Have you ever been fuming with anger on the inside?  Did you let it show on the outside?

What do you believe about being angry?  Is it bad?  Is it good?

For many years I have associated anger with rage, so I would do almost ANYTHING to keep from being angry.  I told myself, “Good girls don’t get angry.  Good girls have self control.”  I have always desired to be the peacemaker.  I don’t send my food back when it is cooked wrong, or if I get the wrong order.  I don’t return items that are defective.  I try to keep my head down and fly under the radar in most aspects of life.

But sometimes, I am angry.

A few weeks ago, I did an intensive week of counseling.  While I was here my team of specialists encouraged me to dig into my ideas on anger.  They wanted me to separate rage from anger in my mind.  Why?  Because they knew that I had been stuffing my anger because I was afraid of it.  I thought if I was angry that meant I would be out of control and raging.  So I got an education on anger.  The biggest truth I learned about anger is this:

Anger is a secondary emotion.

What in the world does this mean? It means that when we feel angry, another feeling is under the surface.  We could feel sad, hurt, frustrated, lonely, disappointed, irritated, etc.  Often the feelings under the surface lead us to feel out of control, and naming it as anger makes us “feel” like we have more control.

This is not a bad thing.  Taking control means you are moving towards a solution.  How we arrive at that solution determines whether we will let the anger get out of control, or if we will “be anger and sin not” as the Bible encourages us to do.

As a woman of God who desires to live a life worthy of my calling, I try to keep my anger in check, but sometimes I go extremes, and stuff it so far down, I never actually deal with it.  Other times I yell at the people I am angry at.  Yep…I do.  I don’t like either of these options, which is why I am learning how to deal with anger in a better way.

I have learned that facing my anger and processing it does a few things for me.

  1. It allows me to be honest with myself.
  2. It keeps me in check with my emotions.
  3. It allows me to work through my anger and reach a resolution.

Let’s take a closer look at these.

1. Being angry allows me to be honest with myself.

I have expressed before the importance of being vulnerable with yourself.  I understand that if you have experienced intense trauma or gone through a difficult circumstance sometimes you want to shut off your emotions.  This is a normal feeling.  Feeling numb is actually one of the stages of grief.

However, the danger is that when you shut off your emotions you often shut it off by resorting to a coping mechanism that is unhealthy.  Have you ever grabbed a pint of ice cream at the end of a crappy day?  Or gone shopping to get your mind off the problem for a little bit?  These don’t seem like a big deal, but here’s the deal…after that pint of ice cream, your problem is still there.  So what happens next time?  You might use ice cream,  shopping, yelling, gambling, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, binge-watching your favorite show or you fill in the blank as a way to escape your pain.

When you choose this pattern, the problem never goes away.  And rather than reaching resolution, the problem festers.  The Bible says in Ephesians, “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.”

Why in the world would Paul say that letting the sun go down on your anger is giving the devil an opportunity?

When we don’t deal with our anger it grows.  It can grow into bitterness or rage.  It can grow into a wall around our heart that keeps people out.  And sometimes it can separate us from the love of God and the love of others.

Related: Vulnerability

2. Being angry keeps me in check with my emotions.

When I choose to be angry, I can dig deeper.  Remember I said earlier that anger is a secondary emotion?

Feeling angry and processing the anger allows me to discover the feeling that is underneath the anger.  It goes back to the idea that the problem is rarely {if ever} the problem.

Let me show you what I mean. As a mom, I am often angry when I am tired and overwhelmed.

Can you relate?

Bedtime is approaching and you are exhausted, and then someone has a melt down or maybe turns off their “listening ears” or decides to tell you at the last minute that their science project is due tomorrow.

You are angry.

But what is under the anger?  For me it is the exhaustion of the day.  I am ready to for bed.  I have given my all all day long, and I am out of steam.  But I’m not just tired, I am overwhelmed.  I am overwhelmed by the school projects, keeping my house clean {somewhat}, working, paying bills, trying to be the best parent I can be, attempting to find time to take care of me in the midst of an endless list of demands.  I am overwhelmed.

There are a million things coming at me at once, and I feel out of control.

The advantage of acknowledging your anger in this moment is that it puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life. Which leads us to the third point.

Related: Stress Management, Self Care

3. Being angry allows me to work through my anger and reach a solution.

Acknowledging your anger is the first step.  The next step is choosing how you deal with your anger.  You can let it fester and turn in bitterness or rage, or you can face it head on move through it in a healthy way.

For me, I often need to take a walk, go for a run or do something else to physically work off my angry energy.  Other times I meditate on the truth of God’s Word.  While I am walking, running working out or meditating, I have usually say my angry thoughts out loud (sometimes very LOUDLY!).  I am a verbal processor, so saying my thoughts out loud helps me figure out the root of the problem.  From there I ask myself, “What is true?” This is where having the truth of God’s Word is helpful.  When you ask yourself what is true, then you can begin to ask God to help you believe His truth about you.

As you focus on truth, often you are in a better place to make decisions about how to resolve your anger.  Sometimes, when we face our anger and physically move through it we find resolve on our own…no other solution is needed.  Other times, feeling angry helps us take action in the solution process.

For instance, as I mentioned before I am worn out at the end of the day. That makes washing my kiddos hair at the end of the day and frustrating activity.  So, one night in my frustration I asked myself, “What is true?” Two things came up.

  1. I could wash their hair in the morning when I’m not exhausted.
  2. I am a good mom.  I am kind.  I am loving.

When I focused on the truth, I could move through my frustration and come up with healthy solutions that didn’t end up me being short with my kids and then feeling guilty.

When I choose not to figure out what’s really going on then I make poor choices in my anger.  You have a choice, also.  Will you face your anger and not give Satan a foothold, or will you ignore it or let it overcome you?

Related: Perfectionism, Freedom in the Beatitudes

If you typically don’t deal with your anger, chances are, you are ignoring other emotions in your life.  So today, I have a cool downloadable for you that helps you begin to recognize and process your emotions.

You can request your free copy here: Three Steps to Authenticity

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