page contents

Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact New Ground.

9900 Willows Rd NE
Redmond, WA 98053
United States

402-613-2718

Mental Health Counseling from a Biblical Perspective for Teens, Young Adults, Adults, and Couples in the Redmond and NewCastle areas. Seattle Christian Counseling for Teens & Adults emphasizing God's word with Joshua Loy, MA LMHC and Gabe Davis, M.Div, M.S., LMFT.

😠 Where to Start When You’re Angry 😠

Blog | New Ground Counseling | Addiction Counselor

Blog posts from Joshua Loy, MA LMHC and Gabe Davis MS, MDiv, LMFT. New Ground Counseling focuses on Bible-based, Mental Health Counseling for Teens in the Redmond, Bellevue and greater Seattle area.  Emphasizing the power of God's Word in Biblical Counseling with Teens and Young Adults.

😠 Where to Start When You’re Angry 😠

Joshua Loy

Five years ago, you couldn’t have convinced me of this.  I’m not angry.  I’ve always been described as a “nice” person.  I have an identical twin (he’s cute).  People would often say I was “the nice twin.”  Jake was “the evil twin,” but it’s okay because he likes it.

Four children later and I’m hot and bothered all. the. time.  What has happened?

But I’m In Good, Angry Company

I’m not alone!  My counseling office is full of them.  The people walking through my door are angry.  They are steaming inside, saying hurtful things to their spouse, blowing up on their kids, or secretly broiling inside.  Sometimes they are desperately ready to change, other times they were forced into counseling by a loved one.

All of them are wondering, “How can counseling help?” 
And hopefully, like any Biblical counselor, I’m answering, “Let’s ask God and trust that He’ll show us.”

Here are some good questions to start with when approaching God about anger…

Why Am I Angry?

1. Because we are natural judges.

Anger is all about justice.  We get angry when we perceive wrongdoing.  Inside we are screaming, “That’s not right!  I’m not okay with this!”  In these moments, we have become little judges.  We take the bench, raise the gavel, and declare moral verdicts.

The apostle James describes this well:

“What causes fights and quarrels (acts of anger) among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but you don’t get… You want something, but you cannot have it.”  (James 4:1-2)

You are never more of a judge than when you are angry.  Unfortunately, this usually requires that you dethrone the True Judge first.

2. Because we are all writing laws.  “You wanted something but you didn’t get it.”  James tells us that, as judges, we tend to have a selfish measuring stick.  We get angry when people violate our expectations of them.  We had a prior to commitment to how things ought to be:

·         They didn’t do what you wanted them to

  • “Pick up the toys, children.”
  • “Be back by 10:30pm, teenager.”
  • “Meet my needs, boyfriend.”

·         They said something that offended you

  • “Talk to me lovingly and with respect, wife.”
  • “Agree with my opinions, social media.”

·         They did something you didn’t want them to

  • “You vaccinated your children?!”
  • “YOU VOTED FOR TRUMP?!”

In short, we wrote some laws and are incredulous when someone dares to violate them.  Sometimes we don't even know we have laws until we react outwardly in these moments. Anger, then is often our attempt to punish others who violate our laws.  Lawmaker, judge, and jury all in one!  Key question:  Is this God’s law, or yours?  Are you angry because they violated Him or you?

What Causes My Anger?

1. Nobody and Nothing.  According to James, nobody is the cause of my anger.  When the dinner wasn’t ready as planned, when your kids made you look bad, when you were late for the event, when someone didn’t call, when the boss got on your case—they were not the cause of your anger.  These were merely the occasion for your anger.  This is really hard for angry people (like me).  When we are angry, we are consumed with the emotional thought that it’s their fault.  But God tells us differently.

Occasion ≠ Cause
 

2. Just Me, Myself, and I.  Instead, Scripture says that our heart is the problem – our pride, selfishness, personal laws, or desire for control.  If we can agree with God on this point, we can stop finger pointing and start heart-searching.  Key truth:  We can choose how we will respond to the actions of others toward us (even when they are sinful).  This is a crucial first step to changing.  It allows us to focus on our inward response to others.

What Can I Do?

1. Start Taking Inventory (Anger-Journal).  If you want to start seeing your anger, evaluating your judgments, and changing your behavior—start with an anger journal.  When my clients get angry (any and every time), I ask them to write down some answers to these questions:

a. What happened?  (describe the situation – who, what, where, when, etc.)
b. What did you say, do, and feel in response to what happened?  (response/behavior)
c. What were you thinking or wanting in the midst of the situation?  (thoughts and desires)
d. How would God have you deal with this situation if you could do it over again, or if it occurs again? 

2. Ask, “Why did I become angry?”  Was it pride, selfishness, inconvenience, fear, or some idol I am protecting?  As we’ve read, it’s not someone else’s fault.  Once you know this, you’ll be able to ask, “What would it look like to repent/turn away from my sin in this situation?”

3. (Spoiler) Hand over to God the occasion of your anger.  This is especially necessary when we are objects of someone else’s anger.  It’s also necessary if we are going to somehow “bless those who curse you” (Mt. 5:44).  Just how we do this is something we’ll look at soon.

UPCOMING POSTS ON ANGER:

  • But Aren’t There Times When I Should Be Angry (righteous anger)?

  • What Can I Do in the Moment of My Anger?

  • The Difference Between Serious/Concerned and Irritable/Impatient.

  • Is It Okay to Be Angry At God?