What's Behind That Anger?

  • Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

There are numerous emotional responses one can experience on any given day. This is one of the beautiful as well as complex processes of being fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s eyes. When, with God’s help, we slow down enough to think about our own processes, we discover that many other feelings, thoughts, and expectations may play a part in the development of an angry response. What this means then is that anger may often be a secondary emotional response. The primary or first feeling we may have in response to an interaction or set of circumstances is something other than anger. Outlined below are some possibly primary feelings one may be experiencing along with expectations that may be in operation. This is where the Holy Spirit does His best work.


Primary Feeling




You don’t like me.

Others should always be kind, considerate, and fair to me.....


I don’t comprehend this. This is too mixed up.

I should always understand, take charge, be decisive....


If I am not perfect, I am not a good person.

I should never make mistakes, put myself first. I should know how to do things the first time around....


I am not safe. I can’t handle this.

I should always be brave, courageous, confident, a role model....


I have no alternatives. Conditions are too much for me.

I should always be in control, self-directed, have faith, achieve, believe in myself...


I’m not doing a good job for the Lord.

I should always be competent, efficient, compassionate…

(parts of this are from a handout with an unknown author)

Although these are just a few, it is easy to see how we may be operating out of assumptions that are not true. Not only are they not true, they keep us from expressing what we are more honestly experiencing. Anger is easy to go to in our responses as it provides as sense of being strong, protected, and justified in our behavior. I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to know what we are dealing with underneath the surface. Psalm 84:5 states “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You. Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” Developing this kind of awareness takes time and an commitment to

walking closely with the Lord. It is a pilgrimage and the Holy Spirit is faithful to finish the work. Committing the smallest steps of living to the Lord will make the crooked straight in our relationships.

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