What Practical Things Can an Angry Person Do in Moments of Anger?

Be the Tax Collector

Anger can be powerful. Is there any way to fight it when it consumes a person? Dr. Ed Welch, counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), urges people to take anger seriously both in the moment and in between episodes. 

Ed Welch has been counseling for over 30 years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. He is the author of When People Are Big and God is Small, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Blame it on the Brain, Depression—A Stubborn Darkness, and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety. 

Ed begins his interview joking a bit. His comparison of an angry person to a werewolf is simply to encourage those who struggle with anger to take the most dire actions possible when overwhelmed. If not controlled quickly, their anger could become dangerous. Whatever they can do to keep their mouths and bodies under control, they should do.  

Who do you know who struggles with severe episodes of anger? Do you struggle? What things do you or this person need to control when they are angry?
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What do “dire actions” look like for you or the person you know who struggles with anger?
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Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ed said that the real work for those who struggle with anger is going to be done in between moments of anger. He referenced The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18 and highlighted the attitude of the tax collector. Angry people argue that they’re right, and everyone else is wrong. The tax collector has no such confidence. He cried, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” 

What role do you think confession plays in dealing with anger?
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Are there ways you can establish a rhythm of confession for you or the angry person you know? If so, what would that look like? If not, are there other things you or the person who know could do to seek counsel?
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What changes in attitude would you like to see in your or the angry person in your life? What are some ways some of those changes could be made?
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A lot of anger seems to be out of a person’s control. When someone who’s angry does some work and preparation ahead of time, though, slowly but surely episodes of anger can become less frequent. What you or your friend needs above all else is steady support and encouragement from loved ones to shift your mindset from anger to humility before God and others.  

This video is a publication of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). All content is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from CCEF. For more information on classes, materials, speaking events, distance education and other services, please visit www.ccef.org