Have you ever started to see a shade of red glazing across your eyes, perhaps while clenching your fists as your heart began racing out of your chest and the muscles in your body tightened? Maybe with some of these characteristics, you found yourself yelling, cursing, having a passive-aggressive manner, or having a dialogue in your mind about the circumstance that led you to take harmful or damaging actions to yourself or another. To some degree of these physical attributes, everyone has experienced them. Most likely these reactions occurred because of a circumstance that triggered you to feel upset and angry which possibly further led to aggression. What is anger? The APA defines anger as:
…a negative feeling state that is typically associated with hostile thoughts, physiological arousal and maladaptive behaviors. It usually develops in response to the unwanted actions of another person who is perceived to be disrespectful, demeaning, threatening or neglectful. Anger involves certain styles of thinking such as, “My boss criticized me in front of my colleagues. Now, I’m fuming. He shouldn’t be so disrespectful!” or “That woman in front of me is driving so slowly. This is exasperating. She shouldn’t be allowed to drive on the freeway!” Anger energizes us to retaliate. Our data indicate that about 25 percent of anger incidents involve thoughts of revenge such as, “I’m going to spread rumors about my boss to get even,” or “I’d like to just bump her car to put her in her place.” Interestingly, anger usually emerges from interactions with people we like or love, such as children, spouses and close friends.The APA, does differentiate between anger and aggression. They state:
Aggression, in contrast, refers to intentional behavior that aims to harm another person. Often, it reflects a desire for dominance and control. In the cases I see in my clinical and research work, weapons are often involved. Aggression can be shown by punching, shoving, hitting or even maiming another person, and it can occur in marital violence, child or elder abuse, bullying or gang and criminal activities.
Anger has been labeled as a “negative” emotion because many times a person is unable to control themselves and it leads to negative repercussions, some of which were stated above. Have you ever found yourself after a heated argument feeling sorry for reacting or treating someone the way you did because you were unable to control those emotions? Of course, this happens to everyone. Although there are some positive aspects to anger when controlled properly, long-term anger has been documented to be harmful. There will be more of an explanation later.
What does the Bible say about anger? One of the classic examples is found in Ephesians 4:26-32, which states:
Be angry* and do not sin, and do not let the sun set on your anger. Neither should you give place to The Slanderer. But whoever has stolen, let him not steal from now on, but let him toil with his hands and produce good that he might have to give to the one who is in need. Let not any hateful words come out of your mouth, but whatever is good and useful for improvement that you may give grace to those who hear, Neither be grieving the Holy Spirit of the Heavenly Father, for you have been sealed in him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, fury, rage, clamor, and insults be taken away from you with all wickedness, And be sweet one toward another and affectionate, and be forgiving one another, just as God in The Messiah has forgiven us*.After all, even the Heavenly Father has demonstrated His anger in many scenarios, but He is the only justified one in His actions at all times. Psalms 103:8 states he is “slow to anger” and since we are not “gods”, we are mainly quick to anger due to human nature. We were created in His image, so therefore anger is a natural human emotion. It only becomes an issue when it goes too far, so to speak. When someone is angry they usually speak a lot of not-so-nice words, and that is what this scripture is illustrating. We are commanded not to speak badly about or to others, nor to the Holy Spirit. We are to purge all of that before the end of the day and turn that emotion into something better. Does that sound nearly impossible? It can be challenging, but with the right amount of self-reflection and continual practice, it becomes easier.
Here are just a few more illustrations containing words of wisdom about anger:
Psalm 37:7-9Within these few examples, what is this all telling us? Anger can produce some unwanted results if unbridled. Wise sayings and words are good, but they are useless unless put into action. Our thoughts can get us into trouble at times, so what role does our psyche play into all of this? Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung stated that “everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Author and a fan of Carl Jung, Hermann Hesse, wrote:
Beg of Lord Jehovah and pray before him, and do not envy a man who does evil and whose way prospers. Rest from anger and rest from passion and do not envy the evildoer. Because the wicked are destroyed and those who hope in Lord Jehovah inherit the Earth.
