Anger: Understanding it

Anger is a real emotion we all feel. We all have different ways of expressing it and it is the expression that so often gets us into trouble. At times, our anger can be immobilizing. At times it can lead us to lash out or to hold back something from someone. In part it is a combination of resentment, irritation, disappointment, and violation. But above all, anger is a choice. Not a choice to get angry or not, but a choice in what we do with the anger we are feeling - how we express it.

Anger and Boundary violations:

How are boundaries and anger connected?
- Imagine someone breaks into your house - how do you feel?
- Imagine someone insults your research paper - how do you feel?
- Suppose your parents never affirmed you as a child - how do you feel?

All of these situations are examples of boundary violations. Anger can be one of the results of our boundaries being violated. Someone is not respecting us and that disrespect goes to the core of the image of God within all of us.
Boundary violations occur when we receive, overtly or covertly:

  • unwanted expectations from self or others
  • intimidation from others
  • coercion to do what you do not want to do.


Sources of Anger:

Generally speaking, we feel our anger when...

1. We have a need not met
2. Something is blocking our will

Unmet needs come in three areas:

1. Intuitive needs: God-given needs that are not met (belittled, ridiculed, abused, violence, rights not protected, image of God not upheld)
2. Reflexive needs: always respond in the same way or because other people get angry we should, too - we act on reflex
3. Self-centred needs: want to get our own way, intimidation, passive-aggressive, violence, threats

Within the context of these needs, we seek to recognize the core intuitive needs: love, respect, significance, acceptance, and security and identify which is the source of our anger. We should be honest about how we are behaving in our anger and be aware of the trap of the "self-centered perspective" (trying to legitimize anger as a "core" injury when it actually is being used as a tool for manipulation or is a automatic response). We need to recognize that forgiveness allows us to accept that only God can fully meet "core" needs and that other people will not meet these needs unconditionally.