To understand anger, we need to look at its roots and shoots. It’s important to understand and actually accept we have that emotion rather than to suppress it, so we can work to create healthy boundaries of behaviour by taking responsibility for managing it ourselves.
We have control over nobody else’s behaviour, only our own, and we can learn to do this.
Beneath anger there are usually other emotions. Anger is a secondary emotion that follows on from others, such as feeling threatened, wronged, or hurt. We can also use anger to protect ourselves from uncomfortable feelings such as fear, shame, embarrassment, and depression. These emotions need to be understood, the reasons how and why they are there, to gain some awareness of what has happened to us.
It can be easy to experience anger, but not always the feelings underneath it.
The things that make us angry are BUTTONS (triggers) that when pushed can lead to loss of control; we’re familiar with a common response from others of ‘who’s pushing your buttons’?
We can manage our anger by knowing our Buttons. Think about people, places or circumstances that seem to get you going. Could drinking be a catalyst, dealing with authority figures, or when you feel criticised, ignored?
Be aware of physical symptoms such as heavy breathing, heart palpitations or blood pounding in your ears because of increased blood pressure, or tension headaches.
Use this awareness as an early warning system!
Create an escape hatch such as walking away, counting to ten before responding, play music in your head, hum, smile, sit, relax, breathe deeply.
And then tell yourself ‘well done.’
Learning to deal with anger differently may be a long and difficult journey. You may fail sometimes, but you’ll learn.
Jesus knows what it feels like to be criticised, humiliated, misunderstood, to pray for help.
Psalm 28 shows us how to live with anger. King David is able to express and vent his anger to God and finds peace with God as his focus.
‘Lord, in the face of anger or when anger is in my face, let me turn first to You.’