3 Ways to Get to the Root of Anger

3 ways to get to the root of anger_thumb


“Why are you so angry?” my son asked me after I had a tough day and took it out on him. It would have been easy to disregard his comment and disregard my anger, but it made me think instead. It can be easy to push aside our anger without any real effort to get to the root of it.  However, I think it’s time we take my son’s advice and ask ourselves, “Why are you so angry?”

In his book, Mad About Us: Moving from Anger to Intimacy with Your Spouse, Dr. Gary Oliver writes on the effects of ignoring your anger.  He compared bouts of anger to a flashing warning light coming on in our cars.  When we see that blinking red light, we work to solve it in order to avoid bigger problems with our car in the future.  In the same way, we cannot ignore small amounts of anger here and there in our lives, or it too will lead to bigger problems.  In his book, Dr. Oliver points out “Over the years, we’ve discovered that whenever we ignore or bury an emotion, it is buried alive. At some time and in some way, that ignored or buried emotion will express itself – physically, psychologically, or spiritually.”  By addressing our anger as it comes, we will be able to stop this strong emotion from building up.

Here are 3 ways to help answer the question, “Why are you so angry?”

1. Face it.  Don’t avoid the red warning light out of fear.  The most important thing is to first face the fact that we all struggle with anger.  As humans, we naturally react emotionally to distressing situations.

2. Find it.  Next, after facing it, we must find the root of the anger that is lodged deep within us.  Common roots of anger include fear, pain, and frustration.  For example, some people become angry as a fearful reaction to uncertainty, to fear of losing a job, or to fear of failure.  Others become angry when they are hurt in relationships or are caused pain by close friends.  When it comes to me, the root of my anger is often found in all the little frustrations I’ve let build up within me.

3. Figure it out.  Once we’ve found the root of our anger, we will be able to figure out how to deal with it in a healthier way.

  • Deal with fear:  Sometimes the best way to face our fears is to write them out.  By taking the time to examine what you’re deeply afraid of on a piece of paper, you will be able to rationalize your thoughts.  In the future, this may help keep fears from building up into anger.
  • Deal with pain:  If you’re trapped and experiencing pain, go talk to the person who caused you pain right now!  Whether the hurt is a result of a misunderstanding or an intentional attack, you won’t be able to move forward until you discuss your pain with the person who hurt you.  Only when confession and forgiveness are present will you be able to let go of your anger.
  • Deal with frustration:  While we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can choose how to respond.  So in response to frustrating moments, choose to dwell on the positive. Also, frustration is sometimes the result of unmet expectations. Make sure your expectations are realistic and show grace if they are not fulfilled.

I’d like to leave you with Dr. Gary Oliver’s words. “One of the many potentially positive aspects of anger is that it can serve as a very powerful and effective warning system. Healthy anger can help us identify problems and needs and provide us with the energy to do something about them.”

When was the last time you were angry, and how did you deal with it?  Please share by leaving a comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mark D.

    Good advice, but “working to solve it” implies that when the anger light comes on, just like we deal with it in cars, focus on solving the problem that caused the light to come on. As a consummate problem solver, I tend to do just that. The lights will go off when I solve the problem. But many times the problems are unsolvable, or you end up butting heads with your spouse – who has rights too – and that might mean what’s causing a light to go off according to how your car is wired, may not be doing the same in your spouse’s vehicle, so to speak. The anger builds knowing you’re in the same vehicle! (i.e. sharing outcomes)

    I think the 3 suggestions are good, but not under the “figure it out” purpose. After almost crashing and burning over these kinds of things, I’ve learned to think of the warning lights as blinding lasers… The warning lights themselves are causing more pain in many circumstances than the actual problem they originally warned you about. This was important for me because, though every problem is addressable, not every problem is solvable… which will leave the warning laser blinding you. If I seek to reduce the emotion, I tell the warning lights that the problem they’re indicating will have to be accommodated. Many times it can be.

    “The Anger Trap” by Dr. Les Carter is also an excellent book about this subject.

  • Richard

    This is a very relevant issue for me. I’ve always seemed to have anger brooding under the surface. Earlier this year I confronted it and dove head first to get to the root. I got only so far so I sought help. It was interesting what came up. I am now far more self-controlled but am honest enough to know that I need to keep on top of it.

  • Mm

    If I am ask to describe my marriage, first and last word came to my mind is my spouse anger. I am trying to live up to his expectation to the extend that I am loosing myself and live like a living dead.
    I am thinking if I forward him this article, he may dwell down to the root cause – whatever I do seems annoy to him. To him, why can’t I just change.
    Men, show grace. Be gracious. None of us on earth is alike.

