I recently received a question at tv.newlife.com from someone who has some anger issues.  Debbie writes that she’s divorced with 2 children and she has a very antagonistic family.  She finds herself becoming more reactive with others.  She really gets disappointed with people easily and she’s bugged easily.  She says, “I want to finish strong, but I don’t feel like I am doing that.  I don’t have a lot to offer people and, in fact, I don’t have any friends.  I feel used up and without hope.”

So let’s look at what may be causing Debbie’s anger.   Most people who have an anger problem have something way down deep that is really the problem.  So when things happen they are triggered back down to that thing in their gut that has never been dealt with.  We frequently hear of people who become infuriated out on the highway when someone cuts them off, and they react by pulling out a gun.  There are people who erupt in fits of anger at people they don’t know, and will never see again, and everything seems to irritate them.  That anger doesn’t erupt because someone did something to them so horrible.  It’s because deep down inside of them are unresolved issues.

Now I know that sounds typical of what a counselor would say.  But I think it may be one of two things at the root of this anger.  I think there may have a lot of ungrieved loss in Debbie’s life.  She’s been angry because anger is easier to experience than sadness.  So she took the easy way and didn’t want to look at what was making her so sad.   So a counselor could help her in identifying and grieving those losses.  In my book “Healing Is a Choice” there is a special chapter on grief that would be helpful, or going to New Life’s “Take Your Life Back” weekend intensive.   Either of those will help to process ungrieved losses.  I think there is somewhat of an epidemic in the Christian community because we’re told to just get over things, and we believe that we should be able to move on before we have really grieved our loss.

The other possible cause is that Debbie someone in her life whom she have never forgiven.  God says to get rid of all bitterness and to forgive.  I think the most helpful thing that she could do is to really think about whether there is someone who has hurt her whom she’s never forgiven.  She said her family is an antagonistic family.  So I think that maybe Debbie needs to start by grieving the loss of the family that she never had.  And then she needs to start forgiving them for whatever reason they turned out the way they did.  One way to help in that forgiveness is to find out how they were raised.   Because many times, you see people who are repeating the problems of the past and perpetuating familial dysfunction.   She’ll need to spend some time to work through the process of forgiveness.

Debbie may be very justified in her anger.  Something may have happened to her and she is really justified in being angry.  But even if that is the case, she really needs to resolve that anger.  Many times just saying that I am going to forgive someone doesn’t seem to work very well.  And so she may have to come up with some creative ways to get in touch with that person and see what they’re thinking.  Maybe they’ll ask for her forgiveness or maybe she’ll say something that she wishes she had said years ago.  But even if that doesn’t happen, Debbie needs to forgive them so that she can get past her anger.

So many people who are dealing with anger neglect the most common person that they are angry at, and that person is themselves.   It can be difficult to do.  Dr. Dave Stoop has a book called “Forgiving the What You’ll Never Forget” guides you along the course of heartfelt forgiveness.  I believe that a combination of forgiveness and trying to work out the anger can really help Debbie get rid of whatever is causing her to blow up so easily. She needs to do something.  Most likely if Debbie will do some of the things I have discussed, she’ll find greater peace of mind.

If you can identify with Debbie, and may have unresolved anger or ungrieved hurts, check out these resources.:

Forgiving What You’ll Never Forget

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers

Or better yet, click here for our Take Your Life Back Weekend Intensive.



Most people who have an anger problem have something way down deep that is really the problem.  So when things happen they are triggered back down to that thing in their gut that has never been dealt with.

Identify Your Anger:

  • 1Do you have an ungrieved loss?
  • 2Is there someone you need to forgive?
  • 3Do you need to forgive yourself?

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Join us at one of our Weekend Workshops.
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Steve Arterburn

Steve Arterburn is a nationally and internationally known speaker and has been featured in national media outlets such as Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN Live, The New York Times, ABC World News Tonight, GQ and Rolling Stone.Steve is a best-selling author of books such as Every Man’s Battle, Healing Is A Choice, and The 7-Minute Marriage Solution and recently co-authored Take Your Life Back with Dr. David Stoop, and The Mediterranean Love Plan, with wife Misty. Along with Dr. Dave Stoop, Steve edited and produced the #1 selling Life Recovery Bible. With over 8 million books in print he has been writing about God’s transformational truth since 1984, and has won three Gold Medallions for writing excellence.
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