Once we understand the source of anger in our lives, it is imperative that we choose to do something about it. Learning to manage anger is NOT trying to do away with feelings (we are often afraid of anger because it has become something hurtful for us). Rather, we should learn appropriate expressions of anger.
Remember: The feeling of anger is legitimate; how we express the anger is what gets us into trouble.
This is where we act out our anger against other people or turn it in on ourselves. Basically, we feel a need and the need does not "feel" good, so we want to do something about it. We unhealthily express our anger when it comes from a self-centered response to a need, does not lead to a constructive resolution of the issue, deepens the anger, fear, revenge between people, or sets up a potential power situation between people.
Anger hurts when:
- We are quick to anger (James 1:19)
- We use harsh words (Proverbs 15:1)
- Our emotions are fueled by envy and pride (Cain in Genesis 4:1-9)
- We are out of control (Proverbs 29:11)
- We let anger turn to bitterness (Ephesians 4:26)
- We give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27)
On the other hand, we can learn how to face and release anger in appropriate ways. We can change our will toward the issue or person we are angry about, and we can forgive. Changing the will is not simply "seeing the situation from another persepctive", though that may be important. This has more to do with finding something different in or about the situation, yet is still acceptable. This is coming up with a new goal and desire - it is a change of will. For example, if someone spilled something on the new shirt you were planning to wear to a special event, changing your will about the situation could be accepting that you need to wear something different. Then you would also need to choose how to respond in your anger.
Forgivness is giving up our right to get revenge. Forgiveness enables us to accept that our needs were not met as we had expected. It allows us to let go of the need for revenge and re-establish our request to have the need met.
- Is for yourself, not for the other person
- Releases you from the trap of getting revenge
- Involves giving up your right to get even
- Allows for redemption of a relationship
- Involves being honest with the person about how they have hurt you
- Involves drawing a boundary to declare the hurtful behaviour won’t happen again
- Involves being consistent with the new boundary
- May mean leaving the relationship if necessary (eg in situations of repeated violations)
What forgiveness is not:
- Forgetting - you will never forget
- Repressing the truth about the hurt
- Minimizing the effects
- Hoping the person will just stop
- Excusing the behaviour
So, as you express your anger, remember to...
- Pray and ask for God’s help
- Control your behaviour through healthy expression of anger
- Take time out, away from the situation
- Talk with other people, and with the one who caused your anger
- Write a letter, in a journal, or a list of what you are angry about
- Avoid any form of physical abuse or violence
- Avoid any form of emotional or spiritual abuse
- Be honest and responsible in expressing your own feelings
- Set an appointment to deal with the issues when emotion has settled down
- Stick with the issue - do not go off on tangents, dig up the past, or bring up side issues
- Work with a win-win mindset
- Be humble, be other-oriented: remember that pride is the root of much anger (Gen 4:1-9)
If you want to talk to a counsellor about facing and expressing anger in a healthy way, contact us to schedule an appointment.