Anger is a natural emotion that we all experience at different times and with different intensities. Our goal should never be to eliminate anger as an emotion (Jesus was known to be angry for various reasons), but we should strive to understand our anger and manage our anger effectively. Anger is not good or bad, it just is.
How can anger be good?
- Anger can energize us to accomplish goals.
- Anger can allow us to face threat.
- Anger tells us that we need to deal with personal issues.
- Anger can get someone's attention.
- Anger makes us more alert.
The issue around anger that we have to face is, "Do I manage my anger so that I get good outcomes?" Or, "Does the way I manage my anger tend to make things worse?" If there are times when I make things worse, then I may need to consider new ways to manage my anger.
Most of the time anger is the emotion that actually is covering up another more manageable emotion. I get angry at another person because they criticized me: the emotion is really "hurt feelings", "fear of rejection", "fear that they don't like or love me". I get angry when things don't go my way: the real emotion is "fear that things will get out of control". I get angry when someone disagrees with me: the real feeling may be "I'm embarrassed", or "I feel inadequate". When you can identify the underlying feeling and express it, you can better manage anger.
Anger can also be a result of faulty attitudes:
- Things should always go my way.
- I need to be right.
- I need to win.
- People need to do things my way.
- If people don't pay attention to me, they don't like me.
- People should "understand" me. I shouldn't have consequences for my behavior.
- Blame others for my anger.
There are many other faulty beliefs. These are examples of just a few of the more common ones. How do I know if I have a faulty belief? When I become angry and it is exaggerated, chronic, or others don't seem to understand. If you honestly want to deal with your anger issues, ask a trusted and honest friend if you have any of these traits.
Dealing with Anger
The ABC's of anger give you a tool to manage anger more effectively.
A: Activating Event
B: Belief about that event.
C: Consequent Emotion (Anger)
If you begin to view your reaction to events as not caused by the event itself, but by your belief about the event, then you can begin to change your reactions effectively.
A: Julie says she will meet you at the DC at 1:00pm. She doesn't show.
B: Julie was lying.
B: Julie just forgot because she has so many stresses on her right now.
C: Concern for Julie.
A: Donna says that she does not want to date any more.
B: Donna is rejecting me because she thinks I'm not good enough.
B: Donna is saying that this relationship is not beneficial to either of us and
she is showing respect for me by being honest about her feelings.
C: Sad, but feel respected.
A: Behind on homework because of personal issues and having to work extra hours.
B: Teachers don't understand and should make allowances.
B: I am not managing my issues well and made a poor decision to work extra
C: Disappointed in self. Will learn to use better judgment.
Notice how the belief affects the emotion? Once we are angry, it's hard to diffuse it. Anger can also cause us to say or do things that make outcomes worse. So we need to change our belief about situations to affect the emotional outcome. Try it! Be creative! There is always more than one "truth" about a situation.
"We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,…" 2 Corinthians 10:5
Take your thoughts and beliefs captive, apply healthy, biblical thoughts and beliefs to your world and watch God transform your anger! Contact the counseling office if you would like to talk about specific situations.