Isn’t Anger Healthy?

from Danny

We’ve been asked this question a number of times. It usually takes the form of “but isn’t anger a healthy part of the healing process?” or something like it. We get the question a lot in part because of our stance that love and anger, hope and fear, forgiveness and bitterness, they are all things that you choose.  Admittedly, it doesn’t feel like we are choosing these emotions when we experience them, but that’s just because so much of our experience is unconscious instead of deliberate (I include myself in that grouping).

I believe all of us could be more deliberate. I am always working on being consistently deliberate, instead of just letting emotions (and the state of being that comes with them) just happen to me. I want to cultivate the good stuff, and get better and better and handling the negative stuff. Some days are certainly better than others.

A Parable From Vipassana

Each night during Vipassana you listen to a lecture.  I LOVED those lectures! One lecture on the 4th night had a simple illustration on why we should be deliberate regarding the kinds of energy we accept and encourage in our thoughts and words and actions.

There are two seeds, one bitter, one sweet.  Planted in the same ground, given the same water, the same sun, the same care…when they sprout and grow and bear fruit will you be surprised at all that the fruit from one is bitter and the fruit from the other is sweet?

This thought stuck with me for much of the 10-day course, and though my mind was supposed to be as silent as possible, I found myself writing a blog post in my mind about anger.

Thoughts on Anger

I think many of us are conditioned to believe that some things just make you angry. As in, if this circumstance didn’t happen, or that person hadn’t said or done or written this thing, or if I hadn’t accidentally deleted that file…well then I wouldn’t be angry. We blame a great deal of our negative emotions on some outside influence. Things external to us appear to have complete control.

But the reality is, circumstances do not make you angry, people’s behavior/actions do not make you angry, your own mistakes do not make you angry……but they do give you an opportunity to plant a seed. If the seed you plant in response to these normal life events is anger, whether you know it or not, you are also choosing the future fruit of bitterness and unhappiness.

You may say to me “but anger is natural”, and I say “yes it is!” You say “it is normal,” and I say “yes it is!” But if by natural and normal, you mean that it is healthy or that you have no choice, well then I disagree.

My Own Analogy For Anger

Saying anger is healthy is like saying infections are healthy.  The fact is, dealing with infections is healthy, treating infections is healthy, preventing infection is healthy, eliminating infectious material is healthy. There are some infections that are simple enough that you only get them once and your body knows exactly what to do with it if it comes again. The same is true with different causes of anger that you already know how to manage and address quickly.

You might be thinking of some “infections” that you’ve had more than once – it gets you every time no matter how many times you’ve dealt with it. In this sense, your anger in response to this particular challenge is more like a chronic disease, and it would be worth asking if you ever got rid of it in the first place? Did you ever actually heal? Or did the anger just subside long enough for you to think you were done, and it was just waiting for the right trigger to afflict you with all its familiar symptoms.

Some life experiences are like vaccines – getting a weakened dose of anger at some point in your life can prepare you against much more serious forms of it later.

Some experiences with anger are like a common cold. A little bit of time and not much effort on your part and it’s all better.Some are like cancer. They may start small and begin invading your body almost unnoticed at first, but left untreated they will eventually ravage every part of who you are. The sad thing about this kind of anger/infection, is that when your body is in an already weakened state, it can be a common cold that pushes you over. The infections/anger build on each other. An existing condition of anger makes it that much easier to give into something that, when isolated, is small and insignificant.

So you see, anger is not healthy, but learning how to treat and prevent it is. When the seeds of anger blow, you are the one who decides whether or not you will give them fertile soil, water, and nourishment so they can grow and bear the fruit of future misery. Although anger is often justified, it is never sanctifying.

In response to a path Mara and I suggest which emphasizes choice, we often hear people defending the path and role of anger as a normal part of a healthy healing process. My response to that is you’re right! If you haven’t reached a place in your life where anger itself is distasteful to you, and you haven’t yet developed the personal tools that would allow you to follow a different and more deliberate path, then YES….anger will be a normal and natural part of your healing process.

But it doesn’t have to be.

For those interested in challenging their assumptions on anger and whether the familiar advice that “venting is healthy and helps you process”, PLEASE GO READ this article from You’re Not So Smart. It shares some of the reasons this common advice has worked its way so thoroughly into our culture and our psychology (for millennia), and the research that has been proving it wrong (which was only conducted in the 1990s and hasn’t quite infiltrated our lives or cultural norms yet).

