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Scriptural Support for ANGER Workout


Victorious Living -

Scriptural Foundation for Healthy Living and Coping

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

Prologue

Is unresolved anger robbing you of living Victoriously in Christ? Are you unable to forgive and forget the past? Are you resistant to the notion that anger is an emotion, which deserves to be addressed, dealt with, and respected as a normal human emotion? If you answer yes to any of these three questions then read the following poem by Robert Muller, a former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations:


                                   Decide to Forgive

 

Decide to forgive

For resentment is negative

Resentment is poisonous and devours the self

Be the first to forgive, to smile and to take the first step,

And you will see happiness bloom

On the face of your human brother or sister.

Be always the first

Do not wait for others to forgive.

For by forgiving,

You become the master of fate,

The fashioner of life, the doer of miracles.

To forgive is the highest,

Most beautiful form of love.

In return you will receive

Untold peace and happiness.

Here is the program for achieving a truly forgiving heart:

Sunday: Forgive yourself

Monday: Forgive your family.

Tuesday: Forgive your friends and associates.

Wednesday: Forgive across economic lines within your own nation.

Thursday: Forgive across cultural lines within your own nations.

Friday: Forgive across political lines within your own nation.

Saturday: Forgive other nations.

Only the brave know how to forgive.

A coward never forgives. It is not in his nature.

To forgive, you first must resolve the anger and resentment, which you hold from your past. Do you know how to do this? Are you stuck in unforgiveness towards others for past offenses? Are you handling anger from the past as well as your current anger in a healthy, rational, realistic, and moral way? If you are having a problem forgiving, forgetting, reconciling, and moving on from hurts, offenses, abuse, neglect, put-downs etc which impact your ability to live a Victorious Life then you need to work on this unit.

 

An assessment of where you are with Anger

What is your definition of anger? Do you know what usually makes you angry? Can you identify who usually make you angry? Are you aware of what are your “hot buttons” or “triggers” which are likely to arouse your anger? How do you usually express your anger? How healthy is are expressions of anger? How do you feel when you are in the midst of expressing anger?       How do you feel after you have expressed your anger? What are the benefits to you of openly expressing anger? What inhibits your ability to express anger? How do others react to your open expressions of anger? What negative results occur from your expressions of anger? What are the positive outcomes of your expressions of anger? Where are your problems with anger rooted? How can you recognize your anger, deal with, and then express it in a healthy way? . What anger issues in your life remain unresolved?  Who are the people with whom you still have unresolved anger? What events continue to conjure up anger for you today? What attempts have you made to work on your unresolved anger? How can you free yourself up to work on your unresolved anger? What inhibits you about “anger work-out” on your unresolved issues? How can you forgive, forget, and heal the past anger?

 

There is a real problem for people who are striving to live a “God-filled” life when it comes to dealing with anger. There is a real dilemma since there is little support in written or spoken tradition to provide guidelines on how to handle anger in a “God like way.” In fact most people who are raised in “church” view anger as a severe sin and therefore they feel quite guilty when they experience the feelings of anger or worst yet experience the types of actions which are involved in Anger. 

Description of Types and Faces of Anger

There are two types of anger:

Anger In: This is a feeling of anger but directing it toward oneself, inwardly directed anger. It is manifested by depression or suppressed hostility.

Anger Out: This is a feeling of anger and directing it toward other persons or things, outwardly directed anger.

 

Anger has many faces, which are primarily Anger, Hostility and Aggression. The difference between them are:

Anger refers to an emotional state consisting of feelings that vary in intensity from mild irritation or annoyance to intense fury and rage.

Hostility refers to an emotional state involving angry feelings that result in a complex set of attitudes. These attitudes motivate aggressive behavior directed at people or things.

Aggression refers to a set of behavior traits directed at destroying objects and injuring or punishing people.


People have common ways of dealing with anger and they are:

Repression - experiencing but immediately forgetting or stuffing the anger

Nonfeeling - never even identifying the feelings or sensation of being angry

Displacement - getting angry with a person or thing when something or someone else is the actual target of the anger

Controlling - holding in the emotional storm of the anger

Suppression - experiencing the anger but holding it in with no expression of it.

Quiet crying - suppressed anger with no verbal or physical cathartic process; this stifles the emotion of anger and changes it to sadness and pain

Overreaction - fury or rage at something or someone who perhaps does not deserve such a reaction.

Assertive confrontation - a direct response of how I feel about the person or thing that angered me

A healthy, rational, realistic, and moral way of dealing with anger, which is rooted in your past.

 

If you are angry, you need to first face the anger for what it is and don't avoid it. You will need to identify the feelings at the root of your anger (anger-out) or depression. (anger-in) and use “I statements” to express the feelings of your anger. In the process you need to identify the jealousy, pride, guilt, resentment, rage, fear, embarrassment, depression involved in this anger. Once you have identified them you need to confront the issues that stimulate the anger. Analyze them for what they are: are they stimuli drawing on deep-seated subconscious feelings of anger that indicate unresolved emotional blocks from your past or are they current anger issues which are playing on your “humanity and weaknesses.” Also you need to determine if your anger is disproportionate to the precipitating event and determine if the event was nothing more than a trigger of deeply seated old anger over things in your past, which has never been resolved. You then can use imagery, role playing, an empty chair, or other object to confront past hurts and pains and express the submerged feelings that come out as you deal with this anger. Once you have expelled the explosive anger emotional response you have been feeling then you need to inform people in your current life of your need to analyze your anger responses. You need to make them part of your process and seek their assistance and understanding in this exploration. If your current anger is not the result of efforts to uncover submerged feelings of old anger, then treat the current anger with rational “I' statements” like: “I feel angry because….” 

Steps for a healthy, rational, realistic, and moral handling of an anger stimulating event.

Once your anger is aroused try these steps:


Step 1:  Relax yourself by using deep, natural breathing and muscle relaxation.

Take deep breaths and silently repeat the words “relax” until you are able to calm down.

Do not say or do anything until you are calm.

Avoid words or actions in the “heat” of the moment.

 

Step 2: Recognize what arouses or provokes your anger:

Is it a situation, an event, a person?

Is it real or imagined?

 

Step 3: Use a rational approach to “rethink” “reframe,” and reason what is going on and why you are angry.

Is this a trigger event bringing up old, unresolved anger/resentment?

How is this provocation of your anger a product of your past?

What is the real reason you are getting angry?

Maybe the person provoking your anger is having a bad day or needs more of your understanding.

What are your feelings about this?

What needs to be changed here?

What alternatives could you use to get good results in handling this situation?

 

Step 4: Once I have a “clearer” idea of what is going on, take steps to change the anger-provoking situation.

Use “I statements”. “I feel angry when you …”

Clarify your feelings.

Point out issues needing clarity.

Relate to the person (stimulating your anger) how what is happening now is triggering feelings from your past.

Identify the unresolved anger, resentment, hostility, or depression, and work on it.

Inject some humor into the situation to defuse the anger or hostility.

 

Step 5: To rid yourself of any leftover hostility and aggression, promise yourself to perform as much healthy  “anger work-out” process on your own as needed.

