The Problem of Anger

📅 July 22, 2020

When I googled the topic of today’s discussion—Anger—I found also, in addition to definitions, stories, and assorted appropriate quotations, a number of medical websites.

Among them was the renowned Mayo Clinic, which deemed anger a serious enough health problem that they devoted more than one page to discussing the topic.

Anger, one article said, “causes your body to release adrenaline, your heart rate and blood pressure to increase,” and that “suppressing anger makes chronic pain worse and can lead to ulcers.”

Anger: a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong. One of the Seven Deadly Sins, which, it might be argued, is at the root of several of the others.

Anger can lead to addictive behaviors, such as alcohol, drugs, or food.

Another article presented a grim list of Ten Types of Anger: assertive, behavioral, chronic, judgmental, overwhelmed, passive-aggressive, retaliatory, self-abusive, verbal, and volatile.

Just because a person is not screaming or breaking things does not mean her anger is under control. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of passive-aggressive anger, you will know the misery of being ignored for months (sometimes years) on end can be as damaging as being shoved into a wall.    

Anger is not always a “bad” emotion. For example: Being angry over injustice—an emotion sometimes labelled “righteous indignation”—is a positive human trait. Being inspired to take up a good cause, fight on behalf of someone who is unable to wage his own battle, defend him against an enemy, has sparked many a reform movement, effected many a necessary change.

Anger is often portrayed in comedy. How often did Ricky Ricardo come unhinged over one of Lucy’s schemes? How often did Hyacinth Bucket lose her patience with Elizabeth for spilling coffee or breaking a cup? How often did Hawkeye and B.J. lose their tempers with Frank Burns?

However, on an everyday ongoing basis, anger is neither as noble as reforming zeal nor as funny as a lovable bungler messing things up again. It damages relationships and always, always affects a wider circle than the two people involved in the dispute.

Some people dismiss their tendency to be angry, asserting, “That’s just the way I am.” They excuse themselves because someone else is to blame, the other person simply refuses to be brought to a more sensible point of view and reform or conform.

The Bible addresses the sin of anger.

Psalm 37: 8. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

Proverbs 14:17. He that is soon angry deals foolishly.

Proverbs 22: 24. Make no friendship with an angry man and with a furious man thou shalt not go.

Ecclesiastes 7: 9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Ephesians 4:26. Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.

Titus 1:7 stipulates that pastors must not be “soon angry” or quick-tempered.

Cain was so angry with his brother Abel that he killed him.

Moses wrestled with his anger throughout his life.

Jonah was angry when Nineveh repented.

Anger always has an underlying cause—sometimes the furious person can pinpoint the source of his anger and sometimes he has no idea why his rage is so easily triggered or why he cannot control it.

Anger always ripples out in ever-widening circles, wounding people who had absolutely nothing to do with the original cause.

As with any sin, anger keeps its victim in bondage and exacts a terrible toll.

Do not say, ‘I cannot help having a bad temper.’ Friend, you must help it. Pray to God to help you overcome it at once, for either you must kill it, or it will kill you. You cannot carry a bad temper into heaven.  Charles Spurgeon

Here are some suggestions to consider:

Think before you speak. Collect your thoughts. Consider the end result of your anger. Once you have said what’s on your mind, how will the recipient feel? If you’ll be apologizing later, leave off those hurtful words right now.

Walk away and talk a walk. Exercise. Take some time for yourself. Get alone. And resume the conversation later.   

Once the conflict is over, do not relive it. Do not hold a grudge. Forgive. Do not bring up the offense in every subsequent interaction.

Compromise and discuss workable solutions. Listen to the other person. Don’t discount her ideas. Be willing to yield on your demands.

If you need help controlling your anger, admit it and find help. Talk to an older and wiser friend. Find a counselor. Read a book. Ramp up your prayer life.

No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to un-Christianize society than evil temper. Henry Drummond


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association