Processing Anger Successfully

By: Wendy Knight Agard / April 2009

Photo of two women with angry expressions Anger. Anger. Most of us don’t like it whether it’s directed at us or we’re directing it at others. What is it about this emotion that makes us so uncomfortable? We all experience being angry, but few of us have developed the skills to effectively process and express our anger.

Why have we not learned this skill? From the time we learn to talk, we are told “don’t raise your voice, please”, “speak in your inside voice”, “we don’t yell in this house/classroom”. Without knowing it, our parents, teachers, coaches and other influencers are delivering the message that we ought not get angry that this feeling is negative or harmful in some way. When we are young children, the odd tantrum tends to be tolerated without too much intervention. But as we move into our teens this becomes less and less tolerated and we are expected to control these outbursts.

This expectation would be fine if we were taught to effectively process our anger. But what typically happens is that we aren’t provided with this training and a pattern of suppression begins. We learn to suppress our anger in order to be “nice” and “polite” and to “get along” with others. We gradually find ways to manage our suppressed anger in order to divert our attention from it. There are so many ways that we do this, from using exercise, food, alcohol and cigarettes, to taking depression and anti-anxiety medication.

Over time, this cycle of suppression eventually leads to illness. The feeling of anger does not just disappear because it is ignored or suppressed. Its energy stays within our system, wreaking havoc over time and eventually it will erupt either emotionally or physically or both. Many women experience this monthly in the form of PMS. Have you ever wondered why many of us are more irritable at this time? The reality is that the hormones simply act as a “truth serum” for emotions that were likely present all month long. The hormonal changes simply make it more difficult to suppress the anger, so it comes out despite our best efforts to control it. It can be a helpful exercise to examine the emotions that come out during PMS, to provide insight into emotions that may have been suppressed all month long. Anger is often one of them.

The same is true of menopause. Menopause can be an extended version of PMS, where hormone fluctuations cause emotions such as anger to surface like they never have before. This anger has been stored up, so to speak, over years on many different levels, and the hormonal changes make it difficult to keep a lid on it.

It is important to understand that this suppressed anger has just as much of an effect on our physical bodies. Most of us can think of someone we know who has a serious illness or condition that we instinctively link to their state of mind. For example, we may believe that the reason behind their symptoms is that they are stuck in a state of bitterness and resentment. When we make this kind of judgment about someone else, we consider them to be entirely different from ourselves. But are they really that different?

We may feel “fine”, but many of us, through continual suppression of anger and other emotions, are allowing damage to happen on a physical level that we are not aware of. We don’t link our suppressed anger to our physical symptoms such as high cholesterol for many reasons; it happens gradually over time, our doctors don’t make that link for us, we’re told the symptom has arisen due to natural aging, the symptom runs in our family, and so on.

Anger can be expressed without hurting the person who has made us angry. To the contrary, being truthful enough to express your anger is an act of love for yourself and for the other person. When you express your anger instead of suppressing it, you are saying to yourself “my feelings are important. I matter.” To the other person, you are saying “our relationship is important enough to me that I want it to be based on truth, and the truth is that I am angry about what you did/said”.

So how can we learn to effectively process our anger so that we can feel it and express it in a healthy way? How do we acknowledge it fully, without judging ourselves so that we can be clear as to what we are angry about? If we get that far, then do we express it if someone else is involved? And how do we express it? Is yelling ok? In what circumstance?

For many women, these questions are difficult to answer but there is help in the form of Medical Heilkunst. Heilkunst is a system of medicine that can be extremely helpful with helping clients to effectively process emotions like anger. A Heilkunst practitioner has an understanding of the links between suppressed emotions and disease and knows how to use tools such as homeopathic remedies to help clients effectively process emotions.

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We all experience being angry, but few of us have developed the skills to effectively process and express our anger.

Wendy Knight Agard

Copyright 2006-2019 Wendy Knight Agard.