Have you ever experienced road rage? How about if someone cuts you in line? Or, do you feel mad when you feel someone should apologize to you, but doesn’t?
That intense feeling of anger can seem to spring out of nowhere. We’re taught to be civil and to turn the other cheek if we feel we’ve been stepped on or wronged. And while we certainly shouldn’t retaliate on the road, that anger sometimes stays bottled up inside.
If you wish to address those feelings of anger, here are some ways to start:
1.Take slow, deep breaths. Taking deep breaths disengages our fight or flight tendencies, enabling us to calm down and remove ourselves from the heat of the moment.
2.Pray. Sure, you can go ahead and vent to God about what bothered you. Thankfully, we have a God who loves us and wants us to keep talking to Him.
But I’d also like to suggest that we offer prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude in those moments after our anger flares up and we’ve taken deep breaths to calm down. We can thank God for being alive, or we can thank Him for the beauty of the day or for our family and friends.
Why do prayers of gratitude help? They help because they remind us that our anger is fleeting, while God’s providence and care are eternal. Praying prayers of gratitude help us develop a proper perspective of what’s really important.
And then, if you’re feeling up to it, you can even pray for the person or the situation that caused you to anger or get upset.
3. Recite a favorite Bible verse. Doing so reinforces that heavenly perspective—that sense that God’s justice reigns and will reigns even as your anger comes and goes. Some good ones are:
We don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT)
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. (John 14:1 ESV)
4. Reflect. And pray some more. While you might want to sweep those feelings of anger under the rug, sometimes you should reflect on what made you upset. When you reflect, see if you can find a pattern to what causes you to anger. If certain situations trigger your anger, like feeling ignored or invalidated, it’s good to bring those triggers before God.
Why is this step important? Because sometimes reacting angrily is actually a symptom of deeper issue that needs God’s healing. Sometimes anger can mask a pervading sense of sadness or fear, or it can serve as a defense mechanism that prevents people from getting too close to you. Praying to God can help you discover if there is a deeper cause to your anger. Doing so paves the way towards being fully healed.
5. Find someone you can trust to relay your feelings of anger. If you find that there are root causes to your anger, try not to go at it on your own. Find a trusted friend or a counselor, or talk to a minister at your church. They can pray for you and affirm you, and they can support you as you find additional help to address the root cause of your anger.
While all these steps may be helpful if you feel anger, if you find yourself too stressed or overwhelmed, just pray. Your prayers don’t have to be eloquent. They can be clumsy and awkward. God sees your heart and wants to hear from you.
Listen to a meditation from our 7 step guide to help you work through your anger to experience joy.