7 Steps To Heal From Repressed Anger

Repressed anger

This post was written in 2013. Now I have much more tools to help you with emotional discomfort. Still, at that time the process worked for me and others. 

“We’ll feel unbalanced until we express anger, change the circumstances that caused it, or forgive the person who sparked it”  “Emotional wisdom”  Mantak Chia & Dena Saxer

When we face it and work with it, we can not only heal thru expressing our anger, but as I discovered recently, in the process, we can heal also our relationships with ourselves, others, with our jobs, life’s circumstances – whatever the anger was about.

Let me show you how you can free yourself from the repressed anger.

How long before you don’t feel the anger? It depends on you, on the past, on your willingness to create  a different meaning.

If you are not sure if you even are open to talk about it, you may want to read the previous post first. Expectations of the process: you do not need to talk to the other person, if there was someone involved. It’s an internal process.

Please see a therapist or call a suicide prevention line , if you experience any of the following: ongoing nightmares, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, self harm behaviors, neglecting or abusing others. Help is available and healing is possible. 

I’d also encourage you to read this excellent article  from Choosing Therapy.com  https://www.choosingtherapy.com/repressed-anger/

Preparation: you will only need a pen, paper (get yourself plenty- I used 5 big pages), 2 hours of time alone. A pillow.

Identify the area of your life or relationship where the anger comes up most.

Step 1: What happened.

Dive into your memory of a specific situation. Describe the situation when you felt hurt,  ignored, disrespected,  left out, judged, unappreciated, your boundaries were violated… Maybe it was a situation that didn’t come to closure.

Step 2: Who was involved

Who was involved. What happened. What do you think happened. What do you think happened from their perspective.

It’s also possible, that it was only you, and you are angry at yourself…  because you went against your values. Write about this too.

Step 3: Unleash your opinions. To yourself.

You probably have an opinion about this person. Write all the judgements (only in this private space) Do not hold back.

Step 4. What did it cost you.

What did you lose in that event? What did it prevent you from doing? What did you have to give up? Surprising thing happened here in my exercise. I wrote “I wasted 8 years for….”  and all of a sudden my hand started writing benefits! After listing 7 of them, I knew there were more, but I reminded myself to move on with the negatives to finish the exercise. The negatives were big, but this was a good reminder that nothing is only good or only bad. That alone can help release a lot of anger…

Step 5: Release the energy.

Anger’s first response is to attack. There is an energy raising up within you. Attacking another is never an option. It only perpetuates the cycle of anger. It’s not a solution. It brings more negativity. But the energy may be still accumulated inside you. Release the energy in a physical way free of harm to yourself or others. Boxing class? Right in this moment you can perhaps hit the pillow or a mattress? Go for a run?

Step 6: Self care time.

It’s quite likely, you are / were also angry with  yourself… for allowing this to happen, for playing a role in the conflict, or that you didn’t remove yourself from the situation much earlier. Maybe there were some red flags, but you moved forward anyway.

Now that you released the energy in step 5, come to a place of calm within.

Don’t  blame yourself. This is also not a solution. This is a moment when you can start forgiving yourself. Have compassion for yourself.  By now you probably feel a bit better. Bring your attention to the area of your heart. Create a feeling of comfort, love and compassion around it. If you do, you will get in touch with the softer side of you that can only be loved. And forgiven.

No matter if you just forgive yourself or have the strength to forgive others, this is an act of self care. You do it for yourself. Your peace of mind. Your health. Don’t rush yet to forgive others. First step is to forgive yourself.

7. Create new agreements.

Take a look again at what happened in that situation. How could this part of life, this situation be handled better?  What was your responsibility? Simply: what can you learn from this?

Now is the moment when you can be proactive. So take the responsibility. Step into the more powerful version of you. Make a promise to yourself that this will never happen again to you. You have the right to change (yourself, what you attract, your energy)  at any moment in your life. You have the right to say no. Just because you respect yourself. Now create new agreements how you will handle similar situations. Set emotional and physical boundaries.

Now make new agreements with yourself.

Visualize yourself living according to your new rules.

Keep just the page with your new agreements. Agreements that help you live in peace.

Shred the rest.

Now I offer a bit different process in my coaching practice which also includes hypnotherapy. I know you may not be thrilled to talk about your anger. With me you will learn to stop judging yourself for feeling anger.

You may feel unable to talk about it. If that is the case please contact a therapist or a counselor. Otherwise hypnotherapy may be a good option.

