Typically, when we hear the word “anger,” we picture someone exploding on someone else; that’s the negative picture our society links to anger.
However, Dr. Gary Chapman explains in his book Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion, that anger at it’s root is not a negative emotion. In contrast, God uses anger in its pure sense to bring about His justice on earth. If God is “slow to anger” (Psalm 103:8) and the Bible says that “in our anger” we “should not sin,” (Ephesians 4:26) then it’s pretty clear that anger was invented by God and is going to occur in us.
God longs for us to be people who can process our anger and then take a constructive action rather than destructive.
Given that a previous post on anger has been the most visited of any other post on this blog, and that many young parents (and people in general) struggle with anger like I do, I thought it’d be good to revisit this topic again and offer some more practical tools to help us with it.
Today, I’d like to provide Dr. Chapman’s 5 steps to managing anger as it’s been very helpful for me:*
(1) Consciously acknowledge to yourself that you are angry. Dr. Chapman recommends even saying outloud to yourself, “I am angry.” This admittance to yourself can defuse many-an-explosion.
(2) Restrain your immediate response. Don’t do whatever you first think of doing. There are so many physiological changes occurring when we get angry (increased heart rate, etc.) that our first reaction is usually not constructive. Count to 100. Take a quick walk.
(3) Locate the focus of your anger. Did someone actually wrong me? Am I just tired and irritable? Was there a trigger earlier in my day that is causing me to be short with my spouse or child now? Figure out what the actual issue is.
(4) Analyze your options. Do you need to confront someone? Do you need to say you are sorry because you were actually the one in the wrong? Do you need to simply choose to forgive and let something go? Think through what options you have.
(5) Take constructive action. Remember, God wants to use your anger to help a situation. While anger feels so negative, at its core it’s to help make our world better. Choose an action that will help something, if not, don’t do it.
When you think about people like Martin Luther King Jr., or Mother Theresa, anger was no doubt a part of what initially stirred them to right some wrongs.
Not all anger is bad. Most of the time, we are just quick to get angry whereas the bible says to be “slow to anger” (James 1:19).
I hope the 5 step process above can help you in your endeavor to be slower to anger, as well as help you to right some wrongs rather than wrong some rights when it comes to your response.
If this is a struggle for you, post the 5 steps somewhere where you’ll see them often – like your bathroom mirror – that’s where mine are. I still have a long way to go, but these steps are helping!
*Thanks to Moody Publishers for the permission to share this. Please visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com for more of Dr. Chapman’s resources.