Healthy, rational, rational, realistic and moral ways to perform a healthy “anger work-out”

 

Anger work-out refers to a healthy and full expression of anger on inanimate objects; not on people so as to rid yourself of hostility and aggression aroused by your anger. Each of the following techniques could be used alone or in any combination:

  • beating on pillows
  • beating on a mattress
  • stomping on floor
  • beating a bed with tennis or racquetball racket
  • beating a rug with a stick
  • hitting a weight bag or punching bag
  • physical exertion, i.e., playing racquetball, tennis, hand ball, etc.
  • yelling in a car with windows closed
  • yelling in a paper bag
  • ripping up a telephone book or newspapers
  • hammering nails in a board
  • games in an amusement park that require pounding
  • throwing soft objects
  • beating a pillow or bed with a foam or plastic bat
  • karate or judo practice
  • beating drums
  • loud yelling
  • screaming at a concert or sports event
  • screaming in a vacant field or park
  • using a shovel to dig holes in the dirt
  • hitting balls or stones with a baseball bat
  • hitting a ball against a wall with racket or hand
  • bowling to hit all the pins down
  • writing a letter of anger, but ripping it up the next day and not mailing it
  • expressing feelings by writing in a journal
  • wringing a wet towel
  • using a hammer to smash glass in a bag
  • kneading bread or play dough

Steps in doing an “anger work-out” session over past anger

 

In handling a current anger situation you may come upon a trigger event that brings up past feelings of hurt, pain, resentment, hostility, or anger. The trigger event is not what you are reacting to, however. It is the past situation, one that went unresolved to which you am reacting. The following steps can help me work out unresolved anger:

Step 1:  Take a pillow, cushion, or weight bag and go to your bedroom or to a quiet location alone.

Step 2:  Stand in front of the pillow, cushion, or weight bag, which is placed on a bed, a chair, or the floor.

Step 3:  Begin to visualize a scene or series of scenes surrounding the event over which you have unresolved anger.

Step 4:  As you visualize the scene and feel your anger rise, begin to pound the pillow, cushion, or weight bag and shout how you “feel” about the situation, event, or person and yell your guts out!

Step 5:  Continue pounding the pillow, cushion, or weight bag and letting your feelings out until you feel satiated.

Step 6:  At this point you begin to use reason and rationality to reframe or restate the situation. Begin to allow yourself to forgive those people, places, situations, or events for what happened to you. Do not proceed to the next step until you can come to a “healing” of your spirit. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 as often as necessary if you are stuck.

Step 7: Once you feel as if you  have been able to forgive and feel healing beginning, write down what it was that made the reframed or restated situation take less blame, allowing the forgetting to take place.

Step 8: If those involved in the unresolved anger situation are still available (alive) and capable of communicating on a healing, non-blaming, feelings level, share your resolution with them and let the forgiveness and healing become alive. If those involved are unavailable, let the forgiveness and healing take hold in your heart.

In Step 8 you can perform an act of forgiving and forgetting  by using the outline  below to develop a script for a face to face meeting or for a letter you send the person.. You do not need to send the letter or use the script unless you feel it would act as a tool of healing for the hurting relationship you have with the person addressed.

Script and Letter of Forgiving and Forgetting

 

I have used anger work-out to forgive and forget the following events and episodes which occurred in which I felt you had ignored my rights, hurt or abused me, and we never openly talked about how angry I was when these things happened:


I am committed to continue to let go of my anger over these past hurts and pains. I intend to speak up immediately when I feel hurt. My honest, assertive behavior will allow me to change my life and improve my relationships.


I accept that your actions were based on your own compulsive behavior and the scripts you learned in your family of origin.

I believe that you are a different person today from the one who hurt me. You have changed in the following ways:


I recognize that even though I have suffered, the following things brought equal pain to you:


I am ready to forgive you and work at blotting out the memory of the hurt. I'd like to emphasize the positive in our relationship and work on improving the negative.


OR


Step 8 Alternative:

Use the Read, Write and Burn Technique:

1: Set a time for one hour, alone, same time every day Example: 8-9 p.m. (maximum of 1.5 hours)

2: On odd numbered days, during their time, write all the "good-bad" memories/all obsessive and anger thoughts. You must write for one hour, even if you repeat the same statement over and over.

3: On even numbered days, read the previous days notes with gusto and lots of anger expression and then burn them.

4: If any unwanted anger thoughts come up at other times you must "table" them until the daily scheduled one hour time. Write a brief note to remind yourself what was on your mind at the time so you can write about it during your “Scheduled Time.”

This technique is effective because it objectifies the your anger. It does not allow the  your intrusive angry thoughts to continue throughout the day. It allows and permits you to express all negative thoughts and feelings. It facilitates catharsis by "burning up" problems, watching them "go up in smoke." It helps the you to eventually realize that there are better things to do than obsess over the negative.


Step 9:  If in the future a trigger event brings this same unresolved anger out, repeat Steps 1 through 8. Some unresolved anger situations call for repeated anger work-out. You may need to repeat these steps many, many times.

Issues you need to face so that you can handle anger in a healthy, rational, realistic and moral way so as to experience Victorious Living

Maybe what you need to do is to redefine the role of anger in your life. You may need to accept that anger is a signal that things are not going your way. You might need to reframe your attitude about anger and see it as a motivator for you to change things or to rectify them. If you are finding that you are not victorious in your life you might need to accept that one cause of it could be that unresolved anger blocks your emotional growth and robs you of your joy and zest for life. You might need to accept anger as a sign that you need to take an assertive stance to tune into how you are feeling and why. You might need to accept that anger is directly related to your thoughts. If you have angry thoughts you will become angry. However, if you don't have angry thoughts, you won't become angry. 


Also you need to accept that depression is anger that has been suppressed. If you find that you are a hostile person then you need to accept that a hostile attitude is often the sign of an individual with chronic, unresolved anger. The anger can be expressed in either passive or aggressive ways. You need to accept that if you are aggressive in your anger that aggressive anger, verbal or physical, only intensifies once it begins to be expressed. If you shower your anger on other people in a “cathartic” process that such catharsis of anger, the ventilation of anger on a person, usually leads to an increase in anger. Anger usually intensifies when expressed in this way. You need to accept that anger is usually related to you and your reaction to something or someone. It is controllable by teaching yourself new ways to handle the “anger provoking” people, places, things,  situations, or events. You need to assess if your angry reaction to a current situation may be because the situation is a “trigger” or “hot button” that drags up “old,” unresolved anger. 


Anger is not always bad for us. You many need to be open to accept that anger can be turned into a source of strength to change your way of acting and reacting to situations, events, or people. You need to accept that ventilating anger directly on people is aggressive behavior and benefits no one. Since you usually feel guilt, shame, or even greater anger after such ventilation. Whatever provoked your anger usually doesn't change. So you need to harness anger into a productive force in your life  so as to assist your spiritual and emotional, growth.      

Resentment a cancer which robs the Victory out of life

Resentment is the harboring of animosity against a person or group of people whom you feel has mistreated or denied you your rights.. It is a grudge you hold against a person or group of people whom you feel has kept you from achieving a success in life you aspired to. Resentment is a form of unresolved anger you have over negative events which occurred in your past life. You know you are filled with resentment because you are feel a seething, aching emotional turmoil whenever a certain person or event is discussed. It results in your inability to forgive and inability to let go and inability to forget. Resentment often is the root of distrust and suspicion you have when dealing with people or events that brought you pain in the past. It results from unresolved grief you experienced when you found it difficult to accept a loss in your life. Resentment then comes from being heartbroken after exerting a great deal of effort and energy to achieve something that eventually was lost to you. It results in feelings that you were unjustly victimized with no resolution to the problem. Resentment is a smoldering, long-term suffering in silence when an open expression of hurt is unwanted and uninvited so much so that it is a cancer robbing you of contentment in life. It robs you of the Victory in life, which comes from having Christ and the Gospel in your life. It becomes the root of your depression, which keeps you stuck and not growing as a person.

 

You know you are filled with resentment toward a person or group of people  when you find yourself doing one or more of the following behaviors: 

1. You pout or fume silently in their presence or at the mention of their name. 

2.  You get upset when music, a movie, or a TV show reminds you of the unpleasant interactions you have had with them. 

3. You speak in a derisive or demeaning way about them. 

4. You have nightmares or distressing thoughts or daydreams about them. 

5. You find yourself stuck in your efforts for personal growth and you don't even know why. 

6. You get furious for no apparent reason. 

7. You get depressed, despondent, and find yourself going in circles in your attempts to overcome these negative feelings. 

