A growing number of people today find anger to be a constant companion for them. Annoyances that were once easily ignored somehow produce frustration, leading to unwanted situations at home, school, or the office.
This can be seen in many social media feeds where road rage is a common occurrence; where people are jailed for hurting others because of a minor altercation; or where people post how constantly disgusted and disappointed they are with those around them.
Not only that, but this constant feeling of anger also leads to daily mental and physical stress, bringing the person down. The resulting negative feelings may then affect their relationships, causing more stress and anger – a vicious cycle indeed.
Something important to understand is that anger is not the primary emotion people experience; it is secondary. This means that there was some other emotion that triggered the angry outburst, making anger simply the reaction to that initial emotion.
For example, when someone reacts angrily to being cut off while driving, there was a prior emotion to the outburst. Possibly, the driver feared for their life or the lives of the passengers, especially if kids were inside, causing them to defend themself and their loved ones with a tirade of insults or even physical violence.
For others, it may be embarrassment, disrespect, or feelings of neglect that cause a person to always be angry. As the negative incidences build up, the person then finds that they are always irritable, ready to explode at the next undesirable situation in their life.
Many parents can relate to this as they find that daily confrontations with their children, conflict with a demanding spouse, and frustrations at the office begin to take a toll on them. After some time, it seems that every day is a constant battle just trying to maintain control.
Most commonly, however, anger is a result of sinful pride. Because we naturally tend to have a low view of sin and a high view of self, we are quick to take offense and blame it on some perceived injustice. We think that the world somehow owes us something and our sense of innate superiority drives us to anger when anyone does something we do not like.
It is not that people are just naturally hot-tempered all the time; there are underlying reasons that cause them to feel so angry almost every day.
Some Helpful Tools for Anger Management
As the reason behind the anger, the primary emotion needs to be discovered so that steps can be taken to resolve the issue. The following are helpful tools to discover this source.
A very helpful way to assess one’s anger mismanagement is through journaling. In this way, it is easy to record and then analyze the possible causes so that contingencies can be made for future situations.
Every time they get angry the person should write down the details: what happened, when it occurred, who was involved, and how the anger was demonstrated (e.g. internal simmering, physical reactions such as body aches, sarcasm, shouting, hitting).
By doing this, the person may begin to see a pattern in their behavior, revealing possible triggers to their anger. Recognizing this can prevent future occurrences through avoidance and mental preparation.
One of the most important methods to discover and manage a person’s source of anger is to pray. Specifically, the person should pray to have their eyes and hearts open to why they feel so angry.
They then should ask for the wisdom to see themselves and others through God’s eyes. If they can learn how to see their life and others through God’s perspective, they may then have the patience and compassion to become more loving.
Though the change might not be immediate, little by little as the person continues to pray, there will be positive changes as their mind is enlightened and their heart begins to soften.
Seek an Accountability Partner
Some people seek something tangible to help handle their anger. In such cases, it helps to have an accountability partner.
With an accountability partner, the person is able to share their current anger struggles, knowing that what they share will be kept confidential. Together they can discuss what occurred, identify the primary emotion, and determine together whether the response was correct or not.
Something that many do not understand is that not all forms of anger are incorrect. Anger is a healthy emotion to have if it is righteous anger against instances of injustice. This is why it is helpful to confirm with one’s accountability partner if their response to the situation was justified. Such affirmation also helps prevent wrong thinking about oneself which may lead to further disappointment and self-disgust.
Finally, the two can pray for one another regarding anger management, the restoration of broken relationships, and other problems they may have. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to pray for oneself which is why it is always good to have someone to pray with about personal concerns.
Taking Control of One’s Anger
Once the primary emotion has been discovered, the person can then learn self-restraint if they are willing to discipline themself. The following are some deliberate actions to take control of one’s anger:
Ask for forgiveness
If one’s actions or words have hurt someone else, it is important to ask for forgiveness. Firstly, if the forgiveness is granted, there is peace in the heart that a relationship has been mended, diminishing personal worries and possible future instances of anger.
But even if forgiveness is not granted, as the one hurt may still need more time, the offender’s heart still has the chance to soften as they become more mindful of the wrongs they have committed to others. It is a big step towards managing anger.
