23 June 2013

Anger - some points to consider

Surely anger can't really be a good thing? I do appreciate those friends who have listened patiently when I've been bouncing idea after idea off them about this topic recently. Yet this is something I need to get to grips with before I can move on with the next stage of my life. And it's long overdue...

As you know, the book I'm currently reading actually tries to show me how to "turn anger into a friend". What do you think? What is your opinion on some of these concepts? Honesty warning - some very personal topics covered here!!

Firstly, is anger actually protective? Take for example, the scenario where a member of your family is in danger. You leap into instinctive action. You don't often get a chance to stop and choose your course of action - your natural instincts take over. That baser instinct allows us to act quickly. This is part of God's basic programming of man - His way of protecting your family from harm. One writer I read recently said that anger can be one of those 'instincts'. To tell you the truth, I'm not so sure. Yes, I know that reaction is still instinctual; I still think how we react can still be a matter of choice. If the whole thing is instinct, surely there's no way to change...

Can anger be an indicator of your deeper feelings? In cases of severe injustice (or perceived injustice), when things need to dramatically change, you may feel a swell of anger inside you, letting you know that things aren't right, and giving you the power to do something about it. This touches on something that I blogged about earlier - the untapped resource, a well of power from within me.I know this is genuine, I've felt this.

Here's another scenario - your child's doctor won't listen to your concerns about their health. Should you just meekly accept the decision? Or should you be allowing yourself to let the anger surface? If you do let rip at the doctor, you could start to stir things up and get the problem diagnosed and solved. However, you could be saddled with a reputation of being a troublemaker! Another alternative - if you don't say anything, you could well be back to the doctor in a few months with a stress-related disorder - not allowing the anger to surface could well be unhealthy!

So, here's the thing. Is anger normal? That's the most important question so far for me. After years of bottling up feelings of anger because people have told me time and again 'now is not the right time to show them', I am now finally empowered. It's OK for me to be angry. In fact, it's a God-given ability. Unfortunately countless years of repressed anger still sit there as bitterness. I need to unpack this - this is still a work in progress.

Here's another quote from the book I'm currently reading: "Feeling anger is normal; not feeling anger is abnormal. Because feeling anger seems abnormal, we unconsciously repress anger feelings. We deny we are feeling angry toward another person. We think there is something wrong with us when we have angry feelings toward others. Angry feelings are not wrong. Rather, it is how we express anger that is often wrong. God gave us anger for protection from danger. When the 'anger button' goes off, we are alerted to danger. We need to use our awareness of danger to trace the cause of our anger." ('Healing Life's Hurts' by Graham Bretherick, page 116)

Can anger tell you what to do next? Your little darling has left his or her toys all over the house again! However, yelling at your little precious isn't exactly going to get their cooperation. Indeed, it may actually reinforce their annoying behaviour - they'll start to 'tune you out'. Is this expression of anger telling you that this doesn't work; that your expectations are too high; that the rule isn't actually clear enough? Are you angry mostly at your child or at yourself? Think it through. We're encouraged to use the energy released by the anger to trigger a change of approach; follow it up with consistent action.

Are you angry at yourself? Sure. I've certainly been there. However, if I go around beating myself up and telling myself, say, that I am a bad parent for things that happen in my family that I'll end up making a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'll end up as a parent with no confidence in my own abilities - powerless and, quite frankly, useless. God forbid...

So, here's another dilemma - I can't really lose my rag all of the time, disbursing that energy outwards, in fact spraying it all around. I can't bottle it up - it'll fester and mutate into bitterness. I can't turn it inward into myself. So, how do I let it out? Recently I've been retreating into the printed word. I end up writing pages and pages like this one - reams and reams of paper, huge chunks of computer memory. Some of this I actually publish, some I delete...I spend a good deal of time in self-examination, trying to challenge my own  misperceptions.  

Can I find a suitable outlet for my anger? Another good question. I'm assured that how we handle angry outbursts depends on what you saw and heard when you grew up. If your mum or dad shouted at you, chances are you'll be led to follow when dealing with your own children. Fortunately, I am assured that if you were taught one anger expression style in your youth you can learn another. We need - I need - to go back to school here, rethink the whole idea that feeling anger is bad. I need to deal with my feelings appropriately and then move on. I need to forgive. Burying those unresolved feelings will eventually lead to passive aggression (withdrawal) and will incubate into bitterness.

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you." Ephesians 4:30-32

Comments on any or all of the above awaited. Prayers welcomed.

1 comment:

Just Be Real said...

Good point Colin. Some you would not be beneficial to anger and healthy. Blessings.