How To Get Rid Of Anger

how-to-get-rid-of-anger1One of the ways that has really helped me to understand anger is to see it in the context of a debt to debtor relationship.

That framework of ‘debt to debtor’ can help us understand a lot of different emotional issues that we struggle with.

Like, for example, guilt says “I owe you” because I hurt you or offended you. Greed says “I owe me.”

Anger says “You owe me.”

The angry person lives in a place where their dominant filter on the world is “YOU OWE ME.” And the reason this is true – and this is so important – is that whenever you are hurt, whenever you are offended or mistreated, there is a sense in which the person who hurt you or mistreated you took something from you.

At work, if a colleague takes credit for your project or stole your idea, they owe you the recognition that comes from your idea. If you grew up in a home where Mom or Dad took off or left, they took a part of your childhood from you. They robbed you of the opportunity to be tucked into bed at night by your Mom and Dad. If your husband or wife left you and you went through a terrible divorce, there is a sense in which they owe you your first marriage, because you stood at that altar and you made a promise, and they robbed you of the opportunity to finish a life that you started with them. They took something from you.

This is real important.

Every time you are hurt in life, there is a sense in which you perceive something was taken from you. And anger says “You Owe Me.”

You owe me my business reputation.
You owe me my childhood.
You owe it to me to have been at my graduation.
You owe it to me to have stayed with my Dad.
You owe it to me to have given me a better mark.
You owe me respect.
You owe it to me to have raised our children with me… you owe me you owe me you owe me.

Anger is like an open account, where I am a bookkeeper. I am the judge and I am the jury and I rule that you owe me, and I am not going to close this account until you repay me. And as long as that account is open, I am carrying that anger.

The worst thing you could do to yourself – the worst thing I could do to myself – is to allow the sun to go down, not on a day of anger, but to allow the sun to go down on a season of my life, and to carry the anger that was created in one season of my life into a new season of life: To carry the anger that was created in childhood and to carry it into adolescence. To carry the anger that was created in adolescence into my 20’s. To carry the hurt, the rejection, the anger from my dating experiences in my 20’s into my marriage. To carry the anger from my first marriage into a second marriage.

Whenever you allow the sun to set on a season of your life, and you carry the anger from one season into another, you run the risk of destroying every subsequent relationship and even of self destruction.

And here’s why: Because when the sun sets on a season of your life, and you’ve not resolved your anger, once you move to a new season it is very easy to lose sight of the source of your original hurt.

That is so critical – because if you bring the anger from your past into a new season of your life, the people in your life will be powerless to give you what your anger thinks is owed to you.

Why? Because your anger account is not with them.

I see this in marriage all the time. If you are engaged right now, and you are engaged to an angry person, I don’t care how cute she is, or how cool he is – you need to run. And if you turned to me and said “But I’m in looooovve” I’d say “Get over it!” because you are either going to get over them now, or they are going to crush you later. They are going keep being angry, and they will hurt you, they will cut you, they will beat you down with their words… and with their words they will murder you.

They have junk in their trunk that has nothing to do with you. And no matter how hard you try to understand, no matter how deeply you empathize, no matter how many times you cry because your physical relationship seems ice cold, no matter how many times you say “I’m sorry”, they are never going to be able to close the account because the account is not with you.

And unbeknownst to them, sometimes through no fault of their own, the sun went down and they lost sight of the source of their hurt and the source of their anger.

So, let me ask you … If you were God and you loved you the way he loves you, what would you say to you?

Because if there really is a God who loves you, he desperately wants you to close the account on your hurt and your anger. To end it. To get RID OF IT, to put it to rest. If you don’t, you’ll carry your anger into another season of life, and you’ll be hurting people who have nothing to do with your anger.

Here’s what Paul, one of the people who wrote some of the letters in the New Testament wrote from prison – he’s not writing from Cancun, but from a dungeon. He writes “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” You know how you take your trash down to the street? You need to do the same thing with your anger. Just get rid of it.

“But … you don’t understand! It’s complicated. It’s not that easy. You don’t know my story. You don’t know what happened to me. Let me tell you my story, and you’ll understand.” And Paul would look around his dungeon with the rats and the excrement and the rusted chains and say “Go ahead and tell me your story. And at the end of your story I’m going to say ‘Thanks. Now get rid of your anger.”

Everyone has a story. Everyone can defend how they got their anger. It’s easy to do – you just point a finger and say ‘They stole this from me. That person owes me.”