Proverbs 15:1-2; 18
A soft word turns away anger and a hard word arouses wrath. The tongue of wisdom adorns knowledge, and the mouth of fools vomits a curse; An angry man provokes a brawl, and the patient man reproves a dispute, extinguishing it.
He that is patient is better than a mighty man, and he that subdues himself, than he that seizes a city.
You shall not be a friend to an angry man and do not enter with a man that is filled with passion, Lest you learn his laws and you find a scandal to your soul.
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
And you, my beloved brethren, everyone of you should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. For the rage of man does not perform the righteousness of God.
If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part ourselves doesn’t disturb us.
Many Psychologists and Scholars of psychology have agreed with many of the theories of Carl Jung’s work. The idea that we all have a “shadow”, or the less known and dark side of our personality. An article from Sam Woolfe stated that the “shadow” side is:
…dark because it is instinctive, irrational and primitive – consisting of impulses such as lust, power, greed, envy, anger and rage. But it is also a hidden source of creativity and insight. Recognizing and integrating the shadow aspect is essential for psychological health – a process called individuation.
The shadow is also dark because it is obscured from the light of consciousness. According to Jung, we repress these dark aspects of the unconscious mind, which makes them prone to projection.
Does this shed any light if you reflect on your own life, especially when you are in those instances of anger? Perhaps you do not even realize what is happening when that occurs. Many are unconscious or unaware that they even have these tendencies. A helpful way to understand how emotions turn into a “negative” action was explained as such: The outside world or environment can trigger our emotions because of our thoughts. If there is no filter on our thoughts, we are capable of making our emotions go out of control and make a situation worse. The good news to all of this is, no matter what the environmental cause may be, a filter can be applied to reanalyze and change the perspective with our thoughts to help control the emotion. While doing this it can also help a person understand those “shadow” or dark issues they have been suppressing and deal with them by using it as a source of “insight”. For someone who is completely unaware, it is suggested to try to look for those physical signs first before the eruption occurs. As one begins to recognize it, they should take a minute to feel that emotion and ask why it is occurring.
There are many theories, methods, and people that are able to help if a person is truly seeking help. The APA suggests that professional help may be needed if the following is true:
Some degree of anger will be with us for all of our lives. So, this is the question to ask: “Is my anger working for me?” When anger is mild, infrequent, dissipates quickly and is expressed assertively (directly to the problem person, in a non-accusatory manner) and without aggression, then professional help is not needed. In such circumstances, anger may serve the role of simply highlighting your annoyance and it can lead to problem resolution.Not everyone needs help at a professional level, but that is for the individual to honestly reflect and determine for themselves. No judgment here is being made because each human is in need of working on controlling their emotions because it is a part of growing into a higher mindset and conscious adult. As stated in many scriptures, the sagacious were able to continue to ascent and become masters of their emotions which is why they wrote such wisdom and were able to be extraordinarily successful in their endeavors. It is something that no one can fully achieve, but it is a lifetime goal to want to become more successful and grow in the ways the Heavenly Father wants us to. These are just small tidbits of information that are to enlighten each person reading this in order for them to continue researching and perfecting themselves before the Heavenly Father. There is no price on pleasing and obeying the Heavenly Father while being good and loving others as he commanded us.
Weekly Challenge:Ask yourself, is anger or other emotions controlling me? Are they serving me or am I serving them? If some of these ideas in this message have sparked an “ah-ha” moment, or have moved you in such a way to want to grow, continue to research and seek out how to become more in control of your emotions. A great deal of what is written here is something I could share pertaining to my journey that has helped me and continues to help as I aim to grow and control my emotions to become the best version of myself possible. It is a slow and grueling process, but it is worth it. Those around you will notice the differences and you will be able to be the example the Heavenly Father wants us to all shine to be. As W. E. Hickson stated:
‘Tis a lesson you should heed:Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.