Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger (Part 3)

This is the final part of Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Develop assertive communication skills. You can use the anger to motivate you to assertive, but not aggressive, action.  Assertiveness includes open, honest communication that expresses your concerns and what you want.  Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent responses are examples of healthy assertive action that brought about positive change.  You can do the same in your family, speaking the truth in love.

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.” I Thess. 5:14-15

How can we communicate assertively to others who are “unruly”, without allowing our anger to take us down the road of gossip or revenge?

Evaluate and modify your thinking in the direction of being grateful for the blessings in your life.  This is particularly true when we notice an underlying hostility from unresolved anger that is beginning to fester within us.  Learning to let go of offenses and embracing our blessings has great value for our own health and the health of our relationships with others.

“But I am afflicted and in pain; May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high. I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:29-30 

Reflect on how so many of the Psalms go from the hurts inflicted by others, leading to anger in David.  Then, the Lord brings him to a place of praise and rejoicing in the faithfulness of the Lord.

Forgiveness is fundamental. Understanding, accepting, and letting go of offenses is a process we go through in relationships we value.  This is a process that takes time for some, but is something we are all challenged to embrace. 

Read Matthew 18:15-35

Reconciliation between people in conflict is clearly the ideal, even if it is not always possible.  Reflect on the lessons in this passage, particularly the parable of the unforgiving servant.  Consider the debt we owe to God and that He has forgiven us completely.  Does any offense of others against you even come close?  How might we reinforce this truth in our lives on a daily basis?   Also consider Matt. 6:7-15

Modified from an original article written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2016.

Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Consider the offense before responding. Focus on the big picture, rather than reacting on impulse. Attempt to understand their reason for offending you in the way they did, or if they even meant it as an offense.  What is really triggering your feelings of anger?  How might your response affect your future relationship?

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11

How can reflecting on situations that trigger our anger help us grow wiser in our responses?       

Release the anger before the day is over. Holding on to your anger is not worth it on many levels, including your health. Research has even shown it increases pain and depression levels.  Seek to release the anger as quickly as possible.

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Ephesians 4:26

Reflect on how it is permissible to be angry, but it is wise to let it go as quickly as possible.  What helps you to do this?

Tell yourself “I am not easy to offend.” And believe it. You really can modify your habitual ways of thinking.   

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Consider how the disciplines we learn through being disciples of Christ help bring about transformation in our ways of thinking and our behavior. See also Colossians 3:8

Avoid a victim mentality. Even if you are a victim of unfair treatment, you do not want to get stuck there. Instead, look for ways to empower yourself and take responsibility to manage your life and relationships in healthier ways.  Considering your situation from the position of an equal rather than from a superior or inferior position can help you negotiate relationship conflicts and work toward win-win solutions.

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21

Consider how you have been a victim of wrongdoing, and how difficult it was not to respond with some form of revenge, passive or aggressive.  How can we find the grace and strength to avoid this natural pattern?

Next week we will finish with part 3 of Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Modified from an original article written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2016.

Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger (Part 1)

How do you feel when others do not meet your expectations, or when you do not get what you want?  Do you “bite your wife’s head off?”  Do you lose your voice yelling at your kids?  Do you secretly obsess and seethe at something your neighbor did, wondering how you can get even? 

Depending on many complex factors, we can react in many different ways.  Sometimes we are simply irritated, frustrated, or impatient.  Other times we rage, at least on the inside. 

Anger brings with it a great deal of physiological arousal.  Your heart beats faster, your breathing rate increases, your pupils constrict, and your blood flows more to your active muscles – all signs that your adrenal glands are pumping more hormones which signal your body to go into “fight or flight” mode. 

Here are a few tips to help you cope in a way that can diminish the damage that poor anger management does to both you and those around you.

Delay your response. It essential to break negative automatic and habitual ways of expressing your anger that hurt others and yourself.  “Counting to 10” is age old advice that really does serve a purpose.  It helps you engage the thinking portions of your brain so you can evaluate the potential consequences of the angry comments you would like to make.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

Contemplate ways that you can delay your response without shutting down completely or repressing your anger in unhealthy ways.

Resist acting out anger inappropriately. This can be verbal or non-verbal behavior.  Saying or doing things intended to hurt others will only escalate your problems.  Be slow to speak.  This is the path of mature, responsible adult behavior.

“He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:1-6

Consider the contrast in ways that Jesus handled his anger and how the Pharisees handled their anger toward Jesus.   In what appropriate ways did Jesus direct his anger? 

Listen attentively and objectively. What is the other person really communicating? How is the person feeling?  Seek to really put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Research shows the high value of empathy in overcoming habitual expressions of anger.

“He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.Proverbs 18:13

Recall a conversation in which you became angry without really understanding the actual situation. How did you feel when you realized your mistake?

Next week we will continue Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Modified from an original article written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2016.

Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions (Part 3)

This is the final part of Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions.

Monitor yourself.  You have a tendency to resist in your partner what you suppress in yourself.  In more intimate relationships, you may express anger at your spouse for being scared, depressed, or embarrassed.  Use these times as opportunities to examine yourself for the same emotion you see in others that upsets you. Ask yourself “why am I feeling this way”?

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” II Cor. 13:5

Reflect on I Corinthians 11:28; Ephesians 4:26-27

Focus on goals.  Making choices to behave in the right manner, independent of your mood or feelings, is important in many situations.  Besides parenting, work settings which focus on customer service provide many examples, such as a waitress who refrains from throwing the soup on an irritating customer. 

Reflect on Proverbs 22:6; Rom. 12:1-2; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; I John 4:11-21

Study role models.  Find people you admire, particularly the way they generally handle their emotions.  Comparison can be a trap that brings you down, but learning from a role model and growing to imitate them is what children, apprentices and disciples have done for millennia. 

“For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.” I Corinthians 4:15-17

Reflect on I Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; II Thessalonians 3:7-9; Matthew 28:19-20

Learn assertive communication.  You may choose to remain silent, but acknowledging and expressing your feelings in an appropriate manner is an important part of emotional health.  Remember, assertion is not aggression or arrogance.  It is simply confident and straightforward communication.

Reflect on Jeremiah 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:15; Acts 4:13; 18:26-28; Titus 2:1-10

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, October 2018