Verbally Abusive Anger

Recently, I have had clients who ranted abusively at their spouses. They ask: Where does this rage come from? How could I have said THAT?Core Threat: Anger is a response to deep hurt, fear, insecurity and most likely, resentment from the past.
When a spouse or ‘significant other’ hurts you or disappoints you – your body responds with the fight/flight defense mechanism. Anger rears it’s ugly head within 1-3 seconds and then, a surge of adrenaline pours throughout your system – keeping anger simmering for at least 30 minutes.

Distorted thinking is at the core. You may think when your spouse forgets your anniversary that “he/she doesn’t care about me”; “there’s another man/woman”, “it’s all over”, etc. These kinds of thinking are “catastrophic”. Or your thinking may be based on a ‘sense of entitlement’ : I deserve to be treated in such and such a way, ie., have the dinner on the table when I arrive home; receive flowers on my birthday, etc.
Thinking which ‘mind-reads’ or is not based on reality or judges a person’s motives or has unfair expectations – will lead to frustration and anger.

What would the Bible say about this kind of behavior and thinking?
Eph 4:30-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. NIV
Col 3:7-12 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.NIV
1 Peter 2:12:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.NIV

Rage, out of control or harmful anger, slander, verbal abuse are sinful. The Bible exhorts us to get rid of it all.
The Power for Change:
Real change comes when we ask Christ to control our thoughts – change our perspective on life and change our behavior through His inner power. Phil 4:13 read: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” NIV
And our thinking is renewed when we obey these verses in Phil 4:8-9
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. NIV

© copyright 2005 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC
~Lynette is a Marriage and Family Counselor with CounselCare Connection, National Certified Counselor, Anger Management Specialist-IV and Diplomate with the National Anger Management Association. She is the co-author of What’s Good About Anger? and a speaker for community, women’s and church organizations.

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