Taming Your Anger

Y


our test seems to indicate that you have some buried anger," said the counselor to his client. "Do you think this could be true?" he asked.

"Me! Angry? Certainly not," replied the client. "I'll punch you in the nose for saying that!"

When it comes to anger we all have a tiger of sorts within. At times it provides great courage and motivation. At other times we are so afraid it will get out of control we bury it so that nobody, including ourselves, will ever know it exists.

Many of us were taught that anger is bad and to show it is immature. The mature person, however, doesn't deny his anger. He has learned to express it in appropriate ways.

Even though some people never show their anger, everybody gets angry sometimes. Anger is a God-given emotion and in and of itself it is neither good or bad, right or wrong. It's how we handle it and what we do with it that counts.

In fact, there are many things we ought to be angry about, such as social injustice, child abuse, greed and even legalistic religion that makes rules more important than people.

Hostility contaminates
everything we do.

Jesus was very angry with the religious people of his day for this very reason. When he healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were so furious they plotted to kill him. To them, religious observances were more important than the needs of people. We read that Jesus "looked around at them in anger...distressed at their stubborn hearts."1

Think too of Florence Nightingale. She was very angry about the terrible conditions suffered by wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. She used her anger creatively to bring about major changes in nursing care.

One of the worst things we can do with our anger is to repress and deny it. Long-term repressed anger turns into hostility and contaminates everything we do—and is a great destroyer of relationships. It also causes people to overreact. 

Hostility shows itself in many ways: a negative, critical attitude, nagging, sarcasm, gossip, resentment, hatred, slamming doors, shouting, taking it out on the children, kicking the cat, aggressive driving, childish "I'm hurt!" crying, rebellion, denial of sex in marriage, deviant behavior (prostitutes, for example, are often angry at their fathers), putting people down, constantly running late, passivity, withdrawal, rage, and even criminality. The list is endless.

Repressed anger or hostility, when triggered, can have fatal results. According to The Bulletin (Australia), in one year 80 percent of the homicide victims in one state were killed by family members or intimate friends. Most of these fatal attacks were the results of quarrels—or triggered by quarrels—in everyday situations.

Or, as Dr. Cecil Osborne explains in his book, repressed anger may eventually come out in the "form of some psychosomatic illness: ulcers, asthma, arthritis, colitis, dermatitis, heart ailments or any one of a score of others."2

Continued on Page Two


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