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What is the root cause of a spirit of anger?

The Root Causes of Anger
recognizing and resolving hurts and guilt

Anger is a universal problem. It is not limited to one age group, culture, race, economic level, social status, educational background, or any other classification.

Unresolved anger is one of the chief contributing factors to the destruction of marriages, the breakdown of families, and the weakening of communities. It is a major cause of health problems and lack of productivity in the workplace, and it is a common denominator among juvenile delinquents.

Identify the Root Cause of Anger

Anger is a serious problem. What causes it? The root cause of a spirit of anger is tension from past hurts and guilt. This mixture of pain and guilt is cumulative and it erupts in anger when new offenses remind us of past experiences.

Most people assume that hurtful events in the past will be forgotten and will have no effect on the future. That is not true. Past hurts do not just go away, nor does guilt simply disappear after a wrong response to a situation. Unless these experiences are resolved through repentance and forgiveness, we will continue to experience bouts of anger when our tension points are triggered.

Recognize Pain From the Past

The following situations often lead us into bitterness, where we typically lash out in wrath, revenge, or other hurtful responses.

  • The pain of rejection

    The pain of rejection is one of the strongest factors in a person’s life, especially in childhood. A child forms strong attachments to parents, friends, and relatives and finds security in these relationships. When those who are trusted communicate rejection, the child’s secure world collapses and he faces a host of fears. The pain of rejection and the torment of fears can cause the child to develop deep bitterness toward the one who is responsible for his pain. When parents get divorced, their children typically experience the pain of rejection.

  • The reaction to unchangeable features of our lives

    One of the greatest challenges facing every young person is that of accepting unchangeable features, such as physical appearance, mental capabilities, birth order, race, brothers and sisters, and parents. When someone mocks or ridicules a child who is already insecure, it is a devastating blow to his self-esteem. Ridicule does not just attack a child’s actions—it mocks him as a person. One who experiences ridicule will be extremely sensitive to anyone else who ridicules him or others. The anger he feels is motivated by a desire for the just punishment of anyone who mocks others.

  • The grief of favoritism

    When parents favor one child over another, they are not only damaging the self-worth of the child who is less appreciated, but they are also encouraging him or her to react toward the one who is favored. Favoritism to one will be seen as rejection by the other. The Biblical example of Jacob’s favor of Joseph over the rest of his sons is a classic example of this situation. Joseph’s brothers resented the favor Joseph received, and they sold him into slavery. Then they led Jacob to believe that Joseph had died. (See Genesis 39.)

  • The anguish of false accusations

    A person’s reputation has great worth. Solomon wrote, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). A false accusation not only damages the one who is accused, but it also stirs up indignation and a desire to see the false accuser brought to justice.

    The mixture of guilt and pain that surrounds the memory of these experiences triggers anger when we hear of or face similar situations. Can you recall a past experience that deeply hurt you? How do similar situations cause you to express anger now?

Pinpoint Sinful Attitudes and Actions

Along with painful experiences, our own tendencies toward sin foster a spirit of anger. The following attitudes and actions lead to guilt and anger:

  • Pride

    Pride is assuming authority that does not belong to us. Many conflicts arise simply because we step into another’s jurisdiction with efforts to control. No wonder others react to us in this situation. In turn, the rejection we experience as a result can then lead to more expressions of anger, which are often accompanied by bitterness.

  • Personal faults

    When we fail in specific areas, we tend to be very alert to other people who fail in the same areas. Unfortunately, the frustration we have toward ourselves is often redirected to them through harsh judgment. Also, when someone hurts or offends us, his or her actions may be partially justified, which can trigger an explosive combination of guilt and bitterness.

  • Generalizations

    If someone who represents another group or race hurts us, we tend to project the misbehavior of one onto the entire group and often develop a general animosity toward everyone who is associated with that group.

  • Expectations

    When people make promises and fail to keep them, we tend to hold that against them and become resentful of their failure to fulfill our expectations. When we expect certain behavior or benefits from others—especially those who are closest to us—and they do not act as we expect, this resentment can also occur.

  • Envy

    Envy is bitterness toward another person who has received something we want and we think we deserve. Envy is a form of anger that might not be obvious to others until something triggers an angry outburst or reaction by the envious person.