8. You avoid mentioning or discussing anything that relates to your past anger with them. 

9. You grit your teeth and smile when you really want to scream and yell when these people are mentioned to you. 

10. You fake enthusiasm and excitement about being with these people when you'd rather have nothing to do with them.

Signs if you are filled with anger but unaware and not experiencing Victorious Living in Christ

If you have any doubt that you have unresolved anger in your life review these signs to see if any of them are true for you:

 

Ignoring the `"yes'' messages in your life. Being used to receiving “no’s,” you make the assumption that things will remain the same. When people give you a “yes,” which is permission to act in a healthy way, you ignore them, assuming the worst, and continue to react as if you had been given a “no.”

 

Having a chip on your shoulder. Because you assume that things will always go wrong people perceive you as sullen, angry, negative, and easily agitated.

 

Giving power to others. By assuming the worst about people, places, things, or events you allow them to upset, bother, or agitate you. This means you give them power over you which is negative power.

 

Prejudiced or bigoted behavior. By assuming that a person or group of people will always act the same way, you react to them in a negative way. This puts an emotional and/or physical distance between you and them, leaving no chance for healing.

 

Acting in a stereotypic way. By making assumptions about how something or someone is always going to be, you act in a “predetermined” way regarding the particular issue(s). This allows little flexibility and spontaneity in your life.

 

Thinking and/or acting irrationally. Most of the assumptions you reach are based on irrational thinking. The possibility of change is not considered.

 

Fulfillment of the prophecy. By assuming that the worst is going to happen, you subconsciously set things up so that they do happen and in just the negative way you predicted.

 

Being close-minded. If you assumed that there is only one way things will always be, then your mind is closed to other possibilities. This results in your becoming closed or resistant to change, even to changes for the better. You simply refuse to believe they are true.

 

Living with blinders on. Reaching the assumption that there is only one way things are going to be, you become unable to look forward. You refuse to see the possibility of things being different. You become narrow in your focus.

 

Being rigid and inflexible. By assuming that things can't change, your behavior gets stuck on one track. You’re on a one-way street to nowhere, in a deep rut. You find it impossible to be spontaneous or flexible.

 

Being insensitive and uncaring. By assuming that everyone with whom you come in contact will treat you negatively, you throw emotional barriers up so high that no one can see your feelings. This results in your appearing cold and aloof.

 

Self-sabotaging behavior. Assuming that only the worst will happen to you, you do or say things that hamper your growth or success. Failure and loss are the result.

Behavioral patterns of silent withdrawn anger which rob you of Victorious Living in Christ

When you withdraw from the open expression and admission of your anger, you set yourself up for alternative forms of unhealthy anger expression, which are often self-destructive. They include:

 

Binging and purging. This is the clearest evidence of your internal anger. Purging violates your person and masks your raging anger. It is one way to rid yourself of anger without having to express it.

 

Escaping into alcohol or other drugs. You choose alcohol or another drug to medicate your anger and calm yourself down. You find yourself consuming these substances to the degree to which you currently stuff or have stuffed anger in the past. The anger is never exhausted and you need continuous medication to silence it.

 

Overeating. This is a figurative and literal form of stuffing your anger down. In an attempt to nurture yourself, you treat yourself to a calming friend: food. Unfortunately your “friend” food overwhelms you by adding pound after pound. The “jolly fat person” is often really silently angry.

 

Daydreaming. When you are angry at what is going on, you can withdraw into yourself; escape into your imagination through vivid daydreams. Your fantasies concern how you would like your life to be. Your daydreams are of a perfect life where your enemies are punished and you succeed.

 

People-pleasing behavior. You find it impossible to be honest with people when they have angered you so you set out to please them. You either do as much as you can for them so that they are grateful and never anger you, or you put your “happy, good” face on so they never know how angry with them, you really are.

 

Entertaining behavior. Rather than confront your angry feelings honestly, you resort to jokes, stories, quips, or any other diversion to avoid the angry feelings and act happy. You push your anger down and away.

 

Pulling-in behavior. Recognizing that it is better to be invisible during negative situations, you pull in your feelings in and avoid contact with those who anger you. You become more and more isolated from the anger stimulus. You pull your anger deep inside.

 

Compulsive behavior. Excessive gambling, compulsive shopping, and credit card use, uncontrolled sexual activity alone or with others, excessive reading or any other behavior gone out of control are external expressions of the anger that you harbor silently within you.

 

Workaholism. Escaping into your work or studies is a convenient outlet with which to avoid dealing with your anger. Because others often reward this behavior, it is a great way to hide your angry feelings, especially if they are negative and either unattractive or unacceptable to yourself.

 

Social isolation. Fearing that you will express your anger openly if people provoke you, you find it better to isolate and insulate yourself from society. Being socially isolated becomes so comfortable that you choose to be a loner, a recluse, or a hermit never running the risk of interaction with others.

 

Depression. This takes many forms, including lethargy and exhaustion. It is unresolved anger. It robs you of your energy and enthusiasm about life. You are often blue, down, and flat. It is hard to believe that you are filled with the joy and peace, which surpasses all understanding when you are feeling this way.

 

Stubbornness. You are so determined not to let others “get” to you with their negative attitudes that you become stuck in your resolve to withhold your emotional response. You get so stuck that you become unable to ventilate your anger even in role play or imagined anger work-out sessions.

 

Wearing masks. Rather than let your anger show, you wear a mask in front of those who anger you. You withdraw your true feelings into yourself, often permanently hiding them behind masks so that even you don't know what they are.

 

Peace at any price. You fear conflicts so that you will do anything to cover the anger and keep the peace. “Peace at any price” is often your motto. You work hard at keeping all anger both yours and others’ hidden. Unfortunately, this often causes problems; the very conflicts you try to avoid happen anyway, but you are unprepared to handle them honestly and openly.

 

Shyness. Because you work so hard at avoiding your true feelings (especially the negative ones) you find it painfully difficult to speak with or meet people in groups. You get so used to not speaking that it becomes harder and harder for you to even try.

 

Stress-related physical illness. Certain physical illnesses are directly related to your inability to confront your anger in a healthy way the moment you feel it. These ailments include high blood pressure, cardiac disease, ulcers, many kinds of cancer, gastro-intestinal diseases, headaches, muscle tension, insomnia, and many others.

 

Using denial. Because you constantly want life to be happy, pleasant, and more satisfying than it is, you often resort to denial. You deny anger or hostility against those people who hurt, badger, or anger your. You remain unable to resolve your discomfort because your denial blinds you to the causes of it.

 

Minimizing. It is so much easier to overlook or minimize the impact of negative stimuli in your life than to confront it. However, this attitude misleads people and clouds your priorities. Your life gets out of focus and you’re unprepared to deal with reality.

 

Procrastinating. Rather than confront issues that might result in negative feelings on your part or others, you put off that which needs immediate attention. This just worsens or exacerbates an already difficult situation and eventually ends in deleterious results for yourself and others. You wind up with disproportionate anger plus guilt.

 

Controlling. You control the situations in your life to avoid the discomfort of being angry. You like to control people and resort to intimidation and manipulation. It isn't honest, but you think everyone will understand why you had to do it when things finally turn out right and you and they all live happily ever after, which really rarely ever happens.

