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Posts tagged ‘healthy anger’

Four Lies About Anger

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Anger is a normal part of being a human being, but it can be a dangerous emotion and has the potential to wreck our relationships and our lives.

Here are the four most common lies about anger.

1.   When I feel angry, I must let it all out.

Too much damage has been done to people we love by blurting out angry feelings in the moment of their greatest intensity. Doing this might provide some sort of relief but it is never beneficial to the hearer or the relationship.  I liken it to vomiting.  You do feel better getting it out, but vomit belongs in the toilet, not on another person.

Proverbs 12:18 says, Reckless words pierce like a sword and Proverbs 29:11 warns us that, “Only a fool gives full vent to his anger.”

Better ways to get some relief from intense anger is to journal or pray your honest emotions to God.  In the process, you might find some perspective on what to do with them and how to express them constructively.

2.    Other people or provoking situations make me angry. 

We all believe this lie at times. We say things like, “You make me so mad!” or “If you wouldn’t have done that, then I wouldn’t have reacted that way.”

Difficult people or situations don’t MAKE us angry, although they do tempt us. What really happens when we encounter these kinds of people is that they expose us.   Jesus tells us, “It is out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45).

What comes up and out of your mouth when you are angry exposes what’s in your heart. Often our heart is filled with self-centered lies or desires.

Start to listen to your internal self-talk when you feel angry. For example, “I can’t believe this is happening to me” or “it’s not fair, why me?” or “I need to teach him/her a lesson” or “they can’t get away with this.”

Instead of blaming others or the situation we’re in, we can start to understand what the real problem is that’s causing our anger to escalate. Our own thought life.

Then we can work to calm ourselves down (with different self-talk and God’s Word) instead of demanding that life always go our way or that everyone do what we want or make us feel better.

 3.    I’m entitled to use my anger to get what I want if what I want is a good thing.

Anger motivates us and helps us to speak up against wrong, as well as take action to fight against injustice and evil in our world. Because it is such a powerful force, however, the apostle Paul warns us not to sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26).

Most of the time what we want is permeated with self-centered desires. We WANT our way. We want to be right. We want to be first or catered to. We want our needs met. And we’re angry because we’re not getting what we want.

James 4:1 asks us what is the source of quarrels and conflicts among us?  He says it comes because we’re not getting what we want.

Part of spiritual maturity is to learn to accept that we don’t always get what we want, even if what we want is a good thing.  Living peaceably with other people involves realizing that what I want and what someone else might want may be very different. The Bible tells us not to merely look out for our own interests (what we want), but also the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4).

The truth is anger is a powerful emotion that deceives us into using it to demand our own way.

4.    I have always had a bad temper and this is just the way I am. I can’t change.

The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that he not only redeems us but he restores us. He changes us.

If you want to get a handle on your anger, anger is not the problem you must address. Your temper is a symptom of what’s going on in your heart. If you gain self-control over your temper that’s great, but the deeper problem that causes your anger is what needs to change.

Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

How we act and live flows from what is in our heart – what we desire or want the most. God wants to rearrange the desires of our heart so that we no longer want our own way the MOST, but rather we want to please him and love him and others.

When God changes our heart it’s not that we never get angry, but we no longer want to use our anger as a weapon to demand our own way, prove our point or make sure everyone knows we’re right. We don’t want to hold onto grudges, nurse resentment or harbor bitterness in our heart. Instead, we want to forgive and reconcile.

When Jesus changes our heart, instead of only wanting MY way, I want to look out for the interests of others because I care about them and therefore I hold my anger in check when I’m not getting what I want and weigh that with what other’s might want or need.

How?  I’ve had a change of heart and I no longer see myself as the most important person. I am no longer at the center of my life, Jesus is.

Becoming more and more like Jesus is not just trying to do the right thing, but wanting to do the right thing and then learning how.

James tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for a man’s anger (or a woman’s anger) does not produce the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19,20)

Three Things to Avoid When Angry

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin.” (Ephesians 4:26a GNT)

We all get angry from time to time. We may handle it differently, but none of us can escape the emotion entirely. But just because we get angry doesn’t mean we’re sinning.

The Bible says, “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin” (Ephesians 4:26a GNT). Paul tells us in this passage not to let our anger lead us into sin. That means that anger isn’t necessarily sin. The truth is, we can deal with our anger in both appropriate and inappropriate ways.

Unfortunately, most of us express our anger in ways that get us further from our goals instead of moving us closer to them.

For example, here are three things to avoid when angry:

Don’t suppress your anger. Don’t store it up inside. When you suppress anger without expressing it in proper ways, it’s like taking a soft drink bottle and shaking it up. One day it’s going to pop! It’ll impact your body eventually. Doctors tell us a number of physical ailments are often brought on by suppressed anger.