If you went into the doctor this week and found out you had cancer, I don’t think your first question would be “Well, can we sit down and figure out how I got this?” I don’t think so. You know what I think it would be? “How do I get rid of it?

But when it comes to the issues of the heart, we spend so much time defending where we are at, instead of ramping it up and saying “I am ready to get rid of this.”

And I think that part of the issue with anger is that we feel if we just took it out with the trash and walked away from our anger, that would be unfair.

You need to understand something: Getting rid of anger bypasses the issue of fairness. And bypasses the issue of being paid back. It takes fairness and payback and says “You know what, that isn’t the most important thing any more. My priority is to get rid of it. Not to get it all resolved or to balance out in my ledger.”

And here’s how you do it. Paul says: “Get rid of your anger: Be kind and compassionate to one another – and here’s the big word, here’s how it’s done – forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” You FORGIVE. You close the account of what you feel is owed to you.

But that wouldn’t be fair! Yeah, you’re right.

Forgiveness bypasses the whole issue of fairness. You know what it means to forgive? To forgive is simply to cancel a debt. That’s all it is.

It’s to decide, “Ok, according to the records here, you owe me. But I’m cancelling that debt. Not because you paid me back. Not because you made it right. Not because you said you were sorry. I’m deciding. Debt. Is. Canceled. You don’t owe me.”

You should have been at my wedding.
You should have been at my baseball games.
You should have been there to raise our kids.
You should have been there when I needed you.
You should have kept your word, but you didn’t.

And for years I have lived with the expectation that you had to make it up to me. But I’ve made a decision. You don’t owe me anymore. You are forgiven. I’m deciding to cancel your debt.

Forgiveness closes the door. Forgiveness closes the account. Forgiveness cancels the energy of anger. And it is the only thing that does.

Listen… if you’re struggling with this forgiveness thing, you do realize that you can’t ever get paid back anyway, right?

You can be mad at your Dad for the rest of your life because he wasn’t there for you as a kid, but if your Dad came to you today and said “How can I make it up to you?” you’d look at him and say ‘you can’t’. I can’t be 16 again, and you can’t give me my family vacations back.

If that boss, or that ex wife or ex husband, or that partner who ripped off your business, or that man who groped you as a kid came back and said “Ok, how can I make it up to you?” it wouldn’t take you long to say “You can’t make it up to me! You can’t pay me back. Its un-doable.” You can’t undo those years of fear and worry and anger. I may appreciate the apology, but this is a debt that can’t ever be paid.

And according to the Christian worldview, that’s the place where God comes alongside of you, he puts his arm around your shoulder and he says ‘Why don’t we just close the book. Why don’t we just let it go. Why don’t we just say “you don’t owe me”. Why don’t we just forgive. Like I forgave you.

Some helpful ideas on how to get rid of anger

1. Identify specifically who you are angry with.

Your tendency will be to point out people around you now who are taking the brunt of your anger.

Would you be willing to go back a couple of seasons of your life and see where you have an open account with someone who you feels ‘owes you’? With whom are you really angry?

2. Identify specifically what you are angry about. What was taken from you?

Get a pad of paper and something to write with. Start writing down what you feel that person took from you, at the core. Was it your ability to trust others? Your reputation? Your family? The property you had worked so hard for? Your sense of security?

Be specific. What exactly do you feel that person owes you?

This is usually not a quick process. This is a very personal thing, and may be a painful process. You may need to start a list, and keep this list open for a week or two. Carry it with you. Write down specifics. Spend some time on this. Pray and ask God to help you.

3. Cancel the debt. Close the account book.

You can cancel the debts that others have incurred against you!

What very often helps us human beings to solidify something in our hearts is to make it a memorable, symbolic event – a one time ritual.

Take your list out somewhere and do something with it that will help you always remember that the book is closed. Many people find it helps to pray before doing this exercise.

Some ideas:
Maybe you and a close friend can get together, build a fire on the beach and burn it.
Maybe you’d rather do that alone.
Maybe you need to take your list out into the forest, and bury it. Build a simple cross out of twigs and plant it over the list.

Every time those old feelings come back, the sense that the person who hurt you still owes you, draw on the memories of the ritual and remember. If you burned your list, maybe keep a piece of charred wood from the fire somewhere so you can look at it and remind yourself. Or a small container of dirt from where its buried.

Or maybe take a walk or drive by the beach where you had the fire – and remember: Gone forever! Remember, you took out the trash. There is no way for the person who hurt you to ever pay you back anyway.

4.You must choose daily, with help from God, to not reopen the matter.