 

Signs that you are caught up with getting revenge in your life over unresolved past anger issues

You are unwilling to admit that you have any anger in your life, for fear of guilt of displeasing God because you have such anger. Yet, your behaviors may reflect an attitude of revenge seeking by many of the following behaviors. See if any of the revenge seeking behaviors are true for you:

 

  • You are rarely happy with the people in your life.
  • You are rarely content with your life.
  • You are rarely content with your material success.
  • You are driven to work harder and longer hours to get ahead.
  • You seem to work harder and enjoy it less.
  • You are unable to find a job that you thoroughly enjoy.
  • You tend to jump from job to job with no long-term planning involved.
  • Your relationship with your spouse (or significant other) is clouded by your unresolved anger against person(s) of the same sex as your spouse (or significant other).
  • You find that you are often at odds with your spouse (or significant other) over anger issues from the past.
  • No matter how your spouse (or significant other) tries to change, it is never satisfying to you and you let this fact be known.
  • You overreact to little things your spouse (or significant) other does because it taps into old hurts.
  • You avoid intimate relationships for fear of rejection, non-acceptance, hurt, or pain.
  • You shy away from romantic relationships; you really don't trust the opposite sex.
  • You are filled with excuses for why you’re not ready for a committed relationship.
  • You are guarded and defensive in a group of new people.
  • You find people shy away from you once they have met you because they sense your bitterness.
  • You are rarely able to relax, kick up your heels, and just have fun.
  • You are obsessed with the idea of “getting even” with others.
  • You are bothered by paranoid thinking; you feel that others are out to get you.
  • You find it difficult to accept the idea of forgiving your enemies and forgetting their offenses against you.
  • You find it difficult to believe that you need to make amends to those you may have hurt, offended, or treated unfairly.
  • You find it difficult to believe in turning the other cheek.
  • You would rather wage war against those who have hurt you than to make peace.
  • It is difficult for you to accept that your parents and family did the best they could knowing what they did at the time.
  • It is difficult for you to let go of your anger against those who have scarred your psyche for life.
  • You find those who are “all forgiving” too good to be true.
  • “Getting even” is a prime motivator for success in life; you are hesitant to let go of this rationale for your behavior.
  • Having been the object of prejudice and bigotry, you find it hard to believe that it is better to forgive and forget than to seek revenge.
  • If it is good enough for society, why isn't it all right for you to get your just retribution for offenses committed against you, you believe.
  • You find it difficult to come to a compromise in which each person comes out feeling like a “winner.”

Old Testament Models for Handling of Anger

There is much written tradition which leads believers to shy away from, avoid, or ignore their anger. The Bible is filled with stories, which reflect the negative nature of anger.

 

Cain: In Genesis 4:3-16 we find that anger led Cain to kill his brother Abel and that God severely punished Cain for this act of anger: 

…Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood, from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it shall  no longer yield its strength to you; you shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth…


Cain had become jealous of Abel’s offering to God on which God had looked favorably. This lead to Cain in anger killing Abel. It was in this story we also hear powerful words which also are related to anger when Cain asked God who was looking for Abel: 

Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother?’ and Cain said ‘I do not know,. Am I my brother’s keeper?’


Thanks to Cain’s anger, his brother was killed and God was justifiably angered at such a heinous crime. Unfortunately for most churched people, this sin and crime stands out as a strong warning: You are your brother’s keeper, so keep your anger under control, lest you hurt your brother.  Wow! Yes it was wrong what Cain had done but no one in the written tradition of the Old Testament offered a healthy alternative for Cain to follow by which he could have gotten rid of his anger in a healthy way rather than take it physically out on his brother. Due to fear of the worst of consequences, spiritual people have shied away from anger lest they become like Cain. There was no redemptive message concerning anger offered by Cain’s story.

 

Jacob and Esau: Jacob whose name means deceiver, had deceived his father Isaac to give him the blessing, which Isaac had promised his twin brother Esau. Esau was so angry with Jacob for this deception that he wanted to kill him. Their mother Rebekah, who loved Jacob more, got wind of Esau’s plan and had Jacob sent away to get a bride. Esau meanwhile was left with little power or blessing. Jacob on his return to Canaan had a reconciliation with Esau who graciously accepted Jacob back into his life. Jacob got away with his deception, but now where in the Bible was there a clear explanation of how Esau got rid of his “justifiable anger” in a healthy constructive manner, to allow him to reconcile with his brother years later. 


Unfortunately Genesis 25:19 – 33:20 do not give any direction on how to rid oneself of anger in a healthy way which allows one to grow and flourish as a complete, rational, “God like” individual. There was a redemptive message concerning anger offered by Esau’s reconciliation with Jacob but there was no redemptive message on how to rid oneself of anger in a healthy, God like way. It appeared that Esau had to just “tough it out” and “suck it up” and swallow and forget his anger. This is totally unsatisfying for most humans to face since as humans we just do not have that “divine” capacity to just “keep it down” or “forget it.”

 

Joseph and his Brothers: It seems that Jacob’s deceiving ways were transgenerationally handed down to his 11 sons who conspired to kidnap and sell Joseph their younger and most favored brother. Joseph was sold as a slave to Egypt. He had his problems in Egypt but eventually became very powerful. Meanwhile the 11 brothers in their anger and resentment had never told Jacob the truth about his son and where he had disappeared. Finally a drought forced the Jacob’s family to plead their case with the Egyptians. Lo and behold they are now dealing with their brother Joseph. 


Again amazingly there is a reconciliation. Never does the Bible give us training on how Joseph was able to deal with his anger for being treated so unfairly. How was it that he could be sold and sent away and then not seek revenge on his brothers when they came to him seeking help. No directives or lessons are taught believers in Genesis 27-50:26 on how to deal with their hurt, anger, disappointment, and long term unjustified suffering at the hands of others. There was a  redemptive message concerning anger offered by Joseph’s willingness to take care of his brothers. But again the message to believers seemed to be "tough it out and suck it up." There is no salvation message here for handling anger in a healthy, wholesome, human fashion.

 

Saul: In 1 Samuel 18: 7 & 8 we read: 

The women sang as they played and said, ’Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands.’ Then Saul became very angry, or this saying displeased him and he said, ‘they have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom.’ 


Thus the story of Saul and David goes sour. David’s youth, looks, success, relationship with his son Jonathan, and popularity with his people threatened Saul. Saul demanded that Jonathan and his followers kill David. Jonathan would not allow this to happen and he protected David. David needed to watch his back from that moment on. But again 1 Samuel 17-31 which closes with  Saul’s death, gives no clues to believers how was it that David could handle the anger of Saul and not once but twice spare Saul’s life when he just as easily could have avenged Saul’s death threats and rage. 


All we do see is the redemptive quality of forgiveness by David but how did he get to forgiveness without actively confronting his own anger over the injustice of Saul’s treatment to him? David spared Saul’s life and in 1 Samuel 26:24 in his own words he explained: 

Now behold, as your life was highly valued in my sight this day, so may my life be highly valued in the sight of the Lord, and may He deliver me from all distress.


So David did just what Cain had refused to do and that was he became his “brother’s keeper” in sparing Saul’s life. Great, but it is unsatisfying as to how he got to this point and how he dealt with his own anger and rage about being so unfairly pursued and hated by Saul, to whom he was so faithful and true.

 

David: David might have been able to handle his anger towards Saul but after he became King his behavior was not always on such high moral ground. Look at 2 Samuel 11 the story of his adultery with Bathsheba the wife of  Uriah the Hittite.  David had an affair with Bathsheba, she got pregnant. To cover up the pregnancy, David tried to get Uriah whom he called from a battle front to go home to his wife so to hopefully cover up the pregnancy. Uriah was too loyal to enjoy the comfort of his home bed while his troop was camped out in “open fields.” Then David tried to get Uriah drunk so that he could get him home with his wife. This also failed. All that David had left was to arrange for Uriah to be sent to the front of his troops in the riskiest of locations to be eventually killed (to be murdered), which eventually happened. Once Uriah was dead David was able to take Bathsheba into his home as his wife. Now the Bible says in 2 Samuel 11:27 

…But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.”  