Also, Mara and I recently responded in the comment section to someone asking a variation of this question….I think the responses we both wrote are a valuable contribution to discussion on this topic, if that’s what you are looking for.  

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  1. Anonymous March 12, 2015 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you Danny for this great post, it resonates with me in so many ways.

  2. danny March 12, 2015 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks Jenn! It's been on my mind for quite some time now, it felt good to finally put it into words, and I'm glad it resonated with you!

  3. christina March 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Hmm … I can only speak for myself, but if I've found that I'm able to get over things much faster if I (1) identify the negative emotion that I'm feeling, and (2) give myself 5 minutes to fester in my negativity. Sometimes I will even set a timer. If I don't allow myself to do that—to acknowledge and fully feel my emotion—I'll get that lump-in-the-throat sensation (as if sadness is physically stuck inside me), and I'll end up with a low-grade depression for the entire day – yuck!

    You'll notice that I' mentioned sadness (which I struggle with much more than anger), but I imagine both negative emotions work in much the same way.

    Perhaps I should try setting my "wallowing timer" to 4 minutes, eventually working my way down to 1 minute. I don't think I'd ever endeavor to avoid negative feelings at all. I believe all emotions, including negative ones, can be guiding lights (e.g., hmm …. when my boyfriend treats me like crap, I *feel* like crap. Maybe I should ditch the boyfriend!).

    I'll end this by saying that I think your approach to dealing with anger is infinitely more enduring than the tired, traditional suggestions they espouse in anger management classes. When I did training to become a court-appointed special advocate for foster kids, the same classroom was also used to conduct anger management classes for court-involved teens. The instructor always left his flipcharts behind and they were full of all the tired cliches ("take 5 deep breaths." "count to 10"). In my head, I always thought "These kids are hurting! Most of them have terrible home lives and you are telling them to count to 10!" That is not salve for the spirit, which is what those kids really need.

    • danny March 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      I agree with a great deal of what you said. I think part of it may come down to semantics and how we choose to describe similar things (although there are of course differences).

      The article I linked to shows in part why the basis behind many anger management classes don't work (although the specific examples you used weren't referenced). I suppose there are times when the counseling is rooted in old/outdated psychology and older understandings of how the brain works and grows and changes.

      I do think one very important area of agreement is that I don't believe in pretending the anger isn't there, I don't believe in avoidance of negativity, hiding it, or anything like that. It must indeed be recognized for what it is….just like with an infection it is important to diagnose what is going on so that you can treat it.

      I TOTALLY agree with you about using negative emotions as guiding lights. Not only because they may help you make important life decisions that would lead to less negativity in your circumstances, but also because their arising shows you the areas of yourself that need the most work and attention. It shows you what you are most threatened by, scared of, guilty about, etc. It can be a reminder that this area of life needs more focus, love, and deliberate living. It may mean that you go see a therapist that can help guide you to consistently healthier reactions.

      I like your idea of taking your 5 minute break, and possibly bringing it down to 4, then 3, and so on. I think THIS is the way that we should look at personal growth. We should think about the incremental changes that lead to just a little bit more patience, just a little bit more calmness, just a little bit more love. The process of going from 5 minutes to 4 minutes for one person, is just as important and doable as another person going from 5 days to 4 days.

      It's not about whether you are a 5 minute person, or a 5 day person, it's whether you're willing to work on making incremental change and pushing your development in more deliberate ways.

      Finally, whenever I hear about the difficulties of foster kids and the struggles they are very likely to go through, I can't help but think of the movie "Buck" – about the real life horse whisperer. He was one such kid, and it was his personal struggles as a child, and learning how to come to a place of peace and calmness, that largely informs his compassion and skill set that he applies to horses. Seriously, that documentary isn't about horses at all, it's about living, and living fully. The things he uses to make noticeable changes in his horses are the exact things that the rest of us can apply to our more turbulent moments or relationships.

      Thanks for the great comment and thoughtfulness.

    • danny March 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm - Reply

      Oh…I meant to add that the comment section I linked to in the post was also relevant to the concept of "acknowledging the negative emotion".

