One of our top recommended resources is a book titled, “Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way” by Gary Chapman. LF read the book and shared some highlights of what you’ll find inside this 196-page paperback. Thanks LF, for your contribution to the community!

–Michael

Wondering how to control anger? Ask how to manage anger instead.

If you’ve been trying to eliminate anger from your life, that might not be the answer. Gary Chapman, a couples and family counselor for 35 years, says that rather than merely learning how to control anger, learning how to manage anger in a healthy way is a better goal.

Getting angry does not mean you are a bad person.

This book shows anger is necessary and teaches healthy ways of handling the emotions that affect our mind, body and will. Chapman includes case examples from his work with clients over the years and ends each chapter with a recap of action steps.

Chapter two hits on the core essence of the book with the statement that “anger’s purpose is to motivate us to positive, loving action that will leave things better than we found them.” It may be hard to believe that anger could actually bring about positive change, but that is what Chapman shows is possible when expressed in a healthy way. The author introduces a 5-step process for making anger towards another person productive.

Anger’s purpose is to motivate us to positive, loving action that will leave things better than we found them.

How to reduce anger

Chapter four shows us how to reduce anger by looking at whether our anger is justified or distorted and the response that’s best for each. It’s no surprise that most of the anger we feel is based on our distorted view of reality. I’m reminded of something I heard some time ago that stuck with me–there are three sides to any story: yours, mine and the truth. The problem is MY story feels like the truth.

Do frustration and disappointment fuel the fire raging inside of you? There’s a good chance it is distorted anger and there is more discussion required to learn the truth of the situation.

Have you ever realized, after GOING OFF, that you had it all wrong?

I have, even as recently as a couple of weeks ago. I suggested to my teenager that we go for lunch at the local Wendy’s restaurant. My teenager, in all her dramatic teenage glory, told me she COULDN’T go in and eat. I took this as a personal insult. I went off. I aired all my personal insecurities about her never wanting to spend time with me. When I finally calmed down and listened, I learned she was just concerned about not being dressed right to be seen by friends who were likely to be there, not because she didn’t want to spend time with me.

This clearly illustrates how we get angry and argue then feel horrible based on what is going on in our own heads. We don’t share information and we don’t stop to think of any scenario aside from the one playing in our own minds. I could have let it chip away at our relationship had I not realized my thinking was distorted. Imagine if it had been a more serious topic.

I could have let it chip away at our relationship had I not realized my thinking was distorted.

And if it’s happened once, it’s likely happened MANY times. Because all of life is built on patterns. The majority of the actions we take and the thoughts we think are repeated over and over. These deeply ingrained responses don’t just go away. It takes being aware of our thoughts that are causing our reactions and challenging them, possibly with the help of others like a counselor, to interrupt the cycle.

It’s important to know you hold the power to change the direction of a situation by sharing how you feel and asking for the other person’s help. Chapman provides a script to help initiate this. Although explosive anger is not the answer, neither is holding the anger inside. The author explains that anger left to fester can lead to negative side effects and in some instances, death.

Think you’re are the only one who gets this angry?

Think again. For over 2,000 years, man has wrestled with anger. Chapman proves this by referencing stories from as far back as biblical times.

If we believe that anger serves a purpose, it’s also important to know that “anger is meant to be a visitor, not a resident.” Love and uncontrolled anger cannot coexist. Chapman outlines a way to create a commitment with a spouse to avoid explosive expressions of anger.

Anger is meant to be a visitor, not a resident.

We’re shown in the book that everyone has the “right” as a human being to be angry. It can actually be detrimental to deny someone that right. For example, telling your partner or children to “calm down,” “don’t be mad,” or “you have no reason to be angry” does not acknowledge their right to have their own feelings in a given situation.

Included in the book is a discussion guide, which provides a framework for exploring concepts introduced in each chapter more fully. The guide could be used in small groups or even for personal reflection. For each chapter, there are segments titled: Getting Started, Questions for Discussion, Thoughts for Reflection, and Options for Application. If you purchase the book, you’ll have a detachable card with a script to read when you’re overcome with anger, a quick reference of verses to memorize, and a reminder of the five simple steps how to deal with anger.

Chapman’s teachings rely on the use of Bible passages, although the concepts are helpful regardless of your religious views. He clearly believes that to live a great life and reach your full potential, we cannot continue to let our anger run rampant—either in outward aggression or by letting it quietly destroy us inside. Throughout the book he touches on other issues many of us deal with: forgiveness, being angry at ourselves, dealing with anger as a parent, and being angry with God.

This book will give you an enlightened view of anger and help you use it as a catalyst for positive change.

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