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About this series
Overcoming Emotions that Destroy
Practical Help for Those Angry Feelings that Ruin Relationships
How do you deal with those angry feelings we all experience? In the series, Overcoming Emotions That Destroy, Chip Ingram will help you identify whether you are a spewer, leaker, or stuffer. You will learn the difference between good and bad anger, how to gain control of it, and how to use it in constructive ways. This no-nonsense, practical series, will give you biblical tools to express your anger appropriately and deal with those who express their anger toward you.More from this series
What has the power to transform the tender heart of a loving mother into a beast of fury as I watched her sling her eighteen-month-old baby into the front of a dryer and slam the little one down in a chair? What has the power to turn loving parents into neck bulging, vein popping, screaming adults who say the same thing over and over into the blank stares of their elementary and teenage kids? What has the power to turn good friends and passionate lovers into cold, calculated, critical marriage co-existers who only do what’s absolutely necessary to live under the same roof?
What has the power to turn a festive holiday family gathering into a gut twisting, name calling, take sides, no-holds-barred family feud that never gets resolved? And finally, what has the power to take a cool, calm, collected, long-time conscientious worker into a gun carrying, floor-by-floor-by-floor bullet spraying murderer that no one ever dreamed was even upset, as he expressed the bottled up anger of losing his job?
What has that kind of power to turn normal human beings who, on most days, are good people to be around, into people that shut down? Into people that leak anger? Into people that explode it? And I would suggest that the first word you want to write down in your notes, the answer is: our emotions. Our emotions.
Designed as a gift from God there are times, places, and circumstances that bring out emotions that destroy. In fact, it was during a very difficult time, first book of the New Testament, where Jesus’ half brother would address people who were going through tremendous pressure and difficulty. They were dispersed abroad, they believed in the Messiah and as a result, many of them lost their homes. They were cut out of the family business. They were persecuted.
And so, James would say after considering it all joy in chapter 1 verse 19. “My dear brothers. Take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” And then he gives us the purpose clause: Why? “For the anger of man does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” That single verse launched a series in my life called “Overcoming Emotions that Destroy.”
The anger of man. When I am frustrated, when I’m wounded, when there’s an unmet need, when someone ticks me off, when someone cuts in front of me in traffic, when I don’t have enough money, when God doesn't come through, when my expectations aren't fulfilled – emotions begin to bottle up and we get angry and we express it in very, very different ways that we’ll look at. And the great majority of people don’t even know they’re angry. And we’re going to talk about anger and how to deal with it.
We’re going to talk about the shame and the guilt and the other emotions that those angry feelings that every human being has that are normal – but they ruin relationships if you don’t identify what they are, how to deal with them, and then how to turn them in a way where God can work in your heart instead of us spewing, or stuffing, or leaking out our anger in ways that destroy our relationship with God and others.
Under pressure we are all prone to blow a fuse or burn the house down. This was written to people under pressure. Some people are prone under pressure: financial pressure, relational pressure, screaming kids, you know, you've just done the floor and now the dog goes over the floor, you just did the laundry and now there are seven more piles, you just gave your best shot at work and you get laid off when someone who hasn't been there very long gets to stay.
You just give a big gift by faith and then you find out that forty percent of your net income goes down the drain in about three or four months, and you get angry. And some people blow up, and some people, it’s just like they have a short in the wiring and you know what? When there’s a short in the wiring you can’t even tell anything’s wrong. It’s just, you go out to dinner one night, you come back, and your house is in ashes. And that’s what anger does.
Have you ever been angry when you were unfairly treated, or someone blames you, or you were ignored or misunderstood, or felt insignificant, or someone made fun of you, or you were given advice? You ever done something and someone walks up and just tells you, “This is how you ought to do that.” And you have this emotion side going…you know? You didn’t feel safe. You were given ultimatums.
I love the little lists because when we put this together there’s a lady who’s a psychologist that wrote a couple books for Intervarsity and she listed common reasons why all of us feel angry. Let me just zoom through them. And just laugh with me in your mind because we don’t think we have anger as an issue. These are normal things I thought were pretty good. She writes:
“Someone cut you off in line. Someone misunderstood what you said. Someone ignored your feelings. You have a breakup in a relationship. You feel trapped, smothered, and controlled. You feel like a failure. Someone broke your trust. You were abused by someone. Someone lied to you. You had to wait in a very long checkout line at the store. Your kids are not obeying you. The waitress is very slow and brought the wrong food. You stubbed your toe. You find it’s too late that you’re out of toilet paper.” That could be bad.
