How to Deal with Repressed Anger by Writing an Angry Letter

Have you ever had someone tell you to write an angry letter? I have! And I’ve given the assignment to my clients as well. It might sound silly but expressive writing to release repressed anger (or hidden anger) and other emotions has been researched and proven to be affective to relieve stress, trauma responses, and even physical pain (Source) It’s so beneficial to deal with your repressed anger because of the physical and emotional symptoms it causes. The truth is you always bury anger alive. And burying something alive always has consequences- any scary movie can show you that!

If you are anything like me, you might not realize you have repressed anger because you have gotten good at avoiding it and stuffing it. I attended a domestic violence support group for nearly 2 years and one particularly insightful meeting had to do with hidden anger. I learned that night that we tend to recognize the obvious symptoms of hidden or repressed anger, but most of us have no idea what subtle behaviors indicate we are avoiding processing pain or difficult emotions. Here’s what to watch out for:

Signs of Hidden or Repressed Anger

  • Procrastination in the completion of tasks,
  • Sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy in conversation,
  • Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, attitude of “grin and bear it.”
  • Frequent sighing,
  • Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams,
  • Getting tired easier than usual,
  • Becoming drowsy at inappropriate times,
  • Chronically stiff or sore neck or shoulder muscles,

After we all took the quiz and realized we had LOTS of repressed anger, we needed a next step. How do we deal with repressed anger? Our advocate told us to journal through 2 questions if we were having a hard time releasing the anger:

I don’t want to release my anger because _____

I’m afraid to release my anger because ______

Here’s the cliff notes version of what I discovered about my Repressed Anger. I hope this helps you as you walk through the same process to know you are not alone!

Question 1: I don’t want to release my anger because:

  • I know that when I do “let it go” I have to allow the release to happen. And release is slightly terrifying.
  • I don’t like what the word release means at all. I would rather not give this person freedom. They should pay me back for all of the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical wounds I experienced.
  • Letting go of my anger means that every time this person angers me in the future, I must walk through the process all over again.
  • Ugh. I don’t want to let go of my anger without an apology first. Is that so much to ask?

Release : “Free from confinement, bondage, obligation, pain, etc.; Let go. Relinquish. Surrender.”

Question 2: I am afraid to release my anger because…

  • Anger is “normal” to me. I know what to do with anger. I’ve lived with anger a long, long time.
  • Anger is like a protective wall for me because I don’t have to deal with the sadness and betrayal on the other side.
  • Holding on to it means I somehow still have control of my life.
  • I’m afraid I could be easily hurt again. Like the anger is making me “bullet-proof” or something. Surrendering it could make me vulnerable again.
  • I spent decades avoiding anything that makes me vulnerable. Vulnerability was a weakness. Emotions were a weakness. Tenderness was a weakness. Anger was safe.

How I let Go of the Repressed Anger

After seeing it all on paper, I had a choice to make. Was I going to accept the process of letting this anger go? Or was I going to hold onto it? I had an internal dialogue that went something like this,

 Raychel, do you do well to be angry? Is it helping? Does it make you feel good in your mind, body, and spirit to hold on to this? No. Nope. Not even a little bit.

What do you need to do next? I write the angry letter.

To be completely transparent this was not over and done with one angry letter. It took several. And even years latter I still find myself processing anger and resetting boundaries with certain people in my life. Resolving the anger doesn’t guarantee instant results. It’s a process.

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Wesley, The Princess Bride.

What Do I Write in an Angry Letter?

Good question.  Think of an angry letter as a brain dump. Just start writing. Start by writing everything you would say about the person, the situation, the hurt, the aftermath, if you could. If you had one chance to say everything you wanted to say, what would you say? This gets easier once you start, the hardest part is starting. I once wrote an angry letter that was 6 pages long in a very short amount of time because the words just came out of me like vomit. That’s the point. No judgements. Don’t second guess what you wrote. And PC terms or nice words are not required. Dig deep and get it out once and for all. Nobody is going to see this angry letter so write it all! NEVER send the letter. THIS IS IMPORTANT. This letter is for you. Not them.


Expressing repressed anger through angry letters is an effective tool to deal with high levels of stress, trauma, and a whole host of emotional and physical symptoms. When you become aware of signs of hidden anger you have a choice. You can deal with it or continue to ignore it. I hope you choose to deal with it. Writing an angry letter helps you understand the reality of what happened to you and how your life changed because of it. With understanding you can begin to release the hidden anger. Baby steps. You got this.

with Grace & Grit,

~Raychel

Raychel Perman is a Certified Life & Business Coach, Speaker, Author, and Co-Founder of RAYMA Team, LLC. She is the Co-host of the She Who Overcomes™ Podcast and is funny, wise, and tells it like it is. Raychel shares her story of overcoming trauma and living with mental health challenges to inspire others to believe that the broken pieces of their past can lead to beauty, strength, and new beginnings. She is the author of UNBROKEN and co-author of She Cultivates Resilience.

