I’ve spoken many times about the importance of all feelings, anger included. With every emotion we experience, we have the ability to learn much about ourselves. No feeling is inherently wrong. It’s how we choose to express and use them that determines their value.
In my book “The Secret Side of Anger”, I address the three root causes of anger, what they are indicative of, and how to heal each of them. Not being a proponent of controlling anger except in extreme and temporary circumstances, I have found that the best approach is to understand why a particular feeling has emerged, learn how to express it appropriately (if doing so is necessary at all), and ultimately how to heal it. Following this formula ensures that there will be no residual effects from repressed or prolonged emotions which may possibly cause additional problems in the future. I provide very pragmatic strategies in order to accomplish this effectively. However, one can also take a purely spiritual approach to healing anger as well. Let’s examine each of the root causes and the spiritual solution to each.
First Cause: Hurt – people often say or do things that hurt us. Let me rephrase that: we often allow ourselves to be hurt by the inconsiderate or rude behaviors of others. Anger, hurt, embarrassment – all feelings are a personal choice we make (albeit sometimes subconsciously) that are rooted in our thought process. Thoughts create feelings. I form a thought about what is occurring and why (the person’s motives behind their actions) and thereby choose the corresponding emotion. Believing we are being targeted or that there is something inherently wrong with us, we allow ourselves to take personal offense to what the other party is saying or doing which in turn leads to emotional distress.
Spiritual Solution: How do we prevent the actions of others from causing us pain? First, it is critical that we understand that behavior is an external expression of an internal issue. People act out what they feel. Their behavior is never about us. We must learn not to take personal offense to it but rather be an “objective observer” of what is transpiring around us. We can allow the experience to remain neutral and need not assign an emotion or value to it. (It is neither good nor bad; painful nor enjoyable.) Much like an emergency room doctor, we remain emotionally detached from their actions.
Secondly we need to remember that people are human and make mistakes; they sometimes act out inappropriately as do we. We are called upon by God to respond with understanding, to be patient and forgiving. Keep in mind, too, that what they are going through is a necessary part of their life’s journey. Do not interfere and do not judge. Be kind, set some boundaries if necessary, and forgive always.
Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle; be patient with each other making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.”
Second Cause: Fear, the second root cause, is based on a lack of trust. We fail to trust others, a situation we may be facing or ourselves (we doubt our abilities to handle whatever life places before us.) But most importantly, fear is a lack of trust in God. We want to have control over our lives and/or expect that life unfold according to our plans. When that is not forthcoming, we become anxious and fearful. We are concerned with how our current circumstances will impact our lives and if, in fact, we will be ok. We have no faith that God will always make certain that whatever enters our lives is ultimately for our highest good.
Spiritual Solution: From a purely spiritual perspective, learning to have faith in a loving God who always has our best interest at heart allows us to feel more at ease with our current circumstance. Conversation with God, otherwise known as prayer, alleviates anxiety and worry. So pray. Ask for guidance, strength, knowledge, wisdom, direction. God reassures us that if we ask we shall receive. Rather than pray for what we want to have happen, pray for the ability to endure it and emerge with greater awareness. Keep in mind, too, that although God hears and answers all prayers, like any loving parent sometimes what we ask for is not in our best interest and in those times the answer we receive may be “no” or “not now”. Faith enables me to realize that what is meant to be, according to God’s will, will surely appear in my life and at the exact right time it is meant to.
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters I will be with you.”
Third Cause: Frustration (aka stress) goes hand-in-hand with fear and is derived from the need to control. We want or expect things and people to be as we believe they should be according to our standards and values. When what we are seeking is not forthcoming, we experience a sense of powerlessness, a loss of control – the very definition of anger. Keep in mind that control is an illusion. Other than one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, we have no control over anything external. At best, we can influence the outcome of any given situation; we can influence or inspire change in others. But all human beings have free will and regardless of how much we ask, beg, coerce, manipulate or threaten, people will only comply with our requests when it appears to be in their best interest at that time.
Spiritual Solution: We’re all familiar with the expression “Let go, let God”, a cliché filled with much wisdom. The Bible reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything under Heaven. We were not meant to have everything work out exactly according to our plans nor at the precise moment we anticipate it. Whatever enters our life is exactly what we are meant to experience in that moment. When things are not forthcoming, it may be that they are not meant to be or that it not been in our best interest or that perhaps the timing is wrong. Perhaps, God has a specific plan and our desires are not compatible with them. Maybe there is something even greater waiting to manifest in our lives. Therefore it is imperative that we let go of the need to control and allow life to unfold exactly as it is meant to. That means specifically to allow others to be who they are without imposing our demands and expectations on them; to allow them to learn and grow in their own time and way; and to grant them the opportunity to fulfill God’s Divine plan for them rather than conform to ours.
Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord: plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”
There are a host of powerful tools available in order to resolve the anger (aka hurt, fear, and/or frustration) within us from a deeply spiritual standpoint: prayer, nature, meditation, Scripture, and music (particularly worship music) are just a few that are always readily available.
Remember, all roads lead to God. When we fully understand and choose to live life from a purely spiritual perspective, we are at ease with whatever and whomever enters and/or leaves our lives. All is exactly as it is meant to be so be at peace.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
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