Repressed Anger: Signs, Causes, Treatments, & 8 Ways to Cope (2022)

8 Ways To Deal With Repressed Anger

There are many healthy ways to express anger that allow you to work through your emotions in the moment, rather than repress them and let them build up. These skills can help people become more assertive, or able to state how they feel, what they think, and what they need, in appropriate ways. Assertive communication provides a way of expressing anger that still protects relationships and roles that are important to people. In addition to being more assertive, people who repress anger can also become more self-aware and also develop healthy outlets for stress and anger.

Here are eight strategies for dealing with repressed anger:

(Video) How to Release Emotions Trapped in Your Body 10/30 How to Process Emotions Like Trauma and Anxiety

1. Understand Where Your Anger Is Coming From

Like other emotions, anger is usually a reaction to something that is happening in yourself or in your life, and is often an indicator that there is a problem you need to address. In this way, anger can provide you with important data about what’s happening inside, and about what you want, need and care about. Oftentimes, this anger can make you feel like others hate you, and once you better understand where these feelings stem from within yourself, your perception of how others feel about you may also change.

Work to better understand your anger by thinking about times in the recent past when you have become angry, and by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How did you know you were angry—what changed about your thoughts, feelings, actions, and bodily sensations?
  2. What do you think triggered your anger in that situation?
  3. What about that situation upset or angered you?
  4. Why did that bother you so much?
  5. What was your anger trying to tell you about what you wanted, needed or cared about?

2. Track Anger in Your Body

Becoming more aware of your anger can help you identify some of the early anger cues you might have missed in the past. A growing body of evidence suggests that we store emotions in our bodies, which is often where people notice early signs of anger.5 In stressful situations, “tune in” to your body and pay attention to what sensations, tension and changes you notice.

Some of the more common ways that anger shows up in the body include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Muscle soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Headache or migraine
  • Weak limbs
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Muscle tension

By increasing your insight into these responses, you can better track your emotions. You can also understand potential triggers, which may help you recognize when you’re feeling angry. The earlier you notice your anger, the easier it is to process through the emotion.

3. Start Journaling

Journaling can help you become more attuned to your thoughts and feelings. It’s also a great exercise for emotional expression, and one you can do almost anywhere. People who repress emotions usually struggle to be aware of their inner thoughts and feelings, and journaling helps to foster self-awareness. Research also shows that journaling can improve your overall well-being and decrease depression and anxiety symptoms, which are common in people who repress anger.3,6

(Video) 7 Signs You're Emotionally Repressed

To make this habit successful, it’s crucial to establish a routine. Try to journal around the same time each day, and make sure to journal about your emotions. Some people benefit from having prompts to help them when they begin journaling, while others prefer a less structured approach. Whichever is right for you, make sure to not overthink what you write, and practice just writing what comes to you.

4. Interrupt Angry Thoughts

Even if you struggle to identify anger, you might readily identify negative thoughts that feed into feelings of anger. For example, you might think that you’re stupid, worthless, or unlovable when you make a mistake, or you may beat yourself up over it. You might unconsciously do the same to others, noting all of the things another person is doing that upset you.

Thoughts have a significant impact on emotions. The more you repeat these kinds of negative thoughts in your mind, the angrier and more upset you will become. The next time you notice yourself in a downward spiral, try to catch yourself and imagine pressing “pause” in your mind. Bring your full attention to what you can see, hear, or feel right now. The more focused you are on the present, the less you will be able to ruminate on thoughts that feed into anger and other difficult emotions.

5. Find a Physical Outlet for Your Anger

Anger is a high-energy emotion that can be stored in the body, so learning how to use your body to release the anger can help you regulate your emotions. Exercise and being physically active all help to release stress hormones and balance the chemistry in your brain, helping you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Some physical outlets that can help with repressed anger include:

  • Sports
  • Doing pushups or sit ups
  • Lifting weights
  • Cardiovascular workouts like running, biking or jogging

6. Practice Meditation

Meditating is a practice that involves using mindfulness to become more present and aware of the here-and-now. Mindfulness is practiced by putting your full attention to some aspect of your present experience. This might include your breath, sensations in your body, your surroundings, or becoming fully immersed in what you are doing.

(Video) Emotional Intelligence: Healing Repressed Emotional Pain and Trauma

Mindfulness and meditation help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and boost mood, and can also help you quiet some your racing thoughts. Mindful people have higher cognitive performance, improved empathy levels and make better decisions, even when they are angry or upset.7

Many people believe they need to commit to a perfect meditation practice, but mindfulness can be practiced in many ways that don’t interrupt your routine. To begin, simply close your eyes, rest one hand on top of your belly, and take a deep breath. Inhale for five counts and then release. Repeat this process for as long as you can. If thoughts arise (and they probably will), try not to judge them. Instead, acknowledge them for passing through.