  • Mark D.

    Let me clarify something I said in response… I didn’t mean to say an article like this wouldn’t have helped… I merely meant that it wouldn’t have penetrated me at that time… I was not open to the idea that I was angry and that the anger might be a part of me. I felt that if I got angry it was because of an external thing that was, well, simply wrong and the only thing to do about it was right the wrong! (imperative thinking)

    So maybe an article like this might be the thing that allows him to investigate the possibility that there might be other solutions than having everything go “correctly.”

  • Joe

    I can’t figure this one out. When one of my young kids gets hurt (runs into a wall, hits their face on something, etc.) I find I get really angry. It’s not at them…I just get angry about the situation. Maybe it’s because I feel it was my responsibility to prevent it…I don’t know…and I don’t know how to deal with it. Any thoughts?

  • Robert Burke

    To get rid of anger, and do it in an utterly godly way, learn the living, breathing, relaxing, posture and movement method of King David… as his descendants taught Russians in the first millennium… it’s called… now… “Russian Martial Art” and it uses a process called “Systema”… which is a System of living in total forgiveness. No striking (or taking any insulting thing) in anger… only in high, un-provokable love. The way anger is dealt with is by controlling our emotions… which is done by controlling our breath… of course, while asking God for mercy. Test number one is receiving a small insult to the body, like grabbing it, or hitting it, or massaging it… and the recipient has to breathe and not get angry. Breath out the spirit of taking hurt, or taking insult, or taking offense.

    Most Christian man HATE the idea of learning how to actually be calm in an offensive storm. But Russian Martial Art teachers… can teach you!

    But I bet nobody believes it… or will test it… or will be open to Moses’ style of higher ground.

    You see, it’s not a 3-point book, not a blog… it’s actual work and learning and doing! But it works!

  • Robert Burke

    Learn Russian Martial Art… Systema. Google it and find a local instructor… or go to a seminar… you will be healed of anger! It’s a manly way! And godly.

  • Robert Burke

    Have you tried Russian Martial Art Systema? Google it and get a local instructor! It’s King David’s old way! (Jeremiah 6:16)

  • Robert Burke

    Go to a Russian Martial Art seminar. Watch men being stuck by an instructor. Watch the men deal with their anger.

    Accomplished students of Russian Martial Art… can take amazing blows to ego, stomach, body, etc…. and smile and take no offense, display no anger, and witness that they have very well dealt with anger issues. They seem to do everything to people that restores…. and nothing that destroys. They seem to be walking amelioration machines…. taking bad like it’s nothing, and dishing out only good.

    Anybody capiche this?

    Remember, Moses was open to Higher Ground. Christians seem to despise it when told about the location of actual higher ground.

    Russian Martial Art Systema is definitely higher ground for Christians, especially men dealing with anger issues. Go find an instructor ASAP.

  • Robert Burke

    A lot of men, even a lot of men in Christian bible study groups… are not ready to deal with their internal anger. But when they are, they can go to a Russian Martial Art instructor and learn Systema. Systema has a lot of truth in it… so much so, that men usually avoid learning the “light” of Systema in order to hide the “darkness” in their souls they are comfortable with… and so they will have every excuse in the book to not learn how dark they are, and how light they can be. So, Systema is ready… only for those who are ready to be really truthful with themselves, and see how much anger is inside… The best place to hide anger, is to be a bible study teacher…. ;)

  • Vince

    After years of having a problem, it began to get worse as I got older. I got frustrated more easily, my expectations of others began ti increase and ai became less tolerant of other’s shortfalls. Some medicine I am taking has the side effect of depression. Although I don’t blame the medication, it did exacerbate the problem. Then, I began to notice two of my girls complaining of my angry look when I disciplined them. My oldest son said “Dad, I think you may be having a problem with anger”. The situation began to slowly but quite perceptedly get worse. Then, two months ago, I heard a powerful message on prayer and the need for fervent, honest and persistent prayer. Shortly after beginning, God said, “Vince, you’ve got a problem with anger”. For several days, I tried to shake it off. Surely, everyone gets angry I told myself. But, as I returned to prayer and summoned up the courage to ask my wife about it, the truth became evident…I honestly have a problem with anger. Just knowing that has given me hope and made me long for the true joy that’s been missing I my family. That’s how I came across this Web site searching for help…not just here but in other places also. My suggestion, throw yourself on your knees and be honest with yourself before God. Admit you have a serious problem and cry out for His help!