Anger part 3: The Hidden Anger

Better an open reprimand than concealed love.
-Proverbs 27:5

Some angry people have hidden anger: repressed or suppressed anger.  This list can be found on many websites and no one seems to know who first complied it.  A few of the behaviors listed are different, on different versions of this list.

The list is not exhaustive nor exact.  In fact, I eliminated "has ulcers" as being one item.   Let's just say that, "some people with hidden anger do this or have this."  I believe this list is helpful in becoming aware of your possible problem with hidden anger.

It might be helpful to repeat that anger in and of itself is not bad.  We have anger when we have loss or hurt.  It's like saying "ouch!" when we stub our toe.

Anger is bad, destructive, or sinful when we are angry much of the time.  On the one end of the spectrum, raging is bad: out of control yelling and screaming, possibly with harsh judgments or controlling and threats, possibly with name calling or cussing and cursing, including character assassination.  This is bad, unhealthy, sinful, and destructive: not ok.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who have buried, hidden, repressed, or suppressed anger that is unresolved.  They have a style of stuffing rather process and release.  Perhaps they were hurt, abandoned, abused at times in the past, by a shameless person who did not admit fault, and who often was a primary relationship to them that they needed for survival and could not get angry back at.

This list might help you to see that you have an anger problem.  If you "see it", and can say "that's me", then you might say "now what?", or ,"what can I do to not be this way?"; what I would advise is to get into recovery.  Find out what getting into recovery means for you.

Recovery is not something other than being a Christian.  To be a Christian is to be in recovery.  Paradoxically, Churches and Christianity are filled with people who are not in recovery.  What I am saying is that a person can have many of these items below operating in their life and be a Christian.

Recovery is intentional as is someone seeking healing, health, and to grow or become wiser.  Healing and recovery are also spontaneous, when we seek and live in Christ.  We will always be broken, weak people; even when we are in Christ.  But brokenness is different than carnal, fleshly, worldly, obsessional sinfulness that is rooted in unbroken willful sin.

Many Christians are not disciples, or rather, our idea of what a disciple is has gotten away from what the disciples were in the NT.  A disciple is not only a learner, but someone who leaves everything to become a learner.  Jesus said that each one of us, that want to follow him, is to "take up his cross".

That means death.  What if we get it that being a Christian is about his cross and my cross?  His cross is an amazing thing - he died for our sins on the cross.  But what happens if I believe that, but I do not obey his command to take up my own cross?

Maybe I do not even know what that means.  Or maybe I do not want to know and I do not want that part of what it means to be a Christian.  What is a person who self-identifies as a Christian, but they do not obey what Jesus said and is written in the NT?

I will leave it to God to judge, but I do believe that this person is going to have more problems than they ought to have.  This person is going to have less spiritual health in their life.  This person is not going to have the vital, intimate relationship with God, that they could otherwise have.

Hidden Anger Checklist

1. Procrastination in the completion of imposed tasks
2. Perpetual or habitual lateness.
3. A liking for sadistic or ironic humor.
4. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation.
5. Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, an attitude of "grin and bear it".
6. Frequent sighing.
7. Smiling while hurting (bringing in the clown to protect us) .
8. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams.
9. Over controlled monotone speech.
10. Difficulty getting to sleep or sleep throughout the night.
11. Boredom, apathy, and loss of interest.
12. Slowing down of movements.
13. Getting tired more easily than usual (anger saps energy).
14. Excessive irritability over trivial things.
15. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times.
16. Sleeping more, possibly 12+ hours a day.
17. Waking up tired instead of rested and refreshed.
18. Clenched jaws/grinding of teeth especially while sleeping.
19. Facial tics, spasmodic or tapping foot movements, swinging leg when seated, and tightly clenched fists (white knuckling).
20. Very stiff or sore neck.
21. Chronic depression, extended periods of feeling down for no apparent reason, and sitting around with a long face.
22. Being overly critical of everything and everyone.
23. Playing music loudly.
24. Unable to get people out of your head.
25. Rehearsing arguments in your mind.
26. Driving fast in an aggressive manner.
27. Putting more effort than required into physical tasks.
28. Being irritating towards others.

"This is not about rage . Rage is anger out of control and taking over your whole being.
This is about the feelings we call "irritation", "annoyance", "getting mad", etc.
All these negative feelings share one thing in common: they are considered undesirable at best and sinful or destructive at worst."

Do you often say, "it annoys me", or "it makes me so mad", or "it is so irritating"?  Do you constantly have a need to "vent" or maliciously gossip about others?

It is actually healthy and loving to tell a friend or a loved-one, "I am really angry at (or with) you".  This was very different, when I first experienced this from a friend or mentor.  But I learned to hear
the love and caring in the statement.

It would probably be helpful to express the anger and then immediately express the hurt or loss suffered behind the anger.  When your angry friend or loved-one expresses anger, you can learn to "suss-out" what the hurt or loss is that is behind the anger.  This works best when there is a foundation of love already there, that the relationship is built upon.

I mentioned recovery, and discipleship.  I would also like to add that learning how to walk, including dealing with anger, is worked out or learned in relationship.  We have to have the vertical relationship with God, but to grow, we must have horizontal relationships with other people.

Who is your sponsor and who are you sponsoring?  Who is your mentor and who are you mentoring?  Who is fathering or mothering you (in a the good sense!) and who are you fathering or mothering?  Who is your safe friend and who are you being a safe friend to, that is even closer than a sibling?

Growth is worked out and happens in duos and trios, and sometimes in quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets, and nonets.