We tend to hold on to anger because it empowers us in a position in which we feel completely justified. We grasp it as our right. (Doug Herman, Faithquake p102)
Anger is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but often we like to sweep it under the rug, hide it behind closed doors, or deny its existence. We may minimize it by saying we are just frustrated, or avoid it by trying to not show the anger to others while it still stews inside us. Anger is an internal issue that kills us, our passions, our heart, and our soul if we let it. It does not need to ever be evident to those around us for it to do incredible damage to us inside. It is something that we need to deal with, not just on the surface, but deep at the very roots if we are to be changed and released. We need to actively look at why we are angry, what causes it, accept it as real, and then deal with the anger.
There are three keys to dealing with our anger: recognize, release, and refocus.
Recognize: Recognizing our anger involves acknowledging, accepting, and admitting our feelings. Many people do not take time or make the effort in life to be very introspective. We tend to just go through life and not take a daily assessment of how we are doing or what is going on in our lives. Our words and actions can sometimes reveal things that we may not even realize are going on deep down inside. In order to deal with our anger the first step is recognizing and admitting it is there. Until we move out of denial and fully accept our thoughts and feelings we will not be able to deal with them and move past them.
Release: Once we recognize our anger we need to do something with the feelings. Since the expression of anger often comes out as violence, emotional outbursts, or hurtful words and actions we have been trained by society to hold our anger inside and not express it, but the release of the emotions is critical to our mental, spiritual, and emotional health. It can even affect our physical health in profound ways. The emotions of anger can be release through appropriate methods of communication. These can be learned through therapy, counseling, or support groups if family and friends are not able to assist you. Anger can also be released through exercise, art, music, service, or other expressions where the emotions are converted to physical actions. The physical release of energy when directly tied to a strong emotion can be very healing. No matter what method is chosen, it is critical to release the emotions and energy that are tied to the anger we feel so it does not build up.
Refocus: Even with recognizing and releasing anger there is a final step that I believe it critical in finding lasting change and resolution to our anger. It helps us get to the roots and deal with what is behind the anger. We need to refocus the anger away from the people and circumstances of what seems to have caused the anger, and focus it on the one who truly is out for our destruction, our enemy, Satan. The only way for anger to truly be resolved is to allow Christ to change our heart, to minister to us, and to redirect the emotions that lead us to desire separation, retaliation, pay back, or damage toward others. If we allow Christ to give us a heart to see each person as a creation of God and someone that he loves, and if we are in relationship with him and seeking to grow to be more like him in character then we will find that we will not be able to focus hate, hurt, or anger upon anyone that God loves. We will move to forgive, let go of offense, release desire for vengeance, and choose to allow our hearts to feel compassion, hope, care, and love for those involved.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24