We have all been there – something unexpected happens, you get cut off driving down the street or someone ate the rest of the leftovers you were planning to feast on after a difficult day – you get angry.
I have heard many approaches to anger and why people express anger in the way that they do. Some expressions are subtle while other expressions are terrifying and rightly a cause for concern. So is anger always wrong or can anger ever be good?
When Anger can be Good
Despite what most people and couples believe, anger can be productive *if* it is dealt with in a constructive manner. Most of us experience anger with someone we love and when we have a close relationship with that individual or group of people. Why do we get angry? We experience anger when face wrongdoing of any kind or experience injustice. So how can it be “good?”
Human anger is designed by God to motivate us to take constructive action.Gary Chapman
Gary Chapman in his book Anger urges individuals to ask two questions when they are angry and continues to provide 5 steps when dealing when anger:
- Is my response positive?
- Most people do not associate anger with a positive and constructive response. In order to deal with the wrong or injustice experiences, we have to ask ourselves: Is our response going to allow for healing of the relationship?
- Is my response loving?
- Is my response designed for the overall benefit of the person with whom I am angry?
5 Steps to Productive Anger
- Consciously Acknowledge to yourself that you are angry
- Contrary to a popular believe, being angry and feeling anger is not wrong and not sinful. It is OK to accept that you sometimes feel anger! It could even help to say it out loud to yourself.
- Restrain your immediate response
- When we get angry, we are typically in a “flooded” state. This indicates that we MUST take a break (emphasis on *must*). When we are flooded, we lose the ability to think reasonably, logically and constructively. Take a break, do something you know will help you calm down and relax.
- Locate the focus on your anger
- While you restrain from your immediate response, explore some of the triggers or reasons for your anger. Did you hear words in a harsh tone? Was it a look from your best friend? Harsh words from your spouse? Am I reminded of painful memories of past?
- Also ask yourself – how severe is this offense? Was it intentional? Could I potentially be experiencing this inaccurately?
Focus on the action, not the actor: on what the other person did that made you angry, not on the other person him or herself.Paul Eckman
- Analyze your options
- We can feel quite justified with a negative response, a vengeful response, a snarky demeaning response or simply writing the person off completely. Go back to our first 2 questions: Is this positive? Is it loving?
- Option 1 – Lovingly confront
- After you have acknowledged your anger, restrained your immediate response and located the focus on your anger, you can make a decision to positively, constructively and lovingly confront the issue.
- Option 2 – Consciously decide to overlook the issue
- You may have been wronged and the pain is still very real, but through your exploration, you conclude that lovingly confronting the person would have little to no chance for reconciliation.
- Take constructive action
- Once you have explored your options and have had an opportunity to introspectively assess where you are. It is time to take constructive action. If you have decided to let go of the issue – you can take constructive action within yourself through prayer in releasing your anger to the Lord.
Anger can be positive, constructive, and loving. With helpful steps and asking questions and slowing down the immediate response, you can work towards healing, restoration and reconciliation with the people who mean the most to you. If you or a loved one struggles with anger you can also reach out and seek help.
Do you struggle with anger? Find out by completing this quiz – buy the book!