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Posts tagged ‘dealing with anger’

Anger, Pain and Depression

SOURCE: Nando Pelusi, Ph.D./Psychology Today

Anger, pain and depression are sometimes perceived as one big emotion, but when you don’t distinguish between them, they could end up fueling each other.

Anger, pain and depression are three negative experiences so closely bound together it can sometimes be hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Pain is a complex phenomenon that has emotional and physical components. The emotions play a huge role in the experience of pain, and pain is intimately associated with depression. It’s long been known that the psychic pain of depression feeds anger. But just as often, anger fuels depression.

A powerful emotion physiologically and emotionally, anger often feels good—but only for the moment. It can be a motivating force that moves you to action. But there are good actions and bad ones; it’s vital to distinguish between the two.

Many people confuse anger and hostility. Anger is a response to a situation that presents some threat. Hostility is a more enduring characteristic, a predisposition, a personality trait reflecting a readiness to express anger.

Anger is usually anything but subtle. It has potent physiological effects. You feel it in your chest. You feel it in your head. You feel it coursing through your body.

Nevertheless, anger can be insidious. Anger confers an immediate sense of purpose; it’s a shortcut to motivation. And if there’s something depressed people need, it’s motivation. But anger creates a cycle of rage and defeatism.

When you feel anger, it provides the impulse to pass the pain along to others. The boss chews you out, you then snap at everyone in your path. Anger, however, can eventually lead you into self-pity, because you can’t slough off the self-hurt.

Anger is classically a way of passing psychic pain on to others. The two-step: You feel hurt, “poor me,” “I hate you.” It’s a way of making others pay for your emotional deficits. It is wise to change that tendency. Whether or not anger fuels depression, it isn’t good for the enjoyment of life.

Here are ways to keep anger from feeding your depression.

  • First, of course, is to identify anger and to acknowledge it. Anger is one of those emotions whose expression is sometimes subject to taboos so that people can grow up unable to recognize it; they feel its physical discomfort but can’t label it.
  • Build a lexicon for your internal states. If you have a word for your emotional state, then you can begin to deal with it. Feelings are fluid; you need to stop and capture them in a word, or else you lose them and don’t know you have them. A label improves your ability to understand your feelings.
  • View your anger as a signal. It is not something to be escaped. It is not something to be suppressed. It is something to be accepted as a sign that some deeper threat has occurred that needs your attention.
  • Make yourself aware of the purpose your anger serves. Be sure to distinguish purpose from passion. Things that have a positive purpose seek betterment, growth, love, enhancement, fulfillment. Things that have a negative purpose are motivated by a sense of deficiency. Your boss yells at you, you feel diminished; the anger you express at others is driven by the blow you’ve just received. Are you enraged about an inequity or unfairness?In order to identify your motivation, you need to look within. It’s a matter of becoming psychological-minded and engaging in introspection. Tune into the inner dialogue that you customarily have with yourself.
  • If your anger is deficiency-motivated, driven by a wish to rectify a wrong you believe done to you, work on acceptance. Give up your obsession about the wrong. See that the opposite of anger is not passivity but more functional assertiveness.
  • Uproot mistaken beliefs that underlie your response. Very often anger is the result of beliefs that lead you to place unreasonable demands on circumstances, such as, that life must be fair. Unfairness exists. The belief that you are entitled to fairness results from the mistaken idea that you are special. If you feel that you are special, you will certainly find lots to be angry about, because the universe is indifferent to us.Insisting that life must be fair is not only irrational, it will cause you to collect injustices done to your noble self. Even if you are experiencing nothing more than your fair share of unfairness, such a belief can still fuel rage and lead to depression.Those who hold the deep belief that life should always be fair cannot abide when it is unfair. That leads directly to rage that is totally inert, because they believe there is nothing that they can do about the unfairness. They feel helpless and hopeless—in other words, depressed. Self-pity is another description of the same phenomenon.
  • Notice your own complaining. Listen for both overt and covert complaining. Overt complaining hassles others. It’s really a manipulative strategy. Know when it’s becoming a downer and a barrier to a strategy of effectiveness—like complaining about a fly in your soup. Covert complaining hassles you; it drags you down into passivity and inertia. Once you notice it, determine to give it up.
  • Once you can accept that life sometimes is unfair, then you can pursue positive purpose. You can work constructively against injustices you find, transforming your anger into passion. Or you can pursue fulfillment in spite of the unfairness that exists.
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Marriage Q&A: Is Hitting Someone Ever Justified?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Is Hitting Someone Ever Justified?