“The line to the public restroom is very, very long. Your spouse forgot to call and they were very late. The clothes you wanted to wear are still at the laundry, in the hamper, and it’s not washed yet. Your spouse has been unfaithful. You ran out of time and weren’t able to get things done you needed to. You drove all the way across town to find a store but it was closed. The kids continually and relentlessly demand your time. You forgot to do something you were supposed to do. You don’t have time for yourself.
“Someone said something harsh or insensitive. A stock clerk was rude. You were in a hurry and you hit all the red lights. Your boss doesn’t appreciate you. Someone tracked dirt into a freshly cleaned house. The driver in front of you is going very, very, very slow. Someone close to you died.”
Does not all those things happen to every single person in this room? My point is anger is not a good emotion or a bad emotion. Let’s get God’s perspective. What exactly is anger? Define it. Anger is neither good nor bad. It is a charged, morally neutral, emotional response of protective preservation. When you’re angry it’s not good or bad, it is a God-given emotionally charged response designed to protect someone or something.
Let me give you a couple examples of how anger can be very, very positive. It can be a healthy, emotional response that motivates us to correct attitudes, behaviors, or injustices that we perceive to be wrong.
Listen to the apostle Paul. He says, “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. And do not give the devil a foothold.” It’s a good translation. If you look at that in the original text, it’s very interesting. First of all it’s an imperative. It’s a command. And the word order goes something like this: BE ANGRY. Command. In other words, get angry. Don’t sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
Many of us have been taught that any time you’re angry you’ve done something wrong. The Bible commands you to be angry. I’ll make the case that many of us are not nearly angry enough, at all, at the things that we ought to be angry about. When we get angry, amazing, positive things happen.
Many, many years ago, Theresa and I were starting out. We had small kids. We had laundry but we couldn’t afford a washer and dryer so we were at the laundromat and you know you shove quarters in those things. It never gets dry. I think it’s a satanic cult that makes these dryers someplace. And so, I’m sitting there and I said, “Honey you go home. I’ll do it.”
And so I’m sitting and you know how laundromats are sometimes – very unattractive, dirty, linoleum floor. And so, I’m there trying to get these things dry and a lady comes in and she’s got about an eighteen-month-old and she looks pretty unkempt, a little bit rough and in a bad mood and a series of events occurred and the little kid just went around to look at something…and she went ballistic.
Went over, grabbed that kid’s hand, and literally slammed it into the dryer – and then took him and then started screaming. And I got up. I was the pastor of this small church in Texas at the time and I came this close to hitting a lady in the mouth and not feeling guilty at all. I got up, I got in her face. I said, “Ma’am, let me tell you something. You touch that child again, so help me God, and I’m a pastor, I will knock your lights out.”
I’m not sure that was the right thing to do but it seemed like the right thing at the time. And then, what are you going to do? Sometimes things happen, and they bother you. I couldn’t get over this one. I couldn’t sleep that night.
The next day I couldn’t get over it. I thought, well, I need to do something. Where’s that kid and what’s going on? And then I just realized. I did some research. So, I went down to the – I go to a government building. They send me here to send me here to send me here to send me here so I end up in the child welfare department.
And I find out in our town, it’s a really big problem. And they don’t have enough foster parents and we get all kinds of kids that just because of, sort of, where we were and how it was, really bad situation.
And I said, “Well, what’s anybody doing about it?” “Well, we have a committee.” This is a town of four thousand. Things are not running real well. Can you just picture what the committees are like? “Alright Bob. Let’s bring this meeting to order.” “Okay Ethel!” “And, you know, a lot of kids...” I mean it was unbelievable.
So I go to a meeting. And this is so classic, so, I went to my first child welfare board meeting thinking, “One, what’s going on here?” I find out the extent of the problem, and I left the chairman. It was weird. It was kind of like, “Well, what about this, what about this, what about…?” “We don’t know. Are you interested?” “Yeah.”