  4. Discovery Preschool March 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    I really loved this post. I have noticed that there are things in my life that I immediately go from zero to ten in anger and after I am shocked and frustrated that I get that angry that fast. So this is something that I have been wanting to really work on and change. I feel like your analogy is going to help me. I am definitely going to put this into practice.. I can say from experience that being or reacting in anger has never once made me feel good. I would so much rather learn to react in love and kindness and this is something I am going to work on everyday until it becomes my natural reaction. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • danny March 12, 2015 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      I love this attitude! My experience is it definitely becomes more and more natural the more you practice it. I'm a big believer in the concept of practice as it applies not only to talents and skills, but emotional well being and healthier reactions.

      There are a number of things I can think of that used to send me into a very defensive mindset that would eventually lead into anger, that now could happen and it wouldn't phase me. Of course, there is always more work to do, there are always new circumstances you've never encountered that you won't do well at all, but each time something gets to you, you really can look at it as an opportunity to dig deeper and root out those kinds of reactions.

  5. Dale Burgess March 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Gosh this is interesting and I absolutely agree. Both from a perspective of personal experience (do you ever feel, even when you are feeling a very extreme emotion, slightly outside of yourself? Like you can feel yourself being emotional, but also see it logically from an outside perspective?) But also, I'm a PhD student of the 12th century and their is a lot of evidence that, the idea of emotion as something outside ourselves, something which we don't control, is actually a cultural convention of the later middle ages. Before that emotion was something which you exhibited in order to get a reaction from others, or show a social convention, for example, crying exhibited modesty and piety – such a different interpretation from what crying means today! I am increasingly convinced there is a cultural dimension to emotion, and if so it strikes me it is very much within our control.

    • danny March 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Very interesting Dale, thanks for sharing. Makes me want to go do some more digging and research. I have long been aware of Freud's influence on modern culture and leaning heavily towards the idea of things being out of control (because the are the result of genetics or environment), it has taken a wave of successive developments to get away from those ideas in medical and therapeutic practice, but it is still engrained in our culture (in almost every depiction of therapy in movies that I can think of, it seems to be following more of a freudian model).

      There is science regarding brain development and the capacity to rewire your brain and neurological pathways that is completely accepted today, that was laughed at 15 years ago because everybody viewed brain development as more static and unchanging after a certain period.

      Anyway, I'm rambling now. Cool thoughts on the 12th century studies.

  6. RATCH March 13, 2015 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Great topic! I've struggled with anger during the grieving process over the last year or so. I hate the anger faze of grief… It is so isolating and draining. It is by far my least favorite emotion. I try not to fight it when it comes but I ACTIVELY choose not to dwell in anger. I don't feed it or nurture it and it passes quicker each time it comes. I think that is where choice comes into play for me. Sometimes a wave of anger will hit out of nowhere… My choice is how I respond to it and act on it. If I feed it it gets ugly. If I just let it roll over me, breathe and purposefully seek peace then peace comes. Just for fun here's a link to a talk on this very topic from my favorite GA during the 1998 general conference. Thank you both for sharing such needed and thought provoking posts. Your blog is uplifting and very inspired.

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Yes! Our response truly is where our power is either discovered or lost. Understanding that at the core of everything we are as a human being is the "power to choose" is the reason that any growth at all is possible.

  7. Rebekah Leigh March 13, 2015 at 8:09 am - Reply

    I agree that being angry is something we choose to do. I believe that anger is a secondary emotion and that by addressing our primary emotions we can be in control of what makes us angry. Some of these first emotions being disappointment, impatience, frustration, anxiety and pain or hurt. Most anger starts or developed from one of these feelings if there not addressed first. My husband and I have been working on this, by trying to communicating when we start feeling one of these primary emotions instead of stewing and brushing it off until we can't but use anger to let out all the held in feelings. Anger only hurts there is no true victory of compromise in arguments filled with anger. My advice be honest with yourself and identify your feelings. If your feeling disappointed ask yourself why and find how you can resolve it and move on with your day. It is not easy, but I've found its so worth it to be able to shake off the negative energy and focus on the joys in life. Danny you perfectly explained anger as a choice so well thank you for helping us to learn and grow.

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      You're in good company Rebekah. Yoda agrees. "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering."

      Fear, I think, is one of those primary emotions.

      Congrats to you and your hubby on actively addressing it. This I think is truly the most important. Simply being proactive about it, aware, deliberate….it leads to all sorts of changes. It is our passive acceptance that "this is just the way things are" that leads to stagnation and an absence of growth.