Question:  Is physical abuse ever justified in a marriage as “defending” yourself?

I attacked my husband physically in frustration by hitting and scratching. I know it was sinful and wrong and I made a choice to attack him.

He, in turn, held me down, punched me in the head several times and smashed my head up against the headboard of our bed.

He said he did it to “defend” himself and to “get me to stop”.

Answer:  Self-defense is legally acceptable when you are being physical harmed, however it seemed like your husband used a bazooka against you when a fly swatter may have been sufficient.  In other words, from your description of his behavior your husband took it over the top and did more than defend, he retaliated and abused you.

But I want to ask you a question. If your husband attacked you by hitting and scratching you because he was frustrated with something you did or said would that be justified?  Just because you are a woman and may not have as much physical strength as he does, does not excuse you handling your frustration with him by attacking him and scratching him.  What else could you have done in that moment of frustration?

The truth is marriage and family life can be frustrating at times. Who hasn’t gotten frustrated in marriage? Or in raising children?  Or while stuck in traffic?  Or waiting in a long line?  If frustration excused abusive behavior we’d live in a much more violent world than we already live in.

So what do healthy people do when they are frustrated? When they are provoked? They learn to press pause, and practice self-control, which is one of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  Yes we may feel like reacting with physical force – such as slapping or scratching someone when we’re frustrated, but if we want good relationships with people, we learn to control those urges.

It’s important to realize that we are not helpless victims over our own emotional state. Yes, we have feelings, but we must not allow our feelings to have us.  God has clearly told us that we are to be in charge of how we behave when we’re provoked or angry.

In Ephesians he says “In your anger, do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26).

If I were talking further with you and/or your spouse about your marriage I would ask you about the overall patterns of your marriage.  Have there been regular incidents of you reacting with physical attacks when you are frustrated or was this an isolated incident?  If this has been a pattern, have you recognized it as a problem for you?  For your marriage?

Has your spouse asked you to stop, get help for your emotional distress, or go to counseling?  Does he purposefully provoke you to the point of emotional overload? Has he used physical violence against you in the past?  If so have you implemented consequences like calling the police?

I hope you will take this incident as a warning bell to show you how close you are to the edge of a very scary cliff.  Your inability to know what else to do in the moments of your frustration and your husband’s over-the-top reaction could have ended with you being pummeled to death.  Please, don’t ignore this. Seek more professional advice about what your next steps should be for your own mental health, physical safety and marriage.

Marriage: Dealing with Anger

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Living Free/Dr. Jimmy Lee

“And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT

We should not allow anger to linger. [S]cripture cautions us to deal with it before the day is over. Unresolved anger allows Satan to enter our mind and gain control.

Notice the scripture doesn’t say anger is a sin, but it becomes a sin when we allow it to control us. And so we need to take control. We need to choose to ask for God’s help. We need to choose forgiveness over bitterness or self-pity.

When we go to bed angry, that anger begins to take control. We probably won’t sleep well. And when we awaken the next morning, our first thoughts will be of ourselves and how we’ve been mistreated. And then our angry thoughts will turn toward our spouse or whoever has offended us. Not a good way to start the day.

You are angry with your spouse and bedtime is approaching. What can you do?

