Have you ever heard the statement, “Anger is a second emotion”? This statement intrigues me. Thinking back into past experiences this statement rings true. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were first angry? Think about it. Most often sadness or hurt arises, then as a second emotion, anger follows. Anger is defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility.
In sessions, I often use the example that anger is a ticking time bomb. Event after event, time after time eventually it explodes. Some people think, if they push it down and ignore it then it will not affect their life. Sadly it affects their life more. Eventually, as time builds and hurts get deeper, the wound becomes more like a scare and anger gets closer to the time of its explosion.
When we ask what is the heart of the matter of this emotion anger, we are asking how does it develop and how does it affect our heart and lives. How is anger so impactful? It changes our perspective, perhaps makes us lose hope and our trust in people. Perhaps it changes our desire to maintain and develop friendships.
It is carried around with us daily and we think we have left it in a box stored away till we want to unpack it again. Anger is heavy; it is sadness, disappointment, lost expectations, hurt and pain. It changes the way we think, act and behave.
When clients’ come into my office stating they have a problem with anger they have to examine their triggers of everyday life. The client and I discuss their triggers and hurt and identify the root issue. James 1:19-20 states, “Take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
As individuals, we do not just wake up angry one day. It develops and grows. There is an event in life or maybe even multiple events that transform our thinking. An event occurs and we are then immediately affected. We could initially be saddened by the event. Then later disappointed, then further in time annoyed, confused and then as time goes by anger arises.
Each emotion is a brick on top of the other building up to the emotion of anger. These bricks eventually get so high they become so heavy the foundation falls and there are debris and chaos left to clear. Ecclesiastes 7:9 reads, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” This verse highlights the negativity of anger. Can you name a positive of anger? Go on I will let you think.
Anger not only affects the individual experiencing it but it also affects direct relationships the angry individual has with others. Everyone experiences anger but it is what we do with it that matters. If we let it build and stuff it down hoping it will fade our chances of destruction and future hurt is higher.
When we carry around anger it changes us. We become bitter and start hating things we once loved. It destroys relationships and hurts the people around us we care for the most. We try hard to leave the anger aside and instead it follows us into our everyday. We are triggered and suddenly we are yelling at someone, misplacing our anger and affecting the possibility of having and maintaining healthy relationships.
Eventually, our anger controls us as if we are a puppet on a string. It becomes so overwhelming we may question if life is worth living. The answer is always yes. Your life has not yet been lived in its entirety. You have been hurt but not beyond repair. You have carried around pain but there is an opportunity to leave it behind and begin living an abundant life.
So this is when one would ask what is the heart of my anger? This question has to be asked in order to find the solution to dissolving this heavy negative emotion. It is at this point we have to desire to change.
We want to become better, we want to find joy, forgiveness and let go of the weights that have been chained to our ankles. This is the beginning of changing patterns, behaviors and negative coping. We choose to let go, forgive and the negatives fade and the positives begin to bloom.
Can you think of a time when you did not feel this weight? When your heart was happy, free and anger did not control you? Think of this moment. Hold onto it, because it will soon be your future. How different is your happy past from your present? How different are your relationships, hopes, dreams, and expectations of others since anger has been apart of your life?
It is at this time that you realize that anger has changed you. Identifying when it changed you is pivotal. Perhaps you cannot think of a time you were not angry. That is your starting point. Finding out how you have allowed anger to control you and how you can let it go is apart of becoming the healthy and new you.
Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Have you ever thought about positives when you were angry? It is not possible to have anger and a thankful heart. Perhaps identifying the positives, magnifying them and shrinking the negatives helps smash your anger.
What would life be like if you chose to see the positives? At times, as people we want to hold onto the anger, we choose to continue hating. We fuel our hatred with our thoughts. When should we let go of these things fueling the fire? How long is too long to replay these hurts?
Not only do our thoughts control the path of our anger but our mouths also contribute to decreasing this negative emotion. Communication is vital to decreasing and diminishing anger.
If you are a person to hold onto hurts, stuff them and never confront those who hurt you it is likely your anger will build, becoming a giant and scary monster. If you are continually hurt and repeatedly choose to keep your lips sealed anger cannot be broken. It in fact just builds.
When someone or something hurts you, you should approach that individual, communicating the effect they had on you. You may think to yourself, she does not know the individual I am facing. You are right. I do not. I do know that majority of the time clients are surprised by the conversations they have with people when they are approached the right way.
Unfortunately, there are people that do not change and cannot be approached. In situations such as these boundaries should be developed, pain should be released from your hands and forgiveness should develop in your heart.
When dealing with things outside of our control the serenity prayer is something helpful to review and apply to your circumstances, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” If you continue to work diligently to change the things you cannot control life can get very frustrating. Instead, focus on the thing you can control – you.
Anger is an emotion but also something that can control the path and quality of your life. Your life is too purposeful to be controlled by something such as an emotion.
Regina Brett said, “Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse.”
So take one step at a time, one piece at a time and slowly direct your negatives into positives. A grateful heart cannot be angered.
If you feel you are ready to understand the root of your anger, the actual heart of the matter and begin to change your hurt into something bigger and more meaningful do not be afraid to reach out to a listening ear. You are not meant to do difficult things alone.
Anger is powerful, it is dark, and it has many layers. If you are interested in seeking a listening ear, please reach out to me. Give me a call. I am here for you. I desire to help you become the person you have always wanted to be. Your new beginning starts here.
“Broken Mirror”, Courtesy of David DeLorme, Freeimages.com, CC0 License; “Grief”, Courtesy of Milada Vigerova, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Power”, Courtesy of Oladimeji Odunsi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “When Time Stood Still”, Courtesy of Seth Macey, Unsplash.com, CC0 License