Have you ever been so frustrated and angry that you weren’t sure what you might do? Someone didn’t do their share, left you unprotected, criticized you unfairly, took credit that wasn’t theirs… As I was coaching someone through their anger the other day, I realized I was “talking to myself”. I decided I better write down my tips; I might need them myself tomorrow!
1. Ventilate and validate – I’ve learned that it is ok to go ahead and “let it out” with a SAFE person. Anger and frustration are a normal, often very valid, part of life. It is so much better to verbalize the frustration than to drown it in food, drugs or alcohol… or haul off and hit someone. A safe person won’t use my reaction against me, but they might “push back” a bit against my reasoning, or find some bit of humor in my extreme emotions, or guide me to God and spiritual truth in the situation – all good for me and part of the process.
2. Consider my part – Once I’ve calmed down a bit, the next step is a willingness to consider that I might have some responsibility in the problem or, at least, that I might have something to learn through the situation. No matter what others have done, I am called first to look at myself and what I can change in me… I don’t want to fall into the blame trap or the victim mindset.
3. Find some good – When I am angry, I see only the bad; I am blind to any good or positive element. We are in a spiritual battle and, no one is exempt. History proves that our anger can progress to judgment, stereotypes, and hatred of whole people groups – some pretty nasty stuff. Instead, I can turn to friends or God for help and discipline myself to find something that I can appreciate and be thankful for in the midst of difficult circumstances.
4. Follow through – Sometimes I need to deal with whatever caused the frustration and anger and initiate a difficult conversation, require restitution, or apply consequences… If it falls under my authority or responsibility, I need to follow through with appropriate action with the person – not just let it slide and keep grumbling behind their back. If there is “nothing” I can do, I can always review steps 1-3!
How do you handle your anger?