You may have heard of the fight or flight response. When we feel threatened, we either flee or we lash out. Fight and flight are two sides of the same coin– anger and fear. But there is a third option: fight, flight, or freeze.
Freeze, in this case, means hitting the pause button. As soon as we become aware of the anger or fear, we stop. We count to ten… or 100 or 1,000… however long it takes to calm down. That time allows us to make different choices.
We get into trouble when we follow this sequence: event > instinctive reaction > negative outcome (fight or flight). Instead, we can interrupt this cycle: event > hit the pause button so you can think about desired outcome > considered response.
What a difference would it make in our communities if we all were able to stop and think before we react? In most of our circles we don’t actually throw punches at one another, but many of us are excellent at throwing verbal punches or the art of being passive aggressive. Yet if we choose to hit the pause button instead, we could develop a community that is open and authentic, a place where we can be honest about who we are without fear. A community like that is worth learning to hit the pause button for.
This blog entry is part of a series of thoughts on anger management, based on a class I teach to residents of the Salvation Army based on The Anger Management Workbook. The thoughts are equally applicable to ministry leaders. If you are reading this series after it has come out on this blog, you can pull up all of the entries at once by doing a search for anger management in the search box within the blog.
Don’t Let Anger Take Control! Most people stereotype anger by assuming that it always results in shouting, slamming fists, or throwing things. However, anger is not that one-dimensional. In fact, all of the statements below represent feelings of anger: When I am displeased with someone I shut down any communication and withdraw. I get very […]