As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve often met with clients of mine who seem determined to put on a happy facade and deny their own anger. Unfortunately, when they bury or hide their own anger from themselves, it can come out sideways or morph into anxiety and depression. Instead of burying or denying your anger, it’s far healthier to acknowledge it’s presence and find safe ways to discharge it. In addition, it’s far healthier to see anger as a metaphorical alarm clock that is signalling to you that beneath your anger you may be feeling wounded, hurt, powerless, ashamed, afraid, etc.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve learned through years of experience to hone in on the many signs of hidden, unexpressed, systemic anger. These signs include the following: obsessive preoccupation with the completion of imposed tasks, habitual lateness, a liking of sadistic or ironic humor, aloofness, impatience, closed off body language, unconsciously turning their hands into fists, contemptuous glares, sarcasm, cynicism, and flippancy in conversation. In addition to these hidden signs of unacknowledged, unexpressed anger, people who carry with them the heavy, toxic burden of anger are prone to sighing a lot, yawning, getting drowsy at inappropriate times, slowing down their movements, speaking in a monotone voice, getting tired more easily than usual, withdrawing, isolating, and sleeping more than usual, maybe up to 12-14 hours a day, and being prone to boredom and apathy.
Other signs of hidden anger include over politeness, constant cheerfulness, smiling while hurting, and an attitude of grin-and-bear-it. In addition, people who tend to deny or hide their anger rationalize or minimize their emotions, become excessively irritable and agitated over trifles, hold onto grudges, struggle mightily to forgive others, make cutting passive-aggressive comments, see things in black and white, and carry around a chip on their shoulder accompanied by a sense of injustice and self-righteousness. On another note, they are also prone to having disturbing or violent dreams, clenching their jaws or grinding their teeth while awake or sleeping, and have facial tics or spasmodic foot movements that they’re entirely unaware of.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve also learned over the years that people who hide their anger from themselves often experience health problems, such as a chronically stiff or sore neck, aching shoulder muscles, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, etc. Their bodies become physical manifestations of the anger they keep locked inside of them. People who hide their anger may even experience chronic depression and extended periods of feeling down for no apparent reason.
Finally, another sign that people are hiding their anger is the many ways they act out in self-destructive ways: Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their anger; Others have marital affairs; Finally others refuse to get help of any kind to angrily protesting to those that love them that they are no longer accessible to them and that they would prefer to be alone and disconnected rather than connected and within reach.
In my professional experience, hidden anger that’s been cast in the shadows must come to the light to be addressed. It’s an emotion that can be worked through, often relatively quickly and effortlessly. If you or someone you know is hiding your anger to yourself or showing signs of hidden anger that you weren’t aware of until now, rest assured that I have the expertise and resources to help you feel more serene and more at ease. You’re welcome to call me or e-mail me anytime to arrange a time to visit with me in person so we can work together in helping you feel much better.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope that you found it useful and informative!!
John Boesky, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist