How to C.A.L.M. Your Anger

Jonathan Daugherty

Anger is a huge underlying issue for men struggling with sexually addictive behaviors. But most men don’t recognize it as a problem because they have learned that anger is the “acceptable” emotion for a man to express. Therefore, even as acting out behaviors might decrease in recovery, the bedrock of anger remains.

In order to resolve anger well you must know where it originates.

For most sex addicts the anger that eventually expresses itself in adulthood is often a compilation of numerous “little” disappointments along life’s journey. Most of these disappointments occurred in childhood, and not many of us had the emotional maturity to respond well to such feelings. Therefore, adulthood expressions of anger are constructed through years of mismanaged disappointment. I don’t blame men for not handling their disappointments well in childhood. Most of us were never taught how to manage feelings of disappointment.

These disappointments range in “size” from smaller ones such as Mom forgetting to give you a promised ice cream cone, to larger ones like Dad telling you he is ashamed of you and wished you had never been born.

Whatever the disappointment, when it goes unresolved it adds a thin layer, or film, of pain over the heart. Over time, and as more and more layers of pain are added, your heart grows heavier and harder. Eventually, you end up a grown man with a heart like stone. And anyone or anything that attempts to penetrate its exterior is met with harsh, cold anger.

What is most interesting about this type of anger is that it may appear like you are strong and tough. In reality, however, you are very insecure and afraid. But you have learned to use anger to “scare off” everyone so you don’t have to peer into the cold darkness of your own heart. But if freedom, peace, and purity are to ever be enjoyed, you must break through your frozen heart.

If you can relate to a life of mismanaged disappointment that has turned into anger that puzzles you, there is hope to be free. It isn’t an easy path to peace and security, but a life of joy and contentment is possible. The following are four steps that will help you overcome your anger and become a CALM man of peace, joy, and contentment.

C.A.L.M.

 

1. Confirm the true object of your anger.

Most of the stuff that gets us mad isn’t what we are really mad about. Those are just the ‘triggers’ that set in motion the wheels of angry behavior. We might falsely accuse our wives or some out-of-control motorist for our anger when, in fact, it often goes much deeper than those external circumstances. This is why it is important to identify what has truly ignited this flame of anger. Until you get to the root you can’t kill the tree.

For example, let’s say your wife comes to you and says, ‘Honey, I’ve noticed you have been distant from me and the kids this week. Is everything ok with purity?’ Such a question might stir some feelings of anger and you might fire back in a defensive manner. You may falsely assume that your wife is the object of your anger. Nope. You are. She simply pressed a button that hit a nerve and you launched the retaliation missile.

Most of the time (if you are honest with yourself) you will find that the true object of your anger is yourself or some origin of disappointment in your past. The bad news about such self-directed anger is that it can create numerous unhealthy thoughts of shame that eat you up from the inside out. The good news about this, however, is that if you are the object of most of your anger, you can do something about the object!

2. Address the “nerve” of disappointment this trigger presses on.

Once you confirm the object of your anger (usually yourself or a wound from your past) it then becomes important to address whatever ‘nerve’ of disappointment the triggers are pressing on. For instance, in the example above your wife’s comment might have pressed on long held feelings of inadequacy that began in childhood from never being able to measure up to Dad’s impossible standards. Or maybe the trigger pressed on the nerve of an overbearing mother who never let you take risks and was always in your face about something.

The real healing from anger begins when we get to the emotional ‘nerves’ in our heart. These are the points at which most of our anger was born. As you learn what these nerves are you are better prepared for addressing them with the healing power of the truth.

3. Look to God’s promises for the specific need you have for security.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). And it is the truth that ultimately sets us free (John 8:32). To address the nerves of disappointment that trigger our anger we must bring the Word of God to bear upon them. We touch the layers of pain encasing our hearts with the truth and, over time, we are healed from years of anger and bitterness.

