Anger is such a misunderstood emotion. While most people experience it at some level regularly, too many people struggle with feeling guilty about the emotion. From childhood, it has been spoken of as a negative, something to avoid, something to be feared, and we grow up with feelings that if I am angry, then it’s wrong. Sadly, this is even more true for individuals growing up in religious settings.
Don’t get me wrong. Anger, when handled poorly, can be a dangerous thing. It can lead to outbursts, harm, hurt, and words spoken that are often regretted. But the emotion of anger itself is not wrong. In fact, it can be quite healthy and helpful.
The Bible separates anger from in stating, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26a). Anger is not a sin but can lead to sin if not handled properly. However, when understood anger can be a powerful tool.
· Anger can be a warning sign that something is wrong. Most people do not realize that anger is a secondary emotion. We feel angry after we feel something else. Maybe we are struggling with one of our basic needs and are hungry or tired which increases the chances of getting angry and cranky. But maybe we have felt embarrassed or left out. Maybe we were hurt, scared, or helpless. Anger can be a warning sign that something else is going on that needs our attention.
Paying attention to our anger can allow us to know when a boundary has been crossed or maybe we are pushed beyond our limits. Being willing to dig deep and understand the real reason behind our anger can allow us to learn so much about who we are and what is important.
· Anger can be a powerful motivator for action. Feeling angry can make us feel powerful. The rush of adrenaline makes us feel strong and ready for action. When used appropriately, and when we understand what has caused or triggered our anger, then we can use it to make changes or speak up. We can use our anger to motivate us to set new goals, fight for new laws, or see that we set up better boundaries for the future.
· Anger can be a wake-up call. It can help us learn self-control. Learning to control yourself when you are angry can be a challenge, but it can lead to powerful growth. Scripture teaches that “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). Learning to control your anger leads to a special kind of power. Power to make choices based on reason rather than being led by emotions.
Emotions are wonderful and make life interesting and amazing. However, our emotions can be misleading. The ability to calm our bodies and minds when facing strong emotions such as anger takes practice. However, it puts you back in the driver’s seat of choice and allows you to direct your path, rather than feeling that others dictate what happens in your life.
Take control of yourself. Take control of your anger. Understand that it is healthy and natural to get angry, but don’t use that as an excuse to lash out and cause harm to others. Anger, even justifiable anger, does not permit anyone to cause harm to others or yourself. Let it be a teacher and guide but stay in control. It isn’t wrong to be angry. Learn about it, use it properly, and it will help you grow.
“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” Proverbs 17:27
If you would like help in understanding and controlling your anger. Contact us and let us explore and grow together.
Tiffany Secula, LPCC