Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Like many uncomfortable emotions – jealousy, fear, guilt – anger is a natural human emotion. We can experience anger on varying levels, from slight frustration to full-fledged rage, and in many cases, we express our anger, deal with it, and move forward.
But what if you can’t move forward? What if your anger is constant and holding you back from being a healthier, happier version of yourself?
At Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries, we work with individuals and couples to help them uncover what’s holding them back from being the best version of themselves. The problem with an emotion like anger is that many individuals tend to deal with it through unhealthy or sinful behaviors.
If your anger is interfering with your relationships or other areas of your life, we want to share direction and advice to manage feelings of anger.
Aim to Understand & Evaluate Your Anger
Why are you constantly angry? Uncovering the source of your anger is an opportunity to learn how to manage your feelings. There are often a number of past experiences and beliefs that need to be addressed so that you can release your anger.
“One cause may be genetic or physiological… Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it or channel it constructively. Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications (apa.org).”
Beyond the rooted cause of your anger, find small solutions that can help alleviate your feelings of frustration. Are there triggers in your life that you can remove? For example, if your daily commute starts and ends your day in a fit of rage, evaluate and change your route. If your at-home office is also the kid’s playroom causing unnecessary stress and frustration, consider alternative spaces in your house.
Control How You Express Anger
“The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival (apa.org).”
Sometimes though, there is nothing to be angry at, so we redirect it. We take it out on others around us or keep it bottled up inside. Unexpressed anger can “lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior… People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships (apa.org).”
”Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” - Proverbs 29:11
This message does not encourage you to bury your feelings but manage them by finding healthy ways to express your anger. For some, it could be meditation or calming exercises, while others may benefit from physical activity that helps them release and decompress.
The goal is to find something that offers long-term management solutions. We often turn to behaviors that make us feel better for a brief period of time; focus your energy on behaviors that continue to make you feel good and move you forward.
Engage in Honest Communication
We often think of communicating our anger as “venting” or “complaining,” and while getting your emotions off your chest can help, honest communication is about assertiveness. Asking for what is you want (or don’t want) in a simple, direct fashion while being mindful of the needs and feelings of others.
Being angry is a natural and healthy emotion to experience from time to time. But if you can’t shake a bad mood or constantly feel overwhelmed by anger, it might be time to ask for help.
Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries aims to help you unpack your anger, uncover your spiritual genetics through Temperament Therapy, and identify healthy strategies to meet your needs and manage your emotions.