Well for believers their lesson to be learned about God’s anger came next in 2 Samuel 12:9-12: Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Aaron. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife, Thus says the Lord, Behold I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and given them to your companion, and he shall like with your wives in broad daylight…


 Also God, through Nathan the prophet told David He would take the son born of Bathsheba and within seven days of this announcement, God allowed this child to die of an unknown disease. God revenged the adultery and then due to David’s confessions, God forgave him and protected David for the rest of his life. Believers learned that God will avenge wrong doing on the part of his beloved . David was a man after God’s heart and even this could not take away the fact that God was angry with David. Believers recognized that God was an avenging God when He got angry, look at Cain, look at Jacob, look at Joseph’s brothers, look at Saul., etc. Believer were quick to learn from all of these stories that God was not happy with anger out of control and God showed His own anger in response to such acts of anger. Unfortunately all of these stories from the Old Testament did not give them the appropriate healthy role models for handling of anger in their lives. There remained more history in the Old Testament to be experienced to see if such a role model of healthy anger would emerge.

Proverbs: The Old Testament textbook on living a Godly Life was the Book of Proverbs. Solomon (David’s son, the second born of Bathsheba after the first son born of adultery was taken by disease by an avenging God) was a major contributor to this Book. Unfortunately for believers all of the verses of Proverbs, which deal with anger, discourage them from dealing with anger in a healthy way. Consider what Proverbs has to say about anger:


Proverb

Message related to Anger in this Proverb

Possible Faulty and Unhealthy Lesson

Healthy Lesson to be Learned

14:29

He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly

Stuff your anger and you will be perceived as a person of wisdom

Deal with your anger in a healthy way and do not rush to express your anger until you have gotten the “worse  emotional overtones resolved” on your own so that you can be calm, cool and collected as you confront the other with your anger

15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Stuff your anger, be passive, patient, calm and reserved in facing people who have done things which anger you.

Deal with your anger in a healthy way and do not confront the other about what angered you, until you can be calm, cool and collected.

15:18

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention

Never get angry lest it take control over you, so stuff or ignore your anger.

If you deal with your anger in a healthy way, your anger will not control you. If you do not control your anger in a healthy way it could control you and you then would be  more prone to stir up contention, fights, misunderstandings, and loads of division and dissension among others.

16:32

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

Alexander the Great conquered the world but in his wrath killed his best friends so watch out and don’t get angry since it will make you a weak person..

You will be stronger and healthier as a person if you deal with your anger in a healthy way. You might not conquer the world but by conquering your emotional life you will be a pillar of strength and health and a role model of “Godly Living” for others.

19:11

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is glory to overlook a transgression

Stuff your anger and you will be perceived as a person of wisdom if you respond passively and forgivingly. Taken wrong this proverb could be seen as encouraging people to become passive aggressive in their dealings with people

You must admit you are angry and deal with it in a healthy way than openly and honestly confront the other so let the other know what was done which angered you.

19:19

A man of great anger shall bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again

Stuff your anger so that you do not get into a revolving door of one anger episode begets another and another, so on and so on….

You must deal with your anger head on in a healthy and rational way so that you do not allow anger to control your life. If you allow your anger to control you, you  will experience this “old anger cycle” described above.

21:14

A gift in secret subdues anger, and a bribe in the bosom strong wrath.

If you want to pacify others to diffuse their anger give them gifts, alms, or some token to quiet their spirit. In other words allow other people’s anger to intimidate you to be nice to them so they do not shower their anger on you.

If people are angry with you then you need to confront your anger about this in a healthy way so that you can then confront them in a healthy assertive way to focus their negative emotions elsewhere since you do not accept, appreciate, or desire to be the object and subject of their anger and anger outbursts. This is healthier than just “sucking it up.”

22:24

Do not associate with a man given to anger or go with a hot-tempered man

Avoid at all costs people who have problems with anger.

Handle your anger with this person’s anger first in a healthy way and then confront the person about this anger and how it affects you negatively. Tell the person if they continue to shower such anger outbursts on you in the future that you will find it necessary to make yourself less available to them.

27:4

Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy

Anger creates horrible calamities for people and it is closely allied with jealousy so stuff all such negative feelings.

Anger and jealousy are real emotions needing real healthy coping skills to address them so that you can be healthy, wholesome, peace loving, and Godly once you have dealt with them in a healthy and rational way.

29:11

A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back

You are a fool if you lose your temper so stuff it.

You are a human with human emotions if you experience anger, so deal with it in a healthy way so that you can confront those in your life who make you angry in a rational and objective manner, which will reflect your wisdom, rationality, wellness, and Godliness to the others.

29:22

An angry man stirs up strife and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression

Families, neighborhoods, communities, churches, and countries experience strife and contention due to the expression of anger, so keep that anger of yours muzzled and suppress and stuff it.

Make peace in the world by dealing with your anger in a healthy way before you go out to assist in making reconciliation and forgiving gestures to those in the world who have done things, which have angered you.

30:33

For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood, so the churning of anger produces strife

One must use force to make cheese out of milk, to get a nose to bleed so that it can expel any bacterial or viral infection in it so too anger is used as pressure to create feuds, contention, lawsuits, so put aside your anger and become passive and stuff that anger in so as to assist others to have peace. Make peace at any price!

Yes agitation makes cheese out of milk and helps the nose to bleed to rid itself of infection, but anger does not have to result in producing strife, if you handle your anger in a healthy and rational way and vent it away from people. You can accomplish a great deal if you vent your anger away from people and return to them in a rational and objective manner to assertively confront them on how what they have done or are doing has angered you and how you wish they would change such behaviors or actions in the future. This is a challenge to the other to grow in “godliness” and virtue and does not have to end up producing strife, but rather could put an end to it.


New Testament Messages which can be misread as encouraging you to stuff your anger

There was no encouragement in the Old Testament to handle anger in a healthy, rational, realistic way. We either saw the fierce anger of God towards those who offended him like Cain, Jacob, Jacob’s brothers, David, Solomon etc. Or we saw messages, which seem to imply “stuff your anger.” Christ seemed to handle objections to anger very well in His gospel messages but unfortunately in the letters of his apostles we find more of the same “stuff your anger” messages:

 

Reference New Testament Letters from Apostles

Message related to Anger in this Quote

Possible Faulty and Unhealthy Lesson

Healthy Lesson to be Learned

Galatians 5:19-21

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these of which I foreworn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If you want to be with God someday then just stuff that anger of yours.

Outbursts of anger on people only results in exacerbating the anger, builds guilt, resentment, contention, dissension and there are better healthier, rational, and realistic ways to deal with your anger than either outbursts or stuffing it. Anger can be a very motivating emotion if handled in a reasoned way. It is not necessary to never experience anger for you to live a Victorious Life in Christ.

Ephesians 4:26

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Anger is a sin so stuff it!

Actually, Paul here was telling the Ephesians that not all anger is a sin. Justifiable anger is not a sin. But even this justifiable sin should not be carried with you to the next day. Definite wisdom in this direction. DO ANGER WORK-OUT sessions on your anger on a daily basis and reconcile and forgive those with whom you live so that resentment, strife, and conflict don't grow and fester.

Ephesians 4:31

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Be perfect so stuff that anger!

Paul actually was encouraging the Ephesians to work on their anger in a healthy way so that they would no longer be holding onto resentments thus making them bitter and contentious. Unfortunately when taking the words literally, a believer could believe that only perfection would be rewarded by God. Anger would be seen as an imperfection so it would need to be avoided at all costs. This is an unfortunate reading of Paul’s message and leads to people not feeling Victorious in their pursuit of Christ-like living.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Parents teach your kids that Anger is bad and teach them to stuff their anger.

Paul was a former Pharisee and unfortunately a bit prone to legalism. Those who read his words literally often take his prodding so legalistically that they then teach their children to avoid ever feeling anger, which is impossible for any human to attain. The guilt these children then feel after getting angry, confuses them and then makes them feel as failures in their journey to be good followers of God.

James 1:19-20

This you know my beloved brethren, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Stuff your anger if you want to achieve the righteousness of God.

Yes one should not blast other people with their anger, however this does not mean that you can not deal with your anger in a healthy, rational, realistic, and moral way, which does not result in other people being hurt. If you handle your anger in a healthy way and accept anger as a normal emotion, which is evoked in humans, then you will be healthy and live a Victorious life in your pursuit of being pleasing to God.

