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. A New Season says:

    Wow! What a terrific post. This one is actually life changing for me. A big thanks!

  2. denise smith says:

    this is brilliant the best I have read about on anger God bless you this will help many people inclucing myself thankyou

  3. Raven says:

    Thank you for this amazing post.

  4. jojo says:

    godbless u thank u sooooooooooooooooooooooo mush this is amazing and help me thanks

  5. lola says:

    after reading this I really feel this can and will work – it’s the best way of ridding anger that i’ve ever read – thank and god bless you.

  6. Eric Villafrnca says:

    Eric thanks for the post i think well i no after reading this it helped me get rid or the hurt and thats all that matters right. ERIC V

  7. anne says:

    Not sure if this will help a marriage-years of seasons have passed and though I want to move on, everytime I see this persons face it reminds me of the irresponsible actions he took with us and our family. Forgiving may not be able to put love back into my marriage right?

  8. Rod K says:

    Hi Anne,
    Thanks for the comment. One thing for sure: Forgiving may not be able to put the love back into a marriage, but without forgiveness there is absolutely no chance love will return. One of my favorite ways to think of love is that love is, in some sense, an ongoing promise to forgive.
    Best wishes,

  9. Emily says:

    after reading this I really feel this can and will work – it’s the best way of ridding anger that i’ve ever read – thank and god bless you.

  10. Amy says:

    after reading this I really feel this can and will work – it’s the best way of ridding anger that i’ve ever read – thank and god bless you.

  11. taniqua says:

    wow that truely helped me. im 16 and was truely going down the wrong road but thanksss that helped me alot and now i know what to do(:

  12. Jess L says:

    I just wanted to say thank you. I’ve been trying to let go of my anger for years. Unfortunately, the tough experiences I have had throughout my life have all been somewhat similar. Therefore, it has been difficult to ever close any door. Every horrible thing that has happened to me has just seemed like a continuation of the same event. I don’t want to drag this into the next part of my life. If I do, I won’t be able to recognize a nice normal person if he ran right into me. As with everything worth doing, this will be a process. Yet, it is comforting to know that I can always refer back to what you wrote to help me. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  13. Luke J says:

    Its helping me a lot to release the anger towards those that have hurt me. The negative feelings still come up but I remember I’ve released them and the account is closed. Those feelings start going away. Thank you so much for the help!

  14. Phyl K says:

    Just what I needed today – I got to the point that it’s not about what’s fair – it’ll never be fair but that’s not the point – the point is I want to be done with the anger and that requires an act of mental determination and soulful desire to forgive and let go.

  15. Brenda says:

    Thank you for this post. It is concise and makes perfect sense. Your explanation amplifies what the Bible teaches about anger and forgiveness and has helped me let go of hurt and anger from a traumatic divorce – not because my ex-husband deserves forgiveness, but because I choose to release myself from holding him responsible for the wrongs done to me.

  16. Leo says:

    To whoever wrote this:

    Thank you.

    I don’t think you realize just how much you have transformed my life…..When I first read this, I cried and cried because everything made sense….and with some work, I can finally rid of my anger once and for all.

    Thank you SO MUCH for this.

  17. jehanne says:

    Imagine my pleasant surprise when I made it half way through this life-changing article and discovered that its advice was grounded in Christian wisdom and values (and not just another secular self-help yarn that would ultimately be spiritually unhelpful).

    The ledger analogy, the carrying of anger over the “seasons” of our lives, analyzing “fairness,” and the simple imagery of Jesus telling us to let these “debts” go really made an impression on me. A heartfelt thank you, from a young person who will carry your wisdom with her for a long time. God bless you. 🙂

  18. Rose says:

    Thank you very much for this article. Very useful even for an athiest

  19. Trini says:

    Thanks a million this is exactly what I needed to read 🙂

  20. Lins says:

    I had just come to the realisation that anger is crippling my life and so I starting looking for answers. I found several really facile articles that just made me angry!…and then I read this. This is so what I need. It just makes a lot of sense and I am going to really try hard to follow this advice.

    Many thanks. xxx

  21. Salam says:

    Thank you so much! You helped me alot

  22. Javier says:

    This really helped me a lot. After reading it I felt a sudden urge to take action and move forward. Often times when we focuse too much on the anger and the darkness that we carry around we do it with the thoughts of the past experiences that caused them, this prevents us from moving forward. Thanks!

  23. Valerie says:

    Can’t connect to the god thing, but good article..really understand canceling a debt. I can do that. Hey I tried by best to believe in religion but my brain just wouldn’t accept it. Huh.

  24. Tiffany Bates says:

    Thank you so much. This will help me & my boyfriend who is struggling with how to get rid of anger. I was having problems trying to explain this point. This so answers his questions. It’ll be a hard road for him but I’ll keep reminding him God loves him & we can only follow His example.

  25. tera says:

    i used live with bi-polar boyfriend(ex now).he was abusive and sex addict.i move out,went few places,until i got my i try do things i want to do,make my own choices..try not be worship other peoples glad about changes,but i do still have anger off and on…

  26. Jackie says:

    This has finally helped me understand how to get rid of my resentment, bitterness and anger and forgive. For the first time. Thank you so much, this is perfect. I’m printing this out and sharing with everyone I know who needs it.

  27. Toni Hoskins says:

    The best advice I have gotten since my grandmothers passing. God bless you and may his peace reside within sll our hearts.

  28. Fiona M says:

    Thanks soooooooo much! I really needed this right now.

  29. Steve Perry says:

    I like and agree with what you have presented, and in my situation I have tried to do these things. But, I am dealing with two sisters who keep up with new attacks on me, my wife and my daughter. Each time it is more difficult to release my anger, I want to strike back and defend myself and my family. The most recent episode has seen my anger turning to hate, and I am having a very difficult time forgiving again and letting go of my outrage. What else can I do in this situation?

