Anger is a very common emotion, and it’s a normal one. God created us with the capacity for many types of emotions. It’s what we do with our anger that matters.
In the face of evil, anger can be righteous. Certain physical states can also make you more prone to irritability or rage. Our flesh is weak and there are many situations that can make us feel helpless, out of control, or indignant.
When anger is disrupting your life and relationships, this is a red flag. Anger can lead to outbursts and impulsive actions that can have devastating consequences. Finding healthy outlets for anger and learning to regulate it is one of the most important skills you can cultivate.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I need anger management therapy?” or, “Would counseling for anger management help me?” keep reading to learn out more about an integrated Christian approach to counseling for anger management.
Why am I so angry?
“Anger is a natural, instinctive response to threats. Some anger is necessary for our survival. Anger becomes a problem when you have trouble controlling it, causing you to say or do things you regret.” (Healthline)
You might wonder where your anger is coming from, or maybe you’ve felt deeply angry for so long that anything else feels foreign to you. If anger has become a destructive habit, it’s common for it to be accompanied by blame. Life is happening to you, and it’s someone else’s fault. In the moment of anger, you lash out because you’re blaming someone else for what’s going wrong.
It’s also possible that rather than blaming others, you experience deep-seated shame over your angry outbursts. You might promise yourself that it won’t happen again, but when you encounter a trigger, your subconscious kicks in and you lose your temper again. This cycle of shame, guilt, and regret can feel debilitating.
Here’s a key takeaway about anger: underneath it, there’s often another emotion that you don’t want to face. In other words, anger is often a secondary emotion.
“Feeling fear and sadness is quite uncomfortable for most people; it makes you feel vulnerable and oftentimes not in control. Because of this, people tend to avoid these feelings in any way they can. One way to do this is by subconsciously shifting into anger mode. In contrast to fear and sadness, anger can provide a surge of energy and make you feel more in charge, rather than feeling vulnerable or helpless. Essentially, anger can be a means of creating a sense of control and power in the face of vulnerability and uncertainty.” (Healthy Psych)
The bad news is that using anger to cope with deeper emotions will not have positive effects on your life. In fact, ongoing anger and/or angry outbursts are associated with negative physical and mental health conditions.
The good news is that it is possible to uncover those deeper emotions and deal with them, leading to more hope for managing your anger.
In the moment, it’s harder to deal with your fear than it is to respond with self-protective anger, but identifying and resolving your fear is much more rewarding in the long run.
Anger management therapy can help you dive in to the emotions beneath anger and find healing.
What does the bible say about anger?
You might be wondering, what is the difference between secular anger management and Christian counseling for anger management? After all, both are seeking to address the same problem. So, what is the difference between the two?
Secular and Christian mental health and behavioral treatment do have much in common. They both draw from evidence-based methods for treatment.
The Christian approach is an integrated one, based on the best evidence available for mental and emotional health, along with wisdom from God’s Word and reliance on the Lord.
Because we know sinful anger is condemned in the Bible, we might feel added emotions of shame when we have angry outbursts. But the story of the Bible is much bigger than simply, “You lost your temper! Shame on you!”
We see in Scripture that anger can be righteous, and that it’s possible to be angry but not sin (Ephesians 4:26). Being angry at sin and injustice is actually a godly attribute. God himself shows a holy anger against sin (Romans 1:18).
As humans, we all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23), so our righteous anger must always be coupled with humility, knowing that we too are sinners. But there’s nothing wrong with being angry at evil and injustice.
Now, what about unholy anger? Throughout Scripture, there are many injunctions to God’s people to be slow to anger, and that angry outbursts are not of the Lord, including the following:
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. – James 1:19, NLT
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. – Proverbs 29:11, NIV
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11, NIV
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. – Ecclesiastes 7:9, NIV
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. – Colossians 3:8, NIV
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This means that when God forgives us for our sins, we are no longer condemned for them (Romans 8:1), and we are adopted as his children and can walk in him. As his children, we are indwelled by the Spirit of God, and through his power we can have control over ourselves and our fleshly impulses.
Through grace, we have both forgiveness for our sins and power over them. Putting sin to death is not a once-and-for-all process. It takes time to grow in holiness and overcome old patterns of sin, including angry outbursts. As fellow believers, we can “spur one another on” (Hebrews 10:24) as we grow in godliness. Christian counseling for anger management can offer help and support.
Coping mechanisms and strategies for anger management.
Are there ways you can help yourself overcome the habit of unmanaged anger?
Along with prayer and counseling, you can implement coping mechanisms on your own. These practices can help you start to change the habitual nature of angry responses and develop new habits of emotional regulation.
1. Know your triggers.Not everything makes you angry, right? There are certain moments, situations, or conversations that tend to set off a response. Your fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in, and you revert to an illogical, survival-based response to the perceived threat.
Once your brain has registered a threat, it’s much more difficult to respond with logical reasoning. So, it’s crucial to consider your triggers ahead of time so you can begin to formulate a new habitual response. Spend some time thinking about what usually makes you angry.
Not all triggers are momentary; some are based in things we tend to ruminate about or dwell on, growing increasingly angry all the while. Other triggers tend to pop up unexpectedly, but there is usually a pattern to those as well.
2. Have a plan.
Think through how you would like to respond to your triggers. How can you distract yourself until your threat response calms down? What healthy outlet will you choose? Learning to pause can give you much more power over acting out in anger. Perhaps this is why the Bible instructs us repeatedly to be slow to anger.
3. Find outlets.
Strong emotions need to go somewhere. They are energy that can be moved through the body. Breathing, exercise, stretching, and even talking to someone calm and helpful are some key ways to channel anger without it becoming destructive.
If you would like to pursue Christian anger management therapy, our counseling staff is here for you. Please call our office today to ask about counseling options, or browse our counselor directory. There is hope for anger management.
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