Getting to the Bottom of Anger

A high fever indicates an internal infection. A warning light on the dashboard of a car indicates a likely mechanical malfunction. Anger is an alert notice of possible physical threat or emotional distress. Underneath each episode of anger is a message and a chance to glimpse into your internal belief system. When a basic, unconscious value has been violated, you will feel anger.

Attending graduate-level counseling classes and going to therapy sessions helped me to uncover a long-term mystery about why I tended to explode in anger in various situations. Have you found yourself ever:

  • Responding sharply to a rude fast-food clerk?
  • Overreacting when someone corrected or criticized you?
  • Becoming irate at an aggressive driver?
  • Simmering with resentment when you were ignored?

Ask yourself what situations have you been in that have set off emotional alarm bells, or what personal reactions are incongruent with your desire to express Christ-like behavior?

If you are finding that you want to get a hold of your anger, counseling can help you learn the skill of looking underneath episodes of anger to explore the triggers and violations of your personal beliefs. Adverse occurrences create in us raw spots. Counseling can help you identify early childhood experiences and the later-in-life experiences that formed your positive and negative core beliefs.

By monitoring and evaluating your episodes of anger, you will learn to label your emotions, to recognize your physiological sensations, and how to discover the meanings behind these powerful emotional incidences. Through evaluation, you will learn to justify or oppose your own thinking. You will choose to disregard your untrue beliefs and embolden the beliefs that match your values. The frequency of your undesired reactions will decrease and the length of time you spend obsessively stewing in anger will diminish. You will move from a state of uncontrolled reaction to maintenance. By remaining to be curious about your mood shifts, you will develop a sense of awareness. When you sense feelings of anger becoming intense, you will improve as you work through the steps of investigation to keep your strong negative emotions and false beliefs in check.

Here are some tips if you are frustrated by your lack of control in the way you express anger:

  • Be curious
  • Develop awareness of your mood shifts and undesired expressions of anger
  • Label your emotions
  • Take note of your physiological sensations
  • Agree or disagree with your own thoughts and behavior
  • Choose to think and act like the person you hope to become

Though the concepts seem simple, it is often helpful to have someone to walk alongside to help untangle these below-the-surface messages. Changing long-term patterns of thinking and behavior can be a challenge and can take time. We are here to help.