When memories of the past hurt surface, use them as opportunities to renew your mind to what we know is true. Maybe memorize a number of Bible verses on forgiveness. Recite them to yourself in weak moments, and you’ll be surprised at what happens.

The day will come when you will see or think about the person who hurt you, and you’ll be shocked at how differently you feel towards them.

Forgiveness, and forgiveness alone breaks the energy of anger.

67 Responses to “How To Get Rid Of Anger”

  1. Deven says:

    Really an amazing article. Really needed it. At the right time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A very thought provoking article, thank you. I agree with what you are saying wholeheartedly. My question is, how do we make the choice to forgive knowing the other person will continue their patterns which “fuel the fire” of the bitterness inside us? Leaving is not an option. Sure, it’s possible to let to of the debts I believe are due me, but I know he will incur more in the future.

  3. Peter says:

    All I can say after many attempts perhaps this wiil help 64 years and onwards is a waste of life,I do deserve to be happy and thank you for your directions i do feel somewhat positive being a sensitive soul. God Bless you Peter

  4. Deedra says:

    Wow, the second article I opened and it is EXACTLY what I was looking for! Thank You!

  5. […] recently read a great post about what anger is all about. It said that when we get angry, we get a feeling of ‘you owe […]

  6. anoynimus says:

    For so long I wrestled and worried about how to get rid of my anger. When I thought I was free I would realize how bound I really am. Thanks for this article. The wisdom, the advise, and the how is what I needed. I love God more than life itself and want to be all that He would have me to be. Blessings to you.

  7. micah says:

    I am very angry with my boyfriend.. cuz he downgrades me before.. he cheated he abused me verbally, physically and emotionally and such, but im still with him… that was 3 years ago , and now i noticed that i became so brave that i bring him back what he did to me… i want to forgive… i pray, but still , the anger still arise everytime he make something i DONt like…

  8. Anonymus says:

    This is bull! The things in the examples like; you owe me my childhood can’t be re-payed anyway and you certainly can’t do the above to resolve it, this itself makes me angry, if it works for you then fine but how will burning a fire in anyway make you calm yourself of your bereft childhood? Personally i’m a 15 year old atheist who gets angry at the fact that people like ‘6. anoynimus’ who love god more than life but god whom does nothing for us during life and only after, explain: if god is omnipotent but will not help then he is not benevolent, if he is omniscient but cannot help then he is not omnipotent, if god is benevolent but knows not of our struggle he is not omniscient. You see there is no God, people say that life is a test of our faith but what of those born into otherwise religiously persuaded environments, they have not the chance to have their faith tested, does god expect them to find his religion when by the age of 7 they can’t move from their religiously persuaded area and have already had other people’s views hammered into them so that they believe it. This is all very spiritualistic nonsense which when you think about it, helps you not in the slightest and only allows you to see clearer your rage and why it developed and when you step back you are really commenting on this to show that you are like other people and this helped you too but really you live in denial and no amount of ‘book closing’ is going to help your emotional scars from your abusive boyfriend etc… At lest this comment section which you cleverly hid at the bottom was a vent for my anger which within still lurks strong.

  9. Anonymous says:

    wonderful article! Thank you so much. It’s good to hear the truth…..

  10. Kat says:

    Wonderful article!I have a lifetime of put to the side anger. I have buried it in work, raising children. Ready to excavate and live my life. Thank You

  11. Matt says:

    I appreciate the article, but it is too simplistic. I’ve encountered many people who would agree with everything written here, but the issue is the how. Its not just a process of forgiving. Sometimes severe trauma can lock someone’s emotions down. It take a lot more than memorizing bible verses and crossing out lists to unearth the source of rage and resolve it. Be careful about what you write. There are no easy answers to complex questions, but you are right – forgiveness is key.

  12. Mason says:

    Nice article. Something I want to say to the person who wrote comment 8. I have, unlike most others, not been a victim of anger. But I have emotionally abused others in a fit of rage. Especially that one person who loved me. So this anger that I have right now is mostly about me. I am angry at myself for being this way. I have lost so many relationships to rage. So many opportunities. Suffered in my career. I am 26 years old. And yesterday, I realized something. My girlfriend forgave me for everything. Every horrible thing. She is at peace. She didnt make me suffer. She let it all go. Now, I am upset. Again. But its not anger anymore. It is the fact that I am so blessed and I am not able to share it with people. Now whether god is there or not, I don’t know. But it was surely a divine intervention. I was saved. It will be a life-long struggle to be a better man. I owe it to her. I owe to myself. So Mr. comment 8, let it go. You seem so angry. You need faith in something, a rock an idea, a being, anything. It makes you stronger,it helps in keeping you sane. I have shut down the mental faculty that makes feel upset about myself. I focus on the gift of forgiveness I got. And I will do all I can to become worthy of it. It will always haunt me though. All the evil deeds. All the tears I gave to people. But I can at least do my bit now. I can spread happiness as much as I can. Karma is bitch. It will come back to get me. Until then, I will spread happiness around before I leave for hell.

