We all have an inner circle and an outer circle of relationships in our life. People in the inner circle are further divided into 3 more circles. These 3 circles are family, friends and work. It is within our interactions in these 3 circles that we find situations that make us experience a whole range of emotions. And often times, we carry the emotion of one circle into another without our conscious knowledge.
Eg., if you experience anger and frustration at the workplace, you end up going home in a bad mood and spill it over your family and children. Or you may have had an argument with a friend and then before you know it, you lose your cool with someone at work.
When you do this, you begin to spread toxicity from one circle in your life to another. Your outer circle usually consists of strangers and acquaintances who don’t really matter. Because they are not an everyday face you see or meet with. And yet, if someone on the road cuts into your lane, it could leave you feeling angry. And chances are you may pass on this mood to the next person you meet.
How anger shows up in our life can be broadly classified into two kinds
Suppressed anger and repressed anger. Let’s understand what these two are, how they affect us and how we can deal with them
What is Suppression?
Suppression of anger is when you deliberately and consciously push away your thoughts and feelings of anger towards a person or a situation even though you know they’re there. You are consciously undertaking this action of controlling your anger by either counting to 10, taking a pause before you speak or moving away.
How it affects you
Suppressed anger when left unattended can lead to the creation of a base emotion that is steeped in anger, irritation, frustration, hurt and conflict. You are constantly operating with these emotions running in the background – this stops you from experiencing any situation / relationship in its pure form.
How to deal with it
What one has suppressed can be easily retrieved and dealt with.
- A simple question to ask: If the person is in your inner circle, do you use anger to make the person exit your circle or make them understand? If it is the latter, then a good way to deal with it is to take a 2 minute pause and breathe, before you say a word.
- Remember when you react in the moment, you won’t have the time to use the best of words, or have clarity of intent.
You will just react to the other person’s behaviour or the situation and end up shutting down communication with them or feeling guilty for expressing yourself with aggression.
- When you pause, get clear about what it is you want to let them know, you can use assertiveness instead of aggression to drive the point home.
- Communicating how you feel with assertiveness is a great way to release your suppressed anger.
- When you are bottling up anger it is important to understand that you will need to express it to get it off your system – sooner the better and you can do it using the right channel of communication.
What is Repression?
Repression is when your mind hides your thoughts and feelings of anger without you even realizing it. It happens when your subconscious mind thinks they could be harmful to your well being and self image. Repression of anger happens over a period of years, decades and sometimes even a lifetime.
Example – Towards the end of the evening, I suddenly start losing my temper and getting agitated and irritated about small things, getting into arguments with my co workers, and making silly mistakes at work. This is happening because I’m hungry and have nothing to eat. I am not even aware that this is the real reason and keep blaming ‘the horrible day I’m having.’
In another case, it could be a lot more subtle. For instance, your upbringing has fed you with the idea that getting angry is a bad thing and it will take away from your good girl / good boy image. Such is the effect of these things that as you grow up and go about your daily life, you adopt people pleasing behaviours, which often don’t allow expression of anger or even feel anger. It’s almost like saying that your subconscious mind thinks it is not safe to feel anger and therefore it completely takes it away from your awareness.
How it affects you
When the anger stays in your subconscious as repressed memories, it silently affects your behaviour, physiology and psyche in many ways.
- Behaviour – Repressed anger turns to bitterness and resentment towards a person without the knowledge of why it is happening.
- Physiology – Chronic fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, BP, thyroid, sugar, heart disease and so on.
- Psyche – Depression, anxiety, high stress, emotional sensitivity, impaired decision making and increased aggression to name a few.
Repressed anger when left unattended can lead to far worse effects than suppression. What you are not aware of you cannot solve and this can lead to several negative effects like numbing of senses, an inability to judge your own emotions and actions. It is almost as if you let the anger marinate inside your subconscious for long periods of time, completely unaware of its existence in your body.
How to deal with it
The best way to deal with suppression of anger is through these steps
- Awareness – The first step is to bring in awareness around your anger and that it may be buried deep into your subconscious mind.
- Make peace – Acknowledge its presence and find ways to make peace with it.
- Don’t suppress anger – Instead you need to address anger. When you address anger, you will be able to reach the point of creation of that emotion.
- Meditation – Because suppression lies in the subconscious mind, mediation is the perfect tool to reach that space. Meditation can help you reach the subconscious mind through relaxation which will lead to increased awareness and an openness to receive new information. By accessing the subconscious mind, meditation can help to address underlying issues and create positive changes in thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
We need to give ourselves the permission to experience a full range of emotions, even the negative ones, so that they don’t cause bigger problems for us in the future. Feel the emotion. Accept it. Release it. Replace it with an emotion of your choice.
– Sidra Jafri
She says the best way to deal with anger is to learn to make peace with issues. Unresolved issues linger in the background causing an undercurrent and we ignore them hoping it will go away. Making peace with situations will allow you to acknowledge the situations as they are, you can either do something about them or accept them as they are.
To help you resolve your anger, we invite you to listen to our guided meditation. Before you begin, write the top 5 angry situations you can remember. Identify them as suppressed or repressed anger experiences. Now when you listen to the process in the meditation, allow your mind to be open to receive guidance to clear it.