When you are facing a volatile situation, there are a variety of approaches you might take to deal with it. Some would rather avoid it altogether than run the risk of danger.

Others may be cavalier and take on the danger, possibly hurting themselves and the people around them. Some will approach the circumstance boldly but with caution, carrying an awareness of the dangers involved but not shying away from what needs to be done.

All of us face danger and volatility, however one of the most difficult threats we encounter is our own anger. We are forced to reckon with the overwhelming, potentially dangerous, and explosive nature of our anger.

Coming to terms with anger.

Everyone has experienced anger at one point or another in their life. You and the next person may not get angry in the same way, and you may not get angry over the same things, but anger is a common experience among all people. That is because anger is part of our natural emotional wiring that God gave us.

You do not have to balk at anger as though it is something unwanted and unnecessary. In God’s wisdom, we were given anger as part of our emotional capacities. It helps us identify when something is wrong within us.

Often, the challenge we have with anger is that it is an emotion we experience in unpleasant situations. We do not feel angry when everything is going well. Who gets angry when they have had a wonderful day at work, or when their toddler is completely cooperative in packing up their toys after playtime?

It is only when things go wrong – when your boss has brought your deadline forward but limited your resources, or when that toddler resists you with everything in them – that you feel something begins to seethe inside you.

The challenge we have with anger is that it is associated with our negative experiences. In addition to this “guilt by association” relationship between anger and our unpleasant experiences, anger also can result in displaying our worst excesses. Anger does not have great connotations.

When we get angry, we can override our common sense and the inhibitions that keep us from making unwise decisions. Many disastrous things can happen when anger boils over, and that includes, unfortunately, violence toward other people. That violence can be verbal, physical, or both.

Anger triggers the fight-or-flight response, flooding the body with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Anger drives you to want to do something, but unless you control yourself well, that something might be harmful to you or another person.

Because anger holds negative associations with unpleasant situations, and with regrettable actions, it is often considered something to avoid. However, it plays a unique and valuable role in a person’s emotional life. When dealt with proactively, it can bring goodness to a person’s life.

How anger works for or against you.

Anger triggers a person’s fight or flight response, similar to the way excitement, fear, or anxiety do. Various things get people feeling angry, including the following:

When personal boundaries are violated.

If someone insults you or threatens your safety or the safety of a loved one, that can trigger anger.

When expectations are not met.

If you come into a situation expecting one thing, but you do not receive it, that can trigger anger. For instance, you expect and hope for a smooth commute to work, but instead encounter horrible traffic.

If you are taken advantage of.

In line with the idea of personal boundaries, if someone takes advantage of you, or if they take you for granted, that can be a trigger for anger.


If you or someone else is treated unjustly, that too can stir up deep feelings of anger.

Anger primes your body to do something, to act in some way. It can work against you if you do not have a means of expressing it in ways that do not harm you or others. In the same way, if you choose to suppress your anger and not express it, that anger does not just disappear. It can resurface as depression or anxiety, or you can end up venting that anger at people who have nothing to do with why you are angry in the first place.

Anger works for you by giving you an impetus to get things done. Anger can stir you up to stand up for yourself when someone tries to take advantage of you or of someone else. If your anger is kept in check, it can nonetheless spur creativity to resolve a thorny problem. For instance, your anger can push you to start a campaign to address an injustice you have seen or encountered.

If you find yourself feeling angry all or most of the time, and if you cannot find positive outlets for your anger, your anger can also work against you by affecting your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Unmanaged anger can result in insomnia, depression, increased risk of anxiety, heart problems, skin problems like eczema, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and a greater risk of stroke. This is to say nothing of the relational damage that unbridled anger can cause in your life.

Dealing with anger effectively.

The way to deal with anger effectively is to treat it as an ally and to learn to deploy it in constructive ways. There are several ways to begin dealing with your anger effectively.

Appreciate your anger.

Instead of thinking of anger as an enemy, recognize the positive role anger can play in your life. Anger can spur you into action, and it alerts you when something important to you is under some kind of threat, allowing you to respond. Do not try to repress your anger, as that merely redirects your anger into dark places, and it will erupt in unpredictable ways and places.

Appreciating your anger also includes understanding the fact that it is okay to feel angry. The problem is if you respond to that anger in inappropriate ways, whether that is repressing the anger, being passive-aggressive with it, or exploding at people in an anger outburst.

Understand your anger.

By keeping a journal and recording the times you got angry, how it felt, as well as your responses to that anger, you can gain deeper insight into how and why you get angry. Understanding your triggers for anger positions you to know ahead of time if you are walking into a potentially problematic situation, and to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to respond calmly.

Exercise regularly.

Self-care in general is necessary for your overall well-being. Exercise helps you to rid your body of excess cortisol and it helps to boost your mood. You can also release tension through exercise, as well as give yourself space to clear your head and think clearly through things that may have upset you. Sometimes, a little distance from the situation can give you clarity.

Learn techniques to manage anger.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help you in those moments when anger feels a little overwhelming. Even something as simple as knowing when to walk away or step into a different room when you start feeling angry can make a difference in your life.

Apart from knowing how to relax, you can also learn how to express yourself effectively so that your anger does not fester into resentment or get articulated in harmful ways. Learning how to resolve conflict creatively, and how to assert yourself calmly and clearly can be valuable skills to hone so that your anger works for you and not against you.

Seek help.

Talking with a counselor about anger management can help you process your anger to better understand it, including its roots stretching back to childhood. Reach out to us today and we will help you set up an appointment with a trained Christian counselor. They will work with you to develop tools for coping with and expressing anger effectively.

“Anger”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Yelling into the Phone”, Courtesy of Alexandra Mirghes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fighting Cranes”, Courtesy of Chris Sabor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Counseling Session”, Courtesy of [email protected], Unsplash.com, CC0 License