Counseling

How to Handle Anger

How to Handle Anger

Walter Major and David Hoagland

Many people, especially Christians, believe that it is wrong and sinful to even acknowledge the emotion of anger.

Anger is a God-given emotion that makes life a little more interesting.

When Jesus went to the money-changers in the temple of God, He probably did not have a smile on His face. The emotion of anger was a part of His being and was expressed toward how the temple was changed into a “den of thieves.” The Bible tells us thatJesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers. Matthew 21:12-13

The Bible also tells us that God is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 7:11

A healthy person is one who can experience anger and respond appropriately. 

The Bible tells us to “be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). So it is not a problem to have experienced the emotion of anger as long as you do not allow it to be coupled with the sinful actions of anger.

When people think of anger, they picture the emotion of anger and the actions of anger together. In actuality, these are two different things. The subsequent angry actions that most people tie together with the emotion is what causes a problem for most of us. It is very possible to have the emotions of anger without expressing the actions of anger with it. Holding the emotions inside and putting on a false smile is not the answer. There are other ways to release or express anger.

Jennifer was very upset about her friend not being able to come over at the last minute. They had planned their get-together for a week. Fifteen minutes before the friend was to come to Jennifer’s house, she called and said that “something had come up.”

Jennifer had looked forward to being with her friend, and was very angry that she was not able to get together as they had planned. Rather than throw things around and break them, Jennifer decided to vent her anger in another, more positive fashion. She remembered other times when she had been angry – yelling at people close to her, slamming down items that were not made to be handled in a rough manner and subsequently breaking them, along with a host of other ways she had acted when angry that had not worked very well for her in the past.

“This time is going to be different,” she thought. Jennifer was very angry but she needed to do something different with her expression of anger. So, she decided to take a long, fast walk around the block. Jennifer walked faster than she normally would. She allowed the anger to slowly slip away. After walking a number of times around the block, she recognized that her anger was gone. Sure, she was still disappointed that the plans to get together with her friend were shot, but the anger generated inside her was not displayed in an adverse manner. Jennifer actually used the anger she had to propel her around the block a number of times.

A by-product of this healthy response to the emotion of anger was that she also was getting a good workout.

 


 

Adapted from the book Counseling: Offering a Needed Touch in Times of Trouble by Walter Major and David Hoagland

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