Category: Anger

Anger Explosions Are Not Acceptable

Some years ago it was popular in certain psychological circles to believe that releasing anger by aggressive behavior would be positive if the aggression was not toward a person. Thus, angry people were encouraged to beat pillows, punching bags, and dolls or to take their aggression out on a golf ball. However, research now indicates that such behavior makes one more likely to explode in the future. The answer begins by asking the question: Why am I angry? If someone wronged you, then Jesus gave clear instructions. You lovingly confront the person and seek reconciliation. On the other hand, if you are angry simply because you did not get your way, then your anger is not legitimate and needs to be confessed as selfishness. Verbal or physical explosions are not acceptable ways to handle anger.

Struggle With Anger?

Let’s be honest, many of us have never learned to handle anger positively. Our responses to anger in the past have always made things worse. Some people deny that they have an anger problem. Margaret was a screamer. She prided herself in “speaking her mind”. She justified her tirades until the day her daughter left her the following note. “Dear Mom, I won’t be home tonight. I can’t take your screaming anymore. I don’t know what will happen to me, but at least I won’t have to hear all the nasty things you say to me when I don’t do everything you want.” Margaret read the note, cried, and called her pastor, who in turn helped her find a Christian counselor. Don’t wait until you get a note – reach out for help.

Encouraging Your Children

All children need to hear words of encouragement. The word ‘encourage’ means “to instill courage.” We are seeking to give children the courage to attempt more. We do a great job of this when the child is learning to walk. If the child falls, we say, “Yea, try again. Try again.” And the child tries again. Don’t forget this principle as the child gets older. The greatest enemy of encouraging our children is anger.  The more anger present in the parent, the more anger the parent will dump on the children.  The result will be children who are both anti-authority and anti-parent. If you have an anger problem, let me recommend my recent book, Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. It may make the difference between encouraging or discouraging your child.

Q&A: Handling Anger in a Healthy Way

Q: My husband has a very bad temper. What things can I do to help with this?

Gary: Mismanaged anger causes problems in many marriages, and also children’s relationships with parents. Most of us do not know how to handle anger in a positive way. I wrote a book a few years ago called Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. I suggest you get it for your husband. He may not go for counseling, but he may read a book. The two of you could discuss each chapter and talk (in a non-accusatory way) about how he could improve in this area. This could greatly assist him in processing his anger healthily.

The Alternative to Forgiveness

Basically, there is only one alternative to forgiveness: a demand for justice. “You sinned against me and you will crawl on your knees until I feel like forgiving you. If you ever pay me back for this, then I will forgive you!” This is an immensely destructive approach. A better choice is to forgive the offender. He or she has sinned against you and you are hurt, but you say to that person in your own words, “You hurt me deeply, but I want you to know that I forgive you because God has forgiven me. I will treat you as though you did not sin.”

Getting Facts before Acting on Anger

When you are angry – be sure to get the facts before you take action. You hear your spouse tell someone on the phone, “I’ll be there tomorrow night.” You know that tomorrow night is your date night, so you get angry. Before you storm in and say something harsh, take time to ask: “Did I hear you promise someone to do something tomorrow night?” Your spouse says, “Yes, I told mom I’d bring her blanket by. I thought we could do it either before or after we go out to eat.” Your anger subsides because you took time to “get the facts.” Often we jump to conclusions about what someone said or did and in anger we accuse them. We mess up a perfectly good evening because we failed to ask questions.

Processing Anger Healthily, Pt. 4

When you are angry, the first positive step is to admit to yourself that you are angry. Say it aloud, “I’m feeling angry.” The second step is to ask God to help you handle your anger in a positive way. “Lord, help me to do what is right and good with my anger.” The third step is to ask: Did someone sin against me? If so, the biblical answer is to lovingly confront the person and seek reconciliation. On the other hand, if you are angry simply because something happened that irritates you, then ask: “What can I learn from this experience?” If the other person habitually arrives late for your appointment, perhaps you can talk with them and negotiate change. Thus, the anger has served a positive purpose. God wants to teach you how to handle your anger in a godly way.

Processing Anger Healthily, Pt. 3

In my book: Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, I asked the publisher to print the following statement in the back of the book as a tear out. My suggestion is that you put it on the refrigerator so that when a family member feels angry at another family member, they can take the card, and read it aloud to the person at whom they are angry. Here’s what the card says, “I’m feeling angry right now, but don’t worry. I’m not going to attack you. But I do need your help. Is this a good time to talk?” It brings a little humor into the tenseness and reminds you of what you are not going to do. It also is asking the other person to help you process your anger. It’s an easy way to help family members learn to process anger in a positive way.

Processing Anger Healthily, Pt. 2

Why do people get angry? I believe we get angry when our sense of ‘right’ is violated. But we have two kinds of anger: definitive anger – when someone has wronged us, and distorted anger – when things didn’t go our way. Much of our anger is distorted. The traffic moved too slowly. Our spouse didn’t do what we wanted. This distorted anger is still very intense and must be processed. Here’s a question: Would it be helpful if I shared my anger with someone? In sharing it, might I improve things for everyone? Or, should I simply ‘let it go?’ Whatever you do, do something positive. Don’t hold anger inside. Anger was meant to be a visitor, never a resident.

Processing Anger Healthily

When is the last time you felt angry? How did you handle your anger? Was it a pleasant experience for you? How about the people around you? All of us have seen people explode. Many of us have exploded. On the other hand, many Christians pride themselves in holding their anger inside. But internalized anger is bad for your health. The biblical challenge is that when we experience anger, we are to process it in a positive way. That may mean gently confronting the person who stimulated our anger. Or, it may mean asking God to forgive us for being so ‘bent out of shape’ over such a minor matter. Learning to process anger in a timely and healthy way is one of the first lessons for healthy relationships.