Dealing with Repressed Anger

How Do You Deal with Repressed Emotions?

My question for you today is how do you deal with emotions that you don’t want to feel or experience?

A lot of people have expressed feelings of sadness and anger this past week. Repressed anger can make people run amok if you don’t know how to let it out in safe way. This stems many times from when we are young and told that it is OK to show certain feelings but to hide others. It becomes even more obvious when we get into the teenage years struggling to control all the hormonal fluctuations going on in the body. Not knowing how to handle it and in order to be cool you start to repress some of the unwanted feelings.

Feelings Are Not Good Nor Bad

Feelings and emotions are actually energy in motion and having a wide range of emotions is natural. It is when we repress and hide them that the problem starts because they are supposed to move through us instead of getting stuck in the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we talk about how different emotions are connected to certain organs. For some people this sounds strange but if you have studied both Western and Eastern medicine you will come to the same conclusion as I have.

TCM has been around for thousands of years and it wouldn’t have survived if there was no substance to it. There is a clear connection between stuck emotions and certain organs in your body. Let me give you an example. In TCM the liver and eyes are connected and you can easily spot anger in a persons eyes. In Swedish when we say someone has a hot temper we say the have a hot liver “hetlevrad.” But also Western medicine recognizes the connection between the liver and eyes. Liver problems like jaundice can be seen when the whites of the eyes turn yellow.

Repressed Anger

Let’s take a look at anger which is something that a lot of us are feeling right now. There are plenty of things to be angry about, people not being treated equally, animals suffering and the way we treat our planet. Anger is connected to the liver in TCM and if it is stored and repressed too long you will sooner or later blow up. The eruption can be catastrophic depending on who you take the anger out on and if it is in proportion to what happened.

Usually when you have repressed anger you don’t let it out where it is appropriate. Instead it can be the tiniest thing like stuck in a traffic jam or somebody cuts you off in a line. You explode with all your built up anger and direct it at this one person who maybe did nothing wrong but just happened to be in your way at a day when you finally had enough.

How to Deal with Anger

So how should we deal with anger? First of all it is just an emotion, a feeling and as I explained earlier they should be moving through our body and not get stored. Now there are times when we will have to hold our tongue or cannot go off on someone or something even if we are angry. It can be our child that has asked something for the twentieth time when we are in the middle of a deadline or it can be a new colleague constantly asking you questions. It is important we get rid of the energy by releasing it and I will take you through some steps so you can let it out instead of shouting and screaming maybe at the wrong person.

5 Tips

  1. When you get angry and you cannot let it out in a safe controlled way, step away from the situation and literally go and shake it off. That is what animals do when they need to get rid of excess fear for example, they shiver and shake it off. You can also shadow box something in front of you and when you are done brush yourself off as you are getting rid of snow on your coat, brush off your shoulders, lungs and liver.
  2. See if you can locate the feeling of anger in your body. Where do you feel it? Start to breathe into that place and also exhale from it. Do this at least 12 times.
  3. When you have time to reflect on what happened start to look into yourself and have an internal conversation about what triggered you and if you can see a pattern. Is it always the same type of situation that triggers you, the same person? Can it be that you have associated a specific situation or a person with anger? That every time you encounter the situation/person you will go in expecting it to aggravate you instead of going in with a blank page and see what will happen.
  4. After you have released the anger and reflected on it, it is good to write your thoughts down on a piece of paper. This is when you can access your rational cognitive part of your brain instead of the reactionary brain stem. You will be able to see the situation from another angle and this gives you a choice how to react next time.
  5. You can then use that energy that anger releases and transform it in a constructive way where you are in control and it helps you to move on and not get stuck.

If you want to read more my book Öst möter Väst – Mental träning över gränserna is available in Swedish.

Don’t be afraid to have feelings, just make sure that your emotions are moving through you and don’t get stuck.

Fia Hobbs



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