What is it about anger that makes it such a powerful emotion? Whether it is something we have felt is just a passing annoyance or more deeply as full-on rage, we have all gotten angry at one point or another, so it’s something people have in common. Anger issues are normal.
Sometimes, an angry reaction to a situation is justified. When something is wrong, or when we are under attack, our anger can motivate us to take appropriate action to rectify the situation.
In some senses, anger is necessary to our survival as it helps us to act in defense of ourselves or others when needed. Having a reaction of anger to a situation, expressing that anger in a godly way, and then laying down that anger afterward is thus part of being a healthy human being.
There comes a point when anger begins to dominate a person’s life when it gets out of control and becomes destructive so much so that it’s unhealthy. If a person begins to lash out indiscriminately at others, it can begin to affect their work, relationships with friends and loved ones, and maybe even strangers. Uncontrollable anger can so dominate and leave them with regret in its aftermath that it diminishes their quality of life, leaving broken relationships, hurt and many regrets in its wake.
You or a loved one may be struggling with the occasional flare-up of anger, or perhaps anger has dogged them and is a persistent issue in your life. Instead of a life ruled by anger and lived at the whim of this powerful and unpredictable emotion, God came to give us lives marked by peace and love.
Causes of Anger Issues
Anger issues can stem from several sources, whether internally or due to external events. At times, you need to explore what lies behind an angry reaction to a situation. This is because anger can mask other feelings such as hurt, anxiety, insecurity, embarrassment, or shame. If those feelings are not dealt with, anger can emerge as a knee-jerk response that covers up what you are truly feeling.
Anger can stem from issues picked up in childhood, whether you were exposed to negative ways of expressing anger such as hitting or shouting, or if expressing your emotions was frowned upon and discouraged, these can stunt your ability to constructively express what you feel.
Anger is not only about external situations that we are reacting to, it is often about how we read and understand those situations. Negative patterns of thinking such as jumping to conclusions about people’s actions and their motives; overgeneralizing; and blaming can fuel an angry response to events.
We need to be conscious of how we tend to frame things and challenge ourselves whether what we’re thinking is true and whether we can interpret what happened in a positive light before we assume the worst of other people.
Lastly, anger can be a symptom of other underlying health issues such as chronic stress, trauma, or depression. Going to a doctor or other health care professional for a check-up to eliminate these potential causes of anger issues is important.
Tips for Handling Anger
The American Psychological Association speaks of a few conscious and unconscious ways or processes people use to help them in dealing with their feelings of anger. These are expressing, suppressing, and calming.
Expressing your anger in a healthy way doesn’t mean being aggressive. It does mean being respectful and assertively making clear what your needs are and how they can be met without hurting or seeking to control other people in the process.
Expressing your anger in this way gives you a positive outlet for your feelings. You’re acknowledging how you feel in a way that honors others as fellow human beings with feelings of their own.
Suppressing is when you hold back your anger, stop thinking about it, and redirect your focus toward something else. This can be done to keep the anger in check and redirect it toward a positive or constructive end. There are several problems with this approach though – it can lead to other unhealthy expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior and constant criticism of others.
Additionally, holding back your anger or turning it inward can cause myriad health problems including depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, and hypertension – anger needs to be expressed outwardly in a constructive way, or else it becomes self-destructive.
Lastly, calming is about controlling your internal responses to anger as much as it is about your observable behavior. This means taking deep breaths, slowing down, and allowing your heart rate to come down, for instance.
Here are a few more tips for helping you or a loved one calm down to deal with anger constructively:
Walk around: the exercise can help release tension and calm your nerves
Repeat a phrase or word: this can help you refocus. Repeating words such as “relax” or phrases like “I’ll be okay” or “God is in control” can help you calm down.
Relax your muscles: you can do this by using techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation where you tense and slowly relax different muscles in your body
Journal: taking the time out to write what you’re feeling in a journal can give you room to process your thoughts and reassess what happened to make you angry.
Listen to music: music has a great way of lifting our spirits and soothing our feelings. Put on your favorite playlist and allow yourself to unwind.
Phone a friend: instead of staying in your head and revisiting the event, you can talk through things with a friend. This can give you a fresh insight into the situation and help you figure out how to respond constructively
Visualize the good stuff: when you’re in the heat of anger, you often do not see what is good and right with the world. Take a moment out to reflect on the good things you do have in your life and that may take the sting out of a bad situation.
Get creative: you can direct your feelings of anger towards a creative project such as painting, a musical, or written composition.
Practice empathy: taking a moment to try and see the situation from the other person’s point of view is a helpful way to gain perspective. Perhaps they were not malicious after all, and it was a simple misunderstanding. Taking that moment to extend grace and assume the best makes a world of difference and can stop you from lashing out.
In general, it helps to think before you speak – words spoken in anger are usually words you’ll regret, and so creating space for yourself and others to avoid damaging the relationship is a gift to you both.
When you do speak, it is also helpful to speak respectfully and with specifics, using “I” statements to describe the situation. This helps reduce tension in a situation. So, instead of saying, “You never help around the house”, it’s more constructive to say, “I feel upset because you did not pick up your dirty clothes of the floor and put them in the hamper.”
Anger Management Counseling
Anger can hijack your life and seriously impact your relationships. Whether you or a loved one are struggling with difficult anger issues, a skilled counselor can help you work through the causes of this anger and develop tools to deal constructively with it so that it doesn’t negatively impact you and those around you. If you want to find freedom and bring your anger under control, do not hesitate to consult a professional therapist.
Anger management helps you to understand your emotions and express yourself in a healthy way. Christian anger management counseling can help you rein in your anger and work through your emotions through a holistic focus that addresses the damaging spiritual and relational causes and effects of uncontrolled anger.
It will help you identify the causes of your anger issues, including difficulty expressing emotions, learned behavior from parents or other caretakers, hidden trauma, and mental health issues.
Additionally, through Christian counseling for anger issues, you can develop healthy and godly ways of expressing your anger as well as techniques to process your emotions and calm down so that you do not damage your relationships by speaking or acting in anger.
“Sunset”, Courtesy of Christian Meier, “Sunset”, Courtesy of Christian Meier, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Downcast”, Courtesy of Ali Saadat, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Rage”, Courtesy of Aaron Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sitting on the Beach”, Courtesy of Erwann Letue, Unsplash.com, CC0 License