By David Joel Miller
Hidden anger can poison you and your relationships.
You may not feel comfortable expressing your anger. There may be others around you who try to pretend that they are not angry about things when deep down inside they are seething. Allow that anger to live inside you and no matter how much you try to hide it eventually it will seep out.
Hiding anger and keeping it inside is sometimes called “Stuffing your anger.” Stuffed anger will make you physically ill. Those people who try to pretend they are not angry, find their unacknowledged anger leaking out all over the place. One major way anger leaks out is through passive-aggressive behavior.
Hiding anger does not make it go away. Hidden anger will make you sick or poison your relationships. Expressing it in aggressive ways can destroy you and others. There are ways to avoid letting this anger build up and most of those ways are about seeing things differently before the anger takes hold and resolving conflict in positive ways.
You can’t defuse hidden anger if you do not recognize it. Here is a list of some ways anger stays camouflaged and how hidden anger will leak out. These problems may have started with hidden anger but unrecognized and not dealt with these symptoms can develop into depression, anxiety or another mental illness.
1. Foot dragging, lateness, and procrastination may be hidden anger.
Once someone develops a resentment towards you, they may begin expressing that anger in passive ways. They say they will do something or stop doing something but the thing they promised just keeps slipping their mind.
People can develop hidden anger and obstructive behavior even while believing they do mean to do the thing you ask. Passive aggressive behavior can be an unconscious behavior.
If you find that you are habitually late for an appointment with someone, look carefully and see if you have anger over having to do something for them. Are you procrastinating about doing something? Is it possible that you have some anger over having to do this task?
Take a close look at the things that you never get around to doing and you may be able to diagnose a case of hidden anger.
2. Difficulty falling asleep or frequent awakenings may be the result of hidden anger.
Changes in sleep are often symptoms of an underlying emotional or mental issue. If you find yourself tossing and turning and thinking about someone or something examine this sleep issue and see if it is a hiding place for hidden anger.
3. Bad dreams and nightmares about the person who made you angry.
Bad dreams, nightmares and their hurtful cousin, night terrors may have their source in anger that you can’t express. Hide that anger and the brain will continue to work on the feeling while you sleep.
Not every dream needs an interpretation, but recurrent disturbing dreams invite a closer look. Dreams that contain the effects of hidden anger are a good place for hidden anger to hide. You will find the hidden anger is readily recognizable when you begin to recall that bad dream.
4. Feeling tired, run down and like you can’t take any more may be unresolved anger.
Anger that is not recognized continues to try to make itself heard. One theory about the causes of depression is that it may stem from anger that is turned inward rather than outwards towards the real cause of your discomfort.
When someone does something that could be a cause of anger and you are unwilling or unable to express those feeling the result can be a loss of drive. Nothing is fun, you can’t feel happy and all you want to do is lay around and try to rest.
All of those symptoms of hidden anger look like symptoms of depression and underneath a lot of depression, we find some anger.
Consider also that it does not need to be someone else that you are angry at. Anger at yourself is a prime candidate to become hidden anger.
You wish you had not done something, you resent the consequences, but how can you punish yourself for this error? Stuffing a mouth full of anger and making yourself sick in the process is one possibility.
5. Sarcasm, innuendos and backhanded compliments maybe anger based.
Watch out for those backhanded compliments. When the things that get said to you are full of sarcasm and innuendo suspect that the humor is an attempt to hide some anger that the other person does not want to be direct about.
6. Icky sweet people may be disingenuous and hiding some anger.
You know the people I mean. They smile with even the back teeth showing. There can be something menacing in their smiles and greetings. Despite all their repetition of “dear” and “friend” you feel threatened not welcomed.
If this other person slips your name into sentences more often than a call center person from a third world country, suspect hidden anger.
Are you full of hidden anger? Are you the recipient of hidden or thinly disguised anger? Consider some work on getting the air cleared and the real problems dealt with. Or failing to be able to talk honestly about what is eating you or bugging them consider if this relationship is really a healthy one.
Are there other varieties of hidden anger you have experienced? What other types can you add to the list?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books