Turning the Page

You’re so angry and it’s going to help you

February 7, 2021

Why you get so angry can give a clear direction about who you truly are. It’s a matter of the heart. Your anger can indicate what you hold most dear.

As they became more whole, the anger started to simmer, then boil, and then it flowed over the containment of their life. It was, in a frightening way, beautiful and needed to happen.

Anger can be highly destructive. But flowing out without constraint can damage and burn. We all have this capacity to pour out our emotions of being hurt, mistreated, abused.

Some of the deepest hurts come from those we are in the closest relationship to. Those who we would hope and expect to know our hearts are often the ones who will not listen and show love and respect to our tender places.

I think of the patterns we set up so young to defend that tender heart. A little bruise, and a little slight, and we begin to build a fortress.

‘No one is ever going to hurt me again like that.’ 

And if that tender small inner child ever gets a poke or a prod, then out comes the angry army.

I get angry. I get hurt. But I don’t want my anger to overflow and burn up the relationships I hold dear.

Yes, those close to me may trigger an unbearable feeling, and I want to lash out in response, but I, as an adult, have to take responsibility for myself. My response is my responsibility.

What is it under the fury and fire of your anger that is causing you to explode?

Perhaps if we look at gender differences, we might find a clue.

An angry man

The chief fear of a man is that he is weightless, that there is nothing substantial or powerful about him.

That he is not going to make much difference in his world, in his relationships, particularly with women, with the children he has, and with his friends.

The lies he says to himself are ‘I’m useless,’ ‘I never do anything right,’ ‘Everything I do, I fail in.’

Every angry man I have talked with has a common theme—a loss of respect.

They want it from those they care about, but when it is not given, they demand, cajole, and try harder to win approval.

They want someone to see and acknowledge their purpose even though they may dismiss it themselves.

The question to ask is, ‘How has their purpose been dismissed’?

Read more about men here.

An angry woman

The chief fear of a woman is undesirability. At the core of a women’s being, they ask – ‘Is there anything desirable about me.

If a man really saw me, would he want me? Would he find me desirable, not just as a sex partner, but would he find me desirable at all.’

The lies they say to themselves are ‘I am ugly, both externally and internally,’ ‘No one loves me,’ ‘I have no beauty.’

Every angry woman I have talked with has a common theme—a loss of love.

They want to have it from those they care about, but when it is not given, they demand, cajole, and try harder to win love.

They want someone to see and acknowledge their inner beauty even though they may dismiss it themselves.

The question to ask is, ‘How has their beauty been tarnished’?

Read more here Men and Women are different.

Embracing the heart

What is it about the heart, that seat of the emotions, which is crucial to our wellbeing?

We sing about it, draw ‘heart-shaped’ images, give flowers, and so desire for it to be touched in delicate meaningful ways.

I wonder what your heart is like? What shaped its tenderness or toughness? What is it like for your heart to be known, explored, discovered, and touched?

Perhaps the fire of anger could be the signal that something of that little child within wants attention. As you explore yourself, an awareness of injustice is growing and needs to be acknowledged and heard.

You begin to see that the heart could have been treated with love and respect, but it wasn’t. The injustice of it all is like kindling to a fire waiting for a spark.

What would it be like to have your heart listened to without judgment?

With no parent figure dismissing your feelings or telling you to ‘Shut up.’

Then one comes, and a gift of empathy is offered. Wisdom is shared about how we live in an unjust and unfair world, but we have a God of justice, mercy, and grace.

Oh, for a friend that will listen and sit with the heart of a hurting man or woman, girl or boy.

The mystery of heart change

It’s quite a mystery to me about how the heart changes. Mystical in the sense that it seems that there is a disorderly order to this dance. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, and things begin to move.

It’s poetry, not formulas and facts.

Larry Crabb writes this.

In Successful Psychotherapy: A Caring, Loving Relationship, psychologists C.H. Patterson and Hidore admit that psychotherapy is in chaos. Their solution is worth a second look.

Profession helping efforts, they suggest, should abandon identifying specific diagnosable disorders and coming up with specific technical treatment plans.

They should instead focus on one simple yet profound idea – that the essence of all successful psychotherapy is love.

Larry Crabb Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be

When we are angry, we need love. A kind of love that has learned to listen for the pain under the fury.

Becoming whole through anger

I don’t like anger, I especially don’t like people being angry with me, but every emotion has an invite.

What pushes your buttons and why?

There is something at the core of your being that is wildly good and beautiful.

It has a purpose and a power to change our world. Yet, most of us are hardly aware of it. It is like a small seed, a mustard seed, that is waiting to germinate and grow.

We get angry when it is threatened, mistreated, overlooked, despised.

When love comes to town, it waters that seed and stimulates the growth. I’ve seen it happen in many people. A little encouragement, an affirmation, some praise, and that beautiful heart starts to sing a new song.

It’s that tender shoot that a few brutal words can so easily cut down.

Growing out of the bruises

1. You become aware of your unique self.
As you look at your heart, what do you hold valuable and precious? What is it about you that is delightfully different from others?

A clue might be found in where you get triggered. What is significantly and uniquely special about you?

There is ‘no one youer than you,’ as Dr. Seuss would say.

2. You draw a line around you.
It’s a line of love and respect. Some people call this a boundary, but in a deeper way, it’s a line where you define who you are and who you are not.

This is me. I have these values and beliefs.

3. You protect.

Some people don’t show any love or respect for your ‘Youer than you’ self. They can be like a bull in a china shop. Wrecking and destroying with every mindless swish of a tail. Not noticing your beauty and purpose. Not caring.

So you protect.

You don’t let any old person into that precious place of dreams and hopes.

You assess their safety. Are they safe to have in your land of beauty and passion?

Intimacy (In-to-me-see) is a gift, not a right.

The power to protect is your hands. You only let those in that have demonstrated a safe pair of hands.

Your anger is the symptom of a violation of the line. So then you wonder ‘where has your heart been violated’?

4. You nurture and heal

That angry place, that sore bruise or wound, deserves special loving attention.

You are kind to yourself. As a wise and loving parent, you speak words of compassion and love to that small child that is hurt.

As someone who knows you better than anyone else, you speak what needs to be said.

5. You learn from the bruises

How have the bumper car experiences of life shaped your direction?

Perhaps it’s time to take the steering wheel yourself and drive your own life.

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to gently explore the ‘Youer than You’ nature of each other.

When you or your friend gets angry, it’s an invite to help define what is inside the lines of love and respect.


Your anger can indicate what you hold most dear. Why you get so angry can give a clear direction about who you truly are. It’s a matter of the heart.

Quotes to consider

  • Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. Dr. Seuss
  • I have learned to use my anger for good. . . . Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust. Gandhi
  • Believe it or not, no-one can actually make you angry. You choose your own reaction so quickly it’s hard to believe you did it by yourself. D. Riddell

Questions to consider

  1. If you were to draw a picture of yourself, what words and sentences would you write inside yourself?
  2. When you last got angry, what in your heart got triggered?
  3. What would it be like to be known, explored, discovered, and touched?

Further reading

Barry Pearman

Photo by Mehrnegar Dolatmand on Unsplash

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