There’s a good chance you are struggling with anger right about now. The state of the world has left people anxious, frustrated, hurt, and scared… all of which seem to birth anger. Even if you aren’t finding yourself short tempered, it is likely that you’ve felt the sting of the unhealthy anger of others recently. If that is you, you are likely to find this post helpful. Below are the wise words of my friend and colleague, Don Easton. An experienced church planter and lead minister, Don brings his heart for the holistic health of pastors to his writing, coaching, and consulting through Verve Lead.
Healthy anger vs. Unhealthy anger
We have been designed to feel things, to be affected by the world around us. Some emotions are clearly good (like joy, peace or empathy) while others just feel… bad. No one wants to feel sadness, guilt or fear, but we understand that those emotions are important to our survival and growth. For some reason, we often don’t include anger in that list.
Anger can feel like a bad thing and it certainly can drive us to do bad things, but anger is just as normal and healthy as any other feeling. It serves as a warning bell that something isn’t right. Anger lets us know that injustice is happening; that someone is being mistreated, shamed, ignored or hurt. In fact, anger is often the right response in the face of cruelty.
However, as with all emotions, we need to be able to manage our anger. Anger can be explosive, it can build and spin out of control and then explode. Without a healthy understanding of our anger, we can lash out, hurting others so much that our relationships are damaged and even destroyed. Our current cultural climate seems to reward and encourage outrage and it is propelled by social media faster than we can track. While often the fury we see spewed all over our phones and laptops begins from a place of healthy anger against a perceived injustice, there seems to be little effort to empathize with or even simply listen to the opposing force.Without a healthy understanding of our anger, we can lash out, hurting others so much that our relationships are damaged and even destroyed. -Don Easton Click To Tweet
Get to the root
Anger is almost always a secondary emotion… it comes after hurt or fear or shame. Understanding first where anger comes from and then addressing the root cause can help us recognize the best way to move forward with empathy and an open mind…easier said than done, huh?
So, how can we make that easier? How can one recognize anger rising and handle it in a mature way?Understanding first where anger comes from and then addressing the root cause can help us recognize the best way to move forward with empathy and an open mind. -Don Easton Click To Tweet
Six ways to de-escalate anger
When you feel anger rising, it is always wise to take a step back. Remove yourself from the situation until you feel ready to communicate productively.
Taking deep and steady breaths is proven to slow your heart and calm your head.
3. Go for a walk
Work off some of the adrenalin-fueled energy that comes with anger. This gives your body time to feel calmer while allowing your brain some time to work through the problem and how you can address it.
4. Sleep on it
We tend to make impulsive decisions when we are angry. Sometimes turning your brain off and returning to it a day later will allow you to see the problem from a new, more peaceful perspective.
5. Write it down
If your anger is based in personal conflict, taking time to write out how you feel and why will help you and anyone else involved empathize with your perspective. You can also encourage them to do the same.
6. Book some sessions with a well-being mentor
A well-being mentor will offer discernment and feedback to help you develop self-reflection that builds self-awareness and develop ownership for desired change. If this is a new to you, you can learn more here: https://vervelead.com/mentoring/
Questions to ask yourself
- How do I manage my anger?
- What are the warning signs that I am getting too angry?
- Where do I make God angry?
Questions to explore with a well-being mentor
- Where does the anger I feel come from?
- Where do I react without restraint or regard to the impact of my reactions on self and others?
- How does my emotional well-being contribute to the anger I feel?