So, literally, one by one, I purposefully found some committed Christians and we filled that board because I got mad. I couldn’t sleep at night with the images of that little kid and I wondered how many little kids are like that. I got so angry I couldn’t sleep and stomach acid and I thought, “I’ve got to do something, I’ve got to do something and I don’t know what.”
And what I can tell you is because I got angry, we ended up partnering with all the churches in that little community and we took turns every Sunday talking about what size clothes we need and what families, how many kids, and each church took a turn and then we began to take care of these kids. And then we raised some money, put some things together and we built a home from the Child Welfare Board and we put it right next to that government building. We created a safe place for those kids because one guy saw a little kid slammed into a dryer and got mad.
Anger’s not a bad thing. Jesus got angry at the money changers and he did something. Moses got angry when he saw the people sin and he did something. David got angry and said, “What in the world’s going on? Who is that big uncircumcised giant talking about my God that way?” And he got angry and he did something. I want to suggest to you anger can be a very positive emotion.
What makes you angry? When’s the last time you got so ticked off about injustice or something wrong, but you said, “You know what, I’m going to do something about it.” See, but if you unconsciously believe that when you’re angry, Oh that must be sin, you will undermine the very emotion God gave you for Him to move you to do something significant.
We were in Chicago at a pastor’s conference and we were talking about overcoming emotions that destroy and talking about the book and a guy called in and goes, “Well, you know, I don’t know what to do with my emotions.” And basically he tells the story and he says, “Well, my wife’s having an affair and I found out about it. And I’m angry.” And his assumption was that’s a bad thing.
And he said, “I confronted her and she won’t break off the relationship and I just don’t know what to do. What do I do with these emotions? I’m really upset. And I know that it can’t be pleasing to God.” I said, “Dude you ought to be really angry! I mean really mad and you ought to set some clear boundaries and you ought to confront the situation and since you both go to church and you both claim to be Christians you need to get your church involved and your anger ought to have these kind of set principles and rules to help her learn to repent. Doesn’t mean you don’t love her.”
But he was playing a game where she kept doing whatever and, “I guess I’m the bad guy, because I’m angry because my wife is unfaithful to me”? Give me a break. That’s not only bad theology. That’s not helping her.
However, anger is not only a positive emotion, but it can be, if unchecked, it can have amazing negative consequences and pitfalls. It can be an unhealthy and destructive emotional response to protect us from real or perceived hurt, frustration, or personal attack. You go through and you listen to the smartest man who’s ever lived, the wisest man who’s ever lived and he talks about the issue of anger.
Proverbs 19:19. “A hot tempered man must pay the penalty. If you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” When people learn to deal with their anger in unhealthy ways, it becomes a pattern. It becomes ingrained.
Notice what he says in Proverbs 22:24. “Do not make friends with a hot tempered man. Do not associate with one easily angered.” Not only does it become a pattern in their life, but you catch it. It’s contagious. My dad had a very big anger problem. I will tell you what. Kids learn how to deal with their anger by watching their moms, their dads, their coaches, and significant others.
Third, notice Proverbs 29:22. “An angry man stirs up dissention. And a hot tempered one commits many sins.” Anger splits apart great relationships, great marriages, great friendships, great churches, great ministries and great workplaces. Angry people stir up dissention. And then notice the last line, “A hot tempered one commits many sin.” When I’m angry, out of control; when you’re angry, out of control – and when I say out of control, I don’t mean you’re necessarily spewing it out.
You may be pushing it all down. Some of the angriest people in the world you can’t see. It’s like an iceberg. Ninety percent of it is under the water. It’s during those times we do some of the most foolish, foolish things that cost some of the direst consequences in our entire life.
I put a list of questions to consider. Just kind of lean back and listen on this one. Have you ever done something you wished you hadn’t when you’re angry? Anybody? Hmm. Yeah. Have you ever said something you wish you could take back when you’re angry? Oooh. Yeah. Have you ever made a bad decision when you’re angry? A decision that you look back and you say, “Potentially, I mean, just potentially, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever, ever done.”
But in anger, you know, it’s like, “Hey! You can take this job and shove it! I don’t care!” Then you go home, tell your wife or your husband what happened. “I quit my job today. I’m not getting treated like that anymore.” “Great. So how we going to pay the bills?” “I don’t know.” “So you got another job?” “No, I don’t have another job” “What were you thinking?” “Well I just got tired of the way he was treating me.” “Okay.”
