Hidden Anger: The Enemy Inside

Being a physician gives us a unique privilege to delve into the mind, soul, and body of our patients. Being an elder care physician, I am writing this based on my personal experiences and insight wrought of my practice. What I have always found very fascinating is the subject of “hidden anger” and how it impacts people’s health.

I recently was asked by my staff to attend to a patient in our waiting area. Amidst the commotion, I found a patient on the floor having a lot of seizure-like movements. Her husband was calmly sitting next to her and smiling. I was shocked and amazed. There was panic in the waiting area. The husband said to me, “don’t worry doc! She does this whenever we fight “!! It made complete sense these are called pseudoseizures which are emotional or stress related. I have seen anger or hidden anger manifest as high blood pressure, headaches, migraines, vision problems, body aches, insomnia, joint pains, and so many other manifestations.

It doesn’t help to get angry

To be angry is to suffer, it doesn’t help anyone to get angry! Anger hurts whoever is angry and impacts those around us. It has disastrous effects on caregivers and sincere family members who are doing their utmost to take care of sick loved ones. It burns. Anger ruins relationships cause heartache and regret and devastate health. Hidden anger is very prevalent among seniors But rarely discussed openly. I think a key point, especially with hidden anger is that under anger we always find lurking …fear. So in many instances, the real question might be what you fear the most?

Some of the hidden anger in seniors, surrounds issues related to declining health, inability to participate in favorite activities like golf, tennis,hiking,travel etc., strained or distance separation from family, loss of a spouse or significant other, unmet life goals, uncompleted “bucket lists”, loss of close friends and peers due to deaths, terminal illness diagnosis and sometimes retirement that wasn’t “planned well.”

Anger is not in our inherent nature. Almost all Scriptures of different religions talk about anger and its impact. The Holy Bible (James 1:20)says “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  Even the Hindu Scripture, “Gita” says anger impairs judgment, just as the morning mist creates a hazy covering on the sunlight. In anger, people commit mistakes that they later regret, because the intellect gets clouded by the haze of emotions. When the intellect is clouded, The person then forgets what is right and what is wrong and flows along with the surge of emotions. Since the intellect is the internal guide, when it is destroyed, one is ruined.

And yet, in spite of all these facts when we are angry, it feels right! Somehow in some unseen way, anger proves to whoever is experiencing it’s heated feelings that he’s or she’s right even though, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anger feels like it is in your best interest because, at the time of it’s intrusion into your life, it temporarily fills you with a powerful sense of self. However, this anger can only exist without your conscious consent or awareness of us being there.

It is never in your best interest to suffer, no matter, how inwardly convincing it may feel to you that you will be betraying yourself if you don’t. Anger hypnotizes you with the flood of itself.

Take a moment to breathe

Step back and learn to listen to the quiet stream of higher insight that runs softly through your true nature which is higher than your body, mind, and intellect. Let it show you that your anger and suffering proves nothing.

The next time some hostile state takes you over, either in thought (because in remembering something someone did to you in the past) or in an actual moment of conflict with someone standing before you, take the following inner steps as soon as you can remember yourself to do so: Start by saying that something foreign to you and your true nature has imposed itself on you, taken over your life. Once having done this, do nothing else except realize that while you may be temporarily powerless to stop the lower state from possessing you, you are empowered to recognize the negative state as the intruder it is. This awareness, this conscious non-self justifying awareness of your true pained condition is what it means to put a light on the problem.

A moment of silence saves great regret. The most powerful and influential event that occurs when you are silent in such a situation is that it disarms others

Interrupt your pace and stress: Stop doing the same thing over and over without a break if you keep doing what you are doing you’ll keep getting the same result

Increase your emotional awareness. Give a name to your feelings ……tell the person that’s bothering you that when he or she does what they are doing, you feel…..(name exactly the feeling you are feeling)……depressed, lonely ,disgusted ,angry ,frustrated ,ignored ,victimized ,rejected ,sick ,exhausted ,powerless ,listless ,burnt out ,embarrassed, pressured ,worthless, anxious ,scared, hopeless ,weak or any of those kinds of words….. give a name to your feelings and say it!!

When life gets tough what spills over? Is it joy, peace, gratefulness and humility or anger, bitterness, harsh words, and actions? Let us work towards filling our cups with gratitude, joy, forgiveness, and words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness, and love!