Christ Came to Show His Believers How to Live a Victorious Life

In the Sermon on the Mount which is recorded in Matthew’s Chapters 5 - 7 and Luke 6:20-49, Christ laid out his plan by which His believers could experience a victorious life on earth. He reminds His believers that: 

Do you think that I came to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill…(Matthew 5:17). 


Christ called his followers to go beyond the legalism of the Scribes and Pharisees. He challenged them saying: 

…that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you can not enter the Kingdom of heaven.


Christ came to not just give people a whole new sets of “do’s” and “don’ts” He came to give His followers a road map to follow by which we could achieve “actualization” in His image and likeness. Christ was calling all of us to work at showing our belief in Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit, not by the external “rituals, rule binding, and approval seeking” behaviors of the Pharisees. He was calling for an “internal” change in each one of us. He was calling us to change our TEA system. To change the way we think, and then change the way we feel, so that we could completely change the way we act. 


In this great theological tract, Christ taught his believers how to pray. Right after the main body of the prayer, which we know as the Our Father, He concluded that passage in His sermon with his message to us about anger and dealing with it in a healthy way so that we would then be able to forgive others. In Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.


This was Christ’s redemptive message that how can we expect for God our Heavenly Father forgive us our trespasses if we do not forgive those who trespass against us. How can we forgive others and still not be burdened with resentment, wanting revenge, jumping to negative assumptions, being stuck in depression and silent anger withdrawal unless we actively rid ourselves of our burning anger towards another through healthy, rational and realistic anger work-out.

 

Christ calls us believers to be role models for others in how to live a Victorious life through His Way in Matthew 5:14-16:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that hey may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.


Christ was not looking for his believers to be “looking-good” approval seeking hypocrites. He was looking for the “real thing.” Christ also calls us believers to be preservers, cleansers, and thirst creators by in our role modeling lives on earth, so that people would see the happiness, calmness, serenity, and a peace that surpasses all understanding and want a part of it in their lives. He does this in Matthew 5: 13:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.


Christ is saying a lot here. He is telling his believers that if they are not living Victorious lives by being His believers then it would be as if they were no longer his believers since they would have lost their “saltiness.” Unfortunately for many believers, their saltiness is weakened, damaged, or non-existent due to the presence of unresolved current and past anger in their lives.

 

What follows are the words of Christ which give his believers hope that they can regain their saltiness and improve the brightness of their lights by dealing with their anger in healthy, rational and realistic ways.

Blocks to Anger and Words of Christ’s Words to Help You Overcome Them


Irrational Block To Anger

Scriptural Alternative

Healthy Self-Affirmations

Belief that anger is bad. 

Since I believe that all expressions of anger are bad, wrong, undesirable, and unhealthy, I believe that the way to be healthy is never to allow myself to get angry.

In Mark 11: 15-17, Christ gave all of his believers a role-model of justified “healthy anger” when he drove out of the temple all of the buyers and sellers: Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.

- I will follow Christ’s role model and tell others when their behaviors anger me, in an objective, direct, honest, open, and assertive fashion.

- Anger handled in an appropriate way is a healthy emotion which I need to express to remain healthy

Fear of rejection. 

Fear that "if I express anger I will be rejected by others.''

Christ tells his followers in Luke 10:16: The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.

- I will express my anger in an assertive healthy fashion and not fear rejection.

- I will be honest and tell others my feelings and not hold back and keep my anger burning inside me.

Need for approval. 

Wanting the approval and recognition from others so much so that I hesitate to ever show my anger around them.

In Matthew 10:32, Jesus said to His disciples: Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. In other words if you are “Christ-like” sharing in a healthy manner your feelings of anger you do not have to worry about loss of approval from the people you are sharing your feelings with since the Lord is approving of you.

- I will approve of myself by being open, honest, and assertively confrontive with the behaviors of others anger me.

- I can survive on the approval of the Lord and of myself as long as I am Godly in my behaviors and responses to others.

- Being true to my beliefs keeps me centered and at peace and I need to be balanced, realistic, and healthy in telling others about how their behaviors affect me.

Intimidation. 

Giving others power over me so great that I fear showing my anger in front of them, lest they get mad and make me pay a costly negative consequence.

Paul in Romans 12:1 & 2, exhorts all believers to be clear as to whom they hand power over to: I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service or worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

- I only need to give God power over my life and I take back all of the power I have given others over me.

- Being true to my Spiritual values I have the right to tell others when they anger me and I will do so.

- Being honest, pure of intent, and open to serve others, will make me be more clear with others when they anger and intimidate me.

Not knowing what normal is. Never having experienced a "normal'' life where anger was expressed in a healthy way inhibits not only my expression of anger but also my recognition of it.

Christ told all of His believers, including those raised in dysfunctional situations, that they needed to come to Him to learn about life in Matthew 11:28-30: Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

- I will learn about normal handling of anger through study of the Biblical Principles involved in dealing with this emotion

- I am able to follow the principles of the Bible and Christ’s teachings and become normal and healthy in this life.

- Handling anger in a healthy and assertive way with others when their behaviors affect me is “normal” as long as it is handled in an objective and quiet manner.

Need to keep the peace. Being compulsively driven to placate and appease others, I am never free enough to express my feelings of honest anger.

In Matthew 10:34, Christ reminded his disciples that His message would not bring “peace” but rather his mission involved tension, persecution and death. Christ’s message was that his gospel would divide families: Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…

-It will be ok, if after I have expressed my anger in a healthy way to someone, and that person is not happy with what I had to say.

- Doing what is right does not always bring “peace” and “calm” to a situation, but the right thing needs to be done for the health of all people involved.

 

Desire to please others. Wanting to keep others happy, pleased and relaxed with me, I choose to avoid the expression of anger around them

In Luke 12:51-53, Christ reiterated that his Gospel was a hard one to follow and that it would divide people: Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on two members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

- I must be honest and open about my anger and will not fear how others react to what I have to say as long as I say what I need to say in a healthy way.

- I choose to be “God like” in my dealing with others and will openly and honestly tell them if what they are doing angers me and I will accept the consequences of their reaction to me even if it does not please them.

- I only need to please God and myself.

Dependency on others. Looking to others for approval and personal fulfillment, I suppress, ignore, and overlook any anger that arises in me as a result of the relationship.

Christ told his disciples that they only needed to depend on Him and warned them about depending on others in Matthew 7:6: Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

- I only need to depend on God and myself to approve and fulfill me.

- It is healthy to depend only on God and myself so as to free me up to be honest with others when they anger me.

- I am free of the power and dependency, which I have given others in my life so as to be able to be healthy in dealing with my anger with them.

Fear of going crazy. 

Believing that once I start expressing my anger I'd never stop, consequently I'd be out of control and labeled insane.

In Matthew 22:36-40, Christ reassures his followers that if they follow the greatest commandments they will be ok: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

- I will not “go crazy” if in my love for God, I am honest and open with my anger with others since I want others to be open and honest with their anger with me, to show honor and respect for the love of God which has come down on us.

- It is healthy to treat others as I want to be treated, my mental health will grow and blossom by being so honest and open with others in my life.

Need for emotional control. Believing that all emotions must be continuously kept in check leads me to ignore, avoid, or overlook any anger that I or others in my life are experiencing.

In John 14:6 Christ reminds us that he is in control and that we do not work so hard at trying to control our emotions and other aspects of our lives. It would be healthier for us to get our anger out and be more in sync with God’s will in our lives: …I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also, from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

- I choose to follow Christ's lead in my life by allowing myself to feel my feelings even if they include anger.

- I choose to deal with anger, as Christ would want me to by venting it in healthy constructive ways.

- Christ has shown me the way, the truth, and the light about anger and how to deal with it in a healthy way and I choose to follow His Path when dealing with my anger from this day on.