Learn more about Raychel here.

UNBROKEN Summer Series: Choosing Courage Over Fear

I will not be afraid because the Lord is with me.

Psalm 118:6 (EXB)

I don’t know when the love you were born with was replaced by fear. Maybe your innocence was taken at a very young age. Or you learned the harsh reality of life and death before you were old enough to understand what you were going through. Or, maybe you grew up in a violent home and experienced trauma as a child. It’s possible the circumstances of your life taught you to feed your fear instead of defeat it. But, it’s time to choose courage over your fear.

Love is what you were born with, fear is what you learned.” ~Unknown

For much of my life I wore the label fear like it was my identity.

I made the choice to grow bitter and fearful because of the storms I had walked through. The broken pieces of my life made me full of fear. I was terrified of the unknown and eventually this led to: mediocrity, unfulfilled dreams, toxic relationships, missed opportunities, anxiety, panic attacks, shallow faith, depression, paralyzing doubt, feeling stuck, being unable to make decisions, and excuses. Oh the excuses.

Over the last few years I have found that the best way to defeat fear is with courage and action.

You can take action in the midst of being afraid. Because, the truth is, fear is not the same thing as being afraid. Fear will make you self-sabotage relationships when vulnerability is required for growth. Fear makes you say (or think!) things like, “I can’t,” “I don’t know how,” or “It’s never going to work out.” It keeps you stuck in excuses for years. Which will make you spin your wheels and miss out on once-in-a-life-time opportunities.

Walking forward even though we are afraid is courageous and motivating. Doing something afraid can propel you into new seasons and healing you never imagined possible.

Courage: Noun. Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Merriam-Webster.com, 2011

It takes great courage to take a step of faith when you have no idea where your foot may land.

A person who embraces the cracks in her life defeats fear and walks forward…even when they are afraid. As you continue with today’s study you will learn the difference between the words “fear” and “afraid.” You will examine the different ways these words are used in the Bible and how understanding the meanings can help you better overcome the storms in your life. By the end of this study, you will be ready to muster up your courage and walk forward – even when you are afraid.

Fear: Noun. A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. Synonyms: foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation.

Afraid: Adjective. Feeling fear; filled with apprehension: afraid to go. Feeling regret, unhappiness, or the like. Feeling reluctance, unwillingness, distaste. Synonyms: scared, fearful, disquieted, apprehensive, timid, timorous.

In many English versions of the Bible, the words fear and afraid are often used interchangeably.

But in the original languages they often have different meanings and should not be interchangeable. For example, a commonly used Hebrew word for fear in the Old Testament is yārā which has a few different meanings. Sometimes it means the kind of fear that is akin to honor, respect, and awe (ie: “the fear of the Lord.”) Other times it means to frighten, terrify or intimidate. Those are two very different meanings of the word fear that should create two very different responses in the believer’s life.

Look up these following verses. Record the differences you notice in how the word fear is used. What do you discover about fear as it relates to the storms, and the broken pieces in your life?

  • Joshua 24:14
  • Psalm 56:3
  • Psalm 112:7
  • John 14:27
  • Romans 8:15

UNBROKEN Journal Questions:

  1. In your own words, what is the difference between the words fear and afraid?
  2. How can this difference help you better handle the broken pieces of your life and get a better perspective of your future?
  3. What worries you about releasing fear and embracing trust, patience, or forgiveness?

My God is faithful and trustworthy. I have no reason to doubt or fear.

Truth Statement®

The truth is fear never really leaves. We have to learn to step forward into the unknown, full of courage, even if we are afraid. Believing there will be hope and healing on the other side.

With Grace & Grit,

~Raychel

P.S Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what you think before you leave, thanks!

Raychel Perman is a Certified Life & Business Coach, Speaker, Author, and Co-Founder of RAYMA Team, LLC. She is the Co-host of the She Who Overcomes™ Podcast and is funny, wise, and tells it like it is. Raychel shares her story of overcoming trauma and living with mental health challenges to inspire others to believe that the broken pieces of their past can lead to beauty, strength, and new beginnings.

Learn more about Raychel here.

Editors Note: At the writing of this blog post we are in the processing of formatting and editing the 2nd edition of my 30 day Bible study for women, Unbroken. In honor of the occasion I will be releasing blog posts for Summer Series that come directly from the book. If you want to be the first to know when the release happens- join our VIP email list by CLICKING HERE (and get 7 free audios to help you create a stronger mindset as our gift!)