7 Important Reasons for Understanding Anger

understanding anger

When a friend of mine first became a mom I remember her being exhausted, a lot. I also remember her feeling anxiety when her baby would cry. On one particular night the baby woke up crying. She tried the usual changing the diaper, then feeding, burping, and then rocking. Those things normally did the trick, but not on that night. She tried a million other things she knew, but nothing changed. The baby just kept crying. It was unnerving. She felt guilt, fear, and totally out of control. Ultimately, it led to an emotion she wasn’t expecting: anger.

Anger can be an incredibly destructive emotion. It is an emotion that is important for us to understand. Here are 7 reasons for understanding anger.

1. Anger is a Fact of Life

One of the most fundamental aspects of being a person is that we were created in God’s image. Part of what it means to be made in God’s image is that we, like God, have a variety of emotions and are able to experience the emotions of others. One of these emotions is anger. What exactly is anger? Anger is a strong feeling of irritation or displeasure. When we experience anger, our mind and our body prepares us to act. Anger involves physical and emotional energy. It is up to us whether we use that energy in constructive ways or to abuse ourselves and/or those that we love.

2. Anger is a Frequently Experienced Emotion

The emotion of anger is experienced much more frequently than most people would like to admit. When we begrudge or disdain others, or when we are annoyed, repulsed, irritated, frustrated, offended or cross, we are probably experiencing some form of anger. The results of research, as well as our own experience, suggest that most couples experience the emotion of anger a minimum of 8-10 times a day… and that’s before they have kids.

3. Anger is One of the Most Powerful Emotions

The emotion of anger can provide tremendous energy to right wrongs and change things for the good. But when we allow it to control us, it can lead to negative destructive actions such as emotional, verbal or even physical abuse and violence. In any intimate relationship, there will be times when you will be hurt or wronged. When that happens, anger can easily distort our perspective, block our ability to love, and thus limit our ability to see things clearly.

4. Anger is a Secondary Emotion

Anger is a secondary emotion that is usually experienced in response to a primary emotion such as hurt, frustration, and fear. Anger can be an almost automatic response to any kind of pain. It is the emotion most of us feel shortly after we have been hurt. When your spouse corrects or talks down to you in public, it hurts, and you may respond to them in anger. At the moment it may be the only emotion that we are aware of, yet it is rarely the only one we have experienced. Below the surface, there are almost always other, deeper emotions that need to be identified and acknowledged.

5. Unhealthy Anger has Tremendous Potential for Harm

Most of us have, at one time or another, been pushed so hard and become so angry that we could have, or indeed have, become violent. I recently came across some sobering statistics that clearly demonstrate the potential harm of anger out of control:

  • 10 million children were beaten by angry parents, two-thirds were under the age of 3
  • 60% of all homicides were committed by people who knew the victim
  • 27% of all policemen killed are killed breaking up domestic arguments
  • More than 70% of all murderers don’t have a criminal record

One psychiatrist interviewed more than 100 inmates convicted of murder and concluded that most were not angry people… in most cases, they had stuffed their emotions and allowed their anger to build and build, and in these cases, they were finally expressed in an out-of-control and violent way.

6. Healthy Anger has Tremendous Potential for Good

For most people, the emotion of anger is considered negative, a problem, something to be eliminated or solved. What we so often fail to see is that every problem is really an opportunity in disguise… an opportunity to learn, to grow, to mature, to be used of God to make significant changes for the good.

7. Anger is a Signal

Anger is an emotion that God can use to get our attention and make us more aware of opportunities to learn, to grow, to deepen, to mature, and to make significant changes for the good. Anger, like love, is an emotion that has tremendous potential for both good and evil. That’s why it is so important for us to understand it.

As you learn creative ways to invest the God-given anger-energy, as you develop more effective anger management skills, as you learn how to approach anger from a Biblical perspective, you will find one of the most powerful sources of motivation available to mankind.

Tell us! What are some constructive steps for dealing with anger?

Dr. Gary Oliver has over 40 years experience in individual, premarital, marital and family counseling and for the past 20 years he has had an extensive nationwide teaching ministry.