Naiveté or lack of knowledge. Being sheltered, ignored, pampered, spoiled, or overly coddled can protect me from anger in my life, leading me to believe innocently that there “is never a reason to get angry.”

In Matthew 18:3-5, Christ reminds us that we are to be like children in relationship to Him but this does not mean, “infantile, ignorant, non-thinking blind,” but rather humble, trusting, open, and eager to learn from Christ: Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

- I choose to humble myself with God and learn all I need to know about anger in my life so that I can handle it in a healthy Godly way.

- Recognizing that even Christ got angry wakes me up to the need to handle anger in a more “childlike fashion” by humbling myself with God and being open and honest with Him about the role and place of anger currently in my life.

- I will do all that I can do to be alert to the need to handle anger directly, healthfully, and Godly in my life.

Guilt. 

Feeling such severe guilt, remorse, and self-denigration for past expressions of anger inhibits me from identifying, expressing, or experiencing current anger.

Christ in Luke 4:18, gave us reassurance that He was sent to heal us of our guilt, shame, embarrassment, and horror at our own irrational unhealthy anger based actions. We can take hope from his words: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord…

- I choose to allow myself to forgive myself for previous irrational, unhealthy, anger related bad behaviors and actions.

- I choose not to ignore the lessons from my past mistakes in the future.

- I let go of all my anger related guilt and shame over to God and allow God to give me the power and strength to handle my anger in healthier ways.

- I accept that anger is an emotion, which I can handle, in healthy, rational, growth enhancing ways.

Depression. 

Experiencing a flat affect, lack of interest in life, lack of enthusiasm, or energy, or constant sadness can dull my emotional response to life, leaving me unable to experience or express authentic anger.

In Luke 5:36-39, Christ challenges us to be open to His grace and teaching by putting on “new garments” of hope, trust, and vulnerability in His words: No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine in old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘the old is good enough.'

- I prefer to drink the new wine of the Gospel and turn myself to handling anger in healthy rational ways.

- I choose not to drink of the old more comfortable wine of depression and sadness, which only results in worsening my handling of anger issues in my life.

-  I choose to be a new wineskin filled with Gospel enthusiasm and hope of dealing with my anger in healthy, rational, and productive ways.

- I will guard against falling back into the old ways of depression and sadness (old wine which is more comfortable) and work on healthy anger work (new wine which is less comfortable and more challenging to handle).

 

Pollyanna outlook on life. Wanting only to look at or remember the "bright'' or "happy'' side inhibits me from tuning into the realities of life, past or present, that deserve my anger.

In Mark 4:21-25, Christ warns us not to be frivolous and ignore the truth in life, but rather he encourages us to learn from Him about life so that we can live our lives more productively: A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed, nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

- I choose to be a lamp on a lampstand and not hidden under a basket when it comes to dealing with my anger in a healthy way.

- I choose to heed God’s call to take personal responsibility for my anger and to take care of it in healthy, rational, God like ways.

- I choose not to ignore the harshness of life nor ignore the inappropriate realities in life for which I have a right to be angry.

- I choose to hear, see, feel, touch, and smell life for what it is rather than how I would like to have it be.

Fear of conflict or confrontation. 

Recognizing that if I express my anger, I open myself up for others to disagree with, criticize, or confront me with their anger.

Christ directs us in Matthew 5:23 to be open to deal with conflict and confrontation by use of reconciliation: Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

- I choose the path of reconciliation taught by Christ as the means of dealing with my anger in relationships, which are conflictual and confrontational.

- I choose to allow others to be open and honest in their dealings with me and I will make as many attempts as I can to reconcile with them over our differences.

- I choose not to carry hurt, anger, pain, and disagreement with me when I pray, worship, or engage in spiritual works.

Desire to be a good role model. 

Believing that anger is unhealthy for our children, subordinates, or work colleagues I choose never to express anger in their presence.

Christ gives us the moral high road for dealing with anger in Matthew 5:21-22: You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘you shall not commit murder’ and whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court, and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘you fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

- I choose to allow myself to be angry and to deal with it in a healthy way.

- I will seek to work at avoiding causeless anger which is condemned by Christ, as a breach of the law, "thou shalt not kill"

- I will deal with my anger, which has just cause in a healthy, rational, and emotive way, which does no harm to others in my life.

Need to entertain or be humorous. 

Always wanting to keep others from focusing on the negative aspects of reality leads me to ignore, inhibit, or fail to experience anger.

In Matthew 7:12, Christ tells his followers: In everything, therefore treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Since as humans we want honesty and directness in our communications with others, we should give others the same honesty and directness even if it means they find out that we are angry with them.

- I want others to respect and feel secure with me by being honest and direct if I have done anything to anger them, therefore I will give to others what I want them to give to me.

- I can be open and honest with others when they anger me because they know that I expect the same of them when I affect them in a similar manner.

Lack of clarity about what is authentic anger. 

Always second guessing whether or not my feelings of anger are valid will eventually leave me in an anger vacuum

Christ shows us in Mark 3:1-6 his authentic anger in his healing the withered hand of the man in the synagogue on the Sabbath in response to his anger at the Pharisees: 

…After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man ‘stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored….”

- I have a right to righteous anger.

- It is ok to be angry at the injustice done by others.

- It is healthy to be angry at those things, which are not intended to build people up but rather meant to tear them down.

- Jesus Christ is my role model of authentic anger. He was willing to display this anger even if it meant His enemies were working at arranging his eventual crucifixion.

Feeling ridiculous. Considering anger work-out exercises to be silly, foolish, or childish will result in my inability to experience the true emotion of anger and its cathartic release during these therapeutic work-out sessions.

Christ reminds us in Matthew 7:21 that in doing what He wants us to do pleases Him, ignoring his commands on the other hand offends Him: Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father who is in heaven will enter… 

So if you are doing God’s will by handling anger in a healthy way by doing “anger work-outs” and not taking it out in unhealthy ways on other, feel good about your effort and do not avoid it since it seems silly.

- Doing what is right is right with God and if it appears silly to men, I will still do it since it is the Godly thing to do.

- I will take my anger out in healthy ways through anger work-outs even if as a human it seems silly or ridiculous. It is better to be doing the Lord’s will in this way than offending the Lord by venting my anger in unhealthy ways on others.

- Christ never held back from doing right, even it seemed ridiculous to outside observers. It is better to do the right thing than avoiding it and doing unhealthy things in its place.

Overuse of medication. 

By addictive drinking, drug use, sex, gambling, food intake, shopping, etc., I can so medicate my emotional response to life that I am unable to recognize or experience authentic anger.

In John 8:44,Christ was warning all of us who have addictive weaknesses that we are not with Him but against him: You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature for he is a liar and father of lies.

- I choose always to be open and loyal to the Word of God and will do all that I can do not to deceive myself with lies and myths, which come from the father of all lies.

- I choose to win the spiritual warfare for my life by embracing the Word of God and handling my anger in healthy ways, which do not end up being self-destructive and injurious to me.

- I will rid myself of anger in healthy ways, which are in union with the God’s will in my life.


Comparison of Forms of Confrontation Arising out of Your Anger

Type of Confrontation

Typical Response of Others to it

What Christ would do, based on His message in the Sermon on the Mount

Angry confrontation: This is when you’re angry with someone and you reveal your anger to that person by words and/or actions. It is explosive:

Saying: “You piss me off,” while throwing objects down or slamming the door.

Telling another: ”Get out of here'' while physically pushing the person out of the way.

 

They usually react like they understand how you are feeling. Their reaction to your anger depends on how they would react to any anger situation. Typically they are turned off and get angry with you, creating a greater conflict in the process.

 

Christ would say do anger work-outs on your own and do not let your mouth and behaviors give others the false impression of who you are, because in Luke 6:45 He said: The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Accusation: This is a direct confrontation of a person regarding your belief that their behavior was upsetting or unacceptable.

“You were the person who started the fight.”

“Your use of sarcasm upsets the tone of our meeting.”

