Anger happens. You are driving down the left side of highway slightly faster than normal because you are already late and suddenly someone cuts right in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks and almost hit their vehicle. Instantly, you are angry. Or your spouse promises he will be home by a certain time and you have made dinner on that time frame but he doesn’t show up, answer the phone or even call. By the time your spouse arrives home, dinner is cold and so are you. Better yet, you ask your child to do the simplest of tasks only to be met with defiance, back talk, and ungratefulness. The result is instant anger.
You have several bad ways of handling anger, all of which you most likely have mastered by now including the silent treatment, intense aggression and smile now but pay later. While these methods felt good in the moment, they resulted in poor long-term resuslts. So you are open to trying a new method. Here are two. One is to think about it overnight while remaining silent in the moment of anger and the second is to address it immediately without aggression. Either method works depending on your personality or the situation but first some common misunderstandings about anger need to be cleared up.
Defining Anger. Most likely, you have experienced a time when everything seems to be going just fine and then all of a sudden something happens and you feel this rush of intense emotion causing your heart to race, your voice to get louder, or your fists to clench. And then it happens, you say or do something that you normally would not do if the intense emotion had not occurred. That is anger. And while anger in and of itself is a God given emotion, it becomes wrong when it controls your behavior. This emotion is quite useful in life and death situations as it propels you into action motivating you beyond what you would normally do. But it can be destructive in personal relationships as it leaves a path of disaster much like the path of a tornado.
Blaming Anger. Just because you are feeling angry, and this emotion in some cases may be justified, it does not give you license to harm anyone in your path. How many times have you heard someone say, “You make me so angry”? The reality is that they are responsible for getting angry just as you are responsible for your own anger. Anger as an emotion and left to run rampet over your life can control you if you let it. However, no one can “make” you angry unless you choose to be angry. Sometimes that choice is not a conscious one but an unconscious choice based on experiences and decisions made in the past. Nonetheless, it is your choice to allow anger to control you.
Managing Anger. The two methods mentioned above have two different ways of dealing with your anger. One is to not speak and think about your anger overnight. The other is to confront your anger. However, neither method even slightly hints that your spouse must be involved in either. If you are responsible for your own anger and letting your anger get out of control is wrong then it is not the responsibility of your spouse to resolve your anger rather it is yours. “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” is about your behavior and desire to hold onto things that should be let go or dealt with accordingly.
Reconciling Anger. Once you have defined your anger, accepted responsibility for it and managed properly managed it, then you can begin the process of reconciliation. Since anger destroys relationships, it is likely that there is a trail of failed relationships in the quake of your anger. Even if the relationship may seem to be fine, unreconciled anger limits intimacy. Your present anger may have less to do with present circumstances and more to do with your past. Take the time to reconcile old relationships and you will find that your anger is less intense the next time.
Anger can be one of the most useful tools in helping you to grow and deal with your past but it can also be one of the most destructive if not addressed properly. If you know of someone who needs help with their anger, speak up kindly and lovingly in a safe environment but make sure you have already addressed your anger issues first. This effort while draining just might be one of the best things you do for your relationships.
There is hope for your exhaustion. Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort. If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment. Or you can send me a quick email at email@example.com.
- How Anger Fuels Addictive Behavior (christinehammondcounseling.com)