Don’t repress it. When you repress your anger, you simply deny it’s there. Deny your anger often enough and you’ll be depressed. When I used to do more counseling, I’d hear many people tell me they were depressed, but they were really just angry. They just didn’t think that Christians should get angry, so they simply bottled it up inside. Denying anger is a sin. It’s called lying.

Don’t express it in inappropriate ways. We can express anger in a variety of inappropriate ways. We pout, spit sarcasm, manipulate, or do something stupid (get drunk, have affairs, etc.). None of those approaches get us anywhere near the result we’re looking for.

So what should we do with our anger?

Confess it. You don’t just admit the anger, but you also admit the cause. You tell God — and whoever you’re angry with — that you’re frustrated or you feel threatened. The more honest you can be in your relationships, the easier it will be to get to the root causes of your anger.

Here’s the good news about your anger: You may have grown up in a home where anger was consistently expressed in appropriate ways. Inappropriate anger is learned, but it can be unlearned, too. You can change. You don’t have to stay the same.

ANGER: The Right Kind

SOURCE:  Living Free

“Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!'” (Matthew 21:12-13 NLT)

We can use anger for good.

Anger can be used to honor God and motivate people to do God’s will and purpose. [The above] Scripture describes Jesus doing just that.

Jesus walked into the Temple and once again saw the money changers and merchants. Not only were they dishonoring God by using the Temple area for business instead of worship, but many of the vendors there were taking advantage of people who had traveled long distances to worship God and offer sacrifices. A righteous anger swept through Jesus. He was outraged to see the way God was being dishonored . . . and He let His anger out with words and actions. Can’t you just see him knocking the tables down?

This was righteous anger. Jesus’ only motivation was to honor God and undo the wrong being done.

His outburst demonstrated the zeal described by David hundreds of years earlier:

Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalm 69:9 NLT)

There are many examples of righteous anger throughout the Scriptures.

Moses came down the mountain from an encounter with God, carrying the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. When he saw the people worshipping a golden calf, he was furious. So angry he hurled the tablets of stone to the ground, burned the golden calf, and restored order and control in the Hebrew camp.

And then there was David. When he was still a young shepherd, he visited his brothers, who were serving in Israel’s army. There he found the troops camped out, living in fear of a Philistine giant, Goliath. This huge man was taunting the Israelites. Daring anyone to take him on.

David’s response? Anger. Righteous anger.

David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26 NLT)

And David stepped up to do something about it. God empowered him . . . and he killed the giant.

There are many other incidents of righteous anger described in the Bible. How about today? As we look around the world we see sin abound. God is being dishonored in so many ways. It’s okay to get angry about that. And our anger should spur us on to make a difference. To confront the sin in some way. Not recklessly striking out, but asking God what to do. And doing it in his way . . . and in his time.

Lord, I thank you for all the people who have shown righteous anger . . . and have followed your guidance in doing something about the problem. Lord, help me to have this kind of anger and to express it wisely. In Jesus’ name . . .

These thoughts were drawn from …

Anger: Our Master or Our Servant
 by Larry Heath. 


SOURCE:  Living Free

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath.” Psalm 37:8 NIV 
“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26 NIV

The Bible tells us to refrain from anger.

It also tells us to be angry, but not to sin.

Although this first sounds like a contradiction, a study of the scriptures reveals that there are times when anger is accepted and appropriate – and other times when it is not. The Bible teaches that it is what makes us angry and how we express it that determine whether anger is right or wrong.

Throughout the Old Testament we read time and again of God’s anger – always directed at people’s sin. And in the New Testament, Jesus expressed his anger and cleansed the temple of the greedy money changers who were showing dishonor and disrespect and defiling and disrupting God’s house.

And so we know that there are times when anger is the most appropriate behavior. But what about when we become angry for selfish reasons … or express our anger in spiteful ways? In your anger do not sin.

What is the source of your anger? Do you get angry when you are denied something you want? Or because someone didn’t respond to you the way you desired? … Or are you angry because God is being dishonored? What is making you angry … and what are you going to do about it? The answers to these questions will determine the right and the wrong of it.

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve become angry for the wrong reasons and the times I’ve expressed anger in hurtful ways. I pray that you will help me not to sin in my anger. In Jesus’ name …

These thoughts were drawn from …

Anger: Our Master or Our Servant
 by Larry Heath.

The Gift of Healthy Anger

SOURCE:  Gary J. Oliver, Th.M., Ph.D./AACC

What do you think of when you hear the word anger?

Whenever I ask for a word association to anger the responses are invariably 99% negative. Why do so many couples have a totally negative view of anger?

Is all anger bad?

