Are you angry? Have you made someone angry?
A spouse deserves to be able to recharge and feel healthy within the marriage. A child should know that a parent’s anger ends toward them. A friend should be secure after messing up and not subjected to on-going anger.
Are you angry? Have you made someone angry? In your marriage, friendship, with your kids, or on your job? Have people told you lately, you seem to be angry? Are you distancing yourself from someone because they hurt you and now you're angry?
Anger is a natural emotion, but many of us have been punished or shamed for being angry, especially those of us who have subjected someone to their anger in harmful, abusive ways. The consequences of punishment or shame just might have been appropriate for the abuse. Yet, anger must have room in our lives but in healthy and unabusive ways. I’ve been quoted as saying, “If you hurt me, I’ll deal with it. But if you hurt my family, I’ll deal with you.” For me, this quote gives me room to be angry appropriately against my family’s offender, but in a healthy way.
Appropriately expressed anger can lead to constructive change and can protect us when something is wrong in our lives or relationships. However, uncontrolled anger can damage our relationships and hurt those closest to us.
When we feel anger it's often because: a). a boundary is being violated and/or b). a core wound from our past is triggered.
This is why it's important to not repress or try to stop feeling anger because it has something to teach us. Anger helps us navigate life when we’ve been violated or when we’ve been wounded and left to carry the wound. When we don't know how to cope with our anger, we give in to it, then it begins to control us. It is the symptom that is controlling us, not the root problem – just the symptom.
For Example: “I’m so angry,” we say. Why? “She continues to lie to me,” we say. Ah! Now here is the root problem – her constant lying. It tells us ‘why’ we are angry. Do you see the role anger plays as a symptom to the root problem of constant lying?
The sooner we address the root problem, the symptom can be normalized. People usually focus on the symptom.
For Example: "I'm so angry," we say. Why? "She continues to lie to me," we say. "Well you need to get your anger under control because it's not good at all," we say. Getting one's anger under control is necessary. However, it can continue to be triggered, which makes it re-occur.
The sooner we address the root problem, the symptom can be normalized. People usually focus on the symptom. (This sentence is repeated on purpose and for emphasis). The reason anger recurs in a person's life must be address to normalize the symptom.
What are our behavior responses when we are angry? We either externalize or internalize, or we respond both ways.
Externalizing anger looks like: lashing out, slamming doors or fists, shaming someone, cursing out someone, manipulation, or sending an angry text, etc. Internalizing anger looks like: blaming God or stop connecting with Him, substance use or other forms of addiction, shutting down, self-harm, or self-shaming, etc.
When a boundary is being violated, we internalize and externalize. When a core wound from our past is being triggered, the same is true, we internalize and externalize.
If a person has been experiencing anger issues for a long time, he may not know where the anger is coming from. He may be internalizing and externalizing without self-awareness. That’s because our minds can operate at levels below our awareness. For example, automatic thoughts that are based in fear and feelings of unworthiness can occur without us even noticing. But when this happens, we are left with an unhappy or fearful emotion, despite being unaware of its origin. This is when externalizing and internalizing kick in. Notice these two behavior responses the next time you are angry, or when someone tells you that you are angry. What caused the anger (or another negative emotion) - boundaries or triggers?
Being in a relationship with someone who is struggling to manage anger is stressful and uncertain. A spouse deserves to be able to recharge and feel healthy within the marriage. A child should know that a parent’s anger ends toward them. A friend should be secure after messing up and not subjected to on-going anger.
How Can I Manage My Anger in Healthy Ways?
De-Escalate The Situation
When we try to control an angry person, they may become defensive and more uncooperative. It is unwise to get angry in response to someone’s anger. It is better to let them be angry and recognize they will eventually calm down. The calmer we remain, the quicker their anger may subside unless they are too “bullheaded” or has “chronic anger issues.” We must know that we won’t be able to squelch their anger with silence or kindness. Therefore, we must work to put space between us and the person until they are back to “normal.”
When someone’s emotional state is highly charged, their cognitive state may be impaired. There is little point in addressing our issue as long as the anger dominates. Allow them time for the negative emotion to settle and then we can seek to establish more rational discussion.
Address My Challenge When The Person Is Calm
When the person’s anger has been put on the back burner, and they are calm, that is when we should share our perspective about the issue that caused the anger to flare. If the anger is chronic, we should seek quick resolutions and answers through counseling, separation, mediation, etc. It is important to find a solution and stick to it so that the relationship doesn’t become abusive because ongoing anger will eventually destroy a relationship.
Think Influence, Not Control
Do not focus on trying to change the person. We can’t. We can influence them and show them the benefits of our position, especially if our position is preventing further damage to the relationship. Also, we can influence the person by creating a positive environment that is conducive to cooperation rather than control. If we are beyond the point of working on the relationship, make decisions so that we don’t become the battered person.
Dear Reader, our prayer is that God gives you wisdom and discernment in your relationships so that you know how to be patient, if you should separate from the person, when to receive outside help, or how to support your relationship toward breakthrough. Whatever you do, don’t give up on God. He is for us not against us and our relationships.