Anger — Five Ways To Deal With It
Anger is an emotion that everyone is going to come across at some point in their life. Some people go to swearing when they experience anger (See previous post). Personally, anger is not a huge issue in my life. According to my wife, I am a very laid back person. I agree with this as there are very few things that actually irritate me beyond mild frustration. However, some people greatly struggle with anger. They explode over small things or lash out against people who do any wrong against them. I am not sure that this is a good thing or a healthy thing. Likewise, it is not a good thing to bottle up this anger so that it builds and gets worse over time. It is not good to let things stew. Therefore, I am putting together this list in order to help people deal with anger in their lives. I hope that this helps someone else as well as remains a guideline for myself.
1.) Pray, or take a moment to reflect on what is causing your anger.
If you are a Christian, the first thing that you should do when you are feeling anger build up is to stop and pray. This does two things for you. First, it causes you to consult the Creator about what is making you angry. Second, it causes you to stop and take a moment to decide how you are going to act on your anger. Often when we are angry we jump to quick, and sometimes irrational, decisions. We yell at someone, we break something, or we do something that is not in our usual character. Many times anger causes us to do things that we do not want to do or things that we end up regretting. By taking a moment to stop and think about why we are feeling this way and by praying about it we can determine the best way to deal with our anger. Ultimately, you need to determine whether anger is a worthy emotion for the situation or not.
2.) Realize that it is okay to feel anger.
There are plenty of times where our anger is completely justified. I remember a time when I got extremely angry at some neighbors that were “playing” with my brother. I was going to get him because it was dinner time. What I saw from a distance was the two of them beating my brother up. They were punching him, kicking him, tackling him, and jumping on him. Surprisingly, he was not retaliating. This is a time where my anger built up very quickly to the point where I did something rash. I bolted the couple hundred yards to these two kids who were beating him up and starting to fight them myself. I pushed them over, and threw them off my back and basically went incredible hulk on them. Apparently their step-dad was doing some work in the back yard. After my aggression was spent on these kids he yells at me (swearing in the process) and tells me to get off his property (yup, he was there the whole time letting them beat on my brother but when I step in suddenly it’s a problem). My anger at these kids was justified, but my actions may not have been. Likewise, the step-dad’s anger was justified but his actions (and choice of words) may not have been the best even if he could have prevented the situation in the first place.
Jesus and God, the authors of love, get angry numerous times throughout the Bible. Everyone knows about Jesus’ actions at the temple (did you know he made a whip before going in?). No one sees what he did as wrong because he is Jesus. He did not have to ask forgiveness for what he did because we know that he never sinned. Another time he got angry was at a fig tree that failed to produce fruit. He also probably felt anger towards his disciples when they sent the children away. The difference between Jesus’ anger and lots of anger seen by other people is how we react to anger.
3.) Determine what to do with your anger.
In every situation with anger there needs to be something that we do with it. At times I believe that it is good to ignore the anger. Anger can come from selfishness, jealousy, and greed. At these times it is something that we need to deal with personally. We can ignore this kind of anger and ask God to help us get around it and perhaps even ask for forgiveness for feeling angry about something so small.
However, there are other times where we might need to take action because of our anger. This could be situations where social justice needs to be taken. We have the right to get angry when we see people treated unfairly. Martin Luther King Jr. might be a great example of this. He had every right to be angry at people for their prejudice attitudes. In his anger, he told people to do the right thing. To peacefully protest what was going on. He did not promote riots, or mobs. Instead he used words of wisdom to change things and peaceful protests. He did not believe that violence in their anger would appropriately accomplish his goals and look at the good he did for the world
When we are angry we need to figure out what the best most appropriate action should be. Anger can be a driving force for good, yet so often it is seen as something that causes us to make bad decisions.
4.) We must not sin, or do something wrong, in our anger.
This is the biggest point when it comes to anger. We must not do something wrong. While anger can be good, there is a reason that it is often described as a negative attribute. I believe that there is such a thing as a holy anger. Some might call this a holy zeal or something. Either way, it gives us fuel to stand up for the things that we believe.
The wrong things that we can do with our anger are limitless (as are the right things I suppose). It could be cursing someone out, or making sarcastic remarks on facebook, or doing something to get even with someone, or even spreading gossip and any other form of hate. As Yoda says “anger leads to hate.”
5.) Practice makes perfect.
Anger is something that we can learn to deal with. Each time making the right decision with rash anger can be easier than the last. It may require that we begin by humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness when we fail in our anger (be it to God or to other people). It may also require some more counseling and accountability. An accountability partner or small group may be able to help you get over anger issues. Anger is something that we can learn to live with and it can become a good thing if we train it. It also comes down to not sweating the small stuff. We need to learn to be content at all times and have a joy that is unspeakable and never goes away. Through practice, prayer, and by the power of God we can free ourselves from the power of anger in our lives.
Do you struggle with anger? How do you overcome it? Have a story of a good use of anger? Leave a comment below!