1: Today’s article was inspired by my new friend, Janice Ewald, age 78, of St. George, Utah. Over the past several years she has lost over 250 pounds – while living through the COVID lockdown in a nursing home and after her husband’s death 18 months ago. I will tell you her full and truly inspiring health story in my next article. Learning to manage her anger in a Christlike way was a very significant part of her amazing journey to a healthy weight. Stay tuned for this incredible story.
2: For those of you who have not tried My Miracle Detox, this week you can try it FOR FREE! You pay shipping only! CLICK HERE to learn more.)
Have you ever turned to eating food as an escape for your angry feelings? You can choose something better than ice cream when you are feeling mad.
Many years ago, while serving in a stake Relief Society presidency, I received a most unusual assignment. The stake president had asked for one counselor from each auxiliary to attend a three-day anger management workshop presented by a regional mental health foundation. I was to attend with the counselors assigned from Primary, Young Men and Young Women. We were to take careful notes, participate fully in the event, and then be able to present the information with gospel perspectives on a ward basis to presidencies and members. Clearly there was a common problem among the members that needed to be addressed.
As we drove to the workshop together, we joked endlessly about being “angry” about being asked to spend the time to learn and teach about anger. “After all,” we joked in playful wrath, “As peaceable, loving daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are never angry’ with anything or anybody! Our pure and undefiled hearts are always filled to overflowing with love and forgiveness, acceptance and meekness for ourselves, our families, and the world at large!” Oh yes. Of course.
We got to the workshop and learned the definition of anger. It is “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” Those feelings can evolve into a brief journey where a problem or perception is resolved, or a lengthy (even deadly) detour where the lives of individuals, families, and communities can be shattered. (The shocking and increasing number of mass shootings in the U.S. over the past several year is a sad testimonial to this truth.)
We had a great time over the course of the workshop and emerged with new understanding and compassion, then learned even more as we put together and presented the workshops. I was able to personally implement the information and apply it even more in the years to come as I became involved in weight loss coaching through Weight Watchers.
One woman who lost 100 pounds as she attended my meetings shared her story. “I was just so constantly furious with my husband and grown kids! Their lives were a mess! Why wouldn’t they listen to me and follow my advice?? And there was me…100 pounds overweight and always yelling at everybody!”
For another, it was a situation existing from childhood where her mother had wanted her to behave and become a different kind of person. She had found that hiding/sneaking food into her room to eat by herself was the easiest way to defy her mother and to soothe herself. The anger and overeating festered well into adulthood.
For another it was growing up with three very slender and exceptionally attractive sisters. “I was the only one with a larger bone structure and body type. They could all eat whatever they wanted and not gain an ounce. They could share and wear the fashionable teen clothes. It seemed so unfair that I just went ahead and ate like they did and then ate even more out of a sense of sheer frustration and injustice. When we all left home, my anger and my inferiority challenges did not go away.”
How about you? Does anger ever dictate how/when/what/how much you eat?
If so, it’s time for Anger 101, especially as it applies to daily eating.
1) Anger is an honest emotion: It is a very important, very human, very real emotion at every age. Those who are not allowed to understand, feel, and express anger will experience problems.
2) Anger is a messenger:It says there is sense of personal violation.
3) Anger can be helpful: It becomes harmful only when it goes unexpressed.
In our car rides to and from the workshop we discussed the idea that somewhere in our quest to follow the Savior, many of us had acquired the belief that if we are truly Christ-like, we would not experience anger.
We got home and through scripture study determined that although the Savior had much counsel on human relations, feelings of anger is one He wants us to master! It is an emotion that can be channeled into other productive emotions. It will be pleasing to Him when we see anger as an opportunity for Him for help us find a different point of view.
Interestingly, Matthew 5:25 says, “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Does that mean if there IS a cause that anger is justified? The JST clarifies the question entirely as the phrase “without a cause” is omitted. No, anger is NOT acceptable but to “go thy way and be reconciled to thy brother … agree with thine adversary quickly whilst thou are in the way with him IS acceptable and a winning response.
In short, the Savior’s counsel is toaddress differences quickly and to resolve them. This was something we could easily imagine our leaders and the Prophet doing, and we conveyed this impression in our workshops.
But what if quick reconciliation seems to be impossible? What if communication or differences of opinion rule the moment, the day, the relationship? Think how the Savior handled the disharmony around Him. In John 8, He turns the wrath directed at the woman taken in adultery, into a moment of reflection for the Pharisees. In Luke 4, He teaches at the synagogue in Nazareth which was his childhood home and a familiar place for Him. When, however, He declared that He was the Messiah, the low buzzing of tense whispers turned into shouts of rage and anger. But did the Savior respond with angry self-defense, even when He was physically attacked? He passed through the crowd and left.
Without a doubt, there are many ways we can apply these two tactics when a quick reconciliation seems impossible: 1) Take a break. Lower your voice and stop the talk and/or 2) Just leave or change the subject.
One of my friends and teachers has a very interesting philosophy on anger and hurt feelings. “When you feel upset or angry,” she says, “that is the Divine Source within you telling you that He sees things from a different point of view – and it’s our job to understand that His love is for everyone and that there are many viewpoints to problems with strong emotions. What comfort there is in knowing that we can still have our emotions, but find a way to channel them.
(For more information on how to manage these strong feelings and difficult personal situations, I highly recommend “Choosing Glory” by Dr. Lili DeHoyos Anderson, a Latter-day Saint clinical social worker. I wrote about this book in my Meridian Article “Celestial Health with Terrestrial Tools.” The link is at the bottom of this article.
What a precious gift this information was to a number of the sisters who had compounded their feelings of anger with feelings of guilt about being angry.
Anger is a messenger!
