The Dangers of Repressing Your Anger
Springett discusses the consequences of not dealing with anger appropriately.
BY: Tara Springett
If you are like most spiritual people you are trying hard to do the right thing, be kind and, most of all, forgiving. And of course, you are totally right in doing so because kindness and love are at the heart of every spiritual path. But unfortunately, there is some sort of danger of trying too hard to be kind and this danger is in repressing our anger. In our attempt to be forgiving and loving we push our resentments into our unconscious mind and once our anger is unconscious it usually produces very uncomfortable symptoms.
The first symptom resulting from unconscious anger is fatigue. I treat many clients who have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue and they all, without exception, became dramatically better simply by acknowledging their previously unconscious resentments and dealing with them skilfully.
Another very common symptom resulting from suppressed anger is chronic pain - like back or joint pain or sciatica. Just like the problem of fatigue, my clients usually get dramatically better once they have dealt with the suppressed anger that lies at the root of this problem. This is true even if people have 'proper reasons' to have pain - like an old injury, for example.
The third big negative symptom resulting from repressed anger is depression. Just like the symptoms of fatigue and chronic pain, depression usually gets dramatically better within a few weeks as soon as the underlying grudge has been dealt with.
How come, you may ask, that suppressed anger can cause all these wide-spread problems? The answer is that often fatigue, pain and depression are more acceptable to us than anger. Take childbirth for example - feeling real anger towards our newborn feels utterly devastating. In the same way, it often feels totally unacceptable to us to harbour chronic resentments towards family members or ex-partners. And this dynamic is all the more true the more we try to be spiritual and loving.
What is the solution to this very real conundrum? Simply expressed, we need to learn to be angry and loving at the same time. While this may seem a contradiction in terms, it does not have to be contradictory in practice. We can learn to say to a parent or ex-lover, 'what you did was wrong' and then in the same sentence, 'but I wish you to be happy and healthy, so that you can deal with your issues'. If the second part of this sentence comes truly from our heart we can expect a dramatic turn around with problems like fatigue, chronic pain and depression.
'But I am often angry', you may say, 'but I still suffer from these symptoms.' I have to admit that we often need the help of a skilful therapist to point out to us where we are suppressing our anger because we are totally unconscious of it. But once the anger is recognised and replaced with genuine love our negative symptoms will 'miraculously' disappear.
To learn more about healing yourself from repressed anger refer to Tara Springett's book The Five-Minute Miracle. Tara holds an M.A. in Education and has post-graduate qualifications in gestalt therapy, body awareness therapy and transpersonal therapy. She is a fully qualified and licensed psychotherapist and counselor. Tara has worked as a drugs counselor, counselor for adolescents and general psychotherapist since 1988. Tara has been a dedicated Buddhist practitioner since 1986. In 1997 she received encouragement from her Buddhist teachers to teach meditation. Tara is the author of several self-help books. She has been featured in numerous publications and has appeared on various radio and television shows in Europe and the United States. Her website is: www.taraspringett.com.