by | Feb 10, 2022 | Anger, Anxiety, Bitterness, Depression, Emotional Health, Forgiveness, Mental Health, Uncategorized

This is our second segment on the subject of the mental and emotional health. It’s February and in many regions of North America, Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing, so we thought it would be good to do four weeks of blogs specifically focused on mental and emotional fitness.

We started with last week’s blog by unpacking the idea of becoming your own best friend as foundational to mental and emotional wellbeing. Today, we want to explore the positive impact assertiveness has on our health.

One thing many we don’t know about anger is we have permission to express it properly. If Jesus expressed anger in certain situations, it certainly means we’ll have moments where anger, properly expressed, is right and appropriate.

There are essentially three ways to express our anger:

  1. Aggressively
  2. Passively
  3. Assertively

Before we tackle these three avenues, it’s important to understand a few basics about anger:

Anger is a human emotion

It happens when someone violates you or takes something from you or crosses a healthy relational boundary you’ve set. In these situations, anger is simply part of being human.

Anger is a secondary emotion

Greg Smalley writes: “Anger is usually a response to something else . . . an unmet need, a dashed hope, a sense of injustice, or we feel like someone has control over us.” Anger is a human emotion.

Anger is sometimes the right emotion

Some appropriate occasions for anger? When a friend you love and trust betrays you. If your spouse or your boyfriend verbally assaults you or physically abuses you. Anger is an appropriate response when you see injustice inflicted on others. The fourth fundamental?

Anger is a revealing emotion

It calls attention to root issues we need to address. It can signal we’re overcommitted or overscheduled. It can reveal unprocessed pain from our past.

Anger can be a devastating emotion

You see, if we don’t figure out how to express our anger in a God-honoring and healthy way, anxiety and depression lurk. Fractured relationships are not far off. A trail of relational wreckage often follows our mishandling of anger.

So, let’s briefly consider the three main ways humans express anger:


This is the volcanic, ballistic, outward response to anger. It can include inappropriate language or a demeaning tone; yelling and screaming, or getting physical with people. Aggression primarily hurts others . . .although it’s not healthy for you either.


A passive response involves shoving our anger underground. It’s often called the “silent treatment.” Submerged anger leads to bitterness, the nursing of grudges, difficulty granting forgiveness, and eventually, struggles with anxiety and/or depression. Grudge-holding can even contribute toward dementia eventually. Stuffing your anger hurts you primarily . . . although it’s not healthy for others either.


Assertiveness is a simple concept to understand . . . it’s a bit harder to do. Assertiveness tells a person who’s taken something from you or hurt you how their behavior negatively impacted you. Assertiveness embodies both truthful and gracious speech.

It’s the middle ground between passivity and aggression. Passivity tells your anger to go inward. Aggression tells your anger to explode outward. Assertiveness is a better choice than passivity or aggression. It tells the person you’re angry with how you really feel—but does so with love and respect.

Assertiveness speaks in a way that honors the person you’re talking to, and in a way that honors Father God, and in a way that keeps you healthy—all at the same time! Ephesians 4:26 says: “In your anger, do not sin.” If assertiveness is foreign to you, it will take you a while to learn the skill and use it effectively. My book Unshakable You: Five Choices of Emotionally People can help you learn the art of assertiveness.

You may be wondering, “Why is learning the assertive response to our anger so important? Why does it matter? Why should you care?” Because . . . if you don’t learn assertiveness, anger will end up running . . . and ruining your life.

Here’s a couple of next step for you:

If your default response to anger is either to explode or submerge—find a mentor, or a coach, or a counselor who can help you figure out what’s fueling it in your life. Then, work with them on a practical plan to grow in this most important area.

Or, pick up a copy of Unshakable You. For the entire month of February, we are offering it at a 50% discount. In it, I devote an entire chapter to the subject of getting our arms around anger. You can purchase a copy here.

Rooting and praying for you to be well,