Anger is an emotional response that we feel in a variety of ways, generally stemming from fear, hurt, insult, embarrassment or disappointment. People respond to these unsettling angry feelings in many different ways. Some get annoyed but are able to work it out and move on with their day. Others might sulk quietly, internalizing their feelings while getting depressed about their life. Some might seek revenge or try to sabotage the person or thing that caused their anger. Still others react by shouting, lobbying mean spirited comments, or act out in actual violence. Finally, a common response to anger is to try to ignore it or deny it because actually dealing with it can be too exhausting, stressful or traumatic.
People who chronically suppress their anger usually do so because they grew up in an environment that taught that anger is a bad thing, or if they express it, they will receive some sort of unfair retaliation. Suppressing emotions can be okay once in a while but people who avoid or overlook these angry feelings all the time, tend to lack the effective communication skills so necessary in every aspect of life. This can translate into broken relationships, lack of promotions at work, divorce, and the overall build-up of cynicism and bitterness. The long term effects of keeping feelings bottled up inside generally result in high blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes and heart disease and lowered immunity. There is also an increased risk for drug and alcohol abuse to help avoid the problems instead of facing them head on.
Do you find yourself suppressing your emotions more than you should? Some of the telltale signs that you are using this strategy to try and cope with everyday life include:
1. You avoid talking about the emotions with anyone because you don’t want to feel bad.
2. You avoid the people, place or situation that brings up the angry feelings so you don’t have to think about it.
3. You abuse alcohol or drugs to distract you from dealing with the emotions.
4. You often feel victimized and not in control of your life.
5. You’ve been told you have a passive-aggressive personality.
Learning how to handle your anger is an important part of an easier, more successful life. In many counts, the anger is necessary to help protect you, but spending your days ignoring the feelings diminishes happiness and can ultimately result in a dramatic blow-up. Once you have determined this problem in your life, taking a good anger management class will teach you to identify triggers and then understand how to meet your needs without high levels of stress, tantrums, violence or suppression. Learning how to assert yourself in respectful, clear and effective ways is generally the key task that people who regularly suppress anger need to master.
In addition to gaining anger management skills, people who are well-balanced and better able to cope with the world around them by also keeping physically fit, staying in touch with loved ones and friends to maintain a support network, eating a balanced diet, focusing on the positive, having a hobby, helping others in need, and allowing themselves time to relax and rejuvenate.