Anger is an emotion common to all, but understood by few. Anger itself is a swear word to some making us prone to denial and minimization when it is experienced. Refer to the next page to take an inventory of your anger symptoms – you may be surprised at what you find!
Our goal at Renewal Christian Counseling is not to fix anger problems as much as it is to understand them. When you go to a mechanic, you do not want just the quick fix, you want to know what the root of the problem is. If you try the quick fix, you know the symptoms will likely return and will do even more damage. Anger is the same way. Let’s look at some of the possible roots to anger and expose the angry heart for what it is.
The angry heart can be a heart filled with fear! That’s right – fear! This may surprise many of you because those who are angry look like they are more closely identified as being fearless, but they are not. Anger is a natural part of our fight or flight response that was programmed by God into our psyche to preserve life in times of crisis. Anger is the part of that response that is felt as the fight response to fear and allows us to focus emotionally on our threat as being the enemy. So in experiencing anger we often can identify that I am feeling threatenedâ€ which could be by a real or an imagined enemy. In fact that enemy does not have to even be a person, but can be an uncomfortable environment, an anxiety producing stressor like financial difficulties, or even a feeling of loneliness or failure. Whenever there is a perceived threat of discomfort or harm, anger may show up!
An angry heart can be a depressed heart! Anger is especially prevalent in those experiencing depression, and may be observed in a person being irritable, easily frustrated, having a short fuse, or even just quiet and reserved. The angry heart is really a depressed heart that is saying my life feels helpless, dark, lonely, and hopeless, which will make anyone feel irritable and angry. Some have said that anger turned inwards equals depression, and whether the depression comes from the anger or the anger from the depression, the two are often linked.
An angry heart can be a grieving heart. In the five stages of grief given by Kubler-Ross, we know that anger comes right after feeling shocked or denial when suffering a loss. After the reality of the loss sinks into our belief system, the next response will usually be an anger that signifies that we are fighting the discomfort of the situation and trying to revert back to the equilibrium of comfort we felt before the loss. Anger in this situation is a sign of healthy progression through the grief process, and signifies an ability to face the sadness that is the brunt of the grieving experience.
Lastly, an angry heart can be an insecure heart! Anger can signify a protectiveness of oneself that is necessary because the person perceives that they do not measure up to others. They must then project a false-front that is not realistic, and the resulting pressure that these people feel when they cannot be themselves leaves them jumpy and defensive. An insecure heart is one that feels inadequate and rejected. Anger will result again as a way to protect.
The angry heart is a hurting heart and deserves support, love, and validation. Getting to the root of the anger can often be difficult because we usually avoid looking at fearful, depressive, grieving, and insecure feelings. As we heal the broken hearts behind the anger, we also want to help the person to do as the scripture commands us to BE ANGRY AND SIN NOT, so we do not hurt others as we go through the healing process.
How is Your Anger?
The Anderson model of Anger Management provides a simple checklist to help provide clues as to your handling of anger. Check the box next to the item that pertains to you.
You feel tense much of the time.
At work or school, you find yourself not saying what is on your mind.
When you are upset, you try to block the world out by watching TV, reading a book or magazine, or going to sleep.
You are drinking or smoking frequently to help you calm down.
You have trouble going to sleep.
You feel misunderstood or not listened to much of the time.
People ask you not to yell or curse so much.
Your loved ones keep saying that you are hurting them.
Friends do not seek you out as much.
Scoring: count up the number of boxes checked.
0-2 = MANAGEABLE: You may benefit from anger management training.
3-5 = MODERATE: You need to learn more about what stresses you out, and develop stress management and emotional intelligence techniques.
6+ = OUT OF CONTROL: You have an anger problem and could benefit from learning anger management techniques. You would benefit from an anger management class.