That Makes Me So Mad!

Why do our homes and workplaces become hotbeds for anger? Do we have a right to be angry? What are the roots of all the anger and hostility that we see in our world today? Is anger a normal human trait? Is there a time and place for anger? Can I ever get my anger under control?

It is obvious by now that I have more questions than answers regarding anger. Anger will never completely disappear from our lives this side of heaven, nor should it. There is a time and a place for anger. According to Wikipedia, “Anger or Wrath is an intense emotional response. It is an emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat.”  God gets angry, and we are made in His image.

Anger is what makes a mother defend her baby from harm. It is anger (on part of the father) that keeps teenage boys from taking advantage of young ladies. However, anger can become a tool to get what we want, when we want it. Anger management is the beginning of dealing with anger in an appropriate way, and perhaps that is where you need to begin. Anger out of control can enjoy being in control and in charge. People are afraid of you, and you like the surge of power and control. Maybe you think of anger as a means of protecting yourself from further abuse.

It is true that anger may temporarily get you what you want. But anger will never get you what you really need or desire. Some of the most insecure people on earth are angry controllers and abusers. America’s prison system is full of people who are full of and controlled by their anger.

Uncontrolled anger can be a product of emotional damage. It covers pain and provides a way of trying to protect yourself. Anger can also be a result of learning to react rather than respond… as necessary in military, law enforcement, or abuse situations. When anger is used to regain control and not feel helpless it can make us feel alive again.

Anger produces changes in our bodies, in our minds and in our actions. We recognize anger in ourselves and in others when we feel the pounding heart, rapid breathing, clenched fists, hair standing on end. Anger can make us blame others, think about hurting others, and feel helpless. Some of us tend to get very quiet when angry, while others swear and yell.

If we have suffered a moral injury by being abused or forced to act in a way contrary to our upbringing, we tend to start out half way up on the anger scale. Here is an anger scale to consider:

Calm–Mild Irritation–Frustrated–Agitated–Upset–Angry–Ticked-off–Furious–Explosive–Rage

Usually, most of us, start out calm and events that anger us move us up the scale to full-fledged rage. If you tend to go from calm to furious, or even worse…maybe you need some help.

We can learn to respond rather than react to the events that trigger our anger. Reacting means that we are not in control, and maybe are even surprised by our own reactions. Reacting instead of responding to the events that cause anger doesn’t usually lead to good outcomes. Responding, on the other hand, means staying in control and handling the situation appropriately. We don’t have to act immediately. One author suggests that we “STOP, THINK, CHOOSE how to handle this. Then we can RESPOND rather than react.” (“A Mind Frozen in Time” by Dr. Jeremy Crosby, page 100)

I ask you to consider when you decide how to respond that you look closely at these three rules for expressing anger:

  1. Does it hurt me?
  2. Does it hurt somebody else?
  3. Does it destroy valuable property?

Anger is not evil, but can lead to destructive behavior. Anger is inevitable, but need not be devastating. Anger is an emotion, but can lead to destructive behavior.  There are resources that can help, and next week we will look at some of these. If you need more help right now, log on to Right Now Media@Work and search “anger.” There are 107 resources there.