“All those calls couldn't be business related.”

They usually become defensive and begin to protect themselves from your confrontation as if they had been attacked physically or verbally.

Christ would say do your anger work-out and get over it! After all in Luke 6:27-29 He tells us what to do with our perceived enemies: But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also…

Blaming: This is similar to an accusation but it lays the total responsibility on another person for a problem that angers you.

“Your careless playing caused us to lose the game.”

“Your lack of interest in our relationship led to my having an affair.”

They are hurt, offended, and are usually quick to defend themselves from your blame on them.

Christ would say, do your anger work-outs; get rational, objective and healthy in your response to others. In Luke 6:30-31 He tells us: Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

Ordering: This is your attempt to straighten someone out by giving directions that need to be followed to the letter immediately.

“To improve your performance you must work at least 30 minutes extra each night for the next month.”

“Change your clothes immediately! Get that ear ring out of your ear! And wash your face!”

They are offended by your authoritarian attitude and often react in a passive aggressive manner

Christ would say, do your anger work-outs, and become a forgiving, loving, helper and companion. In Luke 6:36-37 Christ says: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned.

Belittling: When you’re displeased with someone's behavior you try to make him or her feel especially bad by severely criticizing his or her unacceptable behavior.

“You are a sorry excuse for a human being.”

“Your presentation was pitiful. Did you notice everyone yawning? They were all bored!”

They are usually so befuddled, dismayed, and feeling insignificant and devalued that they retreat from you with lowered self-esteem.

 

Christ would say: “Hey! Do your anger work-outs already; have you not gotten the message yet?” He would also warn us that if we do not deal with our anger in healthy, rational way then it is worse than the offense, which we are belittling the other over. We see this in His statement in Luke 6:41: Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye; but do not notice the log that is in your own eye. Take care of the “Logs of Anger” in your own life before you confront others.

Lecturing: When you really want to make a point you become grandiose and pompous. You give a person complete, rigid directions for what you feel are imperative.

“The only way to cut a lawn is from left to right overlapping one inch between rows.”

“The dining room table must be set exactly right, napkins folded so, and chairs angled so.”

They usually ignore you and what you are telling them because you come across too strong, too autocratic, and unbending.

 

“So you think you are a Teacher?” Christ would say. If you want to teach then do your anger work-out and be more objective and realistic in your dealings with the person who you are offended by. After all in Luke 6:33-40 He warns against this by: A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. Once you get your anger out of your system you need to be open to learn from the offending party. We always can learn something from other in our lives.

Name calling: When you are really upset, out of control, and at an irrational level of anger, you resort to shouting or angrily calling out names of disdain, displeasure, and disrespect.

“You loser! How dare you!”

“Stupid idiot! Can't you see?”

The cursing, negative attitude, and rage upset them. They back off from, avoid, and ignore you.

 

Christ would say, “I see you have not been doing your anger work-outs by those horrible names you are calling your brother.” Remember, in Matthew 5:22, Christ said: But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court, and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing.’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Name calling has no place in healthy, rational, and realistic relationships with people even those whom you allow to get on your nerves.

Scolding: If you am upset and disappointed with the behavior of a person, you can resort to a finger-pointing tirade to let that person know of your displeasure.

“I'm tired of this. I'm in charge and you don't act like anything is important.”

“Your grades in school are horrible! What have you been doing this semester? Daydreaming?”

They feel like they are being treated with disrespect, a lack of understanding, and often turned away from you instead of correcting their behavior, as you’ve demanded them to do.

 

By now Christ would say that you already know that anger work-outs are necessary to get rational and calm so that you can confront the situation in a more sane way. Remember Christ said in Matthew 5:43-44: You have heard that it was said; You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Put downs: If a person has upset you and you want that person not only to squirm but to be equally upset, then you resort to a sarcastic put down, trying to make the person feel miserable and embarrassed.

“Thank Goodness we have ‘white out’ around here. We need a paint can of it for your work.”

“What do you expect from a college graduate?”

They are extremely put off by your sarcasm and cynicism. They are incensed and either ignore you and avoid future contacts with you or fight back with vigor.

 

Do your anger works-outs before you talk to people who offend you. Christ calls us to get rational, healthy, and respectful when dealing with our anger with others. “Put downs” have no place. After all Christ reminds us in Matthew 5:5-7 that: Blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Bless are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Indirect confrontation: This is a statement of concern you make to a group of people with no specific person pinpointed. The purpose is to let people know your feelings in a general way. No one gets singled out.

“I want each of you to get behind my desire to improve our production.”

“I am upset with the way some of you are acting around here.”

They know what is bothering you but usually don't respond; they are never quite certain to whom it was directed.

Christ would say after you do your anger work-outs and are ready to confront the offending party, put on your “armor of strength” so that as He said in Matthew 5:16: you can Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Direct confrontation: This is your clear, precise statement of the facts to a person whom you believe needs direction and guidance. You either want quality action taken or you want this person to do something for you.

“John, please clean this place before I return.”

“Mary, the way to get my attention is by writing a memo to me, not by skipping work.”

They realize what you are upset about and they either respond or ignore what you say.

Christ would say, that after you have done your anger work-out at least you were direct with your offending party. But he would encourage you to go further and work at being clearer with your emotions and what changes you want from the other. He tells us in Matthew 5:8-10 that you will be like these: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Assertive confrontation: This is when you stand up you’re your rights with a person who has ignored your rights. It is objective and non-accusatory.

“I get frustrated when you ignore my offers of help.”

“I was angry when I got passed over for that promotion.”

They recognize that you have hurt feelings, and that needs of yours have not been met. They know how they can correct the situation for you.

Christ would say I am so proud of you for having done your anger work-out before you assertively confronted that situation, since in Luke 6:38 He tells us that we will be rewarded for the good we do for others: Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

The most productive confrontation you can use is direct, assertive, angry confrontation because it lets others know you are angry and how you feel about the event, which precipitated the confrontation. In this confrontation you identified the rights you believed are being ignored. You directly address the person with whom you are angry; it leaves no room for misunderstanding just who is being addressed.  Use of assertive confrontation doesn't force anyone to become overly defensive, feel offended, or experience devaluing as a person. It doesn't put you into the role of an autocratic despot or irrational, raging fool, and it shows respect to others and lets them know that you are angry with the behavior and not with the person because you described the negative behavior rather than attacking the person. This model of confrontation is corrective action oriented, and is not punitive. It elicits a direct response rather than a generalized one. It doesn't shut people down and make them want to run away. It allows for compromise and a ”win-win” solution to conflicts.

 

How to conduct a direct, assertive, angry confrontation

 

When someone or something gets you angry, you need to:

Step 1:  Identify exactly what gets you angry. What do you feel is a violation of your rights? Which rights have been violated? Do your healthy anger work-out in the privacy of your chamber before you proceed to the next step.

Example: “I'm ignored by the leader of our group, and this affects my right to be heard.”


Step 2:  Identify the behavior that is so upsetting. Why do you feel the way you do.

Example: “The leader acts all knowing.”


Step 3:  Tell the person directly how the behavior makes you feel by using an “I statement”, like:

“When you did (the behavior) it made me angry (or other feeling.)”

“When you ignored my input last night and you were acting like a know-it-all I was angry, hurt, and upset.”


Step 4:  Once you've given your “I statement,” you can describe corrective action, like:

“In the future when you feel like (describe person's feelings) then you have my permission to take the following action: (describe it.) I think that's fair.”

Example: “In the future if you feel my input is irrelevant, you have permission to tell me and ask me to explain myself.”


Step 5:  Once you've secured corrective action for the confrontation, you give the person permission to “call me on it” if you continue to dwell on this episode anytime you get angry in the future.

Example: “If I bring up this episode again, please remind me of our agreement.”


Step 6: Finally do healthy anger work-out until you have exhausted your anger over this episode and those involved. This is done in private with an inanimate object.