Updated: Sep 30, 2019
By Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC
Clients often contact us to learn how to control their anger either as they take a certified anger management class or as they come into an individual therapeutic session. One of the first things that is disclosed is how they feel helpless in how their anger is experienced and expressed, followed with, "I cannot help it!" At this point then we know that the client is being controlled with multiple factors that contribute to this delusion. It is a controllable emotion as evidenced by decades of research but also as evidenced within scripture. Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32 we read of the need to control our anger. If anger was not able to be controlled then many scriptures that speak of anger, the consequences, and the need to manage it would have been wasted. Anger in and of itself is a normal emotion and can be a positive emotion when it prompts us to rise to one's defense such as a spiritual response to injustices against the innocent, exploiting of others, and when people and/or social media and other forums are violating spiritual, emotional, and physical boundaries. Yet we who speak against such must be most careful to govern our anger since even then it can easily turn into a sinful behavior should we allow our anger, attitude, pride, or behavior to get our of control.
First, let us define anger.
It is a God-give emotion of which God and Jesus have exhibited.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary would define it as:
When used as a verb: a strong feeling of displeasure, antagonistic
When used as a Noun: ANGER, IRE, RAGE, FURY, INDIGNATION, WRATH mean an intense emotional state induced by displeasure. ANGER, the most general term, names the reaction but by itself does not convey cause or intensity. tried to hide his anger IRE, more frequent in literary contexts, suggests an intense anger, often with an evident display of feeling. cheeks flushed with ire RAGE and FURY suggest loss of self-control from violence of emotion. shook with rage could not contain his fury INDIGNATION stresses righteous anger at what one considers unfair, mean, or shameful. a comment that caused general indignation WRATH is likely to suggest a desire or intent to punish or get revenge. I feared her wrathif I was discovered.
There is Orge: mad, and also Thumos: seething anger according to the Greek language.
Second, let us consider some consequences of anger:
1. Foolish appearance to others.
2. Violation of emotional, physical, and social health of others.
3. The damage may not be reversed once exhibited.
4. It is difficult to live it down as others remember.
5. It is not easy to forget or to be forgiven.
6. Regret ensures.
7. Destruction in relationships as each incident erodes the relationship and builds defenses.
8. When you fly in rage then seldom will you land safely.
9. Can easily get out of control where words cut and actions destroy and harm.
Third, how is it used?
1. Anger is one of the main tools used for a means to control others as we get our way, to intimidate others in order to seem powerful, to frighten, or to impose our will upon others.
2. Anger can be used to serve mankind as we act to protect others from harm or against wrongful doing.
3. Anger can be an impulse to something negative in our thoughts to which we are exposed to.
Fourth, what types of anger are there?
There are passive forms of anger: These are more silent and covert; as one works with deceptive and manipulative forms to control instead of being more direct. Passive reflection of anger may also be in a more productive defense mechanism of assertiveness that allows the expression of anger without violating emotional or physical or social boundaries.
There are aggressive forms of anger: Manipulation, coercive tactics, threats, lying, use of multiple negative forms of defense mechanisms, cursing, hitting, kicking, spitting, stealing, throwing objects, hitting objects, causing injury and destruction to person or property, strong holds such as squeezing, pressing, and also pushing or shoving. Tripping others, using an auto, stalking, harassment, and at times even murder also are aggressive forms of anger. When one is seeking revenge-then one can choose to gossip and to attempt to interfere with relationships.
Scriptures have many examples of anger, and warns of anger. Gen. 4:4-8 is the account between brothers, Cain and Able. God required a specified form of worship from both and yet one chose to offer instead what he felt best. When God favored the other brother then Cain killed his brother and hid him as if one can hide from God. God spoke directly to Cain and asked him where his brother was and God noted the face falling of Cain as he provided the consequence for Cain's sins of pride and anger.
In Proverbs 25:28 it speaks of a city broken into and without walls when one is not in control of their anger-which leaves the perpetrator vulnerable.
In James 1:19-20 we read to be quick to hear (listen) slow to speak, and slow to anger.
In Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32 we read of the need to put away bitterness, wrath, anger and to instead show kindness and forgiveness.
In Galatians 5:19-21 we can read of the deeds of the flesh which evidences that God does not live within us if we (habitually) practice these things.
Colossians 3:8 speaks of anger and Matt: 18:15, and 5:22-24 we are told that we must reconcile (find a solution amicable) prior to the sun going down.
How do we handle, govern, and manage anger?
1. We must admit that we actually have a problem with anger, understanding that it is effecting our health and the social forums in which we are interacting.
2. We must focus on our thinking and identify faulty thinking that is driving the emotion.
3. We must learn how to change the perception of what the situation is and discern the best possible options available to better address the situation while being mindful of the emotional, physical, and social boundaries of others and our own.
4. We must choose to use the right words that speak to the problem and not focus on the person.
5. We must consider multiple options in order to seek a solution by all parties that are involved, weighing the pros and cons of each.
6. We must choose to control our anger and then respond instead of excusing ourselves with reactions that are not of an emotionally mature person.
7. Holding on to wrongs against us-keeps our anger fueled and on the surface. We must speak to the issue then forgive the wrong. We will be forgiven in the same manner and measure that we are willing to forgive others.
Anger is only one letter away from Danger. Bear this in mind as you feel your temper rising.
What has it cost you? It is in your control. It is time to take control.