RELATED article on Grudges , Bitterness and Resentment. https://positivelyrebellious.com/dealing-with-grudges-bitterness-and-resentment-lessons-and-healing/

  • Leif says:

    Thanks for the article. It really meant confronting some deeply repressed anger for me. Hopefully, it’s all out now. I now have a better way of dealing with anger and frustration in the future.

  • Good for You, Leif! And even if something comes back, you’ll know that it is a healing process. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • Sophie says:

    Hi Joanna. Just came across your blog on this issue. I never really understood my anger until my current bf pointed it out. Thanks for the article.

  • Eden Skye says:

    I’m in a bit of a dilemma; I don’t feel angry at all. However, I apparently have every symptom of a person suppressing a lot of anger. My dreams are filled with representations of me holding all this anger inside, and my mom is always telling me I need a release (up to this day, I’ve always been extremely passive – I have literally never even slammed a door. Never uttered a harsh word). It would seem I have craters of pent up emotions, accumulated over the years for the sake of peace. But I know this can’t be healthy, and so I want to express it some way – but I just don’t feel angry! What on Earth should I do? (wait, do you even take questions? So sorry if not!)

    • Hello Eden Skye, ( my 1st response disappeared… trying again)
      I love questions and even more mysteries. It looks like your subconscious mind is telling you thru dreams about the anger. But the interesting part is that you do not feel it or even think angry thoughts – if that is the case – how could the anger affect your health? I have no idea.
      I like the metaphor you used ” craters of pent up emotions”… wondering if there is a volcano within you waiting to erupt.
      Let me think about it, I don’t know anything about you , and I’m not a dream expert, but let me see what I can find. Will respond later here.
      Thank you for speaking about it. Joanna

    • Hello again, Eden, You know, I have not found anything on this except regular dream interpretation… Should you even worry about it? I don’t know. If the dreams bother you – they may be directing you somewhere and only you may know what it is, you can also work with someone thru conversations and guided visualizations.

      Is anger an issue in your life showing up in disguise? It often does. When you look at different areas of life and something isn’t working (either because you are unhappy or others complain) you may start working from that little area.

      You don’t need to look specifically for anger. In the process of doing any deep work you will come upon the right emotions that need to be addressed.
      Much peace! Joanna

  • Sonny says:

    Thanks so very much as I had been carrying a burden of anger and regret for over thirty years. I recently came to the realization of how it has affected my relationships throughout this time. Did the exercise and beat up the mattress until I was almost about to cry. Funny thing is that I stopped just as I was about to hit myself. That’s when I began to pray! Came back and completed the exercise with a positive plan. Finally I had the best laugh in tearing up the initial pages throwing them in the trash can! I can honestly say that now rather than feeling darkness I feel happiness in side! Thank you soooo very much for the content! God bless! “We can’t change our past but the future begins today”!

    • You made my day Sonny! I’m laughing and crying as I’m reading what you wrote. Remember that the world will test your commitment to your new agreements. Stay strong. Respect yourself. And the new agreements will become your second nature.

  • Sonny says:

    Hi Eden, It’s called repressed anger. I didn’t realize it until after speaking with a friend on today. Sam has always been a great guy, the type that would give you the shirt off his back. Humble, kind, sincere, always with a smile and kind words.Today he was full of anger! I asked where is Sam! He preceeded to tell me how he was tired of being misused and unappreciated. At some point our conversation began to escalate from cordial to conflict as h defended his emotions and I was saying not to allow people to control your outlook. It wasn’t until he left that I recognized myself as if looking in a mirror. Sam’s outward expressions of anger revealed the inner emotions that I had for so long repressed. Here is the test! If you don’t have any emotions whether good bad or otherwise. More than likely something has been repressed. The funny thing that I found out about emotions is that it’s either all or nothing. I hope this helps. God bless

  • Brenda says:

    I stumbled upon this website while looking for help with my hurt and anger issues and trying to recognize the cause of it. I must admit I can’t wait to go home and try the exercise and see if it can help. I have been to therapy, taken medication and seems non of that works. I do think I discovered the reason for all this anger which I’m sure is a start. I also would like to ask you if you think hypnosis would possibly help?

    • Hi Brenda, I’m preparing a better version of this (takes me forever but I’m close to the end) Let me know how it went tonight, if you want to share..
      To answer your question if hypnosis can help with anger… there are many things related to it, so once your hypnotherapist knows the details of your history, and knows what bothers you most they will be able to help.

