5 Ways Most People Deny Their Anger Issues

two women looking serious and angry standing apart

With all the stress and uncertainty in our world right now, many relationships are experiencing increased tension and conflict. Perhaps your husband snaps and yells more often, or your teen has become more hostile and sarcastic. Maybe your home environment has grown so difficult, mealtimes feel like war zones and anxiety has replaced any semblance of peace. Or perhaps your spouse, teen, loved one, or friend has been angry for a long while. But whenever you broach the subject, the offender either doesn’t understand or grows even more upset.

If this reality characterizes your home, you’ve likely heard numerous excuses and accusations. What you likely haven’t heard, however, is what you’ve needed to hear most: “I’m sorry,” and “I need help.”

Unfortunately, people with anger issues don’t always recognize or acknowledge just how destructive their behavior truly is to themselves and others. Instead, they tend to downplay their reactions and refute their loved one’s claims.

Here are 5 ways people deny their anger issues:

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  • angry man pointing at woman

    1. They Blame Others

    Those who struggle with anger have often become adept at blame shifting. When confronted, they might say something like, “If only you weren’t so critical, I wouldn’t get so angry.” Or, “You make me so mad, I just can’t help it.” If their reaction to certain behaviors has become habit, you might even begin to think this is true, that you are the cause of their rage. This is false. When people lose their temper, their lack of self-control is the problem, not the provocation.

    This was often the case with Martha’s husband. His outbursts often seemed to come out of nowhere. “We might be listening to music,” she said “and suddenly he would roar into the room, snatch the CD, tape, etc., and break it in half. He might knock a plant over… and throw all the books off the bookshelf as he left, yelling that he told [me] he had a headache and to keep it down.” Then, once he was calm, if anyone confronted him regarding his behavior, he acted hurt and bewildered. He’d state, “How can you say such a thing? I only asked you to be quieter. I don’t have an anger issue. If you would only be quiet when I asked you, I would not have to do that.”

    Perhaps they never learned how to handle their anger in an appropriate manner. Maybe they struggle with impulse control in numerous areas. Regardless, we are all responsible for ourselves. We are not, however, responsible for anyone else’s emotions, reactions, and poor behavior. Those who say otherwise have developed a victim mentality, one that denies personal responsibility. This is never healthy, helpful, or appropriate.

    God wants us and our loved ones to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV). Contrary to this, those with anger issues are often slow or unable to hear, quick to speak or yell, and quick to lose their temper, often with very little cause.

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  • business man yelling at a coworker who looks stressed

    2. They Blame Their Circumstances

    People with anger issues often try to blame their quick tempers and hurtful behavior on external pressures. If only they weren’t under such stress at work, then they’d have more patience at home or with you. Or perhaps they tell you they’re severely sleep deprived, and that’s why they lashed out as they did. Their blame-shifting might have become so habitual, such a part of their reality, that they actually believe this to be true.

    While we all find our self-control challenged from time to time, if a person is losing their temper daily, weekly, or even monthly, or perhaps in relation to a particular individual or issue, this likely indicates their impulse control, not their external influences, are the problem. They need to learn to cope with stress in a healthy and productive way.

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  • two women sitting on couch with crossed arms looking upset and angry, how to forgive when you don't feel forgiving

    3. They Minimize Their Behavior

    Someone with anger issues might try to convince you their behavior isn’t as bad as you perceive. They may claim they’re simply an emotional or intense person or that you misunderstood their actions. They may even provide reasons as to why their reactions are healthy or helpful, stating that they’re being “real.”

    But Scripture commands us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31, NIV). We’re to “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV), speaking to each other with love and gentleness. We’re also to practice self-control (Galatians 5:22), and choose words that build others up rather than frighten them or tear them down (Ephesians 4:29).

    This doesn’t mean that we will never feel angry, but God wants us to deal with emotions in a godly manner. Someone who doesn’t do so likely has a problem.

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  • woman standing away from friends looking worried or confused

    4. They Counter Our Perceptions

    Some would call this a form of gaslighting, which is a manipulation tactic where one person causes someone else to doubt or question their memory, judgement, or perception. For example, when the targeted individual attempts to address a previous outburst, the manipulator might claim the incident never occurred. They may also accuse the person of being overly sensitive.

    When Janice* first started visiting one particular friend’s house, she quickly became uncomfortable with the behavior of her friend’s husband. He seemed so angry all the time, and in his anger, he made numerous, biting comments. As she spent more time in the home, and he became more familiar with her, his hurtful words turned to yelling. This scared her, and so she left.

    When she returned, her friend’s husband taunted her and said that she couldn’t handle conflict. He tried to make her believe she was the problem. Worse, he convinced his family, whom he’d successfully manipulated for some time, of this as well. The result? The friend, who was in a much healthier state, stopped coming around, the family sank further into dysfunction, and the husband remained angry and hurtful.

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  • Suspicious woman looking through blinds

    5. They Avoid the Person Calling Them Out

    When a healthy person enters a dysfunctional environment, the abuser often begins to feel threatened. They’ve likely spent a lifetime controlling others through manipulation and anger. They may not know another way to relate. They may, in fact, have grown up in a family much like the one they’ve created. To their thinking, there are only two ways of relating: control or absence. They don’t understand that love is actually a much stronger bonding force than fear. Therefore, when someone challenges their behavior with truth, they don’t see this an opportunity for growth and change. Instead, they see it as the potential loss.

    They have two options: They can get help and learn to live and love differently, forming true and lasting relationships, or they can cut the person they’ve come to see as a threat from their lives. In their desire to retain control, those who choose the latter often do all they can to slander the individual as well in an effort to counter the threat. They will do anything to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior.

    How then should we respond, when someone close has anger issues but appears unable or unwilling to acknowledge this and get help? First, we need to consider our safety. If we feel we’re in danger, we need to leave. We most likely also need to seek help. This is especially true if anger has characterized the relationship for any length of time as the tendency is to become pulled into the offender’s dysfunction. As a result, our perception can easily become tainted and our sense of healthy boundaries blurred.

    A counselor can help us accurately gauge the situation, practice healthy self-care, and address the issue with wisdom, truth, and grace. With God’s help, prayer, and appropriate persistence, we might be able to work through the situation. The offender may choose to get help and experience deep healing, transformation, or freedom. Or we could discover that we meed to distance ourselves from the behavior and the individual until they choose to change. Either way, God will lead us through Scripture, prayer, and the wise counsel of others.

    Everyone experiences anger, but this should be an isolated incident, not habit. When anger becomes a way of life and causes others pain, most likely, it’s become a problem. Scripture tells us to speak the truth in love, which means honestly addressing issues as they arise. This might involve confronting someone regarding their destructive actions. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the offender will listen. In fact, they’ll likely deny they have a problem. But by knowing some of the common tactics people use, you can better evaluate the situation and thus navigate the conversation with love, truth, and grace.

    *Name changed for privacy purposes.

    Jennifer Slattery is an author, speaker, and ministry leader passionate about helping God's children reach their full potential and live fully surrendered to Christ. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

    In her new podcast Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

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    Jennifer Slattery is an author, speaker, and ministry leader passionate about helping God's children reach their full potential and live fully surrendered to Christ. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

    In her new podcast Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.