7. Use I-Statements

Repressed anger can sometimes come out via passive or passive-aggressive communication, but I-statements help you communicate assertively. I-statements help you express your needs, even when you are upset. Unlike being aggressive, an I-statement protects the feelings of other people, allowing you to express yourself without being disrespectful.

I-statements require taking ownership of your reactions. The formula is simple- when interacting with someone, use the script, I feel ____ when you ____ and I would like _______. This method allows you to communicate how you feel and what you would like for the other person to do differently. Unlike a “YOU” statement, I-statements diffuse blame. Instead of attacking the other person (which often results in them becoming defensive), you’re offering them a reasonable opportunity to respond.8

8. Feel Your Feelings

Most people who repress emotions like anger escape using alcohol, food, video games, or shopping, or other distractions. Commit to feeling all of your feelings, and cutting back on distractions and escape methods. While some emotions are uncomfortable, being willing to feel them can provide numerous benefits. First, if you’re unable to give up the vice, this could be a telling sign of an underlying compulsion or addiction. Second, you develop more confidence in your ability to experience your emotions rather than avoid them. The more confident you are that you can cope with difficult emotions like anger, the less control it has over you, and the less you will feel the need to repress it.

Treatment for Repressed Anger

Awareness is the first step in the process of making any positive change. Once you identify that you struggle with repressed anger, reaching out for professional support from a counselor can help you unpack this complex emotion, learn healthier ways to cope, and become more confident in your ability to express anger in ways that aren’t destructive.

(Video) Anger Rooted in Yesterday's Rage: (Childhood Emotional Neglect and Attachment Trauma)

Therapy Options

Those who are seeking help for repressed anger often benefit from the following types of therapy:

  • Individual therapy: Individual sessions with a licensed counselor can help you become more self-aware, identify and address underlying causes of anger, and learn better ways of coping. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anger management can be effective in helping to identify triggers and introducing coping skills to effectively manage it.
  • Couples or family therapy: When anger is affecting personal or family relationships, couples or family counseling can help people learn more effective ways of communicating and repairing damaged relationships.
  • Group therapy: Some people benefit from group therapy, especially group therapy that targets anger management. In group therapy, a licensed counselor teaches coping skills and people with similar issues can provide support to one another.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for treating repressed anger. Your unique circumstances, past treatment history, co-occurring issues, and personal preferences all play a role in your treatment plan. Additionally, you may benefit from a combination of approaches. You will collaborate with your therapist to discuss the recommended treatment for your care.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to seeking therapy, implementing better self-care and making adjustments to your usual routine can improve symptoms of repressed anger. Self-care involves activities, skills, and supports that help people reduce stress and meet their emotional needs. This includes meeting your basic needs like eating well and getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, as well as making a point to take breaks and develop more work-life balance. Also, remember to stay connected to people who care about you that you feel you can open up to and rely on for emotional support.

When To Get Professional Help For Repressed Anger

When repressed anger begins to negatively impact your physical or mental health, your relationships, or your quality of life, getting professional help is recommended. If repressed anger is making it difficult for you to function, meet expectations and fulfill your responsibilities, this is another sign that professional help is needed.

It’s important to remember that you many benefit from counseling, even if you don’t “need” it, so don’t wait until things get really bad before seeking help for your anger. Doing so may be detrimental to your physical and mental health, but getting help early can often prevent these negative impacts.

How To Find A Therapist

Finding the right therapist is crucial when treating your repressed anger. Ideally, you want to work with someone specializing in trauma or anger management (the two issues are closely connected). A good place to start your search is by using atherapist directory.


Therapy is an intimate relationship, and you should feel safe with your therapist. It’s okay if you need to meet with a few professionals before you find the right fit, and many will offer free consultations to help people make this decision.

Final Thoughts on Repressed Anger

Repressed anger is anger that people push down, ignore, or avoid, and is often unconscious. Working to become more aware and attuned to emotions has many benefits, and is associated with being happier, healthier, and having a better overall quality of life. With the help of a therapist, people can learn healthier methods of expressing their anger which feel a lot better than repressing it.


What does repressed anger turn into? ›

Suppressed anger can be an underlying cause of anxiety and depression. Anger that is not appropriately expressed can disrupt relationships, affect thinking and behavior patterns, and create a variety of physical problems.

