Anger – and what it really means

One of Seth’s more recent post – Just because he’s angry – makes a great point. We often react to anger as if it’s proof of being right, or having the high ground; in reality the opposite tends to be true more often.

For years, my bride has told me “anger is a cover emotion”. That is, it’s a self and/or socially acceptable emotion that we use to hide an emotion that we don’t feel good expressing. Of course I used to get mad at her for saying this when it was my anger she was talking about (not anger at her, BTW). However, I have learned over time that she is right – anger is usually not the real emotion that is at play. Anger is used to cover fear, pride, selfishness, guilt, and other things we don’t want to admit to or show.

Why do we feel so safe showing anger? Does anger make us feel righteous? Does it make us feel manly? Anger is not inherently sinful, but it can easily lead to sin. Anger also pushes people away from us. Anger is not a good thing for a marriage.

Next time you feel angry, ask yourself if there is something more to it. Do you feel fear? Are you covering for pride or selfishness? Is your anger coming from a guilty conscience? Is your anger justified? Is the level of anger you feel realistic for the situation?

7 Comments on “Anger – and what it really means

  1. I agree with most of this post but I would also add that sometimes I overreact with unjustified anger to cover up underlying resentment or anger that is justified. If issues remain unresolved I think we tend to suppress those and then blow up about something small.

  2. Just last night I had a very immature reaction to a request my bride had of me. Clearly I was hoping to illicit some sort of response so that she would truly understand how ridiculous I felt the request was (it was not a ridiculous request). She completely ignored my reaction, and 2 minutes later was talking to me normally as if nothing had happened. That reaction of hers had way more positive impact on me than the negative impact I was trying to inflict on her just moments before.

  3. “Why do we feel so safe showing anger? Does anger make us feel righteous? Does it make us feel manly?”

    I would put it the other way round – showing anger (rather than sadness, fear, etc) helps us to avoid feeling weak… This is a stuggle, and goes against the grain of our culture (mine, at least) which teaches that anger is power.

    I find it helpful to check myself – “What am I actually feeling?” Anger tends to be a secondary emotion…

    I don’t actually find it that helpful to ask if I’m covering pride, guilt or selfishness – that’s asking myself to judge my motives in a highly emotional moment. (It’s all to easy to label, and I’m not going to do to myself what I wouldn’t want to do to others.)

    Good post!

  4. Ephesians 4:26

    And anger can also be a cover-up for hurt. When you’re hurt, it’s easier to feel anger than to feel pain…but Christ called us to pick up crosses, not stones.

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