Can this unwelcome and potentially destructive emotion be considered a gift rather than a time-bomb?

In over 35 years of doing marriage and family counseling I’ve found that while few couples come for marriage counseling just to deal with the emotion of anger in over 3/4ths of the cases one of the key components of a marriage-threatening issue is unhealthy anger.

Why is unhealthy anger so powerful?

The surprising truth is that when a couple understands anger and learns how to express it in healthy ways, it can be an ally and actually lead to increased trust, greater intimacy and stronger relationships. As a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor I’ve spent thousands of hours with couples stuck in their effort to grow due in part to their unwillingness to learn how to deal with their anger.

There are several reasons why it is important for us to understand the emotion of anger:

1. Anger Is A God-Given Emotion:

Everyone experiences some form of anger. Anger is the second most frequently mentioned emotion in the Bible and the majority of references to anger refer to God’s anger. While this God-given emotion was damaged and distorted by sin, we can learn how to express this emotion in ways consistent with what God has modeled for us.

2. Anger Is A Frequently Experienced Emotion:

The emotion of anger is experienced much more frequently than most people would like to admit. When we begrudge, disdain others or when we are annoyed, repulsed, irritated, frustrated, offended or cross we are probably experiencing some form of anger. Research tells us that most people experience the emotion of anger a minimum of 8-10 times a day.

3. Anger Is One Of The Most Powerful Emotions:

Healthy anger can provide tremendous energy to right wrongs and change things for the good. If we have been hurt or wronged it is easy for us to experience anger. The next step is that our human nature wants revenge. When we allow our anger to be in control it can easily distort our perspective, block our ability to love and thus limit our ability to see things clearly. There are significant benefits in allowing ourselves to experience and express anger appropriately. There are also potentially devastating consequences in allowing ourselves to be controlled by our anger.

4. Unhealthy Anger Has Tremendous Potential For Harm:

Not only is anger an uncomfortable emotional state, it is also a potentially dangerous one. Uncontrolled anger can lead to destructive actions such as emotional, verbal or even physical abuse and violence. Most of us have only learned unhealthy ways to deal with our anger. When we stuff, repress, suppress, deny or ignore it we become a walking Mt. St. Helens ready to explode. When we “let it all out” and dump on those around us we can weaken trust, destroy relationships and reputations, compromise integrity and devastate the relational landscape of our of life.

5. Healthy Anger Has Significant Potential For Good:

The stories of anger we usually hear about in the news are examples of when people have allowed their anger to get out-of-control and take charge. That’s why it’s so easy to forget that anger can have a healthy side. Anger is always a secondary emotion caused by a primary emotion such as hurt, frustration or fear. Healthy anger can serve a signal, an alarm or a warning sign that something is wrong, that a boundary is being violated, that we are in danger, that there has been an injustice.

The energy of anger, when wisely invested, can actually provide greater focus and intensity and lead to greater productivity. Martin Luther said: “When I am angry I can write, pray and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations are gone.”

For many Christians both the experience and expression of anger has become a habit. Habits can take some time to change. The good news is that with God’s help we can change, we can grow, we can be more than conquerors. As we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and apply the promises in God’s Word we can take the old unhealthy ways of reacting and develop new, healthy and biblically-consistent emotional responses.

God has given us that choice. We can allow ourselves to be controlled by our anger or we can, with God’s help, choose to invest that emotional energy and pursue “healthy” anger. Healthy anger involves identifying those primary emotions that are driving it. It involves open, honest and direct communication. It involves speaking the truth in love. It involves taking the time to listen and choosing to understand. It involves investing the energy God has given us to declare truth, to right wrongs, and to help ourselves and others “become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)

In Daniel 1:8 we are told that Daniel “purposed in his heart” not to defile himself with the kings meat. And he didn’t. We can purpose in our hearts not to allow our anger to control us but rather to put our anger as well as our other emotions under God’s control. Remember that anger is energy and with God’s help we can choose whether we are going to spend it or invest it. While we may have minimal control over when we experience anger, we have almost total control over how we choose to express that anger.

As we learn how to listen to the message of our anger and the anger of others, as we learn how to identify and respond to those secondary emotions of hurt, frustration and fear rather than react to the secondary emotion of anger, as we choose to harness and direct our anger-energy in healthy and positive ways, as we choose to communicate it in biblically-consistent ways . . . we will increase our emotional and relational intelligence (ERQ) and actually increase our ability to give and receive love as well as increase the trust and intimacy in our important relationships.


Gary J. Oliver, Th.M., Ph.D., is a husband, father, Executive Director of The Center for Relationsip Enrichment and Professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University. He is the author of over 20 books including Mad About Us, over 250 professional and popular articles and is a on the AACC Advisory Board.

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