How do I stop my anger from being suppressed? ›

Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
  1. Think before you speak. ...
  2. Once you're calm, express your concerns. ...
  3. Get some exercise. ...
  4. Take a timeout. ...
  5. Identify possible solutions. ...
  6. Stick with 'I' statements. ...
  7. Don't hold a grudge. ...
  8. Use humor to release tension.

Where is repressed anger stored in the body? ›

When an emotion is not fully processed, it may become “stuck” in the body. However, it's the limbic structures of the brain where emotional processing occurs.

Where is anger trapped in the body? ›

The emotion of anger is associated with the choleric humor and can cause resentment and irritability. It is believed that this emotion is stored in the liver and gall bladder, which contain bile. Anger can cause headaches and hypertension which can in turn affect the stomach and the spleen.

Why do I have so much repressed anger? ›

Most likely, they have repressed anger because they have learned at some point in their life that it is not okay to directly express it or to even feel it. Metaphorically, their feeling 'channel' for anger is blocked.

What's the root of anger? ›

Common roots of anger include fear, pain, and frustration. For example, some people become angry as a fearful reaction to uncertainty, to fear of losing a job, or to fear of failure. Others become angry when they are hurt in relationships or are caused pain by close friends.

What hurts a highly sensitive person? ›

Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People

Are easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or loud sirens. Feel stressed when they have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time. Avoid violent movies and TV shows.

What does suppressed anger look like? ›

Most of the time, people with self-righteous anger do not appear angry but overly civilised, controlled, and tense. Because they do not like thinking of themselves as an angry person, they rarely express or admit feeling resentful.

What happens when you suppress your emotions for too long? ›

Longer term, there's an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, says Victoria. And avoiding emotions can also lead to problems with “memory, aggression, anxiety and depression”. A study from the University of Texas found that by not acknowledging our emotions we're making them stronger.

What damage does anger cause? ›

Anger ups your stroke risk.

If you're prone to lashing out, beware. One study found there was a three times higher risk of having a stroke from a blood clot to the brain or bleeding within the brain during the two hours after an angry outburst.

Which organ is responsible for anger? ›

Anger was related to the liver, happiness to the heart, thoughtfulness to the heart and spleen, sadness to the heart and lungs, fear to the kidneys, heart, liver, and gallbladder, surprise to the heart and the gallbladder, and anxiety to the heart and the lungs.

What organ gets affected by anger? ›

The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for physical exertion. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires.

What do repressed emotions lead to? ›

Repressed anger or other negative emotions may be tied to a higher risk for things like: Depression. High blood pressure. Heart disease.

How do you change anger to positive energy? ›

Some to consider include:
  1. Stop to consider why you're angry.
  2. Look for what you can change in the situation.
  3. Identify your emotional sore points.
  4. Discover new boundaries to set.
  5. Use your anger as motivation.
  6. Focus on only what really matters.
  7. Exercise to blow off steam.
  8. Channel your anger into productive action.

How do you know you are traumatized? ›

Intrusive memories

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event. Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.

How do you unlock an inner anger? ›

One 2010 study found that being able to express your anger in a healthy way can even make you less likely to develop heart disease.
  1. Take deep breaths. ...
  2. Recite a comforting mantra. ...
  3. Try visualization. ...
  4. Mindfully move your body. ...
  5. Check your perspective. ...
  6. Express your frustration. ...
  7. Defuse anger with humor. ...
  8. Change your surroundings.
17 Dec 2019

How can I free myself from repressed emotions? ›

10 Ways to Cope With Negative Emotions Without Repressing Them
  1. Understanding how you relate to your emotions. ...
  2. Educating yourself about emotions. ...
  3. Understanding how emotions show up in your body. ...
  4. Learning the triggers to your emotions. ...
  5. Learning how to live with your emotions. ...
  6. Acknowledging your emotions.
4 Nov 2020

What emotions are stored in the neck and shoulders? ›

Neck Tension = Fear and Repressed Self-Expression

Fear and anxiety are also frequently stored in this area, particularly as a physical response to danger (as the neck is a vulnerable area) or strange environments. Neck muscle tension is also related to trust issues.

What emotions are stored in the lungs? ›

Lung. The lungs bring oxygen into the body and remove carbon dioxide. In TCM, this organ is believed to be connected to grief and the following conditions: Emotions: Grief, sadness, and detachment.

