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Dealing with Anger

I'm so angry I could  !$*@!!

What Causes Anger:
People get angry for several reasons.   A person may act angry while trying to get others to do what they want.   People get angry as a reaction to fear, loss, frustration or pain.  General causes of anger are:

  1.  Annoyance - "How many times do I have to say it?"

  2.  Disappointment - "I was so looking forward to the outing."

  3.  Frustration - "I hate soccer and I'll never be good at it!"

  4.  Hurt - "How can you say that and I thought you were my friend?"

  5.  Torment - "All you ever do is pick on me!"

  6.  Threat - "Touch me once more and I'll smack your face!"

How Does the Body React?
Continued inappropriate anger takes a heavy toll on body, mind and spirit and can lead to diseases of all kinds including high blood pressure, heart problems, headaches, stomach problems, skin disorders, constipation, diarrhoea, obesity and tension.  Holding onto resentment and anger is also the root of some kinds of cancer.

Recognise your anger and identify the cause.  Sometimes it may be obvious, for example, someone steals your cell phone.  Other times, the cause of your anger may be indirect, for example, you break your coffee mug, but you are really angry at yourself for not studying the previous night for today's exam.

How Anger Hurts You:
Anger emotionally blocks your logic so that you cannot think clearly and it shuts down an open mind.  It is difficult to reason with hostile people.  When you get angry, it will halt solving the problem solving process, cloud your judgment, block your concentration, and distort your memory.  It can make you feel anxious and fearful.  You may fear that you will lose control and say or do something that will be regretted later.

An angry person tends to overstate his case and distort the truth and lessens the respect other people have for you.  Angry and hostile people are often lonely, suspicious, irritable, bitter, guilt-ridden, and sometimes "mad at the whole world."  Wrongful anger is sinful and cuts off a person's fellowship with God.  In Proverbs 15:18, Solomon warns us:

"Losing your temper causes a lot of trouble, but staying calm settles arguments."

Ways to Control Anger:

You need to decide what to do and what options will help you resolve the problem or situation that caused your anger.  Then take positive steps to implement your options.  Some steps that you could take include:

  1.  Counting to ten and calming down.

  2.  Stopping to understand your motives.

  3.  Being assertive in order to solve the problem.

  4.  Seek help from a trustworthy person.

  5.  Backing off and not getting personal.

  6.  Facing the issue and not avoiding it.

  7.  Remaining calm and not making accusations or sulking.

When Anger is Right:
Righteous indignation is justified.  Jesus became angry at the Pharisees (Mark 3:5) and in cleansing the temple (John 2:17).   It is when anger becomes destructive that it does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19).  Anger is expressed appropriately when it is directed toward solving the problem and the reconciliation of a friend.

We can't change anybody but ourselves, and we can't change the past.  We can't always get our own way about things, and we can't always make people do what we want them to do.  We can change how we feel when we don't get our way, and we can change how we react when people don't do what we want them to do.

A good saying is, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Dealing with Anger in Others:
Don't argue with the hostile person or belittle or cast blame on them.   Be considerate and encouraging and build up the other person's self-respect.  Proverbs 15:1, says:

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

Try to reconcile with the other person when they have had time to cool down.  But, don't leave the situation and let it fester. In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul instructs us:

"Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
and do not give the devil a foothold."

Overcoming Anger:
How then do we overcome anger?  If we look at it closely, the cause of much of our anger is a result of deep hurt.  We become angry because we feel mistreated or because we have received a raw deal in life.  Or perhaps it's because someone has inflicted pain and injury upon us.   Therefore, we hold unresolved feelings of bitterness that eventually make their way out of our lives in outbursts of anger.

There's one story in the Bible that is a tremendous help to us in overcoming the feelings we harbour in our hearts.  Joseph had been treated unjustly by his brothers.  If anyone had a reason to become angry, Joseph did.  Yet, when he saw his brothers later in life, he responded to them saying, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."

Joseph understood this great truth.  God had a very specific plan for his life.  Even though what he had received a raw deal, he looked beyond his circumstances and saw God's plan and purpose.  And so he didn't allow himself to become bitter, but God filled his heart with a sense of calm, love and peace.  Joseph knew that God was sovereign and trusted in God's rule and reign in his life.

We can overcome the outbursts of anger in our lives by also trusting in God as our sovereign Lord to get our focus off our circumstances and onto His power and ability.  We need to see that God is in control, and that comes as we spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  As we spend time in His presence, His peace fills our heart.  And when stormy circumstances engulf our lives, we don't have to give into outbursts of anger.  We can rest in assurance and peace that God is in control, and that gives us victory over anger!

Steps to Victory:

Here are six steps to help you to enjoy victory over anger.  Apply them to your life and you will be amazed at what a difference you will find in controlling your emotions and anger.

  1. Admit your mistakes to God and to others where you have been wrong.  1 John 1:9 tells us that God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Ask for God's and the other person's forgiveness and this will heal the relationship.

  2. Choose to forgive those who have wronged you.  Ephesians 4:31-32 teaches us to lay aside all bitterness, wrath, anger and malice.   Instead, we are to be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as Christ's sake God for has forgiven us.  Lay aside all those hurtful emotions including wrath and anger and substitute forgiveness in their place.

  3. Begin each day by resisting Satan's spirit of anger as he will try to remind you over and over how you have been ignored, wronged or unappreciated.  Resist his enticement to stir up feelings of resentment and anger in your heart and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

  4. Focus on the promises of God instead and His loving kindness toward you, and that His love is spread abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit.   God will enable you to rise above petty hurts and live in His gracious love, care and provision.  If you turn your full attention to Him, and God will give you victory!

  5. Ask God for help in dealing with your anger.  God has promised that if we ask anything in line with His will, He will hear and answer us (1 John 5:14-15).  Victory over anger is God's will, so trust God and He will do what He promises.  Let Jesus control you by going out of your way to make Him a conscious part of every area of your life.  Let Him live through you and change your behaviour and attitudes (Galatians 5:15 and 1 John 5:1-5).

  6. Ask God to use you, love through you, forgive through you, and serve through you.  The Christian can truly say, "It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).  Since Christ lives in you, your life should be a reflection of His life, so ask God to love, forgive, and serve others through you.

God Bless.

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