How Unexpressed Anger Impacts Your Mental Health


unexpressed anger impacts your mental health

Most of us tend to ignore or avoid our negative feelings that can arise from different situations, instead of learning to deal with them. We don’t learn to let go of them and that is the reason many people suffer from unexpressed anger and pent-up frustrations which can later negatively affect our physical, psychological, and social functions.

Though we often associate the two, anger is not aggression. Aggression is the enactment of anger and can take many forms from physical to verbal. Anger, however, is an emotion, a feeling. There is an odd irony that anger is in the same club of emotions like joy and love because it can feel so utterly different, easily igniting aggression with the right conditions.

Under its spell, we can feel like a pumped-up, steroid-injected alter ego that we don’t recognize later on. On one end of the spectrum, anger can be the source of festering stress. On the other, anger can be the fuel to violence and destruction, even death.

Related: Karl Koch’s Tree Test: What A Drawing Can Reveal About Your Emotions

Anger is so strong that it has the capacity to change others’ behavior. No other human emotion has the capacity to bend the will of another the way anger can, especially when anger turns to aggression. I certainly hightailed it away from that New York muscle man.

Anger expressed in this way is like the growling lion in the wild. This kind of anger creates fear, the effect of which is to scare off an intruder or predator. The approach of the fight can induce an avoidance reaction of flight.

anger is a potent spice. It is an emotion.
How Unexpressed Anger Impacts Your Mental Health

But the emotion of anger that we often experience as humans is not always, or even usually, expressed as outward and violent aggression. Unlike lions, humans do not act on instinct alone.

What Are The Causes Of Unexpressed Anger

Often, people turn these emotions of anger inward to the later surface as depression or bitterness. In my work as a psychiatrist with children and adults, it is not unusual to discover that repressed anger has turned into a sense of powerlessness, stress, frustration, or disapproval.

Many of these people are experiencing anger and do not know how to express or handle this very powerful emotion. Anger can rankle in the human brain and manifest in many other destructive ways. Anger’s power over us individually is immense, and its ripple effect throughout all aspects of our lives—our relationships, our careers, educational experiences, even our longevity—can be life-altering, even devastating. 

Yet, just as potent is our innate ability to understand and control the forces of anger in ourselves and others. Think back to the last time you were extremely angry. Did you use strong language, yell or strike? While it may seem that these responses are spontaneous and uncontrollable, each one is actually profoundly under your control. You have a choice of what to do and how to express your anger.

Related: 21 Different Art Therapy Exercises For Different Emotions

This ability to choose develops as we grow older. If you’re a parent, you have seen how anger can consume a toddler who can’t reach or have something she’s after. You have had to step in, change the course of your child’s behavior, and redirect her emotions.

You are slowly showing your child how anger can be controlled. Anger control is expected of adults, although of course, it doesn’t always happen. Often, the angry person appears to be out of control and their actions unpredictable.

Their unpredictability can make us anxious and activates in us the avoidance of flight, or the approach of the fight. Sometimes we know we are not strong enough to fight or fast enough to flee. So we freeze, try to become invisible, and hope the danger passes.

But there is another choice we can make. 

We can wonder: What is it about that person’s inner life that is making them angry? When you get beyond the shouts and gesticulations, you find that angry people are frequently deeply frustrated over something that seems not so important in retrospect; having someone cut you off in traffic, or a person seeming rude and inconsiderate.

Perhaps, ironically, their own fear over the loss of something drove their emotions to detonate, causing them to lose the thing they wanted after all. Uncovering what is really making you or another person angry is key to figuring out how to defuse that anger.

When we understand the evolution of anger and the reasons this natural force remains a determinant of human behavior, we can learn to expose it and use it. Not only that, but like the martial arts master who uses the energy of the opponent to power his own moves, each of us has the ability to detect, harness, and train the force of anger in ourselves and others.

When we do this, we can apply it in ways that enhance our lives, achieve our goals, and, ultimately, influence other people’s behavior for the better as well.

Anger is just an emotion. It’s what you do with it that matters.  