      For example: a person may be experiencing physical discomfort b/c of anger so a hypnotherapist may help with script created to alleviate the symptoms (if it is medical condition docs consent is needed)
      There may be work done around forgiveness or self forgiveness. Strengthening the qualities needed to deal with the situation.
      If the problem is being repeated, if the situations resulting in anger happen frequently, you can work to change your beliefs (about yourself and how the world works) and ability to deal with those situations.
      Another session may be about spiritual healing.
      There could be a metaphorical hypnosis done.
      And energy work could be useful too.
      One thing that perhaps you can find helpful is to repeat the word “compassion” in your mind while taking a deep breath and imagining the wings of compassion surrounding you… allowing the vibration of the word sink into your heart. (that’s a sort of mini self hypnosis)
      May you find you inner peace, Brenda.

  • Mathew says:

    When I have an argument or a disagreement with somebody I usually stay calm even though I feel like punching that somebody and this causes me to get angry with somebody else over something insignificant. The thong is, I have been left out, ignored, bullied (both physically and mentally), judged and insulted so many times and by so many different people that I dont even remember them or what they did exactly but the anger is still there and because I still suffer some of these things it nevers seem to go away. What can I do?

    • Hi Mathew, apologies for the late response.
      There are so many things you can do, and the improvement WILL come gradually.
      If the situations keep repeating themselves at a rate that bothers you, what do you think this type of events is trying to teach you?

      Is it courage to speak up?
      Realization that you deserve something better? learning to respond in a way that show this type of treatment is not ok?
      Looks like you are trying to avoid confrontation – which most people do. But is it worth to avoid confrontation at the cost of your own self worth ?

      (those people are your nasty teachers who try to show you what you need to develop, they are really a type of gift because thanks to them you can grow your communication skills and self esteem)

      You can figure out for yourself which battles are worth getting into.. with whom…
      You can learn to handle those things with emotional intelligence- in a way that promotes peace, not more conflict….

      If you feel judged, insulted, left out by others: watch your inner dialogue… how often do you bully yourself (we all do at some point, to some degree) and learn to direct your inner feelings and comments about yourself to show your self acceptance, self worth, self respect, learn to admit you are enough and important. It gets better and better with practice. Don’t give up.

      Once you do that you will be way ahead of most of people feeling great about yourself and creating great relationships
      This is a state when people who insult you are just like flies on a wall, it’s even not worth to smash them with a newspaper. They just die on their own.

  • Hassan says:

    Hi Joanna

    I got lots of side of my life where I feel I have repressed my anger, do I take them one at a time different days or do them all in excersize, and when comes to the beating (best part ) how long should I keep beating?


    • HI Hassan, perhaps you can do it all in one sitting. It may be intense. It is possible that you may need to repeat the exercise after a month or few. When it comes to beating – release of energy – until you feel good! Be careful though. Don’t forget to invite lots of compassion into your heart and space. During. And after. The true remedy to anger is compassion. Starting from compassion for yourself. Much success with this!

  • […] I cannot change the past, but I can take responsibility for this in the present, so I am healing from repressed anger. […]

  • Didi says:

    Hello and thanks for the article! I tried your method, which I believe helped a bit.

    I have supressed anger from childhood, especially at my mother who has been (and still is) aggressive with me. I cannot do anything (and I mean “anything” it is as small as not cooking something in the right pot, or not washing something the right way etc) without being yelled at, making me feel guilty for that act, and in some cases, being physically violated (she would come close to me, take an object out of my hands without my conscent if her point did not go through verbally).

    I am having a lot of difficulty being angry at her because I am very scared. When I did your exercice I have already felt a lot of sadness that she is unhapp and lonely. It is bringing me many relationship problems, anxiety and depression.

    Do you have some tips for me? cheers!!

    • Didi. Yes, I do: move out.
      This is something that may take you years to heal – on all levels – because it dos affect how you feel about yourself and to what degree you allow yourself to be brave, open, confident with other people. It will affect what you thin “you deserve” in other relationships. It affects what you learn about communication. It will affect your boundaries. But even though a lot of the work need to take place on the inside, there is only so much you can do about others (not much.) So your job is to take case of yourself, not to change your mother.
      If you suggest change to her, she may be even more angry, she may yell she doesn’t need therapy.
      So you need to cut the contact and the more power you gain the more authority you gain in your own life, the more you can set the rules:
      you may tell her for example you will not spend anytime with her until she learns how to communicate with respect.
      You may try asking her questions, like” what makes you yell at me, what does it help you achieve”
      “Have you thought of more peaceful way of communicating it?”
      but that’s only if you are really sure she won’t hit you.
      The truth is she needs to do her own inner work, and find her own peace. Now she is bling with anger and control.
      She reminds me a bit of my own mother. When I was a teen.