  30. Rod K says:

    Thank you for your comment. If you are the repeated recipient of abuse from family members (or anyone) then removing yourself from the situation is entirely appropriate. Your first responsibility is to your wife and daughter – protecting them is the first priority. I would suggest some geographical distance, or at least drawing some firm boundaries with your sisters. I’d highly recommend the book ‘Boundaries’ by Henry Cloud as a good resource for you.

  31. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this post. I pray I can actually do it! I am seething with anger and rage and bitterness after my husband of 19 years had an affair with a woman half out age and has decided “freedom” is better than his life with me and our 3 kids. I feel desperate and angry and humiliated and rejected and scared to death of my future. I try to be civil for the sake of our kids but he’ll do or say something that sets me off and I become so so angry that he has done this and seems without remorse, smug even. But, oh Lord, the anger is causing pain only to me it seems. I so wish I could be free from it.

  32. Great words, Andy Stanley’s book “Enemies of the Heart” does a great job talking about this principle and other “debt” issues. Anyone who has enjoyed this article (which I have) should check out Andy’s book too.

  33. Mary says:

    Thank you so much, great words.

  34. Jennifer says:

    thank you i don’t know how i can tell you how much i understand. now Im 13 and from the second i was born, to this moment my child hood has been filled with smelly garbage, and horrible helped me get ride of the times from my father leaving me and my mother on the streets when i was first born to the time i was sexually abused and now i can finaly get rid of all the truck loads of trash. You do not know how much i love you!

  35. Melanie says:

    Couldn’t have come to me at a better time. Thanks. Love and light.

  36. narelle says:

    Thank you so much, i am starting to feel better already. I am about to separate from my marriage of 30 years. I have so much anger in me it scares me. I am so grateful to have found this post. I hope and pray it helps me.

  37. narelle says:

    Just had to comment again because I have not even thank u enough, this is the best thing I have ever read. It has helped me so much that I don”t think I am even going to separate anymore. There is so much selfishness, and unkind people in this world (me being one of them) . I am going to past this on to a lot of people in my life because I think everyone can benefit from this post, I hope I never loose it.

  38. Wendy says:

    I married a man I met at 18 that was so cute , cool , and ANGRY. I have heard I am sorry or I am the one that forgives countless times. I love him but after 20 + yrs it has put a burden on our relationship. We are both Christians and had a very lenghty tear filled discussion about LETTING GO! I want that for him to completely surrender it . He knows and prays but I believe and now know this has covered many seasons and Pride has blanketed it. We have had recent gut wrenching talks about possible sources. He can’t seem to identify the source to cancel the debt. We are both in prayer and seeking guidance and I came across this . Thank You but how do we identify the source.

  39. Yusuf says:

    You know this post really brought tears to my eyes. When you see the truth it really hits you. I kept asking myself how can I get rid of this anger? It is killing me. I just have to let go and forgive. There is no way I can be repaid. I don’t want to be repaid. I just want to put this anger to rest.

  40. Linda says:

    Thank you! More than a good post. It is so insightful and honestly, life changing. Thank you again.

  41. Tangi says:

    This was a great post! Thank you for your knowledgable words. This will help me in overcoming the angers in my life and give my mind peace!!!

  42. Anthony says:

    Best advice I’ve had. Well written and concise. It helped me enormously and I feel I can move on now. Thank you.

  43. A New Dove says:

    Thank you for this! This is the best advice I’ve ever had about anger. Usually I hear things like: look on the bright side, or count to 10, practice breathing exercises, etc…. As soon as I read this I got right to work praying and making a list of accounts. I prayed through them all and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. The best news is, I haven’t felt this close to God in so many years. I’m so grateful that you’re following God in this way and may God bless you in ways you can’t even imagine!

  44. Victoria says:

    Tonight I sat in front of my toilet and wrote all those things I felt people owed me. While I was burning them and carefully listening for any sudden fire alarms going off, I realized many things. I realized that some things were easier to forgive than others. There are fresh and old resentments and usually the hardest one, for me anyways, were the ones I held against were my parents.
    I also wrote alongside those debts things I wished for. After I burnt the negative ones, I clapped my hands and kissed each sheet of paper. They were for happiness, strength, future love, and prosperity. Thank you! It’s helped me heal.

  45. Millz zw says:

    Thanx, quite helpful….

  46. jamie foster says:

    Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for. I am looking forward to sharing with others as well.

  47. Barabara says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You have made a real difference in my life.

  48. Lisa says:

    What do I do to forgive if my husband is DAILY degrading me with his words and actions. I can’t leave him because I don’t want to break up our child’s family. We don’t fight or argue in front of our son, I just sit and take it, feeling powerless to change anything. The “season” of hurt you describe is on-going, not just a season.

  49. Marti says:

    Wow. I googled “biblical solutions to ridding yourself of anger” and this popped up. I was terminated, after 13 years, from my job in October of this year. I am angry because it was unjustified, the people I worked with I thought were my friends didn’t defend me. I am a Christian, am trying very hard to get rid of the anger. I prayed. Hard. I read the bible. I tried very hard. Tonight I found this and finally I feel that something may really work. I am going to write everything down, including names! It won’t happen overnight, it’s going to take awhile to “purge” so to speak, but I thank you very much for this. I feel that a physical, tangible “letting go” may be just what I needed. God bless you.

  50. Annie Crow says:

    Great article. I googled how to get rid of anger and this is what I found. The key phrase in here is that it will never be enough anyway. No matter how much I feel I am owed, how much was emotionally ripped off, it won’t get paid anyway. There’s no way to clear the balance sheet without forgiveness.

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