See we do really silly, really unwise, say painful, hurtful, things. Have you ever ruined a friendship, a marriage, a family relationship, or a ministry relationship because of anger? Have you ever seen a person hurt because of someone’s anger? Physically, emotionally, or psychologically?
My point I’m trying to make is without exception, we all struggle with angry feelings at times and those angry feelings have done more than their share of damage in our relationships with other people. And if you’re like me, you’ve nodded that you have done some really stupid, foolish, painful things when you’re angry.
Here’s what I want to tell you. Tonight we just want to get on the same page and there’s hope. Let me give you a little overview of where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do and there’s hope to deal. We’re going to help you understand your anger from God’s perspective.
We’re going to help you discover how you tend to express your anger. We’re going to help you know when it’s healthy, when it’s unhealthy. We’re going to help you discover: what is God’s purpose for anger? The positive and how to deal with the negative. We’re going to learn some very specific techniques to learn to share your anger in a healthy way that gets the issue on the table without attacking the person. For some of you, you’re going to realize you’ve been angry a long, long time, and the depression that you’ve experienced for maybe months or years is really an anger issue.
For some of you, like I just talked to a guy recently. He’s exploded, then remorse. Exploded and remorse. He could never figure out what was going on and why. And so what had happened is that he’s got all these relationships where people keep their distance. Because what anger does, it works, when you explode and spew on people, you’re not a safe person to be around. And you can come back in tears and tell them how sorry you are and they keep giving you another chance and another chance and…
I’ve met elders in churches, I’ve met people that everyone looks up to with such esteem, and they’re godly here, godly here, godly here, godly here, godly here, and they’ve got this little window of unresolved anger. And it’s a besetting sin. And they don’t understand why and they don’t understand how to change.
I will tell you, we’re going to walk through a journey together where the truth will set you free if you’re willing to be really open and really hear God’s voice.
So I want to just, before we jump in to some of the more practical sides, let me pray for you. Father, I pray, that You would open our eyes and our hearts that we could be honest with ourselves, that we would see ourselves as we are and, Lord, I pray for protection from the enemy that people would see themselves and not run to condemnation but to see themselves tonight in order to know where they’re at so they can see what You want to do in them and through them. In Christ’s name, amen.
Now, I’m guessing even now if you didn’t get the point, I was trying to help you see that everyone has an anger issue, okay? But I know that there are still some of you, you undercover, “Well, this will be pretty good and you know, I hope my husband’s listening” or “I’ve got a friend at work this is going to be great for. You know what?
Here’s what I want to suggest just before you get too much thinking that you know you do see anger and you might have an eensy-bitsy-teeny-weenie anger issue but not really, but this is for other people.
I’m going to suggest that anger wears many masks and that there are three primary masks that we put on. And I want to walk through what these masks are. And I’m going to be pretty, I think the educational word is “pedantic.”
I’m literally going to go through some lists where you see some things and nod, and then I’m going to ask a few diagnostic questions where we’re going to say, “Okay, how do I tend to express my anger?” And when we get done, I’m just going to guess, that everyone will go, “Ooh. So if that’s the issue, then I guess I do have a little issue with angry feelings.”
In fact, what I want you to think about is what you do with your anger. Everyone has it. There are slow people in front of you. Right? There are people that frustrate you. There are blocked goals. There’s people that say things about you. You get wounded. You have expectations. You’re human.
Note. We express our anger in such a wide variety of ways that many people assume anger is not an issue in their life. For those that make sure the fill-ins get filled in right or they get angry, the first word is “express” and the second word is “anger.” We all express it in such a wide variety of ways we often think we don’t have an anger problem.
Doctor Becca listed some common ways that people express their anger. And so, let me just give you a salad bar:
“They shut down, they assert power and authority, they become pushy and aggressive, they yell, scream, shout, and slam. They belittle, demand, and slander. They intimidate others. They become depressed. They isolate themselves. They alienate others. They suppress their feelings. They repress, regress, and become fearful. They hit, grab, push, beat, slap, throw.” Should I go on?
