Over the years, I have counseled many people, men and women, who deal with anger issues. Some of them try to excuse their behavior and say, “What did you expect, I’m Irish or I’m Polynesian or I’m redheaded.” I have heard others say, “I’m just that way.” My question is “are you just that way or do you choose to be that way?” Someone once told me “That is the African culture.” My question is “what is the culture of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
When asked why they get angry or what are the advantages of getting angry, people say there are no advantages. But there must be some payoff or some advantage, otherwise why would you get angry?
Anger is a tool. Most often someone uses anger to control a situation; they use anger to get what they want; or they use anger to protect themselves from being vulnerable or getting hurt emotionally.
Anger is a secondary emotion; it is a choice. It is easy and immediate to become irritated, frustrated, or annoyed. Then people decide to raise it another level to anger. Some people have developed the habit of getting angry so they become angry almost instantly from being irritated, frustrated, or annoyed.
Some people say “He made me so angry!” or “She pushed my buttons!” So, who gave her your buttons or when did you give him control over your emotions? Did you give away your power to choose? Did you give away your free agency? Anger is a choice.
What would it be like instead to take a breath, calm ourselves and listen? What can we do to plan ahead and anticipate when situations or people may become frustrating, annoying or upsetting? What can we do to plan how to resolve things peacefully? What can we do to completely understand the other person, understand their thoughts and their feelings? Even though we might not always agree, we can be respectful. But please remember: this does not mean we agree with or encourage bad behavior.
- Learn to relax and not escalate the situation
- Take a timeout; but come back and reconnect
- Attack the problem, not the person
- Rehearse what you want to say and do
- View problems as opportunities to reframe, restructure, and rebuild.
- Ask myself: “Is this really worth getting angry about?”
- If I want to live a “higher law,” is it really worth getting irritated, frustrated or annoyed?
Adjusting to Missionary Life, page 33, Section E talks about Feeling Easily Irritated or Angry: give your brain time to override your emotions; don’t feed anger; be calm, curious and compassionate; resist the tendency to blame or shame others or yourself; be willing to apologize and ask what you can do to make things right; smile and be willing to laugh at yourself; serve those you are prone to be upset with; take good care of yourself through sleep, diet, exercise and prayer.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of peace, joy, and love. Don’t let anger rob us of those blessings.
[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]