Here is how this works. You get to the nerve of disappointment. Let’s say it is never measuring up to Dad’s strict standards. Then you search God’s Word for the truth about your security in Him. And you find amazing passages like John 10:28-29 and Hebrews 6:16-20. As you implant these truths in your mind they begin to melt your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, soft and pliable in the hands of God.

4. Meet with others to grow in connectedness.

Anger ultimately isolates us from relationships. We grow distant and cold toward those who love us. When we combat the pattern of anger with the truth we must complete the transformation by connecting with others. To truly break the bonds of anger requires relationship. And in relationship we have the ideal ‘practice field’ for engaging in new responses based on truth rather than the old method of lashing out in anger.

To continue in anger causes us to live lonely, isolated lives filled with pain and dissatisfaction. To address our anger and move toward honesty and relationship creates a new foundation for long-term peace, purity, and deep satisfaction.

So, be CALM!

See also:  Every Man’s Battle.

Avoiding Concealment: Living Your Days as an Open Book

Kent Ernsting

Steve got caught. He and Amy were married several years when she found porn images popping up on their home computer that he thought he’d deleted. He told her that it must have come in attached to an e-mail or something. A couple of weeks later she caught him looking at Internet porn when she normally was asleep. She was devastated, especially that he had concealed this from her and that he had deceived her.

Steve learned the hard way that keeping certain things concealed, like his struggle with sexually compulsive behavior, led to real problems. He found out that in darkness his compulsive and addictive behaviors grew and multiplied, a bit like mushrooms grow in a dark environment. Steve began to do the right thing. He took responsibility for his behavior and admitted that what he was doing was wrong. He changed his behavior and recommitted to Amy. Both Steve and Amy wanted the same thing, the restoration of their relationship. Both wanted the restoration of trust, reparation of the breech that had formed a wedge in their marriage. But how could he restore his relationship to Amy?

Steve took stock of what happened between them. The dishonesty that he had spoken to her had promoted distrust. He held on to secrets that had created an emotional and spiritual gulf between them. His secrets had led to him feeling guilty and ashamed about his behavior. He felt bad about himself and became afraid that if she knew what he had done then she would reject him. The lies and the deception were harder for her to take than his behavior and she began to doubt other areas where she had normally trusted him. She began to ask him lots of questions and whenever he was late she asked him where he had been and what he had been doing. Steve realized that he had to live his life in an open manner.

He began to recover from his compulsive behavior when he talked about it with other men who understood what he was going through. He attended a weekly group with other men who were recovering from compulsive and addictive behavior. From them he learned that he wasn’t the only one who struggled with lust and found out that it reduced his shame when he talked with them. He started to meet with an accountability partner who encouraged him with words like, ‘Good job, thanks for telling me about the struggle you’re having.’ He also found that his emerging spirituality helped him to resist cravings that he had previously struggled to overcome. He asked God to search his heart and know him and show him anything that was preventing him from living in the light.

He began to feel better about himself and he was able to lie down to sleep knowing that he had lived in integrity that day. Steve also found it helpful to meet monthly with his spiritual mentor who encouraged openness in their relationship with one another. Steve found that in order for Amy to trust him he had to tell her the truth, even when it hurt to be honest. One day she asked him if he had deposited a check into their account that he had said that he would do. He knew that she would be disappointed with him when he admitted that he hadn’t gotten to the bank that day. But he also knew that if he concealed that fact in order to avoid her temporary displeasure, he risked a much greater loss when she eventually saw the bank statement and realized that he had lied to her. He knew that he had to be open with her about the little things as well as the big things.

Steve found that he had been hiding more than just his behavior from Amy. He had been hiding his true feelings from her as well. As a result, she really didn’t know a whole lot about him. He decided not to conceal his core from her, he decided not to pretend, and he disclosed more of his true self to her. The irony of it was that when he dropped his mask and let her in, she responded well and began to accept him as he was, even with his blemishes. She loved him for who he was and they began to experience true intimacy. He found that honesty and mutual acceptance became the foundation of the intimacy they had longed to have with each other.

For help, please see Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, take the next step–healing for your marriage–by attending the New Life Weekend.