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Getting to the Root of Hidden Anger

Below are behaviors that may serve as welcome warning signs.

Hidden anger can manifest itself in any number of ways, many of which may surprise you. Below are behaviors that may serve as welcome warning signs that anger is hiding in plain sight.

1. Procrastination in the completion of tasks, especially ones you don’t like or want to do. What do you put off? Work deadlines? Phone calls? Laundry? Grocery shopping? Going to the doctor? Paying the bills?

2. Habitual lateness. Are you late everywhere you go, or are there patterns to it? Always late to work but early for engagements with family and friends? Or is it the opposite?

3. Sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy. Within what context do you typically make sarcastic, cynical, or flippant remarks? Is it only with certain people or only within a certain context? In other words, is your hidden anger tied to a certain person, in terms of what she brings out in you? Or, is it more general, tied more to how you feel in specific situations as opposed to whom you are with?

4. Frequent sighing. You may not even realize you are doing this, so make a note to be mindful of how frequently you sigh, and within what context. Again, is it usually around a certain person, or is it more specific to an activity, thought, or situation?

5. Smiling while hurting. As with frequent sighing, this may not be something you are particularly aware of. Next time you notice yourself smiling, though, check in with your head and heart. Does your expression match what you’re thinking and feeling inside?

6. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams. The keyword here is frequent. We all have bad dreams and nightmares now and then. But if they are persistent and you wake feeling scared and unrested, anger could be at the root.

7. Excessive irritability over trifles. Road rage is a perfect example. Granted, there are times when other people’s driving habits can be dangerous and warrant a strong reaction. But when you “lose it” on the guy in front of you for missing the light or forgetting to turn on his blinker, the anger you’re feeling was already there, just waiting for an opportunity to erupt. The same is true of other minor incidents throughout any given day, from spilling your coffee to having trouble with your Internet connection.

8. Facial tics, spasmodic foot movements, habitual fist clenching, and similar repeated physical acts done unintentionally. Again, these are things you may or may not even be aware of. As with all the other symptoms of hidden anger on this list, simply be open to noticing their presence and mindful of when they occur.

If any of these ring true for you, understand these are not behaviors to be cursed or vilified. Instead, consider them warning signs that anger may be present. They key is getting to the root of anger, which may or may not relate to a specific event. In fact, your anger is most likely tied to beliefs and relationships that span your lifetime.

I am the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and an internationally recognized best-selling author of 30 books related to mental wellness and holistic recovery treatment.