Emotions are much like the weather. Weather is a product of the environment: mixing of warm and cold air, lunar and ocean cycles, and shifts in tectonic plates. Emotions are also caused by various events in our environment. If someone steals your wallet, you feel anger. If you come home after a much-deserved vacation and discover your house has been ransacked and burglarized, you feel violated and angry. If someone says something insulting to a member of your family, your anger may be so intense that you want to punch that person in the mouth. These are all understandable emotional responses. You would hardly be a reasonable human being if you allowed these events to pass as if nothing had happened.
However, anger can also be one of the most destructive emotions if handled incorrectly. For many people, it can be difficult to experience and channel anger in a healthy way, without hurting themselves and those around them. “Controlling anger” is not always the solution. In fact, it’s basically impossible to control emotions.
It is therefore in our best interest to focus our energy on processing our emotions in healthy ways, instead of trying to control something that can’t be controlled. Here are four useful ways to rethink your situation and process your emotions when you start to feel angry.
- Be your own person. Even if your anger has festered for years, you don’t need to let the actions of others dictate how you feel. Determine what you want out of the encounter. The old idea of counting to 10 is still a good rule of thumb before saying anything at all. It will give you time to think about the situation in your response.
- Don’t intimidate, and don’t be intimidated. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” What a great idea. Be assertive by asking the person to be reasonable in your debate, even as you promise to return the favor.
- If the shoe fits, wear it. There may be times when you will be confronted with the truth, but you may not want to hear it. That’s when your defenses may rise up like a 10 story building. Again, take a moment and listen to what’s being said. If you need time to think about it, say so. Then ask God to give you the courage to accept the truth and confess your fault if necessary.
- Practice intentional kindness. God’s Word says that a kind word turns away anger (Prov. 15:1). Think of something positive to say to the person—even if it’s, “I hear what you’re saying and I need to take your comments seriously.” Take the offensive in praising the accomplishments of others. Edify those with whom you work and live. Tell them when they do good work. Anger and honest praise have difficulty living together. Be known as someone who sees the best in those around you.
If you try integrating these practices of diffusing anger into your own life and you continue to struggle with outbursts of anger, you may need to seek out professional help. Unmitigated anger can destroy relationships and ruin lives. Our team of recovery professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE has helped many people manage their anger. We focus on whole person care, addressing all aspects of an individual’s life experience. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak confidentially with an anger management specialist today.