First, pray. Ask God for wisdom. Then choose to let go of the anger with His help. If the offense is something you can overlook and put behind you, then do that. On the other hand, if it’s an issue that needs to be resolved, approach your spouse with a peacemaking attitude. Even if the matter cannot be settled before the day ends, work through the anger and choose to forgive. Agree to continue working out a solution in the days to come. But don’t carry over the anger.

Father, teach me to let go of all anger before each day ends. Help me to be willing to let go of the anger and trust you for the outcome. Give me wisdom in resolving the conflict. In Jesus’ name . . .


These thoughts were drawn from …

Committed Couples: God’s Plan for Marriage & the Family by Dr. Jimmy Ray Lee. 

Anger: Love-Hate Relationship

SOURCE: Taken from an article by  Barbara Rainey/Family Life

You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue.
Psalm 52:4

I had been a mom for about six years when I first began to experience significant anger. And as the pressures of parenthood increased and our older children moved into adolescence, I started getting angry more severely and more often. It was inappropriate, and it was really becoming a problem.

One Thanksgiving weekend, my 13-year-old son and I got into a raging argument about . . . something. I don’t even remember what. I just remember I couldn’t control him, and I couldn’t control me. For years, I had justified my anger by saying I was so tired and worn out every day. Now, for the first time, I realized it had gotten bigger than I was. I could justify my behavior no longer.

Dennis was a part of the solution. As we talked it over, we agreed that it would be healthy for me to go through a period of counseling. As I sought help, the Lord sensitized my heart one summer day to the words of Psalm 52. As I was reading the fourth verse—the one above—my eyes filled with tears.

Suddenly I knew that in all my years of struggling, the only thing I really hated about my anger was that I couldn’t control it. Yet in those few moments of holy conviction, I realized I needed to hate my anger simply because it was sin. Before, I had only hated what I did with it. Now, I hated it for what it was.

Perhaps you’re still rationalizing a certain harmful behavior of yours by claiming your right to it. Perhaps, if you dug a little deeper, you might even discover, like I did, that you enjoy the power and control it gives you.

If this is you, don’t you think it’s time to confess (agree with God about it) and deal with it?

Ask God to give you the courage to confront those things about yourself that need to be dealt with.

What You Need to Know About Anger

SOURCE:  Adapted from an aritcle by David PowlisonChristian Counseling & Educational Foundation

What makes you angry? Are they small things, like traffic jams, lines at the grocery store, not being able to find a shoe, a waiter’s mistake, or a friend’s inattention?

Are they big things, like when someone betrays you? Experiences of injustice, meanness, violence, oppression, selfishness, or lying?

How do you deal with your anger? Do you explode? Does everyone around you know when and why you are angry? Or are you more subtle?

Do you get irritated and short with those around you? Do you gossip and complain about your spouse, children, co-workers, and friends? Or maybe you just turn your anger in on yourself and become depressed and bitter.

You might have noticed that you can’t avoid dealing with your anger. Anger is an inevitable response to living in a troubled world where things can and do go wrong all the time.

But if you don’t learn how to deal with your anger, you will constantly hurt others. You will poison your own heart. You will estrange yourself from God. God cares about what makes you angry, and God cares about how you express anger.

Common advice

Some counselors notice that people get tied up in knots when they hide or stuff their anger. They will tell you to deal with your anger by getting in touch with how you feel and then expressing it. “Get it off your chest. Say exactly what you think. Give ’em a piece of your mind.”

Other counselors have noticed how destructive people become when they express anger. They will counsel you to control your anger. Psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and meditation are just some of the different ways they recommend for defusing your anger and calming yourself down.

So which is it, venting or calming?

Actually, God has a different way for you to deal with your anger. He knows well that stuffing your anger deep inside is destructive. And just learning tricks for keeping calm never discovers the purpose for which God designed anger. Anger needs to be acknowledged and expressed in a positive way, as a form of doing what is good and right.

At the same time, God knows well that venting your anger is destructive. Instead of expressing your anger in ways that hurt those around you, it is possible to express your anger in a way that actually redeems difficult situations and relationships.

