Do You Struggle With Anger?

When Anger Becomes A Problem

No one has to get help for chronic happiness, but if you don’t get anger under control, it will burn your house down.  Like fire in a fireplace, anger can be helpful when it’s under control but harmful when it’s out of control.  Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” It doesn’t say, “Never be angry.” It says, “Be angry.” Mark 3:5 reports that when Jesus saw the Pharisees’ hardness of heart toward human need, He was angry.  It’s right to be angry at wrong.  Yet, even with righteous anger, there are three qualifiers: 1) Don’t sin, 2) Don’t stay angry, and 3) Don’t let the devil turn your anger into a stronghold in your life. 

 

Do you go to bed or wake up in a bad mood?  Is anger your default response?  Are you grumpy and/or easily irritated? This is chronic anger. Your anger is out of control. Chronic anger is bad for your physical health. It raises levels of cortisol, adrenaline, and other hormones so that your body gets stuck in “fight or flight” mode, which, over time, causes emotional exhaustion and can hinder good decision making. Anger is bad for your relationships. It’s one cause of divorce.  A short temper causes constant fights and pushes your loved ones away.  It can even result in violence toward others or yourself. 

Yet, most people who have chronic anger don’t think they have a problem.  They say that their anger is justified by their circumstances or by things other people do or say.   But there are warning signs that indicate that anger has become a problem:

  • Pressure.  With chronic anger, you might regularly feel an inner agitation or pressure like something is inside of you has to get out; something has to be done or said in a strong way.

  • Tension.  You may experience physical responses like headaches, jaw clenching, or muscles tightening.  You might get hot around your ears or get a little dizzy.

  • Substances.  Perhaps you are turning to alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to deal with the way you feel.

  • Sarcasm.  Anger and sarcasm go together.  You think you’re being funny, but snarky come-backs can be a sign of anger problems.  Someone said that sarcasm is anger in clown makeup.

  • Adrenalin.  When you're struggling to control your anger, you might get a surge of adrenaline that makes you feel a need to become physical and hit, punch, or push the object of your anger.

Anger Is A Common Struggle

If you see yourself in those warning signs, you are not alone.  Many people struggle with chronic anger.  According to a study by researchers from Harvard, Columbia, and Duke Universities, roughly 22 million Americans – 8.9% of the adult population – have impulsive anger issues with explosive, uncontrollable, and destructive rage.  In other words, nearly 1 out of 10 Americans get so angry that they break things, punch people, and get into fights.

 

Why is this so?  Out-of-control anger always has a root cause.  Chronic anger can be a symptom of broken attachments, early childhood trauma, substance abuse, depression, or grief.  It can have its roots in an emotional disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, or intermittent explosive disorder, to name a few.   

 

People with chronic anger come from all walks of life: company presidents, secretaries, electricians, doctors, truck drivers, waiters, CPA’s and everyone else.  The wise ones recognize that they have a problem and get help.  The others ignore the warning signs and end up hurting someone they love, hurting themselves, losing their family, or standing in front of a judge who orders anger management.  Since you are reading this, you must be one of those wise ones who is seeking help.  That is very good.

 

Can Anger Be Cured?

Since anger is a normal, healthy human emotion, it is not something that can “cured.” It can’t and shouldn’t be removed from your life.  Healthy anger is good; it is the unhealthy anger that needs to be changed.  And the good news is that it can be.  It is possible to manage the intensity and impact of your anger.  You can get help to identify the source of your anger and learn coping techniques and healthy solutions for dealing with stressful or irritating people and situations. 

Life is sometimes uncontrollable, but you don’t have to be.  You don’t have to live with out-of-control anger; you can learn to control it so that you are less reactive. You can develop skills to be more patient when you encounter people and circumstances that are frustrating. With God’s help and the aid of a trained Christian therapist, you can change and have a life that is happy and peaceful.

How Anger Management Can Help

In anger management therapy, the therapist will explore with you to find the triggers for your anger and help you become aware of your emotions at each level as your anger rises.  You will learn how to use those as a map to control your anger.  You will learn how your body responds to events in your past and to future circumstances.  The therapist will also help you identify if these responses are symptoms of depression, grief, or other mental health issues.  The by-product of anger management will be reduced stress and lowered risk of things like heart disease and high blood pressure.

Anger management therapy will also help you change how you view situations and find healthy ways to express anger and frustration.  Some of the techniques you will learn include impulse control, self-awareness, prayer, forgiveness, journaling, breathing techniques, and relaxation strategies.   You’ll learn how to manage the things that contribute to your anger, like poor sleep that makes you tired and cranky.  You’ll learn to express your feelings and needs assertively but not aggressively. 

 

Research studies on the effectiveness of anger management therapies have shown that 75% of people receiving anger management therapy improve as a result.  If you are tired of being controlled by your anger instead of the other way around, if your relationships are strained to the breaking point, if you are ready to change and find the happier, calmer, more in-control you, help is available if you’ll take it.

Common Objections To Anger Management

“I can’t talk myself down from my anger; why would anger management therapy help?”
 

Because in the counseling room, you’re not alone. A trained empathetic counselor is with you. The counseling room is a safe space to examine your anger. Your counselor will help you get in touch with the emotions and needs that are driving your anger, and find a way to address them in a healthy way.

“I already know the cause of my anger.”

 

You probably do think you know the cause of your anger.  You think it’s because people are irritating, or your life is too stressful or unfair, or your hurt or loss is overwhelming.  And those things might be true or they might not, but you can be assured that there is more going on than what is on the surface.  Your counselor will help you go deep and identify what is driving your anger and help you manage it.

 

“Counseling is too expensive.”

 

Counseling is an expense, no doubt.  But it is a good expense because it’s investing in yourself.  Don’t you deserve to spend some of your own money on yourself?  You pay the electric company, the gas company, the internet provider, the gas station, etc., but what about paying yourself?  You should pay yourself first by investing in what you need to have a happier, healthier, more peaceful life.

Take The Next Step

If you’re ready to get this area of your life under control and have the life God wants for you and that you want for yourself, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our caring Christian counselors at Christian Counseling Associates.  We have counselors who specialize in anger treatment and would be glad to help you.  Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment, or call 972-422-8383.