“They spew out, threaten others, become hostile, feel shame, and manipulate others. Experience self-hatred. Cover up their feelings. Pretend they’re not really angry and hope it goes away. They rationalize and blame. (You made me angry). They make excuses. They become discouraged, despondent, depressed. They gossip, they slander, they become selfish, self-centered. They minimize how anger really – (it doesn’t really impact me that much). They deny their feelings. They feel self-pity. They become critical, cynical, and sarcastic. They give people the silent treatment. They often cry for long periods of time. They point their finger and use one of their fingers as they drive. They frown. They shake their fist. They groan. They give ultimatums. They shrug their shoulders. And they sneer.”
Those are fifty quick ways that people tend to express their anger on occasion. And let’s talk about the many masks. [Jeremiah] 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all else and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” It goes on to say that “The Lord searches the heart, examines the mind, to reward each man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” And what I want to do right now is I’m going to walk you through a little journey, alright?
There may be more, but you can take anger into three major masks or categories. I’m going to suggest that there are spewers, there are stuffers, and there are leakers. Should we go over that again? There are spewers with their anger. There are stuffers and then there are leakers.
And I want to go over first spewers, and there’s a very clear inventory. You can see on your notes. So we’ll go through this pretty rapidly and then I have some questions and maybe you shouldn’t count on your fingers but I’ll have some questions that you can mentally go, “Yeah, for me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” And here’s the goal. None of these make you bad. Okay? Don’t get, “I’m a spewer. Ahh. I’m a leaker. I wish I wasn’t a leaker! I wish I could be a stuffer then I could be depressed but people wouldn’t know.”
This is not about one of the masks. These are human responses. Now some of them have different damage so let’s follow along.
Here’s a summary of all the research about people who spew their anger. There’s two types of spewers: exploding time bombs – they’re out of control; and calculated time bombs. There are some people, they spew it, they know when they’re going to do it, why they’re going to do it and how they’re going to do it.
The message they have is that anger is necessary. Their reaction is, “You bet I’m mad. Do what I say or else.” This is a power issue. The reasons for spewers expressing their anger, it gives them a false sense of power and control, it helps them release pent up, negative emotions, and they feel unable to constrain or control their anger. They have poor impulse control.
The guy on the radio talk show yesterday, he just said, “I do it and I don’t want to do it and I work really hard and then it is just comes out.” And he goes, “I’m destroying my family.”
He said, “I read the Bible, I’m a leader in my church. My wife and my kids – this is – what do I do?”
This is how they blow up. Yell, scream, shout, push, shove, hit, kick, intimidate, aggression, become overly opinionated, overly blunt, forceful, tactless, or demanding and repetitive. My dad was a spewer. When he was really mad, then you just got out of the way. But when he got really mad and he was dealing with you with something, “Hey, why didn’t you clean out the garage? Why didn’t you clean out the garage? Why didn’t you clean out the garage? Son, come over right here. Do you see that?” “Yeah.” “That’s not clean!” “Yeah.” “The garage isn’t clean!” I’m thinking, “He thinks I have a hearing problem.” When people get real mad, they – spewers – they tend to repeat, repeat.
The results, listen to the results, this is what happens to spewers, this is why we’re going to study this. They wound themselves and others. There’s a loss of control or power. There’s a false sense of power. There’s great feelings of guilt. Spewers often feel amazing remorse. They’re so sorry and it’s genuine.
They have strain then and unhealthy relationships and possible retaliation and revenge. When you spew on people there’s times where you’ve got to be careful or, guess what, they’re going to come back at you. There’s possible damage even violent behavior and often spewers have tremendous regrets. What a spewer needs, this is what they need, is to develop a longer fuse. They need to learn to control their anger.
Unconsciously, spewers give themselves permission. They say things like, “I can’t help it. I’m Irish. I have red hair. It’s just the way I am. They did it.” And they will use phrases like, “You made me angry.” No one ever makes you angry. Your emotions are yours that you control and you choose to respond and not respond.
This has happened in our home, unfortunately. But let’s just make it your home so I don’t feel quite so guilty. So I’ll make this example in your house. And let’s just say you and one of your children or grandchildren or let’s say you and your husband and wife are having a rather heated discussion. A good, Christian heated discussion. You’re not yelling really loud. Nothing is being thrown. No expletives. But you’re hot. [Arguing sounds] And then the phone rings. “Hello. No, actually we’re busy right now. Yeah, I think I can bring a casserole. Yeah. Bob’s you know, Bob’s uh uh yeah he’s occupied right now. Okay.” Now. [arguing noises] Right? We have the power to control our anger.