How do I heal myself mentally? ›

  1. Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. ...
  2. Take care of your body: Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. ...
  3. Surround yourself with good people: ...
  4. Give yourself: ...
  5. Learn how to deal with stress: ...
  6. Quiet your mind: ...
  7. Set realistic goals: ...
  8. Break up the monotony:

What happens in brain during anger? ›

As you become angry your body's muscles tense up. Inside your brain, neurotransmitter chemicals known as catecholamines are released causing you to experience a burst of energy lasting up to several minutes. This burst of energy is behind the common angry desire to take immediate protective action.

How do you get rid of deep seated anger? ›

Here are a few strategies you can do on your own:
  1. Change your environment. Sometimes a change in environment is enough to help prevent feelings of anger from being repressed. ...
  2. Work it out. ...
  3. Challenge your thinking. ...
  4. Practice relaxation exercises. ...
  5. Use creative arts.
20 May 2019

What psychology says about anger? ›

Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. Anger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems. But excessive anger can cause problems.

What are the 8 signs of being highly sensitive? ›

8 Signs You May Be a Highly Sensitive Person:
  • You're very emotional. ...
  • You're very compassionate and generous. ...
  • You're sensitive to criticism. ...
  • You feel different from everyone else and sometimes alone. ...
  • You're sensitive to external stimuli. ...
  • You overthink and worry. ...
  • You're intuitive. ...
  • You often feel tired and overwhelmed.

How do highly sensitive people love? ›

HSPs love hard — they're so highly attuned with their nervous system that they feel emotions in a very real and complex way. They love differently than others do, putting their heart and soul into every gesture, word, and action — you won't have to guess how they're feeling.

What are the hidden powers of highly sensitive people? ›

3 Hidden Powers of a Highly Sensitive Person
  • They're more thoughtful: HSPs process information and reflect on it more thoroughly. ...
  • They're more empathic: Sensitive in general, HSPs are particularly perceptive to emotions. ...
  • They're more adaptive: It's a HSP's nature to look, listen and observe first before they act.

What are 3 physical signs of anger? ›

What does anger feel like?
  • a churning feeling in your stomach.
  • tightness in your chest.
  • an increased and rapid heartbeat.
  • legs go weak.
  • tense muscles.
  • you feel hot.
  • you have an urge to go to the toilet.
  • sweating, especially your palms.

What happens when the suppressed his anger? ›

When the speaker suppressed his anger, it only grew. How are the results differ in the two instances? Answer: Expression of anger in the first instance relieves the person of all ill-feeling, whereas suppression of anger in the second instance poisons him all the more because it grows.

What emotions does anger hide? ›

The feelings that anger commonly masks include fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment, betrayal, jealousy, sadness, hurt, and worry. When you feel angry, take a second to stop and ask yourself if you feel any of these emotions that may be causing your anger.

What problems can repression cause? ›

Repression of emotions can cause anxiety, stress and depression. Mental health issues can manifest physically as pain, fatigue, digestive issues and sleep problems. Research suggests that emotional repression can decrease the immune system's function, which in turn can lead to frequent illnesses.

What do you call someone who keeps their feelings inside? ›

I think the noun introvert or introversion is appropriate, as your friend may choose to keep his emotions unexpressed simply by nature, as a trait of his character.

What happens when you don't talk about your feelings? ›

When a person doesn't express themself, they can become detached from their needs. Many people believe emotional expression can make a conflict worse, but it usually enhances intimacy and closeness. Expressing oneself and hearing the other person out is more important than making a case and being right.

How do you release internalized rage? ›

How to prevent and manage anger
  1. Change your environment. Sometimes a change in environment is enough to help prevent feelings of anger from being repressed. ...
  2. Work it out. Physical activity is an excellent strategy for dealing with anger. ...
  3. Challenge your thinking. ...
  4. Practice relaxation exercises. ...
  5. Use creative arts.
20 May 2019

How do you release anger in your body? ›

Strategies And Ways To Release Intense Anger: Get Rid Of It
  1. Manage Your Emotions. ...
  2. Get Physical Exercise. ...
  3. Deep Breathing. ...
  4. Focused Breathing. ...
  5. Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercises. ...
  6. Write It Out. ...
  7. Let Go of the Situation, Feeling, Memory, or Person (Even Family Members) ...
  8. Change the Way You Form Your Thoughts.
18 Aug 2022

How do you let go of repressed trauma? ›

How to let go of the past
  1. Make a commitment to let go. The first step toward letting go is realizing that it is necessary and feeling ready to do so. ...
  2. Feel the feelings. Memories of past events can bring up complex or strong emotions. ...
  3. Take responsibility. ...
  4. Practice mindfulness. ...
  5. Practice self-compassion.
4 Mar 2021

How do you unleash repressed memories? ›

Recover repressed memories on your own
  1. Automatic -Trance- Writing.
  2. Revisit locations.
  3. Getting the help of an online therapist.
  4. Guided imagery and visualization.
  5. Hypnosis.
  6. Participation in a mutual support group.
19 Feb 2022

What childhood trauma causes anger issues? ›

Research shows that anger can be especially common if you have been betrayed by others. This may be most often seen in cases of trauma that involve exploitation or violence. The trauma and shock of early childhood abuse often affects how well the survivor learns to control his or her emotions.

