Anger, Our Go-To Feeling
Why do you get angry?
The way we talk about anger usually has to do with situations outside of us. A person rubs us the wrong way. A pet peeve surfaces several times during the week. A cliché phrase gets said over and over as a pat answer.
My wife, Robyn, asked me to read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.
The book chronicles her interactions as a mental health therapist with her clients. I have a deeper appreciation for the work Robyn does as a therapist. Also, a book like this one provides a mirror into our inner world.
One the excerpt stands out comes from Gottlieb’s interaction with a client named John. She says this about anger:
Anger is the go-to feeling for most people because it’s outward-directed — angrily blaming can feel deliciously sanctimonious. But often it’s only the tip of the iceberg, and if you look beneath the surface, you’ll glimpse submerged feelings you either weren’t aware of or didn’t want to show: fear, helplessness, envy, loneliness, insecurity. And if you can tolerate these feelings long enough to understand them and listen to what they’re telling you, you’ll not only manage your anger in more productive ways, you also won’t be angry all the time.
Of course, anger serves another function — it pushes people away and keeps them from getting close enough to see you.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Pg. 144–145
Jesus in the Gospels, especially in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), spends in an inordinate amount of time talking about the internal workings in our hearts. Our outward expressions of anger reveal something deeper under the surface.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
The good news of the gospel invites us to experience freedom amid our anger. Our emotions no longer have to get the best of us. When the light of Jesus’ grace and truth shines in our hearts, we can see the lies that we have believed and blind spots keeping us from growth.
Anger redeemed by Jesus becomes an indicator to slow down.
That gives us grace for ourselves. That invites us to give grace towards others who get angry. What a gift in the world today for people — to respond to each other with curiosity to anger instead of reacting with retaliation.
Pause today. What is the root of your anger? How can you respond to help others amid their anger?
Originally published at https://peterenglert.com on June 17, 2020.