Question: are you a spewer? Now, I want to read this is out of an excellent workbook, actually it’s by Les Carter and Frank Minirth, and I want you to lean back and I’m going to list seven to ten questions.
And as I say them, again, this is, my lands, we’ve so been brain washed that any kind of anger is wrong, I just want you to get a grip on who you are and how you tend – you learned this, okay? You learned this from other people. It’s where you’re at.
So I’m going to read these questions and every time you think that question and just your first response. Don’t, if you’re going, “Well, I’m not sure, I really do that.” If you start down that. Just: yeah or no. Yeah or no.
But I’m going to list them and as I list them, I want you to ask yourself just a quick yes or no and keep count. Okay.
Number one: “I can be blunt and forceful when someone does something to frustrate me.” Yes or no? “As I speak my convictions, my voice becomes increasingly louder.” Three: “When someone confronts me about a problem, I’m likely to offer a ready rebuttal.” Four: “No one has to guess my opinion. I’m known for having unwavering viewpoints.”
Five: “When something goes wrong, I focus so sharply on fixing the problem, I often overlook people’s feelings.” Six: “I have a history of getting caught in bickering matches with family members.” Check with your mate on that one. Seven: “During verbal disagreements with someone, I tend to repeat myself several times to make the point.” Eight: I find it hard to keep my thoughts to myself when I know something is wrong.” Nine: “I have a reputation of being strong-willed,” and ten: “I tend to give advice even when others have not asked for it.” Okay?
Now, just in your mind, if you mentally have five, welcome to the spew club. We’ll have t-shirts later. I’m a spewer but God’s working in my life. Okay?
Stuffers. There are two types: those who repress – they deny and avoid, and those who suppress – they pretend and stuff. The message they believe is that anger is bad. Their reaction to: “Are you angry?” is, “Angry? Not me.”
Why are they afraid of anger? They think it’s bad or even sinful to be angry. They fear God’s wrath. They fear a loss of control and making a fool of themselves if they got angry. They fear rejection by others, “If I get angry, those people will reject me.” They don’t like to feel guilty and when they get angry they feel guilty. They’ve experienced anger sometime in their past that was scary so all anger is something to be avoided. They fear retaliation, punishment, or the consequences and the outcomes of them expressing their anger. Most of you learn that as a kid.
My wife is a classic stuffer. Anger was not allowed in her home. Varying opinions were not allowed in her home. She had a very sweet mother and a father who traveled who was an alcoholic. He didn’t know what he didn’t know, and he ruled with an iron fist and lots of rules and you didn’t buck him and you never talked back. Talking back was like opening your mouth.
But, so, she had a belief system that all anger is wrong. The reason I learned so much about anger was I had a dad who was a spewer. She had a dad where anger is wrong. We love one another. We’re in seminary and Frank Minirth and his friend Paul Meyer of the Minirth/Meyer clinic were teaching us how to do pastor counseling.
And here I’m learning how to do pastoral counseling and I’m learning how we’re supposed to help these other people and he gets into some of these kind of things and I realize, my wife goes silent. She withdraws, she cries quietly, and doesn’t talk to me for two days, and then pretends everything’s okay. This is not a healthy response to anger.
I don’t feel close to her when she does that, and she doesn’t feel close to me because I’m a verbalizer and as, since we don’t have it resolved and I have Ephesians 4:26 memorized, she’s in bed up ‘til one and I’m walking around the bed, “We have to deal with this tonight. Be angry but do not sin. Would you please wake up! Hey! Get up here. Hey, we’re going to talk about it right now, right now, right...” and she would shut down and then we’d pretend for two days nothing really happened. We’d bury the anger, move on.
You do understand that anger puts a road block in intimacy: emotional intimacy, intellectual intimacy and physical intimacy. And so, I realized that we didn’t know how to deal with anger and we didn’t know how to communicate. And so, with making a thousand dollars a month, and supporting my family as I went to seminary, and at about ninety dollars a pop for twelve weeks, we went to Paul Meyers’ brother for counseling in marriage, and he gave us tools to learn how to communicate and how to express our anger. And I’m going to, I’m not even going to charge you.
