We’ve all felt it. Sometimes it sneaks up on us. Sometimes it festers for a looong time: days, weeks, years, or even decades!
Do you find yourself irritated at little things? Does someone looking at you wrong cause you to want to punch something? Do you find yourself really annoyed at people on the road? They either drive too fast or too slow, or maybe you’re just mad that they exist.
Sometimes we get angry at things no one else seems to mind. What’s up with that?
Sometimes we are angry at things that would make ANYONE angry. It’s justifiable.
Anger management. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to manage my anger. I want to deal with it, heal, and discover that I’m no longer angry.
Anger isn’t good or bad, it’s just an indicator of something that needs to be dealt with. The problem comes when we don’t deal with the original issue. Then we find ourselves angry with, and at people who don’t necessarily deserve it (like the grandpa driving down the highway, minding his own business).
Were you allowed to be angry as a kid? Did your parents say, “Wow, I can see you’re really angry. Want to talk about it?” If so, you probably don’t have anger issues. If not, well…join the club!
Several years ago, I found myself angry all the time. Everyone irritated me! Why were they so annoying? Why did every little thing set me off? What was wrong with me?
I realized I needed to do something so I could stop hurting my family and scaring my kids. I didn’t want to be an angry person. I went for some counseling and found out that anger wasn’t really my issue. I was really hurt and sad, but I didn’t know how to express that, so it came out as anger.
Here is an exercise I used to deal with anger:
It’s based on the account of Jesus cleansing the temple from John 2:13-16. “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!'”
The bible tells us our bodies are the Temple of God. Jesus didn’t mess up the temple, other people did. Sometimes things happen in our lives that are not our fault. We didn’t mess up our lives, other people did. (Maybe we did after that as well, but much of what we’re dealing with here is stuff that happened to us).
Even so, Jesus took responsibility to clean up the temple. He didn’t demand that those who messed it up clean it. He didn’t refuse to clean it up because it wasn’t his fault. He cleaned it up. The same is true with us. We can demand that those who messed us up do the work to fix it, or we can refuse to clean it up because it wasn’t our fault. Or, like Jesus, we can take responsibility and clean it up.
Look at how Jesus did it:
1. He prepared.
He made a whip. Think about that. How long would it take to find leather strips and weave them together into a whip. How do you think he felt? Was he angry? I picture him fuming as he braided the whip. Maybe thinking about how it wasn’t his fault. How dare they do this to him!
How about you?
Prepare. Write lists of people or events that hurt you, and how it affected you. Write letters to those who hurt you. Think about things you needed to process as a child and couldn’t. Think of all the areas of your life these events or people impacted. Think of how the bitterness and resentment have robbed you of joy and healthy relationships.
2. He dealt with his anger and cleaned up the mess.
He acted! He used his physical strength and his words. I don’t think he spoke quietly to the money changers. I think he screamed at them.
How about you?
Deal with it and clean up the mess. Find a time when you can be home alone for an hour or two. If you can’t do that, at least make sure you will not be disturbed. Get out a tennis racket or find a punching bag or a pillow. As you read your lists or letters, put your body and your vocal chords into it! Scream at the people and beat the racket on your bed or punch a pillow or punching bag. If you’re not home alone, scream into the pillow! Get it out. Keep at it until you have no strength left. Go for it. You may feel weird, but push through it! This is your chance to get rid of some of this!
I did this a couple of times as I worked through anger at a few different people. Each time, I did it in the evening and kept going until I was exhausted. I just climbed into bed and slept. It was amazing how much better I felt in the morning. I was then able to let go of the anger and forgive.
This type of exercise can help clean up anger from your past. Then, as you move on, deal with anger in the moment, so it doesn’t build up.
If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!
Try it and let me know what you think!
This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole