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Repressed Anger; the Volcano Within

Updated on August 19, 2019
Mary Merriment profile image

I have learned a great deal about cognitive therapy techniques as a way to make changes in my own life.


The other night I had a dream that entailed a volcano. I’ve never dreamt about a volcano before, nor do I reside around anything that might trigger visions of a volcano. I truly do believe that our dreams are a form of communication from our subconscious. These images tend to reflect something that’s going on within us that we may or may not be aware of. Sigmund Frued believed that there is a science to our dreams. Though he believed that everything connected to one’s repressed sexuality, he did utilize dream analysis and stated that, "Dreams are the Royal Road to the Unconscious."

Anyway, I looked up the meaning of a volcano, and to my surprise it represented repressing anger. Over the years, I have learned to just take things as they come. It is what it is, so deal with what is and no need to let anything get under your skin. After all, it’s all small stuff and life is full of this sort of stuff.

But upon reflecting about my dream, I really came to see that I AM repressing a lot of anger. I commit so much to dealing with things the best I can as they happen, in almost a mechanical manner that I have learned to shut down or at least, shove aside my emotional… my human response to any of it.

Low heat sparks can still create a great fire.
Low heat sparks can still create a great fire. | Source

If I’m always ignoring my own feelings, then when am I taking care of me? I have always had a problem with putting others above myself, even at the expense of my own well being. I finally learned that this was part of my codependent traits. These traits also fed into my cycles of depression. Which is understandable, I mean, I was trying to control everything and care for everyone else. Yet, I wasn’t able to keep myself in check.

Even though I have done a lot of codependency recovery work, I still have tendencies to fall into the codependent traps. Mostly, it’s when I really want to be helpful to others. Every time I have the naïve belief that if I put all of myself out there to help others, that they won’t take my help for granted. That they will step up and do their fair part in the deal. To this day, I’m not sure anyone has actually done that. Instead, what happens is that I find myself taking on more and more to help them, until one day I literally grow overwhelmed, exhausted and then choose to cut off all ties with them.

The thing is, is that I know this outcome isn’t completely their fault. I went into the arrangement with too much faith and very little or no personal boundaries in place. However, by the time I begin to express my boundaries, they are not taken very seriously. When my personal boundaries still end up constantly pushed, eventually, things just get too awkward and overwhelming for me and I end the agreement all together.

How does this tie into repressed anger? Well, there are many times when I put myself out there to be helpful when initially I feel like I’d be placed into a tight bind by providing this help. When I ignore this initial intuitive feeling, it most often will result in much discomfort, exhausting too much of my own time and energy, or creating too much expense for me and my family. When the idea initially comes up, I may feel like its crazy that this situation is even being imposed upon me. But all too often, I ignore this feeling; convince myself that I’m being too selfish and if I have the ability to help this person, then I have no right to deny them… even if it’s at a great expense to me, my family and even my home.

If I did not repress my initial feelings about these situations in the beginning, then maybe, I would have better boundaries set in place from the start and things would not escalate to a point that just makes things more uncomfortable for us all.

Expressing anger does not mean that there is a need to be controlling, mean or violent in any manner. It just means that something is not setting right within us and that we need to find a way to express such to others and handle the situation in a manner that does not dismiss our own discomfort in the matter.

Healthy ways of dealing with anger can include resolving the situation before it grows into a bigger problem. Here are some healthy ways to do this:

Say no, or don’t make yourself available, to doing something that you really don’t want to do. If you do choose to say yes, then consider your personal boundaries and be assertive in expressing your limits in the matter. These limits may include what you are willing to do to help them, but what you want to see them do to help themselves in return. It’s very frustrating to do so help someone who does so little to help themselves. Your limits may be how much time or resources you have to offer and when that’s up, that’s it.

Be sure that you take care of yourself first. Do not take care of others while neglecting yourself and the tasks that are important to you. I don’t mean that you should be selfish and put all your wants and desires before caring for others who require your care. But if you don’t take care of your own needs, then it will end up leaving you with less energy; feeling resentful/repressing anger; or leave you feeling anxious or depressed. When you reach any of these stages, what good can you be to others? Always make personal time for your own physical and emotional well-being.

Step back and allow others to help themselves. When we become too willing to jump in to help others and bail them out of their problems, we hold them back from learning, developing and growing within their own lives. If you rescue others from their own behaviors and consequences, you’re not only repressing them, but also overburdening yourself. The best thing you can do for others is to let them overcome their own obstacles, so that they may develop their own problem solving skills and reach their own potentials. If you make a habit of rescuing others, they’ll either grow to always expect to be saved from their difficulties and responsibilities, or they will resent you for holding them back from growing as an individual.

When you do decide to help someone, be sure that it’s something you genuinely want to do with no expectations in return. If you feel obligated to help out and expect some kind of restitution for your efforts, you will more than likely resent it. However, if you practice being helpful when you truly want to do so, you’ll end up feeling better about the things that you do choose to do for others.

Do not allow others to talk you into making decisions you don’t feel good about. The fact is, some people tend to seek out others who they can take advantage of for their own benefit. These people may make you feel guilty for saying no, for having any boundaries and can lead you to doubt your own thoughts, feelings and needs. They will drain you of everything you have and then still act like you’re not giving enough to them. You simply do not need these kinds of people adding more stress, frustration and complications to your life.

Be more in tune with your intuition. The initial feeling you get about a certain situation is often your inner wisdom letting you know whether this is right for you or not. If you initially feel set back by something, or feel that something is wrong or harmful, pay big attention to that. Refrain from over-riding or ignoring those feelings. If you ignore that inner guidance, you may feel resentful of the situation, doubting your ability to trust yourself and others, which may result in repressed anger.

How often do you help others and then feel resentful about it?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Mary Roark


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