And it is an amazing thing to be about to communicate, “I feel hurt. I feel angry when you…” and be able to get things on the table and not attack the other person and not be threatened. Some of you will come away and realize that was worth the entire time together.
Stuffers, how do they stuff it? By ignoring it, denying it, shielding it or deflecting it, minimizing it, pretending they’re not really angry by avoiding it, by burying it. By the way, when you bury it, Paul Meyer says ninety five percent of all depression is anger turned inward. Think of that.
People that are very, very, very depressed. Now there are clinical reasons and physiological reasons but a lot of depression is people don’t even know they’re angry, they push it down and it, physiologically, we’ll see in a minute, it can cause ulcers, headaches, all kind of difficult things in your body, but emotionally it causes depression.
Results: they become doormats. They’re taken advantage of. They redirect their anger at themselves. I remember one of the biggest things I’ve done to my wife after those years is I would say, “Honey, I think you’re angry and she’d look at me like, No I’m not. No I’m not. “Honey, honey, you’ve got to be angry, that, that lady just talked to you like that.” “Well, she’s probably having a bad day.”
No matter what happened, my wife… I would joke an ambulance would go by and Theresa would turn, “I wonder what I did wrong.” I’m joking. I’m exaggerating. But she thought it was so wrong to be angry about anything that she always figured out how to blame herself. Now, I wish you could see the beautiful woman that I’m married to now.
But, wow, we had to discover how she dealt with anger before she got the truth that set her free. The results are they develop physical ailments that I talked about. They occasionally erupt.
By the way, it’s kind of weird. These kind of people, they never share it never share it,
and then, finally, they develop resentment. What stuffers need is to accept that anger is okay and normal, to acknowledge their fears and seek to minimize their hold on others, learn to communicate anger effectively, become more assertive with their needs, that it’s okay to have real needs and real wants, and to become clear about what they will and will not do. So are you a stuffer? Could you be a stuffer? I have another ten questions and you can just put them on your fingers.
Question number one: “I’m very image conscious; I don’t like to let others know my problems.” Yes or no? “Even when I feel frustrated, I portray myself publicly as having it all together.” Three: “I’m rather reserved about sharing my problems or my frustrations.” Four: “If a family member or friend upsets me, I can let days pass without even mentioning it.”
Five: “I have a tendency to be depressed and moody.” Just a tendency, doesn’t mean you’re all the time. Six: “Resentful thinking is common for me although many people would never suspect it.” Seven: “I’ve suffered with physical complaints. For example: headaches, stomach ailments, and sleep irregularity.” Eight: “There are times when I wonder if my opinions or preferences are really valid.” Nine: “Sometimes I feel paralyzed when confronted by an unwanted situation.” And ten: “I feel guilty a lot about little things, especially if someone is upset with me.”
Those of you that said, “click, click, click, click, click,” five or more, you’re probably a stuffer. Now, some of you are feeling real bad because you’re thinking, “I had four or five on the last one, I got five on this one…” Yes, you can wear more than one mask. You probably have a primary one, but you can wear more than one. So are you a stuffer? Yes, no, or maybe?
Finally, let’s look at our leakers. The technical word for this is passive-aggressive. And a leaker is a person who is angry but what they do is they have, as you’ll look, they have all the same fears as stuffers. They have the same belief system as stuffers but they just, just stuffing it all the time is like, “I just can’t go there.” And so, but they’re not going to do it directly.
So, what they do is, “I’m angry about this situation, this person, this hurt, this injustice, this pain, this wound. I’m not going to deal with it over here, I take that anger and put it under my arm like a football, and now I go over to here to a safe playing field. And then I take the anger and I leak it to get back at the person to punish them for what they did.”
Sarcasm. Negativity. Procrastination. Frigidity. Critical remarks. Knowing they like you to be prompt, you’re late. Knowing they love you to follow through? I forgot. I’m so sorry. Okay? That’s what leakers do. I’m an expert on this one.
Types are indirect and direct leakers. Here’s their message: it’s not that anger… it’s showing anger that is bad. You can be angry but just don’t let anyone see it. Their reaction, “Angry? Not me. Well maybe just a little.”
Why are they afraid of anger? They think it’s bad or even sinful to be angry. They fear God’s wrath. They fear loss of control. Losing it might make them look foolish. They fear rejection. Others won’t like them if they get angry. They don’t like to feel guilty. Their experience with anger was scary so all anger is something to be afraid of or avoided. That’s what I had. They fear retaliation, punishment, or consequences or outcomes.
