By Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
When you strike out in anger, you might miss the other person, but you will always hit yourself. ~Jim Gallery
Striking out with angry words is the cause of so many relationship problems. Words are powerful. They can encourage, strengthen, and change destinies. They can also destroy potential and robs us of hope and peace. Most major fires begin with just a small flame. Before long the fire spreads and becomes more and more difficult to contain. It damages or completely destroys everything in its path. Do we realize how quickly unmanaged anger can do significant damage? And as the quote above humorously expresses, anger always hurts the angry person. Sometimes even more so than those to whom it is directed. That is because we cannot have both peace and bitterness in our hearts. An angry person loses his or her peace and joy. Anger obstructs the expression of love, and without love there is no true happiness.
We all get angry. It is inevitable. But, not all anger is bad. We have heard stories of people who have made major contributions to society, fought against injustices, and made positive life changes as they were motivated by righteous anger. Problematic anger, on the other hand, is usually explosive, hidden, or denied. If not faced and dealt with, anger hinders our ability to have healthy and loving relationships.
So how do we deal with anger? We can begin by recognizing the underlying emotions that lead up to our negative reactions such as feelings of hurt, frustration, shame, rejection, fear, jealousy. The next time you feel angry, ask yourself What emotion is behind my anger? You may begin to see a pattern. For example, a woman gets angry every time her boyfriend is late for their meeting. She realizes that his tardiness makes her feel rejected and this leads to her angry outbursts. What is the underlying problem that needs to be addressed? Rejection. How about the boyfriend who expresses his anger by shutting down when his girlfriend tries to engage him in conversation? As he identifies the pattern, he realizes that he feels jealous every time she talks to other guys. He tries to hide his anger and does not express his feelings to her directly, so he pulls away instead.
Anger does not have to bring ruin to our lives and relationships. There are healthy and effective ways to manage it. I have briefly discussed the underlying emotions of anger and the importance of dealing with the causes. If you need more help in this area, I highly recommend participating in an anger management group. It can be an extremely supportive and helpful resource to equip you with many tools for a better life.
Above all else, may peace rule in our hearts, Krystal
Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it. ~Brian Tracy