  • Taking up offenses

    One of the most entangling causes of bitterness occurs when a person who was not directly involved in an offensive situation takes up an offense on behalf of the one who was offended. This kind of bitterness is deep-seated and often endures even after the one who was offended forgives the offender.

When we become angry, we should identify the past experiences and personal failures that are contributing to our current frustration and seek to resolve them. Often, situations that are similar to ones in which we were hurt or in which we failed to do the right thing will trigger our anger. Usually the stronger the anger, the more pain and guilt there are from the past.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

This article is adapted from pages 6, 38–40 of the Anger Resolution Seminar Workbook. Learn about the Anger Resolution Seminar.

For Further Study

Comments

Dalonda Mundy

Please pray for a release in my heart to the pain, trauma and guilt of my past.. My family is suffering and I truly desire to not do to my children what was done to me.. I need help in Jesus Name..

Marlo

Please pray for me as I journey through this with bouts of pain and anger with my own children. I pray God does provide them with the soothing love that at times I fall short on in giving to them and myself. Pray for my siblings that they too will heal.

Marlo

Praise be to God. Good source on Anger issues. I believe that this can help many.

Rosa

God bless you and your families, may The Lord heal your hearts and lift all burdens. You're all in my prayers.

Alissa

Please pray for my daughter Hillary she has anger issues and it is definitely from her child hood. My parents favored all the grand kids over her even still to this day; Told her it was because of something that happened at the hospital the night she was born so that is why she is treated differently, she is now 25 yrs. old. It has really taken a toll on her emotionally and mentally and has caused havoc in her life. She was also raped at 14 and date raped at 23 so that on top of this plus having a father that has had nothing much to do with her, with all of this it has just caused her to be very angry and constant fight with depression. Please pray thank you !

Elizabeth

Please pray for me to overcome anger

Laura

I am laura and I have been dealing with anger and I know it's a spiritual thing and I moved in with my son in August 2020 and I have had conversations with him and I would try to talk to him about GOD and he would get really angry and one-day he told me that he is really angry on the inside and he doesn't even know why or where it's coming from and now I leave him in GOD'S hands now ,,,,,,,, but now I am dealing with great anger and I take my anger out on GOD and I swear against HIM and even use profanity against him and I tell him that I hate him when I get angry and I still get up every day talking to GOD and pray but all of the sudden I get angry and I take out on GOD and I have asked GOD over and over again , to work a quick miracle and to take this away from me and out of me but the next day I get angry again and continue to take it out on GOD and now that I am confessing this sin I am in tears because I don't want to be like this anymore please pray please help

bvanderford

Laura,

We praise the Lord for the work He is doing in your life!  We have a few resources that you might find helpful. One is the Anger Resolution Seminar, which is available on EmbassyMedia.com. While the first message is free, you would need to purchase a subscription to watch the remaining 8 sessions. Subscriptions are $4.99/month or $49/year. There are several other messages on Anger available on Embassy Media. 

A few books you may find helpful are Reclaiming SurrenderedGroundPower for Daily Victory, and Seven Deadly Stresses. You may also find more helpful information on our website.

May the Lord continue to guide you as look to Him!

Anonymous

This article is very helpful for Christians to understand and deal with anger in a Godly way...thanks for the tremendous help!

Nadia

I need prayer. I have a bad attitude and anger issues. I hate being how I am. I get mad at anything and at time it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut. I don’t like myself. Please pray for me. Thank u

Val

I am 36 and single.I am currently dating the best guy I have met so far in my life, but he has anger issues and gets angry over even insignificant things.When he is angry,he shouts at me in public not caring who is there and this is beginning to destroy my self esteem. My heart is broken right now because I don't think I can get married to him.Please pray for me to meet a good man because I have not been lucky in meeting good men in my life,and that is why I am still single at 36. Thank you.

Chelsea

Val—these are red flags for you. please trust me. It will not get better with marriage, the contrary. You may be able to love him through it, but you need to prepare for what it will take on you emotionally. I pray that you hear Gods will for your life

James

I to need prayer for my anger issues. I don't want to be remembered this way when i am long gone from this earth. Nor do i want this to prevent me from reaching eternal salvation. Thank you.

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