Taming Your Anger - Part III
"So get rid of your feelings of hatred [unresolved anger]. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty."1
First, be honest and admit how you are feeling and don't pretend you are something that you are not. This only worsens and complicates matters and doesn't resolve anything.
Second, accept yourself as a normal human being who sometimes has angry feelings.
Third, ask God to help you admit your true feelings and to lead you to the help you need to resolve them in healthy ways.
Fourth, accept responsibility for your feelings and don't blame others for your feelings. What the other person has done to us is their issue, but how I respond is always my responsibility. Also, don't blame the devil. When I get angry, the devil doesn't make me do it. I can get angry all by myself. Neither is my anger a demon as some would have me believe. As the Bible says, when we don't resolve our anger we "give a mighty foothold to the devil." So, when we resolve our anger, he, the devil, loses his foothold!
Fifth, determine to resolve your feelings the same day or as quickly as possible
Sixth, express your feeling creatively—perhaps to an understanding friend first or to an "imaginary" substitute, and where necessary, to the person at whom you are angry. This is not an excuse to lash out at others. The goal should always be to "speak the truth in love."2
When expressing anger we need to verbalize the emotion. Talking about the anger doesn't resolve it. The emotion needs to be released—not as an attack, nor to blame another for it, but as an expression of our feeling—realizing that our anger is both our problem and our responsibility. When this is done adequately, the anger dissipates.
It is neither true nor helpful to say, "You make me mad." This is blaming the other person for your reaction and puts him or her on the defensive. It is more helpful to say, "I need to talk to you about such and such. I feel very angry about this. I know my anger is my problem and I may be overreacting, but I need to talk to you about this matter." That is, use "I" messages, not "you" messages.
Anger can also be expressed in writing, as David did in the Psalms.3 I have done this many times, after which I have torn up the piece of paper. Where necessary I have very carefully re-written those feelings (to speak the truth in love) and personally shared them with the other person or people involved.
Resolving relationships is very important. Christ reminds us that if we have any conflict with another person, we are to put things right before bringing our gifts to God.4
Seventh, before expressing anger, check to see if you are feeling afraid or threatened, because anger is often used as a defense against feeling afraid. If fear is the problem, talk about that.
Eighth, if you can't resolve your anger in any of the above ways, be sure to see a highly trained, qualified counselor. I know this can be costly but we can't afford not to resolve our anger. Otherwise the adverse effects caused by unresolved anger and especially hostility will be far more costly in terms of relationships, and emotional and physical health.
Last, when you have resolved your anger, forgive, forgive, forgive! This will forever free you from all who have hurt you.
For physical, emotional and spiritual health we need to be in touch with all our feelings (positive and negative), and use and express them in creative ways. This, too, is the way of love, for unresolved anger turns into resentment and builds barriers between friends, loved ones and even God, and blocks out love.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you again for your Word which gives positive instructions for healthy and productive living. Help me to apply it to my daily living, and resolve and get rid of all negative emotions. And help me to do this in healthy ways and always to speak the truth in love. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
NOTE: This series on anger has been adapted from my article "Taming Your Anger" online at: http://tinyurl.com/b439f.
1. 1 Peter 2:1 (TLB) (NLT).
2. Ephesians 4:15.
3. See Psalm 109.
4. See Mark 11:25.