By Andrea Lambert
There are two major problems with anger; not expressing it (which leads to resentment, depression, and health problems), and expressing it irresponsibly, which can lead to exploding hostility and even physical violence.
Anger and rage, normal human emotions, are the body’s reaction to hurt or the threat of hurt that needs to be released from the body. It needs to be released safely and responsibly without directing it toward anyone else.
Human beings, because of the very nature of society, frequently bury their pain, especially their anger. At the time of a childhood trauma, they were unable to fight back and they felt helpless and powerless. As an adult, they may have been in a similar situation, with an overpowering spouse, boss or authority figure.
Most of the time this pain is repressed because the person is not allowed to express the pain and trained themselves to be unconscious about the pain. The truth is erased, and becomes unseen by the intellectual mind, but the memories are stored in the body. As a result, a person has a reservoir full of repressed anger.
The buried damage to the abused spirit leaves the door open for unhealthy ways to numb the pain such as addictions to chemicals, over-eating, over-spending, many other addictive behaviors, unhealthy relationships, very low self-esteem and unhealthy ways of exhibiting anger. Anger can either be suppressed or released in destructive ways, i.e. yelling and screaming and possibly physically abusing others.
In order to be fully released and healed permanently, this anger and pain must be expressed fully and responsibly on an emotional level in a safe, protective environment with lots of love, encouragement and support. There are many ways to do this; screaming in the car or outdoors, beating a bed or couch with a tennis racket, playing a sport like racquetball or working with a qualified psychotherapist.
Often there is fear that once a person starts expressing the anger or hurt, the dam will collapse and he/she won’t be able to stop. This isn’t a rational fear and it isn’t true. This defense can be combated by either having a friend stand by or working with a therapist.
Remember, buried anger and hurt will not just go away on its own or by thinking it through or intellectually understanding it. Without being released from the body, mind and spirit, it will continue to create harm to the person or to others in the person’s environment.
When a person over-reacts, he/she is dealing again with the long repressed and held-in feelings of rage from trauma.
The benefits of releasing anger and pain responsibly can add to a more intimate relationship with a spouse or friends; increased self-esteem; more healthy parenting of children; more physical energy and better health; expanding one’s creativity; becoming more powerful and assertive; and opening up loving energy for oneself and the people around you.
Andrea Lambert, MFCC, a licensed psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, has been a counseling professional in the Sacramento area for over 20 years. She is the creator of the Self Awareness Marathon Weekend, which offers an opportunity for deep exploration and a place to release the damage caused by past traumas. She can be contacted directly at (916) 966-0411, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.