In dealing with people one of the popular issues lately is anger. They may be angry with the military for how they have been treated, angry with the boss for work issues, angry with colleagues for being neglected or angry with God for allowing certain things to happen. The fact is we have all been angry, it is part of being human, but the reality is that some of us manage it better than others. There is nothing inherently wrong with being angry, in fact the scriptures tell us that even Jesus was angry, and anger is the right and appropriate response to injustice and things that are wrong. However, anger is also a powerful emotion which stimulates a whole range of physical, mental and behavioural responses which can very quickly get out of hand. So what can we do to handle it better? Here are five simple things you can try:
1. Acknowledge it! Admit that what you are feeling is anger, and consciously stop yourself from doing what comes naturally. Slow down, back off and give yourself time to consider the consequences of allowing your emotions to dictate your actions. For some people that mean go for a walk, raise a sweat in the gym to deal with excess energy before sitting down to,
2. Name it! Why are you angry? Who is that anger directed at? Sadly all too often angry outbursts are dumped on innocent bystanders. I have seen all too many cases where work issues have not been addressed in the appropriate forum, self medication with alcohol becomes preferred option and then they wonder why a fights break out at the boozer or a domestic violence at home! If you name it honestly, then you need to
3. Get help! Talk to the right people, so that you can deal with the real issues and not just the superficial problems. Within the military context I have noticed that it is much easier to deal with alcohol dependency than the real issue of anger management or unfair treatment. If you have a trusted friend, that is a great place to start or you can talk to the chaplain, medical, or get a referral to Psychologist. Then you may be in a place where you can,
4. Express how you feel! Go to the person who you feel is central and explain how you feel without trying to blame them for your problems. Accept responsibility for how you feel and seek to clarify the facts. All too often the issue is about poor communication and perceptions rather than injustice or a desire to hurt! The final step,
5. Respond constructively! Seek to find a positive outcome, a creative response that allows both parties to save face. There may be a need to ask forgiveness or offer it. If you realise that your anger has been destructive to others around you be prepared to confess it. Most people do not want nice words what they want to see is a positive change in behaviour. Your promises need to be backed up with action.
Gary Chapman in his book called “The Other Side Of Love” summarises all that in just one sentence:
“Anger’s purpose is to motivate us to positive, loving action that will leave things better than when we found them.”
Or as Aristotle put it
“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way… that is not easy.”
For some people that will require a miracle, but you are in luck, part of my job is to introduce you to the one who can work miracles and help you deal with your anger, though it might take a bit of time.
Chaplain Ian S Whitley