nothing you could do to control their actions can help release your repressed anger at them for hurting you. Once that anger is released, you can start to heal from the incident.
Repressed emotions can cause stress, depression and anxiety. Repressed anger is no exception! However, it is possible to learn to release that anger. Once you have the tools to work through your own personal healing journey, your body and mind will be at peace. You may even find that your relationships with other people, be they romantic, platonic or familial, have grown stronger than ever now that you don’t have that anger hanging over your head.