  8. Heather March 13, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I agree that chronic anger is incredibly toxic on so many levels. However, used in a healthy way, I think anger can act as FUEL to get you to make decisions that are going to be more amenable to you and your life. You can't always change the situation that is making you angry, but if you listen to your anger (maybe even jot it down), I think a pattern will develop, and lead to ways of change. I think if you allow yourself to actively FEEL it, and ADDRESS it, you can then use it in a positive way. Being angry for five minutes (or whatever you allot yourself), and then making it go away may not necessarily address the underlying issues.

    I also think learning to set clear and firm boundaries about what you can accept and what you can't can help you avoid situations that may make you angry later on. For women especially, there is a lot of pressure to be "nice". However, if you're too "nice", you may often be overlooking your own needs which can then lead to anger and resentment. Setting firmer boundaries and being "nicer" to yourself will help you lessen the chances of "angry" feelings later on.

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Heather, you make an important point here that I somewhat addressed in the other comment I linked to.

      I don't think having anger is something to be ashamed of…it is most useful when it is used as a tool for awareness that something is off, and needs to be addressed. For me, the moments when I've had the most anger, something that doesn't go away soon and is somewhat consuming, I've always turned to writing. I write in order to process and identify what it is that is going on with me.

      If what I'm angry about is a person and their actions, my writing may start with more of a blaming and accusatory tone, a way for me to tell them off or something. But as the writing continues, it becomes more introspective. I begin to look at and understand what it was that made me so upset. Maybe someone attacked me or my family, maybe they spoke dismissively or offensively of something that is important to me. Maybe they identified and pointed out a personal weakness I wasn't ready to deal with yet. I know I'm finished writing when my words no longer contain anger, but express and honest and deeply felt compassion, understanding, and introspection. In this way I've taken away the power that someone had to "make" me angry.

      This is why I still like the analogy of anger being an infection. The healthy thing is to "diagnose" what is at the root of the anger, so that you can treat it and then the symptoms and infection will go away if properly addressed. If it doesn't go away, you know you still have some personal work to do, because it is deeper than you supposed.

      I would like to clarify that I don't believe in "making it go away". I don't believe hiding it is useful, or pretending it isn't there is useful, or avoiding addressing it. That to me would be the same thing holding your hand over a fire and pretending it isn't burning you. It must be addressed. Again, the comment I linked to in the last part of the post is relevant.

      Thanks for the comment!

  9. suzanne sanborn March 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post, I really needed perspective on anger right now. Dealing with a lot of things….a personal loss, jerky neighbor, coworker causing havoc at work. All things I felt I deserved to be angry about. My anger doesn't help the situation and only hurts me, thanks for the perspective

  10. Anonymous March 13, 2015 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Oh man. This is one of those things I wholeheartedly agree with, YET feel like I don't ever really see myself being able to do well. Not perfectly, or always, but well. (In fact, I would say I feel that way about a lot of things on ABAL. I agree, I see how it can work wonders and have felt it even in small ways…but in the big, important ways it feels totally out of reach for me…or at least a long way off.) I'm almost in tears writing that down, but there it is. Specifically referring to anger I would say it's probably been there for so long I almost don't know how to cope without it. Perhaps I'm addicted to anger. And while I have hope to no longer feel anger in certain parts of my life, it seems like there are other parts (and other people) I simply can't see reacting any other way. Is this weird? I mean to agree wholeheartedly, but also feel like you just don't know–really know–how to truly, effectually change this in your own life long term? And honestly this isn't new information either…it's not like I just stumbled upon this a couple months ago, I've been working on a lot of this for years now. Thoughts?

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      This is a good question. Thanks for having the courage to write it out and say it out loud. I think that is a good start.

      I don't think it is weird at all that at the moment it doesn't seem like there is any other way to react.

      This is how it is for everyone, including me. I think I already wrote it above, but there are some things that used to make me very angry, every time. It was an immediate reaction to an interaction with only certain people. I seemed to be able to control myself in other scenarios. Which already says something about it all…why is it that with some people we can control it, and with others we can't? What makes that difference? Understanding that for you personally could help you finally address what steps need to be taken in the areas where it is more difficult.

      For example, let's say that you are able to not get angry with one particular repeatedly offensive family member. But with another you are not able to control it at this moment. What is the difference? Do you know more backstory behind the one that doesn't anger you? Is compassion easier because you understand where their offensiveness comes from? Are you able to put their offenses into perspective because of an awareness of mental illness, or knowledge about their own pain? What is it about that situation that doesn't cause the offenses to hit their mark and trigger anger and defensiveness?