  • Bill says:

    One thing that is not really mentioned by mainstream psychologists is to just go ahead and stand up to the bully. For men especially, I would tell them to go find whoever is responsible for hurting them and just punch the lights out of them. Its very therapeutic. If you could see the child version of you getting bullied, you would tell him to stand up for himself. Well, it’s no different when you get older either. Mainstream psychologists like to say “punch a pillow” and “scream in the closet” and what not. But to really deal with this, the old-fashioned advice is the best: go find the culprit and let him pay. Be a real man. For women, I can’t say the same, it’s obviously a different situation – there could be real danger involved, in which case I would advice counseling. Even for men their could be danger as well, but I say, better to get hurt, even killed, with dignity than to live passively, a cowardly life. That’s my two cents.

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  • Brock says:

    I tried doing the exercise on my site: https://unthawedfury.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/grief-recovery-misc/

    Am I on the right track? I’m trying a lot of methodologies at present.


    • Hi Brock, I read your post on your blog. Man! You went through a lot! AND I see almost desperate need for inner healing… I just want to acknowledge you for what you are doing, for making the effort to work on YOURSELF.
      You ask me if you are on the right track.
      (disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist.)
      I don’t know.
      Are you feeling better? Lighter?
      More at peace? Are you seeing deeper truth?
      Sometimes it feel worse before it feels better. Just like it happens in the healing of the physical body.

      1) I am noticing, and maybe I’m wrong – that you talk about forgiveness but i didn’t notice anything about SELF-FORGIvENES.
      “I forgive myself for….(insert ANYTHING)”
      To forgive is freedom. But it could be too much if you are not yet at a place of inner strength.

      2) You may benefit from doing a bit more of inner work in solitude around self acceptance, self respect, self compassion.
      3) There are no wrong emotions. only “wrong” actions that are a result of those emotions (hurting others or yourself because of anger)
      4) I see you dislike shrinks, but you could benefit from working with the right psychologist and possibly also inviting your mother into that work (if a miracle happens) If not, there are some methods from simple ones like ho’oponoponoho to more complicated, like Gestalt, that the therapist may facilitate to help you hear what you need to hear, even though it will not come directly from people who hurt you.

      You are doing the right thing, working through this and reaching out.

  • mary says:

    I was bullied for many years and after that my first love/first ever boyfriend turned out to be an emotionally abusive liar and a cheater. I have a lot of anger inside and at first I was just sad, now when i’m no longer just sad I feel angry all the time and I take it out on others I talk to who really likes me yet I am unfair to them and feel like any mistake they make they have to pay for just because I was so accepting with the first guy and let him act like a jerk so now instead I have 0 tolerance and the tiniest thing makes me pissed and I feel nothing but hate towards the person who’s not really done anything meant to hurt me and no matter how they try to make up for it my feelings don’t change. I feel like all my life i’ve let people step on me. That’s a lot of emotions inside that I have never let out as I don’t really display my emotions in general.
    I have written down everything bad these people have done and my feelings towards them over and over again so many times I couldn’t even count them but what difference has it made? I’ve thought about joining kickboxing or something, anything to just get all the anger and hatred out, could punching a pillow really be as helpful? Any other advice? I really want to start letting it out somehow.

    • Hi Mary, No writing it down or releasing the energy alone won’t be enough. That’s why when you do the process (and you can also do it with a therapist) you NEED to look into the cost (for example the past having destructive influence on your new relationships) You need to look at what character traits allowed the past experiences to happen. What qualities you need to wake up within yourself, and create your personal agreements = new empowering beliefs to start showing up from a different place. Now, I get it, you may be pissed even reading what i wrote… The change has to happen on the inside. You need to see YOURSELF in a different light. I believe the opposite of anger is Self-compassion. Compassion for yourself an your past. When you allow compassion to rewire your system you will be more open to making the positive changes. Life is not against you. Life is for you.

  • Mike says:

    Read your article on repressed anger – sounds hopeful – plan to do it!

    Any current plans for re-releasing the “Anger to Peace”book?

    • Hi Mike! I’m happy you enjoyed it.
      When it comes to the e-book I feel a bit discouraged: I just don’t know how to handle the global causes of my own anger. Personal – much easier. Global- overwhelming. I guess I need to go on a vision quest, face the discomfort and see what I can personally DO, as a small, insignificant person.
      Then I will update the book and feel in integrity with it.
      I just feel, at this point, the ebook may be disappointing to those, that deal with anger beyond their personal problems.

  • […] found a very good exercise that I did from Positively Rebellious’ blog 7 Steps To Heal From Repressed Anger. I felt much more peaceful after this.  I am by no means finished releasing all of my anger.  I […]

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