Hidden Anger: The Emotion that Changes Our Personality

August 3, 2019
Hidden anger often arises from disappointments, unprocessed traumas, and injustices. Read all about it in this article!

Hidden anger, that rage we feel but keep to ourselves, can change our personality. The disappointments experienced, the failures, the damage suffered, lost illusions, and every event that comes our way leaves a mark. What we sometimes don’t realize, though, is that said experiences often translate into anger. If we don’t work on handling these internal realities appropriately, we’ll drag the weight of discomfort on our shoulders.

Not a lot of people are familiarized with anger and the ways it emerges. We often associate it with bursts in which our evil side comes out to the surface, where we end up saying or doing things that we don’t mean and regret later on. Now, something remarkable about it is that, in many cases, we end up burying anger inside of us. Instead of expressing it, we decide to hide it.

There’s also a quantitative aspect to this emotion: the more it builds up, the more psychological discomfort it produces. An excess of anger doesn’t always translate into an irritated facial expression, in someone who pushes people, screams, or responds in an inappropriate manner. This emotion produces anguish, fatigue, bad mood, anxiety and, in many cases, major depressive disorder.

A man surrounded by smoke.

Hidden anger: The camouflaged emotion that we forget to control

Although we may find it shocking, human beings can live with hidden anger for their entire lives. For example, suffering from abandonment or ill-treatment can lead to it.

Anger is nothing else but the coexistence of different emotions. It leads to sadness, the feeling of injustice, anguish, and oftentimes fear. Fear of some things coming back or irrational fear of feeling vulnerable again. All of these emotions are part of rage, a formless and lasting malaise that occupies everything and blurs it at the same time.

Anger, rage, displeasure, irritability, aggressiveness, tension, loss of control… All of these emotions come to mind when we think of anger. Relating it to these terms isn’t wrong, but the truth is that people don’t always react this way when they experience this emotion.

Dr. Thomas Denson of the University of Michigan explained in a study that we can feel anger in different ways. While some people choose to express it, others decide to keep quiet and carry it with them in a camouflaged way. Feeling this way for long periods of time can make a huge dent in an individual’s personality.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you’re the one who gets burned.”

-Buddha-

What are the characteristics of a person with hidden anger?

Experiencing emotional failures. Having a special someone betray us. Not having achieved an important goal. All these realities are examples of why some people keep hidden anger inside of them.

Here are the signs these people usually manifest:

  • Distrust, conspicuous difficulty in trusting those around them.
  • Sarcastic, cynical behaviors and frivolous reactions.
  • Persistent mood swings.
  • A tendency to procrastinate. They find it difficult to commit and fulfill their tasks.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty enjoying fun moments.
  • Insomnia, nightmares, and waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Physical and mental exhaustion.
A depressed woman thinking about dealing with hidden anger.

How can we handle anger?

Sometimes, when we read books or articles on how to handle anger, we see that they don’t apply a complete approach. In reality, not many of them touch on hidden anger and how detrimental it can be. Doing relaxation exercises or looking for means of expression isn’t enough in order to work on this emotion. We’re not saying these techniques can’t be helpful, but they don’t solve the problem of hidden anger.

Instead, we should take the following ideas into account.

Vulnerability

To manage hidden anger, it’s important to treat the root of the problem, which in many cases is the feeling of vulnerability. Anger arises when we feel devastated, betrayed, surrounded by injustices, frustrated, or mad at something or someone.

Self-esteem

The second step is to work on self-esteem and self-worth. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to solve the issues that produced the hidden anger in us. Therefore, in order not to let it affect us, it’s vital that we work on ourselves and realize our worth, potential, and value.

Useful thoughts

Hidden anger has great ruminant power. Our mind is always focused on what brings us pain and disappointment and on past negative experiences. This approach often clouds our judgment and leads to great psychological exhaustion. We need to keep our internal dialogue healthy in order to move on from what hurt us.

A woman surrounded by clouds.

Focus on healing hidden anger, not feeding it

Anger is a fire that feeds our thoughts on the daily. We intensify it with stiffness, procrastination, and with a rigid mental approach anchored to past events. If we really want to fix and heal our hidden anger, we must lift that anchor and give ourselves the chance to move forward.

Moreover, moving forward is only possible if we set reasonable goals and work hard for them, stop being afraid of leaving our comfort zone, putting ourselves in new situations, and befriending people who bring joy into our lives. Sometimes, it’s necessary to restart in every way to leave behind the weight that didn’t allow us to breathe.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”

-Sigmund Freud-

  • Lerner, J. S., & Keltner, D. (2001). Fear, anger, and risk. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology81(1), 146–159. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.81.1.146