Now did you notice that most all of those are the exact same reasons as people that stuff their anger? But then how do they leak it? By not following through on commitments or promises. By not letting their yes be yes or their no be no. These people, when you’re really a leaker, “I’ll do this,” “Well, I wish I could, I can’t.”
We are flaky at times, and it makes people crazy. By making excuses, by procrastinating, by knowingly going at a pace different than others are going. Have you ever had people really get up on your bumper? Beep, beep! There’s, like, fifteen million cars ahead of you and this guy’s switching [lanes] and almost killing people so he can make it thirty more feet? Right? And so, he’s – you look in your rearview mirror and all you see is his grill?
Now, some of you in your younger days or if you know karate, want to pull off and say, “Right now, dude, right now, let’s take it down! Let’s take it down!” Others of you, want to express yourself to them and still others go, “If you think you’re close to my bumper now going sixty-five, oh my. I’m only going fifty-eight now. And there’s a big semi on the right. And you know something, I’m getting kind of tired I think I’m going to pull it down to forty-three.” You know? And then, no eye contact. You just look ahead. Right? You’re one angry person. You wonder where I got that illustration. I have no idea.
The results: they develop a false or unhealthy sense of power. Even all your laughter. You know why you were laughing? It was a power deal, right? “We got that guy. We got that guy, that smart aleck in front of me or in back of me.” They aggravate those around them and they strain weakened relationships. They become critical and negative. They become isolated. You might write the word, “Leakers are very, very sarcastic.” They’re often late. They withdraw. They often are frigid sexually to pay back their mate. They forget. And they avoid issues.
What a leaker needs is to accept that anger is okay and normal, to acknowledge fears and seek to minimize the influence of those fears on their life. They need to learn to communicate their anger effectively. They need to become more assertive. A lot of the times they don’t really say, we don’t say what we really mean, we think people can read our minds. But then they don’t come through for us because they’re not reading our minds and so we get angry at them because they don’t read our minds even though we didn’t tell them and then we do stuff to punish them and then it doesn’t work. And they need to be clearer about what they will do and won’t do.
Okay, are you ready for the big ten questions? Here are the questions. Add them up. Yes or no. Real quick: “When I’m frustrated, I become silent, knowing it bothers other people.” Two: “I’m prone to sulk and pout.” “I’m going to go out the garage, work on my tools.” Three: “When I don’t want to do a project I will procrastinate.” I can be lazy. Four: “When someone asks me if I’m frustrated, I will lie and say, ‘No, everything’s fine.’”
Five: “There are times when I am deliberately evasive so others won’t bother me.” Six: “I sometimes approach work projects half-heartedly.” Seven: “When someone talks to me about my problems, I stare straight ahead being deliberately obstinate.” Eight: “I’m often sarcastic and hide my real hurts behind jokes.” Nine: “I withdraw affection and become frigid when hurt.” Ten: “I forget to do things for people when they’ve wounded me.” Got them? Are you a leaker? Yes, no, or maybe?
Ask yourself and I encourage you to get a pen before you share it with others if you can. What makes you angry? Just the top three. What are two to three things that really make you angry?
Second, when and where is it okay to feel angry? If you could just identify – some of you think it’s so wrong. When would it be okay? Some of you so lit up when I talked about, “Jesus was angry.” Huh. “Moses was angry.” Uh. “David was angry.” Uh. “Chip was angry at the laundromat.” Some of you, your faces just said, “Wow. Maybe, maybe I could get a little bit mad, it’d be okay.” Where do you think it’d be okay to get mad? And then, in what ways do you tend to misuse anger? Why do you hang on to it? And then, which anger mask do you wear most often? Spewer, stuffer, or leaker?
Then the final question and this will be the journey. Just up to now, if you had to turn to someone and say, “The one insight that I received so far about anger and emotions that I think will be helpful to me, I think it’s…” What would you write down? Okay?
We’re going to go on a journey together and get some practical help for those angry feelings that destroy relationships. God gave you this divine gift. A neutral emotion called anger that can be for good or for evil. Let’s figure out how we deal with our anger and then how we can, by God’s grace, begin to channel it in ways for His glory and our good.