How do you release anger without exploding? ›

  1. 6 Ways to Release Anger without Hurting Others. ...
  2. Gain a Deeper Understanding of What Anger Is. ...
  3. Become More Aware of the Different Things that Can Fuel Your Anger. ...
  4. Accept Anger as a Normal Part of Your Existence and Be Willing to Deal with it Constructively. ...
  5. Take a More Objective Approach to the Things that You Feel.
20 May 2020

What is internal rage? ›

Internal aggression: This can include self-harming, self-hatred, not eating, and isolating oneself. Passive aggression: This can include ignoring people, refusing to do tasks, and being sarcastic but not explicitly saying anything angry or aggressive.

What chemical in the body causes anger? ›

Epinephrine which is also known as adrenaline is a chemical compound with formula (HO) 2C6H3CH (OH) CH2NHCH3 and is released while becoming angry. Epinephrine is among the chemicals that are released by the adrenal gland when an individual experiences anger or any other form of stress.

Which organ is responsible for anger? ›

Amygdala. The amygdala helps coordinate responses to things in your environment, especially those that trigger an emotional response. This structure plays an important role in fear and anger.

What chemical is released with anger? ›

Anger triggers the body's 'fight or flight' response. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

What emotions are stored in the hips? ›

What emotions are stored in your hips? Our hip region is also associated with our sacral chakra which processes emotions like fear, sadness, frustration, loss and worry. As we clench and tense up when we are faced with these emotions, we lock and store them into our hips.

What emotions are stored where in body? ›

  • Lower Back: Anger. If you sit on frustration, the lower back is a common place for storing repressed anger. ...
  • Stomach & Intestines: Fear. ...
  • Heart & Chest: Hurt. ...
  • Headache: Loss of Control. ...
  • Neck /Shoulder Tension: Burdens and Responsibilities. ...
  • Fatigue: Resentments. ...
  • Numbness: Trauma. ...
  • Breathing Difficulties: Anxiety.
11 Jul 2018

What emotion is stored in the neck? ›

Neck Tension = Fear and Repressed Self-Expression

Fear and anxiety are also frequently stored in this area, particularly as a physical response to danger (as the neck is a vulnerable area) or strange environments.

How do you tell if you have repressed trauma? ›

8 Signs of Repressed Childhood Trauma in Adults
  1. Strong Unexplained Reactions to Specific People. ...
  2. Lack of Ease in Certain Places. ...
  3. Extreme Emotional Shifts. ...
  4. Attachment Issues. ...
  5. Anxiety. ...
  6. Childish Reactions. ...
  7. Consistent Exhaustion. ...
  8. Unable to Cope in Normal Stressful Situations.
16 Aug 2021

What triggers a repressed memory? ›

Scientists believe suppressed memories are created by a process called state-dependent learning. When the brain creates memories in a certain mood or state, particularly of stress or trauma, those memories become inaccessible in a normal state of consciousness.

What are repressed memories a symptom of? ›

Repressed memories, also known as dissociative amnesia, are a common occurrence in those who have experienced childhood trauma.


1. Jordan Peterson: Repression & other defense mechanisms
(Essential Truth)
2. How Suppressed Emotions Can Show Up As Acne and Other Skin Issues
(Kat Sanchez)
3. 6 Signs You’re Bottling Up Your Emotions
4. 5 Signs of Dissociation
(Kati Morton)
5. 12 signs you might be suffering from PTSD
(The School of Life)
6. 9 Signs You Have Unhealed Trauma

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Barbera Armstrong

Last Updated: 10/19/2022

Views: 5728

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Barbera Armstrong

Birthday: 1992-09-12

Address: Suite 993 99852 Daugherty Causeway, Ritchiehaven, VT 49630

Phone: +5026838435397

Job: National Engineer

Hobby: Listening to music, Board games, Photography, Ice skating, LARPing, Kite flying, Rugby

Introduction: My name is Barbera Armstrong, I am a lovely, delightful, cooperative, funny, enchanting, vivacious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.