How does this happen? It starts with understanding what anger is, where it comes from, and how a right relationship with God will actually change the way you view and express your anger.

What is anger?

Anger is your God-given capacity to respond to a wrong that you think is important. It always expresses two things:

  • It identifies something in your world that matters to you.
  • It proclaims that you believe that something is wrong.

This could be something as minor as being served a cold cup of coffee at a restaurant. Or it could be something as major as your spouse running off with your best friend.

God also gets angry at things that are wrong in this world. Your capacity to be angry is an expression of being made in His image. So when you get angry, you are not necessarily wrong. But often anger does go wrong.

Wanting a good thing more than God

Sometimes you want good things. It’s not wrong to want your husband to love and listen to you. It’s not wrong to want your children to respect and obey you. It’s not wrong to want your boss to be honest with you. It’s not wrong to want a warm meal and a hot cup of coffee, or to get to your appointment rather than getting stuck in traffic.

But when fulfilling your desires, even for a good thing, becomes more important than anything else, that’s when it changes into a “desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). You want it too much.

James, in the letter he wrote to the early church, said this about where wrong anger comes from: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). When you want anything, even a good thing more than God, you will get angry when you don’t get it or it’s taken away from you.

Responding to a true wrong in the wrong way

And sometimes you are right to be angry because you are experiencing a true wrong. Then the problem is not the fact of getting angry, but how you express that anger. It’s not right for someone to tailgate you, recklessly and aggressively endangering you and your family. It’s not right when your spouse is indifferent or inconsiderate. It’s not right if your boss treats you unfairly or your child refuses to obey. It’s not right when you are abused or attacked.

Anger has been given to us by God as the way to say, “That’s not right and that matters.” In our broken world, you will have many good reasons to be angry. But, because we are part of the broken world, we express our anger at true wrongs in the wrong way. We blow up. We get irritated. We gossip. We complain. We hold a grudge. We shut people out. We get even. We become embittered, cynical, hostile. Something really wrong happened … and we become really wrong in reaction.

Taking God’s place

What’s behind your wrong anger? When you get angry, aren’t you taking God’s place and judging others–and perhaps even judging God? Whether you are angry about something trivial or something serious, your wrong reaction reveals that you are living as if you are in charge of the world and believe you have the right to judge the people around you and the way God is running the world.

When James 4 talks about anger, it goes on to discuss why it’s wrong to judge and criticize others: “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). God alone has the right to pass final judgment.

Think about when you get angry. Aren’t you insisting, “My will be done; my kingdom come”? And when things don’t go your way, don’t you judge those (including God) who are not doing what you want, as if you were God? You aren’t, but when you are angry, you often act as if you were.

Because your wrong anger has to do with your relationship with God, you can’t deal with it by learning a few strategies or techniques. Wrong anger creates a big problem between you and God. He doesn’t like upstarts who try to take over His universe.

Your anger is not just about you and all the frustrating things that happen to you. It’s not just about you and your cranky, oppositional personality. And it’s not just about you and all the unreasonable people in your life. It’s about you, those frustrating circumstances, all those unreasonable people … and the living God. It’s about you acting like you are in charge of God’s world and other people. But God is in charge.

Anger is merciless. Anger sees, punishes, and gets rid of all offenders. But God has chosen to be merciful to wrongdoers, including someone like you, who struggles with taking God’s place in the world (Ephesians 2:1-5).

God’s mercy brings life to you. If you struggle with bitterness, if you grumble, if you yell and argue, then you need God’s mercy. You will receive mercy and help when you confess to God your struggle with trying to control everything, with wanting to be God, and with judging those around you. God’s just anger toward sinners like you was poured out on his Son on the cross. Because Jesus died, you can be forgiven and have a whole new life.

When you honestly confess your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you for Jesus’ sake, you will receive forgiveness and the gift of God’s Spirit. The Spirit will give you the power to express your anger, not your way, but God’s way.

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