      By looking at this deeply, you may come to a greater awareness that while one family member's offenses are about something you don't really care that much about (like your political leanings), another family member’s offenses are about something you DO care about, like your children or spouse.

      I think Eckhart Tolle's books can be very enlightening on this subject, because he can give you a great many tools to understand what part of your ego is most attacked when anger is your automatic reaction.

      continued in next comment….

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      continued from previous…

      I remember one particular person who was particularly trying, that over time became a non-issue. Their attacks and confrontations lost their power as I came to realize that their attacks came as a result of deep personal pain and loss. When I realized what they were doing was not about me, but was a result of their pain…their attacks lost their sting and I was no longer angry as a result.

      But, when the attacks shifted from something about me (which I’d learned not to be threatened about with this person [but not necessarily with another person, that’s it’s own separate lesson]), to something about my family, the anger resurfaced.

      In retrospect, I realized it was because different "identities/egos" were being attacked. I got to the point where anything could be said about me by this person and it didn't phase me. I knew deep down that I was not actually diminished by what they said. But for some reason, when my family was attacked, my desire or need to protect them from those attacks made me respond in anger. It took me a while to realize that they didn’t need my defending, because they hadn’t actually been diminished by someone’s opinion.

      Your ego is always looking to be validated and vindicated. The more you value some of the illusions the ego is interested in protecting, the easier it is to get angry when those illusions are threatened (for example, every one of us is at least someone interested in what people thing of us. We want to be approved of, accepted, agreed with, and validated, because there is the illusion our actual worth is connected to what someone else thinks of us. When someone doesn't play the game our ego desires, we now need to "protect its honor"…and that is where fear and anger and resistance come from.)

      This is why Mara’s post about “Truest Identity” is so important to any of these aspects of healing. If you’re focusing on your truest identity, you aren’t nearly as threatened when a lesser identity is challenged.

      I hope this gives you some ideas to kick around in your personal journey.

      It also sounds like you are at least aware enough of the issue that you’d probably benefit from some professional therapy to help you identify and look at what parts of your life are being threatened by these people or circumstances that cause you to be so defensive. Find the right kind of therapist or mentor to help, and my guess is you’d make a lot of progress, because you are at the most CRITICAL stage of growth….the place where you truly DESIRE for something to change. I admire that about you. It’s a beautiful place to begin. The readiness for change and the desire for introspection is a recipe for total success, no matter how many times you may have failed before.

      Much love and good wishes,

    • Jordana March 13, 2015 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Wow Danny, thanks for this comment. The whole post is great but for some reason the way you explained it more here just really made it click for me. I totally find that some people just set me off way more than others and could never understand why that was. And so interesting that we can conquer our anger about one of our identities being attacked and then still need to work on it for other identities. I just recently read the book True Love you've recommended on here and I also really like how he explains that mindfulness is like the mother taking care of negative emotions, like babies. Anyways lots to think about. Good stuff!

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      So glad the explanation was helpful! Sorry about the typos (someone = somewhat, and thing = think), but apparently the info was still conveyed 🙂

      As for True Love, I LOVED that chapter, and thought the way he described that process was beautiful. It added so much insight to the process for me.

      One thing to note. I've noticed that each relationship healing and overcoming all these ego patterns happens in an almost independent and isolated manner in each relationship. So while it is true, as you I described and you noted, that we can conquer our anger about one of the things we value, but then have it triggered regarding another, in a totally separate relationship we may not be able to do any of it.

      How many people are legitimately good at handling criticism from everybody, accept for their parents, or their spouse. They could take it at work, at school, from friends, but if a spouse confronts them about the exact same thing, it makes them defensive. This is not unusual at all, in part because of how much vulnerability and intimacy we have with our spouse. We are that much more exposed and that much more desiring of acceptance…so while we can view criticism with objectivity about some aspect of our character with any other person, we can't with someone we are close to about the very same character flaw. I believe with time, awareness, and practice, we can diminish the hold that the ego/identities have over us. When we do, that is when we are finally able to offer REAL LOVE, because it comes without so many strings attached or needs to be fulfilled. Then you are simply there.