The message your anger or strong negative emotion is sending is that one of your standards, values or important beliefs is under attack. If your stomach or fists are clenching, you feel like hitting something or someone, or your breathing becomes rapid, lengthy dialogues of what you’d like to say are playing and replaying themselves at warp speed in your head, then there’s SOMETHING WRONG.
Take a minute to think back to the last time you were angry. Explore the situation and what your anger is telling you. Which strong belief is being violated? That will be the gateway to understanding yourself and the principle or situation that need to be addressed.
Anger is Helpful
Safely functioning systems have a release valve. Our bodies, our cars and our homes have both pumps and drains to keep the operating systems in check. When something is wrong, there is a warning signal or dysfunction to tell us that something needs to be fixed.
Anger is simply that! It is both a pump and a drain indicating something needs to be addressed and resolved. A tub of chocolate chip cookie dough is not the answer, in either the short or the long run.
Our workshop focused on finding someone to talk to about the issue. Whether it was the person you were in conflict with, or a neutral party to help you find peace, they stressed that along as there was a release somewhere, you were headed in the right direction. The sooner, the better.
What if there’s no one to talk to? Or if you’re just not ready to talk yet?
Here are some ways to vent out the frustrations, sadness, and anger that arise as a normal part of growing and a healthy life:
1. Cry. How long has it been? Children know instinctively that this is a good way to release stress and get the issue out. We can learn from that! Often when we cry, we want a shoulder to cry on. If none is available, cry to yourself and receive it with love. Either way, allowing yourself the space to cry can work wonders on freeing up the stored up energy inside that is too much to contain within. While crying, connect with the pain you feel and cry into it.
2. Punch. If you feel very angry find a pillow! It’s a very healthy way of exerting this powerful energy. Hit it to release that tension. Say what you’d like to say and feel exactly what aspects of it are making you angry.
3. Write. Writing can help to clear the overwhelming amount of information in your head. It allows a pouring out of what is going on inside. Once you’ve written all you can, some things will still stand out or certain feelings may still be felt strongly. These are the largest lessons in the situation. Writing provides a great clarity that other ways may not give. You can easily reflect on what you were feeling in the situation ,once the emotion has passed, in an effort to keep the lesson fresh in your mind and heart. Some people enjoy tearing up the pages after they’ve written as a way to exert their frustration.
4. Exercise. Some of the most frustrating days in your life may turn out to be your best days after all! Getting outside and some fresh air through brisk walking is a great way to vent. Many find their best prayers and answers come while walking. Exerting energy in this way, with a regular commitment to your health, may open you like nothing else.
Tiger Woods’ first wife Elin Nordegrn, a beautiful model, found that in the early days of learning of his betrayal to her and their children, regular running was by far the best therapy … and it is surely more flattering in the long run than a box of donuts!
Pamela Hansen’s remarkable weight loss story after a series of personal tragedies is documented in her book “Running With Angels” (Deseret Book) where she overcame her difficulties and lost the weight by running — eventually in full marathons.
5. Create Art. I know of a woman who knows that her sewing machine is her best friend when she’s upset. And the great thing is that you really cannot eat chips or anything gooey when you’re sewing, embroidering or working on any kind of craft project. What better to do than to channel this energy into creating something beautiful?
6. ASAP: Do Talk! If possible, with the person causing the angst. If not then with a wonderful friend, or confidante. If neither is available, here’s one that’s good at least for a laugh, or even to try someday: I heard of a woman who, when angry, got on the bus and waited for a passenger to sit near. She’d ask if they minded listening to her and if not, she’d share her dilemma. Once she’d talked it out, she’d thank them and get off the bus. Often times, we can learn so much just by hearing ourselves speak and we don’t need much feedback at all.
Of course, the ultimate one to talk to is our Heavenly Father and prayer. He is there to comfort, guide and allow us to be ourselves in our times of deepest frustration and sorrow. He and His Son can allow us to determine the source of the anger, and then to help us release ourselves from its dark and clawing grip.
In becoming like Him, here are 5 Christ-Like Anger Management Strategies–
1. Distinguish between good and bad forms of anger. Anger is a natural emotion that arises whenever you encounter a situation you perceive to be wrong or that you have been violated. Ask Heavenly Father to help you see situations that make you angry from His perspective, so you’ll learn to recognize the difference between good and bad anger.
2. Understand your true identity. Your true identity is a child of God. Anger and emotions, however, can take over your thoughts and behavior and temporarily define who you are. When you get angry, remind yourself of who you really are, say a prayer and quickly take some kind of physical action in the six tricks above to release the feelings.
3. Turn to God for the respect you need. Heavenly Father knows we need respect, but that need can become distorted so that any real or perceived act of disrespect can trigger inappropriate anger. When injustices arise, remind yourself of how much God loves and respects you. Have a few scriptures in mind that comfort you.
4. Let go of attempts to control others. Heavenly Father’s ultimate gift to us was free agency People who don’t comply with our wishes can cause deep anger. But you can’t control other people. While it’s fine to give people advice, you can’t make them take it. Ask Him to help you respect other people’s freedom to make their own decisions and decide to trust him, then pray that He will work in other people’s lives, changing from them from within in ways, if necessary that you could never do yourself.
Then forgive and let go.
5. Trade pride for humility. Pride can deceive you into thinking that you must be right on all topics, which leads to anger when others disagree with you. If we pray for humility, we will receive an accurate view of ourselves as a person with weaknesses who needs Heavenly Father’s help.
So! Chocolate chip cookie dough go away! Far better answers to address our deepest hungers are ours today … and every day, along with the freedom to act upon them with grace and cheer.
“Choosing Glory Book” By Dr. Lili DeHoyos Anderson CLICK HERE
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She provided mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 through Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox.
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