  13. Kara says:

    Thank you as all my family but one has passed and one is left that torments me, your words will someday help. I did not have a childhood where I was noticed and now I in my sixty’s and I have lost my husband of 43 yrs due to illness and he was the only one who was there for me and I really feel alone and the one left behind continually torments me with mailings 3-5 times a week. Due to no return address I can’t RETURN TO SENDER to get my point across that I do not want any part of them in my life. We all have crosses to bear but I need peace and thanks to GOD and my memories of my husband I am getting by but there are days when that’s not enough. Thank you for your time.

  14. Jane says:

    Life changing article! I plan to implement this strategy ASAP to get rid of many seasons of anger that have manifested in my current marital woes. I hope that forgiveness will allow love to return to our marriage and that we can continue the rest of our lives in a more positive manner. And if not, I will at least leave this marriage with all accounts squared away, and not bankrupting and harming future relationships. Thank you for your insight.

  15. Michelle says:

    So I have read a lot of these comments and I am glad that an article like this was written. My concerns are to the comment 8. Im not going to point out the obvious but what I do want to say is that God gives each and every one of us the freedom of choice. We all read this article because we are having some sort of issue with anger. Mine is in regards to my nephew and his violent bullying ways towards my son. I know that everything happens for a reason. EVEN when we are small inocent children… I could tell you stories that would allow you to see that I have PLENTY to be angry about but I layed in my bed one night and I prayed telling God that I forgave everyone who had harmed me and I proceeded to ask God to forgive me for all the harm I have done to others. Even though I struggle with my anger towards my nephew I realize that I have a choice on how I react to a situation that arises with him. I do not have to get so angry that I put hands on him. I choose to do so when I do that! We all can overcome our anger. But a lot of us want to hang on to it because we dont want to let go of what makes us angry. To let go of it means change, something different, WORK! Good luck to all of you. I choose to change and let go of my anger. The people around me including little ones need a better example than the one my parents gave me. Its time to break the curse. YOU do NOT have to stay angry, YOU CAN change it… But it is something YOU MUST WANT!!!

  16. Gaby says:

    To anonymous 8. I also am not a believer and you just have to accept that some have it easier. My mother says she never wanted me. That poisoned my life and I realised eventually I was always looking for someon to give me unconditional love. This did not happen. My husband was also a product of a similar home so once the feeling of ‘sould mates’ wore off the marriage failed. Two wounded people trying to make a whole did not work.
    I was paranoid that everything I touched failed, so much so that I left my next love because he was so ‘normal’ and I felt I would destroy his happiness and I could not face that. So I sacrificed the possibility of my own happiness to avoid hurting him. He blames me for ruining his life and has escaped into ‘religion’ and ‘saving souls’ never marrying.
    We all make mistakes its life. The best thing I can suggest is to think of having that little child – who was unloved – inside you now and talking to him/her. Remember how vulnerable that child was and how beautiful and hopeful. Say sorry and determine never to make him suffer again. You are punishing that small, beautiful, innocent child all over again, allow him/her peace and your unconditional love.
    To Kara 14 – you need to get the postal services to stop these communications. If not, just take them and give them a ritual burning on your garden heap, or at least outside. Let the fresh air take the smoke of the venomous feelings be carried away.
    You had at least 43 years of support and love from a good man, be thankful and don’t let this person destroy that, it is unfair to your late husband and unfair to you.
    As some have said its very easy for someone else to give you advice without knowing precise histories. I think I’ve succeeded (after 30 years) but then something happens to make me recall and I realise that I can so easily be back to square one, but I think of me as a little child saying ‘please don’t do this to me again I need peace now’. Good luck in your efforts. Good luck to us all.

  17. marj says:

    I really get that feeling of a piece of me has gone!! My anger goes up and down and I have worked on trying to heal it, but it still comes up when old wounds get prodded by current issues. I am currently dealing with it quite strongly just now for some reason and I am finding it so difficult.

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