Anger is an emotion that is all too familiar. But it’s just that: an emotion. Yet, too many of us allow anger to take control of a moment, or of our lives. There is no such thing as life without anger, for God created us with a capacity for it.
We know that Jesus got angry when he saw the money changers using the Temple courtyard as a place to buy and sell, instead of a place of prayer as it was meant to be. He showed his anger by turning over the tables and clearing out the money changers (Matt.21:12-13). Paul tells us in Eph. 4:26 that we should not let anger control us, nor let the sun go down on our anger.
If anger is something we were made to experience, why have we allowed it to wreck such havoc in our lives? When left unchecked, it leads to all sorts of destructive behaviors: lying, cheating, hurting the ones we love by mistreating them, and in the most extreme case, committing murder.
Anger left unchecked becomes what is known as free floating anger. Free floating anger is when we allow anger from a particularly painful experience, such as abuse or betrayal, to make us cynical and sarcastic. It also can lead us to blame others for our life’s circumstances.
Angry people are not fun people to be around. They are often moody, selfish and impatient, not a good team player, and lack a sense of humor. Too many of us carry for years, even decades, the anger of a bad experience, without realizing that we have allowed that anger to touch every area of our life. When we say things like, “I will never trust people again,” very often such a statement is coming from a long-held anger. Broken trust – whether in a marriage, friendship, work, between parent and child, sibling relationship – leaves us all with feelings of anger because we have been betrayed.
So how are some people able to move on from a hurtful experience while others remain stuck? I believe the answer lies in how we deal with our anger. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with the anger you have now or will experience?
Acknowledge the anger. Do not try to appear nice and forgiving simply in order to be liked or seen as the victim. Say you are angry; and that what happened was unfair, unkind, hurtful, and mean. Use whatever words best capture what you are feeling to express your emotions of anger to yourself, those supporting you through the experience, and the person(s) who hurt you.
Decide you are not going to let this anger float freely in your life. You must begin taking steps in the process of releasing the anger. Only then can you be free to live without allowing the person(s) to continue hurting you by allowing the anger to free float to other areas of your life. Some of us are still being hurt by people who died long ago because we have not released the anger caused by their actions or words. You must release it; no one can do that for you.
Ask others to help you through the process. Depending on the magnitude of the pain caused by the incident, you may need more than the support of friends; you may need to see a counselor. Whatever you do make sure the people you are seeking out to help you are not angry themselves. This will not be good for you since their cynicism, sarcasm, or blame-shifting will only serve to increase your anger rather than help you release it. Are you free from the anger of past hurts experienced at the hands of those you trusted, or are you allowing the anger to float freely, negatively affecting all your relationships?
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