When You Feel Angry.... What Pushes Your Anger Button?

Have you ever felt anger about other people’s anger? These last few months, I have.

Can you think of a season in your lifetime when anger in our country has been this high?

Certainly, some things deserve anger. (Don’t have to read too much about Jesus to get that).

But, how should I handle the “bad” anger? This is the kind of anger that hurts and puts people down. It’s the kind that exudes hate and damages or even destroys relationships. We’ve all felt it. Yet, at what level is each of us contributing to it?

Or maybe a better question is, “How do you handle

your problem with anger?” Or perhaps you don’t think you have one.

I used to believe that I didn’t have an anger problem. My image of someone with an anger problem was a person who would often lose their temper and outwardly blasted someone with mean and vicious remarks. That wasn’t me. While that certainly does characterize someone with an anger problem, it’s not the only indication. I’ve been learning other things about anger.

Anger Has Many Faces

Below are some other common expressions of anger.

- Holding onto grudges and resentments

- Being critical

- Using sarcasm

- Scowling or rolling our eyes

- Gossiping or slandering

- Belittling or demeaning remarks

- Bullying or manipulating

One episode of anger remains vivid in my memory when I was helping an older couple sell a commercial property that was once his place of business. We were at the closing and it should have been a happy occasion. Yet, the feelings of mutual disrespect oozed out of this couple for an extended period of time. It was so sad to witness the resentments and bitterness that had built up being expressed with verbal “slaps” and demeaning looks.

In this couple’s interaction, there were no loud outbursts of anger. There was no tirade. There was no yelling or screaming. But what was graphically being displayed was one of the most subtle and damaging expressions of anger – contempt!

Contempt believes that I’m better than you and I will make sure you feel it.

One of the most common expressions of anger is contempt. At its core, contempt is pride. It stems from an attitude of arrogance that views self as superior to another. Contempt can be so subtle, but its damage is not. Contempt doesn’t have to use words. It speaks volumes with looks and silence. While I didn’t struggle with outbursts of anger, I have recognized my own struggle with contempt.

So, how do we deal with this expression of anger? Being more self-aware is key. Learning to recognize the triggers that push my anger button is essential. Contempt is a secondary emotion. It is reactive. So, when I feel the need to belittle, demean, or disrespect, it’s important for me see what’s provoking me. In some cases, it’s insecurity. Sometimes, it’s guilt. Or, if I feel someone else’s contempt, and feel the need to reciprocate.

Most helpful to me however, is growing more secure in God’s unconditional love and care for me. The image of Jesus’ non-contemptuous attitude encourages me when “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7 NIV) David too is another good example for me. In spite of all the violent abuse hurled on him from King Saul, he didn’t vengefully retaliate. He even honored Saul and didn’t allow the root of contempt to ruin his life. And where did he find such strength and conviction?

In God I trust. I will not be afraid.

What can man do to me?

Psalm 56:11

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