      I've felt that. I haven't totally stepped into it in every relationship, with every dynamic, with every variable….but I've felt that. It lets me know the work is worth it, because love that comes from that place is deeply rewarding, both on a personal level, as well as how you see it affect those whom you love in that manner.

      Hope that makes sense and isn't rambling.

    • Jordana March 15, 2015 at 2:59 am - Reply

      Not rambling at all. So many good thoughts, thanks!

  11. Anonymous March 13, 2015 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Guys!

    I just wanted to pipe in. I haven’t had a chance to read all of these comments, but I know this is definitely a hot topic. I think people can see anger as the grand displays, but it can tend to seep into all of our lives in the most subtle of ways and we see it in how constricted we suddenly feel (or how we suddenly want to scream) when we have certain interactions with people in our lives. My husband is a part of a “mastermind” group with Bob Proctor called “Thinking Into Results.” Just this year we have been on a path of huge expansion of growth and this course just kind of fell into our laps— isn’t that the case with the most beneficial things in life?! However, this has been one of the most helpful things on our journey. Bob Proctor is great for men, especially!! I was kind of on the path of expansion way before my husband was, so this course has been invaluable in getting my husband on the same page. It’s been huge for him. There’s people in the course who are in it in order to get results such as a Nobel Prize, a successful business or ministry, or just to change their thought patterns on life and relationships. Bob Proctor goes pretty deep into how the mind works and what happens when you choose certain behavior and how you can really create the life you want to live. He is really great for how to really transform your life into living it well and getting farther away from things such as anger. So, if any of you are struggling with anything like this or actually getting RESULTS, then you can take a look at this program! It’s really great for getting actual results! The money has been worth every penny for our little family! Here is our family email if you want to email us, we can send you a link to the course and the number of one of the people who run it. 😉 Our email is 😉 And I'm not sure why, but I'm having trouble actually writing in a comment under anything but Anonymous today. :/ But anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful day!

    Happy Friday you guys!!
    -Danielle (

  12. Cristy March 13, 2015 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Newer reader and first time commenter.

    I like what you're getting at with this post, but I think you're confusing anger with bitterness. I believe that anger is a natural and healthy emotion. Anger, like other core emotions, can lead to clarity and relief. What becomes unhealthy is when anger is suppressed or not properly identified. Through suppression, you see manifestations of depression, anxiety, shame and guilt, which can grow into bitterness.

    I think the key with this is learning how to recognize anger and work through it. Just like your analogy with vaccinations. Through recognition, one can address the cause and come to a solution quickly. But I would never advocate for suppressing anger outright. Frankly I think too many people are already trying to do that and it's the root for a lot of the bitterness and depression we see today.

    If you're interested, there's a great article in NYT addressing some of these ideas. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • danny March 13, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      I like what you are saying here Cristy. Despite my verbosity, I probably don't do a good enough job at clarifying that I don't believe this is about suppressing anger, or not identifying it. I've just heard so many people say so many times that the anger (which they keep venting about and expressing and living in) is justified and healthy in response to what someone did to them, or some unfair aspect of life.

      People love to make excuses for why they should be allowed to remain in a state of anger.

      You may be making an important point about the semantics of it all, in that perhaps what is going on is not the initial anger anymore, but the bitterness.

      I agree with you completely that suppressing anger is a terrible idea. I've tried to give examples in these and other comments on the blog to that extent, but to the degree my explanations have been insufficient, I appreciate your direct comment.

      I'll go read the NYT article now…looks interesting!

  13. Emily March 15, 2015 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Thank you for the wise, gracious post!

    “Although anger is often justified, it is never sanctifying.”

    I presume you mean justified in the sense that most people would find the anger understandable, right? I wonder if there is anger that would be justified (right/true/just), and thus would be sanctifying. Could there be some anger that actually should be felt, righteous anger over sin/evil/suffering?

    I think it’s difficult to maintain the position that all anger is good/healthy (at least in the way I’m thinking of it), but I’m wondering if all anger is bad/unhealthy.

    I don’t know, but your post inspired me to read Bible passages about anger. There’s all the semantics, of course, but it seems any righteous, God-honoring “anger” wouldn’t be a reaction but rather an orientation toward evil (e.g. “hate what is evil, cling to what is good”), filled with humility/compassion/mercy/love toward other people.

    In any case, it’s probably best not to think of this as anger lest we use it to justify our sin.

    Just a thought. God bless everyone! 🙂

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