One reason why anger continues to eat away inside is that the person repeatedly replays the past hurts, over and over again, causing their negative emotions to boil over. By learning how to forgive, first in the mind and then in person (whenever possible), the anger can finally be released.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you, however, often takes much time and much prayer. But the end result is really worth it once the internal anger has been released.
Practice positive behaviors
A good way to break away from angry thoughts and actions is to consciously practice positive ones. When something triggers anger, the person should choose to think and act positively. For example, instead of yelling right away, one may instead step back, take a deep breath, and then respond in a more controlled manner. Once this becomes a habit, it then becomes easier to manage one’s anger.
Remove oneself from abusive situations
If a person is in an abusive situation, removing themself may be a good option to consider. Abusive relationships naturally cause people to become bitter and angry inside which is why it may be good to break away or at least have a temporary respite from one another until both parties are able to seek help. If not, something far worse may occur.
While domestic abuse is the usual scenario here, an abusive situation may be much more than that. Unfair business partnerships, bullying at school, and sexual harassment in school or work are just some of the many possible abusive situations a person may need to escape from.
Seek advice from others
Problems with anger management are not isolated cases. Many people suffer from anger issues. It helps to speak to others with similar experiences to know what methods they may have used to control their anger. Aside from speaking to friends and relatives about this, there are often many available support groups at church, within the community, or online that may be of help.
Addressing the Spiritual Component
When trying to solve anger management problems, something that many overlook is the spiritual component. Overpowering anger does not just involve errant thinking or emotional confusion, it typically means that something is wrong spiritually.
Anger as it is Meant to Be
Just to be clear, anger is not always a “bad” or “evil” emotion to have. Everyone is born with this emotion as it is a means to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Aside from generating the needed adrenaline to fight off attackers, anger also allows others to know that a line has been crossed – be this mocking words, disrespectful behavior, or even unfulfilled duties.
In Scripture, righteous anger is displayed many times in both the Old and New Testaments. One such instance that believers may recall is when Jesus drove out the merchants from the temple (John 2:13-16; Luke 19:45-48; Mark 11:15-19; and Matthew 21:12-17). Instead of honoring God, the merchants had defiled the temple by making it a marketplace and a center for shady transactions. This is why Christ went on the offensive, overturning tables, and driving them out.
Anger as Influenced by the Enemy
Despite the possible good uses of anger, the world, the flesh, and the Devil tempt a person to sin, potentially destroying the person and their relationships. It is stated in Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
The Devil and his minions are real. They want people to sin against God, directly or indirectly, so it is also possible that they may be fanning the fires of disappointment and anger until it leads a person to sin.
If a person allows anger to overwhelm them (even if it may have been righteous, to begin with), or (as is usually the case) it stems from injured pride, then they are transgressing against God as their heart harbors hatred and bitterness rather than love. This is why it is necessary to address the spiritual side. Knowing about what Scripture says about anger and having the means to overcome it spiritually is very important.
Christian Counseling for Anger Management
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. – Psalm 37:8-9
When controlled, anger can a useful tool. When used properly, it can protect innocents and ensure that things are being done well. But when it is uncontrolled, anger can be very devastating, destroying families and other important relationships.
Uncontrolled anger can even hurt innocent bystanders through inadvertent actions or wayward words. Knowing how to manage anger properly, as discussed above, is essential to ensure one’s peace of mind and harmony in one’s community.
However, despite personal attempts to manage it, sometimes this volatile emotion may be too much for the person to handle alone or just within their circle of loved ones. In such situations, it is best to seek Christian Counseling for anger management.
Similar to secular counseling, the Christian counselor will also use the latest therapeutic techniques to help the person discover the true source of their anger so that they may deal with it constructively. They will also be taught positive methods of thinking and reacting to the stimulus that provokes them to lose control.
But most importantly, the faith-based counselor will introduce the person to the love and mercy of God through Christ as they pray together and meditate on Holy Scripture. The person will also get to know more about what Scripture says about anger; its positive uses; and the eternal consequences if it is abused.
They will also become more aware of the spiritual battle that is being fought and how the enemy tries to take advantage of any weakness, prompting them to become more thankful for having a strong relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you or a friend is having difficulty with constant irritability or overwhelming anger, seek professional help soon. It is only through God’s help that anger, with its temporal and eternal consequences, may truly be overcome.
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