The I-M Approach
Source: Joseph Shrand, MD

Outsmarting Anger: 7 Strategies for Defusing our Most Dangerous Emotion.  Joseph Shrand, MD  Leigh Devine, MS 2021 Second Printing, Books Fluent paperback edition

Written By: Dr. Joseph Shrand
Drug Story Theater 
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today
Republished With Permission 
Unexpressed Anger Impacts Mind pin
unexpressed anger impacts your mental health pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

Decoding Referent Power Meaning: 8 Key Aspects and Its Historic Impact on Leadership Dynamics

Decoding Referent Power Meaning: Eight Key Aspects and Examples

Have you ever wondered why certain individuals have a remarkable ability to inspire and motivate others? What makes them so influential and respected? The answer lies in a concept known as referent power. Let’s explore referent power meaning, and its significance in leadership and the workplace to illustrate its impact.

What is Referent Power?

Referent power meaning: Referent power is a form of influence that stems from an individual’s likability, charisma, and personal connection with others. 

Up Next

When No Place Feels Like Home: 3 Ways To Find Where You Belong

Ways To Find Where You Belong: No Place Feels Like Home

To find where you belong, can be a nuanced journey, often filled with self-discovery and realizations about what makes a place feel like home. Here are three insightful ways to navigate this path, uncovering where you genuinely belong and creating a sanctuary that resonates with your inner self.

What do you do when NO place feels like home? What if when watching Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz clicking the heels of her ruby slippers three times and crying out that famous line – “there’s no place like home” – you found yourself shaking your head, feeling very much alone, and silently wishing that you HAD a place – ANY PLACE – that felt like home?

If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.

Up Next

From Sidelines To Spotlight: 5 Steps To Getting A Seat At The Table (Where You Belong)

Steps To Getting A Seat At The Table Where You Belong

Getting a seat at the table isn’t merely about occupying a chair, but about having a voice and influencing decisions. Follow these five steps to transition from a spectator to a key player, and not just get a seat at the table, but also make sure that your insights are heard and valued.

One of my favourite movies is the 1995 comedy Home for the Holidays. Claudia, played by Holly Hunter, heads to her childhood home for Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family.

If you haven’t seen this flick, I highly recommend that you do. Especially if at one time or another, you’ve found yourself back at home, being treated like the child you once were, and maybe even sitting at the k

Up Next

How To Get Women To Approach You: 20 Tips To Become A Chick Magnet

How To Get Women To Approach You: Science Backed Tips

Have you ever wondered why some individuals seem to effortlessly attract others? The secret often lies not in chasing, but in drawing people towards them. Let us explore how to get women to approach you.

Do You Know How to Get Women to Approach You?

So how can you make women approach you? Picture this: You’re at your favorite café, sipping on a latte and reading a book. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot an attractive woman. Instead of mustering the courage to approach her, imagine if she came over and struck up a

Up Next

Spiritual Meaning Of Hawks: 12 Deep Dream Interpretations

Spiritual Meaning Of Hawks: Deep Dream Interpretations

Have you spotted a hawk or dreamed about it during a crucial period? According to the spiritual meaning of hawks, you might need to focus on the bigger picture! 

Hawks, with their keen eyes and majestic flight patterns, have long been revered across cultures for their spiritual significance.

Many believe that these powerful birds serve as

Up Next

How To Calm Down Quickly? 5 Best Tried And Tested Self-Calming Methods

How To Calm Down Quickly? Five Best Self-Calming Methods

We all have moments when we feel extremely overwhelmed and stressed out, and no matter how hard we try, it feels impossible to calm down quickly. So, how to calm down quickly? This article is going to talk about some of the most effective ways to calm down quickly, that won’t be hard on you but will also be good for you in the long run. . 

When you experience intense anxiety, anger, or sadness, you might need to calm yourself. Do you know how? It’s important that you find self calming methods that work best for you. Give these methods a try!

How To Calm Down Quickly? 5 Best Self Calming Methods

Up Next

What Is Identity Diffusion And How To Find Yourself

What Is Identity Diffusion? Four Powerful Ways To Find Yourself

Have you ever found yourself questioning who you truly are? Feeling lost and uncertain about your identity is a common experience that many adults face at some point in their lives. This phenomenon is known as identity diffusion. Let’s explore what is identity diffusion and how to find yourself.

What is Identity Diffusion?

Identity diffusion is a concept that explores the complexities of self-discovery and personal growth. It refers to a <