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Controlling Anger

It’s a natural emotion, but don’t let it overtake you.

Anger can be a normal reaction when something happens to us that we feel is unfair or undeserved. It can cause intense feelings of displeasure, hostility and vengeance. Not all anger is bad, but you may feel like you’re not able to control your angry feelings and that they can overpower you. The littlest mishap sends you into a tailspin of rage. Don’t let anger control your life! Understanding how anger begins, how it manifests itself and how to overcome its emotional death grip is the key to living a victorious life.

Anger begins when something happens that threatens you physically, emotionally or relationally. You’re driving down the freeway and someone cuts you off. A peer gets promoted ahead of you. Your teenager comes home two hours late without letting you know. Someone you love has cheated on you. All of these situations can cause anger, but virtually all anger is driven by fear. This is why some anger is not necessarily bad. Good anger can initiate aggressiveness, which can be a great benefit to our physical survival. However, it’s comical to think that we can just go through life lashing out at everyone who annoys us for the sake of self-preservation.

Minister and best-selling author Dr. Charles Stanley stated, “If you wonder if you are an angry person, simply ask yourself these five questions: Is my anger directed toward another person? Is it without a justifiable cause? Am I seeking vengeance? Am I cherishing anger? Do I have an unforgiving spirit?” If you answer yes to three out of these five questions, then you are probably carrying unwarranted anger.

There are basically three categories of anger: rage, resentment and indignation. Rage is that explosive, uncontrolled expression of anger. People often demonstrate it through yelling, throwing objects or being physically abusive. Anger management experts agree that anger should be expressed, but in an assertive way—not aggressive. Being assertive simply means that you let the other person or people know why you are angry and then seek a mutual understanding of what caused you to get angry. In this way, you show respect to others and this, in turn, can bring satisfying results.

If you are the type of person who displays rage when angry, then try to suppress your anger. You can do this by focusing on something positive until you can calm down and come up with a healthy way to release your anger. Handling your emotions this way is much more beneficial to you and encouraging to others. Conversely, suppressed anger that’s not addressed leads to resentment. This happens when people completely deny their hurts and frustrations. The destruction occurs essentially from the inside out. They tend to hold everything internally and never find positive ways to deal with the bottled-up anger issues they carry.

Simple steps can help you overcome anger. First, learn to communicate better. Don’t jump to conclusions, and don’t say the first thing that comes to your mind. Learn to be a good listener while trying to understand the other person’s point of view. Second, plan ahead for potential problems that have a tendency to make you angry. If heavy traffic makes you mad, allow yourself extra time during the commute or take a different route to work. Third, change your environment. If you work in an office environment, it’s amazing what 15 minutes of sunshine and fresh air at lunch each day can do to brighten your attitude and relieve any anger-causing anxiety. Fourth, learn to relax by reading spiritual material, learning deep-breathing techniques or routinely engaging in physical exercise.

Remember, not all anger is bad. Indignation or “righteous anger” can be classified as good anger. Things like social injustice or cruelty to others can cause us to become angry. This anger may then cause us to willfully react against the wrong to make it right. When handled with the right motive in a nonaggressive way, good anger can have a positive impact on everyone.

– Story by Chaplain (MAJ) Mark Phillips
Chaplain (MAJ) Mark D. Phillips is the full-time support chaplain for the Tennessee Army National Guard and serves as the regimental chaplain for the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Knoxville, TN.